Well, here’s a disturbing trend I didn’t know about until this morning:
The so-called “quenelle” signal, popularized by notoriously anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, allows these youngsters to openly flout the strict anti-hate speech laws in some parts of Europe.
Apparently, posting photos of oneself doing the “quenelle” is popular for Europeans teens, athletes, and even politicians.
In related news, today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where members of my family were murdered in 1944 and where the young man above is saluting their murderers.
Incroyable mais vrai:
Alain Badiou veut envahir Hollywood ! Plus exactement, le philosophe communiste est en train d’écrire le scénario d’un film en vue de sa production par des studios américains. Le titre : La Vie de Platon. Au casting : Brad Pitt en Platon, aux différents âges. Pour Madame Platon, Meryl Streep. Et pour Socrate, le maître de Platon, Sean Connery.
Potentially the worst idea ever, in so many ways.
HT: James Poulos.
Over on Twitter a few days ago, Kelsey Atherton suggested that we replace -gate with -ghazi when we talk about scandals from now on … so I’m jumping on that train right now.
Here’s what I have to say about the conservative firestorm surrounding Joe Biden’s European Vacation (which incidentally is a movie that Hollywood should immediately put into production, starring Chevy Chase as Joe Biden; I’ll take an EP credit):
Conservatives went absolutely ballistic that the administration didn’t spend nearly enough money on security for our consulate in Benghazi. Now the exact same people are losing their minds over the astronomical cost of providing security for the vice president while he travels.
Which is it, guys? Should we be willing to spend what it actually costs or shouldn’t we?
Focusing on the tale of Algerian-born Jewish singer Salim Halali, a new French film looks at the little-known, and hard to confirm, efforts of the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris to save Jews during World War II.
The plot of the film centers on a heroic rescue tale, the details of which have yet to be studied fully by scholars, having to do with the Great Mosque of Paris having provided sanctuary and refuge to Jews, Salim Halali among them, during the Holocaust. The film has sparked a renewed public debate over whether the honorific “Righteous Among the Nations” should be accorded to the mosque’s rector, who is depicted as one who placed Halali and other Jews under his protection.
“The film pays homage to the people of our history who have been invisible. It shows another reality, that Muslims and Jews existed in peace. We have to remember that − with pride,” the film’s director, Ismael Ferroukhi, said in an interview with the New York Times. Read more.
As this Twitter timeline demonstrates, Reza Aslan has had kind of a weird 24 hours.
It’s difficult to comment on breaking news as it unfolds, especially in 140 characters, and Aslan’s mistake really makes this apparent.
Aslan wanted to suggest, I think, that the language of anti-Semitism was easier for Westerners to accept and understand, even if the actual reasoning behind the murders was much more complicated. Indeed, because of the connection to the shooting deaths of the North African paratroopers, Aslan wondered aloud why “anti-Semitic” was so quickly deployed by the media instead of anti-immigrant or Islamophobic.
His guess was that the shooter — or shooters — would turn out to be from the radical right-wing, like Anders Breivik, someone who wanted to murder his way back to a white, Christian Europe. And, indeed, some media reports yesterday were certainly hinting in that direction too.
Early this morning (in the U.S.), however, we learned that the shooter — or at least one of the shooters — claimed to be a member of al-Qaeda who went after the paratroopers because of French military involvement overseas. Which likely means that the Jewish school was targeted because it was a Jewish school.
Aslan then tweeted about being wrong:
Looks like I lost my bet re #Toulouse killer being Spencer, Gellar fan like Norway killer. Turns out it’s same hate but different team.— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) March 21, 2012
There are a couple things to say about all of this.
First, with murdered children on everyone’s mind, Aslan’s first few tweets ended up sounding much more callous than I suspect he intended. He was trying to make a point about the general anti-immigrant or racist sentiment that exists in Europe and he was trying to criticize those who were so quick to turn to anti-Semitism to explain the incidents.
But, second, he was wrong about the anti-Semitism, which now does seem to have motivated the killings at the Jewish school. He had an opportunity to correct himself or to apologize; he might have said, as I did above, that it’s really difficult to comment on breaking news as it unfolds. Instead, he essentially said, “I thought it was someone who hated immigrants (specifically Muslim ones), but it turns out to have been someone who hated Jews. Same basic thing.”
Of course, he’s right. Hatred of those who are different is hatred no matter which group is the target. But Aslan failed to own up to the fact that he was trying to make a point about what he regards as the overuse of the language of anti-Semitism and that he tried to make this point about murders that were, in fact, motivated by anti-Semitism. The Jews were killed because they were Jews and Aslan ought to acknowledge this to his thousands of Twitter followers.
Whether they wore the uniform of the French Army or were children, their ‘difference’ made them targets.
Pierre Haski, in a posting Monday on the Rue89 news site.
A man opened fire outside a Jewish school in southwest France on Monday morning, killing four people, three of them children, and wounding another, officials said.
Last week, in the same region, a man on a motorbike killed three French paratroopers and critically wounded another in two separate shootings, using a pistol of the same caliber as one of two weapons used in the Toulouse killings, police officials said.
The wave of killings stunned France, prompting tense speculation about its cause. Even before Monday’s shootings, there has been discussion about a possible racial or ethnic component to the attacks on the soldiers, since three of the victims were of Arab origin and the fourth was black, according to news reports.
For more, see Gunman Kills 4 at a Jewish School in France.
