What's Really Going on with France
Plus: A Ray of Bipartisan Hope
Published on November 08, 2005

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FRANCE

If you were wondering whatís been going on in France, click here.Amazing (or maybe not) how much hatred and violence a rightwing leader certain of his moral superiority (Sarkozy is, among other things, Franceís Minister of Religion) can stir up.Not to mention the long-run cost of cutting social programs.

 

A taste of it:

 

"Sarko" made headlines with his declarations that he would "karcherise" the ghettos of "la racaille"-- words the U.S. press has utterly inadequately translated to mean "clean" the ghettos of "scum." But these two words have an infinitely harsher and insulting flavor in French. "Karcher" is the well-known brand name of a system of cleaning surfaces by super-high-pressure sand-blasting or water-blasting that very violently peals away the outer skin of encrusted dirt -- like pigeon-shit -- even at the risk of damaging what's underneath. To apply this term to young human beings and proffer it as a strategy is a verbally fascist insult and, as a policy proposed by an Interior Minister, is about as close as one can get to hollering "ethnic cleansing" without actually saying so. It implies raw police power and force used very aggressively, with little regard for human rights. I wonder how many Anglo-American correspondents get the inflammatory, terribly vicious flavor of the word in French? The translation of "karcherise" by "clean"  just misses completely the inflammatory violence of what Sarko was really saying. And "racaille" is infinitely more pejorative than "scum" to French-speakers -- it has the flavor of characterizing an entire group of people as subhuman, inherently evil and criminal, worthless, and is, in other words, one of the most serious insults one could launch at the rebellious ghetto youth.

 

A RAY OF BIPARTISAN HOPE

It turns out that common ground is possible after all. Click here for the way the world ought to work more often.

 

 

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© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Andrew Tobias