March 30, 2007


And the French presidential election.
[The conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy,] has criticized immigrants and their offspring who resist the French model of integration, saying it is unacceptable to want to live in France without respecting and loving the country or learning French.

He touched off the current debate in a television appearance on March 8 when he announced a plan to create a “ministry of immigration and national identity” if elected.

[The Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal] called the plan “disgraceful,” adding, “Foreign workers have never threatened French identity.”...

Mr. Sarkozy’s proposal has revived memories of the Vichy era. The idea of a national identity ministry has been compared to the General Commissariat of Jewish Affairs, which was created with ministerial rank under the Vichy administration. “Only Vichy developed administrative structures in their efficient way to defend a certain concept of ‘national identity,’ ” the columnist Philippe Bernard wrote in Le Monde last week. He said that the Commissariat, “even before being a tool in the service of the policy of extermination, responded to the objective of purification of the French nation.”...

Despite Ms. Royal’s criticism of Mr. Sarkozy, she followed his lead by wrapping herself tightly in her own mantle of nationalism....

She said all French citizens should have the French flag at home, adding, “In other countries, they put the flag in the windows on their national holiday.” And she promised that if elected, she would “ensure that the French know ‘La Marseillaise.’"


Bissage said...

Let’s go for the trifecta. The French could: (1) maintain their identity; (2) save their economy; and (3) cure their stinkitidy, if only they would never, never, never pay full price.

Cat said...

How is this news? Isn't there already a ministry of French culture to keep non-French culture out of the main stream as much as possible (40% of all music broadcast must be French; ads must be in French, etc.).

As far as the flag waving, when American elitists and journalists were hyperventilating over the return of the flag flying after 9/11 (jingoism!), I kept reading about how they NEVER wave flags in Europe (they are so sophisticated!) and the only flag you'll see is a EU flag. Funny that even the French socialists are pushing the flag and the national anthem, but I don't think that's anything new or newsworthy either. It's just new to this journalist who assumed Europeans were above that.

Cat said...

Bissage - Pepe Le Pew is my favorite Frenchman.

Modern Otter said...

When betting on the outcome of a French presidential election, it's always wise to put your money on whichever candidate has the Frenchest name. Names like:

Jacques Chirac
François Mitterrand
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Georges Pompidou
and best of all...
Charles de Gaulle

Ségolène Royal gets the edge here for having both a grave and an aigüe.

Bissage said...

An’ joo, mah Chat du stripee, are ma’ fav-o-rit Keet-ee!


Fen said...

“Foreign workers have never threatened French identity.”


Your "French youths" might differ.

Doug said...

To expand upon what Cat said, there was also a socialist party higher up who recently complained that there were too many people of color on the French soccer team.

I also remember the sneering from the critics and haters when American flags were waving, there was the article by the editor of the Nation (I think) who was pissed at her daughter for wanting to put one up in her room.

Another item I remember from this election was that there were pictures of Ms. Royal in a swim suit. After seeing Hillary in one about ten years ago, I am pretty certain Clinton's advisors will keep her off the beach. And God help us if we ever have to see Rudy or Joe Biden in a speedo

Balfegor said...

Charles de Gaulle

That does gild the lily, doesn't it?

Ségolène Royal gets the edge here for having both a grave and an aigüe.

She's also pure French, no? Sarkozy is half-Hungarian. Or half-Magyar. However you say it. On the other hand, he's from the aristocracy (albeit of distant Hungary); his family apparently had a castle and everything, until the Communists took it all away. The French do go for things like that -- look at Valéry René Marie Georges Giscard d'Estaing. He's not actually from the ancient, noble family d'Estaing, but he uses the name anyhow, and acts as though he were.

Kirby Olson said...

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who
comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us,
he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an
outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or
birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's
becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American...There can be no
divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something
else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag,
the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is
the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that
is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Bissage said...


You're thinking of Katha Pollitt.

Fred said...

Cat, Bissage,
Pepe? Mais non! Voila: Miss Mamzelle Hepzibah!

Fred le Quatre

hdhouse said...

Thank goodness there aren't any people or political groups in the United States that miror Sarkozy's thinking. Why, we would be just like them. Although i can't think of any groups or politicos here who like anything French.

How un-American!

Elizabeth said...

We have room for but one language here, and that is
the English language...

When I read that quote, I am always saddened by what followed, the stamping out of languages spoken by small groups like the Cajuns. It was a terrible decision. Listen to Zachary Richard's "No French, No More" sometime. I can't without crying. And come on down and tell some Cajuns they're not American because they speak two languages. Go ahead, I dare you.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Ségolène Royal gets the edge here for having both a grave and an aigüe.

Plus she's hot. So considering the difference between a French Socialist and a French Conservative is taste in wine and cheese, I'd go for who looks better in a bikini and Segolene wins that one. Then again I'm a pig so what do I know.

