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The FLQ manifesto: It’s okay to read it in Ottawa, just not anywhere else


 

To answer Patrick Lagacé’s question as to whether he’s the only one who couldn’t care less about Luck Mervil and the FLQ manifesto saga in Quebec City: No, I also couldn’t care less.

Just like I couldn’t have cared less when the exact same text was read last September in a performance at the NAC that celebrated “seminal texts both famous and obscure, spanning over 150 years of resistance and solidarity.” Just like I didn’t care that this performance also included excerpts from the proto-fascist Futurist manifesto. Just like I didn’t care that the performance’s program guide for school groups included excerpts from the FLQ manifesto, the Communist manifesto, the Futurist manifesto, and a bunch of other calls to action/arms. In fact, I still don’t care that it happened.

I didn’t care then and neither did anybody else. What, exactly, has changed since then?


 

The FLQ manifesto: It’s okay to read it in Ottawa, just not anywhere else

  1. That pretend soldier thingy earlier in the year?

    If one is in the habit of viewing Quebec society as a monolith, the congnitive dissonance is hard to take.

    • Exactly what I was thinking.

      The re-enactment of the Plains of Abraham is too inflameing, but this is A-OK.

      The hypocracy drips.

      I think it's fine to read this manifesto, but where was the arguement for historical inclusiveness in the Plains debate?

      • *If one is in the habit of viewing Quebec society as a monolith*

  2. However loathsome the text may be, it's in the best interests of an informed citizenry to read it and remember it.

    • Perhaps it should be read while somebody does a mock strangulation in the background and it ends with a couple of mailboxes exploding near a schools.

      Just a thought to add some "culture" to it all.

      • Vince's not-so-helpful grotesque suggestion should not diminish the condemnation, of just about every "means" these dangerous criminal FLQ twerps employed, that would hopefully accompany their faux-nirvana drivel.

        A thoroughly unsolicited suggestion to the provocateur organizers: Go ahead, read the bloody manifesto, or replay the film of the broadcast of the manifesto that authorities allowed at the time. Then matter-of-factly list the victims of this group of thugs. Then play the tape of a thoroughly enraged René Lévesque (reacting, if memory serves, to Laporte's murder) condemn these violent scum for what they were doing. Bring up the WMA if you like, but monsieur Lévesque has earned a posthumous spot on the podium, IMHO.

      • Vince's not-so-helpful grotesque suggestion should not diminish the condemnation, of just about every "means" these dangerous criminal FLQ twerps employed, that would hopefully accompany their faux-nirvana drivel.

        A thoroughly unsolicited suggestion to the provocateur organizers: Go ahead, read the bloody manifesto, or replay the film of the broadcast of the manifesto that authorities allowed at the time. Then matter-of-factly list the victims of this group of thugs. Then play the tape of a thoroughly enraged René Lévesque (reacting, if memory serves, to Laporte's murder) condemning these violent scum for what they were doing. Bring up the WMA if you like, but monsieur Lévesque has earned a posthumous spot on the podium, IMHO.

        • It would, minimally, be nice to see more mainstream Quebecers decrying this kind of sh*t. Just so folks are clear on where I stand.

          But I think demands, even rhetorical ones, upon what the ceremony ought or ought not to include are just taking the bait.

          • Thanks, Sean, but I was making a suggestion, not a demand. And I am puzzled by your "taking the bait." My best defence of freedom of speech is that you can repel stupidity and hatred and evil with more enlightened speech. Responding to bad rhetoric with more and better rhetoric is a responsibility of citizenship. What about the "bait-taking" don't you like?

          • I think in this particular instance, the organizers are trying to stir up a bunch of ROC fury, which will translate into calls to amend the ceremony (I know you were suggesting, not demanding). And a Quebec with circled wagons just perpetuates the divisions.

            I'm not even sure what the best solution/approach is, to be fair.

          • Well, to cheer you up, see DMA's "Silly Little Windmills" post. Seems like some surprising quarters within Québec are engaging this nonsense with rebuttals quite nicely.

