La Rose blanche/75e: Après la tragédie, la farce (75 years after the WWII anti-nazi student group, Hollywood’s joke of an anti-sexual harassment movement picks up the white rose symbol)

26 février, 2018
Hans et Sophie Scholl et leur ami Christoph ProbstHegel fait remarquer quelque part que, dans l’histoire universelle, les grands faits et les grands personnages se produisent, pour ainsi dire, deux fois. Il a oublié d’ajouter : la première fois comme tragédie, la seconde comme farce. Marx
Depuis que l’ordre religieux est ébranlé – comme le christianisme le fut sous la Réforme – les vices ne sont pas seuls à se trouver libérés. Certes les vices sont libérés et ils errent à l’aventure et ils font des ravages. Mais les vertus aussi sont libérées et elles errent, plus farouches encore, et elles font des ravages plus terribles encore. Le monde moderne est envahi des veilles vertus chrétiennes devenues folles. Les vertus sont devenues folles pour avoir été isolées les unes des autres, contraintes à errer chacune en sa solitude.  G.K. Chesterton
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. (…) Jusqu’au nazisme, le judaïsme était la victime préférentielle de ce système de bouc émissaire. Le christianisme ne venait qu’en second lieu. Depuis l’Holocauste, en revanche, on n’ose plus s’en prendre au judaïsme, et le christianisme est promu au rang de bouc émissaire numéro un. René Girard
La Rose blanche (en allemand Die Weiße Rose) est le nom d’un groupe de résistants allemands, fondé en juin 1942, pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, et composé de quelques étudiants et de leurs proches. Ce nom aurait été choisi par Hans Scholl en référence à la romance de Clemens Brentano (Les Romances du Rosaire, 1852), ou au roman de B. Traven La Rose blanche (1929). Ce groupe a été arrêté en février 1943 par la Gestapo et ses membres ont été exécutés. Wikipedia
We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance. Voices in Entertainment
 The colour white, of course, represents peace, but it is also has history in the women’s movement. White was one of the trio of colours adopted by the suffragette movement, along with green and purple; white stood for purity. Hillary Clinton’s white pantsuit, which she wore to accept the nomination as Democratic candidate for the 2016 election, was seen making a feminist statement. The Guardian
When he landed in New Delhi last Saturday, Trudeau was greeted on the tarmac, not by the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister but by the junior minister for agriculture and farmers’ welfare. Other world leaders, including Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, have been given a personal welcome by Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi, a savvy social media user, failed even to note Trudeau’s arrival on Twitter, though on the same day he found time to tweet about plans to unveil a new shipping container terminal. He did not acknowledge Trudeau until five days later and only met him the day before the Canadian PM and his family were to return home. Why were the Indians so frosty in their reception? They suspect Trudeau’s government of private sympathy for the Khalistani separatist movement, which wants to form a breakaway Sikh state in Punjab. Thankfully, Trudeau didn’t do anything to inflame those suspicions. Well, unless you count inviting a notorious Khalistani separatist to a reception. And then to dinner. With the Prime Minister. Not just any separatist, either. Jaspal Atwal is a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, proscribed as a terror group in both India and Canada, and was convicted of the attempted assassination of Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu. Best of all, he even got a photo taken with Trudeau’s wife Sophie. But there were still a few Indians unoffended by the image-obsessed Canadian PM and he quickly remedied that. He turned up for one event in a gaudy golden kurta, churidars and chappals. At another, he broke into the traditional Bhaṅgṛā dance only to stop midway through when no one else joined in. Only after the local press pointed out that this was a little condescending and a lot tacky was Justin-ji finally photographed wearing a suit. It was less like a state visit and more like a weeklong audition for the next Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie. Here was Justin Trudeau, the progressive’s progressive, up to his pagṛi in cultural appropriation. At least he achieved his goal of bringing Indians and Canadians closer together: both have spent the past week cringing at this spectacle of well-meaning minstrelsy. I want to like Justin Trudeau. I really do. He’s a centrist liberal in an age where neither the adjective nor the noun is doing very well. Trump to his south, Brexit and Corbyn across the water, Putin beyond that: Trudeau should be a hero for liberal democrats. Instead, from his Eid Mubarak socks at Toronto Pride to his preference for ‘peoplekind’ over ‘mankind’, Trudeau presents like an alt-right parody of liberalism. He’s gender-neutral pronouns. He’s avocado toast and flaxseed soy smoothies. He’s safe spaces and checked privileges. Trudeau is a cuck. And all that would be fine. In fact, it would be a hoot to have a liberal standard-bearer who could troll the 4chan pale males in their overvaped, undersexed basements. But far from an icon for the middle ground, Trudeau is the sort of right-on relativist who gives liberals a bad name. He has spoken of his ‘admiration’ for China’s dictatorship for ‘allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime’. He called Fidel Castro ‘larger than life’ and ‘a remarkable leader’ who showed ‘tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people’. Trudeau’s government refused to accept the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing of the Yazidis was a genocide until the UN formally recognised it as such. In 2016 he issued a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that neglected to mention Jewish victims of the Shoah and the following year unveiled a memorial plaque with the same omission. Trudeau’s problem is that he always agrees with the last good intention he encountered. He seems to have picked up his political philosophy from Saturday morning cartoons: by your powers combined, I am Captain Snowflake. There is no spine of policy, no political compass, no vision beyond the next group hug or national apology. The centre ground needs a champion and instead it got an inspirational quote calendar with abs. Trudeau’s not a Grit, he’s pure mush. The Spectator
On y voit comment pousse sous nos yeux, non pas un simple fascisme local, mais un racisme proche du nazisme à ses débuts. Comme toute idéologie, le racisme allemand, lui aussi, avait évolué, et, à l’origine, il ne s’en était pris qu’aux droits de l’homme et du citoyen des juifs. Il est possible que sans la seconde guerre mondiale, le « problème juif » se serait soldé par une émigration « volontaire » des juifs des territoires sous contrôle allemand. Après tout, pratiquement tous les juifs d’Allemagne et d’Autriche ont pu sortir à temps. Il n’est pas exclu que pour certains à droite, le même sort puisse être réservé aux Palestiniens. Il faudrait seulement qu’une occasion se présente, une bonne guerre par exemple, accompagnée d’une révolution en Jordanie, qui permettrait de refouler vers l’Est une majeure partie des habitants de la Cisjordanie occupée. Les Smotrich et les Zohar, disons-le bien, n’entendent pas s’attaquer physiquement aux Palestiniens, à condition, bien entendu, que ces derniers acceptent sans résistance l’hégémonie juive. Ils refusent simplement de reconnaître leurs droits de l’homme, leur droit à la liberté et à l’indépendance. Dans le même ordre d’idées, d’ores et déjà, en cas d’annexion officielle des territoires occupés, eux et leurs partis politiques annoncent sans complexe qu’ils refuseront aux Palestiniens la nationalité israélienne, y compris, évidemment, le droit de vote. En ce qui concerne la majorité au pouvoir, les Palestiniens sont condamnés pour l’éternité au statut de population occupée. La raison en est simple et clairement énoncée : les Arabes ne sont pas juifs, c’est pourquoi ils n’ont pas le droit de prétendre à la propriété d’une partie quelconque de la terre promise au peuple juif. Pour Smotrich, Shaked et Zohar, un juif de Brooklyn, qui n’a peut-être jamais mis les pieds sur cette terre, en est le propriétaire légitime, mais l’Arabe, qui y est né, comme ses ancêtres avant lui, est un étranger dont la présence est acceptée uniquement par la bonne volonté des juifs et leur humanité. Le Palestinien, nous dit Zohar, « n’a pas le droit à l’autodétermination car il n’est pas le propriétaire du sol. Je le veux comme résident et ceci du fait de mon honnêteté, il est né ici, il vit ici, je ne lui dirai pas de s’en aller. Je regrette de le dire mais [les Palestiniens] souffrent d’une lacune majeure : ils ne sont pas nés juifs ». Ce qui signifie que même si les Palestiniens décidaient de se convertir, commençaient à se faire pousser des papillotes et à étudier la Torah et le Talmud, cela ne leur servirait à rien. Pas plus qu’aux Soudanais et Erythréens et leurs enfants, qui sont israéliens à tous égards – langue, culture, socialisation. Il en était de même chez les nazis. Ensuite vient l’apartheid, qui, selon la plupart des « penseurs » de la droite, pourrait, sous certaines conditions, s’appliquer également aux Arabes citoyens israéliens depuis la fondation de l’Etat. Pour notre malheur, beaucoup d’Israéliens, qui ont honte de tant de leurs élus et honnissent leurs idées, pour toutes sortes de raisons, continuent à voter pour la droite. Zeev Sternhell
The central complaint of Netanyahu’s critics is that he has failed to make good on the promise of his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, where he claimed to accept the principle of a Palestinian state. Subsidiary charges include his refusal to halt settlement construction or give former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad a sufficient political boost. It should go without saying that a Palestinian state is a terrific idea in principle — assuming, that is, that it resembles the United Arab Emirates. But Israelis have no reason to believe that it will look like anything except the way Gaza does today: militant, despotic, desperate and aggressive. Netanyahu’s foreign critics are demanding that he replicate on a large scale what has failed catastrophically on a smaller scale. It’s an absurd ask. It’s also strange that the same people who insist that Israel help create a Palestinian state in order to remain a democracy seem so indifferent to the views of that democracy. Israel’s political left was not destroyed by Netanyahu. It was obliterated one Palestinian suicide bombing, rocket salvo, tunnel attack and rejected statehood offer at a time. Bibi’s long tenure of office is the consequence, not the cause, of this. Specifically, it is the consequence of Israel’s internalization of the two great lessons of the past 30 years. First, that separation from the Palestinians is essential — in the long term. Second, that peace with the Palestinians is impossible — in the short term. The result is a policy that amounts to a type of indefinite holding pattern, with Israel circling a runway it knows it cannot yet land on even as it fears running out of gas. The risks here are obvious. But it’s hard to imagine any other sort of approach, which is why any successor to Netanyahu will have to pursue essentially identical policies — policies whose chief art will consist in fending off false promises of salvation. There’s a long Jewish history of this. For all of his flaws, few have done it as well as Bibi, which is why he has endured, and will probably continue to do so. Bret Stephens
Un Israélien qui compare Israël au « nazisme des débuts », voilà qui ne peut qu’enchanter, du Monde à France Inter, de Mediapart au Muslim Post. D’autant plus que Zeev Sternhell a l’avantage de conférer une pseudo-scientificité à deux grandes causes, la détestation de la France et la haine d’Israël – quel autre sentiment peut inspirer un pays en voie de nazification ? En effet, avant de devenir le savant utile de l’antisionisme extrême gauchiste européen, Sternhell s’est rendu célèbre avec Ni droite, ni gauche, publié en 1983, une analyse du fascisme français qui est à peu près partout et toujours prête à resurgir, thèse assez proche de celle de L’idéologie française de BHL, paru deux ans plus tôt, et recyclée depuis en mépris du populo et de ses idées nauséabondes. Bref, avec Shlomo Sand, l’historien qui considère que le peuple juif est un mythe, et quelques autres, Sternhell fait partie des Israéliens fréquentables. Et pour les sites islamistes il est le « bon juif » idéal. Ce qui est marrant, c’est que, même concernant le fascisme français, Shlomo Sand lui conteste la qualité d’historien. De fait, outre qu’elle est abjecte, sa comparaison est idiote car elle oublie un léger détail : il n’y avait pas, en 1930, de conflit entre les Juifs et l’Allemagne, ni de Juifs souhaitant bruyamment la disparition de l’Allemagne ou célébrant la mort de petites filles allemandes. Le plus écœurant, c’est la gourmandise avec laquelle notre radio publique s’est jetée sur cette bonne feuille. En dépit d’une actualité chargée, sur France Culture, on lui a accordé l’honneur des titres, honneur inédit pour un texte de cette nature. Emportée par son élan – ou son inconscient-, la journaliste a annoncé : « Un intellectuel israélien compare Israël au nazisme des années 1940. » Sternhell, et c’est déjà dingue, parle du nazisme des débuts. Celui des années 1940, c’est celui de la fin – de l’extermination. Peu importent ces distinctions, nombre de journalistes, imbus de leurs grands sentiments et de leur méconnaissance totale du dossier, étaient trop heureux de trouver, sous une plume israélienne, cette confirmation de tous les poncifs qu’ils ont en tête. (…) Surtout, tout occupé qu’il est à déceler les germes de nazisme chez ses concitoyens, Sternhell oublie de porter son regard un peu plus loin. S’il l’avait fait, il aurait pu entendre et voir des expressions beaucoup plus inquiétantes du nationalisme trempé dans l’antisémitisme le plus crasse, expressions qui vont jusqu’au poignard, à la roquette, sans oublier la volonté de destruction tranquillement assumée dans des mosquées ou des salles de classe. Ajoutons qu’en Israël, Sternhell et les autres ont pignon sur rue et c’est très bien. S’il y a des partisans de la paix avec Israël dans le monde arabe, ils rasent les murs, ou sont menacés de mort. Et dans les pays arabes, il n’y a pas de question juive. S’il avait vu tout cela, Sternhell aurait compris que la volonté de conserver une majorité juive ne révèle nullement une haine raciale. La plupart des Israéliens le savent, sans majorité juive, il n’y a plus d’Etat juif. Fin du sionisme, chapitre clos. C’est d’ailleurs ce souci qui devrait conduire le gouvernement israélien à rechercher une séparation négociée avec les Palestiniens, qu’ils soient ou pas (et ils ne le sont pas) les partenaires idéaux. Oui, l’occupation qui pourrit la vie des Palestiniens opère un travail de sape souterrain dans la société israélienne. Mais le danger, pour Israël, n’est pas de sombrer dans le nazisme. Il est de perdre le sens de la pluralité – et de finir par ressembler à ses voisins. Elisabeth Lévy
 Attention: une rose blanche peut en cacher une autre !

Au lendemain du 75e anniversaire de la décapitation du groupe de résistance d’étudiants antinazis dit de la Rose blanche

Et la reprise du même symbole par Hollywood et le monde de la chanson pour symboliser sa lutte contre le harcèlement sexuel …
Pendant que déguisé en acteur de Bollywood, la véritable caricature de progressisme qui sert actuellement de premier ministre à nos pauvres amis canadiens achevait de ridiculiser son pays sur la scène internationale …
Et qu’oubliant qu’il n’y avait pas dans les années 30 de « Juifs souhaitant bruyamment la disparition de l’Allemagne ou célébrant la mort de petites filles allemandes », un historien israélien qui compare Israël au « nazisme des débuts » se voit gratifié d’une tribune du Monde
Comment ne pas repenser …
Pour qualifier cette étrange époque que nous vivons entre « Génération Flocon de neige » et « idées chrétiennes devenues folles » …
Au fameux mot de Marx sur la répétition tragi-comique, par son premier président et dernier monarque de la nation française de neveu, du coup d’État du 18 brumaire par Napoléon un demi-siècle après ?

Zeev Sternhell, savant utile de l’antisionisme
L’historien israélien a comparé l’Etat hébreu au « nazisme à ses débuts »…
Elisabeth Lévy
Causeur
20 février 2018

Un Israélien qui compare Israël au « nazisme des débuts », voilà qui ne peut qu’enchanter, du Monde à France Inter, de Mediapart au Muslim Post. D’autant plus que Zeev Sternhell a l’avantage de conférer une  pseudo-scientificité à deux grandes causes, la détestation de la France et la haine d’Israël – quel autre sentiment peut inspirer un pays en voie de nazification ? En effet, avant de devenir le savant utile de l’antisionisme extrême gauchiste européen, Sternhell s’est rendu célèbre avec Ni droite, ni gauche, publié en 1983, une analyse du fascisme français qui est à peu près partout et toujours prête à resurgir, thèse assez proche de celle de L’idéologie française de BHL, paru deux ans plus tôt, et recyclée depuis en mépris du populo et de ses idées nauséabondes.

Sternhell, leur « bon juif » idéal

Bref, avec Shlomo Sand, l’historien qui considère que le peuple juif est un mythe, et quelques autres, Sternhell fait partie des Israéliens fréquentables. Et pour les sites islamistes il est le « bon juif » idéal. Ce qui est marrant, c’est que, même concernant le fascisme français, Shlomo Sand lui conteste la qualité d’historien. De fait, outre qu’elle est abjecte, sa comparaison est idiote car elle oublie un léger détail : il n’y avait pas, en 1930, de conflit entre les Juifs et l’Allemagne, ni de Juifs souhaitant bruyamment la disparition de l’Allemagne ou célébrant la mort de petites filles allemandes.

Le plus écœurant, c’est la gourmandise avec laquelle notre radio publique s’est jetée sur cette bonne feuille. En dépit d’une actualité chargée, sur France Culture, on lui a accordé l’honneur des titres, honneur inédit pour un texte de cette nature. Emportée par son élan – ou son inconscient-, la journaliste a annoncé : « Un intellectuel israélien compare Israël au nazisme des années 1940. » Sternhell, et c’est déjà dingue, parle du nazisme des débuts. Celui des années 1940, c’est celui de la fin – de l’extermination. Peu importent ces distinctions, nombre de journalistes, imbus de leurs grands sentiments et de leur méconnaissance totale du dossier, étaient trop heureux de trouver, sous une plume israélienne, cette confirmation de tous les poncifs qu’ils ont en tête. Saluons donc Bernard Guetta qui, ce mardi matin, a remis les pendules à l’heure.

Tout n’est pas faux, bien sûr, dans le libelle publié, lundi 19 février, par Le Monde sous le titre accrocheur : « En Israël pousse un racisme proche du nazisme à ses débuts ». Sternhell s’appuie sur des projets du gouvernement de geler par la loi et pour toujours le statut de Jérusalem, ainsi que sur des signes réels de la montée d’un nationalisme raciste. Mais, faute de regard historique (ou, dit plus simplement, de la prise en compte du contexte), il sort subrepticement de la route de l’argumentation pour dérouler un scénario qui conduit au mieux à l’apartheid et au pire suivez mon regard.

La hallalisation des esprits fait son chemin

Il y a en effet en Israël des rabbins qui ont appelé à l’assassinat d’Yitzhak Rabin, ou des élus qui réclament des salles d’accouchement séparées pour les Arabes et pour les Juives. Le nationalisme extrémiste, volontiers raciste sur les bords, progresse, y compris dans l’armée. En tout cas, la hallalisation des esprits (c’est-à-dire la propension à diviser le monde entre pur et impur) fait son chemin chez pas mal de juifs.

Mais il y a aussi des juifs pour la Palestine, des soldats militant pour la paix, une presse déchaînée, des ONG brailleuses et une intelligentsia raffinée, sans oublier une justice, une police et tout le reste, pour défendre l’Etat de droit s’il est menacé. Bref, toute une cacophonie judéo-israélienne dans laquelle on souhaite bonne chance à un dictateur.

Surtout, tout occupé qu’il est à déceler les germes de nazisme chez ses concitoyens, Sternhell oublie de porter son regard un peu plus loin. S’il l’avait fait, il aurait pu entendre et voir des expressions beaucoup plus inquiétantes du nationalisme trempé dans l’antisémitisme le plus crasse, expressions qui vont jusqu’au poignard, à la roquette, sans oublier la volonté de destruction tranquillement assumée dans des mosquées ou des salles de classe. Ajoutons qu’en Israël, Sternhell et les autres ont pignon sur rue et c’est très bien. S’il y a des partisans de la paix avec Israël dans le monde arabe, ils rasent les murs, ou sont menacés de mort. Et dans les pays arabes, il n’y a pas de question juive.

Sans majorité juive, il n’y a plus d’Etat juif

S’il avait vu tout cela, Sternhell aurait compris que la volonté de conserver une majorité juive ne révèle nullement une haine raciale. La plupart des Israéliens le savent, sans majorité juive, il n’y a plus d’Etat juif. Fin du sionisme, chapitre clos. C’est d’ailleurs ce souci qui devrait conduire le gouvernement israélien à rechercher une séparation négociée avec les Palestiniens, qu’ils soient ou pas (et ils ne le sont pas) les partenaires idéaux.

Oui, l’occupation qui pourrit la vie des Palestiniens opère un travail de sape souterrain  dans la société israélienne. Mais le danger, pour Israël, n’est pas de sombrer dans le nazisme. Il est de perdre le sens de la pluralité – et de finir par ressembler à ses voisins.

Voir aussi:

Zeev Sternhell : « En Israël pousse un racisme proche du nazisme à ses débuts »
Dans une tribune au « Monde », l’historien spécialiste du fascisme, se lance dans une comparaison entre le sort des juifs avant la guerre et celui des Palestiniens aujourd’hui.
Zeev Sternhell (Historien, membre de l’Académie israélienne des sciences et lettres, professeur à l’Université hébraïque de Jérusalem, spécialiste de l’histoire du fascisme)
Le Monde
18.02.2018

[L’annonce est autant symbolique que contestée à l’international : le 6 décembre 2017, le président américain Donald Trump a décidé de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël. L’ambassade américaine, actuellement établie à Tel-Aviv, ouvrira ses portes avant fin 2019. L’initiative a rapidement été saluée par le premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou. Depuis, à la Knesset, le Parlement, la droite mène une offensive sur plusieurs fronts. Le 2 janvier, les députés ont voté un amendement à la loi fondamentale, c’est-à-dire constitutionnelle, rendant impossible toute cession d’une partie de Jérusalem sans un vote emporté à la majorité des deux-tiers. Plusieurs députés ont aussi avancé des projets de loi visant à redéfinir le périmètre de la ville, en rejetant des quartiers arabes entiers se trouvant au-delà du mur de séparation, ou bien en intégrant de vastes colonies. Pour l’historien Zeev Sternhell, ces décisions visent à imposer aux Palestiniens d’accepter sans résistance l’hégémonie juive sur le territoire, les condamnant pour l’éternité au statut de population occupée.]

Tribune. Je tente parfois d’imaginer comment essaiera d’expliquer notre époque l’historien qui vivra dans cinquante ou cent ans. A quel moment a-t-on commencé, se demandera-t-il sans doute, à comprendre en Israël que ce pays, devenu Etat constitué lors de la guerre d’indépendance de 1948, fondé sur les ruines du judaïsme européen et au prix du sang de 1 % de sa population, dont des milliers de combattants survivants de la Shoah, était devenu pour les non-juifs, sous sa domination, un monstre ? Quand, exactement, les Israéliens, au moins en partie, ont-ils compris que leur cruauté envers les non-juifs sous leur emprise en territoires occupés, leur détermination à briser les espoirs de liberté et d’indépendance des Palestiniens ou leur refus d’accorder l’asile aux réfugiés africains commençaient à saper la légitimité morale de leur existence nationale ?

La réponse, dira peut-être l’historien, se trouve en microcosme dans les idées et les activités de deux importants députés de la majorité, Miki Zohar (Likoud) et Bezalel Smotrich (Le Foyer juif), fidèles représentants de la politique gouvernementale, récemment propulsés sur le devant de la scène. Mais ce qui est plus important encore, c’est le fait que cette même idéologie se trouve à la base des propositions de loi dites « fondamentales », c’est-à-dire constitutionnelles, que la ministre de la justice, Ayelet Shaked, avec l’assentiment empressé du premier ministre, Benyamin Nétanyahou, se propose de faire adopter rapidement par la Knesset.

Shaked, numéro deux du parti de la droite religieuse nationaliste, en plus de son nationalisme extrême, représente à la perfection une idéologie politique selon laquelle une victoire électorale justifie la mainmise sur tous les organes de l’Etat et de la vie sociale, depuis l’administration jusqu’à la justice, en passant par la culture. Dans l’esprit de cette droite, la démocratie libérale n’est rien qu’un infantilisme. On conçoit facilement la signification d’une telle démarche pour un pays de tradition britannique qui ne possède pas de Constitution écrite, seulement des règles de comportement et une armature législative qu’une majorité simple suffit pour changer.

« Il s’agit d’un acte constitutionnel nationaliste dur, que Mme Le Pen n’oserait pas proposer »

L’élément le plus important de cette nouvelle jurisprudence est une législation dite « loi sur l’Etat-nation » : il s’agit d’un acte constitutionnel nationaliste dur, que le nationalisme intégral maurrassien d’antan n’aurait pas renié, que Mme Le Pen, aujourd’hui, n’oserait pas proposer, et que le nationalisme autoritaire et xénophobe polonais et hongrois accueillera avec satisfaction. Voilà donc les juifs qui oublient que leur sort, depuis la Révolution française, est lié à celui du libéralisme et des droits de l’homme, et qui produisent à leur tour un nationalisme où se reconnaissent facilement les plus durs des chauvinistes en Europe.

L’impuissance de la gauche

En effet, cette loi a pour objectif ouvertement déclaré de soumettre les valeurs universelles des Lumières, du libéralisme et des droits de l’homme aux valeurs particularistes du nationalisme juif. Elle obligera la Cour suprême, dont Shaked, de toute façon, s’emploie à réduire les prérogatives et à casser le caractère libéral traditionnel (en remplaçant autant que possible tous les juges qui partent à la retraite par des juristes proches d’elle), à rendre des verdicts toujours conformes à la lettre et à l’esprit de la nouvelle législation.

Mais la ministre va plus loin encore : elle vient juste de déclarer que les droits de l’homme devront s’incliner devant la nécessité d’assurer une majorité juive. Mais puisque aucun danger ne guette cette majorité en Israël, où 80 % de la population est juive, il s’agit de préparer l’opinion publique à la situation nouvelle, qui se produira en cas de l’annexion des territoires palestiniens occupés souhaitée par le parti de la ministre : la population non-juive restera dépourvue du droit de vote.

Grâce à l’impuissance de la gauche, cette législation servira de premier clou dans le cercueil de l’ancien Israël, celui dont il ne restera que la déclaration d’indépendance, comme une pièce de musée qui rappellera aux générations futures ce que notre pays aurait pu être si notre société ne s’était moralement décomposée en un demi-siècle d’occupation, de colonisation et d’apartheid dans les territoires conquis en 1967, et désormais occupés par quelque 300 000 colons.

Aujourd’hui, la gauche n’est plus capable de faire front face à un nationalisme qui, dans sa version européenne, bien plus extrême que la nôtre, avait presque réussi à anéantir les juifs d’Europe. C’est pourquoi il convient de faire lire partout en Israël et dans le monde juif les deux entretiens faits par Ravit Hecht pour Haaretz (3 décembre 2016 et 28 octobre 2017) avec Smotrich et Zohar. On y voit comment pousse sous nos yeux, non pas un simple fascisme local, mais un racisme proche du nazisme à ses débuts.

Comme toute idéologie, le racisme allemand, lui aussi, avait évolué, et, à l’origine, il ne s’en était pris qu’aux droits de l’homme et du citoyen des juifs. Il est possible que sans la seconde guerre mondiale, le « problème juif » se serait soldé par une émigration « volontaire » des juifs des territoires sous contrôle allemand. Après tout, pratiquement tous les juifs d’Allemagne et d’Autriche ont pu sortir à temps. Il n’est pas exclu que pour certains à droite, le même sort puisse être réservé aux Palestiniens. Il faudrait seulement qu’une occasion se présente, une bonne guerre par exemple, accompagnée d’une révolution en Jordanie, qui permettrait de refouler vers l’Est une majeure partie des habitants de la Cisjordanie occupée.

Le spectre de l’apartheid

Les Smotrich et les Zohar, disons-le bien, n’entendent pas s’attaquer physiquement aux Palestiniens, à condition, bien entendu, que ces derniers acceptent sans résistance l’hégémonie juive. Ils refusent simplement de reconnaître leurs droits de l’homme, leur droit à la liberté et à l’indépendance. Dans le même ordre d’idées, d’ores et déjà, en cas d’annexion officielle des territoires occupés, eux et leurs partis politiques annoncent sans complexe qu’ils refuseront aux Palestiniens la nationalité israélienne, y compris, évidemment, le droit de vote. En ce qui concerne la majorité au pouvoir, les Palestiniens sont condamnés pour l’éternité au statut de population occupée.

Pour Miki Zohar, les Palestiniens “souffrent d’une lacune majeure : ils ne sont pas nés juifs”

La raison en est simple et clairement énoncée : les Arabes ne sont pas juifs, c’est pourquoi ils n’ont pas le droit de prétendre à la propriété d’une partie quelconque de la terre promise au peuple juif. Pour Smotrich, Shaked et Zohar, un juif de Brooklyn, qui n’a peut-être jamais mis les pieds sur cette terre, en est le propriétaire légitime, mais l’Arabe, qui y est né, comme ses ancêtres avant lui, est un étranger dont la présence est acceptée uniquement par la bonne volonté des juifs et leur humanité. Le Palestinien, nous dit Zohar, « n’a pas le droit à l’autodétermination car il n’est pas le propriétaire du sol. Je le veux comme résident et ceci du fait de mon honnêteté, il est né ici, il vit ici, je ne lui dirai pas de s’en aller. Je regrette de le dire mais [les Palestiniens] souffrent d’une lacune majeure : ils ne sont pas nés juifs ».

Ce qui signifie que même si les Palestiniens décidaient de se convertir, commençaient à se faire pousser des papillotes et à étudier la Torah et le Talmud, cela ne leur servirait à rien. Pas plus qu’aux Soudanais et Erythréens et leurs enfants, qui sont israéliens à tous égards – langue, culture, socialisation. Il en était de même chez les nazis. Ensuite vient l’apartheid, qui, selon la plupart des « penseurs » de la droite, pourrait, sous certaines conditions, s’appliquer également aux Arabes citoyens israéliens depuis la fondation de l’Etat. Pour notre malheur, beaucoup d’Israéliens, qui ont honte de tant de leurs élus et honnissent leurs idées, pour toutes sortes de raisons, continuent à voter pour la droite.

Voir de même:
Don’t Count Bibi Out — Yet
Bret Stephens
The NYT
Feb. 23, 2018

If you follow the news from Israel, you might surmise that Benjamin Netanyahu’s days as prime minister are numbered. The police recommend that he be charged on multiple counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Fresh charges may yet be brought in additional investigations. A former top aide to Netanyahu agreed this week to serve as a witness against him. Press reports suggest a man clinging to power.

Don’t be so sure. If an election were held tomorrow, Bibi — as Netanyahu is universally known in Israel — and his Likud party would likely win, according to recent polls. Roughly half of Israelis think the prime minister should quit, but that’s down from 60 percent in December. Netanyahu has no intention of resigning, even if the attorney general chooses to indict him. The Likud rank-and-file remain loyal to their leader. His coalition partners may detest him, but for now they see greater political advantage in a wounded prime minister than in a fresh one.

Besides, Bibi has been, for Israelis, a pretty good prime minister. Some indicators:

Economy: Since Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, the economy has grown by nearly 30 percent in constant dollars — nearly twice the growth rate of Germany or the United States. Some 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, a record for the Jewish state. On Monday, Israel announced a $15 billion dollar deal to export natural gas to Egypt from its huge offshore fields.

Diplomacy: Netanyahu’s personal ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are exceptionally close, as they are with Japan’s Shinzo Abe. Israel’s relations with African countries and the Arab world are the best they’ve been in decades; reaction in Riyadh and Cairo to the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem amounted to a shrug. Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress opposing the Iran deal, billed as an affront to the Obama administration, turned out to be an inspiration for Israel’s neighbors. And Netanyahu’s arguments against the deal now prevail in the current White House.

Security: In 2002, at the height of the second intifada, Israelis suffered more than 400 terrorism fatalities. In 2017 there were fewer than two dozen. Two wars in and around Gaza, both initiated by Hamas, were devastating for Palestinians but resulted in relatively few Israeli casualties. The Israeli Air Force lost an F-16 after coming under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire, but that seems to have been a fluke. For the most part, Israel has been able to strike Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah targets at will.

None of this makes much of an impression on non-Israelis. Diaspora Jews were infuriated last year by the government’s backtracking on a plan to let men and women pray together at the Western Wall. Israel’s bad decision to forcibly deport African migrants has stirred additional, and warranted, indignation.

And then there are the Palestinians. The central complaint of Netanyahu’s critics is that he has failed to make good on the promise of his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, where he claimed to accept the principle of a Palestinian state. Subsidiary charges include his refusal to halt settlement construction or give former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad a sufficient political boost.

It should go without saying that a Palestinian state is a terrific idea in principle — assuming, that is, that it resembles the United Arab Emirates. But Israelis have no reason to believe that it will look like anything except the way Gaza does today: militant, despotic, desperate and aggressive. Netanyahu’s foreign critics are demanding that he replicate on a large scale what has failed catastrophically on a smaller scale. It’s an absurd ask.

It’s also strange that the same people who insist that Israel help create a Palestinian state in order to remain a democracy seem so indifferent to the views of that democracy. Israel’s political left was not destroyed by Netanyahu. It was obliterated one Palestinian suicide bombing, rocket salvo, tunnel attack and rejected statehood offer at a time. Bibi’s long tenure of office is the consequence, not the cause, of this.

Specifically, it is the consequence of Israel’s internalization of the two great lessons of the past 30 years. First, that separation from the Palestinians is essential — in the long term. Second, that peace with the Palestinians is impossible — in the short term. The result is a policy that amounts to a type of indefinite holding pattern, with Israel circling a runway it knows it cannot yet land on even as it fears running out of gas.

The risks here are obvious. But it’s hard to imagine any other sort of approach, which is why any successor to Netanyahu will have to pursue essentially identical policies — policies whose chief art will consist in fending off false promises of salvation.

There’s a long Jewish history of this. For all of his flaws, few have done it as well as Bibi, which is why he has endured, and will probably continue to do so. ☐

Voir également:

Justin Trudeau takes his Captain Snowflake act to India
Stephen Daisley
The Spectator
24 February 2018

If your week was less than fun, spare a thought for Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Prime Minister’s seven-day visit to India went down like an undercooked biriyani on the subcontinent.

When he landed in New Delhi last Saturday, Trudeau was greeted on the tarmac, not by the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister but by the junior minister for agriculture and farmers’ welfare. Other world leaders, including Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, have been given a personal welcome by Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi, a savvy social media user, failed even to note Trudeau’s arrival on Twitter, though on the same day he found time to tweet about plans to unveil a new shipping container terminal. He did not acknowledge Trudeau until five days later and only met him the day before the Canadian PM and his family were to return home.

Why were the Indians so frosty in their reception? They suspect Trudeau’s government of private sympathy for the Khalistani separatist movement, which wants to form a breakaway Sikh state in Punjab. Thankfully, Trudeau didn’t do anything to inflame those suspicions. Well, unless you count inviting a notorious Khalistani separatist to a reception. And then to dinner. With the Prime Minister. Not just any separatist, either. Jaspal Atwal is a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, proscribed as a terror group in both India and Canada, and was convicted of the attempted assassination of Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu. Best of all, he even got a photo taken with Trudeau’s wife Sophie.

But there were still a few Indians unoffended by the image-obsessed Canadian PM and he quickly remedied that. He turned up for one event in a gaudy golden kurta, churidars and chappals. At another, he broke into the traditional Bhaṅgṛā dance only to stop midway through when no one else joined in. Only after the local press pointed out that this was a little condescending and a lot tacky was Justin-ji finally photographed wearing a suit.

It was less like a state visit and more like a weeklong audition for the next Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie. Here was Justin Trudeau, the progressive’s progressive, up to his pagṛi in cultural appropriation. At least he achieved his goal of bringing Indians and Canadians closer together: both have spent the past week cringing at this spectacle of well-meaning minstrelsy.

I want to like Justin Trudeau. I really do. He’s a centrist liberal in an age where neither the adjective nor the noun is doing very well. Trump to his south, Brexit and Corbyn across the water, Putin beyond that: Trudeau should be a hero for liberal democrats. Instead, from his Eid Mubarak socks at Toronto Pride to his preference for ‘peoplekind’ over ‘mankind’, Trudeau presents like an alt-right parody of liberalism. He’s gender-neutral pronouns. He’s avocado toast and flaxseed soy smoothies. He’s safe spaces and checked privileges. Trudeau is a cuck.

And all that would be fine. In fact, it would be a hoot to have a liberal standard-bearer who could troll the 4chan pale males in their overvaped, undersexed basements. But far from an icon for the middle ground, Trudeau is the sort of right-on relativist who gives liberals a bad name. He has spoken of his ‘admiration’ for China’s dictatorship for ‘allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime’. He called Fidel Castro ‘larger than life’ and ‘a remarkable leader’ who showed ‘tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people’. Trudeau’s government refused to accept the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing of the Yazidis was a genocide until the UN formally recognised it as such. In 2016 he issued a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that neglected to mention Jewish victims of the Shoah and the following year unveiled a memorial plaque with the same omission.

Trudeau’s problem is that he always agrees with the last good intention he encountered. He seems to have picked up his political philosophy from Saturday morning cartoons: by your powers combined, I am Captain Snowflake. There is no spine of policy, no political compass, no vision beyond the next group hug or national apology. The centre ground needs a champion and instead it got an inspirational quote calendar with abs. Trudeau’s not a Grit, he’s pure mush.

Voir encore:

White roses and black velvet: the Grammys red carpet
Monochrome dominated the award ceremony last night, as politics remained fashionable for celebrities
Lauren Cochrane
The Guardian
29 Jan 2018

On the Grammys red carpet on Sunday, celebrities spelt out messages in black and white. While the Golden Globes earlier this month saw black dominate as a protest in line with the Times Up campaign, music’s biggest award ceremony switched to monochrome as default setting.

Some stuck to the black dress code, such as Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Sarah Silverman.

Others went for the impact of white. SZA, Cardi B and Childish Gambino were in this camp, while Lana Del Rey took the angelic angle further. She wore a gown embroidered with silver stars, accessorised with a halo.

Some celebrities carried white roses with them, with men including Kendrick Lamar and Trevor Noah pinning them to their lapels, and Cyrus licking hers with that famous tongue.

This was a campaign in support of the Times Up initiative. The rose idea was pushed by Meg Harkins, senior vice president of marketing at Roc Nation, Karen Rait, head of rhythm promotions at Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and other high-profile women in the music industry. “We all agreed it was really necessary,” Harkins said. “We’ve all felt the political and cultural change in the last couple of months.” In an email sent to attendees of the Grammys, the collective explained their choice of the flower. “We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance,” it read.

The colour white, of course, represents peace, but it is also has history in the women’s movement. White was one of the trio of colours adopted by the suffragette movement, along with green and purple; white stood for purity. Hillary Clinton’s white pantsuit, which she wore to accept the nomination as Democratic candidate for the 2016 election, was seen making a feminist statement.

Beyoncé, never one to miss an opportunity to win at visual statements, skipped the red carpet and the white rose, but her six-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, was dressed in head-to-toe white. Kesha – an artist who has firsthand experience of sexual misconduct – performed all in white, with a supporting cast including Cyndi Lauper and Camilla Cabelo also in the colour.

Other microtrends were noted too – there was an upswing of trousers for women, with Janelle Monae, Anna Kendrick and Kesha wearing them. This in itself is a protest against the pageant-y end of the red carpet. Burgundy seemed to be a sleeper colour, worn by both multiple winner Bruno Mars and Hillary Clinton during an onscreen cameo. Rihanna saw the opportunity to wear three outfits – a brown PVC wrap dress, pink slipdress and black and gold metallic co-ords.

White roses might be more discreet, and politics might have been less in the foreground for fashion at the Grammys, but the 2018 red carpet remains a place where protest can be signposted. These visual statements arguably stand with the signs on the Women’s March last weekend. As images that will be broadcast around the world, the optics are undeniable. This award season, a political issue remains the best accessory.

Voir enfin:

22 février 1943
Décapitation de la « Rose blanche »

Le 22 février 1943, trois étudiants allemands d’une vingtaine d’années sont guillotinés dans la prison de Stadelheim, près de Munich. Leur crime est d’avoir dénoncé le nazisme dans le cadre d’un mouvement clandestin, « La Rose blanche » (Die Weiße Rose en allemand).

Comment, de juin 1942 à février 1943 une poignée de jeunes étudiants chrétiens ont-ils pu défendre les valeurs démocratiques au prix de leur vie ? Comment ont-ils pu diffuser six tracts incendiaires tout en écrivant le soir des slogans pacifistes et antinazis sur les murs de Munich ?

Pierre Le Blavec de Crac’h
Hérodote
2018-02-18

Les prémices de la résistance

Résidant à Ulm et âgé de 14 ans en 1933, le lycéen Hans Scholl n’est pas au début insensible aux discours de Hitler. Comme tous les jeunes Allemands de son âge, il s’engage avec sa soeur Sophie (12 ans) dans les Jeunesses Hitlériennes mais prend assez vite ses distances.

Aidé par ses parents et encouragé par l’éditeur Carl Muth du mensuel catholique Hochland, il rompt avec le national-socialisme et se consacre à ses études de médecine. Il lit les penseurs chrétiens (Saint Augustin, Pascal) et l’écriture sainte. Mais il est arrêté et emprisonné en 1938 pour sa participation à un groupe de militants catholiques.

Quatre ans plus tard, sa décision est prise. Il décide d’entrer en résistance par l’écrit après avoir lu des sermons de l’évêque de Münster Mgr von Galen dénonçant  la politique du gouvernement à l’égard des handicapés.

Un noyau dur se constitue autour de Hans et Sophie Scholl (protestants) et de trois étudiants en médecine que lie une solide amitié : Alexander Schmorell (25 ans, orthodoxe et fils d’un médecin de Munich) ; Christoph Probst (23 ans marié et père de trois jeunes enfants), et Willi Graf (24 ans, catholique). Il est bientôt rejoint par Traute Lafrenz, une amie de Hans.

En juin 1942, alors que Hitler est au sommet de sa puissance, le petit groupe décide d’appeler les étudiants de Munich à la résistance contre le régime nazi, qualifié de « dictature du mal ». Sophie se garde d’informer de ses actions son fiancé, un soldat engagé sur le front de l’Est.

La rose s’épanouit

En moins de quinze jours, les jeunes gens rédigent et diffusent 4 tracts, signés « La Rose blanche » (Die Weiße Rose). Imprimés dans l’atelier de Munich mis à leur disposition par l’écrivain catholique Théodore Haecker, ils sont diffusés de la main à la main, déposés chez des restaurateurs de la ville ou adressés par la poste à des intellectuels non-engagés, des écrivains, des professeurs d’université, des directeurs d’établissements scolaires, des libraires ou des médecins soigneusement choisis.

Les tracts font référence à d’éminents penseurs (Schiller, Goethe, Novalis, Lao Tseu, Aristote) et citent parfois la Bible. Leurs lecteurs sont invités à participer à une « chaîne de résistance de la pensée » en les reproduisant et en les envoyant à leur tour au plus grand nombre possible de gens.

Willi Graf est enrôlé dans l’armée en juillet 1942 et découvre à cette occasion nombre d’atrocités. Quant à Hans Scholl et Alexander Schmorell, incorporés comme maréchal des logis dans la Wehrmacht en tant qu’étudiants en médecine, ils passent trois mois sur le front russe et constatent avec effroi l’horreur des traitements infligés aux juifs, aux populations locales et aux prisonniers soviétiques.

À partir de novembre 1942, les résistants de La Rose Blanche bénéficient du soutien de leur professeur Kurt Huber (49 ans, catholique convaincu) de l’université de Munich, qui devient leur mentor. Ils impriment et diffusent leurs tracts à des milliers d’exemplaires dans les universités allemandes et autrichiennes d’Augsbourg, Francfort, Graz, Hambourg, Linz, Salzburg, Sarrebruck, Stuttgart, Vienne et même de Berlin !

Le petit groupe collecte en même temps du pain pour les détenus de camps de concentration et s’occupe de leurs familles. Il est toutefois déçu par le peu d’écho de ses initiatives au sein de la population étudiante.

Un cinquième tract intitulé « Tract du mouvement de résistance en Allemagne » est distribué à plusieurs milliers d’exemplaires dans les rues, sur les voitures en stationnement et les bancs de la gare centrale de Munich ! Plus fort encore, en février 1943, Hans Scholl et Alexander Schmorell écrivent la nuit des slogans sur les murs du quartier universitaire : « Liberté ! Hitler massacreur des masses ! A bas Hitler !… »

Imprimé à plus de 2.000 exemplaires, distribué et envoyé par la poste, le sixième et dernier tract commente la défaite de Stalingrad, condamne les méthodes nazies et invite la jeunesse du pays à se mobiliser. Comme quelques centaines de ces tracts n’ont pu être expédiés, Hans Scholl décide de les diffuser dans l’Université de médecine.

Malheureusement, le matin du 18 février 1943, Hans et sa soeur Sophie sont aperçus par le concierge de l’université en train de jeter un dernier paquet de tracts du haut du deuxième étage donnant sur le hall. Ils sont aussitôt arrêtés avec leurs amis, livrés à la Gestapo (la police politique) et emprisonnés à Stadelheim.

Un procès expéditif

Le 22 février 1943, après une rapide instruction, le Tribunal du peuple (Volksgerichtshof) chargé des « crimes politiques » se réunit pour un procès expéditif de trois heures.

Il est présidé par Roland Freisler, venu exprès de Berlin. Cet ancien communiste est l’un des chefs nazis les plus brutaux qui soient. Sophie Scholl, qui a eu une jambe brisée au cours de son « interrogatoire » par la Gestapo et comparaît sur des béquilles, lui fait face avec un courage inébranlable.

Freisler prononce lui-même la condamnation à mort pour trahison de Hans Scholl, de sa soeur et de leur ami Christoph Probst – baptisé quelques heures avant son exécution par un prêtre de la prison.

Sophie et Hans sont exécutés par les fonctionnaires de la prison de Stadelheim après avoir revu une dernière fois leurs parents, Robert et Magdalene Scholl. Hans Scholl s’écrie « Vive la Liberté ! » avant de mourir sur la guillotine (cet instrument a été importé de France en Bavière au XIXe siècle, à la suite des guerres napoléoniennes). Depuis, les trois jeunes martyrs reposent les uns à côté des autres dans le cimetière voisin de la forêt de Perlach.

Quelques mois plus tard, un second procès frappe quatorze accusés pris dans la même vague d’arrestations : le professeur Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell et son camarade Willi Graf sont condamnés à mort. À l’automne 1943, le réseau de Hambourg est lui aussi démantelé par la Gestapo.

Dix autres membres de la Rose Blanche – amis des Scholl, jeunes étudiants des universités d’Ulm et de Sarrebruck, ou sympathisants actifs comme Eugen Grimminger qui les avait aidés financièrement – sont envoyés en camp de concentration où ils paieront aussi de leur vie leur participation aux activités du mouvement.

Malgré son caractère confidentiel, la Rose Blanche bénéficie d’une notoriété nationale et même mondiale. Le 27 juin 1943, parlant de « la naissance d’une foi nouvelle, celle de l’honneur et de la liberté », l’écrivain allemand en exil Thomas Mann lui rend hommage sur les ondes de la BBC tandis que durant l’été 1943, l’aviation anglaise jette sur le pays un million d’exemplaires du dernier tract rédigé par le professeur Huber.

L’ami de coeur de Sophie, qui était sur le front de l’Est, obtient une permission sitôt qu’il apprend son arrestation mais il arrive à Munich deux heures après son exécution. Il va entrer dès lors dans la résistance au péril de sa vie…

La Rose Blanche a vécu à peine un an mais la mémoire d’une lutte héroïque – contre la résignation et pour la défense de la liberté d’opinion lorsqu’elle est menacée -, elle, ne s’éteindra jamais.

Un film émouvant et vrai

Sophie Scholl, le dernier jourLe cinéaste allemand Marc Rothemund a réalisé en 2005 un film émouvant et rigoureux, Sophie Scholl, les derniers jours (en allemand Sophie Scholl, die letzten Tage). Il relate l’arrestation du groupe de jeunes gens, l’instruction de leur procès et leur exécution.

Son film suit fidèlement la réalité historique telle que relatée dans le livre de souvenirs publié en 1953 par la soeur de Hans et Sophie Scholl : Die weisse Rose (mal traduit, l’ouvrage a répandu dans le public français quelques erreurs factuelles, notamment en traduisant le mot allemand Fallbeil par hache au lieu de guillotine).

Publicités

Macronie: Le FN et l’islamisme du surclassé (Flip-side to class-based politics: If you replace the old left-right divide with the divide between the haves and the have-nots, haven’t you created a monster of a different sort?)

23 février, 2018
Bombe politique : mais comment recréer du lien social dans cette France où les classes favorisées ont fait sécession ?
Je n’oublie pas d’où je viens. Je ne suis pas l’enfant naturel de temps calme de la vie politique. Je suis le fruit d’une forme de brutalité de l’histoire, d’une effraction parce que la France était malheureuse et inquiète, si j’oublie tout cela, ce sera le début de l’épreuve. Emmanuel Macron
We want our country back ! Marion Maréchal-Le Pen
Je ne suis pas offensée lorsque j’entends le président Donald Trump dire ‘l’Amérique d’abord’. En fait, je veux l’Amérique d’abord pour le peuple américain, je veux la Grande-Bretagne d’abord pour le peuple britannique et je veux la France d’abord pour le peuple français. (…) Notre liberté est maintenant entre les mains de cette institution qui est en train de tuer des nations millénaires. Je vis dans un pays où 80%, vous m’avez bien entendu, 80% des lois sont imposées par l’Union européenne. Après 40 ans d’immigration massive, de lobbyisme islamique et de politiquement correct, la France est en train de passer de fille aînée de l’Eglise à petite nièce de l’islam. On entend maintenant dans le débat public qu’on a le droit de commander un enfant sur catalogue, qu’on a le droit de louer le ventre d’une femme, qu’on a le droit de priver un enfant d’une mère ou d’un père. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen
Le journaliste de TMC (….) s’est livré à une manipulation et a tendu une embuscade (…) il n’a pas fait un travail d’enquête, il a contacté les élèves en amont, manipulé l’un d’entre eux pour le convaincre d’enregistrer ces propos dans mon dos et à mon insu, pour ensuite en sortir ces extraits, dans une rupture totale du contrat de confiance. (…) Quel est mon grand crime ? D’avoir une parole libre ? (…) J’ai eu droit à un défouloir médiatique pendant 4 jours. (…) Il y a deux poids deux mesures. (…) La droite a souvent fait l’objet de procès médiatiques. (…)  Si je suis venu sur votre plateau, c’est pour vous dire que ça ne m’impressionne pas, que ça ne me fera pas reculer et que ma détermination n’a jamais été aussi forte. (…) J’ai bien compris que j’étais une cible du travail de démolition de certains journalistes. (…) Donald Trump n’est pas mon modèle. Laurent Wauquiez
Tout racisme est un essentialisme et le racisme de l’intelligence est la forme de sociodicée caractéristique d’une classe dominante dont le pouvoir repose en partie sur la possession de titres qui, comme les titres scolaires, sont censés être des garanties d’intelligence et qui ont pris la place, dans beaucoup de sociétés, et pour l’accès même aux positions de pouvoir économique, des titres anciens comme les titres de propriété et les titres de noblesse. Pierre Bourdieu
En Europe comme aux Etats-Unis, la contestation émerge sur les territoires les plus éloignés des métropoles mondialisées. La « France périphérique » est celle des petites villes, des villes moyennes et des zones rurales. En Grande-Bretagne, c’est aussi la « Grande-Bretagne périphérique » qui a voté pour le Brexit. Attention : il ne s’agit pas d’un rapport entre « urbains » et « ruraux ». La question est avant tout sociale, économique et culturelle. Ces territoires illustrent la sortie de la classe moyenne des catégories qui en constituaient hier le socle : ouvriers, employés, petits paysans, petits indépendants. Ces catégories ont joué le jeu de la mondialisation, elles ont même au départ soutenu le projet européen. Cependant, après plusieurs décennies d’adaptation aux normes de l’économie-monde, elles font le constat d’une baisse ou d’une stagnation de leur niveau de vie, de la précarisation des conditions de travail, du chômage de masse et, in fine, du blocage de l’ascenseur social. Sans régulation d’un libre-échange qui défavorise prioritairement ces catégories et ces territoires, le processus va se poursuivre. C’est pourquoi la priorité est de favoriser le développement d’un modèle économique complémentaire (et non alternatif) sur ces territoires qui cumulent fragilités socio-économiques et sédentarisation des populations. Cela suppose de donner du pouvoir et des compétences aux élus et collectivités de ces territoires. En adoptant le système économique mondialisé, les pays développés ont accouché de son modèle sociétal : le multiculturalisme. En la matière, la France n’a pas fait mieux (ni pire) que les autres pays développés. Elle est devenue une société américaine comme les autres, avec ses tensions et ses paranoïas identitaires. Il faut insister sur le fait que sur ces sujets, il n’y a pas d’un côté ceux qui seraient dans l’ouverture et de l’autre ceux qui seraient dans le rejet. Si les catégories supérieures et éduquées ne basculent pas dans le populisme, c’est parce qu’elles ont les moyens de la frontière invisible avec l’Autre. Ce sont d’ailleurs elles qui pratiquent le plus l’évitement scolaire et résidentiel. La question du rapport à l’autre n’est donc pas seulement posée pour les catégories populaires. Poser cette question comme universelle – et qui touche toutes les catégories sociales – est un préalable si l’on souhaite faire baisser les tensions. Cela implique de sortir de la posture de supériorité morale que les gens ne supportent plus. J’avais justement conçu la notion d’insécurité culturelle pour montrer que, notamment en milieu populaire, ce n’est pas tant le rapport à l’autre qui pose problème qu’une instabilité démographique qui induit la peur de devenir minoritaire et de perdre un capital social et culturel très important. Une peur qui concerne tous les milieux populaires, quelles que soient leurs origines. C’est en partant de cette réalité qu’il convient de penser la question du multiculturalisme. Christophe Guilluy
[Macron’s] views mirror those held by most of this “elite” class. He thinks the left-right divide should be transcended. He doesn’t care about outworn ideologies, but about solutions that work, wherever they come from. He thinks startups are cool and the economy should be generally entrepreneurship-friendly, but he also wants some sort of welfare state. He’s got no problem whatsoever with gay marriage. He believes immigration is desirable for both economic and moral reasons. But he doesn’t just think like an elite. He embodies many elites’ idealized lifestyle. He did very well academically (but not too well, having failed the entrance exam to the ultra-prestigious ENS civil service school), in a way that suggests some depth of mind (master’s degree in philosophy), but also practical success (ENA’s graduates run the country’s public and private sectors), because come on, how many people actually want to be philosophers? He did very well in investment banking, but not too well. His marriage to a much older woman who was once his drama teacher is socially transgressive to just the right degree. He’s handsome, but not too handsome. In other words, Emmanuel Macron is the Donald Trump of the elite class. He’s not just their representative—he’s their avatar. Trump’s die-hard followers love him with such devotion not just because they like what he says, but because his image is that of the guy they wish they were or could be. It’s the same thing with Macron and his own elite base. And this is the stuff out of which Messianic movements are made. (…) His brand of pragmatic centrist politics is really just class-interest-based politics. As Christophe Guilluy, a sociologist and leading analyst of contemporary society, pointed out, Macron’s supporters can be boiled down to one word: They are the “haves.” They are the people who rode the waves of change that have inundated the West over the past few decades—globalization, technological transformation—to great success. Education is the best predictor of voting for Macron, which makes sense, since it correlates not just with financial capital but also with cultural capital. Another predictor is age, although in a perhaps-unexpected way: Macron is highly popular with the elderly, whose pensions protect them from the liberalizing reforms Macron campaigned on, and very unpopular with the young, who disproportionately come out the losers in France’s contemporary economy. This explains why, after having used the oddities of the French electoral system to get elected as an alternative to worse candidates, Macron is extremely unpopular. Non-elite French people smell exactly what the elites smell, and their reaction is equally predictable. Now, Macron supporters don’t believe that they support him for the crass reason that he will benefit their class at the expense of the rest of the country; instead, they just believe that what’s good for them is good for the country. Call it “trickle-down economics.” But, of course, nobody believes they support a certain policy simply because it’s good for them. Building the U.S.-Mexico border wall is cast as being about American identity, something all Americans can identify with, not about a protectionist barrier for the wages of Trump supporters at the expense of the well-heeled beneficiaries of low-wage immigration.There’s nothing uniquely bad about this: Groups defending their interests just is what politics is. Democratic politics endures because it’s the least-bad mechanism we’ve come up with for handling precisely that. But there’s a flip-side to Macron’s class-based politics: If you decide to replace the old left-right divide with the divide between the haves and the have-nots, haven’t you created a monster of a different sort? The Macron tsunami has hit, and the traditional parties of the French left and right are deeply wounded and struggling to survive. But two people are doing fine: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, France’s leading far-left firebrand, and the infamous Marine Le Pen, France’s hard-right populist leader. In fact, it’s in Macron’s political interest for them to do well, to squeeze the last pangs of breath out of the traditional parties that might supplant his new centrist party. The better Mélenchon and Le Pen do, the worse the traditional parties do, and the more Macron looks like the only alternative to candidates the majority of French people still reject. This might work to get him re-elected. But here’s what many don’t understand about Macron’s attempt to steer French politics away from the left-right divide we invented: If it is successful, it will mean that the opposition party (whatever it looks like, whoever its leader is) will be the anti-elite party par excellence. Put Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and Marine Le Pen in a bottle, shake vigorously—and, in a Macronified politics, whatever comes out is almost guaranteed to run the country. Not today. Not tomorrow. But, if Macron’s bet is successful, at some point. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
L’association de financement de la campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, elle, n’a versé que 7 949 euros de salaires pour toute la campagne. Moins que François Asselineau ou Jacques Cheminade. Comment l’expliquer ? Jean-Luc Mélenchon a fait le choix très inhabituel de faire salarier une large partie de son équipe de campagne dans des structures extérieures, dirigées par certains de ses proches. Celles-ci lui ont ensuite refacturé leurs services. Ce type de montage a nourri les soupçons du rapporteur de la CNCCFP qui claqué la porte avec fracas avant la fin de sa mission. Il s’est demandé si l’association de financement de la campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon n’avait pas accepté des surfacturations avant d’en demander le remboursement par l’État. Comme l’ont déjà expliqué nos confrères du Monde, une association a particulièrement tiré profit de la campagne présidentielle de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Il s’agit de L’Ere du peuple, fondée à la veille du début de la campagne électorale par des proches de l’ancien ministre socialiste. L’Ere du peuple a salarié, selon nos informations, quatre permanents de l’équipe de campagne de Mélenchon, dont les deux actuels députés France insoumise Bastien Lachaud et Mathilde Panot. Nous avons eu accès au détail de ces marchés : il apparaît que l’association a refacturé très cher les « prestations intellectuelles » de ces membres du staff de campagne. Un exemple : Bastien Lachaud a été payé 29 000 euros brut pour son rôle de coordonnateur du pôle « action de campagne et événements ». Or, L’Ere du peuple a refacturé ses services 129 000 euros à l’association de financement du candidat Mélenchon. Un différentiel incompréhensible pour la Commission des comptes de campagne. La CNCCFP se demande si L’Ere du peuple, présidée par un très proche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, le conseiller d’État Bernard Pignerol, n’a pas cherché à surfacturer plusieurs prestations. Plus de 11% des dépenses de campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon (plus de 10 millions d’euros au total) ont bénéficié à une société : Mediascop, créée et dirigée par Sophia Chikirou, la directrice de communication de la campagne, qui en est également la seule actionnaire. Les 1 161 768 euros qu’elle a facturés pendant la présidentielle ont également éveillé la curiosité des rapporteurs. Ils ont constaté qu’un certain nombre de prestations étaient facturées au-dessus de la grille tarifaire de la société. Surtout, Mediascop semble n’exister que pour porter la communication de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. La société n’a pas de locaux, pas de salariés en dehors des périodes de campagne, pas de matériel. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas de réaliser des profits importants : Mediascop affichait une rentabilité nette de 47% en 2016, alors que les premières factures de la présidentielle venaient de lui être réglées. Si l’association de campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon a payé étonnamment peu de salaires, c’est aussi parce qu’elle a eu recours à l’auto-entreprenariat. D‘après nos informations, une dizaine de membres de l’équipe de campagne ont été payés en honoraires via une société, créée souvent pour l’occasion. Certains l’ont d’ailleurs fermée juste après la campagne. Parmi eux, Alexis Corbière. Le porte-parole du candidat Mélenchon n’était pas salarié, mais a perçu 28 700 euros d’honoraires pendant la campagne. Jean Luc Mélenchon a pourtant maintes fois brocardé ce statut, qu’il avait même promis de supprimer s’il était élu en 2012, le qualifiant « d’arnaque de première grandeur ». FranceTVinfo
Pourquoi nous ne parlons pas du manque de cohérence du Gouvernement en matière d’immigration qui présente un texte qui n’a qu’une fermeté de façade ? Pourquoi ne pas parler de la baisse du pouvoir d’achat des Français depuis l’élection d’Emmanuel Macron ? Quand on voit l’énergie déployée pour attaquer Laurent Wauquiez on se dit que le Gouvernement est prêt à tout pour dissimuler son échec sur le pouvoir d’achat : choc fiscal de 4.5 milliards pour les ménages (8 nouvelles taxes et impôts en 9 mois), hausse de 25 % de la CSG pour 8 millions de retraités, hausse du diesel  (+4.6 € par plein), baisse brutale des dotations de l’Etat de 216 millions d’euros… Malheureusement comme je l’ai dit précédemment cela n’est pas nouveau. Jacques Chirac avait été brocardé, le traitement médiatique réservé à Nicolas Sarkozy a été d’une rare violence sous la Ve République, ce qui lui a couté sa réélection. Enfin, n’oublions pas non plus l’élection présidentielle de 2017 et cet acharnement contre François Fillon qui a, non seulement privé les Français d’un débat sur les programmes, mais pire encore, qui a fait changer leur vote. A travers plusieurs documentaires certains ont tenté de maquiller un assassinat politique en suicide. Nous avons assisté à un véritable tribunal médiatique (…) Tout le monde se refuse à parler de « complot » mais rappelons-le, au moment où la campagne de François Fillon redémarrait après le Trocadéro, les médias informés sortent l’affaire des costumes dans un seul but : « détruire François Fillon » selon l’instigateur de cette affaire. Le résultat nous le connaissons aujourd’hui, une abstention record et un véritable hold-up démocratique. Maquiller l’assassinat de François Fillon en suicide simplifie tout et justifie l’indéfendable. Bref, comme les idées de la droite sont majoritaires dans notre pays (et le succès de la Primaire de la Droite en est la preuve), il faut détruire la réputation des leaders de notre famille politique. Les médias ont été plus discrets lorsque Emmanuel Macron, alors en visite au Centre régional opérationnel de surveillance et de sauvetage d’Etel s’est essayé à une plaisanterie sur les frêles embarcations de l’Océan indien sur lesquelles ont péri de nombreux migrants voulant rejoindre Mayotte: « le kwassa-kwassa pêche peu, il amène du Comorien, c’est différent. » Ou encore lorsqu’il a méprisé les Français en parlant « d’alcooliques », de « fainéants » de « ceux qui foutent le bordel », de ceux « qui ne sont rien » et tout cela de manière officielle, allant même jusqu’à critiquer les Français à l’étranger. Jamais Laurent Wauquiez n’a tenu des propos blessants contre les Français. Enfin, alors que l’actualité nationale et internationale ne manquait pas de sujets majeurs, les médias se sont mobilisés pour feuilletonner cette affaire d’enregistrements volés. Par exemple, les dernières expertises dans l’affaire Théo, rendues publiques vendredi confirmait que la version des policiers était la bonne. Le silence autour de ces informations a été inversement proportionnel au battage médiatique où une partie de la classe politique s’était précipitée pour bafouer l’honneur de nos policiers avec les hommages d’Emmanuel Macron qui avait exprimé il y a un an « toute [sa] solidarité à l’égard de Théo et de sa famille » reprenant le slogan #JusticePourTheo. Il est étonnant de voir que personne n’ait demandé au Président de la République comment comptait-il rendre aux policiers leur honneur bafoué par ceux qui criaient avec les loups ? Malgré les méthodes utilisées contre Laurent Wauquiez, qui sont lamentables et condamnables, malgré le « deux poids, deux mesures », le Président de notre famille politique a démontré hier soir la force de ses convictions. Rien ne le détournera de son objectif, celui de donner à la France un projet de redressement fort. Valérie Boyer
Contrairement à ce que beaucoup de commentateurs ont voulu laisser entendre, 58 % des Français de droite ont dit ne pas juger « choquantes » ses déclarations. Valeurs actuelles
L’islamisme, c’est le FN du musulman déclassé. Hakim El Karoui
Emmanuel Macron a su « mettre en marche » une nouvelle génération de dirigeants politiques. Il faut faire exactement la même chose  chez les musulmans de France. L’Algérie, le Maroc et la Turquie sont comme les vieux partis qui se déchiraient  tout en se partageant les places avec souvent la ferme ambition de ne rien faire. Place à une nouvelle génération, soucieuse non pas des pays d’origine, mais de la France… engagée dans la vie de la cité, et respectueuse des us et coutumes de la République Française. (…) Et puis surtout, il faut changer le discours. Il est temps de faire preuve de responsabilité et d’arrêter de se cacher derrière des discours lénifiants et sympathies ( « l’islam est une religion de paix », « l’islam est l’ennemi de la violence ») évidemment vrais mais qui font litière du fait que l’islam c’est aussi ce qu’en font les musulmans. Et notamment ceux qui font le plus de bruit. Par ignorance collective des textes sacrés, personne n’est capable de répondre à la propagande des salafistes. Hakim El Karoui
Chère Mennel Official L’affaire dure. Je l’ai découverte tardivement, du fait de déplacements successifs hors de France. Je pourrais en rire et railler, voilà, dès que je m’éloigne, ce pays s’égare. Mais cette histoire ne donne guère envie de plaisanter. D’abord l’essentiel : votre voix, imbibée d’émotion et de chaleur, est pleine de personnalité. Et cette interprétation que vous donnez d’Hallelujah est un enchantement. Leonard Cohen la chantait divinement dans ses récentes années. Jamais la spiritualité et la sensualité ne furent mêlées dans une voix et un corps d’homme avec autant de grâce et de puissance. Comme un vin de glace ou un rhum vieux qui aurait fait mine de s’être assoupi dans un fût de chêne ou de wapa d’Amazonie. Il chante, implore, exalte et sublime. Dance me to the end of love s’en approche, mais Hallelujah transcende tout, si merveilleusement. Et que vous, si jeune, rendiez un tel hommage à cet immense poète, si tendre, si triste, si raffiné et qui nous demeure si indispensable, donne envie de renouer avec un optimisme d’essence et d’existence. Chaque fois que je vais au Canada je ramène un recueil de ses poèmes que j’achète en librairie à Montréal, Québec ou Ottawa ; et comme je les ai déjà tous, je les offre. Vous l’avez probablement vu ou entendu chanter The Partisan. Cohen fait partie de mes grandes amours des années soixante-dix, du temps de mes études universitaires. Ce fut d’abord Suzanne, évidemment, puis le temps passant je l’ai poursuivi de concert en concert. Vous avez vu comme il tient son micro lorsqu’il interprète So long, Marianne, tout en joie et en mélancolie ? Et ce solo de violon… Nous imaginons, vous et moi, ce que donnerait, en notes plus graves, un solo de oud ou un duo violon-oud. Mais revenons à l’hystérie. On vous reproche votre ‘turban’, disent-ils. Il vous sied délicieusement, sans rien dissimuler de votre beauté encore en éclosion. Ils vous reprochent de chanter en arabe… incultes, ils ne savent pas finir la phrase : en arabe la chanson d’un Juif magnifique. Quelle somptueuse audace, et quelle promesse pour notre monde ! On vous reproche des tweets passés. Vos références intellectuelles étaient loin d’être recommandables. Je ne me situe pas dans le champ moral, il est le moins fécond. Sur le plan philosophique d’une conception de la vie, du rapport à l’autre, de l’exigence envers soi-même, d’une vision de la socialité possible et souhaitable, ces deux références sont simplement indigentes et lamentables. Manifestement fourbes, parfois immondes. Ils ne sont pas les seuls. Le souci, c’est la fascination qu’ils parviennent à exercer sur de jeunes esprits, même brillants. C’est cela le seul sujet, pour nous autres adultes. Vous vous êtes excusée et vous avez bien fait. N’en ayez surtout aucun regret, c’est votre hauteur. Et tant pis si les fâcheux eurent le dernier mot sur les pusillanimes et les commerciaux. Ce n’est qu’un avant-dernier mot. Le dernier, c’est vous qui l’aurez si vous décidez qu’il vous revient de tracer vous-même votre chemin de vie. Les seules personnes que vous devez avoir à l’esprit sont les familles et les proches des victimes de l’attentat à Nice ainsi que celles du père Jacques Hamel. Il y a tout lieu de croire, pour ce que nous savons de sa bonté, que lui aurait su vous offrir une écoute et vous dire en quoi vous faites gravement erreur. Vos excuses sont la marque de votre dignité. Elles ne doivent pas vous exonérer d’une vigilance sur la sensibilité des autres, sur les plaies qui ne referment pas, sur ces cicatrices qui saignent et saigneront encore, selon les mots du poète Antara. Le philosophe Emmanuel Levinas confiait que son père, s’adressant à ses fils, les adjurait de s’installer en France, c’est là qu’il faut aller vivre, dans ce pays où l’on est capable de se déchirer pour l’honneur d’un capitaine juif, le capitaine Dreyfus. Tant d’agressions antisémites, de défiance et d’injures à l’encontre des musulmans, d’actes et de propos racistes, de déchaînement xénophobe, de résurgence homophobe, d’arrogance sexiste, laisseraient accroire que ce temps est révolu, que l’intolérance règne sans partage. En attestent les victoires des pleutres à pseudonymes, aux doigts fébriles sur leurs claviers. Il n’en est rien. La France reste une terre de passion et de générosité, elle est une béance du monde d’où surgissent, toujours vives, des querelles et des fureurs qui n’ont jamais su dissoudre ses ardeurs fraternelles. C’est bien là qu’il faut vivre. Et d’abord, c’est votre pays. Ne vous le faites pas voler. Christiane Taubira
Pour élaborer son rapport, Gilles Clavreul s’est déplacé entre le 22 octobre et le 15 janvier dans des départements à «dominante urbaine», à savoir les Bouches-du-Rhône, l’Ille-et-Vilaine, la Loire-Atlantique, le Nord, le Bas-Rhin, le Rhône, les Yvelines, et un département rural, la Meuse, au contact des acteurs associatifs et des agents de l’État. Son constat est clair: les «manifestations d’affirmation identitaire se multiplient et se diversifient», avec, sur certains territoires – agglomérations de Lille, Maubeuge, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon ou dans les Yvelines – des «contestations de la laïcité». Ces troubles sont majoritairement le fait d’un «islam rigoriste voire radical» et concernent également des mouvements de «catholiques intégristes», et «évangéliques et juifs orthodoxes». Ils ont été identifiés dans le cadre d’activités scolaires, culturelles et sportives. Ce sont, par exemple, des assistantes maternelles exerçant à domicile qui portent le voile et refusent parfois de remettre l’enfant au père, le cas d’auxiliaires en milieu scolaire «faisant acte de prosélytisme», des célébrations «spectaculaires» de certaines communautés juives, l’organisation de prières collectives chrétiennes et musulmanes. En ce qui concerne la restauration collective et le débat autour des fameux «repas de substitution», Gilles Clavreul note l’existence de cantines à Strasbourg qui proposent des menus halal et casher, ce qui peut porter atteinte au principe de laïcité. «Dans les lieux où la population de confession musulmane est présente, parfois de façon très majoritaire, le rapport à la République se tend sous l’effet d’une foi de plus en plus ouvertement revendiquée», est-il expliqué, entraînant la «différenciation et séparation croissante entre les hommes et les femmes», «le développement d’une offre éducative alternative», «la remise en cause des principes républicains et plus particulièrement de la laïcité, perçue comme une ‘arme contre les musulmans’». Le phénomène de radicalisation est notamment présent dans les structures sportives avec des tentatives de prosélytisme mais aussi des «parents qui exigent le voilement de leur fille». «L’adhésion aux principes républicains recule par endroits», constate Gilles Clavreul, ce qui génère «le désarroi et l’inquiétude parmi de nombreux agents publics et responsables associatifs». Autre enseignement notable: la sensibilisation à la laïcité et à la citoyenneté, qui a progressé après les attentats de 2015, «menace de retomber». «Ce fléchissement de la mobilisation doit être corrigé», exhorte Clavreul. L’auteur du rapport n’est pas n’importe qui. Gilles Clavreul est un préfet engagé. Ancien conseiller à l’Elysée de François Hollande, où il suivait les dossiers de politique intérieure, il est devenu au fil des mois un proche de Manuel Valls, dont il partage aujourd’hui les combats. C’est d’ailleurs ce dernier qui l’avait nommé à la tête de la Dilcrah, la Délégation interministérielle à la lutte contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la haine anti-LGBT, où il est resté en poste jusqu’au changement de majorité. Sortant volontiers de son devoir de neutralité, Gilles Clavreul s’est rapidement attiré les foudres sur les réseaux sociaux de nombreuses associations comme le Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF), mais aussi du journaliste Edwy Plenel ou du chercheur Pascal Boniface. Il est par ailleurs l’un des membres fondateurs du mouvement «Printemps républicain», avec le politologue Laurent Bouvet, qui bataille pour une vision stricte de la laïcité. Ses prises de position s’inscrivent dans une ligne plus dure que celle portée par l’Observatoire de la laïcité, de Jean-Louis Bianco. Ce dernier a d’ailleurs vivement réagi dès jeudi après-midi, dans un communiqué au vitriol publié sur Twitter. «Je regrette le manque de rigueur méthodologique de ce rapport (…) et la méconnaissance d’actions déjà mises en œuvre par les pouvoirs publics», assène-t-il notamment, estimant que le travail de Gilles Clavreul «ne répond pas directement à la demande» de Beauvau. Le Figaro
Les musulmans sont, de loin, ceux qui expriment le plus faible sentiment national. Plus la foi de ces jeunes est affirmée, plus leur adhésion à l’Etat est faible (…) seulement 30,7% des collégiens musulmans disent se sentir français, alors que leurs camarades catholiques répondent oui à 76,8%. L’Express
Il faut préciser que nous avons tout fait pour cela. Nous avons cassé tous les lieux où s’opérait le mixage social. Le rapport parle du service militaire, qui n’était d’ailleurs plus depuis longtemps le principal lieu de brassage : tous les jeunes des classes supérieures partaient en coopération et ne moisissaient plus dans les casernes. Mais plus encore : sous prétexte de principe de précaution, on a rendu le scoutisme carrément impraticable – or c’était un lieu suprême pour le brassage social. Il en va de même pour les écoles libres : en leur imposant cette limite non-écrite mais réelle des 20%, on en fait des écoles d’élite, alors que si elles pouvaient se développer elles seraient davantage des lieux d’éducation pour ceux qui en manquent. Car le problème aigu, c’est la place qu’a pris l’éducation dans la vie sociale. Ce qui importe est moins à présent de savoir que de savoir-être. On va embaucher un jeune moins en raison de son diplôme que parce qu’il sera arrivé à l’heure au rendez-vous et sans chewing-gum dans la bouche. Et cela ne s’apprend que dans la famille, ou bien dans une troupe scoute, ou bien dans certaines écoles plus attentives que d’autres… Il faut bien convenir que nos gouvernements ont tout fait pour déconsidérer tous ces lieux éducatifs et jeter sur eux la dérision. Evidemment E.Macron est le représentant typique de cette classe supérieure désormais détachée du peuple. Pour être élu il lui a fallu déborder largement cette couche sociale, qui demeure très restreinte. Mais il en demeure le prisonnier typique : apparemment il ignore que les autres classes existent, et ne les a jamais rencontrées. C’est inquiétant. Le « séparatisme social » qui s’est développé en France dans les catégories les plus favorisées a progressivement engendré un recul du sentiment d’appartenance à la communauté nationale. Et si le populisme pouvait être un outil qui, dosé avec une juste mesure, permettrait de renouer ce lien social perdu ? N’est-ce pas, dans un certaine mesure, ce qu’essaye de faire Emmanuel Macron avec le service civil pour renforcer la cohésion nationale ? Chantal Delsol
Emmanuel Macron a obtenu un score massif au deuxième tour à Paris alors qu’il ne faisait que 66% au niveau national; Il y avait cette polarisation très forte de son électorat sur Paris intra-muros et Emmanuel Macron a d’abord été le candidat de cette France qui va bien, de celle qui s’en sort et qui est optimiste et regarde la mondialisation plutôt comme une opportunité plus qu’une menace. D’autant qu’il a été soutenu par les grandes métropoles dont Paris en premier lieu et il a été massivement été soutenu par les Français de l’étranger, les fameux expatriés. Electoralement il correspond en parti à cette mutation sociologique. Néanmoins une partie des catégories moyennes et populaires ont voté pour lui, ne serait-ce que pour faire barrage à Marine Le Pen au deuxième tour. (….) Les catégories moyennes et populaires ont pleinement conscience d’avoir été abandonnées et que les catégories les plus favorisées et une partie de l’élite a « largué les amarres » et résonne non plus dans un cadre national mais dans un cadre global et est guidée non plus par les intérêts nationaux mais par ses propres intérêts. Jérome Fourquet
L’idéologie de la gauche est grandement responsable de cet état de fait. La fuite vers les écoles privées ? La dégradation de l’école publique ne doit-elle pas aux effets conjugués du pédagogisme et du refus de l’autorité ? La disparition des fils d’ouvriers dans les grandes écoles au refus de la sélection ? Quant au regret de la fin d’un service militaire « creuset de la nation », qui peut surprendre chez une gauche volontiers antimilitariste, le service « égalitaire » relève partiellement du mythe, certains fils d’archevêques le faisant dans des conditions bien différentes des autres, entre planqués de Balard et vacanciers de nos ambassades. La fin des « jolies colonies de vacances », dont s’écartent non des riches, qui n’y ont jamais envoyé leurs enfants, mais plutôt des classes moyennes qui ne bénéficient pas des aides sociales, ne doit-elle pas aussi au refus de l’autorité cette fois conjugué à la volonté de ne pas stigmatiser de nouvelles catégories peu soucieuses de s’intégrer aux jeux de plage ? Quant à l’exil fiscal, la fiscalité français est telle qu’elle ne conduit plus seulement à l’exil des riches, mais aussi à celui des retraités des classes moyennes. Il est donc permis de se demander si la sécession des « riches » n’est pas partiellement due aux excès commis par une certaine gauche idéologique et sectaire. Mais c’est aussi parce que, dans les trente années envisagées, ces « riches » ont changé. Fini les « notables » d’antan qui participaient à la vie sociale locale, ces notaires, avocats, pharmaciens, médecins, magistrats et autres. Cette catégorie, pour qui le statut social ne se résumait pas au pouvoir d’achat et dont la propriété était enracinée, généralement à droite, a été remplacée par des « nouveaux riches » déterritorialisés, dont l’écart de revenu avec le salaire de base s’accroît sans cesse, et qui professent volontiers un libéralisme individualiste hédoniste qui trouve son origine… à gauche. Christophe Boutin
Attention: un repli peut en cacher un autre !
A l’heure où nos belles âmes de la politique et des médias n’ont pas de mots assez durs …
Pour dénoncer le franc-parler la « trumpisation » du président des Républicains Laurent Wauquiez …
A l’encontre précisément d’une majorité d’électeurs de droite qui continuent à le soutenir …
Pendant qu’au pays de Trump justement et sans parler de la bombe à retardement démographique africaine
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen vient de rappeler la menace à la fois islamiste et politiquement correcte …
Et qu’après le casse du siècle de l’an dernier en France les doutes se précisent sur la sincérité des comptes de campagne du « candidat du peuple »
Comment ne pas en voir la confirmation …
Dans ces deux rapports qui viennent de sortir …
Sur tant l’emprise toujours plus forte du communautarisme islamiste sur des pans entiers du pays …
Que le repli (pardon – la sécession) de la France d’en haut
Et ne pas se ranger à l’avis de la philosophe Chantal Delsol …
Quand elle se demande si une certaine dose de populisme ne pourrait pas « permettre de renouer ce lien social perdu »  …
Contre ceux qui persistent à le dénoncer …
A l’instar justement de ces gagnants de la mondialisation (pardon: de « l’ouverture ») …
Dont le macronisme n’est en fait …
Pour reprendre (et détourner) la formule du Monsieur « Islam-religion de paix » auto-déclaré Hakim El Karaoui
Que le FN et l’islamisme du surclassé ?

Charles Jaigu : «Musulmans de France, encore un effort!»

CHRONIQUE – L’essayiste Hakim El Karoui décrit un islam de France très contrasté et parie sur sa génération, parfaitement assimilée, pour réussir la «contre-insurrection» face à l’islam salafiste en expansion.

Charles Jaigu

­Ha­kim El Ka­roui a la sil­houette souple et lon­gi­ligne, l’élé­gance ur­baine et feu­trée, et l’air tran­quille­ment dé­ta­ché. Il a créé son ca­bi­net de consul­tant il y a deux ans et il tra­vaille place de l’Étoile. Avant ce­la, il a pas­sé plu­sieurs an­nées dans la banque Roth­schild, « en même temps qu’Em­ma­nuel (Ma­cron, NDLR) ». Il n’était pas pré­dis­po­sé à ce mé­tier de fi­nan­cier, lui qui a com­men­cé comme jeune nor­ma­lien char­gé d’écrire les livres et dis­cours de Jean-Pierre Raf­fa­rin avant et pen­dant Ma­ti­gnon. Un « stage de mise à ni­veau pen­dant cinq mois » lui a per­mis de trou­ver ses marques. Son père, uni­ver­si­taire tu­ni­sien, lui a trans­mis sa pra­tique du Co­ran, sa mère, pro­tes­tante de l’est de la France, et brillante ma­thé­ma­ti­cienne, lui a lais­sé cette li­ber­té. À 46 ans, il est donc un en­fant heu­reux de l’is­lam à la fran­çaise. Sa trajectoire est in­té­res­sante : briè­ve­ment che­vè­ne­men­tiste, Ha­kim El Ka­roui a fi­na­le­ment re­joint les rives de la droite li­bé­rale parce qu’il était aga­cé par « la gauche mo­rale » des an­nées Jos­pin. En 2004, il est fa­vo­rable à l’in­ter­dic­tion du voile à l’école. Puis il se re­tire de la vie pu­blique en 2007 pour de­ve­nir ban­quier. Mais les at­ten­tats de jan­vier 2015 ont été un ré­veil brutal. Et même s’il s’agace de la de­mande des Fran­çais que les mu­sul­mans ma­ni­festent leur so­li­da­ri­té, il a en­ten­du l’ap­pel. « Je ne pou­vais pas res­ter les bras bal­lants, j’ai vou­lu prendre mes res­pon­sa­bi­li­tés à ma ma­nière. » Il en est ré­sul­té, en sep­tembre 2016, la pré­sen­ta­tion d’une grande en­quête me­née par l’Ins­ti­tut Mon­taigne sur l’is­lam en France.

Le livre qu’il pu­blie en est la suite, et tombe à pic au mo­ment où Em­ma­nuel Ma­cron pro­pose de ré­for­mer les ins­ti­tu­tions qui le re­pré­sentent. Mais il faut re­ve­nir sur le constat, qui trouve sa cré­di­bi­li­té grâce à l’état des lieux très dé­taillé de l’en­quête de l’Ins­ti­tut Mon­taigne. El Ka­roui pointe à nou­veau la si­tua­tion très contras­tée de l’im­mi­gra­tion mu­sul­mane en France. Une si­tua­tion qui donne rai­son à la fois aux pes­si­mistes et aux op­ti­mistes. Il dé­crit en ef­fet une com­mu­nau­té très hé­té­ro­gène et cli­vée entre d’une part une classe moyenne nou­velle, une élite mu­sul­mane en for­ma­tion ; et de l’autre une po­pu­la­tion en per­di­tion.

On peut par­ler d’op­ti­misme pour la moi­tié des 5,1 mil­lions de Fran­çais mu­sul­mans – et non pas les dix ou vingt mil­lions comme on peut l’en­tendre de la part des alar­mistes, soit en­vi­ron 8 % de la po­pu­la­tion fran­çaise. Ceux-là sont en train de trou­ver leur place dans la so­cié­té, grâce aux ma­riages mixtes. Ce qui au­to­rise El Ka­roui à af­fir­mer qu’il y a en France une « as­si­mi­la­tion par l’amour » qui marche et qui est une des ori­gi­na­li­tés re­mar­quables du mo­dèle ré­pu­bli­cain – par op­po­si­tion aux mo­dèles mul­ti­cul­tu­ra­listes an­glo-saxons où la sé­pa­ra­tion des com­mu­nau­tés est la règle, ce qui fa­vo­rise moins la mixi­té conju­gale. Par ­de­là les des­crip­tions apo­ca­lyp­tiques, l’as­cen­sion so­ciale des mu­sul­mans se fait donc. Le pro­blème, sou­ligne El Ka­roui, est qu’elle ne se voit pas. Et que « ceux des mu­sul­mans qui en bé­né­fi­cient ne sou­haitent pas, con­trai­re­ment à leurs équi­va­lents juifs ou pro­tes­tants, jouer la carte de l’en­ga­ge­ment com­mu­nau­taire au tra­vers d’as­so­cia­tions cultuelles ou cultu­relles ». Ce livre veut convaincre les mu­sul­mans trop bien as­si­mi­lés de s’en­ga­ger fi­nan­ciè­re­ment ou per­son­nel­le­ment en fa­veur de l’af­fir­ma­tion d’un is­lam de France : « Pour eux, la re­li­gion est vrai­ment de­ve­nue une af­faire pri­vée », ré­sume El Ka­roui. Il pro­pose no­tam­ment de pré­le­ver une taxe sur le com­merce du hal­lal, dont il dé­crypte très bien l’im­pos­ture mar­ke­ting et théo­lo­gique. Il sug­gère aus­si de fa­vo­ri­ser les dons pri­vés au tra­vers d’une fon­da­tion afin de mettre un terme à la main­mise des ca­pi­tales arabes sur la for­ma­tion des imams et la construc­tion des mos­quées. Car, c’est une réa­li­té, en France, l’is­lam reste plus pra­ti­qué par les mu­sul­mans, y com­pris as­si­mi­lés, que le ca­tho­li­cisme par les ca­tho­liques : « 5 % des 27 mil­lions de ca­tho­liques de plus de 15 ans sont des pra­ti­quants ré­gu­liers, soit 1,35 mil­lion ; 75 % des 3,7 mil­lions de mu­sul­mans de plus de 15 ans sont pra­ti­quants, soit 2,5 mil­lions ». Chiffres cruels pour la fille aî­née de l’Église.

