Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Merah Precursor

Arun Kapil posts a fascinating interview with another terrorist whose profile is similar in some ways to Merah's.


Anonymous said...

What grabs my attention in this interview is that subject constantly refers to "natives" as "les français" although he himself has lived in the country since age 2 and is therefore thoroughly French. I can't imagine my Pakistani- or Korean- or Indian-American friends refer to non-hyphenated Americans as "Americans" but this hyphenation, much-derided (by the French) , allows for multiple identities to co-exist, flourish, be recognized and recombine (e pluribus unum) whereas French secularism and "universalism" (and its associated myths) is essentially a powerful suppressive mechanism and thus a formidable catalyst for resentment, anger and eventually differentiation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment that terrorism grows out of anger and resentment. But this doesn't mean that anger and resentment cause terrorism. We have plenty of anger and resentment in the U.S.: over slavery and its long term effects, economic inequality, etc. Humans are not billiard balls who behave in a particular way because of the way they are impacted by others. The intervening role of religion and ideology is the key factor, producing terrorism, rather than, say, a hunger strike.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous1: yes, we do talk about "the Americans" . . . when you're not around. Don’t kid yourself. The hyphenation is not there to allow for multiple identities. It's there to reinforce boundaries. It's there to let immigrants and racial minorities know that we are less than fully American (no matter how good our English may be).

Your comment betrays how little you know about the experience of immigration. We don’t give a damn about having our multiple identities recognized or affirmed (that multiplicity will continue to exist whether or not it is sanctioned by some government). What we want is the ability to imagine ourselves and our children as equal members of the society we are working to join. I’ve spent a lot of time in both France and the United States (where I currently live as a naturalized citizen) and I’ll tell you this: if you think it is easier to integrate in the United States, you are truly deluded.

I don’t know why so many of you people continue to subscribe to the myth that the U.S. is more welcoming than France (or why they are so invested in the debate over universalism). Perhaps the myth satisfies some deep emotional or psychic need among certain Americans. Whatever the case, your idea of immigration bears no resemblance to how things work on the ground.

Anonymous said...

The Kelkal story is fascinating. It looks like the French are in complete denial though, as it looks nothing's been done in 15 years. Also fascinating because there seems to be people who claim this event is exceptional. The DailyBeast claimed it was "France's 9/11" and I was like, what, uh... what????

Anonymous 3: I do think the American system is less racist toward immigrants. Imagine if a top-level American politician had said things like Guéant or Hortefeux. This would not have been deemed acceptable by almost everyone (except the radio shock jocks probably). Also, the US has a system of "second chance" that France doesn't have: if you arrive at age 14 and don't speak French, regardless of your intelligence, you're funnelled into a vocational program and won"t go to college. In the US, you may struggle in bilingual education, get your high school diploma, attend a community college, get a GED, take night or weekend classes, go to a public college that recognizes other things than your test scores, work for a while and return to school... Such things don't exist in France. It may not be frequent but there are always kids in dire situations (homeless, recent immigrants..) who get into Harvard and other super-elite colleges. These kids not only wouldn't get a shot at one of the French grandes écoles but they wouldn't even get a chance to try later on.

Finally, this kid is French. Being a hyphenated, 3rd generation American may be difficult, especially if you live in a ghetto, but how often do you hear 3rd generation hyphenated Americans referred to as "immigrants"?
I don't think the American immigrant experience is by any means easy. But I don't think it's the issue here.
There's an American who became a terrorist, isn't there? A shoe bomber? That's a better parrallel to me.

Merlin said...

My first remark would be: so what? Have not you read books by Stephane Beaud (Retour sur la condition ouvriere etc.)? Or have you ever read "Esquisse d'une autobiographie" by Bourdieu. The only Bourdieu's book that is intelligible and that explains a lot about the man.

Poor children have always struggled, and immigrants children even more. They are moving from one universe to another one. That's not easy and nobody is welcoming competitors and strangers.

So what? Life is not fair, it's better to have wealthy parents, but if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Kelkal and Merad are failure. Two amongst many, self serving and violent. We cannot avoid them.

FRANCIS said...

I don’t agree. Terrorism is one thing. It kills innocent people who just happened to be there without targetting them.
Killing deliberately children by shouting them in the head is another thing.
“On March 19, 2012, at about 8:00, aman who drove a Yamaha scooter shot at Jews in front of the Ozar Hatorah highschool, in Toulouse,a south-western French city. He killed Rabbi Jonathan Sandler,30, and his two sons, Arye, 5, and Gabriel, 4. He then entered into the school. Ashe had a problem with his gun, he used a second more efficient gun. He caughtby her hair Miriam Monsonego, school principal Yaacov Monsonego’s daughter,aged 7, and shot her dead.”
There are a lot of angry people around, for all the reasons you mention.
But there are – as far I know – only Merah and a number of Palestinin terrorists who kill children, small children.
And Jewich children were killed by Germans and some of their allies during WW II.