Les rêveries du retraité solitaire

Les rêveries du retraité solitaire

Four Faces of Hatred in Four Years

One of my objectives when I created this blog was to make connections between things that for some reasons I came to consider as significant in my life. I just want to reflect on those experiences, and hopefully learn something from them. In this article, I’ll write about expressions of hatred that I witnessed in four different places over a period of four years. I’ll try my best to describe these encounters the way they actually happened.



I’m sitting on the back seat of a car with André, the guy I am sharing a house with in Lafayette, Louisiana. We have just started our job as French teachers in an elementary school. Sitting on the front seat as a passenger is the principal of our school, Mr. Mouton. The driver is some kind of school district commissioner or superintendent. He’s giving us a tour of the city. He’s not talking about the buildings or the other things that we see. He’s talking about, or I should say against, black people. That’s all he talks about. He uses the N word profusely, making derogatory comments about the black folks that we happen to see walking on the sidewalk or waiting for the bus. I can see that Mr. Mouton is not too comfortable with the situation. He tries to shift the conversation on a different subject but this one would not stop talking about his obsessive hatred of black people.



I’m a French teacher for the executives and supervisors of an aluminum company in Baie-Comeau. I'm employed by a language school from Montréal that has a contract with that company. One of my students is an engineer of Hungarian descent. He is a small, gentle-mannered man, with light blue eyes and a soft voice. He invited me for supper at his house. His wife is in Europe to visit her family. He’s going to show me how to prepare the goulash, a traditional dish from his country. It doesn’t take him long to start talking about his pet peeve: the Jews. It turns out that the guy is a frigging Nazi. In a calm and casual way, he starts explaining to me why the Jews are a degenerated race. He says that because of intermarriage inside their community, the Jews became a bunch of idiots. I say to him, “If the Jews are so stupid, how come so many of them are successful doctors, lawyers, artists and scientists who win so many Nobel prizes year after year?”[1] He mumbles that they are either geniuses or idiots, and that most of them are idiots. After that, I notice a change in his demeanour. He is still very polite but he becomes distant and colder. I think the only reason why he invited me was to share his views on Jews.



I’m touring Ireland on my bicycle. I’m in a hotel in Tipperary having a beer with a few guys that I have just met. The atmosphere is friendly and strangely familiar. The place looks a lot like Gavan’s in Quyon or the Bryson Lodge in my own village. Country music is playing. A couple of young lads are playing pool. There is the same smell of old beer on the walls, the carpets, everywhere. A guy comes in and looks at me in a way that doesn’t appear to be too friendly. His friends tell him that I’m from Canada. He says to me, “You must be a fucking Protestant! You look like a fucking Protestant! I hate fucking Protestants!” and he keeps ranting about Protestants. After a while, his friends are able to calm him down. I don’t bother telling him that I come from a part of Canada where 90% of the population is officially Catholic, and that we were also conquered by the Brits. He drinks a beer and takes off. His friends confirm that he is a nut case. “That’s the only thing he talks about”, they said. “That was really weird”, I thought.



I’m still a French teacher in Baie-Comeau. I’m in Montreal for the weekend staying with the guy who’s in charge of the teachers at the language school that hires me and with whom I became a friend. He’s a tall and very handsome man from England who speaks perfect Parisian French. His name is Colin. He introduces me to one of his friends. The guy is Egyptian. He also speaks French. He’s skinny with a beard, and wears a black turtleneck shirt. I don’t know why but I dislike him right away. I’m not too sure how the conversation evolves, but at one point I remember him saying, “I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m only anti-Zionist.” After that, he proceeds to tell us why he hates Jews, but not only Jews. He seems to hate a whole lot of people. He has seemingly nothing to do with the the religious extremists that will come decades later. He’s more a leftist anarchist. After he leaves, I tell Colin, “And that guy is your friend…” Colin says, “He’s more a friend of my ex-wife. He wasn’t like that before.”



Those four people had four things in common. The first one being that they were obsessed by their hatred. It had become the most important thing in their lives. It was more important for them to talk about the people they hated than the ones they loved. The second thing that those people had in common was that they would not listen to any rational arguments that would contradict their beliefs. The third thing is that they would not try to know who you really were and what you thought. They just wanted you to start thinking like them. The fourth and last thing was that they saw themselves as part of something bigger. They were not alone. They were connected with other people who thought like them. They were on a mission, trying to win people to a cause that was greater than them. Being in contact with those people makes you feel that you are overlooked as a person. You are just a vector for the expression of their hatred or a potential ally to their cause.


It’s funny, but I sometimes felt the same uneasiness when I came in contact with people who were preaching in the name of God and religion. I’m not saying that their objectives and intentions were bad. I’m just saying that when you feel that the people who are talking to you about the love of God or how great their religion is don’t even take time to connect with you in a meaningful way, you can ask yourself what they are up to and what their motivation really is.



[1] While they represent only 0.002% of the world population the Jews have won about 20% of the Nobel prizes in medicine and science.

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