Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Modern Quebec and the Jews

On Monday, the National Post ran a story entitled, “Poll finds French-English gap towards Jews.” A poll commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies found, “only 34% of French-speaking Canadians felt Jews shared their values versus 73% of English-speaking Canadians.”
Canadian novelist, Mordecai Richler probably would have had something sharp and smart to say, but he’s dead. So, a bothersome story in the mainstream press passed without note. Still, this is a striking assertion.
The poll was released exclusively to Postmedia and doesn’t provide any technical background: for instance, the exact wording of the question and whether there was any meaningful difference in the percent of English-Speaking and French-Speaking Canadians who simply declined to answer or said they were undecided. Nevertheless, taken as reported, the survey suggests that when Canadians think about those who share their values, French-Speaking Canadians are half as likely to include Jews.
For two generations, Quebec has portrayed itself to us and to itself as a liberal, secular, humanist society. For French-speaking Canadians to see the Jew—the most stubborn liberal in our midst—in different terms doesn’t make sense. Rather than their values, is it possible that the Jew’s commitment to Quebec as a French-speaking society is still in doubt?  Any nation with a strong sense of solidarity often displays a dark side towards the “other.”
The Association of Canadian Studies has succeeded in getting our attention. They should consider telling us more, if they wish to help us better understand what French-Speaking and English-Speaking Canadians think.

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