Dan asked a rhetorical question about what does the French government hope to accomplish by banning the Moslem headscraves and other symbols of religious dress.
To be somewhat melodramatic, Chirac and the government want to head off religious or civil wars that used to wrack France in the early modern period. A situation that led to the articulation of absolutism and the establsihment of the political centralism as solutions to prevent such conflict. On a more prosaic level, France has always been deeply conflicted with just how to deal with its minorities whether lingusitic or religious.
Contrary to the Anglopshere, even then it too has its flaws but that's for another time, the French have always been rather insufferable with respect to their lingustic minorities. Under the Bourbons, the crown was content to leave those minorities alone; however, from time to time francien chauvanism would rear its ugly head but it was never rigourously pursued. It became somewhat mainstream under the French Enlightenement but it wasn't until the French revolution that the revolutionaries had their chance to impose French throughout the country, to denigrate the regional languages as patois and to prohibit their teaching or official usage (cf. art3 Of the Fifth republic's constitution). Even to this day, despite the fact that 25% of Catalan parents want their kids to learn the language in French schools, the unified teachers' union is adamantly opposed and simply refuses; it's pretty much the same with Corsica. Chirac's inability to sign the European convention on the minority languages was due to the hostility of both the Left and Right .
So French ambivalence towards its linguistic minorities simply didn't establish any positive legacies towards tolerence of religious minorities. As I pointed out in my comment to Dan, the French religious wars between the Protestants and Catholics were just as destructive as Germany's during the 30 years war; in fact the former would give a foretaste of what was to happen in Germany. One reason why French centralism is so overbearing and petty is precisely because the populace were fed up with the near constant civil wars and their fear that the anarchy that such conflicts engendered, left them vulnerable to outside interference (i.e. Spain and Austria) Absolutism and the divine right of kings originated in France as the solution to the chronic instability.
The French Enlightenment laid the foundations of anticlericism aka radical republican atheism which the French revolutionaries exploited. Let's not forget that the revolutionaries abolished Catholicism as the country's religion and replaced it with an athestic cult of the Goddess of Reason, committed genocide against the Vendée region of Brittany. Even though Napoleon restored Catholicism as France's official religion, the anti-clericism that was unleashed during the Revolution continued throughout the 19th century in all Latin Catholic countries.
France was the epicentre. So the conflict between the pious and the laicists over the public role of religion in France took on a much greater importance due to country's cultural dominance. The Dreyfus affair brought the conflict to a climax but it wasn't resolved until 1905 (you can read echos of the conflict in Pagnol's books. His dad was the typical 19th century professor: socialist, zolard, secular; whereas the uncle was the typical rural, small town Catholic conservative from Provence) The laicists won and passed a very stringent law of corporations that pretty much handicapped the Catholic organizations. Also the crucifixes came down from the classrooms.
However, the laicist victory was shortlived because WW I brought back popular piety and many priest were admired for their willingness to share the suffering in the trenches. It's a constant pendulum swing without any satisfactory resolution
So the ongoing conflict continues to this day and this time it's the Moslems. Dan complains that the French government is being utterly foolish with respect to the headscarf ban. Actually, the government isn't dumb if one accepts certain apriori myths about the French republic. The most important is the concept of the citizen. The citizen, to those that subscribe to 'republican values', is one who's completely equal to another citizen, has the some possibilities of advancement, the same rights and duties, is equal before the law but possess no other identity in other words, he's not a Jew from Burgandy, or a Norman Protestant or a Catholic Gascon but a Frenchman pure and simple.
That sound very noble; and in many periods of the various French Republics, there was genuine social mobility and a notable societal leveling. Nonetheless, the religious, lingusitic and ideological conflicts often marred the ideal.
The Moselm insistence to retain the hijab threatens the republican myths and causes the French political establishment to return of the Ancien régime with its emphais on class, caste, differentiation and differences (as if what previous governments have already done so with the various pension and social welfare programs for the fonctionnaires and the rest of the population isn't a more telling example of the restoration of the Ancien régime than the hijab)
Chirac is burdened with the legacies of the jacobian, radical republican, centralist, and even royal absolutist, traditions that can't tolerate any challenge to those 'republican values.'
