Green Book: Comment torpiller la chance de cinq oscars (Behind its African-American art of coded communication, the Green Book subversively promoted an image of affluent African-Americans that white Americans rarely saw and which eventually had a democratizing effect on the country)

26 janvier, 2019

Image result for The Green book Victor hugo Green cover"Colored waiting room" à Durham, Caroline du Nord, en mai 1940.Le pianiste et compositeur Don Shirley à New York, en 1960.

Image result for Green Book film posterOn April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the lectern at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. The United States had been in active combat in Vietnam for two years and tens of thousands of people had been killed, including some 10,000 American troops. The political establishment — from left to right — backed the war, and more than 400,000 American service members were in Vietnam, their lives on the line. Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement. King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and added, “that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.” It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine. I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States. Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns. Similarly, many students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of the McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission, which blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers. Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.” And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face. We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel. And finally, we must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel, a system complete with, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians — such as the new nation-state law that says explicitly that only Jewish Israelis have the right of self-determination in Israel, ignoring the rights of the Arab minority that makes up 21 percent of the population. Of course, there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. The evidence regarding King’s views on Israel is complicated and contradictory. Although the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians, King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement. Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, “I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.” He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war. Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand. Yet I find myself in agreement with the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who concluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.” Indeed, King’s views may have evolved alongside many other spiritually grounded thinkers, like Rabbi Brian Walt, who has spoken publicly about the reasons that he abandoned his faith in what he viewed as political Zionism. (…) During more than 20 visits to the West Bank and Gaza, he saw horrific human rights abuses, including Palestinian homes being bulldozed while people cried — children’s toys strewn over one demolished site — and saw Palestinian lands being confiscated to make way for new illegal settlements subsidized by the Israeli government. He was forced to reckon with the reality that these demolitions, settlements and acts of violent dispossession were not rogue moves, but fully supported and enabled by the Israeli military. For him, the turning point was witnessing legalized discrimination against Palestinians — including streets for Jews only — which, he said, was worse in some ways than what he had witnessed as a boy in South Africa. (…) Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about “the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.” (…) In view of these developments, it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic. (…) the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (…) declared in a riveting speech last year that we cannot talk about justice without addressing the displacement of native peoples, the systemic racism of colonialism and the injustice of government repression. In the same breath he said: “I want to say, as clearly as I know how, that the humanity and the dignity of any person or people cannot in any way diminish the humanity and dignity of another person or another people. To hold fast to the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child.” Guided by this kind of moral clarity, faith groups are taking action. In 2016, the pension board of the United Methodist Church excluded from its multibillion-dollar pension fund Israeli banks whose loans for settlement construction violate international law. Similarly, the United Church of Christ the year before passed a resolution calling for divestments and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Even in Congress, change is on the horizon. For the first time, two sitting members, Representatives Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, publicly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In 2017, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, introduced a resolution to ensure that no U.S. military aid went to support Israel’s juvenile military detention system. Israel regularly prosecutes Palestinian children detainees in the occupied territories in military court. None of this is to say that the tide has turned entirely or that retaliation has ceased against those who express strong support for Palestinian rights. To the contrary, just as King received fierce, overwhelming criticism for his speech condemning the Vietnam War — 168 major newspapers, including The Times, denounced the address the following day — those who speak publicly in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people still risk condemnation and backlash. Bahia Amawi, an American speech pathologist of Palestinian descent, was recently terminated for refusing to sign a contract that contains an anti-boycott pledge stating that she does not, and will not, participate in boycotting the State of Israel. In November, Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for giving a speech in support of Palestinian rights that was grossly misinterpreted as expressing support for violence. Canary Mission continues to pose a serious threat to student activists. And just over a week ago, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, apparently under pressure mainly from segments of the Jewish community and others, rescinded an honor it bestowed upon the civil rights icon Angela Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and supports B.D.S. But that attack backfired. Within 48 hours, academics and activists had mobilized in response. The mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, as well as the Birmingham School Board and the City Council, expressed outrage at the institute’s decision. The council unanimously passed a resolution in Davis’ honor, and an alternative event is being organized to celebrate her decades-long commitment to liberation for all. I cannot say for certain that King would applaud Birmingham for its zealous defense of Angela Davis’s solidarity with Palestinian people. But I do. In this new year, I aim to speak with greater courage and conviction about injustices beyond our borders, particularly those that are funded by our government, and stand in solidarity with struggles for democracy and freedom. My conscience leaves me no other choice. Michelle Alexander
“I think it’s a trope that has certainly been seen in Hollywood films for decades. Think about the white teacher in the inner city school. The Michelle Pfeiffer one [in Dangerous Minds]. The Principal. Music of the Heart, where Meryl Streep was a music teacher. Wildcats. I think these stories probably read well in a pitch meeting: ‘Goldie Hawn coaching an inner city football team.’“They make it look like Japan would not have made it out of the feudal period without Tom Cruise.” And the west wouldn’t have been tamed and we’d have no civilization if Kevin Costner didn’t ride into town. Laurence Lerman
Belle becomes empowered to challenge the white characters that view themselves as her savior on their veiled racism, which marks a welcome departure from one of Hollywood’s most enduring cinematic tropes: the white savior. When it comes to race-relations dramas—and slavery narratives, in particular—the white savior has become one of Hollywood’s most reliably offensive clichés. The black servants of The Help needed a perky, progressive Emma Stone to shed light on their plight; the football bruiser in The Blind Side couldn’t have done it without fiery Sandra Bullock; the black athletes in Cool Runnings and The Air Up There needed the guidance of their white coach; and in 12 Years A Slave, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is liberated at the eleventh hour by a Jesus-looking Brad Pitt (in a classic Deus Ex Machina). The issue, according to Lerman, is more complex given the nature of Hollywood and the various power structures at play. While there are plenty of important stories to tell featuring people of color, there are only a small number of people of color in Hollywood with the clout to get a film green-lit—especially since we’re living in an age where international box office trumps domestic. This troubling disparity often results in a white star needing to be featured in a film with a predominantly minority cast to secure the necessary financing—as was the case with Pitt’s appearance in 12 Years A Slave, a film produced by his company, Plan B. And who can forget the controversy over the outrageous Italian movie posters for 12 Years A Slave, which prominently featured the film’s white movie stars—Pitt and Michael Fassbender—in favor of the movie’s real star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Without ruining the film for you, part of what makes Belle so refreshing is that its portrayal of black characters, namely Belle, is one of dignity. They aren’t the typical uneducated blacks you see in films that need to be shown the light by a white knight, for they’re blessed with more intellect and class than many of their white subjugators, who soon come to realize that Belle, through her grace and wisdom, is their savior. “Her family thought they were giving her great love, but until she’s able to take that freedom for herself and find self-love and feel comfortable in her own skin, that’s when she’s ready to challenge them,” says Mbatha-Raw. “It just felt like a story that needed to be told.” The Daily Beast
“Driving Miss Daisy” (…) “The Upside” (…)  “Green Book” (…) symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart. All the optimism of racial progress — from desegregation to integration to equality to something like true companionship — is stipulated by terms of service. Thirty years separate “Driving Miss Daisy” from these two new films, but how much time has passed, really? The bond in all three is conditionally transactional, possible only if it’s mediated by money. “The Upside” has the rich, quadriplegic author Phillip Lacasse (Cranston) hire an ex-con named Dell Scott (Hart) to be his “life auxiliary.” “Green Book” reverses the races so that some white muscle (Mortensen) drives the black pianist Don Shirley (Ali) to gigs throughout the Deep South in the 1960s. It’s “The Upside Down.” These pay-for-playmate transactions are a modern pastime, different from an entire history of popular culture that simply required black actors to serve white stars without even the illusion of friendship. It was really only possible in a post-integration America, possible after Sidney Poitier made black stardom loosely feasible for the white studios, possible after the moral and legal adjustments won during the civil rights movements, possible after the political recriminations of the black power and blaxploitation eras let black people regularly frolic among themselves for the first time since the invention of the Hollywood movie. Possible, basically, only in the 1980s, after the movements had more or less subsided and capitalism and jokey white paternalism ran wild. On television in this era, rich white sitcom families vacuumed up little black boys, on “Diff’rent Strokes,” on “Webster.” On “Diff’rent Strokes,” the adopted boys are the orphaned Harlem sons of Phillip Drummond’s maid. Not only was money supposed to lubricate racial integration; it was perhaps supposed to mitigate a history of keeping black people apart and oppressed. (…) The sitcoms weren’t officially social experiments, but they were light advertisements for the civilizing (and alienating) benefits of white wealth on black life. (…) Any time a white person comes anywhere close to the rescue of a black person the academy is primed to say, “Good for you!,” whether it’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Blind Side,” or “The Help.” The year “Driving Miss Daisy” won those Oscars, Morgan Freeman also had a supporting role in a drama (“Glory”) that placed a white Union colonel at its center and was very much in the mix that night. (…) And Spike Lee lost the original screenplay award for “Do the Right Thing,” his masterpiece about a boiled-over pot of racial animus in Brooklyn. (…) Lee’s movie dramatized a starker truth — we couldn’t all just get along. For what it’s worth, Lee is now up for more Oscars. His film “BlacKkKlansman” has six nominations. Given the five for “Green Book,” basically so is “Driving Miss Daisy.” Which is to say that 2019 might just be 1990 all over again. (…) One headache with these movies, even one as well done as “Driving Miss Daisy,” is that they romanticize their workplaces and treat their black characters as the ideal crowbar for closed white minds and insulated lives. Who knows why, in “The Upside,” Phillip picks the uncouth, underqualified Dell to drive him around, change his catheter and share his palatial apartment. But by the time the movie’s over, they’re paragliding together to Aretha Franklin. We’re told that this is based on a true story. It’s not. It’s a remake of a far more nauseating French megahit — “Les Intouchables” — and that claimed to be based on a true story. “The Upside” seems based on one of those paternalistic ’80s movies, “Disorderlies,” the one where the Fat Boys wheel an ailing Ralph Bellamy around his mansion. (…) Most of these black-white-friendship adventures were foretold by Mark Twain. Somebody is white Huck and somebody else is his amusingly dim black sidekick, Jim. This movie is just a little more flagrant about it. There’s a way of looking at the role reversal in “Green Book” as an upgrade. Through his record company, Don hires a white nightclub bouncer named Tony Vallelonga. (Most people call him Tony Lip.) We don’t meet Don for about 15 minutes, because the movie needs us to know that Tony is a sweet, Eye-talian tough guy who also throws out perfectly good glassware because his wife let black repairmen drink from it. By this point, you might have heard about the fried chicken scene in “Green Book.” It comes early in their road trip. Tony is shocked to discover that Don has never had fried chicken. He also appears never to have seen anybody eat fried chicken, either. (“What do we do about the bones?”) So, with all the greasy alacrity and exuberant crassness that Mortensen can conjure, Tony demonstrates how to eat it while driving. As comedy, it’s masterful — there’s tension, irony and, when the car stops and reverses to retrieve some litter, a punch line that brings down the house. But the comedy works only if the black, classical-pop fusion pianist is from outer space (and not in a Sun Ra sort of way). You’re meant to laugh because how could this racist be better at being black than this black man who’s supposed to be better than him? (…) The movie’s tagline is “based on a true friendship.” But the transactional nature of it makes the friendship seem less true than sponsored. So what does the money do, exactly? The white characters — the biological ones and somebody supposedly not black enough, like fictional Don — are lonely people in these pay-a-pal movies. The money is ostensibly for legitimate assistance, but it also seems to paper over all that’s potentially fraught about race. The relationship is entirely conscripted as service and bound by capitalism and the fantastically presumptive leap is, The money doesn’t matter because I like working for you. And if you’re the racist in the relationship: I can’t be horrible because we’re friends now. That’s why the hug Sandra Bullock gives Yomi Perry, the actor playing her maid, Maria, at the end of “Crash,” remains the single most disturbing gesture of its kind. It’s not friendship. Friendship is mutual. That hug is cannibalism. Money buys Don a chauffeur and, apparently, an education in black folkways and culture. (Little Richard? He’s never heard him play.) Shirley’s real-life family has objected to the portrait. Their complaints include that he was estranged from neither black people nor blackness. Even without that thumbs-down, you can sense what a particularly perverse fantasy this is: that absolution resides in a neutered black man needing a white guy not only to protect and serve him, but to love him, too. Even if that guy and his Italian-American family and mob associates refer to Don and other black people as eggplant and coal. In the movie’s estimation, their racism is preferable to its nasty, blunter southern cousin because their racism is often spoken in Italian. And, hey, at least Tony never asks Don to eat his fancy dinner in a supply closet. Mahershala Ali is acting Shirley’s isolation and glumness, but the movie determines that dining with racists is better than dining alone. The money buys Don relative safety, friendship, transportation and a walking-talking black college. What the money can’t buy him is more of the plot in his own movie. It can’t allow him to bask in his own unique, uniquely dreamy artistry. It can’t free him from a movie that sits him where Miss Daisy sat, yet treats him worse than Hoke. He’s a literal passenger on this white man’s trip. Tony learns he really likes black people. And thanks to Tony, now so does Don. Wesley Morris (NYT)
Today, our thousands of travelers, if they be thoughtful enough to arm themselves with a Green Book, may free themselves of a lot of worry and inconvenience as they plan a trip. Victor Hugo Green
Victor Hugo Green remains a mysterious figure about whom we know very little. He rarely spoke directly to Green Book readers, instead publishing testimonial letters in what the historian Cotten Seiler describes as an act of promotional “ventriloquism.” The debut edition did not exhort black travelers to boycotts or include demands for equal rights. Instead, Green represented the guide as a benign compilation of “facts and information connected with motoring, which the Negro Motorist can use and depend upon.” The coolly reasoned language put white readers at ease and allowed the Green Book to attract generous corporate and government sponsorship. Green nevertheless practiced the African-American art of coded communication, addressing black readers in messages that went over white peoples’ heads. Consider the passage: “Today, our thousands of travelers, if they be thoughtful enough to arm themselves with a Green Book, may free themselves of a lot of worry and inconvenience as they plan a trip.” White readers viewed this as a common-sense statement about vacation planning. For African-Americans who read in black newspapers about the fates that befell people like Ms. Derricotte, the notion of “arming” oneself with the guide referred to taking precautions against racism on the road. The Green Book was subversive in another way as well. It promoted an image of African-Americans that white Americans rarely saw — and that Hollywood deliberately avoided in films for fear of offending racist Southerners. The guide’s signature image, shown on the cover of the 1948 edition — and used as stationery logo for Victor Green, Inc. — consisted of a smiling, well-dressed couple striding toward their car carrying expensive suitcases. Green believed exposing white Americans to the black elite might persuade white business owners that black consumer spending was significant enough to make racial discrimination imprudent. Like the black elite itself, he subscribed to the view that affluent travelers of color could change white minds about racism simply by venturing to places where black people had been unseen. As it turned out, black travelers had a democratizing effect on the country. Like many African-American institutions that thrived during the age of extreme segregation, the Green Book faded in influence as racial barriers began to fall. It ceased publication not long after the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations. Nevertheless, the guide’s three decades of listings offer an important vantage point on black business ownership and travel mobility in the age of Jim Crow. In other words, the Green Book has a lot more to say about the time when it was the Negro traveler’s bible. Grant Staples
Green Book, Sur les routes du Sud, c’est l’histoire (vraie) de la relation entre le pianiste de jazz afro-américain Don Shirley et le videur italo-américain Tony Lip – de son vrai nom Frank Anthony Vallelonga. Les deux hommes se retrouvent ensemble sur les routes de l’Amérique profonde : celle, ségrégationniste, du sud du pays, dans les années 60, à l’occasion d’une tournée de concerts. Le sophistiqué Don Shirley a besoin d’un chauffeur garde du corps alors que le bourru Tony Lip a besoin d’argent. Les deux hommes, respectivement incarnés par Mahershala Ali et Viggo Mortensen, tous deux impériaux, vont apprendre à s’apprivoiser malgré leurs préjugés respectifs (l’un, tendance raciste, sur les Noirs ; l’autre, tendance snob, sur les prolos.) (…) Le Negro Motorist Green Book était un guide indispensable quand on était un voyageur noir dans l’Amérique ségrégationniste. L’ouvrage, du nom de son auteur, le postier noir Victor H. Green, est publié tous les ans entre 1936 et 1966, et recense les motels, hôtels, bars, restaurants et stations-service où la clientèle de couleur est admise. Dans le film, Tony est contraint d’en faire usage pour trouver des endroits acceptant Don Shirley. (…) Green Book, qui vient de remporter trois Golden Globes (meilleur film, meilleur scénario et meilleur acteur dans un second rôle pour Mahershala Ali), se rendra aux Oscars, le 24 février prochain, fort de cinq nominations. Si la concurrence risque d’être rude face à Roma pour le meilleur film, ou à Christian Bale pour la statuette du meilleur acteur (il est époustouflant dans le rôle de Dick Cheney dans le film Vice, d’Adam McKay, en salle le 13 février), le film peut permettre à Mahershala Ali de rafler son deuxième oscar du meilleur second rôle, deux ans après celui qu’il a déjà obtenu pour Moonlight, de Barry Jenkins. (…) La famille de Don Shirley reproche aux scénariste d’avoir enjolivé, voire inventé la réalité, parlant d’une « symphonie de mensonges » : selon elle, les deux hommes ne sont pas devenus aussi amis que le film le laisse entendre, et Don Shirley n’était pas brouillé avec son frère. Les auteurs se défendent en affirmant avoir travaillé l’histoire avec Don Shirley lui-même. Certains critiques américains reprochent aussi au film de ne pas être « suffisamment noir » et de positionner le film depuis un point de vue blanc, comme Hollywood a tendance à le faire, sur le mode du white savior (« sauveur blanc »). Autre polémique, celle causée par diverses frasques de l’équipe : l’exhumation d’un tweet de Nick Vallelonga dans lequel il affirmait avoir vu des musulmans célébrer la chute des Twin Towers le 11 septembre 2001, confirmant ainsi des propos de Donald Trump, alors candidat à la présidence des Etats-Unis ; l’usage du « N word » (nigger) par Viggo Mortensen lors d’une interview, ou les excuse de Peter Farrelly qui a, dans le passé, montré son pénis « dans une tentative d’être drôle », notamment devant l’actrice Cameron Diaz. Autant de taches dans la cour aux Oscars… Télérama

Attention: une subversion peut en cacher une autre !

Au lendemain d’un Martin Luther King Day …

Où plus de 50 ans après sa mort l’on utilise son anniversaire pour appeler au boycott d’un Etat dont il avait défendu l’existence …

Et où sous prétexte de droits d’auteur et de protection de la vie privée, ses quatre enfants continuent à bloquer non seulement la libre circulation de ses discours historiques …

Mais, contraignant l’unique long-métrage Selma à la paraphrase et à la dissimulation des différends familiaux du Dr. King, la production de tout film sur l’ensemble de sa vie

Et à la veille d’un triomphe annoncé (trois Golden Globes, cinq nominations aux Oscars, dont un 2e pour l’acteur principal) d’un film célébrant la mémoire d’un véritable génie de la musique noir …

Qui à l’instar du fameux petit Michelin noir de l’époque (le Green book du titre et du nom de son auteur, un certain Victor Hugo Green) et de sa petite élite noire d’utilsateurs …

Avait tant fait, via un courageux périple de 18 mois à travers un sud alors livré aux affres de la discrimination, pour en subvertir les bases …

Devinez qui, sous prétexte d’une amitié jugée exagérément présentée avec son chauffeur-garde du corps blanc et d’un climat historique jugé pas assez noir, est en train de torpiller la possibilité de pas moins de cinq oscars …

Pour une communauté afro-américaine qui par ailleurs ne manque pas de rappeler sa sous-représentation dans le cinéma américain ?

“Green Book” à livre ouvert : tout ce qu’il faut savoir sur ce favori des Oscars
Caroline Besse
Télérama
25/01/2019

Après avoir remporté trois Golden Globes, le film de Peter Farrelly est nominé cinq fois aux Oscars. Si vous avez aimé le duo formé par Viggo Mortensen et Mahershala Ali, voici l’occasion d’approfondir le sujet…

De quoi parle le film ?

Green Book, Sur les routes du Sud, c’est l’histoire (vraie) de la relation entre le pianiste de jazz afro-américain Don Shirley et le videur italo-américain Tony Lip – de son vrai nom Frank Anthony Vallelonga. Les deux hommes se retrouvent ensemble sur les routes de l’Amérique profonde : celle, ségrégationniste, du sud du pays, dans les années 60, à l’occasion d’une tournée de concerts.

Le sophistiqué Don Shirley a besoin d’un chauffeur garde du corps alors que le bourru Tony Lip a besoin d’argent. Les deux hommes, respectivement incarnés par Mahershala Ali et Viggo Mortensen, tous deux impériaux, vont apprendre à s’apprivoiser malgré leurs préjugés respectifs (l’un, tendance raciste, sur les Noirs ; l’autre, tendance snob, sur les prolos.)

Qui le réalise ?

Le réalisateur, Peter Farrelly, commet ici son premier film sans son frère Bobby. Après la série, dans les années 90, de comédies foutraques tendance scato et aujourd’hui cultes, Dumb et Dumber, Fous d’Irène ou Mary à tout prix, le cadet de la fratrie se lance dans la réalisation en solitaire de cette « dramédie » tendance buddy movie, en adaptant un scénario coécrit par Nick Vallelonga, le fils de Tony.

Qui est le vrai Tony Lip ?

C’est le genre d’homme qui a connu mille vies grâce à un bagout et à une tchatche hors du commun, qui lui ont d’ailleurs valu le surnom de « Lip » (« la lèvre » – de là où naît son talent de persuasion.) Son travail de videur dans le célèbre club new-yorkais The Copacabana, dans les années 60, lui a permis de rencontrer tout un tas de célébrités, dont Frank Sinatra ou Francis Ford Coppola. Ce dernier lui offre un rôle dans Le Parrain, en tant qu’invité du mariage. On le voit aussi dans Donnie Brasco, mais surtout dans la série Les Soprano, dans le rôle du mafieux à lunettes Carmine Lupertazzi. Il est mort en janvier 2013, trois mois avant Don Shirley.

Qu’est-ce qu’un « Green Book » ?

Le Negro Motorist Green Book était un guide indispensable quand on était un voyageur noir dans l’Amérique ségrégationniste. L’ouvrage, du nom de son auteur, le postier noir Victor H. Green, est publié tous les ans entre 1936 et 1966, et recense les motels, hôtels, bars, restaurants et stations-service où la clientèle de couleur est admise. Dans le film, Tony est contraint d’en faire usage pour trouver des endroits acceptant Don Shirley.

Quelles sont les chances du film aux Oscars ?

Green Book, qui vient de remporter trois Golden Globes (meilleur film, meilleur scénario et meilleur acteur dans un second rôle pour Mahershala Ali), se rendra aux Oscars, le 24 février prochain, fort de cinq nominations. Si la concurrence risque d’être rude face à Roma pour le meilleur film, ou à Christian Bale pour la statuette du meilleur acteur (il est époustouflant dans le rôle de Dick Cheney dans le film Vice, d’Adam McKay, en salle le 13 février), le film peut permettre à Mahershala Ali de rafler son deuxième oscar du meilleur second rôle, deux ans après celui qu’il a déjà obtenu pour Moonlight, de Barry Jenkins.

Quelle(s) polémiqu(e)s  entourent le film ?

La famille de Don Shirley reproche aux scénariste d’avoir enjolivé, voire inventé la réalité, parlant d’une « symphonie de mensonges » : selon elle, les deux hommes ne sont pas devenus aussi amis que le film le laisse entendre, et Don Shirley n’était pas brouillé avec son frère. Les auteurs se défendent en affirmant avoir travaillé l’histoire avec Don Shirley lui-même.

Certains critiques américains reprochent aussi au film de ne pas être « suffisamment noir » et de positionner le film depuis un point de vue blanc, comme Hollywood a tendance à le faire, sur le mode du white savior (« sauveur blanc »).

Autre polémique, celle causée par diverses frasques de l’équipe : l’exhumation d’un tweet de Nick Vallelonga dans lequel il affirmait avoir vu des musulmans célébrer la chute des Twin Towers le 11 septembre 2001, confirmant ainsi des propos de Donald Trump, alors candidat à la présidence des Etats-Unis ; l’usage du « N word » (nigger) par Viggo Mortensen lors d’une interview, ou les excuse de Peter Farrelly qui a, dans le passé, montré son pénis « dans une tentative d’être drôle », notamment devant l’actrice Cameron Diaz. Autant de taches dans la cour aux Oscars…

Voir aussi:

The Green Book’s Black History
Lessons from the Jim Crow-era travel guide for African-American elites.
Brent Staples
NYT
Jan. 25, 2019

[The New York Times and Oculus are presenting a virtual-reality film, “Traveling While Black,” related to this Opinion essay. To view it, you can watch on the Oculus platform or download the NYT VR app on your mobile device.]

Imagine trudging into a hotel with your family at midnight — after a long, grueling drive — and being turned away by a clerk who “loses” your reservation when he sees your black face.

This was a common hazard for members of the African-American elite in 1932, the year Dr. B. Price Hurst of Washington, D.C., was shut out of New York City’s Prince George Hotel despite having confirmed his reservation by telegraph.

Hurst would have planned his trip differently had he been headed to the South, where “whites only” signs were ubiquitous and well-to-do black travelers lodged in homes owned by others in the black elite. Hurst was a member of Washington’s “Colored Four Hundred” — as the capital’s black upper crust once was known — and was familiar with having to plan his life around hotels, restaurants and theaters in the city, and throughout the Jim Crow South, that screened out people of color.

Hurst expected better of New York City. He did not let the matter rest after the Prince George turned his travel-weary family into the streets. He wrote an anguished letter to Walter White, then executive secretary of the N.A.A.C.P., explaining how he had been rejected by four hotels before shifting his search to the black district of Harlem. He then sued the Prince George for violating New York State’s civil rights laws, winning a settlement that put the city’s hotels on notice that discrimination could carry a financial cost.

African-Americans who embraced automobile travel to escape filthy, “colored-only” train cars learned quickly that the geography of Jim Crow was far more extensive than they had imagined. The motels and rest stops that deprived them of places to sleep were just the beginning.

While driving, these families were often forced to relieve themselves in roadside ditches because the filling stations that sold them gas barred them from using “whites only” bathrooms.

White motorists who drove clunkers deliberately damaged expensive cars driven by black people — to put Negroes “in their places.”

“Sundown Towns” across the country banned African-Americans from the streets after dark, a constant reminder that the reach of white supremacy was vast indeed.

As still happens today, police officers who pulled over motorists of color for “driving while black” raised the threat that black passengers would be arrested, battered or even killed during the encounter.

The Negro Traveler’s Bible

The Hurst case was a cause célèbre in 1936 when a Harlem resident and postal worker named Victor Hugo Green began soliciting material for a national travel guide that would steer black motorists around the humiliations of the not-so-open road and point them to businesses that were more than happy to accept colored dollars. As the historian Gretchen Sullivan Sorin writes in her revelatory study of “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” the guide became “the bible of every Negro highway traveler in the 1950s and early 1960s.”

Green, who died in 1960, is experiencing a renaissance thanks to heightened interest from filmmakers: The 2018 feature film “Green Book” won three Golden Globes earlier this month, and the documentary “Driving While Black” is scheduled for broadcast by PBS next year.

Then there is The New York Times opinion section’s Op-Doc film “Traveling While Black,” which debuts this Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The brief film offers a revealing view of the Green Book era as told through Ben’s Chili Bowl, a black-owned restaurant in Washington, and reminds us that the humiliations heaped upon African-Americans during that time period extended well beyond the one Hurst suffered in New York City.

Sandra Butler-Truesdale, born in the capital in the 1930s, references an often-forgotten trauma — and one of the conceptual underpinnings of the Jim Crow era — when she recalls that Negroes who shopped in major stores were not allowed to try on clothing before they bought it. Store owners at the time offered a variety of racist rationales, including that Negroes were insufficiently clean. At bottom, the practice reflected the irrational belief that anything coming in contact with African-American skin — including clothing, silverware or bed linens — was contaminated by blackness, rendering it unfit for use by whites.

This had deadly implications in places where emergency medical services were assigned on the basis of race. Of all the afflictions devised in the Jim Crow era, medical racism was the most lethal. African-American accident victims could easily be left to die because no “black” ambulance was available. Black patients taken to segregated hospitals, where they sometimes languished in basements or even boiler rooms, suffered inferior treatment.

In a particularly telling case in 1931, the light-skinned father of Mr. White, the N.A.A.C.P. leader, was struck by a car and mistakenly admitted to the beautifully equipped “white” wing of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. When relatives who were recognizably black came looking for him, hospital employees dragged the victim from the examination table to the decrepit Negro ward across the street, where he later died.

That same year, Juliette Derricotte, the celebrated African-American educator and dean of women at Fisk University, succumbed to injuries suffered in a car accident near Dalton, Ga., after a white hospital refused her treatment.

Advertising to the Black Elite

Victor Hugo Green remains a mysterious figure about whom we know very little. He rarely spoke directly to Green Book readers, instead publishing testimonial letters in what the historian Cotten Seiler describes as an act of promotional “ventriloquism.” The debut edition did not exhort black travelers to boycotts or include demands for equal rights. Instead, Green represented the guide as a benign compilation of “facts and information connected with motoring, which the Negro Motorist can use and depend upon.”

The coolly reasoned language put white readers at ease and allowed the Green Book to attract generous corporate and government sponsorship. Green nevertheless practiced the African-American art of coded communication, addressing black readers in messages that went over white peoples’ heads. Consider the passage: “Today, our thousands of travelers, if they be thoughtful enough to arm themselves with a Green Book, may free themselves of a lot of worry and inconvenience as they plan a trip.”

White readers viewed this as a common-sense statement about vacation planning. For African-Americans who read in black newspapers about the fates that befell people like Ms. Derricotte, the notion of “arming” oneself with the guide referred to taking precautions against racism on the road.

The Green Book was subversive in another way as well. It promoted an image of African-Americans that white Americans rarely saw — and that Hollywood deliberately avoided in films for fear of offending racist Southerners. The guide’s signature image, shown on the cover of the 1948 edition — and used as stationery logo for Victor Green, Inc. — consisted of a smiling, well-dressed couple striding toward their car carrying expensive suitcases.

Green believed exposing white Americans to the black elite might persuade white business owners that black consumer spending was significant enough to make racial discrimination imprudent. Like the black elite itself, he subscribed to the view that affluent travelers of color could change white minds about racism simply by venturing to places where black people had been unseen. As it turned out, black travelers had a democratizing effect on the country.

Like many African-American institutions that thrived during the age of extreme segregation, the Green Book faded in influence as racial barriers began to fall. It ceased publication not long after the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations. Nevertheless, the guide’s three decades of listings offer an important vantage point on black business ownership and travel mobility in the age of Jim Crow.

In other words, the Green Book has a lot more to say about the time when it was the Negro traveler’s bible.

Voir enfin:

In many Oscar bait movies, interracial friendships come with a paycheck, and follow the white character’s journey to enlightenment.

CreditCreditPhoto illustration by Delphine Diallo for The New York Times; Universal Pictures, STX Films, Warner Bros. DreamWorks Pictures (Film stills)

Wesley Morris

NYT

 

“Driving Miss Daisy” is the sort of movie you know before you see it. The whole thing is right there in the poster. White Jessica Tandy is giving black Morgan Freeman a stern look, and he looks amused by her sternness. They’re framed in a rearview mirror, which occupies only about 20 percent of the space. You can make out his chauffeur’s cap and that she’s in the back seat. The rest is three actors’ names, a tag line, a title, tiny credits, and white space.

That rearview-mirror image isn’t a still from the movie but a warmly painted rendering of one, this vague nuzzling of Norman Rockwell Americana. And its warmth evokes a very particular past. If you’ve ever seen the packaging for Cream of Wheat or a certain brand of rice, if you’ve even seen some Shirley Temple movies, you knew how Miss Daisy would be driven: gladly.

As movie posters go, it’s ingeniously concise. But whoever designed it knew the concision was possible because we’d know the shorthand of an eternal racial dynamic. I got off the subway last month and saw a billboard of black Kevin Hart riding on the back of white Bryan Cranston’s motorized wheelchair. They’re both ecstatic. And maybe they’re obligated to be. Their movie is called “The Upside.” A few months before that, I was out getting a coffee when I saw a long, sexy billboard of white Viggo Mortensen driving black Mahershala Ali in a minty blue car for a movie called “Green Book.”

Not knowing what these movies were “about” didn’t mean it wasn’t clear what they were about. They symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart. All the optimism of racial progress — from desegregation to integration to equality to something like true companionship — is stipulated by terms of service. Thirty years separate “Driving Miss Daisy” from these two new films, but how much time has passed, really? The bond in all three is conditionally transactional, possible only if it’s mediated by money. “The Upside” has the rich, quadriplegic author Phillip Lacasse (Cranston) hire an ex-con named Dell Scott (Hart) to be his “life auxiliary.” “Green Book” reverses the races so that some white muscle (Mortensen) drives the black pianist Don Shirley (Ali) to gigs throughout the Deep South in the 1960s. It’s “The Upside Down.”

These pay-for-playmate transactions are a modern pastime, different from an entire history of popular culture that simply required black actors to serve white stars without even the illusion of friendship. It was really only possible in a post-integration America, possible after Sidney Poitier made black stardom loosely feasible for the white studios, possible after the moral and legal adjustments won during the civil rights movements, possible after the political recriminations of the black power and blaxploitation eras let black people regularly frolic among themselves for the first time since the invention of the Hollywood movie. Possible, basically, only in the 1980s, after the movements had more or less subsided and capitalism and jokey white paternalism ran wild.

On television in this era, rich white sitcom families vacuumed up little black boys, on “Diff’rent Strokes,” on “Webster.” On “Diff’rent Strokes,” the adopted boys are the orphaned Harlem sons of Phillip Drummond’s maid. Not only was money supposed to lubricate racial integration; it was perhaps supposed to mitigate a history of keeping black people apart and oppressed.

The sitcoms weren’t officially social experiments, but they were light advertisements for the civilizing (and alienating) benefits of white wealth on black life. The plot of “Trading Places,” from 1983, actually was an experiment, a pungent, complicated one, in which conniving white moneybags install a broke and hustling Eddie Murphy in disgraced Dan Aykroyd’s banking job. The scheme creates an accidental friendship between the duped pair and they both wind up rich.

But that Daddy Warbucks paternalism was how, in 1982, the owner of the country’s most ferocious comedic imagination — Richard Pryor — went from desperate janitor to live-in amusement for the bratty son of a rotten businessman (Jackie Gleason). You have to respect the bluntness of that one. The movie was called “The Toy,” and it’s simultaneously dumb, wild and appalling. I was younger than its little white protagonist (he’s “Master” Eric Bates) when I saw it, but I can still remember the look of embarrassed panic on Pryor’s face while he’s trapped in something called the Wonder Wheel. It’s a look that never quite goes away as he’s made to dress in drag, navigate the Ku Klux Klan and make Gleason feel good about his racism and terrible parenting.

These were relationships that continued the rules of the past, one in which Poitier was frequently hired to turn bigots into buddies. The rules didn’t need to be disguised by yesterday. These arrangements could flourish in the present. So maybe that was the alarming appeal of “Driving Miss Daisy.” It went there. It went back there. And people went for it. The movie came out at the end of 1989, won four Oscars (best picture, actress, adapted screenplay, makeup), got besotted reviews and made a pile of money. Why wasn’t a mystery.

Any time a white person comes anywhere close to the rescue of a black person the academy is primed to say, “Good for you!,” whether it’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Blind Side,” or “The Help.” The year “Driving Miss Daisy” won those Oscars, Morgan Freeman also had a supporting role in a drama (“Glory”) that placed a white Union colonel at its center and was very much in the mix that night. (Denzel Washington won his first Oscar for playing a slave-turned-Union soldier in that movie.) And Spike Lee lost the original screenplay award for “Do the Right Thing,” his masterpiece about a boiled-over pot of racial animus in Brooklyn. I was 14 then, and the political incongruity that night was impossible not to feel. “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Glory” were set in the past and the people who loved them seemed stuck there. The giddy reception for “Miss Daisy” seemed earnest. But Lee’s movie dramatized a starker truth — we couldn’t all just get along.

For what it’s worth, Lee is now up for more Oscars. His film “BlacKkKlansman” has six nominations. Given the five for “Green Book,” basically so is “Driving Miss Daisy.” Which is to say that 2019 might just be 1990 all over again. And yet viewed separately from the cold shower of “Do the Right Thing,” “Driving Miss Daisy” does operate with more finesse, elegance and awareness than my teenage self wanted to see. It’s still not the best movie of 1989. But it does know the southern caste system and the premium that system placed on propriety.

The movie turns the 25-year relationship between Daisy, an elderly Jewish white widow from Atlanta, and Hoke, her elderly, widowed black driver, into both this delicate, modest, tasteful thing — a love letter, a corsage — and something amusingly perverse. Proud old prejudiced Daisy says she doesn’t want to be driven anywhere. But doesn’t she? Hoke treats her pride like a costume. He stalks her with her own new car until she succumbs and lets him drive her to the market. What passes between them feels weirdly kinky: southern-etiquette S&M.

Bruce Beresford directed the movie and Alfred Uhry based it on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which he said was inspired by his grandmother and her chauffeur, and it does powder over the era’s upheavals, uprisings and blowups. But it doesn’t sugarcoat the history fueling the regional and national climes, either. Daisy’s fortune comes from cotton, and Hoke, with ruthless affability, keeps reminding her that she’s rich. When she says things are a-changing, he tells her not that much.

Platonic love blossoms, obviously. But the movie’s one emotional gaffe would seem to come near the end when Daisy grabs Hoke’s hand and tells him so. “You’re my best friend,” she creaks. But her admission arises not from one of their little S&M drives but after a bout of dementia. And in a wide shot, he stands above her, a little stooped, halfway in, halfway out, moved yet confused. And in his posture resides an entire history of national racial awkwardness: He has to mind his composure even as she’s losing her mind.

One headache with these movies, even one as well done as “Driving Miss Daisy,” is that they romanticize their workplaces and treat their black characters as the ideal crowbar for closed white minds and insulated lives.

Who knows why, in “The Upside,” Phillip picks the uncouth, underqualified Dell to drive him around, change his catheter and share his palatial apartment. But by the time the movie’s over, they’re paragliding together to Aretha Franklin. We’re told that this is based on a true story. It’s not. It’s a remake of a far more nauseating French megahit — “Les Intouchables” — and that claimed to be based on a true story. “The Upside” seems based on one of those paternalistic ’80s movies, “Disorderlies,” the one where the Fat Boys wheel an ailing Ralph Bellamy around his mansion.

Phillip’s largess and tolerance take Dell from opera-phobic to opera-curious to opera queen, leading to Dell’s being able to afford to transport his ex and their son out of the projects, and permitting Dell to take his boss’s luxury cars for a spin whether or not he’s riding shotgun. And Dell provides entertainment (and drugs) that ease Phillip’s sense of isolation and self-consciousness. But this is also a movie that needs Dell to steal one of Phillip’s antique first-editions as a surprise gift to his estranged son, and not a copy of some Judith Krantz or Sidney Sheldon novel, either. He swipes “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (and to reach it, his hand has to skip past a few Horatio Alger books, too). Most of these black-white-friendship adventures were foretold by Mark Twain. Somebody is white Huck and somebody else is his amusingly dim black sidekick, Jim. This movie is just a little more flagrant about it.

There’s a way of looking at the role reversal in “Green Book” as an upgrade. Through his record company, Don hires a white nightclub bouncer named Tony Vallelonga. (Most people call him Tony Lip.) We don’t meet Don for about 15 minutes, because the movie needs us to know that Tony is a sweet, Eye-talian tough guy who also throws out perfectly good glassware because his wife let black repairmen drink from it.

By this point, you might have heard about the fried chicken scene in “Green Book.” It comes early in their road trip. Tony is shocked to discover that Don has never had fried chicken. He also appears never to have seen anybody eat fried chicken, either. (“What do we do about the bones?”) So, with all the greasy alacrity and exuberant crassness that Mortensen can conjure, Tony demonstrates how to eat it while driving. As comedy, it’s masterful — there’s tension, irony and, when the car stops and reverses to retrieve some litter, a punch line that brings down the house. But the comedy works only if the black, classical-pop fusion pianist is from outer space (and not in a Sun Ra sort of way). You’re meant to laugh because how could this racist be better at being black than this black man who’s supposed to be better than him?

The movie Peter Farrelly directed and wrote, with Brian Currie and Tony’s son Nick, is suspiciously like “Driving Miss Daisy,” but same-sex, with Don as Daisy and Tony as Hoke. Indeed, “Miss Daisy” features a fried chicken scene, too, a delicate one, in which Hoke tells her the flame is too high on the skillet and she waves him off. Once he’s left the kitchen, she furtively, begrudgingly adjusts the burner. It’s like Farrelly watched that scene and thought it needed a stick of cartoon dynamite.

Before they head out, a white character from Don’s record company gives Tony a listing of black-friendly places to house Don: The Green Book. The idea for “The Negro Motorist Green Book” belongs to Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker, who introduced it in 1936. It guided black road trippers to stress-free gas, food and lodging in the segregated South. The story of its invention, distribution and updating is an amusing, invigorating, poignant and suspenseful story of an astonishing social network, and warrants a movie in itself. In the meantime, what does Tony need a Green Book for? He is the Green Book.

The movie’s tagline is “based on a true friendship.” But the transactional nature of it makes the friendship seem less true than sponsored. So what does the money do, exactly? The white characters — the biological ones and somebody supposedly not black enough, like fictional Don — are lonely people in these pay-a-pal movies. The money is ostensibly for legitimate assistance, but it also seems to paper over all that’s potentially fraught about race. The relationship is entirely conscripted as service and bound by capitalism and the fantastically presumptive leap is, The money doesn’t matter because I like working for you. And if you’re the racist in the relationship: I can’t be horrible because we’re friends now. That’s why the hug Sandra Bullock gives Yomi Perry, the actor playing her maid, Maria, at the end of “Crash,” remains the single most disturbing gesture of its kind. It’s not friendship. Friendship is mutual. That hug is cannibalism.

Money buys Don a chauffeur and, apparently, an education in black folkways and culture. (Little Richard? He’s never heard him play.) Shirley’s real-life family has objected to the portrait. Their complaints include that he was estranged from neither black people nor blackness. Even without that thumbs-down, you can sense what a particularly perverse fantasy this is: that absolution resides in a neutered black man needing a white guy not only to protect and serve him, but to love him, too. Even if that guy and his Italian-American family and mob associates refer to Don and other black people as eggplant and coal. In the movie’s estimation, their racism is preferable to its nasty, blunter southern cousin because their racism is often spoken in Italian. And, hey, at least Tony never asks Don to eat his fancy dinner in a supply closet.

Mahershala Ali is acting Shirley’s isolation and glumness, but the movie determines that dining with racists is better than dining alone. The money buys Don relative safety, friendship, transportation and a walking-talking black college. What the money can’t buy him is more of the plot in his own movie. It can’t allow him to bask in his own unique, uniquely dreamy artistry. It can’t free him from a movie that sits him where Miss Daisy sat, yet treats him worse than Hoke. He’s a literal passenger on this white man’s trip. Tony learns he really likes black people. And thanks to Tony, now so does Don.

Lately, the black version of these interracial relationships tends to head in the opposite direction. In the black version, for one thing, they’re not about money or a job but about the actual emotional, psychological work of being black among white people. Here, the proximity to whiteness is toxic, a danger, a threat. That’s the thrust of Jeremy O. Harris’s stage drama “Slave Play,” in which the traumatic legacy of plantation life pollutes the black half of the show’s interracial relationships. That’s a particularly explicit, ingenious example. But scarcely any of the work I’ve seen in the last year by black artists — not Jackie Sibblies Drury’s equally audacious play “Fairview,” not Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You,” not “Blindspotting,” which Daveed Diggs co-wrote and stars in, not Barry Jenkins’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” or Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” — emphasizes the smoothness and joys of interracial friendship and certainly not through employment. The health of these connections is iffy, at best.

In 1989, Lee was pretty much on his own as a voice of black racial reality. His rankled pragmatism now has company and, at the Academy Awards, it’s also got stiff competition. He helped plant the seeds for an environment in which black artists can look askance at race. But a lot of us still need the sense of fantastical racial contentment that movies like “The Upside” and “Green Book” are slinging. I’ve seen “Green Book” with paying audiences, and it cracks people up the way any of Farrelly’s comedies do. The kind of closure it offers is like a drug that Lee’s never dealt. The Charlottesville-riot footage that he includes as an epilogue in “BlacKkKlansman” might bury the loose, essentially comedic movie it’s attached to in furious lava. Lee knows the past too well to ever let the present off the hook. The volcanoes in this country have never been dormant.

The academy’s embrace of Lee at this stage of his career (this is his first best director nomination) suggests that it’s come around to what rankles him. Of course, “BlacKkKlansman” is taking on the unmistakable villainy of the KKK in the 1970s. But what put Lee on the map 30 years ago was his fearlessness about calling out the universal casual bigotry of the moment, like Daisy’s and Tony’s. It’s hot as hell in “Do the Right Thing,” and in the heat, almost everybody has a problem with who somebody is. The pizzeria owned by Sal (Danny Aiello) comes to resemble a house of hate. Eventually Sal’s delivery guy, Mookie (played by Lee), incites a melee by hurling a trash can through the store window. He’d already endured a conversation with Pino (John Turturro), Sal’s racist son, in which he tells Mookie that famous black people are “more than black.”

Closure is impossible because the blood is too bad, too historically American. Lee had conjured a social environment that’s the opposite of what “The Upside,” “Green Book,” and “Driving Miss Daisy” believe. In one of the very last scenes, after Sal’s place is destroyed, Mookie still demands to be paid. To this day, Sal’s tossing balled-up bills at Mookie, one by one, shocks me. He’s mortally offended. Mookie’s unmoved. They’re at a harsh, anti-romantic impasse. We’d all been reared on racial-reconciliation fantasies. Why can’t Mookie and Sal be friends? The answer’s too long and too raw. Sal can pay Mookie to deliver pizzas ‘til kingdom come. But he could never pay him enough to be his friend.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page AR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Friendship Or Fantasy ?
Voir par ailleurs:

A New Hope

Can ‘Belle’ End Hollywood’s Obsession with the White Savior?

The black characters in films like ‘The Help’ and ’12 Years A Slave’ always seem to need a white knight. But the black protagonist in ‘Belle,’ a new film about racism and slavery in England, takes matters into her own hands.

The film Belle, which opens this weekend in limited release stateside, is inspired by a true story, deals with the horrors of the African slave trade, and its director is black and British. For these reasons, comparisons to the recent recipient of the Best Picture Oscar, 12 Years a Slave, are inevitable.

But there are some notable differences.

Among them, Belle is set in England, while 12 Years a Slave is set in America. 12 Years a Slave depicts—in unflinching detail—the brutalities of slavery, while Belle merely hints at its physical and psychological toll. But the most significant deviation is this: whereas 12 Years a Slave faced criticism for being yet another film to perpetuate the “white savior” cliché in cinema, in Belle, the beleaguered black protagonist does something novel: she saves herself.

Belle marks the first film I’ve seen in which a black woman with agency stands at the center of the plot as a full, eloquent human being who is neither adoring foil nor moral touchstone for her better spoken white counterparts,” the novelist and TV producer Susan Fales-Hill told The Daily Beast.

Directed by the Amma Asante, the film is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race woman in a turban hauling fruit, and her white cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray. The artwork was commissioned by William Murray, acting Lord Chief Justice of England, and depicts the two nieces smiling with Murray’s hand resting on Belle’s waist—a gesture suggesting equality, not subservience. While its artist is unknown, the portrait hung in England’s Kenwood House, alongside works by Vermeer and Rembrandt, until 1922.

The painting’s mysterious subject, Belle, was the daughter of an African slave known as Maria Belle and Admiral Sir John Lindsay, an English aristocrat. She was ultimately raised by Lindsay’s uncle, William Murray, the aforementioned Lord Chief Justice and 1st Earl of Mansfield, with many of the privileges befitting a woman of her family’s high standing. Since not much is known of Belle’s life inside the Mansfield estate, Asante and screenwriter Misan Sagay took some artistic license in dramatizing the dehumanizing racial prejudice their protagonist endured that even her social standing and wealth could not erase.

For instance, while not permitted to dine with the servants of her home since they were considered beneath her, she was also not permitted to dine with her family when guests were present since she was considered beneath them. This racial balancing act makes Belle one of the most genteel yet uncomfortable depictions of racism ever to grace the screen. Here, the racism isn’t as black-and-white—those providing Belle with her luxury attire, emotional affection, and protection from the racial brutality of the outside world also see her as a lesser being.

“For me, this point of view is so refreshing,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Belle, told The Daily Beast. “I’d never seen a period drama like this with a woman of color as the lead who wasn’t being brutalized, wasn’t being raped, was going through this personal evolution but was also in a privileged world and articulate and educated. I just hadn’t seen that on film before.”

Indeed, Belle becomes empowered to challenge the white characters that view themselves as her savior on their veiled racism, which marks a welcome departure from one of Hollywood’s most enduring cinematic tropes: the white savior.

When it comes to race-relations dramas—and slavery narratives, in particular—the white savior has become one of Hollywood’s most reliably offensive clichés. The black servants of The Help needed a perky, progressive Emma Stone to shed light on their plight; the football bruiser in The Blind Side couldn’t have done it without fiery Sandra Bullock; the black athletes in Cool Runnings and The Air Up There needed the guidance of their white coach; and in 12 Years A Slave, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is liberated at the eleventh hour by a Jesus-looking Brad Pitt (in a classic Deus Ex Machina).

“I think it’s a trope that has certainly been seen in Hollywood films for decades,” longtime film critic Laurence Lerman, formerly of Variety, says. “Think about the white teacher in the inner city school. The Michelle Pfeiffer one [in Dangerous Minds]. The Principal. Music of the Heart, where Meryl Streep was a music teacher. Wildcats. I think these stories probably read well in a pitch meeting: ‘Goldie Hawn coaching an inner city football team.’”

But, as he went on to explain, the execution often leaves something to be desired and doesn’t always reflect well on the communities it depicts—ones rooted in chaos that need a white savior to restore order. Lerman further noted that this cinematic trope is not limited to the depiction of inner cities or black people. Of the Last Samurai he said, “They make it look like Japan would not have made it out of the feudal period without Tom Cruise.” And the worst offender, in his opinion, is Dances with Wolves. “The west wouldn’t have been tamed and we’d have no civilization if Kevin Costner didn’t ride into town,” he says sarcastically.

The issue, according to Lerman, is more complex given the nature of Hollywood and the various power structures at play. While there are plenty of important stories to tell featuring people of color, there are only a small number of people of color in Hollywood with the clout to get a film green-lit—especially since we’re living in an age where international box office trumps domestic. This troubling disparity often results in a white star needing to be featured in a film with a predominantly minority cast to secure the necessary financing—as was the case with Pitt’s appearance in 12 Years A Slave, a film produced by his company, Plan B. And who can forget the controversy over the outrageous Italian movie posters for 12 Years A Slave, which prominently featured the film’s white movie stars—Pitt and Michael Fassbender—in favor of the movie’s real star, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Without ruining the film for you, part of what makes Belle so refreshing is that its portrayal of black characters, namely Belle, is one of dignity. They aren’t the typical uneducated blacks you see in films that need to be shown the light by a white knight, for they’re blessed with more intellect and class than many of their white subjugators, who soon come to realize that Belle, through her grace and wisdom, is their savior.

“Her family thought they were giving her great love, but until she’s able to take that freedom for herself and find self-love and feel comfortable in her own skin, that’s when she’s ready to challenge them,” says Mbatha-Raw. “It just felt like a story that needed to be told.”

Voir enfin:

Historian at the Movies: Belle reviewed

As part of our Historian at the Movies series, James Walvin OBE, professor emeritus of the University of York, reviews Belle, a true story film about Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) and an African slave woman.

