Monday, February 16, 2015

Linguistic Derangement: Dumas, Valls, Islamo-Fascism, "Jewish influence"

The recent terror attacks--first in Paris, now in Copenhagen--have heated French political rhetoric to the point where the language is melting, one word flows into another, and it's hard to tell where amalgame ends and impermissible excess begins. Prime Minister Valls, pulling out all stops to express France's "love" for its Jews and the "wound" it has suffered from the recent events, declared his opposition to "Islamo-Fascism," a term he no doubt meant to underscore the gravity of the threat and his commitment to maintain the heightened level of security he initiated after the January attacks. Then Roland Dumas, who served as foreign minister under Mitterrand (and was later involved in the "putain de la République" scandal), took issue with the term--which would have been permissible, since its contribution to understanding Islamist radicalism is debatable--but then could not prevent himself from alleging that Valls was "probably under Jewish influence" (apparently because his wife is Jewish). Dumas is carrying an old grudge from when Valls accused him of favoring the Palestinian side in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This very ugly exchange will unfortunately be another distraction, diverting the government's attention from where it needs to be focused. Deplorable.


bernard said...

Vieillard cacochyme comes to mind (how does one translate that, I have no clue). This time around, a conservative had the perfect reply, quoting from De Gaulle about Petain: "la vieillesse est un naufrage".

As for me, I await and hope for Dumas's indictment under our laws on "provocation to anti-Semitic or Racial hatred". Because age and/or senility do not give a free pass.

Art Goldhammer said...

Doddering old man.

Anonymous said...

The term "Islamo-Fascism" is far more explosive than that.

To date it has been the almost exclusive property of the Right and far-Right and used when explaining the impact of Europe's un-assimilated immigrants.

It is commonly used on anti- Muslim websites and in other social media as shorthand for describing the envisaged death of Western civilisation at the hands of a new Muslim invasion.

Yesterday UMP's Christian Estrosi (yes we know!) used it in a tweet which he followed by an even more explicit tweet where he said: "I measure my words carefully, we are now facing a third World War". This in reaction to the Islamist attack in Copenhagen and the latest atrocities against Christians by the Islamist terrorists occupying Syrian/Libyan lands in a self-styled "caliphate".

The weight of the term "Islamo-Fascism" -- used for the first time ever in Europe by any key government leader (never mind a Socialist one) -- is surely of the utmost significance.

Anonymous said...

It's important to recall that JJ Bourdin, in an interview broadcast on BFM, introduced the idea of "Jewish influence" by directly asking Dumas whether this was the case where Valls was concerned. Bourdin, in my view, shares responsibility in setting this latest and highly unnecessary linguistic fire.

James Conran said...

The interview generally seemed to be egging Dumas on but he only posed the explicit question about "Jewish influence" after Dumas had already dropped heavy hints about the influence of Valls' (apparently Jewish) wife. Moreover Dumas apparently has "form" as a defender of Dieudonne among other things.

Massilian said...

Valls should fire his "communicant" (Could Fouks be under CRIF influence, since this type of question is à la mode ?). It is unacceptable from a prime minister to use big words that are meaningless in the context. Fascism or fascist have a specific meaning even though they are commonly used in various démonstrations to signify : atrocious horrendous, something close to Attila and the Huns. Valls should know better. Islamo-fascism is an absurdity just as using "nazi"wildly to signify your strong disapproval.
Islamo-fascism is not a new step in the war of words, it is a ridiculous faux-pas. Disappointing from Valls.

Cincinna said...

What it exactly would you call the beheading on a beach of 21 Coptic Christian men, filmed, and dispersed throughout the world on the Internet?

The Jews are the canary in the coal mine. If we don't acknowledge the reality of this evil, and it's preponderance and growth,we will have learned nothing from history, and the responsibility for what happens in the future will rest on our shoulders.


Video: A Jew walks for 10 hours through the streets of Paris with hidden camera. Harassed on the Streets of Paris

Alex Price said...

It may indeed be the case that the term “Islamo-fascism” belongs to the far right, but there are people on the left who describe islamism as, for example, “une nouvelle menace globale de type totalitaire.” That’s a quote from the “Manifeste des Douze” published in 2006 in Charlie Hebdo and signed by Caroline Fourest, Philippe Val, and BHL among others. Gérard Biard takes up this language, speaking of a “discours totalitaire religieux,” in his editorial in the issue of Charlie Hebdo published after the attacks. As a term, “totalitarian” may not have quite the same visceral effect as “fascist,” and I don’t think people on the left share the xenophobic fantasies of the right, but we are in the same semantic field. Note that the title “Manifeste des Douze” is an allusion to a manifesto of the same name directed against the Vichy regime.

DavidinParis said...

As a non-religious but still someone who identifies himself as a Jew, and someone who has learned to be highly mistrustful of 'things French' after living here for 9 years, I still find that the 'Jewish Question' as it were in France is being overplayed. I know too many French persons of 'Muslim' origins here in Paris that are lovely and warm people who deeply respect the so-call 'valeurs de la Republique'.
Valls needs to 'cool the rhetoric' a bit...

