Chute du mur de Berlin/30e: De la révolution à la guerre des bananes (Banana revolution: that such a basic commodity was a luxury good in East Germany tells you all you need to know about the pitfalls of communism)

12 novembre, 2019

File:Zonen-gaby.jpg

A la surprise de nombreux Allemands de l’Ouest, beaucoup de visiteurs orientaux utilisèrent les 100 DM de leur « argent de bienvenue » (somme d’argent versée par la RFA aux visiteurs de la RDA) pour acheter de grandes quantités de bananes, une rareté très prisée à l’Est. Durant les mois qui suivirent l’ouverture de la frontière, les bananes étaient vendues par caisses entières aux Allemands de l’Est qui pensaient que les stocks seraient bientôt épuisés. Cette frénésie pour le fruit fit de la banane le symbole officieux des changements en Allemagne de l’Est que certains surnommèrent la « révolution de la banane ». Certains Allemands de l’Ouest de gauche protestèrent contre ce qu’ils considéraient comme un consumérisme galopant en lançant des bananes sur les Allemands de l’Est se rendant à l’Ouest. L’obsession des Allemands de l’Est pour les bananes fut parodiée par la célèbre couverture de novembre 1989 du magazine satirique ouest-allemand Titanic qui indiquait « Gaby (17), contente d’être en Allemagne de l’Ouest : Ma première banane » alors qu’elle tient un gros concombre épluché. Wikipedia
For all the meddling the Communist bloc countries have done in banana republics, they still never seem to be able to get their hands on any actual bananas. PJ O’Rourke
There’s something alarmingly wrong with a system that manages to make Germans poor. PJ O’Rourke
Comme cela était inévitable, la marche contre l’islamophobie a payé au prix fort ses ambiguïtés. En laissant quelques fanatiques scander Allah Akbar ! en plein défilé, ses organisateurs ont davantage contribué à renforcer l’islamophobie que toute la fachosphère réunie. Dimanche, l’islam de France a manqué un rendez-vous crucial avec la République. Les cris d’Allah Akbar ! et l’indécente exhibition d’étoiles jaunes en resteront les catastrophiques symboles, la marche contre l’islamophobie fut une marche arrière. Eric Naulleau
Les amis des USA et de l’Union Européenne ont rétabli leur ‘démocratie’ : pogroms anti-indiens, tabassages de journalistes et d’élus, putch militaire. Tel est leur monde idéal. Jean-Luc Mélenchon
Dans cette Bolivie aux dizaines de coups d’État depuis les années 1960″, les événements de ces derniers jours « relèvent d’ un conflit de classes exacerbé, d’un racisme déchaîné, d’une opposition enragée contre le système d’Etat plurinational constructeur de la redistribution des richesses et la conquête de la souveraineté nationale.  Sous le fallacieux prétexte de fraude électorale, la droite dont la logistique est assurée par les services nord-américains (…) n’a pas accepté la victoire d’Evo Morales conquise grâce au vote déterminant des indigènes tellement il est insupportable à la bourgeoisie, en majorité blanche, et pour une partie des couches moyennes, sorties de la misère par Morales lui-même, d’accepter le verdict des urnes. Fabien Roussel (PCF)
La France insoumise s’associe aux protestations contre la violence de l’extrême droite putschiste bolivienne et partage le soutient à Evo Morales qu’ont exprimé les principaux dirigeants des pays de l’Amérique du sud et les partis progressistes de cette région du monde ». Les dirigeants du Venezuela, du Nicaragua, de Cuba, ainsi que le président élu argentin Alberto Fernandez et l’ancien président brésilien Lula , ont tous dénoncé un « coup d’Etat » contre Evo Morales, leader indigène de 60 ans, qui était au pouvoir depuis 2006. Boursorama
A l’occasion des 30 ans de la chute du mur, France Info a diffusé un reportage établissant un parallèle entre le mur de Berlin et la barrière de sécurité séparant Israël de la Cisjordanie. Pas un mot sur le terrorisme. C’est une recette classique du bidouillage journalistique : profiter d’un anniversaire historique pour raconter toute autre chose et vendre à ses auditeurs un reportage qui ne s’encombre ni de l’exactitude des faits, ni de l’honnêteté intellectuelle la plus élémentaire. Depuis des années, la propagande palestinienne et ses relais dans la presse française s’ingénient à établir un parallèle fallacieux entre le mur de Berlin derrière lequel des millions de citoyens est-allemands furent emprisonnés durant des décennies et la barrière israélienne de sécurité destinée à protéger les civils israéliens des attentats qui firent des ravages tout au long de la seconde Intifada. C’est le biais choisi par France Info qui a diffusé le 6 novembre un reportage au titre choc, repris les jours suivants sur les antennes soeurs de France Inter et France Culture : « Jamila, l’enfant de deux murs ». Pour fêter le 30e anniversaire de l’événement, l’envoyé spécial de France Info, Omar Ouahmane, a ainsi déniché la perle rare : Jamila, née le 9 novembre 1989 – jour de la chute du Mur – dans un hôpital dont les fenêtres surplombaient le rideau de fer séparant les deux Allemagnes. Le nouveau né a pour ainsi dire couvert l’événement en direct. Mais ce n’est pas tout. Si la mère de Jamila est allemande, son père est palestinien ! Originaire de Naplouse, en Cisjordanie, Moufid Youssef est arrivé à Berlin-Est en 1978 pour mener des études médecine. C’est un sacré « scoop » que vient de lever là le reportage de France Info qui s’autorise pour la circonstance à dresser un parallèle audacieux : De cette union est donc née Jamila, enfants de deux murs, celui de Berlin, qu’elle n’a pas connu, et celui qui sépare Israël des territoires palestiniens, mur qu’elle a découvert en 2008. Le reporter interviewe Jamila. Elle raconte son voyage en Palestine : Nous avons traversé le checkpoint de Kalandia et je me souviens de ce regard bizarre parce que j’avais un passeport allemand avec un nom arabe et j’ai vu tous ces gens qui étaient contrôlés. J’ai ressenti un sentiment de colère et aussi un peu de peur. J’ai toujours espéré que ce mur tombe avant ma mort. Les auditeurs de France Info n’en apprendront guère plus. Rien n’est expliqué, tout est suggéré. Dans quel but, dans quelles circonstances le « mur » israélien (qui est en réalité une barrière sur l’essentiel de son tracé) a-t-il été érigé ? Le reportage n’en dit rien. Pas un seul rappel sur les attentats-suicides quasi quotidiens qui ont frappé les cafés, les restaurants et les transports en commun israéliens durant la seconde Intifada. Pas un seul mot sur le millier de morts provoqué par ces attentats terroristes. La « barrière de sécurité » israélienne n’a été installée que pour protéger les civils israéliens (juifs et arabes) des attentats sanglants perpétrés par des terroristes du Hamas, des Tanzim et des Brigades des martyrs d’al Aqsa du Fatah, et du Jihad islamique palestinien. Tout dans le reportage de France Info est fait pour établir une analogie fallacieuse entre les Palestiniens et les Allemands de l’Est qui durant plus de quarante ans ne pouvaient fuir la dictature communiste et étaient maintenus prisonniers dans leur propre pays. Les civils palestiniens ont bien entendu toute possibilité de quitter la Cisjordanie, notamment en passant par la Jordanie. Chaque jour, des milliers de Palestiniens franchissent la barrière de sécurité pour venir travailler en Israël, visiter leur famille ou recevoir des soins dans les hôpitaux israéliens. Le « Mur », tel que le désigne France Info, ne constitue pas davantage une prison pour les Arabes israéliens qui ont – à l’instar de leurs concitoyens juifs – toute latitude pour voyager à l’étranger. Il suffit de déambuler dans les halls de l’aéroport Ben Gourion de Tel Aviv pour le constater. Enfin, dernier rappel historique : le parallèle établit par France Info est d’autant plus malhonnête que l‘ex-dictature communiste de la défunte République démocratique allemande avait su développer des liens très étroits avec les organisations terroristes palestiniennes auxquelles la Stasi (les services secrets de l’ex-RDA) fournissait un appui logistique très appréciable. Infoequitable
Eastern bloc kids collected Western candy bar wrappers. Outdated catalogues from the West were kept as coffee table books or fashion magazines. In a world full of grey, the colorful Western waste was treasure. Corecom was a chain of hard-currency stores back in the Communist days providing goods imported from the West. They were inaccessible for most Bulgarians because the national currency, the lev, was not accepted at the stores. Anyone purchasing goods at Corecom with unauthorized foreign currency ran the risk of being investigated by the authorities. The sweetest
It’s 30 years since we started to wash the stench of Soviet socialism out of the windpipes of the body politic, which means it’s about time to consider the importance of bananas. The humble yellow fruit might seem a triviality, but it’s actually quite illustrative of the pitfalls of communism. As PJ O’Rourke once observed: “For all the meddling the Communist bloc countries have done in banana republics, they still never seem to be able to get their hands on any actual bananas.” Another of O’Rourke’s pithier observations was that there’s something alarmingly wrong with a system that manages to make Germans poor. What’s especially odd is that a banana company is an island of central planning in our free market world. The system is owned, usually at least, from end to end. The plantation is planned, it is known how much the production will be. The fruit are transported on specialist – planned – ships and the technology of stopping them ripening before they get to market is well known. That such a basic commodity was a luxury good in East Germany tells you all you need to know about that system’s manifest failings. The fruit’s absence typified the shortages and penury of life in the old GDR. Indeed, when a shipment did come in there would be queues around the block. Meanwhile over in West Germany, the banana was a potent symbol of the country’s 1950s economic miracle – so much so that West German president Konrad Adenauer once brandished one in the Bundestag and hailed it as “paradisical manna”. The best part of the story is what happened immediately after the formal reunification of Germany, a year after the wall fell. As the hours and the minutes ticked down lorries full of bananas queued at the soon to be defunct border crossings. As midnight passed and freedom reigned again, they powered their way to every town, village and hamlet carrying their vital cargo. By that first rosy dawn every shop, flower stall, tobacco kiosk and newsagent in the no longer socialist republic was festooned with bananas. it was a political statement, of course, a message to former East Germans that their new polity could deliver this simple and yellow thing with total efficiency. And such was the enthusiasm for this new bounty that for a time the Easterners were referred to their by their Western cousins as ‘bananen’. It is possible to tell more complex tales that illustrate the starkness of the economic divide. Take the VW executive who went to see the Trabant factory at Zwickau. For all the Western auto companies were running slide rules over the varied Dacias, Skodas and the like. On giving his report back at Wolfsburg our stalwart German auto manager burst into tears. Those Trabbies were worth less than the raw materials entering the other end of the factory. Forget even the value of the labour or capital, the process of turning papier mache (I kid you not, I have personally witnessed a horse eating one) into a car body reduced the value of the original ingredients. That is how you can make even Germans poor of course. Having to explain this to people raised in a more or less sane economic system is presumably what caused that executive to start blubbering in the boardroom. It isn’t even just the inefficiency that grates, it’s the driving ethos of the whole system. For this is what planned economies do. They give the people – badly, late and expensively – what the planners think they should want, rather than what they actually do want. Yes, bananas are trivial but again, as O’Rourke puts it: “The privileges of liberty and the sanctity of the individual went out and whipped butt.” Yep, in all its waxy yellowness. Tim Worstall
La guerre de la banane, quelquefois appelée conflit de la banane, est un différend politique, économique et commercial centré sur des questions de droit de douanes relatifs à la banane, entre l’Union européenne, et les pays latino-américains, soutenus par les États-Unis. Ce conflit a démarré en 1993, avec plusieurs annonces de fin, en 2009 et en 20111. Selon le point de vue européen, il s’agissait de préserver les producteurs membres des pays ACP menacés par la libéralisation des normes économiques exigée par l’OMC (Organisation mondiale du commerce). Selon le point de vue américain, il s’agissait de dénoncer un régime douanier inéquitable. Les États-Unis, commercialisant ces bananes provenant de l’Amérique latine, étaient partisans du démantèlement de toute protection économique. En rétorsion des mesures européennes, Washington a décidé d’imposer des sanctions douanières aux exportations européennes, qui n’ont été levées qu’en 2001. À la veille du lancement du cycle de Doha de libéralisation des échanges agricoles, Pascal Lamy, Commissaire européen du commerce, se félicitait alors d’avoir montré par cet accord que les différents États impliqués pouvaient « gérer des différends commerciaux de manière professionnelle ». Wikipedia
As I understand it, the only people in Europe who like straight bananas are the Germans, who lacking any former colonies in the Caribbean were obliged to import their bananas from Latin America (this may be why so many bigshot Nazis retired there). The biggest banana consumers in the world, the Germans have a psychologically complex relationship with the fruit. Konrad Adenauer famously brandished a banana in the Bundestag, calling it « paradisical manna », and thus became the only European politician to appear with a banana as a matter of policy until that monkey who got elected mayor the other week. Yet, after reunification, West Germans referred to East Germans disparagingly as « bananen » because the delicacy had been so rare on the other side of the Berlin Wall (« Ja, ve haff nein bananen »). At the same time, the biggest-selling vibrator in Germany was a battery-operated banana and the biggest-selling condom was banana-flavoured. I gather there are EU regulations on the shape and size of condoms, so presumably the popular banana Eurocondom conforms to directives on both banana size and condom size. I don’t believe the banana question would ever have reared its ugly head had not tariff-free dollar bananas for Germany been written into the original Treaty of Rome. Conversely, the rest of Europe’s banana supply – almost entirely curved – was governed by the Banana Regime of the 1957 Lome Convention. The German banana exemption was the Trojan horse by which the straight banana penetrated the European hinterland. And there things rested until the 1993 EU Banana Regime attempted to reconcile the curved bananas of the Lome Convention with the straight bananas of the Treaty of Rome and wound up getting taken to the WTO and infuriating the Americans. At the height of the subsequent banana war, Brussels was putting tariffs on straight bananas. With hindsight, it seems the height of hypocrisy to defend the curved banana against the straight banana when, on the equally vexed question of cucumber curvature, the EU instituted mandatory straightening. In 1999, Washington demanded an investigation into EU policy on the crookedness of fruits, but at the time Brussels was too busy investigating the fruits of crookedness, with a half-hearted inquiry into EU corruption and cronyism. This was the period when Commissioner Edith Cresson was in trouble for putting her dentist on the payroll as a $300,000 EU « scientific adviser », and then declaring she was shocked to find this sort of thing going on right under her nose, though that would seem the obvious place to look for one’s dentist. Mme Cresson, to the best of my knowledge, played no role in drafting EU policy on the identification of fruits, except for her celebrated remark that most Englishmen were homosexual. Anyway, I asked an EU friend in Brussels (Motto: « You don’t have to be bananas to work here but it helps ») whether this week’s news would be seen as a great victory for the fruitarian lobby. He said, « The fruit Aryan? You mean that Dutch guy who got shot a couple of weeks back? Nine-day wonder. We’re over that now. » Finally, you’re probably wondering how the straight vs curved banana dispute fits into the war on terror. All I know is that Muslims believe that man was expelled from the Garden of Eden not because of an apple but because of a green banana. Where does the EU stand (or slip) on those? Mark Steyn
De la révolution à la guerre des bananes
A l’heure où le monde fête le 30e anniversaire de la chute du mur de Berlin …
Pendant qu’après la marche de la honte, entre cris d’Allahu Akbar et fausses étoiles jaunes, contre la prétendue islamophobie  …
Nos Mélenchon et autres néo-staliniens s’associent aux dirigeants venezueliens, nicaraguais et cubains pour dénoncer le « coup d’Etat » contre le voleur d’élection Evo Morales …