**Please be aware that this review contains spoilers**

 

 

Q: Did you enjoy the film?

A: I ought to have enjoyed this film, but watched it, twice, with mounting dissatisfaction.

Belle hit the screens in the UK on 13 June amid a massive publicity campaign. The main star’s face (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) adorned the London underground, ads festooned the newspapers, and the media in general fell over themselves to provide free, and largely adulatory publicity.

Here, it seemed, is a film for our times. It is the story of slavery and the law, of beauty and the beast, and of Britain at a late 18th-century major turning point. It also speaks one of my special interests: the history of black people in Britain, and slavery.

It tells the dramatic true story of the daughter of an African slave woman and an English sailor, raised in the company of the Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (at the time when he was adjudicating major slave cases – Somerset and the Zong. [In the 1783 Zong case, the owners of the Zong slave ship made a claim to their insurers for the loss of the hundreds of slaves thrown overboard by the crew as disease and malnutrition ravaged the ship. Insurers refused to pay, but the case was taken to court and they lost. Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice for the case, compared the loss of the ‘slave cargo’ to the loss of horses, viewing the enslaved as property.]

The film is also the story of a beautiful woman celebrated in a major portrait. It is sumptuous, eye-watering and glossy: think Downton Abbey meets the slave trade. Yet for all the hype, for all the overblown praise and self-promotion of those involved, I disliked it.

There are some fine performances by a number of prominent actors, but even their skills and efforts can’t deflect the film’s basic flaws.

Q: Is the film historically accurate?

A: It is always hard for an historian to assess a film that is based on real events. After all, the makers need to weave a compelling story and a visual treat from evidence that is often sparse and unyielding.

In this case, much of the historical evidence is there – though festooned in the film with imaginary relishes and fictional tricks. Partly accurate, the whole thing reminded me of the classic Morecombe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn (Eric bashing away on the piano): all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order.

Q: What did the film get right?

A: The film was a bold statement about the black presence in British history, and was good at revealing the social and racial tensions of Belle’s presence in the wider world of Mansfield’s Kenwood House. Here was a world, thousands of miles away from slavery, but enmeshed in its consequences.

The message, however, was delivered with thunderous and didactic simplicity: Belle is often given lines that sound as if they’ve been nicked from an abolitionist’s sermon. Her suitor (later her husband), Mr Davinier, offers a wincing portrayal of outraged humanity.

Q: What did it miss?

A: The real difficulty is that we know very little about Belle. To overcome that problem, the filmmakers had available a major event to bulk out a fading story: they hitch the fragments known about Belle onto the story of the massacre on the Zong slave ship.

The second half of the film is the story of Belle’s fictional involvement in that case. It portrays her growing outrage (following the simpering lead of her would-be suitor), and her activity as abolitionist mole in the Mansfield house. The aim is to illustrate Belle wooing Mansfield over to the abolitionist cause. To do this, the filmmakers make free with recently published material on the Zong. In truth, Belle is nowhere to be found in the Zong affair – except that is, in the film.

Tom Wilkinson’s Mansfield finds his cold legal commercial heart softened, and edged towards abolition by the eyelash-fluttering efforts of his stunning great niece. And lo! It works! In an expectant crowded courtroom scene (which could have been called 112 Angry Men), Mansfield’s adjudication becomes, not a point of law, but the first bold assertion towards the end of slavery. In reality, he merely stated that there should be another hearing of the Zong case – this time with evidence not known at the earlier hearing.

With freedom (for three quarters of a million slaves) beckoning over the horizon, Belle and her suitor step outside, find love, and Mansfield’s blessing – in the form of a knowing smile from Tom Wilkinson.

The film has all the ingredients for success. Lachrymose sentimentality, delivered to the screen by bucket-loads of opulent abundance. It has beauty at every turn (the brute ugliness of slavery remains a mere noise off-stage). Humanity and justice finally win out – all aided and propelled forward by female beauty.

I left the cinema asking myself: who would be spinning faster in their respective graves: Lord Mansfield or Dido Elizabeth Belle?

How many stars (out of 5) would you award the film?

For enjoyment: *
For historical accuracy: **


Martin Luther King Day: Attention, un faux peut en cacher un autre ! (Fraud fit for a King: Israel, anti-zionism and the misuse of MLK)

21 janvier, 2019
Jews-and-Civil-RightsLe rabbin Abraham Joshua Heschel (deuxième à droite), lors de la marche à Selma avec le Révérend Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, le républicain John Lewis, le révérend Fred Shuttlesworth et le révérend CT Vivian. (Crédit : Autorisation de Susannah Heschel)
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Image result for LETJUSTICE ROLLS DOWN LIKE WATERS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE A MIGHTY STREAM aMOS 5

Ne parlez pas comme ça. Quand des gens critiquent les sionistes ils veulent parler des Juifs. Ce que vous dites là, c’est de l’antisémitisme ! Martin Luther King
Je ne sais pas ce qui va arriver maintenant. Nous avons devant nous des journées difficiles. Mais peu m’importe ce qui va m’arriver, car je suis allé jusqu’au sommet de la montagne. Je ne m’inquiète plus. Comme tout le monde, je voudrais vivre longtemps. La longévité a son prix. Mais je ne m’en soucie guère. Je veux simplement que la volonté de Dieu soit faite. Et il m’a permis d’atteindre le sommet de la montagne. J’ai regardé autour de moi. Et j’ai vu la Terre promise. Il se peut que je n’y pénètre pas avec vous. Mais je veux vous faire savoir, ce soir, que notre peuple atteindra la Terre promise. Je suis heureux, ce soir. Je ne m’inquiète de rien. Je ne crains aucun homme. Mes yeux ont vu la gloire de la venue du Seigneur. Martin Luther King
Whenever I return to the New England states, I never feel like a stranger because I’ve spent some three or four years in this area attending Boston University and Harvard University, so I feel like I’m coming home when I come back this way. (..) Now tonight I would like to use as a subject the question of progress in the area of race relations for indeed that is a desperate question on the lips of  hundreds and thousands of people all over our nation, indeed, people all over the world. They’re asking from time to time whether there has been any real progress in the area of race relations in the United States. There are three possible answers to the question of progress in the area of race relations. First, that is the attitude of extreme optimism. The extreme optimist would contend that we have made marvelous strides in the area of race relations. He would point proudly to the gains that have been made in the area of civil rights over the last few decades. And from this, the extreme optimist would conclude that the problem is just about solved now and that we can sit down comfortably by the wayside and wait on the coming of the inevitable. The second attitude that can be taken is that of extreme pessimism. The extreme pessimist would contend that we have made only minor strides in the area of race relations. He would argue that the deep rumblings of discontent from the South, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and the birth of white citizens councils and the presence of Federal troops in Little Rock, Arkansas are all indicative of the fact that we have retrogressed rather than progressed, that we have created many more problems than we have solved. At times, he would get a little intellectual in his analysis and in his pessimistic conclusions. He may for instance turn to the realms of theology and seek to argue that hovering over every man is the tragic taint of original sin and he would misuse this doctrine to argue that at bottom human nature cannot be changed. He may even move to the realms of psychology and seek to show the determinative effects of certain habit structures and attitudes once they have been molded. And from all of this he would conclude that there can be no progress in the area of race relations. Now what is interesting to notice is that the extreme optimist and the extreme pessimist agree on at least one point. They would both argue that we must sit down and do nothing in the area of race relations. The extreme optimist would say: ‘do nothing because integration is inevitable’. The extreme pessimist would say: ‘do nothing because integration is impossible’. But there is a third position that can be taken, namely the realistic position. The realist in this area seeks to combine the truths of two opposites while avoiding the extremes of both. So he would agree with the optimist that we have come a long, long way. But he would seek to balance that by agreeing with the pessimist that we have a long, long way to go. And it is this realistic position that I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together this evening. We have come a long, long way but realism impels us to admit that we have a long, long way to go. Martin Luther King
I think that the situation with the Negro people in this country is analogous to what happened with the Israelites in Egypt. They too had to wait for a leader, and I think all of us will agree that they have found this leader in Dr. Martin Luther King. Rabbi Klein (Temple Emanuel)
President Nasser of Egypt has initiated a blockade of an international waterway, the Straits of Tiran, Israel’s sea lane to Africa and Asia. This blockade may lead to a major conflagration. The Middle East has been an area of tension due to the threat of continuing terrorist attacks, as well as the recent Arab military mobilization along Israel’s borders. Let us recall that Israel is a new nation whose people are still recovering from the horror and decimation of the European holocaust. (…) We call on our fellow Americans of all persuasions and groupings and on the administration to support the independence, integrity, and freedom of Israel. Men of conscience all over the world bear a moral responsibility to support Israel’s right of passage through the Straits of Tiran. Pétition signée par Martin Luther King (The Moral Responsibility in the Middle East, NYT, 28.05.1967)
What is saddening is that respected public leaders like Martin Luther King who have courageously opposed American actions in Vietnam should now associate themselves with vague calls for American intervention on behalf of Israel. Letter to NYT (June 2, 1967)
Did you see the ad in the New York Times Sunday ? Th is was the ad they got me to sign with Bennett, etc. I really hadn’t seen the statement. I felt after seeing it, it was a little unbalanced and it is pro-Israel. It put us in the position almost of setting the turning-hawks on the Middle East while being doves in Vietnam and I wouldn’t have given a statement like that at all. Martin Luther King
The statement I signed in the N.Y. Times as you know was agree d with by a lot of people in the Jewish community. But there was those in the negro community [who] have been disappointed. SNCC for one has been very critical. The problem was that the N.Y. Times played it up as a total endorsement of Israel. What they printed up wasn’t the complete text, even the introduction wasn’t the text. I can’t back up on the statement now, my problem is whether I should make another statement, or maybe I could just avoid making a statement. I don’t want to make a statement that backs up on me; that wouldn’t be good. Well, what do you think? Martin Luther King
Well, I think these guarantees should all be worked out by the United Nations. I would hope that all of the nations, and particularly the Soviet Union and the United States, and I would say France and Great Britain, these four powers can really determine how that situation is going. I think the Israelis will have to have access to the Gulf of Aqaba. I mean the very survival of Israel may well depend on access to not only the Suez Canal, but the Gulf and the Strait of Tiran. These things are very important. But I think for the ultimate peace and security of the situation it will probably be necessary for Israel to give up this conquered territory because to hold on to it will only exacerbate the tensions and deepen the bitterness of the Arabs. Martin Luther King
I’d run into the situation where I’m damned if I say this and I’m damned if I say that no matter what I’d say, and I’ve already faced enough criticism including pro-Arab.(…) I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt. (…) most of it [the pilgrimage] would be Jerusalem and they [the Israelis] have annexed Jerusalem, and any way you say it they don’t plan to give it up. (…) I frankly have to admit that my instincts, and when I follow my instincts so to speak I’m usually right. . . . I just think that this would be a great mistake. I don’t think I could come out unscathed. Martin Luther King
It is with the deepest regret that I cancel my proposed pilgrimage to the Holy Land for this year, but the constant turmoil in the Middle East makes it extremely difficult to conduct a religious pilgrimage free of both political overtones and the fear of danger to the participants. Actually, I am aware that the danger is almost non-existent, but to the ordinary citizen who seldom goes abroad, the daily headlines of border clashes and propaganda statements produces a fear of danger which is insurmountable on the American scene. Martin Luther King (Letter to Mordechai Ben-Ami, the president of the Israeli airline El Al)
That a man like Martin Luther King could stand so openly with Israel, despite his own private qualms and criticism by younger, more radical, black Americans who had discovered the plight of the Palestinians, indicated the degree to which Zionism was embraced by the American mainstream. . . . One of the ways [King] reciprocated Jewish American support for desegregation in the United States was by turning a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinians. Ussama Makdisi (2010)
Israel does many bad things but it does not get reprimanded. (…) Israel is very strong, [Malaysians] cannot do much against it, but they do not have to demonstrate affection to it. The world is talking about freedom of speech, but whenever we say anything against Israel and the Jews, it is considered antisemitism. It is my right to criticize Israel for its policy regarding the Palestinians and say they do many bad things. Mahathir Bin Mohamad
Every January, with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday just around the corner, I have come to expect someone to misuse the good doctor’s words so as to push an agenda he would not likely have supported. (…) And yet (…) the one thing I never expected anyone to do would be to just make up a quote from King; a quote that he simply never said, and claim that it came from a letter that he never wrote, and was published in a collection of his essays that never existed. Frankly, this level of deception is something special. The hoax of which I speak is one currently making the rounds on the Internet, which claims to prove King’s steadfast support for Zionism. Indeed, it does more than that. In the item, entitled “Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend,” King proclaims that criticism of Zionism is tantamount to anti-Semitism, and likens those who criticize Jewish nationalism as manifested in Israel, to those who would seek to trample the rights of blacks. Heady stuff indeed, and 100% bullshit, as any amateur fact checker could ascertain were they so inclined. But of course, the kinds of folks who push an ideology that required the expulsion of three-quarters-of-a-million Palestinians from their lands, and then lied about it, claiming there had been no such persons to begin with (as with Golda Meir’s infamous quip), can’t be expected to place a very high premium on truth. I learned this the hard way recently, when the Des Moines Jewish Federation succeeded in getting me yanked from the city’s MLK day events: two speeches I had been scheduled to give on behalf of the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ). Because of my criticisms of Israel—and because I as a Jew am on record opposing Zionism philosophically—the Des Moines shtetl decided I was unfit to speak at an MLK event. After sending the supposed King quote around, and threatening to pull out all monies from the Jewish community for future NCCJ events, I was dropped. The attack of course was based on a distortion of my own beliefs as well. Federation principal Mark Finkelstein claimed I had shown a disregard for the well-being of Jews, despite the fact that my argument has long been that Zionism in practice has made world Jewry less safe than ever. But it was his duplicity on King’s views that was most disturbing. Though Finkelstein only recited one line from King’s supposed “letter” on Zionism, he lifted it from the larger letter, which appears to have originated with Rabbi Marc Schneier, who quotes from it in his 1999 book, “Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community.” Therein, one finds such over-the-top rhetoric as this: “I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews—this is God’s own truth.” The letter also was filled with grammatical errors that any halfway literate reader of King’s work should have known disqualified him from being its author, to wit: “Anti-Zionist is inherently anti Semitic, and ever will be so.” The treatise, it is claimed, was published on page 76 of the August, 1967 edition of Saturday Review, and supposedly can also be read in the collection of King’s work entitled, This I Believe: Selections from the Writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That the claimants never mention the publisher of this collection should have been a clear tip-off that it might not be genuine, and indeed it isn’t. The book doesn’t exist. As for Saturday Review, there were four issues in August of 1967. Two of the four editions contained a page 76. One of the pages 76 contains classified ads and the other contained a review of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album. No King letter anywhere. Yet its lack of authenticity hasn’t prevented it from having a long shelf-life. Not only does it pop up in the Schneier book, but sections of it were read by the Anti-Defamation League’s Michael Salberg in testimony before a House Subcommittee in July of 2001, and all manner of pro-Israel groups (from traditional Zionists to right-wing Likudites, to Christians who support ingathering Jews to Israel so as to prompt Jesus’ return), have used the piece on their websites. In truth, King appears never to have made any public comment about Zionism per se; and the only known statement he ever made on the topic, made privately to a handful of people, is a far cry from what he is purported to have said in the so-called “Letter to an Anti-Zionist friend.” In 1968, according to Seymour Martin Lipset, King was in Boston and attended a dinner in Cambridge along with Lipset himself and a number of black students. After the dinner, a young man apparently made a fairly harsh remark attacking Zionists as people, to which King responded: “Don’t talk like that. When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking Anti-Semitism.” Assuming this quote to be genuine, it is still far from the ideological endorsement of Zionism as theory or practice that was evidenced in the phony letter. After all, to respond to a harsh statement about individuals who are Zionists with the warning that such language is usually a cover for anti-Jewish bias is understandable. More than that, the comment was no doubt true for most, especially in 1968. It is a statement of opinion as to what people are thinking when they say a certain thing. It is not a statement as to the inherent validity or perfidy of a worldview or its effects. (…) So yes, King was quick to admonish one person who expressed hostility to Zionists as people. But he did not claim that opposition to Zionism was inherently anti-Semitic. And for those who criticize Zionism today and who like me are Jewish, to believe that we mean to attack Jews, as Jews, when we speak out against Israel and Zionism is absurd. As for King’s public position on Israel, it was quite limited and hardly formed a cornerstone of his worldview. In a meeting with Jewish leaders a few weeks before his death, King noted that peace for Israelis and Arabs were both important concerns. According to King, “peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity.” But such a statement says nothing about how Israel should be constituted, nor addresses the Palestinians at all, whose lives and challenges were hardly on the world’s radar screen in 1968. At the time, Israel’s concern was hostility from Egypt; and of course all would agree that any nation has the right not to be attacked by a neighbor. The U.S. had a right not to be attacked by the Soviet Union too—as King would have no doubt agreed, thereby affirming the United States’ right to exist. But would anyone claim that such a sentiment would have implied the right of the U.S. to exist as it did, say in 1957 or 1961, under segregation? Of course not. So too Israel. Its right to exist in the sense of not being violently destroyed by hostile forces does not mean the right to exist as a Jewish state per se, as opposed to the state of all its citizens. It does not mean the right to laws granting special privileges to Jews from around the world, over indigenous Arabs. It should also be noted that in the same paragraph where King reiterated his support for Israel’s right to exist, he also proclaimed the importance of massive public assistance to Middle Eastern Arabs, in the form of a Marshall Plan, so as to counter the poverty and desperation that often leads to hostility and violence towards Israeli Jews. This part of King’s position is typically ignored by the organized Jewish community, of course, even though it was just as important to King as Israel’s territorial integrity. As for what King would say today about Israel, Zionism, and the Palestinian struggle, one can only speculate. (…) But one thing is for sure. While King would no doubt roundly condemn Palestinian violence against innocent civilians, he would also condemn the state violence of Israel. He would condemn launching missile attacks against entire neighborhoods in order to flush out a handful of wanted terrorists. He would oppose the handing out of machine guns to religious fanatics from Brooklyn who move to the territories and proclaim their God-given right to the land, and the right to run Arabs out of their neighborhoods, or fence them off, or discriminate against them in a multitude of ways. He would oppose the unequal rationing of water resources between Jews and Arabs that is Israeli policy. He would oppose the degrading checkpoints through which Palestinian workers must pass to get to their jobs, or back to their homes after a long day of work. He would oppose the policy which allows IDF officers to shoot children throwing rocks, as young as age twelve. In other words, he would likely criticize the working out of Zionism on the ground, as it has actually developed in the real world, as opposed to the world of theory and speculation. These things seem imminently clear from any honest reading of his work or examination of his life. He would be a broker for peace. And it is a tragedy that instead of King himself, we are burdened with charlatans like those at the ADL, or the Des Moines Jewish Federation, or Rabbis like Marc Schneier who think nothing of speaking for the genuine article, in a voice not his own. Tim Wise
Ils ont oublié quel pays ils représentent. Nous sommes aux Etats-Unis où le boycott est un droit et fait partie de notre combat historique pour la liberté et l’égalité. Rashida Tlaib
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the lectern at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. The United States had been in active combat in Vietnam for two years and tens of thousands of people had been killed, including some 10,000 American troops. The political establishment — from left to right — backed the war, and more than 400,000 American service members were in Vietnam, their lives on the line. Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement. King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and added, “that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.” It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine. I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States. Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns. Similarly, many students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of the McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission, which blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers. Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.” And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face. We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel. And finally, we must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel, a system complete with, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians — such as the new nation-state law that says explicitly that only Jewish Israelis have the right of self-determination in Israel, ignoring the rights of the Arab minority that makes up 21 percent of the population. Of course, there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. The evidence regarding King’s views on Israel is complicated and contradictory. Although the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians, King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement. Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, “I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.” He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war. Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand. Yet I find myself in agreement with the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who concluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.” Indeed, King’s views may have evolved alongside many other spiritually grounded thinkers, like Rabbi Brian Walt, who has spoken publicly about the reasons that he abandoned his faith in what he viewed as political Zionism. (…) During more than 20 visits to the West Bank and Gaza, he saw horrific human rights abuses, including Palestinian homes being bulldozed while people cried — children’s toys strewn over one demolished site — and saw Palestinian lands being confiscated to make way for new illegal settlements subsidized by the Israeli government. He was forced to reckon with the reality that these demolitions, settlements and acts of violent dispossession were not rogue moves, but fully supported and enabled by the Israeli military. For him, the turning point was witnessing legalized discrimination against Palestinians — including streets for Jews only — which, he said, was worse in some ways than what he had witnessed as a boy in South Africa. (…) Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about “the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.” (…) In view of these developments, it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic. (…) the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (…) declared in a riveting speech last year that we cannot talk about justice without addressing the displacement of native peoples, the systemic racism of colonialism and the injustice of government repression. In the same breath he said: “I want to say, as clearly as I know how, that the humanity and the dignity of any person or people cannot in any way diminish the humanity and dignity of another person or another people. To hold fast to the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child.” Guided by this kind of moral clarity, faith groups are taking action. In 2016, the pension board of the United Methodist Church excluded from its multibillion-dollar pension fund Israeli banks whose loans for settlement construction violate international law. Similarly, the United Church of Christ the year before passed a resolution calling for divestments and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Even in Congress, change is on the horizon. For the first time, two sitting members, Representatives Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, publicly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In 2017, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, introduced a resolution to ensure that no U.S. military aid went to support Israel’s juvenile military detention system. Israel regularly prosecutes Palestinian children detainees in the occupied territories in military court. None of this is to say that the tide has turned entirely or that retaliation has ceased against those who express strong support for Palestinian rights. To the contrary, just as King received fierce, overwhelming criticism for his speech condemning the Vietnam War — 168 major newspapers, including The Times, denounced the address the following day — those who speak publicly in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people still risk condemnation and backlash. Bahia Amawi, an American speech pathologist of Palestinian descent, was recently terminated for refusing to sign a contract that contains an anti-boycott pledge stating that she does not, and will not, participate in boycotting the State of Israel. In November, Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for giving a speech in support of Palestinian rights that was grossly misinterpreted as expressing support for violence. Canary Mission continues to pose a serious threat to student activists. And just over a week ago, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, apparently under pressure mainly from segments of the Jewish community and others, rescinded an honor it bestowed upon the civil rights icon Angela Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and supports B.D.S. But that attack backfired. Within 48 hours, academics and activists had mobilized in response. The mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, as well as the Birmingham School Board and the City Council, expressed outrage at the institute’s decision. The council unanimously passed a resolution in Davis’ honor, and an alternative event is being organized to celebrate her decades-long commitment to liberation for all. I cannot say for certain that King would applaud Birmingham for its zealous defense of Angela Davis’s solidarity with Palestinian people. But I do. In this new year, I aim to speak with greater courage and conviction about injustices beyond our borders, particularly those that are funded by our government, and stand in solidarity with struggles for democracy and freedom. My conscience leaves me no other choice. Michelle Alexander
In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides. Most of Israel’s wars haven’t been fought against Palestinians. Since the invasion of five Arab armies at the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, the Palestinians have made up a small number of the combatants facing the country. To someone here, zooming in to frame our problem as an Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes as much sense as describing the “America-Italy conflict” of 1944. American G.I.s were indeed dying in Italy that year, but an American instinctively knows that this can be understood only by seeing it as one small part of World War II. The actions of Americans in Italy can’t be explained without Japan, or without Germany, Russia, Britain and the numerous actors and sub-conflicts making up the larger war. Over the decades when Arab nationalism was the region’s dominant ideology, Israeli soldiers faced Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis. Today Israel’s most potent enemy is the Shiite theocracy in Iran, which is more than 1,000 miles away and isn’t Palestinian (or Arab). The gravest threat to Israel at close range is Hezbollah on our northern border, an army of Lebanese Shiites founded and funded by the IraniansThe antiaircraft batteries of the Russians, Iran’s patrons, already cover much of our airspace from their new Syrian positions. A threat of a lesser order is posed by Hamas, which is Palestinian — but was founded as the local incarnation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, affiliated with the regional wave of Sunni radicalism, kept afloat with . Qatari cash and backed by Iran. If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) In this tightly cropped frame, Israelis are stronger, more prosperous and more numerous. The fears affecting big decisions, like what to do about the military occupation in the West Bank, seem unwarranted if Israel is indeed the far more powerful party. That’s not the way Israelis see it. Many here believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened around us in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors, Syria and Iraq, into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. When I look at the West Bank as an Israeli, I see 2.5 million Palestinian civilians living under military rule, with all the misery that entails. I’m seeing the many grave errors our governments have made in handling the territory and its residents, the construction of civilian settlements chief among them. But because I’m zoomed out, I’m also seeing Hezbollah (not Palestinian), and the Russians and Iranians (not Palestinian), and the Islamic State-affiliated insurgents (not Palestinian) on our border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. I’m considering the disastrous result of the power vacuum in Syria, which is a 90-minute drive from the West Bank. In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea — “like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation — if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm. But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen. The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If our small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now. Misunderstanding the predicament of Israelis and Palestinians as a problem that can be solved by an agreement between them means missing modest steps that might help people here. Could Israel, as some centrist strategists here recently suggested, freeze and shrink most civilian settlements while leaving the military in place for now? How can the greatest number of Palestinians be freed from friction with Israelis without creating a power vacuum that will bring the regional war to our doorstep? These questions can be addressed only if it’s clear what we’re talking about. Abandoning the pleasures of the simple story for the confusing realities of the bigger picture is emotionally unsatisfying. An observer is denied a clear villain or an ideal solution. But it does make events here comprehensible, and it will encourage Western policymakers to abandon fantastic visions in favor of a more reasonable grasp of what’s possible. And that, in turn, might lead to some tangible improvements in a world that could use fewer illusions and wiser leaders. Matti Friedman
In the past ten years, (…) we have seen an emerging new, new anti-Semitism. It is likely to become far more pernicious than both the old-right and new-left versions, because it is not just an insidiously progressive phenomenon. It has also become deeply embedded in popular culture and is now rebranded with acceptable cool among America’s historically ignorant youth. In particular, the new, new bigotry is “intersectional.” It serves as a unifying progressive bond among “marginalized” groups such as young Middle Easterners, Muslims, feminists, blacks, woke celebrities and entertainers, socialists, the “undocumented,” and student activists. Abroad, the new, new bigotry is fueled by British Labourites and anti-Israel EU grandees. Of course, the new, new anti-Semitism’s overt messages derive from both the old and the new. There is the same conspiratorial idea that the Jews covertly and underhandedly exert inordinate control over Americans (perhaps now as grasping sports-franchise owners or greedy hip-hop record executives). But the new, new anti-Semitism has added a number of subtler twists, namely that Jews are part of the old guard whose anachronistic standards of privilege block the emerging new constituency of woke Muslims, blacks, Latinos, and feminists. Within the Democratic party, such animus is manifested by young woke politicians facing an old white hierarchy. Progressive activist Linda Sarsour oddly singled out for censure Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, saying, “I’m talking to Chuck Schumer. I’m tired of white men negotiating on the backs of people of color and communities like ours.” In attacking Schumer, ostensibly a fellow progressive, Sarsour is claiming an intersectional bond forged in mutual victimization by whites — and thus older liberal Jews apparently either cannot conceive of such victimization or in fact are party to it. With a brief tweet, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez dismissed former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman’s worry over the current leftward drift of the new Democratic party. “New party, who dis?” she mocked, apparently suggesting that the 76-year-old former Democratic vice-presidential candidate was irrelevant to the point of nonexistence for the new progressive generation. Likewise, the generic invective against Trump — perhaps the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish president of the modern era — as an anti-Semite and racist provides additional cover. Hating the supposedly Jew-hating Trump implies that you are not a Jew-hater yourself. Rap and hip-hop music now routinely incorporate anti-Semitic lyrics and themes of Jews as oppressors — note the lyrics of rappers such as Malice, Pusha T, The Clipse, Ghostface Killah, Gunplay, Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Mos Def, and Scarface. More recently, LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend, tweeted out the anti-Semitic lyrics of rapper 21 Savage: “We been getting that Jewish money, everything is Kosher.” LeBron was puzzled about why anyone would take offense, much less question him, a deified figure. He has a point, given that singling out Jews as money-grubbers, cheats, and conspirators has become a sort of rap brand, integral to the notion of the rapper as Everyman’s pushback against the universal oppressor. The music executive and franchise owner is the new Pawnbroker, and his demonization is often cast as no big deal at best and at worst as a sort of legitimate cry of the heart from the oppressed. Note that marquee black leaders — from Keith Ellison to Barack Obama to the grandees of the Congressional Black Caucus — have all had smiling photo-ops with the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, a contemporary black version of Richard Spencer or the 1980s David Duke. Appearing with Farrakhan, however, never became toxic, even after he once publicly warned Jews, “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!” Temple professor, former CNN analyst, and self-described path-breaking intellectual Marc Lamont Hill recently parroted the Hamas slogan of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” — boilerplate generally taken to mean that the goal is the destruction of the current nation of Israel. And here, too, it’s understandable that Hill was shocked at the ensuing outrage — talk of eliminating Israel is hardly controversial in hip left-wing culture. The Democratic party’s fresh crop of representatives likewise reflects the new, new and mainlined biases, camouflaged in virulent anti-Israeli sentiment. Or, as Princeton scholar Robert George recently put it: The Left calls the tune, and just as the Left settled in on abortion in the early 1970s and marriage redefinition in the ’90s, it has now settled in on opposition to Israel – not merely the policies of its government, but its very existence as a Jewish state and homeland of the Jewish people. In that vein, Michigan’s new congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, assumed she’d face little pushback from her party when she tweeted out the old slur that Jewish supporters of Israel have dual loyalties: Opponents of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which targets Israel, “forgot what country they represent,” she said. Ironically, Tlaib is not shy about her own spirited support of the Palestinians: She earlier had won some attention for an eliminationist map in her office that had the label “Palestine” pasted onto the Middle East, with an arrow pointing to Israel. Similarly, Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) — like Tlaib, a new female Muslim representative in the House — used to be candid in her views of Israel as an “apartheid regime”: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” On matters of apartheid, one wonders whether Omar would prefer to be an Arab citizen inside “evil” Israel or an Israeli currently living in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Sarsour defended Omar with the usual anti-Israel talking points, in her now obsessive fashion. Predictably, her targets were old-style Jewish Democrats. This criticism of Omar, Sarsour said, “is not only coming from the right-wing but [from] some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.” Again, note the anti-Semitic idea that support for the only functioning democracy in the Middle East is proof of lackluster support for democracy and free speech. Out on the barricades, some Democrats, feminists, and Muslim activists, such as the co-founders of the “Women’s March,” Tamika Mallory and the now familiar Sarsour, have been staunch supporters of Louis Farrakhan (Mallory, for example, called him “the greatest of all time”). The New York Times recently ran a story of rivalries within the Women’s March, reporting that Mallory and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist, lectured another would-be co-leader, Vanessa Wruble, about her Jewish burdens. Wruble later noted: “What I remember — and what I was taken aback by — was the idea that Jews were specifically involved, and predominantly involved, in the slave trade, and that Jews make a lot of money off of black and brown bodies.” Progressive icon Alice Walker was recently asked by the New York Times to cite her favorite bedtime reading. She enjoyed And the Truth Will Set You Free, by anti-Semite crackpot David Icke, she said, because the book was “brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask” and was “a curious person’s dream come true.” One wonders which “questions” needed asking, and what exactly was Walker’s “dream” that had come “true.” When called out on Walker’s preference for Icke (who in the past has relied on the 19th-century Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in part to construct an unhinged conspiracy about ruling “lizard people”), the Times demurred, with a shrug: It did not censor its respondents’ comments, it said, or editorialize about them. These examples from contemporary popular culture, sports, politics, music, and progressive activism could be easily multiplied. The new, new anti-Semites do not see themselves as giving new life to an ancient pathological hatred; they’re only voicing claims of the victims themselves against their supposed oppressors. The new, new anti-Semites’ venom is contextualized as an “intersectional” defense from the hip, the young, and the woke against a Jewish component of privileged white establishmentarians — which explains why the bigoted are so surprised that anyone would be offended by their slurs. In our illiterate and historically ignorant era, the new, new hip anti-Semitism becomes a more challenging menace than that posed by prior buffoons in bedsheets or the clownish demagogues of the 1980s such as the once-rotund Al Sharpton in sweatpants. And how weird that a growing trademark of the new path-breaking identity politics is the old stereotypical dislike of Jews and hatred of Israel. Victor Davis Hanson
Nous tenons à vous informer que la « Lettre à un Ami Antisioniste »… prétendument écrite par le Dr Martin Luther King Jr, est, selon toute vraisemblance, un faux, bien que le message qui est à la base de la lettre ait été indéniablement exprimé par Martin Luther King Jr, lors d’une intervention de 1968, à Harvard, au cours de laquelle il a dit: « Quand les gens critiquent les Sionistes, ils parlent des juifs. Votre propos est antisémite ». (…) A l’origine, nous avions de forts doutes concernant l’authenticité de la « Lettre à un Ami Antisioniste », parce que le style du premier paragraphe semblait presque un pastiche de celui du discours du Dr King, « J’ai fait un rêve… ». En outre, nous n’avons trouvé aucune référence à la lettre avant 1999, ce qui était bizarre, car ce texte est une dénonciation si sensationnelle de l’antisionisme, qu’il aurait dû être largement cité. Mais, ensuite, nous avons trouvé la « lettre » dans le livre respectable de Rabbi Marc Schneier, publié en 1999 (« Shared Dreams » [Rêves partagés]), dont la préface était écrite par Martin Luther III. Etant donné que la famille King a la réputation d’être extrêmement attentive à l’héritage du Dr King, nous supposions qu’elle avait vérifié la fiabilité du livre avant de l’approuver. En outre, nous avions découvert que des citations de la « lettre » avaient été faites, le 31 juillet 2001, par Michael Salberg, de l’Anti-Defamation League, lors d’un témoignage devant le sous-Comité des Opérations Internationales et des Droits de l’Homme de la Commission pour les Relations internationales de la Chambre des Représentants des Etats-Unis. La même « source » où il était question de cette « lettre » (Saturday Review, août 1967), mentionnée dans le livre de Schneier, était également citée dans le témoignage. Comme beaucoup de membres de l’Anti-Defamation League avaient effectivement collaboré avec Martin Luther King Jr dans la lutte pour les droits civils, nous avons à nouveau supposé qu’ils étaient très bien informés de l’ouvrage concernant King et qu’ils avaient vérifié de manière approfondie tout ce qu’ils avaient choisi d’exposer devant le Congrès. Néanmoins, comme nous ne nous fions pas, en règle générale, aux recherches effectuées par quelqu’un d’autre, nous avons décidé de procéder à une contre-vérification, en examinant les anciens numéros de Saturday Review (le livre de Rabbi Schneier indiquait que la « lettre » avait été publiée dans l’édition d’août 1967 de la revue). Mais voilà, cette lettre ne figure pas dans les numéros d’août, outre que la page et le numéro de volume cités ne correspondent pas à ceux qu’utilise cette publication. CAMERA a également effectué une vérification auprès de l’Université de Boston, qui conserve les archives de l’œuvre du Dr King. Les archivistes ne sont pas davantage parvenus à localiser cette lettre. Force nous est de conclure que la lettre en question n’a pas été écrite par le Dr King. (Veuillez noter que nous ne suggérons pas que la « lettre » contrefaite soit l’œuvre de Rabbi Schneier.) Du fait que le message de la lettre (l’antisionisme est de l’antisémitisme) était bien celui qu’avait exprimé Martin Luther King Jr, nous pouvons comprendre que la famille de King et l’anti-Defamation League, n’aient pas éprouvé le besoin de vérifier la « Lettre à un ami antisioniste ». Cet épisode nous rappelle qu’il est important de vérifier l’authenticité et l’exactitude des sources, même quand elles semblent solides. Ci-après, une libre opinion, en date du 21 janvier 2002, du député républicain John Lewis, qui a travaillé en contact étroit avec le Dr King. Dans son article, il partage le point de vue du Dr King sur Israël, insistant sur la nature démocratique d’Israël et son besoin de sécurité. Il rapporte également que le Dr King a dit : « Quand les gens critiquent les Sionistes, ils veulent dire les Juifs, votre propos est antisémite. » Lee Green
Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge. This was an experience which was at once fascinating and moving: one witnessed Dr. King in action in a way one never got to see in public. He wanted to find what the Negro students at Harvard and other parts of the Boston area were thinking about various issues, and he very subtly cross-examined them for well over an hour and a half. He asked questions, and said very little himself. One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, “Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” Seymour Martin Lipset
In 1966, King entered an agreement to lead a Holy Land pilgrimage, in partnership with Sandy Ray, pastor of a Baptist church in Brooklyn, who took up the promotion of the trip. King’s assistant, Andrew Young, visited Israel and Jordan in late 1966 to do advance planning with Jordanian and Israeli authorities. The pilgrimage was rumored to be in the works from that time, and King received letters of encouragement and invitations from the prime ministers of Israel and Jordan, and from the Israeli and Jordanian mayors of divided Jerusalem. On May 16, 1967, King publicly announced the plan at a news conference, reported by the New York Times the following day. The pilgrimage would take place in November, and King insisted that it would have no political significance whatsoever. The organizers hoped to attract five thousand participants, with the aim of generating revenue for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC). King was slated to preach on the Mount of Olives in Jordanian East Jerusalem (November 14), and at a specially constructed amphitheater near Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee in Israel (November 16). The pilgrims would pass from Jordan to Israel through the Man – delbaum Gate in Jerusalem. King, who knew the situation on the ground, thought he could strike just the right balance between Israel and Jordan. The Six-Day War threw a wrench into the plan. (…) King’s careful maneuvering before, during, and after the Six-Day War demonstrated a much deeper understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict than critics credit him with possessing. The two Palestinian-Americans who sought to dismiss the Cambridge quote suggested that the conflict “was probably not a subject he was well-versed on,” and that his public statements in praise of Israel “surely do not sound like the words of someone familiar with both sides of the story.” Not so. King had been to the Arab world, had a full grasp of the positions of the sides, and was wary of the possible pitfalls of favoring one over the other. He struck a delicate balance, speaking out or staying silent after careful assessments made in consultation with advisers who had their ears to the ground—Levison and Wachtel (both non-Zionists) in the Jewish community, and Andrew Young, whom King dispatched to the Middle East as his emissary. For this reason, it is an offense to history, if not to King’s memory, whenever someone today summons King’s ghost to offer unqualified support to Israel or the Palestinians. King understood moral complexity, he knew that millions waited upon his words, and he sought to resolve conflict, not accentuate it. The pursuit of an elusive balance marked his approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict while he lived. There is no obvious reason to presume he would have acted differently, had he lived longer. Martin Kramer
Aptly quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. is a common way to make a point or win an argument, and it’s no surprise that his new memorial in Washington includes an “Inscription Wall” of quotes carved in stone. It’s also no surprise that the quote about critics of Zionists didn’t make the cut for inclusion in the memorial. Still, it’s been put to use on many an occasion, most recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, in his address to the Knesset on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A few years back it even cropped up in a State Department report on antisemitism. So I was perplexed to see it categorized as “disputed” on the extensive page of King quotes at Wikiquote—for better or worse, the go-to place to verify quotes. Indeed, as of this writing, it’s the only King quote so listed. The attempt to discredit the quote has been driven by politics. In particular, it’s the work of Palestinians and their sympathizers, who resent the stigmatizing of anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism. (…) King’s words were first reported by Seymour Martin Lipset, at that time the George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, in an article he published in the magazine Encounter in December 1969—that is, in the year following King’s assassination. (…) For the next three-plus decades, no one challenged the credibility of this account. No wonder: Lipset, author of the classic Political Man (1960), was an eminent authority on American politics and society, who later became the only scholar ever to preside over both the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association. Who if not Lipset could be counted upon to report an event accurately? Nor was he quoting something said in confidence only to him or far back in time. Others were present at the same dinner, and Lipset wrote about it not long after the fact. He also told the anecdote in a magazine that must have had many subscribers in Cambridge, some of whom might have shared his “fascinating and moving” experience. The idea that he would have fabricated or falsified any aspect of this account would have seemed preposterous. That is, until almost four decades later, when two Palestinian-American activists suggested just that. Lipset’s account, they wrote, “seems on its face… credible.” There are still, however, a few reasons for casting doubt on the authenticity of this statement. According to the Harvard Crimson, “The Rev. Martin Luther King was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago—April 23, 1967” (“While You Were Away” 4/8/68). If this is true, Dr. King could not have been in Cambridge in 1968. Lipset stated he was in the area for a “fund-raising mission,” which would seem to imply a high profile visit. Also, an intensive inventory of publications by Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project accounts for numerous speeches in 1968. None of them are for talks in Cambridge or Boston. The timing of this doubt-casting, in 2004, was opportune: Lipset was probably unaware of it and certainly unable to respond to it. He had suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001, which left him immobile and speech-impaired. (He died of another stroke in 2006, at the age of 84.) Since then, others have reinforced the doubt, noting that Lipset gave “what seemed to be a lot of information on the background to the King quote, but without providing a single concrete, verifiable detail.” For just these reasons, the quote reported by Lipset was demoted to “disputed” status on King’s entry at Wikiquote. (…) Bear in mind Lipset’s precise testimony: King rebuked the student at a dinner in Cambridge “shortly before” King’s assassination, during a fundraising mission to Boston. It’s important to note that Lipset didn’t place the dinner in 1968. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, so “shortly before” could just as well have referred to the last months of 1967. In fact, King did come to Boston for the purposes of fundraising in late 1967—specifically, on Friday, October 27. Boston was the last stop in a week-long series of benefit concerts given by Harry Belafonte for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Here’s an advertisement for that tour, from the magazine Jet. In the archives of NBC, there is a clip of King greeting the audience at the Boston concert. The Boston Globe also reported King’s remarks and the benefit concert on its front page the next morning. Greetings by Martin Luther King, Jr., sandwiched between an introduction by Sidney Poitier and an act by Harry Belafonte, before 9,000 people in Boston Garden—it’s difficult to imagine any appearance more “high profile” than that. And the dinner in Cambridge? When King was assassinated, the Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, did write that he “was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago—April 23, 1967.” That had been a very public visit, during which King and Dr. Benjamin Spock held a press conference to announce plans for a “Vietnam Summer.” War supporters picketed King. But in actual fact, that wasn’t King’s last visit to Cambridge. In early October 1967, when news spread that King would be coming to Boston for the Belafonte concert, a junior member of Harvard’s faculty wrote to King from Cambridge, to extend an invitation from the instructor and his wife (…) Two days later, King’s secretary, Dora McDonald, sent a reply accepting the invitation on King’s behalf: “Dr. King asked me to say that he would be happy to have dinner with you.” King would be arriving in Boston at 2:43 in the afternoon. “Accompanying Dr. King will be Rev. Andrew Young, Rev. Bernard Lee and I.” Who was this member of the Harvard faculty? Martin Peretz. (…) But as Peretz noted in his invitation, “much has happened in recent months,” necessitating “some honest and tough and friendly dialogue.” Peretz was then (as he is today) an ardent supporter of Israel. The Six-Day War, only four months earlier, threatened to drive a wedge between those Jews and African-Americans, allied in common causes, who differed profoundly over the Middle East. The culmination came in August, when the radical Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) issued a newsletter claiming that “Zionist terror gangs” had “deliberately slaughtered and mutilated women, children and men, thereby causing the unarmed Arabs to panic, flee and leave their homes in the hands of the Zionist-Israeli forces.” The newsletter also denounced “the Rothschilds, who have long controlled the wealth of many European nations, [who] were involved in the original conspiracy with the British to create the ‘State of Israel’ and [who] are still among Israel’s chief supporters.” Peretz, who a few years earlier had been a supporter of SNCC, condemned the newsletter as vicious antisemitism, and Jewish supporters of the civil rights movement looked to King and the SCLC to do the same. It was against this background that King came to dinner at the Peretz home at 20 Larchwood Drive, Cambridge, in the early evening of October 27, 1967. A few days later, King’s aide, Andrew Young, thanked the couple for the delightful evening last Friday. (…) In fact, the evening’s significance would only become evident later, after King’s death. For the dinner was attended by Peretz’s senior Harvard colleague, Seymour Martin Lipset, and it was then and there that Lipset heard King rebuke a student who echoed the SNCC line on “Zionists”: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” Peretz would later assert that King “grasped the identity between anti-Israel politics and anti-semitic ranting.” But it was Lipset who preserved King’s words to that effect, by publishing them soon after they were spoken. (And just to run the contemporary record against memory, I wrote to Peretz, to ask whether the much-quoted exchange did take place at his Cambridge home on that evening almost 45 years ago. His answer: “Absolutely.” I’ve written twice to Andrew Young to ask whether he has any recollection of the episode. I haven’t yet received a response.) Little more than five months after the Cambridge dinner, King lay dead, felled by an assassin in Memphis. (Peretz delivered a eulogy at the remembrance service in Harvard’s Memorial Church.) There’s plenty of room to debate the meaning of King’s words at the Cambridge dinner, and I’ve only hinted at their context. But the suggestion that King couldn’t possibly have spoken them, because he wasn’t in or near Cambridge when he was supposed to have said them, is now shown to be baseless. Lipset: “Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge.” Every particular of this statement is now corroborated by a wealth of detail. We now have a date, an approximate time of day, and a street address for the Cambridge dinner, all attested by contemporary documents. So will the guardians of Wikiquote redeem this quote from the purgatory of “disputed”? Let’s see if they have the decency to clear an eminent scholar of the suspicion of falsification, suggested by persons whose own sloppy inferences have been exposed as false. Martin Kramer

Attention: un faux peut en cacher un autre !

En ce nouveau Martin Luther King Day …

Qui aurait été son 90e anniversaire …

Et qui face à son lot habituel de reprises plus ou moins apocryphes de ses paroles …

Dont des citations bibliques sur des monuments publics mais aussi une prétendue Lettre à un ami antisioniste

Et entre une condamnation d’un chef d’Etat musulman et celle d’une membre musulmane du Congrès américain

Ne devrait pas manquer à l’instar de cette tribune du NYT il y a deux jours …

D’attribuer au vénéré pasteur de putatitves condamnations des prétendues exactions de l’Etat juif …

Qui se souvient …

Que suite à une tribune qu’il avait un peu rapidement signée avec ses nombreux soutiens juifs dans le NYT à la veille de la Guerre des Six jours il y a 50 ans …

Celui-ci se voyait accuser, comme le rappelait un historien palestino-américain il y a quelques années, de « soutenir si ouvertement Israël » ?

Mais surtout qui rappelle …

Avec l’historien américain Martin Kramer

Que jusqu’à annuler au dernier moment une visite en Terre sainte prévue de longue date …

Celui-ci avait en fait une position beaucoup plus équilibrée de la question ?

In the words of Martin Luther King…

Martin Kramer

Sandbox

March 12, 2012

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Aptly quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. is a common way to make a point or win an argument, and it’s no surprise that his new memorial in Washington includes an “Inscription Wall” of quotes carved in stone. It’s also no surprise that the quote about critics of Zionists didn’t make the cut for inclusion in the memorial. Still, it’s been put to use on many an occasion, most recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, in his address to the Knesset on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A few years back it even cropped up in a State Department report on antisemitism. So I was perplexed to see it categorized as “disputed” on the extensive page of King quotes at Wikiquote—for better or worse, the go-to place to verify quotes. Indeed, as of this writing, it’s the only King quote so listed.

The attempt to discredit the quote has been driven by politics. In particular, it’s the work of Palestinians and their sympathizers, who resent the stigmatizing of anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism. Just what sort of anti-Zionism crosses that fine line is a question beyond my scope here. But what of the quote itself? How was it first circulated? What is the evidence against it? And might some additional evidence resolve the question of its authenticity?

A repugnant suggestion

King’s words were first reported by Seymour Martin Lipset, at that time the George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, in an article he published in the magazine Encounter in December 1969—that is, in the year following King’s assassination. Lipset:

Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge. This was an experience which was at once fascinating and moving: one witnessed Dr. King in action in a way one never got to see in public. He wanted to find what the Negro students at Harvard and other parts of the Boston area were thinking about various issues, and he very subtly cross-examined them for well over an hour and a half. He asked questions, and said very little himself. One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, “Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!”

For the next three-plus decades, no one challenged the credibility of this account. No wonder: Lipset, author of the classic Political Man (1960), was an eminent authority on American politics and society, who later became the only scholar ever to preside over both the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association. Who if not Lipset could be counted upon to report an event accurately? Nor was he quoting something said in confidence only to him or far back in time. Others were present at the same dinner, and Lipset wrote about it not long after the fact. He also told the anecdote in a magazine that must have had many subscribers in Cambridge, some of whom might have shared his “fascinating and moving” experience. The idea that he would have fabricated or falsified any aspect of this account would have seemed preposterous.

That is, until almost four decades later, when two Palestinian-American activists suggested just that. Lipset’s account, they wrote, “seems on its face… credible.”

There are still, however, a few reasons for casting doubt on the authenticity of this statement. According to the Harvard Crimson, “The Rev. Martin Luther King was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago—April 23, 1967” (“While You Were Away” 4/8/68). If this is true, Dr. King could not have been in Cambridge in 1968. Lipset stated he was in the area for a “fund-raising mission,” which would seem to imply a high profile visit. Also, an intensive inventory of publications by Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project accounts for numerous speeches in 1968. None of them are for talks in Cambridge or Boston.

The timing of this doubt-casting, in 2004, was opportune: Lipset was probably unaware of it and certainly unable to respond to it. He had suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001, which left him immobile and speech-impaired. (He died of another stroke in 2006, at the age of 84.) Since then, others have reinforced the doubt, noting that Lipset gave “what seemed to be a lot of information on the background to the King quote, but without providing a single concrete, verifiable detail.” For just these reasons, the quote reported by Lipset was demoted to “disputed” status on King’s entry at Wikiquote.

To all intents and purposes, this constitutes an assertion that Lipset might have fabricated both the occasion and the quote. To Lipset’s many students and colleagues, the mere suggestion is undoubtedly repugnant and perhaps unworthy of a response. But I’m not a student or colleague, nor did I know Lipset personally, so it seemed to me a worthy challenge to see whether I could verify Lipset’s account. Here are the results.

One Friday evening

Bear in mind Lipset’s precise testimony: King rebuked the student at a dinner in Cambridge “shortly before” King’s assassination, during a fundraising mission to Boston. It’s important to note that Lipset didn’t place the dinner in 1968. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, so “shortly before” could just as well have referred to the last months of 1967.

In fact, King did come to Boston for the purposes of fundraising in late 1967—specifically, on Friday, October 27. Boston was the last stop in a week-long series of benefit concerts given by Harry Belafonte for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Here’s an advertisement for that tour, from the magazine Jet.

In the archives of NBC, there is a clip of King greeting the audience at the Boston concert. The Boston Globe also reported King’s remarks and the benefit concert on its front page the next morning. Greetings by Martin Luther King, Jr., sandwiched between an introduction by Sidney Poitier and an act by Harry Belafonte, before 9,000 people in Boston Garden—it’s difficult to imagine any appearance more “high profile” than that.

And the dinner in Cambridge? When King was assassinated, the Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, did write that he “was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago—April 23, 1967.” That had been a very public visit, during which King and Dr. Benjamin Spock held a press conference to announce plans for a “Vietnam Summer.” War supporters picketed King.

But in actual fact, that wasn’t King’s last visit to Cambridge. In early October 1967, when news spread that King would be coming to Boston for the Belafonte concert, a junior member of Harvard’s faculty wrote to King from Cambridge, to extend an invitation from the instructor and his wife:

We would be anxious to be able to sit down and have a somewhat leisured meal with you, and perhaps with some other few people from this area whom you might like to meet. So much has happened in recent months that we are both quite without bearings, and are in need of some honest and tough and friendly dialogue…. So if you can find some time for dinner on Friday or lunch on Saturday, we are delighted to extend an invitation. If, however, your schedules do not permit, we of course will understand that. In any case, we look forward to seeing you at the Belafonte Concert and the party afterwards.

