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Historical Revisionism and the Myth of Western Values
Or, Barbara Kay is a reactionary lunatic
The war in Gaza, which is not a war because one side is a state with an army, a navy, an airforce and nuclear weapons holding the other side captive in a giant concentration camp, intensifies. Israel subjects the most densely populated area on Earth to the most intensive bombing campaign in human history. Major media outlets in Canada fall over themselves to justify the feverish intensity of the bloodbath and condemn demonstrators calling for a ceasefire.
In response to one such demonstration in Montreal the cold-blooded reactionaries over at the National Post publish an op-ed by Barbara Kay explaining how Quebec became ‘a hotbed of antisemitism’. Is antisemitism in Quebec a function of Quebec’s deeply Catholic past and taste for somewhat parochial attitudes toward outsiders? Or is it a function of how the elites of the British Empire despised Jews and played them off against their subjects, such as the Québécois? After all, the great Jewish creative minds of Quebec, figures like Leonard Cohen and Mordechai Richler, took inspiration extensively from their lives growing up in the tensions of post-war Montreal, where 120,000 Jews lived crushed between the rising tide of francophone Quebec nationalism and the anglophone WASP ruling class, saying their prayers under the light of the gigantic illuminated cross that still perches on top of Mount Royal, the hill in the centre of the city that gives it its name. One of the biggest hospitals in the province, the Jewish General, was not founded because the anglo aristocracy or the franco nationalists wanted to honour the Jews. It was founded because Jews could not work or, often, even be patients at other hospitals in Montreal.
No. According to Barbara Kay, Quebec’s ‘antisemitism problem’ is because Quebec foolishly ‘flung open the gates’ to the semi-civilized Oriental hordes. Writes Kay,
Montreal became home to [...] the second-largest Moroccan and Algerian diasporas after Paris and Marseilles. Most of these immigrants are peaceful and apolitical. But a small minority — and that’s all it takes — are trouble makers. “As in France itself,” wrote [professor Alan Nadler], “these immigrants have brought a deep, historically rooted contempt for European cosmopolitanism and heavy doses of antisemitism.”
The article accomplishes three main propaganda goals. First, it locates opposition to Israel’s forever-occupation purely in incoherent antisemitic rage, while deftly redirecting responsibility for historical antisemitism away from Europeans and peoples of European descent toward swarthy, wild-eyed ‘trouble-makers’ from the desert. Second, it props up the idea that white Canadians are heirs to the Timeless Western Values of Freedom and Getting Along Peacefully whereas the Arab hordes are heirs to the Timeless Oriental Values of Murdering Defenceless People in Their Beds for No Reason. And third, it justifies Israeli atrocities against Palestinians by flattening the entire Arab world into a hopelessly backward race which unfortunately cannot be trusted to co-exist with civilized folk.
Presumably when the Algerians rose up against French colonial rule they were doing so because they hated cosmopolitanism. They didn’t want to Get Along Peacefully with the French, who, for their part, had no choice but to teach the Algerians about cosmopolitanism by killing approximately a million of them and putting another two million in concentration camps, in the fucking 1960s. This isn’t ancient history. If you’re my age, your grandparents watched this shit on the evening news.
The hubris and self-congratulatory finger-sniffing is nauseating. Europe (and Canada) today enjoy a great deal of freedom, comparatively speaking, and have enacted laws protecting people from discrimination, yes. But these ‘timeless Western values’ were essentially discovered about seven seconds ago. The past 100 years of ‘our’ history includes US segregation, the Nazi Holocaust, and South African apartheid, just for starters. Until 1962 Canada’s immigration policy was openly and officially white supremacist. Montreal’s McGill university, the most distinguished university in Canada, had strict quotas for Jews up until the late 1960s. To act as though Europeans and their descendants have always been ‘cosmopolitans’ adamantly against discrimination is absurd to the point of outright lunacy.
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