Sunday, December 29, 2013

"La quenelle" d'Anelka

Who knew what a "quenelle" was (apart from the dinner table, of course) until the French striker Nicolas Anelka, who plays for the British football club West Bromwich Albion, used the gesture twice to celebrate goals in a game on Saturday? It turns out that the touching of the right shoulder with the left hand while the right arm is stretched straight down at one's side is a gesture used by the anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné, allegedly as an inverted parody of the Hitler salute. The French interior minister Manuel Valls has threatened to ban performances by Dieudonné on the grounds that they may occasion public disturbances:
Il annonce qu'une circulaire sera adressée aux préfets « dans les prochains jours, en tout cas avant la tournée » de l'humoriste qui commence à Nantes le 9 janvier. « A l'occasion de chaque spectacle, ils devront apprécier si le risque de trouble est caractérisé et justifie d'interdire la représentation », explique le ministre, qui note toutefois qu'« arriver à l'interdiction peut prendre du temps ».
Anelka's coach pretends that the player did not know the significance of his gesture:
“I’m aware of it, but it has got nothing to do what is being said,” Downing said at his postgame news conference. “It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now. It is absolute rubbish really. He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around. He is totally surprised by it.”
This, alas, is disingenuous at best, since if Anelka "knows [Dieudonné] very, very well," he cannot be unaware of the comedian's sulfurous reputation. The whole episode reeks in every respect. One can only shake one's head at the absurdity of a black athlete and black comedian borrowing a gesture associated with the Front National, which must regard them, to borrow the Stalinist phrase, as "useful idiots." And of course the interior minister's reflex, which is not peculiar to Valls but is a common reaction in France, to respond to Dieudonné's provocations by banning him only allows him to play the victim of the "Establishment" to which he claims his "quenelle" is a riposte.

What a sad commentary on the state of the European mind 75 years after Kristallnacht.


Addendum: See here for Dieudonné and Anelka together doing the "quenelle." (h/t Martin O'Neill).

37 comments:

Mitch Guthman said...

Art,

This is why yours is my favorite blog. I learn something new about France and French politics every day. I never knew either the salute or the subculture revolving around it existed. If I'd seen anybody doing, I'd never have connected it with the Nazi salute. A black man giving a Nazi salute, who’d have ever guessed?

The episode reminds me of a French bedroom farce. Wasn't it just last year that MLP was in New York, flirting with the Israelis and the Fox News Democrats on the theory that the common enemy (Muslims) should bring them together? Yet, they can't abandon anti-Semitism, their first love, and now we learn of a long term secret romance with the crazy Muslim extremists who hate the Jews as much as does the FN. How amusing to think of the Le Pen Family running between bedrooms, desperately trying to keep the two paramours in the dark about the existence of the other.

Well, if there's any good to come from this sordid affair, at least now, if the boys have difficulty finding good entertainment for their next "Vin et Saucisson” soirée they will know who to call.

bernard said...

It is indeed bizarre and I too had no idea about the meaning of this gesture - incidentally, why do they call it quenelle? Anyway, what matters is not what it means but rather what it means to them and that seems pretty clear: Jews are excessively Jewish. Same old murderous manipulation.

Anonymous said...

Describing Dieudonné M'bala M'bala as the Front National’s “useful idiot” is racist. Dieudonné invented la quenelle, not the Front National. He is capable of making his own analysis without outside help.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Anonymous,

I think you are mistaken. The term is political jargon from the Cold War era. It is used to describe those who advocate for a cause or movement whose goals they do not fully understand and who are used cynically and generally held in contempt by the leaders of that cause or movement.

Apart from the famously racialist underpinnings of the Nazis and their Vichy offspring, I suggest that if you read with care the flyers of the various evenings of “vin rouge et saucisson,” and consider the welcome that Dieudonné and Anelka would likely receive at such evenings, you will see that they are the very definition of “useful idiots”.

I offer the same advice to the Muslims as I gave to my fellow Jews: Any Muslim who consorts with the la famille Le Pen is a fool. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. Sometimes he’s your enemy too.

FrédéricLN said...

@ Mitch Guthman: fully agree…

I would not connect "la quenelle" with the nazi salute directly — the gesture can be understood as (really) opposite to the nazi salute. The latter pretended to elevate (… yes, I know…), the quenelle lowers the (unnamed) recipient of the salute. It's nothing else than a visual version of the F word.

But this kind of social dynamics, a "public secret" of rejecting one common unnamed enemy, who is obviously in fact "the zionist lobby and its allies on power" — if this is not Nazi-like, I should revise Sebastian Haffner very very fast.

LP said...

