Exposing Quebec's shameful secret


CDNBear
#1
Exposing Quebec's shameful secret

Researcher claims province's nationalism rooted in anti-Semitism

Francine Dubé
National Post 27.4.2002

After three books, a decade of poverty, and venom from those she would rather were her peers than her enemies, Esther Delisle is ready for a change of occupation.

Ever since the subject of her PhD thesis -- anti-Semitism and fascism in Quebec -- became public in 1991, she has been reviled for daring to say that Quebec nationalism has roots in racism. She has been called crazy.

She has no regrets. But she has had enough.

"I wouldn't give up because it displeases a lot of people -- that would be a reason for me to go on if anything else," says Ms. Delisle, 47, a lifelong contrarian. "These years of lonely writing were exhilarating, but I'm done with that particular way of working. I have to get out of red ink."

Her exit may prove more difficult than she thinks. Tomorrow, the French speciality channel Canal D will air a 45-minute film that focuses on her research and the fierce, often ugly, opposition it inspired. It will later air in English on CFCF-12 and the Vision TV cable channel; the dates have yet to be announced.

Like Delisle's books, the film Je Me Souviens takes on Catholic historian Lionel Groulx and Le Devoir newspaper. The priest, author and historian is regarded as one of the fathers of Quebec nationalism. Le Devoir was then, and still is, the newspaper of the French-Canadian intelligentsia.

The evidence Delisle has unearthed seems to leave no doubt that both were anti-Semitic and racist. That has not stopped her critics. She has been described by respected Quebec novelists and journalists as anti-French-Canadian and an enemy of Quebec. In 1997, the newsmagazine L'actualité prefaced an article about her second book with an editorial entitled "Operation mud-sling." At a book-signing in 1999, someone turned off the power in the room, leaving Delisle in darkness until it was time to leave.

It did not help that novelist Mordecai Richler made favourable mention of her work in an article in The New Yorker, drawing international attention to the issue, and from the point of view of some Quebecers, international shame.

Producer Eric Scott said he chose Delisle as a film subject because she is funny and self-deprecating, the perfect counterpoint to the seriousness of the topic.

He forgets to say "eccentric."

Delisle lives in a five-room Montreal apartment with a rabbit, a dog and a collection of exotic reptiles, including a Borneo flying frog; a Louisiana barking frog; Esmerelda, a four-foot iguana in a floor-to-ceiling cage in the living room; and a chameleon she allows to perch on the index finger of her left hand when he seems nervous. Crickets in egg cartons under the living room window stage periodic breakouts, streaking across the pine floor, where Delisle swiftly scoops them up and feeds them to the frogs.

"Everyone says I'm an eccentric so it must be because I am one," she says with a Gallic sweep of her chameleon-free hand.

Her comfort with the position of perpetual outsider stems from her childhood. She was the second of three children born to a federal civil servant and his wife in Quebec City. The only girl, she was well-loved by her mother, who instilled in her a determination to attend university.

Delisle had just turned 12 when her mother died of kidney disease, leaving her in the care of a father who was cold and remote. Under his indifferent parenting, her clothes became tattered. She lived on TV dinners, which she often didn't have enough time to heat properly; she would nibble at the cooked edges around the frozen core.

Determined still to get a first-class education, Delisle convinced her godmother, an aunt, to finance two years at a private boarding school. She says she learned enough there to carry her through high school without opening a book.

It was also there that she understood for the first time how alone in the world she was. She was walking back from a weekend visit with her father, when she stopped in her tracks. "I thought to myself, 'From now on Esther, you can rely only on yourself, that's all you have. Your aunts can help you, your friends can help you, but you have no say in it. You have to get what you want or you just won't get it."

"It was very true," she says now. "I think it was a perfect summary of my situation."

She is without self-pity. Facts are facts to Esther Delisle, and she doesn't understand why she can't talk about them, no matter how unpleasant. That is not to say she has emerged unscathed from her long, solitary undertaking.

She has been hurt and at times afraid. She is impoverished.

