59% of Quebecers say they're racist: poll | CBC News
Last night, a Muslim school in Montreal, École des Jeunes Musulmans Canadiens (JMC), was attacked. Twenty windows of the building were smashed, while the windows of the bus were shattered and garbage dumped in the aisle. My 6-year old nephew is a student at the school.
Montreal police said it is too soon to tell if the vandalism can be considered a hate crime.
"We're treating this as a simple mischief right now," Const. Laurent Gingras told CBC News on Tuesday.
This occurred a day after the results of a poll were released revealing that nearly three out of every five Quebecers consider themselves at least mildly racist. They won't call it a hate crime, because they only do that when Muslims are the suspects and not the victims.
[The poll] found 36 per cent of Quebecers have a bad opinion of Jewish people, while 27 per cent have a poor opinion of blacks. Fifty per cent have a bad opinion of Muslims.
These numbers don't surprise me, though I grew up and lived most of my life in Quebec. I'm curious to see more of a breakdown as to what parts of Quebec were more likely to admit racism. Montreal, where the attacks took place, is generally quite a functional multicultural society, though there have been a number of recent incidents that have marred that reputation. I spent two years in Gatineau, a far less diverse community despite it's proximity to Ottawa, and the racism there was far more blatant.
Some suspect a correlation between this poll and the attack on the school, proposing that perhaps this attack was a reaction to the survey results. That doesn't make much sense to me. This isn't a reaction; rather, it is an illustration of the poll results; it is an example of the 59% racism in the province, and a reflection of the 50% of the population that has a poor opinion of Muslims. Who would react to a poll in such a way?
What is disturbing about events like the one today at JMC is how it might affect the children. These are very young students; I doubt they understand why people might feel hatred for them. For a 6-year Muslim child from a Muslim family going to a Muslim school, with little interaction with people of other beliefs, this can potentially shatter their early beliefs about the sheltered society they live in. In 2004, the library of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal was set ablaze by a firebomb launched by a masked man. A year later, a 19-year old Muslim was charged in the attack, and sentenced to two years in prison.
Many children, inspired by Saturday morning cartoons, grow up with a very polarized view of the world, one of heroes and villains. For the young child gazing at the shards of glass in his classroom or ashes of the library he used to love, it becomes very easy to believe that the world really is that simple, and that the villains are truly lurking at every corner. It also becomes very easy to declare who the villains are.
In this country, children this young shouldn't even know how to hate. But we insist on teaching them.