Two days later, King’s secretary, Dora McDonald, sent a reply accepting the invitation on King’s behalf: “Dr. King asked me to say that he would be happy to have dinner with you.” King would be arriving in Boston at 2:43 in the afternoon. “Accompanying Dr. King will be Rev. Andrew Young, Rev. Bernard Lee and I.”

Who was this member of the Harvard faculty? Martin Peretz.

This requires a bit of a digression. In October 1967, Peretz was a 29-year-old instructor of Social Studies at Harvard and an antiwar New Leftist. Four months earlier, he had married Anne Farnsworth, heiress to a sewing machine fortune. (Here are the Peretzes in Harvard Yard, just a few years later.) Even before their marriage, the couple had made the civil rights movement one of their causes, and Farnsworth had become a top-tier donor to the SCLC. A year earlier, Peretz had informed King that a luncheon with him was “one of the high points of my life”—and that “arrangements for the transfer of securities are now being made.” As Peretz later wrote, “I knew Martin Luther King Jr. decently well, at least as much as one can know a person who had already become both prophet and hero. I fundraised for his Southern Christian Leadership Conference.” Much of that charity began in the Peretz home.

But as Peretz noted in his invitation, “much has happened in recent months,” necessitating “some honest and tough and friendly dialogue.” Peretz was then (as he is today) an ardent supporter of Israel. The Six-Day War, only four months earlier, threatened to drive a wedge between those Jews and African-Americans, allied in common causes, who differed profoundly over the Middle East. The culmination came in August, when the radical Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) issued a newsletter claiming that “Zionist terror gangs” had “deliberately slaughtered and mutilated women, children and men, thereby causing the unarmed Arabs to panic, flee and leave their homes in the hands of the Zionist-Israeli forces.” The newsletter also denounced “the Rothschilds, who have long controlled the wealth of many European nations, [who] were involved in the original conspiracy with the British to create the ‘State of Israel’ and [who] are still among Israel’s chief supporters.” Peretz, who a few years earlier had been a supporter of SNCC, condemned the newsletter as vicious antisemitism, and Jewish supporters of the civil rights movement looked to King and the SCLC to do the same.

It was against this background that King came to dinner at the Peretz home at 20 Larchwood Drive, Cambridge, in the early evening of October 27, 1967. A few days later, King’s aide, Andrew Young, thanked the couple

for the delightful evening last Friday. It is almost too bad we had to go to the concert, but I think you will agree that the concert, too, proved enjoyable but I am also sure a couple of hours conversing with the group gathered in your home would have been more productive.

In fact, the evening’s significance would only become evident later, after King’s death. For the dinner was attended by Peretz’s senior Harvard colleague, Seymour Martin Lipset, and it was then and there that Lipset heard King rebuke a student who echoed the SNCC line on “Zionists”: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” Peretz would later assert that King “grasped the identity between anti-Israel politics and anti-semitic ranting.” But it was Lipset who preserved King’s words to that effect, by publishing them soon after they were spoken. (And just to run the contemporary record against memory, I wrote to Peretz, to ask whether the much-quoted exchange did take place at his Cambridge home on that evening almost 45 years ago. His answer: “Absolutely.” I’ve written twice to Andrew Young to ask whether he has any recollection of the episode. I haven’t yet received a response.)

Corroborated

Little more than five months after the Cambridge dinner, King lay dead, felled by an assassin in Memphis. (Peretz delivered a eulogy at the remembrance service in Harvard’s Memorial Church.) There’s plenty of room to debate the meaning of King’s words at the Cambridge dinner, and I’ve only hinted at their context. But the suggestion that King couldn’t possibly have spoken them, because he wasn’t in or near Cambridge when he was supposed to have said them, is now shown to be baseless. Lipset: “Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge.” Every particular of this statement is now corroborated by a wealth of detail. We now have a date, an approximate time of day, and a street address for the Cambridge dinner, all attested by contemporary documents.

So will the guardians of Wikiquote redeem this quote from the purgatory of “disputed”? Let’s see if they have the decency to clear an eminent scholar of the suspicion of falsification, suggested by persons whose own sloppy inferences have been exposed as false.


Gilets jaunes: C’est la violence mimétique, imbécile !

13 janvier, 2019

La violence n’est jamais perdue pour la violence. René Girard
Ceux qui niaient le christianisme élevant la voix et ceux qui croyaient encore faisant silence, il arriva ce qui s’est vu si souvent depuis parmi nous, non seulement en fait de religion, mais en tout autre matière. […] Ce qui n’était encore que le sentiment d’une partie de la nation parut ainsi l’opinion de tous, et sembla dès lors irrésistible aux yeux mêmes de ceux qui lui donnaient cette fausse apparence.Tocqueville
Il n’en reste pas moins qu’une minorité, même très mobilisée, même bénéficiant d’un soutien de l’opinion publique, ne peut pas se substituer à la majorité et effacer les résultats des élections. Les gilets jaunes sont un mouvement d’ampleur, mais on n’a jamais eu plus de 300 000 personnes dans la rue. La foule n’est pas le peuple et 300 000 personnes ne peuvent pas décider pour le peuple. Que faire, en effet, si 300 000 personnes défilent pour demander l’interdiction de la chasse, et si la semaine d’après 300 000 défilent pour demander son maintien ? Quand les opposants au mariage pour tous ont défilé en masse, et durablement, le gouvernement aurait-il dû retirer sa loi ? Comment distinguer les revendications légitimes, qui doivent être prises en compte, des autres ? Dans le cas du mouvement des gilets jaunes, le gouvernement aurait dû comprendre plus tôt qu’il était l’expression d’un fort mécontentement chez une partie substantielle du corps électoral. Les premières réactions – ou l’absence de réaction – n’ont fait que mettre de l’huile sur le feu et cultiver chez les citoyens mobilisés l’idée qu’ils étaient déconsidérés. Il n’en reste pas moins que, dans une démocratie représentative, on ne peut laisser la rue gouverner, sinon toute réforme – qui fait généralement des gagnants qui s’ignorent et des perdants qui se mobilisent – serait exclue. En outre, comment intégrer la violence à cette équation ? Une manifestation violente est-elle plus ou moins légitime qu’une manifestation pacifique ? Certains estiment que la violence est un indice du degré de mécontentement des manifestants (de « désespoir », diraient ceux qui les soutiennent) et que le gouvernement doit être plus à l’écoute en cas de débordements. Mais, une fois encore, peut-on gouverner un pays ainsi ? Ce qui caractérise le mouvement des gilets jaunes depuis le premier jour, c’est la méconnaissance des règles habituelles de la mobilisation, qui doit opérer à travers un ensemble d’outils démocratiques et pacifiques : pétitions, tribunes dans la presse, manifestations (déclarées et encadrées), contacts avec les élus, grèves… Le mouvement avait trouvé, avec le gilet jaune, un marqueur de mobilisation très astucieux : chaque automobiliste français était équipé de cet accessoire visible, facile à porter ou à mettre en évidence sur son tableau de bord. Mais les initiateurs du mouvement ont choisi d’emblée d’opter pour des formes d’action illégales : manifestations non déclarées en préfecture et dépourvues de responsable et de service d’ordre, blocages de routes et de commerces, violences envers les automobilistes récalcitrants et les forces de l’ordre, dégradations et incendies volontaires… Ils ont en outre, par principe, refusé de rencontrer les représentants de l’État et cherché à imposer leurs revendications de manière unilatérale, dans une logique du « tout ou rien ». Si n’importe quelle organisation – mouvement politique, syndicat, association, collectif – s’était rendue coupable du dixième des exactions commises par le mouvement des gilets jaunes, elle aurait sans doute été rapidement dissoute. En l’espèce, l’impunité règne, car le mouvement n’a pas de structure et de représentants officiels : chacun peut s’improviser porte-parole des gilets jaunes auprès de médias très complaisants, sans endosser la moindre responsabilité, ou se livrer à une surenchère sur les réseaux sociaux. Certains commentateurs relativisent cette violence structurelle. Ils opposent la violence du gouvernement, qui étrangle de taxes les classes laborieuses et fait montre d’arrogance, et celle des manifestants. Ils comparent les débordements des gilets jaunes à ceux des supporters de foot les soirs de victoire ou à ceux du Nouvel An. Ils renvoient dos à dos casseurs et forces de l’ordre. Le citoyen qui se promène aujourd’hui dans les rues désolées de Paris, Bordeaux, Saint-Étienne ou Toulouse, entre carcasses de voitures brûlées, barricades et devantures de magasins défoncées, pourra difficilement considérer que ce ne sont que les inévitables effets collatéraux d’un mouvement fondamentalement non violent. La question de la violence est le nœud de ce conflit. Elle en constitue alternativement la légitimité (« Il faut prendre en compte les revendications de ces gens en colère ») et l’illégitimité (« On ne cède pas aux casseurs et aux factieux »). Car, sitôt que le pouvoir accède à des revendications exprimées avec violence – et le gouvernement n’a eu d’autre choix que de le faire, pour que la pression retombe –, on encourage d’autres groupes sociaux à adopter des comportements inciviques et délictueux. Pourquoi faire grève des semaines durant ou se réunir pacifiquement – à la manière du mouvement Nuit debout – pendant des mois sans rien obtenir si, en mettant à sac les Champs-Élysées ou en incendiant une préfecture, l’on provoque un recul immédiat du gouvernement ? La manière dont certains lycéens se sont récemment « mobilisés » – en brûlant des voitures et en s’équipant pour en découdre avec les forces de l’ordre – montre que le recul face à la violence crée des effets de contagion difficilement contrôlables. Les partisans des gilets jaunes argueront que le gouvernement n’a pas cédé à la violence, mais à l’opinion publique. Que les sondages établissent que les citoyens ont pris fait et cause pour les gilets jaunes, contre le Président. Mais qu’en est-il réellement ? D’abord, que veut dire « soutien aux gilets jaunes » ? On ne reviendra pas ici sur l’inanité de certains sondages. Interroger les gens sur leur comportement passés ou futurs (« pour qui avez-vous/allez-vous voter ? » ou sur leurs préférences « quelle est votre sensibilité politique ? ») a du sens, mais interroger les gens sur des questions vagues ou très complexes, donne des résultats qui doivent être considérés avec prudence. Éprouver une forme de sympathie pour des citoyens qui protestent contre la hausse des taxes, réclament plus de pouvoir d’achat et de services publics, s’élèvent contre des réformes impopulaires, et dénoncent le mépris des élites, ne revient pas à valider l’ensemble de leurs revendications ou à souscrire à un changement de pouvoir ou de régime. On rappellera alors que 80 % des Français désapprouvent l’action du Président. Mais qui peut se dire satisfait de son action alors que la France vit une situation insurrectionnelle, que les citoyens sont empêchés de circuler à leur guise ou de travailler, que les chaînes de télévision passent en boucle des images de guérilla urbaine ? Le citoyen de bonne foi ne peut que constater que le Président s’y prend mal pour gouverner le pays. Pour autant, est-ce que les 80 % de sondés seraient prêts à porter Jacline Mouraud ou Éric Drouet au pouvoir, ou l’un des leaders de l’opposition ? Jean‑Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen, Laurent Wauquiez et Olivier Faure soufflent sur les braises depuis le début du mouvement, en espérant tirer leur épingle du jeu et rejouer la présidentielle, mais les citoyens ne sont pas dupes : les sondages les plus récents montrent qu’aucun ne tire bénéfice du mouvement et ne constitue une alternative politique crédible. Nul ne sait où va ce mouvement. La mobilisation est numériquement en baisse, mais les plus radicaux pensent leur heure venue et ne vont sans doute pas relâcher la pression. Les échauffourées ne sont plus le fait de gilets jaunes, mais d’extrémistes, de casseurs et d’opportunistes. (…) On rappellera aussi que le mouvement des gilets jaunes n’a, initialement, guère laissé le choix au quidam. Face à un barrage, il était contraint, plus ou moins aimablement, d’enfiler son gilet jaune, de prêter allégeance à la cause, d’y contribuer éventuellement par une obole, afin de pouvoir aller travailler ou conduire ses enfants à l’école. Nombreux étaient les automobilistes qui arboraient un gilet jaune dans leur véhicule, « au cas où ». Face à ces pressions, face à la quasi-unanimité des responsables politiques, des commentateurs et des leaders d’opinion, il semblait difficile pour le citoyen de faire part de ses doutes. Mais, sauf à penser que l’électorat modéré, qui a dominé les élections l’an passé, s’est subitement volatilisé ou a radicalement changé d’orientation politique, on peut faire l’hypothèse qu’une partie des citoyens a dissimulé ses préférences. Il y a près de deux siècles, Tocqueville avait révélé les falsifications auxquelles pouvaient conduire certaines contraintes, en prenant l’exemple du sentiment religieux durant la Révolution française. Selon lui, les pressions qui s’exerçaient sur les croyants, qui jugeaient malvenu d’exprimer leur attachement au christianisme, avaient fait apparaître l’opinion publique comme antireligieuse, alors qu’elle ne l’était pas. Ce phénomène s’entretenait de lui-même, la faiblesse supposée du nombre des croyants au sein de la société française les incitant à continuer de taire leurs convictions. Olivier Costa
Lorsqu’une foule se réunit autrement que pour former le cortège d’une marche blanche (Denis Salas), dès qu’elle prend une couleur quelconque, même la plus claire d’entre elles en l’occurrence, le jaune, elle peine à maîtriser la violence, quand elle ne la déchaîne pas par la provocation pour se placer en situation de légitime défense victime des forces de l’ordre. Il aura donc suffi d’une série de maladresses et de contretemps politiques de la part du Président de la République et du gouvernement pour donner l’occasion à la violence de rappeler qu’elle est le principal objet du politique, vérité que ses instances ne cessent pourtant de refouler. La boîte à revendications a été ouverte et, dans le même temps, la supériorité de leur expression violente a été accréditée par les concessions d’un pouvoir rétif à tenir compte de revendications pacifiquement exprimées dans le respect du cadre légal. Cette boîte sera bien difficile à refermer. Si ces revendications sont contradictoires et donc impossible à toutes satisfaire simultanément, elles se retrouvent sous un même dénominateur, la forme politique du désir mimétique, à savoir la revendication d’une égale puissance d’être. Cette REPE, la mode étant aux sigles, est suscitée par la promesse de la citoyenneté démocratique. De ce point de vue, la réponse en termes de pouvoir d’achat, même si elle pouvait être généreuse, ce qui ne sera pas le cas, serait très loin du compte. Le référendum d’initiative citoyenne (RIC) vient, s’il en était besoin, à l’appui de cette assertion. Dans cette hypothèse, les citoyens ont l’initiative, font rapport (comme le suggère l’étymologie de referendum) et décident. Les représentants élus ou issus des corps intermédiaires sont disqualifiés dans ces trois domaines. Chacun détient sa puissance d’être d’une manière égale (un citoyen, une voix) qu’il doit pouvoir exprimer à son initiative. L’alternance quinquennale (voire plus rapprochée), pourtant quasi-systématique depuis la fin des années 1970, ne suffit plus à l’expression périodique de ses opinions. La REPE se manifeste dans les cahiers de doléance, dont les premières synthèses remontent, d’abord et avant tout par la contestation des élites considérées comme privilégiées, notamment les hauts fonctionnaires, les élus nationaux et les représentants des corps intermédiaires. La fonction de maire échappe à cet opprobre. Sans doute parce que la plupart des maires sont perçus comme au service de ses administrés plus qu’en position d’augmenter son propre pouvoir, ce qui est particulièrement vrai dans les petites communes rurales où résident la plupart des contributeurs aux cahiers de doléance. Le rétablissement de l’ISF est un autre marqueur de ce désir mimétique en forme d’envie : à défaut d’augmenter sa propre puissance d’être suffisamment, diminuons celle des nantis. Quant aux préoccupations relatives à l’immigration, elles traduisent la crainte d’un partage de cette puissance d’être avec des nouveaux venus qui feraient mécaniquement diminuer celle des citoyens nationaux, selon la logique de ces derniers. On retrouve ici comme un écho aux revendications des niveleurs dans la première moitié du XVIIe siècle en Angleterre. Nous assistons aussi à l’affrontement de deux souverainetés, celle du pseudo-monarque sacré de nos institutions, éternel bouc émissaire en sursis (comme nous l’avions suggéré dans ce même blogue il y a deux ans), et celle du peuple comme nombre, ou du moins ceux qui s’estiment assez nombreux et suffisamment soutenus pour parler en son nom. (…) Cet affrontement de deux revendications concurrentes à l’incarnation de la souveraineté du peuple est, dans l’état actuel, en attente d’une décision qui tarde à venir de la part de l’opinion publique : celle-ci se sent concernée par les revendications exprimées dont elle attend un bénéfice mais souhaite aussi pouvoir retrouver la paix publique. Selon un schéma bien connu, notamment en situation insurrectionnelle, on assiste à la lutte entre deux minorités, celle des soutiens du pouvoir et celle des gilets jaunes activistes, qui rivalisent pour s’approprier un même objet, l’opinion publique majoritaire, laquelle oscille entre ces deux attracteurs avant de basculer franchement d’un côté. Du point de vue de l’opinion, les effets de l’information en continu peuvent donner une illusion trompeuse sur le nombre et donc la puissance des gilets jaunes. L’information instantanée et sans recul est également manipulée dans une surenchère victimaire par l’évocation des blessés du côté des manifestants et de celui des forces de l’ordre. Lors d’un épisode tragi-comique, une cagnotte a été constituée pour la défense d’un ancien boxeur ayant agressé des gendarmes mobiles, ces derniers témoignant sous couvert d’anonymat de leurs blessures ; et leur situation a suggéré illico au président du conseil régional Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Renaud Muselier, l’idée d’une cagnotte symétrique pour les forces de l’ordre victimes de la violence de certains manifestants. Plus largement, le traitement actuel d’une information susceptible de glisser sur la pente de la propagande en faveur d’un des protagonistes inquiète le Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel qui a diligenté une enquête. Quoi qu’il en soit, ce mouvement acéphale donne à travers sa persistance et ses manifestations violentes une image des enfants du ressentiment contemporain. Ils recherchent une puissance d’être que l’individualisme ambiant leur assigne d’obtenir dans une action collective que nul ne maîtrise. Et ils dénient à leurs leaders autoproclamés successifs d’acquérir une puissance d’être supérieure à la leur. Jean-Marc Bourdin

C’est la violence mimétique, imbécile !

La boîte de Pandore est plus facile à ouvrir qu’à refermer

Jean-Marc Bourdin

« La violence n’est jamais perdue pour la violence » comme nous le rappelle souvent notre ami Bernard Perret puisant cette assertion dans le fonds girardien.

Lorsqu’une foule se réunit autrement que pour former le cortège d’une marche blanche (Denis Salas), dès qu’elle prend une couleur quelconque, même la plus claire d’entre elles en l’occurrence, le jaune, elle peine à maîtriser la violence, quand elle ne la déchaîne pas par la provocation pour se placer en situation de légitime défense victime des forces de l’ordre.

Il aura donc suffi d’une série de maladresses et de contretemps politiques de la part du Président de la République et du gouvernement pour donner l’occasion à la violence de rappeler qu’elle est le principal objet du politique, vérité que ses instances ne cessent pourtant de refouler.

La boîte à revendications a été ouverte et, dans le même temps, la supériorité de leur expression violente a été accréditée par les concessions d’un pouvoir rétif à tenir compte de revendications pacifiquement exprimées dans le respect du cadre légal. Cette boîte sera bien difficile à refermer.

Si ces revendications sont contradictoires et donc impossible à toutes satisfaire simultanément, elles se retrouvent sous un même dénominateur, la forme politique du désir mimétique, à savoir la revendication d’une égale puissance d’être[1]. Cette REPE, la mode étant aux sigles, est suscitée par la promesse de la citoyenneté démocratique. De ce point de vue, la réponse en termes de pouvoir d’achat, même si elle pouvait être généreuse, ce qui ne sera pas le cas, serait très loin du compte. Le référendum d’initiative citoyenne (RIC) vient, s’il en était besoin, à l’appui de cette assertion. Dans cette hypothèse, les citoyens ont l’initiative, font rapport (comme le suggère l’étymologie de referendum) et décident. Les représentants élus ou issus des corps intermédiaires sont disqualifiés dans ces trois domaines. Chacun détient sa puissance d’être d’une manière égale (un citoyen, une voix) qu’il doit pouvoir exprimer à son initiative. L’alternance quinquennale (voire plus rapprochée), pourtant quasi-systématique depuis la fin des années 1970, ne suffit plus à l’expression périodique de ses opinions.

La REPE se manifeste dans les cahiers de doléance, dont les premières synthèses remontent, d’abord et avant tout par la contestation des élites considérées comme privilégiées, notamment les hauts fonctionnaires, les élus nationaux et les représentants des corps intermédiaires. La fonction de maire échappe à cet opprobre. Sans doute parce que la plupart des maires sont perçus comme au service de ses administrés plus qu’en position d’augmenter son propre pouvoir, ce qui est particulièrement vrai dans les petites communes rurales où résident la plupart des contributeurs aux cahiers de doléance. Le rétablissement de l’ISF est un autre marqueur de ce désir mimétique en forme d’envie : à défaut d’augmenter sa propre puissance d’être suffisamment, diminuons celle des nantis. Quant aux préoccupations relatives à l’immigration, elles traduisent la crainte d’un partage de cette puissance d’être avec des nouveaux venus qui feraient mécaniquement diminuer celle des citoyens nationaux, selon la logique de ces derniers.

On retrouve ici comme un écho aux revendications des niveleurs dans la première moitié du XVIIe siècle en Angleterre.

Nous assistons aussi à l’affrontement de deux souverainetés, celle du pseudo-monarque sacré de nos institutions, éternel bouc émissaire en sursis[2] (comme nous l’avions suggéré dans ce même blogue il y a deux ans), et celle du peuple comme nombre, ou du moins ceux qui s’estiment assez nombreux et suffisamment soutenus pour parler en son nom. La souveraineté du peuple est effectivement inscrite en toutes lettres dans la Constitution : le principe de la République française est le « gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple » (article 2). L’article 3 précise : « La souveraineté nationale appartient au peuple qui l’exerce par ses représentants et par la voie du référendum. Aucune section du peuple ni aucun individu ne peut s’en attribuer l’exercice. » Quant au Président de la République, l’article 5 de ce même texte dispose qu’il « veille au respect de la Constitution. Il assure, par son arbitrage, le fonctionnement régulier des pouvoirs publics ainsi que la continuité de l’État. Il est le garant de l’indépendance nationale, de l’intégrité du territoire et du respect des traités. » De telles attributions lui confèrent une part importante de la souveraineté exécutive, part accrue par la pratique institutionnelle qui amène le corps électoral à lui fournir le plus souvent une majorité à l’Assemblée nationale et donc la faculté de décider des lois à adopter ou à abroger.

Cet affrontement de deux revendications concurrentes à l’incarnation de la souveraineté du peuple est, dans l’état actuel, en attente d’une décision qui tarde à venir de la part de l’opinion publique : celle-ci se sent concernée par les revendications exprimées dont elle attend un bénéfice mais souhaite aussi pouvoir retrouver la paix publique. Selon un schéma bien connu, notamment en situation insurrectionnelle, on assiste à la lutte entre deux minorités, celle des soutiens du pouvoir et celle des gilets jaunes activistes, qui rivalisent pour s’approprier un même objet, l’opinion publique majoritaire, laquelle oscille entre ces deux attracteurs avant de basculer franchement d’un côté.

Du point de vue de l’opinion, les effets de l’information en continu peuvent donner une illusion trompeuse sur le nombre et donc la puissance des gilets jaunes. L’information instantanée et sans recul est également manipulée dans une surenchère victimaire par l’évocation des blessés du côté des manifestants et de celui des forces de l’ordre. Lors d’un épisode tragi-comique, une cagnotte a été constituée pour la défense d’un ancien boxeur ayant agressé des gendarmes mobiles, ces derniers témoignant sous couvert d’anonymat de leurs blessures ; et leur situation a suggéré illico au président du conseil régional Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Renaud Muselier, l’idée d’une cagnotte symétrique pour les forces de l’ordre victimes de la violence de certains manifestants. Plus largement, le traitement actuel d’une information susceptible de glisser sur la pente de la propagande en faveur d’un des protagonistes inquiète le Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel qui a diligenté une enquête.

Quoi qu’il en soit, ce mouvement acéphale donne à travers sa persistance et ses manifestations violentes une image des enfants du ressentiment contemporain. Ils recherchent une puissance d’être que l’individualisme ambiant leur assigne d’obtenir dans une action collective que nul ne maîtrise. Et ils dénient à leurs leaders autoproclamés successifs d’acquérir une puissance d’être supérieure à la leur.

Nous en sommes là à l’heure où j’écris (11 janvier 2019).

Pandore, dotée de tous les dons par Zeus, disposait aussi de celui de la séduction et de la tromperie. En ouvrant sa boîte (ou sa jarre) reçue en cadeau de mariage malgré l’interdiction qui lui avait été faite, elle libéra tous les maux qu’elle contenait, lesquels se répandirent sur la Terre. Seule l’espérance resta enfermée. Un grand débat national et quelques RIC seront-ils en mesure de libérer l’espérance et de refermer simultanément ce réceptacle sur les revendications qui ne pourront être satisfaites à leur issue ?

*

L’article d’Olivier Costa, Directeur de recherche au CNRS / Directeur des Etudes politiques au Collège d’Europe –, Sciences Po Bordeaux éclaire ce point de vue en rappelant dans son article ci-après, paru dans TheConversation le 10 décembre 2018 : « Débat : La foule n’est pas le peuple ».

https://theconversation.com/debat-la-foule-nest-pas-le-peuple-108487?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=La%20lettre%20de%20The%20Conversation%20France%20du%2010%20dcembre%202018%20-%201182710758&utm_content=La%20lettre%20de%20The%20Conversation%20France%20du%2010%20dcembre%202018%20-%201182710758+CID_c5cfc373a932a52e01eb3cc31b2326e4&utm_source=campaign_monitor_fr&utm_term=Dbat%20%20La%20foule%20nest%20pas%20le%20peuple

Je signale également le texte d’un prêtre, Jean Casanave, qui pose la question de l’espérance dans son blogue « Éclats de vie, réflexions d’un curé de campagne ».

http://jeancasanave.blogspot.com/2019/01/france-quas-tu-fait-de-lesperance.html

[1] Telle que je la nomme dans mes deux derniers essais.

[2] L’actuel Président de la République a au demeurant fait beaucoup pour concentrer sur lui toutes les animosités et faire de son départ le préalable à tout apaisement chez de nombreux gilets jaunes.

Voir aussi:

On a entendu, depuis un mois, beaucoup d’approximations sur ce que la démocratie est censée être, du côté des gilets jaunes et des responsables politiques qui entendent récupérer leur mouvement, mais aussi du côté de certains journalistes et chroniqueurs.

Au nom du peuple…

Certains affirment à satiété depuis un mois que « les gilets jaunes sont le peuple ». C’est un raccourci problématique à plusieurs égards. Dans un système démocratique, « le peuple », c’est la communauté formée par l’ensemble des citoyens. C’est une abstraction, un idéal qui permet de penser le vivre en commun.

Il reste à savoir ce que veut le peuple. Par convention, on peut s’en approcher par le suffrage universel. Aux présidentielles de 2017, rappelons que 37 millions de citoyens se sont rendus aux urnes. On peut insister sur l’importance de l’abstention et du vote blanc et nul, mais 37 millions, cela reste 100 fois plus que les plus importantes mobilisations de gilets jaunes.

La règle majoritaire est une approximation de ce que « veut » le peuple. En France, pour certaines élections du moins, notamment pour les présidentielles, le mode de scrutin veille à ce qu’une majorité se dégage. Au second tour, on contraint les électeurs à choisir entre deux candidats seulement, de sorte que le vainqueur puisse clamer avoir été élu par une majorité. C’est là encore une illusion, mais les électeurs jouent habituellement le jeu. Ainsi, ils confirment toujours le résultat de l’élection lors des élections législatives, car ils savent que – en France du moins – l’existence d’une majorité claire est indispensable au bon fonctionnement des institutions et à la conduite de l’action publique.

Certes, cette majorité est un peu artificielle, et Emmanuel Macron a sans doute perdu de vue qu’il a été élu par de nombreux citoyens qui entendaient, avant tout, s’opposer à Marine Le Pen. En outre, la démocratie ne s’épuise pas dans le vote, et la majorité ne peut pas tout imposer. Les citoyens doivent pouvoir s’exprimer entre deux élections. C’est la raison pour laquelle la démocratie garantit le droit de s’exprimer, de s’engager dans un parti, un syndicat ou une association, de manifester, de faire grève, de signer une pétition. Par ailleurs, les droits des minorités doivent être défendus par la Constitution et le droit, et par les autorités.

Distinguer les revendications légitimes

En France, la démocratie reste largement fondée sur la représentation. Les mécanismes de démocratie participative jouent un rôle modeste, les corps intermédiaires sont traditionnellement considérés avec suspicion, les juges ont une influence relativement modeste, et les élus ont une grande autonomie d’action. En effet, les députés ne sont pas censés représenter leurs électeurs, mais la Nation, et le Président jouit d’importantes prérogatives, dans une approche de sa fonction très gaullienne, voire bonapartiste.

La crise des gilets jaunes est sans doute l’occasion de repenser tout cela, et de donner plus de poids à des mécanismes de démocratie participative et délibérative. Elle est aussi une salutaire mise en garde pour les gouvernants qui ont trop fait abstraction de la manière dont certaines mesures ont été perçues par la population. Réforme de l’ISF, baisse des APL, hausse de la CSG pour les retraités, limitation à 80 km/h ou fiscalité sur le gazole sont autant de décisions qui ont suscité de fortes récriminations qui n’ont pas été entendues, au nom de l’idée que le Président avait un mandat clair et un projet pour la France, et qu’il devait garder le cap.

Il n’en reste pas moins qu’une minorité, même très mobilisée, même bénéficiant d’un soutien de l’opinion publique, ne peut pas se substituer à la majorité et effacer les résultats des élections. Les gilets jaunes sont un mouvement d’ampleur, mais on n’a jamais eu plus de 300 000 personnes dans la rue. La foule n’est pas le peuple et 300 000 personnes ne peuvent pas décider pour le peuple.

Que faire, en effet, si 300 000 personnes défilent pour demander l’interdiction de la chasse, et si la semaine d’après 300 000 défilent pour demander son maintien ? Quand les opposants au mariage pour tous ont défilé en masse, et durablement, le gouvernement aurait-il dû retirer sa loi ? Comment distinguer les revendications légitimes, qui doivent être prises en compte, des autres ?

Dans le cas du mouvement des gilets jaunes, le gouvernement aurait dû comprendre plus tôt qu’il était l’expression d’un fort mécontentement chez une partie substantielle du corps électoral. Les premières réactions – ou l’absence de réaction – n’ont fait que mettre de l’huile sur le feu et cultiver chez les citoyens mobilisés l’idée qu’ils étaient déconsidérés.

Il n’en reste pas moins que, dans une démocratie représentative, on ne peut laisser la rue gouverner, sinon toute réforme – qui fait généralement des gagnants qui s’ignorent et des perdants qui se mobilisent – serait exclue.

La logique du « tout ou rien »

En outre, comment intégrer la violence à cette équation ? Une manifestation violente est-elle plus ou moins légitime qu’une manifestation pacifique ? Certains estiment que la violence est un indice du degré de mécontentement des manifestants (de « désespoir », diraient ceux qui les soutiennent) et que le gouvernement doit être plus à l’écoute en cas de débordements. Mais, une fois encore, peut-on gouverner un pays ainsi ?

Ce qui caractérise le mouvement des gilets jaunes depuis le premier jour, c’est la méconnaissance des règles habituelles de la mobilisation, qui doit opérer à travers un ensemble d’outils démocratiques et pacifiques : pétitions, tribunes dans la presse, manifestations (déclarées et encadrées), contacts avec les élus, grèves…

Le mouvement avait trouvé, avec le gilet jaune, un marqueur de mobilisation très astucieux : chaque automobiliste français était équipé de cet accessoire visible, facile à porter ou à mettre en évidence sur son tableau de bord. Mais les initiateurs du mouvement ont choisi d’emblée d’opter pour des formes d’action illégales : manifestations non déclarées en préfecture et dépourvues de responsable et de service d’ordre, blocages de routes et de commerces, violences envers les automobilistes récalcitrants et les forces de l’ordre, dégradations et incendies volontaires…

Ils ont en outre, par principe, refusé de rencontrer les représentants de l’État et cherché à imposer leurs revendications de manière unilatérale, dans une logique du « tout ou rien ». Si n’importe quelle organisation – mouvement politique, syndicat, association, collectif – s’était rendue coupable du dixième des exactions commises par le mouvement des gilets jaunes, elle aurait sans doute été rapidement dissoute.

En l’espèce, l’impunité règne, car le mouvement n’a pas de structure et de représentants officiels : chacun peut s’improviser porte-parole des gilets jaunes auprès de médias très complaisants, sans endosser la moindre responsabilité, ou se livrer à une surenchère sur les réseaux sociaux.

La question de la violence, nœud du conflit

Certains commentateurs relativisent cette violence structurelle. Ils opposent la violence du gouvernement, qui étrangle de taxes les classes laborieuses et fait montre d’arrogance, et celle des manifestants. Ils comparent les débordements des gilets jaunes à ceux des supporters de foot les soirs de victoire ou à ceux du Nouvel An. Ils renvoient dos à dos casseurs et forces de l’ordre. Le citoyen qui se promène aujourd’hui dans les rues désolées de Paris, Bordeaux, Saint-Étienne ou Toulouse, entre carcasses de voitures brûlées, barricades et devantures de magasins défoncées, pourra difficilement considérer que ce ne sont que les inévitables effets collatéraux d’un mouvement fondamentalement non violent.

La question de la violence est le nœud de ce conflit. Elle en constitue alternativement la légitimité (« Il faut prendre en compte les revendications de ces gens en colère ») et l’illégitimité (« On ne cède pas aux casseurs et aux factieux »). Car, sitôt que le pouvoir accède à des revendications exprimées avec violence – et le gouvernement n’a eu d’autre choix que de le faire, pour que la pression retombe –, on encourage d’autres groupes sociaux à adopter des comportements inciviques et délictueux.

Pourquoi faire grève des semaines durant ou se réunir pacifiquement – à la manière du mouvement Nuit debout – pendant des mois sans rien obtenir si, en mettant à sac les Champs-Élysées ou en incendiant une préfecture, l’on provoque un recul immédiat du gouvernement ? La manière dont certains lycéens se sont récemment « mobilisés » – en brûlant des voitures et en s’équipant pour en découdre avec les forces de l’ordre – montre que le recul face à la violence crée des effets de contagion difficilement contrôlables.

Les sondages, un outil à manier avec prudence

Les partisans des gilets jaunes argueront que le gouvernement n’a pas cédé à la violence, mais à l’opinion publique. Que les sondages établissent que les citoyens ont pris fait et cause pour les gilets jaunes, contre le Président. Mais qu’en est-il réellement ? D’abord, que veut dire « soutien aux gilets jaunes » ? On ne reviendra pas ici sur l’inanité de certains sondages. Interroger les gens sur leur comportement passés ou futurs (« pour qui avez-vous/allez-vous voter ? » ou sur leurs préférences « quelle est votre sensibilité politique ? ») a du sens, mais interroger les gens sur des questions vagues ou très complexes, donne des résultats qui doivent être considérés avec prudence.

Éprouver une forme de sympathie pour des citoyens qui protestent contre la hausse des taxes, réclament plus de pouvoir d’achat et de services publics, s’élèvent contre des réformes impopulaires, et dénoncent le mépris des élites, ne revient pas à valider l’ensemble de leurs revendications ou à souscrire à un changement de pouvoir ou de régime.

On rappellera alors que 80 % des Français désapprouvent l’action du Président. Mais qui peut se dire satisfait de son action alors que la France vit une situation insurrectionnelle, que les citoyens sont empêchés de circuler à leur guise ou de travailler, que les chaînes de télévision passent en boucle des images de guérilla urbaine ? Le citoyen de bonne foi ne peut que constater que le Président s’y prend mal pour gouverner le pays.

Pour autant, est-ce que les 80 % de sondés seraient prêts à porter Jacline Mouraud ou Éric Drouet au pouvoir, ou l’un des leaders de l’opposition ? Jean‑Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen, Laurent Wauquiez et Olivier Faure soufflent sur les braises depuis le début du mouvement, en espérant tirer leur épingle du jeu et rejouer la présidentielle, mais les citoyens ne sont pas dupes : les sondages les plus récents montrent qu’aucun ne tire bénéfice du mouvement et ne constitue une alternative politique crédible.Une vaste majorité attachée aux institutions et à la paix sociale

Nul ne sait où va ce mouvement. La mobilisation est numériquement en baisse, mais les plus radicaux pensent leur heure venue et ne vont sans doute pas relâcher la pression. Les échauffourées ne sont plus le fait de gilets jaunes, mais d’extrémistes, de casseurs et d’opportunistes.

Les chercheurs en sciences sociales n’aiment pas faire de prédictions : ils sont scientifiquement mal équipés pour cela et préfèrent plus prudemment « prédire le passé », en analysant le déroulement d’événements dont on connaît l’issue. On peut néanmoins penser que, à ce stade du mouvement, l’opinion publique va se retourner.

L’émotion passée, les citoyens français, dont la vaste majorité est attachée aux institutions, à l’ordre public et à la paix sociale, s’entendront sans doute pour considérer qu’une insurrection hebdomadaire n’est pas le moyen le plus sûr d’améliorer le sort des Français, et que le coup de semonce à l’endroit du gouvernement était suffisant. Désormais, rares sont les personnalités et les acteurs de la société civile qui affichent leur soutien à un mouvement marqué par une ligne politique confuse, par sa fascination pour la violence et par son refus de la négociation.

Les Français ont, dans un premier temps, largement approuvé les gilets jaunes parce qu’ils partageaient leurs revendications, étaient déçus par le gouvernement ou manifestaient une certaine sympathie pour un mouvement inédit. Certains étaient sans doute aussi mus par une forme de suivisme, de culpabilité de classe, de griserie médiatique ou de romantisme révolutionnaire. D’autres refusaient d’afficher leur soutien à un gouvernement sourd aux revendications, et désapprouvaient le discours de ceux qui affichaient leur mépris pour cette mobilisation populaire ou dénonçaient un peu rapidement la « peste brune ».

On rappellera aussi que le mouvement des gilets jaunes n’a, initialement, guère laissé le choix au quidam. Face à un barrage, il était contraint, plus ou moins aimablement, d’enfiler son gilet jaune, de prêter allégeance à la cause, d’y contribuer éventuellement par une obole, afin de pouvoir aller travailler ou conduire ses enfants à l’école. Nombreux étaient les automobilistes qui arboraient un gilet jaune dans leur véhicule, « au cas où ».

« Ce qui n’était encore que le sentiment d’une partie de la nation parut ainsi l’opinion de tous… »

Face à ces pressions, face à la quasi-unanimité des responsables politiques, des commentateurs et des leaders d’opinion, il semblait difficile pour le citoyen de faire part de ses doutes. Mais, sauf à penser que l’électorat modéré, qui a dominé les élections l’an passé, s’est subitement volatilisé ou a radicalement changé d’orientation politique, on peut faire l’hypothèse qu’une partie des citoyens a dissimulé ses préférences.

Il y a près de deux siècles, Tocqueville avait révélé les falsifications auxquelles pouvaient conduire certaines contraintes, en prenant l’exemple du sentiment religieux durant la Révolution française. Selon lui, les pressions qui s’exerçaient sur les croyants, qui jugeaient malvenu d’exprimer leur attachement au christianisme, avaient fait apparaître l’opinion publique comme antireligieuse, alors qu’elle ne l’était pas.

Ce phénomène s’entretenait de lui-même, la faiblesse supposée du nombre des croyants au sein de la société française les incitant à continuer de taire leurs convictions :

« Ceux qui niaient le christianisme élevant la voix et ceux qui croyaient encore faisant silence, il arriva ce qui s’est vu si souvent depuis parmi nous, non seulement en fait de religion, mais en tout autre matière. […] Ce qui n’était encore que le sentiment d’une partie de la nation parut ainsi l’opinion de tous, et sembla dès lors irrésistible aux yeux mêmes de ceux qui lui donnaient cette fausse apparence. » (De la démocratie en Amérique. Laffont, p. 1045)


Musées: Beyonce made me do it (Like works of art themselves: With a little help from its music friends’ gospel of acquisition, the world’s top museum breaks its attendance record)

6 janvier, 2019

 