Mais il le re­con­naît, la ré­no­va­tion de cet is­lam ins­ti­tu­tion­nel ne se­ra pas ca­pable à elle seule de contrer la pro­pa­ga­tion sau­vage d’un fon­da­men­ta­lisme qui contourne aus­si les mos­quées et qui sé­vit via You­Tube. « L’imam Google », voi­là l’en­ne­mi. Il veut « une contre-in­sur­rec­tion cultu­relle » sur In­ter­net pour ne pas lais­ser les plus ex­tré­mistes écra­ser de leurs pro­pa­gandes les jeunes in­ter­nautes fas­ci­nés par le mode de vie hal­lal et la conver­sion au dji­had.

Car El Ka­roui ne sous-es­time pas le dan­ger que re­pré­sentent les deux mil­lions et de­mi de mu­sul­mans, dont la moi­tié est jeune, qui sont de plus en plus ten­tés par une pra­tique très conser­va­trice de l’is­lam.

Il re­con­naît qu’il a lui-même été sur­pris de consta­ter com­bien « la pra­tique re­li­gieuse s’est ren­for­cée au fil des an­nées » chez ces jeunes qui uti­lisent l’is­lamisme comme un po­pu­lisme, et en font une ban­nière an­ti­sys­tème. « L’is­la­misme, c’est le FN du mu­sul­man dé­clas­sé », ré­sume-t-il.

On no­te­ra au passage que l’au­teur uti­lise le terme d’as­si­mi­la­tion, qui est en ef­fet le meilleur car il est au plus près de l’his­toire fran­çaise. Le mot in­té­gra­tion brouille le dé­bat. Ce mo­dèle as­si­mi­la­tion­niste est « na­tu­rel­le­ment xé­no­phobe », avance l’au­teur, car il to­lère mal que l’étran­ger de­ve­nu fran­çais d’adop­tion af­fiche son étran­ge­té ou sa dif­fé­rence. Il est xé­no­phobe, en ef­fet, comme dans 90 % des cas de par le monde, où le mul­ti­cul­tu­ra­lisme n’a pas cours. Plu­tôt que xé­no­phobe, qui est tou­jours accompagné du soup­çon de ra­cisme, sug­gé­rons le terme d’eth­no­cen­tré. L’au­teur prend d’ailleurs la peine d’écar­ter toute al­lé­ga­tion d’un ra­cisme fran­çais : les Fran­çais ne le sont pas.

Fort de ce constat, El Ka­roui re­fuse les des­crip­tions qui font de la com­mu­nau­té mu­sul­mane un tout in­di­vi­sible, ani­mé d’une vo­lon­té de conquête. Il ré­clame avec convic­tion de la nuance, ce qui l’amène à cri­ti­quer le chro­ni­queur avec qui nous par­ta­geons cette page – Éric Zem­mour – ain­si que d’autres com­pa­gnons de route de ce jour­nal, tels Alain Fin­kiel­kraut ou Pas­cal Bru­ck­ner aux­quels il re­proche leur nos­tal­gie d’une Ré­pu­blique idéa­li­sée. Pour­tant, ils ont ré­ar­mé le dis­cours pro­ré­pu­bli­cain face à la ten­ta­tion mul­ti­cul­tu­ra­liste qui pré­va­lait dans la gauche fran­çaise et sup­po­sait la gé­nu­flexion pé­ni­ten­tielle face à l’étran­ger idéa­li­sé. Mais El Ka­roui s’en prend aus­si à Edwy Ple­nel et son or­chestre de contemp­teurs de l’is­la­mo­pho­bie. Comme il le montre, sta­tis­tiques en main, les actes is­la­mo­phobes n’ont ces­sé de bais­ser en France de­puis 2015. Mal­gré les at­ten­tats, les Fran­çais n’ont ja­mais fait le fa­meux « amal­game » entre l’is­lam et les dji­ha­distes. Fort de ce constat, El Ka­roui re­fuse les des­crip­tions qui font de la com­mu­nau­té mu­sul­mane un tout in­di­vi­sible, ani­mé d’une vo­lon­té de conquête. Il ré­clame avec convic­tion de la nuance, ce qui l’amène à cri­ti­quer le chro­ni­queur avec qui nous par­ta­geons cette page – Éric Zem­mour – ain­si que d’autres com­pa­gnons de route de ce jour­nal, tels Alain Fin­kiel­kraut ou Pas­cal Bru­ck­ner aux­quels il re­proche leur nos­tal­gie d’une Ré­pu­blique idéa­li­sée. Pour­tant, ils ont ré­ar­mé le dis­cours pro­ré­pu­bli­cain face à la ten­ta­tion mul­ti­cul­tu­ra­liste qui pré­va­lait dans la gauche fran­çaise et sup­po­sait la gé­nu­flexion pé­ni­ten­tielle face à l’étran­ger idéa­li­sé. Mais El Ka­roui s’en prend aus­si à Edwy Ple­nel et son or­chestre de contemp­teurs de l’is­la­mo­pho­bie. Comme il le montre, sta­tis­tiques en main, les actes is­la­mo­phobes n’ont ces­sé de bais­ser en France de­puis 2015. Mal­gré les at­ten­tats, les Fran­çais n’ont ja­mais fait le fa­meux « amal­game » entre l’is­lam et les dji­ha­distes.

Voir encore:

Bye bye les pauvres
Bombe politique : mais comment recréer du lien social dans cette France où les classes favorisées ont fait sécession ?
Une étude de la Fondation Jean Jaurès montre qu’alors que de nombreux observateurs ont souligné le développement de communautarismes ethnoreligieux dans certains quartiers, la cohésion de la société française est également mise à mal par un autre processus, moins visible à l’œil nu mais lourd de conséquences : un véritable séparatisme social qui concerne toute une partie de la frange supérieure de la société.
Atlantico
22 Février 2018

Jérôme Fourquet : On peut faire un lien avec les phénomènes décrits de séparatisme social et ce qu’il s’est passé au premier tour et au deuxième tour de la présidentielle. Mais un lien partiel seulement. On voit par exemple que Emmanuel Macron a obtenu un score massif au deuxième tour à Paris alors qu’il ne faisait que 66% au niveau national; Il y avait cette polarisation très forte de son électorat sur Paris intra-muros et Emmanuel Macron a d’abord été le candidat de cette France qui va bien, de celle qui s’en sort et qui est optimiste et regarde la mondialisation plutôt comme une opportunité plus qu’une menace. D’autant qu’il a été soutenu par les grandes métropoles dont Paris en premier lieu et il a été massivement été soutenu par les Français de l’étranger, les fameux expatriés. Electoralement il correspond en parti à cette mutation sociologique.

Néanmoins une partie des catégories moyennes et populaires ont voté pour lui, ne serait-ce que pour faire barrage à Marine Le Pen au deuxième tour, mais aussi au premier où il obtient des scores qui ne sont pas négligeables (aux alentours de 15% dans les communes rurales ou populaires par exemple). Il ne faut donc pas tordre le bâton à l’extrême et occulter le fait qu’il y avait une assise minimale dans ces catégories de population. Néanmoins il avait un soutien beaucoup plus important dans les catégories qui sont décrites dans cette note.

Ce qui est aussi intéressant, en reprenant le cas de Paris, lorsque l’on parle d’une homogénéisation idéologique de ces catégories supérieures, il faut noter qu’il y a encore des différences (au premier tour Macron n’est pas majoritaire à Paris),  mais au deuxième tour il y a quand même un 90/10 en faveur du président.  Ce que Macron est ensuite parvenu à faire et ce qu’il continu à faire, c’est-à-dire poursuivre cette recomposition politique en agrégeant des gens qui viennent du PS, du Modem et des Républicains, on remarque qu’il y a de plus en plus de passerelles et de points de convergence qui sont encore plus fréquents dans ces milieux favorisés.

Christophe Boutin : Relativisons d’abord certains éléments de cette note. Le premier critère présenté comme prouvant cette rupture est que « la densité de cadres vivant dans le cœur des métropoles ne cesse de se renforcer ». Elle est effectivement multipliée par deux, mais dans la même période les cadres supérieurs sont passés en France de 8% à au minimum 12, et selon certaines études 16%, ce qui modère l’interprétation. Viennent ensuite comme éléments de preuve les questions scolaires : plus de catégories CSP+ dans les écoles privées, par ailleurs moins « défavorisées » (un critère qui n’est d’ailleurs pas expliqué et semble négliger l’aide étatique spécifique destinée aux établissements « à problèmes »), ou moins d’ouvriers dans les grandes écoles. Troisième critère, la fin du brassage social par le service militaire, auquel tous participaient de manière égale. Puis la fin du même brassage social dans les colonies de vacances. Enfin, la progression de l’exil fiscal.

L’idée est on le voit assez simple, pour ne pas dire simpliste : les « riches » font sécession et restent entre eux, abandonnant une nation de laquelle ils devraient pourtant se sentir solidaires. Mais la Fondation Jean Jaurès qui a commandité cette note gagnerait à faire ce constat : l’idéologie de la gauche est grandement responsable de cet état de fait.

Reprenons. La fuite vers les écoles privées ? La dégradation de l’école publique ne doit-elle pas aux effets conjugués du pédagogisme et du refus de l’autorité ? La disparition des fils d’ouvriers dans les grandes écoles au refus de la sélection ? Quant au regret de la fin d’un service militaire « creuset de la nation », qui peut surprendre chez une gauche volontiers antimilitariste, le service « égalitaire » relève partiellement du mythe, certains fils d’archevêques le faisant dans des conditions bien différentes des autres, entre planqués de Balard et vacanciers de nos ambassades. La fin des « jolies colonies de vacances », dont s’écartent non des riches, qui n’y ont jamais envoyé leurs enfants, mais plutôt des classes moyennes qui ne bénéficient pas des aides sociales, ne doit-elle pas aussi au refus de l’autorité cette fois conjugué à la volonté de ne pas stigmatiser de nouvelles catégories peu soucieuses de s’intégrer aux jeux de plage ? Quant à l’exil fiscal, la fiscalité français est telle qu’elle ne conduit plus seulement à l’exil des riches, mais aussi à celui des retraités des classes moyennes.

Quant au lien avec le vote en faveur d’Emmanuel Macron, si effectivement il existe avec cette catégorie de nouveaux riches, rappelons que ces derniers n’ont pas été les seuls à porter au pouvoir l’actuel chef de l’État et qu’il faut ici être prudent avant d’en faire le « président des riches ».

Chantal Delsol : Tout cela est bien connu et même, hélas, palpable. Rappelez-vous Cicéron qui racontant le songe de Scipion, disait : Scipion s’étonne d’avoir vu deux soleils dans le même ciel, alors qu’il devrait plus encore s’étonner de voir deux peuples dans la même république. Et c’est bien ce qui nous arrive.

Il faut préciser que nous avons tout fait pour cela. Nous avons cassé tous les lieux où s’opérait le mixage social. Le rapport parle du service militaire, qui n’était d’ailleurs plus depuis longtemps le principal lieu de brassage : tous les jeunes des classes supérieures partaient en coopération et ne moisissaient plus dans les casernes. Mais plus encore : sous prétexte de principe de précaution, on a rendu le scoutisme carrément impraticable – or c’était un lieu suprême pour le brassage social. Il en va de même pour les écoles libres : en leur imposant cette limite non-écrite mais réelle des 20%, on en fait des écoles d’élite, alors que si elles pouvaient se développer elles seraient davantage des lieux d’éducation pour ceux qui en manquent.

Car le problème aigu, c’est la place qu’a pris l’éducation dans la vie sociale. Ce qui importe est moins à présent de savoir que de savoir-être. On va embaucher un jeune moins en raison de son diplôme que parce qu’il sera arrivé à l’heure au rendez-vous et sans chewing-gum dans la bouche. Et cela ne s’apprend que dans la famille, ou bien dans une troupe scoute, ou bien dans certaines écoles plus attentives que d’autres…  Il faut bien convenir que nos gouvernements ont tout fait pour déconsidérer tous ces lieux éducatifs et jeter sur eux la dérision.

Evidemment E.Macron est le représentant typique de cette classe supérieure désormais détachée du peuple. Pour être élu il lui a fallu déborder largement cette couche sociale, qui demeure très restreinte. Mais il en demeure le prisonnier typique : apparemment il ignore que les autres classes existent, et ne les a jamais rencontrées. C’est inquiétant.

Jérôme Fourquet : D’abord Emmanuel Macron a entièrement conscience de cette fracture. C’est pour cela par exemple qu’il a placé ses vœux sous le signe de la cohésion nationale. Certes on peut dire que cette cohésion nationale est attaquée et menacée par le communautarisme, ce qui est vrai, mais il y a aussi cette forme insidieuse qui est peut-être moins visible à l’œil nu mais qui sape au moins tout autant la cohésion nationale.

Emmanuel Macron, même s’il a été plutôt élu par cette France qui va bien, il est pleinement conscient du fait qu’il y a des catégories qui ne se croisent plus, qui ne se comprennent pas et qu’il faut absolument retisser des liens. Lors de ses vœux, il reprend la fameuse phrase de Kennedy « Arrêtez de vous demander ce que le pays peut faire pour vous, demandez-vous ce que vous pouvez faire pour votre pays ». A mon avis je pense qu’il s’adresse très clairement aux premiers de cordées. A l’électorat qui l’a élu en leur disant qu’il fallait maintenant « renvoyer l’ascenseur » et qu’ils adoptent un comportement civique, citoyen et patriote en se démenant pour le « bien commun ». Supprimer l’ISF est une invitation lancée à ces catégories favorisées à « renvoyer la balle ». Cette volonté exprimée dans ses vœux est une clé de compréhension du pourquoi il s’arc-boute sur la question du service national alors que les militaires freinent des quatre fers et que tout le monde explique que tout cela est une usine à gaz qui va coûter extrêmement cher. Ce service national serait un moyen de recréer le sentiment de cohésion nationale non seulement auprès des couches défavorisées comme on l’imagine le plus souvent mais aussi auprès des couches favorisées qui elles aussi font sécession.

Comment cela sera perçu par son électorat c’est toute la question. Il y avait un article du Point avec un journaliste qui était allé rencontrer les Français expatriés en Belgique qui ne tarissaient pas d’éloges sur Emmanuel Macron mais n’envisageaient quand même pas de revenir. Ce qui est clair c’est que tout ce que je décris là c’est un des principaux carburant du populisme. Les catégories moyennes et populaires ont pleinement conscience d’avoir été abandonnées et que les catégories les plus favorisées et une partie de l’élite a « largué les amarres » et résonne non plus dans un cadre national mais dans un cadre global et est guidée non plus par les intérêts nationaux mais par ses propres intérêts.

Voir aussi:

Laïcité : les 5 propositions choc du rapport Clavreul remis au gouvernement

DOCUMENT EXCLUSIF – Alors que le premier ministre présente son plan de lutte contre la radicalisation vendredi, un rapport administratif commandé par Beauvau fait état de nombreuses dérives identitaires et de remises en cause de la laïcité et préconise des mesures fortes.

C’est un document explosif, un rapport d’une quarantaine de pages qui met en lumière les failles du respect du principe de laïcité dans certains territoires. En amont de la présentation du plan de lutte contre la radicalisation, dévoilé vendredi par Édouard Philippe, le ministère de l’Intérieur a commandé au préfet Gilles Clavreul, proche de Manuel Valls, cet état des lieux intitulé «Laïcité, valeurs de la République et exigences minimales de la vie en société», qui esquisse plusieurs mesures choc. Le Figaro les révèle en exclusivité.

1 – Conditionner le soutien de l’État (subventions, emplois aidés) au respect de la laïcité

Estimant qu’il revient aux pouvoirs publics de «promouvoir les valeurs de la République», le préfet propose de «conditionner le soutien de l’État (attribution de subvention, agrément, soutien à un événement) à l’engagement de respecter et promouvoir» ces valeurs. Ainsi, en dépit des «réserves ou des commentaires» de l’Observatoire de la laïcité, il suggère par exemple de «faire signer une charte», comme le font certaines CAF et préfectures ; de «conditionner l’examen de subvention ou d’un emploi aidé à l’engagement de suivre une formation sur les valeurs de la République et la laïcité», comme le fait la préfecture des Bouches-du-Rhône ; ou encore d’«inciter le soumissionnaire ou le partenaire à conduire certaines actions, à contribuer à un évènement, ou à faire figurer la thématique ‘laïcité et valeurs de la République’ dans un document partenarial».

2- Former tous les agents de l’État à la laïcité «d’ici à 2020»

Gilles Clavreul entend instaurer «une formation laïcité pour tous les agents de l’État d’ici à 2020», en renforçant le plan de formation déjà déployé par le Commissariat général à l’égalité des territoires. Il envisage donc d’«élargir encore l’assiette des publics formés pour l’année en cours», en «réévaluant» à la hausse l’objectif 2018 qui table sur 13.000 personnes et en ciblant davantage les publics à former en priorité, à savoir «les adultes-relais, les membres des conseils citoyens, les agents des collectivités locales, les éducateurs sportifs, les intervenants dans le secteur péri-scolaire, les professionnels de la petite enfance, les acteurs de la prévention spécialisée, les agents du service public de l’emploi, ou encore les personnels de la fonction publique hospitalière».

3 – Intégrer la laïcité dans les épreuves du Bafa

Autre secteur ciblé par le rapport: la jeunesse, qui constitue l’un des principaux enjeux en termes de laïcité. Ainsi, pour assurer une meilleure «transmission des valeurs de la République», le préfet propose de «renforcer les exigences de formation à la laïcité et aux valeurs de la République du brevet d’aptitude à la fonction d’animateur (Bafa) et au brevet d’aptitude à la fonction de directeur (BAFD)». Il suggère également de «conditionner l’agrément des centres de formation au respect de cette exigence».

4 – Cartographie des «situations problématiques»

Le rapport stipule la mise en place, «au niveau national, des diagnostics fiabilisés des incidents relatifs à la laïcité, à la contestation des valeurs républicaines, et au non-respect des exigences minimales de la vie en société». Il s’agit d’établir une cartographie précise des «situations problématiques» rencontrées «dans le secteur sanitaire et social d’une part, et dans le milieu sportif d’autre part», pour réduire les «zones d’ombre» en matière de connaissance des dérives.

5 – Établir un «corps de doctrine» sur les «atteintes à la laïcité»

Pour «mieux établir un “corps de doctrine” s’agissant des atteintes à la laïcité», Gilles Clavreul dit vouloir «transformer» les Comités opérationnels de lutte contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme (Cora) en «comités départementaux pour la laïcité pour la promotion de la laïcité et des valeurs de la République». Pour ce faire, il entend «constituer, au niveau régional, une instance auprès de laquelle toutes les administrations pourraient évoquer des situations conflictuelles ou problématiques et solliciter un avis de sa part». Si elle voit le jour, cette structure nouvelle serait alors «présidée par un magistrat de l’ordre administratif».

Quatre mois de consultations pour un constat alarmiste

Pour élaborer son rapport, Gilles Clavreul s’est déplacé entre le 22 octobre et le 15 janvier dans des départements à «dominante urbaine», à savoir les Bouches-du-Rhône, l’Ille-et-Vilaine, la Loire-Atlantique, le Nord, le Bas-Rhin, le Rhône, les Yvelines, et un département rural, la Meuse, au contact des acteurs associatifs et des agents de l’État. Son constat est clair: les «manifestations d’affirmation identitaire se multiplient et se diversifient», avec, sur certains territoires – agglomérations de Lille, Maubeuge, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon ou dans les Yvelines – des «contestations de la laïcité».

Ces troubles sont majoritairement le fait d’un «islam rigoriste voire radical» et concernent également des mouvements de «catholiques intégristes», et «évangéliques et juifs orthodoxes». Ils ont été identifiés dans le cadre d’activités scolaires, culturelles et sportives.

Ce sont, par exemple, des assistantes maternelles exerçant à domicile qui portent le voile et refusent parfois de remettre l’enfant au père, le cas d’auxiliaires en milieu scolaire «faisant acte de prosélytisme», des célébrations «spectaculaires» de certaines communautés juives, l’organisation de prières collectives chrétiennes et musulmanes. En ce qui concerne la restauration collective et le débat autour des fameux «repas de substitution», Gilles Clavreul note l’existence de cantines à Strasbourg qui proposent des menus halal et casher, ce qui peut porter atteinte au principe de laïcité.

«Dans les lieux où la population de confession musulmane est présente, parfois de façon très majoritaire, le rapport à la République se tend sous l’effet d’une foi de plus en plus ouvertement revendiquée», est-il expliqué, entraînant la «différenciation et séparation croissante entre les hommes et les femmes», «le développement d’une offre éducative alternative», «la remise en cause des principes républicains et plus particulièrement de la laïcité, perçue comme une ‘arme contre les musulmans’». Le phénomène de radicalisation est notamment présent dans les structures sportives avec des tentatives de prosélytisme mais aussi des «parents qui exigent le voilement de leur fille».

«L’adhésion aux principes républicains recule par endroits», constate Gilles Clavreul, ce qui génère «le désarroi et l’inquiétude parmi de nombreux agents publics et responsables associatifs». Autre enseignement notable: la sensibilisation à la laïcité et à la citoyenneté, qui a progressé après les attentats de 2015, «menace de retomber». «Ce fléchissement de la mobilisation doit être corrigé», exhorte Clavreul.

Le choix d’un auteur clivant

L’auteur du rapport n’est pas n’importe qui. Gilles Clavreul est un préfet engagé. Ancien conseiller à l’Elysée de François Hollande, où il suivait les dossiers de politique intérieure, il est devenu au fil des mois un proche de Manuel Valls, dont il partage aujourd’hui les combats. C’est d’ailleurs ce dernier qui l’avait nommé à la tête de la Dilcrah, la Délégation interministérielle à la lutte contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la haine anti-LGBT, où il est resté en poste jusqu’au changement de majorité.

Sortant volontiers de son devoir de neutralité, Gilles Clavreul s’est rapidement attiré les foudres sur les réseaux sociaux de nombreuses associations comme le Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF), mais aussi du journaliste Edwy Plenel ou du chercheur Pascal Boniface. Il est par ailleurs l’un des membres fondateurs du mouvement «Printemps républicain», avec le politologue Laurent Bouvet, qui bataille pour une vision stricte de la laïcité. Ses prises de position s’inscrivent dans une ligne plus dure que celle portée par l’Observatoire de la laïcité, de Jean-Louis Bianco. Ce dernier a d’ailleurs vivement réagi dès jeudi après-midi, dans un communiqué au vitriol publié sur Twitter. «Je regrette le manque de rigueur méthodologique de ce rapport (…) et la méconnaissance d’actions déjà mises en œuvre par les pouvoirs publics», assène-t-il notamment, estimant que le travail de Gilles Clavreul «ne répond pas directement à la demande» de Beauvau.

Voir également:

Laurent Wauquiez persiste et signe

Pas d’excuse au programme : invité sur le plateau de BFMTV mardi 20 février, le chef des Républicains a lancé une contre-attaque.

Laurent Wauquiez est au cœur de la polémique. Mardi 20 février, il s’explique et se montre extrêmement offensif. “Quel est donc mon grand crime ? Mon grand crime, c’est d’avoir une parole libre. Ce que je pense, c’est que la droite a souvent fait l’objet de ces procès médiatiques. Si je suis venu sur votre plateau, c’est pour vous dire que ça ne m’impressionne pas, que ça ne me fera pas reculer et que ma détermination n’a jamais été aussi forte”, a déclaré Laurent Wauquiez.

Il porte plainte

Sa seule erreur, concède-t-il, concerne Nicolas Sarkozy. Déjà des députés de la majorité ont réagi aux explications de Laurent Wauquiez. Des parlementaires de la majorité traités de “guignols” par des enregistrements diffusés ces dernières heures. Autres cibles : Valérie Pécresse et Alain Juppé. En marge d’un déplacement ce matin, Emmanuel Macron n’a pas souhaité réagir. Mardi soir, Laurent Wauquiez a annoncé également qu’il va porter plainte et saisir le Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel.

Voir de même:

Enregistré à son insu alors qu’il disait pis que pendre de ses collègues politiques devant les étudiants d’une école de commerce, ses propos largement diffusés dans les médias, Laurent Wauquiez est empêtré depuis cinq longues journées dans la polémique. Mais, si la situation l’a obligé à se défendre et a semblé montrer son isolement à la tête de son mouvement, l’épisode a plu au cœur de ses partisans. C’est l’une des leçons à tirer du nouveau sondage « L’Opinion en direct » dirigé par l’institut Elabe que nous publions ce mercredi.

Politique. Invitée jeudi 22 février à un rassemblement conservateur à Washington, aux États-Unis, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen s’est livrée sans concession sur plusieurs thèmes d’actualité.

Valeurs actuelles

22 février 2018 

Loin de la France et de la politique hexagonale, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen s’est offert une apparition remarquée à Washington, ce jeudi 22 février. Invitée dans la capitale américaine à s’exprimer lors de la « Conservative Political Action Conference », un rassemblement de la droite américaine, la nièce de Marine Le Pen n’a pas mâché ses mots.

« Je veux la France d’abord pour le peuple français »

« Je ne suis pas offensée lorsque j’entends le président Donald Trump dire ‘l’Amérique d’abord’. En fait, je veux l’Amérique d’abord pour le peuple américain, je veux la Grande-Bretagne d’abord pour le peuple britannique et je veux la France d’abord pour le peuple français« , a notamment expliqué l’ancienne élue du Vaucluse au cours de son allocution d’une dizaine de minutes, en anglais, rapporte Le Figaro.

Partisane du Brexit, la jeune femme s’en est aussi prise à l’Union européenne. « Notre liberté est maintenant entre les mains » de cette institution « qui est en train de tuer des nations millénaires« , a-t-elle fustigé. Et d’ajouter : « Je vis dans un pays où 80%, vous m’avez bien entendu, 80% des lois sont imposées par l’Union européenne ».

La France deviendrait la « petite nièce de l’islam »

« Après 40 ans d’immigration massive, de lobbyisme islamique et de politiquement correct, la France est en train de passer de fille aînée de l’Eglise à petite nièce de l’islam« , a encore estimé Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, qui a même abordé les sujets de la PMA et de la GPA. « On entend maintenant dans le débat public qu’on a le droit de commander un enfant sur catalogue, qu’on a le droit de louer le ventre d’une femme, qu’on a le droit de priver un enfant d’une mère ou d’un père« .

Voir encore:

Entretien. La députée LR Valérie Boyer, également secrétaire générale adjointe des Républicains, réagit à la polémique crée par des enregistrements de propos de Laurent Wauquiez.

Valeurs actuelles

22 février 2018

Valeurs actuelles. Comment avez-vous réagi suite à la publication de l’enregistrement d’une conversation privée de Laurent Wauquiez ?

Valérie Boyer. Depuis des jours les médias relaient des informations volées. Au-delà du fond je m’interroge sur la forme. J’ai l’impression de revivre ce que nous avons connu pendant l’élection présidentielle ou d’autres périodes de l’histoire de la Droite. Le feuilletonnage, le déchainement médiatique, les manipulations… les méthodes utilisées aujourd’hui contre Laurent Wauquiez ont été les mêmes contre Nicolas Sarkozy ou François Fillon.

Il est clair qu’une personnalité politique de droite ne bénéficie pas de la même indulgence qu’une autre. Je m’interroge également sur le respect de la vie privée.

Par exemple, dans l’affaire « Hulot », la petite fille de François Mitterand, Pascale Mitterrand  a vu son nom dévoilé dans la presse alors qu’elle avait expressément stipulé vouloir rester anonyme. En plus de se sentir « victime » (réelle ou supposée), d’un homme, elle est devenue victime d’une tempête médiatique.

Nous pouvons dire que nous sommes passés de la transparence au voyeurisme. D’un côté nous soutenons #BalanceTonPorc et de l’autre nous ne respectons pas ces femmes qui se considèrent comme des victimes. Ce double langage ne fait pas avancer la cause des femmes.

Valeurs actuelles. Comprenez-vous que cet enregistrement fasse autant parler et soit devenu un sujet d’actualité ?

Nous nous focalisons sur les propos d’un homme au lieu de condamner unanimement les agissements d’une personne, qui a décidé d’enregistrer à son insu, avec une intention malveillante, un Président de parti élu démocratiquement, avec une large majorité (75 % des voix). L’ampleur qu’a prise ce sujet me semble disproportionnée.

Le Président de la République va jusqu’à commenter cette actualité et se dit « non inspiré » par Laurent Wauquiez et en même temps les membres du Gouvernement et la majorité parlementaire commentent au nom d’Emmanuel Macron cette affaire pour détourner l’attention des Français et pour tenter de décrédibiliser un homme qui séduit de plus en plus de Français au moment où le Chef de l’Etat voit sa côte de popularité se détériorer.

Il est vrai que l’objectif d’Emmanuel Macron est d’occuper l’ensemble du spectre politique en réduisant l’opposition aux extrêmes avec d’un côté Jean-Luc Mélenchon et de l’autre Marine Le Pen.

Valeurs actuelles. Trouvez-vous que les propos de Laurent Wauquiez font du mal aux Républicains ?

Bien sûr il n’est jamais agréable de devoir faire face à ces polémiques.

Mais je me refuse de faire partie de ceux qui cherchent à alimenter le climat de défiance des Français envers les responsables politiques dans une période où nous avons plus que jamais besoin d’unité et de rassemblement.

Pourquoi nous ne parlons pas du manque de cohérence du Gouvernement en matière d’immigration qui présente un texte qui n’a qu’une fermeté de façade ? Pourquoi ne pas parler de la baisse du pouvoir d’achat des Français depuis l’élection d’Emmanuel Macron ? Quand on voit l’énergie déployée pour attaquer Laurent Wauquiez on se dit que le Gouvernement est prêt à tout pour dissimuler son échec sur le pouvoir d’achat : choc fiscal de 4.5 milliards pour les ménages (8 nouvelles taxes et impôts en 9 mois), hausse de 25 % de la CSG pour 8 millions de retraités, hausse du diesel  (+4.6 € par plein), baisse brutale des dotations de l’Etat de 216 millions d’euros…

Je peux comprendre que le Gouvernement ne veuille pas non plus évoquer la baisse de l’aide à l’accueil du jeune enfant qui exclura du dispositif 10 % des bénéficiaires ou encore le changement de plafond pour la prime à la naissance qui exclura 6 % des familles qui en bénéficient aujourd’hui.

Valeurs actuelles. Comment jugez-vous le traitement médiatique de cet enregistrement ? 

Malheureusement comme je l’ai dit précédemment cela n’est pas nouveau. Jacques Chirac avait été brocardé, le traitement médiatique réservé à Nicolas Sarkozy a été d’une rare violence sous la Ve République, ce qui lui a couté sa réélection. Enfin, n’oublions pas non plus l’élection présidentielle de 2017 et cet acharnement contre François Fillon qui a, non seulement privé les Français d’un débat sur les programmes, mais pire encore, qui a fait changer leur vote.

A travers plusieurs documentaires certains ont tenté de maquiller un assassinat politique en suicide.

Nous avons assisté à un véritable tribunal médiatique et nous n’avons aujourd’hui toujours aucune réponse sur la vraie question qu’il faillait se poser : qui a tué la démocratie ? Selon le droit parlementaire, c’était au bureau de l’Assemblée nationale de se saisir de cette affaire et d’enquêter, non au Parquet National Financier (PNF).

Un secret de l’instruction ignoré. La salle de presse était dans le bureau du juge ou le bureau du juge était dans la salle de presse. D’ailleurs, à l’instar de l’ensemble des magistrats du parquet, le PNF dépend hiérarchiquement du ministère de la justice et n’est donc pas statutairement indépendant.

Tout le monde se refuse à parler de « complot » mais rappelons-le, au moment où la campagne de François Fillon redémarrait après le Trocadéro, les médias informés sortent l’affaire des costumes dans un seul but : « détruire François Fillon » selon l’instigateur de cette affaire.

Le résultat nous le connaissons aujourd’hui, une abstention record et un véritable hold-up démocratique. Maquiller l’assassinat de François Fillon en suicide simplifie tout et justifie l’indéfendable. Bref, comme les idées de la droite sont majoritaires dans notre pays (et le succès de la Primaire de la Droite en est la preuve), il faut détruire la réputation des leaders de notre famille politique.

Valeurs actuelles. Il y a-t-il un « deux poids / deux mesures » entre le traitement de cette « affaire » et le reste de l’actualité » ?

Les médias ont été plus discrets lorsque Emmanuel Macron, alors en visite au Centre régional opérationnel de surveillance et de sauvetage d’Etel s’est essayé à une plaisanterie sur les frêles embarcations de l’Océan indien sur lesquelles ont péri de nombreux migrants voulant rejoindre Mayotte: « le kwassa-kwassa pêche peu, il amène du Comorien, c’est différent. »

Ou encore lorsqu’il a méprisé les Français en parlant « d’alcooliques », de « fainéants » de « ceux qui foutent le bordel », de ceux « qui ne sont rien » et tout cela de manière officielle, allant même jusqu’à critiquer les Français à l’étranger. Jamais Laurent Wauquiez n’a tenu des propos blessants contre les Français.

Enfin, alors que l’actualité nationale et internationale ne manquait pas de sujets majeurs, les médias se sont mobilisés pour feuilletonner cette affaire d’enregistrements volés. Par exemple, les dernières expertises dans l’affaire Théo, rendues publiques vendredi confirmait que la version des policiers était la bonne.

Le silence autour de ces informations a été inversement proportionnel au battage médiatique où une partie de la classe politique s’était précipitée pour bafouer l’honneur de nos policiers avec les hommages d’Emmanuel Macron qui avait exprimé il y a un an « toute [sa] solidarité à l’égard de Théo et de sa famille » reprenant le slogan #JusticePourTheo.

Il est étonnant de voir que personne n’ait demandé au Président de la République comment comptait-il rendre aux policiers leur honneur bafoué par ceux qui criaient avec les loups ? Malgré les méthodes utilisées contre Laurent Wauquiez, qui sont lamentables et condamnables, malgré le « deux poids, deux mesures », le Président de notre famille politique a démontré hier soir la force de ses convictions. Rien ne le détournera de son objectif, celui de donner à la France un projet de redressement fort.

Entretien réalisé par Pierre Dumazeau

Voir par ailleurs:

What Foreigners Don’t Get About Emmanuel Macron

In transcending left-right divides, the French president may be creating a monster of a different sort.

Foreigners are fascinated by French President Emmanuel Macron. And why shouldn’t they be? He’s the youngest-ever president of the French Republic, elected with no party and no previous electoral experience, a virtual nobody just two years before he leaped to the forefront of the French political scene. Of course people are curious.But there’s another reason my non-French friends bombard me with questions about my president. Like myself, most of them have advanced degrees and upper-middle-class backgrounds. This sort of socioeconomic status correlates strongly with affection for Macron.His views mirror those held by most of this “elite” class. He thinks the left-right divide should be transcended. He doesn’t care about outworn ideologies, but about solutions that work, wherever they come from. He thinks startups are cool and the economy should be generally entrepreneurship-friendly, but he also wants some sort of welfare state. He’s got no problem whatsoever with gay marriage. He believes immigration is desirable for both economic and moral reasons.
But he doesn’t just think like an elite. He embodies many elites’ idealized lifestyle. He did very well academically (but not too well, having failed the entrance exam to the ultra-prestigious ENS civil service school), in a way that suggests some depth of mind (master’s degree in philosophy), but also practical success (ENA’s graduates run the country’s public and private sectors), because come on, how many people actually want to be philosophers? * He did very well in investment banking, but not too well. His marriage to a much older woman who was once his drama teacher is socially transgressive to just the right degree. He’s handsome, but not too handsome.In other words, Emmanuel Macron is the Donald Trump of the elite class. He’s not just their representative—he’s their avatar. Trump’s die-hard followers love him with such devotion not just because they like what he says, but because his image is that of the guy they wish they were or could be. It’s the same thing with Macron and his own elite base. And this is the stuff out of which Messianic movements are made.The comparison is not perfect—for one thing, I have no problem with the idea of Macron having his finger over my country’s nuke button, while the idea of Trump with his finger over the American nuke button gives me cold sweats. But it gets at what I wish every American understood about Macron: His brand of pragmatic centrist politics is really just class-interest-based politics.As Christophe Guilluy, a sociologist and leading analyst of contemporary society, pointed out, Macron’s supporters can be boiled down to one word: They are the “haves.” They are the people who rode the waves of change that have inundated the West over the past few decades—globalization, technological transformation—to great success. Education is the best predictor of voting for Macron, which makes sense, since it correlates not just with financial capital but also with cultural capital. Another predictor is age, although in a perhaps-unexpected way: Macron is highly popular with the elderly, whose pensions protect them from the liberalizing reforms Macron campaigned on, and very unpopular with the young, who disproportionately come out the losers in France’s contemporary economy.
This explains why, after having used the oddities of the French electoral system to get elected as an alternative to worse candidates, Macron is extremely unpopular. Non-elite French people smell exactly what the elites smell, and their reaction is equally predictable. Now, Macron supporters don’t believe that they support him for the crass reason that he will benefit their class at the expense of the rest of the country; instead, they just believe that what’s good for them is good for the country. Call it “trickle-down economics.” But, of course, nobody believes they support a certain policy simply because it’s good for them. Building the U.S.-Mexico border wall is cast as being about American identity, something all Americans can identify with, not about a protectionist barrier for the wages of Trump supporters at the expense of the well-heeled beneficiaries of low-wage immigration.There’s nothing uniquely bad about this: Groups defending their interests just is what politics is. Democratic politics endures because it’s the least-bad mechanism we’ve come up with for handling precisely that.But there’s a flip-side to Macron’s class-based politics: If you decide to replace the old left-right divide with the divide between the haves and the have-nots, haven’t you created a monster of a different sort?The Macron tsunami has hit, and the traditional parties of the French left and right are deeply wounded and struggling to survive. But two people are doing fine: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, France’s leading far-left firebrand, and the infamous Marine Le Pen, France’s hard-right populist leader. In fact, it’s in Macron’s political interest for them to do well, to squeeze the last pangs of breath out of the traditional parties that might supplant his new centrist party. The better Mélenchon and Le Pen do, the worse the traditional parties do, and the more Macron looks like the only alternative to candidates the majority of French people still reject.This might work to get him re-elected. But here’s what many don’t understand about Macron’s attempt to steer French politics away from the left-right divide we invented: If it is successful, it will mean that the opposition party (whatever it looks like, whoever its leader is) will be the anti-elite party par excellence. Put Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and Marine Le Pen in a bottle, shake vigorously—and, in a Macronified politics, whatever comes out is almost guaranteed to run the country. Not today. Not tomorrow. But, if Macron’s bet is successful, at some point.Voir aussi:

« L’islam, une religion française » : Un livre clé, pour comprendre et agir
L’islam et les musulmans en France, ce qu’est la situation, actuellement, et ce qui peut advenir: Hakim El Karoui a pris le parti de l’évoquer de manière à la fois très documentée, sans parti-pris, et très pragmatique. Le résultat est exemplaire et bouscule bien des clichés.
Bertrand Devevey
Atlantico
29 janvier 2018

LIVRE
L’islam, une religion française

d’Hakim El Karoui
Ed. Le débat Gallimard

283 pages
RECOMMANDATION : EN PRIORITE
THÈME 
L’islam en France, tout le monde en parle ! A droite, à gauche, au centre. Plus souvent pour s’alarmer, s’invectiver, s’accuser de tous les racismes… finalement ne rien dire de nouveau et d’utile pour l’avenir. L’entrepreneur et essayiste Hakim El Karoui a convaincu l’Institut Montaigne de réaliser, en 2016, une enquête, première du genre, sur l’islam en France. Et sortir de ce silence assourdissant, les musulmans de France, français ordinaires, intégrés et républicains. Cet essai s’appuie sur les grandes lignes de cette enquête, pour permettre au lecteur d’apprécier, en connaissance de cause, ce que représente l’islam en France d’abord, l’islamisme ensuite, ses origines, ses ressources, ses caisses de résonance. Il milite pour l’inscription de cet islam sans voix, car modéré, dans le paysage religieux français, comme toute autre religion en terre des droits de l’homme. Cela ne va pas sans réforme du culte musulman, mais de cela aussi, il est question dans cet ouvrage.
POINTS FORTS 
1- Franco-tunisien, enfant de la république, de culture musulmane, fils d’un professeur d’anthropologie juridique sur l’Islam (à la Sorbonne) : Hakim El Karoui sait de quoi il parle. Sur le sujet, à bien y regarder, c’est assez rare pour être souligné,
2- Son livre ne repose pas sur des fantasmes, des peurs ou des opportunités politiques : il repose sur la première enquête qui vise à dessiner le portrait de l’islam en France, la réalité de ses pratiques, l’évolution des interprétations du Coran, des comportements communautaires (mais pas nécessairement communautaristes), la sociologie des radicaux (« les plus jeunes et les mois éduqués »)…
3- Cet ouvrage suit un cheminement très cartésien. Au lieu de se lancer dans l’analyse des racines de l’islamisme, il prend le temps de raconter les musulmans de France et l’organisation de leur culte. Et c’est intéressant, car bien loin des idées reçues et rabâchées dans les médias. Il témoigne, et c’est encore à souligner, des réussites de l’intégration et de l’assimilation « à la française », de ses vertus et différences par rapport au modèle anglo-saxon. Ensuite seulement, il explore les tensions que provoque le conflit entre la recherche identitaire de certains musulmans, une orthodoxie religieuse agitée comme une ressource pour les « damnés de la terre », et le respect des valeurs fondamentales de la société française.
4- Il analyse les discours dominants sur l’islamisme et « le grand remplacement » (les musulmans qui voudraient faire de la France une terre de la communauté universelle et hypothétique de l’Ouma), analysé tant du coté des prédicateurs, des médias et des associations qui les relaient, que du coté de ceux qui les dénoncent ou les excusent, de Zemmour à Plenel, sans oublier quelques autres chroniqués sur Culture-Tops : Finkielkraut, Bruckner, Todd…
5 – Il propose des solutions pour donner une voix aux musulmans de France, dont il explique la difficulté à la rendre audible, faute d’organisation nationale et d’indépendance des grandes mosquées par rapport à l’Algérie, le Maroc ou la Turquie.
POINTS FAIBLES 
1- Et bien…. j’en vois peu.
2- Ah si : Hakim El Karoui a été conseiller de Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a eu deux oncles ministres en Tunisie (dont un « Premier »), et il n’aime pas particulièrement la façon dont Edwin Plenel prend la parole au nom des musulmans de France  (« mineurs » sans capacités de se défendre eux même, ou « bébés phoques ») – alors forcement, il est suspect aux yeux de certains !
3- Les propositions qui forment le dernier chapitre (et dont certaines sont en cours de mise en œuvre)  sonnent un peu comme un manifeste pour faire de Hakim El Karoui l’homme de synthèse dont les musulmans de France ont besoin. On va dire que c’est de bonne guerre tant paraît évident que pour faire avancer la cause d’un islam de France, modéré et respectueux des valeurs républicaines, il vaut mieux un ambassadeur motivé, compétent et concerné.
EN DEUX MOTS 
De toute la littérature qui est sortie ces dernières années sur l’islam, l’islamisme, les musulmans de France, les territoires perdus de la République, le djihadisme, l’islamophobie… si vous voulez commencer la série, n’en lisez qu’un : celui là ! Très documenté, à des sources sûres (Crédoc, Ined, Institut Montaigne…) il donne le sentiment de revenir à l’essentiel, qui est de jeter un regard objectif sur une réalité sociologique et religieuse. Il dédramatise de façon convaincante l’image d’un islam identitaire, replié sur soi, que donnent à foison les médias.  Il ne cache pas les dérives intégristes, communautaristes, mais le replace dans un contexte qui ne culpabilise pas à longueur de lignes le colonisateur brutal et criminel que chaque français a l’impression d’être à la lecture de certaines tribunes.
Hakim El Karoui ne cache pas que des problèmes demeurent. Pour autant, le modèle d’assimilation « à la française » fonctionne beaucoup mieux qu’on le dit, et l’islam doit être en France, selon ses dires, une religion comme les autres.
Le chemin pour y parvenir, dit il, passe par l’unification de l’organisation du culte, la clarification des financements caritatifs et la redistribution des fonds de l’économie halal, nécessaires au fonctionnement des mosquées.
Une solution française à l’Islam de France : une idée simple qui concerne 6 à 7 millions de français.
UN EXTRAIT
Ou plutôt 9, car le livre en vaut la peine:
– « … la représentation fausse que la société se donne du fait musulman en France trouve des explications rationnelles : une très grande concentration géographique des musulmans, une pratique religieuse très supérieure à celle des catholiques , […] la surdélinquance des enfants de l’immigration et notamment des musulmans, la violence terroriste commise au nom de l’islam. Ces fait objectifs concourent à déformer la place réelle qu’occupe l’islam en France. » P 64
– « Petit à petit, le halal devient un mode de vie, une façon d’être au monde, qui distingue ceux qui s’y trouvent et ceux qui n’en sont pas. Certains se chargent d’imposer cette vision manichéenne à l’ensemble de la société, qu’ils divisent entre les bons musulmans et les mécréants. » P 89
– « L’islamisme français est le produit de la rencontre entre la crise de transition du monde arabe et la crise du sens, française et occidentale. » P 103
– « Tout naturellement donc et comme partout avant, l’évolution des familles et des sociétés « arabo-musulmanes » conduit non pas à un retour en arrière, mais plutôt vers la famille de type occidental, nucléaire, peu nombreuse, avec des femmes égales aux hommes. » P 111
– « Dans cette société marquée par l’individualisation des rapports sociaux, on s’affirme plus que jamais par ce qui nous différencie des autres. La religion peut être un moyen de cette affirmation. Et le repli, une solution pour ceux qui se sentent agressés par le monde extérieur.  » P 121
– « L’islam est une foi et un ensemble de règles de vie, mais ce n’est pas une politique. Contrairement à l’islamisme qui est, comme le communisme, une idéologie, un projet de société ! » P 179
– « La cécité des intellectuels est inquiétante : ils ne voient ni la France telle qu’elle est, ni l’islam et les musulmans tels qu’ils sont. Ils plaquent leur vision du monde sur cette crise religieuse, sociale et identitaire et en tirent les conclusions qui les arrangent.  La colonisation pour les uns, la République pour les autres, la gauche, la droite, tout le monde est coupable. » P 181
– « Emmanuel Macron a su « mettre en marche » une nouvelle génération de dirigeants politiques. Il faut faire exactement la même chose  chez les musulmans de France. L’Algérie, le Maroc et la Turquie sont comme les vieux partis qui se déchiraient  tout en se partageant les places avec souvent la ferme ambition de ne rien faire. Place à une nouvelle génération, soucieuse non pas des pays d’origine, mais de la France… engagée dans la vie de la cité, et respectueuse des us et coutumes de la République Française. » P 247
– « Et puis surtout, il faut changer le discours. Il est temps de faire preuve de responsabilité et d’arrêter de se cacher derrière des discours lénifiants et sympathies ( « l’islam est une religion de paix », « l’islam est l’ennemi de la violence ») évidemment vrais mais qui font litière du fait que l’islam c’est aussi ce qu’en font les musulmans. Et notamment ceux qui font le plus de bruit. Par ignorance collective des textes sacrés, personne n’est capable de répondre à la propagande des salafistes. » P 248
L’AUTEUR  
Hakim El Karoui est normalien, spécialisé en géopolitique. Conseiller technique du premier Ministre Jean Pierre Raffarin puis du Ministre de l’économie Thierry Breton ; il a aussi été banquier et conseil en stratégie, fondateur de sa propre société de conseil, Volentia. Attaché à la promotion de la « diversité », il crée le « Club 21ème Siècle » pour sensibiliser les leaders d’opinion sur ce thème et agir au profit des jeunes. Chroniqueur dans l’hebdomadaire L’opinion, il est aussi l’auteur de 3 autres essais de prospective (sur l’Europe, le modèle occidental et la crise financière de 2008), auteur pour l’Institut Montaigne, en 2016 du rapport « un islam français est possible » (qui est la base de cet essai) et en 2017, du rapport sur la nouvelle politique arabe de la France. Depuis sa création fin 2016, il est membre de la Fondation de l’Islam de France, présidée par Jean Pierre Chevènement.

Voir encore:

ENQUÊTE FRANCEINFO. Les étranges factures de la campagne présidentielle de Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Des structures dirigées par des proches de Jean-Luc Mélenchon ont-elles surfacturé leurs services pendant la campagne présidentielle et bénéficié du remboursement de l’État ? Plusieurs centaines de milliers d’euros de factures posent question.

Cellule Investigation de Radio France, Sylvain Tronchet, Elodie Guéguen, Radio FranceFranceTVinfo
22/02/2018

Jean-Luc Mélenchon insiste : ses comptes de campagne ont été validés, il n’y aurait donc, selon lui, plus matière à évoquer de possibles irrégularités. Pourtant, à bien la lire, la décision de la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et du financement politique (CNCCFP) est plus nuancée. Si elle confirme que le candidat de La France insoumise (LFI) n’a pas dépassé le plafond autorisé des dépenses de campagne, elle a retoqué plus de 400 000 euros de factures présentées par son équipe, estimant que certaines prestations étaient surfacturées.

Un recours massif à la « sous-traitance » très inhabituel

Les principaux candidats à la présidentielle ont versé des millions d’euros de salaire à leur équipe pendant la campagne. Ces collaborateurs étaient soit directement salariés par l’association de financement du candidat, soit mis à disposition par un parti politique, auquel cas l’association remboursait leurs rémunérations. À ce titre, en 2017, Marine Le Pen a dépensé 2,4 millions d’euros pour son staff, Emmanuel Macron 1,7 million et Benoît Hamon 1,3 million. L’association de financement de la campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, elle, n’a versé que 7 949 euros de salaires pour toute la campagne. Moins que François Asselineau ou Jacques Cheminade. Comment l’expliquer ? Jean-Luc Mélenchon a fait le choix très inhabituel de faire salarier une large partie de son équipe de campagne dans des structures extérieures, dirigées par certains de ses proches. Celles-ci lui ont ensuite refacturé leurs services. Ce type de montage a nourri les soupçons du rapporteur de la CNCCFP qui claqué la porte avec fracas avant la fin de sa mission. Il s’est demandé si l’association de financement de la campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon n’avait pas accepté des surfacturations avant d’en demander le remboursement par l’État (Lire son interview à Mediapart ici (lien payant).

Une opération lucrative pour une petite association

Comme l’ont déjà expliqué nos confrères du Monde, une association a particulièrement tiré profit de la campagne présidentielle de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Il s’agit de L’Ere du peuple, fondée à la veille du début de la campagne électorale par des proches de l’ancien ministre socialiste. L’Ere du peuple a salarié, selon nos informations, quatre permanents de l’équipe de campagne de Mélenchon, dont les deux actuels députés France insoumise Bastien Lachaud et Mathilde Panot. Nous avons eu accès au détail de ces marchés : il apparaît que l’association a refacturé très cher les « prestations intellectuelles » de ces membres du staff de campagne. Un exemple : Bastien Lachaud a été payé 29 000 euros brut pour son rôle de coordonnateur du pôle « action de campagne et événements ». Or, L’Ere du peuple a refacturé ses services 129 000 euros à l’association de financement du candidat Mélenchon. Un différentiel incompréhensible pour la Commission des comptes de campagne. La CNCCFP se demande si L’Ere du peuple, présidée par un très proche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, le conseiller d’État Bernard Pignerol, n’a pas cherché à surfacturer plusieurs prestations.

Une agence de communication incontournable

Plus de 11% des dépenses de campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon (plus de 10 millions d’euros au total) ont bénéficié à une société : Mediascop, créée et dirigée par Sophia Chikirou, la directrice de communication de la campagne, qui en est également la seule actionnaire. Les 1 161 768 euros qu’elle a facturés pendant la présidentielle ont également éveillé la curiosité des rapporteurs. Ils ont constaté qu’un certain nombre de prestations étaient facturées au-dessus de la grille tarifaire de la société. Surtout, Mediascop semble n’exister que pour porter la communication de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. La société n’a pas de locaux, pas de salariés en dehors des périodes de campagne, pas de matériel. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas de réaliser des profits importants : Mediascop affichait une rentabilité nette de 47% en 2016, alors que les premières factures de la présidentielle venaient de lui être réglées.

>> Présidentielle 2017 : Mediascop, la très rentable société de la dircom’ de Mélenchon

Des collaborateurs auto-entrepreneurs

Si l’association de campagne de Jean-Luc Mélenchon a payé étonnamment peu de salaires, c’est aussi parce qu’elle a eu recours à l’auto-entreprenariat. D‘après nos informations, une dizaine de membres de l’équipe de campagne ont été payés en honoraires via une société, créée souvent pour l’occasion. Certains l’ont d’ailleurs fermée juste après la campagne. Parmi eux, Alexis Corbière. Le porte-parole du candidat Mélenchon n’était pas salarié, mais a perçu 28 700 euros d’honoraires pendant la campagne. Jean Luc Mélenchon a pourtant maintes fois brocardé ce statut, qu’il avait même promis de supprimer s’il était élu en 2012, le qualifiant « d’arnaque de première grandeur ».

Silence de l’entourage de Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Nous avons adressé une longue liste de questions à l’attachée de presse de Jean Luc Mélenchon, Juliette Prados. Nous avons également sollicité Alexis Corbière, Sophia Chikirou, Bernard Pignerol, Bastien Lachaud et Mathilde Panot. Ils n’ont pas donné suite à nos multiples relances, et n’ont pas souhaité commenter nos informations.

Voir enfin:

Affaire Mennel : Taubira apporte son soutien à la chanteuse

Société. Christina Taubira a pris la défense d’une jeune participante évincée de l’émission The Voice pour des propos complotistes.

Valeurs actuellesChristiane Taubira ravive « l’affaire Mennel ». Cette candidate de The Voice avait du quitter l’émission, le 9 février dernier, après la mise au jour de plusieurs de ses messages complotistes ou jugés complaisants à l’égard de l’islam radical. Ce jeudi 22 février, l’ancienne ministre de François Hollande apporte son soutien à la jeune femme dans une publication sur Facebook.

« Quelle somptueuse audace, et quelle promesse pour notre monde »

« On vous reproche des tweets passés. Vos références intellectuelles étaient loin d’être recommandables« , affirme Christiane Taubira, estimant que les références de Mennel à Tariq Ramadan ou Dieudonné « sont simplement indigentes et lamentables. Manifestement fourbes, parfois immondes. Ils ne sont pas les seuls. Le souci, c’est la fascination qu’ils parviennent à exercer sur de jeunes esprits, même brillants. C’est cela le seul sujet, pour nous autres adultes« .

« Vous vous êtes excusée et vous avez bien fait. N’en ayez surtout aucun regret, c’est votre hauteur« , ajoute l’ancienne responsable politique, avant de dénoncer l' »hystérie » qui a suivie l’affaire. Et de poursuivre : « On vous reproche votre ‘turban’, disent-ils. Il vous sied délicieusement, sans rien dissimuler de votre beauté encore en éclosion. Ils vous reprochent de chanter arabe… incultes, ils ne savent pas finir la phrase: en arabe la chanson d’un Juif magnifique. Quelle somptueuse audace, et quelle promesse pour notre monde« .


Société: L’Apocalypse pour tous (Aid paradox and fifty-shades-of-greyization of the world: Is Africa about to overrun Europe with its aid-fueled migrants ?)