Brace yourselves for a replay of the IIIrd Republic's political conflicts in the V's.
Hier s'est éteint un homme qui a marqué la vie culturelle et politique québécoise du dernier demi-siècle. Claude Ryan avait articulé ce que le Québec voulait et attendait de la reste du Canada à l'égard de la constitution et sa réforme.
Le défunt avait aussi une rare qualité: un homme des convictions. Il ne les a jamais compromises ni quand il a été un jeune militant dans l'Action catholique, ni comme rédacetur du Devoir ni comme chef de la parti Libéral provincial. En effet, même avant qu'il rentrât dans la politique, déjà les policitiens se rendaient chez son bureau pour avoir son avis ou le consulter avant d'entreprendre quelle que soit décision ou initiative.
Comme premier ministre de la province, Claude Ryan est également l'un de bâtisseurs du Québec moderne. C'est un constant de dire que son oratoire n'a été jamais inspirée; néanmoins c'est par sa vision qu'il a nous laissé un bâtiment plus solide, plus moderne, plus accuiellant même qu'auparavant.
Ce qui me frappe encore aujourd'hui est comment une home croyant et chrétien peut s'engager dans la vie publique et politique sans trop donner à Caesar mais tout en laissant une marque à la société de laquelle les citoyens futurs, surtout, bénéficeront. Personellement, c'était cette qualité de croyant engagé dans la vie politique sans trop se compromettre avec ses gloires mondaines mais transitoires qui m'inspire beaucoup. Ça donne beaucoup d'espoir aux autres croyants qui poursuivent leurs carrières dans la vie publique.
Ce dimanche, la SRC diffusera le testament politique en sorte de Claude Ryan. Il se promet d'être fort intéressant.
Last week, Khan fell on his sword and admitted that he was solely responsible for selling Pakistani nuclear secret to other countries like Iran and North Korea. He begged for forgivenes and Mushareff pardoned him. Nobody believes that Kahn acted alone or without governmental acqueisence.
Nevertheless, it's still a disturbing admission that Pakistan is one of the main culprits of niuclear proliferation, I'M also deeply disgusted by the neocons, they had the temerity of slandering the French and Germans over their disagreements on how to deal with Iraq; yet staying completely silent about Pakistan's role in proliferating nuclear weapons technology to regime that hate us and have no moral qualms of detonating a nuclear rocket over one of our cities if it advances theri goals.
More troubling is what what the U.S. doing to prevent the spread of such technology? After all from the 70s on, the Americans have remained Pakistan's main ally. Given the relatively close relations, that the American spies and diplomats would've had a good estimate of what the Pakistanis were up to. Perhaps they were and kept silent as a means of future leverage. In any case, the Pakistanis will have to come clean and diviluge what they now to to the Americans as well as IAEA
Aujourd'hui la presse anglophone nordaméricane se souviens de la 40e anniversaire de l'introduction des Beatles aux États-Unis au show Ed Sullivan. Les historiens de la musique contémporaine crédit cette spéctacle télévisée avec le début de la British invasion. Très bien mais laisses-nous en paix!
Sérieusement, j'ai tojours trouvé les Beatles bien plat comme groupe musical. Très peu de leurs chanson me touchent au coeur et je m'irite beaucoup de comment nous les devions sinon on est philistein. Je ne nie pas leurs talents mais j'ai jamais accepté que c'est le meilleur groupe musciale de XXe siècle.
Malheursement pendant cette semaine on mangera pour la nième fois du Beatlemania. Honêtement, je suis tanné de comment le boomers infligeront encore un autre anniversaire sur l'une de leurs groups d'adolescence. Encore de L'hommage obligatoire et la genuflection forcée et les louage incessables sur les Beatles et comment ils ont été si superieurs à groupes d'aujourd'hui. Au moins notre génération la soi-distante X aura la decence de ne pas imposer des anniversaires à nos groupes ou interprètes préférés à nos petits-enfants. Je doute qu'ils se fouteront d'Eminem ou 50 Cents ou Les Chemical brothers etc.