Thursday, August 19, 2010

Business as Usual

Sarkozy's preference for publicity over policy is obvious to everyone:

The thing is, none of this is really all that unusual. The French government regularly shuts down the camps and expelled 10,000 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria last year alone. Since, as EU citizens, the Roma are free to travel to France without a visa (though not to live there permanently) and still face far less discrimination there than in Eastern Europe, many of them simply return a short time later. But this time Sarkozy has made the expulsions the centerpiece of a larger law-and-order campaign. 


mcg said...

I'm not sure I understand this. The Roma face less discrimination in France than elsewhere, they squat in France without working or going to school, and the French get vilified for xenophobia?

Anonymous said...

The Roma are treated better in France than in Romania, but then again Romania has a powerful (not fringe) political party that is explicitly xenophobic and antisemitic. The situation is mixed in Italy - I'm not sure France wants to be compared to a country where two little Roma girls were left dead on a beach after drowning, the swimmers happily keeping on with their swimming...
Overall, their treatment is better in Germany or Great Britain.
Just because there are countries worse than France for the Roma doesn't mean it's great in France for them nor that France shouldn't be excoriated for the recent "un-French" speech.
To top it off, France has been presenting itself like a beacon of civilization and the defender of human rights everywhere.
Symbolically, that speech was like Gitmo for the US - a negation of what the country stands for (although I do consider Gitmo worse in terms of offending a country's core values and symbols.)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of publicity over policy:

France has always had an adversarial relationship with Google (Books and Street View), so it come as a surprise that the French Embassy in Washington is buying advertising in the online NYTimes via Google's AdWords program. Yes, the French government is paying Google to publicize its national mission.

A search with keyword "French" returns:

and the "Advertiser Link" in the right column:

"French Embassy in the US
Learn more about France and
France's action in the World"

Leads to thr Embassy home page:

No sure how long this has been going on but its the first time I noticed it.