At the NYE party I was at in Paris, someone spontaneously proposed to do a group photo doing a quenelle. Although not everybody had talked to each other, suddenly, it seemed as if a fresh breeze penetrated the room. Dozens gathered to do the picture.

This is the true difference between regular french people and elite journalist speech. For us, la quenelle is everywhere, shared in a joyful and -respectfully- subversive way, directed towards the arrogant and dishonest power that rules over us (like the "indignados" in Spain in 2012). It is a way of JOKING about the current depressing situation of the country (the quenelle symbolises shoving an arm in an a**, which is a globally known provocative -yet humouristic- reference). It is in no way linked to religious beliefs. This is plain lie. The people in the NYE party were mostly from immigrant heritage, especially ASIAN heritage. If you know something about french sociology (which you seem to do), you'll know Asian people, as a strong independant community with a radically different -political and immigrational- story than north-african or black communities, don't hold strong feeling against jewish. They don't even care to say the truth.

So that will give you some perspective as to why articles like yours seem SO disconnected from any reality of the "field", the day-to-day lives of the french people, and seems so obviously in line with the communication strategy decided and imposed by the jewish powerful lobbyist groups (CRIF, which is the french AIPAC, and its subsidiaries like LICRA).

Even if it might, at short term, help the public opinion go in this direction, it widely contributes to widen the already huge gap between the people and the elite.

And precisely, that's the true meaning of the quenelle: an alert of a tremendously growing gap between elites (regardless of their ethnic/religious origin) and the people. Like the USSR of Berjnev, eveybody knows and feels that there now is a "Pravda", the mainstream media, that nobody listens to anymore (go find a french 20 or 30-something young person who watches TF1.. good luck). La quenelle is a social movement, but it is being turned into a racialist initiative to criminalize it, and it is being criminalized because it conveys a message that is true and powerfully relevant to the lives of the middle class (decay of the economical and social situation, strong rise of inequalities, loss of purchasing power, higher taxes, skyrocketting unemployment rate, especially for young people, very high level of insecurity, rise of violence, etc..)

I believe my commentary helps balance your one-sided vision. And as this movement is mostly shared at the moment by the french middle-class (as all revolutionary movements in their early days) and that those people rarely master the english language, you may not get anything but ignorant comments, either from english/american people -who are not involved-, or from "bourgeois" that tend to be very politically-correct, which, again, and in all honesty, means to be aligned with the public communication strategy decided by jewish pressure groups (and applied in chain by the government).

ps. I'm myself from north-african heritage, *atheist*, born in France, highly educated, and lived in the US, Germany, England... I never voted FN and never will. Just to help avoid sterotypes.

larree said...

LP, you claim that the quenelle is a "social movement". So what exactly does that silly, provocative gesture accomplish? How does it address any of the issues you listed (economic and social decay, rise of inequality, loss of purchasing power, higher taxes, youth unemployment, insecurity, violence)? On the contrary, it seems like a divisive distraction from genuine efforts to engage in open debate and find solutions.

French said...

I'm french and I will explain you what the quenelle gesture means.
Dieudonné used this gesture first in a sketch that didnt even talk about jewish but about the government.
On the gesture, you can see that he is like cutting his hand with the other, that just mean that it is this long arm that he put in the a*s of the government. It is an antisystem symbol and an antisionist symbol because in France, most of the politics are zionist or pro-zionist. Thats not antisemitic. If you have any other question, you can ask.
Sorry for my english.

Anonymous said...

It seems the French posters regarding the meaning of this gesture prove the point of the author. It seems they believe that Jews/Zionists 'run' the system in France. The National Socialists thought the same thing for the most part. Its a sad thing, Jews have no more power than other faith communities.
How do you explain the spreading use of this gesture at Jewish sites such as synagogues or the Anne Frank house? How do you explain your support for the demonization of Jews and yet claim you are not anti semitic?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous... I am sorry but I write better in French.
Derrière la Quenelle, on trouve une majorite de Francais de tendance politique variee; et le travail en commun avec Alain Soral a reussi a regrouper toutes les tendances politiques de l'extreme gauche a l'extreme droite sous un meme chapiteau appele "la dieudosphere". Le travail de Dieudonne et d'Alain Soral a desempli les rangs des partis traditionels (UMP, PS et FN) pour lutter contre l'oligarchie qui utilise la communaute juive comme un ecran de fumee pour s'y dissimuler.... Les Dieudonniste et les Soraliens ne sont pas aussi bête que les Nazis pour discerner les oppresseurs et ceux qui tiennent le pouvoir reel d'une communaute qui se laisse manipuler aisement du fait de ses croyances.
Donc pour recapituler et repondre a Votre question a propos des gens qui se photographient devant les edifices Juifs... Il peuvent etre des nouveau reconvertis de l'extreme droite... Ou de jeunes qui font l'amalgame entre le sionisme et le judaisme.