Et nos journalistes de la Pravda du service public français ne résistent pas à l’ocassion d’une énième et fallacieuse comparaison du « mur » israélien

Avec cet nfâme symbole d’un système qui avait réduit des populations entières pendant des décennies …
A collectionner les emballages de friandises ou les vieux catalogues de l’ouest …
Et qui voyait deux jours plus tard avec l’ouverture des frontières intérieures près du quart de la population est-allemande …
Se ruer, pour les acheter par caisses entières, sur les bananes de l’ouest …
Quelle meilleure illustration des aberrations du système communiste
Que la transformation de ce qui était devenu un produit d’alientation de base à l’ouest …
En un produit de luxe hors de portée de la plupart des gens à l’est ?
Mais aussi comme le rappelait alors l’impayable Mark Steyn
Quelle meilleure illustration des aberrations du réglementarisme bruxellois …
A travers l’Atlantique pour cause de courbure et de longueur non conformes  …
Que cette nouvelle et  terrible guerre des bananes des années 90  ?

Why command economies are absolutely bananas

Tim Worstall

It’s 30 years since we started to wash the stench of Soviet socialism out of the windpipes of the body politic, which means it’s about time to consider the importance of bananas.

The humble yellow fruit might seem a triviality, but it’s actually quite illustrative of the pitfalls of communism. As PJ O’Rourke once observed: “For all the meddling the Communist bloc countries have done in banana republics, they still never seem to be able to get their hands on any actual bananas.”

Another of O’Rourke’s pithier observations was that there’s something alarmingly wrong with a system that manages to make Germans poor.

What’s especially odd is that a banana company is an island of central planning in our free market world. The system is owned, usually at least, from end to end. The plantation is planned, it is known how much the production will be. The fruit are transported on specialist – planned – ships and the technology of stopping them ripening before they get to market is well known.

That such a basic commodity was a luxury good in East Germany tells you all you need to know about that system’s manifest failings. The fruit’s absence typified the shortages and penury of life in the old GDR. Indeed, when a shipment did come in there would be queues around the block.

Meanwhile over in West Germany, the banana was a potent symbol of the country’s 1950s economic miracle – so much so that West German president Konrad Adenauer once brandished one in the Bundestag and hailed it as “paradisical manna”.

The best part of the story is what happened immediately after the formal reunification of Germany, a year after the wall fell. As the hours and the minutes ticked down lorries full of bananas queued at the soon to be defunct border crossings. As midnight passed and freedom reigned again, they powered their way to every town, village and hamlet carrying their vital cargo.

By that first rosy dawn every shop, flower stall, tobacco kiosk and newsagent in the no longer socialist republic was festooned with bananas. it was a political statement, of course, a message to former East Germans that their new polity could deliver this simple and yellow thing with total efficiency. And such was the enthusiasm for this new bounty that for a time the Easterners were referred to their by their Western cousins as ‘bananen’.

It is possible to tell more complex tales that illustrate the starkness of the economic divide. Take the VW executive who went to see the Trabant factory at Zwickau. For all the Western auto companies were running slide rules over the varied Dacias, Skodas and the like. On giving his report back at Wolfsburg our stalwart German auto manager burst into tears. Those Trabbies were worth less than the raw materials entering the other end of the factory. Forget even the value of the labour or capital, the process of turning papier mache (I kid you not, I have personally witnessed a horse eating one) into a car body reduced the value of the original ingredients.

That is how you can make even Germans poor of course. Having to explain this to people raised in a more or less sane economic system is presumably what caused that executive to start blubbering in the boardroom.

It isn’t even just the inefficiency that grates, it’s the driving ethos of the whole system. For this is what planned economies do. They give the people – badly, late and expensively – what the planners think they should want, rather than what they actually do want.

Yes, bananas are trivial but again, as O’Rourke puts it: “The privileges of liberty and the sanctity of the individual went out and whipped butt.” Yep, in all its waxy yellowness.

Voir aussi:

I have mixed feelings about this week’s landmark court decision striking down EU regulations on the curvature of fruit and veg. As a rule, I like my cucumbers straight and my bananas curved. I’m cool on EU regulation 1677/88 (if memory serves) requiring Class One cukes to curve less than 10mm every 10cm. But on bananas I’m a bender. The notorious EU regulation 2257/94 stating that bananas must be « free of abnormal curvature » and should be at least 5.5 inches long makes no sense, unless it was drafted by Paula Jones while still in shock.

But, frankly, I had no idea the EU were the ones in favour of uncurved bananas. I seem to remember during the « transatlantic banana split » of a few years ago that it was we in North America who were on the side of the straight banana and you in Europe who were the curvy ones. The banana war of the late Nineties was the turn-of-the-millennium version of those 19th-century imperial disputes where the Great Powers line up behind one obscure tribe or another and stage a proxy war. In this case, it was something to do with the different spheres of influence of Fyffes, Europe’s banana supremo, and Chiquita, America’s top banana. The US championed the cause of Latin-American bananas – these are the so-called « dollar » bananas: tall, straight, and thick-skinned, much like the Americans themselves. The Europeans, meanwhile, were on the side of Afro-Caribbean-Pacific bananas: short, bent, and with a pronounced aroma, much like the Europeans themselves.

Yet, despite the preceding slur, I’m personally drawn to the furtive, stooped, crooked European fruit. The dollar banana strikes me as pretty tasteless by comparison: it makes a witty and amusing touch for your headgear on Carmen Miranda night at the golf club, but is less effective in your standard banana cream pie. As I understand it, the only people in Europe who like straight bananas are the Germans, who lacking any former colonies in the Caribbean were obliged to import their bananas from Latin America (this may be why so many bigshot Nazis retired there). The biggest banana consumers in the world, the Germans have a psychologically complex relationship with the fruit. Konrad Adenauer famously brandished a banana in the Bundestag, calling it « paradisical manna », and thus became the only European politician to appear with a banana as a matter of policy until that monkey who got elected mayor the other week.

Yet, after reunification, West Germans referred to East Germans disparagingly as « bananen » because the delicacy had been so rare on the other side of the Berlin Wall (« Ja, ve haff nein bananen »). At the same time, the biggest-selling vibrator in Germany was a battery-operated banana and the biggest-selling condom was banana-flavoured. I gather there are EU regulations on the shape and size of condoms, so presumably the popular banana Eurocondom conforms to directives on both banana size and condom size. I don’t believe the banana question would ever have reared its ugly head had not tariff-free dollar bananas for Germany been written into the original Treaty of Rome. Conversely, the rest of Europe’s banana supply – almost entirely curved – was governed by the Banana Regime of the 1957 Lome Convention. The German banana exemption was the Trojan horse by which the straight banana penetrated the European hinterland.

And there things rested until the 1993 EU Banana Regime attempted to reconcile the curved bananas of the Lome Convention with the straight bananas of the Treaty of Rome and wound up getting taken to the WTO and infuriating the Americans. At the height of the subsequent banana war, Brussels was putting tariffs on straight bananas. With hindsight, it seems the height of hypocrisy to defend the curved banana against the straight banana when, on the equally vexed question of cucumber curvature, the EU instituted mandatory straightening.

In 1999, Washington demanded an investigation into EU policy on the crookedness of fruits, but at the time Brussels was too busy investigating the fruits of crookedness, with a half-hearted inquiry into EU corruption and cronyism. This was the period when Commissioner Edith Cresson was in trouble for putting her dentist on the payroll as a $300,000 EU « scientific adviser », and then declaring she was shocked to find this sort of thing going on right under her nose, though that would seem the obvious place to look for one’s dentist. Mme Cresson, to the best of my knowledge, played no role in drafting EU policy on the identification of fruits, except for her celebrated remark that most Englishmen were homosexual.

Anyway, I asked an EU friend in Brussels (Motto: « You don’t have to be bananas to work here but it helps ») whether this week’s news would be seen as a great victory for the fruitarian lobby. He said, « The fruit Aryan? You mean that Dutch guy who got shot a couple of weeks back? Nine-day wonder. We’re over that now. »

Finally, you’re probably wondering how the straight vs curved banana dispute fits into the war on terror. All I know is that Muslims believe that man was expelled from the Garden of Eden not because of an apple but because of a green banana. Where does the EU stand (or slip) on those?

Voir également:

Démission d’Evo Morales : le PCF et LFI dénoncent une « logique de coup d’État » en Bolivie

Dans un communiqué, la France insoumise a ciblé « l’extrême droite putschiste » après la démission diamnche du président de Bolivie Evo Morales.

Boursorama avec AFP Services

11/11/2019

« Un conflit de classes exacerbé, d’un racisme déchaîné ». Le Parti communiste français et la France insoumise ont dénoncé la « logique de coup d’Etat » qui a conduit, selon eux, à l a démission du président bolivien Evo Morales dimanche 10 novembre après trois semaines de protestations contre sa réélection. « Dans cette Bolivie aux dizaines de coups d’État depuis les années 1960 », les événements de ces derniers jours « relèvent d’ un conflit de classes exacerbé, d’un racisme déchaîné, d’une opposition enragée contre le système d’Etat plurinational constructeur de la redistribution des richesses et la conquête de la souveraineté nationale « , s’émeut le secrétaire national du PCF Fabien Roussel dans un communiqué publié lundi.

« Sous le fallacieux prétexte de fraude électorale, la droite dont la logistique est assurée par les services nord-américains (…) n’a pas accepté la victoire d’Evo Morales conquise grâce au vote déterminant des indigènes tellement il est insupportable à la bourgeoisie, en majorité blanche, et pour une partie des couches moyennes, sorties de la misère par Morales lui-même, d’accepter le verdict des urnes », ajoute-t-il.