  3. Indeed, under the usual "more speech is better than less speech" scenario, there really should be no big deal.

    But I suppose the concern here is over the fear that many in the audience of the upcoming event will give the murderous scumbag authors of that drivel a standing ovation, rather than the humane horror-recoil that sentient beings might ordinarily offer.

    That should NOT disqualify the freedom of speech behind the reading of the manifesto. It would be especially helpful for us to know who the idiots are when we see who applauds the murderers.

    • I think part of the difference is viewing the text in an act of scholarship, versus celebrating it.

      It's one thing to expose students to some rambling Bin Laden tapes, but quite another to include them as part of a 9/11 ceremony.

      But I'm free speech all the way, so I'm not suggesting anyone be muzzled.

    • I think part of the difference is viewing the text in an act of scholarship, versus celebrating it.

      It's one thing to expose students to some rambling Bin Laden tapes, but quite another to include them as part of a 9/11 ceremony, for example.

      But I'm free speech all the way, so I'm not suggesting anyone be muzzled.

  4. Indeed, under the usual "more speech is better than less speech" scenario, there really should be no big deal.

    But I suppose the concern here is over the fear that many in the audience of the upcoming event will give the murderous scumbag authors a of that drivel a standing ovation, rather than the humane horror-recoil that sentient beings might ordinarily offer.

    That should NOT disqualify the freedom of speech behind the reading of the manifesto. It would be especially helpful for us to know who the idiots are when we see who applauds the murderers.

  5. As a document the FLQ Manifesto does not age well. Reading it now it sounds more ridiculous than it did then. It is a fatuous rant by people who had no idea of what they wanted but fair well-formed thoughts about what and who they did not like (a great many of whom were Francophones). Hardly the basis for a new national entity. If the intention is to make Quebec sovereigntists look ridiculous it should be read on national TV as often as possible.

    • Totally agree! I actually had reason to look up the original text a few months back and was struck by just how juvenile and, well, ridiculous the whole thing sounds. As I said in the earlier blog, by the time they start questioning Trudeau's sexuality they've pretty much lost any argument they were hoping to make.

      I find it hard to believe that anyone who actually listens to the manifesto will come away thinking that its authors are anything like the romantic freedom fighters that some worry they'll appear.

      (and yes, I do fully appreciate the irony inherent in having as an avatar the very same Patriote painting that the FLQ co-opted :)

    • Almost right. It was ridiculous back then, too.

  6. I haven't followed this all very closely, but John Geddes in his original post and I in my comment to his post both expressed no problem with the manifesto being read. John's quarrel was with a Globe reporter's clumsily whitewashing the history of Pierre Laporte's death. I was struck by the similarities and contrasts between the current controversy and the Plains of Abraham re-enactment thing. I wrote, in so many words, that the FLQ manifesto should be read but wondered why the same laissez-faire attitude didn't accompany, or even allow, the battle re-enactment.

    I attended the Manifestes show at the NAC last fall and found it charming. Mouawad wanted to explore the sound and cadences of fervour, and part of his point was that fervour has accompanied a lot of different and even contradictory political ideas over the years. It dragged quite a bit, though; most of those texts weren't written to be read out loud. Fervour is often boring.

    • I agree that there's no real distinction to be made between re-enacting the Battle on the Plains and reading the FLQ manifesto and that it's logically incoherent to support one and not the other. For the record, I'm perfectly okay with both. (I also thought John's post was spot on.)

      The part I don't understand about the FLQ manifesto controversy is that it seems to be okay to read the thing aloud when you're in the polite company of people who view it from a detached perspective. But we should hold off on reading it in public in Quebec City because that just might send people into fits of atavistic savagery.

      • Not just "in Quebec City," but "on the Plains of Abraham on the 250th anniversary to the hour." I'm not against reading it, and I don't think it's a conspiracy by Moulin à paroles or anything, but that is obviously the context.

      • "We" reading it in Quebec City is the organization headed by separatists including Patrick Bourgeois and Loco Locass both of whom have been openly threatening violence on those who dare to commemorate the Battle of the Plains in a way that is contrary to their orthodoxy. I don't think the National Art Centre ever threatened anyone. I may be wrong.

  7. Well if we pretend the battle doesn't exist, then it never happened…then if we read this silly manifesto, then it means we actually won!!

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