Friday, January 2, 2009

Pap Ndiaye, the anti-Dieudonné

Le Monde today recounts the story of how Pap Ndiaye, the brilliant historian and author of La Condition noire, essai sur une minorité française, discovered "the black condition" that became his most recent subject while studying in the United States, first at the University of Virginia and later at the University of Pennsylvania. While in the US, he witnessed the Million Man March, which fascinated him but also alerted him to the brand of black anti-Semitism promoted by Louis Farrakhan. Thus he was among the first to notice when another French-born black, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, a son of Fontenay-aux-Roses, just as Ndiaye was of Antony (Hauts-de-Seine), adapted Farrakhan's rhetoric to France's distinctive set of racial conditions.

Ndiaye has been attacked both by followers of Dieudonné and by ultra-republicans, who reject his "Americanizing" vision of distinctive minority "conditions" and "communities" within a republic of formally equal citizens.

As for Dieudonné, his latest exercise in agit-prop provocotainment--a "comedy" sketch in which he had a stagehand dressed as a Jewish deportee deliver an award of "unfrequentability and insolence" to Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson--unleashed a chorus of denunciation. Even Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was in the audience for the occasion, pronounced himself "maybe a little shocked" by the brazenness of his erstwhile friend, who has now upstaged him as France's most notorious anti-Semite. Dieudonné confessed that he felt compelled to turn to Faurisson because palling around with Le Pen had become too tame to draw the attention of the media. Curiously, the fading leader of the Front National thus found himself in a crowd of 5,000 young blacks et beurs* at the Zénith, where only recently Ségolène Royal appeared as earth mother to what she hoped would become the core of a new socialist youth movement.

Two visions, then, of la condition noire in France. One can only hope that Ndiaye's will prevail over Dieudonné's.

* According to Libé; I wasn't there to verify this characterization of the audience that Dieudonné attracts.