« Un coup d’État » dénoncé par plusieurs pays d’Amérique du Sud

LFI accuse pour sa part l’opposition qui « multiplie les actes racistes et les violences dans une logique de coup d’Etat » , dans un communiqué publié dimanche. « La France insoumise s’associe aux protestations contre la violence de l’extrême droite putschiste bolivienne et partage le soutient à Evo Morales qu’ont exprimé les principaux dirigeants des pays de l’Amérique du sud et les partis progressistes de cette région du monde ». Les dirigeants du Venezuela, du Nicaragua, de Cuba, ainsi que le président élu argentin Alberto Fernandez et l’ancien président brésilien Lula , ont tous dénoncé un « coup d’Etat » contre Evo Morales, leader indigène de 60 ans, qui était au pouvoir depuis 2006.

« Coup d’Etat en #Bolivie contre @evoespueblo (Evo Morales, ndlr). Les amis des USA et de l’Union Européenne ont rétabli leur ‘démocratie’ : pogroms anti-indiens, tabassages de journalistes et d’élus, putsch militaire. Tel est leur monde idéal », a également dénoncé Jean-Luc Mélenchon, le chef de file de LFI sur Twitter.

Voir encore:

Éric Naulleau : “la marche contre l’islamophobie a payé au prix fort ses ambiguïtés”
Valeurs actuelles
12 novembre 2019

Pour le chroniqueur, la marche du dimanche 10 novembre a “contribué à renforcer l’islamophobie”.
Avant même son départ, la marche contre l’islamophobie ne faisait pas l’unanimité. Le PS et EELV (la sénatrice Esther Benbassa y participait à titre personnel), par exemple, s’en sont désolidarisés. Une fois lancé, le cortège a été émaillé par des incidents qui ont donné raison aux détracteurs de la manifestation à laquelle 10 000 personnes ont participé, selon les chiffres de la préfecture de Police. Sur Twitter, Éric Naulleau, chroniqueur de l’émission Balance ton post sur C8, l’assure : « Comme cela était inévitable, la marche contre l’islamophobie a payé au prix fort ses ambiguïtés. En laissant quelques fanatiques scander Allah Akbar ! en plein défilé, ses organisateurs ont davantage contribué à renforcer l’islamophobie que toute la fachosphère réunie ».

« Indécente exhibition d’étoiles jaunes »
Et d’ajouter : « Dimanche, l’islam de France a manqué un rendez-vous crucial avec la République. Les cris d’Allah Akbar ! et l’indécente exhibition d’étoiles jaunes en resteront les catastrophiques symboles, la marche contre l’islamophobie fut une marche arrière ».

Pour le chroniqueur, « si les organisateurs de la marche de demain en avaient seulement appelé à la juste lutte contre l’islamophobie, je l’aurais évidemment soutenue. Mais la pollution de l’initiative par des propos et des personnages antirépublicains rend la chose impossible. Quel gâchis ! »

Voir enfin:

Mur de Berlin: la comparaison fallacieuse de France Info avec Israël

C’est une recette classique du bidouillage journalistique : profiter d’un anniversaire historique pour raconter toute autre chose et vendre à ses auditeurs un reportage qui ne s’encombre ni de l’exactitude des faits, ni de l’honnêteté intellectuelle la plus élémentaire.

Depuis des années, la propagande palestinienne et ses relais dans la presse française s’ingénient à établir un parallèle fallacieux entre le mur de Berlin derrière lequel des millions de citoyens est-allemands furent emprisonnés durant des décennies et la barrière israélienne de sécurité destinée à protéger les civils israéliens des attentats qui firent des ravages tout au long de la seconde Intifada.

C’est le biais choisi par France Info qui a diffusé le 6 novembre un reportage au titre choc, repris les jours suivants sur les antennes soeurs de France Inter et France Culture : « Jamila, l’enfant de deux murs ».

Pour fêter le 30e anniversaire de l’événement, l’envoyé spécial de France Info, Omar Ouahmane, a ainsi déniché la perle rare : Jamila, née le 9 novembre 1989 – jour de la chute du Mur – dans un hôpital dont les fenêtres surplombaient le rideau de fer séparant les deux Allemagnes. Le nouveau né a pour ainsi dire couvert l’événement en direct.

Mais ce n’est pas tout. Si la mère de Jamila est allemande, son père est palestinien ! Originaire de Naplouse, en Cisjordanie, Moufid Youssef est arrivé à Berlin-Est en 1978 pour mener des études médecine.

C’est un sacré « scoop » que vient de lever là le reportage de France Info qui s’autorise pour la circonstance à dresser un parallèle audacieux :

De cette union est donc née Jamila, enfants de deux murs, celui de Berlin, qu’elle n’a pas connu, et celui qui sépare Israël des territoires palestiniens, mur qu’elle a découvert en 2008.

Le reporter interviewe Jamila. Elle raconte son voyage en Palestine :

Nous avons traversé le checkpoint de Kalandia et je me souviens de ce regard bizarre parce que j’avais un passeport allemand avec un nom arabe et j’ai vu tous ces gens qui étaient contrôlés. J’ai ressenti un sentiment de colère et aussi un peu de peur. J’ai toujours espéré que ce mur tombe avant ma mort

Décryptage

Les auditeurs de France Info n’en apprendront guère plus. Rien n’est expliqué, tout est suggéré. Dans quel but, dans quelles circonstances le « mur » israélien (qui est en réalité une barrière sur l’essentiel de son tracé) a-t-il été érigé ? Le reportage n’en dit rien. Pas un seul rappel sur les attentats-suicides quasi quotidiens qui ont frappé les cafés, les restaurants et les transports en commun israéliens durant la seconde Intifada. Pas un seul mot sur le millier de morts provoqué par ces attentats terroristes.

La « barrière de sécurité » israélienne n’a été installée que pour protéger les civils israéliens (juifs et arabes) des attentats sanglants perpétrés par des terroristes du Hamas, des Tanzim et des Brigades des martyrs d’al Aqsa du Fatah, et du Jihad islamique palestinien. Tout dans le reportage de France Info est fait pour établir une analogie fallacieuse entre les Palestiniens et les Allemands de l’Est qui durant plus de quarante ans ne pouvaient fuir la dictature communiste et étaient maintenus prisonniers dans leur propre pays.

Les civils palestiniens ont bien entendu toute possibilité de quitter la Cisjordanie, notamment en passant par la Jordanie.

Chaque jour, des milliers de Palestiniens franchissent la barrière de sécurité pour venir travailler en Israël, visiter leur famille ou recevoir des soins dans les hôpitaux israéliens.

Le « Mur », tel que le désigne France Info, ne constitue pas davantage une prison pour les Arabes israéliens qui ont – à l’instar de leurs concitoyens juifs – toute latitude pour voyager à l’étranger. Il suffit de déambuler dans les halls de l’aéroport Ben Gourion de Tel Aviv pour le constater.

Enfin, dernier rappel historique : le parallèle établit par France Info est d’autant plus malhonnête que l‘ex-dictature communiste de la défunte République démocratique allemande avait su développer des liens très étroits avec les organisations terroristes palestiniennes auxquelles la Stasi (les services secrets de l’ex-RDA) fournissait un appui logistique très appréciable.

Certains dossiers exhumés des archives de la Stasi ont fourni à ce sujet de précieux renseignements.

Peut-être l’occasion d’un futur reportage de l’envoyé spécial de France Info à Berlin ?


Columbus Day/527e: Cherchez le massacre ! (Looking back at the holiday that helped Italians join the white race)

14 octobre, 2019

Chagall-Tabernacles-1916Le premier repas de Thanksgiving (novembre 1621), par Jean Leon Gerome FerrisImage result for Canadian Thanksgiving Oct 14 2019Related imagehttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/1891_New_Orleans_Italian_lynching.jpg?uselang=frMontgomery Advertiser, Vol. LXXVII, Issue 21, p. 4.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/Biblioteca_del_Senado_de_la_Provincia_-_52_-_Por_una_raza_fuerte%2C_laboriosa%2C_pacifista_y_soberana.jpg