She earned $10,000 for The Traitor and the Jew, an examination of anti-Semitism of extreme right-wing nationalism in French Canada from 1929-1939, published in 1992. She earned $4,000 for her second book, Myths, Memory and Lies, which examined Quebec intelligentsia and fascism between 1939 and 1960. She has yet to come up with a title in English for her third book, another look at fascism in Quebec from the 1930s to the October Crisis in 1970. It is due out this fall.

She has been unable to get a job at a CEGEP or university. She claims the applications she has made have, in a couple of cases, been virulently opposed, but she admits she hasn't pursued that avenue with diligence. She firmly believes, given the level of opposition in the province to her work, that she would never be hired by a francophone institution.

She works part-time grading papers for a television-university and evenings she supervises a telephone polling team at a radio station. She is $10,000 in debt.

Because her first name is Esther, she is often asked if she is Jewish. She is not. She is francophone, what some would call "pure laine," and as a young woman, a passionate supporter of the separatist movement. She abandoned it in her 20s, disillusioned in part, with their frequent references to "nous" and "nous autres," an attitude she feels is exclusionary. She is also uncomfortable with pronouncements such as those by former PQ party leader Jacques Parizeau, who infamously declared, after the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, that the vote was lost by "money and the ethnic vote."

She became interested in the topic of anti-Semitism in Quebec while teaching a political science course at CEGEP F.X. Garneau between 1979 and 1984. Anti-Semitism and fascism were often mentioned in the materials she read, but never explored in depth. When work at the CEGEP began to dry up in 1984, she decided to pursue her life-long dream of working abroad and obtaining a PhD. She spent three years in Jerusalem, learning English, Hebrew and some Arabic. She returned to Quebec City in 1987 to complete her PhD work.

In his film, Scott, a Jewish anglophone who loves his city and his province, and insisted that his film first be aired in French, focuses mainly on Delisle's research and the controversy it inspired.

It opens with a rant by Groulx against "the Jewish problem," which appeared in Action nationale in 1933 under one of his many pseudonyms, Jacques Brassier.

"Within six months or a year, the Jewish problem could be resolved," Groulx wrote, "not only in Montreal but from one end of the province of Quebec to the other. There would be no more Jews here other than those who could survive by living off one another."

Viewers learn that, during the same period, Le Devoir carried anti-semitic cartoons, articles or editorials on a daily basis. Intellectuals openly expressed support for Mussolini and Franco. Priests inveighed from the pulpit against buying from Jewish merchants. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society advised city mayors and parishes to resist the settlement of Jews within their boundaries. An anti-conscription demonstration in 1942 degenerated into a riot during which protesters smashed the windows of businesses that had Jewish names.

Many of the facts in the film cannot be denied -- the riot, for example. But Guy-Antoine Lafleur, one of the five on the committee that evaluated Delisle's PhD thesis at Laval University in 1992 (he called her "delusional" and voted against it) -- maintains in the film that Delisle's analysis of Le Devoir is incorrect. Most of the articles she claims as proof were actually taken from the editorial pages of Le Devoir, from an unsigned column called "Grinch's Notebook," he claims.

"This column was considered to be black humour," he says in the film.

The charge is hotly denied in the film by Esther and Jacques Zylberberg, who was her thesis advisor at Laval University.

"Every day you have an anti-semitic editorial. There's an anti-Semitic caricature on page one of Le Devoir. You don't have to go further than the first page. And you tell me that the newspaper was not anti-Semitic? And this goes on for decades? How implausible can you get," says Zylberberg.

Scott infers that Quebec journalists continue to refuse to accept the idea that Quebec may have been anti-semitic or racist. He points out that only two French media representatives turned up for a screening of the film in February, although he personally delivered many of the invitations himself and followed them up with a phone call.

Here his argument, like Delisle's arguments that she can't get hired at a university in Quebec when in fact she didn't apply herself with determination to the task, lacks conviction.

