The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Return of the Metics

According to George Will, those born in the U.S. should not necessarily have the rights of Americans. This he argues in an extremely legalistic and pedantic piece in the WaPo. He assiduously avoids any practical consideration as to having millions of people born and raised in the U.S. suddenly being non-citizens. One minute it's "assimilation," the next it's "eternal foreigner". He essentially arguing for expanding the status of metic to much larger part of the population.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jeannette Bougrab, nouveau chef de la Halde, sur le sexisme/racisme/classisme

Après que Gérard Longuet ait déclaré qu'il fallait nommer quelqu'un venant "du corps français traditionnel" à la tête de la Halde (Haute Autorité contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité, ouf) on a finalement opté pour Jeannette Bougrab. Elle est professeur de droit, fille de harkis et jeune de 36 ans. Dans cette interview avec le Figaro Madame elle aborde de nombreux sujets comme les statistiques ethniques, les quotas, la place des femmes au travail, le "classisme," etc. Les positions exprimées dans ces quatres petites minutes sont plutôt ordinaires, mais intelligemment défendues.

Et oui, elle est jolie aussi.

(Saudi) Journalist: Yemeni Capital Actually Pretty Calm

Seulement en français, grâce au Courrier international.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Judge Bans Front National Poster

Jean-Marie Le Pen of the Front National is running in what are in all likelihood his last elections: to be had of my home region, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA), an FN stronghold.

As part of the campaign, the FN's youth wing began plastering the above poster in PACA and then all around. The League Against Racism and Antisemitism (LICRA) called for its banning and, two days ago, a judge ordered the FN to remove these posters or suffer a 500 euro fine for each day in delay (see article in Le Figaro).

The judge ordered this because:
"[T]his poster is not only by nature meant to provoke a feeling of rejection and animosity towards a group of people whose religious practices, women and nationality is aimed but, in addition, is aimed essentially at youth which is by nature more easily influenced."

The poster took example from a similar one from Switzerland. The symbolism includes France speared by minarets, a brown woman wearing a burqa, the Algerian flag covering France and the injuction "No to Islamism!". It appeals to three strains of French racism and Islamophobia, notably:
1) Algerian War Revanchism: The Algerian flag is also that of the Front de Libération National, the revolutionary organization that evicted France from Algeria. Le Pen is a veteran of the Algerian War and many of the FN's supporters are composed former French settlers in Algeria and partisans of French Algeria. This part of the base is driven by the same bitterness and stab-in-the-back theories that flourished in Germany after the First World War and the U.S. after the Vietnam War. In 1997, an FN regional councilor for PACA said "The Algerian War will be over when we have power."

2) Traditional Anti-Arab/Muslim Sentiment: The Algerian flag onto France also refers to the mass immigration from North Africa that began after the Second World War. It refers to q traditional hostility to non-Whites and non-Christians, similar sentiment appearing in most Western European countries around this time, and to a more explicit fear of an islamized Algerian France where the infertile White natives have been replaced by proliferating Arabs. This apocalyptic vision is one shared and also promoted by significant parts of the American neoconservative intelligentsia through the World War IV and Eurabia cottage industries.

3) New "War on Terror" Islamophobia: The explicit call of the poster is against Islamism. Here, it taps into relatively newer images of Muslims as religious fundamentalists and terrorists. The key events are the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Algerian Civil War between the military and the Islamist "Islamic Salvation Front" after the latter won elections in 1992, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks and following propagation of the ideology of the War on Terror. We have the image of France being Islamized, with terrorism and Sharia law being imposed. There are about 6 million Muslims in France. An internal government report estimated the number of women wearing burqas at 2,000. There is little history of Islamist terrorism in France, with the major exception of several bomb attacks in Paris in 1995 (related to then Algerian Civil War).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glenn Beck Denounces Wilders and Le Pen, Sees Return of Fascism to Europe

An initial report from Loonwatch had it that Glenn Beck had lumped far-right European politicians Geert Wilders and Jean-Marie Le Pen in the same "fascist" basket. Loonwatch emphasized how the right-wing Islamophobic intelligentsia in America then pounced on Beck to recant and apologize for suggesting Wilders was "fascist".

Beck's narrative presented "Left" and "Right" in Europe to be rising. he explained "Left" in Europe means Communism, "Right" means Fascism, and that these forces were now rising. In short, Europe is headed towards totalitarianism once again.

He noted, quite accurately, that in times of economic crisis, people tend to radicalize. As proof today, he cites the rise to prominence of Wilders in Holland and of Le Pen in France. He noted that though French President Nicolas Sarkozy had low approval ratings in the thirties, "this guy, far right, Le Pen, he's at 57%."

Holy shit! France is going to have the Fascist/Far Right/Vichyite Jean-Marie Le Pen as President?!

Did I hear that right?

Beck presented "this guy" with juxtaposed pictures of President Sarkozy and... Dominique de Villepin! Indeed, you can barely hear it, Beck says "vi-le-pen" not "le-pen'".

Dominque de Villepin, of course, is former President Jacques Chirac's protégé and a former Prime Minister, made most famous as Foreign Minister for his stirring antiwar speeches before the U.N. Security Council in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. He indeed has high approvals right now (like Chirac) and is considered a potential right-wing challenger to Sarkozy in 2012.

He is not Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, neofascist party the Front National. Le Pen is reaching retirement age and has about a fifth of France voting consistently for him. He is currently campaigning in what will probably be his last election: to be head of the my home region in the South of France (despite it being his strongest base of support, it is very unlikely he will win outright).

We shouldn't be too hard on Beck. I get it, Villepin/Le Pen, they're both French and sound similar. A small slip-up, like a typo, due near-homophony of a foreign tongue. It is completely understandable, Beck's team can't be expected to know the politics of foreign countries perfectly... nothing but an honest mistake. An honest mistake that happens to once again promote hysteria by presenting an apocalyptic vision of the totalitarian Europe to come: no doubt these Americans will be asked to fight to save Europe again and no doubt the French will be ungrateful again too.

What a difficult and thankless thing it must be, to live in Glenn Beck's America.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Unmistakably German"

I've been going through military ads recently, including many that celebrate "the national mystique". Now, something not quite completely different, as this controversial ad by French car company Citroen.

Really, one has to consider this a minor work of art given its magnificent aesthetics. And all those semi-obscure cultural references to reactionary German excellence (the winter forest, Prusso-Bavarian setting, fair maidens on horseback or serving huge sausages and... fencing?!), clearly a cultured, creative and zealous marketing/media grad put a lot of thought and had a lot of a fun putting this together. Now, I'm sure the eagles and swords would like to refer to Prussia - and I lord knows I love the Prussian mystique - but it feels rather more sinister, doesn't it?

(All this besides why Citroen is doing an ad like this. Trying to steal the glory of BWM, Audi and Mercedes-Benz? To not say Volkswagen!)