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...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Celle Qui A Dit Non

I bet you didn't know one of my favourite kinds of music is...French rap.

French language and culture holds a loving place in my heart, which I attribute to my German background. If there is one thing a German feels attracted to, it is France -- not the least of which because of the breadth of their competing intellect.

Unlike the French, though, Germans are only just now feeling at home with patriotism. In France, it is quite different.

France is an ideal that even the most Leftist of French can adore without shame, without feeling as if they have committed a bourgeois bêtise. "Vive la France!" is an emotional outpouring of support, but also of ideological purity, after all.

This is droned into all schoolchildren, who then enter the prestigious schools and universities which form their elite bureaucracy. The hand-wringing which American patriotism evokes in their bureaucratic counterparts, is practically non-existent in France.

In a few days, during quatorze juillet, France will be celebrating her 219 years of independence. Yes, they are on their Fifth Republic, with many monarchical fits and starts in between.

But the idea of France, that glorious place where reason and logic, elegance and good taste, intelligence and dignity reigns supreme, is immutable.

Or is it?

The problem which plagues the Old World is their immigration issue, most particularly where the immigrant is of a different race. Integration is not coming easily to Europe, but not at all.

To hear them speak of America, as television channel France2 did with the Clinton-Obama campaign, as they gleefully reported the rejection of Obama by voters "because he was black" (and giving no other reason), you would think such a scolding attitude belies a nation which has no such problems.

Why, if a French black man were to run for President of France, he would win in a landslide! Right?

Actually, a black presidential French candidate is so unthinkable today, as to be almost laughable. His chances for Elysée consideration stand at exactly nil.

There is but one black representative in 555 sitting in the French National Assembly. There are 11 minorities in total. There is no black Senator. There are no black mayors in France amongst 36,000. There are no black French CEOs. The very first black newsreader was elevated to his position two whole years ago.

In short, the French power structure is lily-white.

Much much more than America's is, or ever was.

Yes, the French love France. But I wonder how much they would love it, if France encountered the same negativity towards their love of country, as Americans do from certain quarters.

This is where French rap comes in, at last. You must've been wondering.

Because just on the eve of these 219 years of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité", comes word that a French rapper may just be going to prison.

No, not because of his off-music shenanigans. There's no drive-by shooting, gangland club or East Coast-West Coast rivalry involved.

His freedom is at stake because he wrote this in a rap song:

"France is a bitch, don’t forget to f*ck her 'til she’s exhausted/You have to treat her like a slut, man."

And just in case you didn't get his intent, he included this rhetorical flourish:

"Moi, je pisse sur Napoléon et le général de Gaulle."

Watch it here. (Due to female nudity, NSFW)

This song is what the French government says has incited riots, and therefore to the pokey Monsieur R (Richard Makelela, as he is in real-life) might go.

"If convicted, the rapper faces up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (£51,000)."

This story isn't new. The rap song isn't new. I've heard it for some time. But the climate in France changed dramatically after the riots in Paris 2 years ago, and now the elevation of the chap who called the rioters "racaille" to the Presidency of France.

Of course, not all countries would consider such a complaint to be valid.

As another blogger remembers, West Indian-born British dub artist, Linton Kwesi Johnson, once wrote this about his new homeland:

Inglan is a bitch
Dere’s no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
Y´u haffi know how fi survive in it

(Incidentally, I'm not sure if this constant misogynist language and intent is a frustrated male thing, or a frustrated black culture thing or what, but I find it despicable. It makes supporting their position nearly impossible)

Needless-to-say, Mr. Johnson was not imprisoned for his anti-patriotic lyrics.

He may have incited riots, as certainly his tenure with the British Black Panthers could not have gone unnoticed, but we in Britain have a tradition of free speech. The French only think they have.

In a startling piece yesterday on the nature of Patriotism, Eric S. Raymond reminded us:

"Embedded deep in the American model of patriotism is the notion that it may be expressed by a passionate determination to reform or even completely upend American institutions in service to the ideals behind them. This is not, as far as I can tell, true anywhere else in the world. It would seem an alien idea even in modern France, where the excesses of the Jacobins irreversibly tainted that sort of fervor with blood."

That's it, exactly.

Their revolution is rooted, steeped and nurtured in blood. Violence is its afterbirth.

Freedom of speech is not a thing won, or maintained like the American or British examples. It was killed for.

This is why an attack on France, its history and its leaders, however lame and lacking maturity, is not something which can be ignored.

And the native French, particularly its elite, are determined not to be caught unaware by a revolution they didn't start.

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  • So you're saying present day France aspires to be as racially integrated as the Carpetbagged South? Whew!

    Maybe some day they'll enact 'Jacques Corneille' laws!

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Jul 11, 03:23:00 am GMT-4  

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