Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Anglophones with Red Hats
One of the most blatantly false premises concocted by French language militants, is that of the calculation of Quebec English-speakers versus that of French-speakers.
Readers know my position on statistics and how they can be manipulated to more or less support any position one might want to promote or attack.
In this endeavor, French-language militants are expert in parsing, twisting or interpreting facts and statistics to suit their own purposes and it is our own fault and that of the Press that we give these conclusions any weight or credence.
In Fridays post one of our readers made the point that French students are clearly superior to English students because in a certain study among fifteen year-olds, French students scored higher than their English counterparts in reading by a score of 522 to 520, a statistical difference of about one-third of one percentage point.
Of course the alarming dropout rate in high school or the shameful performance in university graduation rates as compared to English speakers is of course conveniently omitted by the commenter, typical of the dishonest tactics regularly utilized by French language promoters, in the statistical war waged on the English.
But more importantly, there is another practice going on in the language debate that is more dangerous and insidious. That is the promulgation of a dishonest debate based on a false premise.
Consider two teams asked to debate whether the flat end of the Earth culminates in a cliff or a waterfall.
Participating in such a debate which starts off with such a decidedly false premise is absolutely pointless and so, the resulting 'winner' of said debate, is really of no consequence!
Believe it or not, we are engaged in that very same type of debate here in Quebec, over the issue of anglophones, Francophones, Ethnics and language.
Here French language militants have cleverly manipulated the basic premise of the debate between the relative weight of the French and English languages in Quebec by making a fundamental and dishonest leap.
I like to call that slight of hand 'Anglos with Red Hats.'
The simple issue of how many people use English rather than French in Quebec is manipulated and twisted by subjecting the rather simple question into a discussion about the number of Anglophones, versus Francophones, versus Ethnics with the resulting false premise adopted, that only 'pure-bred' Anglophones should be counted as English-speakers. It's nonsense.
By dividing English speakers by ethnicity, history or parentage and only counting a portion thereof, French language militants have been able to reduce the number of Quebec English-speakers from the very accurate count of 13.1% made by Statistics Canada, to that of 8%, or 5% or even 3% as I heard make mention.
Every time I hear the phrase "Historical Anglophones" or some other nonsensical qualifier used by militants, I think of 'Anglos with Red Hats,' a device whereby the numbers are reduced by dividing English speakers in sub-groups and then using just one of the sub-groups as a debating point.
Now as I mentioned in an earlier piece, I have a friend whose mother immigrated from Italy over forty years ago and believe it or not, doesn't speak a word of English or French.
She is as you would probably agree, quite an anomaly, not representative at all of the immigrant experience, but it is this type of 'ethnic' that Quebec language militants would have us believe is the norm, rather than the exception, and so can be counted as neither French-speaking or English-speaking, thus removed from the debate. Very convenient...
The reality is that almost every immigrant, their children and their descendants adopt either English or French as the language they use in public, regardless of what they speak around the dinner table.
Even there, the adopted language, either English or French soon becomes the lingua franca of the family and in fact, the children and grand children of immigrants usually lose the 'old' language as assimilation into the host society runs its course.
There are few Quebec Jews who speak the Yiddish that their grandparents came over with from Europe and that holds true among Italian, Greek and other immigrant families where the children and grand children lose fluency in the old tongue rather quickly.
It takes but one or two generations for the descendants of immigrants to become solidly entrenched in the English or French side of Quebec life, language included.
And so, regardless of mother tongue, ethnics adopt either English or French, take your pick.
It is this all important choice that Bill 101 tries to influence, so the government does acknowledge what French militants won't, that Ethnics will by choice become part of the French or English community.
So why all the different classifications?
Why do French-language militants insist on discussing Anglophones, Ethnics or Historical Anglophones versus Francophones, when in fact all we should be looking at is English-speakers versus French-speakers, period.
Obviously it is not convenient, especially with Ethnics, where the division of into English-speakers and French-speakers is asymmetrical and benefits the English side immensely.
More ethnics become English-speakers than French-speakers, so when debating the issue, its always more convenient for French language militants to return to the Anglophone versus Francophone debate while ignoring those pesky ethnics who assimilate to the English side in too high numbers.
Every time you hear or see a French-language militant use the terms Anglophones, Ethnics and Francophones in relation to language, remember that they are using a device to avoid talking about the real issue, English-speakers versus French-speakers.
Instead of comparing Apples to Oranges, they attempt to pull the wool over the shoulders of Quebecers by comparing 'Granny Smith Apples' to Oranges, (omitting the rest of the apples) a rather neat trick......
In Quebec's language debate, the amount of Anglophones, Ethnics or Francophones, is in fact, irrelevant.
All that counts is the number of English-speakers versus the number French-speakers, a fact that militants try hard to repress.
And so any discussion of history, ethnicity or mother tongue is just a case of counting"Anglos with red hats."
Posted by Editor on 1/18/2012 12:00:00 AM