Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Leftists Who Support Dieudonné

An interesting reportage in Le Monde. I won't attempt to psychoanalyze the remarks of these young fans of Dieudonné who describe themselves variously as left republicans, pro-free speech, anti-communitarian, etc. Some of them echo remarks made by commenters on this blog. Clearly they are not impressed by the argument that Dieudonné is a dangerous bigot, and just as clearly the repression of the comedian's performances promised by Manuel Valls will not put an end to the critique of the status quo offered by his fans. It will only conceal their complaints, which to my mind is more dangerous than airing them. To the extent that one of the chief complaints of the Dieudonné cult is the (I believe false) allegation that their views have been suppressed (rather than refuted as they deserve to be), the best response is to air them fully. I think Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. had it right: "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract."

10 comments:

aaron said...

I am interested in your take on yesterday's Mediapart article, "Contre Diedonne, mais Sans Valls" (link below).

This affair has been very fascinating for me as an American, to watch unfold. The different ideas over what constitutes free speech are very interesting.

Personally, I think the government should have just ignored Dieudonne. Is there a worse fate for a "comedian" who wants to shock others than to be ignored and considered a bore unworthy of any real consideration?

http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/070114/contre-dieudonne-mais-sans-valls

John King said...

You might like to look at to days Riviera Radio local news and the Nicematain.com for the Quenelle photo of the local US football team.

Mitch Guthman said...

I take such self reporting with a grain of salt. On the internet nobody knows you're a dog and nobody checks up on what you tell the newspapers are your political inclinations.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ John King,

Thanks for the link. Very strange and slightly disturbing photograph. These creeps seem to know what it's all about, especially the guy who evidently disdains euphemism and goes with the full Nazi salute.

brent said...

I could only read--alas--15% of the article, but its larger point is worth considering: Dieudonné seems to have unearthed, for whatever reason, a large, broadly-based populist phenomenon. Instead of piously lining up to express one's disapproval or disgust, as so many self-congratulatory commentators are wont to do, the appropriate response would be to try to understand why so many are taking this irrational path.

At this distance I have no answer, but for what it's worth I pass on this article, by leftist American writer Diana Johnstone, who has written from France for many years.While she may seriously underestimate the offensiveness of Dieudonnés remarks, she does suggest that French 'official' culture, in its zeal to replace the legacy of Vichy and French complicity in the Shoah, has fostered anti-semitism among already alienated younger people. Her suggestion that French 'secular republicanism' in recent decades strongly privileges Judaism while stigmatizing Islam is a thesis worth examining--but that can't happen while all the official voices are falling all over each other to reinforce their semitophile bona fides.

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

Art Goldhammer said...

Brent, I read the Johnstone article some days ago and found it sadly misguided in its eagerness to justify the aberrations of, for want of a better word, "the non-elite" on the grounds that "the elite" have "exploited" the memory of the Holocaust. There was no shortage of criticism of Sarkozy, including on this blog, when he tried to politicize the teaching of the Shoah in the schools, so I find it ludicrous to read the populist complaints of "Judeocentrism" or, to use your rather loaded word, "semitophilia" to characterize an alleged elite bias on the matter. It's a rare day in January when, despite our differences, I find myself closer to Cincinna than to you on any issue, but I respectfully suggest that in this case you're allowing your sympathy for the self-proclaimed "exclus" to get the better of your judgment. These people are not your friends, nor are they the vanguard of any progressive political movement. Anti-Semitism is still the "socialism of fools."

brent said...

Thanks for your reply, Art. No, those folks are very definitely not my friends, and I have a lot less patience for Dieudonné's provocations than Johnstone seems to. And again, the point is in no way to justify the exclus but rather to explain or understand them, especially since they are reaching an alarming critical mass.

The question I raise, following Johnstone--and for me it is a question---is on the one hand whether the Republic may go too far in enshrining its remorse for the Shoah--Sarkozy's example is one instance--but more importantly, whether the laws and public discourse that prescribe laicité use it as a weapon against Muslims while crafting exceptions on behalf of Jews--and Catholics, to be sure. I think that question can be examined without giving any undeserved credit to Dieudonné or his misguided admirers.

FrédéricLN said...

I agree with Art's last reply as well as with brent's last comment - for sure, many Muslims as well as Blacks in France feel unduly discriminated by politicians and institutions, and consider that the Jewish community have obtained a broad protection and respect by official institutions, not to say a broad influence, that their own communities did not at all obtain, despite the number they are.

That may explain part of Dieudonné's success so far (in his duets with Elie Seimoun, he already pointed that difference twenty years ago).

But that cannot justify that such support goes on when Dieudonné obviously went into anti-Semitic hatred. In such circumstances, I can only be fully "solidaire" of the Jews (as far as I can, not being a Jew) and tell my pro-Dieudonné friends (yes, I have a couple of them): I will be able to listen to your complaints against institutions and "the Republic" as soon as you will have rejected every kind of anti-Semitic obsession, including Dieudonné's. And of course, as soon as you understand that the Nazi extermination of the Jewish people IS a very legitimate historical reason to watch antisemitism carefully and protect the Jews from this danger.

FrédéricLN said...

Well, in my previous comment, please read: "when Dieudonné obviously expresses an obsession against Jews that may foster anti-Semitic hatred". Even if my expression is often poor in English, as this rewriting may still be ;-)

Anonymous said...

As a post-scriptum to my comment of Jan, 9 4:40 AM (your time ;-) ) here is a Facebook post a friend of mine posted from his mobile device, yesterday night (so jan 11, after the interdictions and Dieudonné's renouncement to his shom "Le Mur") — my friend is Arab-European, a number of commenters from other ancestries approved adding "oh, you will be censored…". But it's clearly legal, and it summarizes perfectly what I tries to explain a too abstract way above.

"Merci au PS et a ce gouvernement qui a su trouver la méthode de faire monter le FN et par la même pousser les pros Dieudonne a rejoindre ce Parti. Quand Charlie Hebdo avait caricature Mahomet avec une bombe sur la tête tous ont crié au nom de la laïcité et la liberté d'expression, quand les Femens se permettent d'aller uriner sur l'autel de l'l'Église de la Madeleine, nous n'avons pas entendu ni le Ministre des cultes ni aucun politique dénoncer l'impunité de ces Amazones aux seins nus alors qu'elles auraient pu êtres poursuivies pour exhibitionisme en vertu de l'article 222-32 du code pénal. Dieudonne dit qu'il urinerait sur le mur des lamentations (c'est une affirmation et non un acte ) tous crient au scandale et oublient vite la laïcité pour le qualifier d'antisémite."

(I quote it as representative of many opinions, from my point of view).