22 février, 2018

 
Note de la SNCF sur la présence de migrants
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Presque aucun des fidèles ne se retenait de s’esclaffer, et ils avaient l’air d’une bande d’anthropophages chez qui une blessure faite à un blanc a réveillé le goût du sang. Car l’instinct d’imitation et l’absence de courage gouvernent les sociétés comme les foules. Et tout le monde rit de quelqu’un dont on voit se moquer, quitte à le vénérer dix ans plus tard dans un cercle où il est admiré. C’est de la même façon que le peuple chasse ou acclame les rois. Marcel Proust
Jésus a tout fichu par terre. Le Désaxé (Les braves gens ne courent pas les rues, Flannery O’Connor)
Depuis que l’ordre religieux est ébranlé – comme le christianisme le fut sous la Réforme – les vices ne sont pas seuls à se trouver libérés. Certes les vices sont libérés et ils errent à l’aventure et ils font des ravages. Mais les vertus aussi sont libérées et elles errent, plus farouches encore, et elles font des ravages plus terribles encore. Le monde moderne est envahi des veilles vertus chrétiennes devenues folles. Les vertus sont devenues folles pour avoir été isolées les unes des autres, contraintes à errer chacune en sa solitude.  G.K. Chesterton
Tout se disloque. Le centre ne peut tenir. L’anarchie se déchaîne sur le monde Comme une mer noircie de sang : partout On noie les saints élans de l’innocence …Sûrement que quelque révélation, c’est pour bientôt … Sûrement que la Seconde Venue, c’est pour bientôt. La Seconde Venue ! A peine dits ces mots, Une image, immense, du Spiritus Mundi Trouble ma vue : quelque part dans les sables du désert, Une forme avec corps de lion et tête d’homme Et l’oeil nul et impitoyable comme un soleil Se meut, à cuisses lentes, tandis qu’autour Tournoient les ombres d’une colère d’oiseaux… La ténèbre, à nouveau ; mais je sais, maintenant, Que vingt siècles d’un sommeil de pierre, exaspérés Par un bruit de berceau, tournent au cauchemar, – Et quelle bête brute, revenue l’heure, Traîne la patte vers Bethléem, pour naître enfin ? Yeats (1919)
La Raison sera remplacée par la Révélation. À la place de la Loi rationnelle et des vérités objectives perceptibles par quiconque prendra les mesures nécessaires de discipline intellectuelle, et la même pour tous, la Connaissance dégénérera en une pagaille de visions subjectives (…) Des cosmogonies complètes seront créées à partir d’un quelconque ressentiment personnel refoulé, des épopées entières écrites dans des langues privées, les barbouillages d’écoliers placés plus haut que les plus grands chefs-d’œuvre. L’Idéalisme sera remplacé par le Matérialisme. La vie après la mort sera un repas de fête éternelle où tous les invités auront 20 ans … La Justice sera remplacée par la Pitié comme vertu cardinale humaine, et toute crainte de représailles disparaîtra … La Nouvelle Aristocratie sera composée exclusivement d’ermites, clochards et invalides permanents. Le Diamant brut, la Prostituée Phtisique, le bandit qui est bon pour sa mère, la jeune fille épileptique qui a le chic avec les animaux seront les héros et héroïnes du Nouvel Age, quand le général, l’homme d’État, et le philosophe seront devenus la cible de chaque farce et satire. Hérode (Pour le temps présent, oratorio de Noël, W. H. Auden, 1944)
Just over 50 years ago, the poet W.H. Auden achieved what all writers envy: making a prophecy that would come true. It is embedded in a long work called For the Time Being, where Herod muses about the distasteful task of massacring the Innocents. He doesn’t want to, because he is at heart a liberal. But still, he predicts, if that Child is allowed to get away, « Reason will be replaced by Revelation. Instead of Rational Law, objective truths perceptible to any who will undergo the necessary intellectual discipline, Knowledge will degenerate into a riot of subjective visions . . . Whole cosmogonies will be created out of some forgotten personal resentment, complete epics written in private languages, the daubs of schoolchildren ranked above the greatest masterpieces. Idealism will be replaced by Materialism. Life after death will be an eternal dinner party where all the guests are 20 years old . . . Justice will be replaced by Pity as the cardinal human virtue, and all fear of retribution will vanish . . . The New Aristocracy will consist exclusively of hermits, bums and permanent invalids. The Rough Diamond, the Consumptive Whore, the bandit who is good to his mother, the epileptic girl who has a way with animals will be the heroes and heroines of the New Age, when the general, the statesman, and the philosopher have become the butt of every farce and satire. »What Herod saw was America in the late 1980s and early ’90s, right down to that dire phrase « New Age. » (…) Americans are obsessed with the recognition, praise and, when necessary, the manufacture of victims, whose one common feature is that they have been denied parity with that Blond Beast of the sentimental imagination, the heterosexual, middle-class white male. The range of victims available 10 years ago — blacks, Chicanos, Indians, women, homosexuals — has now expanded to include every permutation of the halt, the blind and the short, or, to put it correctly, the vertically challenged. (…) Since our newfound sensitivity decrees that only the victim shall be the hero, the white American male starts bawling for victim status too. (…) European man, once the hero of the conquest of the Americas, now becomes its demon; and the victims, who cannot be brought back to life, are sanctified. On either side of the divide between Euro and native, historians stand ready with tarbrush and gold leaf, and instead of the wicked old stereotypes, we have a whole outfit of equally misleading new ones. Our predecessors made a hero of Christopher Columbus. To Europeans and white Americans in 1892, he was Manifest Destiny in tights, whereas a current PC book like Kirkpatrick Sale’s The Conquest of Paradise makes him more like Hitler in a caravel, landing like a virus among the innocent people of the New World. Robert Hughes (24.06.2001)
La vérité biblique sur le penchant universel à la violence a été tenue à l’écart par un puissant processus de refoulement. (…) La vérité fut reportée sur les juifs, sur Adam et la génération de la fin du monde. (…) La représentation théologique de l’adoucissement de la colère de Dieu par l’acte d’expiation du Fils constituait un compromis entre les assertions du Nouveau Testament sur l’amour divin sans limites et celles sur les fantasmes présents en chacun. (…) Même si la vérité biblique a été de nouveau  obscurcie sur de nombreux points, (…) dénaturée en partie, elle n’a jamais été totalement falsifiée par les Églises. Elle a traversé l’histoire et agit comme un levain. Même l’Aufklärung critique contre le christianisme qui a pris ses armes et les prend toujours en grande partie dans le sombre arsenal de l’histoire de l’Eglise, n’a jamais pu se détacher entièrement de l’inspiration chrétienne véritable, et par des détours embrouillés et compliqués, elle a porté la critique originelle des prophètes dans les domaines sans cesse nouveaux de l’existence humaine. Les critiques d’un Kant, d’un Feuerbach, d’un Marx, d’un Nietzsche et d’un Freud – pour ne prendre que quelques uns parmi les plus importants – se situent dans une dépendance non dite par rapport à l’impulsion prophétique. Raymund Schwager
An advertent and sustained foreign policy uses a different part of the brain from the one engaged by horrifying images. If Americans had seen the battles of the Wilderness and Cold Harbor on TV screens in 1864, if they had witnessed the meat-grinding carnage of Ulysses Grant’s warmaking, then public opinion would have demanded an end to the Civil War, and the Union might well have split into two countries, one of them farmed by black slaves. (…) The Americans have ventured into Somalia in a sort of surreal confusion, first impersonating Mother Teresa and now John Wayne. it would help to clarify that self-image, for to do so would clarify the mission, and then to recast the rhetoric of the enterprise. Lance Morrow (1993
In recent years, skewering the politically correct and the political correctness of those mocking political correctness has become a thriving journalistic enterprise. One of the more interesting examples of the genre was a cover-story essay by Robert Hughes, which appeared in the February 3, 1992, edition of Time magazine. The essay was entitled “The Fraying of America.”  In it, Hughes cast a cold eye on the American social landscape, and his assessment was summarized in the article’s subtitle: “When a nation’s diversity breaks into factions, demagogues rush in, false issues cloud debate, and everybody has a grievance.” “Like others, Hughes found himself puzzling over how and why the status of ‘victim’ had become the seal of moral rectitude in American society. He began his essay by quoting a passage from W. H. Auden’s Christmas oratorio, For the Time Being. The lines he quoted were ones in which King Herod ruminates over whether the threat to civilization posed by the birth of Christ is serious enough to warrant murdering all the male children in one region of the empire. (The historical Herod may have been a vulgar and conniving Roman sycophant, but Auden’s Herod, let’s not forget, is watching the rough beast of the twentieth century slouching toward Bethlehem.) Weighing all the factors, Herod decides that the Christ child must be destroyed, even if to do so innocents must be slaughtered. For, he argues in the passage that Hughes quoted, should the Child survive: Reason will be replaced by Revelation . . . . Justice will be replaced by Pity as the cardinal virtue, and all fear of retribution will vanish . . . . The New Aristocracy will consist exclusively of hermits, bums and permanent invalids. The Rough Diamond, the Consumptive Whore, the bandit who is good to his mother, the epileptic girl who has a way with animals will be the heroes and heroines of the New Age, when the general, the statesman, and the philosopher have become the butt of every farce and satire. “Hughes quoted this passage from Auden in order to point out that Auden’s prophecy had come true. As Auden’s Herod had predicted, American society was awash in what Hughes termed the “all-pervasive claim to victimhood.” He noted that in virtually all the contemporary social, political, or moral debates, both sides were either claiming to be victims or claiming to speak on their behalf. It was clear to Hughes, however, that this was not a symptom of a moral victory over our scapegoating impulses. There can be no victims without victimizers. Even though virtually everyone seemed to be claiming the status of victim, the claims could be sustained only if some of the claims could be denied. (At this point, things become even murkier, for in the topsy-turvy world of victimology, a claimant denied can easily be mistaken for a victim scorned, the result being that denying someone’s claim to victim status can have the same effect as granting it.) Nevertheless, the algebraic equation of victimhood requires victimizers, and so, for purely logical reasons, some claims have to be denied. Some, in Hughes’s words, would have to remain “the butt of every farce and satire.” Hughes argued that all those who claim victim status share one thing in common, “they have been denied parity with that Blond Beast of the sentimental imagination, the heterosexual, middle-class, white male.” “Hughes realized that a hardy strain of envy and resentment toward this one, lone nonvictim continued to play an important role in the squabbles over who would be granted victim status. Those whose status as victim was secure were glaring at this last nonvictim with something of the vigilante’s narrow squint. Understandably, the culprit was anxious to remove his blemish. “Since our new found sensitivity decrees that only the victim shall be the hero,” Hughes wrote, “the white American male starts bawling for victim status too.” Gil Bailie
The gospel revelation gradually destroys the ability to sacralize and valorize violence of any kind, even for Americans in pursuit of the good. (…) At the heart of the cultural world in which we live, and into whose orbit the whole world is being gradually drawn, is a surreal confusion. The impossible Mother Teresa-John Wayne antinomy Times correspondent (Lance) Morrow discerned in America’s humanitarian 1992 Somali operation is simply a contemporary manifestation of the tension that for centuries has hounded those cultures under biblical influence. Gil Bailie
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la « victime inconnue », comme on dirait aujourd’hui le « soldat inconnu ». Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. (…) Jusqu’au nazisme, le judaïsme était la victime préférentielle de ce système de bouc émissaire. Le christianisme ne venait qu’en second lieu. Depuis l’Holocauste, en revanche, on n’ose plus s’en prendre au judaïsme, et le christianisme est promu au rang de bouc émissaire numéro un. René Girard
Les événements qui se déroulent sous nos yeux sont à la fois naturels et culturels, c’est-à-dire qu’ils sont apocalyptiques. Jusqu’à présent, les textes de l’Apocalypse faisaient rire. Tout l’effort de la pensée moderne a été de séparer le culturel du naturel. La science consiste à montrer que les phénomènes culturels ne sont pas naturels et qu’on se trompe forcément si on mélange les tremblements de terre et les rumeurs de guerre, comme le fait le texte de l’Apocalypse. Mais, tout à coup, la science prend conscience que les activités de l’homme sont en train de détruire la nature. C’est la science qui revient à l’Apocalypse. René Girard
La religion doit être historicisée : elle fait des hommes des êtres qui restent toujours violents mais qui deviennent plus subtils, moins spectaculaires, moins proches de la bête et des formes sacrificielles comme le sacrifice humain. Il se pourrait qu’il y ait un christianisme historique qui soit une nécessité historique. Après deux mille ans de christianisme historique, il semble que nous soyons aujourd’hui à une période charnière – soit qui ouvre sur l’Apocalypse directement, soit qui nous prépare une période de compréhension plus grande et de trahison plus subtile du christianisme. (…) Oui, pour moi l’Apocalypse c’est la fin de l’histoire. (…) L’Apocalypse, c’est l’arrivée du royaume de Dieu. Mais on peut penser qu’il y a des « petites ou des demi-apocalypses » ou des crises c’est-à-dire des périodes intermédiaires… (…) Il faut prendre très au sérieux les textes apocalyptiques. Nous ne savons pas si nous sommes à la fin du monde, mais nous sommes dans une période-charnière. Je pense que toutes les grandes expériences chrétiennes des époques-charnières sont inévitablement apocalyptiques dans la mesure où elles rencontrent l’incompréhension des hommes et le fait que cette incompréhension d’une certaine manière est toujours fatale. Je dis qu’elle est toujours fatale, mais en même temps elle ne l’est jamais parce que Dieu reprend toujours les choses et toujours pardonne. (…) Je me souviens d’un journal dans lequel il y avait deux articles juxtaposés. Le premier se moquait de l’Apocalypse d’une certaine façon ; le second était aussi apocalyptique que possible. Le contact de ces deux textes qui se faisaient face et qui dans le même temps se donnaient comme n’ayant aucun rapport l’un avec l’autre avait quelque chose de fascinant. (…) Nous sommes encore proches de cette période des grandes expositions internationales qui regardait de façon utopique la mondialisation comme l’Exposition de Londres – la « Fameuse » dont parle Dostoievski, les expositions de Paris… Plus on s’approche de la vraie mondialisation plus on s’aperçoit que la non-différence ce n’est pas du tout la paix parmi les hommes mais ce peut être la rivalité mimétique la plus extravagante. On était encore dans cette idée selon laquelle on vivait dans le même monde : on n’est plus séparé par rien de ce qui séparait les hommes auparavant donc c’est forcément le paradis. Ce que voulait la Révolution française. Après la nuit du 4 août, plus de problème ! (…) L’Amérique connaît bien cela. Il est évident que la non-différence de classe ne tarit pas les rivalités mais les excite à mort avec tout ce qu’il y a de bon et de mortel dans ce phénomène. (…)  il n’y a plus de sacrifice et donc les hommes sont exposés à la violence et il n’y a plus que deux choix : soit on préfère subir la violence soit on cherche à l’infliger à autrui. Le Christ veut nous dire entre autres choses : il vaut mieux subir la violence (c’est le sacrifice de soi) que de l’infliger à autrui. Si Dieu refuse le sacrifice, il est évident qu’il nous demande la non-violence qui empêchera l’Apocalypse. René Girard
L’avenir apocalyptique n’est pas quelque chose d’historique. C’est quelque chose de religieux sans lequel on ne peut pas vivre. C’est ce que les chrétiens actuels ne comprennent pas. Parce que, dans l’avenir apocalyptique, le bien et le mal sont mélangés de telle manière que d’un point de vue chrétien, on ne peut pas parler de pessimisme. Cela est tout simplement contenu dans le christianisme. Pour le comprendre, lisons la Première Lettre aux Corinthiens : si les puissants, c’est-à-dire les puissants de ce monde, avaient su ce qui arriverait, ils n’auraient jamais crucifié le Seigneur de la Gloire – car cela aurait signifié leur destruction (cf. 1 Co 2, 8). Car lorsque l’on crucifie le Seigneur de la Gloire, la magie des pouvoirs, qui est le mécanisme du bouc émissaire, est révélée. Montrer la crucifixion comme l’assassinat d’une victime innocente, c’est montrer le meurtre collectif et révéler ce phénomène mimétique. C’est finalement cette vérité qui entraîne les puissants à leur perte. Et toute l’histoire est simplement la réalisation de cette prophétie. Ceux qui prétendent que le christianisme est anarchiste ont un peu raison. Les chrétiens détruisent les pouvoirs de ce monde, car ils détruisent la légitimité de toute violence. Pour l’État, le christianisme est une force anarchique, surtout lorsqu’il retrouve sa puissance spirituelle d’autrefois. Ainsi, le conflit avec les musulmans est bien plus considérable que ce que croient les fondamentalistes. Les fondamentalistes pensent que l’apocalypse est la violence de Dieu. Alors qu’en lisant les chapitres apocalyptiques, on voit que l’apocalypse est la violence de l’homme déchaînée par la destruction des puissants, c’est-à-dire des États, comme nous le voyons en ce moment. Lorsque les puissances seront vaincues, la violence deviendra telle que la fin arrivera. Si l’on suit les chapitres apocalyptiques, c’est bien cela qu’ils annoncent. Il y aura des révolutions et des guerres. Les États s’élèveront contre les États, les nations contre les nations. Cela reflète la violence. Voilà le pouvoir anarchique que nous avons maintenant, avec des forces capables de détruire le monde entier. On peut donc voir l’apparition de l’apocalypse d’une manière qui n’était pas possible auparavant. Au début du christianisme, l’apocalypse semblait magique : le monde va finir ; nous irons tous au paradis, et tout sera sauvé ! L’erreur des premiers chrétiens était de croire que l’apocalypse était toute proche. Les premiers textes chronologiques chrétiens sont les Lettres aux Thessaloniciens qui répondent à la question : pourquoi le monde continue-t-il alors qu’on en a annoncé la fin ? Paul dit qu’il y a quelque chose qui retient les pouvoirs, le katochos (quelque chose qui retient). L’interprétation la plus commune est qu’il s’agit de l’Empire romain. La crucifixion n’a pas encore dissout tout l’ordre. Si l’on consulte les chapitres du christianisme, ils décrivent quelque chose comme le chaos actuel, qui n’était pas présent au début de l’Empire romain. (..) le monde actuel (…) confirme vraiment toutes les prédictions. On voit l’apocalypse s’étendre tous les jours : le pouvoir de détruire le monde, les armes de plus en plus fatales, et autres menaces qui se multiplient sous nos yeux. Nous croyons toujours que tous ces problèmes sont gérables par l’homme mais, dans une vision d’ensemble, c’est impossible. Ils ont une valeur quasi surnaturelle. Comme les fondamentalistes, beaucoup de lecteurs de l’Évangile reconnaissent la situation mondiale dans ces chapitres apocalyptiques. Mais les fondamentalistes croient que la violence ultime vient de Dieu, alors ils ne voient pas vraiment le rapport avec la situation actuelle – le rapport religieux. Cela montre combien ils sont peu chrétiens. La violence humaine, qui menace aujourd’hui le monde, est plus conforme au thème apocalyptique de l’Évangile qu’ils ne le pensent. René Girard
Dans le monde actuel, beaucoup de choses correspondent au climat des grands textes apocalyptiques du Nouveau Testament, en particulier Matthieu et Marc. Il y est fait mention du phénomène principal du mimétisme, qui est la lutte des doubles : ville contre ville, province contre province… Ce sont toujours les doubles qui se battent et leur bagarre n’a aucun sens puisque c’est la même chose des deux côtés. Aujourd’hui, il ne semble rien de plus urgent à la Chine que de rattraper les Etats-Unis sur tous les plans et en particulier sur le nombre d’autoroutes ou la production de véhicules automobiles. Vous imaginez les conséquences ? Il est bien évident que la production économique et les performances des entreprises mettent en jeu la rivalité. Clausewitz le disait déjà en 1820 : il n’y a rien qui ressemble plus à la guerre que le commerce. Souvent les chrétiens s’arrêtent à une interprétation eschatologique des textes de l’Apocalypse. Il s’agirait d’un événement supranaturel… Rien n’est plus faux ! Au chapitre 16 de Matthieu, les juifs demandent à Jésus un signe. « Mais, vous savez les lire, les signes, leur répond-t-il. Vous regardez la couleur du ciel le soir et vous savez deviner le temps qu’il fera demain. » Autrement dit, l’Apocalypse, c’est naturel. L’Apocalypse n’est pas du tout divine. Ce sont les hommes qui font l’Apocalypse. René Girard
Bailie livre une sorte d’Apocalypse — « révélation » où il ne s’agit pas tant de montrer la violence que de la dire — de la dire dans des termes irrécusables alors que, précisément, toute l’histoire de l’humanité pourrait se résumer en cette tentative pour taire la violence, pour nier qu’elle fonde toute société, et qu’elle doit être dépassée. Choix de taire ou de dire, choix de sacraliser ou de démasquer pour toujours. Un livre qui (…) révèle avec tant de clarté et de lucidité les « choses cachées » depuis la fondation du monde : il nous révèle dans un aujourd’hui pressant des choix qui nous concernent. Il traque le sens qui se cache au coeur des monstres sacrés ( ! ) de la littérature ou des faits retentissants de notre actualité. Impossible d’échapper à l’interpellation, de ne pas re-considérer toutes ces « choses » et surtout ce sujet — la violence — qui fait tellement partie de notre quotidien qu’on en oublie son vrai visage. (…) un cheminement révélateur pour parcourir des sentiers que nous empruntons : la littérature, la philosophie, la politique, la culture, l’information, bref, tout ce qui fait de nous des membres de cette humanité convoquée pour une lecture violente de notre heure. (…) La Violence révélée propose une analyse de la crise anthropologique, culturelle et historique que traversent les sociétés contemporaires, à la lumière de l’oeuvre de René Girard. Dans La Violence et le sacré, puis Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde, Girard avait montré le rôle essentiel de la violence pour les sociétés : un meurtre fondateur est à l’origine de la société. Girard met en évidence la logique victimaire : pour assurer la cohésion, le groupe désigne un bouc émissaire et défoule la violence sur lui — violence qui devient sacrée puisque ritualisée. Le meurtre et le sacrifice rituel renforcent les liens de la communauté qui échappe ainsi au chaos de la violence désorganisée. La violence sur le bouc émissaire a donc une fonction cathartique. Elle reste de la violence mais elle est dépouillée de son effet anarchique et destructeur. Les mythes garderaient mémoire de ce sacrifice mais tairaient la violence faite à la victime en la rationalisant : « le mythe ferme la bouche et les yeux sur certains événements ». Voilà donc le grand « mensonge », relayé par les rituels, des religions archaïques qui sont incapables de découvrir le mécanisme victimaire qui les fonde. Un autre concept girardien fondamental est celui du « désir mimétique ». Les passions (jalousie, envie, convoitise, ressentiment, rivalité, mépris, haine) qui conduisent à des comportements violents trouvent leur origine dans ce désir mimétique. Dans l’acceptation girardienne du terme, le désir représente l’influence que les autres ont sur nous ; le désir, « c’est ce qui arrive aux rapports humains quand il n’y a plus de résolution victimaire, et donc plus de polarisations vraiment unanimes, susceptibles de déclencher cette résolution » [Girard]. La « mimesis », souvent traduite par « imitation » (ce qui est inexact, ainsi que le souligne Bailie, car ce terme comporte une dimension volontaire alors que ce n’est pas conscient) est cette « propension qu’a l’être humain à succomber à l’influence des désirs positifs, négatifs, flatteurs ou accusateurs exprimés par les autres » . Personne n’échappe à cette logique. D’où l’effet de foule qui exacerbe les comportements mimétiques. La rivalité qui naît de la mimesis — on désire ce que désire l’autre — oblige à résoudre le conflit en le déplaçant sur une victime. Or le Christianisme démonte le schéma sacrificiel en révélant l’innocence de la victime : la Croix révèle et dénonce la violence sacrificielle. Elle met à nu l’unanimité fallacieuse de la foule en proie au mimétisme collectif et la violence contagieuse : la foule, elle, « ne sait pas ce qu’elle fait », pour reprendre les paroles du Christ en croix. Jésus propose une voie hors de la logique des représailles et de la vengeance en invitant à « tendre l’autre joue ». La non-violence révèle à la violence sa propre nature et la désarme. A partir des concepts girardiens, Bailie examine les conséquences de la révélation évangélique pour la société humaine. Il entreprend l’exploration systématique de l’histoire de l’humanité et sa tentative pour sortir du schéma de la violence sacrificielle. Son hypothèse centrale est que « la compassion d’origine biblique pour les victimes paralyse le système du bouc émissaire dont l’humanité dépend depuis toujours pour sa cohésion sociale. Mais la propension des êtres humains à résoudre les tensions sociales aux dépens d’une victime de substitution reste ». Ce que les Ecritures « doivent accomplir, c’est une conversion du coeur de l’homme qui permettra à l’humanité de se passer de la violence organisée sans pour autant s’abîmer dans la violence incontrôlée, dans la violence de l’Apocalypse » [p. 31]. Or qu’en est-il ? La Bible, en proposant la compassion pour les victimes, a permis « l’éclosion de la première contre-culture du monde, que nous appelons la ‘‘culture occidentale’’ ». La Bible, notre « cahier de souvenirs », est une chronique des efforts accomplis par l’homme pour renoncer aux formes primitives de religion et aux rituels sacrificiels, et s’extirper des structures de la violence sacrée. Ainsi, avec Abraham, le sacrifice humain est abandonné ; les commandements de Moise indiquent la voie hors du désir mimétique (« tu ne convoiteras pas » car c’est la convoitise qui mène à la rivalité et la violence). Baillie s’attarde sur le récit biblique car pour lui il contient une valeur anthropologique essentielle ; il permet en effet d’observer « les structures et la dynamique de la vie culturelle et religieuse conventionnelles de l’humanité et d’être témoin de la façon dont ces structures s’effondrent sous le poids d’une révélation incompatible avec elles ». Peut-être peut-on parler de prototype de l’avènement de l’humanité à elle-même. Dans la Bible, la révélation est en cours et l’on peut mesurer les conséquences déstabilisantes sur le peuple de cette révélation. Pas un hasard, donc, que le Christ se soit incarné dans la tradition hébraïque déjà aux prises avec la révélation. (…) Les Evangiles, donc, ont rendu moralement et culturellement problématique le recours au système sacrificiel. Toutefois, « les passions mimétiques qu’il pouvait jadis contrôler ont pris de l’ampleur, jusqu’à provoquer la crise sociale, psychologique et spirituelle que nous connaissons ». L’Occident, en effet, est sorti du schéma de la violence sacrificielle, mais son impossibilité à embrasser le modèle proposé par l’Evangile a pour conséquence la descente dans la violence première. La distinction morale entre « bonne violence » et « mauvaise violence » n’est plus « un impératif catégorique ». Puisque nous vivons dans un monde où la violence a perdu son prestige moral et religieux, « La violence a gagné en puissance destructrice »: elle a perdu «  son pouvoir de fonder la culture et de la restaurer ». L’effondrement de la distinction cruciale entre violence officielle et violence officieuse se révèle par exemple dans le fait que les policiers ne sont plus respectés (Bailie oppose cela à la scène finale de Lord of the Flies où les enfants sont arrêtés dans leur frénésie de violence par la simple vue de l’officier de marine : son « autorité morale » bloque le chaos). Donc, puisque le violence a perdu son aura religieuse, « la fascination que suscite sa contemplation n’entraîne plus le respect pour l’institution sacrée qui en est à l’origine. Au contraire, le spectacle de la violence servira de modèle à des violences du même ordre ». De la violence thérapeutique, on risque fort de passer à une violence gratuite, voire ludique. A l’instar du Christ qui utilise les paraboles pour « révéler les choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde  », Bailie utilise des citations tirées de la presse contemporaine « de façon à montrer quelles formes prend la révélation de la violence dans le monde d’aujourd’hui ». Bailie note plusieurs résurgences du « religieux », dans le culte du nationalisme par exemple. Le nationalisme fournit en effet une forme de transcendance sociale qui renforce le sentiment communautaire, et devient un « ersatz de sacré » qui conduit encore à la violence sur des « boucs émissaires ». Il note aussi comment la rhétorique de la guerre légitime (mythifie même) la violence. Ainsi ce général salvadorien chargé du massacre de femmes et d’enfants en 1981 s’adresse à son armée en ces termes : « Ce que nous avons fait hier et le jour d’avant, ça s’appelle la guerre. C’est ça, la guerre […] Que les choses soient claires, il est hors de question qu’on vous entende gémir et vous lamenter sur ce que vous avez fait […] c’est la guerre, messieurs. C’est ça la guerre ». La philosophie même, pour Bailie, participerait du sacré mais n’en serait peut-être que le simulacre car « elle a érigé des formes de rationalité dont la tâche a été d’empêcher la prise de conscience de la vérité ». D’ou son impasse en tant que vraie transcendance. Dans le combat entre les forces du sacrificiel et de la violence collective, et la « déconstruction à laquelle se livre l’Evangile », qu’en est-il de l’autre protagoniste du combat, celui qui représente la révélation évangélique ? Sa puissance est d’un autre ordre. Bailie la voit à l’oeuvre, par exemple, dans deux moments, le chant d’une victime sur la montagne de la Cruz, et la prière d’un Juif à Buchenwald : « Paix à tous les hommes de mauvaise volonté  ! Qu’il y ait une fin à la vengeance, à l’exigence de châtiments et de représailles ». Et Bailie de conclure : « si nous ne trouvons le repos auprès de Dieu, c’est notre propre inquiétude qui nous servira de transcendance ». Le texte de l’Apocalypse « révèle » ce que les hommes risquent de faire « s’ils continuent, dans un monde désacralisé et sans garde-fou sacrificiel, de tenir pour rien la mise en garde évangélique contre la vengeance ». La seule façon d’éviter que l’Apocalypse ne devienne une réalité est d’accueillir l’impératif évangélique de l’amour. Pour Girard, « l’humanité est confrontée à un choix […] explicite et même parfaitement scientifique entre la destruction totale et le renoncement total à la violence ». A sa suite, Bailie identifie deux alternatives : soit un retour à la violence sacrée dans un contexte religieux non biblique, soit une révolution anthropologique que la révélation chrétienne a générée. Il s’agira donc d’arriver à résister au mal pour en empêcher la propagation : « la seule façon d’éviter la transcendance fictive de la violence et de la contagion sociale est une autre forme de transcendance religieuse au centre de laquelle se trouve un dieu qui a choisi de subir la violence plutôt que de l’exercer ». Marie Liénard
La concurrence entre États a pris une forme nouvelle et nous devons être prêts à y faire face. Les menaces auxquelles nous sommes confrontés ne sont pas à des milliers de kilomètres mais sont maintenant aux portes de l’Europe. Nous avons vu comment la guerre informatique peut être menée sur le champ de bataille et perturber la vie des gens. Au Royaume-Uni, nous ne sommes pas à l’abri de cela. Général Nick Carter
La menace du terrorisme international (…) s’est diversifiée et est plus dispersée, et nous voyons le phénomène que Daech représente émergeant dans d’autres parties du monde. Et bien sûr, nous avons appris que n’importe qui peut devenir un terroriste ces jours-ci – simplement en louant un véhicule ou à coups de machette. (…) Nous vivons aujourd’hui dans un monde beaucoup plus compétitif et multipolaire, et la nature complexe du système mondial a créé les conditions dans lesquelles les États sont en mesure d’affronter la concurrence de nouvelles façons, en deçà de ce que nous aurions défini comme une « guerre » dans le passé. Mais, ce qui est inquiétant, c’est que tous ces États sont passés maîtres dans l’exploitation des zones d’ombre entre la paix et la guerre. Ce qui constitue une arme dans cette zone d’ombre ne fait pas nécessairement “boum”. L’énergie, l’argent sous forme de pots-de-vin, les pratiques commerciales malhonnêtes, les cyberattaques, les assassinats, les fausses nouvelles, la propagande et même l’intimidation militaire sont autant d’exemples d’armes utilisées pour tirer profit de cette ère de « concurrence constante. L’architecture internationale fondée sur des règles qui a assuré notre stabilité et notre prospérité depuis 1945 est donc menacée. Il ne s’agit pas d’une crise, ni d’une série de crises auxquelles nous sommes confrontés. C’est un défi stratégique. Et cela nécessite une réponse stratégique. Gen Nick Carter (chef d’état-major des forces britanniques)
L’islamisme, c’est le FN du musulman déclassé. Hakim El Karoui
J’étais outré lors des débats par les rires. Moi, ça ne me fait pas rire. Je ne suis pas ici au spectacle. Bendaoud a réussi à transformer le tribunal en théâtre de boulevard. Ces énergumènes n’ont ni foi ni loi. Victime des attentats du Bataclan
Alors d’abord, une femme ayant été violée considère qu’elle a été souillée, à mon avis elle intériorise le discours des autres autour d’elle. (…) Je pense que ça c’est un résidu d’archaïsme (…) Ça c’est mon grand problème, je regrette beaucoup de ne pas avoir été violée. Parce que je pourrais témoigner que du viol on s’en sort. Mais par contre ça m’est arrivé d’avoir des rapports sexuels avec des gens qui ne me plaisaient pas spécialement. Parce que voilà c’était plus facile de céder à la personne ou parce que c’était une partouze et qu’on était en groupe. Catherine Millet
Les hébergements proposés ne le sont que pour quelques jours et on ballotte les gens d’un bout à l’autre de l’Ile-de-France. Beaucoup ne veulent pas quitter leur bout de trottoir de peur de perdre leur place et le peu d’affaires qu’ils conservent, mais aussi de couper les liens qu’ils ont pu nouer avec les riverains, les commerçants. Ils ont besoin de stabilité et on ne la leur offre pas. Nicolas Clément (collectif Les morts de la rue, bénévole au Secours catholique)
Pour ces jeunes gens, la rue, c’est d’abord le choix d’être en marge, souvent en groupe. Et même quand ce choix n’en est plus un, il reste le désir de ne pas être contraint par des horaires, la collectivité, la promiscuité ou la nécessité de quitter ses animaux, comme c’est le cas dans les centres d’accueil. Marie-Laurence Sassine
Trois Capverdiens ont été interpellés, dimanche soir à Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis), pour violences volontaires, acte de barbarie et anthropophagie ayant entraîné une mutilation permanente. Vers 18 heures, allée Hector-Berlioz, quatre hommes se disputent pour une histoire d’argent. Trois hommes se liguent pour en frapper un quatrième. Ils le mordent violemment à la lèvre inférieure et à l’oreille gauche avant d’ingérer les morceaux de chair arrachés. La victime se défend en portant des coups à ses agresseurs. Elle parvient à blesser l’un d’eux à une cheville. La police et les secours sont finalement intervenus. Les trois agresseurs ont été arrêtés. Les deux blessés, victime et agresseur, ont été transportés à l’hôpital de Montfermeil (Seine Saint-Denis). Le commissariat est chargé de l’enquête. Le Parisien
This election season, the candidacy of Donald Trump has provoked a crise de conscience in the ranks of conservatives. But whatever our sympathy for those who banded together to oppose Trump in the January 21 issue of The National Review or for the politicians who have brawled with him on stage, and of whatever use such gestures are politically, they surely have had little value in clarifying the crisis of conservatism that has led to Trump’s rise. Instead of focusing on Trump’s business practices and on the ignorance of his supporters, conservatives might do well to consider the possibility that his success reflects an objective political reality: the relative uselessness in a victimocracy of taking “conservative positions,” when the more urgent task is to relegitimize the liberal-conservative dialogue through which policy has traditionally gotten made in a democratic republic. In a word, restoring the art of the deal.  (…) And it goes unmentioned on the right as well as the left that the result of the latter’s promotion of minority concerns not as group interests but in the guise of victimary social justice is that, while its bureaucratic saviors enrich themselves, the minority community has experienced previously unknown levels of social disintegration, with results clearly visible in Detroit, Baltimore, Washington DC, Saint Louis…. There are precious few fora to the left of the ominous “alt-right” where such concerns can be aired. As I pointed out in Chronicle 508, Trump embodies far more than he articulates resistance to the victimocracy. Yet this is indeed an issue concerning which, at this historical moment, embodiment is more important than articulation. Although Trump rarely denounces PC by name, his demeanor loudly proclaims his rejection of White Guilt—unlike Bernie, he has no trouble telling Black Lives Matter protesters that “all lives matter.” Trump’s unexpected staying power—leading to his “presidential” performance at the March 10 debate—reflects to my mind far more than attractiveness to the benighted bearers of poor-white resentment. On the contrary, Trump’s continual emphasis on “deals” suggests a sharp intuition of how to adapt conservatism to the current victimocratic context. Before we can exercise Buckley’s Burkean resistance to unnecessary change, we have to return to the left-right dichotomy of the Assemblée Nationale. What is required at this moment is not conservatism as usual, but second-degree conservatism, metaconservatism. The contempt of the voting public for Washington’s inability to “get anything done” reflects the fact that under the current administration, the shift of Democratic politics from liberalism to progressivism, from focusing on the concerns of the working class to those of ascriptive minorities, involves a fundamental change from defending interests to seeking justice. The first can be negotiated on a more or less level footing with opposing interests; the second can only be resisted by unregenerate evil-doers, which is more or less the way the current president and his potential Democratic successors characterize the representatives of the other party. In this noxious context, the (meta)conservative position is not to deny victimary claims, but tonormalize them: to turn them back into assertions of interests to be negotiated as political questions were in days of old—in a word, into issues that can be settled by making a deal. Victimary activism should not in itself guarantee representative status for its leaders on campuses and elsewhere. But when university officials find it appropriate to hold discussions with representatives of the black or gay or Muslim student body, by making it clear that they view the latter as interest groups rather than as communities of the oppressed, they can avoid putting themselves, as such officials all too often do, in a situation of moral inferiority. There is no reason not to allow a group to express what it considers its legitimate interests; there is every reason not to consider the expression of these interests a priori as “demands for justice.” In their preoccupation with denouncing Trump as a false conservative, the guardians of the flame forget that at a time when the victimary left seeks to portray the normal order of things in American society as founded on privilege and discrimination, Trump’s supporters turn to him as a figure of hope because his mind, unclouded by White Guilt, views the political battlefield, foreign as well as domestic, as a place for making deals. This used to be called Realpolitik. All too often, to read today’s mainstream press, let alone more extreme publications such as the new New Republic or Salon, is to be subjected to the verbal equivalent of race war. The political discourse of Sanders and Clinton is deeply impregnated with this same rhetoric. Whether or not Trump is its nominee, I hope the Republican party does not need another general election loss to teach it that to articulate and defend a conservative position today, it is first necessary to reject the victimary moralization of politics and return to the liberal-democratic continuum within which conflicts can be mediated. At that point, regardless of the party in power, liberals and conservatives can argue their points, and then come together and make a deal. Eric Gans
One of Christianity’s contributions to civilization has been a startling compassion for the victim. As René Girard has pointed out, from the beginning of time primitive peoples focused their animus on the outsider, the oddball, or the eccentric in their midst. It was the disabled, the alien, the poor, and the weak who most often took the blame for society’s ills. The crowd turned on them as the origin and cause of their problems. They became the scapegoat. As they were ostracized, excluded, persecuted, and killed, the source of the tribe’s problems was eliminated. Consequently, the tribe felt cleansed. The violence unleashed a feeling of power and freedom. As the evil was purged, thrill surged. All was well. Life could continue and the tribe could prosper. Until, of course, another crisis developed—and at that point another victim would be needed. Because of the regularity of the crises, religions developed the ritual of regular sacrifice. Victims were found, throats were cut, blood was shed, and if animals were substituted, it did not mitigate the truth that the society still ran on the blood-fuel of the victim. This may seem terribly primitive in a modern age, until one see videos of ISIS soldiers ritually beheading their victims. Modern Americans may think they are far removed from the barbarities of the Aztecs until they view a video of a wine-sipping high priestess of the cult of abortion describing how she dismembers children and harvests their organs. Is this so far removed from the haruspication of the ancients? When crazed and enraged young men—be they Islamist or racist extremists—open fire on their innocent victims, are we so far from Girard’s theory of the scapegoat? Girard points out that Jesus of Nazareth turned the model on its head. He does so first by valuing the victim. The poor, the outcast, the crippled, diseased, blind, and demon-possessed are his prizes. He treasures children and magnifies women. He turns the sacrificial system upside down not only by valuing the victim, but by becoming the victim. He accepts the victim role and willingly becomes “the Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world. He defeats the sacrificial system by embracing it. He breaks it from the inside. For the last two thousand years, the world has been learning that the victim is the hero. The problem is that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Being a victim is fashionable—ironically, becoming bullied is now the best way to bully others. It works like this: If you want to move forward in the world, make progress for you and your tribe, further your ambitions, justify your immoral actions, grab a bigger piece of the pie, and elbow others away from the trough, simply present yourself and your tribe as victims. Once you successfully portray yourselves as a poor, outcast, persecuted, minority group you instantly gain the sympathy of all. The first key to success in this campaign is to portray your victim condition as something over which you have no control. This is clear when the victim group is a racial or ethnic minority. The same sense of unjust destiny has to be produced for other groups. So the feminists have exploited the technique to portray all women as downtrodden. Homosexual campaigners have likewise insisted that their condition is something they were born with, and now anyone with a sexual proclivity that is other than heterosexual can be portrayed as a misunderstood and persecuted victim. People suffering from any kind of illness, disability, or misfortune are victims of some sort of injustice, cruelty, or neglect. Those who suffer from poverty, addiction, broken families, psychological problems, emotional distress, or just plain unhappiness are victims too. The victim mentality is linked with an entitlement culture: Someone must be culpable for the unhappiness of the victims because someone should be responsible for making them happy. The second step in effective victim-campaigning is to accumulate and disseminate the propaganda. Academic papers must be written. Sociological studies must be undertaken. Groundbreaking books must be published. Stories of the particular minority group being persecuted must make front page news. The whimpers of the persecuted must rise to heaven. The shock at their victimhood must be expressed as “sadness,” “concern,” and “regret.” If one is not sympathetic, if one is reticent to pour balm in the victim’s wounds, then the bullying begins. You must recognize the victim. You must be sympathetic. You must be tolerant. You must join the campaign to help the victim, solve their problems, and make them happy at last. If you do not, you are not only hard-hearted, you are part of the problem. The third stage of the campaign is the release of anger. Once the victim is identified and the information is widespread, the rage can be released. The anger must be expressed because, without knowing it, a new cycle of tribal scapegoating has developed. As the tribe gathers around the victim in sympathy, they must find the culprit, and their search for the culprit (whether he is guilty or not does not matter) sends them on the same frantic scapegoating quest that created their victim in the first place. The supposed persecutors have now become the persecuted. The unhappiness of the tribe (which presents itself as sympathy for the victim) is now focused on violence against the new victim—and so the cycle of sin and irrational rage continues. Observe American society today. Everywhere you look we are apportioning blame and seeking scapegoats. The blacks blame the whites. The whites blame the blacks. The homosexuals blame the Christians. The Christians blame the homosexuals. The Republicans blame the immigrants. The immigrants blame the residents. The workers blame the wealthy. The wealthy blame the workers. Why has our society descended into the violence of scapegoating and blame? Because it is inevitable. The victimhood cycle will continue through cycles of revenge and further victimhood unless there is an outlet. Where is there an end to the cycle of violence and victimization? There is only one solution: Find a constant victim—one who is the eternal victim and remains the victim. How is this done? It is done within the religion of a society. If a society has a religion of sacrifice the ritual victim becomes the focus of the tribal animus. The ritual victim becomes the constant scapegoat. The ritual victim becomes the psychological safety valve. Catholicism, of course, is the only religion in the modern world which, astoundingly, still claims to be offering a sacrifice. This is why the ancient celebration of the Mass is still so vital in the modern world—because there the one, full, final sacrifice is re-presented for the salvation of the world. The problem is that we are not a sacrificial and a sacramental people. We do not understand what the liturgy calls “these holy mysteries.” Most Catholics in America are embarrassed by the language of sacrifice. We are a blandly utilitarian race–shallow, and lacking in imagination. We are uncomfortable with blood sacrifices and cannot understand the rituals of redemption. American Catholics prefer their liturgy to be a banal family meal where they sing happy songs about making the world a better place. It is no longer a sacred sacrifice or a holy mystery, but a cross between a campfire and a pep rally. Dwight Longenecker
In recent years, a number of Christian writers, inspired by French critic and philosopher René Girard, have stressed with new urgency how the Bible shows the way in which groups and societies work out their fears and frustrations by finding scapegoats. Because we compete for the same goods and comforts, we need to sustain our competition with our rivals and maintain distance from them. But to stop this getting completely out of hand, we unite with our rivals to identify the cause of the scarcity that makes us compete against each other, with some outside presence we can all agree to hate. Just as the BBC drama suggested, Jesus’s context was one where Judaeans and Romans equally lived in fear of each other, dreading an explosion of violence that would be destructive for everyone. Their leaders sweated over compromises and strategies to avoid this. In such a context, Jesus offered a perfect excuse for them to join in a liberating act of bloodletting which eliminated a single common enemy. The spiral of fear was halted briefly. Frequently in this mechanism, the victim has little or nothing to do with the initial conflict itself. But in the case of Jesus, the victim is not only wholly innocent; he is the embodiment of a grace or mercy that could in principle change the whole frame of reference that traps people in rivalry and mutual terror. Thus the scapegoat mechanism is exposed for what it is – an arbitrary release of tension that makes no difference to the underlying problem. And if you want to address the underlying problem, perhaps you should start listening to the victim. (…) But what if the Christian story (…) proposed a way of understanding some of the most pervasive and dangerous mechanisms in human relationships, interpersonal or international? It doesn’t take much imagination to see how internally divided societies find brief moments of unity when they have successfully identified some other group as the real source of their own insecurity. Look at any major conflict in the world at the moment and the mechanism is clear enough. Repressive and insecure states in the Islamic world demonise a mythical Christian ‘West’, while culturally confused, sceptical and frightened European and North American societies cling to the picture of a global militant Islam, determined to ‘destroy our way of life’. Two fragile and intensely quarrelsome societies in the Holy Land find some security in at least knowing that there is an enemy they can all hate on the other side of the wall. A crumbling dictatorship in Zimbabwe steps up the rhetoric of loathing and resentment towards the colonial powers that create the poverty and the shortages. Nearer home, disadvantaged communities make sense of their situation by blaming migrants and asylum seekers. It’s not that the fears involved are unreal. Global terrorism is a threat, Israel and Palestine really do menace each other’s existence, colonialism isn’t an innocent legacy and so on. But the exploitation of these real fears to provide a ‘solution’ to more basic problems both breeds collective untruthfulness and makes any rational handling of such external fears infinitely harder. It breeds a mentality that always seeks to mirror the one who is threatening you. It generates the ‘zero-sum game’ that condemns so many negotiations to futility. Worst of all, it gives a fragile society an interest in keeping some sort of external conflict going. Consciously or not, political leaders in a variety of contexts are reluctant to let go of an enemy who has become indispensable to their own stability. The claim of Christianity is both that this mechanism is universal, ingrained in how we learn to behave as human beings and that it is capable of changing. It changes when we recognise our complicity and when we listen to what the unique divine scapegoat says: that you do not have to see the rival as a threat to everything, that it is possible to believe that certain values will survive whatever happens in this earth’s history because they reflect the reality of an eternal God; that letting go of the obsessions of memory and resentment is release, not betrayal. (…) Yes, the Christian church has been guilty of colossal evasion, colluding in just those scapegoating mechanisms it exists to overcome. Its shameful record of anti-semitism is the most dramatic reversal of the genuine story it has to tell, the most dramatic example of claiming that the killing of Jesus was indeed about them and not us. Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury)
In Girard’s analysis, the Cult of Victimhood is, though unacknowledged by its practicioners, literally a Christian heresy (or more accurately, a Judeo-Christian heresy, if one can say that).  For Girard, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals to the world the mechanism of scapegoating–a victim is selected from among the people and sacrificed in order to discharge our rivalrous, imitative desires, and that sacrifice becomes both ritualized and camouflaged so that we are unaware of our participation.  Jesus, finishing a process begun at the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures, comes to strip off the veil over our eyes, to reveal to us the truth.  Where once we held fast to the idea that the victim really deserved to be sacrificed, we now understand that the victim is innocent. Girard insists that this bell cannot be un-rung, and society can never go back to the way it was prior to Easter Sunday.  But that does not mean that scapegoating is ended forever.  It simply means that we as a people cannot rely on the simplistic old versions of the sacred to sustain the Big Lie.  Instead, if we want to avoid the hard work of imitating Jesus, forgiving our enemies, and learning to live in peace, we have to construct a new version of the Big Lie.  This new narrative has to incorporate on some level what Alison calls the « Intelligence of the Victim » that is provided by Jesus’s life, death and resurrection (since that is now a permanent part of human understanding), while still finding a way to create space for sacrificing victims. One way to do this, as Jean-Pierre Dupuy has explored in Marks of the Sacred and Economy and the Future, is to set up supposedly « neutral, » technocratic systems to, in essence, « do the dirty work for you » while keeping a clean conscience (« I’m not punishing the poor, it’s just ‘market forces’ that are leaving people destitute » etc.).  But the other way is through the Cult of Victimhood.  The Cult of Victimhood begins by appropriating the Intelligence of the Victim, recognizing the truth that discrete groups are often persecuted unjustly by virtue of being a discrete group, and not as a result of anything for which they are responsible.  And the Cult of Victimhood insists, correctly, that persecution of the particular discrete group at issue is unjust and should be stopped.  So far, so good.  But then the Cult of Victimhood turns being a victim into a status, defining itself in terms of the marker (either directly or indirectly) of having been through the experience of being a victim. The Cult of Victimhood is thus an inversion of the normal, pre-Christian process of the Sacred–rather than the majority forming an identity over and against some identifiable minority victim or group of victims through the process of victimization, the minority forms an identity over and against the majority by virtue of being victimized, either presently or at some point in the past. This creates three serious problems.  First, the identity of the group is tied up in the status of being a victim.  Thus, perversely, there is an incentive for the minority to seek to be victimized, because it supports and reinforces the group identity, leading to counter-productive co-dependent relationships with the persecuting majority.  Or, at a minimum, the minority needs to perceive itself as being victimized in order to shore up its self-identity, leading to incentives to find persecution behind every rock or tree, even when it is not there. The second problem is that the Cult of Victimhood creates a tempting platform to seize the moral high ground.  In light of the message of Jesus, we have an obligation to have special moral concern for victims as victims.  But it does not follow that those that are victimized have some special moral qualities or status by virtue of being victims.  Being a victim does not necessarily make you wiser, or more just, or better able to discern moral realities in the world around you, because being a victim is ultimately and fundamentally arbitrary.  As the great Ta-Nehisi Coates says, « [w]e, too, are capable of fictions because, as it turns out, oppression confers no wisdom and is rarely self-improving. »  But the Cult of Victimhood seizes on being a victim to provide a kind of imputed righteousness.  Once again, this is an inversion for the old vision of the Sacred–whereas before the society explained that victims became victims through some narrative of moral failure, now the victims understand their victim status through a narrative of their own moral superiority. In doing so, it sets up a purely binary, Manichean distortion of the Gospel message, dividing the world into fixed categories of victims who are righteous and victimizers who are unrighteous.  This binary system acts as a kind of moral shield for their own behavior.  The logical chain goes like this:  because I am a victim, I am righteous; because I am righteous, those that challenge or critique that righteousness (especially if the critique comes from those that victimized me) are per se wrong and their critique is per se illegitimate; thus, I can stay in a comfortable bubble of my own imputed righteousness.  Because I am an innocent victim, I don’t have to take seriously any critiques of my own actions. This in turn leads to the third problem.  Because of the power of feature #1 and especially feature #2 of the Cult of Victimhood, everyone wants to get in on the action.  And, given both the pervasive nature of scapegoating and the cultural awareness of the phenomenon (even if inchoate) brought about by thousands of years of Judeo-Christian presence, everyone can get in on the action if they look hard enough.  Everyone can craft a story of why they are the « real » victims over and against some group of victimizers.  What results is an utterly intractable set of mutually incompatible victimhood narratives, in which every group is the righteous but persecuted minority over and against some nefarious overculture. In an attempt to resolve this deadlock, the basic instinct (especially for the partisans of one competing narrative or another) is to try to adjudicate who are the « real » victims and who is the « fake » victims.  Girard would insist that this is an utterly futile activity, because all of these stories of victimhood are on some level true and on some level self-serving nonsense.  The fact of being the victim is true, but the narrative of why the victimization occurred, tied into some group identity and moral status, is not.  And it is not true because, again, being a victim is arbitrary.  Sometimes you are victimized because of some trait you happen to have (like race or gender), sometimes it is because of some social group you happen to belong to that happens to be on the short end of the stick for whatever reason (like LGBT folks), sometimes it is for no reason at all.  The only real difference between the victim and the victimizer is circumstance.  Or, to put it another way, there has only been one truly innocent victim in all of history, and He was last seen outside of Jerusalem 2000 years ago and 40 days after Easter Sunday. Again, it’s crucial, here and elsewhere, to draw a very clear line between the fact of victimization and the status as a victim.  People get victimized, and we have a moral obligation to try to end the victimization.  But the Cult of Victimization makes that project more difficult, because it weaponizes victimization and intermixes genuine victimization with dubious claims of moral righteousness.  It also incentivizes out-and-out bogus claims of victimization, because the power of victimhood status is too enticing. To see an example of the Cult of Victimhood in action, consider this piece from Andrew Sullivan about Trump.  In the piece, Sullivan makes the point that one key dimension of why white, working-class voters have rallied to Trump is the disdain shown by cultural elites (mostly liberal but also conservative, to the extent those are still distinct categories) toward the culture and values of said white working-class people.  The reaction on social media to the piece was very telling.  Instead of pushing back on the thesis (i.e., « you are wrong, Andrew, we don’t disdain the values of these folks. »), or to admit the thesis and stand firm on the position (i.e. « yes, Andrew, we do disdain the values of these folks because these values are bad. »), the reaction was to criticize Sullivan for failing to assert that racism (and, to a lesser extent, homophobia) was the « real » reason why these voters were supporting Trump. First off, Sullivan does talk about that in the piece.  But, more to the point, seizing on Sullivan’s purported failure to talk about race or homophobia is a way to side-step and de-legitimize the basic point that cultural elites disdain a big chunk of the population.  Because, if the « real » issue is race or homophobia, then in the Cult of Victimhood world the issues and objections of white working class folks are per se illegitimate, because they are the unrighteous victimizers.  In other words, yelling at Sullivan for failing to talk about race is another way of saying « their assertion of victimhood status is bogus because my victimhood status is real, and because my victimhood status is real their assertion of victimhood status must be bogus. »  And, of course, the same story can (and is) being said on the other side.  Which is why, along the lines of Sullivan’s piece, the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has been a heretofore unprecedented orgy of the Cult of Victimhood from all sides, and promises to become even more grotesque as we get closer to November. (…) The point is to talk about how the Cult of Victimhood works, and why it makes these kinds of debates so intractable.  No matter how real the persecution, the stories people tell regarding the persecution are fundamentally unreliable, especially if they divide the world into an « us » and a « them. »  And, once they are a « them, » we can stay safe in our bubble of righteousness. The power of Girard’s ideas, for me, is the constant and destabilizing claim of a radical equality–we are all victims, and we are all victimizers.  This doctrine cuts through both our self-serving claims to goodness as well as the paralyzing guilt of our wickedness. Michael Boyle
Even his most sympathetic biographers acknowledge that, as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he paid regular visits to the waterfront brothels of Rangoon. After spending time in Morocco, he also confessed to his friend Harold Acton that he ‘seldom tasted such bliss as with certain Moroccan girls’. A friend recalled Orwell saying that ‘he found himself increasingly attracted by the young Arab girls’. He confessed to the same friend that he told his wife, Eileen, he ‘had to have one of these girls on just one occasion’. Eileen agreed, and so he went ahead. During his marriage to Eileen, Orwell made an improper advance to a young woman, Lydia Jackson. ‘He did not attract me as a man and his ill health even aroused in me a slight feeling of revulsion,’ she recalled. Once he was better, he wrote Lydia a suggestive letter, letting her know when his wife was away, and adding: ‘I know it’s indiscreet to write such things in letters, but you’ll be clever & burn this, won’t you?’ But Lydia had no wish to go along with this deceit. ‘His masculine conceit annoyed me,’ she said. After the sudden death of Eileen, Orwell made a pass at another young woman, who lived in the flat below. ‘I wonder if you were angry or surprised when I sort of made advances to you that night . . .’ he wrote to her. ‘It is only that I feel so desperately alone . . . Of course, it’s absurd to make love to someone of your age.’ A few years ago, letters were discovered in which a childhood friend, Jacintha Buddicom, revealed that when Orwell was 15 and she was 17, a bit of canoodling had accelerated into something more violent, and he had attempted to rape her. Jacintha shouted, kicked and screamed before running home with a bruised hip and a torn skirt. Afterwards, she broke off all contact with him. Nearly 60 years later, Jacintha wrote to a relative about the additional hurt she suffered when she realised he had turned her into a character in his most famous book. She wrote: ‘At least you have not had the public shame of being destroyed in a classic book as Eric did to me. Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four is clearly Jacintha, of that I feel certain . . . in the end he absolutely destroys me, like a man in hobnailed boots stamping on a spider. ‘It hurt my mother so much when she read that book that we always thought it brought on her final heart attack a few days later. Be glad you have not been torn limb from limb in public.’ Does this mean the works of George Orwell should be removed from libraries and bookshops? Of course not. But if he is to be excused, then why not other literary heroes? The Daily Mail
What a scandal for our times. Oxfam, that upholder of modern-day virtue, unassailable in its righteousness, buried for seven years that its aid workers exploited young girls. The men abused their power to have sex with desperate victims of the Haiti earthquake — the very people they were supposed to protect. Sadly Oxfam is not alone. Andrew Macleod, former chief operator of the UN Emerging Coordination Centre warns the infiltration of the aid industry by paedophiles is on the scale of the Catholic church — if not bigger. The aid industry has manipulated public opinion with the help of celebrities and politicians eager for the glitz of poverty porn. It’s a powerful and cosy lobby. Oxfam and Save the Children are prime overseas contractors for the DfID1. Many DfID workers are former activists from the NGO sector. Western media depend on aid agencies for access and transport in conflict areas. Dambisa Moyo, a global economist from Zambia, points out the first world has sent more than $1 trillion to Africa over the past 50 years. Far from ending extreme poverty, this fabulous sum promoted it. Between 1970 and 1998, when aid flows to Africa were at their peak, poverty in Africa rose from 11 per cent to a staggering 66 per cent. Of course there are other factors. But the more development aid a country receives, the less likely it is to enjoy economic success. Aid distorts home markets. Food aid, for example, causes agricultural sectors to shrink and makes famine more rather than less likely. The cascade of aid money permits government to abdicate its responsibility to fund health care, education and infrastructure. It promotes a disconnect between a government and its citizens. When foreign donors cover 40 per cent of the operating budgets of countries such as Kenya and Uganda, why would leaders listen to their citizens? Schmoozing2 foreign donors comes first. What Africa needs is not more ‘Band Aid solutions’ but jobs for the 60 per cent of Africans under the age of 24. ’And aid,’ as Moyo says, ‘has never created a single job.’ On Radio 4’s Today programme this week, Madeleine Rees, a human rights lawyer, insisted: ‘The majority of aid does good.’ She went on, ‘Who is going to get hurt if the aid budget is destroyed?’ Of course, like obedient children, we are meant to reply, ‘The poor.’ But as more and more stories emerge about waste and abuse, I wonder if aid doesn’t do more harm than good. Harriet Sergeant
Quel silence assourdissant face au suicide démographique de l’Europe à l’horizon 2050 ! Les projections démographiques des grandes régions du monde d’ici là sont connues et réévaluées tous les deux ans par les Nations unies et régulièrement par Eurostat pour les Etats membres de l’Union européenne[2], mais il faut être un spécialiste des bases de données pour s’en servir. De fait, personne n’en parle, surtout à Bruxelles où l’on préfère produire des rapports sur les révolutions technologiques, le développement durable ou la transition énergétique. Nous devons remplir notre fonction d’alerte, même si nous savons que nous ne serons plus là en 2050 pour regretter de ne pas avoir été entendus. Contrairement à l’Amérique du Nord qui verrait sa population augmenter de 75 millions d’habitants (soit deux fois moins que l’Amérique du Sud), l’Europe pourrait stagner autour de 500 millions d’habitants et perdre 49 millions de personnes en âge de travailler dans la tranche des 20-64 ans, dont 11 millions pour l’Allemagne. L’Espagne et l’Italie devraient aussi perdre de 7 à 8 millions d’actifs potentiels. La France pourrait se réjouir de quasiment rattraper l’Allemagne, ce qu’en réalité le Royaume-Uni devrait réaliser avant elle. Il est illusoire de se réjouir d’une telle perspective car nos voisins sont aussi nos principaux débouchés : 87% de ce qui est produit en France est consommé en Europe dont 70% pour la France, et 17% pour les exportations (56% des 30% exportés dans le monde). Les autres enseignements de la tectonique démographique d’ici à 2050 ne sont pas moins interpellants : la Chine, le Japon et la Russie perdraient respectivement 38 millions, 20 millions et 15 millions d’habitants alors que l’Inde augmenterait de près de 400 millions d’habitants et dépasserait la Chine d’au moins 300 millions d’habitants. La saignée sera particulièrement forte pour la tranche d’âge des 20-64 ans d’ici à 2050 : – 22 millions pour la Russie, -20 millions pour le Japon et – 195 millions pour la Chine. Les Etats-Unis verraient leurs actifs potentiels augmenter de presque 20 millions dans la période. Il faudra des bras et des cerveaux pour compenser ces pertes d’actifs. Chance ? Dans le même temps, la population de l’Afrique devrait augmenter de 1,3 milliard, dont 130 millions rien que pour l’Afrique du Nord. C’est dire que la pression migratoire sur l’Europe va être plus forte que jamais ! Ce choc démographique (implosion interne et explosion externe), l’Europe n’en parle pas et ne s’y prépare pas. Tout se passe comme si le tsunami démographique était moins important que la vague numérique. Pour que cesse l’omerta, nous invitons nos interlocuteurs à imaginer quelques millions de réfugiés climatiques en provenance d’Asie ou encore plus de réfugiés politiques et économiques en provenance d’Afrique et du Moyen-Orient. Relevons que si 1% du surcroît de la population africaine s’installait en France d’ici à 35 ans (ce qui est aussi proche de nous que 1980), cela ferait quand même 13 millions d’habitants en plus dans l’hexagone d’ici à 2050, soit 20% de plus ! Quand on songe que l’Union européenne a été fragilisée et ébranlée en 2015 par un million de réfugiés dont les trois-quarts politiques, on se rend compte que l’Europe ne devrait pas attendre pour se préparer à de telles perspectives. Elle devrait s’inspirer du Canada qui n’hésite pas à pratiquer une politique de quotas en fonction des besoins du marché du travail. Et aussi encourager la relance de la fécondité dans le vieux continent. Car l’intégration se fait d’abord par le brassage des cultures dans les écoles. (…) Quand il y a trop de sable, le ciment ne prend pas. Pour accueillir le maximum de sable, il faut plus de ciment, c’est-à-dire d’enfants parlant la langue du pays quelle que soit leur couleur. Bref, pour rester ouvert au monde, il faudrait relancer la fécondité en Europe dès maintenant. Mais qui parle de politique familiale dans une Europe qui permet qu’il y ait des hôtels et lieux de vacances réservés aux adultes, interdits aux enfants et tolérant seulement les animaux familiers ! Les médias commencent tout juste à s’alarmer du fait qu’en 2016 pour la première fois, en Europe, le nombre de cercueils a dépassé celui des berceaux. Il est intéressant de relever que c’est le cas en Allemagne depuis 1971, de l’Italie depuis 1991, de l’Espagne depuis 2016, de la Russie depuis 1991, du Japon depuis 2006. Le tour de la Chine viendra en 2028. Le phénomène ne devrait concerner la France, voire les Etats-Unis, qu’après 2050. On ne fabrique pas de berceaux avec des cercueils. Le suicide démographique de la vieille Europe est annoncé mais il est encore temps : la bonne prévision n’est pas forcément celle qui se réalise mais celle qui conduit à l’action pour l’éviter. Les chercheurs s’interrogent sur les causes du ralentissement concomitant de la croissance et de la productivité alors que les révolutions technologiques de l’information et de la communication (TIC), des biotechnologies, des nanotechnologies ou des énergies (nouvelles et stockage) sont plus que jamais perceptibles. C’est le fameux paradoxe de Solow (on trouve des ordinateurs partout sauf dans les statistiques de productivité). Curieusement, ces mêmes chercheurs ne s’interrogent pas sur le lien qu’il pourrait y avoir entre ce ralentissement de la croissance et le vieillissement démographique des anciennes zones développées : Etats-Unis, Japon, Europe. Michel Godet
Les pays nantis – par exemple, les pays membres de l’UE – qui espèrent décourager la migration depuis des régions très pauvres du monde par un transfert prudent de ressources (grâce à des accords bilatéraux, des annulations de dettes et ainsi de suite) ne devraient pas être trop déçus en découvrant au bout d’un certain temps que leurs initiatives ont échoué à améliorer les conditions de vie dans les pays ciblés. Car un pays qui réussirait effectivement à augmenter son PIB, le taux d’alphabétisation de ses adultes et l’espérance de vie – soit un mieux à tout point de vue – produirait encore plus de candidats au départ qu’un pays qui se contente de son enterrement en bas du tableau de l’économie mondiale. Jeremy Harding
La guerre, la faim et l’effondrement social n’ont pas causé des migrations massives au-delà de la frontière naturelle que constitue le Sahara. Mais les premiers rayons de prospérité pourraient bien motiver un plus grand nombre d’Africains à venir en Europe. Jeremy Harding
Plus de 11 000 femmes nigérianes ont été secourues en Méditerranée l’année dernière, selon l’Office pour les migrations internationales (OMI). 80% d’entre elles faisaient l’objet d’un trafic à des fins d’exploitation sexuelle. “Il y a maintenant des filles qui n’ont que 13, 14 ou 15 ans”, m’a dit un agent anti-trafic de l’OMI. “L’Italie n’est qu’un point d’entrée. De la, elles sont dispatchées et vendues à des mères maquerelles partout en Europe.” Ben Taub
En 2015, le risque de mourir en Méditerranée (0, 37%) était inférieur au risque en France d’une personne de plus de 45 ans de subir un AVC (0, 4$%); en 2016, 363 000 migrants ont traversé la Mare nostrum (…) et 4 576 s’y sont noyés ou ont disparu, soit 1, 3% ou le double du risque de décéder apres une intervention chirurgicale – toutes catégories confondues – dans un pays industrialisé, ou encore le double du risque de mourir d’une anesthésie générale au sud du Sahara. En 2017, entre janvier et fin aout, 126 000 migrants ont traversé la Méditerranée et 2 428 ont été portés disparus, soit 1, 92%, ce qui est légèrement inférieur à la mortalité post-opératoire en chirurgie cardiaque en Europe de l’ouest (2%). Même si le risque est heureusement limité, on se demande évidemment pourquoi il ne cesse d’augmenter alors que les yeux du monde sont braqués sur la Méditerranée et que les secours devraient se perfectionner. La réponse: l’humanitaire est trop bon ! En effet, les bateaux de secours se rapprochent de plus en plus des eaux territoriales libyennes et, s’il y a danger de naufrage, n’hésitent plus à y entrer pour sauver les migrants. Si bien que les trafiquants embarquent un nombre croissant de migrants sur des embarcations toujours plus précaires (notamment des canots pneumatiques longs de 9 mètres, fabriqués en Chine, sur lesquels se serrent 130 personnes). (…) Les trafiquants emmènent donc les migrants à la limite des eaux territoriales, avant de repartir avec le moteur hors-bord dans un autre bateau en laissant les leurs clients dériver. A charge pour les humanitaires … Ceux-ci font bien, voire très bien leur travail, au risque de voir les migrants de moins en moins regardants sur la navigabilité des embarcations choisies par les trafiquants. Au cours des premiers six mois de 2017, quelque 93 000 migrants ont été secourus et transportés vers l’Italie, soit presque les trois quarts du total ayant embarqué pour la traversée pendant cette période. Stephen Smith
Je dis ça sans affolement. Quand vous avez un voisin qui en 2050 sera 5 fois plus nombreux que toute l’Europe comprise, il y a une pression migratoire qui est très forte et il faut s’arranger entre voisins (européens), il faut négocier. Il faut prendre la mesure du réel d’abord. Puis il faut des négociations entre l’Europe et l’Afrique pour éviter notamment que ses forces vives quittent le continent. Tant que l’Afrique croit à ce rythme, c’est impossible (de juguler). Tous les progrès sont noyés par la progression démographique. Il faut à un moment maitriser cette croissance démographique. C’est un problème de long terme qui se jouera sur les deux générations à venir, pas avant 2050. Toutes les régions du monde ont migré. En Europe il y avait 300 millions d’habitants et 60 millions en sont partis, dont 40 millions vers les Etats-Unis. L’Afrique ne fait que reproduire des scenarii qui ont eu lieu en Europe et en Amérique latine. Et il est évident que l’Europe va faire face à une migration très forte depuis l’Afrique, c’est inévitable. [l’aide au développement] c’est une imposture. Nous allons développer un continent d’1,3 milliards, soit l’équivalent de la Chine. Et tous ceux qui se sont développés, les millions de personnes qui sont sortis de la pauvreté ces dernières décennies – les Chinois, les Indiens -, n’en sont jamais sortis par l’aide au développement. L’aide au développement va d’abord permettre à une classe moyenne qui émerge de migrer, de partir du continent. Toutes les volontés de fermer les frontières sont inutiles. Avec 6 milliards d’euros, les européens se sont achetés la paix de 2,5 millions de migrants, bloqués en Turquie. Mais c’est cynique de parler comme ça. Les gens passeront, par une porte ou une autre. C’est inévitable. Mettez-vous à la place des Africains qui voient de telles inégalités et qui pensent à leur vie ou à leurs enfants. Nous ferions pareil à leur place. Bien sûr qu’un moment l’Afrique arrivera à retenir ses forces vives. On oublie souvent qu’un tiers des européens partis en Amérique sont revenus en Europe. Ce n’est pas forcément le bonheur d’arriver en Europe, beaucoup de migrants sont déçus, et vous préférez toujours rester parmi les vôtres ». Stephen Smith
Le problème, c’est que quand vous aidez, dans un premier temps, vous créez un horizon qui est plus large: les gens commencent à penser qu’ils peuvent bouger puisqu’ils ont aussi les moyens – il faut plusieurs milliers d’euros pour entreprendre ce voyage – et donc ce ne sont pas les plus pauvres, les plus désespérés qui partent mais ceux qui commencent à sortir la tête de l’eau. Et c’est donc cet effet de seuil qui fait que dans un premier temps l’aide aide les gens à partir. Stephen Smith
Les pays du Nord subventionnent les pays du Sud, moyennant l’aide au développement, afin que les démunis puissent mieux vivre et – ce n’est pas toujours dit aussi franchement – rester chez eux. Or, ce faisant, les pays riches se tirent une balle dans le pied. En effet, du moins dans un premier temps, ils versent une prime à la migration en aidant des pays pauvres à atteindre le seuil de prospérité à partir duquel leurs habitants disposent des moyens pour partir et s’installer ailleurs. C’est l’aporie du « codéveloppement », qui vise à retenir les pauvres chez eux alors qu’il finance leur déracinement. Il n’y a pas de solution. Car il faut bien aider les plus pauvres, ceux qui en ont le plus besoin ; le codéveloppement avec la prospère île Maurice, sans grand risque d’inciter au départ, est moins urgent… Les cyniques se consoleront à l’idée que l’aide a rarement fait advenir le développement mais, plus souvent, servi de « rente géopolitique » à des alliés dans l’arrière-cour mondiale. Dans un reportage au long cours titré The Uninvited, « les hôtes indésirables », Jeremy Harding, l’un des rédacteurs en chef de la London Review of Books, a pointé avec ironie le dilemme du codéveloppement : « des pays nantis – par exemple, les pays membres de l’UE – qui espèrent décourager la migration depuis des régions très pauvres du monde par un transfert prudent de ressources (grâce à des accords bilatéraux, des annulations de dettes et ainsi de suite) ne devraient pas être trop déçus en découvrant au bout d’un certain temps que leurs initiatives ont échoué à améliorer les conditions de vie dans les pays ciblés. Car un pays qui réussirait effectivement à augmenter son PIB, le taux d’alphabétisation de ses adultes et l’espérance de vie – soit un mieux à tout point de vue – produirait encore plus de candidats au départ qu’un pays qui se contente de son enterrement en bas du tableau de l’économie mondiale. » Les premiers rayons de prospérité pourraient bien motiver un plus grand nombre d’Africains à venir en Europe. Pourquoi ? Les plus pauvres parmi les pauvres n’ont pas les moyens d’émigrer. Ils n’y pensent même pas. Ils sont occupés à joindre les deux bouts, ce qui ne leur laisse guère le loisir de se familiariser avec la marche du monde et, encore moins, d’y participer. À l’autre extrême, qui coïncide souvent avec l’autre bout du monde, les plus aisés voyagent beaucoup, au point de croire que l’espace ne compte plus et que les frontières auraient tendance à disparaître ; leur liberté de circuler – un privilège – émousse leur désir de s’établir ailleurs. Ce n’est pas le cas des « rescapés de la subsistance », qui peuvent et veulent s’installer sur une terre d’opportunités. L’Afrique émergente est sur le point de subir cet effet d’échelle : hier dépourvues des moyens pour émigrer, ses masses sur le seuil de la prospérité se mettent aujourd’hui en route vers le « paradis » européen. Stephen Smith

Vous avez dit cinquante-nuances-de-grisation du monde ?

« Fan fiction » parasite devenant succès mondial de librairie et du cinéma en fusionnant roman de gare et sadomasochisme; déboulonnage généralisé de tous nos maitres à penser, y compris les plus lucides; chef d’état-major annonçant, après l’avènement du terrorisme pour tous, la contamination de la guerre par « l’exploitation » systématiques par certains Etats « des zones d’ombre entre la paix et la guerre »;  migrants clandestins important la pratique anthropopagique au sein même des sociétés théoriquement les plus avancées; société nationale de chemin de fer ayant déjà connu des attaques terroristes sur ses passagers sommée de s’excuser pour avoir osé s’opposer à l’arrivée massive de clandestins dont on ne sait rien à bord de ses trains; études montrant outre le détournement systématique et l’infiltration généralisée d’oeuvres caritatives par des pédophiles les effets contreproductifs d’une aide qui « aide en fait les gens à quitter leur pays »; intellectuelle regrettant de ne pas avoir été violée pour pouvoir prouver aux femmes que le traumatisme est surmontable; culpabilisation entretenue d’une obligation charitable face à des gens qui au nom de leur droit à la liberté en abusent ou même la refusent; apologie de l’ouverture à tous crins et dénonciation du repli identitaire par des élites protégées des conséquences des décisions qu’elles imposent aux plus vulnérables; procès concernant des centaines de victimes tournant à la farce; hommage national d’un chanteur de rock se finissant en crêpage de chignons médiatique, risque de mortalite reel du « cimetiere a ciel ouvert » qu’affrontent pour nos journalistes les migrants clandestins partis a l’assaut de nos cotes se revelant ne pas depasser celui de la chirurgie cardiaque en Europe de l’ouest (2%), chiffres d’ailleurs pousses a la hausse par le zele meme de nos humanitaires incitant toujours plus nombreux les trafiquants a entasser et a abandonner sans moteur a la limite des eaux territoriales libyennes toujours plus de clients, chair à eros centers comprise, sur des embarcations toujours plus precaires, conjonction annoncée d’un véritable suicide démographique d’une Europe vieillissante et d’une jeune Afrique à la démographie explosive…

En ces temps de plus en plus étranges …

Où avec la dénonciation comme fascisme ou repli de toute barrière ou protection …

La perte des repères se généralise et se mondialise …

Comment ne pas repenser aux prophéties à présent centenaires de nos poètes …

Annonçant la « dislocation de toutes choses et le déchainement de l’anarchie sur le monde » (Yeats) ou la « dégénérescence de la connaissance en une pagaille de visions subjectives », le  « remplacement de la justice par la pitié » et la « disparition de toute crainte de représailles » (Auden) …

Et  surtout ne pas voir avec René Girard …

Que loin des représentations fondamentalistes d’une brutale rétribution divine à venir …

Cette fameuse Apocalypse annoncée depuis plus de 2 000 ans qui est avant tout et étymologiquement dévoilement …

Pourrait bien en fait sous l’effet de la privation, initiée par le Christ lui-même, du recours multimillénaire à la violence légitime …

Avoir tout simplement déjà commencé  ?

Migrations : « La Ruée vers l’Europe », le livre qui dérange
EXCLUSIF. Que dit Stephen Smith, spécialiste de l’Afrique, des migrations vers l’Europe ? Sa principale thèse : le développement économique du continent les alimente.
Le Point Afrique
01/02/2018

Ce n’est que dans les années 2000 que l’Europe grisonnante a pris conscience de son déclin démographique, du vieillissement de sa population et des effets à long terme sur l’emploi et les retraites. Dans le même temps, l’Afrique s’est mise à rimer avec boom démographique. Une explosion initiée dans les années 1930 par des politiques de développement de la France et de la Grande-Bretagne, qui entendaient recadrer leur « mission civilisatrice ». C’est récemment aussi que la « tragédie statistique » de l’Afrique a commencé à préoccuper sa voisine européenne en matière de politique migratoire. Cette exceptionnelle jeunesse, Stephen Smith, spécialiste de ce continent qui est à la fois à part et déjà mondialisé, en fait la matrice de l’avenir où viennent aussi se télescoper une pauvreté persistante, les conflits armés, la montée des extrémismes religieux, les défis sanitaires, urbains, économiques, l’affrontement entre les générations.

Mais la ruée vers l’Europe est-elle inéluctable ? Partant de cette « loi des grands nombres » démographique, Smith répond par l’affirmative. Tout en s’écartant des afro-pessimistes, il ne tombe pas dans l’optimisme béat des tenants de l’Afrique qui gagne. Pour lui, dans le cadre d’une telle explosion de population, c’est le développement économique de l’Afrique qui va nourrir cette levée en masse, ceux qui partent constituant le sel même de ce continent. Sur ce sujet complexe, qu’il traite du point de vue africain, il prend donc à rebrousse-poil certaines idées reçues, envisageant plusieurs scénarios, dont il évalue la probabilité et les conséquences. Au final, il signe un ouvrage indispensable pour bien comprendre l’un des enjeux majeurs des prochaines décennies.

Extraits

Le codéveloppement alimente la ruée

Les pays du Nord subventionnent les pays du Sud, moyennant l’aide au développement, afin que les démunis puissent mieux vivre et – ce n’est pas toujours dit aussi franchement – rester chez eux. Or, ce faisant, les pays riches se tirent une balle dans le pied. En effet, du moins dans un premier temps, ils versent une prime à la migration en aidant des pays pauvres à atteindre le seuil de prospérité à partir duquel leurs habitants disposent des moyens pour partir et s’installer ailleurs. C’est l’aporie du « codéveloppement », qui vise à retenir les pauvres chez eux alors qu’il finance leur déracinement. Il n’y a pas de solution. Car il faut bien aider les plus pauvres, ceux qui en ont le plus besoin ; le codéveloppement avec la prospère île Maurice, sans grand risque d’inciter au départ, est moins urgent… Les cyniques se consoleront à l’idée que l’aide a rarement fait advenir le développement mais, plus souvent, servi de « rente géopolitique » à des alliés dans l’arrière-cour mondiale.

Dans un reportage au long cours titré The Uninvited, « les hôtes indésirables », Jeremy Harding, l’un des rédacteurs en chef de la London Review of Books, a pointé avec ironie le dilemme du codéveloppement : « des pays nantis – par exemple, les pays membres de l’UE – qui espèrent décourager la migration depuis des régions très pauvres du monde par un transfert prudent de ressources (grâce à des accords bilatéraux, des annulations de dettes et ainsi de suite) ne devraient pas être trop déçus en découvrant au bout d’un certain temps que leurs initiatives ont échoué à améliorer les conditions de vie dans les pays ciblés. Car un pays qui réussirait effectivement à augmenter son PIB, le taux d’alphabétisation de ses adultes et l’espérance de vie – soit un mieux à tout point de vue – produirait encore plus de candidats au départ qu’un pays qui se contente de son enterrement en bas du tableau de l’économie mondiale. » Les premiers rayons de prospérité pourraient bien motiver un plus grand nombre d’Africains à venir en Europe. Pourquoi ? Les plus pauvres parmi les pauvres n’ont pas les moyens d’émigrer. Ils n’y pensent même pas. Ils sont occupés à joindre les deux bouts, ce qui ne leur laisse guère le loisir de se familiariser avec la marche du monde et, encore moins, d’y participer. À l’autre extrême, qui coïncide souvent avec l’autre bout du monde, les plus aisés voyagent beaucoup, au point de croire que l’espace ne compte plus et que les frontières auraient tendance à disparaître ; leur liberté de circuler – un privilège – émousse leur désir de s’établir ailleurs. Ce n’est pas le cas des « rescapés de la subsistance », qui peuvent et veulent s’installer sur une terre d’opportunités. L’Afrique émergente est sur le point de subir cet effet d’échelle : hier dépourvues des moyens pour émigrer, ses masses sur le seuil de la prospérité se mettent aujourd’hui en route vers le « paradis » européen.

« La Ruée vers l’Europe », de Stephen Smith (Grasset, 272 pages, 19,50 euros). Parution le 7 février

Voir aussi:

Migrants : « L’aide au développement de l’Afrique aide les gens à partir »

Stephen Smith, journaliste, écrivain, enseignant, spécialiste de l’Afrique et qui publie La ruée vers l’Europe, est l’invité du Grand Soir 3 ce mardi 6 février.

France 3


L’Union européenne compte 510 millions d’habitants en 2018 et en comptera 450 en 2050. En parallèle, l’Afrique compte 1,25 milliard d’habitants et en comptera 2,5 milliards en 2050. Pour Stephen Smith, la jeune Afrique va se ruer sur le Vieux continent, c’est inscrit dans l’ordre des choses. « C’est la loi des grands nombres. l’Afrique crée des hôpitaux et des écoles pour la population actuelle, mais tous les quinze ans, il y a deux fois plus d’habitants« , explique l’auteur du livre La ruée vers l’Europe.

Les aides des pays occidentaux à l’Afrique « fonctionnent parfois, mais ce ne sont pas les plus pauvres ni les plus désespérés qui partent, ce qui fait que dans un premier temps l’aide aide les gens à partir », affirme l’enseignant spécialiste de l’Afrique.

« Il faut faire du tri »

Il rappelle que « 60 millions d’Européens sont partis au moment de la transition démographique du Vieux continent, dont 40 millions aux États-Unis. L’Afrique en est là. Il n’y a rien d’exceptionnel ».

Stephen Smith juge la politique envers les migrants d’Emmanuel Macron « cohérente, réaliste. Il faut faire du tri. Une frontière est là pour que la barrière se lève et se baisse. Les migrants comme leurs hôtes doivent pouvoir s’épanouir ».

Voir également:

Stephen Smith, journaliste et écrivain, spécialiste de l’Afrique était l’invité de Bourdin Direct ce jeudi. Pour lui, les États européens vont devoir négocier entre eux pour faire face à la forte pression migratoire en provenance de l’Afrique ces prochaines décennies.

Europe 2050 : ce suicide démographique que rien ne semble pouvoir arrêter

Quel silence assourdissant face au suicide démographique de l’Europe à l’horizon 2050[1] ! Les projections démographiques des grandes régions du monde d’ici là sont connues et réévaluées tous les deux ans par les Nations unies et régulièrement par Eurostat pour les Etats membres de l’Union européenne[2], mais il faut être un spécialiste des bases de données pour s’en servir.
Michel Godet

Atlantico
21 Février 2018

De fait, personne n’en parle, surtout à Bruxelles où l’on préfère produire des rapports sur les révolutions technologiques, le développement durable ou la transition énergétique.

Nous devons remplir notre fonction d’alerte, même si nous savons que nous ne serons plus là en 2050 pour regretter de ne pas avoir été entendus. Contrairement à l’Amérique du Nord qui verrait sa population augmenter de 75 millions d’habitants (soit deux fois moins que l’Amérique du Sud), l’Europe pourrait stagner autour de 500 millions d’habitants et perdre 49 millions de personnes en âge de travailler dans la tranche des 20-64 ans, dont 11 millions pour l’Allemagne. L’Espagne et l’Italie devraient aussi perdre de 7 à 8 millions d’actifs potentiels.

La France pourrait se réjouir de quasiment rattraper l’Allemagne, ce qu’en réalité le Royaume-Uni devrait réaliser avant elle. Il est illusoire de se réjouir d’une telle perspective car nos voisins sont aussi nos principaux débouchés : 87% de ce qui est produit en France est consommé en Europe dont 70% pour la France, et 17% pour les exportations (56% des 30% exportés dans le monde).

LA TECTONIQUE DÉMOGRAPHIQUE

Les autres enseignements de la tectonique démographique d’ici à 2050 ne sont pas moins interpellants : la Chine, le Japon et la Russie perdraient respectivement 38 millions, 20 millions et 15 millions d’habitants alors que l’Inde augmenterait de près de 400 millions d’habitants et dépasserait la Chine d’au moins 300 millions d’habitants. La saignée sera particulièrement forte pour la tranche d’âge des 20-64 ans d’ici à 2050 : – 22 millions pour la Russie, -20 millions pour le Japon et – 195 millions pour la Chine. Les Etats-Unis verraient leurs actifs potentiels augmenter de presque 20 millions dans la période.

Il faudra des bras et des cerveaux pour compenser ces pertes d’actifs. Chance ? Dans le même temps, la population de l’Afrique devrait augmenter de 1,3 milliard, dont 130 millions rien que pour l’Afrique du Nord. C’est dire que la pression migratoire sur l’Europe va être plus forte que jamais ! Ce choc démographique (implosion interne et explosion externe), l’Europe n’en parle pas et ne s’y prépare pas. Tout se passe comme si le tsunami démographique était moins important que la vague numérique. Pour que cesse l’omerta, nous invitons nos interlocuteurs à imaginer quelques millions de réfugiés climatiques en provenance d’Asie ou encore plus de réfugiés politiques et économiques en provenance d’Afrique et du Moyen-Orient. Relevons que si 1% du surcroît de la population africaine s’installait en France d’ici à 35 ans (ce qui est aussi proche de nous que 1980), cela ferait quand même 13 millions d’habitants en plus dans l’hexagone d’ici à 2050, soit 20% de plus ! Quand on songe que l’Union européenne a été fragilisée et ébranlée en 2015 par un million de réfugiés dont les trois-quarts politiques, on se rend compte que l’Europe ne devrait pas attendre pour se préparer à de telles perspectives. Elle devrait s’inspirer du Canada qui n’hésite pas à pratiquer une politique de quotas en fonction des besoins du marché du travail. Et aussi encourager la relance de la fécondité dans le vieux continent. Car l’intégration se fait d’abord par le brassage des cultures dans les écoles.

En Europe et au Japon, la croissance du PIB a été supérieure dans les années 1980 à celle des années 1990 : 2.5% contre 2.3% en Europe et 4.6% contre 1.1% au Japon. Au cours de ces deux décennies, la croissance du PIB des États-Unis est supérieure d’environ un point à celle de l’Europe. L’explication est essentiellement (pour plus de la moitié) démographique, car l’écart de croissance du PIB par habitant n’est que de 0.2 point plus élevé outreAtlantique qu’en Europe sur les mêmes périodes. En effet, la croissance démographique, de l’ordre de 1% par an aux Etats-Unis, est depuis le début des années 60, deux à trois fois plus élevée qu’en Europe. Une autre partie de l’explication de la croissance du PIB plus élevée aux Etats-Unis est à rechercher du côté du taux d’emploi et de la durée annuelle du travail plus élevés[4]. Si les Américains avancent plus vite, c’est parce qu’ils sont plus nombreux et rament plus. Nous avons retenu un panel de 23 pays, membres depuis longtemps de l’OCDE : Belgique, Danemark, Allemagne, Irlande, Grèce, Espagne, France, Italie, Pays-Bas, Luxembourg, Autriche, Portugal, Finlande, Suède, Royaume-Uni, Islande, Norvège, Suisse, Etats-Unis, Japon, Canada, Australie et Nouvelle- Zélande. A partir de la base de données Ameco de la Commission européenne, nous avons calculé pour chaque pays et sur la période 1993-2015 la moyenne des variations annuelles (en %) de la population totale d’une part et la moyenne des variations annuelles (en %) du volume du PIB/habitant d’autre part. Le nuage de 23 couples de données que nous obtenons s’ordonne significativement d’un point de vue statistique autour d’une droite de régression avec un R2 de 0,42.

Quand il y a trop de sable, le ciment ne prend pas. Pour accueillir le maximum de sable, il faut plus de ciment, c’est-à-dire d’enfants parlant la langue du pays quelle que soit leur couleur. Bref, pour rester ouvert au monde, il faudrait relancer la fécondité en Europe dès maintenant. Mais qui parle de politique familiale dans une Europe qui permet qu’il y ait des hôtels et lieux de vacances réservés aux adultes, interdits aux enfants et tolérant seulement les animaux familiers ! Les médias commencent tout juste à s’alarmer du fait qu’en 2016 pour la première fois, en Europe, le nombre de cercueils a dépassé celui des berceaux. Il est intéressant de relever que c’est le cas en Allemagne depuis 1971, de l’Italie depuis 1991, de l’Espagne depuis 2016, de la Russie depuis 1991, du Japon depuis 2006. Le tour de la Chine viendra en 2028. Le phénomène ne devrait concerner la France, voire les Etats-Unis, qu’après 2050. On ne fabrique pas de berceaux avec des cercueils. Le suicide démographique de la vieille Europe est annoncé mais il est encore temps : la bonne prévision n’est pas forcément celle qui se réalise mais celle qui conduit à l’action pour l’éviter.

CHEVEUX GRIS ET CROISSANCE MOLLE[3] 

Il est classique d’attribuer la forte croissance économique de l’après-guerre en Europe à la reconstruction et au rattrapage par rapport aux Etats-Unis. Ces trente glorieuses ont coïncidé avec la vague démographique. Il est plus rare de relever que dans les années 50 et 60, l’augmentation de la productivité apparente du travail était deux à trois fois plus élevée que dans les années 80 et suivantes alors qu’à l’époque il n’y avait pas d’ordinateurs et qu’on ne parlait pas de révolution technologique. Comment ne pas voir dans cette productivité élevée, un effet de courbe d’expérience et de baisse des coûts unitaires de production dans des marchés en expansion continue ? A l’inverse, la croissance économique comme celle de la productivité n’ont cessé de ralentir aux Etats-Unis, en Europe et au Japon depuis le début des années 1980.

Les chercheurs s’interrogent sur les causes du ralentissement concomitant de la croissance et de la productivité alors que les révolutions technologiques de l’information et de la communication (TIC), des biotechnologies, des nanotechnologies ou des énergies (nouvelles et stockage) sont plus que jamais perceptibles. C’est le fameux paradoxe de Solow (on trouve des ordinateurs partout sauf dans les statistiques de productivité). Curieusement, ces mêmes chercheurs ne s’interrogent pas sur le lien qu’il pourrait y avoir entre ce ralentissement de la croissance et le vieillissement démographique des anciennes zones développées : Etats-Unis, Japon, Europe.

QUAND LA VAGUE NUMÉRIQUE CACHE LE TSUNAMI DÉMOGRAPHIQUE

A la Commission européenne, mais aussi dans la plupart des instances internationales et nationales, la question du lien entre démographie et croissance est rarement évoquée. Les rapports sur la technologie, l’innovation, la compétitivité sont légions. L’homme n’est abordé que comme capital humain, et sous l’angle de la formation, considérée à juste titre comme un investissement et un facteur de croissance à long terme. La démographie n’est traitée qu’à travers le vieillissement par le haut et les problèmes qui en découlent pour l’équilibre des systèmes de retraites, les dépenses de santé, la prise en charge de la dépendance, mais quasiment jamais relativement aux conséquences du vieillissement par le bas sur la croissance et sur la place de l’Europe dans le monde. En 2000, l’ambitieuse stratégie de Lisbonne pour la croissance et l’emploi misait essentiellement sur les technologies de l’information et l’économie de la connaissance pour assurer à l’Europe son avenir et sa puissance sur la scène internationale à l’horizon 2010. A presque mi-parcours, le rapport Wim Kok (2004) maintenait le cap sur la société de la connaissance et un développement durable pour une Europe élargie et consacrait, fait nouveau, une petite page au vieillissement de l’Europe. Ce dernier pouvait faire baisser le potentiel de croissance de l’Union d’un point (autour de 1% au lieu de 2%) d’ici à 2040. Mais rien n’était dit des évolutions démographiques comparées de l’Europe avec les Etats-Unis. Oubli d’autant plus remarquable que les mêmes comparaisons sont systématiques pour l’effort de recherche, l’innovation et la mesure de la productivité.

LES EFFETS MULTIPLICATEURS DE LA DÉMOGRAPHIE

Comme le disait Alfred Sauvy, les économistes « refusent de voir » le lien entre croissance économique et dynamique démographique et ne cherchent donc pas à le vérifier. Pourtant, les Trente Glorieuses et le baby-boom sont allés de pair, et l’essor des Etats-Unis s’explique sans doute, aussi, par une meilleure santé démographique. Depuis trente ans, le taux de fécondité y est en moyenne de près de 2,1 enfants par femme, contre 1,5 dans l’Europe ; la population, du fait aussi d’importants flux migratoires, continue d’augmenter fortement. La comparaison des taux de croissance entre l’Europe et les Etats-Unis fait généralement appel à la technique pour expliquer des différences sur le long terme. On peut se demander s’il n’y a pas aussi un effet de « multiplicateur démographique». Cette hypothèse permet de mieux comprendre pourquoi la croissance et, surtout, les gains de productivité des années 1950 et 1960 ont été en moyenne deux fois plus élevés que dans les années 1980 et 1990, marquées pourtant par les révolutions techniques, sources théoriques de gains de productivité. Avec la nouvelle économie, la question paraissait résolue, les Etats-Unis connaissant une période de forte croissance économique avec des gains de productivité (apparente du travail) bien supérieurs à ceux de l’Europe. N’était-ce pas la preuve du décrochage technologique de l’Europe par rapport aux Etats-Unis ?

On peut douter de cette explication maintenant que l’on connaît les statistiques validées pour le passé. Dans les années 1980, la croissance du PIB par actif était comparable dans les deux zones (autour de 1.5%) avec un léger avantage pour l’Europe dans les années 1980. Cependant, depuis les années 1990, l’Europe semble décrocher par rapport aux Etats-Unis, dont la productivité apparente (PIB/actif occupé) a augmenté de plus de 2% par an dans les années 1990 et 1.5% par an jusqu’en 2007, 1% depuis la crise. Dans le même temps, la hausse de la productivité de l’Europe est passée de 1.7% dans les années 1990 à 1% par an entre 2000 et 2007 pour s’effondrer à 0.3% depuis 2008. La question est donc posée : faut-il attribuer cet écart au gap technologique ou au gap démographique ? Nous avançons l’hypothèse que ce dernier facteur joue un rôle déterminant car le fossé démographique se creuse plus que jamais. Tous les habitants ne sont pas actifs, mais le nombre d’heures travaillées explique l’essentiel de la différence de niveau de productivité apparente du travail par actif employé, puisque les Américains travaillent 46% de plus que les Français par an. S’ils travaillent, c’est qu’il y a une demande solvable à satisfaire, peut-être aussi plus soutenue qu’ailleurs pour cause d’expansion démographique. Si l’on renonce à l’hypothèse d’indépendance entre les deux variables « PIB par habitant » et « croissance démographique », alors nous pouvons avancer une nouvelle hypothèse, celle d’un multiplicateur démographique qui serait à l’origine d’une part importante des gains de productivité plus élevés aux Etats-Unis qu’en Europe. Généralement, les économistes (se référant à la fameuse fonction de production de Cobb-Douglas) expliquent la croissance par trois facteurs : le capital, le travail et le progrès technique. Revenons aux sources : la productivité est le résidu de croissance supplémentaire, qui ne s’explique pas par l’augmentation des facteurs de production (capital et travail). Faute de mieux, on attribue ce surcroît de croissance du PIB par actif au progrès technique (en l’occurrence la diffusion des technologies de l’information), ce qui est une manière positive de désigner le résidu non expliqué.

Voir de même:

Does aid do more harm than good?

The Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international charities

The Spectator

17 February 2018

What a scandal for our times. Oxfam, that upholder of modern-day virtue, unassailable in its righteousness, buried for seven years that its aid workers exploited young girls. The men abused their power to have sex with desperate victims of the Haiti earthquake — the very people they were supposed to protect.

Michelle Russell of the Charity Commission is clear about the deception. ‘We were categorically told by Oxfam; there were no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries. We are very angry and cross about this.’

Nor was this a one-off. Helen Evans, the charity’s global head of safeguarding, begged senior staff, ministers and the Department for International Development to act. She had uncovered sexual abuse allegations both abroad — three in one day — and in Oxfam’s charity shops. Nothing was done.

This is the same Oxfam that recently blamed capitalism for world poverty and set up deck chairs in Trafalgar square to protest against corruption and tax havens. Now the virtue signallers are hoisted on the shard of their own fallibility. Compared with the emerging sins of our aid agencies, tax havens look almost benign.

Sadly Oxfam is not alone. Andrew Macleod, former chief operator of the UN Emerging Coordination Centre, contends paedophiles and ‘-predatory’ sex abusers use the halo of charity work to get close to desperate women and children. ‘You have the impunity to do whatever you want. It is endemic across the aid industry and across the world.’ He warns the infiltration of the aid industry by paedophiles is on the scale of the Catholic church — if not bigger. The difficult truth is that ‘child rape crimes are being inadvertently funded in part by the United Kingdom taxpayer’.

These revelations threaten to extinguish the virtuous glow that has protected the aid industry from scrutiny. We should seize the opportunity. Is the £13.5 billion we spend on aid each year doing its job? What is its impact on the countries it is supposed to transform at the local and on the national level?

Until now the aid industry has escaped such examination. It is astonishing to learn that aid effectiveness was not even seen as a priority until 2005. Evaluations still use dubious methods, Jonathan Foreman points out in his excellent report ‘Aiding and Abetting’ (Civitas 2013). One man recalls being told about a splendid school in a village in Pakistan. He had visited the village the week before. There had been no school.

The aid industry has manipulated public opinion with the help of celebrities and politicians eager for the glitz of poverty porn. It’s a powerful and cosy lobby. Oxfam and Save the Children are prime overseas contractors for the DfID. Many DfID workers are former activists from the NGO sector. Western media depend on aid agencies for access and transport in conflict areas.

Most of us would back humanitarian aid and international help when disaster strikes. Few would argue with aid that is there for a specific purpose and ends when that purpose is accomplished. But that is not the same as the open-ended commitment demanded by aid agencies. An Oxfam advert sums up the myth we have been sold: ‘Together we can end extreme poverty for good. Will you join in?’ Who can resist that exhortation? Who wants to sound like a spoilsport by questioning how much must be spent, for how long and how do we judge the job done?

Dambisa Moyo, a global economist from Zambia, points out the first world has sent more than $1 trillion to Africa over the past 50 years. Far from ending extreme poverty, this fabulous sum promoted it. Between 1970 and 1998, when aid flows to Africa were at their peak, poverty in Africa rose from 11 per cent to a staggering 66 per cent. Of course there are other factors. But in her book Dead Aid, Moyo states, ‘Aid has been and continues to be an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world.’

Indeed the more development aid a country receives, the less likely it is to enjoy economic success. In 1957, Ghana boasted a higher per capita GDP than South Korea. Thirty years later, it was lower by a factor of ten — the toxic effect of official development aid being one factor. On the other hand, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, the recipients of relatively little aid, flourished. Aid distorts home markets. Food aid, for example, causes agricultural sectors to shrink and makes famine more rather than less likely. As Moyo puts it, in no other sector, business or politics, are such proven failures ‘allowed to persist in the face of such stark and unassailable evidence’.

Aid does little to promote peace, security, trade and good governance. If anything, it hinders effective government. The cascade of aid money permits government to abdicate its responsibility to fund health care, education and infrastructure. It promotes a disconnect between a government and its citizens. When foreign donors cover 40 per cent of the operating budgets of countries such as Kenya and Uganda, why would leaders listen to their citizens? Schmoozing foreign donors comes first. As Moyo says, ‘Long, long lines of people have stood in the sun to vote for a president who is effectively impotent because of foreign donors or because glamour aid [in the form of Bob Geldof or Bono] has decided to speak on behalf of a continent.’

What Africa needs is not more ‘Band Aid solutions’ but jobs for the 60 per cent of Africans under the age of 24. ’And aid,’ as Moyo says, ‘has never created a single job.’

If aid too often fails countries on the national level, what about locally? Surely local projects must be wholly beneficial? The problem is they come with a catch.

When Mary Wakefield wrote about the UN’s ‘sex for food’ scandal, she mentioned the 2006 report by Save the Children into the effect of the aid cavalcade in Liberia. The report is invaluable because it gives the actual recipients of our aid a voice. Mostly we only have the word of the charities.

The welcome distribution of aid, it soon became clear, went hand in hand with increasing numbers of children caught up, as their parents complained, in ‘man business’. The (mostly) girls ranged from eight to 18. Levels of desperation in the town and the nearby refugee camp meant ‘as soon as they see their “tete” [breasts] coming up then they jump into this man business’. Prostitution had not been common before, and certainly not among children. Teenage pregnancies soared.

All focus groups and individuals interviewed ‘without exception mentioned NGO workers’. As one girl said, ‘I have been asked more than 20 times by men to go with them for money. All are NGO workers.’ The report goes on, ‘It is clear that sex with underage girls by humanitarian workers continues openly.’ Communities were afraid to report NGO staff, ‘as they were concerned that the assistance provided by the NGO might be withdrawn’.

Save the Children noted an alarming trend. ‘Communities were increasingly resigned to the fact that sex in exchange for services was another method of survival.’ Like those African governments dependent on aid, the adults had lost all self-determination. They were rendered as helpless in the hands of the foreign donor as their politicians.

On Radio 4’s Today programme this week, Madeleine Rees, a human rights lawyer, insisted: ‘The majority of aid does good.’ She went on, ‘Who is going to get hurt if the aid budget is destroyed?’ Of course, like obedient children, we are meant to reply, ‘The poor.’ But as more and more stories emerge about waste and abuse, I wonder if aid doesn’t do more harm than good.

POLEMIQUE Cette note adressée aux contrôleurs leur demande notamment de recueillir le maximum d’informations sur les migrants. La direction de la SNCF affirme qu’elle n’en avait pas connaissance et qu’elle a été retirée…

Mickaël Bosredon

Une note interne de la SNCF, datée du 16 février et envoyée par l’établissement de Bordeaux aux 600 contrôleurs de la région, et que 20 Minutes s’est procurée, suscite l’indignation en interne depuis lundi.

Intitulée « Présence groupe de migrants à bord », cette note demande aux contrôleurs, s’ils remarquent « un groupe constitué de population migrante » à bord des trains ou sur les quais, d’en « aviser l’escale », « d’essayer, si la situation le permet, de recueillir le maximum d’informations [nombre de personnes, présence d’enfants, gare de destination, raison de cette mobilité…] » enfin « rédiger un rapport circonstancié et factuel. »

La SNCF fait marche arrière

Contactée mardi par 20 Minutes, Séverine Rizzi, du syndicat CGT des cheminots de Bordeaux, estime que cette directive revient à « demander aux contrôleurs, dont ce n’est pas le but, de classer les migrants et de se comporter comme une milice de la préfecture. Il faudrait ainsi identifier les groupes de migrants, avant même de savoir s’ils ont ou pas un billet. »

Dans un communiqué, la CGT ajoute qu’il s’agit « d’une incitation à des pratiques de discrimination et de délation vis à vis d’une population d’usagers de par leurs origines ou leur apparence physique (…) Pire, les préconisations sous entendent que des usagers d’origine étrangère qui voyageraient en groupes seraient soit disant dangereux et en situation de fraude. »

« Dans le contexte actuel, que les contrôleurs puissent s’entendre dire qu’ils feraient la chasse aux migrants est inacceptable », poursuit la syndicaliste. Une réunion entre direction et syndicats est prévue ce mercredi à 14h30. Mais mardi en fin d’après-midi, la SNCF a tenté de déminer l’affaire. Elle affirme que cette note est « le fruit d’une initiative personnelle » et que « la direction régionale n’en avait pas connaissance et ne l’a donc pas validée ».

Une nouvelle note sera diffusée

Par ailleurs, « il a été demandé, dès connaissance de cette note par la direction mardi en tout début d’après-midi, de ne plus la diffuser car elle est en effet incomplète et fait preuve de maladresses ». Enfin, « cette note ne reflète en aucun cas la politique nationale de SNCF qui se doit de communiquer les coordonnées des services pouvant aider les populations concernées par la crise migratoire. »

D’ici à mercredi, « une nouvelle note sera diffusée et portera sur les “gestes métiers” à tenir de manière globale pour toute personne non munie de billet ». La CGT demande effectivement la diffusion d’une note revenant sur ces préconisations, et rappelant les missions des contrôleurs.

Voir encore:

Clichy-sous-Bois : trois hommes arrêtés pour anthropophagie

Ils ont violemment mordu leur victime à la lèvre inférieure et à l’oreille gauche avant de consommer les morceaux.

Julien Constant

Le Parisien
19 février 2018

Trois Capverdiens ont été interpellés, dimanche soir à Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis), pour violences volontaires, acte de barbarie et anthropophagie ayant entraîné une mutilation permanente.

Vers 18 heures, allée Hector-Berlioz, quatre hommes se disputent pour une histoire d’argent. Trois hommes se liguent pour en frapper un quatrième. Ils le mordent violemment à la lèvre inférieure et à l’oreille gauche avant d’ingérer les morceaux de chair arrachés. La victime se défend en portant des coups à ses agresseurs. Elle parvient à blesser l’un d’eux à une cheville.

La police et les secours sont finalement intervenus. Les trois agresseurs ont été arrêtés. Les deux blessés, victime et agresseur, ont été transportés à l’hôpital de Montfermeil (Seine Saint-Denis). Le commissariat est chargé de l’enquête.

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Retraite : les fonctionnaires japonais pourront travailler jusqu’à 80 ans

Le gouvernement japonais vient d’annoncer que l’âge limite de la retraite des fonctionnaires sera repoussé à 80 ans, contre 70 ans actuellement.

Pour sauver son système de retraite, le Japon n’y va pas par quatre chemins. Le gouvernement conservateur du Premier ministre Shinzo Abe vient d’annoncer, selon la RTBF, que l’âge limite de départ à la retraite des fonctionnaires s’établira à 80 ans, contre 70 ans actuellement. Une solution extrême pour un problème radical : le taux de natalité du Japon est le deuxième plus faible du monde – après la Corée du Sud – avec 1,4 enfant par femme, très loin du seuil de renouvellement établi à 2,1 enfants par femme. Cette mesure de rallongement permettrait ainsi de contenir le déficit budgétaire des retraites.

Conscient de l’ampleur du chantier, le gouvernement a précisé que, pour le moment, cette réforme ne s’appliquerait que sur la base du volontariat. Et le nombre de candidats potentiels ne manque pas : 27,7% des Japonais ont plus de 65 ans selon le National institute of sopulation and social security research (NIPSSR), l’Insee japonais. Parmi eux, 20% sont encore actifs. Il faut dire qu’ils n’ont pas véritablement le choix : 19% des seniors vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté.

Un autre élément vient compliquer la situation : le taux de chômage dans le pays s’élève à 2,8 % de la population. Il n’y a donc plus assez de demandeurs d’emplois, notamment dans la fonction publique. Et toujours selon le NIPSSR, le pays devrait perdre 39 millions d’habitants dans les 50 prochaines années, soit près du tiers de sa population actuelle.

This election season, the candidacy of Donald Trump has provoked a crise de conscience in the ranks of conservatives. But whatever our sympathy for those who banded together to oppose Trump in the January 21 issue of The National Review or for the politicians who have brawled with him on stage, and of whatever use such gestures are politically, they surely have had little value in clarifying the crisis of conservatism that has led to Trump’s rise. Instead of focusing on Trump’s business practices and on the ignorance of his supporters, conservatives might do well to consider the possibility that his success reflects an objective political reality: the relative uselessness in a victimocracy of taking “conservative positions,” when the more urgent task is to relegitimize the liberal-conservative dialogue through which policy has traditionally gotten made in a democratic republic. In a word, restoring the art of the deal.


As the defense of the legitimacy, if not the perfection, of the status quo, conservatism is less a doctrine than a rule of thumb, the simplest version of which is no doubt William F. Buckley’s “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’” In the left-right dichotomy born with the seating arrangement in the Assemblée Nationale in 1789, the left defends the moral model of reciprocal equality while the right defends the privileges of firstness in the service of the community. For the left, inequality of reward, if not of power, is in principle illegitimate, and can be tolerated only out of necessity. For the right, social hierarchy, the reward of firstness, is valid in principle. The right is not necessarily conservative; the far right can be as militant in its defense of privileges as the far left in its attack on them. The beginnings of the moderate right philosophy that can specifically be called conservatism were defined in Edmund Burke’s 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France as what we might call a zero-based philosophy of social change: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; appreciate the fact that it works at all.

As this suggests, with the extremes removed, the two sides are not symmetrical. The left demands major changes in the system, and seeks to accrue more power to the government in order to implement them. The right tends to find the system basically acceptable and agrees to change it only reluctantly, except perhaps to walk back some of the left’s changes. Yet the very fact of sitting in the same chamber implies that the two sides hope to reach a compromise through negotiation—as was still the case in 1789. As applied to non-revolutionary parliamentary situations, the right realizes that the left can disrupt the social order if its demands are not met; the left realizes that when the disruption reaches a certain level, the state, even under a left-leaning administration, must defend this order by force. So long as both sides sit together, they tacitly agree, as Churchill put it in a different context, that jaw jaw is preferable to war war.

This system has functioned, not without crises, throughout the history of American democracy. In particular, from the late 19th century through the 1950s, the elected representatives of the various regional, industrial, occupational, and other interest groups, most notably the countervailing market forces of capital and labor, negotiated over specifics while largely confining their moral arguments to rhetoric to rally their supporters. Conservatism was never a major consideration throughout this period; the Republican party, representing large and small business interests, generally took a Burkean perspective (exception: Teddy Roosevelt), but was little concerned with doctrine as such.

But since 1989, the perspective of the New Left, which began in the 1960s as a campus-based opposition to the Vietnam War and came to attack liberal democracy itself, has gone mainstream. After the fall of the USSR, the left no longer needed affirm the superiority of liberal democracy over communism; it was the only game in town. And now that the market system is tacitly understood by both sides to be the final system—Fukuyama’s end of history—a permanent quasi-revolutionary situation is paradoxically reestablished. Since the system is in principle invulnerable, there is no a priori limit to the degree of unrest it can tolerate. The result is an attitude analogous to the behavior of naughty children secure in their parents’ care, one that flourishes more freely on university campuses than in serious workplaces, but which nonetheless increasingly sets the tone for the Democratic party, as Sanders’ surprising success has revealed. In particular, there has been a growing tendency on the left to replace its formerstructural focus—defending labor against capital—by a fight against inequality attributed toascriptive differences—seeking justice within the Nazi-Jew/master-slave/colonizer-colonized model.

Because even in the past the left tolerated but never truly embraced the model of politics as negotiation among countervailing interest groups, the right has remained largely unaware of the revolutionary potential of this new development. In political terms, it is far easier to justify wealth differentials along structural lines than to defend against the attribution of differentials among ascriptive groups to “white privilege.”

Traditional conservatives, unprepared for this change in configuration, have been blind-sided by the resulting accusations of race and gender prejudice. The term “PC,” by which conservatives refer to the victimary phenomenon when they do so at all, reduces it to a matter of etiquette, ignoring its deeper political implications. The Republican presidential candidates have almost entirely avoided victimary issues despite their preponderance in the Democratic program: reducing incarceration and criminal prosecution, restraining the police, raising women’s pay from “77 cents on the dollar” and granting women sex-related health benefits, granting “transgendered” boys access to women’s bathrooms, identifying voter-ID laws with “voter suppression,” and generally treating Wall Street, the “one percent,” “millionaires and billionaires” and “the Koch brothers” not merely as greedy cheats but as sustainers of “white privilege”—not to speak of encouraging the “crybullying” about racism and the “rape culture” that goes on at college campuses. Only Trump and, while he was active, Ben Carson (whose recent endorsement of Trump confirms their agreement on this point) have conspicuously denounced PC, and none have made it the focus of their campaigns, except on the point of limiting immigration, which Trump has made so to speak his trump card.

And it goes unmentioned on the right as well as the left that the result of the latter’s promotion of minority concerns not as group interests but in the guise of victimary social justice is that, while its bureaucratic saviors enrich themselves, the minority community has experienced previously unknown levels of social disintegration, with results clearly visible in Detroit, Baltimore, Washington DC, Saint Louis…. There are precious few fora to the left of the ominous “alt-right” where such concerns can be aired.


As I pointed out in Chronicle 508, Trump embodies far more than he articulates resistance to the victimocracy. Yet this is indeed an issue concerning which, at this historical moment, embodiment is more important than articulation. Although Trump rarely denounces PC by name, his demeanor loudly proclaims his rejection of White Guilt—unlike Bernie, he has no trouble telling Black Lives Matter protesters that “all lives matter.” Trump’s unexpected staying power—leading to his “presidential” performance at the March 10 debate—reflects to my mind far more than attractiveness to the benighted bearers of poor-white resentment. On the contrary, Trump’s continual emphasis on “deals” suggests a sharp intuition of how to adapt conservatism to the current victimocratic context. Before we can exercise Buckley’s Burkean resistance to unnecessary change, we have to return to the left-right dichotomy of the Assemblée Nationale. What is required at this moment is not conservatism as usual, butsecond-degree conservatism, metaconservatism.

The contempt of the voting public for Washington’s inability to “get anything done” reflects the fact that under the current administration, the shift of Democratic politics from liberalism to progressivism, from focusing on the concerns of the working class to those of ascriptive minorities, involves a fundamental change from defending interests to seeking justice. The first can be negotiated on a more or less level footing with opposing interests; the second can only be resisted by unregenerate evil-doers, which is more or less the way the current president and his potential Democratic successors characterize the representatives of the other party. In this noxious context, the (meta)conservative position is not to deny victimary claims, but tonormalize them: to turn them back into assertions of interests to be negotiated as political questions were in days of old—in a word, into issues that can be settled by making a deal.

Victimary activism should not in itself guarantee representative status for its leaders on campuses and elsewhere. But when university officials find it appropriate to hold discussions with representatives of the black or gay or Muslim student body, by making it clear that they view the latter as interest groups rather than as communities of the oppressed, they can avoid putting themselves, as such officials all too often do, in a situation of moral inferiority. There is no reason not to allow a group to express what it considers its legitimate interests; there is every reason not to consider the expression of these interests a priori as “demands for justice.”


In their preoccupation with denouncing Trump as a false conservative, the guardians of the flame forget that at a time when the victimary left seeks to portray the normal order of things in American society as founded on privilege and discrimination, Trump’s supporters turn to him as a figure of hope because his mind, unclouded by White Guilt, views the political battlefield, foreign as well as domestic, as a place for making deals. This used to be called Realpolitik.

All too often, to read today’s mainstream press, let alone more extreme publications such as the new New Republic or Salon, is to be subjected to the verbal equivalent of race war. The political discourse of Sanders and Clinton is deeply impregnated with this same rhetoric. Whether or not Trump is its nominee, I hope the Republican party does not need another general election loss to teach it that to articulate and defend a conservative position today, it is first necessary to reject the victimary moralization of politics and return to the liberal-democratic continuum within which conflicts can be mediated. At that point, regardless of the party in power, liberals and conservatives can argue their points, and then come together and make a deal.

Voir aussi:

The Archbishop of Canterbury tells why the Easter story can help humanity escape a lethal cycle of fear and resentment

A couple of weeks ago, there was a sadly predictable report of the reaction from some ultra-conservative Christian groups to the BBC’s advance publicity for its dramatisation of the passion of Jesus. The author and producer had underlined the fact that they were presenting a fairly nuanced view of the characters of the ‘villains’ of the story such as Judas and Pilate; the Christian critics responded by complaining that this was being unfaithful to the Bible. These characters were bad and that was an end of it.

Viewers of the series will have their own judgment. But the alarming thing is that anyone should think that the story of Jesus’s death is a story about the triumph of bad men over good ones, with the implication that if we’d been there we would have been on the side of the good ones.

It’s not only that the biblical story, especially St John’s Gospel, shows us just the mixed motives that can be seen in figures such as Pilate and the High Priest. Much more importantly, the entire message of the Bible on this point is that the problem begins with us, not them. Jesus is killed because people who think they are good are in fact trapped in self-deception and unable to get out of the groove of their self-justifying behaviour. And the New Testament invites every reader to recognise this in himself or herself.

In recent years, a number of Christian writers, inspired by French critic and philosopher René Girard, have stressed with new urgency how the Bible shows the way in which groups and societies work out their fears and frustrations by finding scapegoats.

Because we compete for the same goods and comforts, we need to sustain our competition with our rivals and maintain distance from them. But to stop this getting completely out of hand, we unite with our rivals to identify the cause of the scarcity that makes us compete against each other, with some outside presence we can all agree to hate.

Just as the BBC drama suggested, Jesus’s context was one where Judaeans and Romans equally lived in fear of each other, dreading an explosion of violence that would be destructive for everyone. Their leaders sweated over compromises and strategies to avoid this. In such a context, Jesus offered a perfect excuse for them to join in a liberating act of bloodletting which eliminated a single common enemy. The spiral of fear was halted briefly.

Frequently in this mechanism, the victim has little or nothing to do with the initial conflict itself. But in the case of Jesus, the victim is not only wholly innocent; he is the embodiment of a grace or mercy that could in principle change the whole frame of reference that traps people in rivalry and mutual terror.

Thus the scapegoat mechanism is exposed for what it is – an arbitrary release of tension that makes no difference to the underlying problem. And if you want to address the underlying problem, perhaps you should start listening to the victim.