Anonymous said...

FYI, here's a communiqué from the Association France Palestine Solidarité: "Dieudonné, l’imposteur raciste, n’est pas l’ami du peuple palestinien"
http://www.france-palestine.org/Dieudonne-l-imposteur-raciste-n

Arun

Anonymous said...

I believe it is inaccurate to label Dieudonné as anti-Semitic French comedian. There are some that believe he is anti-Semitic, but that label is placed upon him by different factions.

Shim'On said...

I'm french with some Jews in my own family,none of us think it's an anti-semitic gesture...Mass-media are liers. Quenelles are a universal kind of middle finger in the politics & bankster's back.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/01/the-bete-noire-of-the-french-establishment/

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those comments LP, Shim'On and others, they're far more ducumented than the article.
I'm french too and I think you could do better journalistic job... I mean professionaly, investigate a bit before. If you do, maybe you will write another article :)

Mitch Guthman said...

@ anonymouses,

I have tried to read as much as about Dieudonné, who was unknown to me before this incident, and I do not see any signs of his having a political or social agenda apart from anti-Semitism. All of his "humor" seems to revolve around hatred of Jews and, indeed, that seems to have been his entire political agenda when he ran for office.

Similarly, the quenelle is an antiestablishment gesture only if Jews are basically the "establishment" and secretly control everything. If he has some agenda beyond crude anti-Semitism, I fail to see it.

Jean said...

To illustrate LP comment, and to have a better grasp of what it means for french people watch this video.
La quenelle song with english subtitles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qgxZ6JEynk

Jean said...

By the way just another "useful idiots"

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/files/2013/12/deklerk-mandela1.jpg

A symbol nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Si seulement vous preniez la peine d'écouter et d'observer les spectacles de Dieudonnè et formuler votre idée votre opinion aura beaucoup de poids. Mais malheureusement vous ne faites que relayer ce que la presse française à dite et redite concernant l'humoriste apprécier et célébré par tous comme le meilleur de sa génération par le peuple Français _

Anonymous said...

Maybe this could help...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51MwkvK-H9U

Anonymous said...

Dear sir

I am French and I am allowing myself to say a few things explicitly.

There is not a single doubt in my mind that the quenelle has nothing to do with a nazi salute. These are pure projections.

That said, a "quenelle" is not a very classy move. A quenelle is a dumpling generally shaped as a sausage. And American every man knows that "sausage" and "weener" refers to male genitalia. The "quenelle" is a French equivalent.

The movement literrally means "quenelle in your a**" then elbow or shoulder deep, depending on where is other arm. A very appropriate move after scoring a nice goal or a witty-below-the-belt comment.

If anybody wants to see more than that, he is free. But then becomes the useful idiot. Why not banning the finger too? Perhaps it is nazi ...

Anonymous said...

Seems the owner of this blog, so-called "connoisseur" of French culture has an agenda. Pretty much everybody's agenda : to bash the French forever, hold them in contempt with hints at Vichy, guilt-trip them and slight their culture, while pretending otherwise. We know the drill. It's been going on for 70 years now : the French are more guilty than anyone else, including the damn krauts ! More guilty than the Croats, the wops, the Bulgarians, the Hungarians, the Poles (5 kg of sugar and a bottle of vodka for a Jew head, and that was attractive to them, as is well documented), the Ukrainians and so forth. Their culture has to be destroyed, because it used to be one of the few resisting the new world order. What a sin !… La France Libre and the Resistance notwithstanding, at a time when Europe in its entirety was under the boot, you have to shame France, they are the culprits. For a reason when you represent Big Bad America aiming to submit Europe as a whole, and getting rid of the last culture once (alas no more) able to hold its ground to Big Brother. Dummies like Dieudonné and Soral, help the US justify their hate and contempt of the French, and we all know how much the Kennedy, and the Bush, and IBM supported the nazis in their own sweet time, just to turn politically correct, when wind blows the other way. But we never hear of it from our "connoisseur" of French culture. He has an agenda, period.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ anonymous de January 3, 2014 at 12:15 AM,

Tout d'abord, il est clair que la provenance du geste le marque incontestablement comme antisémite. Au cours des derniers jours, j'ai lu beaucoup au sujet de M. Dieudonné et il ne fait aucun doute sur ce qu'il est. Je ne vois pas comment ceux qui regardent les spectacles, ou visite sur la chaîne « YouTube » de Dieudonné ou connaître son histoire peut confondre le geste pour autre chose que ce qu'il est. Il est condamné comme un bigot de sa propre bouche.

