2005/01/23

Racial problems in France

Just recently, I yet again came across articles/blogs inferring France is the dark pit of anti-semite sentiments.

While my blogging experience has been that nobody has hardly ever shown any interest on my occasional posts denouncing the wrongs of this country, I'll give it another shot.

So, do you ppl want to know what racial problems WE have here? If yes, read on. If no, move on to the next post.

Arabs/Muslims

Ever since the infamous Algeria war and the chaos France left behind her after her imperialist, greedy & brutal conquests, South West Europe has been progressively inundated with North Africans. Little wonder: we French went there like Ceasar, veni vidi vici and fuckedi alli, then left the place looking like a disaster zone.

This Arab population is now one tenth of France's population. One person in 10 here is not caucasian but from Arabic origin. This explosion has taken place in less than 50 years.

As seen elsewhere time and time again, such a rapid influx of foreigners invariably results in resentment at the grass-root level, especially when economic harshness sets in and jobs are a scarcity. The usual xenophobic sentiment takes over, making those *foreigners* responsible for every evil our great western democracies would otherwise be immune from if we kept them White and clean.

So, yes, here we are: there is widespread racism here in France, and it's directed against the Arabic population. It's by and large very subdued because 1) the anti-racial laws are significant here, and 2) there is something in the culture that makes overt racial statements very uncool, even if ppl think it within.

Still, whichever reason predominates, the fact is that anyone who lives here for an extended period of time can sense the underlying racism, but the racism very rarely blows out into ugly outburts. In fact, incidents of violence against Arabs by caucasians are extremely rare, much rarer than the everyday non-racially motivated youth delinquence in general.

If anything, in the last few years the situation has improved significantly, in part because Arabs living here are stepping into the broad culture in a decisive way (music and sport in particular).

The only really worrying bit is the openly fascist and racist component of the caucasion population, rallying under the banner of Le Pen's exteme right party. But they are still a small minority.

Conversely, there is a small minority of nutcase Muslims who want nothing else but the total eradication of the entire French culture and its secular way, and replace is with an Islamic government. LOL, sure. But here again they are an even smaller minority. I've never come across one in the 20 odd years I lived in this country. And yet, living in the south, close to the Mediteranean sea, and thus where Arabs abound, I sure bump into them all the time. In fact, the small block of apartments Dianne and I live in is occupied all by Arabs - we're the only caucasians in the joint. I yet have to come across more friendly and helpful neighbors. They are all thrilled Dianne is American - wow, a *real* American, right here. An old lady, with the complete muslim apparel, veil and all, who lives upstairs, knocked at the door a few weeks ago, and in broken French explained she wanted to make a gift to Dianne. The gift was a huge plate of arab cakes and sweets she'd made herself.


Jews

Only 3 hours ago, on the 8pm national news, we saw the inauguration of a monument, right in the heart of Paris, in commemoration of the holocaust. A Great Wall of Names of French Jews deported during the war, some 76 thousand names, carefully researched by historians to avoid painful mistakes - not such an easy task in the midst of people whose identity papers disappeared and whose bodies went in smoke, literally.

Anyway, more to the point:

Whereas I can observe a subjacent anti-arab feeling at the grass root level in this country, even if unspoken, it is obvious that there is no such anti-jew/anti-semite sentiment equivalent. It is pure fiction. It exists NOT.

Of course, there are nutcases around, like everywhere else. Whether caucasians or arabs, there are a few psycopaths who will scream for the death of every jew on this planet. What's new? Same with nutcase jews who scream for the death of every palestinian. And so on. Take you pick.

The reality though is that claiming there is a rampant & wide-spread anti-jew sentiment here is not only bullshit, it's actually ridiculous. Anyone who would like to spend 6 months here would realize it. It simply doesn't make sense. One of the reasons is simply that to the average French caucasian, nothing differentiates a jew from a caucasian. Furthermore, jews who practice their religion do it here in a very private manner. Half the staff at my work place could be practising Jews and I wouldn't have a fuckin' clue, nor would anyone else.

And lastly, for those religious paranoiacs, religion in France is all but dead. Nobody gives a fuck about what religion you belong to. The only thing ppl care about is the preservation of a secular system by which anyone can practice any religion they want so long as they don't try to shove it down other ppl's throats. The still overwhelming *christian/catholic* population is so reserved and private about their *religiousness* that once again, you'd be hard pressed to know, even after working for 5 years with a colleague, whether (s)he is catholic or atheist.

And so a *possible* religious motive for anti-semite sentiment clearly does not stand to reason. Religion conflicts here are a thing of the past, thank goodness. Religious-based hatred of other ppl, let alone entire sections of the population, is pure fiction. Chritians fanatics are as rare as hen's teeth. So are Jewish ones (Jewish in the religious sense). Muslim fanatics are also a very tiny minority even if they get very vocal.

Bullshit headline news

A few months ago, France got the world media focus, mostly thanks to the US mass media always in search of a good French-bashing story. It was about the jewish cemeteries desecrated in Alsace, region north east of the country, right next to Germany. Oh boy, what a brouhaha there was. Even asshole Sharon made his grand ignorant speech calling for all French Jews to urgently go home to Israel as if their lives were on the line.

