Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some More Zemmour

I haven't written about Éric Zemmour's conviction for "inciting racial hatred" because the verdict displeased me almost as much as the man himself. Because I believe in free speech, I think that Zemmour should be allowed to say what he pleases, and his opponents should be free to criticize his sallies as they see fit. It's a bad business when the force of law is used to suppress the expression of opinion. But now the UMP has invited Zemmour to one of its forums to speak on "freedom of thought," which lends the imprimatur of the party to his sulfurous personality. Clearly, the UMP knows what it is doing: Zemmour has street cred with people who vote for the extreme right, and the UMP wants to win them back. This is reprehensible.

So is the move by the CGT to have Zemmour removed from the airwaves. I don't care much for the shock-jock programming of the likes of Ardisson and Ruquier, who use provocateurs like Zemmour to boost their ratings. But I care even less for the blacklisting of controversial voices by actors of the right or the left.


I can't tell whether J.-L. Mélenchon was pleased or not with his interview by J.-M. Aphatie. Here is Mélenchon's version:

Pour me punir de n’avoir pas répondu comme il l’avait prévu à ses premières questions, Jean-Michel Aphatie a décidé de couler l’entretien qu’il avait avec moi sur RTL. Lui-même déclare à l’antenne que l’entretien est incohérent. Mais il se garde de dire que s’il en est ainsi, c’est de son fait. Une nouvelle fois me lever à six heures du matin pour me faire traiter de cette façon mérite réflexion. Me faire interroger deux minutes sur sept à propos de Cuba le lendemain d’un samedi dimanche de manifestations pour la liberté et la démocratie en Algérie, au Yémen, au Maroc et surtout en Libye est sans doute la chose la plus étrange qui soit  et la moins respectueuse pour moi autant que pour l’auditeur! Quant aux questions sur Strauss-Kahn, mon début à propos de l’Islande lui ayant déplu, Aphatie est passé à Cuba. Je vais donc dire ici tout ce que je voulais dire sur les sujets qu’il était convenu d’aborder. Inclus  Strauss-Kahn, bien sûr. J’ai espoir qu’un jour on reconnaisse avec le droit à la liberté des questions le droit à la liberté des réponses. Mais avant cela je prends juste le temps de me réjouir de voir que même avec ses confrères le considérable monsieur Aphatie se donne un rôle de censeur professionnel tout à fait impérieux. Je crois que c’est une première.
Qu’aurait dit monsieur Aphatie si c’était moi qui avais fait cette leçon de morale à l’un ou l’autre de ses confrères !

It's possible to understand Mélenchon's disappointment with the way the press covers presidential campaigns and with the way he is treated by interviewers, but his urge to overpower his adversary is self-defeating, since it prevents him from presenting a coherent argument for his own position. Judge for yourself:

And incidentally, the expression "vous m'avez dans l'os, M. Aphatie," is not one you often hear in the mouth of a presidential candidate:

Avoir dans l'os:

Subir un échec.

L'"os" de cette expression n'est autre que le sacrum. Familièrement, l'"avoir dans l'os", c'est l'"avoir dans le cul". L'image est forte, mais sa connotation sexuelle évoque à merveille l'humiliation. Cette expression signifie qu'une personne a subi un échec, ou bien une forte déception.

"Amateurism, Impulsiveness, Preoccupation with Media Attention"

Scott Sayare sums up a critique of Sarkozy's foreign policy by anonymous diplomats writing in Le Monde: "An anonymous group of former and current French diplomats said Tuesday that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s approach to foreign policy was plagued by amateurism, impulsiveness and a preoccupation with media attention."

That's the succinct version. For the longer version, see Charles Cogan:

As he approaches four years at the helm of France and of France’s foreign policy, three things come to mind with respect to an evaluation of Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy. Firstly, his ambition remains unchecked: to place himself, and his government, at the center, or more appropriately, near the center, of the world stage. In support of this ambition, he has doggedly striven to achieve French commercial advantage, in China, in Russia, and elsewhere. Secondly, he remains unceasingly on the top of his dossier, something that his rivals for the presidency in 2012 will have to look at quite soberly. Thirdly, he has calmed down somewhat, not only in his gesticulations and verbal excesses, but also in terms of what he expects to get out of foreign leaders, in particular Angela Merkel of Germany.


So Dominique and François had a little chat about the upcoming PS primaries. And maybe Martine was there too, or maybe she wasn't. I think we'll all live without knowing exactly who said what to whom. Maybe, two years from now, it will turn out that Yasmina Reza was there as well, and will tell us what happened ("G," the unnamed lover for whom she wrote the book on Sarkozy, is rumored to have been DSK). But we won't necessarily believe her.