Just to be clear — there is nothing wrong with French-speaking Quebecers feeling a particular sense of kinship with one another, as a hardy linguistic minority on a continent full of anglophones; there is nothing wrong with QuÃ©bÃ©cois de souche remembering their roots, and feeling a sense of pride in their long heritage in this country that their ancestors did so much to build [bold mine-DL]; and there is nothing wrong with the rest of us applauding that kinship and saluting that heritage. Indeed, we ought to.
But that is not an argument for tossing around such politically charged terms as “nation,” or for turning the Constitution into a vanity mirror in order that the “narcissism of minor differences” might catch its reflection. ~Andrew Coyne
As I read this, Mr. Coyne is saying that they can feel kinship, remember their roots and be proud of their heritage in “this country,” but what they must never do is make any suggestion that they are a distinct people in any politically meaningful way (i.e., a “nation”). In other words, their identity should best be limited to speaking their language, having their story in history books, and enjoying non-threatening folk songs and ethnic cuisine (if Quebecois have their own cuisine–I confess to not having the slightest idea on this point) in the same way that all multicultis neutralise real ethnic identities by making them commodities. They can have all the trappings of a nation, but they cannot call themselves a nation. Isn’t there something rather odd in all of this?
Then there is this narcissism meme that I have been seeing today. Mr. Coyne regards all of this as a function of narcissism, and Reihan gave a swift kick to “the worst kind of illiberal, navel-gazing narcissism.” I know illiberal is meant to be an insult here, but in any case what exactly is illiberal about indulging the Quebecois in their claim to nationhood? What makes it “navel-gazing narcissism”? Indeed, where is there any navel-gazing at all? This line seems to come from a grab-bag of labels of Things That Everyone Knows To Be Bad, and which you use to label something if you find it really frustrating but have no good descriptions available. Illiberal suggests either meanness of spirit or some creeping authoritarianism; navel-gazing suggests passivity, excessive contemplation, otherworldliness and preoccupation with irrelevancies; narcissism’s meaning is obvious. How does anything related to the Quebecois even match this description, much less constitute “the worst kind” of it?