Sunday, April 6, 2008

Devedjian Looks Back

I may be overinterpreting, but Patrick Devedjian sounds subdued, even depressed, in this conversation on Le rendez-vous des politiques. Of course things have not been going well for him lately. Many UMP members blame him for the party's loss in the municipals, and Sarkozy seems to have dispatched Xavier Bertrand (last week's guest on R-VP) either to keep an eye on Devedjian or to prepare to replace him.

It's not PD's current woes that interest me in this chat, though, but rather his look back on his youthful engagement with the extreme right, when, he says, "I was a young imbecile." It's no secret that Devedjian (along with several other well-known politicians) was a member of Occident and, for a time, a participant in some of its more violent excursions. Of that time he now says that his experience has helped him to to understand violence in les banlieues. He, too, was the child of an immigrant who had to "fight for integration. It wasn't easy." In any case, it was Raymond Aron, he says, who taught him the error of his ways and made him a "profound democrat." He says too little about the nature and manner of his conversion to draw any conclusions. But in this earlier conversation (video at bottom of post), he briefly evokes some of the divisions of the extreme right and claims that he and his friends were battling for une Algérie française (in 1964, to be sure, two years after Algerian independence) and unlike some others on the far right believed that Algeria would have remained French if Algerians had been granted full citizenship and full assimilation.

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