For many of our contemporaries, the Christian message is either a matter of unwelcome moral nagging or a set of appealing but finally irrelevant legends. If it has a place in our public life or our national institutions, it is on the basis of a slightly grudging recognition that ‘it does a lot of good work’ and represents something about continuity with our past.

But what if the Christian story offered more than this? What if it proposed a way of understanding some of the most pervasive and dangerous mechanisms in human relationships, interpersonal or international?

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how internally divided societies find brief moments of unity when they have successfully identified some other group as the real source of their own insecurity. Look at any major conflict in the world at the moment and the mechanism is clear enough. Repressive and insecure states in the Islamic world demonise a mythical Christian ‘West’, while culturally confused, sceptical and frightened European and North American societies cling to the picture of a global militant Islam, determined to ‘destroy our way of life’.

Two fragile and intensely quarrelsome societies in the Holy Land find some security in at least knowing that there is an enemy they can all hate on the other side of the wall. A crumbling dictatorship in Zimbabwe steps up the rhetoric of loathing and resentment towards the colonial powers that create the poverty and the shortages. Nearer home, disadvantaged communities make sense of their situation by blaming migrants and asylum seekers.

It’s not that the fears involved are unreal. Global terrorism is a threat, Israel and Palestine really do menace each other’s existence, colonialism isn’t an innocent legacy and so on. But the exploitation of these real fears to provide a ‘solution’ to more basic problems both breeds collective untruthfulness and makes any rational handling of such external fears infinitely harder.

It breeds a mentality that always seeks to mirror the one who is threatening you. It generates the ‘zero-sum game’ that condemns so many negotiations to futility. Worst of all, it gives a fragile society an interest in keeping some sort of external conflict going. Consciously or not, political leaders in a variety of contexts are reluctant to let go of an enemy who has become indispensable to their own stability.

The claim of Christianity is both that this mechanism is universal, ingrained in how we learn to behave as human beings and that it is capable of changing.

It changes when we recognise our complicity and when we listen to what the unique divine scapegoat says: that you do not have to see the rival as a threat to everything, that it is possible to believe that certain values will survive whatever happens in this earth’s history because they reflect the reality of an eternal God; that letting go of the obsessions of memory and resentment is release, not betrayal.

People may or may not grasp what is meant by the resolution that the Christian message offers. But at least it is possible that they will see the entire scheme as a structure within which they – we – can understand some of what most lethally imprisons us in our relationships, individual and collective. We may acquire a crucial tool for exposing the evasions on which our lives and our political systems are so often built.

Yes, the Christian church has been guilty of colossal evasion, colluding in just those scapegoating mechanisms it exists to overcome. Its shameful record of anti-semitism is the most dramatic reversal of the genuine story it has to tell, the most dramatic example of claiming that the killing of Jesus was indeed about them and not us.

But it keeps alive that story. Every human society needs it to be told again and again, listening to the question it puts, whether or not people identify with Christianity’s answer. The point of the church’s presence in our culture is not to be a decorative annexe to the heritage industry, but to help us see certain things we’d rather not about common responsibility – and the costly way to a common hope.

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The Rise of the Victim Bully

The imaginative conservative
Aug. 2, 2015

One of Christianity’s contributions to civilization has been a startling compassion for the victim. As René Girard has pointed out, from the beginning of time primitive peoples focused their animus on the outsider, the oddball, or the eccentric in their midst. It was the disabled, the alien, the poor, and the weak who most often took the blame for society’s ills. The crowd turned on them as the origin and cause of their problems. They became the scapegoat. As they were ostracized, excluded, persecuted, and killed, the source of the tribe’s problems was eliminated.

Consequently, the tribe felt cleansed. The violence unleashed a feeling of power and freedom. As the evil was purged, thrill surged. All was well. Life could continue and the tribe could prosper. Until, of course, another crisis developed—and at that point another victim would be needed. Because of the regularity of the crises, religions developed the ritual of regular sacrifice. Victims were found, throats were cut, blood was shed, and if animals were substituted, it did not mitigate the truth that the society still ran on the blood-fuel of the victim.

This may seem terribly primitive in a modern age, until one see videos of ISIS soldiers ritually beheading their victims. Modern Americans may think they are far removed from the barbarities of the Aztecs until they view a video of a wine-sipping high priestess of the cult of abortion describing how she dismembers children and harvests their organs. Is this so far removed from the haruspication of the ancients? When crazed and enraged young men—be they Islamist or racist extremists—open fire on their innocent victims, are we so far from Girard’s theory of the scapegoat?

Girard points out that Jesus of Nazareth turned the model on its head. He does so first by valuing the victim. The poor, the outcast, the crippled, diseased, blind, and demon-possessed are his prizes. He treasures children and magnifies women. He turns the sacrificial system upside down not only by valuing the victim, but by becoming the victim. He accepts the victim role and willingly becomes “the Lamb of God” who takes away sin of the world. He defeats the sacrificial system by embracing it. He breaks it from the inside. For the last two thousand years, the world has been learning that the victim is the hero.

The problem is that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Being a victim is fashionable—ironically, becoming bullied is now the best way to bully others. It works like this: If you want to move forward in the world, make progress for you and your tribe, further your ambitions, justify your immoral actions, grab a bigger piece of the pie, and elbow others away from the trough, simply present yourself and your tribe as victims. Once you successfully portray yourselves as a poor, outcast, persecuted, minority group you instantly gain the sympathy of all.

The first key to success in this campaign is to portray your victim condition as something over which you have no control. This is clear when the victim group is a racial or ethnic minority. The same sense of unjust destiny has to be produced for other groups. So the feminists have exploited the technique to portray all women as downtrodden. Homosexual campaigners have likewise insisted that their condition is something they were born with, and now anyone with a sexual proclivity that is other than heterosexual can be portrayed as a misunderstood and persecuted victim.

People suffering from any kind of illness, disability, or misfortune are victims of some sort of injustice, cruelty, or neglect. Those who suffer from poverty, addiction, broken families, psychological problems, emotional distress, or just plain unhappiness are victims too. The victim mentality is linked with an entitlement culture: Someone must be culpable for the unhappiness of the victims because someone should be responsible for making them happy.

The second step in effective victim-campaigning is to accumulate and disseminate the propaganda. Academic papers must be written. Sociological studies must be undertaken. Groundbreaking books must be published. Stories of the particular minority group being persecuted must make front page news. The whimpers of the persecuted must rise to heaven. The shock at their victimhood must be expressed as “sadness,” “concern,” and “regret.” If one is not sympathetic, if one is reticent to pour balm in the victim’s wounds, then the bullying begins. You must recognize the victim. You must be sympathetic. You must be tolerant. You must join the campaign to help the victim, solve their problems, and make them happy at last. If you do not, you are not only hard-hearted, you are part of the problem.

The third stage of the campaign is the release of anger. Once the victim is identified and the information is widespread, the rage can be released. The anger must be expressed because, without knowing it, a new cycle of tribal scapegoating has developed. As the tribe gathers around the victim in sympathy, they must find the culprit, and their search for the culprit (whether he is guilty or not does not matter) sends them on the same frantic scapegoating quest that created their victim in the first place. The supposed persecutors have now become the persecuted. The unhappiness of the tribe (which presents itself as sympathy for the victim) is now focused on violence against the new victim—and so the cycle of sin and irrational rage continues.

Observe American society today. Everywhere you look we are apportioning blame and seeking scapegoats. The blacks blame the whites. The whites blame the blacks. The homosexuals blame the Christians. The Christians blame the homosexuals. The Republicans blame the immigrants. The immigrants blame the residents. The workers blame the wealthy. The wealthy blame the workers.

Why has our society descended into the violence of scapegoating and blame? Because it is inevitable. The victimhood cycle will continue through cycles of revenge and further victimhood unless there is an outlet.

Where is there an end to the cycle of violence and victimization? There is only one solution: Find a constant victim—one who is the eternal victim and remains the victim. How is this done? It is done within the religion of a society. If a society has a religion of sacrifice the ritual victim becomes the focus of the tribal animus. The ritual victim becomes the constant scapegoat. The ritual victim becomes the psychological safety valve.

Catholicism, of course, is the only religion in the modern world which, astoundingly, still claims to be offering a sacrifice. This is why the ancient celebration of the Mass is still so vital in the modern world—because there the one, full, final sacrifice is re-presented for the salvation of the world.

The problem is that we are not a sacrificial and a sacramental people. We do not understand what the liturgy calls “these holy mysteries.” Most Catholics in America are embarrassed by the language of sacrifice. We are a blandly utilitarian race–shallow, and lacking in imagination. We are uncomfortable with blood sacrifices and cannot understand the rituals of redemption. American Catholics prefer their liturgy to be a banal family meal where they sing happy songs about making the world a better place. It is no longer a sacred sacrifice or a holy mystery, but a cross between a campfire and a pep rally.

Nevertheless, when the religion in a culture offers the mysteries of sacrifice the urge to lay blame is assuaged, the cycle of blame finds its proper resolution. As the eternal victim is offered the mystery unfolds, and the words, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” echo more profoundly than we ever could have imagined.

Voir encore:

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a hardcore devotee of the ideas of Rene Girard.  I’ve tried before to set out, in a big picture way, why I think his ideas are so important and so fruitful–not just in terms of Christianity or religion, but in general.  But those things I mentioned are big-picture concepts, and can be seen as somewhat abstract.  If you want some specific idea of Girard’s, one that is directly relevant to our current political and cultural situation, I think his most trenchant idea is his discussion of the Cult of Victimhood.

In Girard’s analysis, the Cult of Victimhood is, though unacknowledged by its practicioners, literally a Christian heresy (or more accurately, a Judeo-Christian heresy, if one can say that).  For Girard, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals to the world the mechanism of scapegoating–a victim is selected from among the people and sacrificed in order to discharge our rivalrous, imitative desires, and that sacrifice becomes both ritualized and camouflaged so that we are unaware of our participation.  Jesus, finishing a process begun at the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures, comes to strip off the veil over our eyes, to reveal to us the truth.  Where once we held fast to the idea that the victim really deserved to be sacrificed, we now understand that the victim is innocent.

Girard insists that this bell cannot be un-rung, and society can never go back to the way it was prior to Easter Sunday.  But that does not mean that scapegoating is ended forever.  It simply means that we as a people cannot rely on the simplistic old versions of the sacred to sustain the Big Lie.  Instead, if we want to avoid the hard work of imitating Jesus, forgiving our enemies, and learning to live in peace, we have to construct a new version of the Big Lie.  This new narrative has to incorporate on some level what Alison calls the « Intelligence of the Victim » that is provided by Jesus’s life, death and resurrection (since that is now a permanent part of human understanding), while still finding a way to create space for sacrificing victims.

One way to do this, as Jean-Pierre Dupuy has explored in Marks of the Sacred and Economy and the Future, is to set up supposedly « neutral, » technocratic systems to, in essence, « do the dirty work for you » while keeping a clean conscience (« I’m not punishing the poor, it’s just ‘market forces’ that are leaving people destitute » etc.).  But the other way is through the Cult of Victimhood.  The Cult of Victimhood begins by appropriating the Intelligence of the Victim, recognizing the truth that discrete groups are often persecuted unjustly by virtue of being a discrete group, and not as a result of anything for which they are responsible.  And the Cult of Victimhood insists, correctly, that persecution of the particular discrete group at issue is unjust and should be stopped.  So far, so good.  But then the Cult of Victimhood turns being a victim into a status, defining itself in terms of the marker (either directly or indirectly) of having been through the experience of being a victim.

The Cult of Victimhood is thus an inversion of the normal, pre-Christian process of the Sacred–rather than the majority forming an identity over and against some identifiable minority victim or group of victims through the process of victimization, the minority forms an identity over and against the majority by virtue of being victimized, either presently or at some point in the past. This creates three serious problems.  First, the identity of the group is tied up in the status of being a victim.  Thus, perversely, there is an incentive for the minority to seek to be victimized, because it supports and reinforces the group identity, leading to counter-productive co-dependent relationships with the persecuting majority.  Or, at a minimum, the minority needs to perceive itself as being victimized in order to shore up its self-identity, leading to incentives to find persecution behind every rock or tree, even when it is not there.

The second problem is that the Cult of Victimhood is it creates a tempting platform to seize the moral high ground.  In light of the message of Jesus, we have an obligation to have special moral concern for victimsas victims.  But it does not follow that those that are victimized have some special moral qualities or status by virtue of being victims.  Being a victim does not necessarily make you wiser, or more just, or better able to discern moral realities in the world around you, because being a victim is ultimately and fundamentally arbitrary.  As the great Ta-Nehisi Coates says, « [w]e, too, are capable of fictions because, as it turns out, oppression confers no wisdom and is rarely self-improving. »  But the Cult of Victimhood seizes on being a victim to provide a kind of imputed righteousness.  Once again, this is an inversion for the old vision of the Sacred–whereas before the society explained that victims became victims through some narrative of moral failure, now the victims understand their victim status through a narrative of their own moral superiority.

In doing so, it sets up a purely binary, Manichean distortion of the Gospel message, dividing the world into fixed categories of victims who are righteous and victimizers who are unrighteous.  This binary system acts as a kind of moral shield for their own behavior.  The logical chain goes like this:  because I am a victim, I am righteous; because I am righteous, those that challenge or critique that righteousness (especially if the critique comes from those that victimized me) are per se wrong and their critique is per se illegitimate; thus, I can stay in a comfortable bubble of my own imputed righteousness.  Because I am an innocent victim, I don’t have to take seriously any critiques of my own actions.

This in turn leads to the third problem.  Because of the power of feature #1 and especially feature #2 of the Cult of Victimhood, everyone wants to get in on the action.  And, given both the pervasive nature of scapegoating and the cultural awareness of the phenomenon (even if inchoate) brought about by thousands of years of Judeo-Christian presence, everyone can get in on the action if they look hard enough.  Everyone can craft a story of why they are the « real » victims over and against some group of victimizers.  What results is an utterly intractable set of mutually incompatible victimhood narratives, in which every group is the righteous but persecuted minority over and against some nefarious overculture.

In an attempt to resolve this deadlock, the basic instinct (especially for the partisans of one competing narrative or another) is to try to adjudicate who are the « real » victims and who is the « fake » victims.  Girard would insist that this is an utterly futile activity, because all of these stories of victimhood are on some level true and on some level self-serving nonsense.  The fact of being the victim is true, but the narrative of why the victimization occurred, tied into to some group identity and moral status, is not.  And it is not true because, again, being a victim is arbitrary.  Sometimes you are victimized because of some trait you happen to have (like race or gender), sometimes it is because of some social group you happen to belong to that happens to be on the short end of the stick for whatever reason (like LGBT folks), sometimes it is for no reason at all.  The only real difference between the victim and the victimizer is circumstance.  Or, to put it another way, there has only been one truly innocent victim in all of history, and He was last seen outside of Jerusalem 2000 years ago and 40 days after Easter Sunday.

Again, it’s crucial, here and elsewhere, to draw a very clear line between the fact of victimization and the status as a victim.  People get victimized, and we have a moral obligation to try to end the victimization.  But the Cult of Victimization makes that project more difficult, because it weaponizes victimization and intermixes genuine victimization with dubious claims of moral righteousness.  It also incentivizes out-and-out bogus claims of victimization, because the power of victimhood status is to enticing.

To see an example of the Cult of Victimhood in action, consider this piece from Andrew Sullivan about Trump.  In the piece, Sullivan makes the point that one key dimension of why white, working-class voters have rallied to Trump is the disdain shown by cultural elites (mostly liberal but also conservative, to the extent those are still distinct categories) toward the culture and values of said white working-class people.  The reaction on social media to the piece was very telling.  Instead of pushing back on the thesis (i.e., « you are wrong, Andrew, we don’t disdain the values of these folks. »), or to admit the thesis and stand firm on the position (i.e. « yes, Andrew, we do disdain the values of these folks because these values are bad. »), the reaction was to criticize Sullivan for failing to assert that racism (and, to a lesser extent, homophobia) was the « real » reason why these voters were supporting Trump.

First off, Sullivan does talk about that in the piece.  But, more to the point, seizing on Sullivan’s purported failure to talk about race or homophobia is a way to side-step and de-legitimize the basic point that cultural elites disdain a big chunk of the population.  Because, if the « real » issue is race or homophobia, then in the Cult of Victimhood world the issues and objections of white working class folks are per se illegitimate, because they are the unrighteous victimizers.  In other words, yelling at Sullivan for failing to talk about race is another way of saying « their assertion of victimhood status is bogus because my victimhood status is real, and because my victimhood status is real their assertion of victimhood status must be bogus. »  And, of course, the same story can (and is) being said on the other side.  Which is why, along the lines of Sullivan’s piece, the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has been a heretofore unprecedented orgy of the Cult of Victimhood from all sides, and promises to become even more grotesque as we get closer to November.

Or, let’s take a perhaps less weighty example, from my geekdom of choice, tabletop role playing games.  To my utter shock, tabletop role-playing games are undergoing a renaissance.  A month or so ago, Slate, that bastion of middle-brow coastal opinion, published an article praising the Youtube show « Critical Role, » calling it « flat out great television. »  Now, I really like « Critical Role, » and it is a very well done show with interesting and engaging personalities, but at the end of the day it is an extended (usually four hours at a time!) video of a bunch of people playing Dungeons and Dragons.  If you told Middle School me that filmed D&D games would be covered and praised in the media, my head would have exploded.

My head would have exploded because when I was a kid there was a bias against geeky activities like D&D.  Now, I don’t want to oversell this–it would be grossly exaggerated to say most people into geeky stuff were persecuted, and it should never be compared to what is experienced by racial or sexual minorities.  But it was social disfavored, and the stigma was real.  For example, I kept my interests in this area mostly to myself as an adult, and kept the hobby at arms-length–I felt that people would perceive it as immature or weird.  I’ve shed that idea, partially out of a sense that letting what people think of your fun dictate what you do is lame and counter-productive, but also because it has become clear than no one cares anymore.

So, this should be a great time to be a tabletop RPG fan, and everyone should be happy, right?  Not quite.  It turns out there is a deeply toxic element of the tabletop RPG culture, one that has full-throatedly embraced the Cult of Victimhood.  Here’s a good example.  The basic claim is that there is a culture of sexual harassment in the hobby, directed an women in particular.  Immediately with the first commenter, we see the classic Cult of Victimhood push-back–« I am not the victimizer, because I am the victim of your persecution. »  Again, we see the clear binary, which is that if I am a victim, I cannot be a victimizer, and for me to be a victim, I need you, or someone else, to be the victimizer.

One theme, and this runs through much of the toxicity in geek culture (seen most clearly with « Gamergate »), is that the presence of women in the hobby is The Worst and is ruining it.  Here, I will simply restate my view that mixed gendered scenarios are basically always better than single gendered ones.  But the reflexive misogyny is not really about concrete experiences, but about the Cult of Victimhood.  A person who was rejected by the broader culture (which, to an adolescent male, is often identified with girls) builds an identity around the notion of being excluded and marginalized by « them. »  When « they » attempt to enter those spaces, this identity formed via perceived victimhood is threatened.  Thus, something which would logically be seen as a victory (« Girls once shunned me for playing tabletop RPGs, and now they want to play, too! ») becomes an existential threat.  By excluding these intruders, identity is maintained–at the cost, of course, of victimizing innocent women who just want to play a game.  But that reality doesn’t have to be faced, because it can be shunted aside in the binary narrative of the Cult of Victimhood.

My point in using these two examples is not pass judgment on the validity of the victimhood claims involved (though, from where I sit, the claims of victimization of racial and sexual minorities, as well as women in the RPG space, seem mostly real; the claims of male gamers seem mostly bogus; and the claims of white working class folks seem to be some combination of truth and self-serving fantasy).  The point is to talk about how the Cult of Victimhood works, and why it makes these kinds of debates so intractable.  No matter how real the persecution, the stories people tell regarding the persecution are fundamentally unreliable, especially if they divide the world into an « us » and a « them. »  And, once they are a « them, » we can stay safe in our bubble of righteousness.

The power of Girard’s ideas, for me, is the constant and destabilizing claim of a radical equality–we are all victims, and we are all victimizers.  This doctrine cuts through both our self-serving claims to goodness as well as the paralyzing guilt of our wickedness. Our only escape from the Cult of Victimhood is to find a way to embrace the hard teaching of Elder Zosima:

There is only one means of salvation, then take yourself and make yourself responsible for all men’s sins, that is the truth, you know, friends, for as soon as you sincerely make yourself responsible for all men, you will see at once that it is really so, and that you are to blame for everyone and all things.

The story of Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory, according to exit poll data, is very clear: He won the white working class by an unprecedented margin, and held on to a surprising majority of college-educated whites. That allowed him to flip heavily white areas of states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that had voted for Obama.

The big questions now are: Why this? And why now?

One answer you’ll hear is economic: that those white-working class voters were angry in the wake of the Great Recession and the ongoing job losses due to globalization, and were looking for someone to blame. This may end up being part of the general election story — we don’t have enough data to say for sure.

But preliminary data suggests it is hardly all of it. An analysis from USA Today’s Brad Heath found that Hillary Clinton got crushed in counties where unemployment had fallen in the late Obama years:

There’s something deeper going on here. And to understand this part of the story, you need to look beyond American borders. It’s tempting to think of Trump as something uniquely American, but the truth is that his rise is being repeated throughout the Western world, where far-right populists are rising in the polls. They’re not rising because of their economies. They’re gaining unprecedented strength because of their xenophobia.

In Hungary, the increasingly authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has started building a wall to keep out immigrants and holding migrants in detention camps where guards have been filmed flinging food at them as if they were zoo animals. In Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League, led by a politician who has attacked the pope for calling for dialogue with Muslims, is polling at more than three times its 2013 level, making it the country’s third most popular party. And in Finland, the Finns Party — which wants to dramatically slash immigration numbers and keep out many non-Europeans — is part of the government. Its leader, Timo Soini, is the country’s foreign minister.

Those leaders were among the first to praise the president-elect. Marine Le Pen, who runs an increasingly popular French far-right party, tweeted in elation: “Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and to the free American people!”

Politicians like Le Pen and Orban share Trump’s populist contempt for the traditional political elite. They share his authoritarian views on crime and justice. But most importantly, they share his deeply negative views of immigrants, his belief that Muslims are inherently dangerous, and his stated support for closing the borders to refugees and economic migrants alike.

These parties’ values are too similar, and their victories coming too quickly, for their success to be coincidental. Their platforms, a right-wing radicalism somewhere between traditional conservatism and the naked racism of the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan, have attracted widespread support in countries with wildly different cultures and histories.

A vast universe of academic research suggests the real sources of the far right’s appeal on both sides of the Atlantic are anger over immigration and a toxic mix of racial and religious intolerance. That conclusion is supported by an extraordinary amount of social science, from statistical analyses that examine data on how hundreds of thousands of Europeans to books on how, when, and why ethnic conflicts erupt.

We cannot understand Donald Trump’s victory, then, without understanding this global wave of what CNN anchor Van Jones memorably summed up as a “white lash.”

The resentment of the privileged

Political scientist Roger Petersen has argued, persuasively, that ethnic conflict around the world is often driven by something he calls “resentment”: the feeling of injustice on the part of a privileged portion of society when it sees power slipping into the hands of a group that hadn’t previously held it. Drawing on social psychology, he theorized that one of the underappreciated causes of ethnic violence was a change in the legal and political status of majority and minority ethnic groups.

In his book, Understanding Ethnic Violence, Petersen argues that his theory helps explain the causes of other cases of ethnic violence in Eastern Europe, including the carnage in the Balkans in the 1990s. Other scholars have since found that it could be used to understand communal violence elsewhere in the world.

A 2010 paper published in the journal World Politics tested Petersen’s theory, looking at 157 cases of ethnic violence in nations ranging from Chad to Lebanon. It found strong statistical correlations between a group’s decline in status and the likelihood that it turns to violence against another group.

What does any of this have to do with Donald Trump?

Petersen predicts that ethnic struggle should play out differently when governments are weak, as in the wake of a Nazi invasion, versus when they’re strong, as in modern France. In nations with strong and legitimate governments, the loss of status by a privileged group is extremely unlikely to produce large-scale ethnic slaughter.

But « resentment » on the part of the previously dominant group doesn’t just dissipate; it is simply channeled into another way of clinging to power and preventing another group from attaining it. Like, say, elections and government policies.

« Dominance, » Petersen writes, « is sought by shaping the nature of the state rather than through violence. »

While Petersen’s book focuses on Eastern Europe, his framework applies to all different kinds of countries. So when post–World War II Europe experienced a massive wave of immigration, in large part from nonwhite and Muslim countries, Petersen’s work would predict a major backlash. Ditto when the United States ended Jim Crow, allowing black people to participate as formal equals, and when it experienced a mass wave of Latino immigration.

What you saw in many of these countries was a very different kind of population moving in and occupying social roles that had previously been reserved for white Christians. This was the ultimate change in social hierarchy. Nonwhites, who had historically been Europe and America’s colonial subjects and slaves, were now becoming its citizens. They weren’t just moving in; they were changing its society.

The question wasn’t whether there would be a massive electoral backlash. It was when.

The rise of the European far right

For Jean-Marie Le Pen, arguably the father of Europe’s far-right political movement, the backlash began in earnest in 1984. His political party, the Front National (FN), won about 11 percent of the French national vote in the 1984 elections to the European Parliament. It was the first major electoral victory for a party of its kind.

Le Pen had founded the party 12 years earlier. It was a populist party, one that argued that ordinary people were being exploited by a corrupt class of cosmopolitan elites. They were also authoritarian, constantly warning of the dangers of crime and the need for a harsh state response.

But above all else, the FN was xenophobic. Its members believed the postwar wave of immigrants threatened the French nation itself; stopping more from coming in was the only thing that could save the country from being overrun. The party cleverly avoided labeling nonwhites “inferior,” but instead sold their xenophobia as a defense of “French culture” — rhetoric that functioned very similarly to Trump rhetoric about Latino crime.

« Immigration is the symbolic starting point for the debate of the future of the French nation, » FN politician Jean-Yves Le Gallou once said.

The FN’s success spawned imitators. In 1986, Jörg Haider — a firebrand who once praised Hitler for having a « proper employment policy » — took over Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO), transforming it into a xenophobic party along the FN’s lines. In 1999, the FPO came in second in Austria’s parliamentary elections, joining a government led by the center-right People’s Party.

In 2001, a Dutch sociology professor named Pim Fortuyn launched a new political movement — oriented entirely around opposition to Muslim immigration. « I don’t hate Islam, » he once said. « I consider it a backward culture. »

By 2002, Fortuyn’s new party, the Pim Fortuyn List, was second in the national polls. Fortuyn was assassinated by a far-left activist that year but was succeeded by another charismatic populist, Geert Wilders.

Wilders, who declared in July that « I don’t want more Muslims in the Netherlands and I am proud to say that, » leads the third-largest bloc in the Dutch parliament. Wilders’s party, the ironically named Party for Freedom, is consistently leading the polls ahead of the March 2017 national elections.

There are many others examples. The British far-right party, the United Kingdom Independence Party, played a crucial role in fueling the Brexit vote. In France, meanwhile, Le Pen’s daughter Marine has shed many of her father’s most controversial statements — his denial of the Holocaust, for instance — and turned herself into the kinder, gentler face of the party he founded decades earlier. Recent polling shows her near the top in the 2017 presidential election.

The rise of these parties has been studied extensively — and the evidence is quite conclusive. These parties’ success was driven by fear of immigrants.

« What unites the radical right is their focus on immigration, » Elisabeth Ivarsflaten, a professor at the University of Bergen in Norway who studies the far right, told me in a recent interview.

In a 2008 paper, she looked at data on vote shares for seven European far-right parties, to try to figure out why people voted for them. She found that a person’s support for restricting immigration was « close to a perfect predictor » of one’s likelihood of voting for a far-right party.

By contrast, people’s views on other political questions — like economics or trust in government — didn’t have nearly the same predictive value. You can see this in the following chart from her paper. The Y-axis is the probability of voting for a far-right party; the X-axis is the level of support for restrictive immigration policies, right-wing economic views, and the like. The difference between immigration policy preferences and the others is striking:

« This study therefore to a large extent settles the debate about which grievances unite all populist right parties, » Ivarsflaten concluded. « The answer is the grievances arising from Europe’s ongoing immigration crisis. »

Eight years later, after running tests on newer data for a forthcoming paper, Ivarsflaten believes the thesis still holds.

Crucially, the research also suggests that these people are driven by cultural grievances rather than economic ones — Petersen’s resentment theory, almost to a tee.

The most systematic effort to assess this, to date, comes from Harvard University’s Pippa Norris and the University of Michigan’s Ronald Inglehart. Norris and Inglehart looked at 12 years of European Social Survey data, surveying a whopping 294,000 respondents, to figure out the relationship between economic and cultural grievances and support for the European far right.

They found something startling: Earlier research suggesting the European far right draws support from globalization’s losers was simply wrong. Instead, it was from exactly the kind of people who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

« The strongest populist support, » they write, « remains among the petty bourgeoisie — typically small proprietors like self-employed plumbers, or family owned small businesses, and mom-and-pop shopkeepers — not among the category of low-waged, unskilled manual workers. »

Only one of the five economic variables they tested — employment status — correlated well with support for the populist right. That held true even when they controlled for variables like age, sex, ethnic identity, and minority status.

Then they set up an alternative model, one that tested whether five distinct cultural factors — like anti-immigrant attitudes and authoritarian values — would predict support for the far right. Every single one did.

In short: There was no good evidence that economic anxiety was driving cultural resentment. Economics played some contributing role, but it seems much more likely that the far-right backlash is about what the far-rightists say it’s about: immigration, race, and culture.

« [Populists’] greatest support is concentrated among the older generation, men, the religious, majority populations, and the less educated — sectors generally left behind by progressive tides of cultural value change, » they write.

You can’t understand Trump’s win without understanding this global movement

Far-right leaders like Le Pen have every reason to be elated by Trump’s win. He ran on an Americanized version of the European far-right platform. He essentially turned the Republican Party into a vehicle for their style of populism, and used it to win a national election in the world’s most powerful country.

Like his European counterparts, Trump has eschewed overt discussion of racial superiority during his campaign. He claims to have « a great relationship with the blacks » and tweets things like, « I love Hispanics! » He also claims to be an American nationalist standing up against a corrupt elite in hoc to « the false song of globalism. » One of his favorite descriptions of his worldview is « America First, » a slogan coined by World War II–era isolationists and anti-Semites.

Protestations aside, the bigotry that runs through Trump’s rhetoric is pretty blatant.

Trump first became a major political figure as leader of the birther movement — the people who questioned whether Barack Obama was really a natural-born US citizen — in 2011, taking advantage of racial anxieties about a black president to turn himself into a GOP power broker. He has claimed that a Mexican-American judge shouldn’t hear a case involving him because of the judge’s Hispanic background, described life in black communities as an unending hellscape of crime and poverty, and implied that all Muslim immigrants were potential terrorists. He deployed classic anti-Semitic rhetoric, warning of dark international banking conspiracies rigging the system against ordinary Americans.

Data from the primary shows that this kind of rhetoric was absolutely critical to his appeal. Over the summer, Michael Tesler, a professor at the University of California Irvine, took a look at racial resentment scores among Republican primary voters in the past three GOP primaries. In 2008 and 2012, Tesler found, Republican voters who scored higher were less likely to vote for the eventual winner. The more racial bias you harbored, the less likely you were to vote for Mitt Romney or John McCain.

With Trump, the opposite was the case. The more a person saw black people as lazy and undeserving, the more likely they were to vote for the self-proclaimed billionaire.

 

Tesler found similar effects on measures of anti-Hispanic and anti-Muslim prejudice. This shows that Trump isn’t drawing support from the same type of Republicans who were previously picking the party’s winners. He’s mobilizing a new Republican coalition, one dominated by the voters whose political attitudes are driven by prejudice.

« The party’s growing conservatism on matters of race and ethnicity provided fertile ground for Trump’s racial and ethnic appeals to resonate in the primaries, » Tesler wrote at the Washington Post in August. « So much so, in fact, that Donald Trump is the first Republican in modern times to win the party’s presidential nomination on anti-minority sentiments. »

It’s too soon to say how much, precisely, this explains about Trump’s stunning general election performance.

But we do have enough evidence to say that white resentment played a major role in fueling his support, even among the general population. Because the GOP nominee fit the mold of the European far right, rather than a traditional Republican, he was uniquely positioned to take advantage of racial anxieties produced by eight years of a black president and decades of mass Latino immigration.

Philip Klinkner, a political scientist at New York’s Hamilton College, found that factors like economic pessimism and income were statistically insignificant to Trump’s support. Instead, his research found that the leading driver was party identification, followed closely by racial resentment.

« Moving from the least to the most resentful view of African Americans increases support for Trump by 44 points, those who think Obama is a Muslim (54 percent of all Republicans) are 24 points more favorable to Trump, and those who think the word ‘violent’ describes Muslims extremely well are about 13 points more pro-Trump than those who think it doesn’t describe them well at all, » he writes.

He also set up an interaction variable between measures of economic pessimism and « racial resentment. » This tests whether people who were pessimistic about the economy were more likely to be racially resentful and support Trump.

Klinkner found bupkis. People who were racially resentful were more likely to support Trump regardless of their views of the economy.

Someone who was not very economically pessimistic but quite racially resentful was as likely to support Trump as someone who was equally resentful but much more pessimistic about the economy. Economic stress didn’t appear to be « activating » racial resentment.

Another study — whose findings were published by three researchers at Slate — took a different stab at this. They surveyed 2000 white Americans and asked them to say whether they thought whites were “more evolved” than blacks — that is, further away from apes.

They found very little differences in rates of prejudice by income. But, they write, “there is one group of whites that stands out in the degree to which it holds dehumanizing views of black people: Trump supporters.” Fifty-two percent of strong Trump supporters, they found, thought African Americans were less evolved — about twice as high as the rates among strong Trump opponents.

“We detected substantial levels of dehumanization among Trump supporters through additional survey questions as well,” they continue:

27 percent of Trump supporters said the phrase “lacking self-restraint, like animals” describes black people well, compared with 8 percent of Trump opponents. Trump supporters were also substantially more likely than Trump opponents to say that the terms “savage” and “barbaric” describe black people well.

Again, we do not know for sure how much of Trump’s astonishing general election performance this explains. Whereas the data is ironclad about Trump’s primary victory — it was clearly about racial resentment — the general election has yet to be analyzed in the same depth. There could end up being a bigger role for economic variables than there was in the primary, though the data about the European far-right militates against it.

Regardless, given these results and the broader international far-right wave, it is impossible to deny that white resentment against cultural change played a significant role in Donald Trump’s shocking victory.

The United States just elected a candidate who has employed the most racially charged language we’ve heard as a nation since the civil rights movement. And it looks like he won not in spite of his racism but because of it.

Voir aussi:

JUSTICE

Au procès de Jawad Bendaoud, les proches des victimes exigent du « respect »

« J’étais outré lors des débats par les rires. Moi, ça ne me fait pas rire. Je ne suis pas ici au spectacle. »

13-NOVEMBRE – Témoignage ahurissant, comparaisons grotesques, phrases choc… Depuis le début de son procès, l’attitude de Jawad Bendaoud ne cesse de choquer les familles des victimes, qui ont, au premier jour de leurs auditions ce mardi 30 janvier, appelé le « logeur » des jihadistes impliqués dans les attentats du 13-novembre à arrêter son « spectacle ».

Dès le deuxième jour du procès, la mère d’une des victimes avait fait part de sa « sidération » face aux propos de Jawad Bendaoud. Les parties civiles ont également fait part de leur indignation ce mardi, où ils sont venus à la barre pour la première fois.

Il y a eu Patrick, qui a perdu son fils au Bataclan, un autre Patrick dont la fille s’occupait de la lumière dans la salle de concert, Iordanka, dont le fils unique a été « abattu de sept balles », Abdallah dont les deux sœurs sont décédées, Sophie qui a raconté l’agonie de son mari…

Jawad Bendaoud et Mohamed Soumah, tous deux poursuivis pour « recel de malfaiteurs terroristes », ont pleuré quand une mère a raconté sa douleur. Son fils venait d’avoir 37 ans. « Chaque fois que je parle de mon fils, j’ai les larmes qui coulent », a commencé Iordanka. « Maintenant, c’est dur ma vie. (…) Ces trois personnes (les trois prévenus, y compris Youssef Aït Boulahcen, jugé pour « non-dénonciation de crime terroriste », ndlr) je voulais les voir en face », a-t-elle dit.

« C’est pas eux qui ont tué mon fils mais ils ont plus ou moins contribué. (…) J’attends que ces trois personnes soient jugées sévèrement », a-t-elle encore dit.

Le tribunal transformé en « théâtre de boulevard »

« J’ai perdu mes deux sœurs le 13 novembre. Ce qui me choque, c’est la légèreté avec laquelle M. Bendaoud et M. Soumah prennent ce procès », a expliqué à la barre Abdallah, très ému lui aussi. « Derrière ce qui se juge aujourd’hui, il y a des familles K.O ».

« Il y a un minimum de respect, de compassion à avoir. Ce n’est pas un show, pas un défilé de mode », a poursuivi cet homme qui a lui « aussi grandi dans une cité » et dont le père « a travaillé dur pour élever huit enfants ».

« J’étais outré lors des débats par les rires. Moi, ça ne me fait pas rire. Je ne suis pas ici au spectacle », a dit Patrick en lisant son texte poignant. « Bendaoud a réussi à transformer le tribunal en théâtre de boulevard », a déploré ce père, qui a cherché sa fille pendant 48 heures après le 13 novembre. « Ces énergumènes n’ont ni foi ni loi », a-t-il tranché.

Voir encore:

La mondialisation de l’inégalité

Avec un titre sous forme de conclusion, François Bourguignon reprend la plupart des clichés à la mode sur les inégalités. Et si les réalités (et les solutions) étaient bien différentes ?

Bogdan Calinescu.
Un article de l’aleps.

Ancien économiste de la Banque Mondiale, François Bourguignon apparaît comme le « spécialiste » des inégalités dans le monde. Son essai fait le tour du sujet mais n’apporte pas des réponses originales. Oui, il a raison de faire la différence entre les inégalités au sein d’un pays et celles d’un pays à l’autre. Il existe des inégalités entre les Américains mais on ne peut pas les comparer avec celles entre un Américain et un Somalien. L’auteur reconnaît aussi que le monde s’est enrichi, surtout depuis les années 1990. L’Inde et la Chine sont beaucoup plus riches qu’il y a 30 ans. La mondialisation a eu donc des effets bénéfiques. Néanmoins, il conclue à l’aggravation des inégalités depuis environ 30 ans. Et la mondialisation en est responsable. Au sein des pays, le phénomène inégalitaire se serait accru comme aux États-Unis. Et l’auteur de citer – inévitablement – les études des Thomas Piketty. Pour Bourguignon, « nos sociétés seraient de plus en plus inégalitaires et il faut corriger les injustices sociales ». Il faut « combattre la mondialisation des inégalités ». Vaste programme qui sent la hausse des impôts (même si l’auteur sait qu’elle peut avoir des effets néfastes sur l’économie) et du nombre de fonctionnaires, le clientélisme électoral et la redistribution aveugle. Cette politique interventionniste risque d’être faussée par la concurrence internationale. Bourguignon a la solution : il faut une « concertation internationale en matière de politiques redistributives ». Ça sent le gouvernement mondial…

Et si la réalité était différente ? D’abord, le monde s’est considérablement enrichi ces 20 dernières années. L’Amérique latine, l’Asie ont connu un développement économique impressionnant grâce à la mondialisation. En fait, les pays à la traîne sont surtout les pays qui ont fermé la porte à la mondialisation : la Corée du Nord, Cuba, la Bolivie, plusieurs pays africains… À moins d’être de (très) mauvaise foi, il est faux de dire que la mondialisation a accentué les inégalités. Elle a, au contraire, rendu les pays encore plus riches. Regardons les chiffres. Au début du XXe siècle, la différence moyenne entre les revenus les plus bas et les revenus les plus élevés étaient de 300. À la fin des années 2000, cette différence est de 50. C’est encore beaucoup mais c’est 6 fois moins qu’il y a un siècle. Il est vrai qu’il existe des salaires mirobolants comme ceux de certains footballeurs mais ce sont des exceptions. Oui, il existe des milliardaires. Mais il faudrait plus de Bill Gates et plus de Steve Jobs pour que les autres s’enrichissent et non pas l’inverse. Le système le plus « juste » c’est celui dans lequel les pauvres peuvent devenir riches et non pas l’inverse. Si les 1% des plus riches détiennent une très grosse fortune c’est qu’ils ont réussi. Et il faut rajouter que ces 1% payent 70% du total de l’impôt sur le revenu. Oui, on peut considérer que certaines inégalités se sont creusées, beaucoup plus dans des pays en développement rapide comme la Chine. Mais c’est aussi parce que les gens peuvent s’enrichir plus vite grâce aux opportunités économiques.

L’arme la plus efficace contre les inégalités n’est pas la redistribution mais la possibilité de s’enrichir. Les États-Unis montrent l’exemple. Dans le classement des milliardaires actuels, seulement 24% y figuraient en 1987. Le reste ce sont des entrepreneurs qui ont réussi et cela montre que la mobilité sociale est extrêmement importante car ça change tous les ans. C’est pareil pour les classes moyennes. La part des individus appartenant à la classe moyenne n’a cessé d’augmenter. La lutte contre les inégalités est devenue un véritable fonds de commerce qui ne tient pas compte des réalités économiques. Réduire les inégalités c’est d’abord offrir les opportunités pour réussir.

Voir par ailleurs:

Pas si grave
France Soir
Mercredi 10 Janvier 2018
Catherine Millet est l’une des signataires de la tribune « pour la liberté d’importuner » publiée dans « Le Monde » mardi. En décembre dernier, invitée sur France Culture, elle expliquait qu’elle regrettait de ne pas avoir été violée pour pouvoir montrer aux femmes qui l’avaient été que l’on « pouvait s’en sortir ».
L’auteure Catherine Millet a expliqué en décembre qu’elle regrettait de ne pas avoir été violée pour pouvoir prouver aux femmes que le traumatisme est surmontable.

Ses paroles de décembre dernier refont surface et créent la polémique. Catherine Millet est l’une des signataires de la tribune publiée dans Le Monde mardi 9 « pour la liberté d’importuner ». Avec, entre autres, Catherine Deneuve, elles disaient s’inquiéter pour « la libération de la parole » au sortir de l’affaire Weinstein suite aux dizaines d’accusations envers des hommes suspectés d’agressions sexuelles ou de viol.

Cette tribune a fortement divisé le public, une partie de celui-ci s’étant offusqué. « Cette libération de la parole se retourne aujourd’hui en son contraire: on nous intime de parler comme il faut, de taire ce qui fâche, et celles qui refusent de se plier à de telles injonctions sont regardées comme des traîtresses », était-il écrit en pointant du doigt le mouvement de contestation contre les violences sexuelles qui pourrait devenir « dangereux » selon les signataires.

Il semblerait pourtant qu’en décembre dernier à l’antenne de France Culture, Catherine Millet ait jouit de toute la liberté d’expression qu’elle voulait.

Ses paroles à propos du viol font d’ailleurs aujourd’hui débat. Elle expliquait ne pas pouvoir comprendre, et être « étonnée », que les victimes soient « traumatisées » après avoir vécu ces drames. « Alors d’abord, une femme ayant été violée considère qu’elle a été souillée, à mon avis elle intériorise le discours des autres autour d’elle. (…) Je pense que ça c’est un résidu d’archaïsme », a-t-elle tout d’abord expliqué.

Pour elle, « l’intégrité » des femmes n’est pas touchée après un viol puisque la conscience reste « intacte ». Elle a cependant souligné que « si la fille était vierge d’accord il lui manque désormais quelque chose » avant d’ajouter qu’elle considérait qu’il était « plus grave » de perdre un ou plusieurs membres dans un accident de voiture.

La journaliste Raphaëlle Rérolle lui a alors souligné que ce qui, entre autres, traumatisait les femmes victimes de viol c’était la violence de l’agression qu’elles avaient subie.

Catherine Millet, qui présentait alors son ouvrage La Vie sexuelle de Catherine M, lui a alors répondu: « Ça c’est mon grand problème, je regrette beaucoup de ne pas avoir été violée. Parce que je pourrais témoigner que du viol on s’en sort ».

Son interlocutrice lui a alors rappelé la notion de consentement et lui a fait remarquer que les femmes violées avaient été agressées sans avoir voulu de rapport sexuel avec leur agresseur. Encore une fois l’auteure a répliqué, expliquant qu’elle aussi, elle avait parfois eu des rapports sexuels avec des gens qui ne lui plaisaient pas forcément, chose bien différente que la notion de consentement.

« Mais par contre ça m’est arrivé d’avoir des rapports sexuels avec des gens qui ne me plaisaient pas spécialement. Parce que voilà c’était plus facile de céder à la personne ou parce que c’était une partouze et qu’on était en groupe ».

Pour rappel, selon le code pénal, « tout acte de pénétration sexuelle, de quelque nature qu’il soit, commis sur la personne d’autrui par violence, contrainte, menace ou surprise est un viol. Le viol est puni de quinze ans de réclusion criminelle ». Un rapport publié en novembre par l’Ined (Institut national d’études démographiques) a dévoilé qu’en France, une femme sur sept avait été victime de violences sexuelles dans sa vie.

Voir de plus:

The Uninvited
Jeremy Harding
London Review of Books
3 February 2000

In the early 1990s, about 80 million people – roughly 1.5 per cent of the world’s population – were living outside the country of their birth. The figure now is closer to 120 million. Migration across international borders is not a simple phenomenon and migrants themselves are as diverse as people who stay put. The banker from Seattle who signs a five-year contract for a post in Berlin is a migrant; so is the lay-out editor in Paris who moves to Moscow to work on a Russian edition of her magazine; so is the labourer from Indonesia or Thailand who becomes a building worker in Brunei; so is the teenage boy from Shanghai indentured to a Chinese crime ring in New York. Refugees, too, are migrants. Often they share their route to safety with others who are not seeking asylum: the smuggling syndicates known as snakeheads, which induct Chinese women into a life of semi-slavery in Europe and the US, also ran dissidents to freedom in the retreat from Tiananmen Square. These things are largely a question of money. Refugees are not necessarily poor, but by the time they have reached safety, the human trafficking organisations on which they depend have eaten up much of their capital. In the course of excruciating journeys, mental and physiological resources are also expended – some of them non-renewable.

In the past, the states of Western Europe have shown a generous capacity to take in refugees. The response to forced movement on the Continent itself, from the 1880s to the end of the Second World War, might fairly be seen as impressive. So might the absorption of refugees during the Cold War: far fewer, of course, and mostly from South-East Asia, in keeping with Cold War commitments. But by the mid-1980s, when numbers started to rise again, states in Western Europe were reviewing their duty to provide asylum. The change was connected with the new availability of one part of the world to another – with the expansion of global access, not least as a result of airline price wars. It occurred at a time when France, Germany, Britain and others had made up their minds that the postwar experiment with immigration from the South was over. Refugees have paid a high price for this decision.

They have also paid for the new prestige of the North American social and economic model – unrivalled now, but all the more conspicuous in its failings. The racially diverse society is a deeply troubling notion in Europe. The grinding together and shifting of peoples – the tectonic population movements that defined the European continent – were already well advanced, and largely settled, by the time the New World became a battleground between the monarchies of Europe and indigenous Americans. For Europeans, the multiracial model of the United States, founded on waves of relatively modern migration, including slave migration – the most lucrative case of human trafficking in history – is flawed. The Right in Europe thinks of it as a triumph of capitalism for which multiculturalism has been a high price to pay. The Left thinks of it as a qualified multicultural success which can never redeem the cost of that triumph.

In both views, the milling of cultures and races and the capitalist whirlwind are indissociable. Everyone pays grudging homage to the American model of cultural diversity, but European governments of all persuasions are dour about its advantages and alert to its dangers: cities eroded by poverty and profit; the cantonisation of neighbourhoods; urban and rural societies doubly fractured by ethnicity and class; most forms of social negotiation dragged along the runnels of identity politics. And if governments incline to the gloomy view, so do many voters.

Europeans have different ambitions for their social fabric, bound up one way or another with a lingering faith in regulation. Yet those who call for greater control of the global markets and the movement of capital are easily derided, while the wish to restrict free access to wealthier states for people from the South and East is seen as perfectly reasonable. Often the very people who think it a sin to tamper with the self-expression of the markets are the first to call for lower immigration from poorer countries, though in all probability, it would take decades of inward migration to bring about the degree of ‘cultural difference’ that a bad patch of international trading, a brisk downsizing or a decision by a large corporation to start ‘outsourcing’ can inject into a social landscape in a year.

It is nothing new for the non-white immigrant, or would-be immigrant, to have to bear the cost of Europe’s fears for its own stability, but the EU’s wish to keep out asylum seekers is a striking development. Under the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, they are distinguished from other migrants by their ability to demonstrate ‘a well-founded fear of being persecuted’. Many who do not qualify for ‘Convention status’ are protected by other agreements and various forms of temporary asylum, awarded on ‘humanitarian grounds’. In practice, however, the distinction between asylum seekers and other forms of disadvantaged migrant – a distinction designed to shield the refugee from prejudicial factors such as low immigration targets in host states – has been worn away. In Western Europe, refugees have begun to look like beggars at the gate, or even thieves. Since the 1980s, they have lost most lawful means of access to the rich world.

To governments aiming at low levels of immigration from poorer countries, asylum is an exemption that allows too many people past the barriers. Meanwhile, thousands of migrants whose objective is a better standard of living for themselves and those they have left behind are opting for asylum as a way to outflank restrictive immigration policies. The result is an expensive game of wits being played along the frontiers of the rich world. It is a worldwide contest, in progress anywhere between the state of New Jersey and the Yellow Sea, Queensland and New Mexico. In Europe, the field extends from the Baltic states to the straits of Algeciras, from the Aegean to the English Channel. You only have to go to Kent, or the Spanish enclaves in Morocco, or the coast of Puglia in southern Italy to watch the game unfold.

We left the harbour in Otranto just after dark, turned north and ran along the coast towards Brindisi. The boat was crewed by members of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza. It was fifty foot or so, with two powerful engines which threshed up the water like a harvester, cutting a straight path visible for half a mile behind us through the rolling waters. The moon, too, threw a line of light, brighter, narrower, scuffed at its edges by the winter swell.

In 1997 and 1998, two or three Guardia reconnaissance boats were out in the Otranto Channel at any one time, in all but the worst weathers. For most of the night, they combed the waters for boatloads of illegal immigrants from Albania. At the end of the 1990s, the Channel became a game board on which immigrant traffickers and tobacco smugglers pitted their skills against the Guardia, but it was the immigrants – i clandestini – who caused the real dismay in Italy. For most of 1998 they were leaving from the Albanian port of Vlorë; then, with Italian police surveillance on the Albanian coast, the departure points were moved. It takes about an hour for a good scafista and his partner to get their passengers across roughly 70 km of water. They are crammed aboard gommoni, or inflatable rafts, with two outboard motors. The gommoni run a gauntlet of detection and danger. The Guardia’s boats are equipped with radar; the scafisti have to negotiate patches of rough sea at very high speeds; they must also hope for cloud cover. But business is so profitable and, until recently, demand has been so intense, that a clear night has rarely deterred them.

From the deck of a Guardia boat you can see the game board in all its splendour. The wake of the boat and the moonlight traverse the waters like linear markers, setting the terms of the contest. As the gommoni scud across the Channel, they must keep clear of these two lines: the giveaway light of the moon and the roaming, telltale wash of the predator. For a time the lines run side by side, the one tracking the other, always the same inscrutable distance apart. Then the Guardia boat alters course and five minutes later the lines cross. The first two hours of a night patrol are spent in this obscure coming and going, the lines of light converging, diverging, running parallel. As the night draws on and the moon rises, the brighter path begins to fade until there is only a diffuse, milky light covering the water, and the one line, loitering, veering, running straight again, from the back of the boat. It is the record of one crew’s efforts to defend Italy’s frail territorial integrity, and with it, the integrity of Fortress Europe, bounded by a single external border.

On the Guardia boats, below decks, radar technicians monitor the waters for movement. A regular signal marking every 360 degree scan sounds like the blip of a heartbeat in casualty. In rough weather, the equipment picks up misleading signals. Twice, what might have been a boat turned out to be a piece of flotsam: a large vegetable oildrum, a reeling assortment of polystyrene packaging. The vessel was well off the Puglia coastline when news came through from the base in Otranto that there were four gommoni on the water, within minutes of the Italian beaches.

The lieutenant at the helm took his speed up to about 45 knots, flipping the boat over the waves. Garbled co-ordinates, crumbling with static, came through from the base radio. After a surge of movement that brought us within a kilometre of the coast, we slowed up and hung in the swell. The lieutenant produced a pair of infrared binoculars and gazed through them at the mainland. He handed them across, arranging and rearranging me, until I could pick out the shapes of migrants wading through the shallows, the rubber rafts lying off the beach and the scafisti pouring two-stroke into the outboard motors as they prepared for the return journey to Vlorë. It was my first sight of illegal immigrants, tiny, pale and alien, stirring like febrile particles under a microscope. I would have seen them, I suppose, in the way we tend to see them, clambering into our world, importunate, active, invasive, always other than ourselves: clandestini, irregolari, extra-comunitari. Headlights moved from left to right through the trees behind the beach: cars organised by the traffickers to pick up the migrants; maybe a few police vehicles speeding to the scene.

No one in Italy can agree on how many people are in the country without ‘papers’. A recent amnesty for ‘illegals’ who could prove they’d arrived before March 1998 provoked an uproar when it became clear that fewer than 40,000 irregular migrants would be eligible by the terms of the deal: there were thought to be between five and ten times that number in the country. It is not known how many people entered on the gommoni in the late 1990s. Some in the Guardia will tell you that by the middle of 1998, there were up to 40 boats a night; others put it at 25 – which is to say, anything between 500 and 1000 migrants attempting the passage on the coast of Puglia alone. Thousands were coming from Kosovo, Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan, and places further afield – West Africa, the Rift Valley, the remains of the Soviet Union, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China. A turmoil of movement has been taking place in the Adriatic, and the Mediterranean as a whole, as thousands of people from the Maghreb make their way up to Sicily or cross the Straits of Gibraltar in fishing boats crammed to the gunwales. It is difficult to know what will stop this movement or how it might be regulated.

In 1998, when Austria held the EU presidency, it suggested in a draft paper on immigration and asylum that the number of migrants to ‘the rich, especially Western European, states’ exceeds 1.5 million a year. ‘The proportion of illegal immigrants in this total,’ the paper adds, ‘has clearly increased. It must now be assumed that every other migrant in the “first world” is there illegally.’ There is no knowing whether this figure is accurate, but one thing is sure: the muddier the conjecture, the better it sticks, and the association with illegality is hard for large numbers of non-nationals or extra-comunitari in wealthy EU countries to shed. For refugees and asylum seekers this is especially worrying, because so many have had to break the law first in their own country, then in their putative host country, in order to find safety. Often there is no other way.

Paragraph 1, Article 31 of the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees recognises that refugees may be obliged to use illicit means of entry into a safe country – just as they may have to evade customs and immigration checks to get out of their own – and requires that host countries ‘shall not impose penalties’ on this account. Yet, with the extension of the single European border in the 1990s, asylum seekers who enter a country illegally have come to be seen as a threat to EU, as well as national, security. At the heart of the EU’s thinking about refugees lies the imputation of a double criminality: not only do they flout national boundaries, but they consort with criminal trafficking gangs to do so. As signatories to the 1951 Convention, states cannot punish asylum seekers for illegal entry, but to associate them persistently with crime is itself an insidious form of penalty. It leads to the presumption that most asylum claims are bogus (if deceit was the means of entry, why should it not be the basis of the whole claim?) and justifies measures designed to deprive them of elementary privileges – some would say, rights.

The huge forced movements of people in Europe during the 20th century were always a cause of anxiety, and often outright hostility, on the part of states that took in refugees. But the record suggests that even very large numbers of refugees can be accommodated without disruption to host states. During the 1920s and 1930s, France received hundreds of thousands of White Russians and German Jews; in the 1990s, Germany – already deeply committed after reunification – took in more refugees than any other EU member from the former Yugoslavia. The misgivings of wealthy, capitalised states about accommodating refugees are a reaction in the first instance to the manner of their arrival, to the initial cost – housing, school places, social security benefits – and to the tensions that arise, as they have in parts of Germany and Britain, between new groups of refugees and resident communities. The uninvited are a costly nuisance when they first show up: a fact which sharpens official dislike of those who smuggle them in.

The crews of the Guardia di Finanza in Otranto have much to say about the scafisti. They will grudgingly admit how much they admire their skill; they will talk morosely about the difficulty of catching them and the leniency with which they are treated by the Italian courts. They think of them chiefly as ruthless profiteers who will put people’s lives at risk for gain. Since a clash three years ago between a Guardia boat and a large Albanian vessel, when around eighty or ninety migrants were drowned, the Guardia are under instructions to pursue the traffickers only after they have delivered their passengers. The policy is not always observed, but most of the chases in the Channel take place when the scafisti are heading for home in empty boats.

A chase is dramatic and largely symbolic – another kind of contest between the cumbersome forces of the state and a more mobile, unencumbered enemy with few allegiances and no terrain to defend. A Guardia boat can manage a top speed of 65 miles an hour. Its quarry is capable of slightly faster bursts, the prow riding up at a rampant angle to the water. Under a handheld searchlight beamed from the Guardia boat, you can see the outboards and the hooded drivers, but as you turn in on the gommone, it simply pirouettes in a flurry of spray and slides away. I was on a Guardia boat during one of these chases. The captain forced the gommone round several times, turning at full power, until it hit our wake, bouncing wildly over the ridge of ferment, baulking at a great ditch of water on the other side and recovering to steer for home. We made another approach, another turn, a fraction earlier than the last; the gommone thrashed across the bows at a tremendous pace and tore into the night; we altered course and picked it up again, pursuing, circling, almost engaging. Things went on in this way until we were halfway to Albania. But it was clear from the first confrontation that the Guardia were up against hopeless odds. In this bruising, violent but strangely abstract hunt, manoeuvrability has a clear advantage.

The organised traffic of people from Albania is abetted in Puglia by the Sacra Corona Unità, one of Italy’s four Mafia conglomerates, which also handles tobacco smuggling – now a Guardia priority (as it is for British customs) – and a proportion of the marijuana grown in Albania: the scafisti act as couriers. Elsewhere, ‘facilitators’ offer access to the rich world via lorry, train and sea container. Agents in Asia and Africa receive money for getting people into the high-security areas of airports so that they can stow away in the landing gear of aircraft and die. By the end of the 1990s it was thought that the number of young women being smuggled into the EU every year from the former Eastern bloc and forced into prostitution was in the hundreds of thousands. It is not hard to see why the traffickers are vilified by governments, police and the press. They can foil the defences of the United States and Fortress Europe, carrying a criminal virus into the rich world, a sickness which has its origins – we like to suppose – thousands of miles away.

There is no question that traffickers are ruthless. In 1998, at the Centro Regina Pacis, a summer colony for schoolchildren which had been converted into short-term accommodation for refugees, I was introduced to a young Kosovar called Fatmir. He had taught Albanian in a private school in his village; he was also a Kosovo Liberation Army supporter: fair game for the Serbians and an asylum-seeker who could expect success under the terms of the 1951 Convention. In 1998, soon after his village was bombarded and the school burned down, he joined an exodus of KLA from the province. They were heading for Albania. Fatmir took up with a contingent of about 400 fighters, followed by some 1500 civilians. He walked for three days across the mountains, but encountered Serbian police at the border. Three of his party were killed. He now embarked on a ten-day detour, attempting another route into Albania, but this failed and he made the five-day journey on foot back across Kosovo and into Montenegro. There, he and his companions – four brothers and some cousins – paid 200 Deutschmarks each for a ride in a kombi down to Lake Shkodër. They paid another 50 Deutschmarks each to be ferried across and, a month or more later, having arrived in Vlorë, a further 1000 DM or so for passage on a gommone.

The agents who took his money for the last leg of the journey gave Fatmir the impression that he would be going straight up to Milan and, from there, through Switzerland to Germany on forged Italian documents. With him on the gommone were nine people from Kosovo. Most of the others were Albanians. The gommone was not detected and the passengers, around thirty of them, waded ashore in the dark, led by an Albanian agent carrying a bag of marijuana. They followed the agent through the dark into a coppice, hid until the police had called off a brief helicopter search, and after a seven-hour walk reached a ruined house in the countryside. The agent collected more money from all of the passengers and disappeared, instructing them to wait in the house: ‘A taxi will come and take you to Milan.’ After two hours, a small truck arrived and they wedged themselves inside, but they had only gone a few kilometres when the driver and his mate stopped the vehicle and threw all the Kosovars out. Fatmir and his companions walked to Lecce, thinking they might change some money and take a train north, but they were apprehended at the station and put on a boat back to Albania. Fatmir was returned because he was eager not to claim asylum: a number of people who could petition successfully would rather try to get through Italy undetected and lodge the claim in a neighbouring state, where they have a better network of expatriate contacts who can assist with lodgings, social services and, eventually, jobs. This kind of common sense on the part of asylum seekers is now disparaged by European governments as ‘asylum shopping’.

Fatmir’s second venture across the Channel some weeks later was a success. Once ashore, he simply went to a police station and announced that he was from Kosovo. He no longer had a Kosovo ID card: it had been removed by an Albanian official on his return from Italy (and sold, he was convinced, to an Albanian who could now pose as a Kosovar in order to claim asylum). He had spoken to dozens of other arrivals and discovered that it was quite common for agents to treat Kosovars – and Kurds – in the way they had treated him, first time around. The agents, he believed, wanted only to maximise their success rate. For Kurds and Kosovars to remain in Italy, it is normally enough for them to make their way to the police, as Fatmir did on his second run, and announce their place of origin, which is why the agents could dump a group from Kosovo by the side of the road, and rob them, without jeopardising their own reputation as effective traffickers or the chances of their clients’ remaining in Italy. Albanians, on the other hand, are mostly economic migrants. The EU takes a dim view of them and, if caught, they are returned as a matter of course by the Italian authorities. For this group, more careful chaperoning by the agents is necessary. The alternative, for an Albanian, is to pose as a Kosovar refugee: Fatmir’s Kosovo ID card would have fetched a good deal of money, up in the hundreds of dollars, in Albania.

In Puglia, I became suspicious of the idea that traffickers were a modern embodiment of evil. I didn’t doubt their business acumen, or their lack of scruple with lives, but it was reasonable to assume there was another side to the story and in due course I heard it, from a young man called Adem, another resident at Regina Pacis. Fadil was from Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo. He left in 1998, at the age of 23, after two or three incidents of police harassment. He went overland to Albania and bought a place on a gommone for 1750 Deutschmarks – about £600 – but the boat ran up against very bad weather and turned back halfway to Italy. Having returned to Vlorë, the passengers waited for another run. Together with a new intake that brought the total to 42, they set off again 12 hours later on a bigger boat. Adem told me in his faltering, Americanised English that the scafisti were ‘very good guys’. He’d heard about them tipping people overboard at gunpoint and when, on his second run, the Guardia di Finanza approached the boat moments from a beach, he prepared for the worst. Instead, the scafista and his mate worked their way about and put off their passengers in the shallows. The Guardia nearly cornered the gommone before everyone was off. The scafisti flipped it around at full throttle and lit away from the beach, with a man and two young children still on board. Again, Adem expected to see them dump their charges in the high waters a hundred metres from the beach, but they took the gommone into another patch of shallows and helped them over the side. The Guardia boat was in hot pursuit and Adem believed the scafisti were taking ‘a big risk’ when they set the last three passengers down.

There are nonetheless few Schindlers among the modern traffickers in human beings, and the money is good: one gommone with thirty passengers safely delivered is worth about £20,000 in fees; it has been suggested that the business of illegal migrant trafficking, worldwide, is worth between $5 and $7 billion a year. We think of agents, traffickers and facilitators as the worst abusers of refugees, but when they set out to extort from their clients, when they cheat them or dispatch them to their deaths, they are only enacting an entrepreneurial version of the disdain which refugees suffer at the hands of far more powerful enemies – those who terrorise them and those who are determined to keep them at arm’s length. Human traffickers are simply vectors of the contempt which exists at the two poles of the asylum seeker’s journey; they take their cue from the attitudes of warlords and dictators, on the one hand, and, on the other, of wealthy states whose citizens have learned to think of generosity as a vice. When traffickers treat their clients properly, however, they interrupt the current of contempt. Above all, they save lives. In the end, the question of good or bad intentions is less important than the fact that people like the scafisti provide a service for desperate people, to whom all other avenues have been closed.

This is the meaning of the terse exchange that millions of us have watched at least once in the movie Casablanca, shortly before the love interest sweeps in, arm-in-arm with the suave paragon of anti-Nazi struggle. It is 1942; Casablanca is full of refugees who have taken passage from Marseille to Oran and come overland in the hope of obtaining a visa to Lisbon. Ugarte (Peter Lorre), a forger and procurer of documents, asks Rick to look after two sets of safe-conduct papers until his clients arrive. ‘You despise me, don’t you?’ he says to Rick. ‘You object to the kind of business I do, huh? But think of all those poor refugees who must rot in this place if I didn’t help them. But that’s not so bad. Through ways of my own, I provide them with exit visas.’

‘For a price, Ugarte,’ Rick replies. ‘For a price.’

In human trafficking, the price is all-important, but it is not everything. Traffickers enjoy playing cat and mouse with immigration authorities. In the mid-1990s, the exiled Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah began to investigate the state of his fellow nationals after the fall of Siyad Barre. Many were refugees in Kenya. Others had made it to Europe, North America and the Gulf. Farah spoke to several of the traffickers who had helped them and soon discovered the relish with which the ‘battle of wits’ was joined. He met a xambaare, or ‘carrier’, in Italy, once a professor of biochemistry, who was now officially a ‘resident’ in one European country and a ‘refugee’ in another. ‘What matters,’ he told Farah, ‘is that the doors are closed … and we, as carriers, are determined to open them.’ Another xambaare in Milan told him that trafficking was a kind of ‘dare’ – a challenge taken up in the dismal refugee camps in East Africa, where many Somali carriers have had to subsist in the first stages of exile. Carrying, he said, was largely a way of helping people to snub the rich nations, ‘who frustrate their desire to leave a hell-hole of a country like Kenya by placing obstacles in their path all the way from the starting point of their journey down to the cubby-holes which they call home here in Milan’.

The game of wits, the challenge, the whole business of clandestine entry – this has always been part of the refugee’s experience, but it is only since the 1980s that they have featured so prominently. One of the most important changes has been that rich countries now require a visa from citizens wishing to travel from places that are likely to generate asylum seekers; Britain, for example, imposed visa requirements for people travelling from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, from Algeria in 1990, from Sierra Leone in 1994 and from Colombia in 1997. It is, of course, very dangerous for someone who is being targeted by a regime, or an insurrectionary group, or a religious movement, to be seen presenting themselves at a foreign embassy day after day in the hope of obtaining a visa. Even if the embassy is not under surveillance, there are likely to be local staff who will report the application. Safer, for those who can afford airline tickets, to think of a destination that does not require an entry visa, buy a ticket that involves a stopover in the country in which they wish to claim asylum, and make the claim in transit. But this option is being closed off by means of the Direct Airline Transit Visa, introduced by Britain in 1998 when a group of Kosovars claimed asylum while in transit through London. Travellers from over a dozen countries are now required to have these visas if their flights stop over in Britain, and there is now a proposal from the Finnish presidency of the EU to extend this policy to other states with a standard-format transit visa.

In addition, airlines must pay high fines for carrying anyone whose papers are not in order, as well as the cost of returning them to their point of departure. ‘Carrier liability’, as it is known, is an American idea, which can be found in a Bill that went before the Senate immigration committee in 1903 and called for deportations of undesirable immigrants ‘at the expense of the steamship or railroad company which brought them’. When carrier liability reappeared in the 1980s, the US again took the lead, but there were now a number of wealthy countries willing to follow suit. Airline companies had once been a neutral – which is to say, benevolent – force from the asylum seeker’s point of view; groundstaff might even intervene discrectly in cases where local security in some torrid dictatorship tried to prevent a dissident boarding a plane. This has changed. The risk of incurring high penalties has forced carriers to act as a screening agency on behalf of governments. Nowadays, when the British Government decides that an airline company’s ability to check passenger documentation has reached an adequate standard, it awards the company a special status, reducing its liability in the event of passengers slipping through the net.

None of this would be so serious if the UN’s resettlement programmes could bring refugees to safety. But their application is narrow. Strictly speaking, to be eligible for resettlement, a person must already be in a country ‘of first asylum’ and still be at risk – like many Somalis in Kenya – or unable to integrate in the longer term. This rules out hundreds of thousands of people, not yet recognised as refugees according to the terms of the 1951 Convention. The resettlement programme is also modest. In the late 1970s, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was resettling nearly a quarter of a million people a year (most of them from Indochina), or roughly one in four of the world’s refugees. By the end of the 1990s, resettlement involved fewer than 30,000 people – around one in every 500.

Little by little, the routes which asylum seekers once took to safety have been choked off. The formidable growth in underground ‘travel agencies’ – document forgers, chaperones, drivers, boatmen – is the consequence. They are the material result of Europe’s dreary pastoral fantasy, in which the EU resembles an Alpine valley, surrounded by impregnable, snow-capped mountains. For most asylum seekers who wish to reach Europe, being smuggled to sanctuary has become the only option.

At the harbour in Otranto there are two short rows of prefabricated huts and containers for illegals who have been caught, most of them on the beach, a handful inland. They arrive at the huts drenched and chilled to the marrow. They are shivering, terrified, nearly ecstatic – a state induced by the journey and the fact of having survived it. Their eyes are bright, feverish, inquiring, their faces transfigured by a combination of exhaustion, curiosity and surprise. It’s as though they’d tumbled slowly and painfully to earth through rain-logged skies and couldn’t quite grasp that they’d survived the impact of landing. Jeans, shirts, pullovers are set out to dry between the huts and, after an hour or so, the men begin milling about, while the women sit with their heads bowed and the children sleep.

It is 5 a.m. There are dozens of detainees in the huts. Two Albanians who are sure to be sent back take out their documents: they have wives in Italy and children attending Italian schools; they have work contracts and Italian tax returns, the sodden evidence of their right of abode in Italy. One is a building labourer, the other a mechanic. The labourer heard that his mother had taken sick in Tirana; his friend had accompanied him back. When the time came to return to Italy, they couldn’t get a stamp from the Italian Embassy and anyhow, they explained, it is hard to take the legal route to Italy on the ferry that plies the Channel daily. The scafisti soften the ticketing companies and harbour authorities with a mixture of threats and incentives, to ensure that very few passengers avail themselves of the ferry and demand for the gommoni remains high. But these two men, who are legally entitled to stay in Italy, attempted illegal entry and that is sufficient reason to send them back. (Imagine a diligent servant lodging in the house of the family he works for. He has to leave for a day, on business, but loses his key. He arrives late at night and enters by a window at the back. The family dismisses him.) The strain on the faces of these two men is no longer the strain of fatigue. It has cost them over the odds to get to Otranto and now all their outlay is lost. They point again and again to their documents, place them in my hands, chivvy me into longer, more fastidious inspection, and when I hand them back, they, too, stare at them, as though they were turning to pulp.

By 7 a.m. medics, fingerprinters and interpreters are arriving at Otranto harbour. People are examined for injuries. Migrants often sustain fractures wading ashore in the dark. Children can be concussed, or more seriously damaged, by the repetitive jolting of the boats at high speed on rough seas. In one of the huts, plywood table tops have been set across oil-drums and forensic staff are preparing to take fingerprints. The migrants shuffle down the line with their hands extended. The abrupt introduction of the illegal alien to the grudging host state begins. In this parody of greeting, gloved hands reach out to bare hands, seize them, flatten them down on an ink block, lift them across the table-top and flatten them again onto a square of paper. Four sets of prints are taken from each person, then a photograph. A group of Kurdish men, some in stone-washed denims, others in crumpled check turn-ups from their overnight bags, dig their knuckles into a tub of industrial cleansing jelly and climb out of the hut, wringing their blackened hands. A truck arrives with sacks of sandwiches and cases of mineral water. Briefly the sight of food jolts the detainees into activity; dejection and reticence give way to energy and assertion. Men come forward to skirmish on behalf of wives, sisters, children. As disorder threatens, a detachment of carabinieri cajole them into silence.

There are 60 detainees in all. About a third are Albanians, who will be sent back on the ferry. The rest are Kosovars and Kurds, who will be shepherded onto buses and driven up the coast to the Centra Regina Pacis, to be quartered and processed, and eventually released into Italy with a short-stay permit or leave to remain while Rome considers their asylum application. The figures for last night’s game in the Otranto Channel are now through: 12 landings and 201 detentions along the coast of Puglia. Some clandestines – perhaps as many as a hundred – will have got away. It is a Sunday morning. Rain drives down on the prefab huts. Grey seas fret at the harbour walls. As the first contingent of shivering Kurds prepares to board a waiting bus, a dull church bell starts tolling for Mass.

Whether they’ll live or die must, at some point on the journey, become a more pressing question for illegal entrants into EU countries than whether they will find a foothold in the rich world. These journeys are dangerous. But to be driven by attrition is to prefer the devil you don’t know, or to give him the benefit of the doubt, and for those who buy passage on the gommoni, the devil is vaguely familiar in any case. Rumour and precedent keep the scafisti in business. This form of passage is relatively low risk. The bigger boats which fill up with passengers along the shores of the eastern Mediterranean and drift around with hundreds of people on board waiting for the moment to abandon them on the Italian coast are another matter. Death from thirst, sickness, hunger or a full-scale disaster are pressing possibilities.

About three hours after the buses loaded with Kurds and Kosovars left for Regina Pacis on that bitter Sunday morning, a 200-tonne vessel under an Albanian flag dropped anchor south of Otranto, off Santa Maria de Leuca. The captain and most of the crew got away in an inflatable raft, consigning their passengers to Italian jurisdiction, and the Guardia di Finanza began shuttling them off the boat in lighters and reconnaissance craft. The captain had been cruising the coasts of Greece and Albania for two weeks, but some of the passengers had probably been at sea for longer, languishing in an even larger boat anchored off the coast of Turkey, before being decanted into this elderly cargo ship.

Hundreds of bystanders waited on the quays in the lashing rain, watching the migrants disembark. One Guardia shuttle consisted entirely of Africans. On the gangways, a ravaged young man lifted his face and bared his parched mouth to the downpour. To a barrage of questions he replied that he was from Sierra Leone and that he’d been travelling for three months. He flicked one hand gracefully, dismissively, at about the level of his forehead: ‘Up, up.’

He meant that he and his friends had come overland from West Africa. I asked where they boarded ship, but the police shut the conversation down. That night I drove along the coast through a violent storm to Regina Pacis, to find out more, but the gates were barred by a detachment of carabinieri. After half an hour an official appeared and read out a provisional tally of arrivals: 169 from Turkey, probably Kurds, four from Iraq, three Afghans, 17 from Sierra Leone, 29 from Guinea-Bissau, one from the Democratic Republic of Congo and another from Senegal.

In the course of 24 hours in deep winter, with Italian security already beginning to deploy in Albania and the Italian Government more resolute than it had been throughout the hectic summer of 1998, 400 illegal migrants had entered the country. The figure does not include those who made their way off the beaches of Puglia without being detected. Statistics for the following year showed no let-up: by October 1999, over 20,000 illegal migrants had been apprehended and for every one of those, the Guardia di Finanza estimated, two or three would have slipped through the net.

In 1937, with one massive displacement of people following another in Europe and points east, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London commissioned a comprehensive survey of refugee movements. To superintend the project, it appointed John Hope Simpson, a persuasive and highly energetic man who had worked in India and Palestine, directed National Food Relief policy in China and served as vice-president of the Refugee Settlement Commission in Athens. Simpson’s mainstay in France was H.W.H. Sams, a gifted investigator decorously referred to in the report as ‘Mr Sams’. France, Simpson noted, was ‘par excellence the country of refuge in Western Europe’ and Sams had his work cut out to account for the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Russia, Germany, Armenia, the Saar, Republican Spain and, as time went on, from Fascist Italy. For most of the 1920s, a high demand for labour worked in favour of refugee ‘integration’. Depression did away with that propitious circumstance – it also marked a reversal in France’s vigorous pro-immigration stance. By the mid-1930s, however, labour was once again an issue: indeed, with the population little more than half that of its huge, industrialised and militarised neighbour to the east, something of a national security imperative. On the other hand, tailoring the location of refugees to the precise contours of demand, before and after the Depression, was impossible and would, in any case, have been a delicate matter, even though discrimination and ill-treatment were common enough. Of the large numbers of Russians entering France after the Bolshevik Revolution, a proportion were thoroughly marginalised. Sams reported that in Lyon, which had one of the biggest Russian colonies, 45 per cent of the refugees were unemployed and living in ‘great poverty’. In Marseille, the Russians who worked on the docks ‘are amongst the dregs of the cosmopolitan population’ of the city. Every night, along the banks of the Rhone, about 100 ‘bridge-dwellers’ were sleeping rough.

Still, there was work and, under the Front Populaire, a growing culture of social provision, which extended unemployment and sickness benefit to refugees. ‘In general,’ Sams reported from Moselle, ‘any Russian with the willingness to work and good health can earn a living.’ Former German nationals, too, found sanctuary in France, which in the third quarter of 1933, received between 30,000 and 60,000 refugees from Nazism. Many remained for several years, others moved on to Palestine, Latin America, the US and South Africa. The figures began to fall in 1937, but by now 6 per cent of the population were of foreign origin and there were still refugees coming in from Germany, Austria and Spain, including ‘wounded or incapacitated German members of the International Brigades’.

It was the crisis in the Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Empires, and the fretwork of successor states created after their demise, that gave Simpson and his team such a wealth of human material to consider. Already, from the 1880s to the eve of the Great War, enormous numbers of Jews had been driven west by Tsarist and Polish pogroms. By the time the Ottoman Empire had been divested, the survivors of the Armenian genocide of 1915-16 were scattered in camps from Sofia to Damascus. In the 1920s, thousands of Kurds followed the Armenians out of Turkey to settle in Syria, the Lebanon and Iraq. A million and a half Russians were displaced by the Bolshevik Revolution, a third of whom were still stateless by World War Two. With the dismantling of Austria-Hungary and the formation of the Baltic states, new swathes of Europeans swelled the ranks of apatrides, or stateless persons; others found that they were now members of precarious minorities with marginal rights in new political entities, confected by the postwar treaties.

At the end of World War Two, with the retrenchment of other empires, mass movement was largely assigned out of Europe: to India and other outposts, and subsequently imperial zones of contention where the superpowers had leaseholder status and a steely readiness to wage war by proxy. During the Cold War, three million people left their homes in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, five million left Afghanistan, a million or more were uprooted in Central America; in Africa, where there are still nearly seven million refugees and many more people displaced inside their own borders, a long moment of disorder and upheaval began.

Hundreds of aid workers and dozens of refugee monitors – the successors of John Hope Simpson and Mr Sams – found themselves reconvened in Europe in the 1990s as a series of successor states came into being after the collapse of Communism. The dramatic character of events in 1989 and the years that followed gave them a deceptively singular cast, but in the Baltic countries and elsewhere it was a smeared mirror-image of interwar statelessness that now reappeared. Punitive rules of citizenship denied 700,000 Russian-speakers national status in Latvia and 500,000 in Estonia. By the end of 1996, the UNHCR was alarmed by the ‘significant numbers’ of Slovaks and Roma rendered stateless, in effect, by the creation of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In the 1930s, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia had been exemplary hosts to large refugee populations. It was now the turn of former Yugoslav and Czechoslovak nationals – Yugoslavs, above all – to spill across new boundaries in search of refuge. Many of the elements that had led to the massive evictions of the interwar years were once again in place, but the idea of sanctuary had atrophied: Europe had forgotten the codes of conduct in moments of crisis. And in trying to reckon with the wars in Yugoslavia, it was unsure whether the Balkans were really a part of the new amnesiac Europe at all: might they not simply be Slav lands caught in an eternal dichotomy of fracture and Oriental despotism – and foundering in the useless politics of memory?

Western Europe’s heightened sense of the other – both fearful and condescending – shaped its reluctance to intervene in any decisive way in Bosnia, but at the end of the 1990s, with very high numbers of refugees already exiled from the former Yugoslavia and thousands more now arriving from Kosovo, it was impossible to quarantine the Balkans any longer. The many asylum seekers who breached the fortress, and to whom, in the end, Germany and others opened their doors, were a pressing consideration in the Nato air campaign. A regime that had confined the effects of its misdeeds within its own borders might have fared better, but Slobodan Milosevic’s policies were foisting large numbers of terrified people on prosperous nations that wanted nothing to do with them. That was one of the problems that the European members of Nato had in mind when they spoke of a ‘humanitarian crisis’. Tens of thousands of Kosovars had already lodged asylum claims in the EU before Nato began its airstrikes. The Albanian scafisti ferried hundreds across the Otranto Channel every week, while others struck out east to embark on an overland route into the EU via Bulgaria and Romania. The EU looked on with growing dismay.

Yet the extraordinary deportations with which Serbia responded to the Nato intervention made these movements look trifling by comparison. In a matter of months, the number of deportees in Macedonia and Albania stood at around half a million. This was by no means the biggest post-World War Two eviction in Europe – the ‘return’ of Germans from Poland and Sudetenland involved far higher numbers – yet it was probably the most shocking. The speed and intensity of the Kosovo deportations gave them the appearance of rapid flight from a natural disaster. By spelling out the morbid continuity between the earlier part of the century and its close, the exodus also seemed to suggest that the ‘great events’ of history which occurred first as tragedy were in no way destined to repeat themselves as farce.

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt remarked that ‘those whom the persecutor had singled out as the scum of the earth – Jews, Trotskyites etc – actually were received as scum of the earth everywhere.’ She was writing about the ‘denationalisations’ of the 1930s under Hitler and Stalin. The Kosovan refugees fleeing into Albania were spared a similar reception. They came in carts, towed by tractors, along the flaring snowline of Pastrik, down into a country that existed only in name, but which was once the lodestone of every militant Kosovar’s irredentist dreams. Here they were lodged by distant Albanian cousins: in Kukes, in the north of Albania, I saw 26 people living in an apartment that a family of four could have managed in Slough or Sarcelles. Yet there was a bitter aftertaste to this draft of hospitality, for it proved that blood and filiation are the best guarantees of sanctuary and that outside their clan, refugees have little to fall back on. In millions of cases, to be an asylum-seeker is to be a stranger on trial. He is accused of nothing more palpable than his intentions, but these are assumed to be bad and the burden of proof rests with the defence.

Arendt believed that it was a simple matter for a totalitarian regime to ensure that the people it had turned into outcasts were received as outcasts wherever they went. She refers to an extract from a circular put out in 1938 by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its diplomatic staff abroad: ‘The influx of Jews in all parts of the world invokes the opposition of the native population and thereby forms the best propaganda for the German Jewish policy … The poorer and therefore more burdensome the immigrating Jew is to the country absorbing him, the stronger the reaction of the country.’ Arendt believed that this is more or less what happened. ‘Those whom persecution had called undesirable,’ she wrote, ‘became the indésirables of Europe.’

A little sweeping, perhaps, but her remarks catch the drift of the refugee’s central misfortune: that he is shuttled along a continuum of abuse. For Kosovars who fled to Albania, clan and language broke the continuum. But most of the refugees and displaced people produced by the break-up of Yugoslavia have run the gamut of opprobrium that begins when a regime decides that a proportion of its people are guilty of ‘subversions of brotherhood and unity’ or simply ‘barbarian’ and continues when those people are described by a local newspaper in a country of asylum a thousand miles away as ‘human sewage’, which is how the Dover Express put it last year. A government in the country of asylum may not share the views of its doughty fourth estate, but it is bound to take them into account as it draws up measures, such as those introduced in Britain, to keep asylum seekers at bay.

Kosovo was a storm in the microclimate of crisis and asylum in Europe. As it cleared, the issues that were pressing during the Gulf War and the conflict in Bosnia became visible again. The names of places like Blace in Macedonia and Kukes in Albania have already been replaced by others; there will be successors to figures like Milosevic and Saddam; a UNHCR emergency in the former Yugoslavia is followed by another on the borders of East Timor, then Chechnya; these will give way to new emergencies that we might or might not have foreseen. The numbers of Kosovars on the gommoni from Albania have already diminished, but others have replaced them: Kurds, Iraqis, Sri Lankans, the kinds of people who waded ashore on the beaches of Italy at the end of the 1990s, mixed inextricably with Roma from Kosovo – now the victims of ethnic Albanian fury – and economic migrants from Albania proper. Governments in ‘receiving countries’ have to hold to the belief that at some time or other these coerced movements of people can be reduced, especially in a world where a culture of human rights enforcement and ‘good governance’ has begun to nag at old bulwarks of impunity such as national sovereignty. But there is nothing to suggest that they will. In the meantime, the same sovereign status that has been challenged by military means in the former Yugoslavia can be challenged by law in the wealthy democracies, above all in the EU, where recourse to the European Court of Human Rights may produce outcomes that go against the grain of an individual state’s refugee policy.

The central international instrument designed to protect refugees is the Convention of 1951 (it was extended beyond its original geographical limitation to Europe by a Protocol in 1967). The definition of a refugee is to be found in Chapter 1, Article 1, which states that the Convention shall apply to anyone outside ‘the country of his nationality’ as a result of a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’. The question is how a contracting party goes about the business of interpretation. The wording of Chapter 1, Article 1 might be taken to mean that only persecution by a state makes an applicant eligible for ‘Convention status’. This would rule out persecution by a warlord or a rebel movement and so, for example, hundreds of thousands of Angolans who lived in terror of Jonas Savimbi’s Unita movement would not qualify for Convention status, though followers of Unita – largely drawn from one ‘ethnicity’ (indeed, one ‘social group’) – who were threatened with retribution by the Armed Forces of the Angolan Republic or round-ups by the police and paramilitaries, might well. An Algerian journalist who feared for her life at the hands of the Groupe Islamique Armé would be less likely to qualify than someone who was known to have voted ‘Islamic’ in the early 1990s and was at risk of summary justice from state paramilitaries.

These are extreme examples, but the notion that state persecution alone defines a Convention refugee predominated in France and Germany through the last half of the 20th century. Other countries, such as Canada, the UK and Ireland, have taken the broader view that Convention status should apply to people that a state is unable to protect – which would mean not only that the potential victim of a Unita atrocity and the Algerian journalist were eligible, but that a victim of sexual harassment or domestic violence might become a Convention refugee. (Canada has given Convention status to Chinese families as a result of the ‘one child only’ policy in China.) And it could well be, according to a signatory’s interpretation, that the term ‘social group’ covered broad minorities such as gays and women under attack by a particular regime – the Taliban, for instance. In Britain, the Home Office has now been forced by the courts to consider women fleeing persecution under customary marriage laws as plausible asylum seekers.