Vous dites qu’il n’est pas antisémite, mais est le leader de mouvement social de l’anti-establishment, pourtant, il lui propose pas de programmes pour aider les plus démunis or les ouvriers. Dites-nous de ses programmes et les politiques qu'il propose à l’exception de la destruction des Juifs? Votre description de Dieudonné comme un leader d'un mouvement anti-establishment est une demi-vérité qui n'est possible que s'il est exact que les Juifs contrôlent tout en France.

En outre, vous n’avez jamais vraiment répondu à la question de la façon dont il est que beaucoup des photos publiées sur internet ont été prises à des endroits avec un contexte explicitement juif comme l’Ozar Hatorah à Toulouse ou des synagogues ou des endroits avec une connotation explicitement contre le FN comme la crypte du tombeau du déporté à Paris ? Le contexte et les toiles de fond font le sens du geste sans équivoque.

IN ENGLISH:

First, it is clear that the provenance of the gesture marks it unmistakably as anti-Semitic.
In the past few days, I have read much about Mr. Dieudonné and there can be no doubt about what he is. I do not see how those who watch the shows, visit the YouTube channel of Dieudonné or know his history can mistake the gesture for anything except what it is. He is condemned as a bigot from his own mouth.

You say that he is not an anti-Semite but is the leader of an anti-establishment social movement, yet, he proposes no programs to help the underprivileged or the workers. Tell us of his programs and the policies he proposes—apart from the destruction of the Jews? Your description of Dieudonné as a leader of an anti-establishment movement is a half-truth that is plausible only if he is correct that the Jews control everything in France.

Also, you did not answer the question of how it is that so many of the photos published on the internet were taken at places with an explicitly Jewish context such as l’Ozar Hatorah à Toulouse or synagogues or explicitly non-FN connotations such as the crypte du tombeau du déporté à Paris. The context and the backdrops make the meaning of the gesture unmistakeable.

In English, we have the saying that “if it looks like a duck; walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then, it is a duck”.

Mitch Guthman said...

A small request of the various “French” anonymous commenters: Unless you are all the same the person, would it be possible for you to either sign your own name or perhaps use a nom de plume? Many regular commenters here don’t like to sign in to Blogger but instead type either a name or pseudonym at the bottom of the comment. It is very confusing to reply to so many anonymous people.

Anonymous said...

A highly educated, Jewish, attorney (now a judge) friend of mine...told me 14 years ago that if I thought anti-semitism was on the decline, I should hold that thought in mental limbo until economic resources became a little more scarce for "people." I think the non-Jewish governor who appointed him to the bench was really smart. I really do. I also think the internet is great because the media is no longer controlled by anyone. I really don't think so. I really don't.

Fred said...

@MB Try to read this then, may be ?

http://mounadil.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/la-campagne-contre-dieudonne-vue-par-diana-johnstone-pour-le-magazine-americain-counter-punch/

carine said...

I'm a French woman who live in France, and I can say thank you to LP or others. You describe exactly what it's going on with "la quenelle", I'm glad that even on the other side of the sea there is people to tell the truth on this. Dieudonné is saying too much things about too much people. Unfortunately they are touchy and very powerful people.
Dieudonné make fun on Black, White, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Jew... He offers a quenelle straight in a a** to everybody who think he's allowed to crush us (us : ordinary people)

Anonymous said...

Art,

You should stop writing about htings you do not understand and know nothing about.

Readers,

You should stop believing everything you read about what happens in other counrties.

This is why:

A "quenelle" is a pastry and the word is also used to define a hassle in which one succeeds in a prank. Dieudonné took the word "quenelle" in this meaning and put it together with the gesture. This so called nazi salute in fact to signify "I put it this deep in your ass" hence the fingers reaching for the shoulder, indicating the length the arm (in this case the arm is a metaphor for the prank. If you want a litteral definition of the gesture: "I got the prank shoulder deep in your ass", nothing to do with a nazi salute.

The reason why Dieudonné is thought to be anti-semitic is because he goes against zionist communities which in france have enormous power (if you are really interested, you can search for yourself) and the best way to get people to fear the idea of agreeing with him, and boycotting his shows is to make him the new hitler.

the reason why I am so angry with you "journalist" and readers is you do exactly what those so-called anti racism (LICRA: Anti-racism and Anti-semitic International League, they never ever ever eeeever helped in "classic" racism event, only anti-semitic, and just the fact of saying anti-semitisme is not anti-racism...)want, what the political class and french journalism (all of the media in france are friends with political class)go along with.

