Commentary: Secularism law takes us back to an exclusive ‘we’

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by Daniel Weinstock

So sad. First, let nobody try telling me that this law has anything to do with secularism. A law whose application will impact Quebecers in such an asymmetric way is “secular” in name only.

This government has just given the signal that minorities, and one in particular, can be attacked – in the street, in institutions, in public debate – while invoking the “secularism!” slogan. I was in France, where Marine Le Pen and her Front National have well understood this toxic alchemy.

Furthermore, don’t try telling me that there is any link whatsoever with Quebec languages laws. They are inclusive, in the sense that all Quebec residents can without having to set aside who they are learn our language and take part in making it the common public language. A law that puts some of our fellow citizens – and especially, let’s just say it loud and clear, female citizens – where they must make a heartbreaking choice – to work or live according to her convictions – is of an
entirely different nature.

Moreover, this choice is not motivated by any notion of the superior public good, other than that of the ethnocultural majority that quite simply does not feel like tolerating “the other” in its various differences.

Law 101 establishes the conditions for a possibly inclusive “we.” This wicked law takes us back to an exclusive “we” – a wakeup call to minorities on where they stand.

As the son of Jewish parents from Eastern Europe who fled state tribalism that had turned the old continent into a mass graveyard, I have never felt that so little of me is Québécois.

Daniel Weinstock has a DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University, is the James McGill professor in the McGill Law Faculty, and Director of the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy.

2 Comments on "Commentary: Secularism law takes us back to an exclusive ‘we’"

  1. Gaston Langlais | August 11, 2019 at 6:06 am | Reply

    Bonjour,
    La France a passé une législation semblable en 1903/1906. Ceux et celles qui se sentent persécutés au Québec en 2019 n’ont qu’a aller voir ailleurs.
    Gaston Langlais – Gaspé.

  2. Alexandre Cormier-Denis | September 16, 2019 at 10:39 am | Reply

    Inversion accusatoire : c’est le port de la kippa, du turban ou du hidjab qui est le signe d’une appartenance tribale et non pas la loi 21 sur la laïcité de l’État qui, par ailleurs, a justifié le retrait du crucifix au Salon bleu de l’Assemblée nationale.

    Que l’on y soit hostile ou pas, il faut reconnaître que la laïcité québécoise s’inscrit en continuité avec la pensée républicaine du XIXe siècle canadien-français, elle-même issue des Lumières.

    La mauvaise foi de M. Weinstock serait risible si elle n’était pas si outrancière,

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