Tuesday, July 09, 2002

A CHURCH-GOING UNDERCLASS IN THE LAND OF MAI 68?

Another great article by Christopher Caldwell in the Weekly Standard on Islam in France. The author does not bash French Muslims but exposes the dynamics and contradictions a frenchified Islam, torn between adapting to the secular French society and sticking to the fighting words of the imams. The article concludes that the big question is whether the French constitutional model (that does not leave any legitimate role to religion in public life) can sustain the sudden revival of religious claims made by Muslims of all sides.

Mickey Kaus of Slate adds some interesting points, in a much different, more incriminating, mode, and points to the similarities with a problem America has known for decades:

"1) Caldwell makes it clear why it's not crazy or racist for French voters to conclude (as 63 percent concluded in one poll two years ago) that there are "too many Arabs" in the country. Islam, unlike Catholicism, Judaism, etc, has "confounded every governmental attempt to assimiliate it into Frances' sternly secular order;"
2) Caldwell offers yet more evidence of the connection between welfare and terrorism -- French welfare subsidizes a macho Arab ghetto culture that supplies Islamic fundamentalism with angry young men;
3) Saudi Arabia subsidizes the most important Muslim organization, extreme in its religious conservatism;
4) "Of the country's 230 major imams, none is French."
5) France is following America's steps in dealing with it's underclass, as predicted by political scientist Larry Mead. The French have just discovered affirmative action, for example....Caldwell doesn't offer much of a solution, and seems to argue that France's secular order, in which religion is kicked out of the "public square," is vulnerable because it can't be defended with the same ardor as America's version of church/state separation, in which public life is permeated by religion."

Monday, July 08, 2002

AIR FRANCE SCREWS UP

ProcheOrient.info reports that on July 5, upon landing in Israel, the pilot of AF 1192 said "Bienvenue en Palestine" over the public adress system. Outraged passengers attempted to have a talk with him but he locked himself up in the cabin. The passengers then entered Ben Gourion airport and filed a complaint with the police. Air France spokespersons are trying to downplay the incident, saying the Israelis are too sensitive while The Israeli Transportation Minister has asked AF officials for explanations.
CHASSEZ L'INTRUS: MEDIAS-FRANCAIS-SERIEUX

Je rêve qu'un jour, les médias français cesseront de lancer des mots lourds de sens comme s'il s'agissait de simple ponctuation. Je pense particulièrement à des termes comme "retour à l'ordre moral" quand on interdit aux gens de se promener en maillot de bain hors des plages (France 2). "Politique sécuritaire" quand le gouvernement met fin à l'impunité des délinquants mineurs ou pire, "tout répressif" quand on annonce la construction d'une prison. Une autre perle: "l'Amérique puritaine", tel quel, au milieu d'un texte par ailleurs centré sur des faits (France Info). Très fréquent aussi: "psychose" pour qualifier la crainte légitime des américains face à de nouveaux attentats plus que probables. Ces expressions ont leur place: dans les pages Opinion. Le problème est que ces exagérations et facilités de langage (naturellement toujours connotées à gauche) s'insinuent partout. Beaucoup d'américains se plaignent de ne plus pouvoir distinguer les papiers factuels et les papiers de commentaire dans la presse. Les conservateurs dénoncent le biais pro-libéral dans les médias (je pense au dernier livre d'Ann Coulter). Ils devraient venir ici lire Libération, écouter France Info ou regarder nos infos et se dire qu'ils ont bel et bien les médias les plus équilibrés et les plus déontologiques. Je sais qu'il est difficile de demander aux français de faire preuve d'un peu plus de professionnalisme, mais l'information a un tel poids dans notre perception du monde qu'on devrait la déclarer 'exception culturelle' afin qu'elle puisse échapper à la paresse des esprits.