I guess I am wondering what is so bad about the French wanting to maintain thier cultural identity. I mean unlike us Yanks, the French do have a defined cultural and ethnic identity so why is it considered bigoted or unacceptable to want to maintain that and require people who immigrate there to assimilate? On one hand there seems to concern when Western culture creeps into non-Western nations as if it was some kind of virus that 'destoys the indigenous traditions of the natives' whereas somehow the West is 'enriched' by such diversity.

Doug said...

Thanks Bissage, I thought it might have been Katrina VandenHeuvel (sp), but once you mentioned Pollitt, it came back to me

Cat said...

Hoosier Daddy - nothing wrong with the French doing that, I am just saying it's nothing new. But the way the US was characterized after 9/11 for singing God Bless America and taking flags out of the mothballs...I mean, the hand wringing in the press/media...and by the French.

I do have a problem with the Vichy characterization. That's a stretch. Frankly, I get sick of all the Nazi references. It makes for irrational discourse and I tend to dismiss an opinion on the spot (like Hitler, facists, Nazi, brown shirts). It has cheapened the meaning of those words.

Balfegor said...

Although i can't think of any groups or politicos here who like anything French.

I have always had a high regard for the French attitude towards other nuclear weapons. I mean, if I were them, I wouldn't have gone about it the same way, because that would be evil, but there's a certain zama miro! frisson in remembering that when protesters tried to shut down their nuclear tests, the French sent in the commandos to blow up the protesters' ship. Which they did. And of course, the French think nothing of invading other countries -- they've been meddling in Cote d'Ivoire and the CAR for a while now, bombing this or that faction and shooting them up on occasion. Not with anything really resembling success, of course -- they are French -- but their forthright assertion of national interest is something I envy. I have the same sort of admiration for the Japanese on the whaling issue.

On domestic issues, though, I'm less admiring. Yes, on the one hand, the French are devoted to preserving their distinctive national character, etc. etc. Unfortunately (a) I don't particularly care for their national character, and (b) they have historically achieved this end through violence and repression against their own citizens. Nowadays, it may just be banning the hijab, but the French campaigns against speakers of Languedoc and Breton and the other minority tongues of France, went well beyond the scope of a ban -- they were practically genocidal.

Robin Goodfellow said...

“Foreign workers have never threatened French identity.”

Ah, what a tidy summation of the problem and the blindness to it in one compact little sentence. So long as "foreign workers" and "French identity" remain separate entities the problem will remain.

Richard Dolan said...

It's interesting how the debate over the idea of nationhood is playing out along parallel lines in France and the US. Sarkozy says that "it is unacceptable to want to live in France without respecting and loving the country or learning French." Royal dismisses that idea as "disgraceful," bordering on a collaboration with Nazism, but then pays homage to Sarkozy's animating idea of "la Nation" by turning it into a farce -- she'll make sure everyone learns "la Marseillaise."

How familiar it all sounds.

Fen said...

There does seem to be a contradiction. The French often denounce criticism of their people as "racist". So they still have a sense of tribalism, but disdain national "identity"?

Fen said...

Cat: Pepe Le Pew is my favorite Frenchman.

Us too. My wife named our car after him. Which is kinda weird but fun.

Drew W said...

Funny how we're all tied in knots over how many times Rudy & Judi Giuliani have been married. Ségolène Royal and her partner François Hollande -- parents of four children -- never bothered to get married in the first place. And even though she's as much an entrenched member of the out-of-touch French political class -- a graduate of Sciences Po as all the rest (except, I think, Sarkozy) -- she does look pretty good in a bathing suit. Leering aside, I'm still a Sarko fan, if I had to choose. Or was French.

I've read -- and I'd love to know if it's really true -- that out of the 577 members of the French National Assembly, not one is of Arab descent. And Arabs are what percent of the French population?

And remember, when French students protested the slightest change to their employment laws last year out of fear that their government guarantee of employment might be a little bit threatened, who really got screwed when the government backed down after the street protests? As I understand it, it was those very same dark-skinned people who aren't particularly represented in the National Assembly. Quel dommage!

Jennifer said...

Shouldn't that be Frenchiness?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Frankly, I get sick of all the Nazi references. It makes for irrational discourse and I tend to dismiss an opinion on the spot (like Hitler, facists, Nazi, brown shirts). It has cheapened the meaning of those words.

Indeed. No argument there.

Bissage said...

Fred’s mention of Miss Mam’selle Hepzibah deserves a link.


And by the way, this Frenchified thing has gotten me all nervous and sweaty. I hope nobody out there has been pronouncing my stage name along the lines of “massage.” I say it like “message.” BISS-age.

P.S. Fen, was that a car or a cat? Inquiring minds want to know.