Strangely enough there was no international coverage on the fact that as many catholic and muslim cemeteries were also desecrated. And when, just recently, the investigations at last bore their fruits and found that in all cases, it wasn't at all a case of *broad* anti-jew sentiment born by either caucasions nor arabs, but in fact the product of a handful of neo-nazi youths, then the entire world media was silent about it.

Now, fire the questions. I'll answer them as honestly, truthfully and knowledgeably as I can. I know this country pretty well, and can certainly give you a more meaningful understanding of its problems than a once-off Reuters article taken out of context and read without having a single clue of the entire picture.

I don't make the mistake of reading a few headlines about KKK members actions and equating it with "the entire US is one big anti-black pit". I have the unfair advantage over most of you that I also understand the American culture very well, for both having lived there and being married to a *native*.

Lastly, I also know all about the Australian way of life, after 24 years of hell living there, LOL.

Take advantage of my advantage if you're fair dinkum, as they say in Oz, and really want to know what it's like here.
=======
PS: I noticed in the comments some ppl suggesting it would be a good idea if this post was spread for everyone interested in the subject to see. Please feel free to copy/paste and distribute it anywhere you like. You don't even need to credit me for it - just say "here is what some French dude wrote".

13 Comments:

Actually the term "Caucasian" technically includes those of Arabic descent as well. Generally, Caucasian included eastern Indian, Arabic, and South American as well as "white" European and North American peoples. The larger view of this (now controversial) analysis was one of the world divided between three large "races": Negroid, Mongoloid, and Caucasoid. This position has largely been deprecated in recent years.

Reference: http://bartleby.school.aol.com/64/C006/057.html

My (ignorant) impression of France's approach to immigrants has been that it's Constitution did not make the same dedication to welcoming immigration that the United States Constitution did, and because of this many Americans misunderstand the general French attitude towards their immigrants. In any case, let's hope Le Pen does not find a way to inject his fascism into popular French culture, the way Bush has here in the US. 

Posted by Sarah
1/24/2005 01:26:00 am  
Just a short comment as I'm on my way out the door.

We sure love to hate France. It's so obscene. Even semi-professional teachers at my school take cracks at France before they'll take cracks at "enemy political parties".

Re Sharon: While I was in Spain last summer, I stopped in Barcelona to check out the city. I came across some great political graffiti: "Bush, Aznar, Sharon, Burlosconi, you fascists are the terrorists". If only our American graffiti could be more intelligent and poignant.

Sarah, I love our hypocrisy when it comes to immigrants. Here in the southwest most people really dislike Mexicans but are willing to tolerate them because they'll clean the shit off the floor. At the same time, they want to spend so much money increasing the "border security". The intelligent thing to do would be to spend that money on improving Mexico's social system so these people wouldn't feel they have to come up north for work at the local WalMart. That way, fewer immigrants would come up north AND the rest of the world would see us in a slightly better light because we actually supported another government.

The best thing about America (and all other "open" countries--we're not so open, but we're supposed to be) is that it should be a melting pot. Hell, none of us whities are any more native than the blacks or Latinos. 

Posted by starchybean
1/24/2005 01:43:00 am  
"Actually the term "Caucasian" technically includes ...".

Just shows how ignorant I'm in natural sciences, LOL. Maths was the only thing I found interesting at school and uni. Oh well, for the sake of clarification, what I meant by caucasian was simply white people from European descendance.

"....it's Constitution did not make the same dedication ...".

You're probably exactly right. I don't know either constitution details in this respect, but it would make sense, since France has been its own identity for centuries before a constitution turned up, whereas the States was founded with the very premise of immigrants to make up & build its white population.

Related to the subject though, there is an interesting thing I've experienced myself when I landed in Florida. In the US, the INS is pretty powerful, and if an illegal immigrant is caught there, and especially if working a job, the INS can arrest that person, detain her/him in one of their centers for 24 or 48 hours, whatever time it takes to ascertain their illegal status, and if satisfied, ship the person on the next flight back to where they come from. All this without even the right to collect your personal belongings.

The French constitution has a clause that pledges this land to be an asylum to any refugee. In practice, we see it all the time: ppl who come here, you just cannot legally throw them out. Once they've landed on the soil, it is virtually impossible to kick them out. Which of course gives Le Pen heart attacks, LOL.

Paris in particular, but cities all over the country too, have long time resident illegal immigrants, most of them working, children at school, social security and all, just like normal citizens, etc. It's quite hilarious in a way cuz they are illegal, and yet the system has to treat them as though they were actually legal. The only damocles glave that hangs over their head is that at any stage, if the gov finds some excuse or loophole, then they can get expulsed - which happens very rarely but still does.

They regularly march protests demanding their official right of stay papers. They are called the "sans papiers" (= without papers) and mostly get sympathy from the population at large, and huge support from the welfare and church organizations. Our right wing gov is pissed off about it, but there is hardly anything they can do about it.

