Words fail at restituting the surprise, emotion, disbelief we, cosmopolitan citizens, have experienced this week . An accident of life which will certainly remain as one of the juiciest stories in our contemporary era. Lewinsky’s blow job seems so benign, OJ Simpson’s so banal, Miterrand’s daughter raised with the french tax-payer’s money in a perfect 17-years secret so normal, the love affairs in each (or almost) State Affairs forgotten….
The only time I can remember a film being played so often as this week’s image of the downfall of a French candidate is the downfall of the twin towers…
And the feeling of witnessing a disaster at a lesser degree yet a very tangible one….although in one case one feels helpless and devastated whereas in the other case, whatever the verdict of the case, one feels puzzled at least. But let’s not dwell on the detective story although, like everyone else, I’m wondering about 5*hotels chasing their best clients, chambermaids entering an occupied suite, absent body guards…but that’s quite another story. No matter how straightforward the case seems to be….and straightforward it better be to explain the NYSP extreme velocity to fetch one of the most prominent world leaders and put him to jail with the most deliberate level of transparency and will to reveal the affair to the world, they have necessarily an irrefutable case.
No names need to be brought up, you know what I’m referring to, we all have been chatting and commenting upon what seems to be an ancient drama revisited…Hamlet prefers to abandon his kingdom and drives Ophelia mad….
So let the justice take care of it.
I merely examine the way it is being discussed, the language put forward…from A to Z...although of course at letter C, Cosmopolitan is probably the term the most frequently used in reference for France’s former leading socialist figures. Because the man is jewish, because he lived in Morroco, was raised in Monaco, speaks fluently several languages, represents an intellectual aristocracy…thus radically differing from Oseloka Obaze‘s terms, in an excellent review of Appiah’s book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (video) that “you need not be wealthy, elitist and urbanite to be cosmopolitan” …
Words are essential and in the case we are presently all dealing with, the recurrence of the term cosmopolitan makes me feel like a little review of the reason why I chose this term for my blog.
Funnily enough I founded this blog in August 2006, exactly when Appiah published his book. I had never heard of his book but somehow, having worked for 20 years on the issue of multiculturalism, was more satisfied with the notion of cosmopolitanism to reflect our multiple backgrounds and identities yet remaining true to ourselves. Even more funnily is discovering, thanks to Reverend Osagyefo Ohuru Sekou recently, that Appiah had dealt with this issue, quite remarkably, even referring to “Believers without Borders” pretty much at the same time I had constituted the informal movement called Academie Sans Frontières (background in this site, click here)…I suppose it shows how cosmopolitan both Appiah and I are….we share common values, an honor for me !
On the New York Case, I’d simply like to coin a word, the DSkism, which might well in the future refer to the fact of shooting yourself in the foot in order not to achieve the highest aspirations of your entourage….
From A to Z what then are the other terms we keep hearing on this issue?
A for Assault as in the Ghanean Nation…and Affair in an endless number of papers such as the New Yorker.…A for Martine Aubry a remarkable and sensitive woman who is a challenger now for the Primary elections, in Le Monde, among thousands of others…
B for Bedroom, as “news stop at the bedroom” in France, according to The Times
C for Cosmopolitan, in endless links (Net-26, le Figaro,le Post.fr, the Daily Beast), for Chambermaid obviously, for Code of Conducts as emphasized by The New York Times and for Culture…of Impunity for Diplomatic reasons, according to the Guardian, of Justice according to France Culture.
D for the Dérapage, as mentioned by Libération quoting the French feminists manifesto against the way some political figures have tended to minimize the importance of the rape, to consider it as an ambiguous situation, which limits are blurred, more or less acceptable, a kind of dérapage («tendent à minimiser la gravité du viol, à en faire une situation aux frontières floues, plus ou moins acceptable, une sorte de dérapage») …or DNA as in Huffington Post.
