These militants continue to feed the stereotype of immigrants as lazy welfare bums, who congregate in ghettos, speak and dress as they did back in their homeland and live off the hard work of others. (read: francophone Quebecers)
It's a neat story that reminds Quebecers that the very identity of Quebec francophone society is at stake and unless immigrants are brought to heal, society will be overrun.
It's a story that places whatever blame there is to apportion over this non-assimilation on the backs of the immigrants and neatly absolves Quebeckers themselves of any responsibility.
And so bigots like Gilles Proulx continue to rail against immigrants, reminding viewers and readers at every opportunity that the pure, innocent, open and inclusive Quebeckers are being overrun by immigrant parasites without any real rebuttal or public outrage. Here's Mr. Proulx's latest screed
The pages of Vigile.net are replete with complaints that blacks are over-represented in the National Assembly or that there are too many ethnics on television. Type in the word 'Immigrants' into the website's search engine and you'll get close to 900 stories, the vast majority negative, many racist.
Bathed in self-pity, these militants portray themselves as innocent victims of English language and English cultural oppression and justify their discrimination against immigrants as legitimate pushback.
And so sentimental tripe as this poem/song is typical of the persecution complex that stokes the fires of intolerance and confrontation;
Last week during Frosh week a group of students from the l'École des hautes études commerciales (HÉC), the elite business school which is part of the l'Université de Montréal dressed up in blackface as some sort of salute to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
While the students were Shouting "Ya Mon!' and 'Smoke More Weed!' a passing McGill university student (who is black) took offence and filmed the students briefly.
I won't characterize the students as racist, but if ever there was an incident that screamed for sensitivity training, this certainly is it.
Had this incident taken place in Rimouski or Chicoutimi, where a Black person on the street is as rare as a Chinese person in a Chinese restaurant, I might have understood the insensitivity, but one would think that elite students, in a city that is 25% ethnic would understand that their actions would cause offence.
I can't imagine an incident of this type occurring in any English university in Canada without engendering a physical confrontation with other students and without disciplinary consequences by the university afterwards.
Such is the state of affairs in Quebec where all is forgiven because, tut, tut, the students 'meant no harm.'
In fact the over-riding consensus in Quebec is that the incident is being overblown.
Put on blackface as a joke in any western country and you can pretty much expect to draw criticism:
KKK and blackface costumes shut down Ontario Legion
Blackface Obama billboard sparks outrage
Northwestern Students In Blackface Spark Outrage
The ho-hum reaction to the incident underscores rather neatly a depressing social gap that exists in Quebec and so while the story is no big deal here, it certainly is elsewhere, where a report of the incident was deemed newsworthy as far away as Britain's Daily Mail
I can't really blame the students, they probably saw no harm in what they did, but therein lies the problem.
Every day, Quebec Francophone media portrays immigrants in the most negative and stereotypical manner, concentrating on differences instead of similarities. Read: When racism goes mainstream
Although Quebecers are inherently no more racist than other Canadians, the unrelenting attacks on immigrants and incessant ethnic-bashing has a cumulative effect.
So who's fault is it that immigrants have such a hard time assimilating into Francophone society?
If you believe the language militants, it's the immigrants and the English that bear all the responsibility.
Francophones remain, as the narrative goes, innocent as always, open and welcoming to those immigrants who embrace French.
It is, as they say in Quebec, utter 'bullsheet,'
The myth that Quebec is a welcoming society is the great lie of the immigration debate.
If Quebec immigrants have a staggeringly high unemployment rate, much higher than in other provinces, it must be because Quebec immigrants are somehow lazier than those who immigrate to Ontario or British Columbia! Such is the conventional wisdom offered by French militants and the fact that immigrants are consistently shut out of jobs, on an ongoing and institutional basis, plays no role in this reality.
As I've pointed out before, anecdotal stories are always dangerous, but so many exist about the abuse of immigrants, that it's hard to ignore the fact that they are systematically discriminated against in Quebec, especially in the workplace.
Read this story about an immigrant who was refused an interview 19 times until he submitted a resume with a 'Quebecois' sounding name. Resumé being ignored? Try a name change.
Here's an article from France instructing Frenchmen how to apply for a job in Quebec, which apparantly isn't that easy because as the article says;
"Let's face it, there are still some prejudices against the French." (from France-ed.)
So even the French from France complain that they are discriminated against in the Quebec job market!
If Quebec militants tell us they are welcoming of immigrants, as long as they speak French, read this; Racism rocks PSAC Montreal office
Attitudes in Quebec are shaped by language and as long as immigrants are portrayed as a threat to Quebec culture and the French language, they will suffer discrimination. The unrelenting negative portrayal of immigrants has the effect of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sadly it is this discrimination that chases many over to the English side of the language equation where they are more comfortable and so we get the proverbial 'vicious circle.'
As for blackface, HEC students should be reminded that the era of the genre is long-gone and I gotta tell you, watching this ancient clip of Al Jolson makes me a tad uncomfortable!