For one thing, Scott, an independent filmmaker, didn't invite the right people in every case. He invited the head of the editorial board at La Presse, instead of someone in the news department or the arts section.

Bernard Descoteaux, publisher of Le Devoir, received a hand- delivered invitation. He said he accepts few such invitations, and doesn't know if his news department received one.

"Esther's book made a lot of waves at a certain point. Would we be interested again? I don't know," he said.

Michel Auger, a journalist at the Journal de Montréal, said the material was too historical.

"This is stuff from 50 years ago. It just so happens that there are 24 hours in a day, there are four columns in a week and they are filled by daily news. Historical stories are interesting but they're better in August when there's nothing going on."

Delisle has no clear idea of what she would like to do next. She's toying with the idea of working at a CEGEP, or trying to get her children's books published.

"Maybe it won't be an all-consuming passion, but I'm going to earn a decent living," she says.

Her work so far has brought infamy rather than fame and poverty rather than riches, but she is proud of her books and feels certain that one day, the merit of what she has done will be recognized.

"I have no regrets. I will be six feet under, but someone will say that I was right. I'll be dead, fine, but I'll be vindicated. Then, you'll hear from the sky: 'I told you so,'" and she laughs.

http://www.vigile.net/ds-societe/doc...t-racisme.htmlvar NS = (navigator.appName == "Netscape");var VERSION = parseInt(navigator.appVersion);if (VERSION > 3) { document.write('');}
 
s_lone
#2
Again, you can't just link Quebec nationalism and racism together, they are 2 different things. Like anything Quebec nationalism has evolved and their are nationalists of all type. The "nous" Québecois is far from being as homogeneous as it used to be.
 
Logic 7
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Exposing Quebec's shameful secret

Researcher claims province's nationalism rooted in anti-Semitism

Francine Dubé
National Post 27.4.2002

After three books, a decade of poverty, and venom from those she would rather were her peers than her enemies, Esther Delisle is ready for a change of occupation.

Ever since the subject of her PhD thesis -- anti-Semitism and fascism in Quebec -- became public in 1991, she has been reviled for daring to say that Quebec nationalism has roots in racism. She has been called crazy.

She has no regrets. But she has had enough.

"I wouldn't give up because it displeases a lot of people -- that would be a reason for me to go on if anything else," says Ms. Delisle, 47, a lifelong contrarian. "These years of lonely writing were exhilarating, but I'm done with that particular way of working. I have to get out of red ink."

Her exit may prove more difficult than she thinks. Tomorrow, the French speciality channel Canal D will air a 45-minute film that focuses on her research and the fierce, often ugly, opposition it inspired. It will later air in English on CFCF-12 and the Vision TV cable channel; the dates have yet to be announced.

Like Delisle's books, the film Je Me Souviens takes on Catholic historian Lionel Groulx and Le Devoir newspaper. The priest, author and historian is regarded as one of the fathers of Quebec nationalism. Le Devoir was then, and still is, the newspaper of the French-Canadian intelligentsia.

The evidence Delisle has unearthed seems to leave no doubt that both were anti-Semitic and racist. That has not stopped her critics. She has been described by respected Quebec novelists and journalists as anti-French-Canadian and an enemy of Quebec. In 1997, the newsmagazine L'actualité prefaced an article about her second book with an editorial entitled "Operation mud-sling." At a book-signing in 1999, someone turned off the power in the room, leaving Delisle in darkness until it was time to leave.

It did not help that novelist Mordecai Richler made favourable mention of her work in an article in The New Yorker, drawing international attention to the issue, and from the point of view of some Quebecers, international shame.

Producer Eric Scott said he chose Delisle as a film subject because she is funny and self-deprecating, the perfect counterpoint to the seriousness of the topic.

He forgets to say "eccentric."

Delisle lives in a five-room Montreal apartment with a rabbit, a dog and a collection of exotic reptiles, including a Borneo flying frog; a Louisiana barking frog; Esmerelda, a four-foot iguana in a floor-to-ceiling cage in the living room; and a chameleon she allows to perch on the index finger of her left hand when he seems nervous. Crickets in egg cartons under the living room window stage periodic breakouts, streaking across the pine floor, where Delisle swiftly scoops them up and feeds them to the frogs.