E for Earthquake as in the New York Times. Just imagine that the French Journal du Dimanche, according to Yvan Levai, the brilliant journalist who holds a Newspaper Review on France Inter, literally changed its Front Page from the picture of a Winner for the French Presidential elections …to one depicting his implacable downfall. for Ethics The New York Times….and F for the France, a country that woke up groggy last Sunday…On Radio France Internationale and France 24 and for Front Page…or Headlines…a media coverage that totally erased Bin Ladin’s death (Bin Who???), sadly the Japanese aftermaths and even more sadly the Syrian revolution left alone in a silent repression…and for Fellatio, a recurring term on french TVs. The current joke, however, is that the french acronym for IMF, FMI, stands for Femme de Menage Incluse (House Cleaner Included)…
G for Grief as mentioned by Reuters about France being caught between Denial, Anger and Grief.
H for François Hollande, the man who has definitely politically gained a lot in the process…according to Radio Suisse Romande, and for ‘Haaretz, the only paper with an optimistic note about the acquittal of the Defendent….
I for IMF…publishing the resignation letter of the tragic hero.
J for Jack Lang, France’s celebrated former Minister of Culture, the initiator of La Fête de la Musique, aka The World Music Day, whose truncated interview on TV was summed up as “No one was killed, why this media mob killing?” and….Jew, a reference made with a little reluctance and always with the mention that his Judeity was mentioned as one obstacle, together with women and wealth, by the former potential French President…and finally, thanks again to Yvan Levai, the mention of Paula Jones in an AFP wire no media bothered reprinting…who is she…in a way, it’s probably better we forgot…against all odds and hopes, something I will keep in mind…But probably the most striking feature is J for jokes….may not be funny for all but definitely created a wave of jokes throughout the world.
K for the way french people refer to the K DSK...a term actually coined much earlier by Christophe Barbier in L’Express on my birthday…although the title un DSK d’école is quite enjoyable in Libération
L for Landscape, the French political landscape largely altered by the chamber affair…as in TheLede blog
M for Maid as in the Business Insider.
N for NON, something most women journalists seem to have found necessary to say to the defendent according to the Nouvel Obs, though the paper simply refers to seduction rather than harrassment.
O for Oh, Oh, cherchez la Femme, Ou la la, a very witty paper on the issue by Jeffrey Lant.
P for Photos, such as those Anne Sinclair seemed to regret on her blog not having of Bin Ladin….
Q for the Questions in most newspapers, blogs and tweets…such as Le Figaro
R like relations in english and rapports in French, the question remains as if it is consenti (agreed) or not, as related in France-Soir
S for Set-up, as most french tend to see the event that way, and for Sexual Assault for reasons mentioned under A.
T, like thunderbolt, a quotation from Martine Aubry in The Economist…Tragedy in an excellent France Inter programme, 3D how well this case responds to the notion of tragedy, from its etymology (goat song in ancient greek) to most social, psychological and political definitions, and Twitter which obviously had its sweet revenge over the media buzz FB experienced in the Arab spring, check crikey tweet coverage.
U like USA, where it all happened, as depicted in La Libre Belgique.
V as in The People of New York vs…..click on the link….
W as in the Malaysian Star quotation:
X, because even prior to his fall, he was considered the X Factor of the French Socialist Party, in LePost.fr
Y…really…why???? why are so many extreme right movements having a big fun with the story of the “youpin” and the “nigger”…I certainly won’t give you the links but can assure you that I never thought I would find so many….
Z…do you call these Les Z’infos???
What could we conclude, other than inviting you to add your words in an exercise which sooths a little bit the pressure? That the biggest winner is the avenge of Political Correctness in the facts (an African chambermaid in New York can hold a case against a world leader…and be listened to within seconds, by a 5* Hotel manager, Mr. Jorge Tito who doesn’t hesitate to support his employee and contact the police) and in the anglophone press which doesn’t dwell too much on the alleged charges of fellatio, something French Newspapers obviously don’t mind at all referring too….for more about that, my friend Elizabeth provided me with a perfect link on The Times about the Unspeakable Word!
And if I may, let me end this post on a lighter tone after so much grief and tragedy…Given the fact that political figures in France tend to mix inflation and fellatio, let’s dream for a second and assume the gentleman was just trying to initiate the lady to the joys of World Economy à la française…et réveillons-nous, de grâce, de ce très mauvais rêve!