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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Riotblogging

Oxblog riotblogs from the banlieus

A perfect coinage for a disheartening event: riotblogging.

It's part of an on-going series for Patrick Belton over at Oxblog, much of which is highly readable.

Here's one bit which took me aback though. It's not his opinion, but rather, he's making a reference.

Commentators have compared the loi sur la voile to the Dreyfus affair, manufactured by the French political class without necessity to reflect the fact the Republic regards some of its citoyens with suspicion.

That's nonsense.

The Dreyfus Affair was a seminal event in European anti-Semitism (indeed, due to his reportage as a journalist in Paris at the time, Theodor Herzl was inpsired to found the Zionist movement), but Captain Alfred Dreyfus himself was a very well-heeled French officer, married to an heiress, handsomely elegant, blond-and blue-eyed, thus raising the jealous hackles of his some of his fellow officers.

The root causes and the reactions by French society to the "Law of the Veil" and by inference, the rioting couldn't be less like L'Affaire Dreyfus.

It shares some of the same racism and suspicion of so-called foreigners yes, but these "youths" are not part of the super-structure of France as Dreyfus was -- but rather, they are seen as under its heel.

They are victims. He was seen at first, almost universally, as a villain.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that the rioters are not well-to-do, or educated, or well-connected. They live in quite awful unemployed circumstances, in dirty, violent banlieus (a lot of their own making), which have been nearly ceded to them by the gendarmerie.

Even more than that, the press of the time were viciously anti-Dreyfus, whereas the French MSM, even the arch-conservative Le Figaro, are embarrassed, non-plussed and erring on the side of the rioters whenever possible: desperate to appoint blame at the current French administration of Chirac/De Villepin/Sarkozy, but not too much!, lest the spectre of the Jean-Marie Le Pen's odious Front National be summoned.

Lastly, Dreyfus was accused of treason, the inference being that as an Israëlite, he was not really French, and thus, easily suspected of treachery.

Even though the rioters have a not-so-secret seething hatred for France, whom they blame for their lack of progress and societal malaise, they would have to burn the Tricoleur, spit, and rip it to shreds on live France2 TV before the intellectual classes, like French MSM and academia, would blame them for treasonous behaviour.

And even then, they'd probably side with the rioters.

If, however, this allusion is simply to show that France has, as a society, had its own xenophobic quirks, then yes, it is a viable, if forced reference.

Instead of just one Emile Zola taking up the solitary but courageous mantle by shouting, "J'accuse!" (it must be remembered, a full 4 years after Dreyfus' conviction of treason) -- pointing at the entrenched racism of the French State, and even moreso, of French society, today, we have hundreds of Emile Zolas doing just that.

The difference is that Dreyfus was a wholly innocent man. These rioters are not.

4 Comments:

  • Excellent educational post Victoria! You must have majored in History as an undergraduate. I just learned about Zola, Herzl, and Drumont and found it all extremely interesting; specially how their history contributed to future developments including Nazism. France has a long history of antisemitism which seems to be making a comeback in the 21st century. Thank God for men like Zola and Herzl!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Wed Nov 09, 09:55:00 am GMT-5  

  • Excellent educational post Victoria!

    Thanks, Jose. :)

    You must have majored in History as an undergraduate.

    Si!

    I just learned about Zola, Herzl, and Drumont and found it all extremely interesting;

    Did you by chance, get to watch a made-for-TV episode about this?

    It's called "Prisoner of Honour", starring Richard Dreyfuss, not as his eponymous Alfred Dreyfus, but as Drumont.

    It's a slow, but it's a faithful enough account.

    specially how their history contributed to future developments including Nazism. France has a long history of antisemitism which seems to be making a comeback in the 21st century.

    Yes. :(

    And it's often present most in the upper and lower classes.

    Thank God for men like Zola and Herzl!

    Herzl is particuarly fascinating to me, as an historical figure, but as a man too.

    Did you know that he married the first woman in Vienna, who painted her fingernails? ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Nov 09, 03:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • No I have not seen that TV episode but would like to. Regarding Herzl's wife; her toenails also? Good looking feet are a turn on!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Wed Nov 09, 05:59:00 pm GMT-5  

  • No I have not seen that TV episode but would like to. Regarding Herzl's wife; her toenails also?

    That was not revealed in the book I read. I see no reason why not, though. One rarely goes without the other.

    Good looking feet are a turn on!

    I'll tell Sarah Ferguson that. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Nov 10, 06:02:00 am GMT-5  

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