Richard Fagin said...

Elizabeth, you reminded me of a trip I made from Morgan City, LA to Jeanerette, LA with two Cajuns and a Frenchman way back in 1979. Poor Frenchy didn't know where we were going when the Cajuns pronounced it "zhen-er-et." Upon learing the name of the town, Frenchy yelled, "Oh, you mean zhahn-air-ette, you stupid Coon Ass!"

ShadyCharacter said...

Having lived in Europe (Berlin and London), I'm always amused when I hear Americans talk about how enlightened and progressive Europeans are on racial matters. Basically, American leftists parrot the self-deluded assertions of European leftists about Europe's post-racial identity (as opposed to the virulently racist Amerikkka which they know so well from sitcoms and movies). More so in Berlin, than London, I have never encountered so much overt racism in America (New England, Washington or Texas) as I did in Europe. From a German host-family who bragged that they only use Jewish doctors (did you know that Jews are without question the best doctors?), to walking down Unter den Linden with an Asian classmate and having locals pull back their eyes and laugh and shout “Nagano Nagano” (this was during the Nagano Olympics – and she told me it was not the first time this had happened), to getting ludicrous questions about black people in America (No, they don’t all carry guns. No they are not all in gangs. Etc…).

Oh so progressive and enlightened…

Cedarford said...

I agree with CAT referencing the Philippe Bernard reference to Vichy, and how "France can't have" anything that in any way happened in Germany under National Socialism.

Meaning I guess along with trashing 2,000 years of French being proud of their Frankish or even regional identities being out because Germans had nationalism recently....that autobahns are bad too.

It should be noted that Bernard is a Communist and as such is a transnationalist that believes that national identity and patriotism are obsolete social structures.

America has it's own elites who want open Borders, think bringing in 200,000 illiterate Somalis is a "huge diversity plus". People who both praise the waving of the Mexican flag having it on cars - while sneering at "smalltown America with their jingoistic flag-waving, ignorant Christian rubes.

Nice to see French pride lives on so even the Socialists must acknowledge it, support putting limits on Islamoids like no hajibs in schools, and Ségolène Royal saying that like those backwater American rubes - a good French family should have a Tricolor handy and know the national anthem.

People should visit France. Great people. They do many things better than America, and are pretty realistic about the enemy within and far less concerned with "precious enemy civil liberties" than many here think.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, ShadyCharacter! My husband says the same thing about his stint in France.

Anyone who's up on European football knows full well how much of a problem racism still is in Europe. I have never seen American sports fans behave the way some European fans do. From throwing bananas and making monkey noises at black players to waving Arkan flags, etc... It can be disgusting.

Beth said...

Richard, I guess he didn't realize they were speaking a whole different language--silly frog! I have to say, usually our French visitors have better manners. And just so no one gets confused--Cajun is rarely spoken in New Orleans. The Creoles (white and of color) who live here speak French, not Cajun.

Cajun French is a distinct, American language, developed over time on American soil.

Fen said...

was that a car or a cat?

Car as in auto [Toyota Echo]. We had some stinky fuel at the time.

re Shady's life amoung the Euro's: I've always felt that Euro chest-thumping about their "enlightened sophistication" was merely them compensating for their lower quality of life?

JohnAnnArbor said...

Although i can't think of any groups or politicos here who like anything French.

The French are right on nuclear power, using it for well over half of their electricity. They did that through standardizing designs (basically "small, medium, large") and building many of each, instead of ours, which are often custom-designed.

And they're right to treat the Scientologists as the money-sucking proto-fascist cult that they are, rather than our treating them as a "religion."

Drew W said...

I was wrong to suggest that there are no Arabs in the French Assembly. Although the information I found didn’t differentiate between French citizens who are Arab Muslims or black Christians, it said that of the 577-member Assembly, there are ten black representatives. (A story I saw from last year said there were eleven. The French feel too high-minded to keep census figures about race, but I wonder if their racial minorities consider that practice to be quite so benign.)

And please delete the words “as much” from the already confusing third sentence of my hastily written previous post.

Jacques Albert said...

Here's a second for Kirby Olson's and Cedarford's posts on national identity and "advanced" European thinking (as dear to US leftist lotus-eaters and latte-sippers as are the thoroughly corrupt and meddling EUrocrats) on racial politics, though Sarkozy's proposals seem moderate and necessary. (Roger Scruton's The West and the Rest is an illuminating book on the drastic differences between Western and traditional Islamic views of political legitimacy) In any case, many on the right in France hope Sarkozy can attract sufficient support from the 15-20% in France who vote for the Front National, Philippe de Villiers and Bruno Megret. Alors . . .Vive Sarkozy!

blake said...


Yeah, that whole "freedom of religion" thing is over-rated.

Do you ever post without taking a shot at Scientology?