"...On one certain Christmas Eve, I volunteered to bring the poorest families in Montreal-Nord, some of those famous food baskets that we received from generous donors. I remember entering an apartment, as big as my hand, where two or three families lived in close proximity, their many young barefoot children dressed only in underwear and who threw themselves upon the gift boxes as if they were full of treasures. I also remember that the living rooms were small sewing workshops, where women spent long hours sewing clothes for Jewish entrepreneurs from Saint-Laurent Boulevard and who were obviously underpaid with cash paid under the table........" -Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, Trois-PistolesOf course the writer offers nothing but assumptions in his piece, assumptions that are unfortunately widely shared in Quebec society. The fact that the article made it to print without any editor asking if the writer verified his facts that the Haitians were working for a Jew or if they were underpaid or if they were paid under the table, but whatever, it must be true!
Imagine if a Toronto paper wrote a similar piece in which the writer described a scam in which government departments had been defrauded by unscrupulous companies and then went on to speculate without any proof at all, that the companies are run by Quebec Francophones... OUCH!!!!
Most of us older types remember the rampant racist generalizations that were made about all ethnicities and religions when we were young, regardless of our own heritage.
You know the ones - Jews are cheap and dishonest, Blacks are indolent, Spanish people are lazy, Chinese people-inscrutable. etc. etc. etc.
"Eeeny-meany-miney-moe, Catcha nigger by the toe..."
"Wops, Spicks, Shvartzes, Poofters, Hymies...."
It wasn't pretty, but happily, those days are gone.
Francophones had their own myths and expressions about others as well, but are much slower to shed these archaic and hurtful stereotypes.
There was a time when Anglos would describe getting cheated as being "Jewed." Today that term has largely disappeared, only a brave and foolish soul would dare use the term at work or in mixed company.
But in Quebec today, it is still acceptable to use the term "BON JUIF"(a good Jew) to describe a Jewish person who has acted decently or one who had done them a good turn.
It infers that the rest of the Jews are.......well, not so worthy, to be polite.
We all went through a process of purging our own language, prejudices and preconception. Polite society taught us which terms and preconceptions were no longer acceptable and although it seemed stupid at the time, in hindsight, it set us straight.
There needs to be some sort of similar process in Quebec...