Image result for Columbus day NY 2019Related imageImage result for Columbus day NY 2019Image result for Columbus day NY 2019Image result for Columbus day NY 2019Image result for Columbus day NY 2019
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Le quinzième jour du septième mois, quand vous récolterez les produits du pays, vous célébrerez donc une fête à l’Éternel (…) et vous vous réjouirez devant l’Éternel, votre Dieu, pendant sept jours. (…) Vous demeurerez pendant sept jours sous des tentes … afin que vos descendants sachent que j’ai fait habiter sous des tentes les enfants d’Israël, après les avoir fait sortir du pays d’Égypte. Je suis l’Éternel, votre Dieu. Lévitique 23: 39-43
Si l’image nous révolte tant, c’est parce que nous en sommes tous collectivement responsables (…) cette scène, ces mots, ce comportement sont d’une violence et d’une haine inouïes. Mais par notre lâcheté, par nos renoncements, nous avons contribué, petit à petit, à les laisser passer, à les accepter. Cette femme a été « publiquement piétinée, chosifiée, déshumanisée, devant le groupe d’enfants qu’elle accompagnait bénévolement (…) Quelles seront les conséquences d’une telle humiliation publique si ce n’est renvoyer à cet enfant qu’il demeure un citoyen de seconde zone, indigne d’être pleinement français et reconnu comme tel ? Où est l’indignation générale ? Où sont les émissions de télévision, de radio, hormis quelques billets et tribunes comme celle-ci pour condamner cette agression ? Où est la parole publique de premier niveau, celle de nos élus, des partis politiques, celle des ministres, celle du président de la République pour refuser l’inacceptable ? Ne nous y trompons donc pas. L’extrême droite a fait de la haine contre les musulmans un outil majeur de sa propagande, mais elle n’en a pas le monopole. Des membres de la droite et de la gauche dites républicaines n’hésitent pas à stigmatiser les musulmans, et en premier lieu les femmes portant le voile, souvent -au nom de la laïcité-. Jusqu’où laisserons-nous passer ces haines ? (…) Jusqu’à quand allons-nous accepter que la laïcité, socle de notre République, soit instrumentalisée pour le compte d’une vision ségrégationniste, raciste, xénophobe, mortifère de notre société ? Acceptons-nous de nous laisser sombrer collectivement ou disons-nous stop maintenant, tant qu’il est encore temps ? Nous demandons urgemment au Président de la République de condamner publiquement l’agression dont cette femme a été victime devant son propre fils (…) de refuser que nos concitoyens musulmans soient fichés, stigmatisés, dénoncés pour la simple pratique de leur religion et d’exiger solennellement que cessent les discriminations et les amalgames envers une partie de notre communauté nationale. 90 personnalités
Dans une tribune publiée ce mardi sur lemonde.fr, 90 personnalités, dont l’acteur Omar Sy, le rappeur Nekfeu, le réalisateur Mathieu Kassovitz, ou encore la députée LFI Danièle Obono demandent au Chef de l’Etat d’intervenir pour condamner fermement « l’agression » dont a été victime la mère voilée vendredi dernier après la vidéo tournée par un élu RN au Conseil régional de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Parmi les 90 personnalités signataires : Rokhaya Diallo, journaliste et réalisatrice, DJ Snake, artiste, Marina Foïs, actrice, Mathieu Kassovitz, acteur et réalisateur, Kyan Khojandi, auteur, Tonie Marshall, réalisatrice, productrice, Guillaume Meurice, humoriste, Géraldine Nakache, actrice et réalisatrice, Nekfeu, artiste, Danièle Obono, députée (La France insoumise), Alessandra Sublet, animatrice, Omar Sy, acteur… France bleu
Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent. Russell Means
It’s almost obscene to celebrate Columbus because it’s an unmitigated record of horror. We don’t have to celebrate a man who was really — from an Indian point of view — worse than Attila the Hun. Hans Koning
The evidence of Aztec cannibalism has largely been ignored and consciously or unconsciously covered up. Michael Harner (New School for Social Research)
Dr. Harner’s theory of nutritional need is based on a recent revision in the number of people thought to have been sacrificed by the Aztecs. Dr. Woodrow Borah an authority on the demography of ancient Mexico at the University of California, Berkeley, has recently estimated that the Aztecs sacrificed 250,000 people a year. This consituted about 1 percent of the region’s population of 25 million. (…) He argues that cannibalism, which may have begun for purely religious reasons, appears to have grown to serve nutritional needs because the Aztecs, unlike nearly all other civilizations, lacked domesticated herbivores such as pigs or cattle. Staples of the Aztec diet were corn and beans supplemented with a few vegetables, lizards, snakes and worms. There were some domesticated turkeys and hairless dogs. Poor people gathered floating mats of vegetation from lakes. (…) In contemporary sources, however, such as the writings of Hernando Cortes, who conquered the Aztecs in 1521, and Bernal Diaz, who accompanied Cortes, Dr. Hamer says there is abundant evidence that human sacrifice was a common event in every town and that the limbs of the victims were boiled or roasted and eaten. Diaz, who is regarded by anthropologists as a highly reliable source, wrote in “The Conquest of New Spain,” for example, that in the town of Tlaxcala “we found wooden cages made of lattice‐work in which men and women were imprisoned and fed until they were fat enough to be sacrificed and eaten. These prison cages existed throughout the country.” The sacrifices, carried out by priests, took place atop the hundreds of steepwalled pyramids scattered about the Valley of Mexico. According to Diaz, the victims were taken up the pyramids where the priests “laid them down on their backs on some narrow stones of sacrifice and, cutting open their chests, drew out their palpitating hearts which they offered to the idols before them. Then they kicked the bodies down the steps, and the Indian butchers who were waiting below cut off their arms and legs. Then they ate their flesh with a sauce of peppers and tomatoes.” (…) Diaz’s accounts indicate that the Aztecs ate only the limbs of their victims. The torsos were fed to carnivores in zoos. According to Dr. Harner, the Aztecs never sacrificed their own people. Instead they battled neighboring nations, using tactics that minimized deaths in battle and maximized the number of prisoners. The traditional explanation for Aztec human sacrifice has been that it was religious—a way of winning the support of the gods for success in battle. Victories procured even more victims, thus winning still more divine support in the next war. (…) Traditional anthropological accounts indicate that to win more favor from the gods during the famine the Aztecs arranged with their neighbors to stage battles for prisoners who could be sacrificed. The Aztecs’ neighbors, sharing similar religious tenets, wanted to sacrifice Aztecs to their gods. The NYT
Specialists in Mesoamerican history are going to be upset about this for obvious reasons. They’re not going to have the people they study looking like cannibals. They’re clinging to a very romantic point of view about the Aztecs. It’s the Hiawatha syndrome. Michael Harner
Some conquistadors wrote about the tzompantli and its towers, estimating that the rack alone contained 130,000 skulls. But historians and archaeologists knew the conquistadors were prone to exaggerating the horrors of human sacrifice to demonize the Mexica culture. As the centuries passed, scholars began to wonder whether the tzompantli had ever existed. Archaeologists at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) here can now say with certainty that it did. Beginning in 2015, they discovered and excavated the remains of the skull rack and one of the towers underneath a colonial period house on the street that runs behind Mexico City’s cathedral. (The other tower, they suspect, lies under the cathedral’s back courtyard.) The scale of the rack and tower suggests they held thousands of skulls, testimony to an industry of human sacrifice unlike any other in the world. Science
Some post-conquest sources report that at the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs sacrificed about 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days. This number is considered by Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, to be an exaggeration. Hassig states « between 10,000 and 80,400 persons » were sacrificed in the ceremony. The higher estimate would average 15 sacrifices per minute during the four-day consecration. Four tables were arranged at the top so that the victims could be jettisoned down the sides of the temple. Nonetheless, according to Codex Telleriano-Remensis, old Aztecs who talked with the missionaries told about a much lower figure for the reconsecration of the temple, approximately 4,000 victims in total. Michael Harner, in his 1977 article The Enigma of Aztec Sacrifice, cited an estimate by Borah of the number of persons sacrificed in central Mexico in the 15th century as high as 250,000 per year which may have been one percent of the population. Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl, a Mexica descendant and the author of Codex Ixtlilxochitl, estimated that one in five children of the Mexica subjects was killed annually. Victor Davis Hanson argues that a claim by Don Carlos Zumárraga of 20,000 per annum is « more plausible ». Wikipedia
Certains chercheurs ont émis l’hypothèse que l’apport en protéines des aliments dont disposaient les Aztèques était insuffisant, en raison de l’absence de grands mammifères terrestres domesticables, et que les sacrifices humains avaient pour fonction principale de pallier cette carence nutritionnelle. Cette théorie, en particulier quand elle a été diffusée par le New York Times, a été critiquée par la majorité des spécialistes de la Mésoamérique. Michael Harner a notamment accusé les chercheurs mexicains de minimiser le cannibalisme aztèque par nationalisme ; Bernardo R. Ortiz de Montellano, en particulier, a publié en 1979 un article détaillant les failles de l’analyse de Harner, en démontrant notamment que le régime alimentaire aztèque était équilibré, varié et suffisamment riche en protéines, grâce à la pêche d’une abondante faune aquatique et la chasse de nombreux oiseaux, et que donc l’anthropophagie ne pouvait pas être une nécessité, car elle n’aurait pas pu améliorer significativement un apport en protéines déjà suffisant. Michel Graulich a apporté d’autres éléments de critique. Il affirme que si cette théorie était exacte, la chair des victimes aurait dû être distribuée au moins autant aux gens modestes qu’aux puissants, mais il semble que ce n’était pas le cas ; il ajoute que seules les grandes villes pratiquaient le sacrifice humain de masse, et que ce phénomène n’a pas été prouvé dans la plupart des autres populations mésoaméricaines, dont l’alimentation semble pourtant comparable à celle des Aztèques. Wikipedia
Considérant que c’est le devoir de toutes les Nations de reconnaître la providence de Dieu Tout-puissant, d’obéir à sa volonté, d’être reconnaissantes pour ses bienfaits, et humblement implorer sa protection et sa faveur, et tandis que les deux Chambres du Congrès m’ont, par leur Comité mixte, demandé de recommander au Peuple des États-Unis qu’un jour public d’action de grâce et de prières soit observé en reconnaissance aux nombreux signes de faveur de Dieu Tout-puissant, particulièrement en ayant donné au Peuple les moyens d’établir pacifiquement une forme de gouvernement pour sa sûreté et son bonheur. Maintenant donc, je recommande et assigne que le premier jeudi après le 26e jour de novembre soit consacré par le Peuple de ces États au service du grand et glorieux Être, qui est l’Auteur bienfaisant de tout ce qu’il y a eu, qu’il y a et qu’il y aura de bon. Nous pouvons alors tous nous unir en lui donnant notre sincère et humble merci, pour son soin et sa protection, appréciés du Peuple de ce Pays, avant que celui-ci ne soit devenu une Nation de pitié ; pour les interpositions favorables de sa Providence lors de nos épreuves durant le cours et la fin de la récente guerre ; pour le grand degré de tranquillité, d’union, et d’abondance, que nous avons depuis appréciées ; pour le pacifisme et la raison qui nous ont été conférés pour nous permettre d’établir des constitutions de gouvernement pour notre sûreté et notre bonheur, en particulier la Loi nationale récemment instituée, ; pour la liberté civile et la liberté religieuse formant à elles seules une vraie bénédiction ; pour les moyens que nous avons d’acquérir et de répandre la connaissance utile ; et d’une manière générale pour toutes les grandes et diverses faveurs qu’il nous a bien heureusement conférées. Nous pouvons alors nous unir en offrant le plus humblement nos prières et supplications au grand Seigneur et Gouverneur des Nations et le solliciter pour pardonner nos transgressions nationales et autres transgressions ; pour nous permettre à tous, en poste public ou privé, de remplir nos nombreuses fonctions respectives, correctement et ponctuellement ; pour permettre à notre gouvernement national de rendre bénédiction à toutes les personnes, en étant constamment un Gouvernement de lois sages, justes, et constitutionnelles, discrètement et loyalement exécutées et obéies ; pour protéger, guider et bénir tous les Souverains et toutes les Nations (particulièrement celles qui ont montré de la bonté envers nous), afin de leur assurer paix et concordance, et assurer un bon gouvernement ; pour favoriser la connaissance et la pratique vraies de la religion et de la vertu, ainsi que davantage de science parmi eux et nous, et accorder généralement à toute l’Humanité un tel degré de prospérité temporelle comme lui seul sait pour être le meilleur. « Donné sous ma main à la Ville de New-York le troisième jour d’octobre par année 1789 de notre Seigneur. George Washington
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. Abraham Lincoln
Whereas by a joint resolution approved June 29, 1892, it was resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled— That the President of the United States be authorized and directed to issue a proclamation recommending to the people the observance in all their localities of the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, on the 21st of October, 1892, by public demonstrations and by suitable exercises in their schools and other places of assembly. Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States of America, in pursuance of the aforesaid joint resolution, do hereby appoint Friday, October 21, 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, as a general holiday for the people of the United States. On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life. Columbus stood in his age as the pioneer of progress and enlightenment. The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the day’s demonstration. Let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the country and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship. In the churches and in the other places of assembly of the people let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the discoverer and for the divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people. (…) Done at the city of Washington, this 21st day of July, A.D. 1892, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and seventeenth. US president Benjamin Harrison
Of all the bedtime-story versions of American history we teach, the tidy Thanksgiving pageant may be the one stuffed with the heaviest serving of myth. This iconic tale is the main course in our nation’s foundation legend, complete with cardboard cutouts of bow-carrying Native American cherubs and pint-size Pilgrims in black hats with buckles. And legend it largely is. In fact, what had been a New England seasonal holiday became more of a “national” celebration only during the Civil War, with Lincoln’s proclamation calling for “a day of thanksgiving” in 1863. That fall, Lincoln had precious little to be thankful for. The Union victory at Gettysburg the previous July had come at a dreadful cost – a combined 51,000 estimated casualties, with nearly 8,000 dead. Enraged by draft laws and emancipation, rioters in Northern cities like New York went on bloody rampages. And the president and his wife, Mary, were still mourning the loss of their 11-year-old son, Willie, who had died the year before. So it might seem odd that Lincoln chose this moment to announce a national day of thanksgiving, to be marked on the last Thursday in November. His Oct. 3, 1863, proclamation read: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.” But it took another year for the day to really catch hold. In 1864 Lincoln issued a second proclamation, which read, “I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust.”(…) What prompted Lincoln to issue these proclamations – the first two in an unbroken string of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations – is uncertain. He was not the first president to do so. George Washington and James Madison had earlier issued “thanksgiving” proclamations, calling for somber days of prayer. Perhaps Lincoln saw an opportunity to underscore shared American traditions – a theme found in the “mystic chords of memory” stretching from “every patriot grave” in his first inaugural. Or he may have been responding to the passionate entreaties of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book – the Good Housekeeping of its day. Hale, who contributed to American folkways as the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” had been advocating in the magazine for a national day of Thanksgiving since 1837. (…)  But one crucial piece remained: The elevation of Thanksgiving to a true national holiday, a feat accomplished by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, with the nation still struggling out of the Great Depression, the traditional Thanksgiving Day fell on the last day of the month – a fifth Thursday. Worried retailers, for whom the holiday had already become the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, feared this late date. Roosevelt agreed to move his holiday proclamation up one week to the fourth Thursday, thereby extending the critical shopping season. Some states stuck to the traditional last Thursday date, and other Thanksgiving traditions, such as high school and college football championships, had already been scheduled. This led to Roosevelt critics deriding the earlier date as “Franksgiving.” With 32 states joining Roosevelt’s “Democratic Thanksgiving, ” 16 others stuck with the traditional date, or “Republican Thanksgiving.” After some congressional wrangling, in December 1941, Roosevelt signed the legislation making Thanksgiving a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November. And there it has remained. Kenneth C. Davis
Le 14 mars 1891, à la Nouvelle-Orléans, en Louisiane, onze Italiens furent lynchés par la foule en raison du rôle qu’ils avaient supposément joué dans le meurtre du commissaire de police David Hennessy. Ce lynchage, qui restera comme le lynchage de masse le plus important de toute l’histoire des États-Unis, eut lieu le lendemain du procès de neuf sur les dix-neuf hommes inculpés dans cette affaire de meurtre. Six de ces prévenus furent alors acquittés, et le jugement fut ajourné concernant les trois autres, pour défaut d’unanimité dans le jury sur le verdict. Croyant que le jury avait été soudoyé, une foule d’émeutiers fit irruption dans la prison où les hommes étaient détenus et tuèrent onze d’entre eux. Ce lynchage apparaît inhabituel en ceci que les émeutiers étaient au nombre de plusieurs milliers et que dans leurs rangs figuraient quelques-uns parmi les citoyens les plus en vue de la ville. La couverture de l’événement par la presse américaine fut d’ailleurs largement complaisante, et les responsables du lynchage ne furent jamais poursuivis. Le New York Times félicita les meurtriers, car la mort des Italiens « accroissait la sécurité des biens et de la vie des habitants de La Nouvelle-Orléans ». Le Washington Post assura que le lynchage mettrait un terme au « règne de la terreur » qu’imposerait les Italiens. Selon le Saint Louis Globe Democrat, les lyncheurs n’avaient fait qu’exercer « les droits légitimes de la souveraineté populaire ». L’incident eut de graves répercussions au plan national. L’Italie suspendit ses relations diplomatiques avec les États-Unis après le refus du président Benjamin Harrison d’ouvrir une enquête fédérale. La presse et la rumeur publique propagèrent l’idée que la marine italienne s’apprêtait à attaquer les ports américains et des milliers de volontaires se présentèrent pour faire la guerre à l’Italie3. La recrudescence des sentiments anti-italiens s’accompagna d’appels à une restriction de l’immigration. Le vocable mafia fit son entrée dans le lexique des Américains, et le stéréotype du mafioso italo-américain s’implanta durablement dans l’imaginaire populaire. En 1955, un homme d’affaires, décédé cette année-là, reconnut dans une lettre que l’assassinat du policier avait été organisé par un comité d’une cinquantaine d’hommes d’affaires anglo-saxons qui entendaient se débarrasser d’hommes d’affaires rivaux italiens. Ces lynchages constituent l’argument du téléfilm Vendetta, produit en 1999 par HBO et adapté d’un ouvrage de Richard Gambino paru en 1977, avec Christopher Walken dans le rôle principal. Wikipedia