Not sure why, but I think it's funny. 

Posted by WhyNot
1/24/2005 02:51:00 am  
"Bush, Aznar, Sharon, Burlosconi, you fascists are the terrorists"..

You know, this is pretty much the rampant grass-root feeling across Europe. I guess the difference with the States is ppl here seem to have learned to make a difference between a Government and the People of a country. Spain's population was some 94% against the Iraq war, yet the idiot in charge, because of some sordid ass kissing story about some fiancé link with some equally idiotic UK young dude, decided that he'd follow Tony Blair's path to sucking Bush's anus.

But nobody in Europe suddently decided that Spanish ppl were a bunch of morons because of it. We vitriolically abused the Spanish gov and the bitch who made her pathetic speech at the UN when the issue of the Iraq war was pushed by the US.

I fail to understand what is so hard to understand about the concept. It really beats me. 

Posted by WhyNot
1/24/2005 03:17:00 am  
I believe this post and comments should be available to all the France-haters that I see in the web. Most of them either do not know France or they want to believe that French people is anti-Semitic(?). I admire France, its history and its people. It has problems, like all countries, but I will soon visit it. 

Posted by Dr. Marco
1/24/2005 05:10:00 am  
It is available to everyone. We just need to get them here. The whole idea behind hating an entire country of people is so idiotic. No intelligent person can possibly hate millions of people he has not yet met. Sure, maybe some French people hate America, but most do not. Don't punish those who don't because of some preconceived notion. 

Posted by starchybean
1/24/2005 08:11:00 am  
I believe this post and comments should be available to all the France-haters that I see in the web..

Although we do hope for readership and debate on this blog, Marco, our goal is so much more than that. Because we all have different readers and can't hope they all will visit another site because we point them to it I have cross-posted this on Bouillabaisse. I agree with you that WhyNot has done a fine job here and his message needs to be seen by all. Please do help us in our effort to bring balance to this issue. 

Posted by Dianne
1/24/2005 01:15:00 pm  
i have also been guilty (when i was younger) of "french bashing" until i was old enough to realize for myself that not everything we are told is true. here we are taught that the french, europeans in general really, hate americans and think that we are all fat, racist, lazy, arrogant pigs. (it's nice to know that we aren't the only ones lol) i have to say that it's been my experience that it's not that way at all. thanks to the internet, i have access to wonderful people all over tho world (like you and phillipe) when i chat, i chat in an english chat room. i am the only american on this particular chat to my knowledge and only once have i recieved a negative reaction. i have met several people that i i-m with almost every day now. they are all curious about the crazy american lifestyle and most have told me that they love america and can't wait to visit. i guess the point of this is that it's really your experiences that should shape your view. people that just automatically judge based on something that you have no control over, are ignorant. they have no idea because thay've lead a sheltered life without being able to experience other types of people. and that's just sad 

Posted by angiekruger
1/24/2005 02:03:00 pm  
We have a similar problems here in Canada. Particularly so in the West. Toronto is considered to be in "Eastern Canada and could not be more multicutural.

Something like 70% of all immigrints to Canada settle here in TO. Anything overtly racist here is VERY uncool, for obvious reasons.

Still, it exists and a few people to still up the media is all spindoctors require.  

Posted by deviant1
1/24/2005 02:44:00 pm  
In response to a couple of comments suggesting so, if anyone wants to use the contents of this post, for whatever purpose, feel free. I hand it over to the public domain. You don't need to credit me for it, just say "here is what some French dude wrote". Feel free to copy/paste it into your own blog, print it out and splatter it on your Uni message board, whatever. It's yours.
PS: I revised it slightly, first to fix the numerous typos, and also to clean up the style some. 

Posted by WhyNot
1/24/2005 02:49:00 pm  
Has France and her people not suffered enough? Just look at history.
Why the fudgecicles is america so down on France.. did they not give us the statue of liberety??

Some people just need to go back and read their history.. it is such a shame.. 

Posted by APRIL
1/25/2005 02:05:00 pm  
Dear *French dude*, I've been checking out the net to research problems of racism in France for a coursework assignment in college. First of all, I'd like to big you up for your post because I think that the underlying racial thoughts that you speak of exist here in england too. I've been trying to put these ideas into song lyrics and you've helped me out a great deal.

Back to business though, is there any info you have on what started this whole debate in the first place ... my teacher kinda threw me in at the deep end and I'm totally lost. Thanx a lot mate. 

Posted by Dave
2/24/2005 12:50:00 am  
Hi Dave,

First, feel free to use any part or all of this article.

Now, I'm not quite sure what you are refering to when you say “what started this whole debate in the first place ” . Do you mean what prompted me to write my post? If so, simply because I regularly come across blogs where the auhor clearly doesn't have a single clue, yet proclaims the entire French population is hunting down the country's resident Jews.

If I missed the point of your question, please ask again, or if you have any other question, fire away - I'll be only too happy to tell you everything I can.

Cheers :-) 

Posted by WhyNot
2/24/2005 06:48:00 am  

:
:
:

BloggerHacks

<< Home