Thursday, March 29, 2007

Herouxville redux

I received this e-mail last night.

Hello Mr. Levy, The Citizens of Herouxville thank you for discussing
our story on your blog. We would like to invite you to our new
Official English Language weblog, very different that the one the
Media have issued. We would also be pleased if your readers left a
comment, whether for or against as that is their democratic right as
Canadians, please feel free to pass along our weblog address and link
to your readers. We think it important your readers read what we have
to say from our mouths instead of second hand through other less
reliable outlets. My own feelings on the little lady regarding her
Hijab is "Has anyone not heard of velcro and making one with Velcro
tearaways ? " To embarrass a Quebec child emotionally and eject her
from her sport and putting this young lady into the media forefront,
brought on by media "Must be a slow News Day today" Smacks of
opportunism and political posturing by some looking to make headlines
for themselves. Good thing Hedy Fry (Her cross burning Story in Prince
George) and her life partner in comfortable shoes and plaid outerwear
Sheila Copps (Toronto Star, March 07, story on Herouxville) or as
Jerry Seinfield once stated about life partners "Not that there is
anything wrong with that". Thankfully Hedy and Sheila were not there,
My God, then these two Goddesses of Diatribes would have the
opportunistic political posturing of stating to the world that there
were Cross burnings galore at the sporting event, complete with crazed
tractors pull afficenados and somehow finding a reason to place blame
on the Citizens of Herouxville for this little ladies misfortune. The
child should have been able to play regardless, with a warning to
players, not to grab each other, until the velco hijab solution for
the next game would have ended the debate period. Simple dialogue with
a solution from even simpler rural folk in Herouxville.

Warmest Regards
Barry O'Regan (Authour) written with permission on behalf of Mr. Andre
Drouin (Herouxville Town Councillor)the Mayor Mr. Martin Perigny and
the Citizens of Herouxville, Quebec, Canada

I note that Copps and Fry have both been outspoken women MPs and that Fry once gave an entirely fictive moral-panic account of the crisis of Klan cross-burnings going on in Prince George, BC. I'm pretty sure that my correspondent wasn't actually suggesting that the two are lesbians or romantically involved, just indulging in the familiar move (simultaneously homophobic and sexist) of discrediting feminists by joking about their being lesbians. (See also: Ann Coulter on John Edwards.)

On to the Herouxville blog:

Granted our Town Charter drafted with the assistance of our townsfolk has been portrayed by some as racist. The Citizens of Herouxville are extremely upset by this comment as it is contrary to our Christian values and would like to emphatically state nothing could be further from the truth.

(Sorry to stress the obvious, but the charge isn't simply one of racism. The Herouxville norms seem determined to announce that non-Christians, not non-whites, are unwelcome intrusions. The reference to "our Christian values" doesn't do much to alleviate that concern.)

As Quebecois Canadians we are only stating to the world informing them of our way of life is vitally important to us, much like the way of life amongst other cultures is important to them. For us to change our ways and tradition to accommodate others who wish to live here is like asking our country’s respected founding First Nation’s Culture to incorporate Dutch traditions and wear wooden shoes and erect Windmills in their community. Our requests we feel are quite reasonable for anyone who wishes to live amongst us and no more unreasonable than if we were to live in another country and insist a Catholic Church, Saint Jean Baptiste, Wine Harvest celebrations are to be included in their customs and beliefs. A wise Huron elder once stated; A starving Family does not complain about the bounty of the hunt if they chose not to contribute to the hunt. Wise words spoken by our First Nations about community and an analogy similar to our beliefs.

Herouxville would like to reiterate that all are welcome to live here, just know who we are, assimilate, respect and not change our way of life, traditions and values and live amongst us as a welcomed and valued member of our community. If we were in your country we would strive to do the same. In ending we offer a wonderful rural way of life to all those who live here. So when in Rome…… [...]

[an open letter to Jean Charest follows:]

Proposed Solution

Objectives: Insure the conservation of the culture of our nation.
Democratic realignment to insure its survival.

Actions: Declare state of emergency.

Application: Immediate.

Elements: Annul the possibility of obtaining accommodations. (Religious)
Retroactively annul any already obtained.
Advise Immigration Canada & Quebec to comply.

Results [of the state of emergency]: Women, all women, in Quebec will be equal to men.
Satisfied population.
Social peace maintained.
Our children could eat pork at school in the future.
Our municipal councils could work at night.
Hardhats could be worn when needed.
We could wish Merry Christmas.
We could conserve the crucifix in our National Assembly.
We could swear and our God will forgive us.
You could stay in power for another 20 years.

While I don't understand any of the posts entirely-- translation issues and also implied references to events with which I'm unfamiliar-- I am... unconvinced that Herouxville-in-its-own-words look svery different from Herouxville-in-the-media. Indeed, the idea of a state of emergency to prevent and retroactively annul all 'reasonable accommodations' of religious minorities is considerably more extreme than any view I'd heard attributed to Herouxville before. But the link is duly posted; go have a look and see whether you think the press (or I) have been unfair.