Friday, April 30, 2010

Nous aussi

The Socialists have decided not to be outmaneuvered on the burqa issue. They won't go along with the UMP's hard ban because of their tender concern for "human rights." Nevertheless, they share the goal of ridding France of covered female faces. So:

"Elle vise au même objectif que le gouvernement : faire disparatre le voile intégral mais en veillant au respect de nos principes de droit (...) et à la volonté de rassembler tous les Français quelle que soit leur appartenance", a précisé le député et maire de Nantes. Il exhorte le gouvernement et la majorité à avoir "le même esprit d'ouverture et recherche avec tous les républicains la voie d'une loi qui libère et apaise".
Clear? Me neither. It seems that the Socialists believe that you're violating human rights if you tell women what they can wear without  raising concerns about violating their human rights; but if you do the same thing while expressing genuine concern and solicitude and a "spirit of openness and experimentation," then it's OK.

Defining the boundaries of the demos is bringing out contradictory impulses everywhere. In the US, Arizona has passed a law commanding police to ascertain the identity of anyone deemed suspect of being in the country illegally; Democrats, while deploring this law, have proposed issuing a national identity card, presumably so that such citizenship checks can be performed on an egalitarian rather than selective and racially-profiled basis. (They might look at countries such as France which already have national identity cards to see who is actually stopped in the subways by police looking to make sure that "papers are in order.") Repression thus wears two faces, one vindictive, the other somewhat more benign. For those on the receiving end, however, the distinction begs the question of the difference.


Anonymous said...

I wholly agree. There is even something a bit more sinister about the way American liberals/Democrats and the French Socialists put a human face on repression by making painting a thin veneer of equal treatment over the real inequalities of the situation. On this question, at least, Europe and US, left and right, seem to be roughly in agreement: we want immigrant laborers, but not as equal citizens.

Boz said...

"Don't wear that, but honestly, we really care!"

You're absolutely right. If anything, this meaningless nuance makes the PS more hypocritical, claiming that a clearly illiberal point of view somehow shows respect for human rights.

I hadn't heard about the Dem ID card, but it sounds like terrible politics period, not to mention the lack of need for such an elaborate system. If the Federal government just enforced its own laws there would be no problem or Arizona law.

brent said...

Just saying ... the NPA is pretty much alone among French parties in refusing to demagogue this issue, but has reaped nothing but scorn for its efforts. Sometimes taking the high road just makes you a better target.

DavidinParis said...

I have always considered the fact that in Europe, one must have their 'papers' on one's person to be repressive. Perhaps growing up watching all those films with mean Nazis or cold war stasi agents asking for papers when the good guys are trying to escape. A national identity card in the US?! Quel horreur. As for the PS statement, that kind of 'say-nothing' statement is sadly the norm for all parties here.

Anonymous said...

I second Brent's thoughts
(though alongside high principle there exist perceived electoral calculations which are ever present in any party's choices).

Chris P.