Thursday, November 30, 2017

Adam Shatz on the Ramadan Affair

In The New Yorker. This is the best summary I have seen of this latest Parisian brouhaha.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"For Manuel Valls and Charlie Hebdo, Ramadan represents the threat of Islamic conquest; for Ramadan’s Muslim supporters, the umma itself." From the article.

Really? Although I have no doubt that some French Muslims think that Tariq Ramadan represents the Umma itelf, it would surprise me very much if Valls or the clowns at Charlie Hebdo thought that Ramadan represents Islamic "conquest". What they think is that Ramadan is a fraud and a hypocrite.

The author of this article, who seems to be a somewhat deranged American feminist, knows little about France, except what she reads in the works of other deranged American feminists, e.g. "As Joan Wallach Scott argues in her new book, “Sex and Secularism,” the idea of the repressive yet lustful Muslim patriarch has long served to deflect attention from French society’s discrimination against women, just as Muslim women’s “purported state of abjection” has been held up as “the antithesis of whatever ‘equality’ means in the West.”

What evidence is there for this extraordinary claim? "Purported" state of abjection? Has she ever visited a Muslim country? The condition of women in the Muslim world IS the antithesis of the condition of women in France (and elsewhere). "Deflect attention from French society's (sic) discrimination against women..." What BS.

Anonymous said...

Correction to the above comment: I see the author of this article is a man. It is still BS.

Anonymous said...

I really regret the way in which this Ramadan business has managed to destroy the #balancetonporc moment in France. I suppose the American equivalent would be a series of similar accusation against a prominent African-American politician or celebrity, someone like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, or even an actor like Denzel Washington (or Obama, God forbid- that would amaze me, however.) Trump would respond to the accusations with racial slurs, and the post-Weinsten moment would dissolve into an acrimonious racial debate.

After typing, however, I wonder how plausible the scenario I have sketched really is. Respectable opinion in the United States really seems to have begun to take workplace sexual harassment seriously: there are almost no mainstream voices in this country who are willing to defend the figures who have been accused of harassment since Weinstein's disgrace. In addition to the lunatic fringe - people who think Roy Moore was framed -, there are, I am sure, many people (some with skeletons in their closets) who are exasperated by the whole furore and regard it as silly. They have, however, mostly kept silent. In France there are all sorts of Charlie Rose types, respectable mainstream writers, politicians and media figures, who won't scruple to defend even the most piggish behavior by Important Men like DSK.

On the other hand, what I called the lunatic fringe in America includes our duly elected president.

Anonymous said...

"In France there are all sorts of Charlie Rose types, respectable mainstream writers, politicians and media figures, who won't scruple to defend even the most piggish behavior by Important Men like DSK."

Name one.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymonus :The first name that comes to mind is Pascal Bruckner- remember the essays that he wrote in response to the DSK affair? He blamed DSK's fall on American puritanism and our "totalitarian" attitude towards sex. (I don't mean to imply anything about Bruckner's personal behavior, about which I know nothing.)

Anonymous said...

DSK was a rather special case. So is Weinstein. If "respectable opinion" in the US is "really" taking workplace harassment seriously because of the piggish behavior of Weinstein; all I can say is that respectable opinion is, as usual, wrong and misguided. Some feminists would no doubt like us to believe that flirting and banter between the sexes is harassment, a prelude to sexual assault or rape, but that is an opinion that only an American would call respectable.

Here is what Bruckner said, and I fully agree with him: "North America clearly has a problem with sex that comes from its protestant heritage but still wants to give lessons to the entire world. To qualify this as puritanism is not enough because it is a twisted puritanism … in which the language of free love co-exists with a flourishing pornographic industry. We have many things to learn from our American friends but certainly not the art of loving."

Anonymous said...

I've lived half my life in France and in my experience French men could stand to learn a thing or two, if not about love, then about how to treat women decently in the office. I love the social mores of France, but too often elegies to the latin art of seduction and so forth are used to excuse piggish behavior. I don't say that women are treated better in America - or Scandinavia, or Germany or the Dutch-speaking lands, or whatever sexless culturally protestant dystopia one cares to conjure. I only find these defenses of French savoir-vivre tend to elide the difference between workplace flirtation and sexual violence.

Bruckner's essay applauds Cyrus Vance for dropping the "thin" case against Strauss-Kahn. This is the same miserable corrupt official who refused to charge Harvey Weinstein with rape after the NYPD persuaded one of Weinstein's victims to secretly record him admitting to the deed. I have no trouble concluding, on the basis of publicly available evidence, that Weinstein and DSK are both rapists. I don't feel at all puritanical in rejecting a defense of flirtation that won't call rape what it is.

Anonymous said...

You have lived half of your life in France and are still incapable of distinguishing between flirtation and rape....and think that defenses of French savoir-vivre elide the difference between workplace flirtation and sexual violence. That is truly amazing. I have lived most of my life in France and I have no difficulty distinguishing the two, but my mother was French (my father was American).

In any case, Pascal Bruckner clearly does know the difference. In a New Yorker article written at the time he is quoted as saying that DSK is "sick" and that many women in the Socialist Party were aware of the "problem." So some people in France, I am happy to say, are also aware of the difference between flirtation and sexual violence.

Anonymous said...

I think that a lot of terrible behavior is excused in France because French people will say "it is only flirting" or "men are like that." That is certainly what everybody said about DSK until he got into legal trouble (Sarkozy famously teased him). I don't necessarily think that things are worse in France than in America. There is probably more tolerance for infidelity in France than in the US, but I don't think that that attitude is necessarily a bad thing & I enjoy the fact that French workplaces are flirtier than their counterparts elsewhere.

I do mind when the generally tolerant French attitude is used to excuse rapists. DSK was not just "sick" or a "problem" - he is a violent criminal who ought to have been locked up long ago for rape. I know of people like him in a few large French companies and business schools. Public defenses of flirtation - Bruckner's included - tend to minimize or ignore what are not borderline cases but clear, repeated crimes. I think that France would be a better place if justice came to a few prize pigs who defile the public square over there, and that flirting would continue.

Anonymous said...

I (the author of the post above) am Dutch with a French mother. I've spend half my life in France and most of the rest in California. I don't think that there is less sexual violence in the USA than in France anywhere else. I'm only annoyed to read defenses of flirtation or the art of seduction that oppose American "puritanism." The people who are getting in trouble in the United States are not flirty sophisticates (or drunk gropers), but real criminals. There are unfortunately plenty of people in France, some in the public eye, that are equally bad. Yet when this issue is raised, it is assumed that you want to ban the bisou or arrest men for hitting on their colleagues at the bar after work.