Monday, October 12, 2009

Inner Conflict

Bernard-Henri Lévy sees une nouvelle brigade des moeurs at work in the Mitterrand affair. I guess I'm now part of it. After criticizing Benoît Hamon for following the lead of Marine Le Pen, I myself took a tip from a Socialist source about Mitterrand's involvement in the Barrasat film and posted a link to a Web site of the extreme right. And so I found myself this morning linked as "a celebrated American francophile blogger" who has joined the assault on Mitterrand. I now understand what happens to journalists in pursuit of "scoops."

But my motives were neither to increase traffic on my Web site, attack Sarkozy via Mitterrand, or enforce my own ideas of moral order. I have been troubled by this affair because I was troubled by Mitterrand's declarations in the Polanski case and by his unwarranted attack on American justice. In my first posts on the matter, I said I had read his book and thought better of him for it, and found it difficult to square the sensitive, conflicted character I found in the book with the blunderbuss I saw in the press. Since the affair erupted, I have reread parts of the book and wonder if the conflicted character wasn't itself a mask of false candor for a man even more deeply troubled and conflicted than I guessed at first. Who knows? This is all speculation. Perfectly legitimate in literary criticism but subject to error and manipulation in political journalism. In my desire to know "the truth" about Mitterrand, I think I succumbed to an error of judgment. I'm not sure that there is a truth to be known, or that anyone but Mitterrand himself can know it. I do think he should resign as minister, but I don't want to associate myself with the increasingly unsavory pack of enemies he has so rapidly acquired. I wish I hadn't posted the link to the film, but, having done so, I don't want to take it down: that would be a cowardly denial of my own errors. So it stands. But for now I'm done with the Mitterrand affair. It damages everyone who touches it.

Casseurs in Poitiers

After Strasbourg, Poitiers. Poitiers? you ask. Why Poitiers? Good question. And the question may contain the answer: the very improbability of Poitiers as a target of the sort of organized violence generally associated with gatherings of heads of state or major international organizations made it a good target, because the response was likely to be slow--and indeed proved to be. So 250 vandals were able to do a fair amount of damage.

The tactics were the same as in Stasbourg and seem to have been imported from Germany. Participants in these actions are trained to shout out their names and call for legal teams if arrested, discard their hoods and clubs as they disappear into the wild if they evade arrest, and primarily target banks. Hortefeux has been dispatched to the scene, as well he might be, because if these eruptions begin to occur with any frequency, Sarkozy will have a major problem on his hands. Anyone who doubts that a handful of violent anarchists can throw an entire country into a frenzy should see the film Der Baader-Meinhof Komplexe--not great cinema but a useful aide-mémoire for those who lived through the RAF and Red Brigade years.