Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Quebec Mosque Massacre

The French word for shame is "honte", and that is what I have been feeling since I learned that the police have only one suspect for the shooting in the Ste-Foy mosque and his surname is Bissonnette.

I try to avoid publishing the names of suspected assassins, as my mother told me that fame is one of their motives, but in this case I feel I have to spell it out because it is one of the most Canadian names there is--if you believe that the longer your family has lived in British North America, the more "Canadian" its name is. Needless to say, this is a controversial point of view. It is not, however, self-aggrandizing in my case, since my Scottish migrant ancestors landed in Canada no earlier than 1900---late enough that I could "go back" to Scotland and feel at home.

Incidentally, here is a list of the most common surnames in present-day Canada, and here is a list of the most common surnames in present-day Quebec. I see that Bissonnette is not on it, which rather trashes my assertion. You will have to take it from a Canadian that the name Bissonnette conjures up images of French-Canadian life. I see before me the "Farine (flour) Five Roses" sign as my train east once again pulls into Montreal's Gare Centrale.

It doesn't matter that I am not myself a French-Canadian. My husband is not a Gaelic-speaking Highlander, but he would feel terrible if Donald came down from the Isle of Skye and shot up the mosque in Inverness. Ste-Foy is very near birthplace of Canada, and so it hurts me both that innocent men were shot there--while praying--and that the guy who did it was from Cap-Rouge.

Yesterday's rumours that the killer was a sectarian Islamic convert--he was wrongly reported to have had a accomplice named Mohamed--have been replaced by rumours that he is a "Christian nationalist". As a Christian and a nationalist (depending on what is meant by that word), I am wondering what it is in Christianity or nationalism that would inspire a 27 year old to walk into a place of worship and shoot men at random. Anyone who wants to take up arms against actual Islamist terrorism has a number of options that do not include shooting innocent people.

The suspect's Facebook page was wide open to the dozens of insults that were posted there as soon as he was named, and that's clearly where journalists got his photo. (Being a journalist, I have chosen as many privacy option on my own Facebook as I can figure out.) Looking for any possible motive for his crime, I scrolled to the the suspect's "Likes", and to my horror,I saw that he had liked G.K.Chesterton's The Flying Inn.

The Flying Inn, published in 1914, imagines an England whose ruling class has taken a shine to Islam, particularly its dislike for alcoholic beverages and its option for polygamy. I'm a little frightened that GKC may have influenced this young man, and I am thinking uneasily about how stirring renditions of Lepanto--a traddie favourite--might inspire a shortsighted youth to take up arms against the paynim in freaking Ste-Foy.

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