Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When a Xenophobe Complains

Parti Quebecois defenders have been asserting that the Anglophone media does not know what it is talking about, that their stance is not xenophobic.  "Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange (wikipedia)."  Perhaps the PQ and its supporters are not xenophobic, as their fear could be rational or they are fearing stuff that they think is familiar.  So, perhaps we should just call them fear-mongerers or the religious equivalent of race-baiters?  Would that be better?

When a party seeks to discriminate against minorities, it better have a good reason.  Actually, it rarely has a good reason, and here there is the Quebec specialty: the non-crisis crisis.  There is no crisis that this law is supposed to address. It is about mobilizing a base, distracting a public, and developing more divides with the Rest of Canada.  It is not about justice, and it is not about "values."  Well, it might be about values if intolerance is a value.  

So, the PQ can push back and claim they are being oppressed for their political stances, which is mighty rich, of course, given that they are seeking to repress those who follow religious injunctions closely.  As a non-religious person, I have no crucifix/turban/kipa/whatever in this fight.  As a scholar of nationalism and of xenophobia, I have a pretty good idea of what is going on: marginalizing minorities for political gain.  People have been calling it xenophobia, but we can just call it .... wrong.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes we should keep in mind that the true minority are the nonreligious.

What about our right?

Steve Saideman said...

Not really. And what is the threat if atheists/secularists/whatever if the doctor/nurse/teacher/cop/judge/whatever wear a religious symbol? does it change how I get my medical treatment and all that? Probably not.

Tyranny of the majority is a real problem, and that is why we tend to have charters/bills of rights to protect minorities. In this case, the religious minorities are minorities whom the PQ seeks to oppress.