Interpretations of the Convention reflect the political priorities of signatory states. Above all, they give an indication of how a state views immigration in general. A country such as Canada, with a more obvious use for migration than a country like Britain, is also likely to take a more generous view of asylum. The real effects of this difference are remarkable. In 1996, Canada deemed that 76 per cent of applicants from the former Zaire, 81 per cent from Somalia and 82 per cent from Sri Lanka qualified for Convention status. In the same year in Britain, only 1 per cent of applicants from Zaire, 0.4 per cent from Somalia and 0.2 per cent from Sri Lanka were considered eligible.

In Europe, governments have increasingly awarded other kinds of status to those it feels are endangered but do not qualify as Convention refugees. Often these are underpinned by international instruments such as the UN Convention against Torture – Article 3 in particular, which stipulates that no one should be returned to a state ‘where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture’ – and the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3 of which states that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ Sometimes ‘humanitarian grounds’ are judged sufficient for permission to stay in a country; sometimes – as in Austria and Germany during the 1990s – asylum seekers are simply left with no status at all: they have been refused leave to remain, but to send them back would contravene Article 3 of the European Convention.

In Britain, leave to remain is granted at the discretion of the Home Office. It is an inconsistent, opaque and unreliable award, and because it is discretionary, there is very little argument to be had about it. It is nonetheless a means of extending some sort of sanctuary to refugees who are refused Convention status. Although Britain withheld that status from 99.6 per cent of the Somalis who requested it in 1996, 93 per cent were granted ‘exceptional leave to remain’. In practice, Convention status has tended to entail the right of permanent residence in host states. A country like Germany, heroically overextended as it is, which makes the political (and perhaps economic) calculation that it can no longer afford to offer permanent residence to large numbers of people, is free to use a ‘humanitarian’ alternative to the Convention to mitigate the plight of people in danger. It took more than 350,000 refugees from Bosnia during the war, on the understanding that they would return once conditions permitted. By late 1998, the majority had gone back – some were forcibly repatriated – and, as the Milosevic evictions began in Kosovo, it made ready for another influx, taking an estimated 25,000 Kosovar refugees, on top of the 150,000 or so who had already entered in previous years. At the end of 1999, they, too, were being told to return. There is something eminently practical about this approach. Yet many of those who work with refugees and asylum law see discretionary awards and other ad hoc measures as liable to weaken, rather than buttress the Convention.

Some people believe the Convention is obsolete in any case. ‘The present arangements,’ Bruce Anderson wrote in the Spectator last year, ‘commit us to obligations which we can never meet, so they ought to be repudiated.’ He argued that 50 asylum seekers a year in Britain was a manageable number – in a year when 60,000 or so fetched up – plus interim measures to deal with cases such as ‘the plight of Jews in the 1930s, the Hungarians after the 1956 Uprising and the Ugandan Asians’. These are the bracing tones of the Right. They pinpoint one aspect of the Convention that has, indeed, become obsolete. It was drawn up as the Cold War got under way and quickly began to serve the West’s purposes in the conduct of that war: it inclines, in any case, to the language of ‘individual’ rights and to ‘political’ rather than ‘humanitarian’ grounds for asylum. ‘Political’, of course, came to mean anti-Communist, which is why the Communist regimes bridled at the Convention and why, in 1965, the US amended its Immigration and Nationality Act to grant Convention status to almost anyone coming from a Communist country. Now, in the absence of Cold War imperatives, the liberal adherence of Western signatories to the terms of the Convention is, with some exceptions, waning fast. In its place are ‘temporary protection’, discretionary leave to remain, ‘de facto refugee’ status, ‘Duldung’ (or ‘tolerated status’) and other forms of halfway house. There is less international political advantage nowadays in accommodating refugees. Far fewer of the people who wish to claim asylum are anti-Communists in any useful sense, even if they come from the remains of the Eastern bloc. As for domestic political advantage, there is none. Many asylum seekers, if they could get in, would be black; a proportion coming from the East are Roma. Most electorates in the rich world have set their hearts against that kind of influx.

The shift towards the exclusion of refugees, involving a curious mixture of ‘harmonisation’, under the auspices of the EU, and makeshift on the part of member states, has enormous implications for the Convention. Matters are much as Stephen Sedley predicted in 1997, when he argued that unless it is seen as a ‘living thing, adopted by civilised countries for a humanitarian end, constant in motive but mutable in form, the Convention will eventually become an anachronism’. Perhaps it became an anachronism when the ideological conflict which gave it a straightforward application came to an end. In the closing years of that conflict, the means to reach a country of asylum were, like so much else, deregulated: now the market in clandestine entry is booming, as national airlines, immigration services and consular facilities shut down the official channels to sanctuary. But the commitment to provide asylum is harder to shift away from the state, which cannot put it out to tender – only marginalise and degrade it.

Britain is a master of asylum degradation. It has one of the highest population densities in Europe and it is one of the continent’s most urbanised countries: it can invoke ‘overcrowding’ to justify its position and one of the highest totals of unemployed in Europe. Germany is not far behind Britain in terms of population density and Düsseldorf, its fastest growing city in the mid-1990s, expanded more rapidly than any comparable city in the UK. With 10 per cent unemployment, it has the highest jobless total in Europe. Yet it now has far more asylum seekers than Britain. It is possible, then, for a country to sustain some form of open asylum policy, as Germany has – and France did in the early 1930s – in the face of demographic and economic pressures. On the whole, however, if it is opposed to immigration, it will want to underplay its asylum obligations.

Britain, which received hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from the Pale of Settlement and Poland at the end of the 19th century, was not always so cagey. A cursory account of the change that set in after 1900 would have to begin with the extraordinary cable sent to London in that year by Sir Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, warning that a boatload of wealthy Jews masquerading as needy fugitives was bound for Britain and that ‘no help should be given them on their arrival as anyone asking for it would be an impostor.’ The cable was a good example of the anti-semitic chaff that had begun to confound any real understanding in Britain of the Anglo-Boer War. The Cheshire docked in Southampton amid dark suspicions that troops were being sent to South Africa to fight on behalf of Jewish finance while British Jewry was failing to support Her Majesty’s war effort. The Daily Mail took up Milner’s cry as the exhausted passengers were disembarked at Southampton and ‘fought for places’ on the train. ‘Incredible as it may seem, the moment they were in the carriages THEY BEGAN TO GAMBLE… and when the Relief Committee passed by they hid their gold and fawned and whined, and, in broken English, asked for money for their train fare.’

The docking of the Cheshire marked a turning point in Britain’s approach to asylum. The Mail enjoyed a circulation of over a million; the Jewish Chronicle, the strongest voice in defence of the Cheshire refugees, had rather fewer readers. ‘Anti-alienism’ was cohering as a vigorous, incendiary call addressed to a large public, with government responding accordingly, while sympathy for refugees became a muffled but powerful interstitial force, at local and national levels, in the form of voluntary organisations and support committees. How little this has changed can be seen from a headline in the Mail in October 1999: ‘The Good Life on Asylum Alley’, over an article revealing ‘the shocking ease with which refugees play the benefit system’. It was left to the Jewish Chronicle to recall that ‘similar sentiments have been expressed about numerous immigrant communities … over the years – including, of course, Jews.’ Meanwhile, the Government stresses the importance of the ‘voluntary sector’ and ‘community groups’ in arranging housing for asylum seekers.

During the South African War the mood was starker, no doubt, than it is now, and the Aliens Act of 1905 confirmed a rampant mistrust of foreigners, which the outbreak of war in Europe only served to spread. Further restrictive legislation was passed in 1914; Germans were interned and deported; there were anti-German riots across many towns. Yet Britain remained ready to respond to emergencies and appeals that squared with the political objectives of the day. Having guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium in 1914, for example, it reacted to the German invasion by taking in nearly a quarter of a million Belgian evacuees. Anti-alienism lost no impetus with the Armistice; in the 1920s it was possible for a Labour Home Secretary, J.R. Clynes, to explain to a Jewish delegation alarmed about the fragile status of refugees that the right of asylum was not the right of an individual to obtain it but the right of ‘the sovereign state’ to confer it. The record of the 1920s and 1930s, which John Hope Simpson drew up in 1938, seemed to prove the point. The intake of fifteen thousand Russians – most of whom relocated to France or the Balkans – and eight or ten thousand refugees from Germany was paltry by comparison with the country’s showing in the 19th century, or with the generosity of other states at the time. Britain, Simpson argued, ‘should show a braver record as a country of sanctuary’. More than sixty years later, there is no one working with refugees who would disagree.

The solidarities of Empire and Commonwealth, developed across racial boundaries in the course of the Second World War, turned out to be provisional. The problem was straightforward. The British Ministry of Labour had characterised it in 1949 as the difficulty of ‘placing … colonial negroes’ at a time when there was a need for migrant workers – a difficulty which, the Ministry insisted, lay squarely with white employers and the rise of the ‘colour bar’. Over the next fifty years, British immigration policy was largely shaped by the racial anxieties of voter majorities who had survived two depressions, an on-again-off-again class war and two ‘world’ wars. Like the newspapers they read, they were quick to foresee impending disaster and took an alarmist view of the brief disturbances in 1948 and 1949 involving Arab and African seamen in Liverpool, Deptford and Birmingham. So in the end was the Government. By the early 1950s the British public had warmed to a narrow definition of kith and kin.

Restrictive legislation tends to exacerbate migratory pressure. In the countdown to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962, the Asian and black population in Britain doubled, amid fears that a door was about to be shut. The Act also encouraged those who were in Britain on a temporary basis to opt for permanent residence. Yet, from 1963 to the end of the 1980s, a minimum of 30,000 blacks and Asians entered Britain every year – and this regular intake, layered over the immigration ‘bulge’ of the ‘beat the ban’ generation, set the terms of multiracial Britain, or the ‘magpie society’, as Cassandras thought of it at the time. The Act of 1962, however, was intended to keep Britain white.

The spectre of the immigrant has not receded in Britain; it has simply taken another form. The asylum seeker is now the luminous apparition at the foot of the bed. Maintaining the moderate influx of immigrants from the south and east at current levels – around 60,000 per annum – entails a burgeoning visa regime (Britain currently requires visas from more than a hundred countries) and far higher rates of refusal to prospective visitors from poorer countries. In 1997, 0.49 per cent of US citizens requesting settlement in Britain were denied entry; the figure for the Indian subcontinent was 29 per cent. In the same year, while only 0.18 per cent of Australian visitors’ applications were refused, the refusal rate for Ghanaian applications was over 30 per cent. As long as migratory pressure meets with a disproportionate response of this order from a receiving country, ambitious or desperate migrants – the two are not always easy to tell apart – will consider other means of entry.

Sometimes it is the only way to pursue a livelihood. Imagine an entrepreneur, based in Kampala, who travels regularly between East Africa, Britain and India in the course of his business. He is a buyer and shipper, bringing goods out of the rich world which would otherwise be unobtainable in some of the communities to whom he sells on. He is also black, which is a disadvantage for anyone stepping off a plane at Heathrow or Gatwick: on his visits to Britain, questions about the duration of his stay and what he plans to do are becoming increasingly fussy and recondite; it is taking far longer to clear Immigration. After ten years of coming and going more or less freely, he arrives in Britain and has his passport seized. He is told he can have it back when he leaves. He duly presents himself to Immigration at the end of his stay; he is given his passport, but finds that his visa has been struck through. He is told that he will not be admitted to Britain again. This was precisely the case of a Ugandan trader described by Hirit Belai in the LRB (18 July 1996). His visa was cancelled in 1994, for no obvious reason, except that Immigration takes a dim view of people from Africa entering as businessmen or tourists. Immigration, he reasoned, couldn’t accept that an African might be able to afford a holiday or an airline ticket – asylum seekers were a much easier category to deal with. Accordingly, on his return to Uganda, he arranged for a new passport and, on his next visit to the UK, he claimed asylum. The last thing he wanted was to be classified as a refugee, but he had a business to run and a family to support.

There is no doubt that people who are not eligible for asylum are busy trying to claim it – and perhaps the numbers are high. One of the clumsier deceptions has been to pose as the national of a country where there is enough civil and military disruption to increase your chances of asylum. It is not uncommon for Pakistanis to claim they are Afghans or for Albanians to claim they are Kosovars. One case, the French police in Calais told Libération last year, involved ‘an African trying to make out he was from Kosovo’. It happens all over Europe. Moroccans, for example, pretend to be Western Saharans in order to lodge asylum claims in Spain. In the beleaguered world of immigration officials, the presence of ‘bogus’ or ‘abusive’ asylum seekers inflames the culture of suspicion, which sooner or later extends to all applicants, plausible or not. As a result, more and more people who might be eligible for asylum are denied it. Figures in recent years – excepting the period of the Kosovo crisis – bear this out. In Britain, according to the Home Office, there were around 21,000 application hearings in 1997, of which 85 per cent resulted in rejections. Of the appeals against rejection heard in that year, 4400 were dismissed and 130 allowed. The rate of successful asylum applications has recently risen, but the Home Office would still prefer to show high rates of refusal wherever possible, for these can be used to adduce a growing problem of ‘bogusness’ and ‘abuse’.

One way for governments to minimise ‘asylum abuse’, without abandoning the attempt to keep a tight rein on immigration, would involve setting up a body of experts to assess asylum claims in the first instance. The expertise required would include first-hand knowledge of the countries and regions from which asylum seekers came, and of refugee situations overseas; clinical experience with physical and mental trauma, familiarity with international instruments such as the 1951 Convention and a working knowledge of ad hoc measures (leave to remain, ‘humanitarian’ status, and so on). Such a body, it might be objected, would be predisposed to find in favour of applicants. But anyone who believes in the principle of asylum has an interest in ensuring it is not debased. Whether a board of this kind were quasi-autonomous or fully independent, as it is in Canada, it would be self-regulating.

Britain is one among many wealthy countries that prefer to keep prejudice and ambiguity intact as a line of first defence against asylum seekers. It has recognised a need for a new body of some kind, but since the Home Office would rather discourage claims in the first place than improve the determination procedure for claimants, it has created a National Asylum Support Service. The main function of this service seems to be to dispense vouchers to asylum seekers, which they can exchange for food and goods in retail outlets that agree to take them. The Government regards anything but benefit in kind ‘as an incentive to economic migration’, and so the asylum seeker’s weekly cash allowance is limited to £10. Some local authorities had already begun to operate a voucher system after the 1996 Immigration and Asylum Act – one could see the results in supermarket queues, where cashiers, forbidden to give change, urged refugee customers to top up to the full value of the voucher with a handful of wrapped sweets, a six-pack of instant coffee sachets or a cookery magazine (cover story: ‘Going Balsamic’). This, rather than people opting for specific countries of refuge, is what we ought properly to describe as ‘asylum shopping’.

The British Government has claimed that withholding cash benefits brings it into line with other countries which provide ‘support in kind’, but if that is desirable, why not look to the great normative model of Africa, which contains nearly half of the world’s refugees, and simply distribute a monthly per capita allocation of oil, salt, sugar and beans? Of course, the countries Britain has in mind – Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark – are members of the EU, and the strategy here is parity of penalisation, conceived in the hope that asylum seekers will not prefer one EU member state over another on the grounds of its being a ‘soft option’.

The arguments about why asylum seekers end up in certain countries and not others are intricate. They have to do with family connections, colonial history, relays of information and, above all, with the traffickers in whose hands refugees put their lives. Social security scamming appears to come low on the list of priorities for the survivor of an ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Turkish Kurdistan who leaves his village on horseback, calls on his cousins, raises the cost of a passage to sanctuary, travels by bus and truck to Izmir or Istanbul, buys a place on a boat to Albania and, three months later, still in the hands of a trafficking network, is invited to step out of a lorry on the A3 and make his way to a police station in Guildford. Nor would it have upset him to discover that by failing to claim asylum at his port of entry, he had forfeited his social security entitlement.

The Refugee Council in Britain has argued that the money going into the creation of the National Asylum Support Service would have been better spent on clearing Britain’s backlog of unresolved asylum cases. But governments are less interested in devising a fair asylum policy than in whether or not they are seen by electorates as willing hosts to the ‘scum of the earth’ (the Dover Express again). By failing to address the backlog of unresolved applications or to rethink the assessment of claims in the first place, governments have compounded the situation that anti-immigrationists find so deplorable.

Britain’s backlog leapt from 12,000 undecided cases in 1989 to 72,000 in 1991 and stood, at the end of 1999, at around 100,000. Britain is not the only country with this problem – it has arisen in Canada, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands. It is normally solved by formal or de facto amnesty, but the longer it takes to clear a backlog, the likelier it is that the system will become discredited. Once a claimant has been hung out to dry for years without a decision on his status, it no longer matters whether he is eventually refused, since the length of his stay will make it hard to deport him without a public outcry or a lengthy legal battle. In practice, most of the people whose applications are finally refused after years of deliberation are unlikely ever to leave the country. This is immigration by government default. The backlog in Britain became entrenched when the Home Office attempted to speed up its decisions on asylum claims: refusal rates soared and the appellate system was unable to cope. It is a fair guess that a proportion of those who were refused felt that they had a strong case to appeal. Swift decisions, based on a ‘no immigration’ agenda, are not as helpful as good decisions; and backlogs, as the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association and others have suggested, encourage ‘unfounded applications for asylum’, as word travels back down the line that, if rumbled, a dubious claimant will in any case be lost in the system for years. In 1997, according to one controversial estimate, there were nearly 250,000 unsuccessful asylum applicants staying on in Britain without authorisation. A country that fails to operate a fair and reasonably fast determination procedure cannot enforce a ‘removals’ policy, and without the possibility of deportations – to shuck off the euphemism – the entire process of asylum determination is worthless from the outset: one may as well throw everyone out or let everyone in. On the face of it, recent British administrations have played to the anti-immigration gallery with a no-nonsense posture on asylum, while in reality multiplying the grounds for its anxiety. The Labour Government’s Immigration and Asylum legislation, finalised in 1999 and effective from next April, indicates no change whatsoever.

Posture may well be one of the reasons asylum policy has become so degraded. As the nation-state grows harder to patrol, governments are thrown back on gesture and salesmanship. Sovereignty is an adaptable creature, and very durable, but under the new pressures of human movement, sovereign assertion is becoming a rictus on the physiognomy of nations that once wore the mask quite amenably. Globalisation puts stress on international borders – there were 86 million arrivals in Britain in 1998 – and immigration officials in the rich world can still be stretched to the limit by modest numbers of illegal migrants. The more freely capital and goods move around the rich world, the harder it becomes to inhibit the movement of people, with the hostility of conservative voters to foreign influx growing in proportion as the ability to restrict it dwindles. The power of government to reverse this process is no greater than it was in the past, but its capacity to signal an intention, and project that signal, is far stronger.

This was not always the case. In 1916 there were riots in Fulham, a part of London plagued by poverty and housing shortages. Fulham was also a reception area for Belgian evacuees. Residents believed the Belgians were receiving higher benefits than families of British servicemen dying in the trenches. The response to the riots was a policy of compulsory conscription for Belgian males. The scrutiny of the liberal press and the influential voice of the voluntary sector would make a similar response nowadays — round-ups and mass deportations of rejected asylum seekers, for example – harder for a government to envisage, especially in peacetime, however popular it might be with certain sections of the electorate. In 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, the British Government was pressured by anti-Facist groups and charitable organisations into receiving 4000 Basque children. They were camped out on farmland in the Kent countryside. The news that Bilbao had fallen led to uproar among the children, some of whom broke camp in the hope of returning and enlisting with the Republic. Within days, the settlement had been summarily dispersed and brothers and sisters separated, as they were packed off to remote parts of England and Wales. The Vietnamese refugees who came in under the UN programme in the 1970s and 1980s were also obliged to disperse to locations designated by the British Government. One can imagine comparable action today – it has begun on a smaller scale with the dispersal of asylum seekers – but the more brazen the government initiative, the greater the flurry of objections from the media, the voluntary organisations and the courts would be. No wonder posture is preferable to policy. Refugees are at the mercy of disabled governments with stern faces – and so is the anti-immigration voter, who regards cuts in cash hand-outs to asylum seekers as a sign that the party of power has his interests at heart. But that is all it is: a sign.

Who exactly is it intended for? In some European countries – France, and lately, Austria and Switzerland – the anti-immigration vote is significant. In Britain there are a few suspects on the extreme Right, but beyond this margin, it is harder to identify the cohort of stout Englishmen with a passion for chalky cliffs, white lavatory tiles and virgin brides. Perhaps they are out there. But if so, they are not being drawn on the subject of asylum seekers. In 1997, three-quarters of the respondents to a survey by the Institute for Public Policy Research agreed that ‘most refugees in Britain are in need of our help and support’ and only 12 per cent took the view that ‘most people claiming to be refugees are not real refugees.’ The minority has a keen eye on the media, and bigotry, for the media, is a better story than tolerance. This all falls within the realm of signalling, which goes some way to explaining the tendency to minority appeasement in a period of government by semaphore.

More worrying conclusions about the IPPR study are reached by Tony Kushner, a historian at the University of Southampton, and Katharine Knox, a former Refugee Council officer, in a superb history of refugees in Britain,​* compiled largely from local historical sources. As campaigning historians, Kushner and Knox were encouraged by the IPPR survey, but dismayed by the fact that, even though only a small minority were sceptical about asylum claims, roughly 40 per cent of respondents were not prepared to disagree outright with the statement that most claims were fraudulent. They take this to prove that ‘a century questioning the legitimacy of refugees has not been without a profound and cumulative impact’ (an infectious cynicism, Hannah Arendt would have argued, transmitted to their grudging hosts by the regimes that first reviled them). ‘Why is it,’ Kushner and Knox go on to ask, ‘that British governments past and present continue to pay greater attention to the hostile 12 per cent than the sympathetic 75 per cent?’ The bigger question, perhaps, is why a government of liberal persuasion would not consider the reticent 40 per cent worth winning over – unless, of course, it was not a liberal-minded government at all.

London, in the closing weeks of 1999: walking back from my children’s primary school, I see a young woman from Kosovo crossing at Prince of Wales Road and heading towards Camden Town. She walks with the privacy and haste of people in big cities, and in that much, she is concealed, or no longer who she was. Instinctively I quicken my pace, to greet her, but almost at once, I find the way congested by a mob of half-recalled people and images, rowdy and difficult to negotiate. After a moment’s hesitation, I give up and turn at the corner for home.

Flora was one of two sisters who had left Pristina at the end of 1998, travelled down into Albania and paid their way on a gommone to Italy. I met them at the Regina Pacis reception centre near Puglia a few weeks after they arrived. Even though we spoke at length – their English was quite good, and they had set their sights on London, where they had an aunt – it wasn’t clear how deep the fear of persecution, or the grounds for that fear, really went with these two women. (Had they stayed another six months in Kosovo, they would have come to know it intimately.)

It struck me, on reflection, that my failure to greet Flora had to do with doubts about her claim to humanitarian status as a route out of the former Yugoslavia. A few weeks after meeting the sisters, I’d been to Kosovo and found their family. The father was a jovial chancer, bluff and hospitable; the mother was quite the opposite – a troubled person, shaken by her daughters’ absence. There was another aunt whose husband, a musician with a nationalist lilt to his work, had had a rough time in prison. I gave the family news of the two sisters and some photos, which upset them. I was their guest for the best part of an evening, but again, I could never fully establish in what way the sisters had been persecuted.

A day or so later I found myself in a village west of Pristina where the KLA had ambushed a group of Serbian police. There was blood in the snow and a litter of spent cartridges. The village mosque had been shot to ruins. Most of the houses had already been abandoned earlier in the year, but one family had stayed, and they had paid the price of the ambush in the KLA’s stead. Serbian police had dragged them to the scene of the crime and beaten them. The able-bodied man in the house had been taken away, leaving only a limping, terrified family of the very elderly or very young. There were worse scenes in Kosovo before the Nato intervention, but the memory of that particular farmstead would have crossed my mind as I saw Flora again in North London and the ghost of a moral judgment must have flickered there in passing, too. It’s as though I had some model of the exemplary refugee – as though my high-mindedness would have been satisfied by the sight of the family from the abandoned village rumbling towards Camden Lock in their cart, rather than a glimpse of Flora walking along briskly and comfortably in her new guise as a Londoner. Yet who is to say what constitutes fear of persecution? After all, Flora had wanted to be a nurse, and Serbia had cleansed the public health sector of ethnic Albanian staff years ago.

There was something more petulant about my reserve, to do with the fact that refugees can be importunate people during their settling-in period. Fellow expatriates provide much in the way of support, but there are still questions, favours, conversations which any halfway generous character might properly follow up. Effort is required, however, small tasks that disrupt the rich person’s love affair with his own stress. And the prospect of that disruption must have seemed tiresome – that neediness, too, no doubt. I was prone to a view of the uninvited that was no better than it had been a year earlier, when I’d gazed at the minuscule figures in the lunar field of the nightsights, making for the beach in Italy. It was even ambivalent, I am sure, on the issue of school, where I’d just left two small boys before catching sight of Flora. Dozens of children from the former Yugoslavia attend the school, along with a scattering of francophone African and Somali pupils, all of them with parents or wards who have leave to remain or Convention status. A sour parental anxiety stirs from its depths at the thought of language difficulties in the classroom and the diversion of resources to cope with them. It has no basis in fact. Much of the time it’s hidden, in silent contention with the one-world equanimity of the bien pensant parent whose children learn about the death of the rainforests. But on bad days it will put in an appearance. It, too, is a sign of impatience with other people’s needs. I have instant access, any time I like, to the mentality of the anti-asylum voter.

That mentality thrives on the idea that refugees are helping themselves to scarce resources: welfare, the public health service, accommodation paid for or provided by local government, premium space in the classroom and so on. Mostly, we make these nervous calculations sotto voce, but in our discreet whispering and reckoning there is always an echo of the ranting public speaker in Auden’s poem, ‘Refugee Blues’, composed in 1939, as Hitler’s armies occupied Prague: ‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread.’ Yet thousands of asylum seekers rely far more on their own expatriate networks than they do on the state. Flora and her sister, for instance, were offered a choice on their arrival in Britain. They could remain in London with their aunt, in which case they would not be eligible for housing benefit, or they could move to designated accommodation in the North, where they would. They chose London; they were supported by their aunt and her husband for six months or more – enough time to find work – and then moved into a place of their own.

Where refugees and asylum seekers do claim benefits and occupy housing at public expense, there’s no question that they are competing with host citizens for resources. The more deprived the area in which they settle, the fiercer the sense of that struggle is likely to be. (And dispersing refugees to the provinces in Britain – an ingenious, if callous, experiment – seems bound to repeat the anguish of isolated Vietnamese families in the 1980s and the troubles last year in Dover, where Kurdish and Kosovar refugees squared off against the local hearts of oak.) Why some poor people in deprived areas should resent the arrival of asylum seekers is obvious, even though the record of poor inner London boroughs suggests that friction is rare. Yet sufficiency of means can generate similar feelings, even among exponents of ‘enterprise culture’ who see unrestrained market forces as the motor of prosperous democracies, but would rather not acknowledge that these forces tend to favour freer movements of human beings.

It is clear, in any case, that the earnings and expenditure of migrants – including refugees – in host economies have exceeded the cost of accommodating them in the first place. This is the economic history of the United States, but it is also true of smaller economies, like that of Britain, labouring under the pressure of change. Some of the most impoverished people to arrive in Britain after the Second World War were the Ugandan Asians – refugees in all but name – most of whose wealth had been expropriated by Idi Amin. By the end of the century, they had established themselves as a bastion of British retail, with vantage points in finance, pharmaceuticals, engineering and property. More generally, the findings of the 1991 Census in Britain gave a useful synoptic glimpse of minority standing in terms of qualifications, job status and ownership, with a far higher proportion of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Chinese males holding managerial posts than their white counterparts. The proportion of African, Indian and Chinese males with A-level qualifications, or their equivalent, was also higher than the proportion of whites to hold them.

Activists lobbying on behalf of refugees are familiar with figures like these. They repeat them endlessly to governments that chafe at the right of asylum. But to judge asylum seekers like other migrants on the basis of their likely contribution to an economy is to impose another qualification on the right of asylum which many refugees, permanently damaged by experiences in their countries of origin, may be unable to meet. They are not helped by book-keeper arguments about the high motivation of the newcomer. They need a more open defence, without proviso, which makes no appeal to the self-interest of host communities. The source of that defence, and increasingly of the funds that might be put at their disposal, is the voluntary sector: parish activists, support groups, money-raising bodies and registered charities – the network of well-informed, conscientious organisations that developed, in the absence of any public provision, at the turn of the last century.

One of the crucial links in the complicated route that Flora and her sister took from Pristina to London was a powerful figure in the Catholic Church. Don Cesare Lodeserto, who ran the Regina Pacis reception centre in Puglia, took care of the sisters and thousands of other clandestini by ensuring passage on through Italy. Without the centre as a first base they might well have been put in police custody or returned to Albania. Don Cesare was an absolutist with a striking temperamental resemblance to Naphta, Mann’s Jewish Jesuit in The Magic Mountain. He was flatly opposed to book-keeping arguments and accepted any refugee or disadvantaged migrant who came his way. He also saw the determination of asylum claims as parsimonious haggling on the part of the rich world; the problem, he thought, lay far deeper, in the global divide between rich and poor and the economic dependency to which the North had reduced the South. On that basis, he thought it worthless to discriminate between asylum seekers and other migrants. God was the judge of their real identity and, as a well-placed clerk of the court, Don Cesare had no doubt that God took the side of the poor. If there was a measure of disregard for the 1951 Convention in all this, Don Cesare’s indifference to ‘sovereignty’ was greater. It was nothing to him that governments felt threatened by clandestine migration. ‘The law should not defend the sovereignty of states,’ he hectored his listeners. ‘It should enshrine the dignity of man.’

Don Cesare’s position was founded on intransigence as much as faith. He rejected almost any realistic policy to cope with rising asylum applications and other forms of migratory pressure that rich countries might envisage in the short term. But he made it possible for thousands of people with a tenuous hold on safety to look for something more durable. In doing so, he set himself against government – he had a weakness for contestation and political gamesmanship – because the interests of government were not those of the people he looked after. ‘The only real help that they get,’ he said provocatively, ‘comes from this reception centre and from organised crime.’ This was true. It was the centre that helped Flora and her sister obtain a short stay permit, after which they left for Milan. There, they obtained forged Italian passports and made their way through Switzerland and France to Belgium. In due course, they were sent back to France by traffickers, concealed in a lorry heading for the Channel Tunnel and put out a few hours later near the M25. They went to a service station and called their aunt in London; then they asked the cashier to phone the police.

When I finally caught up with them in London, they were loath to discuss their stay in Milan. It was obvious that the assistance they received from organised crime, as Don Cesare put it with such worldly candour, had not come their way without bitter negotiation and sexual harassment. They still thought well of their provider at Regina Pacis, part saint, part operator. From that quarter, at least, help had come with no strings attached.

The rights of EU citizens and those of asylum seekers have become major preoccupations in Europe. The two exist in a state of great tension. As a result of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which came into effect in May 1999, asylum, immigration and other ‘freedom of movement’ issues are now subject both to tighter judicial control and to closer European Parliamentary oversight–eventually, perhaps, they may become the object of Parliamentary legislation. In theory, this allows greater scope for redress in cases of human rights violations; it should also bring decisions about asylum procedures out of the backroom into fuller view. For the moment, however, what Amsterdam has done is to affirm that the EU regards asylum seekers and other migrants as urgent business. Urgent, above all, because the real emphasis of the Treaty is on full freedom of movement for EU citizens, and before this can be brought about, greater co-operation between the police and judiciaries of member states is required, if only because free movement for law-abiding individuals implies free movement for crime. High on the list of criminal activities targeted by the EU is ‘human trafficking’.

The outline of the Treaty is hard to distinguish through the drizzle of Eurodetail, but it is possible to make out some important changes. For example, non-EU citizens who are already long-term residents in member states should soon enjoy the same freedom of movement as EU citizens, so that (consistent with the Union’s pledge to struggle against ‘racism and xenophobia’) a migrant from Bamako residing legally in Toulon would in theory be able to move to a job in Innsbruck or Banbury. But on the whole, it looks as though extending the freedom of EU citizens will entail restricting access for many non-EU citizens who are desperate to enter. How much worse matters will get for asylum seekers is difficult to judge, but if the EU toughens its procedures on immigration in general, no one will find it easier to claim asylum in the Union. Whether a concerted campaign against traffickers, led by Europol, succeeds or not, it will probably drive up prices for the refugees who depend on them and raise the risks of the journey. It must be obvious, after nearly two decades of Fortress Europe, that a war on traffickers involves heavy collateral damage to refugees.

EU members, meanwhile, will be trying to find a way to ‘share the burden’ of asylum seekers. The impetus, understandably, comes largely from Germany. In 1992 alone, of roughly 700,000 applications in 14 European states, nearly half a million were lodged with Germany. Other countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands – and Austria, naturally – would also like to see a move in this direction. Burden-sharing is all the more pressing because the rule, agreed in the Dublin Convention in 1990, that an asylum application must be dealt with in the country where it is made, is easy to circumvent: if the refugees at Don Cesare’s centre wished to lodge their claim somewhere in Northern Europe, they were normally granted a short-term stay in Italy (20 or 30 days) which would allow them to reach a big city and negotiate the next leg of their journey. Refugees often want to go where an expatriate base is already established but, just as often, they have to take what’s on offer. A client may say to a trafficker that he or she just wants to get out of a place; the trafficker will be eager to assist, but quick to add that he only does Denmark and Germany. Countries taking high numbers of refugees want compensation from other member states, and perhaps, in times of crisis, a system of sharing out numbers – regional dispersal, in other words. Plans are underway for a European refugee fund, available to states with a high intake of asylum seekers, but to amount to anything, it will require ten or twenty times the annual budget of the current pilot fund – and whoever runs it will also have to insist that it is not used solely to shuffle asylum seekers from one country to another. Beyond this, there is no consensus on burden-sharing.

The Treaty of Amsterdam empowers the EU to agree a set of ‘minimum standards’, not only for the way in which refugees are received and what entitlements they have, but for determining who is and who is not a refugee. At the centre of the debate, once again, is the Convention of 1951. On one side are the governments of host countries, who believe it is outdated; on the other are the support committees, refugee lawyers and NGOs, who feel that EU states will take the opportunity of ‘updating’ it to substitute discretionary policies for obligations. This is, in other words, a reopening, and a sharpening, of the old quarrel about right of asylum and whose it is to exercise. The Convention should have settled that. Fifty years on, however, most European signatories now want the right to confer or refuse asylum – a right they do not enjoy under the Convention, and which will inevitably be exercised at the expense of the refugee.

The member states of the European Union do not care for the views of a radical like Don Cesare, but they recognise the great gulf, of which he spoke, between many refugees’ countries of origin and the West. At the European Council’s summit meeting in Finland in October 1999, the Presidency acknowledged, in effect, that asylum seekers would not be an issue in Europe if the conditions they were fleeing could be improved. An unremarkable insight. For several years now, EU institutions and advisers have been urging the organisation towards ‘a greater coherence of internal and external policies’, by which they mean that they would like to address the ‘refugee problem’ at source and that whoever has an interesting idea about how to do so should come forward. So far, the results have been disappointing. Here is the Presidency’s list of ‘things that need doing’ in countries which generate large numbers of asylum seekers: ‘combating poverty, improving living conditions and job opportunities, preventing conflicts and consolidating democratic states and ensuring respect for human rights, in particular rights of minorities, women and children.’

Less venerable bodies might have come up with the same conclusions after five minutes under the shower, but the vagueness of the language should not obscure the force of the intention: the EU is adamant that it wants to reduce the number of asylum seekers entering its territory, and if it could impose market democracy on states that produce refugees, it would. The alternative is to deploy the equivalent of an army and several flotillas along the common border, but the evidence so far is that a pristine Alpine valley, superbly patrolled, which stretches from Limerick to Vienna (and in a few years’ time to the forests of Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania) will never be impregnable.

Europe’s desire to reduce the number of regimes that punish or neglect their populations is fair enough. Until it can do so, one other option remains open. It is known as ‘regionalisation’. This means trying to ensure that the bulk of the world’s refugees, between 14 and 18 million in the closing years of the 20th century, remain where they are: in Africa, Asia, the fraying margins of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In 1999 a High Level Working Group on immigration and asylum, appointed by the European Council, drew up a set of ‘action plans’ for six of the countries generating large refugee and migrant populations. Since the idea is to reduce the flow of people into Europe, these blueprints contain a range of recommendations on fostering regional human rights and boosting development. Most are innocuous; some are useful, but none is likely to bring dictatorships to their knees. In other respects, the documents are both controversial and cynical.

A draft plan for Sri Lanka, for instance, notes that it is ‘primarily a country of origin of migrants and, since 1983, of asylum seekers. The ongoing armed conflict has caused Tamils from the North and North-Eastern provinces to flee to India and further afield … Almost 90 per cent of all migrants from Sri Lanka are Tamils.’ The draft also states that Tamils are at risk of being press-ganged into the guerrilla movement and rounded up for interrogation by the Government as suspected guerrillas. On this basis, you would expect many petitions for asylum on the part of Sri Lankans to meet the requirements of the Convention or to qualify them for ‘humanitarian status’. The authors of the draft plan are more intent on finding ways to keep jeopardised Tamils inside the territory: they emphasise the success of local projects in safe areas which ‘facilitate the reintegration of returnee populations’ and ‘strengthen the capacity of host communities to cope with influxes of displaced persons’.

The importance of protecting and providing for terrorised people in situ, with food, medicine and other forms of relief, is not in question. The danger is that this will weigh against Tamil refugees arriving in Europe. In order to pre-empt any such arrivals, the document goes on to suggest that EU countries should ‘organise an information campaign’ in Sri Lanka ‘to warn against the consequences of illegally entering EU member states … and of using facilitators to gain entry to the EU’. It also advises the EU to pursue ‘with the Sri Lankan authorities the possibilities of return programmes’ for those who have already breached the fortress. Hovering at the edges of this thinking, without quite taking shape, is the idea that the world, or Europe anyhow, will become a more agreeable place if the global figure of refugees can be reduced by encouraging, or forcing, persecuted people to flee on a local basis only – to a neighbouring state or, indeed, from one part of their country to another. Those who take the latter course are not technically refugees, since they have not crossed their national frontier, but their lives are no better, and often worse, than they would be, had they gone into exile. At the end of the 1990s, according to the UN, the world contained around 30 million ‘internally displaced persons’ – double the number of refugees. The virtue of policies which add to that stock is questionable.

In Sri Lanka, like most other countries in conflict, persecution and poverty are inextricably linked. It stands to reason that some Tamils who have not faced the one will make a bid for the rich world in order to escape the other, quite likely in the guise of asylum seekers. The implication of the draft action plan for Sri Lanka, whether or not the authors foresaw it, is that an automatic screening process to distinguish refugees from economic migrants can be introduced by financing support programmes inside Sri Lanka to the point at which the EU deems there is adequate local protection for endangered people. From this it will follow that, persecuted or poor, or both, any Tamil who sets out for Europe must, by definition, be an economic migrant.

The same approach seems to lurk in the draft action plan for Afghanistan, which raises the possibility that some Afghan refugees are driven west by poverty rather than persecution. ‘Since the economic prospects in their countries of first stay are increasingly bleak … they decide to move on, in particular to the EU.’ They are, however, rather few in number. During the 1990s roughly 100,000 Afghans sought asylum in Europe – nearly half were rejected. Iran, Pakistan and the Central Asian Republics, in which it is proposed to ‘regionalise’ or, more accurately, confine Afghan refugees in future, already contain between three and four million. Burden-sharing, then, is strictly a tussle between developed countries. The real burden must remain where it originated – and with those regions there is little evidence of Europe’s willingness to share anything very much. The plan also raises the prospect of readmission agreements between EU states and Afghanistan’s neighbours, but there is no guarantee that refugees in Pakistan, where radical Islamic groups with or without links to the Taliban are targeting secular moderates, would be safe from persecution; meanwhile the bleak state of the economy in Iran has led to growing tensions between refugees and Iranians.

In the abstract, regionalisation has much to recommend it. Exile communities remain within hailing distance of home; so does the political opposition. The affinity of the host culture with that of the refugee makes settlement less painful. Dissident ‘brain drain’, or transfer of expertise, from poorer regions to wealthy economies, is kept to a minimum. Yet few of these principles obtain in reality. First, refugees who can only move one door down may remain constantly in ‘fear of being persecuted’ – the Somali camps in Kenya have borne this out. Second, common culture is often only a result of steely management or fragile truce, its fault lines invisible to the outsider. Algeria and Yugoslavia once had the appearance of stable, consensual communities, but they are no longer places where refugees from contiguous states would feel safe; the same is true of many Afghans in Pakistan. Finally, loss of expertise may not be a net loss. Many Afghan women are Convention refugees in the US, thanks to pressure from American feminists to resettle them. There, if they choose, they can mobilise for change in Afghanistan. In the meantime, far more brutal kinds of brain drain are going on in Pakistan. The dead body of a ‘regionalised’ Afghan refugee on the road out of Gujrat is no use to anyone.

The most striking suggestion in the draft action plans is for new outposts of Fortress Europe, in the form of immigration officers stationed in the region: monitors, gleaners of information, inspectors of resettlement applications – the idea is still vague. It might mean no more than an extraordinary consular service: a similar post was set up by the US in Southampton at the turn of the last century to screen immigrants in transit through England. The oddity is that the new vigilance should fall to Immigration – normally within the ambit of a country’s home affairs – rather than a foreign office department. This may seem trifling, but it alerts us to the disappearing distinction between inside and outside – and perhaps, too, to the speed at which nations are ceasing to be what they were.

The idea of projecting national security into the heartland of the invader is to do not with expansion but seclusion; not with the will to encounter but the will to privacy, in a world where the privacy of states and unions is a dying privilege. A redoubling of frontier control several thousand miles from the physical frontier is only conceivable when that frontier is no longer an adequate marker of interior and exterior. This is as true for the EU’s common border, soon to expand to the east, as it is for the frontiers of its members. The mobility of everything they once contained and everything they once excluded, the coming and going, the constant transfer – all this friction on the cordons of sovereignty is reducing their tension. It is in the areas of slack that the game of cat and mouse between traffickers and migrants, on the one hand, and immigration officials, on the other, is played. The presence of immigration control beyond the border will add to the complexity of things, in a world of overlapping and competing jurisdictions. That is good for the game; it can only intensify.

Naturally, most citizens, like governments, believe that the outer edges of their states should be reinforced. But in the wider context it is not consensus within states that matters, so much as consensus across them. The members of a rich nation, or a federation, may respect its borders, but if millions of people beyond those borders see them only as a barrier to safety or prosperity, then they are no longer a matter of consensus, but of dispute. Disputes over borders are also disputes over the extent of sovereignty; in the past they have involved secessions or rival states going to war. The new dispute sets the desire of individuals to move freely against the will of states to impede that movement. It is not a war so much as a war game, but it puts rich states on a war footing, as they go about the morose task of entrenching their frontiers – and posting scouts beyond the gates to shore up their integrity.

Meanwhile there are plenty of organisations and individuals in Europe who do not believe that refugees should pay the price for the EU’s refortification. In the 1980s, Christian activists in the US revived the concept of an ‘underground railway’ to run thousands of refugees illegally from El Salvador through three international borders and give them sanctuary in American churches. One can imagine the legal equivalent of that process, undertaken inside Europe on behalf of asylum seekers outside the Union – a series of actions and appeals lodged against member governments, invoking everything from domestic case law to the regional and international covenants to which states are signatories.

The drift of high-level pronouncements from the EU is that this will not be necessary: refugees will still be treated in accordance with the obligations of host states. But this is hard to take at face value, now that asylum seekers are no longer welcome in Europe without being invited – via modest resettlement programmes, a trickle of visas, and temporary admissions from countries in crisis. If they enter by other routes, they must face the consequences: first, that their primary motive for doing so will be seen as economic and, second, that the fact of illegal entry is likely to prejudice their case. For the growing list of governments who wish to keep them out, the best interpretation of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees can only be to run it through the shredder.

2

In Western Europe – the western Mediterranean particularly – it is impossible to follow asylum seekers without running across large numbers of ‘economic migrants’ who also enter illegally, mostly from Albania, North and sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike most of the world’s migrants, they are not well to do. Many are poor; others who may look poor are simply run ragged, drained by the distances they’ve covered.

The people I’d seen ferried from an abandoned hulk off the coast of southern Italy in 1998 were typical: the fatigue, and the sense of relief, were palpable. Then there was the brusque ‘Up, up’ – a haunting summary of the thousands of miles that one migrant from Sierra Leone had put behind him. And the flip of the hand, which seemed to toss so many questions into the air. How do you make your way from Freetown to a dank little Italian port in winter, where the rain is sheeting down onto the concrete quays? Had he come across the Sahara? As a clandestine migrant from a country at war, he might well have expected leave to remain on humanitarian grounds. But what if he had come from Niger or Mauritania or Nigeria? What if he had fled, not from direct, political persecution, but from a state of affairs so bad that it was intolerable, or even life-threatening, to stay? Months passed before I had an indication of the kinds of journey being made by migrants going up through Africa. In the meantime, there was plenty of evidence to suggest that those who tried to enter the rich world by stealth in search of a livelihood were not much better off than refugees. And often they were worse off.

In the late 1990s, when the number of illegal migrants leapt in Italy, the newspapers were full of editorials about the resulting ‘social and ethnic tensions’. But ‘social’ tension within Italy and other Western European states has far more to do with a greater geo-economic strain between the rich world and the poor world – and ‘ethnic’ tension is merely a variation on that theme. Forty or fifty years ago, Italians who arrived in a Northern city like Milan from the South and East of the country, were mistrusted in much the same way as North Africans, Albanians and Nigerians are now. They were the ethnic migrants of their day.

Until 1961, when the Fascist ‘anti-urbanisation’ law was repealed, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of ‘undocumented’ persons lived and worked illegally in the North of Italy. They were said to be noisy, or violent, or predisposed to crime, just as the Albanians and Maghrebis are now. The difference is that, by and large, Italian migrants who headed north in the Fifties and Sixties found remunerative work in a highly industrialised environment. In most of the West, this sector has shrunk. Whatever their qualifications, many of the new migrants coming off the beaches of Puglia depend in the settling-in period on piecemeal work or precarious havens in the informal sector colonised by their fellow nationals, where jobs are unpredictable and often underpaid, and on the well established economy of criminal or semi-criminal activity.

Clandestine migrants or foreigners residing in Italy without proper papers become involved in passport and ID scams and, in Milan especially, many work at the sharp end of drugs and prostitution: young Albanian and Nigerian women can be pressed into service as soon as they make contact with expatriate networks. There are jobs in the North, of the kind that Italian migrants would have found in the 1960s – a number of workers in the steel furnaces of the North-East are sub-Saharan Africans – but there are fewer of them now, and the alternatives for those migrants who are drawn into criminal activity are less obvious.

Since the years of vigorous South-North migration in Italy, or Commonwealth migration to Britain, the service sector in the West has expanded dramatically; it has also become a source of jobs for women and minorities. Migrant self-employment and the phenomenon known as ‘ethnic small business’, with its many vexations – including ‘self-exploitation’ and the exploitation of family members – are on the increase too. At the same time, a growing number of service providers and small businesses now operate in the shadow economies of wealthy countries, where employers are ignoring the law. When clandestine immigrants find themselves embroiled with illegality after their arrival in a rich country, it is often because of the nature of the work they find and the fact that they may still be bound to the trafficking organisations that brought them in.

Many are themselves the object of criminal or unacceptable activity. In the Netherlands, for example, most aspects of prostitution are legal, but in Amsterdam in the mid-1990s, 75 per cent of the ‘window girls’ were non-nationals and of these, according to the Dutch police, 80 per cent were in the country illegally. The number of women arriving from the former Eastern bloc rose sharply in the early 1990s, as did the number of men suspected of trafficking. The central problem in all this has been the ownership of the women and the appropriation of their earnings. According to one study, a Dutch prostitute earning $300 a day would normally see anything between half and two-thirds of that money; a newcomer from Ukraine, capable of earning $500 in a day, would have $25 in hand at the end of it. When a court in Brussels convicted nine members of a Nigerian prostitution network in 1997, it emerged that the women recruited had been promised asylum in order to entice them out of West Africa. They could buy their freedom from the pimping circuits in Germany, Italy and Belgium for $25,000. Indenture and debt are the crimes here – and, you could argue, insatiable demand in the marketplace. None of these is committed by the illegal migrant herself; like most people at a disadvantage, she can only collude.

There is nonetheless an underlying difficulty to do with the spread of information, and of information technology, and the new accessibility of international travel (falling airfares, rising numbers of passengers). These put strains on restrictive immigration and perhaps, too, an onus on people to circumvent them. A satellite channel on the TV in a village café, a mobile phone in a refugee camp or, higher up the scale of prosperity, an e-mail facility in an office that depends on an electricity generator, are no longer extraordinary sights: in fact they are already clichés. It is possible to send and receive – in poorer countries, mostly to receive – in ways that have certainly foreshortened the distances between continents. But these seductive forms of abbreviation on which we congratulate ourselves are virtual, like the tricks of perspective that make the horizon appear closer than it is. The real effect of digital and satellite communication is to pitch the world into a more advanced state of anomaly. A Bulgarian car worker and his Danish counterpart can both set their sights on the same luxury item – a colour television, for instance – but the first will have to work for half a year to acquire what the second can collect after half a week on the job. Nowadays, however, the Bulgarian worker is constantly being reminded of the relative purchasing power of the Dane – and it is certain that he gives this discrepancy a good deal of thought. The father of a desperate family in Burkina Faso who decides, after three bad harvests in a row, to ride into town and negotiate a loan can watch a slimming commercial on CNN while he waits in the living-room of a prestigious uncle. He is already too familiar with anomaly to take offence at what he sees: he will think of it as a form of empty magic, a fabulation rather than a taunt. But market capitalism is always taunting the poor, and it now has far more scope to do so than it had in the heyday of the postwar advertising moguls.

In the least developed countries, the message of globalisation is fairly constant: stay put at all costs; help is on its way. But when the remedy takes longer to work than the doctors anticipated, the urge to get up becomes harder to resist, because globalisation heightens the contradiction between promise, which is ever-extensive, and reality, which is much as it was. If salvation keeps failing to appear over the brow of the hill, it may be time to leave the plain. The poor begin to grasp that they should follow the money, since it has failed to seek them out. Some of them take the lesson to heart.

In 1990 the UN produced a finicky but useful improvement on GDP per capita as a measure of the quality of life in any given country. The Human Development Index takes account of adult literacy, life expectancy, income levels and the average number of years a child spends in school. These are not so much profiles of countries as silhouettes, projected against a twilight of statistics. In the human development ratings compiled by the UN, 56 countries could be said to enjoy a good quality of life. The remainder are caught in the slough of middling to low. In the top 80 countries, which include Belarus, Macedonia, Jamaica and Peru, there are no entries whatever from sub-Saharan Africa – not even South Africa, the jewel in the continent’s crown.

There is another, quite complex barometer of comparative wealth known as the PPP (or ‘purchasing power parity’) index, a measure of the relative ability of the world’s inhabitants to pay for goods and services. It is derived by adjusting exchange rates to take account of cost of living differences, which are calculated, in turn, on the variable price of those goods and services across the globe. A rough hierarchy of national purchasing power can be obtained by running the per capita GDP of every country through this conversion programme. The result is expressed in a point system, with the US citizen scoring 100 points, the Luxembourgeois 116.1 and, at the bas fonds of the index, the farmer in Myanmar fewer than 5. Of the 20 entries at the bottom of the PPP list, 15 are sub-Saharan. In terms of the Human Development Index and the PPP, globalisation in Africa is a busted flush.

Why, then, are there so few sub-Saharan hands gripping the portcullis? By comparison with Asia and Eastern Europe, Africa is a modest source of legal and clandestine migrants to the rich world, despite the strength of old colonial ties to several EU countries. It is thought that fewer than four million sub-Saharan Africans live outside the continent, although in the EU alone, there are 17 million immigrants. Part of the reason is the lure of South Africa, which drew on a vast pool of migratory labour from neighbouring states under apartheid and remains a magnet for continental expatriates, who now come from further afield and work in many different areas of the economy, including a sizeable drugs trade. Some of the biggest intakes since the early 1990s have been from Nigeria and the former Zaire.

The African case raises one of the great conundrums facing governments that want to keep out migrants from poorer countries, for it suggests that high levels of immiseration such as Africa has endured since the 1970s are not the decisive cause of migration to the rich world. It is true that many clandestine migrants are driven by poverty, but there are also many whose levels of wealth and whose quality of life are the very factors that enable them to leave. Wealthy states – EU member states, for instance – who hope to discourage migration from very poor parts of the world by a cautious transfer of resources (more advantageous bilateral trade deals, deeper debt relief and so on) should not be downcast if they discover, after a few years, that these initiatives have failed to improve conditions in their target countries. For a country that did indeed show an increase in GDP, adult literacy and life expectancy — a general improvement all round – would be likely to produce even more aspiring migrants than a country trying to cope with live burial at the bottom of the world economy.

For 30 years or more, Mexico was the most obvious case of the rapid growth/high sender economy. Today the model would be Korea, or Taiwan. The problem for rich nations aiming at minimal immigration from poorer countries is obvious: in attempting to discourage migration by enriching source countries, they can never rule out the possibility that they are stimulating the very phenomenon they wished to depress. In the past, a government’s immigration policy amounted to a yes or a no, according to its needs and wishes, and the ability to enforce its word at its frontiers. Nowadays, it involves byzantine projections that take into account the likely effect, in terms of migratory pressure, of one region being enriched or another impoverished, and complex bilateral negotiations with source countries over migrant quotas. All the while, governments strenuously resist the conclusion about the free movement of people that they reached with equanimity about the free movement of capital: that it may be an expensive waste of time to try to fend it off.

Nobody is sure what a liberalisation of human movement would look like, any more than we could be certain in the 1980s what the deregulation of world markets would entail. Would the consequences of human beings moving around more freely than they do now turn out to be just as momentous? And would the old mechanisms of power persist in some form that left the rich world with a controlling interest in who went where (or who didn’t), much as the corporate establishments of the old order were able to safeguard their ascendancy during and after deregulation?

The answers to these questions are deferred – indeed, they are difficult even to sketch out – for as long as developed countries are wedded to restrictive immigration. If they could conceive of a world in which movement was freer than it is, they might find it easier to resolve some of the more pressing problems that accompany restriction on movement now. The most obvious of these is that it becomes costlier and more of a nuisance to maintain when even a fraction of aspiring migrants in poorer countries – whether they are in the process of becoming richer or not – cease to respect the borders of wealthier ones. Another is that restriction tends to encourage migrants who want real freedom of movement – which is to say, the legal right to come and go at their leisure – to opt for settlement or some form of long-term residency. To enter a country with a strict immigration policy, often after a good deal of paperwork and a large financial outlay, is to feel a nagging fear that next time it could all be harder; that access, which in a perfect world would be available on demand, could be cut off at any time by a surge of anti-immigration feeling or a new round of restrictive legislation.

Only those who are persecuted or cut to the quick by poverty want to uproot permanently and fight for their place in a society where they are unwelcome. Europe is far from establishing any such right. In its absence, those who have come from poorer countries in the last fifty years have decided, after due consideration, that the best course of action is to dig in. It is one thing for an immigrant to take up the burden of exile for the duration of his working life and another for an entrepreneur to be able to come and go as he pleases; to buy goods and ship them home, install them or sell them on, and build up a business that requires frequent visits to the rich world and more substantial purchases. Restrictive immigration tends to deny the short-term visitor the ability to spend directly in the shopping malls of Europe, to drink at the fountain of the great consumer democracies which claim to confer citizenship on anyone with the power to buy. The West prefers foreign consumers to purchase at one remove, normally through the costly mediation of Western agents and middlemen. It also favours expanding foreign outlets and international franchising. That is the way to secure more of the takings: prudence is the loyal servant of order and seclusion. Yet even if the piecemeal enrichment of poorer groups of people by bigger remittances and freer access were to stimulate migratory pressure on the West, it is not certain that the new ambition would be to settle in the rich world. It might simply be to enjoy the right to come and go.

In A Seventh Man (1975), John Berger described the vicissitudes of clandestine migration from Portugal through Spain into France. The traffickers charged $350 per person, about a year’s earnings for a peasant farmer when migration from Portugal was still illegal. Often, they cheated their clients by abandoning them in the mountains across the Spanish frontier. The migrants devised a system to guard against this:

Before leaving they had their photographs taken. They tore the photograph in half, giving one half to their ‘guide’ and keeping the other for themselves. When they reached France they sent half of the photograph back to their family in Portugal to show that they had been safely escorted across the frontiers; the ‘guide’ came to the family with his half of the photograph to prove that it was he who had escorted them, and it was only then that the family paid the $350.

There are similar arrangements now. Families in China pay the agents’ fees in instalments. They keep to the schedule only when a clandestine émigré has confirmed his safe arrival in Britain, where he, too, can make a contribution – the cost is in the region of £15,000 and rising – but failure to pay can lead to the victimisation or disappearance of the migrant. What Berger’s account of Portuguese clandestines has in common with many stories today is the importance, to those who remain behind, of sending out a relative who can shore up the family economy with earnings and establish a base, of which other family members may one day take advantage.

Migrants from Africa, the Middle East and the remains of the Eastern bloc are foragers, an advance guard, illustrious adventurers – potential earners above all. They also act as intermediaries between two worlds. In the North, by their example, they vouch for the rigorous 19th-century logic of ‘amelioration’ and, in setting their hands to anything, offer an adaptationist lesson in endurance and versatility. They find a rapt audience – captive, in fact – in their countries of origin, whom they regale with tales of sumptuous indulgence and untold risk. But there are also long interludes of realism. By reporting back, or visiting, or returning for good after five, ten, fifteen years, migrants reinforce the scepticism that poorer spectators already have about the footling self-portraiture which the rich world disseminates by means of satellite television – advertising especially. In all this, it is not a picture of themselves that migrants complete by supplying the missing part, but a picture of the world beyond the village or the township. They are able to paraphrase, gloss and interpret the ad infinitum ramblings of satellite transmission and insist that the land of riches may be bleak and unforgiving, despite its advantages. As more migrants arrive in Western Europe, the demystification of the rich world gains ground. Those who enter now have fewer illusions than their predecessors, who would often rather they did not follow in their footsteps. Their successors will have fewer still, but they will keep wanting to come.

Sustaining the remittance, rolling access to foreign income across two generations, extending it, seeing it through – these are powerful motives for migrants, even though they are now less welcome in the countries where they can earn a living. In the early 1990s, when the IMF reviewed the global value of remittances, it estimated that $65 billion had been transferred out of their host countries by migrants in 1989; this figure exceeded by about $20 billion all official development assistance from donor states to qualifying countries in the same year. For families in a country like Tunisia, to which workers abroad now remit well over $600 million a year, or Haiti – in the region of $100 million – earners posted overseas for long periods are crucial.

If freedom of movement is a ‘human right’, as many argue, then there must also be a case for the rights of communities to fend off what they do not want, including immigration. A community that successfully defeats a proposal for a local nuclear reactor is safer, by a margin, if it is built three hundred miles away instead. That is some kind of victory. Similarly, if it deflects the motorway, or defeats staff cutbacks in its hospital or a plan to bus in children from other neighbourhoods to its schools, it is ensuring that things go on as they did. Victory here, too. The adverse effect on other communities will, of course, have negative repercussions on the one whose strength of feeling spared it the brunt of the difficulty: no parish is an island. But restricting immigration may not even amount to a parochial victory.

The reason for this is connected with population growth and the tendency of poorer people to invest in kind – that is to say, in even greater numbers of poorer people, via the low-outlay strategy of having children. The restriction of migration to the rich world not only slows up the transfer of resources from rich to poor, and hampers the stewardship of local resources in poorer countries: it encourages higher rates of population growth in the world as a whole. With a net population increase of more than 80 million people a year, this is not a welcome situation, even for communities whose own populations are in decline.

We know for a fact that the world’s poorer communities become more numerous until their living standards improve, along with the spread of education and wider margins of choice, particularly for women of child-bearing age. Those improvements may raise their contribution to atmospheric pollution, global warming and every other item on the list of devastation – but no serious environmentalist advocates the villain’s default option, of ensuring that even if the poor increase their numbers, they remain too abject to consume and pollute with the ferocity of a country like the US. Those who believe that the most urgent business now is the race against environmental depletion might reflect on liberal immigration as a way to win it. To insulate the rich world against the poor migrant is simply to fail at one of the early hurdles in the race – improvement in living standards in underdeveloped countries – and sooner or later to take the consequences. For the future of the Alpine valley, whatever its collective sensibilities and however keen its antipathy towards people of another colour or culture, the absence of non-Europeans in the cheerful micro-ecology of ‘l’espace européen’ has far more alarming implications than their presence.

The impending shortage of young people in a marketplace that has aimed to capture and consume the young by fattening them into plausible consumers is also a cause for concern. Most population projections for Western Europe forecast rising numbers of elderly and falling numbers of young people – a witch’s cage without Hansel and Gretel. This may account for the extremes of anger and dismay with which the West regards the arrival of ‘unaccompanied minors’: children from a poor or dangerous country who set out under their own steam for a richer, more stable destination, or who are sent by worried relatives and dumped, normally without any adult to ensure their safe arrival. In these powerful symbolic figures the rich world discerns the hazy demographic issues at the back of migration and begins to understand that youth and age are no longer about time, so much as space. For whether you die young or old depends more clearly than at any time in the past on where you are born. In Europe, since 1945, old age has become the likeliest outcome of youth. When a ten-year-old girl from Togo is hoisted over the border fence of a Mediterranean outpost of Spanish Africa and left for police patrols to find, or half a dozen Ethiopian children are discovered huddling somewhere in Arrivals at Heathrow Airport, or the miraculous survivor of a flight in the undercarriage of an Air Afrique carrier from Senegal claims asylum in France, an extraordinary confrontation takes place between a world defined largely by an excess of young people and another by a deficit.

In its distress at the arrival of unaccompanied minors, the rich world looks busily over their shoulders in search of someone to blame: the people who put them up to it – parents or relatives, traffickers acting on their behalf, ruthless opportunists with no notion of decency. The real transgressors, however, are the uninvited children themselves, crossing the forbidden boundary between two worlds that resemble enchanted domains in a myth of primal sundering. In the first, there is only eternal youth, endlessly extinguished and replaced; here the young seem to have swallowed up the aged. In the second, crowds of mature adults and elderly extend the limits of longevity, deferring the moment of death, unwilling to cross the threshold but unable to return and regenerate the landscape over which they hastened; here the old have begun to devour the young. The youthful intruder in the sanctuary of age is a reminder that the child is no longer father to the man. In one place, the child reproduces himself on a treadmill of infirmity and social upheaval; in another, the father reproduces himself in the embrace of technology.

That globalisation has failed to coax or bully these two worlds into closer relation was the drift of a letter found in the landing gear of an Airbus that flew out of Guinea-Conakry in the summer of 1999. It was recovered in Brussels from the wheel enclosure under the starboard wing of the aircraft, along with the remains of two young Africans who had stowed away in the hope of migrating to Europe. In the letter, addressed to ‘Messrs the members and leaders of Europe’, the two boys, Yaguine Koita and Fodé Tounkara, explained what had led them to make a bid for the rich world: they were fugitives from the misfortune of happening to be African. The letter talks mostly of Africa and Africans – the words occur nine or ten times, the name of their own country only twice. Perhaps they made the astute assumption that no one in Europe would know where Guinea was. Or perhaps they felt strongly that their impasse in the shanties of Conakry was shared by millions of sub-Saharans. In their last will and testament, the two boys appeal to Europe’s ‘sense of solidarity and kindness … Help us, we suffer too much in Africa, help us.’ They nominate ‘war, sickness, food’ as the great ‘problems’ of Africa and lament the state of African schools. The overriding motive for their departure was to risk everything for an education. ‘We want to study and we ask you to help us to study to be like you in Africa.’ They hid in the allotments at the near end of the airport runway and waited while a Sabena carrier taxied towards them. As it swung around to line up for take-off, they leapt the airport fence, sprinted under the howling turbines and clambered into the undercarriage. They died like polar explorers in some ether icefield.

In Belgium life expectancy is nearly double that of Guinea. Belgium has the fourth oldest population in the world; in Guinea, nearly half the population is under 15. In Belgium about 10 children are born for every 1000 head of population; in Guinea, about four times that number, although about 12 per cent die in infancy. By 2015 Belgium will have one of the slowest growing populations in the world – indeed, it will show a negative growth rate of -0.05 per cent; the population of Guinea will continue to grow at anything between 2 and 4 per cent.

Confidence in longevity is now normal in the West; it is a sign that we can still venerate old age, but it is a kind of avarice, too, although less fierce than our attachment to money, and it may just be that a redistribution of age and youth is more attainable than the worldwide cornucopia that globalisation is always promising to lay before the eyes of an astonished and grateful public. In North America, Australia and Europe, not only is the natural increase in population slowing up, but the foreign share of total births – always higher, proportionately, than the ratio of foreign to indigenous nationals – shows no sign of reversing the trend. In wealthy countries, neither immigration nor higher numbers of births among naturalised foreigners or non-nationals can compensate for the imminent shortage of young people.

Older people, we are told, will no longer be able to live in the manner to which they are accustomed. ‘Very high volumes of migration would be needed,’ the OECD believes, ‘to change the trend in ageing populations’ in prosperous countries. The analogy might be a basin of water with the plug out and the tap running. The first gurgling sounds are audible from 2010 onwards, when the prevailing ratio of citizens between the ages of 15 and 64 to citizens aged 65 or over is no longer sustainable: the shortfall in the first group is so large that, by 2020, tens of millions of people will be required to restore the ratio in the US, Australia and the UK. Where should they come from, if not from the places where old age was struck off the slate in the last four decades of the 20th century?

But the rich world is unlikely to draw migrant labour from the very poorest countries – from Guinea, for example. It will look to sources closer to home (the first big supplier of migrant labour to industrialised Germany in the 1950s was Italy; it was followed by Spain and Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Yugoslavia). It will also look to parts of the world with the modicum of social and economic infrastructure that many European possessions enjoyed on the eve of decolonisation. Above all, to places in which it has become embroiled by trade and the prospect of cultural penetration. A country like Australia, which touts for sales in overseas markets, with a strong emphasis on its further education opportunities, can expect high intakes of students from Asia – there were about 100,000 a year in the 1990s – many of whom will apply to remain. A country like the US that opts for massive market expansion in the East and fights two wars there for good measure will also experience migratory pressure from new sources: by 1990 there were around ten million ‘Asian Americans’ in the US. The poor of sub-Saharan Africa fail on all these counts.

More prosperous regions may not be so lucky either. The projected need for high numbers of immigrants is based on the notion that the economies of the rich world will continue to function in more or less the same way in the next three decades as they did in the last two. But a 25-year forecast in Britain or Germany that ventured as much in the mid-1970s would have been debatable by the end of the century. One which envisaged continuing primary immigration into Western Europe for a further three decades on the basis of the intakes begun in the 1950s would simply have been wrong: within 20 years a combination of lower birth rates and higher living standards had produced a significant decline in Southern European emigration. In the early 1970s, meanwhile, Britain and West Germany put a stop to recruitment from further afield.

Even with zero primary migration from poorer countries, Britain and West Germany continued to receive thousands of immigrants on grounds of family reunion, and the chain of movement set up by the first phase of recruitment survived the about-turn in host country policies. This was a cause of serious unease to the governments of both countries. When Germany ended long-term labour intakes from Turkey there were around a million Turkish residents in the country. By the early 1980s the figure was closer to 1.6 million. Many West Germans would have been happier with none at all.

The other fear that seeped into Europe as it prepared to close down primary immigration was social division along ethnic lines: fear of the ghetto, racial segregation, a resurgence of xenophobia. In the dark days of the gastarbeiter, full citizenship in Germany was conferred by genealogy. Blood circulates, immigrants rotate. A German was a German wherever he or she might be; a non-German, on the other hand, was a visitor who would in due course leave and be replaced. Or not, depending on the demand for labour. West German citizenship law was haunted by the postwar break-up of Germany and by the large numbers of Germans in the Communist East. A democratic fusion of the corps morcelé became the ideal. At the same time, in the liberal view, the recent past had tarnished the very idea of the nation-state, and with it, that of ‘national’ citizenship – above all, German national citizenship. To bestow it on immigrants as a privilege seemed hypocritical and perverse.

The result, however, was not the open-ended republicanism – ‘relaxed coexistence’, in the idiom of the Social Democrats – that West Germany had hoped for. Guest workers were capsuled from the rest of society in overcrowded living-quarters doing jobs that the indigenous population would not consider; the unavailability of citizenship for long-term residents and their children reinforced their otherness, while many of the rights they shared with Germans failed to protect them from hostility and outright attack. The loose-fitting garment that the Constitution had in mind for them turned out to be a corset.

The legal status of foreigners in Germany is again under review, but the sense of an ambiguous experiment which, once begun, could never be done with, remains strong. Last November the General Secretary of Germany’s Liberal Party called for the abolition of ‘individual’ right of asylum – a call, in effect, for default from the 1951 Convention – on the grounds that it was ‘an invitation to abuse and to unrestricted and unregulated immigration’. The Federal Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, had already made a cursory division of sheep and goats a few days earlier, when he told the Berliner Zeitung that only 3 per cent of asylum seekers were ‘genuine’. Long after both men have retired into obscurity, there will be others who say much the same. At the root of their bad temper is the knowledge that asylum obligations and broader migratory pressures force governments into areas they cannot control. To inhibit immigration in one way is to encourage it in others. To deny it altogether, as Europe is now trying to do, is simply to invite a growing disregard for the law.

The mechanical paradigm of migration on which we still rely – ‘push’ in the migrant’s place of origin, ‘pull’ in his destination – derives from the pioneering work of Ernst Georg Ravenstein published in the 1870s and 1880s. This model, with its two basic terms, has done sterling service for over a century. It has also undergone endless refinements by demographers. To apply to the present migration crisis – a crisis of perception, as our politicians would say – it requires two further add-ons. Both would address the odd effects that result from states attempting to regulate migration – and both are connected with the ideal of low immigration from poorer countries. The first might be thought of as ‘reversal’. In its most unattractive form, it is based on the desperate belief that the way to do away with unwanted immigrants is to pour development aid into countries that produce them. The hope is that the narrative of immigration could be told differently and the socio-economic landscape quickly made over. The desired effect is a rewind of migrant influx, as large numbers of non-European males begin to retreat, heels first, towards the platform exits on the concourse of Cologne station and others totter backwards at high speed up the gangways in Marseille and Southampton.

Yet, with the right spin, ‘reversal’ can also be a progressive idea. It involves rethinking the economic relationship between richer and poorer countries and insisting, at the tables of the World Trade Organisation, the IMF, the World Bank and the bilateral lenders, on further, deeper debt relief, faster decartelisation of wealthy producers and more prodigal overseas aid. Advocates of liberal immigration are, in some sense, only advocates of development. Yet the real protagonist of development, they argue, is the migrant: governments must study this dedicated ferryman of aspiration and reward, and then decide how to assist him in the endless business of transfer in which he is engaged.

Immigrants have always had their own co-operative associations; often they pool their earnings: they know better than anyone the needs of the communities they have come from. ‘Reversal’ urges high incentives – tax relief, matching funding, low-interest loans – to encourage the return of capital and skills to developing countries. Such policies, the argument runs, would enable a group of immigrants in Europe who were saving to build a school or a clinic in their place of origin to raise the money far more quickly. ‘Reversal’ also wants to generate the equivalent of ‘sender-country pull’: it advocates import tax relief in poorer countries, the creation of foreign currency accounts with attractive interest rates and the eligibility of returnees to the same benefit entitlements, where they exist, as other nationals. In this model, the immigrant is a stakeholder in two worlds – ‘the natural link’ between North and South and the mediating agent of a process now known in France as ‘co-development’.

The liberal immigration lobby, which looks on migration as a ‘transitional demand’ in an unfair world, believes that the more of these agents there are, the likelier the chances of achieving parity, or painless alignment, between global rich and global poor. It argues for more intensive short-term migration, more detailed matching of supply and demand, often at local levels, which would then be rubber-stamped at the national level. Crucially, it raises the possibility of getting migrants out again, as well as letting them in – a far less desolate prospect than the moated castle of affluence, and one which distinguishes its proponents from cruder enthusiasts of ‘reversal’ – down-payment repatriation, you might call it – who would happily stuff a few thousand francs in the back pocket of an Algerian immigrant if they knew they’d seen the last of him.

Migration is a harsh process, sometimes frankly cruel, and it has always involved quite savage forms of triage, especially when it is compulsory. One has only to think of the high numbers of slave deaths on the Atlantic passage, or of the Chinese contract labour requisitioned by the New World in the latter part of the 19th century to compensate for the abolition of slavery. About half a million Chinese are thought to have embarked at Canton for Cuba and Peru between 1845 and 1900. Many were sold at auction when they arrived. The journey, via the Cape, took four or five months, during which 12 to 15 per cent of the passengers died. On a lesser scale, there are plentiful instances of suffering now. Last November, 14 stowaways on a 12,000-tonne ferry from Greece to Italy – most of them Iraqi Kurds – were asphyxiated when a fire broke out in one of the garages. Every few months, landmines along the Greek border with Turkey kill or maim asylum seekers from Iraq. No one knows how many illegal migrants setting out on small boats from Morocco have drowned in the Gibraltar Straits, but no one doubts a figure in the thousands.

To the clandestine migrant, however, the idea that the border may be permeable is more important than the idea that it may not be. For reluctant host states, the reverse is true. This stubborn dialectic ensures that migration remains as difficult as it always was for poorer people – and forces millions of them through an informal selection procedure, which will continue until there is no such thing as a gap in the border, an illegal migrant or a human trafficker. As another new element in the migration paradigm, it could be called ‘sieving’. Its effect is, first, to separate the unfit from the fit, and then, among the fit, to recast any residual weakness as something adaptable and supple, with a high tolerance for extremes. By making it so hard for non-white contenders, the West is creating an acceptable species of foreign migrant. Nowhere is this more obvious than in North Africa.

A short man with a good car who knew everybody’s business drove me over the border into Morocco. He missed the southerly road to Tetouan by a long chalk. We’d been due to make a stop there, but within an hour or two we were cruising through the outskirts of Tangier. It was a shaky start for a person who claimed to know so much. The idea was to meet a boatman, someone who ferried people across the straits to Spain for money. There was a long wait and a brisk walk up through a busy part of the city to a teahouse where the patrons sat flicking beads in front of a European Champions’ League match on the house TV. Our trafficker was charming enough – he had good-humoured, rheumy eyes and spoke passable English. The two men went back some way and, even though my guide leaned on his old acquaintance, he would not be drawn on the subject of his work. He was getting on now, and looked askance at everything about his younger days. The most he would admit to were occasional deliveries of kif and hashish over the water to Algeciras. He struck me as a waste of time.

Even so, the old boy’s name turned out to have a certain currency. A few days later, when I mentioned it in passing to another smuggler, I was rewarded with a brief glimpse into the business of trafficking from Morocco. Hassan was 22 and came from Fez. He contracted boats to run drugs across the water; sometimes he delivered them himself. He was a laid-back, ambitious young entrepreneur with no interest in human cargo. He had met our man in Tangier and assured me he still took clandestine migrants over the straits. ‘He won’t say so now,’ Hassan told me. ‘No one will say it.’ The business had fallen into disrepute – too many deaths, too much black propaganda from Europe. ‘I ask you this simple question: how, under such conditions, can a man be proud of what he does?’

Hassan had no quarrel with migrant-trafficking, but it was easier and more rewarding to run drugs. He explained that by and large drugs and migrants were handled by separate organisations – and drugs were incomparably better business. Fifteen passengers or more on a fishing smack, paying $1300 each, cannot match the earnings of a drugs run. In two nights’ good work an organisation handling drugs can earn more than the transit value of everything the Guardia Civil confiscates in a year. With drugs, there isn’t the problem of keeping people in safe houses near the beaches for days on end and arguing down to the last dirham with every customer. If things go wrong for a migrants’ agent, he can’t heave his passengers overboard as you would a consignment of drugs. If they go badly wrong, he has other deaths to consider, along with his own, in the final prayer. ‘I know your friend in Tangier,’ Hassan concluded. ‘And I know his business for a fact.’

Many of the illegal migrants from Morocco make their way up to the coast from poorer villages in the south. The traffickers’ fees are well above average annual earnings: they represent years of family thrift and, often enough, a family debt. It is not so much the shortage of money in Morocco that impels migration – though this is acute enough for most – as the lack of schooling and medical and legal provision: access to doctors, lawyers, decent schools is prohibitively expensive for most Moroccans. But if misfortune comes between the family and their migrant – if he is repatriated, for example, or drowned – matters are very much worse than they were before they parted with their money. About 1700 Moroccans were apprehended entering Spain illegally through Algeciras in 1997 and more than 2000 in 1998. Each one represents a family setback in Morocco.

Illegal entry from the Maghreb into Spain is modest beside the flurry of human movement, most of it legal, that has begun to blur the boundaries of Mediterranean Europe and North Africa. During 1997 three million Moroccans and Europeans passed through the tiny Spanish enclave of Ceuta, tucked into the Moroccan littoral. By this year, the figure had risen beyond five million. Millions also travel to and from Tangier. A good proportion are registered seasonal labourers in Spain’s agricultural sector – an indispensable migrant workforce – while others make their way down through France in the summer, in cars and kombis loaded with goods, and back again in September for the rentrée. With the ferry monopoly in the Straits long gone, competitive prices and several passages daily, rates of movement are likely to increase. The waters that separate the shores of the western Maghreb and southern Spain now resemble what they were before the rise of nation-states and machine-age empires: a transit point, rather than a barrier, between Africa and Iberia.

The Mediterranean is also an objective for poorer sub-Saharan migrants. Some hope to claim asylum in Europe, but the great majority are looking for a livelihood. Most travel north along the arduous routes from West Africa – so far, no more than a few thousand every year – but here, the phenomenon of migration from poor countries is at its most simple and stark. Poverty, frustration and danger are the main motives for leaving. It nonetheless takes a particular cast of character, and a will to reach Europe – forged, perhaps, by a combination of anger and the burning wish for release – to make the journey. Those who do so are going about migration very differently from the millions of Africans who move to neighbouring states or the hundreds of thousands of others – prosperous people – who fly in and out of Europe and the US without any problem.

Year after year, African commentators, World Bank officials, foreign news editors and aid agencies wet a finger and raise it in the hope of detecting a new wind of change on the continent. There are always signs of improvement; it’s a matter of looking for them. But there are still some seven million refugees in Africa and many more displaced inside their own countries. Persecution, war and injustice remain the handmaidens of post-colonial politics in much of the continent. Privation, too, is a gnawing extremity.

It is a common misconception that the very few illegal migrants who make it out of sub-Saharan Africa are no better off than those who stay. Traffickers’ fees and other costs can run into hundreds of dollars, which proves the existence of money somewhere in the family of a typical ‘illegal’ heading for the rich world. Yet the destitute can get to Europe, too, on loans, or charity, or sheer ingenuity. Both the poor and the not so poor have made the cold calculation that matters may only get worse if they remain where they are. A young father knows that, if he does not die before his time, he may well outlive his own children; another sees the painstaking work of generations wilting in a dustbowl of mismanagement and corruption. Whether it is a threat or already a reality, ruin is what hounds the sub-Saharan migrant up through the desert.

For West Africans heading north, there is a ‘left side’ and a ‘right side’ – or so it appears. The fulcrum is somewhere in Niger. The easterly route takes them up through Libya, and they may find themselves on the coasts of Lebanon or Turkey before they set foot in Europe. The itineraries and transactions are obscure, but it may be that Turkish traffickers set up the last stage of the journey. They could, for example, ferry migrants to a large boat at anchor off Izmir, which is slowly filling up with other clients – typically Kurds – and then head west into European waters to decant them into smaller vessels. This, perhaps, was the way that the men from Sierra Leone had come – a fantastically roundabout way – before I saw them brought off the old hulk in Santa Maria di Leuca.

The ‘left side’, or westerly route, involves a journey through Algeria, Morocco and often the two Spanish seaboard enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, remnants of Spain’s imperial holdings in Africa. The demise of this modest empire, at the time of Franco’s death, led to the creation of what is now one of the oldest refugee encampments in the world, as the inhabitants of Spanish Sahara fled Moroccan annexation and settled in Algeria. About 250,000 Saharans are still waiting in the Algerian camps for an opportunity to return. Spain has managed to parry Moroccan designs on Ceuta and Melilla, however, and so, on its entry into the European Community in 1986, two forward posts of the future Union came into existence on the continent of Africa.

Ceuta is no more than 20 square kilometres, with a population of 75,000. It is modern, artificially and lavishly developed in parts by mainland subsidies, and unmistakably a garrison community with a high proportion of Army personnel. As EU territory in Africa, it is another of Europe’s frontline defences against migrant intrusion. It also provides for those whom it has failed to intercept at the Moroccan border, settling them provisionally in a large camp and eventually processing them into work and liberty. I made three visits to the camp at the end of 1998, when there were fewer than a thousand inmates, but it had, they said, been much fuller. It was set off the coast road at a place called Calamocarro. You passed a row of fishing boats drawn up on the sandy beaches to your right and, a little way on, you could see a public phone box with a queue of Africans. You walked up over a steep gravel terrace to find dozens of Spanish Army tents pitched in a grove of eucalyptus.

By day, the camp had the generous, all-comer smell of the open markets in parts of Southern Africa: sweet soap; synthetic fabrics and weatherproof plastics trounced by rain; fritters; okra, oil and chili. The wind gusting off the sea rasped the eucalyptus, carrying the sharp, medicated scent beyond the confines of the settlement – a smell that I associated with the central provinces of Mozambique. There, in the 1980s, you encountered tens of thousands of refugees who didn’t qualify as refugees, because they were fleeing, or resettled, inside the country’s borders. Not many refugees in Calamocarro either: a person driven to the limit by poverty is not a refugee.

One section of the camp, however, consisted of a small Algerian detachment – a handful of tents containing perhaps twenty families, most of them fleeing the gun and the knife. In one tent a young couple and their three children had been installed for ten weeks, waiting for news of an asylum application. The mother was an educated 21-year-old from Oran who had been working before they left. Her father had been murdered by an Islamist faction the previous year; later she, too, had been threatened. Her husband was a security guard for the state petroleum company; as a government employee, he was also a target. They’d been relieved of their savings by the Moroccan frontier police and were now defenceless. It would not have done to send them back through Morocco to the butcher’s war over the border.

The tension between the Algerians and sub-Saharans was unmistakable. Many sub-Saharans felt strongly that there should be some form of ‘economic asylum’ on the grounds that the atrophy of their economies had gone hand in hand with the erosion of human and political rights. They looked with a sidelong, suspect glance at the asylum-seeker’s bitter privilege. Others spoke well of the kindness they’d been shown while travelling through Algeria.

One morning in the camp, a giant of a man from Cameroon called Joseph announced that Algeria might be a dangerous place for Algerians, but ‘not for us blacks’. He couldn’t say why – ‘perhaps it’s something in the Koran.’ Joseph was 25. He had crossed most of the Sahara on foot and could tell you the time it had taken him, from the day he left home, to the day he reached Ceuta, with the precision of a man who had chalked up each sunrise on the floor of a vast, shimmering cell whose walls were an infinite distance from any point at which he woke. The total, which he was apt to repeat, came to 181 days. Joseph had nearly died of dehydration, but had been saved by nomads, who looked after him for a week or more and sent him on his way with a sack of powdered sugar and a skin of water. He insisted, in defence of the Algerians, that no one could know whether their asylum applications would be approved. He refused to join in a whispering campaign against them. Like several fellow Cameroonians, he was intent on mainland Europe. ‘Je ferai n’importe quoi, pourvu que c’est légal.’ Though he had been driven north by poverty, he wanted to campaign for radical change in his country, just as any political exile might. Economic misery can make a dissident of almost anyone.

Joseph fraternised with the Algerians, towering over them like an illustrious tree, whose shade they invariably sought. He was on hand to argue their rights when it came to mealtimes – Spanish military rations delivered twice daily – or hustling for extra blankets, or barter disputes over homemade fritters and cigarettes. He also tended recent arrivals from West Africa. He took a man about ten years older than himself under his care as soon as he appeared in the camp: a courteous wraith in a green woollen hat emblazoned with a ‘Red Raiders’ logo. His complexion was floury after four months on the road and a long stint in the desert. ‘You must be strong-backed to do this thing, especially going through Morocco,’ he remarked while he waited for Joseph to negotiate a double helping of meat for him at the head of the food queue. ‘They will take everything from you and beat you, I mean beat you so hard.’ Moments later, his teeth began chattering and he gasped out a verdict on the journey he had made: ‘No. Definitely I would not accept that my worst enemy should come this way.’ He started laughing, then shaking, wrenching the hat from his head and coughing into it until I thought he would die, but when Joseph handed him a mountainous plate of food, he set about it with conviction.

There was something open-hearted and alert about these people who had crossed the desert. It seemed to give them the edge over the Algerians, who kept to their tents when they could, musing darkly over the bloodshed in which they’d been caught up, like so many of their forebears. Old stereotypes, almost obsolete now, were being revived by circumstance at this unlikely point of entry into Europe: the valiant African, the furtive Arab, the severe but tolerant white man, presiding over the destiny of the less provident races.

Calamocarro was an ill-lit place at night, full of milling, hooded shadows in anoraks. The ground was muddy, the air dank and the temperature too low for anyone’s comfort. There were seldom more than two soldiers to oversee the throng of migrants. Apart from the odd scuffle, the camp was self-regulating, but in the darkness, it felt sombre and a little edgy. It was after dark, however, that people spoke freely and it would have been around seven or eight o’clock on a bitter night that Williams Osunde loomed out from the tent placements and introduced himself. Williams was 20. He had come from Lagos, where he threw over his studies when his father, then his extended family, were unable to support him. He drifted around for a time until it struck him that it was just no good: whichever way the cards fell, there was no future for him in Nigeria. One may as well come to an early end as waste away, so why not make the journey to Europe? ‘Even we prefer dying here to dying there,’ he said of the decision to leave. ‘By now I was a realist, you see.’