Image result for Radeau de la méduse géricaultImage result for Radeau de la méduse géricaultDétail de l'affiche annonçant l'exposition
Paolo Veronese 008.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/de3af-39344352_2284751188419864_7681177876476985344_n.jpgThe Carters – Apeshit
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone but that’s not how it used to be. Don McLean
The Obamas are “Becoming” — billionaires. The launch of Michelle Obama’s cross-country book tour for her new memoir, “Becoming,” last week is just the latest marker on the road to fabulous wealth for the former first couple, who are on their way to becoming a billion-dollar brand. In addition to a $65 million book advance and an estimated $50 million deal with Netflix, both of which she shares with husband Barack Obama, the former first lady is poised to rake in millions from appearances on her 10-city US tour and sales of merchandise connected to her autobiography. And like her husband, Michelle Obama is currently in demand as a speaker for corporations and nonprofits, commanding $225,000 per appearance, The Post has learned. Forbes estimated the couple made $20.5 million in salaries and book royalties between 2005 — when Barack Obama became a US senator and they first arrived in Washington — and 2016. They are now worth more than $135 million. And that figure does not include the cash they are raking in for public speaking. (…) Barack Obama currently rakes in $400,000 per speech, and earned at least $1.2 million for three talks to Wall Street firms in 2017. The fees come on top of his $207,800 annual presidential pension, which he began receiving as soon as he left office. (…) Prices for Obama’s appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center next month currently range from $307 to $4,070, which includes a photo with Michelle Obama and a signed copy of “Becoming.” In addition to cash from appearances and book sales, Obama will reap the benefits of hawking 25 different items of merchandise connected to the book, many of which bear her likeness and feature inspirational messages. The items include T-shirts and hoodies, a $20 “Find Your Voice” mug, and “Find Your Flame and Keep It Lit” candles, which retail for $35 each. (…) Barack Obama raked in a combined $8.8 million for “The Audacity of Hope,” published in 2006, and his children’s book, which was released in 2010. He also made nearly $7 million from “Dreams from My Father.” In addition to their multimillion-dollar literary empire, the couple is set to reap the benefits of a creative production deal they signed with Netflix earlier this year. The $50 million, multi-year deal calls on the Obamas “to produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries and features,” which will be broadcast in 190 countries, according to a statement from the streaming service, which has 125 million subscribers around the globe. NY Post
Step my money fast and go (Fast, fast, go) Fast like a Lambo (Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt) Crowd better savor (Crowd goin’ heavy) I can’t believe we made it (This is what we made, made) Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit? (…) Rah, gimme my check Put some respeck on my check Or pay me in equity, pay me in equity We live it lavish, lavish I got expensive fabrics (…) You ain’t ownin’ this Don’t think they ownin’ this Bought him a jet Shut down Colette Phillippe Patek Get off my dick (…) Motor cade when we came through Presidential with the planes too One better get you with the residential Undefeated with the king too I said no to the Superbowl You need me, I don’t need you Every night we in the endzone Tell the NFL we in stadiums too Last night was a fucking zoo Stagediving in a pool of people Ran through Liverpool like a fucking Beatle Smoke gorilla glue like it’s fucking legal Tell the Grammy’s fuck that 0 for 8 shit Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit? Beyonce and Jay-Z
I just want a Picasso, in my casa No, my castle I’m a hassa, no I’m a asshole I’m never satisfied, can’t knock my hustle I wanna Rothko, no I wanna brothel No, I want a wife that fuck me like a prostitute Let’s make love on a million, in a dirty hotel With the fan on the ceiling, all for the love of drug dealing Marble Floors, gold Ceilings Oh what a feeling, fuck it I want a billion Jeff Koons balloons, I just wanna blow up Condos in my condos, I wanna row of Christie’s with my missy, live at the MoMA Bacons and turkey bacons, smell the aroma Oh what a feeling Picasso Baby, Ca Picasso baby Ca ca Picasso Baby, Ca ca Picasso baby Oh what a feeling Picasso Baby, Ca Picasso baby Ca ca Picasso Baby, Ca ca Picasso baby It ain’t hard to tell I’m the new Jean Michel Surrounded by Warhols My whole team ball Twin Bugattis outside the Art Basel I just wanna live life colossal Leonardo Da Vinci flows Riccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes See me throning at the Met Vogueing on these niggas Champagne on my breath, yes House like the Louvre or the Tate Modern Because I be going ape at the auction Oh what a feeling Aw fuck it I want a trillion Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa The modern day version With better features Yellow Basquiat in my kitchen corner Go ahead lean on that shit Blue You own it I never stuck my cock in the fox’s box but I’m still the man to watch, Hublot On my left hand or not I’m like god damn enough I put down the cans and they ran amok Niggas even talk about your baby crazy Eventually the pendulum swings Don’t forget America this how you made me Come through with the ‘Ye mask on Spray everything like SAMO I won’t scratch the Lambo What’s it gon take For me to go For you to see I’m the modern day Pablo Picasso baby … Jay-Z
Une piaule à cent millions, une montre à trois millions, ce sont les faits Pas de limite, faux, négro, t’est pas un patron, t’as un patron Des négros maltraités, toute cette merde me blesse, je le prends personnellement, les Négros préfèrent travailler pour le blanc que pour moi, travaillez plutôt pour moi Au moins vous ne prétendrez pas être au même niveau que moi, toute cette merde m’irrite  La fierté précède toujours la chute, c’est presque sûr Mes revenus sont bouleversants (bouleversants !) Les enquêtes disent que tu en es loin (vraiment loin) Chacun joue au boss, jusqu’au moment où il faut payer pour l’entreprise  Envoie les factures par-ci, sépare les hommes des garçons par-là
Nous mesurons le succès au nombre de personnes accomplies que tu côtoies…
Jay-Z
C’est pas compliqué, j’suis le boss, donc j’ai acheté un bolide à ma maman Mes arrière-arrière-petits-enfants sont déjà riches Et ça fait beaucoup de petits noirs sur ta liste du Forbes… Beyonce
La blaxploitation — ou blacksploitation — est un courant culturel et social propre au cinéma américain des années 1970 qui a revalorisé l’image des Afro-Américains en les présentant dans des rôles dignes et de premier plan et non plus seulement dans des rôles secondaires et de faire-valoir. Le mot est la contraction, sous forme de mot-valise, des mots « black » » (qui signifie noir) et « exploitation ». (…) Dans les productions blaxploitation, les films n’engageaient que des noirs et ne s’adressaient qu’à la même communauté sur des thèmes de prédilection en utilisant tous les stéréotypes possibles. Que ce soient les films policiers (trilogie des Shaft) ou les enquêtes par des détectives privés (Shaft, les nuits rouges de Harlem), le cinéma d’horreur (Blacula, le vampire noir, Abby), les arts martiaux (Black Belt Jones de Robert Clouse), le péplum (The Arena (en) de Steve Carver), le western (Boss Nigger), l’espionnage (Cleopatra Jones de Jack Starrett), le film politique engagé (The Spook Who Sat by the Door d’Ivan Dixon), le comique (Uptown Saturday Night). (…) Ces films sont populaires dans la communauté noire car ils montrent des acteurs afro-américains dans des situations d’hommes fiers et libres de leurs choix de vie. Ces personnages noirs résistent aux blancs et leur répondent. Le personnage noir est souvent associé au bien, et le blanc au mal.  Les films de la blaxploitation reflètent les aspirations des noirs aux droits civiques, leurs difficultés quotidiennes, mais aussi la prostitution, la drogue, la corruption, le racisme de la part des policiers, les viols… Une grande majorité des films de blaxploitation sont de qualité plutôt médiocres, souvent violents et remplis de clichés et préjugés. Ils parlent de prostitution, de drogue, et de meurtre, des stéréotypes repris depuis dans le gangsta rap. On y portrait également les macs flamboyants aussi appelés pimps. Wikipedia
I’d sit there in these art history survey classes and think, ‘but where are all the black people?’ I remember the first time I saw an image of Olympia flash on the screen as a graduate student. My heart was pounding and I wondered what would be said about the black servant … and was really concerned that nothing at all was mentioned. As I did that, I understood that she was not just the subject of Manet’s work, but of works by many successive generations of artists. As I looked more deeply into the archival and anecdotal material about her, I became aware of how extensive her legacy was with a pattern of images that exist across the last 160 or so years. This show is so relevant now. By rendering Laure visible and giving her a voice, it opens pathways for other women of color. Denise Murrell
The lyrics of Picasso Baby are a roll-call of artists, including Mark Rothko, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Francis Bacon. Art venues aren’t left out either: Christie’s, MoMA and Tate Modern are all referenced. Jay-Z grew up in one of the art capitals of the world, New York, but if the narratives of his early work are anything to go by, he wouldn’t have spent his weekends wandering around MoMA or the Met. The references to the art world in Picasso Baby show the evolution of Shawn Carter from Queens to Jay-Z, the global musician, businessman, and Mr Beyoncé: someone who can not only spend time wandering around MoMA, if he so chooses, but can go to Christie’s and buy the art on sale. The video for the song was entitled Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film and was created at the Pace Gallery in New York. Inspired by (and featuring) Marina Abramović, Jay-Z invited members of the public up to perform with him over a period of six hours. ‘It ain’t hard to tell, I’m the new Jean-Michel Surrounded by Warhols, my whole team ball Twin Bugattis outside the Art Basel I just wanna live life colossal Leonardo da Vinci flows’. When performed live you’re able to witness the rare treat of hip-hop fans repeatedly yelling the chorus ‘Picasso Baby!’. Artuk
“Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit? – Why museums need to encourage dialogue in gallery spaces and not just at lates because silence is more [intimidating] than the audience going ‘apeshit’ over an exhibition that touches their soul. Black Blossoms
Beyonce is helping museums increase their Black Audiences… any smart person in museum marketing team would see the opp and act quickly and correctly… #APESHIT. Blossoms
Brillante élève de David, l’artiste s’affirme ici avec audace : peindre la carnation noire était un exercice rare et peu enseigné car jugé ingrat. Le regard grave, la pose calme et le sein dénudé donnent au modèle anonyme la noblesse d’une allégorie, peut-être celle de l’esclavage récemment aboli. Le Louvre
Née à Paris le 18 décembre 1768, Marie Guillemine Leroulx-Delaville est la fille d’un fonctionnaire royal. Elle étudie d’abord avec Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun vers 1781-1782 et, plus tard, vers 1786, avec Jacques-Louis David. Elle présente des portraits et des peintures de genre à l’Exposition de la Jeunesse, où elle débute en 1784, mais on trouve aussi des tableaux d’histoire parmi les oeuvres qu’elle expose aux Salons parisiens, de 1791 à 1812. (…) Connue pour ses portraits, Benoist avait de plus hautes aspirations, manifestes dans un autoportrait de ses débuts, où l’artiste, vêtue à l’antique, peint une copie du Bélisaire de David. A la fois portrait et peinture d’histoire, cette oeuvre mêle le style de ses deux maîtres: ombres et lumières douces, couleurs pâles avec des draperies aux plis lourds qui mettent en valeur le corps sous-jacent. Son oeuvre la plus célèbre est le Portrait d’une négresse (Salon de 1800). Inspiré par les oeuvres de David, ce tableau est une étude du clair et du foncé: une femme noire -probablement rencontrée dans la maison de son beau-frère, officier de marine qui s’était marié à la Guadeloupe- portant un vêtement et un turban blanc, et placée sur un fond clair. (…) À son meilleur, l’oeuvre de Benoist se caractérise par des poses élégantes, des gestes gracieux, des contours fluides mais fermes, des draperies disposées avec élégance et une utilisation harmonique des couleurs. Ses talents de portraitiste sont fréquemment relevés par les critiques et son Portrait d’une négresse est devenu l’icône de la femme noire du XIXe siècle. Grâce aux récentes recherches d’Oppenheimer, le talent de Benoist commence à être mieux reconnu. Vivian P. Cameron
Œuvre majeure dans la peinture française du XIXe siècle, Le Radeau de la Méduse fait figure de manifeste du Romantisme. Il représente un fait divers qui intéressa beaucoup Géricault pour ses aspects humains et politiques, le naufrage d’une frégate en 1816 près des côtes du Sénégal, avec à son bord plus de 150 soldats. Le peintre se documenta précisément puis réalisa de nombreuses esquisses avant de camper sa composition définitive qui illustre l’espoir d’un sauvetage. Géricault s’inspira du récit de deux rescapés de La Méduse, frégate de la marine royale partie en 1816 pour coloniser le Sénégal. Son commandement fut confié à un officier d’Ancien Régime qui n’avait pas navigué depuis plus de vingt ans, et qui ne parvint pas à éviter son échouage sur un banc de sable. Ceux qui ne purent prendre place sur les chaloupes en nombre insuffisant durent construire un radeau pour 150 hommes, emportés vers une odyssée sanglante qui dura 13 jours et n’épargna que 10 vies. A la détresse du naufrage s’ajoutèrent les règlements de comptes et l’abomination du cannibalisme. Géricault représente le faux espoir qui précéda le sauvetage des naufragés : le bateau parti à leur secours apparaît à l’horizon mais s’éloigne sans les voir. La composition est tendue vers cette espérance, dans un mouvement ascendant vers la droite qui culmine avec l’homme noir, figure de proue de l’embarcation. Géricault donne une vision synthétique de l’existence humaine abandonnée à elle même. (…) Le Radeau de Géricault est la vedette du Salon de 1819 : « Il frappe et attire tous les regards », (Le Journal de Paris) et divise les critiques. L’horreur, la terribilità du sujet, fascinent. Les chantres du classicisme disent leur dégoût pour cet « amas de cadavres », dont le réalisme leur paraît si éloigné du beau idéal, incarné par la Galatée de Girodet qui fait un triomphe la même année. En effet, Géricault exprime un paradoxe : comment faire un tableau fort d’un motif hideux, comment concilier l’art et le réel ? Coupin tranche « M. Géricault semble s’être trompé. Le but de la peinture est de parler à l’âme et aux yeux, et non pas de repousser. ». Le tableau a aussi ses zélateurs, comme Jal qui exalte en lui le sujet politique, le manifeste libéral (la promotion du « nègre », la critique de l’ultra-royalisme), et le tableau moderne, œuvre d’actualité. Pour Michelet, « c’est notre société toute entière qui embarqua sur ce radeau de la Méduse (…) ». Le Louvre
Le 2 juillet 1816, la frégate La Méduse s’échoue sur un banc de sable au large des côtes sénégalaises à la suite d’une erreur de navigation. Elle a près de 400 personnes à son bord – l’équipage, des fonctionnaires et deux compagnies de soldats. La Méduse fait partie d’une flottille envoyée de France au Sénégal pour y affirmer l’autorité du roi Louis XVIII. Les soldats sont des anciens des troupes napoléoniennes dont la monarchie cherche à se débarrasser par ce moyen. Le coupable du naufrage est le capitaine Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys, qui n’a obtenu ce commandement que parce qu’il est un émigré royaliste. Quand il monte à bord de La Méduse, il n’a plus navigué depuis vingt-cinq ans. Après avoir essayé de remettre à flot le navire, il est décidé de l’abandonner et de construire un radeau, les canots étant trop peu nombreux pour la foule des passagers. Le 5 juillet, les chaloupes, où sont les officiers et les fonctionnaires, et le radeau prennent la mer, les chaloupes étant censées remorquer le radeau. Très vite, Chaumareys ordonne de couper les cordes, abandonnant les 147 personnes entassées dessus. Pour cela et l’ensemble de ses fautes, il sera jugé en cour martiale en 1817, condamné à la prison et déchu de son grade et de ses décorations. Du 6 au 17 juillet, le radeau dérive. Quand L’Argus, autre navire de la flottille, le retrouve, il reste quinze survivants, dont cinq meurent dans les jours qui suivent. Entre-temps, les chaloupes ont atteint Saint-Louis du Sénégal sans peine. Sur le naufrage et sur ce qui s’est passé sur le radeau, deux rescapés, l’ingénieur-géographe Corréard et le chirurgien Savigny, publient, dès novembre 1817, un récit, réédité en 1818. On y apprend non seulement l’incompétence et la lâcheté de Chaumareys, mais aussi les combats sur le radeau entre hommes ivres et terrorisés. Le 9 juillet, il ne reste déjà plus qu’une trentaine de survivants. Le 13, ils jettent à la mer les malades et les blessés, dont la cantinière, une femme noire. Dès le 7 juillet, il a fallu recourir au cannibalisme pour se nourrir. On peut imaginer l’effet de ce livre, les implications politiques, l’émoi de l’opinion publique. Des gravures du drame circulent vite, et le Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin en fait un mélodrame, joué en avril 1819. Le 25 août 1819, s’ouvre le Salon. Une toile, dont le titre a été censuré, suscite le scandale : Le Radeau de La Méduse, de Théodore Géricault, évidemment – « un jeune homme », écrit la critique, car il a 28 ans. Depuis, elle est demeurée au premier plan de l’histoire, au point même que l’on oublie trop souvent que Géricault est l’auteur d’autres chefs-d’oeuvre, un portraitiste et un dessinateur de premier ordre. (…) Sans hésiter longtemps, il choisit un moment décisif du récit de Corréard et Savigny, l’approche de l’Argus. Ce n’est pas le plus tragique, puisqu’il aurait pu peindre le carnage sur le radeau, les blessés jetés à la mer ou les scènes de cannibalisme. Il ne le fait pas parce que, dans ce cas, son oeuvre n’aurait pas été exposée au Salon, pour des raisons de décence. Mais il introduit des détails explicites, armes abandonnées, corps mutilés, plaies mal pansées. En attirant l’attention sur eux, l’exposition incite à une compréhension plus complète de tout ce qui constitue l’oeuvre, aussi bien du point de vue artistique que du point de vue politique et moral. Les dessins de musculatures d’après modèle confirment ce qui est flagrant au Louvre : Géricault se mesure en toute simplicité à Michel-Ange et démontre, face à l’hégémonie de David et du néoclassicisme, qu’il n’est pas obligatoire d’aller prendre dans l’histoire grecque et romaine ou dans la Bible des sujets héroïques et tragiques. Le présent en propose qu’il faut avoir l’audace de saisir et de porter aux dimensions d’une très grande toile. Delacroix et Manet s’en sont souvenus – Delacroix qui, du reste, pose pour l’un des naufragés. Autre remarque : Géricault place trois figures d’hommes noirs sur le radeau – et la cantinière jetée à l’eau -, alors qu’il n’y en avait en réalité qu’un seul. Cette décision est liée à la lutte contre la traite des Noirs, qui se pratique toujours alors en dépit de son interdiction supposée. La lecture politique en est précisée. On sait en effet que le Radeau est une œuvre hostile à la Restauration et aux émigrés, mais moins qu’elle est aussi une dénonciation de l’esclavage. Philippe Dagen
Géricault, revenant à Paris après un long voyage d’étude en Italie, découvre par hasard la première édition du naufrage qui date du 22 novembre 1817, il s’agit de la publication de deux survivants du naufrage, l’aide-chirurgien Henri Savigny et le gadzarts, ingénieur-géographe Alexandre Corréard16. Les horreurs du naufrage sont aussi connues du public grâce à l’indiscrétion du ministre de la police Élie Decazes qui relâche volontairement la censure en laissant le rapport de Savigny (destiné normalement uniquement aux autorités maritimes) parvenir à la presse, ce qui lui permet de torpiller le ministre ultra de la Marine François-Joseph de Gratet. Stupéfait de l’ampleur médiatique que prend le naufrage, Géricault pense que la réalisation d’une représentation picturale de l’événement pourrait contribuer à établir sa réputation. Après avoir pris la décision de réaliser le tableau, il entreprend des recherches approfondies avant de commencer la peinture. Au début de l’année 1818, il rencontre Savigny et Alexandre Corréard ; le récit de leur ressenti lors de l’expérience du naufrage influence grandement la tonalité du tableau final. (…) Lors de voyages effectués dans sa jeunesse, Géricault est déjà confronté à la vue de déments ou de pestiférés. Durant ses recherches préparatoires pour Le Radeau de La Méduse, son ambition de vérité historique et de réalisme vire à l’obsession d’observer le phénomène de rigidité cadavérique. Afin de réaliser la représentation la plus authentique possible des différents aspects de la chair des cadavres, il réalise plusieurs esquisses de dépouilles à la morgue de l’hôpital Beaujon, étudie le visage de patients sur le point de mourir, et emporte même dans son atelier quelques membres humains pour observer leur décomposition. Géricault dessine également une tête coupée empruntée à un asile et qu’il conserve dans le grenier de son atelier. Avec trois survivants, dont Savigny et Corréard, ainsi qu’avec le charpentier Lavillette, il construit un modèle réduit extrêmement détaillé du radeau, lequel est reproduit avec la plus grande fidélité sur la toile finale – même les espaces entre les planches sont représentés. Géricault fait également poser des modèles, réalise un dossier comportant de la documentation sur l’événement, copie des tableaux d’autres artistes s’approchant du même thème, et se rend au Havre pour y observer la mer et le ciel. Bien que fiévreux, il se rend très fréquemment sur la côte afin de voir des tempêtes balayer le littoral. En outre, son voyage en Angleterre, durant lequel il rencontre d’autres artistes, est l’occasion pour lui d’étudier divers éléments du paysage marin lors de la traversée de la Manche. Il dessine et peint plusieurs esquisses alors qu’il choisit quel moment il souhaite représenter dans le tableau final. La conception de l’œuvre est lente et difficile, car Géricault hésite même à choisir un moment emblématique du naufrage, qui rendrait au mieux l’intensité dramatique de l’événement. Parmi les scènes qu’il pense choisir se trouvent notamment la mutinerie contre les officiers, survenue le deuxième jour passé sur le radeau ; les actes de cannibalisme, qui ne surviennent qu’après quelques jours ; et le sauvetage. Géricault opte finalement pour l’instant, raconté par l’un des survivants, où les naufragés voient L’Argus approcher à l’horizon et tentent une première fois en vain de lui adresser un appel au secours. Le bateau est représenté par une petite forme de couleur grise au centre-droit du tableau. Comme l’exprime un des survivants, « nous passâmes de l’euphorie à une grande déception, à de profonds tourments ». Dans la mesure où le public est alors bien informé des causes du désastre, le choix de la scène relève d’une volonté de figurer les conséquences de l’abandon de l’équipage sur le radeau, en se focalisant sur l’instant où tout espoir semblait perdu – l’Argus paraît à nouveau deux heures après et secourt les survivants. Un critique remarque cependant que le tableau comporte plus de personnages qu’il ne devait y en avoir à bord du radeau au moment du sauvetage. De plus, l’auteur note que le sauvetage se déroule un matin ensoleillé, avec une mer calme : Géricault choisit cependant de peindre le radeau en pleine tempête, avec un ciel noir et une mer démontée, sans doute pour renforcer le caractère dramatique de la scène. (…) Géricault réalise une esquisse de la composition finale sur la toile. Il fait alors poser chaque modèle séparément, et peint les personnages à la suite les uns des autres, à l’inverse de la méthode traditionnelle suivant laquelle le peintre travaille d’emblée sur la composition entière. Son attention particulière portée à des éléments ainsi individualisés donne à l’œuvre « une matérialité troublante » et témoigne d’une recherche de théâtralité – ce que certains critiques de l’époque considèrent comme un défaut. (…) Le Radeau de La Méduse dépeint le moment où, après treize jours passés à dériver sur le radeau, les quinze survivants voient un bateau approcher au loin, alors même que l’état de l’embarcation de fortune est proche de la ruine. La monumentalité du format (491 cm × 716 cm) fait que les personnages en arrière-plan sont à échelle humaine, et que ceux au premier plan sont même deux fois plus grands qu’un homme : proches du plan de l’œuvre, entassés, les personnages créent un effet d’immersion du spectateur dans l’action du tableau. Le radeau de fortune semble sur le point de sombrer, voguant dans une mer déchaînée, tandis que les naufragés sont représentés totalement anéantis et désemparés. Un vieil homme tient la dépouille de son fils sur ses jambes ; un autre pleure de rage, abattu ; un cadavre sans jambes à gauche évoque les pratiques anthropophages qui ont eu lieu sur le radeau réel tandis que des taches éparses de rouge sang rappellent les affrontements. Plusieurs corps jonchent le radeau, au premier plan, sur le point de tomber à l’eau en raison des vagues. Les hommes au milieu de l’embarcation viennent d’apercevoir un bateau au loin ; l’un d’entre eux le montre du doigt, tandis qu’un membre africain de l’équipage, Jean-Charles, se tient debout sur une barrique vide et agite sa chemise en l’air afin d’attirer l’attention du navire. La composition picturale est essentiellement basée sur trois structures pyramidales. La première est formée par le mât et les cordes qui le tiennent. Elle englobe la seconde à la gauche du tableau, formée par des hommes morts ou désespérés. La troisième met en scène, à sa base, des cadavres et des mourants, desquels émergent les survivants ; à son sommet culmine l’espoir de sauvetage, avec la figure centrale d’un homme noir agitant sa chemise. Certains y ont vu une critique de l’Empire Colonial Français conservateur et esclavagiste. Géricault peint comme héros central un homme Noir. Son modèle sera Joseph, un Haïtien qui a posé pour lui et d’autres artistes. Il s’agit du premier héros de la peinture occidentale sans nom et vu de dos. Le tableau serait une œuvre hostile à la Restauration et aux émigrés, mais aussi une dénonciation de l’esclavage. C’est pourquoi Géricault y peint trois figures d’hommes noirs, alors qu’il n’y en aurait eu qu’un seul parmi les rescapés en plus d’une cantinière jetée à l’eau le 13 juillet en compagnie d’autres blessés. L’artiste semble prendre position contre la traite négrière, qui se pratique toujours malgré son interdiction supposée. Wikipedia
The video is stunning with its wide shots of halls of art with no tourists in them – only Jay-Z and Beyoncé standing looking serene, like works of arts themselves, in front of “The Mona Lisa.” And then the beat kicks in, with a shot of them on a staircase with nearly nude bodies strewn about the steps that contract and move to the rhythm. “I can’t believe we made it,” she sings, a little Autotune in her voice, over a hard-hitting beat. “This is why we thankful, hey, hell, see a crowd going apeshit.” The couple are shown in front of “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” “The Coronation of Napoleon,” among many other famed pieces of priceless artworks and antiquities, while dancing and posing… Rolling Stone
From the off, shots of Beyoncé, Jay Z and the rest of the entirely black cast of dancers from the Ricky Saiz-directed video serve as responses to well-known pieces in the art canon. Almost obstructing the famous works behind them, kneeling, swaying and smiling in the process, black bodies directly challenge the limited portrayals of blackness that we’re used to seeing in museums and force us to take in an entirely new narrative, one that shies away from respectability and fosters an (often intensely capitalist) sense of the many virtues of blackness.In a clear challenge to celebrations of colonial rule and wealth, for example, we see a shot of a defiant Beyoncé dancing in formation against the backdrop of Jacques Louis David’s extravagant painting, The Coronation Of Napoleon. Here, Napoleon’s legacy and, by extension, David’s art is forced to take a backseat, making way instead for an indisputably black celebration of womanhood and Beyoncé’s own lavishness in the process. And with a nod to one of the most consistent themes of the album – black love – there are also shots of black couples embracing, as well as modern takes on Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait of a Negress, the only painting in the video that doesn’t depict a black subject as a slave. (…) Conversations about the lack of inclusion in art museums have long raged on, inspiring important, but typically short-lived, appeals to black people every once in a while. But rarely, as Black Blossoms said, do they extend beyond one-off lates and exhibitions. In a 2015/16 study of adults visiting museums in the UK, for example, black people were the least likely to have visited a museum in the past year, compared with white and Asian visitors. And, when collections do not focus solely on European art, curators of African art in larger institutions are typically white. (…) Just as Beyoncé and Jay Z have demonstrated, there is no reason why pop culture shouldn’t serve as a vehicle for bringing more black people into the fold when it comes to museums. By occupying what looks like the entirety of the Louvre, Beyoncé and Jay Z have made a clear a statement as any about the importance of taking up space in typically white institutions – institutions that, evidently, could learn a thing or two from them. Kuba Shand-Baptiste 
The six-minute “Apeshit” video is a feast of juxtapositions. Directed by Ricky Saiz, it opens with the image of a black man, in fashionably torn jeans and worn sneakers, with giant white wings attached to his back. He crouches outside the museum, like an artwork that has been brought to life and set loose. He rubs his hands, bells gong, and then a wide shot captures the celestial activity on the ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon, filtered through a multi-colored glow of music-video light. Saiz slowly pans to our power couple. Wearing complementary suits—Beyoncé’s pink, Jay’s seafoam green—they are flanking the “Mona Lisa” once again. In the past, the Carters have been accused of being art fetishists. On “Drunk in Love,” Jay-Z raps that their foreplay ruined one of his Warhols; Beyoncé shot the music video for “7/11” on an iPhone in the Tribeca apartment that they once owned, where works by Richard Prince and David Hammons were unceremoniously on view. “Apeshit” is a gospel of acquisition, recalling in spirit the luxury-brand name-checking of the couple’s duet “Upgrade U,” from 2006. Twelve years ago, it was all about the Audemars Piguet watch; now it’s G8 jets and diamonds as translucent as glass. But the video is a display of something that can’t be so easily quantified: influence. Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem to suggest that their own footprint will be as indelible as that of the entire canon of Western art. (“My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown on your Forbes list,” Beyoncé raps, haughtily.) Saiz often captures the couple standing or sitting still, holding court with the same air of permanence as the art-historical treasures around them. In one exception, Beyoncé and her dancers, with a synchronicity that immediately recalls the choreography of “Formation,” body-roll in front of “The Coronation of Napoleon.” A crew of black women gyrating in front of a massive colonial scene is the sort of heavy-handed image that the Internet salivates over. Already, overheated readings of the “Apeshit” video have attempted to glom onto one of two opposing ideologies: either Beyoncé and Jay-Z are priests of capitalism who appreciate art only to the extent that it reflects their wealth, or they are radicals who have smuggled blackness into a space where it has traditionally been overlooked or exploited. Both interpretations seem to me too prescriptive, and belie the video’s actual verve. The Carters are omnivorous in their relationship to media, equally influenced by the Hellenistic era’s religious ecstasies as by Deana Lawson’s fantasies of black intimacy, by Pipilotti Rist’s warped ebullience as by the cultural legacy of Basquiat. Their engagement with the European canon housed in the Louvre, their physical proximity to it, shouldn’t be flattened into a shorthand for transgression. It is not presented that way. They are interested, instead, in playing with tableaux. Beyoncé does not blot out the Venus de Milo; she dances next to it. The Carters are not like the beleaguered black museum worker in Essex Hemphill’s poem “Visiting Hours,” “protecting European artwork / that robbed color and movement / from my life.” Jay-Z’s demand on his song “That’s My Bitch” to “Put some colored girls in the moma” is not only about correcting an erasure but about his own potential power to ordain a new status quo. It brings to mind the ambiguity in the project of Kehinde Wiley, whose years of situating everyday black men into settings of colonial wealth culminated in his portrait of the first black President. The Carters are their own protagonists in a grand narrative of establishing a black élite. But then there’s a tableau, reminiscent of a Deana Lawson composition, that briefly takes us into the transportive place of subversion. In the “Everything Is Love” album art, cribbed from a moment in the “Apeshit” video, the “Mona Lisa” is shown blurred in the distance, while in the foreground a black woman uses an Afro pick to freshen a man’s hair. That image gave me a primal political thrill. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have enlisted surrogates, knowing that the effect wouldn’t have been the same if the man and woman in the scene were them. Doreen St. Félix
The Carters’ latest offering is set in the Louvre – for one day the art gallery was occupied by people you usually never see in its paintings. (…) Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, have arrived at the Louvre for a sightseeing day that coincides with the making of their Apeshit video. Referencing the Louvre’s world-renowned permanent collection, juxtaposed with contemporary dancers occupying this hallowed space, Apeshit makes some pithy, if scattershot, comments on racism, slavery and the dominance of western neoclassical aesthetic standards. (…) The video is topped and tailed by the Mona Lisa. Smirking, tight lipped, she side-eyes Jay-Z and Beyoncé, whose bright blaxploitation power suits outshine her matron’s weeds and announce that, just for one day, the Louvre is going to be occupied by people you usually never see in its paintings. You just know that Lisa’s going to call security. Dancers of all colours gyrate in front of the image of French pomp, Imperial arrogance and self-gratification: The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine. Of the painting, I’ve never seen so many white people in one place before and I’ve been to Bestival. That said, replacing painted, sprawled, objectified, naked, white, nameless, historical women with writhing, objectified, naked, nameless, 21st-century women of all colours (as they are 40 seconds later, when they’re lying like logs on the steps) doesn’t seem a great leap forward to me. One of the most potent moments is the image of the reclining Madame Recamier. Painted in the 1800s, it shows a rich wife in neo-classical garb reclining on a couch. Beyonce adds what is not in the picture but would have been: two black dancers posing as servants, in head-wraps, still and docile, at the woman’s feet; the silent, unremembered and invisible labour behind the woman’s wealth and finery. Indeed, Apeshit is partly a reminder of all the non-white faces that have been erased from history or dropped in tokenistically to add a bit of exotic colour. The aftermath of colonialism and slavery, and the ongoing scandal of the refugee crisis, is beautifully referenced in a shot of The Raft of the Medusa as Jay-Z sings: “Can’t believe we made it.” The Raft is an image of enslaved and subjugated people who have lost all hope but that of life; luckily for Beyoncé and Mister Beyoncé they are now “living lavish” on top of that. But how far have we come? Apeshit rounds off with the Portrait D’Une Négresse, whose sardonic look implies that plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. She and so many other women of colour have seen it all before, and the pace of change is painfully slow. Painted six years after the abolition of slavery, this woman is given a painting of her own – but remains nameless and inert, with one breast out for everyone to ogle. The Guardian

Comme de véritables oeuvres d’art eux-mêmes !

A l’heure où fort de ses 10 millions de visiteurs par  an, le premier musée d’art du monde …

Se vante du super coup de pub qu’il s’est payé l’an passé …

En y laissant le couple le plus glamour de la planète rap y tourner l’un de ses clips …

Pendant que du côté politique et les costards de mac en moins, la mousse pousse drue sur les ex-pierres qui roulent de Washington  …

Comment à l’image des foules en pâmoison auxquelles il y est fait question …

Ne pas s’extasier à notre tour …

Au-delà du sentiment certes compréhensible d’une population jusque là étrangement absente des couloirs du premier musée du monde …

Sinon mis à part la domestique ramenée de Guadeloupe au lendemain de la première abolition de l’esclavage par le beau-frère d’une ancienne élève de Vigé-Lebrun et David …

Ou la figure de proue alors proprement révolutionnaire du fameux Radeau suite au naufrage d’un navire parti rétablir la domination coloniale française en Afrique de l’Ouest …

A travers les rôles de serviteurs et d’esclaves que leur avaient imposés leurs revendeurs premièrement africains et arabes …

Devant ce cri du coeur de si américains nouveaux riches …

S’efforçant entre compte en banque, voitures de luxe, privilèges de jet setters, dévotion des fans qui leur ont permis d’en arriver là …

Et leurs costumes de macs et de bimbos comme leurs profondes paroles de bites et de putes …

De refaire ce que la blaxploitation avait fait pour le monde du cinéma des années 70 …

A savoir relire et réécrire du seul point de vue noir rien de moins que l’ensemble de l’histoire de l’art occidental ?

 

Grâce à Beyoncé et Jay-Z, le Louvre a battu son record de fréquentation
RTBF
3 janvier 2019

« Pour la première fois de son histoire, et je pense pour la première fois dans l’histoire des musées, plus de dix millions de visiteurs ont fréquenté le Louvre en 2018 « , a affirmé ce jeudi 3 janvier à l’AFP Jean-Luc Martinez, président-directeur du Louvre.

Outre les travaux d’aménagement qui ont permis d’augmenter la capacité de l’accueil du musée, Le clip, Apes**t de Beyoncé et Jay-Z aurait également contribué au succès du Louvre.« Le clip de Beyoncé comme l’ouverture du musée du Louvre à Abu Dhabi a fait qu’on a beaucoup parlé du Louvre partout dans le monde », explique Jean-Luc Martinez au micro de Franceinfo. Résultat, ce sont plus de 10,2 millions de visiteurs qui se sont précipités cette année au musée. Le précédent record s’élevait à 9,7 millions de visiteurs en 2012.

Afin d’attirer un plus jeune public, le musée a également profité du succès d’Apes**t pour carrément  proposer une visite guidée thématique calquée sur le parcours de Jay-Z et Bey. De plus, le Louvre aimerait inviter ceux qui disposent d’un budget limité pour la culture en lançant une nocturne gratuite chaque premier samedi du mois. Un accompagnement sera même prévu dans certaines salles pour les plus frileux d’entre nous. « Il y a des gens qui ont peur de ne pas comprendre le musée; cette nocturne veut répondre à ce besoin (…) avec des explications, des commentaires, des spectacles, des concerts », souligne Jean-Luc Martinez. La première nocturne aura lieu le 5 janvier. Toutes les infos sont disponibles ici.

Voir aussi:

The Carters’ latest offering is set in the Louvre – for one day the art gallery was occupied by people you usually never see in its paintings. Here are some key moments to watch out for

Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, have arrived at the Louvre for a sightseeing day that coincides with the making of their Apeshit video. Referencing the Louvre’s world-renowned permanent collection, juxtaposed with contemporary dancers occupying this hallowed space, Apeshit makes some pithy, if scattershot, comments on racism, slavery and the dominance of western neoclassical aesthetic standards. Here are a few key moments to look out for:

Mona Lisa

The Carters – Apeshit

The video is topped and tailed by the Mona Lisa. Smirking, tight lipped, she side-eyes Jay-Z and Beyoncé, whose bright blaxploitation power suits outshine her matron’s weeds and announce that, just for one day, the Louvre is going to be occupied by people you usually never see in its paintings. You just know that Lisa’s going to call security.

The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine

The Carters – Apeshit

Dancers of all colours gyrate in front of the image of French pomp, Imperial arrogance and self-gratification: The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine. Of the painting, I’ve never seen so many white people in one place before and I’ve been to Bestival. That said, replacing painted, sprawled, objectified, naked, white, nameless, historical women with writhing, objectified, naked, nameless, 21st-century women of all colours (as they are 40 seconds later, when they’re lying like logs on the steps) doesn’t seem a great leap forward to me.

The Carters – Apeshit

Portrait of Madame Récamier

The Carters – Apeshit

One of the most potent moments is the image of the reclining Madame Recamier. Painted in the 1800s, it shows a rich wife in neo-classical garb reclining on a couch. Beyonce adds what is not in the picture but would have been: two black dancers posing as servants, in head-wraps, still and docile, at the woman’s feet; the silent, unremembered and invisible labour behind the woman’s wealth and finery. Indeed, Apeshit is partly a reminder of all the non-white faces that have been erased from history or dropped in tokenistically to add a bit of exotic colour.

The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa (Le Radeau de la M duse), 1818-1819. Found in the collection of the Louvre, Paris.The Raft of the Medusa (Le Radeau de la M duse), 1818-1819. Artist: G ricault, Th odore (1791-1824) (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) survival|G ricault|Th odore M duse|M duse

The aftermath of colonialism and slavery, and the ongoing scandal of the refugee crisis, is beautifully referenced in a shot of The Raft of the Medusa as Jay-Z sings: “Can’t believe we made it.” The Raft is an image of enslaved and subjugated people who have lost all hope but that of life; luckily for Beyoncé and Mister Beyoncé they are now “living lavish” on top of that.

Portrait D’Une Négresse

The Carters – Apeshit

But how far have we come? Apeshit rounds off with the Portrait D’Une Négresse, whose sardonic look implies that plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. She and so many other women of colour have seen it all before, and the pace of change is painfully slow. Painted six years after the abolition of slavery, this woman is given a painting of her own – but remains nameless and inert, with one breast out for everyone to ogle.

Voir de même:

The Power and Paradox of Beyoncé and Jay-Z Taking Over the Louvre

Doreen St. Félix

The NewYorker

June 19, 2018

In 2014, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and their first daughter, Blue Ivy, went to the Louvre. It was a private tour, conducted on a Tuesday, the day the museum is closed to the public. (“Louvre Us Alone!” TMZ’s headline read.) The couple, both art lovers, documented the visit with a series of touristy selfies—re-creating the poses of the Hellenic statues around them—and sweet, staged candids, one of which showed the two swinging their daughter at the base of the Daru staircase, which leads to the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The most widely shared photograph showed Jay-Z and Beyoncé flanking the “Mona Lisa,” approximating her elusive expression. It was a playful dispatch from a marriage; were it not for the lack of crowds, the Carters might have seemed like any other giddy American family.

They aren’t. The music video for “Apeshit,” a song from “Everything Is Love,” their new joint album, finds Jay-Z and Beyoncé back in the Louvre, but much has changed since their visit in 2014. The album, which the couple surprise-released on Saturday, during their “On the Run II Tour,” completes a meditative trilogy about infidelity and forgiveness. The previous two installments, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Jay-Z’s “4:44,” were labors of gut-wrenching introspection, chronicling the crisis in the couple’s marriage after Jay-Z’s admissions of cheating. “Everything Is Love,” by contrast, is slick and effervescent, triumphant, a return to the outlaw motif that the couple embraced years before. The storm has been weathered, Beyoncé and Jay-Z want us to know, and it has made their unit stronger. To celebrate, and to make ostentatiously official their consolidation of power, they’ve returned to the Louvre, not as tourists but as bosses.

The six-minute “Apeshit” video is a feast of juxtapositions. Directed by Ricky Saiz, it opens with the image of a black man, in fashionably torn jeans and worn sneakers, with giant white wings attached to his back. He crouches outside the museum, like an artwork that has been brought to life and set loose. He rubs his hands, bells gong, and then a wide shot captures the celestial activity on the ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon, filtered through a multi-colored glow of music-video light. Saiz slowly pans to our power couple. Wearing complementary suits—Beyoncé’s pink, Jay’s seafoam green—they are flanking the “Mona Lisa” once again.

In the past, the Carters have been accused of being art fetishists. On “Drunk in Love,” Jay-Z raps that their foreplay ruined one of his Warhols; Beyoncé shot the music video for “7/11” on an iPhone in the Tribeca apartment that they once owned, where works by Richard Prince and David Hammons were unceremoniously on view. “Apeshit” is a gospel of acquisition, recalling in spirit the luxury-brand name-checking of the couple’s duet “Upgrade U,” from 2006. Twelve years ago, it was all about the Audemars Piguet watch; now it’s G8 jets and diamonds as translucent as glass. But the video is a display of something that can’t be so easily quantified: influence. Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem to suggest that their own footprint will be as indelible as that of the entire canon of Western art. (“My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown on your Forbes list,” Beyoncé raps, haughtily.) Saiz often captures the couple standing or sitting still, holding court with the same air of permanence as the art-historical treasures around them.

In one exception, Beyoncé and her dancers, with a synchronicity that immediately recalls the choreography of “Formation,” body-roll in front of “The Coronation of Napoleon.” A crew of black women gyrating in front of a massive colonial scene is the sort of heavy-handed image that the Internet salivates over. Already, overheated readings of the “Apeshit” video have attempted to glom onto one of two opposing ideologies: either Beyoncé and Jay-Z are priests of capitalism who appreciate art only to the extent that it reflects their wealth, or they are radicals who have smuggled blackness into a space where it has traditionally been overlooked or exploited. Both interpretations seem to me too prescriptive, and belie the video’s actual verve.

The Carters are omnivorous in their relationship to media, equally influenced by the Hellenistic era’s religious ecstasies as by Deana Lawson’s fantasies of black intimacy, by Pipilotti Rist’s warped ebullience as by the cultural legacy of Basquiat. Their engagement with the European canon housed in the Louvre, their physical proximity to it, shouldn’t be flattened into a shorthand for transgression. It is not presented that way. They are interested, instead, in playing with tableaux. Beyoncé does not blot out the Venus de Milo; she dances next to it. The Carters are not like the beleaguered black museum worker in Essex Hemphill’s poem “Visiting Hours,” “protecting European artwork / that robbed color and movement / from my life.” Jay-Z’s demand on his song “That’s My Bitch” to “Put some colored girls in the moma” is not only about correcting an erasure but about his own potential power to ordain a new status quo. It brings to mind the ambiguity in the project of Kehinde Wiley, whose years of situating everyday black men into settings of colonial wealth culminated in his portrait of the first black President. The Carters are their own protagonists in a grand narrative of establishing a black élite.

But then there’s a tableau, reminiscent of a Deana Lawson composition, that briefly takes us into the transportive place of subversion. In the “Everything Is Love” album art, cribbed from a moment in the “Apeshit” video, the “Mona Lisa” is shown blurred in the distance, while in the foreground a black woman uses an Afro pick to freshen a man’s hair. That image gave me a primal political thrill. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have enlisted surrogates, knowing that the effect wouldn’t have been the same if the man and woman in the scene were them.

In 2014, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and their first daughter, Blue Ivy, went to the Louvre. It was a private tour, conducted on a Tuesday, the day the museum is closed to the public. (“Louvre Us Alone!” TMZ’s headline read.) The couple, both art lovers, documented the visit with a series of touristy selfies—re-creating the poses of the Hellenic statues around them—and sweet, staged candids, one of which showed the two swinging their daughter at the base of the Daru staircase, which leads to the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The most widely shared photograph showed Jay-Z and Beyoncé flanking the “Mona Lisa,” approximating her elusive expression. It was a playful dispatch from a marriage; were it not for the lack of crowds, the Carters might have seemed like any other giddy American family.

They aren’t. The music video for “Apeshit,” a song from “Everything Is Love,” their new joint album, finds Jay-Z and Beyoncé back in the Louvre, but much has changed since their visit in 2014. The album, which the couple surprise-released on Saturday, during their “On the Run II Tour,” completes a meditative trilogy about infidelity and forgiveness. The previous two installments, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Jay-Z’s “4:44,” were labors of gut-wrenching introspection, chronicling the crisis in the couple’s marriage after Jay-Z’s admissions of cheating. “Everything Is Love,” by contrast, is slick and effervescent, triumphant, a return to the outlaw motif that the couple embraced years before. The storm has been weathered, Beyoncé and Jay-Z want us to know, and it has made their unit stronger. To celebrate, and to make ostentatiously official their consolidation of power, they’ve returned to the Louvre, not as tourists but as bosses.

The six-minute “Apeshit” video is a feast of juxtapositions. Directed by Ricky Saiz, it opens with the image of a black man, in fashionably torn jeans and worn sneakers, with giant white wings attached to his back. He crouches outside the museum, like an artwork that has been brought to life and set loose. He rubs his hands, bells gong, and then a wide shot captures the celestial activity on the ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon, filtered through a multi-colored glow of music-video light. Saiz slowly pans to our power couple. Wearing complementary suits—Beyoncé’s pink, Jay’s seafoam green—they are flanking the “Mona Lisa” once again.

In the past, the Carters have been accused of being art fetishists. On “Drunk in Love,” Jay-Z raps that their foreplay ruined one of his Warhols; Beyoncé shot the music video for “7/11” on an iPhone in the Tribeca apartment that they once owned, where works by Richard Prince and David Hammons were unceremoniously on view. “Apeshit” is a gospel of acquisition, recalling in spirit the luxury-brand name-checking of the couple’s duet “Upgrade U,” from 2006. Twelve years ago, it was all about the Audemars Piguet watch; now it’s G8 jets and diamonds as translucent as glass. But the video is a display of something that can’t be so easily quantified: influence. Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem to suggest that their own footprint will be as indelible as that of the entire canon of Western art. (“My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown on your Forbes list,” Beyoncé raps, haughtily.) Saiz often captures the couple standing or sitting still, holding court with the same air of permanence as the art-historical treasures around them.

In one exception, Beyoncé and her dancers, with a synchronicity that immediately recalls the choreography of “Formation,” body-roll in front of “The Coronation of Napoleon.” A crew of black women gyrating in front of a massive colonial scene is the sort of heavy-handed image that the Internet salivates over. Already, overheated readings of the “Apeshit” video have attempted to glom onto one of two opposing ideologies: either Beyoncé and Jay-Z are priests of capitalism who appreciate art only to the extent that it reflects their wealth, or they are radicals who have smuggled blackness into a space where it has traditionally been overlooked or exploited. Both interpretations seem to me too prescriptive, and belie the video’s actual verve.

The Carters are omnivorous in their relationship to media, equally influenced by the Hellenistic era’s religious ecstasies as by Deana Lawson’s fantasies of black intimacy, by Pipilotti Rist’s warped ebullience as by the cultural legacy of Basquiat. Their engagement with the European canon housed in the Louvre, their physical proximity to it, shouldn’t be flattened into a shorthand for transgression. It is not presented that way. They are interested, instead, in playing with tableaux. Beyoncé does not blot out the Venus de Milo; she dances next to it. The Carters are not like the beleaguered black museum worker in Essex Hemphill’s poem “Visiting Hours,” “protecting European artwork / that robbed color and movement / from my life.” Jay-Z’s demand on his song “That’s My Bitch” to “Put some colored girls in the moma” is not only about correcting an erasure but about his own potential power to ordain a new status quo. It brings to mind the ambiguity in the project of Kehinde Wiley, whose years of situating everyday black men into settings of colonial wealth culminated in his portrait of the first black President. The Carters are their own protagonists in a grand narrative of establishing a black élite.

But then there’s a tableau, reminiscent of a Deana Lawson composition, that briefly takes us into the transportive place of subversion. In the “Everything Is Love” album art, cribbed from a moment in the “Apeshit” video, the “Mona Lisa” is shown blurred in the distance, while in the foreground a black woman uses an Afro pick to freshen a man’s hair. That image gave me a primal political thrill. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have enlisted surrogates, knowing that the effect wouldn’t have been the same if the man and woman in the scene were them.

Voir encore:

Apeshit has sparked an overdue conversation about blackness in art institutions

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s first single from their new album has already been heralded as a potential marketing tool for largely white art museums

Kuba Shand-Baptiste

The Pool

18.06.18

There’s a lot that can be said about Everything Is Love, Beyoncé and Jay Z’s latest highly anticipated joint project and fans have wasted no time in sharing conspiracy theories and wild analyses about the power couple’s latest effort since it dropped on Saturday evening. But perhaps the most interesting observation to have emerged over the last few days came from Black Blossoms, a platform dedicated to amplifying black womanhood in the art world.

Offering their own astute observations on Apeshit, the first single from the album, Black Blossoms tweeted about the video’s capacity to dramatically shift museums’ marketing approach towards the black community.

In a tweet accompanied by a screenshot from the video, in which the couple sit stoically before Jacques Louis David’s The Intervention of the Sabine Women, Black Blossoms said:

“Beyoncé is helping museums increase their Black Audiences… any smart person in museum marketing team would see the opp and act quickly and correctly… #APESHIT”

Examine the video closely – which, in keeping with the couple’s iconic status, was filmed in the Louvre, an institution that boasts an overwhelmingly white art collection – and it’s easy to see their point. From the off, shots of Beyoncé, Jay Z and the rest of the entirely black cast of dancers from the Ricky Saiz-directed video serve as responses to well-known pieces in the art canon.

Almost obstructing the famous works behind them, kneeling, swaying and smiling in the process, black bodies directly challenge the limited portrayals of blackness that we’re used to seeing in museums and force us to take in an entirely new narrative, one that shies away from respectability and fosters an (often intensely capitalist) sense of the many virtues of blackness.

There is no reason why pop culture shouldn’t serve as a vehicle for bringing more black people into the fold when it comes to museums

In a clear challenge to celebrations of colonial rule and wealth, for example, we see a shot of a defiant Beyoncé dancing in formation against the backdrop of Jacques Louis David’s extravagant painting, The Coronation Of Napoleon. Here, Napoleon’s legacy and, by extension, David’s art is forced to take a backseat, making way instead for an indisputably black celebration of womanhood and Beyoncé’s own lavishness in the process. And with a nod to one of the most consistent themes of the album – black love – there are also shots of black couples embracing, as well as modern takes on Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait of a Negress, the only painting in the video that doesn’t depict a black subject as a slave.

With the usual meticulous precision that fans are used to seeing in projects from the duo, Beyoncé and Jay Z have, as Black Blossoms observed, carved their own artistic standards as black artists, rather than playing into definitions of success as outlined by the white status quo.

Conversations about the lack of inclusion in art museums have long raged on, inspiring important, but typically short-lived, appeals to black people every once in a while. But rarely, as Black Blossoms said, do they extend beyond one-off lates and exhibitions.

In a 2015/16 study of adults visiting museums in the UK, for example, black people were the least likely to have visited a museum in the past year, compared with white and Asian visitors. And, when collections do not focus solely on European art, curators of African art in larger institutions are typically white.

“Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit? – Why museums need to encourage dialogue in gallery spaces and not just at lates because silence is more [intimidating] than the audience going ‘apeshit’ over an exhibition that touches their soul,” Black Blossoms´ tweeted.

And they’re right. Just as Beyoncé and Jay Z have demonstrated, there is no reason why pop culture shouldn’t serve as a vehicle for bringing more black people into the fold when it comes to museums. By occupying what looks like the entirety of the Louvre, Beyoncé and Jay Z have made a clear a statement as any about the importance of taking up space in typically white institutions – institutions that, evidently, could learn a thing or two from them.

Voir de plus:

Géricault, reporter du naufrage de « La Méduse »

Une exposition fait le point sur la genèse d’un des tableaux les plus politiques et polémiques du XIXe siècle.

Philippe Dagen

16 juillet 2012 

Le 2 juillet 1816, la frégate La Méduse s’échoue sur un banc de sable au large des côtes sénégalaises à la suite d’une erreur de navigation. Elle a près de 400 personnes à son bord – l’équipage, des fonctionnaires et deux compagnies de soldats. La Méduse fait partie d’une flottille envoyée de France au Sénégal pour y affirmer l’autorité du roi Louis XVIII. Les soldats sont des anciens des troupes napoléoniennes dont la monarchie cherche à se débarrasser par ce moyen. Le coupable du naufrage est le capitaine Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys, qui n’a obtenu ce commandement que parce qu’il est un émigré royaliste. Quand il monte à bord de La Méduse, il n’a plus navigué depuis vingt-cinq ans.Après avoir essayé de remettre à flot le navire, il est décidé de l’abandonner et de construire un radeau, les canots étant trop peu nombreux pour la foule des passagers. Le 5 juillet, les chaloupes, où sont les officiers et les fonctionnaires, et le radeau prennent la mer, les chaloupes étant censées remorquer le radeau. Très vite, Chaumareys ordonne de couper les cordes, abandonnant les 147 personnes entassées dessus. Pour cela et l’ensemble de ses fautes, il sera jugé en cour martiale en 1817, condamné à la prison et déchu de son grade et de ses décorations. Du 6 au 17 juillet, le radeau dérive. Quand L’Argus, autre navire de la flottille, le retrouve, il reste quinze survivants, dont cinq meurent dans les jours qui suivent. Entre-temps, les chaloupes ont atteint Saint-Louis du Sénégal sans peine.CANNIBALISMESur le naufrage et sur ce qui s’est passé sur le radeau, deux rescapés, l’ingénieur-géographe Corréard et le chirurgien Savigny, publient, dès novembre 1817, un récit, réédité en 1818. On y apprend non seulement l’incompétence et la lâcheté de Chaumareys, mais aussi les combats sur le radeau entre hommes ivres et terrorisés. Le 9 juillet, il ne reste déjà plus qu’une trentaine de survivants. Le 13, ils jettent à la mer les malades et les blessés, dont la cantinière, une femme noire. Dès le 7 juillet, il a fallu recourir au cannibalisme pour se nourrir.On peut imaginer l’effet de ce livre, les implications politiques, l’émoi de l’opinion publique. Des gravures du drame circulent vite, et le Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin en fait un mélodrame, joué en avril 1819. Le 25 août 1819, s’ouvre le Salon. Une toile, dont le titre a été censuré, suscite le scandale : Le Radeau de La Méduse, de Théodore Géricault, évidemment – « un jeune homme« , écrit la critique, car il a 28 ans. Depuis, elle est demeurée au premier plan de l’histoire, au point même que l’on oublie trop souvent que Géricault est l’auteur d’autres chefs-d’oeuvre, un portraitiste et un dessinateur de premier ordre.
UNE ŒUVRE POLITIQUE ET UN MESSAGE CONTRE L’ESCLAVAGE
De même que l’on connaît le détail des événements, on connaît celui de la genèse de la peinture. C’est elle que retrace l’exposition actuelle, en une cinquantaine de dessins et d’études peintes. Pourquoi au Musée de Clermont-Ferrand ? Parce qu’y a été retrouvé récemment dans ses réserves un portrait d’homme, attribué à Géricault par Bruno Chenique, spécialiste de l’artiste et auteur de l’exposition. Celle-ci traite successivement de la composition, des travaux préparatoires pour les nus et leurs postures expressives, des études de visages et de celles que Géricault a consacrées à la décomposition des corps en peignant sur le motif des fragments anatomiques qui lui étaient donnés par l’hôpital Beaujon.Sans hésiter longtemps, il choisit un moment décisif du récit de Corréard et Savigny, l’approche de l’Argus. Ce n’est pas le plus tragique, puisqu’il aurait pu peindre le carnage sur le radeau, les blessés jetés à la mer ou les scènes de cannibalisme. Il ne le fait pas parce que, dans ce cas, son oeuvre n’aurait pas été exposée au Salon, pour des raisons de décence. Mais il introduit des détails explicites, armes abandonnées, corps mutilés, plaies mal pansées. En attirant l’attention sur eux, l’exposition incite à une compréhension plus complète de tout ce qui constitue l’oeuvre, aussi bien du point de vue artistique que du point de vue politique et moral.Les dessins de musculatures d’après modèle confirment ce qui est flagrant au Louvre : Géricault se mesure en toute simplicité à Michel-Ange et démontre, face à l’hégémonie de David et du néoclassicisme, qu’il n’est pas obligatoire d’aller prendre dans l’histoire grecque et romaine ou dans la Bible des sujets héroïques et tragiques. Le présent en propose qu’il faut avoir l’audace de saisir et de porter aux dimensions d’une très grande toile. Delacroix et Manet s’en sont souvenus – Delacroix qui, du reste, pose pour l’un des naufragés.Autre remarque : Géricault place trois figures d’hommes noirs sur le radeau – et la cantinière jetée à l’eau -, alors qu’il n’y en avait en réalité qu’un seul. Cette décision est liée à la lutte contre la traite des Noirs, qui se pratique toujours alors en dépit de son interdiction supposée. La lecture politique en est précisée. On sait en effet que le Radeau est une œuvre hostile à la Restauration et aux émigrés, mais moins qu’elle est aussi une dénonciation de l’esclavage.L’analyse et la démonstration sont donc efficaces et précises. Sans doute pour qu’elles le soient encore plus, les oeuvres sont prises dans un réseau dense de textes muraux et une scénographie très visible. Trop, beaucoup trop : cette insistance, cette indiscrétion, ces supports dessinés comme des « sucettes » pour affichage publicitaire gênent le regard et le distraient. Il est dommage qu’un projet dont la qualité scientifique et didactique est si certaine souffre d’une aussi vilaine présentation.


Géricault, au cœur de la création romantique. Etudes pour « Le Radeau de la Méduse »,Musée d’art Roger-Quilliot, place Louis-Deteix, Clermont-Ferrand (63). Tél. : 04-73-16-11-30. Du mardi au vendredi de 10 heures à 18 heures, samedi et dimanche de 10 heures à 12 heures et de 13 heures à 18 heures. Entrée : 5 €. Jusqu’au 2 septembre.

Voir par ailleurs:

Top sign of an art bubble? Jay Z raps about Warhol

Plenty of economists, art dealers and collectors have warned of an art bubble over the past year. But there is one sure sign that the art market is overdone: Jay Z is now rapping about Warhol, Basquiat and Art Basel.

“It ain’t hard to tell
I’m the new Jean-Michel
Surrounded by Warhols
My whole team ball
Twin Bugattis outside
Art Basel ”

Market guru James Grant quotes Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” in his latest Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, arguing that prices in the contemporary art market may not be justified by long-term value. While well-hyped artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Jean-Michel Basquiat are fetching eight-digit prices, it’s unclear whether their work will withstand the test of time, art critics and museums.

It’s hard to tell, for instance, whether one of Koons’ famous pieces, “New Hoover”—four vacuum cleaners in an acrylic case —will be valued as a work of genius or “just another vacuum cleaner,” Grant said.

“Modern art is valued in terms of modern money,” he wrote. The Fed’s low-interest-rate policies have driven the wealthy increasingly to collectibles of all kinds, including art, cars and jewels. “Miniature interest rates have reduced the opportunity cost of investing in any kind of nonyielding asset.”

And while Koons and Basquiat are hot now, they might end up like the English portraits of the early 19th century, whose frenzied boom was followed by a spectacular bust. Prices never recovered.

So how can a smart investor play the collectible game without getting sucked into the Koons hype?

Grant suggests buying historical documents: letters from Abraham Lincoln, bills signed by Thomas Jefferson and even public credit reports from Alexander Hamilton. Of course, prices for historical documents have soared along with art.

And a yellowed letter doesn’t look as good over the mansion mantelpiece than a Hirst or Barnett Newman. But the names Jefferson and Lincoln may be more likely to hold up over time.

“Sell Newman, we say, and Jeff Koons, too: buy the Founding Fathers and—as far as that goes—Abraham Lincoln,” Grant writes.

Voir aussi:

June 19, 2018

Beyoncé and Jay Z stunned the world on June 16 when they dropped their epic new joint album, Everything Is Love and the music video for the track, “Apesh-t.”

The majestic video features the power couple — who are billed on the album simply as “The Carters” — in none other than the Louvre, where they flex on the Mona Lisa in pastel suits and throw a dance party in front of the Great Sphinx of Tanis. Plus, if you were ever unsure that you needed Queen Bey to tell you that she needs to be paid in “equity” while reclining in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, consider this video all the confirmation that you’ll ever need.

Because the Carters had the entire Louvre and its incredible art collection at their disposal, it should come as no surprise that some of the world’s most prized artwork and the museum space plays a major role in the video.