La première célébration du jour de Christophe Colomb s’est faite dans la ville de San Francisco, en 1869, par une communauté majoritairement italo-américaine. Pourtant, le premier État tout entier à célébrer cette fête fut le Colorado, en 1907. Trente ans après, Franklin D. Roosevelt instaure ce jour comme un jour de fête nationale aux États-Unis. Il faudra cependant attendre la Proclamation du président George W. Bush du 4 octobre 2007 pour que le jour de Christophe Colomb soit officiellement fixé au deuxième lundi du mois d’octobre de chaque année. Christophe Colomb était au service de l’Espagne cependant il était d’origine italienne. « Cristoforo Colombo » est né en 1451 sur le territoire de la République de Gênes. Les Italiens ont été les premiers à célébrer le jour de Christophe Colomb lors de leur immigration vers les États-Unis. L’Empire State Building se pare alors des couleurs du drapeau italien (vert, blanc et rouge). Le Jour de Christophe Colomb (Columbus Day) est un jour férié fédéral aux États-Unis. Il est organisé depuis 1929 par la Columbus Citizens Foundation. Chaque État célèbre différemment le jour de Christophe Colomb. Cette fête a lieu sous forme de parades dans les rues américaines, il y a plusieurs défilés. Une Columbus Day Parade est organisée dans plusieurs villes comme à Denver. À New York, la Columbus Day Parade a lieu depuis 1915 le long de la célèbre 5e avenue à la hauteur de la 44e rue et continue sur la célèbre avenue de la Big Apple jusqu’au niveau de la 86e rue. On retrouve ainsi des fanfares, des chars, et différentes manifestations et fêtes dans tous les quartiers aux alentours de la route de la parade. À Washington, devant la Gare de l’Union a lieu une cérémonie officielle devant le Mémorial de Christophe Colomb. Les festivités commencent juste après le dépôt de gerbes aux pieds de ce monument. Ce n’est pas un jour férié dans tous les États des États-Unis, comme en Alaska, dans le Nevada, à Hawaï et dans le Dakota du Sud. Ces États ne reconnaissent pas le Jour de Christophe Colomb et fêtent d’autres événements. Cette fête est contestée aux États-Unis. Nombreux sont ceux rappelant que derrière la découverte de l’Amérique par Christophe Colomb se cachent des faits moins glorieux, tels que la colonisation ou encore le massacre des Indiens d’Amérique. Le Jour de Christophe Colomb est plus communément appelé « Jour de la Race » (Día de la Raza) dans les pays d’Amérique Latine comme le Brésil, le Guatemala, le Paraguay, Porto Rico, le Nicaragua ou la République Dominicaine. Il se déroule généralement le 12 octobre et est considéré, pour de nombreux pays, comme un anti-Colombus Day. Il célèbre la résistance à l’arrivée des européens dans le Nouveau Monde et est aussi utilisé pour commémorer les cultures indigènes. Au cours de cette journée des festivités sont organisées pour lutter contre le racisme, se souvenir des cultures et des traditions des peuples précolombiens. En Argentine la fête est appelée « Journée de la Diversité Culturelle » (Día de la Diversidad Cultural). Elle se veut être la naissance d’une nouvelle identité, issue de la fusion entre les peuples d’origine et les colonisateurs espagnols. Le 24 septembre 1892, le Congrès mexicain décréta le 12 octobre jour de fête nationale. Depuis 1917 à l’initiative de Venustiano Carranza il porte le nom de Día de la Raza. Le président Emilio Portes Gil lui donna le nom de Día de la Raza y Aniversario del Descubrimiento de América en 1929. Ce jour n’est plus un jour férié officiel actuellement, mais il donne lieu a de nombreuses festivités. L’Espagne est la seule à utiliser le nom de « Jour de l’Hispanité » (Día de la Hispanidad) pour célébrer cette fête. Le terme « hispanité » a été défini à la fin du XIXe siècle par des intellectuels. Il est officialisé fête nationale par Alfonso XIII en 1918 sous l’appellation «Fête de la Race » (Día de la Raza) en contradiction avec les idées progressistes. Après la restauration de la monarchie en 1981, un arrêté royal publié dans le premier Bulletin Officiel de l’État en 1982, officialise la date de 12 octobre en tant que Fête Nationale de l’Espagne et Jour de l’Hispanité. Cet événement est très cher au cœur des Espagnols puisque le navigateur est venu chercher la grande majorité de son équipage en Espagne. Wikipedia
Sans pouvoir préciser avec certitude l’ampleur de l’impact des maladies infectieuses chez les Amérindiens, le taux de mortalité aurait atteint 90 pour cent pour certaines populations durement affectées. Les Amérindiens, qui n’étaient pas immunisés contre des virus et maladies comme la coqueluche, la rougeole ou la variole qui sévissaient depuis des millénaires dans l’Ancien Monde, auraient été foudroyés par des épidémies plusieurs décennies avant que des colons arrivent dans des territoires apparemment peu peuplés de l’intérieur. N’ayant aucune connaissance sur les virus à l’époque, les Européens n’ont donc aucunement profité en connaissance de cause des faiblesses immunitaires des populations autochtones. Le processus a commencé dès les années 1500 et a emporté des centaines de milliers de vies. En 1520 et 1521, une épidémie de variole toucha les habitants de Tenochtitlan et fut l’un des principaux facteurs de la chute de la ville au moment du siège. En effet, on estime entre 10 et 50 % la part de la population de la cité qui serait morte à cause de cette maladie en deux semaines. Deux autres épidémies affectèrent la vallée de Mexico : la variole en 1545-1548 et le typhus en 1576-1581. Les Espagnols, pour compenser la diminution de la population, ont rassemblé les survivants des petites villes de la vallée de Mexico dans de plus grandes cités. Cette migration a brisé le pouvoir des classes supérieures, mais n’a pas dissous la cohésion de la société indigène dans un Mexique plus grand. Les épidémies de variole, de typhus, de grippe, de diphtérie de rougeole, de peste auraient tué entre 50 et 66 % de la population indigène selon les régions de Amérique latine. En 1617-1619, une épidémie de peste bubonique ravage la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Le bilan de ces épidémies est difficile à donner avec exactitude. Les sources sont inexistantes et les historiens ne sont pas d’accord sur les estimations. Certains avancent 10 millions d’Amérindiens pour tout le continent ; d’autres pensent plutôt à 90 millions, dont 10 pour l’Amérique du Nord. Le continent américain entier (de l’Alaska au Cap Horn) aurait abrité environ 50 millions d’habitants en 1492 ; pour comparaison, il y avait 20 millions de Français au XVIIe siècle. Les chiffres avancés pour le territoire des États-Unis d’aujourd’hui sont compris entre 7 et 12 millions d’habitants. Environ 500 000 Amérindiens peuplaient la côte Est de cet espace. Ils ne sont plus que 100 000 au début du XVIIIe siècle. Dans l’Empire espagnol, la mortalité des Amérindiens était telle qu’elle fut l’un des motifs de la traite des Noirs, permettant d’importer dans le « Nouveau Monde » de la main-d’œuvre pour les mines et les plantations. Wikipedia
Celebration of Christopher Columbus’s voyage in the early United States is recorded from as early as 1792. In that year, the Tammany Society in New York City (for whom it became an annual tradition) and the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World. For the 400th anniversary in 1892, following a lynching in New Orleans where a mob had murdered 11 Italian immigrants, President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day as a one-time national celebration. The proclamation was part of a wider effort after the lynching incident to placate Italian Americans and ease diplomatic tensions with Italy. During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These rituals took themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and the celebration of social progress. Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, and the first such celebration had already been held in New York City on October 12, 1866. The day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1937, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 be a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day. Since 1971 (Oct. 11), the holiday has been attributed to the second Monday in October,[20] coincidentally exactly the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada since 1957. It is generally observed nowadays by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, other federal agencies, most state government offices, many businesses, and most school districts. Some businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, and some states and municipalities abstain from observing the holiday. The traditional date of the holiday also adjoins the anniversary of the United States Navy (founded October 13, 1775), and thus both occasions are customarily observed by the Navy and the Marine Corps with either a 72- or 96-hour liberty period. Actual observance varies in different parts of the United States, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance. Most states do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday. Some mark it as a « Day of Observance » or « Recognition.” Most states that celebrate Columbus Day will close state services, while others operate as normal. San Francisco claims the nation’s oldest continuously existing celebration with the Italian-American community’s annual Columbus Day Parade, which was established by Nicola Larco in 1868, while New York City boasts the largest, with over 35,000 marchers and one million viewers around 2010. As in the mainland United States, Columbus Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. In the United States Virgin Islands, the day is celebrated as both Columbus Day and « Puerto Rico Friendship Day. » Virginia also celebrates two legal holidays on the day, Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, which honors the final victory at the Siege of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War. The celebration of Columbus Day in the United States began to decline at the end of the 20th century, although many Italian-Americans, and others, continue to champion it. The states of Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, New Mexico, Maine, Wisconsin, and parts of California including, for example, Los Angeles County do not recognize it and have each replaced it with celebrations of Indigenous People’s Day (in Hawaii, « Discoverers’ Day », in South Dakota, « Native American Day »). A lack of recognition or a reduced level of observance for Columbus Day is not always due to concerns about honoring Native Americans. For example, a community of predominantly Scandinavian descent may observe Leif Erikson Day instead. In the state of Oregon, Columbus Day is not an official holiday. Iowa and Nevada do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday, but the states’ respective governors are « authorized and requested » by statute to proclaim the day each year. Several states have removed the day as a paid holiday for state government workers, while still maintaining it—either as a day of recognition, or as a legal holiday for other purposes, including California and Texas. The practice of U.S. cities eschewing Columbus Day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1992 with Berkeley, California. The list of cities which have followed suit as of 2018 includes Austin, Boise, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, Mankato, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Seattle, St. Paul, Minnesota, Phoenix, Tacoma, and « dozens of others. » Columbus, Ohio has chosen to honor veterans instead of Christopher Columbus, and removed Columbus Day as a city holiday. Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day as Native American Day, or name it after their own tribe. Wikipedia
In a country of diverse religious faiths and national origins like the United States, it made sense to develop a holiday system that was not entirely tied to a religious calendar. (Christmas survives here, of course, but in law it’s a secular holiday much like New Year’s Day.) So Americans do not all leave for the shore on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the way Italians do; and while St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many Americans, it is not a legal holiday in any of the states. The American system of holidays was constructed mostly around a series of great events and persons in our nation’s history. The aim was to instill a feeling of civic pride. Holidays were chosen as occasions to bring everyone together, not for excluding certain people. They were supposed to be about the recognition of our society’s common struggles and achievements. Civic religion is often used to describe the principle behind America’s calendar of public holidays. Consider the range and variability of the meanings of our holidays. Certainly they have not always been occasions for celebration: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day involve mourning for the dead and wounded. Labor Day commemorated significant hardships in the decades when unions were struggling to organize. Having grown up in the 1960s I remember how Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (now lumped in with Presidents’ Day, and with some of its significance transferred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) took on special meaning during the Civil Rights movement and after the JFK assassination. When thinking about the Columbus Day holiday it helps to remember the good intentions of the people who put together the first parade in New York. Columbus Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after Columbus’s first voyage. The idea, lost on present-day critics of the holiday, was that this would be a national holiday that would be special for recognizing both Native Americans, who were here before Columbus, and the many immigrants—including Italians—who were just then coming to this country in astounding numbers. It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history. Like the Columbian Exposition dedicated in Chicago that year and opened in 1893, it was to be about our land and all its people. Harrison especially designated the schools as centers of the Columbus celebration because universal public schooling, which had only recently taken hold, was seen as essential to a democracy that was seriously aiming to include everyone and not just preserve a governing elite. You won’t find it in the public literature surrounding the first Columbus Day in 1892, but in the background lay two recent tragedies, one involving Native Americans, the other involving Italian Americans. The first tragedy was the massacre by U.S. troops of between 146 and 200 Lakota Sioux, including men, women and children, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. Shooting began after a misunderstanding involving an elderly, deaf Sioux warrior who hadn’t heard and therefore did not understand that he was supposed to hand over his rifle to the U.S. Cavalry. The massacre at Wounded Knee marked the definitive end of Indian resistance in the Great Plains. The episode was immediately seen by the government as potentially troubling, although there was much popular sentiment against the Sioux. An inquiry was held, the soldiers were absolved, and some were awarded medals that Native Americans to this day are seeking to have rescinded. A second tragedy in the immediate background of the 1892 Columbus celebration took place in New Orleans. There, on March 14, 1891—only 10 weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre—11 Italians were lynched in prison by a mob led by prominent Louisiana politicians. A trial for the murder of the New Orleans police chief had ended in mistrials for three of the Italians and the acquittal of the others who were brought to trial. Unhappy with the verdict and spurred on by fear of the “Mafia” (a word that had only recently entered American usage), civic leaders organized an assault on the prison to put the Italians to death. This episode was also troubling to the U.S. Government. These were legally innocent men who had been killed. But Italians were not very popular, and even Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that he thought the New Orleans Italians “got what they deserved.” A grand jury was summoned, but no one was charged with a crime. President Harrison, who would proclaim the Columbus holiday the following year, was genuinely saddened by the case, and over the objections of some members of congress he paid reparations to the Italian government for the deaths of its citizens. Whenever I hear of protests about the Columbus Day holiday—protests that tend to pit Native Americans against Italian Americans, I remember these tragedies that occurred so soon before the first Columbus Day holiday, and I shake my head. President Harrison did not allude to either of these sad episodes in his proclamation of the holiday, but the idea for the holiday involved a vision of an America that would get beyond the prejudice that had led to these deaths. Columbus Day was supposed to recognize the greatness of all of America’s people, but especially Italians and Native Americans. Consider how the first Columbus Day parade in New York was described in the newspapers. It consisted mostly of about 12,000 public school students grouped into 20 regiments, each commanded by a principal. The boys marched in school uniforms or their Sunday best, while the girls, dressed in red, white and blue, sat in bleachers. Alongside the public schoolers there were military drill squads and 29 marching bands, each of 30 to 50 instruments. After the public schools, there followed 5,500 students from the Catholic schools. Then there were students from the private schools wearing school uniforms. These included the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Barnard School Military Corps, and the Italian and American Colonial School. The Dante Alighieri Italian College of Astoria was dressed entirely in sailor outfits. These were followed by the Native American marching band from the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, which, according to one description, included “300 marching Indian boys and 50 tall Indian girls.” That the Native Americans came right after the students from the Dante Alighieri School speaks volumes about the spirit of the original Columbus Day. (…) So Columbus Day is for all Americans. It marks the first encounter that brought together the original Americans and the future ones. A lot of suffering followed, and a lot of achievement too. That a special role has been reserved for Italians in keeping the parades and the commemoration alive for well over a century seems right, since Columbus was Italian (…) So much for his ethnicity. What about his moral standing? In the late 19th century an international movement, led by a French priest, sought to have Columbus canonized for bringing Christianity to the New World. To the Catholic Church’s credit, this never got very far. It sometimes gets overlooked in current discussions that we neither commemorate Columbus’s birthday (as was the practice for Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and as we now do with Martin Luther King, Jr.) nor his death date (which is when Christian saints are memorialized), but rather the date of his arrival in the New World. The historical truth about Columbus—the short version suitable for reporters who are pressed for time—is that Columbus was Italian, but he was no saint. The holiday marks the event, not the person. What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was unquestionably a man of daring and unusual ambition. But what really mattered was his landing on San Salvador, which was a momentous, world-changing occasion such as has rarely happened in human history. William J. Connell
These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cutthroat practices … are to us a pest without mitigations. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they. Our own murderers are men of feeling and nobility compared to them. The Times
Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country. As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change. Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe. Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.” The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South. The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record. Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war. (…) Italian immigrants were welcomed into Louisiana after the Civil War, when the planter class was in desperate need of cheap labor to replace newly emancipated black people, who were leaving backbreaking jobs in the fields for more gainful employment. These Italians seemed at first to be the answer to both the labor shortage and the increasingly pressing quest for settlers who would support white domination in the emerging Jim Crow state. Louisiana’s romance with Italian labor began to sour when the new immigrants balked at low wages and dismal working conditions. The newcomers also chose to live together in Italian neighborhoods, where they spoke their native tongue, preserved Italian customs and developed successful businesses that catered to African-Americans, with whom they fraternized and intermarried. In time, this proximity to blackness would lead white Southerners to view Sicilians, in particular, as not fully white and to see them as eligible for persecution — including lynching — that had customarily been imposed on African-Americans. (…) The carnage in New Orleans was set in motion in the fall of 1890, when the city’s popular police chief, David Hennessy, was assassinated on his way home one evening. Hennessy had no shortage of enemies. The historian John V. Baiamonte Jr. writes that he had once been tried for murder in connection with the killing of a professional rival. He is also said to have been involved in a feud between two Italian businessmen. On the strength of a clearly suspect witness who claimed to hear Mr. Hennessy say that “dagoes” had shot him, the city charged 19 Italians with complicity in the chief’s murder. That the evidence was distressingly weak was evident from the verdicts that were swiftly handed down: Of the first nine to be tried, six were acquitted; three others were granted mistrials. The leaders of the mob that then went after them advertised their plans in advance, knowing full well that the city’s elites — who coveted the businesses the Italians had built or hated the Italians for fraternizing with African-Americans — would never seek justice for the dead. After the lynching, a grand jury investigation pronounced the killings praiseworthy, turning that inquiry into what the historian Barbara Botein describes as “possibly one of the greatest whitewashes in American history. (…) President Harrison would have ignored the New Orleans carnage had the victims been black. But the Italian government made that impossible. It broke off diplomatic relations and demanded an indemnity that the Harrison administration paid. Harrison even called on Congress in his 1891 State of the Union to protect foreign nationals — though not black Americans — from mob violence. Harrison’s Columbus Day proclamation in 1892 opened the door for Italian-Americans to write themselves into the American origin story, in a fashion that piled myth upon myth. As the historian Danielle Battisti shows in “Whom We Shall Welcome,” they rewrote history by casting Columbus as “the first immigrant” — even though he never set foot in North America and never immigrated anywhere (except possibly to Spain), and even though the United States did not exist as a nation during his 15th-century voyage. The mythologizing, carried out over many decades, granted Italian-Americans “a formative role in the nation-building narrative.” It also tied Italian-Americans closely to the paternalistic assertion, still heard today, that Columbus “discovered” a continent that was already inhabited by Native Americans. But in the late 19th century, the full-blown Columbus myth was yet to come. The New Orleans lynching solidified a defamatory view of Italians generally, and Sicilians in particular, as irredeemable criminals who represented a danger to the nation. The influential anti-immigrant racist Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, soon to join the United States Senate, quickly appropriated the event. He argued that a lack of confidence in juries, not mob violence, had been the real problem in New Orleans. “Lawlessness and lynching are evil things,” he wrote, “but a popular belief that juries cannot be trusted is even worse.” Facts aside, Lodge argued, beliefs about immigrants were in themselves sufficient to warrant higher barriers to immigration. Congress ratified that notion during the 1920s, curtailing Italian immigration on racial grounds, even though Italians were legally white, with all of the rights whiteness entailed. The Italian-Americans who labored in the campaign that overturned racist immigration restrictions in 1965 used the romantic fictions built up around Columbus to political advantage. This shows yet again how racial categories that people mistakenly view as matters of biology grow out of highly politicized myth making. NYT