Williams Osunde set out in a party of six, each of whom paid about £50 for a place on a camion north to Sokoto. Here they paid another camion to take them across the border and into Niger. Immigration at Niger relieved them of a further £50 per person. They hung about scraping funds together in Niger, working for peanuts as water-carriers and shoeshine boys, and meeting more young people from other parts of Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon who were on the same trail. After two months in Niger they set off north on foot, 15 people by now. A six-day march brought them within striking distance of the Algerian border. They pooled their resources to engage the services of a trafficker, who took the money, put them in a truck but dropped them well short of the frontier. They walked the remaining 80 km.

At the frontier, they waited several days for an opportune moment to cross. Here, one of their party died of thirst. Williams no longer recalled the stages or the place-names on the next leg of the journey. I think they would have continued on the road running north from Niger, pressed on through Algeria to In Salah and cut west to join another north-south road leading up to the Moroccan border – a journey of about 1800 km, some of it by truck, but most of it on foot. So far as they knew, and they were delirious for long periods, they crossed the Algerian Sahara in two months, the truck rides enabling them to strike an average of 30 km a day. By the time they entered Morocco, four more of their party had died.

Williams was about to describe what became of him in Morocco, when an eerie voice some way behind him in the darkness began chanting: ‘Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.’ It broke off abruptly and a broad figure in a parka, face indistinguishable, was striding through the shadows towards us with one arm raised, as if in anger.

‘Tell him, Williams,’ said the voice in the depths of the parka, ‘how our country produces 2.1 million barrels of oil a day and how we are starving. Nigeria, Federal Republic of Embezzlers.’

The young man in the parka had been one of Williams’s party and now he urged him to divulge more detail about the journey. When Williams could not, or would not, it was his companion who explained how they had eaten leaves, sucked up the water from pools of sandy mud and drunk their own urine; how one of them was stabbed through the ribs during an argument with strangers and another had died of snakebite. He spoke of ‘trekking’ to the point of death, of seeming to die on his feet, falling into an abyss of exhaustion, only to be resurrected in the furnace of the late morning.

‘Africans are strong,’ said Williams. ‘God just make them so.’

‘Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily …’ the dark mouth in the shadow of the parka intoned, and again: ‘Two point one million, my friend, two point one.’

At the Moroccan border, Williams and the remaining survivors were taken into custody by the police. Only one escaped.

‘Upon all your suffering,’ Williams concluded, ‘upon all your trekking, upon all your danger, they will put you back.’

Like several people from other parties who had reached Calamocarro, they had been dumped by the Moroccans on the border with Algeria – ‘l’Algérie, c’est par là’ – and entered Morocco later by another route, several days’ hike further north. Everyone in the camp who was prepared to talk complained of ill-treatment in Morocco, and of being robbed of their last throw – a tradable watch, a low-carat gem, a nugget of gold – by the police. They claimed to have been beaten. And the three or four women – who had been brought along precisely because they were negotiating-counters in the event of an impasse – had been

The last leg of the journey through Morocco to Ceuta brings those who have survived the Algerian desert and Moroccan hospitality to a low range of hills. Here they must wait, perhaps for several days, studying the Spanish military and police patrols around the border perimeter between the enclave and Morocco. Once there is a gap in the patrol schedule or propitious weather – low cloud, mist on the hills – they will make their bid for European territory. If they cross successfully and elude the chase, the great majority will be allowed to remain. Those who are caught on or near the perimeter are put back inside Morocco. Those are the rules. Success is a matter of luck and, eventually, persistence: no one who has come this far will give up after one failure. In 1997, about 700 illegal migrants entered Ceuta this way. The tally for the following year was nearer 1000. For 1999, it was 7000. A year-on-year increase projected on these figures alone is intriguing. Most of the people who got across came overland; about 40 per cent – wealthier, one must assume – flew to Casablanca and made their way to the hills overlooking the perimeter with the help of Moroccan guides.

The EU knows that Ceuta and Melilla are vulnerable flanks of Fortress Europe, and that migrant pressure has to be opposed at these tempting points of transgression. In 1993 it approved funding for a defensive wall around Ceuta, running for eight kilometres and consisting of two parallel wire fences, 2.5 metres high and 5 metres apart. Between the wire fences a line of sensors was installed; lamps were set at every 33 metres and 30 closed circuit cameras spaced along the perimeter. Rolls of razor wire were laid beneath the nearside fence. Eighty-four culverts in the low ground where the border runs were cemented over. Round-the-clock patrols went into operation. The cost has been estimated at $25 million. Yet the long wire barrier stretching over the brown hills is no more than a term in the same game that sets clandestine migrants against wealthy countries further north: a kind of home line that has to be reached and surmounted, just as the trembling path of moonlight and the wake of the Italian patrol boats in the Otranto Channel are lines of jeopardy to be avoided. In both places the poor pit their wits against the technological expertise of the rich.

Alfonso Cruzado, the stocky, bespectacled officer of the Guardia Civil who showed me round the perimeter, suggested I scale one of the wire walls in the double defence. It took about 45 seconds. Balancing for the turn at the top, where the only handhold is a straight line of clipped wire, I punctured the palms of both hands. Cruzado said he had watched migrants take both fences in less than 20 seconds and wade through the razor wire, slashing their legs to shreds. If you have a bull at your back, he observed, then you’re ready to run for your life. Like the British military involved in the withdrawal from Palestine, Cruzado and his colleagues were troubled by the fate to which they had abandoned their largest North African possession, the Spanish Sahara, in a botched decolonisation process that sent most of the inhabitants into indefinite exile. They saw the whole continent in the light of that failure and found it hard to put the burden of blame for its misfortunes on Africans.

‘What colonial power seriously tried to develop an infrastructure in its African possessions?’ Captain José Rebollo, one of Cruzado’s superiors, asked when I suggested that the migrants who made it over the perimeter were very far from being downtrodden or defeated. He thought it wrong to attribute the force that drove them to their own strength of character when it was so evidently a material issue of misery – and history. Rebollo was hazy about the big picture but he was still on the right track.

‘What power ever attempted to play down tribal differences?’ he went on. ‘And when Africa was distributed to the Europeans, was the division not done with a ruler? We, the colonial powers, are reaping what we sowed. The sub-Saharans who get here are people fleeing death and hunger.’

No one in the Guardia Civil appeared to disagree with this, and none believed the perimeter would be a match for such powerful motives or for such an intractable past. One or two said they liked to think that, faced with the problems sub-Saharans face, they would take the same course. They had a measured disdain for Moroccan illegals, whom they would turf back over the frontier, even if they were found inside the city – the Moroccans must face the perils of the Straits if they want to reach the EU. They were not keen, either, on wealthier sub-Saharans, chiefly from francophone countries, who they claimed to have found with mobile phones and assets of several thousand dollars in Calamocarro. On the rest, however, the Guardia Civil looked sympathetically, even conscientiously.

So did the civilian administration in Ceuta. The Spanish authorities undertake to ‘regularise’ migrants who reach the enclave and, if possible, to find them jobs. There are weekly work details and, in due course, as the paperwork on each migrant is completed, a one-year renewable work permit allows them onto the Spanish mainland – a mixture of realism and civility that is absent in other EU member states and also at odds with EU policy.

As for the perimeter, neither civilian nor military personnel thought of it as a barrier. The expensive high-tech edifice at the margins of Fortress Europe was a filter only, which might thin down the numbers of uninvited to about 300 a year. This was a target figure from the Governor’s office, yet the spokesman who supplied it was doubtful. ‘Directly beneath us,’ he said, ‘is a continent in crisis. It’s not yet alarming, but it’s going to grow, slowly, incrementally, and we must prepare for something very much larger.’ He was working on the assumption that by 2014 anything between 15 and 20 million migrants would have made a bid for entry into Western Europe via Spain.

Rebollo, an old military man with a soldier’s interest in history, saw things in much the same way. Migration had usually been from poor parts of the world to richer ones – ‘what was it that drove the Barbarians to Rome?’ he asked – but he was persuaded that migrations from the North hadn’t the staying power of those from the South. It was a very Spanish perspective, which he brought up to date by citing the per capita GDP of Morocco ($1200) relative to that of Spain ($15,000) – a modest difference, as it happens, beside the comparative purchasing power of an Austrian citizen (75.7), against that of a Nigerian (3.0) or a Sierra Leonean (1.4). Rebollo felt that something had to give. To predict how it would happen, he had used the push-pull model of migration to imagine a one-way hurricane whose early warning was a spate of dust-devils wriggling north across the scrublands of the Sahel.

In 1999, the perimeter around Ceuta was deemed inadequate against the low technologies of willpower and mutiny. The authorities decided to increase the surveillance capacity along its length – more cameras, better sensors – in the hope that the numbers who get across will dwindle to a level that the EU finds acceptable. Increasingly, sub-Saharan migrants, like many Moroccans, have been forced to contemplate the frightening option of the Straits, or to work their way up the ‘right side’ of the continent, forging a more dependable chain of contacts as they head into the arms of the Levantine traffickers.

Europe, meanwhile, has devised a very fine form of ‘sieving’ for illegal migrants from Africa: by reaching the safety of the camp, the able and resourceful define the quality of the intake. They, in turn, are drawn from a larger contingent who self-selected earlier on by leaving their countries of origin and submitting to the trans-Saharan ordeal. Many survivors of the Sahara, moreover, have already self-selected from the hundreds of thousands who abandon the harsh conditions of rural Africa for those of Lagos, Accra, Abidjan, Kinshasa, Bamako, Yaoundé, Dakar. Whether they end up picking fruit in Almería, cleaning the toilets in the Bibliothèque Nationale, running a UN Agency in Geneva, a prostitution ring in Milan or an African Studies course in the Netherlands, these job-seekers are among the most highly qualified in Europe.

There is something puzzling about sub-Saharan Africa’s place in the pattern of intercontinental migration. The anecdotal evidence of those Africans who have made it to Europe reinforces the crude model of desperation as the great push – as strong as any more sophisticated ambition, fired by the rise of a regional economy, or the decline of a superpower. Yet, if it is true that things in Africa can get no worse – as the optimists concluded in the mid-1990s – then in due course the numbers of migrants will increase. Rebollo and his men will have been right for the wrong reasons. War, hunger, social breakdown and economic collapse have not produced demographic eruptions beyond the natural boundary of the Sahara, but the first shafts of prosperity may.

What, though, if Rebollo were right for the reasons he gave? After all, ‘globalisation’ has yet to hold a candle up to history. It is a latecomer on the scene and many of its consequences are still unclear. It is quite possible that one of its effects, in due course, will be to blur, or complicate, the recent picture of international migration, in which abject poverty does not produce the same degree of migratory pressure from developing countries as relative wealth. The ambiguities, at that point, might merely multiply, so that migrants from the poorest economies begin to press towards rich states with more insistence, alongside others who have already taken their cue from an increase in living standards.

As the contradiction becomes more apparent, what might wealthier states conclude, if not that the more prosperous an economic area and the more stable the politics that attend that prosperity, the less inclined people will be to seek out an entirely new life, once and for all, in an enclave of wealth thousands of miles from their homes. Yet this is the most simple-minded vision of poor-to-rich migration – the layman’s elementary model, which geographers and demographers have spent decades revising. Is it stupidity that leads the layman back to it, or obstinacy, or – in the present ‘global’ configuration – merely the sense that it would be rash to rule out poverty as one of the factors that forces human beings across continents? When we come back to the notion that severe hardship still plays a part in migration, we also come back to our senses.

Perhaps, too, we come back to an older truth about human movement, stirring beneath the huge weight of scholarly work on migration – a truth we begin to grasp when, at the end of an unimaginable journey, a young woman from West Africa in the seventh month of her pregnancy scales two high fences, fights her way through a roll of razor wire and enters Europe by a little Spanish garrison in the Maghreb. This petitioner at the rich man’s gate was one of a dozen or more who crossed into Ceuta while I was going in and out of the camp at Calamocarro. She was caught on the perimeter road and it looked very much as if she knew the rules of the game: the Guardia Civil had planned to make an exception in her case – or so they said – but when they put her in a cell overnight before transferring her to the camp, she committed suicide. Nobody established her country of origin or even her real name.

For a day or two her death was all over the Spanish press. It also stirred up a passionate sense of solidarity in Calamocarro. Williams Osunde was so distressed by the news that he insisted on attending the funeral, though he had never met the woman, or heard of her. At the graveside he read from Ephesians: ‘For we wrestle not against the flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ The way Williams saw it, there were two domains, that of the rich and that of the poor; and there was a scandalous conspiracy to ensure that those from the second who needed to reach the first were prevented from doing so.

Injustice is the moral force in this account. But it also restores necessity to its central role in the story of human movement, referring back to older, more local migrations in Africa and other parts of the world, where mobility was bound up with the search for pasture. When you stand at the fringes of Fortress Europe and gaze into Morocco, in the knowledge that at any moment there are at least four or five people concealed in the folds of the hills or lying low in tiny huts, watching the Spanish border patrols and weighing up their moment, the idea of necessity is impossible to set aside. Day after day, year after year, the members of the Guardia Civil in Ceuta and Melilla scrutinise the terrain on the other side of their frontiers. No argument is likely to shake their belief in the idea that it is lack and fear that drive people north to trespass on the lush grasslands of mainland Europe.

In the epic story of Sundiata, the 13th-century warrior-king who founds the ancient empire of Mali, the hero begins life as a cripple. The blacksmiths forge crutches for him, but they buckle when he tries to use them. On the day before his circumcision, however, Sundiata raises his arms, grips the eaves of his mother’s house and pulls himself upright. He reaches out to a baobab tree, tears it from the ground and sets it down at the doorway of the house. In this dramatic transition from broken child to emperor, the extent of an earlier debility measures precisely the extent of a new strength. Like Sundiata, the champions who manage to reach Europe by luck and endurance have wrung strength from weakness, but they have had to draw on the kinds of fundamental resource that are not replenished automatically. And, whatever else they are, they remain fugitives, just as anyone trying to escape the clutches of a dictatorship, or a party of religious zealots, is a fugitive. In the past, refugees have won greater international sympathy than economic migrants. Theirs has been the more identifiable grievance: at its source there is often an identifiable persecutor. Yet the order of economic difficulty that prevails in some parts of the world is akin to persecution. No consensus exists about the identity of the tormentor, and so those who try to put it behind them are more easily reviled than others fleeing the attentions of secret police or state militias.

In 1979, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees issued a handbook for signatories to the 1951 Convention, advising on procedures and criteria for determining refugee status. In the chapter dealing with ‘Inclusion Clauses’, the advice is as follows:

The distinction between an economic migrant and a refugee is sometimes blurred … Where economic measures destroy the economic existence of a particular section of the population … the victims may, according to the circumstances, become refugees on leaving the country.

Whether the same would apply to victims of general economic measures … would depend on the circumstances of the case. Objections to general economic measures are not by themselves good reasons for claiming refugee status. On the other hand, what appears at first sight to be primarily an economic motive for departure may in reality also involve a political element, and it may be the political opinions of the individual that expose him to serious consequences, rather than his objections to the economic measures themselves.

Little solace here for the ‘economic migrant’, even though the resolve of poorer people to breach the walls of the wealthy economies has a political character, for it involves defiance as well as despair. It is not their political opinion, but their political predicament, that puts them in danger. Their first enemy is grinding attrition in their own country; their second, more formidable adversary is to be found in the countries on which they have set their hearts, where governments still move with a pitiful sloth towards debt cancellation and fair trade, and where the illegal migrant is regarded as a thief. Most people who migrate away from misery are politicised; they have the facts and figures somewhere at the back of their minds. A man like Joseph who set out from Cameroon in 1998 to look for a job in Europe would have known that his country’s debt stood at nine billion dollars, and that every year the sum of interest and principal due for repayment was higher than national export earnings. He would have despised his president as an irresponsible villain surrounded by a coterie of lesser villains busily enriching one another. He would have seen many lives turn to dust. He would also have understood that none of this could amount to mitigation, in the eyes of the rich world, once he forced his way in. Realising in the end that he was on his own, he would have struck out anyhow, to take whatever he could get.

Voir encore:

Europe at Bay
Jeremy Harding on migrants and the battle for borders
LRB
9 February 2012

A young, personable man who speaks fair English, Hamraz had been in Dunkirk for about a month when we met. He was a member of the Afghan National Army, from the district of Azra, south-east of Kabul. Early in 2011, going home on leave, he was called to account by local Taliban as a collaborator and told he would have to take part in a car-bomb attack on a nearby hospital if he wanted to redeem himself. He couldn’t return to his regiment without putting his family at risk and he couldn’t stay in Azra, so he left the country. The bomb attack on the hospital went ahead, reducing it to rubble. More than thirty people were killed. He had been on the road for quite a while; his heart was set on the UK, where his cousin had already arrived. The cousin, he explained, had been one of Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadr’s bodyguards at the time of his assassination in 2002, and had gone into exile in Pakistan, but started to receive death threats on his mobile phone eight years later. So now he was in Birmingham, and it made sense for Hamraz to join him if he could steal a ride in a lorry and hop the Channel. The West’s exertions on far-off battlefields, shaping a world in its likeness, are among the reasons Europe is the place of choice for thousands of people like Hamraz. In ways we fail to acknowledge, we issue the invitation and map their journeys towards us.

In Calais, a group of Eritrean asylum seekers talks about the war for independence from Ethiopia. They have a good sense of the history though the oldest would have been ten when the war ended in 1991. Their destination is the UK, but nobody seems to be making a connection for the Channel crossing. They’ve got this far by dodging the Eurodac identification system, which means that they avoided fingerprinting in the first EU country they entered (probably Greece or Italy). The Cool Britannia eat-by date is long expired, and they know it, but they cling to the lingering hope of a deregulated country where they can link up with other Eritreans – there are 40,000 in Britain – and find a way of life.

A thin Ethiopian, spooning up a charity risotto, admits very cautiously to a ‘political problem’ in Addis Ababa, and goes on to explain that his passion is long-distance running. He competed in Serbia, then went on to run in Greece, where he spent several months and won seven races – ‘Google me in Greek alphabet if you know it’ – but for reasons he won’t explain he’s burned his bridges at home. His distance is 10k. ‘Running,’ he says, ‘is all about this.’ He taps his forehead with his finger. England will do more for his mental attitude than Serbia or Greece, and 2012 is Britain’s Olympic year: sports psychologists will be queuing to receive him. All that remains is to slip across the Channel.

Hundreds of thousands attempt to enter Europe without permission every year, or stay on when their visas have expired. Calls to tighten European immigration policy go hand in hand with the project of strengthening its borders, yet it is still a desirable place to be, despite the fact that a majority of Europeans would prefer a deserter from Afghanistan or an athlete from Ethiopia to go away. There are also some who worry about the migrants who are already here: in the vast majority, their papers are in order, they pay taxes and draw benefits, but there’s a nagging suspicion that they are a net drain on European exchequers. In recession country, that makes it easy to cast them as the enemy within.

European attitudes to immigration have hardened. An early warning sign was the growing impatience, in the 1990s, with the notion of multiculturalism. It was a puzzling argument to follow, because the offending element seemed to take many forms. On the face of it, multiculturalism celebrated the ethnic diversity of a changing world: people had different values and cultural markers, even though they lived together in the same societies. Whether or not these differences were welcome was a test of liberal tolerance and the answer, it turned out, was a qualified yes. Europeans took part in the experiment with enthusiasm, even if minorities were alert to any whiff of condescension and said as much. You had to commit to the new environment and learn to inhabit it. Swaying like a blanched orchid at a Peter Tosh concert was not good enough. Painful reprimands from minorities, in the workplace, the faculty, the televised debate were the stuff of our re-education as Europeans. By the 1980s, in theory at least, minorities and majorities were on an equal footing. It was the new conversation. It opened a pathway to equal opportunities in the job market and local government. And it felt right, for blacks, Asians, women, gays and any number of straight white men.

But not for everybody. There were those who saw the point of diversity, and even equal rights, but who objected to equality-in-diversity, a fatal combination in their view, with its suggestion that the case for homegrown, European values must now be heard on its relative merits, as one idiom among others. This in turn cast doubt on the long story that held us together, with its passage through the Enlightenment to liberal democracy, Europe’s unique discovery, which it meant to hand down across the generations. Identity too was an issue, if people could move fluently between one and another – ‘British’ and ‘Asian’, say – or simply hyphenate: it called belonging into question. Who were you really? Along with these misgivings came a feeling that minorities could customise the social contract, opting in and out according to which bits made sense in their microcultures and which bits didn’t. Ethnicity and religion, opponents of multiculturalism began to argue, were blurring an older, consensual version of citizenship, based on rights and duties.

But there was never a debate about multiculturalism without a looming argument about immigration. It’s possible to have reservations about multiculturalism while favouring immigration (or the other way about), but on the whole objections to the first turn out to be objections to the second. And the objection to immigration, as globalisation moves ahead, requires even more strenuous entry restrictions than Europe has in place already. So the question is whether pressure from migrants who overstay their visas or come in undetected will lead to the kind of policies – on border control, detention and deportation – that will turn Europe into a federation of police states. The analogy would be a low-level military conflict going on at a remove from most people’s lives, at Europe’s frontiers, with captives piling up in holding centres, round-the-clock ‘removals’ and raids on workplaces. Will Europe after multiculturalism look like Europe at bay? Perhaps it looks that way in any case.

In the 1990s, the quarrel about immigration was focused on asylum seekers, as Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and France were locked in a battle of conscience over their duties as signatory states to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. There were ‘floods’ of asylum seekers; they would require housing, healthcare, education and more. Most countries fell back on the notion of ‘bogus’ asylum seekers. Governments felt they could spot economic migrants, pure and simple, among the high number of uninvited people clambering onto beaches or piling into refrigerated trailers, but it was a delicate issue. In the years of optimism and deregulation that followed the Cold War, a gale of prosperity was meant to sweep through the world’s economies. Yet if anything globalisation showed how great the disparities were between wealthy democracies and the rest: developing countries to the south, the debris of the Soviet bloc, large parts of the Middle East, where poverty and joblessness were indeed forms of persecution, or tyrannical mismanagement.

Despite a recent upward trend, the 21st century has seen a decline in the number of asylum seekers in Europe: around 260,000 applications in the 27 member states in 2009 compared with 400,000 among the 15 members in 2001. But the number of migrants in the EU is now greater. Before 2004, roughly 4 per cent of the population of the 15 member states came from outside the Union. Regularisation programmes in Spain and Italy made 2004 the peak year. Today in the enlarged union the proportion of foreign residents is closer to 7 per cent, an increase of about 18 million people in six or seven years. But many of these are non-EU citizens living in new EU states: Russians in Baltic countries, for example. Net inward migration was about 1.7 million a year from 2004 to 2008 and is now falling. Misgivings about asylum seekers have abated, partly because the Balkan wars have come to an end, but partly too as a result of invidious strategies by individual governments, aimed precisely at reducing the numbers. At the same time, the debate on immigration has become sharper and its terms more insular: an energetic, can-do discourse assures us, in spite of growing evidence to the contrary, that states really are in a position to modulate the flow of human beings across their borders, to the nearest ten thousand, in line with their own priorities.

In France in 2011, 180,000 new migrants were allowed in and, as the minister of immigration boasted last month, nearly 33,000 irregular migrants were expelled. For some, the first figure is an outrage, for others the second; both are minor details in a far bigger story. While more and more people are crossing national borders, figures for those who migrate within their own countries – large countries such as China, Mexico, Brazil, Congo DRC – are anywhere between four and seven times higher. In scale alone, they earn their status as canonical migrations. Arrivals in Western Europe since the 1950s are a minor appendix to the canon, but stir up strong feelings among voters opposed to the steady influx of outsiders, especially when a government promises and then fails to hold down numbers, or vaunts expulsion targets (the French target announced for 2012 is 35,000).

September 11 dealt a blow to freedom of movement. Like a front-end collision in a car, it triggered a dramatic security response. Immigration policy was still on the road, but the airbags had been released and remained inflated, making it hard to manoeuvre in traffic or glance at the map. The answer was to apply the brakes, even at the risk of veering away from managed immigration to anti-immigration. Hard on the heels of the attacks – and an announcement by the leader of the Danish People’s Party that there could be no clash of civilisations because Muslims didn’t have one – Denmark brought in a round of laws making it difficult for citizens to marry partners from outside the EU and impossible if they were under 24. In 2004, a bold proposal in Germany to widen the selective recruitment of migrants was struck down and the 1973 ban on foreign labour was left intact. In France in 2006, new laws on family reunification prolonged the waiting time for a spouse’s residency permit from two years to three and required incomers to endorse ‘French’ values. The following year the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, began hounding down schoolchildren whose papers were not in order.

Unease was not just to do with fresh migrant intakes: politicians and the popular press were deeply concerned about the people already inside their countries, and host cultures now felt freer to speak critically about their minorities. That’s what Frits Bolkestein, then the leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy in the Netherlands, had in mind when he called for more frankness and ‘guts’ on the subject of immigrants. His position was a direct challenge to the etiquette of multiculturalism. Once 9/11 seemed to confirm that the moment for discretion had passed, it was taken up with gusto by Geert Wilders, Pym Fortuyn, Theo van Gogh and others. The Dutch philosopher Baukje Prins (‘The Nerve to Break Taboos’) called this turn in the conversation the ‘new realism’, even if she questioned its basis in reality: its force, she suspected, lay in its appeal to an ‘ordinary’ Dutch person, steeped in native common sense, whose worries had been ignored for years by left-liberal elites. In the UK too, there were ‘new realist’ voices, led by Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who feared that the British would look back on half a century of multiculturalism as a slippery road to segregation. France, always averse to identity politics, tended to agree.

Caribbean, Asian, Turkish or North African were no longer the descriptions that mattered. The defining term was ‘Muslim’: what Muslims did and thought was suddenly central to the immigration debate. Increasingly, the debate was about protecting European values by trying to bring existing minorities into line. In 2004 France banned the hijab in schools and hospitals (and last year the burqa in public, anywhere). In 2005, in a moment of national delirium, riots in the banlieues were blamed on the mosque. When the country returned to its senses, joblessness and segregation in the country’s larger cities came starkly into view. But a series of Islamist atrocities – in Madrid in 2004, the Netherlands (the murder of Theo van Gogh) in the same year, and London in 2005 – kept Muslims under deep suspicion.

In 2006 a controversy erupted in Spain when Muslims asked for the right to pray in the Mezquita at Córdoba, which had been reconsecrated in the 13th century and become a site of Christian worship: the idea was not well received and in 2010 the Bishop of Córdoba launched a plea for the site to be rebranded as a cathedral. In 2007 a tussle began in Cologne over the building of a new mosque in the district of Ehrenfeld. One of the protests against the mosque was attended by delegates from Belgium’s right-wing Vlaams Belang and the Austrian Freedom Party. In 2009 the Swiss voted in a referendum to ban the construction of minarets and the following year it was Angela Merkel’s turn to announce that multiculturalism in Germany had ‘utterly failed’. She was thinking about Germany’s Muslim communities. ‘Muslim identity,’ the social scientist Tariq Modood has remarked, ‘is the illegitimate child of … multiculturalism,’ largely because of its stress on religion, which is difficult for nativists and secular multiculturalists alike. At least with the parent in the grave, it would be easier to tackle the offspring.

But as Europe tumbled into recession and insolvency, its concerns about Islam were subsumed within a general anxiety about all new arrivals, whatever their origins or faith. In 2008 the Federation of Poles in Great Britain registered a 20 per cent increase in hate crimes over the previous year, mostly in the English provinces: they attributed the rise to the economic crisis. The same year Italy declared a state of emergency after a round of confrontations between Roma and mobs of Italians; the army was deployed to keep order and filter out Roma (and Romanians) at the borders. After a decade of openness, Spain was involved in a crackdown on irregular migrants while offering a lump sum to legal migrants, mostly Latin American, to go away if they weren’t in jobs. In 2010 France embarked on a spectacular eviction programme – Roma again – and David Cameron pledged to bring down annual net migration to the UK from hundreds to ‘tens of thousands’, a fantastic notion unless Britain left the European Union and refused entry to ever growing numbers of British returnees – 80,000 plus in 2008 – rethinking their options in Dubai or on the Costa Brava. In 2011 the Dutch labour minister, Henk Kamp, announced that unemployed Eastern Europeans should be sent home – he meant unemployed Poles – but was forced to back down.

Islam remained a worry. In Germany the maverick polemicist and banker Thilo Sarrazin set out a long list of accusations against his country’s Muslim communities. His book Deutschland schafft sich ab was published just ahead of Merkel’s funeral speech for multikulti. But Sarrazin was also alarmed about welfare dependency and idle intruders, wherever they came from, whatever their human rights, and anxious that the suppressed emotions of long-suffering Germans might boil over in the face of these obtuse visitors. The book sold more than a million copies. It seemed that even the Germans, who had received so many asylum seekers in the 1990s, relished the new Alpine chill in the discussion. In 2011, the principle of free movement between Schengen states came under frantic review after pressure from the Elysée. Too many exiles from Tunisia wished to go north to France via Italy, where they’d scrambled ashore in the first place. Last year, the Danish People’s Party forced the country’s government to reinforce the frontiers with Sweden and Germany that no longer existed under the terms of the Schengen agreement.

Perhaps none of this is surprising. It even seems to make sense that the threat of terrorism followed by the reality of a banking meltdown and a recession should have forced Europe to rethink immigration – and welfare budgets – in a landscape of joblessness and debt. But Europe has been wrestling with its doubts about immigration since the 1970s, and the vision of an open, flourishing continent – welcoming refugees, proposing freedom of movement as a momentous objective, even for people beyond its common borders – was already clouding over before the millennium, as wealthier nations drew a line under right of asylum and began to fret about identity politics. Now the hopes of continental prosperity have been dampened. Offshore Britain is no longer confident it can become an Atlantic Hong Kong, leveraged on property values and a powerful financial service sector. Across the ocean, the US wishes to play host to itself and nobody else for the first time in more than half a century. Immigrants in these places are desperately needed, but they are not welcome.

Its aversion to migrants casts Europe’s project in a cold light. In what way do EU member-states differ from nations on other continents which they once regarded with a condescending eye? For example South Africa, plagued by xenophobia in the long aftermath of apartheid, as it struggles to put its house in order. At first, minority rights advocates suspected that ‘aggressive nation-building’ was the reason citizens of the new South Africa favoured heavy restrictions on foreign nationals, or no foreign nationals at all. In 2008 anti-immigrant riots left dozens dead and hundreds injured – and led to voluntary repatriation for many terrified Malawians, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans. Poverty and rabble-rousing in the townships were blamed. Even so, there was still a nagging feeling that citizenship, denied to millions for so long, had been grasped with a fervour that could quickly run to violence against foreigners. Mandela was a stickler for the indivisible nature of citizenship, something he shared with the founders of the republic in France. And with their successors. Apartheid, after all, was the ugly sister of multiculturalism. The rioters in France in 2005 were outsiders, corralled in the banlieues, hungry for inclusion. In South Africa three years later, they were insiders calling for the exclusion of the other.

Electorates in the older EU member-states know they’re stuck with the immigrants they’ve got – the legal ones in any case – and governments have turned with a vengeance to the issues of post-immigration. Here, the key word is ‘integration’, a rearguard policy to ensure that migrants aren’t left to sink their roots in the exotic turf of multiculturalism. Fifteen years ago at the Commission for Racial Equality offices in Bradford, I was told that ‘integration’ was a bad word, like ‘assimilation’. But things have moved on and Europeans are becoming bossy about this. Not only are we sure that fewer migrants should cross our borders – an ideal we shall never achieve without becoming poorer, more decadent and highly militarised – but we’re certain that the ones who are already here should be thoroughly patrolled, to make sure they speak our languages and grasp the way we like to do things.

The new arrangements have a few ragged edges. In Britain, for example, we don’t believe we can invigilate or educate our most troubling minority, flourishing in the upper echelons of the financial sector, or even drop them a hint that, like multiculturalism, the supra-culturalism of the money markets, and the extraterrestrial salaries of managers and traders, can be very divisive. More modest migrants cotton on to this exemption fast, as they toil away at their integration studies. And there’s another curiosity. The path to citizenship, or indefinite leave to remain, is littered with tricky questions. Applicants for settlement in Britain who sit the ‘Life in the UK’ test – compulsory for most – will have to know how many people in Britain are 19 or under, whether a quango is ‘an arm of the judiciary’, or a Methodist a member of the Church of England. But if they pass, they will be well informed about duties, rights and the benefits system. And they will have a reasonable level of English. (Acquiring the language of a host country in Europe carries less of a political charge than the issue of Spanish in US schools.) Learning the ropes is empowering. Language, above all, is the sign and the means of belonging.

It’s not as though migrants dig in, rank and file, against integration. Paul Scheffer, professor of European studies at Tilburg, makes this point in Immigrant Nations, a judicious account of what migrants and European hosts still have to sort out about their long and ambivalent encounter. He cites the case of Fouad Laroui, a Moroccan economist and writer, with a good grasp of the Dutch language, who worked hard to pass his Dutch nationality test after several years as a migrant intellectual. Laroui mugged up the ‘genealogy of the House of Orange’; he spent hours in the public library and the corridors of the Amsterdam Historical Museum. He cast a cursory eye over the postwar Dutch novelists. When the day came, he explains, ‘the procedure took less than five minutes and there were no questions.’ Laroui was unimpressed: this was not a real encounter, merely a formality. Not every immigrant is an assiduous swot with a PhD in economics. Nonetheless Scheffer believes that host countries must be more robust – and ceremonious – as they welcome newcomers into societies that are now ‘so diverse that they are left wondering what holds them together’. The ceremony, in other words, is crucial not only for the migrant acceding to a new identity but for the host trying to recover a sense of coherence. Scheffer would like to see more ritual, and more frankness.

Two other terms in the post-immigration lexicon: ‘detention’ and ‘removal’. The figures for detention in the EU as a whole are hard to establish, but at least 100,000 people are being detained at any given moment in the 27 member-states in connection with unauthorised immigration. As for deportations, the annual figure is closer to 140,000. As Europe thins the numbers down, deportation and incarceration come into play as policy instruments. There cannot be rules without sanctions: even Amnesty International and the British Refugee Council agree that an applicant who fails to win the right to remain should leave. But this principle is weakened in reality by the fact that hunting people down and sticking them on charter flights, as states drum their fingers in the last stages of the appeal process, is prohibitively expensive: recent calculations by the National Audit Office suggested that removing a family of failed asylum seekers costs at least £28,000 and so the bill for deporting all unauthorised migrants and their children could be as high as £8 billion. Time is another factor: to remove every unauthorised migrant in Britain would probably take between fifteen and thirty years at current deportation rates. But parliamentary politics, too, erodes the principle, forever invoked on the hustings and then abandoned, as parties of government that promised to move against unauthorised migrants, or immigration in general, fail to achieve their targets. At the end of their term, they return to opposition without having to explain that they made an impossible commitment in the first place.

Migrants have always been vulnerable to political careers in the making, but they are also becoming the objects of a new, obsessive field of inquiry, like bird watching, based on research and mapping, by an array of interested parties: interstate bodies, interior ministries, lobby groups, border control authorities, private security companies, think tanks, NGOs and contract demographers. The vigilance to which indigenous citizens are subjected by homeland security, corporate marketing and ISPs may be equally intense, but it is surely less insidious. Europeans now take an invasive interest in newcomers: their itinerary, their abilities and disabilities, their faith, their criminal tendencies, their likely mendacity and, of course, their loose-footed relatives (partners, spouses, cousins, offspring) waiting patiently beyond the border.

In the UK the key point to establish is whether a migrant will turn out to be a net asset or a net drain. The British pursue this inquiry with an actuarial passion. Start with irregular migration: in Britain there are maybe 600,000 to 700,000 visa over-stayers, refused asylum seekers and smuggled individuals from outside the country. Reframe this as a healthcare cost, as the IPPR has done, and you emerge with a figure of £123 million per annum spent on tending people who are off the books and unable to contribute, even if they wanted to. Next, imagine the cost of education for children who belong to ‘irregular parents’, somewhere in ‘the tens of thousands’. Assume it takes £4000 per annum to have a pupil in the UK state system and posit a low figure of 60,000 irregular children, to produce £240 million.

Nonetheless, there is a demand in the UK for irregular migrant labour which, if it weren’t met, would result in social costs – absence of care for the elderly for example – and real falls in turnover for businesses that need low-wage, exploitable labour. Typically, jobs (and sectors) that don’t appeal to the British bulldog spirit include care work (23,000 vacancies in 2008), sales and retail assistance, customer service, cleaning and warehouse work, agriculture, construction and food processing. We know that legal migrants are strongly represented in these sectors and can take a safe guess – even without reliable figures – that irregular migrants are plentiful. On the economic benefits of irregular migrant labour minus the unrequited costs in health and education, there is not much convincing arithmetic. But in 2009, in a report commissioned by the Mayor of London, researchers at the LSE suggested that an amnesty programme for irregular immigrants would produce £846 million a year in tax and insurance revenues. Britain could think of its illegal, foreign underclass as a support operation fulfilling real needs, as the country struggles with turbulence in its cloud economy. In sectors where labour shortages are long-term and acute, irregular migrants don’t seem to be taking jobs from British or authorised migrant workers, but there’s a price to pay: visa overstays, which account for most irregular migration, are an abuse of trust; unauthorised entry is a systems breach; migrants may have overwhelming reasons in either case, but both subvert our belief in transparency.

The balance sheet on authorised immigration is also filling up with figures. So what is it we want to know? Well, for instance: surely inward migration puts pressure on the housing sector? Migration Watch UK, which advocates deep reductions in immigration, finds that it does and projects that ‘we will need to build over two hundred houses every day over the next 25 years to house the extra population arising from immigration.’ The Migration Observatory in Oxford cites research from Miami after the Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980, when a sudden rise in the population drove up rents by 8-10 per cent. In Spain, as the foreign-born population increased tenfold to nearly five million between 1998 and 2008, housing prices rose by more than 50 per cent. In Britain over the next twenty years, net migration could produce about 40 per cent of the 250,000 new households that will form each year. But the UK is not dealing with a sudden rise, and the Spanish statistic shows a correlation, not a cause and effect. And we cannot predict migration figures in a time of economic uncertainty. The key indicator in the UK – the ratio of house prices to income – suggests that the housing shortage would worsen even if no newcomers entered the country. In any given year only 7 per cent of new lettings in social housing go to foreign nationals.

What of the public purse? The best way to ascertain whether authorised migrants are worth their fiscal salt is to pit their tax and social security contributions against services received. This has been done in several studies. The findings, on the whole, are that disbursements to migrants are marginally lower than their contributions. The exception is the year 2002-3, when costs of services received were higher than contributions. Even so, in the same year the migrant’s deficit was slightly less than that of a person born in the UK.

Then again, a 2009 study by Migrant Watch UK finds that immigrants are a fiscal drain: it contrives this by including services to any child born to a migrant and a non-migrant and splitting the difference between the two groups, where other analyses attribute these costs entirely to non-migrants. MWUK is gloomy about the pressures on the educational system: between 2010 and 2020 immigration looks likely to require an additional one million school places at a cost of more than £100 billion. On health services in England, it notes 605,000 patients from overseas registering with GPs in 2007-8: a figure higher by 100,000 than at least one international estimate of the inflow to the UK, which the think tank takes to mean that large numbers of unauthorised migrants are on the books at health centres.

Migrant studies is not a field for simple-minded Gradgrinds: the data are never quite stable and methods and measures used in the field tend to reinforce the suspicions of the particular research team. Migration Watch is a good example of a team with a mission to curtail net migration. IPPR’s migration experts and the Migration Observatory in Oxford admit that some of the findings they present are little more than pointers. The advantage, in their eyes, of discussing immigration purely as a resource issue is that attitudes struck by politicians and the press, quite often negative, can be answered quite simply with the facts, as part of a common-sense debate about how societies create or squander wealth.

But there are disadvantages too. One is that strong feelings aren’t always susceptible to sound economic arguments. The demography of European states suggests that they need skilled and unskilled migrants, and that every successful attempt to curtail migration comes at a price that someone else – citizens reaching retirement in 2050, say – will eventually have to pay. The European Commission, the OECD and the two great champions of liberal market capitalism, the Economist and the Financial Times, are in favour of freer borders and fewer curbs on immigration. The OECD applauds the fact that since 2008, the drop in immigration to member-states has not been as sharp as it feared. Opponents of liberal immigration policy do not buy into this upbeat perspective on globalisation and their objections cannot be changed by an appeal to good sense.

Another disadvantage is that in an earnings/expenditure analysis of immigration, migrants remain a matter of objective interest only; they cannot really have a point of view. This takes us back with a jolt to Frantz Fanon’s work on the invisibility of colonial subjects and puts us in mind of broader, more generous questions we might have asked about people who move from one place to another, because of their ambition or their desperation, or a combination of the two. In Britain especially, when migrants can be shown to produce immediate social, fiscal and market benefits for the host, it is right to defend immigration against its detractors; when they don’t, it is wrong. If migrants have needs, they are obscure to us, and their subjectivity is only grudgingly acknowledged when we transpose it to the domain of rights, charters and conventions, for the courts to deliberate.

In their book about ‘the ethics of immigration’, two philosophers, Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole, ask whether anyone should be able, in principle, to prevent another person from crossing a border. To have this discussion at all is to restore a degree of intention to migrants, as both writers do, even though they disagree about the answer. For Wellman, freedom to associate also implies freedom not to associate, and legitimate states should be free to exercise both. He accepts the need for a global redistribution of wealth and opportunity – migrants remit vast sums of money to their countries of origin – but argues that ‘whatever duties of distributive justice wealthy states have to those abroad, they need not be paid in the currency of open borders.’ Cole, on the contrary, wants to sketch ‘an egalitarian theory of global justice’ and sees borders as an obstacle to fairness: freedom of movement is undoubtedly a right, like the right to freedom of speech, or religious and sexual preference. But only a framework of global governance can found it, manage it and try to ensure that it’s respected. Borders, in other words, have to wither away.

The frontier, for the purposes of this debate, is the place of negotiation between insiders and outsiders. The terms are set by the insiders and approved internationally. But it is also a divide between ‘communitarian’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ models of rights and obligations. The former proposes a bounded, particular set of priorities and interests, modest at best, narrow-minded at worst: the echoes here are from the political theorist David Miller. The latter envisages a kind of global ethics, ambitious and unwieldy: the echoes here are from Michael Dummett and Onora O’Neill and might be dismissed as utopian, were it not for the fact that human movement across borders is set to continue, with or without an international consensus about how it’s regulated.

In Europe, the most startling communitarian defence of the border is Régis Debray’s Eloge des frontières (2010), a grumpy, spirited attack on the liberal vogue for anything ‘sans frontières’. In France the list is long. It includes doctors, pharmacy staff, architects, librarians, lawyers, journalists and firemen. For Debray firemen without borders is an absurdity. The frontier, he argues, constitutes an indispensable limit, like the outer limit of the body. The deepest thing about mankind, Valéry said, is its skin. In this sense, globalisation is a kind of flaying, driving us to a frenzy of one-world generalities that have no grounding in the circumscribed realm of nations and peoples, whose members have to cross a threshold each time they transact with their counterparts. Debray’s is not a crude organic description of the nation, more a plea for the specific and the sacred: a plea made by an erstwhile internationalist who doubts the cosmopolitan case. The book is based on a lecture he delivered in Tokyo in 2010, a few months before France began the most flamboyant of its regular campaigns against Eastern European Roma. More than eight thousand were deported in that year. Every disappointed global citizen received €300 for the privilege of being hustled onto a plane. The Roma, who were never multicultural, will continue to be puzzled by the rituals Debray wants them to observe, but the Front National gets the point.

The difficulty with integration remains that for every existing immigrant who might learn the ‘Marseillaise’ or plough through the history of Dutch fiction, there are a dozen more trying to access the EU. Integration, in the view of sceptics and diehards, is a losers’ game unless the pass is cut off and the communitarian model is allowed to flourish. Which is to say that secure borders and symbolic expulsions are essential to underpin the policy of integration. Yet rationed access expresses a deep contradiction in European values, as set out in a range of declarations that pertain to citizens of member-states, and human beings in general. We are universal or we are not. On the one hand, gated communities are anathema to the egalitarian ideal. On the other, gating and exclusion are the preconditions of a new civilising mission Europe now feels obliged to carry out at home, as it reconciles itself to earlier intakes of newcomers.

Border abolitionists like to quote George Kennan’s realpolitik memo to George Marshall, the US secretary of state, in 1948, with its call for America ‘to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming’ about the fact that it had some 6 per cent of the world’s population and 50 per cent of its wealth. Kennan is the counter-model for the sans-frontières. ‘Our real task in the coming period,’ he wrote, ‘is to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.’ And later in the memo, as he reviewed the fate of subject peoples in distant countries: ‘We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation.’ The same hard-headedness, as migrant rights groups are quick to point out, now obtains with regard to Europe’s frontiers. Ambition, education and wealth send tens of thousands of people from the global south to the global north, yet disparity is the real driver, and it is more marked than it was when Kennan was at the State Department.

The anthropologist Gregory Feldman, author of The Migration Apparatus, cites a well-known study of 2006 from the UN University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research, which found that the richest 2 per cent of the world’s adults owned half its wealth. The figure gives a good sense of how acute the situation is for the have-nots in a world where resources are stretched. The basic needs of most migrants are access to work and sufficient healthcare to ensure that they can earn and remit money to families at home who might otherwise go hungry. Europe is resource-rich by these standards. Whatever happens to the single currency, the EU will still contain five of the world’s most powerful economies; it remains the world’s wealthiest continental bloc, with GDP per capita of roughly €25,000. When you run the figures through purchasing power parity, a relative measure of living costs and inflation in different countries, GDP (PPP) per capita in Germany is about three times higher than in Turkey, 13 times higher than in Pakistan and a hundred times higher than in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mediterranean peoples of Europe moved north in the 20th century to confront this disparity and the Portuguese – still France’s largest foreign population in 2006 – went through epic hardships on their way. The pain barrier is higher now, but others will continue to cross it, with or without an invitation. Europe is still somewhere to be.

Failure and solitude are common experiences for migrants settling in, and among unauthorised migrants, there are many casualties by the side of the road to prosperity. There is humiliation, illness and death. Migrants die in trucks, they drown, they are murdered in smuggling operations or ruthlessly exploited because their business is illegal and the police, in the many countries through which they have to travel, are the last people they would contact. These are the dangers that EU border security points up in its publicity campaigns against clandestine entry. They cast immigration control in heroic roles, saving lives in rough seas off the Canaries or in a first-aid tent in Puglia. And what sinner wouldn’t want to be pulled from the pit by a competent saviour? But clandestine migrants scarcely need reminding that there would be no need for rescue without a fatal prohibition in the first place. Besides, the image of humanitarian refoulement has been compromised by the harsh treatment of deportees on aeroplanes and a growing suspicion that migrants in extreme danger may, on occasion, be ignored; in March 2011 around sixty people, embarked in Libya, were left to die of thirst and hunger even after their disabled boat had been spotted from a helicopter and several ships, including an aircraft carrier.

As Europe recoils from the idea of inward migration, its border policy becomes more probing and adventurous. The motto: expand the better to contract. The EU’s boundaries are constantly being pushed beyond the physical extent of the union into forward positions from which member-states hope to defend themselves against further intrusion. This process began in 1999, at the Tampere summit, when it was agreed that the EU should co-operate with countries from which large numbers of migrants were entering, or trying to, in order to manage ‘migration flows’. It continued with the European Council meeting in Laeken three months after 9/11, which urged that readmission agreements should be drawn up between the EU and sender countries. It reached a watershed a few years later, as Frontex – the European Agency for the Management of External Borders – embarked on its first missions outside the EU. (Frontex gathers intelligence about border pressures and shares it with member-states; it also puts rapid deployment teams and advisers at their disposal.)

The meaning of co-operation, which emerged in Tampere, is to restrict migration to a trickle and set up holding camps outside the EU where unauthorised migrants can be detained and eventually returned to their place of origin. The most spectacular example was Gaddafi’s Libya, where bilateral arrangements with Italy and, later, a generous commitment from the EU, turned the country into a vast immigration and customs outpost with detention facilities for asylum seekers, and funds for charter flights to send ‘illegals’ back to sub-Saharan Africa (5000 or 6000 between mid-2003 and the end of 2004). In 2009 Human Rights Watch reported that the EU was offering €20 million to Gaddafi for new accommodation centres and €60 million for ‘migration management’ along his country’s southern borders. Apparently he was reluctant to sign up for anything less than a €300 million package, but in October 2010 he settled for €60 million and put his name to a ‘migration co-operation agenda’.

Libya is not the only example of a forward border post with a mission to intercept and detain. In 2006 a school in Nouadhibou, a seaboard city in Mauritania, became a detention centre for clandestine migrants. Seven months later Frontex deployed boats in the waters off the coast. The intention was to cut off migrants from Senegal, Cape Verde and Mauritania at the earliest possible stage in their journey. Spain had asked Frontex for help, but the agency could patrol in African waters only after the Spanish had concluded bilateral agreements with Mauritania and Senegal, as the Italians had done with Libya. The terms of these agreements are confidential and we can only guess what promises Spain made. In due course, however, the EU itself committed money, as it did in Libya: €8 million to Mauritania, for instance, in the tenth European Development Fund (2008-13), for border security and migration management.

Conditions for intercepted migrants in 2010 were harsh. The centre in Nouadhibou had cell-like rooms with up to thirty bunk beds, inadequate light and ventilation and minimal healthcare. ‘Over there,’ an expelled Malian recalled, ‘Mauritanian police officers beat people to death.’ But the statistical success of the project was astonishing. Around 31,000 clandestine migrants arriving by boat were detained in the Canaries in 2006. By 2009 that figure was lower than 2500. Corruption is an issue here. In roughly the same period, figures for people going through the detention centre remained stable, at about three hundred a month. The likeliest answer to this puzzle is that the Mauritanian authorities are massaging the numbers in order to stay in the way of European aid. A Malian chef in Nouadhibou was arrested and released twice, even though he was a legal migrant, increasing that month’s detention figures in the converted school by two.

As European immigration control forges south, it raises tensions between states in Africa. Mauritania’s new, indentured relationship with the EU is a source of friction with its neighbours Mali and Senegal. Neither likes to take non-nationals, shoved out of Mauritania, who are supposed to make their way back to Niger, Ghana, Nigeria. The result, according to a 2010 report by Migreurop, is that ‘the Mauritanian authorities often make migrants cross the border river at night, on makeshift canoes. On the other bank, the Senegalese Red Cross, funded by its Spanish counterpart, then takes charge of moving them on again.’ Clandestine movement across borders, the European bugbear, is now part of a refoulement programme in the global South, approved by Brussels. The forward border has adverse repercussions, too, for Cen-Sad, a tentative community of Sahel-Saharan states proposing freedom of movement for goods, money and people, despite war on the Chad/Sudan frontier and many other obstacles, to which the EU has added by sponsoring deportations between Cen-Sad member-states.

Finally there is the versatile character of irregular migration. Libya’s willingness to shut down clandestine routes in its jurisdiction meant that, until the uprising in Tunisia last year, many fewer people were entering Italy – just as the numbers in the Canaries dropped after Frontex deployed in 2006. The result, however, was that by 2009 by far the largest numbers of irregular migrants entering the EU were coming via Greece: tens of thousands a year, mostly by land, across the Evros River from Turkey, but also by sea. Increasingly they were rerouting from the Maghreb and even sub-Saharan Africa: last year, a West African fixer in Istanbul told Voice of America that people smuggling in the city was ‘big business’. But closing off one route and forcing migrants down another tends to expose them to even greater dangers, and the Evros can be as treacherous as the open sea. In 2010, 16 people drowned in the river in a single incident. UNHCR reported that most were thought to be Somalis. A Nigerian who set out in a party from Turkey in 2011 realised in short order that few of his fellow travellers could swim and no one else knew how to paddle an inflatable dinghy. The bedraggled group were arrested in Greece and sent back to Turkey.

Effective, radical border reinforcement might just be possible with enough money and personnel. It would boost European job creation by shifting thousands of unemployed people, from Finland to Hungary, into frontier security: maintenance crews for high-tech fences, coastguards, primary healthcare workers, paramilitaries, rendition squads, all-purpose janitors and bouncers, plus large numbers of low-skilled workers involved in the building of barracks for management and muscle on the frontline. Construction alone could generate an ambitious public works project, with funding and tenders awarded in Brussels. Greece might even receive special disbursements for a restaging of the Persian Wars on the banks of the Evros: it is already building a 12-kilometre fence in the area, where Frontex registered 40,000 irregular migrants in 2011. Yet the fully militarised model, which is underway on the US-Mexican frontier, is no use to the Europeans, whose land border, at nearly 9000 kilometres, is three times as long. Then there is the matter of the European coastal frontier: another 42,000 kilometres. Can a community intent on rekindling its family values at the hearthside really hope to succeed while in charge of such a rambling estate?

Where border enforcement fails, there is always the rearguard option of destroying migrant camps. Greece, Italy and France have seen most of the action here. For several years in Italy, the target has been the Roma, and last December, the wish to tear these places down – more an impulse than a policy – culminated in a mob attack on a camp in a suburb of Turin after an accusation of rape. In Greece, there have been recent raids in Patras, in the northern Peloponnese: one on a cardboard camp, destroyed by riot police and bulldozers; another on an old textile factory, where police made a round of arrests and then set fire to the migrants’ belongings, including clothes and temporary residence permits. Further north, near Igoumenitsa, between fifty and a hundred illegal migrants were arrested in a forest camp near the ferry terminal: the camp was destroyed.

The best-known closure of a migrant camp occurred in 2002, when Nicolas Sarkozy, then the interior minister, ordered the evacuation of the Red Cross facility at Sangatte near Calais, after pressure from the British. Some 67,000 migrants, most of them asylum seekers, had found shelter in the Eurotunnel warehouse in Sangatte between 1999 and the day it shut. The demolition was completed in 2003: numbers of new arrivals in the UK were already falling. The destruction of the centre was a relief for New Labour, whose support for high levels of immigration was only acceptable to the press in exchange for a hard line on would-be asylum seekers. But the rubble of Sangatte also offered symbolic respite for France. The numbers piling up at the Channel crossing had been an embarrassment: bound for Britain, none of them wanted to claim asylum in France and the French didn’t want to grant it.

Irregular migrants are no longer so conspicuous in northern France, but they are still a presence. If they congregate for too long in one place and numbers become too high, the bulldozers rumble out again with an infantry of riot police, as they did in 2009: the target on that occasion was the Jungle, an informal camp which, at the height of its notoriety, held more than six hundred people, sleeping under plastic sheeting. There were 278 arrests at the time of the demolition; at least half were of minors.

There is no proof that breaking up camps deters newcomers. If you have someone to show you, you can find around a dozen ‘squats’ and ‘jungles’ in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, where prospective Channel-crossers camp rough in sparse stands of trees on the edge of industrial estates, or slivers of woodland between a main road and a field. Further east, there are minimalist camps on the motorway, where migrants haunt the rest areas, watching trucks pull in. Numbers in the department, at any given time, would be between one hundred and three hundred.

Thousands of Kosovans still claim asylum in France every year, but at the end of the 1990s the figures were much higher and accounted for a good proportion of those in Sangatte. Nowadays along the Channel seaboard, you come across Iraqis, Afghans, Eritreans, Sudanese, Ethiopians and Somalis. The protagonists have changed and the statistics are less dramatic, but Mathieu Quinette, who runs the Médicins du Monde office in Dunkirk, believes that a decade of clandestine migration to Britain has seen ‘tens of thousands’ of successful crossings since the camp in Sangatte was razed.

Nonetheless, people can wait for a very long time and life has become harder for the migrants. Their camps are regularly destroyed, their sleeping bags and blankets burned by the police. People whose fingerprints were taken on their way into France through another EU country – French police can check this on the Eurodac fingerprint database – will often be deposited across the border. Sometimes they will be bused back to the country concerned (unless it was Greece, which the EU agrees has too much on its plate); sometimes released after a spell in local detention. Survivors return and rebuild, and the game begins again. Their little woodland refuges are isolated; in the absence of the Red Cross hangar, which gave structure and rhythm to their waiting game, there has been a rise in microwars between gangs of smugglers and groups of migrants. Lay-bys and rest areas have sometimes been in fierce contention, with Vietnamese groups fending off Russian and Chechen gangs, and Eritreans battling with Kurdish smugglers. The growth of parasitic crime, on the back of unauthorised entry, is a price that France may have to pay for ensuring that the sans papiers along the Channel coast are kept out of the public eye.

All the same, UNHCR figures show that in 2010 the highest number of asylum applications in Europe, around 50,000, was lodged in France. In 2011 that figure rose to 60,000. Most applicants are from Asia and the Balkans. But in Calais I met a group from Darfur who were in Libya at the time of the uprising and made a terrified exit to Europe. One of them, A., had just been evicted from what’s known as Africa House, a deserted industrial building near another deserted industrial building which the authorities smashed up in 2010 because it was the site of the previous incarnation of Africa House: the trials of statelessness in Calais tend to repeat themselves.

Matters could get no worse, A. felt, if he lodged his asylum claim in France. ‘How did you enter Libya in the first place?’ a retired accountant volunteering for Secours Catholique asked, as we filled out the young man’s application in a set of prefab huts a few hundred yards from a scruffy British booze emporium. He’d crossed the frontier on a camel, he told us. The congenial accountant, it seemed to me, could already hear the laughter at the sous-préfecture. ‘Right,’ he said, with a look of resolve, ‘I think we’ll just put “truck”.’ A. has no connections in France and doesn’t speak the language, but he has escaped from a country where to be black and foreign was a life-endangering condition and applied to live in another where it is simply a disadvantage, which is a step forward, even by Europe’s accounting.

For the moment we mainly hear the din of battle, between the painstaking communitarian ideal and the forces of cosmopolitanism. Struggling up a Mediterranean beach to claim asylum after an epic journey is a powerful statement. So is the electric fence. But tens of thousands of prosperous, qualified people are also on this frontline, because byzantine visa regimes are denying them entry to EU countries. Managers who cannot hire the personnel they need are in the thick of it too. Last year a British Asian running a software engineering firm in the City told me he’d lost heart trying to apply to the Home Office for short-stay business visas for colleagues from abroad and given up completely on work permits for software geeks. He is now a regular outsourcer to India.

Europe’s tight immigration policy also brings its humanitarian pretensions into question: the holding camps, the charter flights with deportees in restraint positions, the virtual frontier creeping inexorably beyond the geographical border. All these, and the fact that more than 15,000 people have died in the last twenty years trying to circumvent European entry restrictions, cast doubt on the idea that European values, reinvigorated after World War Two, are synonymous with universal rights. The oddity is that many of the people who are refused entry have affirmed their faith in those values and championed those rights by making the journey in the first place. Can rights and values be universal if they seem, even after lengthy explanations of the communitarian case, to be rationed by a subset of rules about sovereign boundaries? Perhaps we should agree to think of rights and values as limited resources, and admit that Europe is now caught in a bitter struggle over who can or can’t access them.

The outcome of that struggle is less obvious than it seems. Plenty of people are disturbed by the consequences of European immigration policy, whatever they think of the principles. In France, when the Interior Ministry began detaining illegal immigrant children at the school gate in 2006, there was a surge in political fostering by indigenous families. Dozens of French children acquired temporary siblings, as their parents took in threatened minors. This radical solidarity prefers the moral case over any argument about national borders. In France, the deportation of Jews in the 1940s is still a vivid precedent.

A thin blue line of European technocrats and civil servants defends immigration as an answer to Europe’s ageing demographic profile, the doubtful future of pension provision and the shortage of indigenous unskilled labour. The door must be kept open, in this view, whatever politicians and the popular press have to say. For this group, principle is neither here nor there: outcomes are everything.

Libertarian elites firmly believe that the dust of protectionism should vanish behind vast columns of goods, services, capital and human beings moving freely around the world. This is both a principle and, it seems, a matter of expediency: they are quick to complain about the shortage of qualified labour on the nearest corner and go on to argue that a stream of unskilled, exploitable workers is necessary to maintain the local infrastructure on which they happen to depend if they’re to arrive at the office in functioning cabs on serviceable roads.

And so to the mystery of ordinary citizens. European views on immigration are mostly negative. According to an Ipsos poll of 17,000 respondents in 23 countries last summer, Europeans tend to feel that there are too many migrants and they congest public services. Many believe they are competing for jobs, despite evidence to the contrary. Migrants are not the enemy exactly, but they threaten to disrupt the orderly world we have struggled so hard to create, in which we stand a little lifelessly like the model citizens of a Lego village, everyone in his place, all of us transacting in our button currency. When asked to consider why human beings move in ever greater numbers, we shake our heads stiffly from side to side, as we did for the last research poll and the one before that. We grasp that migrants may be poor yet fail to see that more prosperity in the global south would probably mean more migration. And not necessarily to Europe: we might one day be competing for immigrants with countries such as Turkey or Brazil as patterns of human movement change. ‘In the future,’ the migration scholar Hein de Haas believes, ‘the question will no longer be how to prevent migrants from coming, but how to attract them.’

Still, from time to time we come to life and look around with a fresh eye. Another poll, conducted by Ipsos/Mori, commissioned by the Migration Observatory and published last September, suggests that British opposition to newcomers is lower, on the whole, in areas where immigrants have settled than it is elsewhere. The exception, oddly, is Scotland – a low immigration area – where 20 per cent of respondents would like to see more migrants. London thinks immigration should remain at current levels. In the Midlands and Wales, a narrow majority feels that immigration should be reduced ‘a lot’, and in the UK as a whole, 60 per cent or more believe the figures need to fall. But the point here is how much more widespread anti-immigration sentiment might have been, given this long moment of recession, and the strength of nativist sentiment, everywhere in Europe, in the face of globalisation. During the 1960s and 1970s, when immigration was a good deal lower than it is now, a series of surveys found a far greater percentage of Britons opposed to immigrants. Multiculturalism had something to teach us after all.

Among the recent books and websites consulted in the writing of this piece:
Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude? by Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole (Oxford, October 2011)
Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan (Princeton, April 2011)
Immigrant Nations by Paul Scheffer (Polity, May 2011)
The Migration Apparatus: Security, Labour and Policymaking in the European Union by Gregory Feldman (Stanford, November 2011)
Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford University (www.compas.ox.ac.uk, and its data platform, www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk)
Clandestina: Migration and Struggle in Greece (clandestinenglish.wordpress.com)
Eurostat (epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu)
Global Detention Project (www.globaldetentionproject.org)
Institute for Public Policy Research (www.ippr.org)
International Migration Institute (www.imi.ox.ac.uk)
Médecins du Monde (www.medecinsdumonde.org.uk)
Migrants’ Rights Network (www.migrantsrights.org.uk)
Migreurop (www.migreurop.org)

Voir encore:

The desperate journey of a trafficked girl

Every year, thousands of teen-agers from one city in Nigeria risk death and endure forced labor and sex work on the long route to Europe.
Ben Taub
The New Yorker
April 4, 2014

It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.

The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.

The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.

In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.

In recent years, tens of millions of Africans have fled areas afflicted with famine, drought, persecution, and violence. Ninety-four per cent of them remain on the continent, but each year hundreds of thousands try to make it to Europe. The Mediterranean route has also become a kind of pressure-release valve for countries affected by corruption and extreme inequality. “If not for Italy, I promise, there would be civil war in Nigeria,” a migrant told me. Last year, after Nigeria’s currency collapsed, more Nigerians crossed the sea than people of any other nationality.

The flood of migrants is not a new phenomenon, but for years the European Union had some success in slowing it. The E.U. built a series of fences in Morocco and started paying coastal African nations to keep migrants from reaching European waters. Many migrants spent years living in border countries, repeatedly trying and failing to cross. Muammar Qaddafi saw an opportunity. In 2010, he demanded that Europe pay him five billion euros per year; otherwise, he said, Libya could send so many migrants that “tomorrow Europe might no longer be European.”

The following year, as NATO forces bombed Libya, Qaddafi’s troops rounded up tens of thousands of black and South Asian guest workers in Tripoli, crammed them into fishing trawlers, and launched them in the direction of Italy. Then Qaddafi was killed, Libya descended into chaos, and its shores became impossible to police. Europe’s strategy had failed; by 2013, smuggling networks connected most major population centers in the northern half of Africa to Tripoli’s coast.

As African migrants head toward the Mediterranean, they unwittingly follow the ancient caravan routes of the trans-Saharan slave trade. For eight hundred years, black slaves and concubines were transported through the same remote desert villages. Now that the old slave routes are ungovernable and awash in weapons, tens of thousands of human beings who set out voluntarily find themselves trafficked, traded between owners, and forced to work as laborers or prostitutes. The men who enter debt bondage come from all over Africa, but the overwhelming majority of females fit a strikingly narrow profile: they are teen-age girls from around Benin City, the capital of Edo State, in southern Nigeria—girls like Blessing.

I visited Nigeria last fall, during the coronation of the new Oba, the traditional ruler of the Edo people, who will preside over spiritual matters until his death. The Oba chose the name Ewuare II, in tribute to a predecessor who assumed the throne around 1440. During the reign of Ewuare I, Benin City became the center of a powerful kingdom, which was eventually surrounded by more than nine thousand miles of moats and mud walls. Portuguese merchants traded with the Edo, and the Oba sent an ambassador to Lisbon. European accounts of Benin City, written during the next several hundred years, describe a kingdom rich in palm oil, ivory, and bronze statues, but also one that engaged in slavery and human sacrifice. The Edo, like other groups in the region, practiced traditional rituals involving local gods, which the Europeans called juju, a name that spread across West Africa; as Christian missionaries converted most of southern Nigeria, juju persisted as a set of parallel beliefs.

By the late eighteen-hundreds, the British had colonized much of Nigeria, but the Oba engaged them in a trade war and refused to allow them to annex his kingdom. In 1897, after the Edo slaughtered a British delegation, colonial forces, pledging to end slavery and ritual sacrifice, ransacked the city and burned it to the ground.

Today, Nigeria is Africa’s richest country, but the money that is set aside for public infrastructure is often embezzled or stolen by government officials. Benin City has daily power outages and few paved roads. As Nigeria’s economy has grown—spurred by oil extraction, agriculture, and foreign investment—so has the percentage of its citizens who live in total poverty. Some wealthy businessmen travel with paramilitary escorts; police officers demand bribes at gunpoint, and crippled beggars crawl through traffic near the Oba’s palace, tapping on car windows and pleading for leftover food.

One day, I went to the Uwelu spare-parts market, where adolescent boys lift car engines into wheelbarrows, and bare-chested venders haggle over parts salvaged from foreign scrap yards. A dirt path at the western end of the market leads to a shack where I saw a middle-aged woman dressed in purple selling chips, candy, soda, and beer. I asked if she was Blessing’s mother, Doris. She nodded and laughed, then started to cry.

Blessing’s family used to own a house and a small plot of land. Her father was a bricklayer, but he died in a car accident when Blessing was a little girl. The family was close to penniless, and Doris was left to raise her four children alone.

Blessing’s older brother, Godwin, began repairing cars in Uwelu. Her sister Joy went to live with an aunt. When Blessing was thirteen or fourteen, she dropped out of school and started an apprenticeship with a tailor, but he wanted money to train her, and after six months he let her go. She was despondent, and believed that she had no future.

Through friends, Blessing learned of a travel broker in Lagos, who said that he could get her a passport, a visa, and a plane ticket to Europe. Once Blessing found work there, he promised, she would earn enough to support the entire family. “She tell me that she want to go,” Doris said to me. “She say, ‘Mummy, we suffering. No food. Nothing.’ ” Doris sold the house and the land, and gave all the money to the broker, who promptly disappeared.

Doris and the children moved into a small apartment without plumbing or electricity and hung a portrait of the father above a broken couch. Blessing, who was tall and slender, with large eyes and prominent cheekbones, helped her mother sell provisions. In the evenings, she took the money they had earned to another market, where everything is a few cents cheaper, to restock the shop. They ate with whatever money was left, which meant that sometimes they didn’t eat.

Blessing blamed herself for her family’s troubles. Godwin told me that, in February of last year, “Blessing just left without telling anybody.”

The migration of young women out of Benin City began in the nineteen-eighties, when Edo women—fed up with repression, domestic chores, and a lack of economic opportunities—travelled to Europe by airplane, with fake documents. Many ended up doing sex work on the streets of major cities—London, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Rome. By the end of the decade, according to a report commissioned by the United Nations, “the fear of AIDS rendered drug-addicted Italian girls unattractive on the prostitution market”; Nigerians from Edo State largely filled the demand. The money wasn’t great, by European standards, but, before long, parents in Benin City were replacing ramshackle houses of mud and wood with walled-off properties. Lists of expensive assets—cars, furniture, generators—purchased with remittances from Europe were included in obituaries, and envious neighbors took note. Pentecostal ministers, preaching a gospel of prosperity, extolled the benefits of migration.

Women were sending back word of well-compensated employment as hairdressers, dressmakers, housekeepers, nannies, and maids, but the actual nature of their work in Italy remained hidden, and so parents urged their daughters to take out loans to travel to Europe and lift the family out of poverty. In time, sex workers became madams; from Italy, they employed recruiters, transporters, and document forgers in Nigeria.

By the mid-nineties, most Edo women who went to Europe in this way “were probably aware that they would have to engage in prostitution to repay their debts,” according to the U.N. report. “They were, however, unaware of the conditions of violent and aggressive exploitation that they would be subjected to.” Between 1994 and 1998, at least a hundred and sixteen Nigerian sex workers were murdered in Italy.

In 2003, Nigeria passed its first law prohibiting human trafficking. But it was too late. The U.N. report, published the same year, concluded that the industry was “so ingrained in Edo State, especially in Benin City and its immediate environs, that it is estimated that virtually every Benin family has one member or the other involved.” Today, tens of thousands of Edo women have done sex work in Europe, and some streets in Benin City are named for madams. The city is filled with women and girls who have come back, but some who can’t find work end up making the journey again.

Many of the original traffickers came from Upper Sakpoba Road, in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, where children hawk yams and sex workers earn less than two dollars per client. Nuns working for an organization called the Committee for the Support and Dignity of Women travel to local schools and markets, explaining to girls the brutality of the industry. But a nun told me that women in the market on Upper Sakpoba Road warn them off. “Many of them say we should not stop this trafficking, because their daughters are making money,” she said. “The families are involved. Everybody is involved.”

“I was a victim before, when I was very young,” one woman told me. “I was living with my auntie in Benin City,” she said. “She asked me if I would like to travel to Italy.” For the next six years, she travelled through Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Algeria, and Morocco, working as a prostitute, sending money to her aunt, and believing that she would soon be brought to Europe. After she was abandoned in an oasis city in the Sahara, she made her way back to Nigeria. Today, she makes a living trafficking others.

In Benin City, important agreements are often sealed with an oath, administered by a juju priest. The legal system can be dodged or corrupted, the thinking goes, but there is no escaping the consequences of violating a promise made before the old gods. Many sex traffickers have used this tradition to guarantee the obedience of their victims. Madams in Italy have their surrogates in Nigeria take the girls to a local shrine, where the juju priest performs a bonding ritual, typically involving the girl’s fingernails, pubic hair, or blood, which the priest retains until she has repaid her debt to her trafficker.

One afternoon, I met an elderly Edo juju priestess who maintains a special relationship with the god who lives in the Ogba River. She wore a white sheet and a red parrot feather, and carried a wand decorated with charms, to detect any “demon priest” who challenged her spiritually. When I asked her to explain juju contracts, she said that all parties must obey them, “because the solution is from the gods.”

“You say that when you get there you will not run,” Sophia, a young woman who had come back from Europe, told me. In exchange for the madam covering travel expenses, the girl agrees to work for her until she has paid back the cost of the journey; the madam keeps her documents, and tells her that any attempt to flee will cause the juju, now inhabiting her body, to attack her. “If you don’t pay, you will die,” Sophia said. “If you speak with the police, you will die. If you tell the truth, you will die.”

The traffickers are no less convinced of juju’s efficacy. Last year, Italian police heard a madam, on a wiretapped call, tell an associate that one of her victims had broken her juju oath, and would die. As a guarantee, often “the madam films girls naked, swearing to her the oath of loyalty,” Sophia said. “She says if you run she is going to leak it on Facebook.” This had happened to one of Sophia’s friends, and, to prove it, she pulled up the video on her phone.

Before Blessing disappeared, she met with a Yoruba trafficker without telling her family, but she balked when she discovered that the woman wanted her to become a sex worker. Soon afterward, her friend Faith introduced her to an Igbo woman with European connections—she was elegant, well dressed, and kind. The woman promised Blessing and Faith that she could take them to Italy; she would pay for their journey, and find them jobs, and then they would pay her back. Blessing dreamed of completing her education, of buying back the home her mother had lost. She climbed into a van, along with Faith, the woman, and several other girls.

They began a perilous journey north. Avoiding territory controlled by the terrorist group Boko Haram, they crossed an unguarded part of Nigeria’s border with Niger. The fertile red soil of the tropics became drier, finer, and soon there were only withered shrubs in the sand. After several days and a thousand miles, they reached Agadez, an old caravan city at the southern edge of the Sahara.

In Agadez, locals pick dust out of their hair and eyes and ears and toenails, and sweep it out of their homes, but by the time they have finished it is as if they had never begun. Men wrap their heads and faces in nine-foot scarves, called chèches, and dress in flowing robes. Everyone wears sandals; even in the winter, the temperature can approach a hundred degrees.

Agadez has always been a transit point, a maze of mud-brick enclosures in which to eat and rest and exchange cargo before setting off for the next outpost. Its oldest walls were built some eight hundred years ago, and by 1449 it had become the center of a Tuareg kingdom ruled by the Sultan of Aïr, named for the local mountains. Traders stopped in Agadez while crossing the desert in miles-long caravans carrying salt, gold, ivory, and slaves. The Tuareg developed a reputation for guiding merchants through the desert, then robbing them.

Most of Niger’s population is concentrated in the south, in a semiarid band known as the Sahel, which runs across Africa. Beyond that, to the north, eighty per cent of Nigérien territory is desert, much of which is uninhabitable. Though the Tuareg make up just a tenth of Niger’s population, they control vast swaths of empty land. They have rebelled against the government several times, and, together with Toubou tribesmen, they have hoped to establish an independent Saharan state, spanning parts of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Chad, and Libya. The Tuareg and the Toubou signed a territorial agreement in 1875, but recently it has begun to fray. The two groups are currently engaged in bloody fighting across the border, in southern Libya.

All manner of contraband passes through Agadez—counterfeit goods, hashish, cocaine, heroin. Stolen Libyan oil is sold by the roadside in liquor bottles. After the fall of Qaddafi, Tuaregs and Toubous raided abandoned weapons depots in southern Libya and sold whatever they didn’t keep to insurgent groups in neighboring countries. By 2014, however, the value of the migration trade had surpassed that of any other business in the city.

Blessing’s van pulled into a walled-off lot containing a building known as a “connection house,” where dozens of migrants were guarded by men holding daggers and swords. There was nothing to do but wait. From other migrants, Blessing picked up the vocabulary of her surroundings: the boss was a “connection man”; the light-skinned Tuaregs were known as Arabos; the darker-skinned Toubous were referred to as Black Libyans. The woman still hadn’t given Blessing and Faith her name; she just said to call her Madam, and she never let them venture outside.

The compound was situated in a migrant ghetto, a shabby cluster of connection houses on the outskirts of the city. Niger belongs to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a visa-free zone, so its western and southern borders are open to some three hundred and fifty million citizens of fourteen other countries. Most of the migrants had travelled more than a thousand miles by bus, and arrived in Agadez with the phone number of their connection man—usually a migrant turned businessman, of their same nationality or colonial heritage. Nigerians, Gambians, Ghanaians, and Liberians stuck together, because they spoke English; Malians, Senegalese, and Guineans could do business with any connection man who spoke French. For those who arrived without contacts, recruiters at the bus station offered transport across the desert. Migrants gathered at A.T.M.s and phone shops near the station. Once a deal was struck, the recruiters drove the migrants to the ghettos on motorcycles, and the connection men paid them a small commission.

Most women from Nigeria stayed inside the migrant ghettos. They didn’t need to work, because their travel had been paid for by traffickers in Europe. The connection houses were hot and crowded, but the women were fed and protected until it was time to cross the desert. Other Nigerian girls, who were on their own, had to do sex work in order to feed themselves and to finance the next stage of the journey. In Agadez, sex workers typically earn around three dollars per client, much of which goes to local madams, in exchange for room and board. One Nigerian teen-ager told me that it took her eighteen months and hundreds of clients to earn enough money to leave.

Most Nigerian brothels in Agadez are in the Nasarawa slum, a sewage-filled neighborhood a short walk from the grand mosque, the tallest mud-brick structure in the world. One afternoon, a young woman from Lagos sat outside a brothel holding the infant son of her friend Adenike, a seventeen-year-old girl, who was with a client. A few minutes later, a tall Toubou man emerged, adjusting his chèche. Adenike followed, wiping her hands on her spandex shorts. She picked up her baby, but soon another client arrived, so she passed the infant to another Nigerian girl, who looked no older than thirteen and was also doing sex work, and led the man past a hanging blanket and into her room.

Each Monday, Tuareg and Toubou drivers went to the migrant ghettos, collected cash from the connection men, and loaded some five thousand sub-Saharans into the beds of Toyota Hilux pickup trucks, roughly thirty per vehicle. They set off with a Nigérien military convoy, which would accompany them part of the way to Libya, a journey of several days. Some migrants brought small backpacks containing food and cell phones; others had nothing. One driver, a young Toubou named Oumar, told me that he had made the trip twenty-five times. When I asked him if he had to give bribes along the way, he listed amounts and checkpoints: seventy thousand West African francs (about a hundred and fifteen dollars) to the police before they got to the desert; ten thousand to the gendarmes at Tourayat; twenty thousand split between the police and the republican guard at Séguédine; another forty thousand at Dao Timmi for the military and the transit police; and, finally, at Madama, the last checkpoint before Libya, ten thousand to the military.

According to an internal report by Niger’s national police, obtained by Reuters, there were at least seventy connection houses in Agadez, each protected by a crooked police officer. In a separate investigation, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that, because funds from the military budget were stolen in the capital, bribes paid by smugglers at desert checkpoints were essential to the basic functioning of the security forces. Without them, soldiers wouldn’t have enough money to buy fuel, parts for their vehicles, or food.

Shortly before I arrived in Agadez, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, came to Niger on a tour of African countries, hoping to reduce the flow of migrants, and promising development funds in return. “The well-being of Africa is in Germany’s interest,” she said. After her visit, everything changed. Security forces raided the ghettos, and arrested their former patrons. Military and police officers were replaced at all desert checkpoints between Agadez and the Libyan border. Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, announced that he and Merkel had agreed “to curb irregular migration.”

Mohamed Anacko, a Tuareg leader who serves as the president of the Agadez Regional Council, which oversees more than two hundred and fifty thousand square miles of territory, saw the situation differently. “Niger has a knife at its throat,” he told me. The city’s only functioning economy was the movement of people and goods. “Each smuggler supports a hundred families,” he said. If the crackdown continued, “these families won’t eat anymore.”

To address the crisis, Anacko called a Regional Council meeting and invited a dozen of the biggest smugglers in the Sahara—half were Tuareg, half Toubou, and all had fought in recent rebellions. Wearing chèches and tribal robes, they sat at two long tables in an airless meeting space at the Regional Council’s headquarters. More than four hundred smugglers had asked the council to represent them. Anacko promised to convey their grievances to the state, and to demand the release of their colleagues.

After Anacko’s opening remarks, a middle-aged Tuareg who went by the name Alber stood up and partly unwound his white turban, uncovering his mouth. “We are not criminals—we are transporters!” he shouted. “How are we going to eat? Take tourists? There are never any tourists! Never! We cannot live!” He pointed at me. “What do you want us to become? Thieves? We don’t want to be thieves! We don’t want to steal! What do you want us to do?”

Alber sat down, fuming. Across the table, a tall, handsome Toubou named Sidi stood up, furrowed his brow, and calmly argued that if the European Union really wanted to halt migration it should engage the smugglers, not pay off their government to arrest them. Another speaker reminded the group that they had rebelled in the past. Why should they stop smuggling without being offered other means to survive?

The next day, I met with Alber at his home, a mud-brick building in a neighborhood that was the site of frequent raids. He welcomed me inside and offered water from a large communal bowl. The room was dark. Three other men lounged on a couch, all of them heads of powerful smuggling families.

“I know more than seventy people who have been arrested,” Alber said. “But I don’t know the law. Nobody knows the specifics of the law.” Although an anti-migration law was passed in early 2015, it had never been seriously enforced; apparently, the Nigérien government had made little effort to inform the smugglers of its implications. Less than twenty per cent of Niger’s adult population is literate. Besides, Alber continued, “you can’t tell me not to take someone from Agadez to Madama. We’re in the same country. It’s like a taxi.”

Another smuggler, Ibrahim Moussa, spoke up. “Everyone calls them migrants, but we don’t agree,” he said. “They’re people of the ECOWAS. They’re at home in Agadez. We go just as far as the border. After that, they’re migrants.” (Later, however, Moussa and Alber offered to connect me with contacts in Libya.)

“Nobody would go into the desert if we had good options here,” Moussa added. “The desert is hell. You are always close to death.” He sighed. “The European Union—it’s because they’re living well that they want Niger to stop migration. Why can’t we live, too?”

There was further trouble. Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and other terrorist groups are leading insurgencies in the countries surrounding Niger, and suspected jihadis had recently killed twenty-two Nigérien soldiers near Agadez. A few days after that, an American aid worker was kidnapped and taken to Mali, and a notorious Toubou narco-trafficker was assassinated in public. There was also talk of the fighting between the Tuareg and the Toubou in Libya spilling across the desert and taking root in Agadez. Nobody knew whether to attribute the gunfire at night to a drug war, a tribal conflict, a personal vendetta, a migration raid, or an Islamist attack.

Every smuggler I met expressed concern that the crackdown in Agadez would leave local young men vulnerable to recruitment by jihadi groups. Previously, Moussa said, “every time we see something suspicious, we tell the state.” Tips from the desert, passed through the Nigérien military chain of command, can provide information to American and French counterterrorism operations in the region. (The United States is currently building a drone base in West Africa half a mile from Alber’s house.) But now, Alber said, “If I see a convoy of terrorists, will I tell the state? I will not, because I will be afraid of being arrested.”

“The desert is vast,” Moussa added. “Without us, the state would see nothing.”

“Have you seen the Aïr mountains?” Anacko asked me, in his office. “No Islamists can enter—none—because the population doesn’t want them. The people want peace. But if there is no more economic development, and the people are going to prison whenever they work with migrants, it’s certain: there will be jihadis in the mountains. I’m sure of it! And the day that the terrorists have a base in the Aïr the Sahel is finished.” He continued, “The Americans and the Europeans won’t be able to dislodge the terrorists from the mountains. It will be like Afghanistan. They will have created this, and the Islamic State will have been right. We’ll all become the Islamic State in the end.”

The crackdown had another immediate effect: more dead migrants. To avoid checkpoints, smugglers were taking unfamiliar routes and abandoning their passengers when they spotted what appeared to be a military convoy on the horizon.

“When you go to the Sahara desert, you will meet many skeletons,” a man from Benin City named Monday told me. During his trip north, the truck carrying him and twenty-seven other migrants had been attacked by bandits; a bullet had grazed his head, removing a tuft of hair. The truck had turned over and the driver had run away, leaving the migrants behind. Everybody scattered, except for Monday and another Nigerian, named Destiny, who used to work at the Uwelu market. They remained at the site of the wreckage. “After three days, one boy came back,” Destiny recalled. “He said the others died in the desert. He drank his piss. After that, he gave up. He died in front of us.” Nigérien troops found Monday and Destiny, and took them to Dirkou, an ancient salt-trading village now filled with abandoned migrants. Some steal food from locals and beg truckers to bring them to Libya; others are transported in military trucks back to Agadez, where they are deposited at the local U.N. migration facility.

“I know it’s a death game, but I don’t care,” Alimamy, a migrant from Sierra Leone, told me in Agadez. He had nearly died during his first attempt to cross the Sahara; now his money was gone, his smuggler was in jail, and he was looking for a way to try again. “If I make it to Italy, life will be O.K.,” he said. Back in Sierra Leone, “we are already dead while we’re alive.”

The crackdown had also trapped the sex workers in the Nasarawa slum. “When the road is safe, I can go,” a young woman from Benin City told me. She had just earned enough money to cross the desert when the route closed. “I will just have patience,” she said.

After the raids, it became impossible to pick up migrants at the connection houses and drive them into the desert. But there were other methods. Oumar, the Toubou smuggler, left Agadez in a Toyota Hilux with a Nokia G.P.S. unit, two hundred litres of water, and extra fuel. He got through the checkpoint at a narrow pass without any trouble. Fifty miles on, past the black volcanic boulders of the Aïr mountains, he and six other smugglers gathered and waited for their cargo to arrive. Huge trucks routinely transport workers and supplies from Agadez to gold and uranium mines in the desert. The workers, sometimes more than a hundred per truck, sit on top and cling to ropes. This time, however, when a truck pulled up, the men, their faces hidden in chèches, were not miners. The men climbed down. Oumar and the other smugglers put them in their vehicles and set off toward Libya, leaving behind an enormous cloud of dust.

After several hours in the mountains, Oumar reached the gates of the desert, the beginning of the Ténéré, an expanse of sand roughly the size of California. “It’s like the sea,” a seventeen-year-old Nigerian girl told me. “It don’t have a start, it don’t have an end.” Some years pass without a drop of rainfall. “Nothing lives there, not even insects,” Oumar said. “Sometimes you see birds, but if you give them water they die.”

Oumar stopped and let air out of his tires, for better traction in the soft sand. Navigating the Ténéré is always difficult; dunes form and re-form with the winds, so the horizon changes shape between journeys. Last summer, when a tire on one of the cars in Oumar’s convoy burst, the vehicle flipped, and seven migrants died. Another time, he watched a truck tumble down a dune—a frequent occurrence in the Ténéré. Everybody died, including the driver, and Oumar buried them under a thin layer of sand. On each trip, Oumar sees more desiccated corpses, covered and uncovered by the shifting sands. Migrants often fall out of trucks, and the drivers don’t always stop. When I asked him if he was afraid of dying in the Ténéré, he shook his head and clicked his tongue. “C’est normal,” he said.

Oumar’s convoy evaded the military for four days and several hundred miles, but the checkpoint at Dao Timmi, situated at a gap between mountains in the Djado Plateau region, is unavoidable. Since the crackdown, the guards there have almost doubled their prices. Oumar paid, and continued roughly a hundred and fifty miles to Madama, the last checkpoint before the Libyan border. There, the soldiers now charge what he used to pay for the entire journey.