"Everyone says I'm an eccentric so it must be because I am one," she says with a Gallic sweep of her chameleon-free hand.

Her comfort with the position of perpetual outsider stems from her childhood. She was the second of three children born to a federal civil servant and his wife in Quebec City. The only girl, she was well-loved by her mother, who instilled in her a determination to attend university.

Delisle had just turned 12 when her mother died of kidney disease, leaving her in the care of a father who was cold and remote. Under his indifferent parenting, her clothes became tattered. She lived on TV dinners, which she often didn't have enough time to heat properly; she would nibble at the cooked edges around the frozen core.

Determined still to get a first-class education, Delisle convinced her godmother, an aunt, to finance two years at a private boarding school. She says she learned enough there to carry her through high school without opening a book.

It was also there that she understood for the first time how alone in the world she was. She was walking back from a weekend visit with her father, when she stopped in her tracks. "I thought to myself, 'From now on Esther, you can rely only on yourself, that's all you have. Your aunts can help you, your friends can help you, but you have no say in it. You have to get what you want or you just won't get it."

"It was very true," she says now. "I think it was a perfect summary of my situation."

She is without self-pity. Facts are facts to Esther Delisle, and she doesn't understand why she can't talk about them, no matter how unpleasant. That is not to say she has emerged unscathed from her long, solitary undertaking.

She has been hurt and at times afraid. She is impoverished.

She earned $10,000 for The Traitor and the Jew, an examination of anti-Semitism of extreme right-wing nationalism in French Canada from 1929-1939, published in 1992. She earned $4,000 for her second book, Myths, Memory and Lies, which examined Quebec intelligentsia and fascism between 1939 and 1960. She has yet to come up with a title in English for her third book, another look at fascism in Quebec from the 1930s to the October Crisis in 1970. It is due out this fall.

She has been unable to get a job at a CEGEP or university. She claims the applications she has made have, in a couple of cases, been virulently opposed, but she admits she hasn't pursued that avenue with diligence. She firmly believes, given the level of opposition in the province to her work, that she would never be hired by a francophone institution.

She works part-time grading papers for a television-university and evenings she supervises a telephone polling team at a radio station. She is $10,000 in debt.

Because her first name is Esther, she is often asked if she is Jewish. She is not. She is francophone, what some would call "pure laine," and as a young woman, a passionate supporter of the separatist movement. She abandoned it in her 20s, disillusioned in part, with their frequent references to "nous" and "nous autres," an attitude she feels is exclusionary. She is also uncomfortable with pronouncements such as those by former PQ party leader Jacques Parizeau, who infamously declared, after the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, that the vote was lost by "money and the ethnic vote."

She became interested in the topic of anti-Semitism in Quebec while teaching a political science course at CEGEP F.X. Garneau between 1979 and 1984. Anti-Semitism and fascism were often mentioned in the materials she read, but never explored in depth. When work at the CEGEP began to dry up in 1984, she decided to pursue her life-long dream of working abroad and obtaining a PhD. She spent three years in Jerusalem, learning English, Hebrew and some Arabic. She returned to Quebec City in 1987 to complete her PhD work.

In his film, Scott, a Jewish anglophone who loves his city and his province, and insisted that his film first be aired in French, focuses mainly on Delisle's research and the controversy it inspired.

It opens with a rant by Groulx against "the Jewish problem," which appeared in Action nationale in 1933 under one of his many pseudonyms, Jacques Brassier.

"Within six months or a year, the Jewish problem could be resolved," Groulx wrote, "not only in Montreal but from one end of the province of Quebec to the other. There would be no more Jews here other than those who could survive by living off one another."

