Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nationalism: Another provocative blog brought to you by Bitey the Wonderfrog

"Anglophones who insist on speaking English in Québec willingly refuse to integrate themselves. They don't have a place in Québec. They're taking advantage of the benefits of living in Québec while still insisting to bring their English Canada with them."

Remember the francophone from the Two Solitudes post? The one who thinks that anglophones are too dumb to learn French (and apparently has never heard of Pauline Marois)? When he talks to me, I am never sure whether to laugh or cry.

Recently, I joined the Facebook group Une province bilingue l’ONTARIO a bilingual province. I'm not usually mad about Facebook groups, but this is an important topic selon moi, as you might know from my ambiguous feelings about the way that the B&B Commission's recommendations were implemented. Ontario made some token gestures, but ultimately left its francophones hanging. Way to be a dick, Ontario. What, are the francophones outside of Québec not important?

(If you listen very closely, you can hear the small voice of bilingual New Brunswick saying, "Hey! Guys! Over here! We've got Acadians!" Poor New Brunswick.)

Bitey the Wonderfrog, in true internet-dick style, joined the group as well for the sole purpose of flaming it.

J------- N------, October 1:
I am not a Franco-Ontarian myself, but given the number of francophones in Ontario and their historical importance to this province, I fully support this proposal. I don't think that the economic argument holds much water because so many services are provided in French anyway. I also think that this will help national unity by cutting at Quebec's claim to be the sole voice of French-Canadians.

Bitey the Wonderfrog, January 20:
"I also think that this will help national unity by cutting at Quebec's claim to be the sole voice of French-Canadians."
I'm a franco-ontarian, but honestly... fuck off. Quebec sovereignty is more than about language, and Quebecers don't seek to harm other Canadians, while your goal is clearly just to fuck with Quebecers.

To clarify, he decided to send me a private message entitled "That's my beef with anglo-ontarians".
It's that kind of paternalistic conservative punishment bullshit with no regards for advancement that makes me really dislike "you people". (and take this quoted expression as an insult if you wish)

For once, I'm confused. Usually Bitey's ideas are pretty simple, but I'm not quite following him on this one. Why does he think that making Ontario officially bilingual would hurt the separatist/sovereigntist movement in Québec? Does he think that if people find out that francophones exist in other provinces, they won't want to separate anymore? Does he think that Ontario would recognize its francophone population solely as a cruel joke intended to mock Québec? (I honestly don't see how that would work as even the most obscure, colourless joke.) Does he think that Ontario would do it just to weaken Québec's imaginary monopoly on francophone culture?

The problem with this imaginary monopoly is that a lot of people imagine it, and quite vividly. If Canadians like the "Canada is not a bilingual country!" guy from the CBC B&B Commission footage decide to ignore that irritating thing called "reality", they'll continue to otherize one another and imagine that "French Canada" is a geographic place with clearly defined boarders, and not an idea that stretches from Whistler to L'anse aux Meadows. Of course the Québec sovereignty movement is about more than language. That would be like Toronto demanding special status because it contains immigrants.

Ideology aside. While I may ardently be what in Québec they call a federalist, I respect the sovereigntist movement. Many of points and concerns raised by sovereignty are valid, even if I am fiercely proud of living in a bilingual & bicultural Canada, warts and all. My concern is this: is Bitey the Wonderfrog expressing widely-held sentiments?

Ideological arguments are inevitable, and it's kind of okay, or at least understandable, to think someone is a complete douchebag for having one or another, because ideologies are something you pick and choose. (If someone has been indoctrinated with an ideology from a young age, please be nice and reserve the douchebag judgment until they've learned about the alternatives.) Some things you can't pick and choose, like where you were born and raised and what your first language is. And those are the things Bitey likes to attack. He doesn't insult people on the basis of their ideas, he insults them because they happen to be anglophones. And while it's easy to laugh him off, it raises the question of whether he was telling the truth when he said that a lot of francophones think this way. I personally have never noticed any anti-francophone sentiments among my peers, but just because I am unaware of them doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Are we a nation based on latent linguistic racism? I'm genuinely curious. Tell me your thoughts. Do you and/or your peers/friends/family discriminate based on where someone was born or which language(s) they spoke growing up? What about stereotypes? Are they positive ("I'm going to Alberta this summer to score some of that hot prairie tail"; "Of course he's smart, he's bilingual!") or negative ("Well of course you'd get angry about that, you're a francophone!"; "Doesn't everyone go to bed at 8:30 in Ontario?")? Do you think they are harmful or playful?

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