At the Libyan border, a black line of asphalt marks the beginning of a long, smooth highway heading north. But any relief belies the lawlessness and the cruelty to come. Last fall, at a checkpoint, a migrant from Sierra Leone named Abdul looked on as a Libyan man harassed a teen-age girl from Nigeria. “There was some argument, so the man just cocked his gun and shot the girl in her back,” Abdul told me. “We took the lady to the Hilux.” The Libyans shouted “_Haya! _”—meaning they should get out of there. The girl was still alive, but the driver took a six-hour detour into the desert, to a sprawling migrant graveyard, where small rocks arranged in circles marked each of the hundreds of bodies in it. Passports and identity cards had been placed with some of the rocks. “Most of the names that I see were Nigerian names,” Abdul continued. “Mostly girls.” By then, the teen-ager had died.

Before leaving Agadez, migrants are typically given the phone number of a connection man in southern Libya. For some, that means disembarking in Qatrun, three Toubou checkpoints and two hundred miles past the border; for others, it means paying an extra thirty thousand West African francs (about fifty dollars) to reach Sebha, a Saharan caravan city another hundred and eighty miles north. Oumar always leaves Qatrun shortly after two o’clock in the morning, because Sebha is the site of unpredictable conflict among militias, proxy forces, and jihadis, and the safest time to get there is just before dawn.

In Sebha, Oumar pulled into the driveway of a small house, and the passengers gave him the phone numbers of their connection men. He called each one to collect his migrants. Those who travel on credit are considered the property of the connection men who pay for their journey. “If you enter Sebha and you didn’t already pay your money to the connection man, you will suffer,” a Ghanaian political refugee named Stephen told me. “Morning time, they will beat you! Afternoon! They will beat you! In the night, they will beat you! Dawn! They will beat you!” Stephen buried his head in his hands, and said, under his breath, “Sebha is not a good place, Sebha is not a good place, Sebha is not a good place.”

The connection houses in Sebha are especially dangerous for women and girls. One night, according to Bright, a seventeen-year-old boy from Benin City, a group of Libyans carrying swords started collecting women. “Some of the girls are pregnant—you see them. They are pregnant from the journey, not from home,” he said. “Raped.” A recent report commissioned by the U.N. estimated that nearly half the female refugees and migrants who pass through Libya are sexually assaulted, including children—often many times along the route. A twenty-one-year-old Nigerian named John told me that he had witnessed female migrants being murdered for refusing the advances of their Libyan captors.

Libya’s connection houses are usually owned by locals but partly run by West Africans. “Some of the Ghanaians treat us worse than the Libyans,” a young Ghanaian told me. Migrants are imprisoned, beaten with pipes, tortured with electricity, and then forced to call their relatives to get more money. Now that the negotiations are about who lives and who dies, the price of the journey often doubles.

“I was in prison for one month and two days,” a twenty-one-year-old Gambian named Ousmane recalled. The facility was run by Libyans, and, to clarify the stakes and to make room for more detainees, “every Friday they would kill five people,” he said. “Even if you pay, sometimes they don’t set you free—they say they will throw you out, but they just kill you instead.” Ousmane told the guards that he had no family to pay for him. “One Friday, they finally called my name,” he said. Because Ousmane was one of the youngest detainees, an older migrant, who also couldn’t pay, asked the Libyans to kill him in Ousmane’s place. Before they took the man outside, he told Ousmane, “When you go to the Gambia, go to my village and tell them I am dead.”

A few nights later, Ousmane escaped. He made his way back to Agadez and told his story to the U.N. migration agency, which helped him return to Gambia. In January, according to the newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the German Embassy in Niger sent a cable to Berlin corroborating these weekly executions, and comparing the conditions in Libya’s migrant connection houses to those of Nazi concentration camps. Sometimes the sick are buried alive.

Last spring, Blessing, Faith, and the madam left Agadez, crossed the desert, and made it to Brak, just north of Sebha, where they stayed in a private home. Their journey through the desert had been a blur of waiting, heat, thirst, discomfort, beatings, dead bodies, and fear. The madam continued to promise the girls education and lucrative work in Italy. It is unclear whether she was ever in a position to decide their fate; women who accompany girls across the desert are often only employees of traffickers in Italy. One day in Brak, the madam sold Blessing and Faith to the owner of a connection house, to work as prostitutes.

“It’s not what you told me!” Blessing said. “You told me that I’m going to Italy, but now you say you want to drop me here?” She started sobbing. She hadn’t sworn a juju oath, but the madam threatened to kill her.

In Benin City, Doris, Blessing’s mother, received a phone call from a Nigerian woman with an Italian number. It had been three months since her daughter had disappeared, and the caller told her that unless she paid four hundred and eighty thousand naira (about fifteen hundred dollars) Blessing would be forced to work as a prostitute. “I say to the woman that I cannot get it,” Doris told me.

That Sunday, at the weekly traders’ meeting in the Uwelu market, Doris explained Blessing’s plight and asked for help. Although Doris’s shop was already running on loans, the group approved her request, charging twenty-per-cent interest. Godwin, Blessing’s brother, dropped off the cash at a MoneyGram exchange service, using the details given by the woman on the phone. After that, there was no further word.

Blessing was delivered to another connection house in Brak. A few days later, armed men put her and several other migrants into the back of a truck, covered them with a blanket, and stacked watermelons on top, to conceal them from rival traffickers. The truck set off north, toward Tripoli. Faith stayed in Brak, because her family didn’t pay.

The drive to Tripoli from Brak takes all day and is plagued with bandits, known among migrants as the “Asma boys.” Like the connection men in Sebha, they rob black Africans, beat them, hold them captive, demand ransoms, and murder, sell, or enslave those who disobey orders or are unable to pay. Packed on top of one another in the trucks, and concealed under tarps and other cargo, the passengers can hardly breathe. Nevertheless, a teen-age Nigerian girl explained to me, “we can’t make noise, so that the Asma boys don’t catch us.” Sometimes, after unloading the cargo in Tripoli, the smugglers discover that the passengers have suffocated.

Blessing was taken to a large detention center, a concrete room in an abandoned warehouse somewhere near Tripoli. For months, she stayed inside with more than a hundred people, huddled next to other Nigerian girls for safety. Arbitrary beatings and rapes were common. Sometimes the migrants were given only seawater to drink. People routinely died from starvation and disease.

August 22nd came—Blessing’s birthday. But by then she had lost track of time. She cried every day, unaware of who controlled her fate and when she would be brought to the sea. When she sneezed, she wondered if it was a sign from God that her mother was thinking about her.

Outside the detention center, militias patrolled the streets in pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns. Libya is in the midst of a civil war; Tripoli is being fought over by two rival governments and a host of militias. Nevertheless, the European Union, desperate to quell the flood of migrants, has sent delegations to Tripoli to train and equip the coast guard. Militias, while purporting to police migration, sell migrants to smugglers and invite local Libyan builders to come to the detention centers and collect workers. “We have no choice,” a Nigerian man who cleaned houses, stacked cinder blocks, and worked on farms told me. “We can’t fight with them, because they have guns.”

“If you are sick and you go to them, they tell you, ‘Fuck you, black! Fuck you!’ ” Evans, a twenty-four-year-old Ghanaian, said. “As soon as they see you, they will cover their nose.” A Nigerian migrant who lived in Tripoli for four years told me that he was stabbed in the chest by a shop owner because, after paying for his items, he had asked for change. A Ghanaian said that a Libyan cut off his friend’s finger in order to steal his ring.

Migrants stuck in Libya have started recording warnings to their friends back home, and urging them to circulate the messages through WhatsApp. “Anyone who has family in Libya should pray for them,” a message sent to Ghanaians said. “They have bombed and killed our black siblings—Ghanaians—any black person.” Another message listed names of missing migrants. There was also a series of photographs and videos depicting migrants walking in a line with their hands behind their heads, like hostages, and scenes from a number of massacres. Some of the corpses had been beheaded. “Take a look for yourself,” another Ghanaian message urged. “If you have family in Libya and haven’t heard from them, you should be sad for them.”

Late one night last September, the guards at Blessing’s detention center roused the migrants and ordered them into a tractor-trailer. The truck dropped them at a beach west of Tripoli. Armed smugglers crammed them into a dinghy, prayed in the sand, and sent them out to sea.

For the previous several days, the Dignity I, a boat operated by Médecins Sans Frontières, had been patrolling a stretch of the Libyan coast—eight hours east, eight hours west, just beyond territorial waters—searching for migrants but finding none. The wind had been blowing from the north, sending six-foot waves crashing on Libya’s shores and making it impossible to leave. But now the air was warm and still, the water barely rippling, and so the rescuers expected thousands to come at once.

Shortly after 8 a.m., the first mate spotted Blessing’s dinghy, a speck on the southern horizon. Crew members lowered a small rescue vessel into the water, and I climbed aboard with them.

The rescue vessel eased alongside the dinghy, and we shuttled migrants back to the Dignity I in groups of around fifteen. As the rescue boat bobbed next to the larger ship, Nicholas Papachrysostomou, an M.S.F. field coördinator, helped Blessing stand up. She was nauseated and weak. Her feet were pruning; they had been soaking for hours in a puddle at the bottom of the dinghy. Two crew members hoisted her aboard by her shoulders. She stood on the deck with her arms crossed—sobbing, shivering, heaving, praising God.

When everyone was safely transferred to the Dignity I, a crew member tossed Papachrysostomou a can of black spray paint, which he used to tag the empty dinghy with its geographic coördinates and the word “Rescued.” (European naval ships used to focus exclusively on rescuing migrants; now they run an “anti-smuggling” operation, in which they assist with rescues, arrest migrants who drive the boats, and destroy abandoned dinghies, so that they can’t be reused.) As we towed the dinghy farther out to sea, three Libyan men in a speedboat approached. One lifted four silver fish out of a bucket. “Trade! Trade!” he said, in Arabic, extending his arms toward us. The men had spent the past half hour watching the rescue from around a hundred feet away, and wanted to take the dinghy’s motor back to Libya, to resell. Some Libyans steal the motors while the migrants are still aboard. Papachrysostomou waved them off. As we sped away to help another boat in distress, the Libyans circled back and took the motor.

More than eleven thousand Nigerian women were rescued in the Mediterranean last year, according to the International Organization for Migration, eighty per cent of whom had been trafficked for sexual exploitation. “You now have girls who are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen,” an I.O.M. anti-trafficking agent told me. “The market is requesting younger and younger.” Italy is merely the entry point; from there, women are traded and sold to madams all over Europe.

By the time we got back to the Dignity I, a nurse had logged each migrant’s nationality and age. Blessing had told the nurse that she was eighteen, but, suspecting that to be a lie, the nurse had tied a blue string around her wrist, signifying that Médecins Sans Frontières considered her to be an unaccompanied minor. Most of the Nigerian girls had a blue string. Madams coach the girls to say they are older, so that they are sent to Italy’s main reception centers, where migrants can move about freely. Otherwise, they end up in restrictive shelters for unaccompanied minors.

While the moment of rescue marks the end of most migrants’ debts to their smugglers, for the Nigerian girls it is only the beginning. “You’re delivering them to hell,” an M.S.F. staffer told me. M.S.F.’s focus is on saving lives, not on policing international waters, and it does not share suspicions about trafficking cases with the European authorities. “The moment you begin entering this part of the investigation, you are no longer a rescue boat,” Papachrysostomou said. “We need to maintain distances from just about everybody”—governments, smugglers, and traffickers alike.

This approach makes some staffers uneasy. One told me that they had been briefed by M.S.F. on the fact that criminal networks have co-opted sea rescues as a reliable means of transporting young African women to Europe’s prostitution market. That morning, the smugglers had given one of the migrants in a departing boat a satellite phone and the phone number of the Maritime Rescue Coördination Center, in Rome, which sends real-time alerts to ships in the Mediterranean. “Sometimes I feel as if we are the smugglers’ delivery service,” another M.S.F. staffer said. But at least twenty-three hundred people were saved from eighteen rubber dinghies on the day that Blessing was picked up, and, without the work of M.S.F. and several other N.G.O.s, many of them would have drowned.

The Dignity I headed for the port of Messina, on the eastern coast of Sicily, a journey of two and a half days. There were three hundred and fifty-five migrants on board. The youngest was three weeks old. Few had space to lie down, and it was difficult to walk among the bodies without stepping on limbs and torso.

Late that afternoon, Sara Creta, an Italian M.S.F. staffer, and I met with Blessing and another girl, Cynthia, who had grown up on a farm and then sold snacks on the streets of Benin City. Blessing and Cynthia had met on the dinghy, several hours earlier, and were now sitting with some other Nigerian girls. All of them looked underage, though they insisted that they were eighteen. Blessing smiled and spoke in nervous fragments while she massaged Cynthia’s swollen feet. She said that she had been kidnapped, but withheld the details. As Blessing spoke, Cynthia wept.

Creta tried to comfort the girls. “When you arrive in Italy, you are not obliged to do anything you don’t want to do,” she said. “In Italy, you are free. O.K.? Just follow your heart.” Blessing picked at her skin for a few seconds, then said, “I don’t have the opportunity.”

Three older Nigerian women appeared to be eavesdropping on the conversation. One of them—heavyset, with a sickle-shaped scar on her chin—interrogated me about my role on the ship, pursing her lips and raising her eyebrows when I told her that I was a reporter. She refused to respond to my questions, except to say, “I did not pay for my own journey.” She and the other two women spent most of the next two days perched on the ship’s railing, monitoring the younger women.

In Messina, the migrants disembarked in groups of ten. The Italian authorities gave them flip-flops, took photographs for immigration records, conducted medical exams, and registered them with Frontex, the E.U. border agency. Humanitarian workers introduced themselves to some of the girls whom they suspected of being under eighteen, but none of them accepted help. One Nigerian girl, who, on the Dignity I, had confessed that she was fourteen years old, later claimed that she was twenty-three.

The U.N. refugee agency had sent a representative, who carried flyers outlining the migrants’ legal rights, but they were printed in Tigrinya, the language of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. Many people who might have been eligible for asylum told me that they had never heard of it. The Egyptians and the Moroccans were pulled out of line and directed to sit under a blue awning, where they remained for the rest of the afternoon, likely unaware that Italy has repatriation agreements with their home countries. Most of them would be taken to Sicily’s expulsion center, in Caltanissetta, and flown home.

The other migrants were led to a line of buses. The drivers wore masks, to guard against the smell. Blessing and Cynthia waved to me before boarding. The woman with the sickle-shaped scar got on the same bus

Many migrants were temporarily kept at Palanebiolo, a makeshift camp in a former baseball stadium on the outskirts of Messina, before being distributed among other centers throughout Italy. A huge concrete wall surrounds the complex; rusted rebar pokes through it, and lizards dart in and out of the cracks. A couple of days after being taken to Palanebiolo, a group of West African men who had been rescued by the Dignity I sat on a cinder-block ledge outside. They had no money or possessions, and complained that the food was lousy and the tents let in rainwater. They had received no medical attention—not even antiparasitic cream to treat scabies, which all of them had. Some were still wearing the same ragged clothes from their voyage, stiff with dried vomit and seawater.

In Italy, it is widely known that many contracts to provide services for the migrants are connected to the Mafia. The government allots reception centers thirty-five euros per migrant per day, but the conditions at Palanebiolo and elsewhere indicate that the money is not being spent on those who stay there. A few years ago, in a wiretapped call, Italian investigators heard a Mafia boss tell an associate, “Do you have any idea how much we earn off the migrants? The drug trade is less profitable.” Migrants are entitled to daily cash allowances of two euros and fifty cents; at Palanebiolo, they were given phone cards instead, which they sold on the streets nearby at a thirty-per-cent discount, so they could buy food, secondhand clothes, and, eventually, mobile phones.

I wasn’t allowed into Palanebiolo, but I found Cynthia outside. She told me that Blessing was still living there but had gone out for the morning with a Nigerian man who worked at the camp. A few hours later, Blessing and the man returned together. “He took me in a train!” she told me. She was still reeling from the novelty of what she had seen in the city center. “The white people—I saw many white people,” she said.

The girls told me their real ages—Cynthia was sixteen, Blessing was barely seventeen. They also claimed that they had told the truth to the Frontex agents, at disembarkation, but I was skeptical; Palanebiolo was supposed to house only adults. Together, we walked down the hill to have lunch. Near a busy intersection, we asked directions from a tall, bearded Nigerian man, named Destiny, who had crossed the Mediterranean in 2011 and now worked at a supermarket in Messina. His arms and neck were covered in religious tattoos; Cynthia thought he was handsome and invited him to join us. We walked to a nearby café, but as soon as we entered a waitress shooed us out, saying that the café was closed. Several tables were occupied by Italians enjoying coffee and pastries. We stood outside, deliberating other options, until the waitress poked her head out the door and told us to leave the property.

We headed back up the hill, to Palanebiolo. Blessing moved with slow, labored steps. Her joints ached and were still swollen from her time in detention in Libya. Destiny asked me where I was staying. “Oh, Palermo,” he said. “My favorite city.” He winked, and, switching to Italian so that the girls couldn’t understand, added, “That’s where I go to fuck the young black girls for thirty euros.”

Sex work is not a crime in Italy, but it attracts the attention of the police, so trafficking networks try to get residency permits for every girl they send to work on the streets. Having lied to Frontex about their ages, underage victims are eventually issued official Italian government documents claiming that they are eighteen or older; these shield them from police inquiries. Italian police wiretaps show that Nigerian trafficking networks have infiltrated reception centers, employing low-level staffers to monitor the girls and bribing corrupt officials to accelerate the paperwork. An anti-trafficking agent from the International Organization for Migration explained that, at centers like Palanebiolo, “the only thing the girl has to do is make a call and tell the madam she has arrived—which city, which camp. They know what to do, because they have their guys all over.”

In Palermo’s underground brothels, trafficked Nigerians sleep with as many as fifteen clients a day; the more clients, the sooner they can purchase their freedom. When people spit on them, the women go to the bushes to retrieve hidden handbags, take out their hand mirrors, and, by the dim yellow glow of the street lamps on Via Crispi, fix their makeup. Then they get back to work.

“There’s an extraordinary level of implicit racism here, and it’s evident in the fact that there are no underage Italian girls working the streets,” Father Enzo Volpe, a priest who runs a center for migrant children and trafficking victims, told me. “Society dictates that it’s bad to sleep with a girl of thirteen or fourteen years. But if she’s African? Nobody gives a fuck. They don’t think of her as a person.”

Twice a week, Father Enzo loads a van with water and snacks and, in the company of a young friar and a frail old nun, sets off to provide comfort and assistance to girls on the streets. His first stop, one Thursday night last fall, close to midnight, was Parco della Favorita, a nine-hundred-acre park at the base of Mt. Pellegrino, known as much for prostitution as for its views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Father Enzo parked the van near a clearing. Four Nigerian women emerged from the woods, where they had made a small fire with twigs and plastic chip bags. “Buona sera, Vanessa,” Father Enzo said. “Good evening. God bless you.”

Everyone gathered in a circle, prayed, and sang church songs that the girls had learned in Nigeria. A car approached, and out of it came Jasmine, who looked to be around fifteen years old. “It’s my birthday,” she said. Someone asked how old she was. She paused, then said, “Ventidue”—twenty-two. The nun had brought a birthday cake. “If we come and pray with them and give them medical information, it’s fine,” Father Enzo told me. “But, if you go and ask questions about how the network works, they say nothing. They disappear.”

Two weeks after disembarking in Messina, most of the migrants from the Dignity I had either run away from Palanebiolo or been transferred to other camps. Blessing and Cynthia stayed, and began to venture into the city. One Sunday morning, an Italian woman noticed the girls at church, and took them for a coffee—their first ever. Another woman gave them secondhand clothes. I bought them anti-inflammatory medication and treatments for scabies and lice.

The girls soon learned how to count to ten in Italian. They also picked up Italian words for various things they encountered: Tomato. Butterfly. Stomach ache. Cynthia shouted “_Ciao! _” at every passing motorist, pedestrian, and dog, and was delighted when it elicited a friendly, if puzzled, response. “She is a village girl,” Blessing teased. “I like greeting everybody!” Cynthia replied. A car pulled up to the intersection where the girls were sitting. “_Ciao! _” Blessing called to the driver. The driver stared straight ahead and rolled up her window.

The girls marvelled at a double-decker bus, and spent an hour sitting next to an electric gate at an apartment complex, watching it open and close for arriving cars. Blessing picked up a supermarket catalogue that she found on the road, and the girls pointed at items, trying to identify them from the pictures and the Italian names. Cynthia started reading a page in mock Italian. “Sapudali,” she said. “Shekatabratabrotochikamano.”

A number of passing cars caught Blessing’s eye, but she was especially impressed by the design of a small, gray Nissan Qashqai S.U.V. “Wow, I love this ride!” she said. “It is one of the best kinds in town.” She started blowing kisses at it, and spoke of it for the rest of the day. “It is the best car,” Cynthia agreed. “Everything is the best.”

“In Italy, we’re very good at the process of emergency reception—the humanitarian aspect,” Salvatore Vella, a prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Agrigento, told me. “They arrive. We give them something to eat. We put them in a reception center. But after that? There is no solution. What do we do with these people?” Vella looked out the window. “Let’s be honest: these reception centers, they have open doors, and we hope that they leave. Where to? I don’t know,” he said. “If they go to France, for us that’s fine. If they go to Switzerland, great. If they stay here, they work on the black market—they disappear.”

Most of Palermo’s migrants live in Ballarò, a crowded old neighborhood of winding cobblestoned alleyways and hanging laundry which is the site of illegal horse races and Palermo’s largest open-air market. At dusk, young men whistle at passersby and tell them the price of hashish. On Sundays, at around five o’clock in the morning, thrifty locals browse il mercato delle cose rubate, “the market of stolen goods,” where you can find televisions, toilet seats, chandeliers, ovens, sunglasses, leather jackets, cabinets, jewelry, iPhones, seven-piece dining sets.

One night in Ballarò, I met with a former drug dealer from Mali at an outdoor bar that smelled like sweat, weed, and vomit. Sex workers walked past in red fish-nets and six-inch stilettos. On the corner, two men grilled meat over a trash fire. Italians and Africans exchanged cash and drugs, unbothered by the presence of witnesses. “This is the power of the Nigerian mafia,” the Malian said. “It gives work to those people who don’t have papers.”

At street level, Ballarò looks to be largely under the control of Nigerian gangs. The most powerful group, called Black Axe, has roots in Benin City and cells throughout Italy, and has carried out knife and machete attacks against other migrants. But, although the Nigerian gangs are armed and loosely organized, none of them ultimately work alone. “If I want to deal, I have to talk to the Sicilian boss,” the Malian explained. He said that, unless a dealer gives the Cosa Nostra its cut of the business, “O.K., you can make it work for two days, but if they understand that you are doing something”—he whistled and started sawing at his neck with a finger—“they eliminate you.” Last year, after a street brawl near Ballarò, an Italian mobster shot a Gambian migrant in the back of the head.

Italian officials and local criminals agree that the Cosa Nostra profits at both ends: Nigerian bosses buy drugs in bulk from the Mafia, then pay an additional pizzo—protection money—for the right to deal. For generations, Ballarò has been under the control of the D’Ambrogio family, whose patriarch, Alessandro, is currently in prison. In public, African dealers are afraid to utter his name louder than a whisper, though the family’s business in Palermo is widely known: it owns at least nine funeral parlors.

It is impossible to say how many Nigerians work in Ballarò’s brothels, but many of them are abused by clients, and severely beaten, branded, or stabbed by their madams. “I never went outside,” a former prostitute named Angela told me. Her madam, an Edo woman named Osasu, picked up girls from the camps before they got their residency permits, and kept sixteen of them captive. Angela was locked inside for two months and forced to have sex with eight men each day, while Osasu collected her earnings. When Angela became severely ill after a miscarriage—she had been raped in Agadez, several months earlier—Osasu kicked her out. An elderly Italian woman took her to the police station. The authorities listened to her story, then repatriated her to Benin City. To this day, she told me, “I don’t even know what city I was in.”

According to Vella, the Sicilian prosecutor, violence against Nigerian prostitutes is rarely investigated, because “the tendency, here in Italy, has been to not look at criminal organizations as long as they’re committing crimes only against non-Italians.” One consequence, he said, is that Nigerian gangs have spent at least fifteen years “collecting vast sums of money, arming themselves,” and exploiting underage girls with impunity. (Vella has led groundbreaking investigations into Nigerian crime, resulting in the convictions of several traffickers.)

A security official in Palermo told me that his team, which is focussed on Nigerian crime but employs no Nigerians, considers Ballarò to be practically impenetrable. With virtually no on-the-ground access, Vella explained, roughly eighty per cent of the investigative work on Nigerian crime involves wiretapping phone calls that the police cannot understand. “We have thousands of people living here who speak languages that, fifteen years ago, we didn’t even know existed,” Vella said. “The person I select to listen to wiretaps is usually an ex-prostitute or a girl who works in a bar. I need to trust her, but I don’t even know her.” These obstacles are further compounded by security threats. “During a trial, I have to call up the interpreter to testify,” he continued. Her name and birthplace are written into the public record, and the trafficking networks are so well established that, “with a Skype call or a text message, they have the ability to order their associates to go into a small village in Nigeria and burn down houses with people inside them.”

Most girls don’t know the extent of their debt until they arrive in Italy, when they are told that they owe as much as eighty thousand euros. Some madams extend the debts by charging the girls for room, board, and condoms, at exorbitant rates. One night in Palermo, I spoke with three Nigerian women who were working the streets near Piazza Rivoluzione. One of them had grown up on Upper Sakpoba Road, before coming to Italy “as a little girl,” she said, and being repeatedly raped. She despised the work but couldn’t leave it, because, after five years in Palermo, she still owed her madam thousands of euros.

For the authorities, one of the most confounding aspects of the sex trade is that Nigerian trafficking victims almost never denounce their captors. Most fear deportation, and also the consequences of breaking the juju oath. “I hear this juju killed many girls,” Blessing told me. “This spell is effective.”

A few weeks after reaching Italy, some of the Nigerian girls from the Dignity I had got phones, and one of them circulated a WhatsApp message that warned of a juju priest living in Naples, named Chidi, who used “evil powder” to manipulate women. “He has killed and destroy many girls in Europe,” it said. The message also included Chidi’s phone number, and instructed recipients to save it so that they would know not to answer if the devil called.

One afternoon, a former sex worker from Nigeria introduced me to an elderly Ghanaian woman, a retired wigmaker who is known in Ballarò as the Prophetess Odasani. In the past decade, Odasani has helped many Nigerian women escape prostitution by challenging juju on a spiritual level. Dressed in shining blue robes, she took me to the base of Mt. Pellegrino, where she picked up a wooden staff and started walking up the mountain. We soon reached a small clearing, a space she calls Nowhere for Satan Camp. For the next half hour, Odasani sang and prayed and spoke in tongues.

“They have bad spirits inside them—that’s why they do prostitution,” Odasani said. To free girls from their juju curses, she performs a kind of exorcism. “I ask the spirit, What is your name? And the spirit answer.” When she asks why it is inhabiting the person, she said, the spirit explains the debt bondage, at which point “I say, O.K., in the name of the Lord, depart from the person. Depart! Depart from my daughter!” Eventually, the juju leaves the girl’s body, “and then she is free.”

“The madam still asks for money,” Odasani said. “I tell the girl to tell the madam that she will pay a little bit”—but by doing housework and cooking, not prostitution. “And if she continues to do these bad things to you I will pray to Jesus Christ to attack her spiritually.”

After two months in Italy, Blessing, Cynthia, and a sixteen-year-old girl named Juliet were the only migrants from the Dignity I who were still at Palanebiolo. Blessing told me that several girls from the boat had left the camp in the company of their traffickers.

Blessing wanted to leave the camp, too. “I am tired of pasta,” she said, clicking her tongue in frustration. “I miss Nigeria, where people know how to cook.” She missed her mother, and was annoyed that she hadn’t yet had an opportunity to pursue an education in Italy. Minors are supposed to be enrolled in schools, but, I had since learned, the girls had been left in Palanebiolo because all the restrictive centers for underage migrants in Sicily were full. (This winter, Palanebiolo was shut down, and the girls were transferred to a shelter for minors.)

In Benin City, Blessing’s schoolbooks are still piled on a shelf in her former bedroom, but Doris sold her mattress to buy food. The room is occupied by Blessing’s younger sister, Hope, who is now fifteen and has dropped out of school to help Doris at the shop. In order for the family to keep the apartment, Godwin helps with the rent, which is thirty dollars per month. The debt Doris took on to free Blessing in Libya continues to mount.

“I don’t know how my mummy, she will recover that money. But I can’t go and sell myself, even though I need money for them,” Blessing said. “I better go to school. I promised myself, and I promised my mum.” Blessing dreams of building her mother a house that’s surrounded by a wall so high that thieves break their legs when they try to scale it. The compound will have an electric gate. “My mum, I will spoil her,” she said. “The reason I’m here now is my mummy. The reason I am alive today is my mum. The reason that I will not do prostitution is my mummy.” Tears streamed down her face. “I am my mummy’s breath of life.”

Blessing, Juliet, and a Nigerian girl named Gift walked down the hill singing church songs and drawing smiles from locals. The sky was gloomy, and soon it started to drizzle. But they kept walking, farther from the camp than they had ever been. Eventually, they reached a pebble beach, a few miles north of the port of Messina.

The rain stopped, and for a moment two bright rainbows shone over the short stretch of water separating Sicily from the mainland.

“It comes from the sea,” Blessing said of the double rainbow. “Look at it now. It is going down.”

“Yes, it comes from the sea,” Gift said.

“And then it go into the sky.”

“Yeah.”

A cloud shifted. “It is finished now,” Blessing said. Gift nodded. “It has gone back to the sea.”

The girls prayed. Then Blessing stepped into the water, spread her arms wide, and shouted, “I passed through the desert! I passed through this sea! If this river did not take my life, no man or woman can take my life from me!” ♦

Reporting for this piece was facilitated by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

This article appears in the print edition of the April 10, 2017, issue, with the headline “We Have No Choice.”

  • Ben Taub joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2017

Voir enfin:

Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World by Jeremy Harding – review
Andy Beckett on the troubles of refugees and economic migrants
Andy Beckett
The Guardian
16 Nov 2012

Near the end of this tightly-coiled, unpredictable book, a border guard invites the author to try scaling a fence. The fence is one of a pair intended to stop illegal immigrants entering Ceuta, the Spanish city surrounded by Morocco which is a favoured way into Europe from Africa. Overcoming this barrier, Harding discovers, « took about 45 seconds. Balancing for the turn at the top, where the only handhold is a straight line of clipped wire, I cut both hands. » The guard is unmoved: « [He] said he had watched migrants take both fences in less than 20 seconds. »

In an era of footloose capitalism, stark inequality between countries, and ever more information about foreign job possibilities, it is not hard to present the fortifying of national frontiers against immigration as essentially futile. Harding sees restricting migration this way as a « morose task »: the European Union, he points out, has a land border of « nearly 9,000km » and a coastline of « another 42,000km ». Ingenious people-smugglers and indefatigable would-be migrants talk to him in stranger-than-fiction, concrete detail about their schemes for gatecrashing the rich world. One regular breacher of the Mexican-American desert border endured a three-day, not untypical crossing: « He was flayed below the knees by cacti and when his shoes came to pieces … he walked the last day barefoot over red rock, a coarse oxidised sandstone … The soles of each foot [became] a single blister from ball to heel, like a gel pack. [From America] he was deported again… [He made] his next attempt shortly afterwards … »

Yet apparently doomed government policies can still have large consequences. Harding’s panoramic volume, an expansion and updating of his 2000 book The Uninvited, surveys the vast military-industrial complex that has grown up to police immigration across the rich world. In recent years, the economic slump has made immigration even more politically sensitive than during more confident eras. His underlying stance is liberal: broadly supportive of the migrants, highlighting the human cost when their desires are blocked. But as a longstanding writer on the ambiguous relationships between rich and poor countries, he is too streetwise to be pious. He is alert to the complexities of a world where refugees and economic migrants are not always easy to tell apart – even in the minds of the immigrants themselves – and where the same traffickers smuggle people, willing and not, and other illegal cargoes. « Nothing in the world of unauthorised migration, » he writes early on, « is quite what it seems. »

His first frontier report is from the narrow sea between Albania and southeast Italy. Riding in an Italian police speedboat, he sits in on a night pursuit of a people-smugglers’ inflatable. In the hands of a more macho writer, the encounter would be all hardware and adrenaline, with the politics of the situation lost in all the spray and tight turns, but Harding keeps the action to a single taut paragraph. « A chase is dramatic, » he writes, « and largely symbolic. » The smugglers get away.

Harding is more interested in loitering and listening in the migrant camps on both sides of the rich world’s borders. In government detention centres for captured immigrants, and more sympathetic charity-run compounds, and muddy, improvised illegal settlements, he speaks to people from Afghanistan and Albania and Ethiopia, carefully using indirect quotation and only first names. The Afghan (« young, personable … spoke fair English ») is a former soldier in the western-backed Afghan National Army: « Early in 2011, going home on leave, he was called to account by local Taliban as a collaborator and told he would have to take part in a car-bomb attack on a nearby hospital if he wanted to redeem himself. » He refused, left his family behind, and made his way to northern France. From there, he hopes to steal further north to Birmingham, to join his recently arrived cousin, who has also fled Afghanistan for political reasons. « The west’s exertions on far-off battlefields, shaping a world in its likeness, » writes Harding, have helped prompt the great northward migration so many western politicians fear and decry. « In ways we fail to acknowledge, we issue the invitation and map [the migrants’] journeys towards us. »

Harding makes his ambitious, continent-crossing arguments in economical, sometimes elegant, usually understated prose. Occasionally, he is so understated that the book becomes an erudite murmur when it should be clearer and louder. Two middle chapters on immigration law and the slowly evolving attitudes of western officialdom, while authoritative, become a little airless: you start to crave Harding’s return to the border.

Once or twice, he abandons his cool, observational tone to let off a potent bolt of anger. A steely sentence is aimed at the age-old tabloid spectre of the immigrant « scrounger »: « Social security entitlements come low on the list of priorities for the survivor of an ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Turkish Kurdistan who leaves his village on horseback … raises the cost of a passage to sanctuary … buys a place on a boat to Albania and, three months later … is invited to step out of a lorry on the A3 and make his way to a police station in Guildford. »

In Arizona, author becomes participant-observer as Harding helps push wheelbarrows of water containers to a desert water station, set up by a pro-immigrant charity, Humane Borders. Drawing a clever, resonant parallel, he notes the similarities between America’s intensifying efforts against illegal Mexican arrivals – only intermittently reversed by Obama – and the country’s wars abroad: ever-bigger fortifications; the detection, pursuit and forced deportation of wily-seeming foreigners; the dusty, mountainous, hard-to-control landscape. As with the « war on terror » – another reason for the west’s anti-immigrant turn – this semi-war on illegal migrants has eroded civil liberties, with anyone Mexican-looking quite likely to be harassed by officialdom for the most minor civil offences, or on no pretext at all, to see if they have the correct immigration status. Harding fears the EU is hardening likewise: into « a federation of police states » for migrants.

However, he is not starry-eyed about the alternative promoted by « libertarian elites », usually free-market absolutists or businessmen wanting cheaper labour, of an immigration free-for-all. While respecting their consistency – it is the many free-marketeers who demand unhindered movement for goods and capital, but oppose it for people, who really draw his scorn – Harding is not an anarchist. He thinks states have the right to meaningful borders. And he is frank about the increased competition for resources that immigration can bring. At his own children’s north London primary, with « dozens » of pupils from the former Yugoslavia, « a sour parental anxiety stirs … at the thought of language difficulties in the classroom and the diversion of resources to cope with them. » He does not wholly exempt himself.

Refreshingly for a liberal, Harding does not present migrants solely as victims, but as assertive, sometimes selfish, sometimes on their way to becoming powerful. It helps that he knows well most of the countries they come from. Having detailed the cruelties and absurdities of much western policy towards them over the last decade and a half, he only offers the briefest sketch of a better approach. It would involve « rethinking the economic relationship between richer and poorer countries », using migrants as economic « ferrymen » to carry money and energy and ideas between the two worlds, much more equally in both directions than currently, and with far greater government assistance.

It sounds ambitious. But it’s probably less far-fetched than expecting the west’s half-built anti-migrant fortress to hold for the long term. Besides, by then, the immigration issue may have changed shape entirely. Harding quotes the Dutch migration expert Hein de Hass: when western countries are genuinely caught up by the big emerging economies, the « question will no longer be how to prevent migrants from coming, but how to attract them. » Nothing reveals that a city is dying like a lack of foreigners.

Andy Beckett’s When the Lights Went Out is published by Faber.


Fusillade de Floride: Vous avez dit « fake news » ? (18 and counting: Guess who suffers in the end when gun control activists and the media inflate their school shootings statistics with suicides, accidents and adjacent or after-hours violent crime ?)

17 février, 2018

En Europe, depuis le Moyen Âge, le contrat social veut que la sécurité soit déléguée à l’État. La déclaration d’indépendance américaine a été motivée par la question des taxes, mais aussi sur le droit de porter des armes, que réprouvait l’Angleterre. Dans la conception américaine, ce n’est plus uniquement à l’État d’assurer la sécurité mais également aux citoyens eux-mêmes. Cette question est devenue la pierre angulaire de la vision sociétale des conservateurs libertariens, notamment depuis leur radicalisation dans les années 1980. C’est le modèle du Far West. Et qu’est-ce que le Far West, sinon un système où il n’y a pas d’État? Laurence Nardon (Ifri)
Je vais devenir un professionnel de la tuerie en milieu scolaire. Nikolas Cruz
Il s’agit de la 18e fusillade dans une école depuis le début de l’année aux Etats-Unis. Le Parisien
Depuis janvier 2013, il y a eu au moins 283 fusillades à travers tout le pays, ce qui revient à une fusillade en milieu scolaire par semaine.  Everytown for Gun Safety (fin janvier 2018)
C’est la 18ème fusillade dans un établissement scolaire américain depuis début janvier et la 291ème survenue au cours de ces cinq dernières années. France TVinfo
Depuis le début de l’année, 18 [fusillades meurtrières] ont été enregistrées dans les établissements scolaires américains. Parmi elles, sept se sont soldées par des blessés ou des morts, comme mercredi à Parkland, en Floride. Sept depuis le début de l’année, cela représente une par semaine. (…) L’ONG Everytown for gun safety répertorie les incidents liés aux armes à feux dans les écoles. Elle en relève 290 depuis 2013. (…) Dans 55% des cas, la fusillade entraîne des morts et des blessés et dans 24% des cas, elle ne fait aucune victime. Dans 4/5e des drames survenant dans les établissements scolaires donc, le tireur avait l’intention de nuire aux autres. Le reste regroupe les accidents et les suicides. (…) Le discours porté par le lobby des armes peut paraître, vu d’Europe, ubuesque. Il se résume bien souvent à réclamer davantage d’armes après chaque tuerie, estimant que si les personnes en avaient été munies, elles auraient été en capacité de se défendre, et donc de survivre. Un argument utilisé par Donald Trump, alors candidat à la primaire républicaine, lors des attentats de Paris en novembre 2015. Le Figaro
In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1.  Jeff Greenfield
With the high school massacre in Parkland, Fla., several days gone but hardly forgotten, the time seems right to examine closely some of the statistical hype that made frightening news alongside details of the horrific shooting. In print and on TV, Americans were bombarded with facts and figures suggesting that the problem of school shootings was out of control. We were informed, for example, that since 2013 there has been an average of one school shooting a week in the U.S., and 18 since the beginning of this year. While these statistics were not exactly lies or fake news, they involved stretching the definition of a school shooting well beyond the limits of most people’s imagination. Everytown for Gun Safety reported that there have been 290 school shootings since the catastrophic massacre in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago. However, very few of these were anything akin to Sandy Hook or Parkland. Sure, they all involved a school of some type (including technical schools and colleges) as well as a firearm, but the outcomes were hardly similar. Nearly half of the 290 were completed or attempted suicides, accidental discharges of a gun, or shootings with not a single individual being injured. Of the remainder, the vast majority involved either one fatality or none at all. It is easy to believe that school shootings are the “new normal” as has been intimated, or that we are facing a crisis of epidemic proportions. (…)For all those who believe that schools are under siege like never before, it is instructive to take a statistical road trip back in time. Since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at elementary and secondary schools in which two or more people were killed, not counting those perpetrators who committed suicide. Whereas five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland), the latter half of the 1990s witnessed seven multiple-fatality shootings with a total of 33 killed (13 at Columbine). In fact, the 1997-98 school year was so awful, with four multiple-fatality shooting sprees at the hands of armed students (in Pearl, Miss.; West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore.), that then-President Clinton formed a White House expert committee to advise him. Nearly a decade later, President Bush convened a White House Conference on School Safety in the wake of multiple-fatality incidents during his administration. (…) Notwithstanding the occasional multiple-fatality shooting that takes place at one of the 100,000 public schools across America, the nation’s schools are safe. Over the past quarter-century, on average about 10 students are slain in school shootings annually. Compare the school fatality rate with the more than 100 school-age children accidentally killed each year riding their bikes or walking to school. Congress might be too timid to pass gun legislation to protect children, but how about a national bicycle helmet law for minors? Half of the states do not require them. There is no NRA — National Riding Association — opposing that. I’m all for shielding our kids from harm. But let’s at least deal with the low hanging fruit while we debate and Congress does nothing about the role of guns in school shootings. James Alan Fox
The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference. It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do. In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows. The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle. (…) This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban. Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of gun murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense. (…) Still, the majority of Americans continued to support a ban on assault weapons. One reason: The use of these weapons may be rare over all, but they’re used frequently in the gun violence that gets the most media coverage, mass shootings. The criminologist James Alan Fox at Northeastern University estimates that there have been an average of 100 victims killed each year in mass shootings over the past three decades. That’s less than 1 percent of gun homicide victims. But these acts of violence in schools and movie theaters have come to define the problem of gun violence in America. Most Americans do not know that gun homicides have decreased by 49 percent since 1993 as violent crime also fell, though rates of gun homicide in the United States are still much higher than those in other developed nations. A Pew survey conducted after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., found that 56 percent of Americans believed wrongly that the rate of gun crime was higher than it was 20 years ago. NYT
But what about all the other young black murder victims? Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them? Where is the march against the drug dealers who prey on young black people? Where is the march against bad schools, with their 50% dropout rate for black teenaged boys? Those failed schools are certainly guilty of creating the shameful 40% unemployment rate for black teens? How about marching against the cable television shows constantly offering minstrel-show images of black youth as rappers and comedians who don’t value education, dismiss the importance of marriage, and celebrate killing people, drug money and jailhouse fashion—the pants falling down because the jail guard has taken away the belt, the shoes untied because the warden removed the shoe laces, and accessories such as the drug dealer’s pit bull. (…) There is no fashion, no thug attitude that should be an invitation to murder. But these are the real murderous forces surrounding the Martin death—and yet they never stir protests. The race-baiters argue this case deserves special attention because it fits the mold of white-on-black violence that fills the history books. Some have drawn a comparison to the murder of Emmett Till, a black boy who was killed in 1955 by white racists for whistling at a white woman. (…) While civil rights leaders have raised their voices to speak out against this one tragedy, few if any will do the same about the larger tragedy of daily carnage that is black-on-black crime in America. (…) Almost one half of the nation’s murder victims that year were black and a majority of them were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation’s murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, according to the same report. (…) The killing of any child is a tragedy. But where are the protests regarding the larger problems facing black America? Juan Williams
It’s sadly apparent that the United States of America is paralyzed with political indecision over something the State of Israel figured out more than 40 years ago: all schools should have mandated security features and active shooter protocols. The horrific scene in Parkland, and the upsetting videos broadcast from the school during the shooting, should be the final straw.  The kids should not have been hiding and screaming, they should have been in the midst of a pre-determined security protocol. (…) In 1974, Israel endured the Ma’alot Massacre in which “Palestinian” terrorists took 115 people hostage at Netiv Meir Elementary School.  Twenty-two children and three others were killed and 68 injured.  Israel now requires schools with 100 or more students to have a guard posted. The civilian police force handles the entire security system of all schools from kindergarten through college.  The Ministry of Education funds shelters and fences, reinforces school buses, and hires and trains guards. Guards don’t just stand around.  They check everyone entering, and engage threats. And yeah, they’ve got guns.The lawful purposes for carrying guns are very clear: protect school personnel and students, create a sense of security, deter the ill-intentioned, and provide self-defense. Common sense.   Except to the illogical dullards who claim that “adding guns to schools won’t fix anything” and are fixated on the NRA and the ridiculous notions that gun laws magically stop criminals and crazy people from obtaining one of the 300 million guns in our country. But more to the point, Israel’s Police Community & Civil Guard Department have a preventative care program that encourages safe behavior and offers violence protection strategies in normal situations.  Yet students are also trained in how to respond to an active shooter situation. Ben Goldstein, an American who made aliyah to Israel, and now serves as volunteer security and supporter of IDF soldiers, says America is behind the curve.  Nevertheless, he says, it doesn’t take much for students and teachers to protect themselves.“Barricade, barricade. Are desks movable?  Is the teacher’s desk movable?  Can they barricade inside of 20 seconds? If the shooter gets in, the kids should take whatever they’ve got and attack.  They can’t just sit there frozen or they will die.  America does earthquake drills, why not active shooter drills?   More kids have been killed by shooters than earthquakes.” Barricading works, says Goldstein.In an active shooter situation, where a gunman is roaming a campus, five minutes is a lifetime, enough time for law enforcement to get to the scene.  “In those five minutes, the shooter will have to move from class to class, reload, clear malfunctions, all that stuff takes time.  And during gunfire lulls, kids must be taught to do something.  Don’t freeze.Moving once gets you out of that deer-in-headlights space. Take command of the classroom.” (…) Gun control debates are a distraction and impractical, and criminals ignore laws anyway.Crazy people are obviously not being dealt with properly – students at Parkland even predicted this would happen. (…) Instead of handing out participation trophies, let’s make our kids into the self-reliant, pro-active defenders of themselves and others. Lawrence Meyers
Un utilisateur de la plateforme de vidéos YouTube avait alerté le FBI l’an passé après avoir visionné un message posté par Nikolas Cruz, patronyme utilisé par le principal suspect de la fusillade de Parkland, qui a fait 17 morts. Dans ce dernier, le tireur menaçait explicitement sa volonté de commettre une fusillade dans un lycée. « Je vais devenir un professionnel de la tuerie en milieu scolaire », avait écrit en commentaire d’une vidéo un abonné qui se faisait appeler Nikolas Cruz. (…) « Quand j’ai vu le commentaire dans mes notifications […], ça a attiré mon attention. J’en ai donc fait une capture d’écran que j’ai envoyée au FBI », a expliqué jeudi Ben Bennight, un utilisateur YouTube, à CNN.La police fédérale américaine a confirmé avoir reçu un signalement concernant ce commentaire en septembre 2017. « Le FBI a procédé à des recherches dans des bases de données, mais n’a pas été capable d’identifier avec plus de précisions la personne qui a posté ce commentaire », a déclaré l’agence dans un communiqué. Ben Bennight a expliqué au site BuzzFeed News qu’au lendemain de sa signalisation, des agents du FBI se sont rendus à son bureau pour lui demander s’il possédait plus d’informations sur l’utilisateur qui avait publié ce commentaire. Ouest France
La police fédérale américaine a reconnu ce vendredi ne pas avoir pris les mesures qui s’imposaient après avoir été avertie en janvier de la dangerosité potentielle de Nikolas Cruz, l’homme qui a tué mercredi 17 personnes dans un lycée de Floride. Le FBI a précisé avoir reçu un appel d’un proche de M. Cruz, qui a décrit le comportement déviant du jeune homme de 19 ans et son intention de tuer des personnes. Cette information « aurait dû être traitée comme une menace potentielle » et « la procédure en vigueur n’a pas été respectée », a ajouté le FBI. Un utilisateur YouTube confiait jeudi à BuzzFeed avoir lui aussi signalé le tireur aux autorités. Il avait repéré sur la plateforme de vidéos en ligne un commentaire explicite du jeune homme de 19 ans qui assurait vouloir commettre une fusillade dans un lycée. L’informateur, qui n’a pas été identifié, a également livré au téléphone des détails sur le fait que Cruz était armé et qu’il publiait des messages menaçants sur les réseaux sociaux. Ouest France
No, there have not been 18 school shootings already this year, as CNBC, Politico, The Washington Post, ABC, The (New York) Daily News and briefly a USA TODAY column all reported in the hours since a 19-year-old allegedly slaughtered 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., on Ash Wednesday. Fake stats like that make finding a solution to the real problem of gun violence, which has actually struck American schools at least six times this year, that much harder. Amping up fears, and muddying the search for fixes that can cut back the senseless violence, only undermines efforts to reconcile the real concerns of parents and the legitimate desire of civil rights advocates to protect the Bill of Rights. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun-control advocacy group responsible for spreading this bogus statistic, should be ashamed of its blatant dishonesty. When parents hear the words “school shooting,” their hearts freeze and their heads fill with images of Sandy Hook: dead and dying grade-schoolers, broken and bleeding in a classroom, helpless teachers crying over their charges and slain colleagues as a black-clad killer switches magazines in his AR-15. That’s mostly not what Everytown is talking about. (…) By Everytown’s criteria, nobody has to be injured and the “shooting” doesn’t actually have to take place on campus, though it does have to be heard on campus or a bullet has to hit somewhere on campus. David Mastio (USA Today)
A tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) including the claim had been liked more than 45,000 times by Thursday evening, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield had cracked 126,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did performers Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations — including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Time, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and HuffPost — also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.” (…) Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students. Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20, when at 1 a.m. a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. A week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. No one was injured, and it was past 8 p.m., well after classes had ended for the day, but Everytown still labeled it a school shooting. (…) Sarah Tofte, Everytown’s research director, calls the definition “crystal clear,” noting that “every time a gun is discharged on school grounds it shatters the sense of safety” for students, parents and the community. (…) After The Washington Post published this report, Everytown removed the Jan. 3 suicide outside the closed Michigan school. The figures matter because gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks and other legislation. Gun rights groups seize on the faults in the data to undermine those arguments and, similarly, present skewed figures of their own. (…) Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury. Three others appeared to be intentional shootings but did not hurt anyone. Two more involved guns — one carried by a school police officer and the other by a licensed peace officer who ran a college club — that were unintentionally fired and, again, led to no injuries. At least seven of Everytown’s 18 shootings took place outside normal school hours. (…) A month ago, for example, a group of college students were at a meeting of a criminal-justice club in Texas when a student accidentally fired a real gun, rather than a training weapon. The bullet went through a wall, then a window. Though no one was hurt, it left the student distraught. Is that a school shooting, though? Yes, Everytown says. “Since 2013,” the organization says on its website, “there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.” But since Everytown began its tracking, it has included these dubious examples — in August 2013, a man shot on a Tennessee high school’s property at 2 a.m.; in December 2014, a man shot in his car late one night and discovered the next day in a Pennsylvania elementary school’s parking lot; in August 2015, a man who climbed atop the roof of an empty Texas school on a Sunday morning and fired sporadically; in January 2016, a man in an Indiana high school parking lot whose gun accidentally went off in his glove box, before any students had arrived on campus; in December 2017, two teens in Washington state who shot up a high school just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, when the building was otherwise empty. (…) About 6 p.m. Jan. 10, a bullet probably fired from off campus hit the window of a building at a college in Southern California. No one was hurt, but students could still have been frightened. Classes were canceled, rooms were locked down and police searched campus for the gunman, who was never found. On Feb. 5, a police officer was sitting on a bench in a Minnesota school gym when a third-grader accidentally pulled the trigger of his holstered pistol, firing a round into the floor. None of the four students in the gym were injured, but, again, the incident was probably scary. Washington Post
The original source of the figure is Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control advocacy organization, Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization arrives at the figure by defining a “school shooting” as any time a gun is fired at or near a school, college, or university, regardless of whether students are present or anyone is injured. In fact, if one counts only events where a shooter enters a school and shoots someone, there have been three school shootings, including yesterday’s. (The other spree shooting was in Kentucky and a murder happened at a school in Texas.)  (…) Everytown’s list includes incidents such as an adult committing suicide in the parking lot of a school that had long been closed down and gun violence in the neighborhood where California State University–San Bernardino is located (it is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country, with California’s second-highest murder rate.) While such acts are obviously cause for concern in their own right, all that conflating these incidents with “school shootings” does is to create a climate of terror. Suicide and violent crime are very real social problems, but they are not the same thing as school shootings. Yesterday’s events are horrific enough on their own. There’s no need to amplify them by manipulating the public with falsehoods. National Review
On the U.S. part of his claim, Greenfield told us his 18 school shootings in 2018 comes from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, as reported by ABC News. We found that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Politico, TIME, CNBC and other national media also reported on Everytown’s 18 figure. In addition, the New York Daily News claimed 18 school shootings, listing the same incidents as Everytown, and HuffPost reported 18, too. But (…) when we asked Greenfield for information to back up his claim, he noted to us in his email that the Everytown group’s count « conflates very different incidents, from the harmless to the deadly. » (…) Everytown, an advocacy group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that seeks to prevent gun violence, uses a broad definition of school shooting — that is, any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building, or on a school campus or grounds. Its database includes incidents when no one was injured; attempted or completed suicide, with no intent to injure others; and cases when a gun was fired unintentionally, resulting in injury or death. The list also includes incidents on college campuses. [and] counts shooting incidents that are dramatically different than what happened in Florida (…) 18 incidents in which a gun was fired inside a school or on school property. Three — Italy, Texas, Kentucky and Florida — were mass shootings. But of the other shootings: Nine involved no deaths and no gunshot injuries. Two were suicides, with no other injuries (including the one at the closed school). Three were unintentional (although one caused injuries). (…) as for the other part of Greenfield’s claim — that there have been only 18 school shootings in the rest of the world over the past 20 years — Greenfield told us he couldn’t recall the source of that information, adding, « yes, I cop to insufficient research. » (…) About 24 hours after posting the tweet, Greenfield took it down. PolitiFact

Attention: une « fake news » peut en cacher une autre !

Fusillades de masse avec victimes (3), coups de feu sans victimes (9), tirs accidentels avec victimes (1), tirs accidentels sans victimes (3, y compris hors des classes ou des heures de cours), suicides ou tentatives sans intention de faire d’autres victimes (2 dont celui d’un adulte dans le parking d’une école désaffectée depuis plus de six mois) …

Alors qu’avec une nouvelle fusillade de lycée américaine …

Nos médias et nos belles âmes repartent comme un seul homme  …

Entre deux dénonciations des « fake news » du président Donald Trump …

Dans leur sempiternelle condamnation d’un « Far west » américain …

Qui arbre cachant commodément la véritable forêt de la violence entre noirs

Aurait fait en 45 jours pas moins de 18 attaques du même type …

Pendant que, sans compter la question de l’entrée dans un établissement scolaire d’un tueur porteur d’un sac bourré d’armes et de munitions, se confirme la défaillance d’un FBI

Qui apparemment trop occupé par la prétendue collusion du président avec la Russie …

N’avait même pas pris la peine d’investiguer sérieusement le signalement d’un jeune …

Qui annonçait sur Facebook l’an dernier sa vocation de « professionnel de la tuerie en milieu scolaire »

Devinez ce qu’inclut ce fameux chiffre de 18 fusillades dans les établissements scolaires américains depuis le début de l’année ?

Mostly False: 18 U.S. school shootings so far in 2018 and 18 in rest of the world over past 20 years

Amid the early news reports about a Florida school shooting that left 17 dead on Feb. 14, 2018, longtime network TV journalist and author Jeff Greenfield declared in a tweet:

In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1.

It’s a provocative claim that drew more the 130,000 likes on Twitter.

Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, may be on the right track generally in contrasting how much gun violence there is in America compared to the rest of the world.

But as for his specific claim, he leaves a misleading impression with the U.S. part and lacks evidence for the part about the rest of the world.

U.S. school shootings

On the U.S. part of his claim, Greenfield told us his 18 school shootings in 2018 comes from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, as reported by ABC News.

We found that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Politico, TIME, CNBC and other national media also reported on Everytown’s 18 figure. In addition, the New York Daily News claimed 18 school shootings, listing the same incidents as Everytown, and HuffPost reported 18, too.

But there are some major caveats to that figure.

Indeed, when we asked Greenfield for information to back up his claim, he noted to us in his email that the Everytown group’s count « conflates very different incidents, from the harmless to the deadly. »

As PolitiFact National has reported, Everytown, an advocacy group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that seeks to prevent gun violence, uses a broad definition of school shooting — that is, any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building, or on a school campus or grounds. Its database includes incidents when no one was injured; attempted or completed suicide, with no intent to injure others; and cases when a gun was fired unintentionally, resulting in injury or death. The list also includes incidents on college campuses.

As we’ll see, Everytown counts shooting incidents that are dramatically different than what happened in Florida:

2018 U.S. school shootings as counted by Everytown

Date Place Details
Jan. 3 East Olive Elementary, St. Johns, Mich. Man committed suicide in parking lot. No other injuries.

(We found the building was not being used as a school, as East Olive had been shut down more than six months earlier.)

Jan. 4 New Start High, Seattle Unidentified shooter fired shots into building. No injuries.
Jan. 10 Grayson College, Denison, Texas Student unintentionally fired a bullet from gun legally possessed by an instructor that struck a wall. No injuries.
Jan. 10 Coronado Elementary, Sierra Vista, Ariz. Student committed suicide in bathroom. No other injuries.
Jan. 10 California State University, San Bernardino Gunshots, most likely fired from off campus, hit a campus building window. No injuries.
Jan. 15 Wiley College, Marshall, Texas Shots fired from car in parking lot, with one shot hitting window of residence hall. No injuries.
Jan. 20 Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. One student wounds another student during argument at sorority party.
Jan. 22 Italy High, Italy, Texas Student opens fire in cafeteria, wounding one student before firing at another student and missing.
Jan. 22 NET Charter High, Gentilly, La. Unknown person fired shots at students standing in parking lot. No injuries from gunshots.
Jan. 23 Marshall County High, Benton, Ky. 2 students left dead in mass shooting by student. More than a dozen students injured.
Jan. 25 Murphy High, Mobile, Ala. Student fired into the air outside school after argument in school. No injuries.
Jan. 26 Dearborn High, Dearborn, Mich. Individual ejected from game for fighting was shot at in parking lot. No injuries.
Jan. 31 Lincoln High, Philadelphia Man fatally wounded in fight in parking lot.
Feb. 1 Salvador B. Castro Middle, Los Angeles Student unintentionally fires gun in classroom, wounds two students.
Feb. 5 Oxon Hill High, Oxon Hill, Md. Student wounded in parking lot during apparent robbery.
Feb. 5 Harmony Learning K-12, Maplewood, Minn. Student pressed trigger on school liaison officer’s gun. No injuries.
Feb. 8 Metropolitan High, New York, N.Y. Student fired gun into floor in classroom. No injuries.
Feb. 14 Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland, Fla. Ex-student allegedly commits mass shooting; 17 deaths.

So, there are 18 incidents in which a gun was fired inside a school or on school property.

Three — Italy, Texas, Kentucky and Florida — were mass shootings.

But of the other shootings:

  • Nine involved no deaths and no gunshot injuries.
  • Two were suicides, with no other injuries (including the one at the closed school).
  • Three were unintentional (although one caused injuries).

Rest of the world

As PolitiFact National has noted, mass shootings do happen in other countries. But they do not happen with the same frequency as in the United States.

Two researchers — Jaclyn Schildkraut of the State University of New York in Oswego and H. Jaymi Elsass of Texas State University — analyzed mass shootings in 11 countries, covering the period from 2000-14. Aside from the United States, they looked at Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland.

The United States had more mass shootings — and more people cumulatively killed or injured — than the other 10 nations combined, according to their research. While part of this is because the United States has a much bigger population than all but China, the difference can’t be explained by skewed population numbers alone.

But as for the other part of Greenfield’s claim — that there have been only 18 school shootings in the rest of the world over the past 20 years — Greenfield told us he couldn’t recall the source of that information, adding, « yes, I cop to insufficient research. »

Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive (which the New York Times uses to track school shooting data), told us the 18-shootings figure could be correct in terms of how many mass shootings occur in schools outside of the United States that get widespread news coverage.

But Bryant said there is no way to know — based on the definition of school shootings that Greenfield relies on — how many such shootings occur around the globe.

About 24 hours after posting the tweet, Greenfield took it down.

Our rating

In the wake of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead, Greenfield said: « In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1. »

By one count widely cited in the news media, there have been 18 incidents in which shots were fired inside or outside of a school or university building in the United States so far in 2018. But only three involved a mass shooting. And the count includes two suicides, three accidental shootings and nine incidents in which there were no fatalities or injuries.

As for the rest of the world, Greenfield had no evidence to back up that part of his claim. And an expert relied on by the New York Times for gun violence statistics told us there is no way to know how many school shootings — using the definition Greenfield relies on — have occurred outside of the United States over the past 20 years.

For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

Voir aussi:

There Were Three School Shootings This Year, Not 18. That’s Still Too Many.

Jibran Khan

National review

February 15, 2018

Any number of school shootings is too many. And, at this time when we are so rightly hurting at yesterday’s brutality in Parkland, Fla., a sensationalist report has gone viral, claiming that there have been 18 such acts this year alone. The factoid has been promoted by countless major media and political figures, as well as by celebrities. Indeed, such a number would mean an unprecedented crisis. But it’s not true. The original source of the figure is Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control advocacy organization, Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization arrives at the figure by defining a “school shooting” as any time a gun is fired at or near a school, college, or university, regardless of whether students are present or anyone is injured. In fact, if one counts only events where a shooter enters a school and shoots someone, there have been three school shootings, including yesterday’s. (The other spree shooting was in Kentucky and a murder happened at a school in Texas.) This information is viewable on Everytown’s site itself, as a click on any location reveals the details and news sources of the incident in question. Everytown’s list includes incidents such as an adult committing suicide in the parking lot of a school that had long been closed down and gun violence in the neighborhood where California State University–San Bernardino is located (it is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country, with California’s second-highest murder rate.) While such acts are obviously cause for concern in their own right, all that conflating these incidents with “school shootings” does is to create a climate of terror. Suicide and violent crime are very real social problems, but they are not the same thing as school shootings. Yesterday’s events are horrific enough on their own. There’s no need to amplify them by manipulating the public with falsehoods.

Voir également:

No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.
John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich

Washington Post

February 15, 2018

The stunning number swept across the Internet within minutes of the news Wednesday that, yet again, another young man with another semiautomatic rifle had rampaged through a school, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida.

The figure originated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group, co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, that works to prevent gun violence and is most famous for its running tally of school shootings.

“This,” the organization tweeted at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday, “is the 18th school shooting in the U.S. in 2018.”

A tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) including the claim had been liked more than 45,000 times by Thursday evening, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield had cracked 126,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did performers Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations — including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Time, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and HuffPost — also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong.

At least 17 people were killed in a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. According to officials, this is how and when the events occurred. (Melissa Macaya, Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20, when at 1 a.m. a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. A week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. No one was injured, and it was past 8 p.m., well after classes had ended for the day, but Everytown still labeled it a school shooting.

Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

Sarah Tofte, Everytown’s research director, calls the definition “crystal clear,” noting that “every time a gun is discharged on school grounds it shatters the sense of safety” for students, parents and the community.

She said she and her colleagues work to reiterate those parameters in their public messaging. But the organization’s tweets and Facebook posts seldom include that nuance. Just once in 2018, on Feb. 2, has the organization clearly explained its definition on Twitter. And Everytown rarely pushes its jarring totals on social media immediately after the more questionable shootings, as it does with those that are high-profile and undeniable, such as the Florida massacre or one from last month in Kentucky that left two students dead and at least 18 people injured.

After The Washington Post published this report, Everytown removed the Jan. 3 suicide outside the closed Michigan school.

The figures matter because gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks and other legislation. Gun rights groups seize on the faults in the data to undermine those arguments and, similarly, present skewed figures of their own.

Gun violence is a crisis in the United States, especially for children, and a huge number — one that needs no exaggeration — have been affected by school shootings. An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. That figure, which comes from a review of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures and news stories, is a conservative calculation and does not include dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed youths to gunfire.

Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury. Three others appeared to be intentional shootings but did not hurt anyone. Two more involved guns — one carried by a school police officer and the other by a licensed peace officer who ran a college club — that were unintentionally fired and, again, led to no injuries. At least seven of Everytown’s 18 shootings took place outside normal school hours.

Shootings of any kind, of course, can be traumatic, regardless of whether they cause physical harm.

A month ago, for example, a group of college students were at a meeting of a criminal-justice club in Texas when a student accidentally fired a real gun, rather than a training weapon. The bullet went through a wall, then a window. Though no one was hurt, it left the student distraught.

Is that a school shooting, though? Yes, Everytown says.

“Since 2013,” the organization says on its website, “there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.”

But since Everytown began its tracking, it has included these dubious examples — in August 2013, a man shot on a Tennessee high school’s property at 2 a.m.; in December 2014, a man shot in his car late one night and discovered the next day in a Pennsylvania elementary school’s parking lot; in August 2015, a man who climbed atop the roof of an empty Texas school on a Sunday morning and fired sporadically; in January 2016, a man in an Indiana high school parking lot whose gun accidentally went off in his glove box, before any students had arrived on campus; in December 2017, two teens in Washington state who shot up a high school just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, when the building was otherwise empty.

In 2015, The Post’s Fact Checker awarded the group’s figures — invoked by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — four Pinocchios for misleading methodology.

Another database, the Gun Violence Archive, defines school shootings in much narrower terms, considering only those that take place during school hours or extracurricular activities.

Yet many journalists rely on Everytown’s data. Post media critic Erik Wemple included the 18 figure in a column Wednesday night, and Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’ podcast “The Daily,” used the number to punctuate the end of his Thursday show.

Much like trying to define a mass shooting, deciding what is and is not a school shooting can be difficult. Some obviously fit the common-sense definition: Last month, a teen in Texas opened fire in a school cafeteria, injuring a 15-year-old girl.

Others that Everytown includes on its list, though, are trickier to categorize.

About 6 p.m. Jan. 10, a bullet probably fired from off campus hit the window of a building at a college in Southern California. No one was hurt, but students could still have been frightened. Classes were canceled, rooms were locked down and police searched campus for the gunman, who was never found.

On Feb. 5, a police officer was sitting on a bench in a Minnesota school gym when a third-grader accidentally pulled the trigger of his holstered pistol, firing a round into the floor. None of the four students in the gym were injured, but, again, the incident was probably scary.

What is not in dispute is gun violence’s pervasiveness and its devastating impact on children. A recent study of World Health Organization data published in the American Journal of Medicine that found that, among high-income nations, 91 percent of children younger than 15 who were killed by bullets lived in the United States.

And the trends are only growing more dire.

On average, two dozen children are shot every day in the United States, and in 2016 more youths were killed by gunfire — 1,637 — than during any previous year this millennium.

Voir de même:

No, there have not been 18 school shootings already this year

Amping up fears only undermines efforts to reconcile parents and civil rights advocates who want to protect the Bill of Rights.

David Mastio

USA TODAY

Feb. 16, 2018

No, there have not been 18 school shootings already this year, as CNBC, Politico, The Washington Post, ABC, The (New York) Daily News and briefly a USA TODAY column all reported in the hours since a 19-year-old allegedly slaughtered 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., on Ash Wednesday.

Fake stats like that make finding a solution to the real problem of gun violence, which has actually struck American schools at least six times this year, that much harder. Amping up fears, and muddying the search for fixes that can cut back the senseless violence, only undermines efforts to reconcile the real concerns of parents and the legitimate desire of civil rights advocates to protect the Bill of Rights.

Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun-control advocacy group responsible for spreading this bogus statistic, should be ashamed of its blatant dishonesty. When parents hear the words “school shooting,” their hearts freeze and their heads fill with images of Sandy Hook: dead and dying grade-schoolers, broken and bleeding in a classroom, helpless teachers crying over their charges and slain colleagues as a black-clad killer switches magazines in his AR-15.

That’s mostly not what Everytown is talking about. At least when The Washington Post reported Everytown’s propaganda, it included some important caveats:

“That data point … includes any discharge of a firearm at a school — including accidents — as a ‘shooting.’ It also includes incidents that happened to take place at a school, whether students were involved or not.”

The Post should have kept including caveats. By Everytown’s criteria, nobody has to be injured and the “shooting” doesn’t actually have to take place on campus, though it does have to be heard on campus or a bullet has to hit somewhere on campus.

Some examples:

►On Jan. 3, a 31-year-old “military veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury and depression” shot himself in a school parking lot after he called police to report he was suicidal, according to the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. (Everytown removed this instance from their report after The Post found that the school had been closed down for months.)

►On Jan. 10, in Denison, Texas, at Grayson College Criminal Justice Center, a student mistook a real firearm belonging to an officer, who was authorized to carry the weapon, for a practice weapon and fired it into a wall. No one was killed or injured.

►On Feb. 5, in Maplewood, Minn., a third-grader pulled the trigger on a police gun while the officer was sitting on a bench. No one was killed or injured.

In eight of the 18 cases originally counted by Everytown, no one was injured or killed. Two were suicides.

Voir encore:

INFOGRAPHIES – Un certain fatalisme s’installe face à la récurrence de ces tragiques événements et l’impossibilité de changer la loi.

Barack Obama le déplorait lorsqu’il était encore président. Les fusillades meurtrières sont devenues une «routine». Depuis le début de l’année, 18 ont été enregistrées dans les établissements scolaires américains. Parmi elles, sept se sont soldées par des blessées ou des morts, comme mercredi à Parkland, en Floride. Sept depuis le début de l’année, cela représente une par semaine.

Un certain fatalisme s’est emparé d’une partie des Américains. Si la tuerie survenue mercredi fait bien la une de tous les grands sites d’information, les médias consacrent globalement moins de place à ce type d’événements que par le passé. Et ce malgré le bilan dramatique de 17 morts à Parkland.

Un rapport du FBI portant sur les fusillades de masse, établi sur 160 incidents étalés entre 2000 et 2013, montre que près d’un quart se déroule dans l’environnement scolaire. Et la tendance est à l’augmentation. L’agent qui l’a rédigée affichait il y a peu son pessimisme dans les colonnes du New York Times : «Nous sommes devenus insensibles à ce genre de fusillades, et je pense que cela continuera […] À chaque fois qu’on tire dans une école, on réagit de manière viscérale. Mais au fond, je ne pense pas que la société n’aborde la question des fusillades plus sérieusement qu’avant, et c’est un tort.»

290 fusillades dans les écoles depuis 2013

L’ONG Everytown for gun safety répertorie les incidents liés aux armes à feux dans les écoles. Elle en relève 290 depuis 2013. En reprenant ces chiffres année par année, on constate une progression assez claire. Le début de l’année 2018 laisse craindre que cette hausse ne sera pas enrayée.

Dans 55% des cas, la fusillade entraîne des morts et des blessés et dans 24% des cas, elle ne fait aucune victime. Dans 4/5e des drames survenant dans les établissements scolaires donc, le tireur avait l’intention de nuire aux autres. Le reste regroupe les accidents et les suicides.

En détaillant ces chiffres par zone géographique, on se rend compte, sans surprise, que le Texas ou la Floride, États particulièrement laxistes sur la législation des armes à feu, occupent la tête du triste classement. On sait en effet qu’il existe une corrélation entre contrôle des armes à feu et nombre de morts.

Cette progression inquiétante du nombre de fusillades à l’école, associée au manque de volonté politique de faire changer les choses, induit cette banalisation et ce fatalisme face aux drames qui se répètent. Pendant son deuxième mandat, Barack Obama avait reconnu son impuissance face au lobby des armes, la NRA, estimant même que ce blocage serait la plus grande frustration de sa présidence. Cette résignation fataliste, qui gagne surtout les partisans d’une meilleure régulation, pourrait s’illustrer par ce dessin de presse:Le discours porté par le lobby des armes peut paraître, vu d’Europe, ubuesque. Il se résume bien souvent à réclamer davantage d’armes après chaque tuerie, estimant que si les personnes en avaient été munies, elles auraient été en capacité de se défendre, et donc de survivre. Un argument utilisé par Donald Trump, alors candidat à la primaire républicaine, lors des attentats de Paris en novembre 2015. Un autre dessin circulant sur les réseaux sociaux, émis par le lobby des armes, résume bien cette pensée:

Laurence Nardon, responsable du programme Amérique du Nord à l’Ifri, rappelle que la question relative aux armes est inhérente à l’histoire américaine. «En Europe, depuis le Moyen Âge, le contrat social veut que la sécurité soit déléguée à l’État. La déclaration d’indépendance américaine a été motivée par la question des taxes, mais aussi sur le droit de porter des armes, que réprouvait l’Angleterre. Dans la conception américaine, ce n’est plus uniquement à l’État d’assurer la sécurité mais également aux citoyens eux-mêmes. Cette question est devenue la pierre angulaire de la vision sociétale des conservateurs libertariens, notamment depuis leur radicalisation dans les années 1980. C’est le modèle du Far West. Et qu’est-ce que le Far West, sinon un système où il n’y a pas d’État?»

Actuellement, les États-Unis sont confrontés à une période de dérégulation très forte du droit de port d’arme, notamment à cause de l’influence de la NRA au Congrès. Tout n’est cependant pas gravé dans le marbre. Laurence Nardon rappelle que durant certaines périodes, la régulation des armes a été bien plus forte aux États-Unis qu’elle ne l’est aujourd’hui. Souvent à cause de tragiques événements: dans les années 1930 suite à la prohibition et à la volonté de contrôler la mafia, dans les années 1970 après plusieurs assassinats politiques ou encore dans les années 1990, à la suite de l’attentat contre Ronald Reagan. La chercheuse juge toutefois peu probable une inflexion de l’actuelle politique avant une trentaine d’années.

Voir de plus:

Un utilisateur de la plateforme de vidéos YouTube avait alerté le FBI l’an passé après avoir visionné un message posté par Nikolas Cruz, patronyme utilisé par le principal suspect de la fusillade de Parkland, qui a fait 17 morts. Dans ce dernier, le tireur menaçait explicitement sa volonté de commettre une fusillade dans un lycée.

« Je vais devenir un professionnel de la tuerie en milieu scolaire », avait écrit en commentaire d’une vidéo un abonné qui se faisait appeler Nikolas Cruz.

Il s’agirait du jeune homme de 19 ans qui a été inculpé ce jeudi après être revenu dans son ancien lycée à Pakland en Floride pour déclencher une fusillade faisant 17 morts.

Une capture écran envoyée au FBI

« Quand j’ai vu le commentaire dans mes notifications […], ça a attiré mon attention. J’en ai donc fait une capture d’écran que j’ai envoyée au FBI », a expliqué jeudi Ben Bennight, un utilisateur YouTube, à CNN.La police fédérale américaine a confirmé avoir reçu un signalement concernant ce commentaire en septembre 2017.

« Le FBI a procédé à des recherches dans des bases de données, mais n’a pas été capable d’identifier avec plus de précisions la personne qui a posté ce commentaire », a déclaré l’agence dans un communiqué.

Ben Bennight a expliqué au site BuzzFeed News qu’au lendemain de sa signalisation, des agents du FBI se sont rendus à son bureau pour lui demander s’il possédait plus d’informations sur l’utilisateur qui avait publié ce commentaire.

« Je n’en avais pas. Ils ont fait une copie de ma capture d’écran et c’est la dernière fois que j’ai entendu parler d’eux », a-t-il expliqué à BuzzFeed.

Voir enfin:

Fusillade

Fusillade en Floride. Averti sur le tireur, le FBI reconnaît une défaillance

Après la fusillade qui a fait 17 morts, mercredi, dans un lycée à Parkland en Floride, le FBI a reconnu une défaillance, alors que le tireur avait été signalé comme dangereux aux autorités.

La police fédérale américaine a reconnu ce vendredi ne pas avoir pris les mesures qui s’imposaient après avoir été avertie en janvier de la dangerosité potentielle de Nikolas Cruz, l’homme qui a tué mercredi 17 personnes dans un lycée de Floride.

Le tireur signalé au FBI par un proche

Le FBI a précisé avoir reçu un appel d’un proche de M. Cruz, qui a décrit le comportement déviant du jeune homme de 19 ans et son intention de tuer des personnes. Cette information « aurait dû être traitée comme une menace potentielle » et « la procédure en vigueur n’a pas été respectée », a ajouté le FBI.

Un utilisateur YouTube confiait jeudi à BuzzFeed avoir lui aussi signalé le tireur aux autorités. Il avait repéré sur la plateforme de vidéos en ligne un commentaire explicite du jeune homme de 19 ans qui assurait vouloir commettre une fusillade dans un lycée.

Le tireur avait été renvoyé du lycée

L’informateur, qui n’a pas été identifié, a également livré au téléphone des détails sur le fait que Cruz était armé et qu’il publiait des messages menaçants sur les réseaux sociaux.

Le jeune homme de 19 ans avait été renvoyé du lycée Marjory Stoneman Douglas, situé dans la ville de Parkland.Il a ouvert le feu mercredi au fusil semi-automatique dans les classes de cet établissement, ses balles fauchant une trentaine de personnes, dont 17 sont décédées, parmi lesquelles une majorité d’adolescents.

Face à la gravité de l’absence d’une enquête qui aurait pu empêcher ce massacre, le directeur du FBI, Christopher Wray, s’est engagé à « aller au fond du problème ». M. Wray s’est également dit prêt à revoir les procédures en place, dans une déclaration jointe au communiqué.

Une arme achetée dans une armurerie

Interpellé peu après sa fusillade, Nikolas Cruz a été écroué. Il est poursuivi pour 17 meurtres avec préméditation.

Lors d’une brève comparution jeudi devant une magistrate, M. Cruz est apparu prostré entre ses avocats, les membres entravés par des chaînes, avec un visage aux traits encore juvéniles.

Face aux enquêteurs, il a reconnu avoir mené son attaque avec un fusil d’assaut et des chargeurs de munitions qu’il avait légalement acquis dans une armurerie et qu’il transportait dans un sac à dos.

Réussissant à se fondre parmi les élèves évacués, il est ensuite allé s’acheter à boire dans une sandwicherie Subway, puis s’est arrêté dans un McDonald’s, avant d’être interpellé.

Le débat sur les armes à feu ressurgit

Ce rebondissement vient alourdir le climat pesant autour du déplacement attendu en Floride du président Donald Trump, que des proches des victimes du lycée de Parkland exhortent à agir contre les armes à feu.

Parmi les parents parvenant à surmonter leur désespoir pour s’exprimer devant les caméras, Lori Alhadeff a suscité une vive émotion par l’intensité de ses suppliques. Elle a perdu sa fille de 14 ans, Alyssa.

« Des actes ! Des actes ! Des actes ! », a-t-elle crié sur l’antenne de CNN, en interpellant directement le locataire de la Maison Blanche.

« Je viens de voir ma fille, au corps froid comme la glace. Elle a reçu des tirs dans le cœur, dans la tête, dans la main. Morte ! Froide ! Elle ne reviendra pas », a martelé Mme Alhadeff, à l’issue d’une veillée ayant rassemblé des milliers d’habitants.

Le président parle d’un acte de « déséquilibré »

Le président Trump, qui avait été activement soutenu dans sa campagne par les lobbys des armuriers, s’est pour l’instant gardé d’établir un lien entre la dissémination des armes à feu dans le pays et la fusillade qui a semé en quelques secondes la mort et le chaos au lycée Marjory Stoneman Douglas de Parkland.

À l’inverse, M. Trump a insisté sur les perturbations mentales de Nikolas Cruz, en soulignant vouloir porter ses efforts sur le terrain de la prise en charge des personnes souffrant de troubles psychiques.

« Je vais me rendre en Floride aujourd’hui pour rencontrer des gens parmi les plus courageux sur Terre – mais des gens dont les vies ont été totalement anéanties », a tweeté le président.

M. Trump n’a pas précisé quand il allait rencontrer les victimes, mais il a prévu de se rendre dans sa résidence de Mar-a-Lago, qui se trouve non loin de Parkland, pour le long week-end de President’s Day.

En tout cas, il est attendu de pied ferme. Le long de la route vers le lycée, des pancartes récemment posées affichent : « No guns 4 kids » (« Pas d’armes pour les enfants »).

Voir par ailleurs:

President Trump: Have Education Department Mandate Active Shooter Protocols

Townhall
|
Feb 15, 2018
I’m a small government guy, however, it’s sadly apparent that the United States of America is paralyzed with political indecision over something the State of Israel figured out more than 40 years ago: all schools should have mandated security features and active shooter protocols.The horrific scene in Parkland, and the upsetting videos broadcast from the school during the shooting, should be the final straw.  The kids should not have been hiding and screaming, they should have been in the midst of a pre-determined security protocol.President Trump, if the Department of Education can force Americans to deal with the disaster of Common Core, it can certainly issue a federal mandate regarding school security. The time is now.My personal manifesto is that government should never get involved in an issue unless an ongoing clear and present danger exists to large numbers of people, and that any regulation or legislation has a sunset provision.

Here we are.

In 1974, Israel endured the Ma’alot Massacre in which “Palestinian” terrorists took 115 people hostage at Netiv Meir Elementary School.  Twenty-two children and three others were killed and 68 injured.  Israel now requires schools with 100 or more students to have a guard posted. The civilian police force handles the entire security system of all schools from kindergarten through college.  The Ministry of Education funds shelters and fences, reinforces school buses, and hires and trains guards.

Guards don’t just stand around.  They check everyone entering, and engage threats.

And yeah, they’ve got guns.The lawful purposes for carrying guns are very clear: protect school personnel and students, create a sense of security, deter the ill-intentioned, and provide self-defense.

Common sense.   Except to the illogical dullards who claim that “adding guns to schools won’t fix anything” and are fixated on the NRA and the ridiculous notions that gun laws magically stop criminals and crazy people from obtaining one of the 300 million guns in our country.

But more to the point, Israel’s Police Community & Civil Guard Department have a preventative care program that encourages safe behavior and offers violence protection strategies in normal situations.  Yet students are also trained in how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Ben Goldstein, an American who made aliyah to Israel, and now serves as volunteer security and supporter of IDF soldiers, says America is behind the curve.  Nevertheless, he says, it doesn’t take much for students and teachers to protect themselves.

“Barricade, barricade. Are desks movable?  Is the teacher’s desk movable?  Can they barricade inside of 20 seconds? If the shooter gets in, the kids should take whatever they’ve got and attack.  They can’t just sit there frozen or they will die.  America does earthquake drills, why not active shooter drills?   More kids have been killed by shooters than earthquakes.”

Barricading works, says Goldstein.In an active shooter situation, where a gunman is roaming a campus, five minutes is a lifetime, enough time for law enforcement to get to the scene.  “In those five minutes, the shooter will have to move from class to class, reload, clear malfunctions, all that stuff takes time.  And during gunfire lulls, kids must be taught to do something.  Don’t freeze.Moving once gets you out of that deer-in-headlights space.  Take command of the classroom.”

There is no other way, says Goldstein, and “sometimes children must take matters into their own hands.If the school has no proper security – two guards in case one gets shot, and no active shooter protocol, and no doors to withstand an attack – then the child needs to run as fast as they can AWAY from the shooter.”

Because right now, America is the deer-in-headlights.  Gun control debates are a distraction and impractical, and criminals ignore laws anyway.Crazy people are obviously not being dealt with properly – students at Parkland even predicted this would happen.

The only solution is for America to toughen up.  We have a pugilist for a president, and that is long overdue.  Now its time for President Trump to fight for our children by wielding government power in the proper manner, to do something that any reasoned American would agree with.

Instead of handing out participation trophies, let’s make our kids into the self-reliant, pro-active defenders of themselves and others.

Mr. President, the time is now.

COMPLEMENT:

School shootings are not the new normal, despite statistics that stretch the truth

If you think that our schools are under siege like never before, take a statistical trip back in time.

James Alan Fox

USA Today

Feb. 19, 2018

With the high school massacre in Parkland, Fla., several days gone but hardly forgotten, the time seems right to examine closely some of the statistical hype that made frightening news alongside details of the horrific shooting.

In print and on TV, Americans were bombarded with facts and figures suggesting that the problem of school shootings was out of control. We were informed, for example, that since 2013 there has been an average of one school shooting a week in the U.S., and 18 since the beginning of this year. While these statistics were not exactly lies or fake news, they involved stretching the definition of a school shooting well beyond the limits of most people’s imagination.

Everytown for Gun Safety reported that there have been 290 school shootings since the catastrophic massacre in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago. However, very few of these were anything akin to Sandy Hook or Parkland. Sure, they all involved a school of some type (including technical schools and colleges) as well as a firearm, but the outcomes were hardly similar. Nearly half of the 290 were completed or attempted suicides, accidental discharges of a gun, or shootings with not a single individual being injured. Of the remainder, the vast majority involved either one fatality or none at all.

It is easy to believe that school shootings are the “new normal” as has been intimated, or that we are facing a crisis of epidemic proportions. When schools are placed on lockdown based on an active shooter alert (which many times is a false alarm), cable news channels immediately inform their viewers of the danger, and word is tweeted and retweeted to millions, most of whom have no direct connection to the event.

And when gunshots ring out, we hear the sounds replayed from cellphone recordings and watch through satellite feed as terrified survivors flee the scene. It makes a lasting impression, to be sure.

For all those who believe that schools are under siege like never before, it is instructive to take a statistical road trip back in time.

Since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at elementary and secondary schools in which two or more people were killed, not counting those perpetrators who committed suicide.

Whereas five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland), the latter half of the 1990s witnessed seven multiple-fatality shootings with a total of 33 killed (13 at Columbine).

In fact, the 1997-98 school year was so awful, with four multiple-fatality shooting sprees at the hands of armed students (in Pearl, Miss.; West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore.), that then-President Clinton formed a White House expert committee to advise him. Nearly a decade later, President Bush convened a White House Conference on School Safety in the wake of multiple-fatality incidents during his administration.

Of course, I don’t mean to minimize any of the one-per week on average school shootings, but they should not be conflated with the most deadly but rare events.

Unfortunately, most readers and viewers don’t appreciate the distinction when statistics including non-fatal school shootings are cited whenever there is mass killing at a school.

Notwithstanding the occasional multiple-fatality shooting that takes place at one of the 100,000 public schools across America, the nation’s schools are safe. Over the past quarter-century, on average about 10 students are slain in school shootings annually.

Compare the school fatality rate with the more than 100 school-age children accidentally killed each year riding theirbikes or walking to school. Congress might be too timid to pass gun legislation to protect children, but how about a national bicycle helmet law for minors? Half of the states do not require them. There is no NRA — National Riding Association — opposing that.

I’m all for shielding our kids from harm. But let’s at least deal with the low hanging fruit while we debate and Congress does nothing about the role of guns in school shootings.

James Alan Fox is the Lipman Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and co-author of Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder.


