Saturday, October 6, 2012


Your humble blogger was promoted yesterday to the rank of Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. Here I am at the podium at Harvard's Center for European Studies reminiscing about 44 years as a Francophile.

Police Dismantle a "Terrorist Cell"

"A network, almost a cell" of more than a dozen people, said to be "delinquents" converted to "radical Islam," has been dismantled by police. One man was killed, ten others were arrested, and two or three remain on the loose. The network was spread across France from Strasbourg to the Alpes-Maritimes. Ties to Salafism were noted.

Le Pen au Chocolat

Jean-François Copé is having a hard time establishing himself as Sarkozy's successor and heir apparent. It's bad enough that he has to fend off a challenge from François Fillon. But on top of that he just can't seem to get hold of the right rhetoric to prove that he is now in fact the incarnation of la droite décomplexée, the role in which his recent eponymous "Manifesto" cast him. So he's gone poaching in the Var, Le Pen country, where he came out with his now famous paean to le pain au chocolat:

« Il est des quartiers où je peux comprendre l’exaspération de certains de nos compatriotes, pères ou mères de famille rentrant du travail le soir et apprenant que leur fils s’est fait arracher son pain au chocolat à la sortie du collège par des voyous qui lui expliquent qu’on ne mange pas pendant le ramadan. »
This gem packs a lot into a small space: it manages to imply that the criminal element (voyous) coincides with Ramadan-celebrating Muslims who terrorize small children and deprive them of that quintessential snack of le Français de souche, le pain au chocolat.

This rather lame emulation of Lepenist rhetoric unleashed a torrent of laughter on Twitter. The title of this post is taken from one of those mocking tweets. Others can be read here. Like many imitators, Copé assumes that the original he seeks to copy is easily imitable. In the case of the Le Pens, it isn't.