Attention: un massacre peut en cacher beaucoup d’autres !

En cette journée où, entre Israël, les Etats-Unis et le Canada, voire les pays hispaniques, coïncident les célébrations de plusieurs traditions culturelles différentes …

Et où, énième illustration de la division toujours plus grande des Etats-Unis par nos déconstructeurs postmodernes obsédés par un prétendu génocide indien – pire qu’Attila et Hitler réunis !

Dû pour l’essentiel à un choc microbien, un nombre croissant d’états ne la fêtent plus ou l’ont même remplacée par la Journée des peuples indigènes  …

Pendant qu’après l’égorgement de quatre policiers du renseignement de la lutte anti-islamique et quelque 250 victimes de la barbarie islamiste …

Nos courageux enfants gâtés du showbiz dénonçaient dès le lendemain l’agression « d’une violence et d’une haine inouïes » que l’on sait …

Retour …

Sans parler, avant et après Colomb ou Cortez, des centaines de milliers de sacrifices humains de nos amis aztèques et mayas

Sur le massacre …

Et pratiquement plus grand lynchage, avec 11 immigrants italiens extraits manu militari de leur prison de la Nouvelle Orléans et sommairement abattus, de l’histoire américaine …

Qui comme après la fête du Thanksgiving du président Lincoln suite aux centaines de milliers de morts de la Guerre civile américaine …

Et à l’instar de la Saint Patrick d’une communauté irlandaise elle aussi initialement discriminée …

Lança nationalement, au moins pour une journée, cette véritable marche des fiertés

Qu’est devenue le Columbus Day pour une communauté italo-américaine et notamment sicilienne …

Jusque-là assimilée non seulement à une race de criminels …

Mais à une sous-race à peine au-dessus des esclaves affranchis et des emplois méprisés …

Qu’ils étaient venus remplacer dans un Sud tout récemment sorti du traumatisme d’une guerre civile meurtrière…

How Italians Became ‘White’
Vicious bigotry, reluctant acceptance: an American story.

Brent Staples Mr. Staples is a member of the editorial board.
NYT
Oct. 12, 2019

Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country.

As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change.

Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe.

Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.”

The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South.

The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record.

Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war.

Historians have recently showed that America’s dishonorable response to this barbaric event was partly conditioned by racist stereotypes about Italians promulgated in Northern newspapers like The Times. A striking analysis by Charles Seguin, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, and Sabrina Nardin, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, shows that the protests lodged by the Italian government inspired something that had failed to coalesce around the brave African-American newspaper editor and anti-lynching campaigner Ida B. Wells — a broad anti-lynching effort.

A Black ‘Brute’ Lynched

The lynchings of Italians came at a time when newspapers in the South had established the gory convention of advertising the far more numerous public murders of African-Americans in advance — to attract large crowds — and justifying the killings by labeling the victims “brutes,” “fiends,” “ravishers,” “born criminals” or “troublesome Negroes.” Even high-minded news organizations that claimed to abhor the practice legitimized lynching by trafficking in racist stereotypes about its victims.

As Mr. Seguin recently showed, many Northern newspapers were “just as complicit” in justifying mob violence as their Southern counterparts. For its part, The Times made repeated use of the headline “A Brutal Negro Lynched,” presuming the victims’ guilt and branding them as congenital criminals. Lynchings of black men in the South were often based on fabricated accusations of sexual assault. As the Equal Justice Initiative explained in its 2015 report on lynching in America, a rape charge could occur in the absence of an actual victim and might arise from minor violations of the social code — like complimenting a white woman on her appearance or even bumping into her on the street.

The Times was not owned by the family that controls it today when it dismissed Ida B. Wells as a “slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress” for rightly describing rape allegations as “a thread bare lie” that Southerners used against black men who had consensual sexual relationships with white women. Nevertheless, as a Times editorialist of nearly 30 years standing — and a student of the institution’s history — I am outraged and appalled by the nakedly racist treatment my 19th-century predecessors displayed in writing about African-Americans and Italian immigrants.

When Wells took her anti-lynching campaign to England in the 1890s, Times editors rebuked her for representing “black brutes” abroad in an editorial that joked about what they described as “the practice of roasting Negro ravishers alive and boring out their eyes with red-hot pokers.” The editorial slandered African-Americans generally, referring to rape as “a crime to which Negroes are particularly prone.” The Times editors may have lodged objections to lynching — but they did so in a rhetoric firmly rooted in white supremacy.
‘Assassins by Nature’

Italian immigrants were welcomed into Louisiana after the Civil War, when the planter class was in desperate need of cheap labor to replace newly emancipated black people, who were leaving backbreaking jobs in the fields for more gainful employment.

These Italians seemed at first to be the answer to both the labor shortage and the increasingly pressing quest for settlers who would support white domination in the emerging Jim Crow state. Louisiana’s romance with Italian labor began to sour when the new immigrants balked at low wages and dismal working conditions.

The newcomers also chose to live together in Italian neighborhoods, where they spoke their native tongue, preserved Italian customs and developed successful businesses that catered to African-Americans, with whom they fraternized and intermarried. In time, this proximity to blackness would lead white Southerners to view Sicilians, in particular, as not fully white and to see them as eligible for persecution — including lynching — that had customarily been imposed on African-Americans.

Nevertheless, as the historian Jessica Barbata Jackson showed recently in the journal Louisiana History, Italian newcomers were still well thought of in New Orleans in the 1870s when negative stereotypes were being established in the Northern press.