Viewers learn that, during the same period, Le Devoir carried anti-semitic cartoons, articles or editorials on a daily basis. Intellectuals openly expressed support for Mussolini and Franco. Priests inveighed from the pulpit against buying from Jewish merchants. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society advised city mayors and parishes to resist the settlement of Jews within their boundaries. An anti-conscription demonstration in 1942 degenerated into a riot during which protesters smashed the windows of businesses that had Jewish names.

Many of the facts in the film cannot be denied -- the riot, for example. But Guy-Antoine Lafleur, one of the five on the committee that evaluated Delisle's PhD thesis at Laval University in 1992 (he called her "delusional" and voted against it) -- maintains in the film that Delisle's analysis of Le Devoir is incorrect. Most of the articles she claims as proof were actually taken from the editorial pages of Le Devoir, from an unsigned column called "Grinch's Notebook," he claims.

"This column was considered to be black humour," he says in the film.

The charge is hotly denied in the film by Esther and Jacques Zylberberg, who was her thesis advisor at Laval University.

"Every day you have an anti-semitic editorial. There's an anti-Semitic caricature on page one of Le Devoir. You don't have to go further than the first page. And you tell me that the newspaper was not anti-Semitic? And this goes on for decades? How implausible can you get," says Zylberberg.

Scott infers that Quebec journalists continue to refuse to accept the idea that Quebec may have been anti-semitic or racist. He points out that only two French media representatives turned up for a screening of the film in February, although he personally delivered many of the invitations himself and followed them up with a phone call.

Here his argument, like Delisle's arguments that she can't get hired at a university in Quebec when in fact she didn't apply herself with determination to the task, lacks conviction.

For one thing, Scott, an independent filmmaker, didn't invite the right people in every case. He invited the head of the editorial board at La Presse, instead of someone in the news department or the arts section.

Bernard Descoteaux, publisher of Le Devoir, received a hand- delivered invitation. He said he accepts few such invitations, and doesn't know if his news department received one.

"Esther's book made a lot of waves at a certain point. Would we be interested again? I don't know," he said.

Michel Auger, a journalist at the Journal de Montréal, said the material was too historical.

"This is stuff from 50 years ago. It just so happens that there are 24 hours in a day, there are four columns in a week and they are filled by daily news. Historical stories are interesting but they're better in August when there's nothing going on."

Delisle has no clear idea of what she would like to do next. She's toying with the idea of working at a CEGEP, or trying to get her children's books published.

"Maybe it won't be an all-consuming passion, but I'm going to earn a decent living," she says.

Her work so far has brought infamy rather than fame and poverty rather than riches, but she is proud of her books and feels certain that one day, the merit of what she has done will be recognized.

"I have no regrets. I will be six feet under, but someone will say that I was right. I'll be dead, fine, but I'll be vindicated. Then, you'll hear from the sky: 'I told you so,'" and she laughs.

http://www.vigile.net/ds-societe/doc...t-racisme.htmlvar NS = (navigator.appName == "Netscape");var VERSION = parseInt(navigator.appVersion);if (VERSION > 3) { document.write('');}



Anti-semitism was all over the world at that time, you can't refute this, in ontario , jews, black and dogs couldnt go to the beaches in the 30's.

What proves your hypocrysie, is the fact you don't expose those who supported the nazi regime and their concentration camp, which are the one you support today.
 
CDNBear
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by s_lone View Post

Again, you can't just link Quebec nationalism and racism together, they are 2 different things. Like anything Quebec nationalism has evolved and their are nationalists of all type. The "nous" Québecois is far from being as homogeneous as it used to be.

Ahh, but you can not just simply dismiss the roots of your platform. They entransically part of the whole of the creation of the issue and your stance.

Quote: Originally Posted by Logic 7 View Post

Anti-semitism was all over the world at that time, you can't refute this, in ontario , jews, black and dogs couldnt go to the beaches in the 30's.

What proves your hypocrysie, is the fact you don't expose those who supported the nazi regime and their concentration camp, which are the one you support today.

Of course puppet, we know. You support the Islamic nazi paty, what else is new?
 

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