Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guéant Step

It would seem difficult to do a worse job as minister of interior than a man convicted of inciting racial hatred while holding the post, but Claude Guéant, in a few short weeks on the job, has deprived Brice Hortefeux of the honor of being the worst interior minister imaginable. His latest gaffe--or was it a feature, not a bug?--was his assertion, unsupported by any law, that not only are public servants forbidden from wearing religious symbols on the job, but so are the users of public services--in short, everybody. This is untrue, and either Guéant knew it to be untrue when he said it, or else he has a rather shaky grasp on the law for someone who has served as chief of staff to a minister of the interior, secretary general of the Élysée, and now minister of the interior in his own right. Le premier flic de France needs to hit the statute books. It is also a bad sign, with the "debate" on laïcité about to kick off in less than two weeks, that once again we have evidence that the term, whose meaning has always been contested, has now distended to the point where it can be used as a bludgeon to forbid almost anything that the powers-that-be want to forbid. Écrasez l'infâme! 


Anonymous said...

More embarassment based on cronyism...

TexExile said...

He does, at times, seem to be a truly special kind of stupid.

What is more, he has no other obvious redeeming features to recommend him. Then one looks in wonder at his career trajectory and one is put in mind of a wonderful description of one of the characters in Randall Jarrell's "Pictures from an Institution": "He was an idiot savant at getting ahead in the world."

How many names in the present administration spring to mind when one utters that phrase.

FrédéricLN said...

The "assimilation" technique* is one of the basics in civil service executives and politicians rhetorics. Mr Guéant wouldn't use it without minding.

Moreover, in the present symbolic assault against "l'antiFrance", you can obviously not attack civil servants, all of which are French citizens. The idea of attacking "users of public services" is therefore pure genius: he presents himself as a white knight protecting civil service (the Republic, laïcité, égalité, and the civil servants themselves) against the disruptive danger of invasion by people visibly belonging to anti-French groups.

The only point that saves us from Sarko-Horto-LePen-Guéantism is the complete absurdity of the whole of it.

(*I mean, saying one or two obvious statements and adding at the row one absurd thing, in the same tone and style, just too make it look like plain truth : "Among the greatest musicians of the twentieth century, we have to count Louis Armstrong, Michael Jackson and Joseph Black. We had the great honor to meet Joseph Black…")