So to sum up, you are just playing with ideas you do not know. Come in france and see for yourself or stop thanking this american observer living in Harvard (great way to know what is happening in other counrties to stay in yours by the way).

And if you wonder what gives me the right to say anything, it is quite simple, I am French-American living in Paris all my life.

Anonymous said...

"Useful idiots" is not a Stalinist phrase, its a term coined by American conservatives sometime in the 50's to describe people they thought were soft on communism. This saying was then falsely attributed to Lenin re "liberals," which was silly since Lenin had no "use" for them.

Mi lianna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dieudonné invented the gesture of the Quennelle since 2005. At that time, he was banned from the french whole medias since 2003. At this banishment lats until today, so more than 10 years.
He is in fact a victim of french medias and politics.
Since the begining, his humor took the direction of fighting against Racism. He uses humor to criticise all racims from all communities. Today, he is the victim of a community named the zionists who defines the french politics. Also, he considers that the greater racisim is the Zionism, which is not cited here on this blog or in the NYtimes, which is very astonishing.
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is not racist. But in fact, all what he denouced and still denouces on the system, and the perversity of the system is today revealed in front of the whole world.

Anonymous said...

Dieudonné invented the gesture of the Quennelle since 2005. At that time, he was banned from the french whole medias since 2003. And this banishment lats until today, so more than 10 years.
He is in fact a victim of french medias and politics.
Since the begining, his humor took the direction of fighting against Racism. He uses humor to criticise all racims from all communities. Today, he is the victim of a community named the zionists who defines the french politics. Also, he considers that the greater racisim is the Zionism, which is not cited here on this blog or in the NYtimes, which is very astonishing.
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is not racist. But in fact, all what he denouced and still denouces on the system, and the perversity of the system is today revealed in front of the whole world.

Anonymous said...

The portrayal of Dieudonné supporters is untrue at best. Dieudonné very lightly bashes christian/muslim/asian/etc. cultures. When he does so, it's only on stage. What he called "zionism", it's every 5 min. Yeah, I have seen ALL HIS SHOWS, including his movie. For the last 10 years. All of them. Not only does he find a way to allude to "zionism" (and sometimes the jews, in terms reminiscent of the 30s-40s "juiverie") every 5min or so on stage, but more problematic is the fact that he almost only speaks about that OFF STAGE too. Further, he is a politician: he presented himself at the European elections in 2009.

The man is obsessed. And an opportunist: he gets lots of sympathies from that.

He denounces nothing in the system, but only the "undue influences of zionism". He has no problem being tied to politicians (Le Pen, more than 20% in French elections), famous sportsmen (Anelka, Noah, Parker - all rich and very much in the system/media) and others. His only grip is "zionism" (a word he uses to designates almost anything that is connected to jews and not to zionism). A sick mind.

Anonymous said...

http://odieuxconnard.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/extrc3aame-final-2.jpg

Even if it's in french, i invite you to read this comics who perfectly resume the dieudonne maters

FrédéricLN said...

To anonymous who suggests, "Si seulement vous preniez la peine d'écouter et d'observer les spectacles de Dieudonnè", and to carine, I suggest this reference : http://www.varmatin.com/var/on-a-assiste-au-spectacle-dieudonne-droit-dans-le-mur.1536986.html

"Théâtre de la Main d'or, dimanche (5th January), 15 heures. Antisémite Dieudonné? Nous avons voulu voir par nous mêmes."

bernard said...

On useful idiots, though the first formal use seems to be the NYT in 1948, there are very clear references to the concept in both Marx-Engels correspondence and in Lenin himself, according to Wikipedia.

The political concept was indeed very much in use within the communist movement, for a long time (think for instance of the popular fronts in the 1930s).

So we can conclude that, in typical Anglo-Saxon fashion - anonymous will be sooo happy, a really catchy expression was coined to describe something that existed for a long time within the movement.

Gina said...

thanks LP for describing what is REALLY happening in France. Medias and politics are using all possible way to abort the free speech debate. the real victims here are french citizens no matter their religion or the color of their skin, among them Dieudonné and the Jews.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I don't see any relation between this gesture (la quenelle) and the Nazi salute.
"La quenelle" is a gesture symbolizing the reject of the system, like flipping someone.
Only the CRIF (Jewish lobby) can usefully see that as a Nazi salute to put pressure on the government to ban Dieudonné.
It is sad to see that it is no longer a judge who can deem if of a gesture, but lobbyists. The freedom of speech is rarely endangered in France.