The Times, for instance, described them as bandits and members of the criminal classes who were “wretchedly poor and unskilled,” “starving and wholly destitute.” The stereotype about inborn criminality is plainly evident in an 1874 story about Italian immigrants seeking vaccinations that refers to one immigrant as a “burly fellow, whose appearance was like that of the traditional brigand of the Abruzzi.”

A Times story in 1880 described immigrants, including Italians, as “links in a descending chain of evolution.” These characterizations reached a defamatory crescendo in an 1882 editorial that appeared under the headline “Our Future Citizens.” The editors wrote:

“There has never been since New York was founded so low and ignorant a class among the immigrants who poured in here as the Southern Italians who have been crowding our docks during the past year.”

The editors reserved their worst invective for Italian immigrant children, whom they described as “utterly unfit — ragged, filthy, and verminous as they were — to be placed in the public primary schools among the decent children of American mechanics.”

The racist myth that African-Americans and Sicilians were both innately criminal drove an 1887 Times story about a lynching victim in Mississippi whose name was given as “Dago Joe” — “dago” being a slur directed at Italian and Spanish-speaking immigrants. The victim was described as a “half breed” who “was the son of a Sicilian father and a mulatto mother, and had the worst characteristics of both races in his makeup. He was cunning, treacherous and cruel, and was regarded in the community where he lived as an assassin by nature.”
Sicilians as ‘Rattlesnakes’

The carnage in New Orleans was set in motion in the fall of 1890, when the city’s popular police chief, David Hennessy, was assassinated on his way home one evening. Hennessy had no shortage of enemies. The historian John V. Baiamonte Jr. writes that he had once been tried for murder in connection with the killing of a professional rival. He is also said to have been involved in a feud between two Italian businessmen. On the strength of a clearly suspect witness who claimed to hear Mr. Hennessy say that “dagoes” had shot him, the city charged 19 Italians with complicity in the chief’s murder.

That the evidence was distressingly weak was evident from the verdicts that were swiftly handed down: Of the first nine to be tried, six were acquitted; three others were granted mistrials. The leaders of the mob that then went after them advertised their plans in advance, knowing full well that the city’s elites — who coveted the businesses the Italians had built or hated the Italians for fraternizing with African-Americans — would never seek justice for the dead. After the lynching, a grand jury investigation pronounced the killings praiseworthy, turning that inquiry into what the historian Barbara Botein describes as “possibly one of the greatest whitewashes in American history.”

The blood of the New Orleans victims was scarcely dry when The Times published a cheerleading news story — “Chief Hennessy Avenged: Eleven of his Italian Assassins Lynched by a Mob” — that reveled in the bloody details. It reported that the mob had consisted “mostly of the best element” of New Orleans society. The following day, a scabrous Times editorial justified the lynching — and dehumanized the dead, with by-now-familiar racist stereotypes.

“These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians,” the editors wrote, “the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cutthroat practices … are to us a pest without mitigations. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they. Our own murderers are men of feeling and nobility compared to them.” The editors concluded of the lynching that it would be difficult to find “one individual who would confess that privately he deplores it very much.”
Lynchers in 1891 storming the New Orleans city jail, where they killed 11 Italian-Americans accused in the fatal shooting of Chief Hennessy. Italian Tribune

President Harrison would have ignored the New Orleans carnage had the victims been black. But the Italian government made that impossible. It broke off diplomatic relations and demanded an indemnity that the Harrison administration paid. Harrison even called on Congress in his 1891 State of the Union to protect foreign nationals — though not black Americans — from mob violence.

Harrison’s Columbus Day proclamation in 1892 opened the door for Italian-Americans to write themselves into the American origin story, in a fashion that piled myth upon myth. As the historian Danielle Battisti shows in “Whom We Shall Welcome,” they rewrote history by casting Columbus as “the first immigrant” — even though he never set foot in North America and never immigrated anywhere (except possibly to Spain), and even though the United States did not exist as a nation during his 15th-century voyage. The mythologizing, carried out over many decades, granted Italian-Americans “a formative role in the nation-building narrative.” It also tied Italian-Americans closely to the paternalistic assertion, still heard today, that Columbus “discovered” a continent that was already inhabited by Native Americans.

But in the late 19th century, the full-blown Columbus myth was yet to come. The New Orleans lynching solidified a defamatory view of Italians generally, and Sicilians in particular, as irredeemable criminals who represented a danger to the nation. The influential anti-immigrant racist Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, soon to join the United States Senate, quickly appropriated the event. He argued that a lack of confidence in juries, not mob violence, had been the real problem in New Orleans. “Lawlessness and lynching are evil things,” he wrote, “but a popular belief that juries cannot be trusted is even worse.”

Facts aside, Lodge argued, beliefs about immigrants were in themselves sufficient to warrant higher barriers to immigration. Congress ratified that notion during the 1920s, curtailing Italian immigration on racial grounds, even though Italians were legally white, with all of the rights whiteness entailed.

The Italian-Americans who labored in the campaign that overturned racist immigration restrictions in 1965 used the romantic fictions built up around Columbus to political advantage. This shows yet again how racial categories that people mistakenly view as matters of biology grow out of highly politicized myth making.

Voir aussi:

What Columbus Day Really Means

If you think the holiday pits Native Americans against Italian Americans, consider the history behind its origin

William J. Connell
American scholar
October 4, 2012

During the run-up to Columbus Day I usually get a call from at least one and sometimes several newspaper reporters who are looking for the latest on what has become one of the most controversial of our national holidays. Rather than begin with whatever issues the media are covering—topics like the number of deaths in the New World caused by the European discovery; or the attitude of Columbus toward the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean (whom he really did want to use as forced laborers); or whether syphilis really came from the Americas to Europe; or whether certain people (the cast of The Sopranos, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia) deserve to be excluded from or honored in the parade in New York—I always try to remind the reporters that Columbus Day is just a holiday.

Leave the parades aside. The most evident way in which holidays are celebrated is by taking a day off from work or school. Our system of holidays, which developed gradually over time and continues to evolve, is founded upon the recognition that weekends are not sufficient, that some jobs don’t offer much time off, and that children and teachers need a break now and then in the course of the school year. One characteristic of holidays is that unless they are observed widely, which is to say by almost everyone, many of us wouldn’t take them. There are so many incremental reasons for not taking time off (to make some extra money, to impress the boss, or because we’re our own bosses and can’t stop ourselves) that a lot of us would willingly do without a day’s vacation that would have been good both for us and for society at large if we had taken it. That is why there are legal holidays.

But which days should be holidays? Another way of posing the question would be to say, “Given that holidays are necessary, but that left to their own devices people would simply work, how do you justify a legal holiday so that it does not appear completely arbitrary, and so that people will be encouraged to observe it?” Most of the media noise around the Columbus Day holiday is about the holiday’s excuse, not the holiday itself. Realizing that helps to put matters in perspective.

In a country of diverse religious faiths and national origins like the United States, it made sense to develop a holiday system that was not entirely tied to a religious calendar. (Christmas survives here, of course, but in law it’s a secular holiday much like New Year’s Day.) So Americans do not all leave for the shore on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the way Italians do; and while St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many Americans, it is not a legal holiday in any of the states. The American system of holidays was constructed mostly around a series of great events and persons in our nation’s history. The aim was to instill a feeling of civic pride. Holidays were chosen as occasions to bring everyone together, not for excluding certain people. They were supposed to be about the recognition of our society’s common struggles and achievements. Civic religion is often used to describe the principle behind America’s calendar of public holidays.

Consider the range and variability of the meanings of our holidays. Certainly they have not always been occasions for celebration: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day involve mourning for the dead and wounded. Labor Day commemorated significant hardships in the decades when unions were struggling to organize. Having grown up in the 1960s I remember how Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (now lumped in with Presidents’ Day, and with some of its significance transferred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) took on special meaning during the Civil Rights movement and after the JFK assassination.

When thinking about the Columbus Day holiday it helps to remember the good intentions of the people who put together the first parade in New York. Columbus Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after Columbus’s first voyage. The idea, lost on present-day critics of the holiday, was that this would be a national holiday that would be special for recognizing both Native Americans, who were here before Columbus, and the many immigrants—including Italians—who were just then coming to this country in astounding numbers. It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history. Like the Columbian Exposition dedicated in Chicago that year and opened in 1893, it was to be about our land and all its people. Harrison especially designated the schools as centers of the Columbus celebration because universal public schooling, which had only recently taken hold, was seen as essential to a democracy that was seriously aiming to include everyone and not just preserve a governing elite.

You won’t find it in the public literature surrounding the first Columbus Day in 1892, but in the background lay two recent tragedies, one involving Native Americans, the other involving Italian Americans. The first tragedy was the massacre by U.S. troops of between 146 and 200 Lakota Sioux, including men, women and children, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. Shooting began after a misunderstanding involving an elderly, deaf Sioux warrior who hadn’t heard and therefore did not understand that he was supposed to hand over his rifle to the U.S. Cavalry. The massacre at Wounded Knee marked the definitive end of Indian resistance in the Great Plains. The episode was immediately seen by the government as potentially troubling, although there was much popular sentiment against the Sioux. An inquiry was held, the soldiers were absolved, and some were awarded medals that Native Americans to this day are seeking to have rescinded.

A second tragedy in the immediate background of the 1892 Columbus celebration took place in New Orleans. There, on March 14, 1891—only 10 weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre—11 Italians were lynched in prison by a mob led by prominent Louisiana politicians. A trial for the murder of the New Orleans police chief had ended in mistrials for three of the Italians and the acquittal of the others who were brought to trial. Unhappy with the verdict and spurred on by fear of the “Mafia” (a word that had only recently entered American usage), civic leaders organized an assault on the prison to put the Italians to death. This episode was also troubling to the U.S. Government. These were legally innocent men who had been killed. But Italians were not very popular, and even Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that he thought the New Orleans Italians “got what they deserved.” A grand jury was summoned, but no one was charged with a crime. President Harrison, who would proclaim the Columbus holiday the following year, was genuinely saddened by the case, and over the objections of some members of congress he paid reparations to the Italian government for the deaths of its citizens.

Whenever I hear of protests about the Columbus Day holiday—protests that tend to pit Native Americans against Italian Americans, I remember these tragedies that occurred so soon before the first Columbus Day holiday, and I shake my head. President Harrison did not allude to either of these sad episodes in his proclamation of the holiday, but the idea for the holiday involved a vision of an America that would get beyond the prejudice that had led to these deaths. Columbus Day was supposed to recognize the greatness of all of America’s people, but especially Italians and Native Americans.

Consider how the first Columbus Day parade in New York was described in the newspapers. It consisted mostly of about 12,000 public school students grouped into 20 regiments, each commanded by a principal. The boys marched in school uniforms or their Sunday best, while the girls, dressed in red, white and blue, sat in bleachers. Alongside the public schoolers there were military drill squads and 29 marching bands, each of 30 to 50 instruments. After the public schools, there followed 5,500 students from the Catholic schools. Then there were students from the private schools wearing school uniforms. These included the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Barnard School Military Corps, and the Italian and American Colonial School. The Dante Alighieri Italian College of Astoria was dressed entirely in sailor outfits. These were followed by the Native American marching band from the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, which, according to one description, included “300 marching Indian boys and 50 tall Indian girls.” That the Native Americans came right after the students from the Dante Alighieri School speaks volumes about the spirit of the original Columbus Day.

I teach college kids, and since they tend to be more skeptical about Columbus Day than younger students, it’s nice to point out that the first Columbus Day parade had a “college division.” Thus 800 New York University students played kazoos and wore mortarboards. In between songs they chanted “Who are we? Who are we? New York Universitee!” The College of Physicians and Surgeons wore Skeletons on their hats. And the Columbia College students marched in white hats and white sweaters, with a message on top of their hats that spelled out “We are the People.”

So Columbus Day is for all Americans. It marks the first encounter that brought together the original Americans and the future ones. A lot of suffering followed, and a lot of achievement too. That a special role has been reserved for Italians in keeping the parades and the commemoration alive for well over a century seems right, since Columbus was Italian—although even in the 1890s his nationality was being contested. Some people, who include respectable scholars, still argue, based on elements of his biography and family history, that Columbus must really have been Spanish, Portuguese, Jewish, or Greek, instead of, or in addition to, Italian. One lonely scholar in the 1930s even wrote that Columbus, because of a square jaw and dirty blond hair in an old portrait, must have been Danish. The consensus, however, is that he was an Italian from outside of Genoa.

So much for his ethnicity. What about his moral standing? In the late 19th century an international movement, led by a French priest, sought to have Columbus canonized for bringing Christianity to the New World. To the Catholic Church’s credit, this never got very far. It sometimes gets overlooked in current discussions that we neither commemorate Columbus’s birthday (as was the practice for Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and as we now do with Martin Luther King, Jr.) nor his death date (which is when Christian saints are memorialized), but rather the date of his arrival in the New World. The historical truth about Columbus—the short version suitable for reporters who are pressed for time—is that Columbus was Italian, but he was no saint.