As per the film (being a Jew in Paris for 10 hours), you will get precisely the same reaction if you walk through the black ghettos in the USA as a white person or a Jew. Conversely, the same reaction as a blackman in the deep south. Racists and ignorance is everywhere, and not some exclusive French behavior.
This film has been viral in certain FB circles and is just meant to fire off anger on both sides...not at all helpful.

The problem is, always has been, the prevalence of ignorance.

alexis mccraig said...

The word "fascist" has been tossed around like rhetorical chump change so much by all factions that it no longer has any real meaning than as an epithet for "mean people I don't like". If pundits weren't so lazy, they would come up with new terms to describe recent movements. Perhaps someone in Europe is up to the task. Unfortunately, the "f bomb" gets a lot of mileage by both the Salonistas and the Foxnewsers that intellectual honesty is in short supply in the States.

DavidinParis said...

agreed. 'extremist' is perhaps the better word choice?

Cincinna said...

I think getting caught up in the language of what to call ISIS is not seeing the forest for the trees. It obscures the reality of what ISIS actually is, its origins, history, and goals. Firstly, ISIS is unequivocally Islamic. And it is a state, the caliphate seeking to grow, by taking more and more territory.
This article from The Atlantic, a left leaning magazine, is excellent. It's long, but worth reading through in its entirety.
What ISIS Really Wants - The Atlantic

As for the video discussed above, I have to disagree with David in Paris. Whatever it's alleged flaws, the United States does not have an anti-Semitism problem. The journalist who put on a yarmulke and walked through streets on the outskirts Paris, would hardly be noticed in a big city like New York, Dallas or LA. As for blacks in the "deep South" who do you think lives in the Deep South? The South in the United States is far more integrated than the northeast. One does not take one's life into one's hands by going into an African-American neighborhood. Just for reference, the crime rate in New York City is the lowest of any major city. What is pictured on the video which, by the way, was on the front page of London telegraph, is a criminal act in the United States. Disturbing the peace, threatening, menacing; but there has to be somebody to enforce it, and the one thing noticeable in the video is the absolute absence of any law enforcement. Another thing noticeable was that no one offered to help the guy. Unlike the attack on the Kosher supermarket in Paris where an employee, who happened to be Muslim, guided whatever jewish shoppers he could, away from the terrorists, and helped them find shelter in the freezer, saving their lives. That man is a hero. The others who stood idly by watching a young man spat upon, insulted and threatened, are cowards.
The Muslim population of the United States is extremely small, and in and of itself has never posed a problem.
France has an anti-Semitism problem; it always has. The alliance of radical Islam with the far left is most often around their common hatred of Jews and the state of Israel as a jewish state, whereas a vast majority of Americans support the Jewish people, and the state of Israel.
Reading the Atlantic article, one can more clearly understand what this radical Islamic threat actually is, and better comprehend the developing storm that is radical Islam-its goals and his willingness to implement them in the most barbaric ways.
Personally, I agree with the writers analysis and admirable scholarship, but disagree with his conclusions.

Anonymous said...

@Cincinna That Paris "walk" may not be everything it seems, debunked here

Cincinna said...

Yes, I understand, it's all a Mossad conspiracy to make France look bad s\
I saw a long interview with Mr. Klein on American TV last evening, and he seemed totally legitimate. He is a journalist who has done this type of hidden camera reportage in the past.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Cincinna,

I don’t know if you’ve read either the article by him which accompanied Klein’s video or the Richard Silverstein piece in the link given Anonymous, but it seems clear that Klein started out with an preconceived agenda that he simply refused to abandon when the facts on the ground didn’t support that agenda.

Apart from the points made by Silverstein, I would note that the most serious incidents that Klein alleges took place somehow were not captured on video. The confrontation with the two Muslim “thugs” doesn’t seem to have taken place at all. Neither does the spitting incident. The encounter with the man who asks why they are in his neighborhood seems to have been bizarrely edited or it didn’t take place at all.

The fact that people are looking at this obviously out of place, visibly frightened group is hardly surprising or particularly threatening. The bodyguard’s claim that “A few more minutes and this would have been a lynching…[we must] leave this area right now” seems overwrought and totally unsupported by anything in the video.

Now, there’s lots of places in greater Paris where I wouldn’t go on a bet (and it’s surprising that Klein couldn’t find any of those places) but that’s true pretty much everywhere. There’s a lot of tension between Jews and the young Muslims who are the source of nearly all of the antisemitic incidents but everybody already knows that and I don’t see that this kind of rightwing scaremongering is going to help anything.

Apart from which, I think there are also plenty of places in Israel and the United States where Muslims venturing into the “wrong” neighborhood (or large portions of the American South and Midwest) would likely be harassed and quite possibly violently attacked.