Médias: Attention, un négationnisme peut en cacher un autre ! (After France inter, Télérama presents Galilee and Nazareth as « Israeli colonies »)

4 janvier, 2019

Secondhandsmoke
L’oppression mentale totalitaire est faite de piqûres de moustiques et non de grands coups sur la tête. (…) Quel fut le moyen de propagande le plus puissant de l’hitlérisme? Etaient-ce les discours isolés de Hitler et de Goebbels, leurs déclarations à tel ou tel sujet, leurs propos haineux sur le judaïsme, sur le bolchevisme? Non, incontestablement, car beaucoup de choses demeuraient incomprises par la masse ou l’ennuyaient, du fait de leur éternelle répétition.[…] Non, l’effet le plus puissant ne fut pas produit par des discours isolés, ni par des articles ou des tracts, ni par des affiches ou des drapeaux, il ne fut obtenu par rien de ce qu’on était forcé d’enregistrer par la pensée ou la perception. Le nazisme s’insinua dans la chair et le sang du grand nombre à travers des expressions isolées, des tournures, des formes syntaxiques qui s’imposaient à des millions d’exemplaires et qui furent adoptées de façon mécanique et inconsciente. Victor Klemperer (LTI, la langue du IIIe Reich)
Ce qui est grave dans le texte de l’abbé Pierre, c’est quand il parle de la Shoah de Josué. C’est abominable. Bien entendu, les textes sur Josué sont effrayants, mais ce sont des textes qui sont absolument courants dans la littérature de l’époque. Si vous prenez inversement la stèle de Mesha, roi de Moab, qui est au Louvre, vous avez les mêmes appels à l’extermination du voisin… On est donc dans cet univers-là. Alors parler de la Shoah à ce sujet est extrêmement grave. Les révisionnistes et les négationnistes français (…) ont une spécificité, qui les distingue des Italiens ou des Américains : leur filiation n’est pas d’extrême droite. Leur public, ceux qui les entendent et les suivent, est celui de Le Pen, pour appeler les choses par leur nom. Mais les intellectuels qui fournissent à ce public des denrées viennent en fait de l’ultra-gauche. Rassinier, cet ancien député socialiste devenu le père du révisionnisme, a fait, dans les années 50, le pont entre l’extrême droite et l’ultra-gauche. Pierre Vidal-Naquet
Alors là, je trouverai le fond du problème de la sensibilité d’un Juif, en lui disant : toutes vos énergies se trouvent mobilisées par la réinstallation du grand temple de Salomon à Jérusalem, bref, de l’ancienne cité du roi David et du roi Salomon. Or vous vous basez pour cela sur tout ce qui dans la Bible parle de Terre promise. Or, je ne peux pas ne pas me poser cette question : que reste-t-il d’une promesse lorsque ce qui a été promis, on vient de le prendre en tuant par de véritables génocides des peuples qui y habitaient, paisiblement, avant qu’ils y entrent ? Les jours … Quand on relit le livre de Josué, c’est épouvantable ! C’est une série de génocides, groupe par groupe, pour en prendre possession ! Alors foutez-nous la paix avec la parole de Terre promise ! Je crois que – c’est çà que j’ai au fond de mon coeur – que votre mission a été – ce qui, en fait, s’est accompli partiellement – la diaspora, la dispersion à travers le monde entier pour aller porter la connaissance que vous étiez jusqu’alors les seuls à porter, en dépit de toutes les idolâtries qui vous entouraient, etc. Abbé Pierre (passage censuré dans Dieu et les Hommes, publié dans Le secret de l’abbé Pierre de Michel-Antoine Burnier et Cécile Romane, Mille et une nuits)
Détestés à mort de toutes les classes de la société, tous enrichis par la guerre, dont ils ont profité sur le dos des Russes, des Boches et des Polonais, et assez disposés à une révolution sociale où ils recueilleraient beaucoup d’argent en échange de quelques mauvais coups. De Gaulle (détaché auprès de l’armée polonaise, sur les juifs de Varsovie, lettre à sa mère, 1919)
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)
Est-ce que tenter de remettre les pieds chez soi constitue forcément une agression imprévue ? Michel Jobert
Ce n’est pas une politique de tuer des enfants. Chirac (accueillant Barak à Paris, le 4 octobre 2000)
La situation est tragique mais les forces en présence au Moyen-Orient font qu’au long terme, Israël, comme autrefois les Royaumes francs, finira par disparaître. Cette région a toujours rejeté les corps étrangers. Dominique de Villepin (Paris, automne 2001)
Pourquoi accepterions-nous une troisième guerre mondiale à cause de ces gens là? Daniel Bernard (ambassadeur de France, après avoir qualifié Israël de « petit pays de merde », Londres, décembre 2001)
Les Israéliens se sont surarmés et en faisant cela, ils font la même faute que les Américains, celle de ne pas avoir compris les leçons de la deuxième guerre mondiale, car il n’y a jamais rien de bon à attendre d’une guerre. Et la force peut détruire, elle ne peut jamais rien construire, surtout pas la paix. Le fait d’être ivre de puissance et d’être seul à l’avoir, si vous n’êtes pas très cultivé, enfant d’une longue histoire et grande pratique, vous allez toujours croire que vous pouvez imposer votre vision. Israël vit encore cette illusion, les Israéliens sont probablement dans la période où ils sont en train de comprendre leurs limites. C’était Sharon le premier général qui s’est retiré de la bande de Gaza car il ne pouvait plus la tenir. Nous défendons absolument le droit à l’existence d’Israël et à sa sécurité, mais nous ne défendons pas son droit à se conduire en puissance occupante, cynique et brutale … Michel Rocard (Al Ahram, 2006)
Ecoutez, je rentre de Lyon plein d’indignation à l’égard de cet attentat odieux qui voulait frapper les israélites qui se rendaient à la synagogue et qui a frappé des Français innocents qui traversaient la rue Copernic. C’est un acte qui mérite d’être sévèrement sanctionné. Raymond Barre (le 3 octobre 1980, TFI, suite à l’attentat de la synagogue parisienne de la rue Copernic, 4 morts, 20 blessés)
C’était des Français qui circulaient dans la rue et qui se trouvent fauchés parce qu’on veut faire sauter une synagogue. Alors, ceux qui voulaient s’en prendre aux Juifs, ils auraient pu faire sauter la synagogue et les juifs. Mais pas du tout, ils font un attentat aveugle et y a 3 Français, non juifs, c’est une réalité, non juifs. Et cela ne veut pas dire que les Juifs, eux ne sont pas Français. (…) C’est « une campagne » « faite par le lobby juif le plus lié à la gauche » (…) « je considère que le lobby juif – pas seulement en ce qui me concerne – est capable de monter des opérations qui sont indignes et je tiens à le dire publiquement. Raymond Barre (20 février 2007, France Culture, diffusée le 1er mars)
J’ai tellement entendu les propos de M. Gollnisch à Lyon que cela finissait par ne plus m’émouvoir. Quand on entend à longueur de journée tout ce qui se dit à droite et à gauche, à la fin on n’y porte plus attention. Raymond Barre (01.03.2007)
Comme tous les ans durant la période de Noël, des milliers de pèlerins et touristes du monde entier convergent vers la ville de Bethléem. Mais pour les chrétiens de Gaza, soumis à des restrictions de mouvements, cette possibilité semble désormais relever du privilège. L’accès au territoire palestinien est en effet rigoureusement contrôlé par les autorités militaires israéliennes qui délivrent des permis d’entrée et de sortie. Chaque année, un certain nombre d’entre eux est concédé aux chrétiens de Gaza souhaitant se rendre à Jérusalem ou en Cisjordanie pour les fêtes de Noël et de Pâques. Pour Noël 2018, 500 permis de sortie ont été promis par Israël, mais en pratique, seuls 220 ont été effectivement délivrés pour le moment à des personnes âgées entre 16 et 35 ans ou de plus de 55 ans, ce qui donne lieu à des situations problématiques au sein de plusieurs familles: le père obtenant un permis mais pas la mère et inversement, ou des permis accordés aux enfants mais pas aux parents et inversement. Mgr Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, vicaire patriarcal pour Jérusalem et la Palestine avoue ne pas saisir la politique choisie par Israël dans ce domaine. «C’est une logique d’occupation que nous ne comprenons pas, ni ne justifions», assène-t-il. Pouvoir se rendre à Bethléem pour fêter Noël devrait être un droit naturel pour un chrétien gazaoui et non pas un privilège, déplore l’évêque italien. Mgr Marcuzzo se trouvait d’ailleurs à Gaza dimanche dernier, en compagnie de l’administrateur apostolique du patriarcat latin de Jérusalem, Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, pour célébrer Noël avec la petite communauté latine locale, selon une tradition désormais bien installée. Le vicaire patriarcal évoque une atmosphère générale empreinte de tristesse, même si la médiation égyptienne et qatarie entreprise ces derniers jours a fait baisser la tension dans le territoire palestinien, après des semaines de fièvre et d’affrontements liés aux «marches du retour». La présence chrétienne quant à elle s’amoindrit sensiblement. Face à des conditions de vie précaires et au manque évident de perspectives, l’émigration reste une tentation inexorable. On comptait il y a encore quelques années environ 3 000 chrétiens de toute confessions à Gaza; ils ne représentent aujourd’hui que 1 200 âmes, dont 120 catholiques latins. Vatican news
A Gaza également, l’ambiance est sombre (…) Une partie de la communauté chrétienne de la bande Gaza ne pourra pas se rendre dans la ville natale du Christ en raison des restrictions de circulation imposées par Israël qui comme chaque année n’a délivré des permis qu’au compte-gouttes. (…) Tous aimeraient être à Béthléem pour Noël, mais cette année seules 600 personnes ont reçu des permis, plus d’un tiers de la toute petite communauté chrétienne de l’enclave s’apprête donc à passer le réveillon sur place et sans grand enthousiasme.  (…) Un Noël maussade dans une bande de Gaza soumise à un sévère blocus israélien et ces restrictions de circulation concernent plus de deux millions de Palestiniens (…) Une situation qui a contribué à l’exode des chrétiens de Gaza. On en comptait 3.500 il y a 15 ans, selon les estimations, ils ne seraient plus qu’un millier aujourd’hui. France Inter
La radio du service public avait diffusé un reportage décrivant trois localités de Galilée comme des « colonies ». Suite à la mobilisation des lecteurs d’InfoEquitable, France Inter a corrigé cette faute en leur accordant désormais le statut bien plus représentatif de « villes ». (…) Nous indiquions que France Inter n’avait corrigé que la version écrite du reportage mais pas la bande audio. Or il s’avère que, presque à la même heure où nous publiions ces lignes, la médiatrice de Radio France annonçait, dans un échange avec un auditeur qui avait certainement suivi notre appel à protester auprès d’elle, que le son du reportage allait aussi être modifié. Deux heures après la parution de notre article, c’est ce qui a été fait et le reportage audio parle désormais aussi de « villes » et non plus de « colonies ». Aurélien Colly, le journaliste auteur du reportage, a également reconnu l’usage d’un terme inapproprié. Merci à Radio France d’avoir réagi et à nos lecteurs d’avoir permis la correction de cette erreur. Nous sommes satisfaits de la reconnaissance de cette erreur par la radio. Cependant, la correction sur le site ne s’accompagne d’aucun commentaire pour faire savoir aux lecteurs que le texte initial comportait une erreur importante. Plus grave, la chronique audio inchangée est toujours en ligne. Or, comme l’expliquait InfoEquitable dans l’article qui a poussé France Inter à réagir, le reportage reste très tendancieux. En particulier, il donne la parole à un « vieux forgeron libanais » supposément âgé d’une soixantaine d’année qui raconte des souvenirs qu’il ne pourrait avoir que s’il avait au moins 75 ans, traite les Juifs (pas les Israéliens, les Juifs !) de voleurs de terres et fait comprendre qu’Israël doit « redevenir la Palestine » (argument trompeur puisque la Palestine antérieure à 1948 fut une région sous mandat britannique et non un Etat arabe). L’homme appelle donc à éliminer l’Etat d’Israël et cela ne suscite aucun commentaire critique de la part du journaliste Aurélien Colly, envoyé spécial permanent de France Inter à Beyrouth, qui interviewe par ailleurs également un membre du Hezbollah sans préciser que ce mouvement est considéré comme terroriste par de nombreuses autorités dont celles de l’Union européenne… Au vu du reste de la chronique, le recours au terme de « colonies » pour désigner des localités situées sur le territoire internationalement reconnu d’Israël n’est pas anodin. Davantage qu’une simple erreur factuelle, il se situe en conformité avec la ligne du Hezbollah qui nie le droit aux Juifs d’avoir un Etat : raison pour laquelle nous avions intitulé notre première critique « France Inter reprend la propagande du Hezbollah ». Cette correction a minima suscite d’autres questions pour France Inter Est-ce que cette identification sans distanciation avec le narratif d’une organisation terroriste correspond aux standards journalistiques de France Inter, une radio financée par les contributions du public français ? Le journaliste a-t-il été sanctionné par la rédaction pour cette faute qui peut avoir des conséquences, en France, sur la sécurité des Juifs qui sont diabolisés dans le reportage (rappelons les paroles du « forgeron » : « Quand on était petit, on allait en Palestine. (…) Les Juifs n’étaient pas comme aujourd’hui, ils étaient sages, ils n’attaquaient personne, ne prenaient les terres de personne. ») ? Nous ne manquerons pas de publier une éventuelle réponse de France Inter à ces questions. InfoEquitable
Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir [NDLR la réalisatrice] de cerner une ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %. Télérama (première version)
Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir de cerner une ville, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %. Télérama (version corrigée)
En novembre dernier, un correspondant de France Inter avait décrit trois localités de Galilée comme des « colonies ». La Galilée fait partie d’Israël depuis l’indépendance de ce pays en 1948 et cette description revenait à faire de l’Etat d’Israël dans son intégralité une colonie – sous-entendu, un pays occupant de manière illégitime un territoire ne lui appartenant pas ; un pays implicitement appelé à disparaître, donc. Après la révélation de cette erreur par InfoEquitable, la radio avait reconnu le problème et corrigé le reportage. Moins de deux mois plus tard, Télérama commet exactement la même erreur. Dans le numéro 3596 du 12 décembre 2018, le critique Pierre Murat donne son avis sur le film « Wajib : l’invitation au mariage ». L’histoire se déroule à Nazareth. Commençant par évoquer les personnages du film, Pierre Murat enchaîne : Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir [NDLR la réalisatrice] de cerner une ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %.  Nazareth, occupée par Israël ? Nazareth se trouve en Galilée, dans le district nord d’Israël. Elle en est la plus grande ville. Depuis 1948, cette région fait partie de l’Etat d’Israël. Il est courant que la Cisjordanie (ou Judée-Samarie, région occupée par la Jordanie de 1949 jusqu’à la victoire israélienne de 1967 qui fut obtenue après une guerre provoquée et perdue par la Jordanie et ses alliés arabes), soit décrite comme « territoire occupé par Israël ». Bien que cette terminologie nous paraisse inappropriée, elle peut se comprendre lorsqu’elle s’applique à la Cisjordanie du point de vue des partisans de la « solution à deux Etats », qui disent souhaiter un retrait total israélien de cette région, mais la coexistence d’un futur « Etat de Palestine » avec un Etat d’Israël restreint à ses frontières « d’avant 1967 ». Mais Nazareth n’est pas située en Cisjordanie (West Bank sur la carte ci-dessous). La ville, tout en étant habitée presque exclusivement par des minorités nationales (arabes musulmane et chrétienne), se trouve de façon incontestable dans les frontières internationalement reconnues de l’Etat juif. A moins de considérer Paris comme occupée par la France, ou Tokyo par le Japon, la seule manière de comprendre la désignation de Nazareth comme une ville occupée est la volonté de ne pas reconnaître la légitimité du pays dont elle fait partie, l’Etat d’Israël, et donc de le voir disparaître. Infoequitable
Dans son numéro 3598, daté du 12 décembre 2018, Télérama « aime beaucoup » Wajib : l’invitation au mariage, un film palestinien sorti sur les écrans en 2017 et dont l’actualité est la sortie en DVD. Dire que Télérama adôôôre tout ce qui est palestinien relève du pléonasme, mais ce qui va sans dire semble aller encore mieux pour l’hebdomadaire d’opinion quand il peut enfoncer le clou avec un maillet fabriqué du bois dont on fait la propagande antisioniste « Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir (la réalisatrice, NDLR) de cerner une ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %. (Télérama) » explique le critique, Pierre Murat. La ville « pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne », c’est Nazareth, surnommée « la capitale arabe d’Israël » (les mots importants –au pluriel, car il y en a deux– sont « arabe » et « Israël »). Capitale arabe d’Israël ? Oui. En 2017, cette ville israélienne comptait 76.551 habitants, majoritairement des Arabes israéliens, 69% musulmans et 30,9% chrétiens. En termes administratifs, Nazareth est la capitale régionale de la Galilée et c’est la seule zone urbaine israélienne de plus de 50.000 habitants qui possède une majorité arabe (Wikipédia). Dans la doxa antisioniste téléramienne (excusez encore le pléonasme), une ville à majorité arabe ne peut exister qu’en territoire occupé. De plus, si l’on constate une tension (qu’elle soit réelle ou cinématographique) entre musulmans et chrétiens, seuls les Juifs peuvent en être responsables, preuve que Nazareth est occupée. C’est ainsi qu’on boucle une boucle idéologique dans le groupe Le Monde. Cette annexion de Nazareth par une Palestine fantasmée est-elle seulement une grossière erreur de culture générale dans un magazine culturel ou bien une répétition à vocation pédagogique, consistant à faire entrer subliminalement dans l’inconscient du lecteur le substantif « occupation » chaque fois que l’adjectif « israélien » est utilisé ? Dans le narratif palestino-téléramien présentant Nazareth comme « occupée », la précision sur les populations en présence sert aussi à agréger musulmans et chrétiens comme victimes égalitaires du joug de l’occupant et à exonérer l’une des deux communautés ARABES (on le souligne) d’avoir lâché un rôdeur nommé tension. Au cas où le film lui-même (palestinien, on le rappelle, donc peut-être partial ?) ne suffirait pas à induire chez le spectateur, ou simplement chez le lecteur du magazine d’opinion, une animosité vis-à-vis de l’État juif, le critique en rajoute une couche : « Le fils ne peut supporter que son père, par prudence, par lâcheté, songe à inviter au mariage un ami juif — en fait, un « inspecteur du savoir » (sic) qui, depuis des années, surveille et censure son enseignement. » Décryptons : 1) Il est impossible qu’un Palestinien ait un ami juif. 2) Les Juifs sont tellement mauvais que survivre à la cohabitation avec eux implique une prudence confinant à la lâcheté. 3) Un Juif et un Palestinien ne sauraient avoir d’autres rapports que dominant/dominé. Le critique de Télérama partage probablement la croyance de son parti en l’apartheid de la part des Israéliens vis-à-vis des pauvre palestiniens. Même si aucun fait réel n’y apporte le moindre crédit, cela n’empêche pas le prosélytisme. En revanche, bien que les chiffres et les témoignages abondent de la maltraitance subie par les chrétiens d’Orient en général et ceux des Territoires palestiniens en particulier, il ne peut pas, il ne veut pas y croire. Pourtant, si Nazareth est bien la « capitale arabe d’Israël », si cette ville à majorité musulmane est la capitale régionale de la Galilée, c’est parce que les citoyens israéliens vivent dans un pays démocratique et que rien n’empêche une minorité au plan national de représenter une majorité au plan régional ou local. En revanche, s’il existe, en Cisjordanie, des implantations juives protégées par l’armée (ce qui se traduit en palestinolâtrie et donc en Télérama dans le texte par « colonies »), c’est parce que des Juifs seraient aussitôt assassinés s’ils tentaient d’y vivre comme le font les musulmans de l’autre côté de la Ligne verte. Comme Pierre Murat de Télérama ne veut pas le savoir, nulle allusion perfide autre qu’antisioniste ne salit sa critique. Cela dit, Annemarie Jacir a situé son film dans la Nazareth israélienne, où toutes les religions sont libres et égales devant la loi, pas dans la Bethléem palestinienne, où une seule minorité dhimmie est tolérée pour des raisons 100% économiques. Bethléem est située à environ 10 km au sud de Jérusalem. 30.000 habitants y vivaient en 2006 sous l’administration de l’Autorité palestinienne. 30.000 habitants en immense majorité musulmans, en immense majorité de moins en moins tolérants vis-à-vis de l’une des plus anciennes communautés chrétiennes au monde. La ville étant un lieu de pèlerinage chrétien, qui lui rapporte l’essentiel de ses revenus hors charité internationale, cette communauté survit encore. En revanche, le tombeau de la matriarche Rachel, situé à l’entrée de la ville, n’est accessible aux pèlerins juifs du monde entier qu’à leurs risques et périls, le péril encouru par les juifs israéliens étant la mort. Dans toute la Cisjordanie, y compris à Bethléem, la proportion des chrétiens baisse fortement. Ils ne représentent plus, dans la ville où est né Jésus, qu’un pourcentage de la population inférieur à 10% (La Croix), contre plus de 30% en 1993. Les chiffres ci-dessous montrent l’évolution de la population israélienne avec la part qu’y occupe chaque religion (Bureau des statistiques, Israël). En Israël, pas en Territoire palestinien, car Gaza est devenue Judenrein et quasiment Christianrein. Quant à l’Autorité palestinienne, elle « convainc » les chrétiens d’émigrer de Cisjordanie par harcèlement et persécutions, mais pas de façon assez ostensible pour se voir privée des subventions internationales. Liliane Messika

Attention: un négationnisme peut en cacher un autre !

Alors qu’après France inter (désinformation, avec Radio Vatican, comprise sur le Noël de Gaza) …
Télérama présente la Galilée et Nazareth (première ville israélienne à majorité arabe) comme « colonies israéliennes » (erreurs depuis corrigées, mais sans le préciser, sous la pression du site Infoequitable et peut-être aussi de l’excellente critique du blog de Liliane Messika) …
Comment ne pas repenser …
Au tristement fameux lapsus barrien des « Français innocents » bien sûr …
Dont, on s’en souvient, l’ancien premier ministre et maire de Lyon avait déploré la mort suite à l’attentat de la synagogue parisienne de la rue Copernic il y a bientôt 40 ans …
Mais également à ce tout aussi révélateur aveu du même un quart de siècle plus tard
Lorsque défendant sa défense de son ancien collègue et conseiller municipal Bruno Gollnish condamné pour négationnisme (mais blanchi deux ans plus tard) …
Il avait involontairement donné l’une des sources possibles de sa pensée en expliquant avoir « tellement entendu les propos de M. Gollnisch à Lyon que cela finissait par ne plus l’émouvoir et que « quand on entend à longueur de journée tout ce qui se dit à droite et à gauche, à la fin on n’y porte plus attention » …
A savoir cette sorte d’antisémitisme passif (comme le tabagisme du même nom dont la science médicale nous dit qu’il pourrait presque être pire que l’actif) ou involontaire, inconscient ou par défaut, devenu tellement ordinaire que l’on n’est est même plus conscient …
Qui n’est pas sans rappeler ces fameuses « piqûres de moustiques » de « l’oppression mentale totalitaire » dont Klemperer nous avait appris, on s’en souvient, qu’elles avaient été le  » moyen de propagande le plus puissant de l’hitlérisme » pour son adoption par le plus grand nombre « de façon mécanique et inconsciente » …
Mais qui sous sa forme modernisée et plus présentable de l’anti-israélisme, 80 ans plus tard, se diffuserait à jet continu et par petites touches homéopathiques et donc presque imperceptibles …
Et dont apparemment seraient à présent victimes …
Les médias mêmes qui en sont les principaux diffuseurs ?

L’idéologie à géographie variable de Télérama

Dans son numéro 3598, daté du 12 décembre 2018, Télérama « aime beaucoup » Wajib : l’invitation au mariage, un film palestinien sorti sur les écrans en 2017 et dont l’actualité est la sortie en DVD. Dire que Télérama adôôôre tout ce qui est palestinien relève du pléonasme, mais ce qui va sans dire semble aller encore mieux pour l’hebdomadaire d’opinion quand il peut enfoncer le clou avec un maillet fabriqué du bois dont on fait la propagande antisioniste.

Que c’est beau Nazareth, dans la nuit de l’intelligence

« Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir (la réalisatrice, NDLR) de cerner une ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %. (Télérama) » explique le critique, Pierre Murat.

La ville « pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne », c’est Nazareth, surnommée « la capitale arabe d’Israël » (les mots importants –au pluriel, car il y en a deux– sont « arabe » et « Israël »). Capitale arabe d’Israël ? Oui. En 2017, cette ville israélienne comptait 76.551 habitants, majoritairement des Arabes israéliens, 69% musulmans et 30,9% chrétiens. En termes administratifs, Nazareth est la capitale régionale de la Galilée et c’est la seule zone urbaine israélienne de plus de 50.000 habitants qui possède une majorité arabe (Wikipédia).

Dans la doxa antisioniste téléramienne (excusez encore le pléonasme), une ville à majorité arabe ne peut exister qu’en territoire occupé. De plus, si l’on constate une tension (qu’elle soit réelle ou cinématographique) entre musulmans et chrétiens, seuls les Juifs peuvent en être responsables, preuve que Nazareth est occupée. C’est ainsi qu’on boucle une boucle idéologique dans le groupe Le Monde[1].

Étude d’une sourate de Télérama

Cette annexion de Nazareth par une Palestine fantasmée est-elle seulement une grossière erreur de culture générale dans un magazine culturel[2] ou bien une répétition à vocation pédagogique, consistant à faire entrer subliminalement dans l’inconscient du lecteur le substantif « occupation » chaque fois que l’adjectif « israélien » est utilisé ?

Dans le narratif palestino-téléramien présentant Nazareth comme « occupée », la précision sur les populations en présence sert aussi à agréger musulmans et chrétiens comme victimes égalitaires du joug de l’occupant et à exonérer l’une des deux communautés ARABES (on le souligne) d’avoir lâché un rôdeur nommé tension.

Au cas où le film lui-même (palestinien, on le rappelle, donc peut-être partial ?) ne suffirait pas à induire chez le spectateur, ou simplement chez le lecteur du magazine d’opinion, une animosité vis-à-vis de l’État juif, le critique en rajoute une couche : « Le fils ne peut supporter que son père, par prudence, par lâcheté, songe à inviter au mariage un ami juif — en fait, un « inspecteur du savoir » (sic) qui, depuis des années, surveille et censure son enseignement. »

Décryptons : 1) Il est impossible qu’un Palestinien ait un ami juif. 2) Les Juifs sont tellement mauvais que survivre à la cohabitation avec eux implique une prudence confinant à la lâcheté. 3) Un Juif et un Palestinien ne sauraient avoir d’autres rapports que dominant/dominé.

Apartheid fantasmé et apartheid excusé, les deux mamelles de Télérama

Le critique de Télérama partage probablement la croyance de son parti en l’apartheid de la part des Israéliens vis-à-vis des pauvrepalestiniens. Même si aucun fait réel n’y apporte le moindre crédit, cela n’empêche pas le prosélytisme. En revanche, bien que les chiffres et les témoignages abondent de la maltraitance subie par les chrétiens d’Orient en général et ceux des Territoires palestiniens en particulier, il ne peut pas, il ne veut pas y croire.

Pourtant, si Nazareth est bien la « capitale arabe d’Israël », si cette ville à majorité musulmane est la capitale régionale de la Galilée, c’est parce que les citoyens israéliens vivent dans un pays démocratique et que rien n’empêche une minorité au plan national de représenter une majorité au plan régional ou local.

En revanche, s’il existe, en Cisjordanie, des implantations juives protégées par l’armée (ce qui se traduit en palestinolâtrie et donc en Télérama dans le texte par « colonies »), c’est parce que des Juifs seraient aussitôt assassinés s’ils tentaient d’y vivre comme le font les musulmans de l’autre côté de la Ligne verte.

Comme Pierre Murat de Télérama ne veut pas le savoir, nulle allusion perfide autre qu’antisioniste ne salit sa critique.

Cela dit, Annemarie Jacir a situé son film dans la Nazareth israélienne, où toutes les religions sont libres et égales devant la loi, pas dans la Bethléem palestinienne, où une seule minorité dhimmie[3] est tolérée pour des raisons 100% économiques.

Bethléem est située à environ 10 km au sud de Jérusalem. 30.000 habitants[4] y vivaient en 2006 sous l’administration de l’Autorité palestinienne. 30.000 habitants en immense majorité musulmans, en immense majorité de moins en moins tolérants vis-à-vis de l’une des plus anciennes communautés chrétiennes au monde. La ville étant un lieu de pèlerinage chrétien, qui lui rapporte l’essentiel de ses revenus hors charité internationale, cette communauté survit encore. En revanche, le tombeau de la matriarche Rachel, situé à l’entrée de la ville, n’est accessible aux pèlerins juifs du monde entier qu’à leurs risques et périls, le péril encouru par les juifs israéliens étant la mort.

Télérama ne laisse ni faits ni chiffres interférer avec son idéologie

Dans toute la Cisjordanie, y compris à Bethléem, la proportion des chrétiens baisse fortement. Ils ne représentent plus, dans la ville où est né Jésus, qu’un pourcentage de la population inférieur à 10% (La Croix), contre plus de 30% en 1993.

Les chiffres ci-dessous montrent l’évolution de la population israélienne avec la part qu’y occupe chaque religion (Bureau des statistiques, Israël). En Israël, pas en Territoire palestinien, car Gaza est devenue Judenrein et quasiment Christianrein. Quant à l’Autorité palestinienne, elle « convainc » les chrétiens d’émigrer de Cisjordanie par harcèlement et persécutions, mais pas de façon assez ostensible pour se voir privée des subventions internationales.

tableau Télérama.jpg

Si l’augmentation du nombre de chrétiens en Israël depuis 1993 n’est pas visible en termes de pourcentages, c’est en raison de l’augmentation substantielle du nombre des citoyens des deux autres confessions.

Le dernier recensement de la population palestinienne a été publié le 29 mars 2018. « Le recensement, a dit la présidente du BCPS (Bureau central palestinien des statistiques, NDLR), Ola Awad, a révélé que 97,9 % des Palestiniens étaient musulmans, alors que la population chrétienne était estimée à moins de 1 %. (Times of Israel Rapporté au total (4,78 millions), cela fait environ 45.000 personnes.

En Israël, où les chrétiens représentent, en 2017, 2% de la population totale, cela correspond à 175.960 habitants, alors qu’en 1950, ils comptaient pour 2,6% d’une la population qui n’atteignait pas le million, soit 26.000 personnes.

C’est donc une augmentation de 677% (oui, SIX CENT SOIXANTE-DIX-SEPT pour cent !)

Ce chiffre vaut plus que mille mots (maux ?) écrits dans Télérama. LM♦

Liliane Messika, mabatim.info

[1] Télérama appartient au groupe Le Monde depuis 2003, comme Le Monde diplomatique, vaisseau amiral de la propagande antisioniste en langue française depuis toujours.
[2]Télérama est un magazine culturel français à parution hebdomadaire (Wikipedia)
[3] « Un dhimmi est un terme historique du Droit musulman qui désigne un citoyen non-musulman d’un État musulman, lié à celui-ci par un ‘’pacte de protection’’ discriminatoire. » (Akadem)
[4] Données détaillées les plus récentes du Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, les chiffres de 2018 ne concernant que la globalité de la Cisjordanie.

Voir aussi:

Nazareth, « ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne » : il n’existe aucune justification à cette description, sauf à contester la légitimité de l’Etat d’Israël.

Mise à jour

Suite à l’article d’InfoEquitable, Télérama a corrigé sa phrase en supprimant dans la version internet de l’article la mention d‘occupation israélienne. InfoEquitable remercie la rédaction pour cette réaction.

 

 

Nous avons cependant demandé si un prochain numéro papier du magazine pourrait contenir un rectificatif à l’attention des lecteurs de l’édition du 12 décembre. Ce genre d’imprécision est en effet susceptible de nourrir le ressentiment contre Israël, et par extension contre les Juifs injustement accusés d’occuper un territoire ne leur appartenant pas. Les lecteurs de l’édition papier de Télérama méritent à notre avis d’être informés lorsqu’une telle erreur factuelle se produit. 

 

_ _ _

 

En novembre dernier, un correspondant de France Inter avait décrit trois localités de Galilée comme des « colonies ». La Galilée fait partie d’Israël depuis l’indépendance de ce pays en 1948 et cette description revenait à faire de l’Etat d’Israël dans son intégralité une colonie – sous-entendu, un pays occupant de manière illégitime un territoire ne lui appartenant pas ; un pays implicitement appelé à disparaître, donc. Après la révélation de cette erreur par InfoEquitable, la radio avait reconnu le problème et corrigé le reportage.

Moins de deux mois plus tard, Télérama commet exactement la même erreur. Dans le numéro 3596 du 12 décembre 2018, le critique Pierre Murat donne son avis sur le film « Wajib : l’invitation au mariage » (en complément à cette revue, nous recommandons à nos lecteur le décryptage, véritable « critique de la critique de Télérama », de Liliane Messika).

L’histoire se déroule à Nazareth. Commençant par évoquer les personnages du film, Pierre Murat enchaîne :

Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir [NDLR la réalisatrice] de cerner une ville comme pétrifiée par l’occupation israélienne, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %.

Nazareth, occupée par Israël ?

Nazareth se trouve en Galilée, dans le district nord d’Israël. Elle en est la plus grande ville. Depuis 1948, cette région fait partie de l’Etat d’Israël.

Il est courant que la Cisjordanie (ou Judée-Samarie, région occupée par la Jordanie de 1949 jusqu’à la victoire israélienne de 1967 qui fut obtenue après une guerre provoquée et perdue par la Jordanie et ses alliés arabes), soit décrite comme « territoire occupé par Israël ». Bien que cette terminologie nous paraisse inappropriée, elle peut se comprendre lorsqu’elle s’applique à la Cisjordanie du point de vue des partisans de la « solution à deux Etats », qui disent souhaiter un retrait total israélien de cette région, mais la coexistence d’un futur « Etat de Palestine » avec un Etat d’Israël restreint à ses frontières « d’avant 1967 ».

Mais Nazareth n’est pas située en Cisjordanie (West Bank sur la carte ci-dessous). La ville, tout en étant habitée presque exclusivement par des minorités nationales (arabes musulmane et chrétienne), se trouve de façon incontestable dans les frontières internationalement reconnues de l’Etat juif.

A moins de considérer Paris comme occupée par la France, ou Tokyo par le Japon, la seule manière de comprendre la désignation de Nazareth comme une ville occupée est la volonté de ne pas reconnaître la légitimité du pays dont elle fait partie, l’Etat d’Israël, et donc de le voir disparaître.

Est-ce ce que la rédaction de Télérama souhaite ? Nos lecteurs peuvent poser la question à Télérama ici.

Nous avons pour notre part peine à croire que ce soit le cas, et serons rassurés si, comme France Inter a su le faireTélérama corrige la phrase en question.

Voir également:

La radio du service public avait diffusé un reportage décrivant trois localités de Galilée comme des « colonies ». Suite à la mobilisation des lecteurs d’InfoEquitable, France Inter a corrigé cette faute en leur accordant désormais le statut bien plus représentatif de « villes ».

 

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Mise à jour

Nous indiquions que France Inter n’avait corrigé que la version écrite du reportage mais pas la bande audio. Or il s’avère que, presque à la même heure où nous publiions ces lignes, la médiatrice de Radio France annonçait, dans un échange avec un auditeur qui avait certainement suivi notre appel à protester auprès d’elle, que le son du reportage allait aussi être modifié. Deux heures après la parution de notre article, c’est ce qui a été fait et le reportage audio parle désormais aussi de « villes » et non plus de « colonies ». 

 

 

Aurélien Colly, le journaliste auteur du reportage, a également reconnu l’usage d’un terme inapproprié.

 

 

Merci à Radio France d’avoir réagi et à nos lecteurs d’avoir permis la correction de cette erreur.

 

—-

Nous sommes satisfaits de la reconnaissance de cette erreur par la radio.

Cependant, la correction sur le site ne s’accompagne d’aucun commentaire pour faire savoir aux lecteurs que le texte initial comportait une erreur importante.

Plus grave, la chronique audio inchangée est toujours en ligne. Or, comme l’expliquait InfoEquitable dans l’article qui a poussé France Inter à réagir, le reportage reste très tendancieux.

 

 

En particulier, il donne la parole à un « vieux forgeron libanais » supposément âgé d’une soixantaine d’année qui raconte des souvenirs qu’il ne pourrait avoir que s’il avait au moins 75 ans, traite les Juifs (pas les Israéliens, les Juifs !) de voleurs de terres et fait comprendre qu’Israël doit « redevenir la Palestine » (argument trompeur puisque la Palestine antérieure à 1948 fut une région sous mandat britannique et non un Etat arabe). L’homme appelle donc à éliminer l’Etat d’Israël et cela ne suscite aucun commentaire critique de la part du journaliste Aurélien Colly, envoyé spécial permanent de France Inter à Beyrouth, qui interviewe par ailleurs également un membre du Hezbollah sans préciser que ce mouvement est considéré comme terroriste par de nombreuses autorités dont celles de l’Union européenne…

Au vu du reste de la chronique, le recours au terme de « colonies » pour désigner des localités situées sur le territoire internationalement reconnu d’Israël n’est pas anodin. Davantage qu’une simple erreur factuelle, il se situe en conformité avec la ligne du Hezbollah qui nie le droit aux Juifs d’avoir un Etat : raison pour laquelle nous avions intitulé notre première critique « France Inter reprend la propagande du Hezbollah ».

Cette correction a minima suscite d’autres questions pour France Inter

Est-ce que cette identification sans distanciation avec le narratif d’une organisation terroriste correspond aux standards journalistiques de France Inter, une radio financée par les contributions du public français ?

Le journaliste a-t-il été sanctionné par la rédaction pour cette faute qui peut avoir des conséquences, en France, sur la sécurité des Juifs qui sont diabolisés dans le reportage (rappelons les paroles du « forgeron »« Quand on était petit, on allait en Palestine. (…) Les Juifs n’étaient pas comme aujourd’hui, ils étaient sages, ils n’attaquaient personne, ne prenaient les terres de personne. ») ?

Nous ne manquerons pas de publier une éventuelle réponse de France Inter à ces questions.

Voir enfin:

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Télérama

La critique par Pierre Murat

Les marches sont rudes. Le vieux monsieur — il continue de fumer malgré sa récente opération du cœur — s’arrête, ahane, mais finit son ascension. Abu Shadi, prof renommé, sillonne les rues de Nazareth en compagnie de son fils, Shadi, spécialement rentré d’Italie, où il végète. Ces deux facteurs improvisés rencontrent des gens plus ou moins extravagants que la réalisatrice contemple avec tendresse : une vieille dame loufoque qui, pour Noël, a érigé, dans son salon, une crèche gigantesque ; un petit homme discret, tout gêné de devoir présenter à la compagnie son garçon, objet de railleries secrètes parce que « efféminé »… Ces silhouettes permettent à Annemarie Jacir de cerner une ville, où la tension semble rôder en permanence entre les populations — musulmane à 60 % et chrétienne à 40 %.

Elle rôde aussi, et éclate par accès subits, entre les deux héros. Le père reproche au fils d’avoir fui, mais, surtout, de vivre à l’étranger avec la fille d’un membre influent de l’OLP. Le fils ne peut supporter que son père, par prudence, par lâcheté, songe à inviter au mariage un ami juif — en fait, un « inspecteur du savoir » (sic) qui, depuis des années, surveille et censure son enseignement. D’autres souvenirs, encore plus amers et douloureux, surgissent. C’est dire que la cigarette partagée par les deux hommes, tandis que le soir tombe sur Nazareth, ne résout rien. La réalisatrice semble offrir cet instant suspendu à ses héros (interprétés par deux comédiens formidables, père et fils dans la vie) comme une récréation. Une trêve inattendue. Un petit moment de paix illusoire, insensé et d’autant plus précieux.


Mur de Trump: Les bonnes clôtures font les bons voisins (Why can’t the misguided left see that building a wall makes Donald Trump the rule, not the exception, among world leaders ?)

