13 avril 2016

Oui, il y a eu une conquête!

Les efforts de révisionnisme historique à propos de l'histoire du Québec existent depuis très longtemps.

L'un des plus tenaces prétend que la Nouvelle-France n'a pas vraiment été conquise par les Britanniques. Ben non, elle a simplement été abandonnée par la France. FAUX, écrit David Vermette dans ce billet dont voici quelques extraits:

(...) In a March 2016 article in the Montreal Gazette by Celine Cooper, calling for an overhaul of the history curriculum in Québec schools, Cooper epitomizes this revisionist view. She characterizes the events of 1763 as "the abandonment of New France by the French monarch and its surrender to the English." 

This sentence reframes a military conquest in passive terms. The agency is given to the French Crown rather than to the conquering English. It’s not the English who take the initiative to conquer the colony, but rather the French who "abandon" it, despite the fact that they had held it for the better part of a century and a half. It makes it seem as if France simply faded away without firing a shot. 

(...) the revisionist view must also account for other, far less conciliatory words that Wolfe addressed to the Canadiens in 1759 as his flotilla made its way toward destiny: “If by vain obstinacy and a misguided courage [the Canadien civilians] want to take up arms, they must expect the most lethal consequences; their habitations will be pillaged, their churches exposed to an exasperated soldiery, their harvests completely destroyed, and this most formidable fleet will prevent them from having any relief.” If these aren't the words of a conqueror then what are?

(...) The notion that there was no Conquest does violence to history because it ignores the considerable pains the English had taken to seize the colony by force (...) It also papers over the loss of life (about 10% of the Canadiens were killed) and property damage involved in that war. In fact it argues that the prolonged period of warfare was simply inconsequential since, revisionists pretend, the power was in the hands of the French who opted to “abandon” the colony.

In summary, there was warfare in N. America over a period of years; the capital of the colony of Canada was taken by force; there was an occupation; there was a military government; and there was what we now call “regime change.” And it was permanent. The British monarch is still officially the Queen of Canada. If that’s not a conquest then we’re equivocating on the meaning of the word. Invariably, Orwellian equivocations serve a political agenda.

The agenda here is clear. The revisionist view is intended to undermine Francophone Québec's sense of itself as a distinct society. It attempts to establish that the Québécois were always on an equal footing with their British-descent countrymen and it suggests that there was always a perfectly level playing field between the two groups. 

Another reason for the revisionism is that the Québécois do not fit prevailing N. American racial narratives. The Québécois are in the anomalous position in North America of being a white-identified people who had been subjugated by another white-identified people. In this, they resemble the Irish.

Even if the British conquest of Canada were the most benign conquest in the history of the world, to be conquered and occupied by a foreign power is humiliating and traumatic. (...) Today, the descendants of the conquered Canadiens face the further humiliation of having their historical memories, a memory of cultural survival and eventual prosperity in the face of defeat, denied by the revisionists.

(...) In psychology there is a term for such manipulations: gaslighting. This is a form of psychological abuse where one person causes another to doubt their perception of reality through manipulation, distortion and denial. It is time for the historical revisionists to stop gaslighting the Québécois. It is time they faced up to the past as it really was and not as their political counter-agenda wishes it to have been.

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