In these days of political correctness, I should first straighten things up: I teach in Algeria and am a long time militant of several anti-racist parties. I am as well the Founder as such of an Académie Sans Frontière-Borderless Academia I invite you to join…
Now, having stated this, I also wrote in 1997 a Ph.D. thesis on Multiculturalism which contained a great deal of defiance to the then new Politically Correctness phenomenon….
Read the Guardian’s account of what happened to poor Brice….In this perspective, I admit quite clearly that Ministers and any officials have a duty to be careful with their speech at times such as ours where all you say or do is recorded and broadcast…
This French Ministers uttered what I would have privately thought a joke too. Because we can laugh about it sometimes too…What did he say, that when there were too many Auvergnats in France, meaning of course too many people of arab descent in France, it might create problems. The same of course could have been said about other ethnic groups who would also have felt insulted…Yet…when can you joke now…or CAN’T YOU JOKE at all??? One of my dearest friends in Algeria keeps telling me I am a Mossad agent because I am jewish…AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I laugh about it. Laughing is always healthy. Certainly healthier than uttering terrible imprecations on your Facebook Wall for the sake of people who think like you, or, better, in your living room after having made sure no tapes were scrutinizing you.
I am certainly not impressed by the present French government. Yet I respect the fact that my fellow-countrymen elected it three years ago so I will abstain. It has done its best to appear as multicultural as possible and obviously France isn’t as ready for it as it thought.
Yet, I happen to have had more than affection for the previous French president who had been in my mind much more extreme in his “ethnic jokes” when he was talking about “Le bruit et l’odeur” (the noise and the smell) of “Auvergnat” suburbian France…And for a while, I admit that my affection had then somewhat lessened….
This Minister didn’t hide to utter his rather stupid joke, he said it in the face of one of his own party’s militant who happened to be of a different ethnic origin and who, then didn’t seem to find the joke so insulting, not even condescending…He might even privately, as I do, admit that there IS a problem with the fact that France has parked some of its former colonial immigrants in some suburbs to the point of creating litterally new ghettos. In those ghettos the third or fourth generation of these people have become a specific part of the population, enjoying some rights, but not all of them, and thus acts now as a ruling entity preventing law to prevail on their “territories”. I really invite you to read the excellent account made by teachers about these obvious failure of the French multiculturalism. Read also the blog I discovered while writing this post. Obviously now in France, as in Canada or elsewhere, it is common to ask for your origins…boy, in my time, it was as criminal about asking her age to a woman….!
I think that a joke isn’t as bad as closet racism, something which apparently prevails even today according to a recent article in L’Express….
So, let me invite you to think before you join the masses of PC people who wouldn’t like to live in such forsaken territories in condemning a Minister who everyday hears about new proofs that some of these “Auvergnats” certainly make the life of their likes more brutally unliveable.
Another French Minister made herself famous for creating a group called “Ni Putes Ni Soumises” (neither whores nor submissive) because there is a problem in French suburbs. Making jokes might not help, yet they sometimes diffuse the feeling of desperation felt some women who still aspire to belong to the silent secular majority….and who are prevented to do so my a handful of hooligans ruling on their neighbourhood.
Maybe because I belong to a people who readily jokes about himself, and to a country, France, which used to be ready to kill Mum and Dad for a good joke, I am utterly sorry for what I see as a clear confirmation of what I wrote only a few days ago in my Nostalgia note, about origins which, back in the 70s weren’t an issue in secular France. Now, France has tried to recreate the multiculturalism which founding nations such as Canada, Australia and the USA for example have had to implement in order to respect the fact that apart from the indigenous people, society had to deal with equally newcomers having a right to retain their languages, ethnic specificities and could find some “reasonable ways to accommodate” with their fellow-citizens.
I know my discourse is going to irritate a lot of my friends, but that’s the way I am: always direct and honest…I am extremely lucky to have the freedom of speech to speak out and anyone who knows me could give a testimony I am anything but racist or disrespectful. Yet, I’ll always give in for a joke, even if that one might not have been the greatest of all….