Antisémitisme: C’est un Juif qui rencontre un autre Arabe (Happy as God in France: Guess the origins of France’s no.1 TV host and radio personality ?)

14 février, 2018
https://i2.wp.com/i.f1g.fr/media/eidos/orig/2017/12/20/XVMe43dfed6-e584-11e7-9ed5-769ce2ed529d-805x453.jpghttps://www.tuxboard.com/photos/2016/01/classement-personnalites-preferees-des-francais-2016.jpg
Le salut vient des Juifs. Jésus (Jean 4:22)
 Et ces commandements, que je te donne aujourd’hui, seront dans ton coeur. Tu les inculqueras à tes enfants. Deutéronome 6: 6-7
Fais de l’étude de la Torah ta principale occupation. Shammaï (10 avant JC)
Combattez ceux qui rejettent Allah et le jugement dernier et qui ne respectent pas Ses interdits ni ceux de Son messager, et qui ne suivent pas la vraie Religion quand le Livre leur a été apporté, (Combattez-les) jusqu’à ce qu’ils payent tribut de leurs mains et se considèrent infériorisés. Coran 9:29
C’était une cité fortement convoitée par les ennemis de la foi et c’est pourquoi, par une sorte de syndrome mimétique, elle devint chère également au cœur des Musulmans. Emmanuel Sivan
De même que pour les juifs, ce sont les mêmes qui dénoncent les sorcières et qui recourent à leurs services. Tous les persécuteurs attribuent à leurs victimes une nocivité susceptible de se retourner en positivité et vice versa. René Girard
Certains trouvent encore intolérable d’admettre que le peuple juif se soit trouvé, à trois reprises, plus ou moins volontairement, un élément essentiel au patrimoine de l’humanité: le monothéisme, le marché et les lieux saints. Car il n’est pas faux de dire, même si c’est schématique, que les juifs ont été mis en situation d’avoir à prêter aux deux autres monothéismes, et à les partager avec eux, leur dieu, leur argent et leurs lieux saints. Et comme la meilleure façon de ne pas rembourser un créancier, c’est de le diaboliser et de l’éliminer, ceux qui, dans le christianisme et l’islam, n’acceptent toujours pas cette dette à l’égard du judaïsme, se sont, à intervalles réguliers, acharnés à le détruire, attendant pour recommencer que le souvenir de l’élimination précédente se soit estompé. Jacques Attali
Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals, of whom at least 22% (without peace prize over 24%) were Jews, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% in medicine, 26% in Physics, 19% in Chemistry, 13% in Literature and 9% of all peace awards… Wikipedia
Ainsi partit le paysan, En traversant la nuit des temps A la recherche d’une terre. « Mes bras sont forts, j’ai du courage. J’accepte même un marécage… « Il ne trouva que des barrières. « T’es pas d’ici, t’as un accent. Fais-toi prêteur, fais-toi marchand Mais tu n’auras jamais de terre. On se méfie de ton trésor, Ton étoile d’or…  » Faute d’avoir un champ de blé, L’homme se mit à cultiver Son petit champ dedans sa tête. On le vit scribe et puis docteur Puis violoniste et professeur, Peintre, savant ou bien poète… Herbert Pagani
L’Âge moderne est l’Âge des Juifs, et le XXe siècle est le Siècle des Juifs. La modernité signifie que chacun d’entre nous devient urbain, mobile, éduqué, professionnellement flexible. Il ne s’agit plus de cultiver les champs ou de surveiller les troupeaux, mais de cultiver les hommes et de veiller sur les symboles […] En d’autres termes, la modernité, c’est le fait que nous sommes tous devenus juifs. Yuri Slezkine
En fait, ce que nous avons voulu démontrer, ma collègue Maristella Botticini, de la Bocconi, et moi, c’est que l’obligation d’étudier a un coût, et oblige donc l’individu rationnel à rechercher une compensation pour obtenir un retour sur investissement. Dans le cas des juifs, le problème se pose après la destruction du Temple de Jérusalem, en 70 de l’ère courante. La caste des prêtres qui constituait alors l’élite perd le pouvoir au profit de la secte des pharisiens, qui accorde une grande importance à l’étude. C’est de cette secte que vont sortir les grands rabbis, ceux qui vont pousser les juifs à se concentrer sur l’étude de la Torah, un texte dont la tradition veut qu’elle ait été écrite par Moïse sous la dictée de Dieu. Vers l’an 200, obligation est ainsi faite aux pères de famille d’envoyer leurs fils dès l’âge de 6 ans à l’école rabbinique pour apprendre à lire et étudier la fameuse Torah. Or l’essentiel des juifs sont des paysans, et pour les plus pauvres, cette obligation pèse très lourd car elle les prive de bras pour travailler aux champs. Beaucoup vont alors préférer se convertir au christianisme, d’où, on le voit dans les statistiques de l’époque, une baisse drastique de la population juive au Proche-Orient à partir du IIIe siècle alors que, jusqu’à la destruction du Temple, cette religion était en augmentation constante et multipliait les convertis. Pour ceux qui ont accepté le sacrifice financier que représente la dévotion, il va s’agir de valoriser leur effort. Or autour d’eux, ni les chrétiens ni, plus tard, les musulmans n’imposent à leurs enfants d’apprendre à lire et à écrire. Les juifs bénéficient donc d’un avantage compétitif important. C’est ainsi un juif converti à l’islam qui a servi de scribe à Mahomet et aurait mis par écrit pour la première fois le Coran. (…) Notre étude, fondée sur l’évolution économique et démographique du peuple juif, de l’Antiquité à la découverte de l’Amérique, remet en cause en fait la plupart des théories avancées jusqu’ici. Si les juifs sont médecins, juristes ou banquiers plus souvent qu’à leur tour, ce n’est pas parce qu’ils sont persécutés et condamnés à s’exiler régulièrement, comme l’a avancé l’économiste Gary Becker, ou parce qu’ils n’avaient pas le droit d’être agriculteurs, comme l’a soutenu Cecil Roth. Car si dans certains pays, on les a empêchés de posséder des terres, c’était bien après qu’ils aient massivement abandonné l’agriculture, et s’ils ont pu être persécutés, cela ne justifie pas qu’ils soient devenus médecins ou juristes : les Samaritains, très proches des juifs et eux aussi traités comme des parias, sont demeurés paysans. De même, contrairement à ce que dit Max Weber, ce n’est pas parce qu’un juif ne peut pas être paysan du fait des exigences de la Loi juive. Les juifs du temps du Christ la respectaient alors qu’ils étaient majoritairement occupés à des travaux agricoles et à la pêche. C’est dans l’Orient musulman, sous les Omeyyades et les Abbassides, à un moment où ils sont particulièrement valorisés, que les juifs s’installent massivement dans les villes et embrassent des carrières citadines. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’ils peuvent alors tirer parti du fait d’être lettrés. D’un point de vue purement économique, il est alors beaucoup plus rentable de devenir marchand ou scientifique que de labourer la terre. D’où notre théorie : si les juifs sont devenus citadins et ont occupé des emplois indépendants de l’agriculture, c’est d’abord parce qu’ils étaient formés. Et s’ils étaient formés, c’est que leur religion exigeait qu’ils le soient. (…) ces professions étaient beaucoup plus rentables que le travail de paysan. Pour un juif du Moyen Âge, l’apprentissage de la Torah allait de pair avec le fait de faire des affaires. Rachi, le grand commentateur du Talmud, était un entrepreneur qui possédait des vignes. Ses quatre fils, tous érudits, se sont installés dans quatre villes différentes où ils ont tous fait du business, notamment de prêts d’argent, tout en étant rabbins. Grâce à leur connaissance des langues et leurs réseaux familiaux, les juifs ont pu rentabiliser leur formation, le fait de savoir lire et écrire, mais aussi raisonner, plus aisément que d’autres communautés. (…) Il est essentiel que la culture fasse partie intégrante de l’éducation quotidienne. Et en cela, la mère joue un rôle essentiel, toutes les études le montrent. C’est elle qui transmet les valeurs fondamentales. La probabilité que vous alliez à l’université est plus importante si votre mère a été elle-même à l’université. Donc, le fait que la mère ait un minimum d’éducation a représenté très tôt un avantage compétitif par rapport aux autres communautés religieuses où la femme n’en recevait pas. Nous étudions actuellement la période allant de la Renaissance à l’Holocauste. Et nous avons déjà découvert ceci : en Pologne, au XVIIe siècle, la population juive a fortement progressé par rapport à la population chrétienne. Pourquoi ? Tout simplement parce que la mortalité infantile y était plus faible. Conformément à l’enseignement du Talmud, les enfants bénéficiaient en effet d’un soin tout particulier. Les femmes gardaient leur enfant au sein plus longtemps que les chrétiennes, et elles s’en occupaient elles-mêmes. Voilà un exemple tout simple des effets que peut avoir l’éducation. Zvi Eckstein
Pour faire face au danger que le christianisme et la romanisation faisaient courir à la survie du judaïsme, les Pharisiens imposèrent une nouvelle forme de dévotion. Tout chef de famille, pour rester fidèle à la foi judaïque, se devait d’envoyer ses fils à l’école talmudique, afin de perpétuer et d’approfondir, par un travail cumulatif de commentaire, la connaissance de la Torah. Cette nouvelle obligation religieuse a eu des répercussions socio-économiques considérables. Envoyer ses fils à l’école représentait un investissement coûteux qui n’était pas à la portée de la majorité des juifs, simples paysans comme les autres populations du Moyen-Orient au milieu desquelles ils vivaient. Ceux qui n’en avaient pas les moyens et restèrent paysans, s’éloignèrent du judaïsme. Ils  se convertirent souvent au christianisme.  C’est ce qui explique l’effondrement de la population juive durant l’Antiquité tardive. Ceux qui tenaient au contraire à remplir leurs obligations religieuses, durent choisir des métiers plus rémunérateurs. Ils devinrent commerçants, artisans, médecins et surtout financiers. Les juifs ne se sont pas tournés vers ces métiers urbains parce qu’on leur interdisait l’accès à la terre, comme on l’a dit souvent, mais pour pouvoir gagner plus d’argent et utiliser en même temps leurs compétences de lettrés. Ils étaient capables désormais de tenir des comptes, écrire des ordres de paiement, etc… (…) S’ils s’imposent partout dans le crédit, ce n’est pas parce que l’Eglise interdisait aux chrétiens le prêt à intérêt (en réalité l’islam et le judaïsme lui imposaient des restrictions comme le christianisme), mais parce qu’ils ont à la fois la compétence et le réseau pour assurer le crédit, faire circuler les ordres de paiements et les marchandises précieuses du fond du monde musulman aux confins de la chrétienté.  (…) c’est souvent à la demande des seigneurs ou évêques locaux qu’ils étaient venus s’installer dans les villes chrétiennes, parce qu’on recherchait leur savoir faire pour développer les échanges et l’activité bancaire. Les premières mesures d’expulsion des juifs par des princes chrétiens à la fin du XIII° siècle semblent avoir été guidées par la volonté de mettre la main sur leurs richesses beaucoup plus que par le désir de les convertir. (…) C’est pour des raisons religieuses que le judaïsme s’est imposé brusquement un investissement éducatif coûteux qui le singularise parmi les grandes religions du livre. Car ni le Christianisme qui  s’est donné une élite particulière, à l’écart du monde, vouée à la culture écrite, ni l’Islam n’ont imposé à leur peuple de croyants un tel investissement dans l’alphabétisation. Cet investissement a eu l’effet d’une véritable sélection darwinienne.  Il a provoqué une réorientation complète de l’activité économique du monde juif  en même temps  qu’il faisait fondre sa masse démographique. Il a surtout fait fleurir, par le miracle de l’éducation, des aptitudes intellectuelles précieuses qui en ont fait durablement une minorité recherchée et jalousée. André Burguière
Nous vivons une époque formidable, celle de l’indistinction. Aussi certains intellectuels ne savent-ils plus toujours si les propos antisémites, sexistes, homophobes ou encore xénophobes font partie des opinions ouvertes à la discussion ou, à l’opposé, sont condamnables au nom des droits humains ou, plus simplement, des principes de la démocratie. Mais c’est justement une incompréhension fondamentale sur la nature de cette dernière qui autorise cette interrogation. Tocqueville avait utilement alerté sur cette question: dans une société démocratique, expliquait-il, les individus vouent un véritable culte à l’égalité qui constitue une passion dominante. Ainsi «les théories conduisant à la conclusion que toutes les opinions doivent être respectées et traitées sur une base égalitaire, voire considérées comme équivalentes, tendent à être l’objet d’une attention sélective et à être retenues en priorité» (Raymond Boudon, «Les deux sociologies de la connaissance scientifique»). Ainsi, le fondamental principe d’égalité se corrompt trop souvent dans le désir, plus ou moins avoué, d’indistinction. Cette pente est particulièrement redoutable puisqu’elle incite au scepticisme radical, et elle tend à considérer l’éthique et l’épistémologie comme des illusions. La démocratie, qui, à beaucoup d’égards, peut être définie comme une organisation des séparations (par exemple du politique et de l’ethnico-religieux), a tout à perdre à promouvoir l’indistinct. C’est à l’aune de l’indistinction que nous pouvons comprendre l’apparition d’un phénomène nouveau: l’antisémitisme sans antisémites. Il est en effet frappant de constater le déni ou l’euphémisation (généralement par l’affirmation d’un antisionisme radical) devant le procès en antisémitisme. Ces attitudes (que l’on peut ne pas distinguer) sont généralement fondées, d’une part, sur l’incompréhension de la nature de l’antisémitisme, d’autre part, sur la distinction – dont nous montrerons l’inconsistance – entre antiracisme moral et antiracisme politique. Il va de soi que ces deux points entretiennent de profondes affinités. Le modèle dominant de lutte contre le racisme, développé à partir de 1945, établissait une équivalence structurelle entre colonisés et juifs dans leur fonction de détournement (mécanisme bien documenté du bouc-émissaire) de l’insatisfaction sociale. Dans cette stratégie argumentative, la spécificité du génocide des juifs constituait une réelle difficulté. Il fallait donc que le racisme nazi soit une forme particulière de racisme colonial. La distinction entre ces deux formes de racisme a été pourtant, dès 1967, posée avec vigueur par Jeanne Hersch («Sur la notion de race», dans Diogène). Dans une étude consacrée à la notion de race et à l’examen de deux textes établis sous l’égide de l’Unesco, elle montrait que dans le cas du racisme colonial les différences physiques stigmatisées par les colonialistes étaient manifestes, alors que celles dénoncées par les nazis étaient extrêmement imprécises. Elle ajoutait, en outre, que les colonialistes justifiaient l’exploitation de leurs victimes à l’aide d’un préjugé raciste, celui de l’infériorité intellectuelle des exploités, tandis que les nazis usaient comme moteur de leur haine l’envie qu’inspiraient les juifs, auxquels le préjugé raciste prêtait une supériorité intellectuelle dangereuse. Aussi, pour les colonialistes fallait-il maintenir la présence de l’«autre race» en tant que source de profit; alors que pour les nazis le but était son élimination et sa destruction. Pour le racisme d’extermination, c’est donc le caractère incertain des différences physiques de l’autre qui entretient une suspicion diffuse, une hantise du mélange. Or si ce racisme a désigné le juif comme l’ennemi absolu, c’est parce que la différence juive, hors du champ religieux, est insaisissable. Elle est, en conséquence, la plus dangereuse pour l’identité collective du groupe. Comme le notaient, il y a assez longtemps, P. H. Maucorps, A. Memmi et J. F. Held, les juifs parce qu’ils «constituent une minorité tellement fluide que très peu d’individus considérés comme tels réunissent toutes les déterminations réelles ou supposées de leur groupe sont objet de racisme en tant que simple incarnation de l’Altérité.» On voit, à travers ces lignes, la particularité de l’antisémitisme qu’avait, à sa manière, évoquée Édouard Drumont lorsqu’il écrivait: «Le juif dangereux, c’est le juif vague.» En d’autres termes, le plus grand péril pour le raciste, c’est le péril indiscernable. Le juif, trop semblable au point de ne pouvoir être distingué, exaspère chez l’antisémite l’horreur du métissage, la peur de la dégénérescence par l’effet du mélange. Aussi l’expression de l’hostilité à l’égard des juifs n’est-elle nullement soucieuse de donner une explication causale de la menace sociale, mais manifeste une crainte face à un danger mal compris susceptible de fissurer l’armature sociale de la communauté. (…) Il paraît, par conséquent, illusoire de penser aujourd’hui les tâches de l’antiracisme sans partir de cette réalité: l’antisémitisme appartient à un registre spécifique. La lutte contre lui ne peut être efficace que si elle est distinguée de la lutte contre les autres formes de racisme. Est-il utile de préciser que l’accent mis ici sur la particularité du registre antisémite n’induit nullement une volonté de méconnaître les autres expressions de la haine ou de hiérarchiser celles-ci à l’aune de leur malfaisance? (…) Autre intéressant registre rhétorique, l’antiracisme politique utilise quelques intellectuels juifs pour éloigner tout soupçon d’antisémitisme. (…) De même, l’idée, exprimée par un collectif de juifs «antiracistes et anticolonialistes», d’une «profonde rupture, après la Shoah, entre les Juifs et les autres peuples racisés» (voir «La bonne conscience des intellectuels juifs»), suggère également que les juifs ne sont pas des racisés comme les autres. Et s’ils ne sont pas comme les autres, c’est parce que pèse sur eux l’accusation de sionisme, sans que l’on sache très bien à quoi elle renvoie, tant le mot est polysémique. Mais on comprend aisément, nonobstant le nombre considérable de juifs critiques à l’égard de la politique de colonisation israélienne, que tout juif est un sioniste potentiel, autrement dit un ennemi du genre humain, comme l’était autrefois le «juif vague» cher à Drumont. La stratégie d’euphémisation, liée au discrédit de la notion de race, rend ainsi, pour un nombre de plus en plus grand de nos contemporains, l’antisémitisme respectable. La prolifération des thèses complotistes est un indicateur inquiétant de la fragilité d’une opinion démocratique, trop souvent incapable de se prémunir contre la corruption de l’égalité, celle de la dignité de chacun, dans l’indistinction, soit fondamentalement la confusion du vrai et du faux. Alain Policar
Underlying this pervasive point of view is the notion that Jews, who are often conflated with whites, should “check their privilege,” because anti-Semitism just isn’t as bad as other forms of racism. On campus, where the ADL notes an acute rise in anti-Jewish hostility, alarmed Jewish students are sidelined for being white and middle-class and the Holocaust is trivialized as “white on white crime.” Elsewhere, Jews who protest anti-Semitism are dismissed for failing to ante up sufficient concern about people of color. This erasure of anti-Semitism isn’t simply callous. It exposes a huge moral failure at the heart of the modern left. Under the enveloping paradigm of “intersectionality,” everyone is granularly defined by their various identities — everyone, that is, except white Jews, whose Jewishness is often overwritten by their skin color. Not simply a moral failing, this erasure is deeply hazardous, inasmuch as the fight against racism happens by and large in sectors where the left perspective dominates — the academy, pop culture and much of the news media. But this failure of the left is less a result of malice rather than unconscious wiring. As I will argue, the left is doomed to erase anti-Semitism because it’s ill-equipped to understand it. For in a key sense, regular racism — against blacks and Latinos, for example — is the opposite of anti-Semitism. While both ultimately derive from xenophobia, regular racism comes from white people believing they are superior to people of color. But the hatred of Jews stems from the belief that Jews are a cabal with supernatural powers; in other words, it stems from the models of thought that produce conspiracy theories. Where the white racist regards blacks as inferior, the anti-Semite imagines that Jews have preternatural power to afflict humankind. This is also why the left is blind to anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism differs from most forms of racism in that it purports to “punch up” against a secret society of oppressors, which has the side effect of making it easy to disguise as a politics of emancipation. If Jews have power, then punching up at Jews is a form of speaking truth to power — a form of speech of which the left is currently enamored. In other words, it is because anti-Semitism pretends to strike at power that the left cannot see it, and is doomed to erase — and even reproduce — its tropes. (…) And it’s anti-Semitism’s source in conspiracy theory that renders it so different from non-conspiracist forms of racism, like anti-blackness. As with most racism, anti-black bias constructs an underclass to be exploited or avoided. It positions blacks as inferior to whites and charges them with stereotypes that signal weakness: They are libeled as lazy, stupid, lustful, criminal and animalistic. (…) Anti-Semitism imagines a diabolic overclass to be exposed and resisted. Above all else, anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory about the maleficent Jewish elite. And it’s this that makes it easy to disguise as a politics of liberation, or, at least, to embed anti-Semitism quietly in efforts for social justice. (…) Anti-Semitism is a poor man’s revolution. (…)Americans are — thankfully — tuned to detect and deplore racism that punches down. But we must broaden our perspective if we want to reverse the progress of anti-Semitism, which punches up toward mass murder and extermination. Forward
Leonard Cohen avait écrit une chanson remplie de références à la Bible mais aussi connue pour ses sous-entendus érotiques (dans les strophes suivantes). Muhamad Al Hussayn a complètement réécrit la chanson de Leonard Cohen. « Ya illahi » ne signifie pas exactement « Hallelujah » (« louanges à Dieu », en hébreu), mais « Ô mon Dieu ». Finies les références à la Bible hébraïque et à ses personnages. Fini aussi le côté subversif (And remember when I moved in you / And the holy dove was moving too / And every breath we drew was Hallelujah). La suite de la version islamique que n’a pas chantée Mennel – mais que connaît sûrement une partie de son public à qui s’adressait le message ! – raconte l’histoire de quelqu’un qui a pêché et désobéi à Allah, puis décide de revenir vers lui. C’est du prosélytisme. Aux Français non initiés, Mennel a donc raconté le début d’une histoire poétique tirée des psaumes du roi David, qui régna sur un royaume juif à Jérusalem. Mais au public arabophone qui est nombreux à la suivre, l’artiste a diffusé un message religieux tout autre. Mennel est aussi l’auteure d’un clip de propagande, « Souris Palestine ». Plus question de roi David. La chanteuse y échange son « turban moderne » pour un hijab en bonne et due forme. Elle s’adresse aux « sœurs de Bosnie, frères de Bosnie ». Depuis, on a appris que la jeune chanteuse avait un penchant marqué pour les idées islamistes. « Les vrais terroristes, c’est notre gouvernement », a-t-elle écrit sur Facebook après l’assassinat du père Hamel à Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. Quelques jours auparavant, elle avait nié le caractère terroriste de l’attaque de Nice qui fit plus de 80 morts le 14 juillet. La jeune femme partageait aussi des publications de Tariq Ramadan, Dieudonné, et d’organisations ou campagnes islamistes comme BarakaCity, Lallab ou HijabFirst. Tribune juive
C’est un moment génial de l’histoire de France. Toute la communauté issue de l’immigration adhère complètement à la position de la France. Tout d’un coup, il y a une espèce de ferment. Profitons de cet espace de francitude nouvelle. Jean-Louis Borloo (ministre délégué à la Ville, suite à des manifestations anti-guerre d’Irak marquées par nombre de cris d’ « A mort les juifs! », avril 2003)
Nous savons bien que la race juive, concentrée, passionnée, subtile, toujours dévorée par une sorte de fièvre du gain quand ce n’est pas par la force du prophétisme, nous savons bien qu’elle manie avec une particulière habileté le mécanisme capitaliste, mécanisme de rapine, de mensonge, de corset, d’extorsion. Jean Jaurès (Discours au Tivoli, 1898)
On pouvait se demander, en effet, et on se demandait même chez beaucoup de Juifs, si l’implantation de cette communauté sur des terres qui avaient été acquises dans des conditions plus ou moins justifiables et au milieu des peuples arabes qui lui étaient foncièrement hostiles, n’allait pas entraîner d’incessants, d’interminables, frictions et conflits. Certains même redoutaient que les Juifs, jusqu’alors dispersés, mais qui étaient restés ce qu’ils avaient été de tous temps, c’est-à-dire un peuple d’élite, sûr de lui-même et dominateur, n’en viennent, une fois rassemblés dans le site de leur ancienne grandeur, à changer en ambition ardente et conquérante les souhaits très émouvants qu’ils formaient depuis dix-neuf siècles. De Gaulle (conférence de presse du 27 novembre 1967
Ils ont tout, c’est connu. Vous êtes passé par le centre-ville de Metz ? Toutes les bijouteries appartiennent aux juifs. On le sait, c’est tout. Vous n’avez qu’à lire les noms israéliens sur les enseignes. Vous avez regardé une ancienne carte de la Palestine et une d’aujourd’hui ? Ils ont tout colonisé. Maintenant c’est les bijouteries. Ils sont partout, sauf en Chine parce que c’est communiste. Tous les gouvernements sont juifs, même François Hollande. Le monde est dirigé par les francs-maçons et les francs-maçons sont tous juifs. Ce qui est certain c’est que l’argent injecté par les francs-maçons est donné à Israël. Sur le site des Illuminatis, le plus surveillé du monde, tout est écrit. (…) On se renseigne mais on ne trouve pas ces infos à la télévision parce qu’elle appartient aux juifs aussi. Si Patrick Poivre d’Arvor a été jeté de TF1 alors que tout le monde l’aimait bien, c’est parce qu’il a été critique envers Nicolas Sarkozy, qui est juif… (…)  Mais nous n’avons pas de potes juifs. Pourquoi ils viendraient ici ? Ils habitent tous dans des petits pavillons dans le centre, vers Queuleu. Ils ne naissent pas pauvres. Ici, pour eux, c’est un zoo, c’est pire que l’Irak. Peut-être que si j’habitais dans le centre, j’aurais des amis juifs, mais je ne crois pas, je n’ai pas envie. J’ai une haine profonde. Pour moi, c’est la pire des races. Je vous le dis du fond du cœur, mais je ne suis pas raciste, c’est un sentiment. Faut voir ce qu’ils font aux Palestiniens, les massacres et tout. Mais bon, on ne va pas dire que tous les juifs sont des monstres. Pourquoi vouloir réunir les juifs et les musulmans ? Tout ça c’est politique. Cela ne va rien changer. C’est en Palestine qu’il faut aller, pas en France. Karim
Ce sont les cerveaux du monde. Tous les tableaux qui sont exposés au centre Pompidou appartiennent à des juifs. A Metz, tous les avocats et les procureurs sont juifs. Ils sont tous hauts placés et ils ne nous laisseront jamais monter dans la société. « Ils ont aussi Coca-Cola. Regardez une bouteille de Coca-Cola, quand on met le logo à l’envers on peut lire : « Non à Allah, non au prophète ». C’est pour cela que les arabes ont inventé le « Mecca-cola ». Au McDo c’est pareil. Pour chaque menu acheté, un euro est reversé à l’armée israélienne. Les juifs, ils ont même coincé les Saoudiens. Ils ont inventé les voitures électriques pour éviter d’acheter leur pétrole. C’est connu. On se renseigne. (…) Si Mohamed Merah n’avait pas été tué par le Raid, le Mossad s’en serait chargé. Il serait venu avec des avions privés. Ali
En fait, tout est écrit dans le Coran. Le châtiment des juifs, c’est l’enfer. L’histoire de Moïse est belle. Dieu lui a fait faire des miracles. Il a coupé la mer en deux pour qu’il puisse la traverser. Mais après tous ces miracles, les juifs ont préféré adorer un veau d’or. C’est à cause de cela que ce peuple est maudit par Dieu. Je parle avec mon père de ces choses-là. Parce que parmi les autres musulmans, il y a des sectes, des barbus qui peuvent t’envoyer te faire exploser je ne sais où. Alors je mets des remparts avec eux. Je suis fragile d’esprit, je préfère parler de ça avec ma famille, elle m’apporte l’islam qui me fait du bien. Djamal
Je suis d’une génération pour qui l’antisémitisme était mort avec la Shoah. Je n’avais pas pensé qu’il reviendrait d’ailleurs. La première fois, c’était en 1998 dans une classe de 5e. Lorsqu’on a abordé le chapitre sur l’islam, une gamine a râlé : « On ne fait que quatre heures sur l’Islam, alors que l’année dernière, on a fait les Hébreux pendant au moins dix heures ! De toute façon, moi j’aime pas les juifs. » Je suis tombé des nues. Ce n’était que le début. Au tournant des années 2000, deux évènements ont libéré la parole : le 11 septembre et la seconde Intifada. Je me souviens précisément du 12 septembre 2001. La plupart de mes élèves étaient atterrés, mais l’un d’eux avait déjà une explication « complotiste » : « Il n’y avait pas un juif hier dans les tours, c’est eux qui l’ont fait. » Pour une minorité, c’était « bien fait pour les Américains et pour les juifs ». Presque toujours, ces propos viennent d’enfants issus de l’immigration et se réclamant de l’Islam. (…) En salle des profs, quand je soulevais le problème, on me parlait du malaise social et de la politique israélienne, quand on ne me prenait pas pour un réac de droite. Le déni est ce qui m’a le plus choqué. (…) On m’a dit que j’inventais, que je dramatisais, que je manipulais mes élèves pour leur faire dire des horreurs. Au motif qu’elle est au côté des opprimés, la gauche n’a pas voulu voir le problème. Ça a été une claque pour moi, que mes amis politiques ne réagissent pas. Ceux qui s’étaient levés sur Carpentras sont restés assis et muets. Pour eux, ces jeunes sont des victimes sociales et ne peuvent donc pas être antisémites. Comme si l’on ne pouvait être les deux à la fois. Et puis, j’ai l’impression que pour certains, l’idée que des juifs sont victimes est lassante. Du genre : « C’est bon, ils ont déjà la Shoah, de quoi se plaignent-ils encore ? » Avec la minute de silence après la tuerie de Mohamed Merah dans une école juive, les choses ont changé. Combien de jeunes ont refusé de respecter cette cérémonie, au motif qu’on n’en fait « pas autant pour les enfants palestiniens » ? Beaucoup de profs en Seine-Saint-Denis, et plus seulement les profs d’histoire dans le huis clos de leurs classes, ont découvert cet antisémitisme. (…) Ces enfants sont les premiers à dire « le racisme c’est pas bien », mais ils ont une vision communautariste de la société. Pour eux il y a d’un côté les « Français », c’est à dire les blancs et les juifs, et de l’autre, eux. Quand un garçon me dit « les racistes du PSG c’est que des juifs ! », il est dans un degré de confusion tel que l’incantation morale n’a aucun poids. Il entend probablement toute la journée que les juifs sont riches, puissants, racistes et tirent sur des enfants palestiniens, alors que Ben Laden et Merah sont des héros. Iannis Roder (professeur d’histoire-géographie, Saint-Denis)
Ce grand changement de population est particulièrement vrai en ce qui concerne la Seine-Saint-Denis, au nord de la capitale. Un grand nombre de juifs en sont partis en raison de l’insécurité ressentie après de multiples incidents de harcèlement, de pressions ou d’agressions physiques pures et simples. Partout dans la zone, en particulier au cours de la seconde Intifada en Israël [2001-2005], il y a eu des incendies de synagogues, des agressions de rabbins, des voitures béliers qui fonçaient sur les fidèles quittant la synagogue à Kippour, des bus scolaires incendiés. Les incidents continuent et, dans la majorité de ces lieux, le phénomène de l’antisémitisme de banlieue doit beaucoup au fait que les maires de nombre de ces localités étaient des communistes qui poussaient les Arabes à soutenir les Palestiniens. La Seine-Saint-Denis est le premier département musulman de France [environ 40 % sur 1,6 million d’habitants] avec des mosquées qui peuvent accueillir 6 000 à 8 000 fidèles. (…) Conséquence des tensions inévitables dans un tel environnement, les communautés juives de banlieues telles que La Courneuve, Aubervilliers, Stains, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Trappes, Aulnay-sous-Bois, Le Blanc-Mesnil et Saint-Denis sont en train de disparaître. En raison de l’insécurité, dans des endroits comme La Courneuve où il y avait 600 à 700 familles juives, il y en a maintenant moins de 100. Et, à Saint-Denis même, là où il y avait 500 familles juives, ils ont de la difficulté à réunir un minyan pour Kippour. Dans quelques années, il n’y aura plus un seul juif dans le département. Sammy Ghozlan (Bureau national de vigilance contre l’antisémitisme)
Plus de 70 % du demi-million estimé de juifs de France sont des Séfarades, débarqués entre 1956 et 1962, au moment où leurs terres ancestrales d’Algérie, du Maroc et de Tunisie obtiennent leur indépendance. Souvent sans le sou à leur arrivée, beaucoup s’installent dans les banlieues relativement défavorisées du nord et de l’est de Paris, où ils créent d’importantes communautés juives fortes de dizaines de synagogues et de centres communautaires. Mais les Arabes musulmans les rejoignent, fuyant les difficultés économiques de ces mêmes pays qu’ils ont quittés. Rapidement, ils les dépassent en nombre. On estime aujourd’hui à quelque six millions les musulmans de France, soit environ 10 % des 66 millions d’habitants du pays. Si les premiers immigrants arabes, en général, s’engageaient peu en politique et préféraient ne pas s’attirer d’ennuis, beaucoup de leurs enfants n’ont pas eu de tels scrupules : nés sur le sol français, ils bénéficient automatiquement de la nationalité et ne peuvent être expulsés. En désaccord avec la société française dans son ensemble, se sentant victimes de discriminations en tous genres, nombre d’enfants d’immigrants arabes musulmans des deuxième et troisième générations ont eu à cœur de venger la cause palestinienne, lorsque la seconde Intifada a éclaté en Israël et dans les territoires palestiniens en 2000. Ils n’ont depuis cessé de rendre la vie misérable à nombre de juifs vivant autour d’eux. Résultat : beaucoup de juifs français ont fait le choix de venir en Israël. Pour la première fois, en 2014, la France a pris la tête des pays d’origine des nouveaux immigrants, avec près de 7 000 arrivées, soit le double des 3 400 enregistrées en 2013. Entre le 1er janvier 2001 et le 31 décembre 2014, 36 800 juifs français ont fait leur aliya. Et près de 8 000 pour la seule année 2015. Des chiffres qu’il faut toutefois mettre en balance avec les estimations officieuses selon lesquelles ils seraient jusqu’à 30 % à repartir en France dans les cinq ans qui suivent leur arrivée, généralement en raison de difficultés d’intégration. Parallèlement, environ 4 000 juifs français se dirigent chaque année vers d’autres destinations, comme la province canadienne de langue française du Québec. Environ 20 000 des 93 000 juifs de Montréal sont des Séfarades d’Afrique du Nord, immigrés de France. Londres constitue une autre porte de sortie. Ces derniers temps, elle attire des milliers de jeunes juifs hautement qualifiés qui y trouvent des emplois dans le secteur financier. La capitale britannique et son économie dynamique agissent comme un aimant sur les jeunes Français, toutes origines confondues, et compte aujourd’hui entre 300 000 et 400 000 expatriés français. Selon Albert Myara, militant de la communauté juive, sur quelque 350 000 juifs de la région parisienne, environ 60 000 ont déménagé ces dix-quinze dernières années, soit pour quitter leurs voisins arabes, soit tout simplement parce qu’ayant étoffé leurs revenus, ils peuvent désormais se permettre d’habiter des secteurs plus aisés. L’exceptionnel succès économique et professionnel de nombreux juifs séfarades, et leur ascension au sein de la société française ont fait que certains quartiers cossus de Paris accueillent de nouvelles communautés juives sans cesse croissantes. En particulier dans le très chic 17e arrondissement, à proximité de l’avenue des Champs-Elysées et de l’Arc de Triomphe.  (…) Deux récents lauréats français du prix Nobel de physique, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1996), né à Alger, et Serge Haroche (2014), né à Casablanca, sont des Séfarades installés en France. L’un des philosophes français vivants les plus connus n’est autre que Bernard-Henri Lévy, né en Algérie. Et les noms juifs séfarades abondent dans l’industrie du film et dans les universités. (…) Si le 17e compte désormais la plus grande concentration de juifs de France, d’autres secteurs ont récemment engrangé d’importantes minorités juives. C’est le cas de l’adjacent 16e arrondissement, avec près de 25 000 juifs, de la banlieue ultra-bourgeoise de Neuilly-sur-Seine, ou encore des localités de Boulogne et Levallois, toutes situées à l’ouest de Paris. Et le caractère juif de la zone devrait encore s’intensifier en 2017 avec l’ouverture du Centre européen du judaïsme, une structure de 10 millions d’euros, qui combinera centre communautaire et synagogue sur une superficie de 5 000 mètres carrés sur l’animée rue de Courcelles, là encore, dans le 17e arrondissement. (…) Une présence juive accrue est également à noter dans les banlieues sud-est que constituent Saint-Mandé, Saint-Maur, Vincennes et Charenton, où des dizaines de milliers de juifs se sont regroupés ces dernières années. Ainsi que dans le 12e arrondissement voisin, proche de la porte de Vincennes où s’est déroulé l’attentat de l’Hypercacher en janvier 2015. A Saint-Mandé, banlieue verdoyante en bordure du bois de Vincennes, les dirigeants communautaires estiment qu’environ 40 % des habitants de la ville sont juifs. Les incidents antisémites ne sont pas les seuls moteurs de ces mouvements géographiques. Dans certains cas, les juifs font le choix de quitter les quartiers où les populations arabes musulmanes et originaires d’Afrique noire ont considérablement augmenté. C’est le cas du Kremlin-Bicêtre, une banlieue vivante du sud de Paris (…)  L’avenue de Fontainebleau, axe principal qui mène à Paris, est maintenant bordé de cafés et restaurants arabes. (…) On estime à 100 000 le nombre de jeunes juifs en âge d’être scolarisés en France. Un tiers fréquente les écoles juives. Mais selon Elbaz, certains parents redoutent désormais d’y scolariser leurs enfants, inquiets de la présence de soldats et de policiers qui accentuent la visibilité de ces établissements. Un second tiers est inscrit dans des établissements publics laïques, généralement dans des zones aisées où ils ne seront pas pris pour cible par des adolescents arabes. Et le reste étudie dans des écoles privées catholiques, souvent dans des endroits sans structures scolaires juives, et où les institutions publiques comptent de nombreux musulmans. Ces établissements catholiques sont également fréquentés par les enfants d’une certaine classe moyenne arabe émergente, qui veut assurer à ses enfants un diplôme et une scolarité sans problème. Car il faut dire que nombre de jeunes musulmans des écoles publiques abandonnent le système scolaire en cours de route, et se retrouvent sans emploi. En outre, selon les statistiques officielles, près des trois quarts des détenus français sont d’origine musulmane. Mais si une grande partie de la communauté juive a prospéré, environ 10 % sont encore trop pauvres pour quitter les zones potentiellement dangereuses où ils résident. La communauté en a toutefois aidé des centaines à déménager vers des quartiers plus sûrs, en coordination avec les services sociaux du gouvernement français. The Jerusalem Post
A l’occasion du chantier de réaménagement des salles de peintures françaises et nordiques au second étage de l’aile Richelieu, le musée du Louvre a décidé de consacrer deux salles à la présentation de tableaux récupérés en Allemagne, après la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Une sélection de 31 tableaux MNR (Musée Nationaux Récupération) est désormais exposée dans deux salles spécifiques. 76 tableaux sont également présentés dans le parcours permanent du musée, accompagnés d’une mention spécifique signalant leur origine. Entre 1940 et 1945, environ 100 000 biens de toute nature (parmi lesquels de nombreuses œuvres d’art) ont été spoliés en France par le régime nazi ou vendus sous la contrainte et transférés en Allemagne. La Commission de récupération artistique fut créée dès 1944 afin de retrouver ces objets et de les restituer à leur légitime propriétaire. Active jusqu’en 1949, cette commission a permis le retour en France de plus de 61 000 objets, dont plus de 45 000 furent rendus, suite aux demandes des victimes ou de leurs héritiers directs. Les biens non réclamés furent ensuite vendus pour une bonne part (environ 13 000) et l’administration conserva 2 143 objets qui furent enregistrés sur des inventaires spéciaux dits de la récupération (d’où le sigle MNR affectés à ces oeuvres, pour « Musées Nationaux Récupération »). Le musée du Louvre abrite ainsi 1 752 oeuvres MNR dans ses murs, dont 807 tableaux MNR : 296 sont conservés sur place tandis que les autres ont été déposés dans différents musées de France. Actuellement, un groupe de travail, mis en place par le ministère de la Culture et travaillant en lien avec la Commission d’indemnisation des victimes de spoliation (CIVS) créée en 1999, est chargé de retracer la provenance de ces œuvres, afin de déterminer lesquelles ont été spoliées et lesquelles ne l’ont pas été. Dans le cas des biens spoliés, le groupe s’attache également à identifier leur propriétaire au moment de la spoliation pour permettre leur restitution à leurs ayants droit. Pour la collection des peintures, plus d’une cinquantaine d’oeuvres ont ainsi pu être rendues depuis 1951. Le Louvre
An estimated 100,000 objects in France alone were looted by the Nazis or sold under duress and transferred to Germany — paintings, but also drawings, sculptures and antiquities. Many had belonged to Jewish families whose homes were raided during the Nazi occupation, or who were forced to sell art to survive or to flee the country. From 1945 to 1949, over 61,000 of those objects were returned to France, and about 45,000 were claimed by their owners. Many of the unclaimed pieces were sold at auction. But the French state kept 2,143 of them — even today, experts say it is unclear how they were chosen. The government placed them in an inventory called the Musées Nationaux Récupération, or M.N.R., and entrusted them to museums. The Louvre has 807 such paintings. A little over 100 looted objects, including about 50 paintings, have been returned to their legitimate owners or their descendants, since the 1950s, after the first wave of restitutions. The French authorities acknowledge the pace is slow.  (…) Curators at the Louvre say the new exhibition rooms are another step in the effort to make information about looted artworks more accessible to the public, and to the victims or their heirs. Some experts praised the idea — Ms. Bouchoux, the former senator, said it was “symbolically and politically positive” — but others said the exhibition rooms lacked context and failed to lay out the complex history that had left the paintings orphaned. Emmanuelle Polack, an art historian who did her doctoral thesis on the Parisian art market under Nazi occupation, noted that the explanatory text in the exhibition rooms did not say that most of the looted artwork belonged to Jewish families. Nor do the plaques beneath the paintings explain where and how each one was found in Germany, like the 19th-century portrait of two sisters by Jacques Augustin Pajou that was taken by the Nazi regime’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Mr. Allard, the Louvre curator, acknowledged that the plaques and an existing sign were “insufficient,” but said the museum planned to put up a larger banner at the entrance to the rooms. NYT
J’ai tué un juif! J’irai au paradis! Adel (novembre 2003)
On est des Arabes et des Noirs, faut qu’on se soutienne. (…) Les juifs sont les rois car ils bouffent l’argent de l’Etat et, moi, comme je suis noir, je suis considéré comme un esclave par l’Etat. Yousouf Fofana (février 2006)
Allah et son prophète, ils aiment pas les juifs. (…) Mort à Israël! Yousouf Fofana
On est en guerre contre ce pays (…) Ce pays, on le quittera quand il nous rendra ce qu’on nous doit. Tribu Ka (novembre 2006)
Ils ont écrit ‘sale juif’ et ‘sale pédé’ sur son visage avec du Typex, avant de lui faire avaler des mégots de cigarette, un suppositoire, et de l’obliger à sucer un préservatif déroulé sur un bâton. Clarisse Grillon (secrétaire générale du tribunal de Nanterre, février 2008)
L’un d’entre eux s’est acharné contre Ilan en disant je n’aime pas les Feuj !! (…) Il y a un grand nombre de gens mis en cause dans l’affaire d’Ilan (vingt-sept en tout), à qui il faut ajouter les amis, les petits-amis et petites-amies et parfois les parents. On arrive à une quarantaine de personnes qui, elles, savaient pertinemment qu’un jeune homme était détenu, nourri à l’aide d’une paille, ficelé, baillonné, voire frappé. Et toutes ces personnes se sont tues (…) [alors qu’] un simple coup de fil anonyme aurait mis en quelques heures fin au calvaire d’Ilan Halimi. Alexandre Lévy
Dans cette histoire, on retrouve tous les ingrédients du fonctionnement des ghettos : la logique du groupe qui fait commettre des actes qu’on ne commettrait pas individuellement, la présence d’un leader charismatique, la loi du silence, la peur, l’absence de solidarité avec des gens extérieurs au quartier et l’antisémitisme qui circule dans le groupe et d’une certaine façon le cimente, donnant à chacun l’illusion d’exister et d’être en possession d’une forme de compréhension supérieure qui échappe au commun des mortels. On est sur des logiques collectives assez classiques. (…) La focalisation sur les événements du Proche-Orient vient du fait que les gens sont antisémites, pas l’inverse. L’antisémitisme puise ses racines dans les conditions sociales et le vide politique qui règnent dans certaines banlieues. C’est une forme de ‘socialisme des imbéciles’ . Quand on écoute les gens tenir des propos antisémites, ils font leur portrait à l’envers : les juifs sont puissants, je suis faible ; ils sont partout, je suis nulle part; ils sont solidaires, je suis seul ; ils ont le droit de revendiquer leur identité, nous, au contraire, n’avons aucun droit, etc. Didier Lapeyronnie (sociologue)
J’ai tué le sheitan. Kobili Traoré
Je me sentais comme possédé. Je me sentais comme oppressé par une force extérieure, une force démoniaque. (…) « J’ai crié ‘Que Satan soit béni’. Ils s’enferment tous après. […] Moi je voulais rester, je ne sais pas pourquoi. (…) je me sentais pourchassé et je me suis mis à réciter des paroles du Coran (…) Je ne savais pas chez qui j’allais atterrir. C’est quand j’ai vu dans l’appartement une Torah, j’ai vu la dame qui s’est réveillée. (…) Je lui ai dit ‘Appelez la police, on va se faire agresser’. Elle a appelé d’un téléphone fixe. (…) Je l’ai tapée avec le téléphone, ensuite avec mes poings. Ensuite, je ne sais pas ce qui m’a pris, je l’ai soulevée et jetée par la fenêtre. (…) Je pensais que c’était des démons. (…) Je ne suis pas antisémite. Ça aurait pu tomber sur n’importe qui. (…) C’est horrible. Je n’aurais jamais dû faire ça, c’est sans doute parce que j’avais fumé trop de cannabis. (…) Tout ce qu’on essaye de faire passer par les médias, c’est faux.  Kobili Traoré
A plusieurs reprises lors de son audition, il se retranche derrière des « je ne sais pas ». – Des voisins disent avoir entendu « Allah Akbar », lui fait remarquer la juge d’instruction. – Je ne me souviens pas d’avoir dit ça. De même, Kobili ne se rappelle pas avoir crié « Tu vas payer ». De nombreux témoins ont pourtant dit aux enquêteurs avoir entendu un mélange de hurlements, de menaces et de références religieuses, en français et en arabe. L’homme est interpellé à 5h35 par trois policiers de la Brigade anti-criminalité (BAC), arrivés pourtant sur les lieux près d’une heure auparavant. (…) Interrogé sur ses liens avec la retraitée, le jeune tueur se montre plus prolixe. Oui, il savait qu’elle était sa voisine du dessus, depuis « au moins dix ans ». Oui, il avait connaissance de sa pratique religieuse assidue. Comment? « Sa façon de s’habiller, avec des habits traditionnels pour aller à la synagogue, ou ses enfants quand ils venaient et avaient la kippa. » En revanche, Kobili nie que la religion de Sarah Halimi ait motivé son geste. « Je ne suis pas antisémite. Ça aurait pu tomber sur n’importe qui », se défend-il, précisant n’avoir jamais eu de problèmes avec la communauté juive. L’Express
C’est un Juif qui rencontre un autre Arabe. Blague juive
Ma famille paternelle est originaire de Slovaquie. D’origine juive, mon grand-père a dû s’expatrier pour fuir les nazis. C’est comme cela qu’il est arrivé en France avant de rejoindre la clandestinité pendant la guerre. Il est arrivé dans les Alpes avec mon père qui avait alors 4 ans. Ironie du sort, c’est un curé qui s’est occupé de lui jusqu’à la fin de la guerre. (…) Et il deviendra même le premier directeur du premier Mammouth à Toulouse à la fin des années 1960. Jean-Luc Reichmann
Nagui, quand vous étiez petit, c’était le salon enfumé par les cigarettes de votre père, la table de travail de vos parents tous les deux profs, la table encombrée de copies à corriger, de fiches de cours… Vous faites vos devoirs et votre père vous dit: « Quel que soit le métier que tu feras, premier ministre ou balayeur, sois le meilleur ». Thierry Ardisson
Papa était prof de littérature à la fac, maman était prof de français, grec et latin au lycée, mais nous vivions dans l’attente du courrier qui apporterait la bonne ou la mauvaise nouvelle, à tel point que maman n’avait jamais complètement vidé nos malles. Quand le permis de séjour de mon père n’a pas été renouvelé, nous avons dû partir. Le Canada nous a accueillis et j’ai adoré. (…) j’ai grandi en voyageant. Je refuse les frontières, le racisme et l’exclusion. Je me sens citoyen du monde mais, à l’inverse, je n’ai eu de cesse d’avoir une maison à moi pour m’enraciner. A la naissance de chacun de mes enfants, j’ai planté un arbre. Notre maison de vacances, dans le Sud, est la maison d’enfance que je n’ai jamais eue. (…) Je ne me sentais pas bien physiquement, je ne supportais pas les moqueries. Nagui devenait Maguy à cause de la série télévisée. Fam, mon nom, se transformait en femmelette. Un jour, une fille m’a déclaré: ‘Si je t’épouse, je deviendrai Mme Fam. C’est super.’ Je me suis dit: ‘C’est vachement bien les filles!’ Je n’étais pas beau mec, la tchatche est devenue un moyen de séduction.(… [Mon frère] est analyste financier. Il a fait de brillantes études de commerce, celles que je n’ai pas terminées. Nous avons quatre ans d’écart. Il m’a donné le goût de la musique, du cinéma, de la compétition aussi: qui va le plus vite, qui gagne le plus d’argent pendant les vacances, qui a la plus jolie petite amie… Il est un repère d’autant plus essentiel que nous avons perdu nos parents. Nous sommes seuls en haut de la pyramide. (…) J’ai admiré le travail merveilleux de ma mère, j’ai lu le livre que mon père a écrit sur Lamartine. Mais je n’ai pas leur culture, leur intelligence, leur sens de la pédagogie. Je possède le dixième de leurs capacités intellectuelles. (…) Travailler avec acharnement pour être le meilleur, dans le respect et la tolérance des autres. La seule chose qui aurait pu les inquiéter et qui a longtemps inquiété maman, c’est la fragilité de ce métier. (…) Je respecte ce pays qui m’a accueilli il y a cinquante ans, ses institutions, ses représentants. Je ne comprends pas ceux qui s’efforcent à ne pas parler le français en France. Garder une langue maternelle que l’on parle entre soi, parce qu’on a un peu de nostalgie, je comprends. Mais il faut s’adapter à la société dans laquelle on vit. Sinon, cela crée de l’exclusion. Comme si les Bretons ne voulaient parler que le breton! (…) Il paraît que je salis la langue française, un comble pour un fils de profs de français! On m’écrit que je dois retourner dans mon pays, sinon on va m’égorger… Et comme certaines menaces ne sont même plus anonymes, j’ai fini par porter plainte. Mais, souvenez-vous aussi, j’ai eu droit à une couverture de ‘Charlie’. Moi, en chameau, avec ce titre: ‘Nuit gravement à la santé.’ J’ai eu mal à en pleurer. Ça ne m’a pas empêché de présenter ‘Je suis Charlie’ sur France 2 avec France Inter, le lendemain des attentats, pour dire haut et fort que la liberté de la presse doit permettre aux caricaturistes de se moquer de tout le monde. (…) [c’est un Juif qui rencontre un autre Arabe] l’histoire de Michel Boujenah (…) dit que j’ai mal quand j’entends des phrases faites pour nous dresser les uns contre les autres. Ma mère était aixoise, mon père égyptien. J’ai du sang français, italien protestant, arabe, juif polonais, copte, catholique. Et alors? Je suis un être humain qui respecte le pays dans lequel il vit et qui demande qu’on le respecte aussi. Le sentiment d’insécurité existe, mais il n’a pas une couleur de peau. J’ai cru que les choses iraient de mieux en mieux, c’est devenu faux. Aujourd’hui, le petit garçon que j’étais ne grandirait sûrement pas avec les mêmes chances. (…) Une étude démontre que, quand on fait du bien, ça nous fait du bien. Accueillir un enfant, donner un petit bout de chance, c’est quoi? Ajouter un lit dans une chambre, une assiette à table. C’est surtout un enrichissement, des liens créés qui perdurent. Je m’en veux de ne pas y avoir pensé avant. (…) [Utiliser sa notoriété pour aider] Je le fais, bien sûr, à travers le Téléthon, en étant parrain de la Fondation pour la recherche médicale et du Secours populaire, mais il y a aussi d’autres actions moins visibles qui comptent beaucoup. (…) Au cours d’un enregistrement de ‘N’oubliez pas les paroles’, je m’étais adressé aux enfants pour leur dire que si un adulte posait la main sur eux d’une façon qui les mettait mal à l’aise, ils devaient appeler ce numéro: le 1, le 1 et le 9. J’ai reçu une lettre d’une maman qui me disait : ‘Je voulais vous remercier parce que ma fille est venue me parler et je ne savais pas ce qu’il se passait chez moi. Grâce à vous, nous allons nous occuper de ce scandale dans notre famille.’ Une enfant à qui j’ai pu être utile, ça me va. Je pourrais tout arrêter demain, j’aurai au moins fait ça. Nagui
En venant à la maison, certains de nos amis ont décidé, à leur tour, d’accueillir des enfants pour les vacances. J’accepte d’ailleurs d’en parler avec vous pour cette unique raison: encourager ceux qui liront ces lignes à le faire aussi, dans la mesure de leurs possibilités. Mélanie
La première chose qui fait plaisir au petit gars d’Alexandrie est de ne plus avoir peur de passer la douane quand il revient d’un pays étranger. (…) En effet, ce qui change c’est que, ceux qu’on appelle poliment, les diversités culturelles sont maintenant représentées. Tout le monde est là. Le trio de tête de ce classement était Roselmack – Nagui – Reichmann. Maintenant ce qui serait bien c’est d’arriver un jour à ne plus le remarquer. (…) La journée est très réglée : elle commence tôt à la maison avec les gamines à préparer et à déposer à l’école. Arrivée à 9 heures à Europe 1 pour préparer l’émission diffusée de 9h30 à 11h. Là je saute dans la voiture pour arriver au studio TV de La Plaine St Denis. J’ai dix minutes pour me changer, me maquiller et enregistrer « Tout le monde veut prendre sa place ». On enregistre cinq émissions en rafale, entrecoupé d’une pause déjeuner. J’essaie d’être à la maison vers 19 heures pour le bain des enfants. Un autre jour, je dois enregistrer « N’oubliez pas les paroles » de 13 heures à 20 heures. Un autre jour, il faudra enregistrer « Taratata » jusque vers 2 heures du matin. (…) le gros avantage d’un jeu est qu’il a une mécanique, des règles, un jalonnement précis et donc vous pouvez toujours retomber sur vos pattes si vous faites le fou au milieu de ces règles. S’il n’y a pas ce cadre là, et si je fais uniquement l’idiot, je me perds et l’auditeur ou le téléspectateur aussi. Cela devient alors n’importe quoi et très prétentieux car ce n’est construit qu’autour de celui qui fait ses vannes. Et là, je me suis pris des claques. D’autres sont beaucoup plus doués que moi pour faire ce genre d’émissions. Je pense à Ruquier, Baffie, Ardisson. Certains, comme moi, ont besoin de structure avec si je peux dire « un début, un milieu et une fin ». (…) [c’est quand même facile d’animer un jeu : tout le monde peut prendre votre place] c’est ce que Julien Courbet me disait : le premier qui vient me voir pour me dire qu’animer un jeu c’est facile, je lui pète la gueule. Julien travaille beaucoup pour être un très bon animateur de jeu qu’il est en train de devenir, vous le verrez sur France 2. Il sort de 15 ans de présentation de magazines de reportages. Il pensait avoir vu tout ce qu’il y avait de compliqué dans l’animation télé et là, dans les jeux, c’est la fatigue, la concentration et les changements d’humeur qui sont les plus déstabilisants. Mais en même temps on est payé pour rire et c’est quand même formidable. (…) Le téléspectateur a peut-être envie de s’amuser quand le quotidien n’est pas drôle et de gagner de l’argent quand il voit que tout est cher. Et puis pour une chaînes, un jeu coûte moins cher qu’une fiction, un documentaire, une variété ou des reportages. Donc le rapport coût/rendement est intéressant pour un chaîne et le rapport gain/divertissement peut être plaisant pour le téléspectateur. Donc si tant mieux tout le monde s’y retrouve et on arrive à cette mode des jeux. (…) Je vais vous dire la vérité: je me sens extrêmement proche du service public, les dirigeants actuels et la ligne éditoriale choisie. Sur le service public, le téléspectateur peut apprendre en s’amusant tout en corsetant cet amusement de limites qui s’appellent le respect et la décence. Les patrons du service public ont une ligne éditoriale avec des règles. Il y a des mots qu’on ne dit pas sur France 2 et que l’on dit plus facilement à Canal ou dans le privé. Et je suis conscient que pour les chaînes publiques je suis un peu « border-line ». (…) Je suis très heureux qu’Europe 1 m’ait donné cette chance. Et je vais être très honnête avec vous: ce sont les seuls. Ce sont les seuls fous qui sont venus me dire cet été « venez chez nous ». Avec le jeu que j’anime tous les matins sur Europe 1, je fais du divertissement et de la culture générale pour montrer qu’on peut s’amuser et apprendre des choses.  Nagui

Heureux comme Dieu en France ?

Prénom arabe mais père égyptien copte et mère juive franco-italienne, arrivé en France à l’âge de quatre ans mais contraint pour des raisons de visa de repartir au Canada,  fils de professeurs de lettres mais considéré comme menace pour la langue française …

A l’heure où douze ans après l’odieux assassinat d’Ilan Halimi

Et, sans compter  les tueries de Toulouse ou de l’Hypercacher, un an après le tout odieux meurtre de son homonyme Sarah Halimi dont la justice refuse toujours de reconnaitre le caractère aussi évidemment antisémite …

Se poursuit, sous la pression du nouvel antisémitisme musulman qui monte et qui tue, l’exil forcé de la communauté juive en France …

Aussi bien extérieur (Israël, Canada ou Etats-Unis) qu’intérieur (vers les quartiers plus calmes de Paris ou de la région parisienne) …

Et que pour briller sur les plateaux télé les groupies des djihadistes coranisent les halleluias de Leonard Cohen …

Alors que pour présenter les toiles spoliées par les Nazis nos musées oublient de mentionner l’origine des victimes ..

Comment ne pas comprendre …

L’envie étant à la mesure du succès

La véritable prudence de sioux concernant leurs origines …

L’animateur préféré des Français compris …

 De tant de nos plus grandes célébrités ?

Nagui : « Mélanie ma chance, mon amour »
Ghislain Loustalot

Paris Match

12/10/2016

Mélanie et Nagui vivent ensemble depuis seize ans et ne peuvent envisager de passer même une nuit l’’un sans l’’autre.

Paris Match. Vous vous êtes mariés en 2010, mais votre histoire d’amour dure depuis seize ans. Comment a-t-elle démarré ?
Mélanie.Quand nous nous sommes rencontrés, je chaperonnais une copine qui ne voulait pas se rendre seule à une soirée chez lui. Nous avons joué à Taboo, c’était bon enfant. Même si j’ai été séduite, je n’étais pas du tout prête à me lancer dans une relation, d’autant qu’il avait, disons, une certaine réputation. Je ne voulais pas que ce soit facile. (Lire aussi : « Avant elle, je n’étais pas le même »)

« Mélanie m’a transformé humainement » Nagui

Nagui, étiez-vous un séducteur, un homme à femmes ?
Nagui. J’ai pris des “vestes” pendant des années. Je me trouvais moche. La télé ne m’a pas rendu beau mais… charmant. Je suis tombé dans le panneau. J’ai utilisé ce charme pour multiplier les dragues et les conquêtes. Par moments, j’ai cru être amoureux. Avec Mélanie, je me suis rendu compte de ce que cela signifie vraiment. Aujourd’hui, après seize années de vie commune, je n’envisage pas de passer une nuit sans elle. Si je dois m’absenter de Paris, je prends un avion tard le soir pour la rejoindre, un autre très tôt le lendemain pour retourner travailler. Nous ne supportons pas d’être l’un sans l’autre. (Lire aussi : Nagui déclare son amour – « Je suis un peu un boulet »)

Que vous a-t-elle apporté qui a bouleversé votre vie ?
Nagui. Elle m’a transformé humainement, donné l’appétit de découvrir et de comprendre. Je n’étais plus allé au musée depuis l’enfance. Son regard m’éclaire, y compris dans mes choix professionnels.
Mélanie. Il se faisait refouler mais tenait bon. Je le trouvais extraordinairement fort de ne rien lâcher quand il n’avait plus rien. Mon amour pour lui s’en est trouvé grandi : je n’avais jamais connu un homme aussi tenace et courageux…

Et vous, Mélanie, que vous a-t-il apporté qui a transformé votre existence?
Mélanie. L’amour, justement. Nous avons attendu quatre ans avant de faire un enfant. Nous avons construit notre couple d’abord, nous voulions être sûrs. Nous sommes complémentaires. Moi rêveuse, lui dans l’efficacité. Il me recadre.
Nagui. Elle est d’une rigueur inimaginable. Sur les horaires et l’organisation de la vie familiale, par exemple, alors que je suis plutôt laxiste. Mélanie est tout à la fois : épouse parfaite, maîtresse, pote avec qui je vais au foot, confidente. Et puis mère. Elle ne m’a pas seulement appris à éduquer nos enfants, j’ai également modifié, grâce à elle, ma façon de me comporter avec Nina, ma première fille. Et Mélanie est devenue pour elle une belle-maman exceptionnelle.

Mélanie, quelle a été votre formation avant qu’on vous découvre dans la série ‘Sous le soleil’?
Mélanie. La danse a été ma vocation première. A 16 ans, j’ai compris que j’adorais surtout être sur scène et je me suis dirigée vers le théâtre. J’ai pris des cours, passé des castings, tourné des pubs. J’ai travaillé très tôt. A 19 ans, j’étais indépendante.

Où avez-vous grandi?
Mélanie. Je suis née à Paris où mon père, anglais, et ma mère, australienne, se sont rencontrés. Elle était venue voyager en France après ses études et n’est plus repartie. Ils donnaient des cours d’anglais au sein de la CGM, une compagnie maritime. Puis, à la quarantaine, mon père a souhaité changer de vie. Devenu journaliste sportif, il a couvert le tennis et le golf pour ‘Le Monde’ et ‘Le Figaro’ en France, pour le ‘Guardian’ et ‘The Independent’ en Angleterre. Ma mère a suivi une voie similaire, elle a pris sa retraite anticipée, et a publié trois romans. J’ai une soeur qui, après des études de lettres, est devenue interprète. Elle parle français, anglais et japonais.
Nagui. J’aurais tellement aimé que Mélanie et ses parents rencontrent les miens ! Malheureusement, la vie en a décidé autrement.

Mélanie, vous êtes de retour sur scène dans ‘L’heureux élu’. Cela a été possible parce que les enfants ont grandi?
Mélanie. J’ai tourné dans quelques films alors que j’étais enceinte de Roxane, puis d’Annabel. Mais mon énergie passait dans leur éducation, d’autant plus que nous avons eu un troisième enfant. J’ai attendu qu’Adrien, qui a 4 ans, aille à l’école de façon régulière pour remettre la machine en route. Et elle s’est mise en route toute seule, puisque le metteur en scène Jean-Luc Moreau m’a demandé de jouer dans ‘L’heureux élu’.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a plu dans cette pièce corrosive sur la nature humaine?
Mélanie. J’ai adoré le pouvoir comique du texte d’Eric Assous, son regard sur notre société, sur l’hypocrisie de certains discours. Et puis mon personnage est complexe, passionnant à jouer. En tant que partenaire, Bruno Solo a été adorable.

Mélanie, pendant que vous êtes sur scène, quel genre de père est Nagui?
Mélanie. Très tendre, très tactile et câlin avec tous ses enfants, sans différence.
Nagui. J’ai un fils qui veut me tuer, je veux dire de manière oedipienne: il veut déjà tuer le père. Il est Superman, il veut être plus fort que moi.
Mélanie. Il cherche toujours la bagarre. En même temps, il a besoin d’un héros. Il y a un mimétisme incroyable entre Adrien et son père.

L’un de vos enfants aurait-il déjà une vocation artistique?
Mélanie. Il était important pour nous qu’ils fassent de la musique. C’est la meilleure école, celle de l’effort et de la rigueur.
Nagui. Ils se rendent compte que, grâce au travail, ils obtiennent des résultats, comme dans la vie. Mais rien n’est imposé, ils ont chacun choisi leur instrument.
« Pendant des années, j’ai pris des vestes. La télé ne m’a pas rendu beau mais charmant » Nagui

Comment réagissent-ils face à votre médiatisation?
Nagui. Il a fallu relativiser, éduquer. Ce n’est pas parce que je travaille à la télévision qu’ils doivent faire les crâneurs. Au début, nous préférions qu’ils ne parlent pas du métier de leurs parents à l’école. Mais ça ressemblait à de la culpabilité. Le plus compliqué, c’est de ne pas pouvoir marcher dans la rue en les tenant par la main, parce que quelqu’un va faire une photo pour l’envoyer sur les réseaux sociaux.
Mélanie. Maintenant, ils ont l’habitude. Ils repèrent avant nous la personne qui tente de nous photographier, se mettent de dos et nous préviennent.
Nagui. Si je ne refuse jamais de prendre la pose seul, je demande systématiquement aux gens d’effacer les photos des enfants. Ils n’ont pas à subir ça.

Vous êtes arrivé à 4 ans d’Egypte, où vous étiez né, mais votre famille a dû partir un moment au Canada. Pour quelles raisons?
Nagui. Papa était prof de littérature à la fac, maman était prof de français, grec et latin au lycée, mais nous vivions dans l’attente du courrier qui apporterait la bonne ou la mauvaise nouvelle, à tel point que maman n’avait jamais complètement vidé nos malles. Quand le permis de séjour de mon père n’a pas été renouvelé, nous avons dû partir. Le Canada nous a accueillis et j’ai adoré.

Est-ce que tout cela fait de vous un curieux du monde?
Nagui. Oui, parce que j’ai grandi en voyageant. Je refuse les frontières, le racisme et l’exclusion. Je me sens citoyen du monde mais, à l’inverse, je n’ai eu de cesse d’avoir une maison à moi pour m’enraciner. A la naissance de chacun de mes enfants, j’ai planté un arbre. Notre maison de vacances, dans le Sud, est la maison d’enfance que je n’ai jamais eue. Timide, donc tchatcheur, dites-vous de l’adolescent que vous

Timide, donc tchatcheur, dites-vous de l’adolescent que vous étiez. Pourquoi?
Nagui. Je ne me sentais pas bien physiquement, je ne supportais pas les moqueries. Nagui devenait Maguy à cause de la série télévisée. Fam, mon nom, se transformait en femmelette. Un jour, une fille m’a déclaré: ‘Si je t’épouse, je deviendrai Mme Fam. C’est super.’ Je me suis dit: ‘C’est vachement bien les filles!’ Je n’étais pas beau mec, la tchatche est devenue un moyen de séduction.

Vous aviez le sentiment d’être un usurpateur, dites-vous. Vos audiences vous feraient plutôt qualifier de sauveur…
Nagui. J’ai beaucoup de chance d’avoir la situation que j’ai, mais je sais que tout est fragile. J’ai connu les périodes où le téléphone ne sonne plus. Ça peut arriver de nouveau, je ne m’y suis pas préparé. Comment se préparer au désamour?

Etes-vous déjà retourné en Egypte?
Nagui. Une fois. Nous avions décidé d’organiser une seconde cérémonie de mariage. Avec mon frère, Carim, nous avons fondu en larmes sitôt débarqués de l’avion. Trop de souvenirs. Nous aurions tellement aimé que nos parents soient là…

Votre frère exerce-t-il le même genre de métier que vous?
Nagui. Il est analyste financier. Il a fait de brillantes études de commerce, celles que je n’ai pas terminées. Nous avons quatre ans d’écart. Il m’a donné le goût de la musique, du cinéma, de la compétition aussi: qui va le plus vite, qui gagne le plus d’argent pendant les vacances, qui a la plus jolie petite amie… Il est un repère d’autant plus essentiel que nous avons perdu nos parents. Nous sommes seuls en haut de la pyramide.

N’avez-vous pas été tenté de suivre la voie de Lotfy et Colette, vos parents enseignants?
Nagui. J’ai admiré le travail merveilleux de ma mère, j’ai lu le livre que mon père a écrit sur Lamartine. Mais je n’ai pas leur culture, leur intelligence, leur sens de la pédagogie. Je possède le dixième de leurs capacités intellectuelles.
« J’ai eu droit à une couverture de ‘Charlie’. Moi, en chameau, avec ce titre: ‘Nuit gravement à la santé.’ J’ai eu mal à en pleurer » Nagui

Quelles sont les valeurs qu’ils vous ont transmises?
Nagui. Travailler avec acharnement pour être le meilleur, dans le respect et la tolérance des autres. La seule chose qui aurait pu les inquiéter et qui a longtemps inquiété maman, c’est la fragilité de ce métier. Heureusement, elle est partie sans savoir que j’allais quitter Canal+ et affronter quelques années difficiles.

Pour vous, respect et tolérance, cela veut dire quoi?
Nagui. Je respecte ce pays qui m’a accueilli il y a cinquante ans, ses institutions, ses représentants. Je ne comprends pas ceux qui s’efforcent à ne pas parler le français en France. Garder une langue maternelle que l’on parle entre soi, parce qu’on a un peu de nostalgie, je comprends. Mais il faut s’adapter à la société dans laquelle on vit. Sinon, cela crée de l’exclusion. Comme si les Bretons ne voulaient parler que le breton!

Pourtant, vous recevez des lettres d’insultes et desmenaces de mort…
Nagui. Il paraît que je salis la langue française, un comble pour un fils de profs de français! On m’écrit que je dois retourner dans mon pays, sinon on va m’égorger… Et comme certaines menaces ne sont même plus anonymes, j’ai fini par porter plainte. Mais, souvenez-vous aussi, j’ai eu droit à une couverture de ‘Charlie’. Moi, en chameau, avec ce titre: ‘Nuit gravement à la santé.’ J’ai eu mal à en pleurer. Ça ne m’a pas empêché de présenter ‘Je suis Charlie’ sur France 2 avec France Inter, le lendemain des attentats, pour dire haut et fort que la liberté de la presse doit permettre aux caricaturistes de se moquer de tout le monde.

Vous racontez parfois cette histoire: c’est un Juif qui rencontre un autre Arabe. Que signifie-t-elle pour vous?
Nagui. Ah, l’histoire de Michel Boujenah! Elle dit que j’ai mal quand j’entends des phrases faites pour nous dresser les uns contre les autres. Ma mère était aixoise, mon père égyptien. J’ai du sang français, italien protestant, arabe, juif polonais, copte, catholique. Et alors? Je suis un être humain qui respecte le pays dans lequel il vit et qui demande qu’on le respecte aussi. Le sentiment d’insécurité existe, mais il n’a pas une couleur de peau. J’ai cru que les choses iraient de mieux en mieux, c’est devenu faux. Aujourd’hui, le petit garçon que j’étais ne grandirait sûrement pas avec les mêmes chances.
« Je respecte ce pays qui m’a accueilli il y a cinquante ans. Je ne comprends pas ceux qui ne s’efforcent pas de parler le français en France » Nagui

Vous accueillez, à travers le Secours catholique, des enfants qui ne peuvent pas partir en vacances. Pourquoi?
Nagui. Parce que, Mélanie…
Mélanie. Je ne supporte pas l’injustice. On va dans cette maison, dans le Midi, avec une piscine, de la place, la plage à proximité. On peut donner du bonheur à un enfant, lui ouvrir d’autres portes. Une richesse partagée. A l’époque, il y a dix ans, nous n’avions que Nina et Roxane, et, depuis, nous n’avons jamais cessé. La première jeune fille, qui a désormais 20 ans, fait des études de droit. Quand elle a vu la mer pour la première fois, une autre petite fille, qui vient depuis deux ans, s’est exclamée: ‘Elle est hypergrande cette piscine!’ C’était bouleversant.
Nagui. Une étude démontre que, quand on fait du bien, ça nous fait du bien. Accueillir un enfant, donner un petit bout de chance, c’est quoi? Ajouter un lit dans une chambre, une assiette à table. C’est surtout un enrichissement, des liens créés qui perdurent. Je m’en veux de ne pas y avoir pensé avant.
Mélanie. En venant à la maison, certains de nos amis ont décidé, à leur tour, d’accueillir des enfants pour les vacances. J’accepte d’ailleurs d’en parler avec vous pour cette unique raison: encourager ceux qui liront ces lignes à le faire aussi, dans la mesure de leurs possibilités.

Utiliser sa notoriété pour aider, est-ce important?
Nagui. Je le fais, bien sûr, à travers le Téléthon, en étant parrain de la Fondation pour la recherche médicale et du Secours populaire, mais il y a aussi d’autres actions moins visibles qui comptent beaucoup.

Lesquelles?
Nagui. Au cours d’un enregistrement de ‘N’oubliez pas les paroles’, je m’étais adressé aux enfants pour leur dire que si un adulte posait la main sur eux d’une façon qui les mettait mal à l’aise, ils devaient appeler ce numéro: le 1, le 1 et le 9. J’ai reçu une lettre d’une maman qui me disait : ‘Je voulais vous remercier parce que ma fille est venue me parler et je ne savais pas ce qu’il se passait chez moi. Grâce à vous, nous allons nous occuper de ce scandale dans notre famille.’ Une enfant à qui j’ai pu être utile, ça me va. Je pourrais tout arrêter demain, j’aurai au moins fait ça.

Voir aussi:

MÉDIAS

20/12/2017 10:20 CET | Actualisé 20/12/2017 10:21 CET

Nagui reprend la tête du classement des animateurs préférés des Français

Il avait déjà atteint la tête du classement en décembre 2014 avant de céder la place à Michel Cymes.

MÉDIAS – Nagui est l’animateur préféré des Français en cette fin d’année 2017. Selon un sondage OpinionWay (représentatif de la population française âgée de 18 ans et plus) qui paraîtra le 22 décembre dans TV Magazine, Nagui a rattrapé -de peu- Michel Cymes en tête du classement des animateurs préférés des français.

Selon le journal, qui publie deux fois par an cette étude recensant les 50 personnalités télé les plus populaires, l’animateur du « Journal de la Santé » de France 5 Michel Cymes, 28,9% des suffrages, a été dépassé d’un cheveu par Nagui (29% des suffrages).

Nagui avait déjà atteint la tête du classement en décembre 2014 avant de céder la place à Michel Cymes.

Chouchou des jeunes générations selon ce sondage, Nagui est très présent sur les ondes avec « La bande originale » à la mi-journée sur France Inter et les émissions de France 2 « Tout le monde veut prendre sa place », « N’oubliez pas les paroles » et « Taratata ».

Avec sa troisième place (24,5%), Élise Lucet est la première femme à accéder au podium depuis la création du Top 50 des animateurs dans TV Magazine.

La présentatrice de « Cash Investigation » et d‘ »Envoyé spécial » est suivie de près par Stéphane Plaza, l’animateur de « Recherche appartement ou maison » sur M6 qui remporte 24,3% des voix et arrive en tête chez les téléspectatrices et chez les 18-34 ans.

Jean-Luc Reichmann (23,7%), Laurent Delahousse (22,5%), Stéphane Bern (21,6%), Jean-Pierre Pernaut (21,1%), Yves Calvi (18%) suivent dans le classement, rejoints par Anne-Sophie Lapix (17,9%) qui a pris à la rentrée les rênes du 20H de France 2.

À noter que dans un sondage BVA pour la presse régionale et Foncia paru le 28 octobre dernier, Élise Lucet était désignée animatrice préférée des Français. L’animatrice de « Cash Investigation arrivait en tête du classement devant Nagui et Michel Cymes, ex-aequo.

Voir aussi:

« Je suis un enfant de Coluche »

Grand Sud – Solidarité. Jean-Luc Reichmann animera la soirée « Atout cœur » consacrée à l’économie sociale, le 17 mars prochain à Toulouse. Altruiste, la star de TF1 cultive la solidarité.

La Dépêche

Quelle est l’étincelle qui vous a révélé au métier de saltimbanque ?

J’ai un souvenir précis à 14 ans. J’ai acheté ma première mob en vendant de la saucisse que je faisais déguster crue sur le parking du Mammouth. J’en ai vendu quatre tonnes, ce qui a soufflé tout le monde. J’étais d’autant plus une attraction que j’étais le fils du directeur du magasin. Et en plus, j’avais du bagou…

Vous êtes né à Toulouse, mais vous avez des racines familiales beaucoup plus lointaines…

Oui, ma famille paternelle est originaire de Slovaquie. D’origine juive, mon grand-père a dû s’expatrier pour fuir les nazis. C’est comme cela qu’il est arrivé en France avant de rejoindre la clandestinité pendant la guerre. Il est arrivé dans les Alpes avec mon père qui avait alors 4 ans. Ironie du sort, c’est un curé qui s’est occupé de lui jusqu’à la fin de la guerre.

Ce père qui choisira beaucoup plus tard Toulouse…

Oui et il deviendra même le premier directeur du premier Mammouth à Toulouse à la fin des années 1960. Il y est resté et je reviens au moins deux fois par mois à Toulouse pour voir mes parents, ma petite sœur, mes neveux, mes copains. Je n’oublie pas que j’ai débuté sur la radio des Coteaux à Toulouse avant de passer à Radio Combos où j’avais hérité du délicieux surnom de « Boogie-chou ».

Est-ce que quelqu’un vous a donné la main pour réussir professionnellement ?

Non, je me suis fait tout seul avec des périodes de doute où j’aurais bien aimé que quelqu’un me parraine. Pour moi, « La brosse à dent », où je faisais la voix off, a été un vrai déclencheur, mais Nagui ne m’a pas spécialement aidé. C’est une profession où il faut se faire tout seul. Moi, je me suis beaucoup appuyé sur ma famille.

Dans votre vie, il y a un drame personnel qui a beaucoup compté…

Oui, à 20 ans, j’ai eu un accident de moto très grave. J’ai fait plusieurs jours de coma entre la vie et la mort. J’étais tombé très bas. Depuis, je « bouffe » la vie et je fonctionne à 300 %

Quand vous êtes arrivé à Paris, vous étiez un animateur à accent ?

Non, mais je savais en jouer. Ma différence, c’était ma tache sur le nez. Au début, je l’ai masquée au maquillage pour ressembler à tout le monde. À un moment, la production de l’émission « Les z’amours » m’a pourtant fortement suggéré de la faire traiter au laser. Finalement, j’ai décidé d’assumer et cela m’a rapproché de plein de gens.

Est-ce que, pour vous, la notoriété implique aussi des devoirs envers ceux qui vivent dans la précarité ?

Je passe à la télé tous les jours depuis 10 ans et je me suis toujours attaché à respecter les gens. Cela veut dire les écouter, respecter leur différence, avoir le souci de les valoriser à l’antenne. J’aime l’image de la main tendue, j’adore l’idée de faire plaisir, alors quand je peux rendre service pour la bonne cause, je n’hésite pas. Au moins deux fois par mois, je travaille avec des associations caritatives. Faire du bien aux gens, leur dire qu’il ne faut jamais baisser les bras, c’est mon message.

Vous êtes plutôt Coluche ou plutôt abbé Pierre ?

Le combat de l’abbé Pierre contre l’exclusion et la pauvreté est, bien sûr, admirable. Coluche, je l’avais vu à Toulouse sous chapiteau quand j’étais gamin. Il m’avait fait rire, pleurer et pleurer de rire. C’était un type exceptionnel, fin, profond qui pouvait être très violent quand il interpellait les politiques, mais plein de tendresse dans son soutien à tous les gens dans la colère. Oui, je me sens pour toujours un enfant de Coluche.


RENDEZ-VOUS

Atout cœur

L’association Toulouse Atout cœur a décidé cette année de soutenir les actions d’aide à la réinsertion sociale par le travail au cours d’une soirée qui sera organisée, jeudi prochain 17 mars, au centre des Congrès à Toulouse. Une vente aux enchères d’œuvres d’art permettra d’accompagner les projets de création de start up solidaires. La soirée rassemblera plus de 800 invités et sera présidée par Philippe Douste-Blazy, le ministre de la Santé, et par Martin Hirsch, président de l’association Emmaüs.


Son parcours

RADIOS : Début à Toulouse en 1981 sur Radio des Coteaux et Radios Combos, Europe en 1996, Sur RMC en 2000. Depuis septembre 2002, RTL, à 19 h, « Vous avez deux minutes… ».

TELEVISION : De 1995 à 2000, « Les Z’amours » sur France 2, Jeux sans frontières (1 998) sur France 2, « Attention à la marche » depuis mars 2001 sur TF1.

VOIX : Les Guignols depuis 1989 sur Canal +. En voix off, « N’oubliez pas votre brosse à dents» sur France 2 avec Nagui, Bandes annonces de TF1, Publicité.

COMEDIE : Comédien, danseur, chanteur dans « Les précieuses ridicules », de Molière, en comédie musicale rock. Comédien dans Tribunal, Nestor Burma, Navarro, La trilogie de Pagnol.

LIVRE : « Sur 100 Français »,février 2004. « Éditions M. Lafon ».

ACTUALITE : Deux prime time sur TF1. Le 19 mars, il recevra des couples célèbres pour un « Attention à la marche » spécial. En préparation, une émission basée sur la ressemblance d’une mère et de sa fille. Casting prochainement à Toulouse. Envoyer candidatures à

Voir encore:

The Voice : Ce que Mennel a réellement chanté en arabe


Voir enfin:

PARIS — At first, it is unclear why curators at the Louvre chose to squeeze the 31 paintings into two small rooms. Dutch landscapes sit next to German portraits. Depictions of feasts, Roman ruins, a small child with a goat seem to collide.

What ties these pieces together is not style, school or subject, but a singular history. All were looted or bought by German occupiers during World War II, then recovered and brought back to France when the conflict ended.

While France has returned tens of thousands of looted artworks and other objects to their rightful owners, many remain orphaned, including these paintings, which until recently hung in the museum’s regular exhibition spaces, with only a small bit of explanatory text on their descriptive plaques.

“It seemed to us that if we didn’t create a permanent space, we were operating as we used to in the past,” said Sébastien Allard, director of the paintings department at the Louvre, which opened a dedicated space for looted works in December. Although museums are often suspected of wanting to keep the pieces, Mr. Allard said, “our goal is clearly to return everything that we can.”

Critics, while praising the intention, say the new rooms represent a missed opportunity because they do little to further the search for the rightful owners of the paintings or their heirs.

“Museums have really undergone a cultural revolution,” said Corinne Bouchoux, a former senator who wrote a 2013 report on France’s handling of looted artwork. “We’ve gone from an era where these paintings were either hidden or forgotten, to one where this history is accepted.”

“But for the paintings that we are certain were despoiled, the real question is: What is being done to find the descendants?” she said.

An estimated 100,000 objects in France alone were looted by the Nazis or sold under duress and transferred to Germany — paintings, but also drawings, sculptures and antiquities. Many had belonged to Jewish families whose homes were raided during the Nazi occupation, or who were forced to sell art to survive or to flee the country.

From 1945 to 1949, over 61,000 of those objects were returned to France, and about 45,000 were claimed by their owners. Many of the unclaimed pieces were sold at auction.

But the French state kept 2,143 of them — even today, experts say it is unclear how they were chosen. The government placed them in an inventory called the Musées Nationaux Récupération, or M.N.R., and entrusted them to museums. The Louvre has 807 such paintings.

A little over 100 looted objects, including about 50 paintings, have been returned to their legitimate owners or their descendants, since the 1950s, after the first wave of restitutions. The French authorities acknowledge the pace is slow.

“If you just look at the number of restitutions, there is obviously still a lot to do,” said Thierry Bajou, a curator at the Culture Ministry who works with a small team to identify the origins of looted art by combing through museum collections and archives, and by looking for markings, notes or labels on the backs of paintings.

“For a long time, the administration merely waited for the beneficiaries to claim a given work of art,” he said. “Now, we try to study the origin of the works and to identify who was despoiled at the time.”

Authorities collaborating on that effort include museums, the Culture and Foreign Ministries and the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation, which was established in 1999 to examine reparation claims made by victims of France’s anti-Semitic laws during the war.

In 2015, the French government also struck a deal with a national organization of genealogists to help track down the heirs of despoiled families.

But French officials say the work is filled with obstacles, including the refusal of some art galleries to open their wartime archives. While some families saw their possessions looted by the Nazis, others were forced to sell their paintings, meaning the initial transaction can appear legitimate and can involve multiple intermediaries.

“We have a responsibility to give the right painting to the right person,” said Vincent Delieuvin, a curator at the Louvre who oversees looted or force-sold paintings. He said that museums did their best to retrace the history of their paintings, but that in many cases only families could provide proof that one was theirs.

An official catalog of the M.N.R. inventory was published in 2004, and a detailed online database is kept, named after Rose Valland, the French Resistance operative who kept a ledger of Nazi thefts.

Curators at the Louvre say the new exhibition rooms are another step in the effort to make information about looted artworks more accessible to the public, and to the victims or their heirs.

Some experts praised the idea — Ms. Bouchoux, the former senator, said it was “symbolically and politically positive” — but others said the exhibition rooms lacked context and failed to lay out the complex history that had left the paintings orphaned.

Emmanuelle Polack, an art historian who did her doctoral thesis on the Parisian art market under Nazi occupation, noted that the explanatory text in the exhibition rooms did not say that most of the looted artwork belonged to Jewish families.

Nor do the plaques beneath the paintings explain where and how each one was found in Germany, like the 19th-century portrait of two sisters by Jacques Augustin Pajou that was taken by the Nazi regime’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Mr. Allard, the Louvre curator, acknowledged that the plaques and an existing sign were “insufficient,” but said the museum planned to put up a larger banner at the entrance to the rooms. He also said the Louvre would look into ways of encouraging visitors to use their smartphones to search the Rose-Valland database.

Still, Ms. Polack said the Louvre had missed an opportunity to create an interactive or educational space that visitors might seek out, rather than accidentally stumble on it while in search of the “Mona Lisa.”

“What is interesting is their history, the fact that they belonged to people, that they were taken to Germany and then returned,” Ms. Polack said of the paintings. Their special interest, she added, is not in their aesthetic qualities.

“They are removed from their historical context, and so you can’t understand the enduring necessity of returning them,” she said. “They were witness to a story — tell us that story! »