2 janvier, 2019
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Divided : Why We're Living in an Age of Walls, Hardback Book
Les bonnes clôtures font les bons voisins. Proverbe anglais
Chacun chez soi et les moutons seront bien gardés. proverbe français
Aimez votre voisin mais n’abattez pas la haie. Autre proverbe français
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)
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus Christ. Paul (Galates 3: 28)
Où est Dieu? cria-t-il, je vais vous le dire! Nous l’avons tué – vous et moi! Nous tous sommes ses meurtriers! Mais comment avons-nous fait cela? Comment avons-nous pu vider la mer? Qui nous a donné l’éponge pour effacer l’horizon tout entier? Dieu est mort! (…) Et c’est nous qui l’avons tué ! (…) Ce que le monde avait possédé jusqu’alors de plus sacré et de plus puissant a perdu son sang sous nos couteaux (…) Quelles solennités expiatoires, quels jeux sacrés nous faudra-t-il inventer? Nietzsche
« Dionysos contre le « crucifié » : la voici bien l’opposition. Ce n’est pas une différence quant au martyr – mais celui-ci a un sens différent. La vie même, son éternelle fécondité, son éternel retour, détermine le tourment, la destruction, la volonté d’anéantir pour Dionysos. Dans l’autre cas, la souffrance, le « crucifié » en tant qu’il est « innocent », sert d’argument contre cette vie, de formulation de sa condamnation. (…) L’individu a été si bien pris au sérieux, si bien posé comme un absolu par le christianisme, qu’on ne pouvait plus le sacrifier : mais l’espèce ne survit que grâce aux sacrifices humains… La véritable philanthropie exige le sacrifice pour le bien de l’espèce – elle est dure, elle oblige à se dominer soi-même, parce qu’elle a besoin du sacrifice humain. Et cette pseudo-humanité qui s’institue christianisme, veut précisément imposer que personne ne soit sacrifié. Nietzsche
Je condamne le christia­nisme, j’élève contre l’Église chrétienne la plus terrible de toutes les accusa­tions, que jamais accusateur ait prononcée. Elle est la plus grande corruption que l’on puisse imaginer, elle a eu la volonté de la dernière corruption possible. L’Église chrétienne n’épargna sur rien sa corruption, elle a fait de toute valeur une non-valeur, de chaque vérité un mensonge, de chaque intégrité une bassesse d’âme (…) L’ « égalité des âmes devant Dieu », cette fausseté, ce prétexte aux rancunes les plus basses, cet explosif de l’idée, qui finit par devenir Révo­lution, idée moderne, principe de dégénérescence de tout l’ordre social — c’est la dynamite chrétienne… (…) Le christianisme a pris parti pour tout ce qui est faible, bas, manqué (…) La pitié entrave en somme la loi de l’évolution qui est celle de la sélection. Elle comprend ce qui est mûr pour la disparition, elle se défend en faveur des déshérités et des condamnés de la vie. Par le nombre et la variété des choses manquées qu’elle retient dans la vie, elle donne à la vie elle-même un aspect sombre et douteux. On a eu le courage d’appeler la pitié une vertu (— dans toute morale noble elle passe pour une faiblesse —) ; on est allé plus loin, on a fait d’elle la vertu, le terrain et l’origine de toutes les vertus. Nietzsche
A l’origine, la guerre n’était qu’une lutte pour les pâturages. Aujourd’hui la guerre n’est qu’une lutte pour les richesses de la nature. En vertu d’une loi inhérente, ces richesses appartiennent à celui qui les conquiert. Les grandes migrations sont parties de l’Est. Avec nous commence le reflux, d’Ouest en Est. C’est en conformité avec les lois de la nature. Par le biais de la lutte, les élites sont constamment renouvelées. La loi de la sélection naturelle justifie cette lutte incessante en permettant la survie des plus aptes. Le christianisme est une rébellion contre la loi naturelle, une protestation contre la nature. Poussé à sa logique extrême, le christianisme signifierait la culture systématique de l’échec humain. Hitler
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
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. 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
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 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
L’acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, revolvers au poing, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer, au hasard, tant qu’on peut dans la foule. André Breton
Il faut avoir le courage de vouloir le mal et pour cela il faut commencer par rompre avec le comportement grossièrement humanitaire qui fait partie de l’héritage chrétien. (..) Nous sommes avec ceux qui tuent. Breton
Bien avant qu’un intellectuel nazi ait annoncé ‘quand j’entends le mot culture je sors mon revolver’, les poètes avaient proclamé leur dégoût pour cette saleté de culture et politiquement invité Barbares, Scythes, Nègres, Indiens, ô vous tous, à la piétiner. Hannah Arendt (1949)
L’Occident s’achève en bermuda […] Craignez le courroux de l’homme en bermuda. Craignez la colère du consommateur, du voyageur, du touriste, du vacancier descendant de son camping-car ! Vous nous imaginez vautrés dans des plaisirs et des loisirs qui nous ont ramollis. Eh bien,nous lutterons comme des lions pour protéger notre ramollissement.  Chers djihadistes, chevauchant vos éléphants de fer et de feu, vous êtes entrés avec fureur dans notre magasin de porcelaine. Mais c’est un magasin de porcelaine dont les propriétaires de longue date ont entrepris de réduire en miettes tout ce qui s’y trouvait entassé. […] Vous êtes les premiers démolisseurs à s’attaquer à des destructeurs. Les premiers incendiaires en concurrence avec des pyromanes. […] À la différence des nôtres, vos démolitions s’effectuent en toute illégalité et s’attirent un blâme quasi unanime. Tandis que c’est dans l’enthousiasme général que nous mettons au point nos tortueuses innovations et que nous nous débarrassons des derniers fondements de notre ancienne civilisation.  Chers djihadistes, nous triompherons de vous. Nous vaincrons parce que nous sommes les plus morts. Philippe Muray
L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme.Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxismeRené Girard
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 ! René Girard
Ce concept de « droitisation » est le plus sûr indice de la confusion mentale qui s’est emparée de certains esprits. Si la « droitisation » consiste à prendre en compte la souffrance sociale des Français les plus exposés et les plus vulnérables, c’est que les anciennes catégories politiques n’ont plus guère de sens… et que le PS est devenu – ce qui me paraît une évidence – l’expression des nouvelles classes dominantes. (…) Est-ce Nicolas Sarkozy qui se « droitise » en plaçant la maîtrise des flux migratoires au cœur de la question sociale ou la gauche qui se renie en substituant à la question sociale le combat sociétal en faveur d’un communautarisme multiculturel ? L’impensé du candidat socialiste sur l’immigration est tout sauf accidentel : il témoigne d’une contradiction à ce jour non résolue. L’idéologie du « transfrontiérisme » n’est pas celle des Français. Près de deux Français sur trois et près d’un sympathisant de gauche sur deux approuvent la proposition de Nicolas Sarkozy de réduire de moitié l’immigration légale. Le projet que porte Nicolas Sarkozy s’adresse à tout l’électorat populaire. Il est clairement le candidat d’une Europe des frontières. C’est en cela qu’il est le candidat du peuple qui souffre de l’absence de frontières et de ses conséquences en chaîne : libre-échangisme sans limites, concurrence déloyale, dumping social, délocalisation de l’emploi, déferlante migratoire. Les frontières, c’est la préoccupation des Français les plus vulnérables. Les frontières, c’est ce qui protège les plus pauvres. Les privilégiés, eux, ne comptent pas sur l’Etat pour construire des frontières. Ils n’ont eu besoin de personne pour se les acheter. Frontières spatiales et sécuritaires : ils habitent les beaux quartiers. Frontières scolaires : leurs enfants fréquentent les meilleurs établissements. Frontières sociales : leur position les met à l’abri de tous les désordres de la mondialisation et en situation d’en recueillir tous les bénéfices. Patrick Buisson
Le mépris dans lequel les tient la classe dirigeante a quelque chose de sidérant. Nos élites sont mues par une invraisemblable prolophobie dont elles n’ont parfois même pas conscience. (…) Les impensés de la gauche sur la sécurité et l’immigration témoignent d’un déni persévérant de celle-ci face à l’expression de certaines souffrances sociales. (…) Avant d’être une posture politique, le front républicain est d’abord un réflexe de classe et de caste. Patrick Buisson
The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, authorized about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of land between the border of the United States and Mexico. (…) At the time the act was being considered, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were all members of the Senate. (…) Obama, Clinton, Schumer and 23 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the act when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19. (…) Currently, 702 miles of fencing separates the United States from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump plans for the wall are vague, but here’s what we know. He said the wall doesn’t need to run the nearly 2,000 miles of the border, but about 1,000 miles because of natural barriers. He said it could cost between $8 billion and $12 billion, be made of precast concrete, and rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher. Experts have repeatedly told PolitiFact that the differences in semantics between a wall and a fence are not too significant because both block people. (…) A 2016 Associated Press report from the border described « rust-colored thick bars » that form « teeth-like slats » 18 feet high. « There are miles of gaps between segments and openings in the fence itself, » the report said. Trump criticized the 2006 fence as too modest during the 2016 campaign. (…) It’s also worth noting that the political context surrounding the 2006 vote was different, too. Democrats normally in favor of looser immigration laws saw the Secure Fence Act of 2006 as the lesser of two evils, according to a Boston Globe report that detailed the legislative process. Around that same time, the House passed legislation that would make any undocumented immigrant a felon. « It didn’t have anywhere near the gravity of harm, » Angela Kelley, who in 2006 was the legislative director for the National Immigration Forum, told the Boston Globe. « It was hard to vote against it because who is going to vote against a secure fence? And it was benign compared with what was out there. » Politifact
No country can exist without borders. Hillary and Obama have all but destroyed them; Trump must remind us how he will restore them. Walls throughout history have been part of the solution, from Hadrian’s Wall to Israel’s fence with the Palestinians. “Making Mexico pay for the wall” is not empty rhetoric, when $26 billion in remittances go back to Mexico without taxes or fees, largely sent from those here illegally, and it could serve as a source of funding revenue.Trump can supersede “comprehensive immigration” with a simple program: Secure and fortify the borders first; begin deporting those with a criminal record, and without a work history. Fine employers who hire illegal aliens. Any illegal aliens who choose to stay, must be working, crime-free, and have two years of residence. They can pay a fine for having entered the U.S. illegally, learn English, and stay while applying for a green card — that effort, like all individual applications, may or may not be approved. He should point out that illegal immigrants have cut in line in front of legal applicants, delaying for years any consideration of entry. That is not an act of love. Sanctuary cities are a neo-Confederate idea, and should have their federal funds cut off for undermining U.S. law. The time-tried melting pot of assimilation and integration, not the bankrupt salad bowl of identity politics, hyphenated nomenclature, and newly accented names should be our model of teaching new legal immigrants how to become citizens. Victor Davis Hanson
Securing national borders seems pretty orthodox. In an age of anti-Western terrorism, placing temporary holds on would-be immigrants from war-torn zones until they can be vetted is hardly radical. Expecting “sanctuary cities” to follow federal laws rather than embrace the nullification strategies of the secessionist Old Confederacy is a return to the laws of the Constitution. Using the term “radical Islamic terror” in place of “workplace violence” or “man-caused disasters” is sensible, not subversive. Insisting that NATO members meet their long-ignored defense-spending obligations is not provocative but overdue. Assuming that both the European Union and the United Nations are imploding is empirical, not unhinged. Questioning the secret side agreements of the Iran deal or failed Russian reset is facing reality. Making the Environmental Protection Agency follow laws rather than make laws is the way it always was supposed to be. Unapologetically siding with Israel, the only free and democratic country in the Middle East, used to be standard U.S. policy until Obama was elected. (…) Expecting the media to report the news rather than massage it to fit progressive agendas makes sense. In the past, proclaiming Obama a “sort of god” or the smartest man ever to enter the presidency was not normal journalistic practice. (…) Half the country is having a hard time adjusting to Trumpism, confusing Trump’s often unorthodox and grating style with his otherwise practical and mostly centrist agenda. In sum, Trump seems a revolutionary, but that is only because he is loudly undoing a revolution. Victor Davis Hanson
There was likely never going to be “comprehensive immigration reform” or any deal amnestying the DACA recipients in exchange for building the wall. Democrats in the present political landscape will not consent to a wall. For them, a successful border wall is now considered bad politics in almost every manner imaginable. Yet 12 years ago, Congress, with broad bipartisan support, passed the Secure Fence of Act of 2006. The bill was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush to overwhelming public applause. The stopgap legislation led to some 650 miles of a mostly inexpensive steel fence while still leaving about two-thirds of the 1,950-mile border unfenced. In those days there were not, as now, nearly 50 million foreign-born immigrants living in the United States, perhaps nearly 15 million of them illegally. Sheer numbers have radically changed electoral politics. Take California. One out of every four residents in California is foreign-born. Not since 2006 has any California Republican been elected to statewide office. The solidly blue states of the American Southwest, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, voted red as recently as 2004 for George W. Bush. Progressives understandably conclude that de facto open borders are good long-term politics. Once upon a time, Democrats such as Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama talked tough about illegal immigration. They even ruled out amnesty while talking up a new border wall. In those days, progressives saw illegal immigration as illiberal — or at least not as a winning proposition among union households and the working poor. Democratic constituencies opposed importing inexpensive foreign labor for corporate bosses. Welfare rights groups believed that massive illegal immigration would swamp social services and curtail government help to American poor of the barrios and the inner city. So, what happened? Again, numbers. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have flocked into the United States over the last decade. In addition, the Obama administration discouraged the melting-pot assimilationist model of integrating only legal immigrants. Salad-bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism and large numbers of unassimilated immigrants added up to politically advantageous demography for Democrats in the long run. In contrast, a wall would likely reduce illegal immigration dramatically and with it future Democratic constituents. Legal, meritocratic, measured and diverse immigration in its place would likely end up being politically neutral. And without fresh waves of undocumented immigrants from south of the border, identity politics would wane. A wall also would radically change the optics of illegal immigration. Currently, in unsecured border areas, armed border patrol guards sometimes stand behind barbed wire. Without a wall, they are forced to rely on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers. They are easy targets for stone-throwers on the Mexican side of the border. A high wall would end that. Border guards would be mostly invisible from the Mexican side of the wall. Barbed wire, dogs and tear gas astride the border — the ingredients for media sensationalism — would be unnecessary. Instead, footage of would-be border crossers trying to climb 30-foot walls would emphasize the degree to which some are callously breaking the law. Such imagery would remind the world that undocumented immigrants are not always noble victims but often selfish young adult males who have little regard for the millions of aspiring immigrants who wait patiently in line and follow the rules to enter the United State lawfully. More importantly, thousands of undocumented immigrants cross miles of dangerous, unguarded borderlands each year to walk for days in the desert. Often, they fall prey to dangers ranging from cartel gangs to dehydration. Usually, the United States is somehow blamed for their plight, even though a few years ago the Mexican government issued a comic book with instructions on how citizens could most effectively break U.S. law and cross the border. The wall would make illegal crossings almost impossible, saving lives. Latin American governments and Democratic operatives assume that lax border enforcement facilitates the outflow of billions of dollars in remittances sent south of the border and helps flip red states blue. All prior efforts to ensure border security — sanctions against employers, threats to cut off foreign aid to Mexico and Central America, and talk of tamper-proof identity cards — have failed. Instead, amnesties, expanded entitlements and hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions offer incentives for waves of undocumented immigrants. The reason a secure border wall has not been — and may not be — built is not apprehension that it would not work, but rather real fear that it would work only too well. Victor Davis Hanson
New House majority leader Nancy Pelosi reportedly spent the holidays at the Fairmont Orchid on Kona, contemplating future climate-change legislation and still adamant in opposing the supposed vanity border wall. But in a very different real world from the Fairmont Orchid or Pacific Heights, other people each day deal with the results of open borders and sanctuary jurisdictions. The results are often nihilistic and horrific. (…)These incidents, and less violent ones like them, are not all that rare in rural California. The narratives are tragically similar and hinge on our society’s assumptions of tolerance and its belief that entering and residing illegally in the United States are not really crimes. Fraudulent identification and fake names are not really felonious behaviors. Driving under the influence is no reason for deportation — all crimes that can ruin careers and have expensive consequences for citizens. Statisticians argue that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native born, but never quite calibrate illegal immigrants into the equation (in part because no one has any idea who, where, or how many they are, as estimates range from 11 to 20 million) or note that second-generation native-born children of immigrants have much higher violent-crime rates than do their immigrant parents, and in circular fashion add to the general pool of violent Americans who then are used to contrast immigrants as less violent. Immorality is undermining, in Confederate fashion, federal law, and normalizing exemptions that allow felons such as Garcia and Arriaga to wreak havoc on the innocent and defenseless. Too often the architects of open borders and sanctuary jurisdictions are not on the front lines where the vulnerable suffer the all-too-real consequences of distant others, who can rely on their own far greater safety nets when their grand abstractions become all too concrete. And, finally, we forget that so often the victims of illegal aliens are (in California where one in four residents was not born in the U.S.) legal immigrants like officer Singh, and members of the Hispanic community like the late Mr. Soto. Polls show that support for open borders is not popular and most Americans want an end to illegal immigration and catch and release, as well as stricter enforcement of current federal immigration laws. Victor Davis Hanson
Donald Trump n’en finit plus de s’agacer à propos de la construction de son mur à la frontière mexicaine. Ce vendredi, il a menacé de fermer la frontière entre les Etats-Unis et le Mexique si les démocrates du Congrès n’acceptaient pas de financer la construction d’un mur. (…) Un sujet qui a déjà provoqué un « shutdown » depuis une semaine, soit la paralysie partielle des administrations fédérales et qui a mis des centaines de milliers de fonctionnaires au chômage forcé. Tant que républicains et démocrates ne trouveront pas d’accord au Congrès, les financements de 25% des ministères et administrations fédérales resteront suspendus. Jeudi, les négociations ont encore échoué. Le président républicain exige cinq milliards de dollars pour construire le mur tandis que les démocrates refusent de le financer, mais ont proposé une enveloppe de plus d’un milliard pour d’autres mesures de sécurité à la frontière. Les républicains sont majoritaires au Congrès, mais avec 51 sièges au Sénat, ils ont besoin de soutiens démocrates pour atteindre les 60 voix sur 100 nécessaires afin d’approuver le Budget. Mais si la question cristallise autant, c’est que la mesure est symbolique de la présidence de Donald Trump. Lors la campagne, le milliardaire a construit sa popularité à coup de propositions chocs et fait de la lutte contre l’immigration l’une de ses priorités. « Je vais construire un grand mur sur notre frontière sud, et le Mexique paiera pour le construire. Prenez-en bien note », avait-il alors promis. Une promesse déjà bien entamée par le refus mexicain de financer la construction du mur. Le président américain a été contraint d’admettre que les Etats-Unis allaient lancer le projet avant même d’avoir l’assurance du financement mexicain. Selon un sondage de Politico, la base électorale du président américain est, en effet, très attachée à cette proposition. 78% des électeurs de Trump en 2016 considèrent qu’il s’agit d’un projet important (25%) voire prioritaire (53%) au cours de son mandat. (…) Mais en attendant, Donald Trump doit trouver des financements. En totalité, l’ouvrage devrait coûter entre 22 à 25 milliards de dollars. Faute d’accord de compromis et dans un hémicycle quasi désert, le Sénat a décidé jeudi à l’unanimité d’ajourner la séance jusqu’à lundi 10h et de ne reprendre l’examen d’une loi budgétaire que mercredi 2 janvier, à partir de 16h. Or, à chaque jour qui passe, la position des démocrates se renforce. Ils prendront le contrôle de la Chambre des représentants dès le 3 janvier, tandis que les républicains auront une majorité renforcée au Sénat (53). Il est donc fort probable que Donald Trump soit obligé de faire des concessions, ce que le président américain ne semble pour l’instant pas prêt à faire. Le gouvernement restera paralysé jusqu’à « ce que nous ayons un mur, une barrière, peu importe comment ils veulent l’appeler », avait ainsi déclaré Donald Trump le 25 décembre. JDD
Why is our age of walls also the most open age in humanity’s history? Why is the march of globalisation now being kept company by re-activated nationalisms? Samanth Subramanian
I learnt early on in Bosnia, to understand the terrain in order to understand the story. There’s two things often, even in conflict zones, that some journalists don’t do. One is understanding religion, I mean really understand it. When all this started [the Arab uprisings] there was a whole generation of journalists who because they come from a secular society, thought religion was not a major factor. I think they found it hard to believe that these people actually do believe what they say, whereas I always knew to take them at their word. They believe this stuff, which is their right. I think some people just couldn’t bring themselves to believe people believe this in the 21st century. The other one is terrain. I was also influenced (and I acknowledge it) by Robert Kaplan’s Revenge of Geography. So I took all these ideas that have been swirling around for so long and packed in work to write. Then we start talking about identity, about national symbols and the emotional buttons they press [see Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags, 2016]. In all my travels, I would always ask, “Who is that statue of? Why is your flag the colour it is?”. You would learn the emotional buttons that are pushed in populations. I do see my latest three books as a trilogy because it all comes together. This last one I wanted to call Us and Them, but that’s been done, so Divided is the title. It’s realistic but depressing stuff, but I do think it’s a fair reflection of where we are, and I think slowly dawning on the Western peoples is the realisation that advancement is not a given. Progression is not a given. (…) It is somewhat deterministic in that yes, these things do, partially determine what happens, but that’s the key word, partially. I’ve had a great response to it, half a million sales, and some very nice reviews. Where it has been criticised, is that it is “too deterministic”. I think that ignores the six or seven times I say in the book, ‘this is a determining factor, not the determining factor’. There is obviously ideas, technology, politics, great leaders. All this stuff goes into make up [international politics], but the one that is overlooked is [physical] geography. That is precisely because intellectuals have a problem with anything deterministic because it is something beyond their control. The new book features a lot on borders. The ‘Open Borders’ theory is right in its idea of oneness, which I happen to agree with, we are one. However, for a whole bunch of reasons, including geography, we are divided from each other. That includes rivers, oceans and mountains, which have divided us from each other and made us different from each other, to the extent I would argue that I cannot see, in the foreseeable future us actually being one. Nor do I think dropping borders would make us one people; I think it would make us kill even more of each other than we already do. I’m reasonably utilitarian on this – the fewest people get killed, that’s good with me. I think their way [‘open border’ scholars] would get a lot more people killed than there already are, and there’s a lot. It’s a utopian idea that I like the idea of, but I’m not convinced it works. These divisions appear to be endemic. This might be a bit trite -and an academic would find it trite- but go up to someone you know and like, and who knows and likes you, and put your nose closer and closer [to their face]. At a certain point, that person is uncomfortable with it, with you in their space. That to me is a starting point, extrapolate from that. We need space, and self-identifying groups require space. Religions have tried to make us one, but it hasn’t quite worked, maybe it’s impossible precisely because we’re human. I suppose I am [pro-borders]. I dislike borders, however I think the way humanity is, and always has been structured, they are inevitable. If you try to get rid of that you’re going to open up a horrible can of worms. This is very unfashionable: I think the nation-state is probably the best unit for organising peoples. Without nation-states, of course there wouldn’t be interstate wars, but we’d be back to fiefdoms before you know it. (…) Divided is (…) about walls and divisions and fences going up all over the place. There’s a chapter on the Indian subcontinent, the walls, barriers and internal divisions in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. Then a chapter on the USA, starting on walls and moving to racial divisions. Chapters on Europe, Israel, the Middle East, the UK – Brexit is part of it. That little strip of water called the Channel I think has a huge physical and psychological effect on the British. Without it, we wouldn’t have voted for Brexit, for two reasons. One, psychologically, we would feel less distinct, and secondly because of that our history would be very different: we might well have suffered the shock and trauma of the Second World War to the extent that continental Europe did. I read something just yesterday which struck a chord; the British experience of Hitler was such that we could make him a figure of fun, but the Russian experience was such that they don’t do that, it’s too traumatic. I’m interested in something that I completely disagree with: the open borders movement, which in academia is a ‘thing’. I’ve got a problem with ‘no borders’. There’s a very nice guy who helped me on the book called Professor Reece Jones from the University of Hawaii (author of Violent Borders, 2016). He gave me a few quotes for the book and I really like him, but some of his colleagues in this spectrum argue completely to bring borders down, almost overnight. They don’t factor in what will happen to the politics of the countries. We’ve seen with the movement we’ve had already, what’s happening to the politics of Europe, Austria as an example, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands. Magnify that several times if you have no borders – it’s a utopian view. Tim Marshall
This is a mammoth subject and not just because Donald Trump based much of his success in the US electoral college (if not the US popular vote) by claiming at every opportunity that he would “build that wall”. So Marshall explores how different societies have responded to the changes wrought by our globalised world and how they rise to the challenge of maintaining national identity. Trump’s America, he argues, is “the only major power that can absorb the potential losses of withdrawing from globalisation without seriously endangering itself in the short term”. But Trump’s border wall is a rhetorical device that plays on a fear of other peoples. It is unlikely ever to be built, not least because about two-thirds of southern borderland property and land is in private ownership, but it reassures his core voters. Next Marshall turns his attentions to China, home of the Great Wall, where the state has responded to global upheaval by restricting its citizens’ access to the internet. This is his cue to explore cyber security and “the Great Firewall of China”. As Marshall argues, “internet censorship does restrict China’s economic potential” but that is a price that the Chinese Communist Party is willing to pay to maintain both its power and national unity. Subsequent chapters examine Israel and Palestine where walls are a necessity but they are “containing the violence – for now”. In the wider Middle East, Marshall argues that “ironically, another wall is needed… between religion and politics” if the region is to escape its troubled past. The Indian subcontinent contains the longest border fence in the world which runs for 2,500 miles between India and Bangladesh. But the area is still struggling to cope with mass migration as well as climate change. Seven out of 10 of the world’s most unequal countries are to be found in Africa. Marshall focuses on the legacy of colonialism and influences of globalisation which, he argues, “has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty” while widening the gap “between the rich and not rich”. The final two chapters focus on Europe and the UK with Marshall exploring “the new realities of mass immigration and the moral necessities to take in refugees”. He shows how population pressures have led to the rise of nationalism and the Far-Right. Nonetheless he argues that we still need our nation states because “communities need to be bound together in shared experience”. Walls, Marshall concedes, have their place and we need not necessarily “decry the trend of wall-building… they can also provide temporary and partial alleviation of problems, even as countries work towards more lasting solutions, especially in areas of conflict”. Huston Gilmore
According to Tim Marshall, the fall of the Berlin Wall was the exception rather than the rule. ‘We are seeing walls being built along borders everywhere,’ he writes. The numbers support his argument. Fortified borders have increased from almost zero at the end of WWII to around 70 today, with the vast majority having been built since 2000. The divides continue to steer geopolitics and national identities, and countries appear to be goading each other into more wall building. ‘These are the fault lines that will shape our world for years to come,’ says Marshall. In that sense, President Trump’s campaign border wall seems less a shocking new policy than a repeating pattern. As one of the most high-profile border issues, Marshall devotes an early chapter to the Mexico/US divide and uses it to lay the foundations for what makes hard borders persuasive in popular politics – even if they are ineffective at preventing illegal immigration. Marshall puts it bluntly: ‘they make people who want something to be done feel that something is being done… Ultimately, very few barriers are impenetrable. People are resourceful, and those desperate enough will find a way around.’ Marshall takes us on a tour of some of the most relevant border divides in the world: India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Israel and Palestine border in the West Bank, the new borders across the Middle East and those running across Europe. (…) Where Divided is in its most revelatory, however, is where it looks at borders on an internal level, such as gated communities in South Africa and the US. Here Marshall shows how levels of exclusivity can spiral inward from the international to the regional to the local. ‘The new model of urban and suburban living is designed to be exclusionary: you can only get to the town square if you can get through the security surrounding the town. This lack of interaction may shrink the sense of civic engagement, encourage group-think among those on the inside and lead to a psychological division, with poorer people left feeling like “outsiders”, as though they have been walled off.’ In China, he argues, it is the entire population who are excluded. The ‘Great Firewall’ of China keeps the country’s 700 million users (roughly one-quarter of the world’s online population) excluded from the foreign media, meanwhile, internal firewalls and censorship keep the users from connecting too much with each other. ‘The party particularly fears social media being used to organise like-minded groups who might then gather in public places to demonstrate, which in turn could lead to rioting,’ he writes. Laura Cole
There is now a loose consortium of influential academics, pundits and businesspeople known as “New Optimists” dedicated to promoting the proposition that we are living in the best of times. If they are all correct, how do we explain what looks and feels like the world’s collective descent into chaos over the past decade-and-a-half? The optimists overlook the experience of a substantial mass of humanity for whom the world – even after being purged of the ills of the past centuries and endowed with modern technology – remains a forbidding place. The optimists’ exaltation of modernity is accompanied by the myth that modernity has created benefits for all. (…) The majority are “more divided than ever”, as Tim Marshall, who is a contributor to The National, notes in his new book. (…) Everywhere there is evidence of people retreating into narrow identities. Marshall, unlike the western commentators who rushed to pronounce this the Chinese century, is not sed­uced by the glitz of Shanghai’s skyscrapers. His eye is trained on the human cost of China’s progress: the disparities generated by it, the exodus from village to city, the loss of individual dignity. Beijing is altering the demographics of Buddhist Tibet, which it violently subsumed in the 1950s, and Muslim Xinjiang by flooding them with Han Chinese. It is in Beijing’s ethnic engineering that Marshall espies “the greatest threat to the prospects of long-term prosperity and unity in China”. Looking at India, Marshall contends that the subcontinent has not fully recovered from the invasions of the past millennium. The people on the peripheries continue to be haunted by the division of India to create Pakistan and the subsequent partition of Pakistan to birth Bangladesh. Bengalis in India resent the influx of migrants from Bangladesh because they are mostly Muslim. India has erected state-of-the-art fences on its eastern border. But as vast swathes of Bangladesh are poised to sink into the waters as sea levels rise, where will the climate refugees of the future go? Marshall’s chapter on the European Union is the most powerful. Ever since Britain voted to leave Europe, extraordinary claims have been made for the EU. But if the EU is the nec plus ultra of political co-operation, why did so many people choose to turn away from it? “The EU,” Marshall writes, “has never really succeeded in replacing the nation state in the hearts of most Europeans.” The EU hierarchs’ revulsion for nationalism doesn’t negate the importance many attach to national identity. As Marshall warns in his chapter on Britain, to “dismiss people who enjoyed their relatively homogeneous cultures and who are now unsure of their place in the world merely drives them into the arms of those who would exploit their anxieties – the real bigots”. By magnifying religion and culture as the causes of division, Marshall exposes himself to the charge of advancing a deterministic view of the world. Yet this is where Divided draws its strength from. As Raymond Aron said in response to French intellectuals who sought to blunt Algerian demands for independence with talk of progress under French rule, “it is a denial of the experience of our century to suppose that men will sacrifice their passions to their interests”. Marshall can’t be faulted for identifying the sources of those passions. He has written frankly about the world. We deny this at our own peril. Kapil Komireddi
What kind of a president would build a wall to keep out families dreaming of a better life? It’s a question that has been asked world over, especially after the outrage last week over migrant children at the American border. Donald Trump’s argument, one which his supporters agree with, is that the need to split parents from children at the border strengthens his case for a hardline immigration policy. Failure to patrol the border, he says, encourages tens of thousands to cross it illegally — with heartbreaking results. His opponents think he is guilty, and that his wall is a symbol of America closing in on itself… In fact, building a wall would make Trump the norm, not the exception. Those who denounced as crazy Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall did not appreciate how popular such a policy would be, nor how common. Nation states have started to matter again, and people care about borders — not just on the Texan side of the Rio Grande. Today more than 65 countries now wall or fence themselves off from their neighbours — a third of all nation states. And this is no historical legacy. Of all the border walls and fences constructed since the second world war, more than half have been built this century. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Thirty years ago a wall came down, ushering in what looked like a new era of openness. In 1987 Ronald Reagan went to Berlin and called out to his opposite number in the Soviet Union, ‘Mr. Gorbachev — tear down this wall!’ Two years later it fell. In those heady times some intellectuals predicted an end of history. History had other ideas. (…) At the turn of the century migration sped up and that began to tear down hopes of a borderless world. We’ve grown used to the new barriers that European nations have erected — between Greece and Turkey, for instance, or Serbia and Hungary, or Slovenia and Croatia — but many more are being built. To the east, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are working on defensive fortifications on their borders with Russia. These measures are more to do with a perceived Russian military threat than with mass migration, but they are part of the overall trend — reinforcing the physical boundaries of the nation state — and contribute to the hard border which runs from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Saudi Arabia has fenced off its border with Iraq. Turkey has constructed a 700-mile concrete wall to separate it from Syria. The Iranian/Pakistan border, all 435 miles of it, is now fenced. In Central Asia, Uzbekistan, despite being landlocked, has closed itself off from its five neighbours. On the story goes, through the barriers separating Brunei and Malaysia, Pakistan and India, India and Bangladesh and so on around the world. The India/Bangladesh fence is instructive in showing us how the era of wall-building is not just about people in the developing world moving to the industrialised nations. The barrier runs the entire length of the 2,500-mile frontier and is New Delhi’s response to 15 million Bangladeshis moving into the Indian border states this century. This has led to ethnic clashes and many deaths. Wherever this mass movement of peoples happens at pace it seems to assist a retreat into identity. Almost all recent election results in Europe bear this out. Concurrent is the rise of extremes. Following the Dutch and French elections in 2016, there was an assumption in the media that Europe had halted the rise of the right. This was a complacent attitude at odds with the evidence. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders increased both vote share and parliamentary seats. The French election in particular was used to show that President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘open society’ model was triumphing against the ‘closed society’ model of his opponent Marine Le Pen. However, what Le Pen achieved as to almost double the far-right vote to 34 per cent, compared with when her father (Jean-Marie) stood against President Jacques Chirac in 2002. He won 5.25 million votes; last year 10.6 million voters supported the Front National. Austria’s choice of president, the entry of the AfD into the Bundestag, Hungary’s right-wing landslide and Italy’s new government all point to a rightward direction of travel in European politics. In all cases, concern about mass migration is among the driving forces. Voters are worried and tend to support parties which voice their concerns. This is true of Trump’s presidential victory and public support for his wall. To an extent we are dealing with psychology here. It is not true to say that ‘walls don’t work’ — some do, some don’t — but they do give the psychological impression, via their physicality, that ‘something is being done’. They address concerns about migrant invasions in a way that rhetoric about ‘getting tough’ on immigration does not. (…) The headlines afforded Trump’s ‘anti-immigrant’ stance detract from the bigger picture. It is easier to have the big bad wolf to huff and puff against than it is to see him as part of a global phenomenon. Concentrating on the Donald’s evils allows the Mexican government to quietly get on with deporting far more Central Americans from its country each year than does the United States. Granted, the US assists Mexico in this, but last year Mexico deported 165,000 central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000. The tales of hardship crossings, exploitation and human rights violations on the almost ignored Mexican/Guatemala border are, if anything, more harrowing than those on the border 900 miles to the north. (…) The new wall-building is driven by recent events. The cry ‘tear down this wall’ is losing the argument against ‘fortress mentality’. It is struggling to be heard, unable to compete with the frightening heights of mass migration, the backlash against globalisation, the resurgence of nationalism, the collapse of communism and the 2008 financial crash. On the other hand, our ability to cooperate, to think, and to build, also gives us the capacity to fill the spaces between the walls with hope and to build bridges. However, first must come an acceptance of the situation, and a very open and honest discussion of how we got here. Key to that is the debate on migration and identity and that requires a reaching out across the divides on all sides. Tim Marshall

Pourquoi la gauche irénique ne voit-elle pas que la construction d’un mur fait de Donald Trump la règle plutôt que l’exception parmi les dirigeants du monde ?

A l’heure où de l’électoralisme bien compris des Démocrates américains à l’irénisme intéressé des belles âmes des beaux quartiers du reste du monde …

L’hystérie anti-Trump concernant sa volonté d’un autre âge de terminer, sur la frontière sud de son pays, un mur voté à une large majorité démocrates compris il y a douze ans …
Prend des proportions proprement hystériques …
Refusant de voir à la fois l’origine de l’ouverture effectivement inouïe de notre monde dans l’histoire humaine (le travail de sape d’une révélation biblique nous privant progressivement de nos béquilles sacrificielles)…
Et les conséquences, potentiellement apocalyptiques, d’une telle dissolution des barrières et des interdits (que des traditions millénaires avaient savamment bâtis pour empêcher les humains que nous sommes de s’entretuer) …
Autrement dit, comme nous l’avait enseigné René Girard, que ce ne sont pas les différences mais leur disparition qui génère la pire violence …
D’où la fonction fondamentalement protectrice et l’actuelle demande populaire d’un certain retour, physique ou dentitaire, à certaines formes de barrières …
Petit retour à la réalité avec Tim Marshall …
Qui dans son dernier livre montre en fait …
Que loin d’être la bizarre exception que ses opposants nous présentent …
Le président américain est en réalité la règle parmi les dirigeants mondiaux !

Mass immigration has destroyed hopes of a borderless society

Building a wall makes Donald Trump the rule, not the exception, among world leaders

Tim Marshall
The Spectator
30 June 2018
What kind of a president would build a wall to keep out families dreaming of a better life? It’s a question that has been asked world over, especially after the outrage last week over migrant children at the American border. Donald Trump’s argument, one which his supporters agree with, is that the need to split parents from children at the border strengthens his case for a hardline immigration policy. Failure to patrol the border, he says, encourages tens of thousands to cross it illegally — with heartbreaking results. His opponents think he is guilty, and that his wall is a symbol of America closing in on itself…

In fact, building a wall would make Trump the norm, not the exception. Those who denounced as crazy Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall did not appreciate how popular such a policy would be, nor how common. Nation states have started to matter again, and people care about borders — not just on the Texan side of the Rio Grande. Today more than 65 countries now wall or fence themselves off from their neighbours — a third of all nation states. And this is no historical legacy. Of all the border walls and fences constructed since the second world war, more than half have been built this century.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Thirty years ago a wall came down, ushering in what looked like a new era of openness. In 1987 Ronald Reagan went to Berlin and called out to his opposite number in the Soviet Union, ‘Mr. Gorbachev — tear down this wall!’ Two years later it fell. In those heady times some intellectuals predicted an end of history. History had other ideas.

This does not mean Hillary Clinton was wrong when in 2012 she predicted that in the 21st century ‘nations will be divided not between east and west, or along religious lines, but between open and closed societies’. Still, so far she is not right either.

At the turn of the century migration sped up and that began to tear down hopes of a borderless world. We’ve grown used to the new barriers that European nations have erected — between Greece and Turkey, for instance, or Serbia and Hungary, or Slovenia and Croatia — but many more are being built. To the east, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are working on defensive fortifications on their borders with Russia. These measures are more to do with a perceived Russian military threat than with mass migration, but they are part of the overall trend — reinforcing the physical boundaries of the nation state — and contribute to the hard border which runs from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Saudi Arabia has fenced off its border with Iraq. Turkey has constructed a 700-mile concrete wall to separate it from Syria. The Iranian/Pakistan border, all 435 miles of it, is now fenced. In Central Asia, Uzbekistan, despite being landlocked, has closed itself off from its five neighbours.

On the story goes, through the barriers separating Brunei and Malaysia, Pakistan and India, India and Bangladesh and so on around the world. The India/Bangladesh fence is instructive in showing us how the era of wall-building is not just about people in the developing world moving to the industrialised nations. The barrier runs the entire length of the 2,500-mile frontier and is New Delhi’s response to 15 million Bangladeshis moving into the Indian border states this century. This has led to ethnic clashes and many deaths.

Wherever this mass movement of peoples happens at pace it seems to assist a retreat into identity. Almost all recent election results in Europe bear this out. Concurrent is the rise of extremes.

Following the Dutch and French elections in 2016, there was an assumption in the media that Europe had halted the rise of the right. This was a complacent attitude at odds with the evidence. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders increased both vote share and parliamentary seats. The French election in particular was used to show that President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘open society’ model was triumphing against the ‘closed society’ model of his opponent Marine Le Pen. However, what Le Pen achieved as to almost double the far-right vote to 34 per cent, compared with when her father (Jean-Marie) stood against President Jacques Chirac in 2002. He won 5.25 million votes; last year 10.6 million voters supported the Front National. Austria’s choice of president, the entry of the AfD into the Bundestag, Hungary’s right-wing landslide and Italy’s new government all point to a rightward direction of travel in European politics. In all cases, concern about mass migration is among the driving forces. Voters are worried and tend to support parties which voice their concerns.

This is true of Trump’s presidential victory and public support for his wall. To an extent we are dealing with psychology here. It is not true to say that ‘walls don’t work’ — some do, some don’t — but they do give the psychological impression, via their physicality, that ‘something is being done’. They address concerns about migrant invasions in a way that rhetoric about ‘getting tough’ on immigration does not. Hence, despite the evidence, many Americans appear to believe still that the wall with Mexico will be built and that it will work. This belief ignores the fact that there is a treaty between the two countries in which both agree they will not build on the Rio Grande flood plain, and that despite (somewhat half-hearted) efforts by the President, Congress has not agreed to fund his plan.

The headlines afforded Trump’s ‘anti-immigrant’ stance detract from the bigger picture. It is easier to have the big bad wolf to huff and puff against than it is to see him as part of a global phenomenon. Concentrating on the Donald’s evils allows the Mexican government to quietly get on with deporting far more Central Americans from its country each year than does the United States. Granted, the US assists Mexico in this, but last year Mexico deported 165,000 central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000. The tales of hardship crossings, exploitation and human rights violations on the almost ignored Mexican/Guatemala border are, if anything, more harrowing than those on the border 900 miles to the north.

The walls and fences built this century mirror the divides which have also grown in political discourse and especially on social media. A decade ago Mark Zuckerberg believed social media would unite us all. He now says ‘the world is today more divided than I would have expected for the level of openness and connection that we have’. In some ways he was right — we are more connected and there are many positive aspects to this, but what surprised him is how many of us use that connectedness to abuse the ‘other’. The internet has allowed us to divide into social media tribes howling into a void, an echo chamber or across the divides at each other. This level of abuse has crawled out of the worldwide web and into worldwide politics — Mr Trump being the best-known beneficiary.

The Chinese led the way in great wall- building and are becoming world leaders in using the internet as a wall. We all know of the ‘great firewall of China’, which they call the ‘golden shield’. This is intended to block the outside world from infecting the Middle Kingdom with harmful ideas such as democracy. Less well known are the internal firewalls within China.

Beijing likes to ensure that people in the restless province of Xinjiang, a Turkic-speaking Muslim state, cannot easily converse with those in Tibet. Both have independence movements, and allowing them to form cybernetworks might be detrimental to the unity of the People’s Republic, so they have extra firewalls around them. China is probably the world’s leader in using new technology to build virtual walls. The Russians are the leaders in working inside other countries’ social media to sow division and use disinformation to muddy debate. It used to be argued that the internet would undermine the nation state as citizens of the world simply bypassed governments in a free-flow exchange of ideas and information. Again, this may come true, but it might also be that as the years pass more legislation will be enacted allowing the state to control the net.

We seem to have always divided ourselves one way or another. From the moment we stopped being hunter-gathers about 12,000 years ago, we began to build walls. We ploughed the fields and didn’t scatter. Instead we waited around for the results. More and more of us needed to build barriers: walls and roofs to house ourselves and our livestock, fences to mark our territory, fortresses to retreat to if the territory was overrun. The age of walls was upon us and has gripped our imagination ever since. We still tell stories of the walls of Troy, Constantinople, the Inca in Peru and many others.

The new wall-building is driven by recent events. The cry ‘tear down this wall’ is losing the argument against ‘fortress mentality’. It is struggling to be heard, unable to compete with the frightening heights of mass migration, the backlash against globalisation, the resurgence of nationalism, the collapse of communism and the 2008 financial crash.

On the other hand, our ability to cooperate, to think, and to build, also gives us the capacity to fill the spaces between the walls with hope and to build bridges.

However, first must come an acceptance of the situation, and a very open and honest discussion of how we got here. Key to that is the debate on migration and identity and that requires a reaching out across the divides on all sides.

Tim Marshall is the author of Divided: Why We’re Living In An Age Of Walls, Elliott and Thompson £16.99.

Voir aussi:

Review: ‘Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls’ by Tim Marshall

While Barack Obama once claimed that we are living in ‘the best of times’, many across the world would beg to differ. A perceptive new book unravels the consequences of this pessimistic mood

Kapil Komireddi

The National

March 25, 2018

“If you had to choose a moment in history to be born,” Barack Obama told an audi­ence in Athens during his final overseas visits as president of the United States in November 2016, “you’d choose now”. Obama’s optimism was out of step with his surroundings. Riot police were busy restraining thousands of Greek protesters as Obama proclaimed confidently that the world had never “been wealthier, better educated, healthier, less violent than it is today”.

It is a message amplified by the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker in his books The Better Angels of Our Nature (2015) and Enlightenment Now (2018), and there is now a loose consortium of influential academics, pundits and businesspeople known as “New Optimists” dedicated to promoting the proposition that we are living in the best of times. If they are all correct, how do we explain what looks and feels like the world’s collective descent into chaos over the past decade-and-a-half?

The optimists overlook the experience of a substantial mass of humanity for whom the world – even after being purged of the ills of the past centuries and endowed with modern technology – remains a forbidding place. The optimists’ exaltation of modernity is accompanied by the myth that modernity has created benefits for all. Consider, for instance, the frequently repeated claim by the optimists that we live in the most open age in human history: it presupposes that all humans have access to this open world, when only a relatively small portion do.

The majority are “more divided than ever”, as Tim Marshall, who is a contributor to The National, notes in his new book. The pessimism that leaps from the pages of Divided shouldn’t be mistaken for the author’s attitude. It is, rather, the mood of the world as it stands. In eight chapters on China, the United States, Israel and Palestine, West Asia, India, Africa, Europe and the United Kingdom, Marshall examines the walls – physical, religious, ethnic, psychological – that fence people off or, at times, pen them in.

Everywhere there is evidence of people retreating into narrow identities. Marshall, unlike the western commentators who rushed to pronounce this the Chinese century, is not sed­uced by the glitz of Shanghai’s skyscrapers. His eye is trained on the human cost of China’s progress: the disparities generated by it, the exodus from village to city, the loss of individual dignity. Beijing is altering the demographics of Buddhist Tibet, which it violently subsumed in the 1950s, and Muslim Xinjiang by flooding them with Han Chinese. It is in Beijing’s ethnic engineering that Marshall espies “the greatest threat to the prospects of long-term prosperity and unity in China”.

Looking at India, Marshall contends that the subcontinent has not fully recovered from the invasions of the past millennium. The people on the peripheries continue to be haunted by the division of India to create Pakistan and the subsequent partition of Pakistan to birth Bangladesh. Bengalis in India resent the influx of migrants from Bangladesh because they are mostly Muslim. India has erected state-of-the-art fences on its eastern border. But as vast swathes of Bangladesh are poised to sink into the waters as sea levels rise, where will the climate refugees of the future go?

Marshall’s chapter on the European Union is the most powerful. Ever since Britain voted to leave Europe, extraordinary claims have been made for the EU. But if the EU is the ne plus ultra of political co-operation, why did so many people choose to turn away from it? “The EU,” Marshall writes, “has never really succeeded in replacing the nation state in the hearts of most Europeans.”

The EU hierarchs’ revulsion for nationalism doesn’t negate the importance many attach to national identity. As Marshall warns in his chapter on Britain, to “dismiss people who enjoyed their relatively homogeneous cultures and who are now unsure of their place in the world merely drives them into the arms of those who would exploit their anxieties – the real bigots”.

By magnifying religion and culture as the causes of division, Marshall exposes himself to the charge of advancing a deterministic view of the world. Yet this is where Divided draws its strength from. As Raymond Aron said in response to French intellectuals who sought to blunt Algerian demands for independence with talk of progress under French rule, “it is a denial of the experience of our century to suppose that men will sacrifice their passions to their interests”. Marshall can’t be faulted for identifying the sources of those passions. He has written frankly about the world. We deny this at our own peril.

Voir également:

  • Laura Cole
  • Geographical
16 May 2018
by Tim Marshall • Elliott & Thompson • £16.99 (hardback)

According to Tim Marshall, the fall of the Berlin Wall was the exception rather than the rule. ‘We are seeing walls being built along borders everywhere,’ he writes.

The numbers support his argument. Fortified borders have increased from almost zero at the end of WWII to around 70 today, with the vast majority having been built since 2000. The divides continue to steer geopolitics and national identities, and countries appear to be goading each other into more wall building. ‘These are the fault lines that will shape our world for years to come,’ says Marshall.

In that sense, President Trump’s campaign border wall seems less a shocking new policy than a repeating pattern. As one of the most high-profile border issues, Marshall devotes an early chapter to the Mexico/US divide and uses it to lay the foundations for what makes hard borders persuasive in popular politics – even if they are ineffective at preventing illegal immigration. Marshall puts it bluntly: ‘they make people who want something to be done feel that something is being done… Ultimately, very few barriers are impenetrable. People are resourceful, and those desperate enough will find a way around.’

Marshall takes us on a tour of some of the most relevant border divides in the world: India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Israel and Palestine border in the West Bank, the new borders across the Middle East and those running across Europe. The effectiveness of barriers are explored but more important to the author is the desire for divide – ‘us and them thinking’ – and where it gets us in the 21st century.

Readers of Prisoners of Geography, Marshall’s previous work, will be familiar with his global sweep explained through history and geography. Occasionally, his strokes are too broad. For example, only a single chapter is given to the whole continent of Africa, which suffers for it.

Where Divided is in its most revelatory, however, is where it looks at borders on an internal level, such as gated communities in South Africa and the US. Here Marshall shows how levels of exclusivity can spiral inward from the international to the regional to the local. ‘The new model of urban and suburban living is designed to be exclusionary: you can only get to the town square if you can get through the security surrounding the town. This lack of interaction may shrink the sense of civic engagement, encourage group-think among those on the inside and lead to a psychological division, with poorer people left feeling like “outsiders”, as though they have been walled off.’

In China, he argues, it is the entire population who are excluded. The ‘Great Firewall’ of China keeps the country’s 700 million users (roughly one-quarter of the world’s online population) excluded from the foreign media, meanwhile, internal firewalls and censorship keep the users from connecting too much with each other. ‘The party particularly fears social media being used to organise like-minded groups who might then gather in public places to demonstrate, which in turn could lead to rioting,’ he writes.

Divided also shines a light on the future of borders. ‘The technology becomes more sophisticated each year,’ Marshall warns. ‘The barriers along the majority of the thousands of miles of frontiers are now being built higher and wider and are becoming more technologically sophisticated… such barriers don’t stop people from attempting to cross anyway – many don’t have any other choice but to try – and increasingly violent policing of borders can lead to terrible human consequences.’ With border deaths at the highest numbers in history, it begs the question, what will more efficient borders – utilising drones, motion sensors and higher walls – mean to the people near to them?

Answers are where Divided leaves us hanging. Perhaps this is because of the global scope of the book – there is probably no one-size-fits-all solution to the wall-building spree – but also because of the tricky nature of barriers themselves. Walls can prevent violence, but they can cause it too. Having heard, however, about some of the most entrenched borders in the world, the reader has a natural appetite for solutions to remove them, or at least to stem the rate of barriers rising elsewhere. Something Marshall is surprisingly on the fence about.

Voir de même:

Divided by Tim Marshall — to the barricades

Samanth Subramanian

The Financial Times

March 16, 2018

We live in a time of openness, globalisation — and walls. A study of the world’s fraught borderlands seeks to explain why

Of all the walls ever raised, my favourite remains the Indian Salt Hedge, built not of stone — or indeed of salt — but of the thorniest vegetation India could provide. The British, always avid about their gardening, tended to the hedge from the 1840s to 1879, using it to cramp the smuggling of untaxed salt. At its most prosperous, the hedge was 12 feet high and 14 feet thick, jagging for 2,500 miles from India’s left hipbone to right shoulder. It was, like all such barriers, a geopolitical form of Freudian repression. The salt tax was both unfair and unwise, and the British had little moral right to impose it, but they ignored these troublesome truths by walling them away.

Time sheared down the Indian Salt Hedge. Most of the walls we’ve built have crumbled, yet we keep putting up new ones, as if panicked that the planet will run out. By early February, the Berlin Wall had been down longer than it was up, and Europe might have commended itself if so many of its countries hadn’t been busily fencing each other off. We inhabit an age of walls, the journalist Tim Marshall observes in Divided. Half of all border barriers erected around the world since 1945 have appeared in this century. “Within a few years, the European nations could have more miles of walls, fences and barriers on their borders than there were at the height of the Cold War.” We seem to loathe each other more than at any point in living memory — a rebuke both to the evangelists for unfettered globalisation and to the techno-optimists who find so much to cheer in our time.

Any reader of Prisoners of Geography, Marshall’s 2015 bestseller, will recognise his approach here. He first lights upon an indisputable thesis: that the destiny of nations is hewn by their geography, or that humans are dividing themselves from each other. Then he tours the map with that thesis, describing how it applies in as many countries as possible. The tour in Divided is, unfortunately, figurative. Marshall has reported from dozens of countries, often when they were passing through moments of howling drama, but few of those tales filter in. Instead, the case studies seem to draw more on dry policy journals and faraway newspapers than his own first-hand observation.

Marshall opens each of his eight geographically demarcated chapters by discussing a barrier: the Great Wall of China; the Moroccan Wall, a berm of sand slaloming though Western Sahara; the double-layered fence separating India from Bangladesh; the slices of concrete between Israel and the West Bank. These barriers are only physical manifestations of deeper disunities, though, and our world is rife with these.

In China, invisible fissures set apart rural people from urban, the Han from other ethnicities, and older generations from younger. These are new tears in the fabric, wrought by the way China has changed over the past half-century. Elsewhere, Marshall subscribes to the much-derided notion of ancient hatreds, animosities that have boiled forever. The theory suggests that people — usually in the developing world — cleave to a one-dimensional identity, defending it with atavistic violence. Marshall decides that in Africa, the faultlines are tribal, and in the Middle East, they’re religious. He will yield only a minor role for poverty and poor education: “Neither factor can be ignored; however, too much importance is attached to them.” He limits the pernicious effects of colonialism merely to thoughtlessly drawn borders, a final act of haste before the European powers vacated the premises.

The most-deliberated wall over the past year is one that doesn’t yet exist. Donald Trump’s proposed blockade of the US-Mexico border is a ruse, a kneading of white anxieties about the economic and demographic transitions eddying around the country. The older rupture of racism has yet to be sealed. “In this febrile atmosphere Trump’s rhetoric about the wall plays on historical and new divisions within the nation, speaking of a narrow definition of ‘American’,” Marshall writes.

A giant paradox undergirds Marshall’s book, but he never quite looks it in the eye. Why is our age of walls also the most open age in humanity’s history? Why is the march of globalisation now being kept company by re-activated nationalisms? Divided exhibits a deterministic streak that feels wearying and shallow in the face of such questions. The world being what it is, states have no choice but to act in certain ways. To draw borders and defend them is simply “human nature”, he writes in his conclusion. That must mean that every age — and not just this one — is an age of walls. It must also mean, unhappily, that as long as we’re human, this is what we will be: wall-builders, fence-erectors, architects of schisms between ourselves and the rest of our species.

Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls, by Tim Marshall, Elliott & Thompson, RRP£16.99, 272 pages Samanth Subramanian is author of ‘This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War’ (Atlantic)

Voir de plus:

Divided review: A readable primer on the world’s biggest problems
The world is divided by more physical walls than at any time since the Second World War. And, according to this informative and timely account of division in the 21st century, written by the author of the bestselling Prisoners Of Geography, these “physical divisions are mirrored by those in the mind”.
Huston Gilmore
The Express
Mar 9, 2018This is a mammoth subject and not just because Donald Trump based much of his success in the US electoral college (if not the US popular vote) by claiming at every opportunity that he would “build that wall”.So Marshall explores how different societies have responded to the changes wrought by our globalised world and how they rise to the challenge of maintaining national identity.Trump’s America, he argues, is “the only major power that can absorb the potential losses of withdrawing from globalisation without seriously endangering itself in the short term”.But Trump’s border wall is a rhetorical device that plays on a fear of other peoples. It is unlikely ever to be built, not least because about two-thirds of southern borderland property and land is in private ownership, but it reassures his core voters.Next Marshall turns his attentions to China, home of the Great Wall, where the state has responded to global upheaval by restricting its citizens’ access to the internet.This is his cue to explore cyber security and “the Great Firewall of China”. As Marshall argues, “internet censorship does restrict China’s economic potential” but that is a price that the Chinese Communist Party is willing to pay to maintain both its power and national unity.Subsequent chapters examine Israel and Palestine where walls are a necessity but they are “containing the violence – for now”.In the wider Middle East, Marshall argues that “ironically, another wall is needed… between religion and politics” if the region is to escape its troubled past.The Indian subcontinent contains the longest border fence in the world which runs for 2,500 miles between India and Bangladesh.

But the area is still struggling to cope with mass migration as well as climate change.

Seven out of 10 of the world’s most unequal countries are to be found in Africa. Marshall focuses on the legacy of colonialism and influences of globalisation which, he argues, “has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty” while widening the gap “between the rich and not rich”.

The final two chapters focus on Europe and the UK with Marshall exploring “the new realities of mass immigration and the moral necessities to take in refugees”.

He shows how population pressures have led to the rise of nationalism and the Far-Right. Nonetheless he argues that we still need our nation states because “communities need to be bound together in shared experience”.

Walls, Marshall concedes, have their place and we need not necessarily “decry the trend of wall-building… they can also provide temporary and partial alleviation of problems, even as countries work towards more lasting solutions, especially in areas of conflict”.

The book closes with suggested solutions to the world’s problems, including “a 21st-century Marshall Plan for the developing world to harness the riches of the G20 group of nations in a global redistribution of wealth”.

Some of these ideas are intriguing but Marshall barely gives them room to breathe and his conclusion feels rushed.

However he has delivered a readable primer to many of the biggest problems facing the world.

Voir encore:

INTERVIEW: Tim Marshall

Geopolitics, territory and security

19th December 2017

Tim Marshall is the author of Prisoners of Geography (2015), a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. Originally from Yorkshire, Marshall started his career in journalism in London at LBC and the BBC, and then spent three years as IRN’s correspondent in Paris. Marshall then joined Sky News, as a Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem and later as Diplomatic Editor, covering twelve wars and three US presidential elections. He has written for several national newspapers, including the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times, and frequently appears as a guest commentator on global events for the BBC and Sky News. In 2016, Marshall published Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags. The next title in Marshall’s geographical trilogy, Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls, is due to be released in March 2018.

As you mentioned in a recent talk organised by the Diplomacy Society at King’s College London, you left school at 16 and went straight into the world of work. How did you start your career as a journalist?

Tim Marshall: “I’d wanted to be a journalist since I was about 11, but it just wasn’t on the radar. I left school at 16, I was a painter and decorator. I always read a lot, and had always been interested in history, [but] it just wasn’t on the cards. So I joined up and when I was in the Forces, I went to night school and got myself a couple of O-levels. On the strength of two O-levels, I then got into a college of higher education and did a degree in American Politics and History. And then I was unemployed in London, and took a French conversation course at night school in the Ken Livingstone era  -when things were free- and I met the newsdesk assistant at IRN and LBC. I gave her a very badly typed CV, probably full of mistakes, which would have gone in the bin if I’d sent it in the post. But because it was by hand, to the woman in charge of the research department at LBC, she gave me a chance. She got me in for an interview and gave me three days’ work which turned into 30 years.”

Did your military experience affect how you reported from the war zone? What is it like to report on conflicts at the frontline?

TM: “I was a telegraphist in the RAF, a radio operator. I thought, ‘I’ve seen that in the films, I’ll do that’. And I did for four years, at Strike Command and later in what was then West Germany. It got me out of my environment. It definitely gave me a discipline I didn’t have – if you want to get something done, do it. It gave me an understanding of military life, which became very useful down the line when I had to work a lot in military situations in Northern Ireland, Gaza/West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Libya, Tunisia, Syria…

I don’t really tell war stories because I would go for a couple of weeks and then go home. But people there would live it. However, there were several extremely close situations, one of which, following the death of a colleague, persuaded me I was going to pack it in and not do it any more. I thought, ‘I’m running out of luck here’. I know about twelve colleagues that have been killed over the years, and the last one was a friend, Micky Deane, and shortly after that (he was killed in Cairo), I had a narrow escape in Syria, and I thought, ‘I’ve had enough of this’.”

What inspired you to write Prisoners of Geography, and to produce a trilogy of ‘popular geography’ books?

TM: “I learnt early on in Bosnia, to understand the terrain in order to understand the story. There’s two things often, even in conflict zones, that some journalists don’t do. One is understanding religion, I mean really understand it. When all this started [the Arab uprisings] there was a whole generation of journalists who because they come from a secular society, thought religion was not a major factor. I think they found it hard to believe that these people actually do believe what they say, whereas I always knew to take them at their word. They believe this stuff, which is their right. I think some people just couldn’t bring themselves to believe people believe this in the 21st century. The other one is terrain. I was also influenced (and I acknowledge it) by Robert Kaplan’s Revenge of Geography. So I took all these ideas that have been swirling around for so long and packed in work to write.

Then we start talking about identity, about national symbols and the emotional buttons they press [see Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags, 2016]. In all my travels, I would always ask, “Who is that statue of? Why is your flag the colour it is?”. You would learn the emotional buttons that are pushed in populations. I do see my latest three books as a trilogy because it all comes together. This last one I wanted to call Us and Them, but that’s been done, so Divided is the title. It’s realistic but depressing stuff, but I do think it’s a fair reflection of where we are, and I think slowly dawning on the Western peoples is the realisation that advancement is not a given. Progression is not a given.”

The theory behind Prisoners of Geography is deterministic, would you agree?

TM: “It is somewhat deterministic in that yes, these things do, partially determine what happens, but that’s the key word, partially. I’ve had a great response to it, half a million sales, and some very nice reviews. Where it has been criticised, is that it is “too deterministic”. I think that ignores the six or seven times I say in the book, ‘this is a determining factor, not the determining factor’. There is obviously ideas, technology, politics, great leaders. All this stuff goes into make up [international politics], but the one that is overlooked is [physical] geography. That is precisely because intellectuals have a problem with anything deterministic because it is something beyond their control.

The new book features a lot on borders. The ‘Open Borders’ theory is right in its idea of oneness, which I happen to agree with, we are one. However, for a whole bunch of reasons, including geography, we are divided from each other. That includes rivers, oceans and mountains, which have divided us from each other and made us different from each other, to the extent I would argue that I cannot see, in the foreseeable future us actually being one. Nor do I think dropping borders would make us one people; I think it would make us kill even more of each other than we already do. I’m reasonably utilitarian on this – the fewest people get killed, that’s good with me. I think their way [‘open border’ scholars] would get a lot more people killed than there already are, and there’s a lot. It’s a utopian idea that I like the idea of, but I’m not convinced it works.

These divisions appear to be endemic. This might be a bit trite -and an academic would find it trite- but go up to someone you know and like, and who knows and likes you, and put your nose closer and closer [to their face]. At a certain point, that person is uncomfortable with it, with you in their space. That to me is a starting point, extrapolate from that. We need space, and self-identifying groups require space. Religions have tried to make us one, but it hasn’t quite worked, maybe it’s impossible precisely because we’re human. I suppose I am [pro-borders]. I dislike borders, however I think the way humanity is, and always has been structured, they are inevitable. If you try to get rid of that you’re going to open up a horrible can of worms. This is very unfashionable: I think the nation-state is probably the best unit for organising peoples. Without nation-states, of course there wouldn’t be interstate wars, but we’d be back to fiefdoms before you know it.”

Have you got any particularly memorable border experiences?

TM: “Going through to Gaza is quite an intense experience. You go past a massive wall, and through two or threecheckpoints. You’re all by yourself in this empty echoing steel and concrete corridor, and there’s cameras everywhere. Suddenly you hear a click, and the door swings open. It’s like a dystopian sci-fi film. The door swings open and you’re now in Gaza. You walk down another 200 yards of corridor and then out into the open but its scrubland, no-mans-land. Another 600 yards and then you meet a Hamas checkpoint. It’s just this weird, cold experience.

Crossing from Tajikistan into Afghanistan, was pretty interesting. A Russian soldier aimed his rifle through our truck window because we were getting impatient to go through the border fence. Then, when we got across, there was a river. It was pitch-black and we went across on a raft with all our kit, with an exchange of mortars going on around us. Then the Northern Alliance were on the other side of the Tajikistan river to greet us. That was intense. Crossing borders is always fun.