This Gingrich ad is in the running for the worst attack ad I’ve seen so far … which is no small feat, given some of the ads we’ve seen so far.
While it takes pains to highlight the ways in which the abortion-loving, taxaholic Romney is a “Massachusetts moderate who ran away from Ronald Reagan,” the best bit is clearly at the end: "And just like John Kerry he speaks French, too." What follows is a quick clip of Kerry saying, “Laissez les bon temps rouler” following by one of Romney saying, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Mitt Romney” (recorded as part of a promotional video for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics).
It’s a nice bit of irony that Gingrich wrote his (not particularly good) doctoral dissertation on Belgian colonial rule in the Congo. I’m guessing it’s a point of pride for him that he doesn’t speak French, though.
So, if there’s one thing that Professor Gingrich wants you to remember, kids, it’s that learning a foreign language means you’re not a Real American and you can’t be President. We speak English here and everyone else everywhere else better learn to speak it too.
So either Gingrich never actually read Pierre Wigny’s seminal 1955 work "Dix Anées historiques et perspectives d’avenir au Congo," as he claims in a footnote on page 250, or the Belgian senate’s 1947 "Rapport de la Mission Sénatoriale au Congo Belge," as he claims on page 245, or his French is a hell of a lot better than Romney’s (and probably Kerry’s). J’accuse!
I feel like I’ve finally hit the big time: People are sending me chicken-related photos from all over the world. This one comes to RC from The Marais, Paris.
Many thanks to AK for the thoughtful snapshot; keep ‘em coming, friends!
Hi Ari - I keep reading that the US continues to support its NATO allies in Libya, even without it possessing "vital interests" there. Do you have a link or direct info to explain Europe's specific, vital interests in Libya and why they decided to side with the rebels? Thanks in advance.Anonymous
GR Bud West
There are a number of “strategic interest” stories to be told about Europe; I’ve quickly linked, below, to three pieces from back in March, when there was a great deal of debate in Europe about military action in Libya. There’s also one piece below from the end of May.
First, here are some possible reasons behind France’s involvement:
Sarkozy’s enthusiasm for action rested not only on his interest in protecting Libyan protesters from slaughter at the hands of Moammar Khadafy. It also reflected his desire for complete regime change, and the rest of the world has been catching up ever since.
France has a strategic interest in what happens in Libya. Geography matters, and a Mediterranean crisis, which would impact European access to Libyan oil and gas, poses a tangible security threat to the French. Already coping with immigrants from other Mediterranean nations like Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, France was facing another wave of North African refugees.
For Sarkozy, the action in Libya also represents an opportunity to redeem his government’s missteps in the revolution in Tunisia. Sarkozy, after all, recently fired his foreign minister because of allegations she was too close to Tunisia’s deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Most importantly, events in Libya represent a perfect moment to redefine France as the center of Europe. For years, France has competed with, and essentially lost to, Germany for attention of the European Union and its newer members. Central Europe, and not southern Europe, was where the real action resided and Sarkozy found it difficult to shift that orientation away from his main competitor.
There is also, of course, Sarkozy’s heavy investment — of political capital, especially — in the idea of a Mediterranean Union:
During his second year in office, French President Nicolas Sarkozy initiated the formation of a Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) as part of a strategy to promote stability and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.
Under Mr. Sarkozy’s proposed UfM, European, Middle Eastern, and North African countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea would form a loose economic community. It would promote political and economic liberalization and also address immigration, energy, and security issues. Sarkozy’s initiative reflects the concerns that France, Italy, and the rest of the European Union (EU) have in securing their interests in a region that is in their geographical neighborhood – and is the source of 40 percent of EU oil imports.
While oil and gas are certainly important concerns for Europe, the issue of North African immigration ought not to be downplayed:
The European strategic interest in the Arab Spring is immense. If North African economies take off now that they are no longer at the service of ruling families and their coteries, the flow of desperate immigrants into Europe will diminish.
And here, finally, is some info on the rift that opened up between European countries on Libya:
One of five nations to abstain at Thursday’s UN vote, Germany reiterated its objections to the London-Paris move to enforce a no-fly zone.
"We remain eminently sceptical on the option of military intervention," said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "We see in it considerable risks and dangers… German soldiers will not take part."
But Westerwelle sought to reassure, saying Germany “had respect and understanding” from its partners for its position, “even from those that voted in favour.”
Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler and top trade partner, also took a softly-softly approach to the possibility of military action, but finally said it would allow its air bases to help enforce a no-fly zone if a decision were approved at the United Nations.
"In reality, the conduct of a foreign policy is how you see your strategic interests. Are the strategic interests of European countries the same?" said Brady.
Malta too has been cautious, Sweden is dragging its feet, and Austria predictably is sticking to its neutrality.
In the end, then, there are critical oil and gas issues for Europe. But this doesn’t give us the full picture of why the ouster of Gaddafi became a goal for some members of the EU. After all, there’s no reason for France and Italy to assume that siding with the Libyan rebels will mean better terms or undisturbed access to resources; siding with Gaddafi, on the other hand, might have been a better bet on this single issue. There’s the immigration issue, of course, which is a central one for Europe. And, perhaps most interestingly, there’s the idea of France — and perhaps Italy, which has long had a role in Libya — attempting to be assertive about reclaiming a role as an important actor on the world stage, especially with regard to issues affecting the Mediterranean.
Any one of these things is probably insufficient to motivate action that risks angering allies and voters, but taken together they’ve added up to the kind of vital interest that puts planes in the air.