Iraq – when we used to go during the Saddam years, they hit upon this great money-making thing at the border with Jordan. You had a choice. They [Iraqi border patrol] would get out this huge rusty knitting needle with a syringe on the end of it and say, “You can have your AIDS test”, and we would say, “Ah, maybe there’s a facility fee, a special tax we can pay?”. So you’d pay $50 and not get jabbed in the backside with this thing. It’s just a money-making thing. Another one, you can leave a bottle of whiskey on the dashboard while they check the car. Then when you come back it wasn’t there anymore. Ok, it’s corruption, but you weren’t getting into Iraq without it – and that was more important.”

What is your next book about?

TM: “Divided is coming out in March; it’s about walls and divisions and fences going up all over the place. There’s a chapter on the Indian subcontinent, the walls, barriers and internal divisions in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. Then a chapter on the USA, starting on walls and moving to racial divisions. Chapters on Europe, Israel, the Middle East, the UK – Brexit is part of it. That little strip of water called the Channel I think has a huge physical and psychological effect on the British. Without it, we wouldn’t have voted for Brexit, for two reasons. One, psychologically, we would feel less distinct, and secondly because of that our history would be very different: we might well have suffered the shock and trauma of the Second World War to the extent that continental Europe did. I read something just yesterday which struck a chord; the British experience of Hitler was such that we could make him a figure of fun, but the Russian experience was such that they don’t do that, it’s too traumatic.

I’m interested in something that I completely disagree with: the open borders movement, which in academia is a ‘thing’. I’ve got a problem with ‘no borders’. There’s a very nice guy who helped me on the book called Professor Reece Jones from the University of Hawaii (author of Violent Borders, 2016). He gave me a few quotes for the book and I really like him, but some of his colleagues in this spectrumargue completely to bring borders down, almost overnight. They don’t factor in what will happen to the politics of the countries. We’ve seen with the movement we’ve had already, what’s happening to the politics of Europe, Austria as an example, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands. Magnify that several times if you have no borders – it’s a utopian view.”

Prisoners of Geography and Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags are available here. Marshall’s next book, Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls, is due to be published by Elliott & Thompson in March 2018. Check out Marshall’s foreign affairs website The What and the Why for more information and geopolitical analysis.

Voir par ailleurs:

It Was Always about the Wall
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review
December 20, 2018

A high wall would end the border patrol’s reliance on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers throwing stones. There was likely never going to be “comprehensive immigration reform” or any deal amnestying the DACA recipients in exchange for building the wall. Democrats in the present political landscape will not consent to a wall. For them, a successful border wall is now considered bad politics in almost every manner imaginable.

Yet 12 years ago, Congress, with broad bipartisan support, passed the Secure Fence of Act of 2006. The bill was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush to overwhelming public applause. The stopgap legislation led to some 650 miles of a mostly inexpensive steel fence while still leaving about two-thirds of the 1,950-mile border unfenced.

In those days there were not, as now, nearly 50 million foreign-born immigrants living in the United States, perhaps nearly 15 million of them illegally.

Sheer numbers have radically changed electoral politics. Take California. One out of every four residents in California is foreign-born. Not since 2006 has any California Republican been elected to statewide office.

The solidly blue states of the American Southwest, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, voted red as recently as 2004 for George W. Bush. Progressives understandably conclude that de facto open borders are good long-term politics.

Once upon a time, Democrats such as Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama talked tough about illegal immigration. They even ruled out amnesty while talking up a new border wall.

In those days, progressives saw illegal immigration as illiberal — or at least not as a winning proposition among union households and the working poor.

Democratic constituencies opposed importing inexpensive foreign labor for corporate bosses. Welfare rights groups believed that massive illegal immigration would swamp social services and curtail government help to American poor of the barrios and the inner city.

So, what happened? Again, numbers.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have flocked into the United States over the last decade. In addition, the Obama administration discouraged the melting-pot assimilationist model of integrating only legal immigrants.

Salad-bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism and large numbers of unassimilated immigrants added up to politically advantageous demography for Democrats in the long run.

In contrast, a wall would likely reduce illegal immigration dramatically and with it future Democratic constituents. Legal, meritocratic, measured and diverse immigration in its place would likely end up being politically neutral. And without fresh waves of undocumented immigrants from south of the border, identity politics would wane.

A wall also would radically change the optics of illegal immigration. Currently, in unsecured border areas, armed border patrol guards sometimes stand behind barbed wire. Without a wall, they are forced to rely on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers. They are easy targets for stone-throwers on the Mexican side of the border.

A high wall would end that. Border guards would be mostly invisible from the Mexican side of the wall. Barbed wire, dogs and tear gas astride the border — the ingredients for media sensationalism — would be unnecessary. Instead, footage of would-be border crossers trying to climb 30-foot walls would emphasize the degree to which some are callously breaking the law.

Such imagery would remind the world that undocumented immigrants are not always noble victims but often selfish young adult males who have little regard for the millions of aspiring immigrants who wait patiently in line and follow the rules to enter the United State lawfully.

More importantly, thousands of undocumented immigrants cross miles of dangerous, unguarded borderlands each year to walk for days in the desert. Often, they fall prey to dangers ranging from cartel gangs to dehydration.

Usually, the United States is somehow blamed for their plight, even though a few years ago the Mexican government issued a comic book with instructions on how citizens could most effectively break U.S. law and cross the border.

The wall would make illegal crossings almost impossible, saving lives.

Latin American governments and Democratic operatives assume that lax border enforcement facilitates the outflow of billions of dollars in remittances sent south of the border and helps flip red states blue.

All prior efforts to ensure border security — sanctions against employers, threats to cut off foreign aid to Mexico and Central America, and talk of tamper-proof identity cards — have failed.

Instead, amnesties, expanded entitlements and hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions offer incentives for waves of undocumented immigrants.

The reason a secure border wall has not been — and may not be — built is not apprehension that it would not work, but rather real fear that it would work only too well.

Voir encore:

The Immorality of Illegal Immigration
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review
December 31, 2018

New House majority leader Nancy Pelosi reportedly spent the holidays at the Fairmont Orchid on Kona, contemplating future climate-change legislation and still adamant in opposing the supposed vanity border wall.

But in a very different real world from the Fairmont Orchid or Pacific Heights, other people each day deal with the results of open borders and sanctuary jurisdictions. The results are often nihilistic and horrific. Here in California’s Central Valley over the holidays we were reminded of the wages of illegal immigration in general — and of California’s sanctuary-city laws in particular, which restrict formal cooperation between local and state law enforcement with federal immigration authorities in matters of deporting illegal aliens under detention.

In the first case, one Gustavo Garcia, a previously deported 36-year-old illegal alien, murdered a 51-year-old Visalia resident on December 17, gratuitously shooting his random victim, Rocky Jones, at a gas station. He apparently had been arrested two days prior and released.

Garcia entered the U.S. illegally in 1998 and was deported for a second time in 2014. He has been charged with at least three immigration violations since illegally returning to the U.S., and has been a convicted felon since at least 2002 for assaults with a deadly weapon, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of a controlled substance, etc. In addition to the murder of Jones, Garcia shot a farmworker who was on a ladder working, and followed a woman to her car at a Motel 6 and shot her too. At the beginning of his violent spree, he seems also to have murdered Rolando Soto, 38, of nearby Lindsay.

Indeed, Garcia was a suspect in a number of prior shootings and thefts. During his final rampage, inter alia, Garcia tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend, then stole a truck from farmworkers and led police on a chase, deliberately veering into opposing traffic, and by intent injuring four more innocents, one critically. During the chase, he fired on police, who returned fire, before Garcia finally wrecked the stolen vehicle and perished in the crash.

The local sheriff of Tulare County, in understated fashion, labeled Garcia’s violent spasm of shootings and car wrecks a “reign of terror.” Garcia had an accomplice who is still at large.

Local law enforcement blamed state sanctuary restrictions on their inability to notify ICE that the felonious illegal alien Garcia was about to be released among the general public. Or as the sheriff put it, “Gustavo Garcia would have been turned over to ICE officials. That’s how we’ve always done it, day in and day out. But after SB 54, we no longer have the power to do that. Under the new state law, we must have a ‘federally signed warrant’ in order to do that. We didn’t honor the detainer because state law doesn’t allow us to.”

Less than two weeks later, there was yet another example of Central Valley illegal-immigration mayhem. To the north in Newman, another twice-deported illegal alien, Gustavo Perez Arriaga (he apparently had a number of aliases), stands accused of shooting and killing Newman policeman Ronil Singh, who pulled him over on suspicion of drunk driving (Arriaga also had two prior DUIs).

Arriaga fled after murdering Officer Singh and evaded law enforcement for a few days thanks to at least seven enablers (brothers, girlfriend, friends, etc.), some of them confirmed also to be illegal aliens.  They either gave police officials false information about Arriaga’s whereabouts or helped him on his planned flight to Mexico, finally aborted 200 miles to the south near Bakersfield.

The suspect’s brother, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and a co-worker, 32-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, were arrested on “accessory after the fact” charges for attempting to protect Arriaga. Authorities report both men are also in the country illegally. Arriaga was at large for five days, also in part because he had so many fake identities and aliases that no one knew really who he was.

Stanislaus County sheriff Adam Christianson noted that SB54 prevents departments “from sharing any information with ICE about this criminal gang member.” He added, “this is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE.” Christianson finished, “Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh. I’m suggesting that the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited or had their hands tied because of political interference.”

These incidents, and less violent ones like them, are not all that rare in rural California. The narratives are tragically similar and hinge on our society’s assumptions of tolerance and its belief that entering and residing illegally in the United States are not really crimes. Fraudulent identification and fake names are not really felonious behaviors. Driving under the influence is no reason for deportation — all crimes that can ruin careers and have expensive consequences for citizens. Statisticians argue that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native born, but never quite calibrate illegal immigrants into the equation (in part because no one has any idea who, where, or how many they are, as estimates range from 11 to 20 million) or note that second-generation native-born children of immigrants have much higher violent-crime rates than do their immigrant parents, and in circular fashion add to the general pool of violent Americans who then are used to contrast immigrants as less violent.

We should redefine the entire morality of multifaceted illegal immigration.

Immorality is undermining, in Confederate fashion, federal law, and normalizing exemptions that allow felons such as Garcia and Arriaga to wreak havoc on the innocent and defenseless. Too often the architects of open borders and sanctuary jurisdictions are not on the front lines where the vulnerable suffer the all-too-real consequences of distant others, who can rely on their own far greater safety nets when their grand abstractions become all too concrete.

And, finally, we forget that so often the victims of illegal aliens are (in California where one in four residents was not born in the U.S.) legal immigrants like officer Singh, and members of the Hispanic community like the late Mr. Soto. Polls show that support for open borders is not popular and most Americans want an end to illegal immigration and catch and release, as well as stricter enforcement of current federal immigration laws.

(I took a break from writing this on a Sunday afternoon to talk about the volatile Central Valley landscape with an immigrant from India, whose stolen and stripped spray rig I discovered last night in our orchard.)

Voir enfin:

Etats-Unis : pourquoi Donald Trump tient tant à son mur

Le président américain Donald Trump a menacé de fermer la frontière entre les Etats-Unis et le Mexique si les démocrates du Congrès n’acceptaient pas de financer la construction d’un mur.

  • Alexis Boisselier

Donald Trump n’en finit plus de s’agacer à propos de la construction de son mur à la frontière mexicaine. Ce vendredi, il a menacé de fermer la frontière entre les Etats-Unis et le Mexique si les démocrates du Congrès n’acceptaient pas de financer la construction d’un mur. « Nous allons être contraints de fermer la Frontière Sud complètement si les Démocrates Obstructionnistes ne nous donnent pas l’argent pour terminer le mur », a tweeté le président américain en leur demandant également de « changer les ridicules lois sur l’immigration dont notre pays est affublé ».

Le milliardaire a ensuite dit qu’il considérerait une telle fermeture comme une « opération rentable », arguant du fait que « les Etats-Unis perdent tellement d’argent en faisant du commerce avec le Mexique avec l’Aléna ». Poursuivant une série de tweets, il a réitéré sa menace plusieurs fois : « Nous construisons un mur ou fermons la Frontière Sud. »

« Shutdown » prolongé

Un sujet qui a déjà provoqué un « shutdown » depuis une semaine, soit la paralysie partielle des administrations fédérales et qui a mis des centaines de milliers de fonctionnaires au chômage forcé. Tant que républicains et démocrates ne trouveront pas d’accord au Congrès, les financements de 25% des ministères et administrations fédérales resteront suspendus.

Jeudi, les négociations ont encore échoué. Le président républicain exige cinq milliards de dollars pour construire le mur tandis que les démocrates refusent de le financer, mais ont proposé une enveloppe de plus d’un milliard pour d’autres mesures de sécurité à la frontière. Les républicains sont majoritaires au Congrès, mais avec 51 sièges au Sénat, ils ont besoin de soutiens démocrates pour atteindre les 60 voix sur 100 nécessaires afin d’approuver le Budget.

Mesure symbolique

Mais si la question cristallise autant, c’est que la mesure est symbolique de la présidence de Donald Trump. Lors la campagne, le milliardaire a construit sa popularité à coup de propositions chocs et fait de la lutte contre l’immigration l’une de ses priorités. « Je vais construire un grand mur sur notre frontière sud, et le Mexique paiera pour le construire. Prenez-en bien note », avait-il alors promis.

Une promesse déjà bien entamée par le refus mexicain de financer la construction du mur. Le président américain a été contraint d’admettre que les Etats-Unis allaient lancer le projet avant même d’avoir l’assurance du financement mexicain. En août 2017, la publication d’une retranscription d’une conversation téléphonique entre les présidents américain et mexicain révélait que Donald Trump considérait le mur comme un coup politique. « C’est la chose la plus futile dont nous parlons, mais politiquement, c’est la plus importante », aurait-il dit à son homologue.

Selon un sondage de Politico, la base électorale du président américain est, en effet, très attachée à cette proposition. 78% des électeurs de Trump en 2016 considèrent qu’il s’agit d’un projet important (25%) voire prioritaire (53%) au cours de son mandat.

Le Mexique ne veut pas payer

Fin mai, le président de l’époque, Enrique Peña Nieto, a pourtant conclu le débat sur Twitter en promettant que « le Mexique ne paiera jamais pour un mur. Pas aujourd’hui, jamais ». Une position de laquelle n’a pas dévié son successeur Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador et qui a poussé Donald Trump à évoluer légèrement sur la question.

« Le Mexique devra payer pour cela, en remboursant ou de toute autre manière », a-t-il déclaré fin août. Par cette déclaration, Donald Trump mettait la pression sur le Mexique pour renégocier l’Accord de libre-échange nord-américain (Aléna) qui lie les Etats-Unis au Canada et au Mexique. Un traité que le président américain critique régulièrement. Si un nouvel accord a été signé en novembre, il n’a pas encore été ratifié.

Le temps court pour les démocrates

Mais en attendant, Donald Trump doit trouver des financements. En totalité, l’ouvrage devrait coûter entre 22 à 25 milliards de dollars. Faute d’accord de compromis et dans un hémicycle quasi désert, le Sénat a décidé jeudi à l’unanimité d’ajourner la séance jusqu’à lundi 10h et de ne reprendre l’examen d’une loi budgétaire que mercredi 2 janvier, à partir de 16h. Or, à chaque jour qui passe, la position des démocrates se renforce. Ils prendront le contrôle de la Chambre des représentants dès le 3 janvier, tandis que les républicains auront une majorité renforcée au Sénat (53).

Il est donc fort probable que Donald Trump soit obligé de faire des concessions, ce que le président américain ne semble pour l’instant pas prêt à faire. Le gouvernement restera paralysé jusqu’à « ce que nous ayons un mur, une barrière, peu importe comment ils veulent l’appeler », avait ainsi déclaré Donald Trump le 25 décembre.

Voir par ailleurs:

« They voted for (a border wall) in 2006. Then-Senator Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it. »

Mick Mulvaney on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 in a segment on « Fox News Sunday »

Fact-check: Did top Democrats vote for a border wall in 2006?

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he doesn’t understand Democratic opposition to funding the border wall because top Democrats voted for it just over 10 years ago.

During an April 23 segment on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney talked down concerns about a government shutdown, but scolded Democrats for obstructing action on Trump’s border wall. Mulvaney pointed to the voting record of top Democrats in 2006 to explain his confusion.

« We want our priorities funded and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security, keeping Americans safe, and part of that was a border wall, » he said.

« We still don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. They voted for it in 2006. Then-Sen. Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it. So we don’t understand why Democrats are now playing politics just because Donald Trump is in office. »

Mulvaney is referencing their votes on an act that authorized a fence, but as we’ve noted several times in the past, the 2006 fence was less ambitious than the wall Trump is proposing.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006

The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, authorized about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of land between the border of the United States and Mexico.

The act also authorized the use of more vehicle barriers, checkpoints and lighting to curb illegal immigration, and the use of advanced technology such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.

At the time the act was being considered, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were all members of the Senate. (Schumer of New York is now the Senate minority leader.)

Obama, Clinton, Schumer and 23 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the act when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19.

Originally, the act called on the Department of Homeland Security to install at least two layers of reinforced fencing along some stretches of the border. That was amended later, however, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, which got rid of the double-layer requirement.

Currently, 702 miles of fencing separates the United States from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

So how does that compare to Trump’s wall?

Trump plans for the wall are vague, but here’s what we know.

He said the wall doesn’t need to run the nearly 2,000 miles of the border, but about 1,000 miles because of natural barriers. He said it could cost between $8 billion and $12 billion, be made of precast concrete, and rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher.

Experts have repeatedly told PolitiFact that the differences in semantics between a wall and a fence are not too significant because both block people.

Still, there are obvious differences between the fence and Trump’s wall proposal.

A 2016 Associated Press report from the border described « rust-colored thick bars » that form « teeth-like slats » 18 feet high. « There are miles of gaps between segments and openings in the fence itself, » the report said.

Trump criticized the 2006 fence as too modest during the 2016 campaign.

« Now we got lucky because it was such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall, no, they couldn’t get their environmental — probably a snake was in the way or a toad, » Trump said. (Actually, the project didn’t face environmental hurdles; we rated that part of the claim Mostly False.)

It’s also worth noting that the political context surrounding the 2006 vote was different, too.

Democrats normally in favor of looser immigration laws saw the Secure Fence Act of 2006 as the lesser of two evils, according to a Boston Globe report that detailed the legislative process. Around that same time, the House passed legislation that would make any undocumented immigrant a felon.

« It didn’t have anywhere near the gravity of harm, » Angela Kelley, who in 2006 was the legislative director for the National Immigration Forum, told the Boston Globe. « It was hard to vote against it because who is going to vote against a secure fence? And it was benign compared with what was out there. »

Democrats have described Trump’s wall proposal as overkill and too expensive. Recently, Democrats penned a letter to Senate GOP saying border funding should not be included in the latest budget agreement to keep the government open.

Our ruling

Mulvaney said that Obama, Schumer and Clinton voted for a border wall in 2006.

They did vote for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico.

Still, the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself called the 2006 fence a « nothing wall. »

Mulvaney’s statement is partially accurate, but ignores important context. We rate it Half True.


Taxes du péché: Punir Billancourt pour ne pas désespérer Neuilly (Sin taxes: When the cigarette, diesel-driving poor end up subsidizing the rich’s electric cars and green refrigerators)

1 janvier, 2019

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Je vais donc vous donner de quoi semer, et vous sèmerez vos champs, afin que vous puissiez recueillir des grains. Vous en donnerez la cinquième partie au roi ; et je vous abandonne les quatre autres pour semer les terres et pour nourrir vos familles et vos enfants. Genèse 47 : 24
Car on donnera à celui qui a; mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. Jésus (Marc 4: 25)
Il y a autant de racismes qu’il y a de groupes qui ont besoin de se justifier d’exister comme ils existent, ce qui constitue la fonction invariante des racismes. Il me semble très important de porter l’analyse sur les formes du racisme qui sont sans doute les plus subtiles, les plus méconnaissables, donc les plus rarement dénoncées, peut-être parce que les dénonciateurs ordinaires du racisme possèdent certaines des propriétés qui inclinent à cette forme de racisme. Je pense au racisme de l’intelligence. (…) Ce racisme est propre à une classe dominante dont la reproduction dépend, pour une part, de la transmission du capital culturel, capital hérité qui a pour propriété d’être un capital incorporé, donc apparemment naturel, inné. Le racisme de l’intelligence est ce par quoi les dominants visent à produire une « théodicée de leur propre privilège », comme dit Weber, c’est-à-dire une justification de l’ordre social qu’ils dominent. (…) 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
Dans le débat sur la parité (…) on risque de remplacer des hommes bourgeois par des femmes encore plus bourgeoises. Si du moins on se dispense de faire ce qu’il faudrait pour que cela change vraiment : par exemple, un travail systématique, notamment à l’école, pour doter les femmes des instruments d’accès à la parole publique, aux postes d’autorité. Sinon, on aura les mêmes dirigeants politiques, avec seulement une différence de genre. Bourdieu
La Révolution abolit les privilèges et crée immédiatement ensuite l’Ecole polytechnique et l’Ecole normale supérieure, pour offrir à la nation ses cadres « naturels », en bref sa propre aristocratie. Daniel Cohen
Personne n’aspirerait à la culture si l’on savait à quel point le nombre des hommes cultivés est finalement et ne peut être qu’incroyablement petit; et cependant ce petit nombre vraiment cultivé n’est possible que si une grande masse, déterminée au fond contre sa nature et uniquement par des illusions séduisantes, s’adonne à la culture; on ne devrait rien trahir publiquement de cette ridicule disproportion entre le nombre d’hommes vraiment cultivés et l’énorme appareil de la culture; le vrai secret de la culture est là: des hommes innombrables luttent pour acquérir la culture, travaillent pour la culture, apparemment dans leur propre intérêt, mais au fond seulement pour permettre l’existence du petit nombre. Nietsche (Sur l’avenir de nos établissements d’enseignement)
En 2007, une étude menée par Richard Wiseman de l’Université de Bristol impliquant 3 000 personnes a montré que 88 % des résolutions de la nouvelle année échouaient. Concernant le taux de succès, il serait amélioré sensiblement lorsque les résolutions sont rendues publiques et qu’elles obtiennent le soutien des amis. Néanmoins, il est insensé d’essayer d’arrêter de fumer, de perdre du poids, de nettoyer son appartement et d’arrêter de boire du vin au cours du même mois : la volonté est une ressource mentale extrêmement limitée qui se travaille progressivement comme la musculation. Wikipedia
Les salles de sport sont des biens de club. Sous cette apparente tautologie se cache un concept économique qui signe un service partagé de façon exclusive par plusieurs personnes, à l’instar de la piscine ou du terrain de tennis privé d’une résidence collective. La particularité de ce type de bien est que les individus en retirent une satisfaction qui pend des autres. D’un côté, plus le nombre de membres est élevé, plus la contribution de chacun aux coûts fixes d’investissement et de maintenance peut-être faible. D’un autre côté, plus le nombre de membres est élevé, plus la congestion s’accroît. Accepter un nouveau membre permettra de diminuer l’abonnement annuel donnant accès à la piscine et au tennis, mais les nageurs risquent de se heurter dans le bassin et les joueurs de ne pas s’affronter à leur horaire préféré. Un club de sport est donc un bien de club au sens économique du terme : l’augmentation du nombre d’adhérents permettra de réduire le prix de l’abonnement, mais elle allongera la queue aux machines et aux douches. Un exercice classique, mais musclé pour économiste s’entraînant aux biens de club consiste à calculer la capacité optimale pour un nombre de membres donnés (par exemple la dimension appropriée de la piscine pour les 50 habitants de la résidence), le nombre optimal de membres pour une capacité donnée (le nombre ial pour un bassin de 8 mètres par 4) pour en duire la capacité optimale pour le nombre optimal. Le tout en spécifiant une fonction de coût qui tienne compte des économies d’échelle et une fonction de bénéfice qui tienne compte du fait qu’au bout d’un moment la congestion l’emporte sur la camaraderie : accepter un nouveau membre augmente la possibilité de se faire un nouvel ami, mais ce gain devient inférieur à la gêne de congestion qu’il occasionne. James M. Buchanan, lauréat du prix Nobel d’économie en 1986, est le premier à s’être livré à cet exercice théorique. Les propriétaires de salles de sport ont quant à eux trouvé un truc : faire signer un engagement d’un an aux abonnés qui n’utilisent pas, ou rarement, leurs équipements. Ces abonnés réduisent le montant individuel des cotisations sans embouteiller les installations. Aux États-Unis, près de la moitié des nouveaux inscrits aux premiers jours de janvier, la période de pointe des inscriptions, ne fréquente plus la salle de sport les mois suivants. Seul un nouvel abonné sur cinq continuera à s’y rendre après septembre. Les nouveaux inscrits se rendront en moyenne quatre fois dans la salle de sport dans l’année. Selon une étude de chercheurs québécois portant sur près de 1500 nouveaux inscrits dans des salles de Montréal, la fréquentation des salles de sport chute de près de moitié après quatre mois. Pourtant les nouveaux inscrits aux salles de sport signent de leur plein gré et sans barguigner, ni rechigner sur la durée contractuelle de l’engagement, contrairement à ce qu’ils feraient pour un abonnement de téléphonie mobile ou de télévision payante. Pourquoi donc payent-ils pour ne pas aller à la gym ? Deux économistes ont cherché à répondre à cette question dans un article paru en 2006 dans l’American Economic Review, l’une des publications d’économie les plus prestigieuses au monde. Ils ont calculé combien d’argent ces consommateurs perdaient. Réponse 600 dollars. C’est la différence de ce que paye un membre qui a choisi un contrat forfaitaire au lieu de payer à la séance en achetant 10 tickets d’entrée, autre option qu’il aurait pu choisir. Cet écart s’explique par l’optimisme ou la naïveté. Lorsqu’elles s’inscrivent, les personnes surestiment le nombre de fois où elles se rendront en salle. Dans l’étude québécoise jà citée, les nouveaux membres clarent, lorsqu’ils s’abonnent, le nombre de fois qu’ils comptent se rendre en salle. La fréquentation réelle observée par la suite est plus de deux fois inférieure. Les personnes croient à l’effet durable de leur bonne résolution de but d’année pour maigrir ou simplement entretenir leur forme. Peut-être certaines comptent-elles aussi sur l’effet incitatif du « J’ai payé donc il faut que j’amortisse mon forfait ». Quoi qu’il en soit c’est raté ! Les abonnés absents permettent à la salle de sport d’offrir un abonnement moins cher, ou bien… d’enrichir leur propriétaire. Tout pend de l’intensité de la concurrence. François Lévêque
Wauquiez, c’est le candidat des gars qui fument des clopes et qui roulent au diesel. Benjamin Griveaux
Taxer un individu ou une entreprise, c’est le contraindre à payer un montant en général proportionnel à un revenu ou à un actif. Tous les systèmes politiques ont recours à la taxation. (…) Si la taxation est ancienne, l’utilisation des taxes varie selon les systèmes politiques. En France en 2014 ces ressources (44,7% du PIB) sont utilisées pour les fonctions régaliennes de l’état et pour l’état-providence (31,9% du PIB). La notion de vice est intimement liée à la morale et renvoie aux interdits religieux. Ce que l’on appelait vice dans la perspective de la tentation du mal a été requalifié par la science en addiction. Addiction à des substances, par exemple la nicotine ou à des pratiques comme le jeu ou à des comportements comme la boulimie compulsive. La nicotine est un psychostimulant présent dans les feuilles de tabac dont les effets comme pour la feuille de coca sont connus depuis longtemps. Dès l’ère industrielle la consommation de tabac fumé s’est développée, la pyrolyse permettant la prise de plus de nicotine juste en inhalant. Du vice à l’addiction la transition n’est pas neutre. Dans le premier l’individu est tenu pour responsable de ses choix de vie, dans l’addiction la responsabilité de l’individu peut être atténuée au motif que nous ne sommes pas égaux face à la dépendance. Les penchants particuliers pour les addictions ou les comportements moralement condamnables sont l’objet d’une interdiction (prohibition) ou d’une taxation. L’histoire nous démontre que la prohibition ne supprime pas le vice. (…) Si la prohibition ne peut venir à bout des vices humains il est souvent avancé que la taxation le pourrait. Les intentions des états sont ici parfaitement illisibles. La taxation apparait comme un compromis entre des intérêts puissants et un affichage de prévention. Pour autant les avocats des taxes comportementales répondent par l’argument du niveau de taxation. Si la taxe était très élevée, disent ils, la consommation baisserait. C’est déjà une concession car personne ne s’aventure à pronostiquer une disparition du tabac fumé. Néanmoins ils ont de sérieux arguments en particulier l’expérience australienne. Un continent isolé par la mer, de culture anglo-saxonne a réussi à infléchir sérieusement la consommation en augmentant les taxes jusqu’à rendre le paquet de cigarettes très cher. Ce n’est pas du tout la situation de la France. Si bien qu’en Europe force est de constater que les taxes ne peuvent venir à bout des vices. En réalité la taxation supplémentaire des substances addictives a une base parfaitement légitime: celle des externalités. La consommation de tabac produit des effets que le marché n’internalise pas dans le prix, il s’agit du coût des soins induits par les différentes atteintes symptomatiques au niveau de l’organisme. La médecine connait avec précision les maladies induites par le tabac au niveau non seulement des artères et du poumon mais aussi ailleurs. Le coût des soins dus aux complications du tabac est payé par d’autres dans le cadre de la mutualisation de l’assurance maladie ou des impôts. Ces externalités négatives sont en partie seulement compensées par la moindre espérance de vie qui fait que les pensions ne sont plus versées. Grace à l’exhaustivité des données de soins et à leur précision nous pouvons calculer l’équation des externalités. C’est pourquoi la taxation pigouvienne (d’Arthur Cecil Pigou qui la décrivit dans son ouvrage de 1920: The Economics of Welfare, London: Macmillan.) est rationnelle. Elle permet de combiner liberté individuelle et conséquences économiques. Mais dans ce domaine et à supposer que la taxe supplementaire sur le tabac devienne pigouvienne, il y a en France une situation exceptionnelle. La taxation du tabac est loin de se faire au profit des soins ou de la prévention. L’état dispose à sa guise des taxes et elles ont servi et servent encore de bouche trous dans les budgets sociaux non financés que l’état invente au gré de nécessités souvent électorales. Car il s’agit d’octroyer des “droits à” sans en avoir le financement nécessaire. Ainsi en 2000 le FOREC (Fonds de financement de la réforme des cotisations sociales) a bénéficié des faveurs de l’état bien en mal de trouver le financement nécessaire: ce fonds se voit en effet attribuer 85,5 % du produit du “droit de consommation” sur les tabacs manufacturés. En 2012 ce n’est pas moins de 11 affectataires qui se partagés les 11,13 milliards d’euros du produit du “droit de consommation” du tabac, pour des fractions allant de 53,52 % pour la Cnam à 0,31 % pour le Fcaata (Fonds de cessation anticipée d’activité des travailleurs de l’amiante). Si la taxation n’est pas une solution aux vices des citoyens on s’aperçoit qu’elle peut être la porte ouverte au vice de l’état qui consiste à détourner l’argent prélevé sur la base de motifs bien intentionnés pour en faire des ressources fiscales pour sa politique. Guy-André Pelouze (Centre hospitalier Saint-Jean, Perpignan)
Many goverments use “sin taxes” to dissuade people from smoking and drinking alcohol. In recent years, some lawmakers have turned their cross-hairs to a different vice: sugar. Obesity is on the rise all across the world. Forty per cent of Americans today are obese, up from around 15% in 1980. Several countries, along with a handful of American cities, have introduced taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. Their governments hope that these levies will both raise revenues and reduce how much sugar people consume. (…) But if there is a problem with sin taxes, it is not that they are ineffective. Rather, it is that they are inefficient. Sin taxes are blunt policy instruments. People who only have the occasional drink are not taking on any great health risks, yet they are taxed no differently than serious alcoholics. A similar logic applies for sugar taxes. Tobacco presents a slightly different problem. Nicotine is highly addictive, meaning that there are relatively few people who smoke cigarettes only occasionally. It is easiest to justify taxes on particular goods when they present what economists call “negative externalities”. When a driver buys fuel for his car, both he and the petrol station benefit. Yet cars emit carbon dioxide in their wake, which suggests that it would be only fair for drivers to pay taxes to offset the environmental damage they cause. Some policymakers argue that people who engage in unhealthy habits also impose negative externalities, since they tend to present taxpayers with bigger medical bills. In practice, however, these costs tend to be overstated. While obese people probably do present net costs to governments, smokers tend to die earlier, meaning that they probably save governments money since they draw less from state pensions. Policymakers should still consider implementing sin taxes if they intend to intervene to change individuals’ behaviour. But they should be aware that the bulk of the damage that smokers, drinkers and the obese do is to themselves, and not to others. The Economist
Sugar taxes have returned to policy debates, this time as “sin taxes”—levies on socially harmful practices. These are seen as a double win—useful sources of revenue that also improve public health. Economists think it is not as easy as that. Governments hope that just as taxes on alcohol and tobacco both generate revenue and reduce smoking and drinking, so sugar taxes will help curb obesity. (…) Sin taxes do change behaviour. Alcohol and tobacco are addictive, so demand for them is not as responsive to price changes as, say, the demand for airline tickets to fly abroad. But it is still more responsive than for many common household goods. Estimates vary from study to study, but economists find that on average, a 1% increase in prices is associated with a decline of around 0.5% in sales of both alcohol and tobacco (…) Data on the efficacy of sugar taxes are scantier, but the available evidence shows that they, too, lower consumption. (…) [and] sales of bottled water rose after the fizzy-drinks tax came in. Nevertheless, as policy instruments, sin taxes are extremely blunt. People who only occasionally drink or smoke do their bodies little harm, yet are taxed no differently from heavy smokers and drinkers. A study published last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a think-tank, found that Britons who bought only a few drinks a week were far more sensitive to price fluctuations than heavy drinkers. The IFS suggests that it might make more sense to place higher levies on the tipples more in favour with heavy drinkers, such as spirits. It is fairly easy to blame particular diseases on tobacco and alcohol. For sugary drinks, which provide only part of consumers’ sugar intake, it is harder. Another IFS study finds that, though Britain’s new law will lower sales of fizzy drinks, it will have little effect on the behaviour of those who consume the most sugar. In Mexico the data show that the tax did lead poorer households to buy fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. But it had little impact on how much the rich consumed. John Cawley, an economist at Cornell University, points out that one flaw with many existing sugar taxes is that they are too local in scope. After Berkeley introduced its tax, sales of sugary drinks rose by 6.9% in neighbouring cities. Denmark, which instituted a tax on fat-laden foods in 2011, ran into similar problems. The government got rid of the tax a year later when it discovered that many shoppers were buying butter in neighbouring Germany and Sweden. Moreover, the impact on public health is unclear. Consumers might simply get their sugar from other sources. Shu Wen Ng, an economist at UNC who studied the taxes in both Berkeley and Mexico, says that one reason for hope is that many people form their dietary habits when they are young. And fizzy drinks are disproportionally drunk by teenagers, who are more sensitive to price changes. (…) The point of sin taxes is to make unhealthy goods more expensive on a relative basis, not to make the poor poorer. So a further concern is that they affect low-income households most. The poor spend a higher share of their income on consumption. So they are hit harder by any consumption tax, such as sales taxes in America or the European Union’s value-added taxes. Sin taxes are especially regressive, since poorer people are more likely to smoke and tend to drink more alcohol and sugary drinks. In theory, the sin taxes could be offset by earmarking any revenue from them for direct cash transfers or for social programmes aimed at reducing poverty. Philadelphia, for example, has earmarked the revenue from its sugar tax for schools, parks and libraries. Debate about sin taxes often tends to blur two distinct purposes. One is to deter people from behaviour that does them harm. Another is to pay for the cost to society as a whole of that harmful behaviour—what economists call its “negative externalities”. Some examples can be fairly clear-cut. When a driver buys fuel for his car, for example, society as a whole has to suffer the consequences of the higher levels of pollution. Banning fossil fuels is impractical, so economists recommend taxing carbon-dioxide emissions instead. Similar ideas underpin taxes on plastic bags to combat the growing problem of ocean pollution. In 2015 the British government passed a law forcing big retailers to charge 5p (6.6 cents) for every plastic bag. Use of plastic bags fell by 85%, though ecologists worry some consumers have switched to substitutes that are environmentally even more damaging. Cotton tote bags, for instance, have to be used 131 times to rank as greener than plastic alternatives. Advocates of taxes on vices such as smoking and obesity argue that they also impose negative externalities on the public, since governments have to spend more to take care of sick people. However, policy papers tend to overstate the economic costs of activities like smoking because they rarely account for what would happen without them. Although unhealthy people tend to cost governments more money while they are alive, this is at least partially offset by the morbid fact that they tend to die earlier, and so draw less from services like pensions. Different vices have different economic costs since they harm people in different ways. Save for the exceptionally overweight, most obese people do not die much earlier. But they do tend to require more medical attention than their healthier peers, often spanning the course of several decades. So obesity does impose net costs on taxpayers. The externalities from alcohol are less clear. Only a minority of drinkers are serious alcoholics, which limits the direct health-care costs from drinking. Excessive drinking, however, does cause significant crime. Around 30% of fatal car crashes in America involve a driver who has been drinking. Alcohol is also heavily linked to domestic violence. Smoking, in contrast, probably saves taxpayers money. Lifelong smoking will bring forward a person’s death by about ten years, which means that smokers tend to die just as they would start drawing from state pensions. (…) The Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think-tank, has produced a series of reports on the net fiscal costs of drinking, smoking and obesity to the British government (see chart 2). They estimate that, after accounting for sin taxes, welfare costs, crime and early death, tobacco and alcohol are worth £14.7bn ($19.3bn) and £6.5bn a year, respectively, to the Treasury. Obesity, in contrast, costs it £2.5bn a year. (…) The fizzy-drinks industry is fighting back. Cook County, which includes Chicago, repealed its sugar tax after just two months in part because of retailers’ complaints about falling sales. In June, after much lobbying from drinks firms, California’s state government passed a law preventing cities from taxing sugar until 2030. In America, heart disease is linked to one in four deaths, and smoking to one in five. Sin taxes can make people healthier. But since most of the damage smokers, drinkers and the obese do is to themselves, rather than to others, governments need to think carefully about how much they want to interfere. Moreover, any cost-benefit analysis on the social impact of these vices needs to take into account that people do find them enjoyable. There is more to life than living longer. The Economist
Sugary beverages (…) can give rise to things like diabetes or stroke or heart disease, and these are pretty big in magnitude. A couple of years ago, there was a study estimating that if people were to reduce their sugary beverage consumption by around 20%, then the health benefits that they would reap would be something akin to giving them each a check between $100 or $300 each year. (…) On the other hand (…) Things like rock climbing have negative health consequences, potentially. Driving a car has lots of negative health consequences. The key question from an economic policy perspective is whether people are taking into account these negative effects when they’re making their consumption decisions. In particular, a reason for concern about sugary beverages is that often the negative health consequences come a long time after the date of consumption. You get diabetes or heart disease much later in life. There’s a growing literature in behavioral economics that studies the tendency for people to underweigh distant consequences and overweigh the upfront benefits or costs of doing something. This can explain everything from why we save less for retirement than we should or intend to, or why we exercise less than we ought to. A reason for being interested in sugary soda and sugary beverages is that those [choices] also have this kind of discrepancy between the upfront joy of sipping a soda and this delayed health consequence that happens far down the road. (…) there is also concern about an unintended side effect of that kind of policy — that it tends to fall heavily on poorer consumers. We know that poorer consumers tend to consume things like cigarettes and soda at higher frequencies than richer consumers do. Survey evidence suggests that at the bottom of the income distribution, people drink about twice as much sugary soda than at the top of the income distribution. (…) One of the other questions about soda is the extent to which soda consumption is addictive in the same way that cigarette consumption is. We know from other research that people are much more responsive to cigarette taxes, to the decision to purchase cigarettes, before they start smoking or right when they’re starting, rather than after they’ve been smoking for many years. Then, if the price goes up, they’ll generally just pay the higher cost for it. (…) For soda, the question is whether people who are high soda consumers continue to consume soda at the same rates, like cigarette smokers — or whether they actually switch to other beverages or reduce consumption overall. Even if they’ve been consuming soda for a long time. One of the other policy ideas that we look at a little bit in this paper but don’t delve into too much — and I think there’s more interesting work to be done here — is other kinds of non-tax policies, like some of the advertising bans or pictures of blackened lungs on cigarette packages, for instance. These kinds of policies aren’t exactly taxes but are intended to reduce consumption of cigarettes. There’s been some discussion of similar kinds of policies for soda. (…) The idea is that less marketing would cause poorer consumers to drink less soda, without necessarily having to pay more for the soda they are drinking. (…) Just like you mentioned with the kinds of subsidies for energy-efficient appliances, you can reframe everything we’ve said about sodas in that context and think about the unintended regressivity costs of those kinds of policies. Often, the benefits are accruing precisely to folks in the population who have higher incomes, who aren’t necessarily the ones you’re trying to help out the most. (…) In Philadelphia, if it turns out that people basically don’t change their soda consumption because they instead just drive across the Ben Franklin Bridge and buy their soda in New Jersey, then you don’t actually get any of the health benefits that I was just talking about. People still consume the same amount. They get diabetes at the same rate. The only thing that happens is, they waste more gas driving across the bridge. That would be a downside of this kind of policy. (…) One of the interesting things that we saw with the Philadelphia mayor’s proposal is it was tightly tied to these spending programs on pre-K in a way that some of the previous Philadelphia soda tax proposals were not, the ones that actually ended up failing. This is something that other cities I think have taken note of — that sometimes in making the case for these kinds of things, it’s really helpful to show how those funds would be spent and how they can be retargeted to the affected classes. One of the key questions is whether it’s helpful to offset the regressivity costs of these kinds of taxes by targeting the revenues back toward poorer communities or poorer consumers. Whether that’s effective or not ends up being a pretty technical theoretical question that we get into a fair amount in the paper. The upshot is that if the reason that poorer consumers are drinking more soda than richer consumers is just a difference in preferences, then it’s not all that helpful to try to target those benefits back toward poorer consumers. There might be other arguments for why it’s really beneficial to support pre-K education. Benjamin Lockwood
Une ‘taxe sur le péché’ se définit comme une taxe sur un produit qui peut être nocif, telle que les cigarettes ou les boissons sucrées. Dans de nombreux cas, ces taxes sont une incitation à réduire la consommation et à améliorer la santé. Mais les taxes sur les péchés peuvent toucher de manière disproportionnée les consommateurs à faible revenu, tandis que les clients plus aisés bénéficient d’allégements fiscaux sur les articles qu’eux seuls peuvent se permettre, tels que les fenêtres et les appareils ménagers. éconergétiques. Wharton university

Après les grandes écoles, les opéras ou les concours de beauté, devinez ce que nos élites ont trouvé pour ne pas désespérer Neuilly !

En ce premier jour d’une nouvelle année …

Jour traditionnel à la fois des hausses et des bonnes résolutions

Et au terme de près de deux mois de « jacquerie fiscale » de la part des « gars qui fument des clopes et qui roulent au diesel » ….

Qui ont sérieusement mis à mal la légitimité d’un président qui il y a à peine 18 mois le monde entier nous enviait …

Alors que pour de simples raisons fiscales, l’on découvre que l’ex-doyenne de l’humanité aurait pu se faire passer pour sa mère …

Retour sur la face cachée de ces fameuses « taxes du péché » (dites comportementales sur tabac, diesel et à présent boissons sucrées) …

Qui censées préserver la santé des plus démunis qu’elle ciblent prioritairement …

Dans des domaines où la perception des bénéfices lointains justement suppose …

Des capacités qui, entre distance à la nécessité et capacité de se projeter dans l’avenir, ne sont pas données à tout le monde …

Et qui réussissent l’exploit au bout du compte …

Sans compter les réductions en retraites et pensions entrainées par leur décès plus précoce …

A l’instar de ces abonnés absents des clubs de sport ou des salles d’opéra qui par leur absence même subventionnent la pratique des plus assidus …

De faire subventionner par Billancourt…

Les voitures électriques et les frigos verts de Neuilly !

Do ‘Sin Taxes’ Really Change Consumer Behavior?
Benjamin Lockwood
Wharton
Feb 10, 2017

‘Sin tax’ is defined as a tax on a product that can be harmful to a person, such as cigarettes or sugary drinks. In many cases, these taxes are an incentive to lower consumption and improve health. But sin taxes can disproportionately hurt lower-income consumers, while wealthy shoppers enjoy tax breaks on items only they can afford, such as energy-efficient windows and appliances. A recent study by Benjamin Lockwood, a Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, and coauthor Dmitry Taubinsky from Dartmouth College examines the impact of sin taxes and whether there is a middle ground. The researchers also look at what is being called “revenue recycling,” where these taxes can be used to fund initiatives that benefit lower-income consumers. Lockwood recently spoke about their research on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Sin taxes are an important topic here in Philadelphia, where there is a tax on sugary drinks.

Benjamin Lockwood: Absolutely. It’s been happening in Philadelphia, and we’ve also seen these implemented in Chicago, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Boulder, Colorado. There’s a growing policy wave in favor of these kinds of policies, so it seems like a good time to be looking at it and trying to understand some of these implications.

Knowledge@Wharton: What did you find in your research?

Lockwood: The way that economists generally think about these kinds of taxes is that sugary beverages have health consequences. They can give rise to things like diabetes or stroke or heart disease, and these are pretty big in magnitude. A couple of years ago, there was a study estimating that if people were to reduce their sugary beverage consumption by around 20%, then the health benefits that they would reap would be something akin to giving them each a check between $100 or $300 each year. These are pretty big numbers.

On the other hand, from an economist’s perspective, it’s not enough for something to have negative consequences to justify taxing it. Things like rock climbing have negative health consequences, potentially. Driving a car has lots of negative health consequences. The key question from an economic policy perspective is whether people are taking into account these negative effects when they’re making their consumption decisions. In particular, a reason for concern about sugary beverages is that often the negative health consequences come a long time after the date of consumption. You get diabetes or heart disease much later in life.

There’s a growing literature in behavioral economics that studies the tendency for people to underweigh distant consequences and overweigh the upfront benefits or costs of doing something. This can explain everything from why we save less for retirement than we should or intend to, or why we exercise less than we ought to. A reason for being interested in sugary soda and sugary beverages is that those [choices] also have this kind of discrepancy between the upfront joy of sipping a soda and this delayed health consequence that happens far down the road.

“From an economist’s perspective, it’s not enough for something to have negative consequences to justify taxing it.”

Knowledge@Wharton: In a lot of urban areas, people financially may not have another option in terms of drinking a soda, compared with drinking bottled water. It becomes a life issue that a lot of these people are not able to overcome.

Lockwood: Right. Part of what you’re bringing up here is the question of what people can afford and how these kinds of taxes hit poorer consumers versus richer consumers. This question is the fundamental one of our research. There have been studies of how these kinds of taxes can have beneficial health consequences by reducing consumption. But there is also concern about an unintended side effect of that kind of policy — that it tends to fall heavily on poorer consumers. We know that poorer consumers tend to consume things like cigarettes and soda at higher frequencies than richer consumers do. Survey evidence suggests that at the bottom of the income distribution, people drink about twice as much sugary soda than at the top of the income distribution.

This paper looks at the regressivity consequences of these kinds of taxes and tries to get a handle on them. How do we weigh those consequences against the potential health benefits from imposing these kinds of taxes?

Knowledge@Wharton: In your estimation, are sin taxes a good thing for the consumer in general?

Lockwood: This is the million-dollar question. What is the overall impact? And if we should have a soda tax, how big should it be? Philadelphia’s soda tax is 1.5 cents per ounce. I believe Boulder’s is 2 cents per ounce. Most of the others have been 1 cent per ounce. As cities go forward trying to weigh these policies, there is this question of what the magnitude should be and whether we should have this kind of tax at all.

The key thing that we explore in our paper is that what matters for these regressivity costs is how much people respond to these taxes when they are imposed. There’s often an initial intuition that these taxes must be really bad for poor consumers because then they have to pay more out of pocket. That’s exactly right, if people don’t respond to the tax at all — if they don’t reduce their consumption. Of course, poor people end up paying more.

On the other hand, if people end up reducing their consumption a lot in response to the tax, then things get a lot trickier and a lot more interesting. The people who get the greatest health benefits from that reduction are the people who were consuming the most sugar to begin with, which tends to be poorer consumers. So, if people are responding a lot to the tax, then these kinds of regressivity costs are actually a lot smaller. In fact, some of the health benefits can be really concentrated on poor consumers, which is something that the government is interested in.

To answer the question you raised — how should these taxes exist and how big should they be — the key question is how much people reduce consumption in response to the tax. Do they keep consuming the same amount and just pay more? Or do they actually reduce how much they’re consuming?

Knowledge@Wharton:  Are you able to glean enough from what has happened in places like Berkeley and Philadelphia to say, “Yes, absolutely, there’s no question that the economic and health benefits are there for people to stay away from sugary drinks?” And are they doing it?

Lockwood: Again, this is an insightful question that cuts to the heart of the issue. In many cases, we still need more evidence to know the optimal size of these taxes. There’s some initial evidence from the tax that was imposed in Mexico, and the one that was imposed in Berkeley a couple years ago, that does suggest people reduced consumption in response to these taxes. But the estimates of how much they reduced consumption are really wide.

Economists talk about that responsiveness in terms of elasticity. If you impose a 10% tax, then by what percentage do people reduce their consumption? Do they reduce their consumption by 1.5% or by 25%? It’s a huge range. If you take the middling estimates of those, and you think that it’s a 10% or so reduction, which is where a lot of economists at this stage think the value probably lies, then our initial estimates are that some positive tax, maybe even a little larger than the ones that have already been imposed, is probably optimal. But again, we’ll know more going forward when we see the effects of these bigger cities in the next few years.

Knowledge@Wharton: The taxes that have been put in place haven’t gone overboard, and they haven’t underdone it either. They’ve gotten it in the ballpark so that if there is any increase down the road, it may be a half-cent per ounce or so. The cities have done a pretty good job, for the most part.

Lockwood: I don’t want to go on record saying, “It should be exactly 3.25 cents per ounce,” because we’re still waiting to see the evidence come in. But [based on] the economic research so far, my guess is that somewhere in the range of 3 cents to 4 cents per ounce — rather than the 2 cents per ounce that we’re seeing now — would be in the ballpark. I would say cities, luckily, have been in the range of reasonable taxes so far, given the hazy nature of the estimates we have.

Knowledge@Wharton: In Philadelphia, it’s been well-noted that the mayor would like to use the money from the tax to help improve pre-K education. A big focus of your research is on the good that is potentially done by these taxes that goes back to the community.

Lockwood: One of the key questions is whether it’s helpful to offset the regressivity costs of these kinds of taxes by targeting the revenues back toward poorer communities or poorer consumers. Whether that’s effective or not ends up being a pretty technical theoretical question that we get into a fair amount in the paper. The upshot is that if the reason that poorer consumers are drinking more soda than richer consumers is just a difference in preferences, then it’s not all that helpful to try to target those benefits back toward poorer consumers. There might be other arguments for why it’s really beneficial to support pre-K education. But if that’s the case, then we should be doing it through income taxes or whatever, regardless. We shouldn’t necessarily tie it to the existence of a soda tax.

Knowledge@Wharton: The impact of higher prices and taxes on cigarettes to mitigate cancer and other diseases has been discussed for years. The fact that cigarettes have seen higher costs has slowed down some people, but it hasn’t stopped [people from purchasing them]. Part of this has to do with the attraction that people have to consuming these kind of products, correct?

Lockwood: I think that’s right. One of the other questions about soda is the extent to which soda consumption is addictive in the same way that cigarette consumption is. We know from other research that people are much more responsive to cigarette taxes, to the decision to purchase cigarettes, before they start smoking or right when they’re starting, rather than after they’ve been smoking for many years. Then, if the price goes up, they’ll generally just pay the higher cost for it.

For soda, the question is whether people who are high soda consumers continue to consume soda at the same rates, like cigarette smokers — or whether they actually switch to other beverages or reduce consumption overall. Even if they’ve been consuming soda for a long time.

Knowledge@Wharton: Not that it’s directly a part of your research, but part of the problem is the companies that are bringing these products forward and the impact they have through the marketing. To a degree, it’s an uphill battle for some of these people if they want to try to step away from soda. If you want to step away from cigarettes, it’s a much harder prospect.

“If the goal of a tax is to discourage consumption of something that’s unhealthy, then people will only reduce their consumption if they actually see that tax and feel it.”

Lockwood: One of the other policy ideas that we look at a little bit in this paper but don’t delve into too much — and I think there’s more interesting work to be done here — is other kinds of non-tax policies, like some of the advertising bans or pictures of blackened lungs on cigarette packages, for instance. These kinds of policies aren’t exactly taxes but are intended to reduce consumption of cigarettes. There’s been some discussion of similar kinds of policies for soda.

Those kinds of policies, too, can make more sense when you have these goods that are consumed more by poorer consumers. They can help dissuade people from consuming this stuff without actually taking money out of their pockets, right? The idea is that less marketing would cause poorer consumers to drink less soda, without necessarily having to pay more for the soda they are drinking.

Knowledge@Wharton: Is there bias in this process in general? You’re talking about more people of lower incomes being affected by sodas and cigarette tax, compared with people of higher incomes who have the ability to put in energy-efficient windows and refrigerators.

Lockwood: I think that’s right. Just like you mentioned with the kinds of subsidies for energy-efficient appliances, you can reframe everything we’ve said about sodas in that context and think about the unintended regressivity costs of those kinds of policies. Often, the benefits are accruing precisely to folks in the population who have higher incomes, who aren’t necessarily the ones you’re trying to help out the most.

You can do a similar kind of exercise where you say, “Well, this doesn’t necessarily have the redistributive benefits that we would otherwise hope for from a tax.” But it does have this corrective effect of getting people to consume more energy-efficient stuff, just like the soda taxes discourage people from consuming unhealthy stuff. And that corrective benefit has to be weighed against the regressivity cost.

Knowledge@Wharton: Going back to the soda issue, what really has been the impact from the tax? After it was implemented here in Philadelphia, there was a line item for it on your receipt so that it wasn’t just baked into the cost of a 20-ounce soda. That was an important piece to this.

Lockwood: Again, it’s too early to have much formal economic analysis out of this. We’ll see going forward what the overall effects on consumption and soda purchases actually are. But one of the interesting questions going into this was to what extent the soda tax — which is actually imposed on the distributors who supply sodas to grocery stores — would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher soda prices.

One of the interesting things we’ve seen so far is that it does look like stores are really trying to make a salient connection and say, “This is how much the cost of your soda has gone up because of this tax.” That’s pretty interesting. On the one hand, sometimes people are dismayed to see taxes being passed through to consumers. They’d like to see those taxes being borne by the firm or corporations. But on the other hand, if the goal of a tax is to discourage consumption of something that’s unhealthy, then people will only reduce their consumption if they actually see that tax and feel it. In this case, having that tax passed through to the consumer and being front-and-center on the receipt might be consistent with the apparent goals of the policy.

Knowledge@Wharton: With cigarettes, you’re not seeing that itemized receipt that says what you’re paying because of the tax. It could be a very important deterrent in this process.

Lockwood: It certainly could be. It’ll be interesting to see whether those line items persist going forward or whether that was a temporary move by the grocers to try to explain why we had this one-time cost increase. But if they stay there, and the tax ends up being fully passed on to consumers on into the future, I think it will be interesting to see if that actually helps with these benefits. Maybe this is the kind of thing that we should have been doing with cigarettes all along, really emphasizing how much the cost is increasing because of these taxes.

Knowledge@Wharton: How much interest in this research topic is there from the medical community?

Lockwood: I think the medical research community has a big part to play in this. Although this is mostly a theory paper, it identifies the key parameters or estimates that will govern what that optimal tax is. A lot of that research can beneficially come from the medical community. Things like, how much more does medical care cost when people consume more sugar versus less? How much do people seem to be taking those costs into account when they are making their consumption decisions?

Those are exactly the kinds of things that people are studying right now. And as I said, we have some initial estimates. But I think this is an exciting time both for economists and medical researchers because we will have better estimates of this shortly.

“What you’d like to do is to have people switch away from these sugary things toward other things.”

Knowledge@Wharton: We’ve seen growth in an area called behavioral economics. We want to understand the economic impact of our behaviors right now, whether they are positive or negative.

Lockwood: Exactly. This is a very exciting and vibrant area of economic research, where we relax the conventional economic model in which people are fully rational and fully take everything into account when they’re making every single decision they make all day. This area of behavioral economics allows for what many of us feel: That there are a lot of things going on. A lot of things are confusing, and you’re not always paying perfect attention to everything, including what the eventual health costs are of everything that you might engage in. When that’s the case, there are beneficial things that the government can do to help guide behavior or explain those costs.

Knowledge@Wharton: Starting to put these theories together, what potentially is the impact on the lower incomes in Philadelphia and Chicago and San Francisco, compared with where we will be going in the next five to 10 years?

Lockwood: I think a lot of it comes back to these empirical estimates of trying to see what the effects of these taxes actually are. In Philadelphia, if it turns out that people basically don’t change their soda consumption because they instead just drive across the Ben Franklin Bridge and buy their soda in New Jersey, then you don’t actually get any of the health benefits that I was just talking about. People still consume the same amount. They get diabetes at the same rate. The only thing that happens is, they waste more gas driving across the bridge. That would be a downside of this kind of policy.

Now, there are things you could potentially do to correct that, like cooperating with nearby localities and jointly setting taxes so there aren’t these big differences across local borders. But if it turns out that people just buy at their local store, and this has a big impact, then we’ll find out that this is a useful policy to be implemented at the city level.

Another question along these lines is how much people substitute other kinds of drinks or how their consumption behavior changes. One way in which Philly’s tax was distinctive is that it also extended to cover diet soda beverages. From the economic health perspective, that’s not obviously a great move in terms of policy design. Maybe there are some unintended health consequences of diet soda, too. But the estimates now suggest that those are miniscule relative to the negative consequences of sugar consumption.

What you’d like to do is to have people switch away from these sugary things toward other things — maybe toward diet soda, if that’s really what they want. Having a better sense of whether people just keep consuming their sugary soda because diet also went up [in price], or whether they instead switched to bottled water or something, will have an impact on whether other cities then think about imposing taxes across the board on diet beverages, too.

Similarly, there will be a benefit for other cities in understanding how to make the case for these policies to their constituents. One of the interesting things that we saw with the Philadelphia mayor’s proposal is it was tightly tied to these spending programs on pre-K in a way that some of the previous Philadelphia soda tax proposals were not, the ones that actually ended up failing. This is something that other cities I think have taken note of — that sometimes in making the case for these kinds of things, it’s really helpful to show how those funds would be spent and how they can be retargeted to the affected classes.

Voir aussi:

The price of vice“Sin” taxes—eg, on tobacco—are less efficient than they look

But they do help improve public health

The Economist

TOBACCO was new to England in the 17th century, but even then, smoking had plenty of critics. The most famous was King James I, who in 1604 described smoking as “a custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmful to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke and stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomless”. The king increased the import tax on the “noxious weed” by 4,000%.

Sometimes, governments have had compelling financial reasons to tax particular goods. In 1764, when the national finances were drained by wars in North America, Britain’s parliament began enforcing tariffs on sugar and molasses imported from outside the empire. In practice, these served as a consumption tax on colonists living in America and threatened to ruin their rum industry. Not long after, parliament also introduced heavy levies on tea. The colonists were not best pleased.

Two-and-a-half centuries later, sugar taxes have returned to policy debates, this time as “sin taxes”—levies on socially harmful practices. These are seen as a double win—useful sources of revenue that also improve public health. Economists think it is not as easy as that.

Governments hope that just as taxes on alcohol and tobacco both generate revenue and reduce smoking and drinking, so sugar taxes will help curb obesity. Hungary, which has the highest rate of obesity in Europe, imposed a tax on food with high levels of sugar and salt in 2011. France did the same for sugary drinks in 2012. Several American cities, Thailand, Britain, Ireland, South Africa and other countries have since followed suit.

Sin taxes do change behaviour. Alcohol and tobacco are addictive, so demand for them is not as responsive to price changes as, say, the demand for airline tickets to fly abroad. But it is still more responsive than for many common household goods. Estimates vary from study to study, but economists find that on average, a 1% increase in prices is associated with a decline of around 0.5% in sales of both alcohol and tobacco (see chart 1).

Clunky sin tax

Data on the efficacy of sugar taxes are scantier, but the available evidence shows that they, too, lower consumption. In March 2015 Berkeley, California, put a tax of one cent per ounce (28 grams) on sugary drinks. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, found that sales of sugary drinks fell by 9.6% in a year. It was a similar story in Mexico, which in January 2014 slapped a nationwide tax of 1 peso (then 8 cents) a litre on sugar-sweetened beverages. Sales fell by 5.5% in the first year, and 9.7% in the next. In both places, sales of bottled water rose after the fizzy-drinks tax came in.

Nevertheless, as policy instruments, sin taxes are extremely blunt. People who only occasionally drink or smoke do their bodies little harm, yet are taxed no differently from heavy smokers and drinkers. A study published last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a think-tank, found that Britons who bought only a few drinks a week were far more sensitive to price fluctuations than heavy drinkers. The IFS suggests that it might make more sense to place higher levies on the tipples more in favour with heavy drinkers, such as spirits.

It is fairly easy to blame particular diseases on tobacco and alcohol. For sugary drinks, which provide only part of consumers’ sugar intake, it is harder. Another IFS study finds that, though Britain’s new law will lower sales of fizzy drinks, it will have little effect on the behaviour of those who consume the most sugar. In Mexico the data show that the tax did lead poorer households to buy fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. But it had little impact on how much the rich consumed.

John Cawley, an economist at Cornell University, points out that one flaw with many existing sugar taxes is that they are too local in scope. After Berkeley introduced its tax, sales of sugary drinks rose by 6.9% in neighbouring cities. Denmark, which instituted a tax on fat-laden foods in 2011, ran into similar problems. The government got rid of the tax a year later when it discovered that many shoppers were buying butter in neighbouring Germany and Sweden.

Moreover, the impact on public health is unclear. Consumers might simply get their sugar from other sources. Shu Wen Ng, an economist at UNC who studied the taxes in both Berkeley and Mexico, says that one reason for hope is that many people form their dietary habits when they are young. And fizzy drinks are disproportionally drunk by teenagers, who are more sensitive to price changes.

Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out that taxing foods like sugar and fat is in a different category from taxing tobacco and alcohol, because people need food to live. It presents public-health problems only when people eat too much. Mr Gruber says if he were king, he would target the problem more directly, by supplementing taxes on sugar and fat with a tax based on individuals’ body-mass indices.

The point of sin taxes is to make unhealthy goods more expensive on a relative basis, not to make the poor poorer. So a further concern is that they affect low-income households most. The poor spend a higher share of their income on consumption. So they are hit harder by any consumption tax, such as sales taxes in America or the European Union’s value-added taxes. Sin taxes are especially regressive, since poorer people are more likely to smoke and tend to drink more alcohol and sugary drinks. In theory, the sin taxes could be offset by earmarking any revenue from them for direct cash transfers or for social programmes aimed at reducing poverty. Philadelphia, for example, has earmarked the revenue from its sugar tax for schools, parks and libraries.

Double negatives

Debate about sin taxes often tends to blur two distinct purposes. One is to deter people from behaviour that does them harm. Another is to pay for the cost to society as a whole of that harmful behaviour—what economists call its “negative externalities”. Some examples can be fairly clear-cut. When a driver buys fuel for his car, for example, society as a whole has to suffer the consequences of the higher levels of pollution. Banning fossil fuels is impractical, so economists recommend taxing carbon-dioxide emissions instead.

Similar ideas underpin taxes on plastic bags to combat the growing problem of ocean pollution. In 2015 the British government passed a law forcing big retailers to charge 5p (6.6 cents) for every plastic bag. Use of plastic bags fell by 85%, though ecologists worry some consumers have switched to substitutes that are environmentally even more damaging. Cotton tote bags, for instance, have to be used 131 times to rank as greener than plastic alternatives.

Advocates of taxes on vices such as smoking and obesity argue that they also impose negative externalities on the public, since governments have to spend more to take care of sick people. However, policy papers tend to overstate the economic costs of activities like smoking because they rarely account for what would happen without them. Although unhealthy people tend to cost governments more money while they are alive, this is at least partially offset by the morbid fact that they tend to die earlier, and so draw less from services like pensions.

Different vices have different economic costs since they harm people in different ways. Save for the exceptionally overweight, most obese people do not die much earlier. But they do tend to require more medical attention than their healthier peers, often spanning the course of several decades. So obesity does impose net costs on taxpayers.

The externalities from alcohol are less clear. Only a minority of drinkers are serious alcoholics, which limits the direct health-care costs from drinking. Excessive drinking, however, does cause significant crime. Around 30% of fatal car crashes in America involve a driver who has been drinking. Alcohol is also heavily linked to domestic violence.

Smoking, in contrast, probably saves taxpayers money. Lifelong smoking will bring forward a person’s death by about ten years, which means that smokers tend to die just as they would start drawing from state pensions. In a study published in 2002 Kip Viscusi, an economist at Vanderbilt University who has served as an expert witness on behalf of tobacco companies, estimated that even if tobacco were untaxed, Americans could still expect to save the government an average of 32 cents for every pack of cigarettes they smoke.

The Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think-tank, has produced a series of reports on the net fiscal costs of drinking, smoking and obesity to the British government (see chart 2). They estimate that, after accounting for sin taxes, welfare costs, crime and early death, tobacco and alcohol are worth £14.7bn ($19.3bn) and £6.5bn a year, respectively, to the Treasury. Obesity, in contrast, costs it £2.5bn a year.

The best argument for sin taxes, however, is still the behavioural one. Economic models assume that people know what they are doing. Flesh-and-blood humans struggle with self-control. Most smokers are well aware of the health risks, but many still find it hard to quit. Tax policy can help. Mr Gruber argues that, once you allow for even a sliver of irrationality in human decision-making, the case for taxing addictive substances becomes clear.

The fizzy-drinks industry is fighting back. Cook County, which includes Chicago, repealed its sugar tax after just two months in part because of retailers’ complaints about falling sales. In June, after much lobbying from drinks firms, California’s state government passed a law preventing cities from taxing sugar until 2030.

In America, heart disease is linked to one in four deaths, and smoking to one in five. Sin taxes can make people healthier. But since most of the damage smokers, drinkers and the obese do is to themselves, rather than to others, governments need to think carefully about how much they want to interfere. Moreover, any cost-benefit analysis on the social impact of these vices needs to take into account that people do find them enjoyable. There is more to life than living longer.

Do “sin taxes” work?
And are they fair?
W.Z.
The Economist
Aug 10th 2018

MANY goverrments use “sin taxes” to dissuade people from smoking and drinking alcohol. In recent years, some lawmakers have turned their cross-hairs to a different vice: sugar. Obesity is on the rise all across the world. Forty per cent of Americans today are obese, up from around 15% in 1980. Several countries, along with a handful of American cities, have introduced taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. Their governments hope that these levies will both raise revenues and reduce how much sugar people consume. But do sin taxes even work?

Policymakers are right to think that sin taxes lead to lower consumption. The exact estimates vary from study to study, but economists have found that in general, a 1% increase in the price of tobacco or alcohol in America leads to a 0.5% decline in sales. In practical terms, this means that sales of tobacco and alcohol are more responsive overall to price changes than say, sales of many common household goods, such as coffee. Similarly, while it is still too early to determine whether these taxes will have any effect on obesity, studies have shown that they have at the very least reduced sales in Mexico, and the cities of Berkeley and Philadelphia.

But if there is a problem with sin taxes, it is not that they are ineffective. Rather, it is that they are inefficient. Sin taxes are blunt policy instruments. People who only have the occasional drink are not taking on any great health risks, yet they are taxed no differently than serious alcoholics. A similar logic applies for sugar taxes. Tobacco presents a slightly different problem. Nicotine is highly addictive, meaning that there are relatively few people who smoke cigarettes only occasionally.

It is easiest to justify taxes on particular goods when they present what economists call “negative externalities”. When a driver buys fuel for his car, both he and the petrol station benefit. Yet cars emit carbon dioxide in their wake, which suggests that it would be only fair for drivers to pay taxes to offset the environmental damage they cause. Some policymakers argue that people who engage in unhealthy habits also impose negative externalities, since they tend to present taxpayers with bigger medical bills. In practice, however, these costs tend to be overstated. While obese people probably do present net costs to governments, smokers tend to die earlier, meaning that they probably save governments money since they draw less from state pensions. Policymakers should still consider implementing sin taxes if they intend to intervene to change individuals’ behaviour. But they should be aware that the bulk of the damage that smokers, drinkers and the obese do is to themselves, and not to others.

Voir de même:

« La taxation n’est pas une solution aux vices des citoyens »

La théorie économique dit que la taxation compense les « externalités négatives » du marché des produits nocifs. A condition que l’Etat n’en détourne pas le produit, explique le chirurgien des hôpitaux Guy-André Pelouze.
Guy-André Pelouze, chirurgien des hôpitaux au Centre hospitalier Saint-Jean (Perpignan)
Le Monde
15 avril 2016

Taxer un individu ou une entreprise, c’est le contraindre à payer un montant en général proportionnel à un revenu ou à un actif. Tous les systèmes politiques ont recours à la taxation. « Je vais donc vous donner de quoi semer, et vous sèmerez vos champs, afin que vous puissiez recueillir des grains. Vous en donnerez la cinquième partie au roi ; et je vous abandonne les quatre autres pour semer les terres et pour nourrir vos familles et vos enfants » (Genèse 47 : 24), dit la Bible.Si la taxation est ancienne, l’utilisation des taxes varie selon les systèmes politiques. En France en 2014 ces ressources (44,7% du PIB) sont utilisées pour les fonctions régaliennes de l’état et pour l’état-providence (31,9% du PIB).La notion de vice est intimement liée à la morale et renvoie aux interdits religieux. Ce que l’on appelait vice dans la perspective de la tentation du mal a été requalifié par la science en addiction. Addiction à des substances, par exemple la nicotine ou à des pratiques comme le jeu ou à des comportements comme la boulimie compulsive. La nicotine est un psychostimulant présent dans les feuilles de tabac dont les effets comme pour la feuille de coca sont connus depuis longtemps. Dès l’ère industrielle la consommation de tabac fumé s’est développée, la pyrolyse permettant la prise de plus de nicotine juste en inhalant. Du vice à l’addiction la transition n’est pas neutre. Dans le premier l’individu est tenu pour responsable de ses choix de vie, dans l’addiction la responsabilité de l’individu peut être atténuée au motif que nous ne sommes pas égaux face à la dépendance.La prohibition encourage la contrebandeLes penchants particuliers pour les addictions ou les comportements moralement condamnables sont l’objet d’une interdiction (prohibition) ou d’une taxation. L’histoire nous démontre que la prohibition ne supprime pas le vice. En France le cannabis est interdit mais il est consommé par beaucoup de français y compris des adolescents. Comme l’héroïne, la cocaine est interdite mais la consommation n’a jamais été supprimée et si elle a baissé c’est en raison de l’apparition sur le marché d’autres drogues de synthèse toutes aussi interdites. Il est à cet égard surprenant que certains médecins demandentl’interdiction du tabac. Cette opinion formellement généreuse en dehors d’entraver dangereusement la liberté individuelle conduit en pratique au pire. La prohibition encourage la contrebande, la mauvaise qualité des produits consommés et d’autres activités criminelles. Mais de surcroît elle augmente la consommation, c’est le paradoxe de la prohibition.Si la prohibition ne peut venir à bout des vices humains il est souvent avancé que la taxation le pourrait. Les intentions des états sont ici parfaitement illisibles. La taxation apparait comme un compromis entre des intérêts puissants et un affichage de prévention. Pour autant les avocats des taxes comportementales répondent par l’argument du niveau de taxation. Si la taxe était très élevée, disent ils, la consommation baisserait. C’est déjà une concession car personne ne s’aventure à pronostiquer une disparition du tabac fumé. Néanmoins ils ont de sérieux arguments en particulier l’expérience australienne. Un continent isolé par la mer, de culture anglo-saxonne a réussi à infléchir sérieusement la consommation en augmentant les taxes jusqu’à rendre le paquet de cigarettes très cher. Ce n’est pas du tout la situation de la France. Si bien qu’en Europe force est de constater que les taxes ne peuvent venir à bout des vices.

En réalité la taxation supplémentaire des substances addictives a une base parfaitement légitime: celle des externalités. La consommation de tabac produit des effets que le marché n’internalise pas dans le prix, il s’agit du coût des soins induits par les différentes atteintes symptomatiques au niveau de l’organisme. La médecine connait avec précision les maladies induites par le tabac au niveau non seulement des artères et du poumon mais aussi ailleurs. Le coût des soins dus aux complications du tabac est payé par d’autres dans le cadre de la mutualisation de l’assurance maladie ou des impôts. Ces externalités négatives sont en partie seulement compensées par la moindre espérance de vie qui fait que les pensions ne sont plus versées. Grace à l’exhaustivité des données de soins et à leur précision nous pouvons calculer l’équation des externalités. C’est pourquoi la taxation pigouvienne (d’Arthur Cecil Pigou qui la décrivit dans son ouvrage de 1920: The Economics of Welfare, London: Macmillan.) est rationnelle. Elle permet de combiner liberté individuelle et conséquences économiques.

Mais dans ce domaine et à supposer que la taxe supplementaire sur le tabac devienne pigouvienne, il y a en France une situation exceptionnelle. La taxation du tabac est loin de se faire au profit des soins ou de la prévention. L’état dispose à sa guise des taxes et elles ont servi et servent encore de bouche trous dans les budgets sociaux non financés que l’état invente au gré de nécessités souvent électorales. Car il s’agit d’octroyer des “droits à” sans en avoir le financement nécessaire. Ainsi en 2000 le FOREC (Fonds de financement de la réforme des cotisations sociales) a bénéficié des faveurs de l’état bien en mal de trouver le financement nécéssaire: ce fonds se voit en effet attribuer 85,5 % du produit du “droit de consommation” sur les tabacs manufacturés. En 2012 ce n’est pas moins de 11 affectataires qui se partagés les 11,13 milliards d’euros du produit du “droit de consommation” du tabac, pour des fractions allant de 53,52 % pour la Cnam à 0,31 % pour le Fcaata (Fonds de cessation anticipée d’activité des travailleurs de l’amiante).

Si la taxation n’est pas une solution aux vices des citoyens on s’aperçoit qu’elle peut être la porte ouverte au vice de l’état qui consiste à détourner l’argent prélevé sur la base de motifs bien intentionnés pour en faire des ressources fiscales pour sa politique.

Voir également:

Voir par ailleurs:

Les abonnés absents des salles de sport

François Lévêque
The Conversation
21 juin 2016
Les salles de sport sont des biens de club. Sous cette apparente tautologie se cache un concept économique qui signe un service partagé de façon exclusive par plusieurs personnes, à l’instar de la piscine ou du terrain de tennis privé d’une résidence collective. La particularité de ce type de bien est que les individus en retirent une satisfaction qui pend des autres. D’un côté, plus le nombre de membres est élevé, plus la contribution de chacun aux coûts fixes d’investissement et de maintenance peut-être faible. D’un autre côté, plus le nombre de membres est élevé, plus la congestion s’accroît.
Accepter un nouveau membre permettra de diminuer l’abonnement annuel donnant accès à la piscine et au tennis, mais les nageurs risquent de se heurter dans le bassin et les joueurs de ne pas s’affronter à leur horaire préféré. Un club de sport est donc un bien de club au sens économique du terme : l’augmentation du nombre d’adhérents permettra de réduire le prix de l’abonnement, mais elle allongera la queue aux machines et aux douches.
Un exercice classique, mais musclé pour économiste s’entraînant aux biens de club consiste à calculer la capacité optimale pour un nombre de membres donnés (par exemple la dimension appropriée de la piscine pour les 50 habitants de la résidence), le nombre optimal de membres pour une capacité donnée (le nombre ial pour un bassin de 8 mètres par 4) pour en duire la capacité optimale pour le nombre optimal. Le tout en spécifiant une fonction de coût qui tienne compte des économies d’échelle et une fonction de bénéfice qui tienne compte du fait qu’au bout d’un moment la congestion l’emporte sur la camaraderie : accepter un nouveau membre augmente la possibilité de se faire un nouvel ami, mais ce gain devient inférieur à la gêne de congestion qu’il occasionne. James M. Buchanan, lauréat du prix Nobel d’économie en 1986, est le premier à s’être livré à cet exercice théorique.
Les propriétaires de salles de sport ont quant à eux trouvé un truc : faire signer un engagement d’un an aux abonnés qui n’utilisent pas, ou rarement, leurs équipements. Ces abonnés réduisent le montant individuel des cotisations sans embouteiller les installations. Aux États-Unis, près de la moitié des nouveaux inscrits aux premiers jours de janvier, la période de pointe des inscriptions, ne fréquente plus la salle de sport les mois suivants. Seul un nouvel abonné sur cinq continuera à s’y rendre après septembre. Les nouveaux inscrits se rendront en moyenne quatre fois dans la salle de sport dans l’année. Selon une étude de chercheurs québécois portant sur près de 1500 nouveaux inscrits dans des salles de Montréal, la fréquentation des salles de sport chute de près de moitié après quatre mois.
Pourtant les nouveaux inscrits aux salles de sport signent de leur plein gré et sans barguigner, ni rechigner sur la durée contractuelle de l’engagement, contrairement à ce qu’ils feraient pour un abonnement de téléphonie mobile ou de télévision payante. Pourquoi donc payent-ils pour ne pas aller à la gym ? Deux économistes ont cherché à répondre à cette question dans un article paru en 2006 dans l’American Economic Review, l’une des publications d’économie les plus prestigieuses au monde. Ils ont calculé combien d’argent ces consommateurs perdaient. Réponse 600 dollars. C’est la différence de ce que paye un membre qui a choisi un contrat forfaitaire au lieu de payer à la séance en achetant 10 tickets d’entrée, autre option qu’il aurait pu choisir. Cet écart s’explique par l’optimisme ou la naïveté. Lorsqu’elles s’inscrivent, les personnes surestiment le nombre de fois où elles se rendront en salle.
Dans l’étude québécoise jà citée, les nouveaux membres clarent, lorsqu’ils s’abonnent, le nombre de fois qu’ils comptent se rendre en salle. La fréquentation réelle observée par la suite est plus de deux fois inférieure. Les personnes croient à l’effet durable de leur bonne résolution de but d’année pour maigrir ou simplement entretenir leur forme. Peut-être certaines comptent-elles aussi sur l’effet incitatif du « J’ai payé donc il faut que j’amortisse mon forfait ». Quoi qu’il en soit c’est raté !
Les abonnés absents permettent à la salle de sport d’offrir un abonnement moins cher, ou bien… d’enrichir leur propriétaire. Tout pend de l’intensité de la concurrence. S’il n’y a pas d’autres clubs de gym à la ronde, le propriétaire conservera l’essentiel du profit tiré des absents. La concurrence est en effet d’abord locale. Les clients choisissent une salle proche de leur lieu de travail ou de résidence. À cette concurrence spatiale, s’ajoute une concurrence sur la qualité des services.
Le marché de la gym est coupé en trois segments. Les clubs de prestige proposent des abonnements à plus de 100 euros mensuels. Ils sont souvent associés à un droit d’entrée et à une obligation de parrainage. coration stylée (quoique parfois kitch), coach personnel, salle de relaxation, grande piscine en font des sortes de palace pour la gymnastique. Le Ritz Health Club est d’ailleurs ouvert aux sportifs extérieurs à l’hôtel (3 900 euros l’année ou 180 euros la journée, à vous de choisir).
Les salles de milieu de gamme qui proposent des abonnements compris entre 50 et 100 euros par mois sont le ventre mou du marché. Certes les clients auront droit à une serviette propre, pourront aussi transpirer dans un sauna ou un hammam et se saltérer au bar, mais tout a été calculé au plus près. Ce segment de marché est aujourd’hui fortement concurrencé par les salles à bas coûts.
Le low-cost de la gym est né aux États-Unis, l’espace n’y manque pas et les baux y sont bon marché depuis la crise financière. Il gagne l’Europe en passant d’abord par l’Angleterre où, grâce à son essor, l’adhésion aux salles progresse de plus de 10 % par an.
Que les chaînes low-cost se nomment Xercise4less, BudgetGym ou Fitness4less, le message est le même. Leur mole aussi : prix bas mensuel, ouverture 24 heures sur 24, et prestations réduites à l’essentiel. Vous n’y trouverez ni sauna ou hammam (des à-côtés dispendieux et peu utilisés), ni cours collectifs (ou alors en vio), ni personnel pour vous aider dans l’emploi des machines (sauf de 18h à 22h), ni miroirs à gogo (les mètres carrés de glace sont chers), ni serviette gratuite (n’oubliez pas d’apporter la vôtre), et parfois il vous faudra payer pour prendre une douche (un demi-euro chez Neoness).
En revanche, les tarifs sont hors concours. Les formules à 10 $, 10 £ ou 10 € par mois ont essaimé dans la plupart des métropoles, plutôt à leur périphérie, là où les loyers sont beaucoup moins chers. Les salles low-cost ne demandent aucun engagement contractuel. Pour faire des affaires, elles ne comptent pas sur l’absentéisme, mais sur la réduction des coûts et des tarifs. Elles attirent de nouveaux adeptes, mais aspirent aussi les clients des clubs du ventre mou sensibles au prix.
Ces clubs comptent en moyenne 5 000 membres contre 1 900 tous segments de marché confondus. En outre, ils conservent mieux leurs clients. Ne s’engageant pas de façon naïve ou optimiste sur le long terme, ils ne connaissent pas la sillusion du manque d’assiduité qui les conduit à ne pas renouveler leur abonnement en fin d’année.
Pris en étau entre les clubs de prestige et ceux à bas coût, les propriétaires des salles du milieu de gamme ont du souci à se faire. En 2014 au Canada, près de 300 gyms de ce segment ont fermé tandis que le nombre d’ouvertures de salles low-cost s’est élevé au double.
S’ils ne veulent pas disparaître, les clubs du ventre mou doivent réussir à proposer du haut de gamme à prix serré ou parvenir à réduire drastiquement leurs coûts, leur prix et la durée d’engagement contractuel. S’ensuivra aussi un changement du côté des membres : les absentéistes finalement peu sireux de soulever de la fonte ou de pratiquer du vélo elliptique cesseront de subventionner les assidus des salles de sport aux abdominaux en forme de tablette en chocolat ou au muscle cardiaque de danseuse de zumba.
Voir encore:

Fiscalité, consommation, revenus.. ce qui change au 1er janvier
Le Parisien

Tanguy de l’Espinay

30 décembre 2018

Prélèvement à la source, réforme du compte formation, interdiction du glyphosate, etc… De nombreux changements interviennent ce mardi, notamment dans le quotidien des Français.
Comme chaque année, tout un train de réformes et de mesures entre en vigueur le 1er janvier. Derrière la locomotive du prélèvement à la source, nous avons comptabilisé une cinquantaine de changements tous secteurs confondus, qui auront plus ou moins d’impact sur la vie quotidienne des Français.

FISCALITÉ DES MÉNAGES
Impôt à la source : c’est parti ! L’impôt se prélève désormais à la source, c’est-à-dire via une retenue sur le salaire mensuel (il faudra attendre encore un an pour les particuliers employeurs). Le 15 janvier, un acompte de 60 % sera versé aux contribuables bénéficiant de réductions et crédits d’impôts. Si vous êtes perdus, le numéro d’information (0809.401.401) n’est désormais plus surtaxé.

CSG : la hausse annulée pour les petites retraites.L’annulation de la hausse de la CSG pour les retraités touchant moins de 2000 euros par mois entre en vigueur. Mais dans l’immédiat, tous les bénéficiaires doivent continuer pendant quelques mois à payer la CSG augmentée (8,3 %). Ils seront remboursés rétroactivement au plus tard le 1er juillet. Les personnes déclarant moins de 14 548 € de revenu annuel bénéficient toujours du taux réduit de 3,8 %.

L’« exit tax » allégée. Le nouveau dispositif qui remplace l’« exit tax » cible désormais les cessions de patrimoine intervenant jusqu’à deux ans après un départ de France, contre 15 ans auparavant.

CONSOMMATION ET TARIFS RÉGLEMENTÉS
Baisse des tarifs du gaz. Dans la foulée d’une première baisse de 2,4 % en décembre, les tarifs réglementés du gaz, appliqués à près de 4,5 millions de foyers français par Engie, baissent de 1,9 %.

Chèque énergie augmenté. Il permet de s’acquitter des factures liées à une consommation énergétique, gaz, fioul, électricité…). Le montant maximal est revu à la hausse de 50 € au 1er janvier, il variera entre 76 € et 277 €. Ce chèque énergie va bénéficier cette année à 5,8 millions de ménages. Le plafond d’attribution s’élève désormais à 10 700 € pour une personne seule et 16 050 € pour un couple.

Tabac : 7e hausse en 18 mois. Si la majorité des références restent stables (ce qui signifie que les fabricants rognent sur leurs marges pour absorber la hausse des taxes), le Marlboro Red passe à 8,20 euros.

+10 % pour les timbres. Le timbre rouge passe de 0,95 € à 1,05 € et le vert de 0,80 € à 0,88 €.

Fini les promos Nutella !La loi EGAlim entre en vigueur. Les promotions sur les produits alimentaires ne pourront pas excéder 34 % du prix de vente au consommateur. Ce n’est que le premier étage de la fusée. Le 1er février, plus aucun produit alimentaire ne pourra être revendu à moins de 10 % du prix auquel il a été acheté, et le 1er mars, le volume global des promotions sera limité à 25 % du chiffre d’affaires ou du volume prévisionnel d’achat entre le fournisseur et le distributeur fixé par contrats.

REVENUS
Le Smic passe la barre des 10 € de l’heure (en brut).Le taux horaire du Smic est revalorisé mécaniquement de 1,5 % et passe de 9,88 à 10,03 euros en brut. Soit de 1 498,47 à 1 521,22 € mensuels bruts pour un temps plein.

+90 € de prime d’activité. C’est l’une des mesures d’urgence décidées pour enrayer la colère des Gilets jaunes : la prime d’activité pour les salariés autour du Smic va bondir de 90 €. Les bénéficiaires en verront la couleur le 5 février.

LIRE AUSSI >Mesures d’urgences : ce que prévoit vraiment le gouvernement

Les heures sup défiscalisées. Les heures supplémentaires sont désormais défiscalisées et déchargées, pour tous les salariés, dans le privé comme dans le public.

TRAVAIL
Réforme de l’apprentissage. La limite d’âge maximum passe de 26 à 29 ans. La durée du travail des apprentis est assouplie et une aide unique est créée pour les entreprises de moins de 250 salariés.

Un pas de plus vers le rattrapage salarial des femmes. Les entreprises ne doivent plus seulement mesurer les écarts de salaires existants, mais aussi rendre des comptes en matière d’augmentations et de promotions.

PROTECTION SOCIALE
Très légère hausse des retraites. Le gouvernement a décidé de limiter à 0,3 % la revalorisation des pensions de retraite. Pour rappel, l’inflation est estimée à 1,7 % pour 2019 par la Banque de France.

Complémentaires : fusion Agirc/Arrco. Avec le prélèvement à la source, c’est l’autre gros changement de ce 1er janvier : la fusion effective des régimes complémentaires de retraite des salariés du privé Agirc (les salariés cadres) et l’Arrco (pour les salariés non-cadres), décidée en 2015. Concrètement, à ce jour, les cotisations retraite des actifs seront affectées à un seul et même compte rassemblant les points Agirc-Arrco. Autre changement : la revalorisation annuelle des retraites complémentaires ne va plus se baser sur l’inflation, mais sur l’évolution moyenne des salaires.

Retraites : le dispositif de décote-surcote entre en application. Concrètement : tout salarié souhaitant prendre sa retraite à 62 ans, même s’il a tous ses droits et tous ses trimestres cotisés, subit une décote de 10 % sur sa pension durant trois ans. S’il travaille un an de plus jusqu’à 63 ans, le malus disparaît. Et au-delà, il bénéficie d’une surcote, avec un bonus durant un an de 10 % pour 2 ans de travail en plus, 20 % pour 3 ans, et 30 % pour 4 ans.

Demande unique de retraite en ligne. Même si vous avez cotisé à plusieurs régimes de retraite, il est désormais possible de faire une demande unique de retraite en ligne.

Le système de retraite des auteurs refondu. Tous les artistes-auteurs, quel que soit leur niveau de revenus, et même s’ils sont déjà retraités, sont désormais redevables d’une cotisation de 6,9 %, au titre de leur retraite de base, prélevée à la source sur leurs droits d’auteur.

Augmentation du minimum-vieillesse. Le minimum vieillesse augmente de 35 € par mois pour une personne seule (868 €), et de 54 € pour un couple (1 348 €).

Allocation adulte handicapé : des droits à vie. Les droits sont désormais attribués à vie pour les personnes dont le taux d’incapacité est supérieur à 80 % et dont l’état de santé ne peut s’améliorer. Concrètement, ces personnes n’auront plus à repasser des examens médicaux pour justifier la réalité de leur handicap pour bénéficier de l’AAH, ou encore d’une carte mobilité inclusion.

FISCALITÉ DES ENTREPRISES
Année blanche pour les créateurs et repreneurs d’entreprise. Les créateurs et repreneurs bénéficient, sous conditions de ressources, d’une année blanche de cotisations sociales, au titre de leur première année d’activité.

Les Gafa taxés. Sans attendre ses voisins européens, la France applique désormais la taxe sur les géants du numérique (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc.). Cette taxe ne se limitera pas au chiffre d’affaires mais s’étendra « aux revenus publicitaires, aux plateformes et à la revente de données personnelles ».

L’intéressement libéré dans les PME. Le forfait social sur l’intéressement pour toutes les entreprises de moins de 250 salariés est supprimé.

Ce qui va changer au 1er Janvier 2019

FINANCE
Facturation électronique obligatoire. La facturation électronique devient obligatoire pour les petites et moyennes entreprises (10 à 250 salariés). Encore un an et ce sera également le cas pour les TPE.

De la monnaie virtuelle chez les buralistes. La nouvelle a fait beaucoup de bruit lors de son annonce : les bureaux de tabac peuvent désormais délivrer des coupons de 50, 100 ou 250 € convertibles en bitcoin ou en ethereum. Sans l’aval de la Banque de France.

AGRICULTURE
L’épargne de précaution encouragée. Un nouveau dispositif d’épargne de prévention des aléas est mise en place pour les exploitants : moyennant une obligation d’épargne, ils pourront pratiquer une déduction fiscale sur leur résultat d’exploitation, laquelle sera proportionnée à leur bénéfice.

Une nouvelle carte pour les aides européennes. La nouvelle carte européenne des Zones défavorisées simples (ZDS) entre en application. Elle établit qui a le droit à l’indemnité compensatoire de handicaps naturels (ICHN), versée à 25 % par l’État et à 75 % par l’UE.

SANTÉ
Autisme : vers un forfait de remboursement du dépistage. Pour éviter d’avoir à payer plein pot les innombrables examens qui précèdent un diagnostic d’autisme, les parents d’enfants atteints jouissent désormais d’un forfait de remboursement des dépistages de la maladie.

Le prix de vente des prothèses auditives plafonné. Il sera plafonné à 1 300 euros. Le remboursement minimum par la Sécurité sociale et les mutuelles passera de 199,71 à 300 euros. Pour les enfants jusqu’à 20 ans révolus, ces deux montants seront alignés à 1 400 €.

Réforme des honoraires de dispensation. L’entrée en vigueur d’une réforme sur les « honoraires de dispensation » versés aux pharmaciens va provoquer l’augmentation du prix de certains médicaments comme les sirops pour la toux, les sprays nasaux ou les somnifères. En vertu de cette réforme votée en 2017, la commission que touchent les pharmaciens sur chaque boîte de médicaments depuis 2015 pour compenser la baisse de leurs marges, n’est plus fixe, mais varie en fonction du traitement.

Les médecins ne peuvent plus prescrire de traitement non-remboursable. Seuls les traitements anti-tabac remboursables peuvent désormais être prescrits par les médecins.

Certains actes moins remboursés, d’autres à 100 %. L’Assurance maladie remboursera 6 € de moins à partir du 1er janvier pour certains actes médicaux coûteux, pour lesquels la « participation forfaitaire » de l’assuré passera de 18 à 24 euros, sauf pour les personnes exonérées (invalides, femmes enceintes, malades chroniques…).

De nouveaux remboursements à 100 % sont créés, notamment pour les examens de santé obligatoires des enfants de moins de 6 ans et pour les honoraires perçus par les pharmaciens sur les « médicaments particulièrement coûteux et irremplaçables ». A partir du 1er juin, la consultation de prévention des cancers du sein et du col de l’utérus pour les femmes de 25 ans sera aussi intégralement remboursée.

ENVIRONNEMENT
Nouveau barème pour le bonus-malus automobile. Le malus auto ne coûte pas plus cher mais son seuil est abaissé de 3 g, passant ainsi de 120 à 117 g de CO2 rejetés par kilomètre.

Fini le glyphosate. La commercialisation et la détention de produits phytosanitaires à usage non professionnel sont interdites.

Les autocars polluants au garage. Les autocars aux normes Euro 4 et antérieurs, les plus polluants, n’ont plus le droit de circuler.

Extension de la prime à la conversion. Cette prime versée lors de la mise à la casse d’une ancienne voiture et de l’achat d’un nouveau véhicule peu polluant est reconduite et étendue aux véhicules hybrides et d’occasion. Elle est également doublée pour les 20 % des ménages les plus modestes et les actifs qui ne paient pas d’impôts et parcourent au moins 60 km chaque jour pour se rendre à leur travail.

TRANSPORTS
L’étau se resserre contre les conducteurs sans assurance. Les forces de l’ordre peuvent désormais utiliser un fichier national qui répertorie tous les véhicules assurés en France. Cette nouvelle base contient des informations sur l’immatriculation du véhicule, le nom de l’assureur et le numéro du contrat avec sa période de validité.

Nouvelle formation post-permis. Afin de réduire de trois à deux ans le délai probatoire pour obtenir 12 points, les jeunes conducteurs venant d’avoir le sésame peuvent prendre une formation « post-permis » de sept heures. Il faut pour y être éligible avoir eu le permis il y a plus de six mois mais moins d’un an.

500 € pour les apprentis qui passent le permis. France compétences finance une aide de 500 € aux apprentis pour qu’ils s’inscrivent au permis de conduire.

POLITIQUE
Les pensions de retraite des députés sont revalorisées.

Listes électorales : le délai pour s’inscrire est étendu. Pour la première fois, entrer dans une année électorale sans être inscrit n’est pas un souci : l’échéance pour s’inscrire sur les listes électorales est étendue. Pour les Européennes du printemps prochain, vous avez jusqu’au 31 mars.

TERRITOIRES
Paris : département et commune fusionnent. À cette occasion, l’État va transférer des compétences vers la nouvelle collectivité créée : « Ville de Paris ».

JUSTICE
Changement de ton dans les tribunaux. C’est une petite révolution : par souci de clarté, le Conseil d’État, les cours administratives d’appel et les tribunaux administratifs vont opter pour le style direct dans leur décision.

SÉCURITÉ/DÉFENSE
Une prime pour les généraux. Les hauts gradés bénéficient désormais d’une « indemnité spécifique de haute responsabilité » comme pour les cadres d’entreprises.

Coup de pouce pour les policiers. Les gardiens de la paix voient leur salaire augmenter de 40 €. Il sera encore revalorisé dans l’année.

TOURISME ET LOISIRS
Airbnb : les cartes prépayées interdites. On ne peut plus payer avec une carte prépayée sur des plateformes de location de meublés touristiques telles Airbnb.

Une taxe de séjour pour tous. Airbnb, Abritel-HomeAway, LeBonCoin, Tripadvisor, et les autres plateformes de location doivent désormais collecter la taxe de séjour.

DIPLOMATIE
Chaises musicales à l’Onu. Entrent en tant que membres non-permanents du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU l’Allemagne, la Belgique, l’Afrique du Sud, l’Indonésie et la République dominicaine, pour deux ans.

La France prend la tête du G7.

La Roumanie prend la présidence de l’UE.

Voir enfin:

Cinq questions sur la théorie russe qui remet en cause l’âge record de Jeanne Calment

Des chercheurs russes pensent que Yvonne Calment, la fille de l’ancienne doyenne de l’humanité, aurait usurpé l’identité de sa mère. « Abracadabrantesque », juge Jean-Marie Robine, qui avait participé à la validation de la longévité de la Française.

Une vaste supercherie ? Des chercheurs russes affirment que le record de longévité de Jeanne Calment n’en est pas un. Leur théorie qui suscite l’intérêt et provoque la controverse au sein de la communauté scientifique soulève toutefois plusieurs questions.

Qui était Jeanne Calment ? 

Jeanne Calment aimait dire que « Dieu l’avait oubliée ». Cette Française, née le 21 février 1875, plus d’une décennie avant la construction de la tour Eiffel ou l’invention du cinéma, est morte le 4 août 1997, dans une maison de retraite d’Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône). Elle avait alors officiellement 122 ans et 164 jours. Cet âge exceptionnel fait d’elle la détentrice du record mondial de longévité, tous sexes confondus, homologué par le Guinness Book.

Quelle est cette théorie russe ? 

Le mathématicien russe Nikolaï Zak, membre de la Société des naturalistes de l’université de Moscou, doute de l’authenticité du record de longévité de Jeanne Calment. Soutenu par le gérontologue russe Valeri Novosselov, il a pendant des mois analysé les biographies, interviews et photos de Jeanne Calment, ainsi que des témoignages de ceux qui l’avaient connue et les archives d’Arles.

Nikolaï Zak est arrivé à la conclusion que la fille de Jeanne Calment, Yvonne, avait pris l’identité de sa mère. Le chercheur estime qu’en 1934, ce n’est pas l’unique fille de Jeanne Calment, Yvonne, qui est morte d’une pleurésie, comme le dit la version officielle, mais Jeanne Calment elle-même. Yvonne aurait alors emprunté l’identité de sa mère, ce qui aurait permis d’éviter de payer les droits de succession. C’est donc elle qui serait morte en 1997, à l’âge de 99 ans. Un incroyable tour de passe-passe.

Parmi les 17 éléments que présente le chercheur figure une copie de la carte d’identité de Jeanne Calment datant des années 1930 où la couleur de ses yeux (noirs), sa taille (1m52) et la forme de son front (bas) ne correspondent pas à celles de la doyenne française au cours de ces dernières années de vie. Alimentant les doutes, Jeanne Calment avait ordonné de brûler une partie de ses archives photos quand elle est devenue célèbre, selon les chercheurs russes.

« En tant que médecin, j’ai toujours eu des doutes sur son âge », abonde le gérontologue russe Valeri Novosselov, qui dirige la section gérontologique au sein de la Société des naturalistes de Moscou. « L’état de ses muscles était différent de celui des autres doyens. Elle se tenait assise sans aucun soutien. Elle n’avait aucun signe de démence. »

Nikolaï Zaka eu l’idée d’enquêter sur la vie de Jeanne Calment pendant la création d’un « modèle mathématique » de la durée de vie des supercentenaires. « Plus je fouillais, plus je découvrais de contradictions », souligne-t-il. Le mathématicien russe a publié récemment son étude sur le site ResearchGate, un réseau international pour chercheurs et scientifiques.

Existe-t-il d’autres soupçons ?

Nikolaï Zak mentionne un livre datant de 1997, L’Assurance et ses secrets, contenant un court passage consacré à Jeanne Calment, qui soulève l’hypothèse d’un échange d’identités entre la mère et la fille. L’auteur du livre, Jean-Pierre Daniel, raconte qu’un contrôleur des sociétés d’assurance, se penchant sur le viager signé par la centenaire, avait déjà conclu à une fraude. « Mais à l’époque, Jeanne Calment était déjà considérée comme une idole nationale. Ce fonctionnaire a interrogé son administration, qui a répondu qu’il fallait continuer à payer la rente. Il n’était pas question de faire un scandale avec la doyenne des Français », explique-t-il à l’AFP.

Les travaux du mathématicien russe sont jugés crédibles par certains scientifiques qui relèvent les limites des validations des records de longévité. « L’idée d’usurpation d’identité [de Jeanne Calment par sa fille] avait déjà été envisagée par les validateurs et j’invitais régulièrement les démographes à conserver cette hypothèse », confirme à l’AFP Nicolas Brouard, directeur de recherche à l’Institut national d’études démographiques (Ined). « C’est bien que Nikolaï Zak ait mené une recherche indépendante et sur le même terrain d’investigation. C’est un très bon travail », assure-t-il.

Quant au démographe belge Michel Poulain, professeur à l’université de Louvain, il salue une « investigation aussi détaillée » qui montre pour lui la nécessité de « réinvestir scientifiquement pour valider l’âge exceptionnel de ces supercentenaires ». « La probabilité d’un âge erroné augmente de façon exponentielle avec l’âge présumé », explique-t-il à l’AFP.

Pourquoi cette théorie est-elle contestée ?

Le démographe et gérontologue français Jean-Marie Robine, qui avait participé à la validation par le Guinness des records de l’âge de Jeanne Calment, assure n’avoir « jamais eu aucun doute sur l’authenticité des documents » de cette dernière. Il dénonce « un texte à charge, qui n’examine jamais les faits en faveur de l’authenticité de la longévité de Madame Calment ».

« Vous imaginez le nombre de personnes qui auraient menti », fait valoir l’expert dans Le Parisien. « Du jour au lendemain, Fernand Calment [le mari de Jeanne Calment mort en 1942] aurait fait passer sa fille pour son épouse et tout le monde aurait gardé le silence », pointe le spécialiste. Et de conclure : « C’est abracadabrantesque. »

« On n’a jamais autant fait pour prouver l’âge d’une personne », assure Jean-Marie Robine. « On n’a jamais rien trouvé qui nous permettait d’émettre le moindre soupçon sur son âge. On a eu accès à des informations qu’elle seule pouvait connaître, comme le nom de ses professeurs de mathématiques ou de bonnes passées par l’immeuble. On lui a posé des questions sur ces sujets. Soit elle ne se souvenait plus, soit elle a répondu juste. Sa fille n’aurait pas pu savoir ça. »

Le maire d’Arles à l’époque de la mort de Jeanne Calment, Michel Vauzelle, juge lui aussi que cette théorie est « complètement impossible et invraisemblable », parce que Jeanne Calment était suivie selon lui par de nombreux médecins.

Comment mettre fin au doute ?

« On pourrait procéder à une exhumation des cadavres », suggère à franceinfo Michel Allard, gérontologue qui a participé à la validation de l’âge de Jeanne Calment. Dans Le Parisien, Nicolas Brouard, l’expert de l’Ined, estime lui aussi que l’étude russe est « un argument en faveur de l’exhumation des corps de Jeanne et Yvonne Calment ». Une fois les corps exhumés, des prélèvements permettraient leur datation avec certitude.

Mais l’éventualité d’une exhumation est cependant très improbable, selon Michel Allard. D’abord, « il faudrait qu’un procureur de la République l’autorise ou le prescrive ». Ensuite, il faudrait que la famille de Jeanne Calment le demande, note le spécialiste. Or, pointe-t-il, « soit elle est au courant de la supercherie et donc ils ne vont pas demander l’exhumation, soit ils sont convaincus que c’est impossible, que c’est un scénario loufoque, donc ils ne vont pas demander non plus l’exhumation, en sachant que cette histoire a été montée de toute pièce ».


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