The holiday marks the event, not the person. What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was unquestionably a man of daring and unusual ambition. But what really mattered was his landing on San Salvador, which was a momentous, world-changing occasion such as has rarely happened in human history. Sounds to me like a pretty good excuse for taking a day off from work.

Voir également:

Study traces origins of syphilis in Europe to New World

New evidence from the jungles of Guyana suggests Christopher Columbus and his crewmates carried syphilis-causing bacteria from America to Europe, triggering a massive epidemic that killed more than five million people there.

The findings — which scientists said are the first attempt to use molecular genetics to address the problem of the origin of the venereal disease — were published Monday in the online journal Public Library of Science/Neglected Tropical Disease.

They suggest that Columbus and his crew of explorers brought the deadly disease back from the New World during their famous voyage in 1492 while a non-sexually transmitted subspecies was already in existence in Renaissance Europe, or the Old World.

The study was based around an exceptionally large specimen provided by Canadian infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Silverman, who leads a medical team into the rainforests of Guyana each year to treat villagers who have virtually no contact with the outside world.

There, he discovered children with ulcer-like lesions on their arms and legs, « just like you get with syphilis but in the wrong place, » he told CBC.

Blood tests confirmed the children had yaws, an infectious skin disease believed to be extinct in the Western Hemisphere, though still present in parts of Africa and southeast Asia.

Yaws is considered the cousin of syphilis as they are both distinct varieties of the same bacterium.

Further testing by researchers in the United States suggested that yaws, in fact, was the elder cousin — an ancient infection that evolved from a harmless skin-to-skin condition of the limbs into a devastating sexually transmitted disease around the time of contact with Europeans.

« They couldn’t really catch it because they had long sleeves, long pants, » Silverman said. « So the only way they could get it, the only time they would expose their skin and might touch somebody was when they dropped their pants to have sex. »

Upon the Europeans’ return, many of them joined the army of Charles VIII in 1495 and invaded Italy. After their victory in Naples, the army — mostly made of mercenaries — returned home and spread syphilis across the Continent, culminating in the Great Pox.

This first outbreak of syphilis, documented just two years after Columbus and his men sailed the ocean blue in 1492, is believed to have killed more than five million Europeans.

« In this case we have an example of a disease that went the other way, from Native Americans to Europeans, » said Dr. Kristin Harper, a researcher in molecular genetics at Atlanta’s Emory University and the principal investigator in the study published Monday.

« So that’s especially interesting, I think. »

Syphilis is usually transmitted through sexual contact and initially results in a painless, open sore or ulcer in the area of exposure. The second stage consists of a rash on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Left untreated, the disease eventually attacks the heart, eyes and brain and can lead to mental illness, blindness and death.

Voir de plus:

Case Closed? Columbus Introduced Syphilis to Europe

Syphilis was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but when he returned from ‘cross the seas, did he bring with him a new disease?

New skeletal evidence suggests Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but brought back syphilis as well, researchers say.

Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria, and is usually curable nowadays with antibiotics. Untreated, it can damage the heart, brain, eyes and bones; it can also be fatal.

The first known epidemic of syphilis occurred during the Renaissance in 1495. Initially its plague broke out among the army of Charles the VIII after the French king invaded Naples. It then proceeded to devastate Europe, said researcher George Armelagos, a skeletal biologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

« Syphilis has been around for 500 years, » said researcher Molly Zuckerman at Mississippi State University. « People started debating where it came from shortly afterward, and they haven’t stopped since. It was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today. »

Stigmatized disease

The fact that syphilis is a stigmatized sexually transmitted disease has added to the controversy over its origins. People often seem to want to blame some other country for it, said researcher Kristin Harper, an evolutionary biologist at Emory. [Top 10 Stigmatized Health Disorders]

Armelagos originally doubted the so-called Columbian theory for syphilis when he first heard about it decades ago. « I laughed at the idea that a small group of sailors brought back this disease that caused this major European epidemic, » he recalled. Critics of the Columbian theory have proposed that syphilis had always bedeviled the Old World but simply had not been set apart from other rotting diseases such as leprosy until 1500 or so.

However, upon further investigation, Armelagos and his colleagues got a shock — all of the available evidence they found supported the Columbian theory, findings they published in 1988. « It was a paradigm shift, » Armelagos says. Then in 2008, genetic analysis by Armelagos and his collaborators of syphilis’s family of bacteria lent further support to the theory.

Still, there have been reports of 50 skeletons from Europe dating back from before Columbus set sail that apparently showed the lesions of chronic syphilis. These seemed to be evidence that syphilis originated in the Old World and that Columbus was not to blame.

Armelagos and his colleagues took a closer look at all the data from these prior reports. They found most of the skeletal material didn’t actually meet at least one of the standard diagnostic criteria for chronic syphilis, such as pitting on the skull, known as caries sicca, and pitting and swelling of the long bones.

In the seafood?

The 16 reports that did meet the criteria for syphilis came from coastal regions where seafood was a large part of the diet. This seafood contains « old carbon » from deep, upwelling ocean waters. As such, they might fall prey to the so-called « marine reservoir effect » that can throw off radiocarbon dating of a skeleton by hundreds or even thousands of years. To adjust for this effect, the researchers figured out the amount of seafood these individuals ate when alive. Since our bodies constantly break down and rebuild our bones, measurements of bone-collagen protein can provide a record of diet.

« Once we adjusted for the marine signature, all of the skeletons that showed definite signs of treponemal disease appeared to be dated to after Columbus returned to Europe, » Harper said, findings detailed in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology.

« What it really shows to me is that globalization of disease is not a modern condition, » Armelagos said. « In 1492, you had the transmission of a number of diseases from Europe that decimated Native Americans, and you also had disease from Native Americans to Europe. »

« The lesson we can learn for today from history is that these epidemics are the result of unrest, » Armelagos added. « With syphilis, wars were going on in Europe at the time, and all the turmoil set the stage for the disease. Nowadays, a lot of diseases jump the species barrier due to environmental unrest. »

« The origin of syphilis is a fascinating, compelling question, » Zuckerman said. « The current evidence is pretty definitive, but we shouldn’t close the book and say we’re done with the subject. The great thing about science is constantly being able to understand things in a new light. »

Of all the bedtime-story versions of American history we teach, the tidy Thanksgiving pageant may be the one stuffed with the heaviest serving of myth. This iconic tale is the main course in our nation’s foundation legend, complete with cardboard cutouts of bow-carrying Native American cherubs and pint-size Pilgrims in black hats with buckles. And legend it largely is.

In fact, what had been a New England seasonal holiday became more of a “national” celebration only during the Civil War, with Lincoln’s proclamation calling for “a day of thanksgiving” in 1863.

That fall, Lincoln had precious little to be thankful for. The Union victory at Gettysburg the previous July had come at a dreadful cost – a combined 51,000 estimated casualties, with nearly 8,000 dead. Enraged by draft laws and emancipation, rioters in Northern cities like New York went on bloody rampages. And the president and his wife, Mary, were still mourning the loss of their 11-year-old son, Willie, who had died the year before.

So it might seem odd that Lincoln chose this moment to announce a national day of thanksgiving, to be marked on the last Thursday in November. His Oct. 3, 1863, proclamation read: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.”

But it took another year for the day to really catch hold. In 1864 Lincoln issued a second proclamation, which read, “I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust.” Around the same time, the heads of Union League clubs – Theodore Roosevelt’s father among them – led an effort to provide a proper Thanksgiving meal, including turkey and mince pies, for Union troops. As the Civil War raged on, four steamers sailed out of New York laden with 400,000 pounds of ham, canned peaches, apples and cakes – and turkeys with all the trimmings. They arrived at Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters in City Point, Va., then one of the busiest ports in the world, to deliver dinner to the Union’s “gallant soldiers and sailors.”

This Thanksgiving delivery was an unprecedented effort – a huge fund-raising and food-collection drive. One soldier said, “It isn’t the turkey, but the idea we care for.”

The good people of nearby Petersburg, Va., had no turkey. Surrounded and besieged by Grant’s armies since June, they were lucky to eat at all. The local flocks of pigeons had all mysteriously disappeared and “starvation parties” were a form of mordant entertainment in this once cosmopolitan town.

What prompted Lincoln to issue these proclamations – the first two in an unbroken string of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations – is uncertain. He was not the first president to do so. George Washington and James Madison had earlier issued “thanksgiving” proclamations, calling for somber days of prayer. Perhaps Lincoln saw an opportunity to underscore shared American traditions – a theme found in the “mystic chords of memory” stretching from “every patriot grave” in his first inaugural.

Or he may have been responding to the passionate entreaties of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book – the Good Housekeeping of its day. Hale, who contributed to American folkways as the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” had been advocating in the magazine for a national day of Thanksgiving since 1837. Even as many states had begun to observe Thanksgiving, she wrote in 1860, “It will no longer be a partial and vacillating commemoration of our gratitude to our Heavenly Father, observed in one section or State, while other portions of our common country do not sympathize in the gratitude and gladness.”

So how did the lore of that Pilgrim repast get connected to Lincoln’s wartime proclamations?

The Plymouth “first Thanksgiving” dates from an October 1621 harvest celebration, an event at which the surviving passengers of the Mayflower – about half of the approximately 100 on board — were able to mark their communal harvest with a shared feast. By the account of the Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow, this event was no simple sit-down dinner, but a three-day revel. “Amongst other recreations,” Winslow wrote, “we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation.”

There is nothing novel or uniquely American — and nothing especially “Pilgrim”– about giving thanks for a successful harvest. Certainly it has been done by people throughout history and surely by earlier Europeans in America as well as Native Americans.

But New Englanders, who had long marked a Founders Day as a celebration of the Pilgrim and Puritan arrivals, began to move across America and took this tradition – and their singular version of history — with them. Essentially a churchgoing day with a meal that followed, the celebration of that legendary feast gradually evolved into the Thanksgiving we know.

Eventually, it was commingled with Lincoln’s first proclamation. During the post-Civil War period, the iconic Thanksgiving meal and the connection to the Pilgrims were cemented in the popular imagination, through artistic renderings of black-cloaked, churchgoing, gun-toting Puritans, a militant, faithful past that most likely rang familiar for many Civil War Americans.

But one crucial piece remained: The elevation of Thanksgiving to a true national holiday, a feat accomplished by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, with the nation still struggling out of the Great Depression, the traditional Thanksgiving Day fell on the last day of the month – a fifth Thursday. Worried retailers, for whom the holiday had already become the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, feared this late date. Roosevelt agreed to move his holiday proclamation up one week to the fourth Thursday, thereby extending the critical shopping season.

Some states stuck to the traditional last Thursday date, and other Thanksgiving traditions, such as high school and college football championships, had already been scheduled. This led to Roosevelt critics deriding the earlier date as “Franksgiving.” With 32 states joining Roosevelt’s “Democratic Thanksgiving, ” 16 others stuck with the traditional date, or “Republican Thanksgiving.” After some congressional wrangling, in December 1941, Roosevelt signed the legislation making Thanksgiving a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November. And there it has remained.


Kenneth C. Davis is the author of “Don’t Know Much About History” and “America’s Hidden History.” His forthcoming book, “The Hidden History of America At War: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah,” includes an account of the siege of Petersburg, Va.


11 septembre/18e: Des gens avaient fait quelque chose (While the Ilhan Omars of this world never miss an opportunity to spit on their adopted countries, thank God for Mitchell Zuckoff’s attempt to ‘delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history’)

11 septembre, 2019

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Il n’y a pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ses amis. (…) Si le monde vous hait, sachez qu’il m’a haï avant vous. (…) S’ils m’ont persécuté, ils vous persécuteront aussi. Jésus (Jean 15: 13-20)
Let’s roll ! Todd Beamer
You’ve got to turn on evil,when it’s coming after you, you’ve gotta face it down … Neil Young (« Let’s roll, 2001)
[Beamer’s wife Lisa] was talking about how he always used to say that (« let’s roll ») with the kids when they’d go out and do something, that it’s what he said a lot when he had a job to do. And it’s just so poignant, and there’s no more of a legendary, heroic act than what those people did. With no promise of martyrdom, no promise of any reward anywhere for this, other than just knowing that you did the right thing. And not even having a chance to think about it or plan it or do anything — just a gut reaction that was heroic and ultimately cost them all their lives. What more can you say? It was just so obvious that somebody had to write something or do something. Neil Young
In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people. We have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground — passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help me to welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight. George W. Bush
Et immédiatement, le centre sacrificiel se mit à générer des réactions habituelles : un sentiment d’unanimité et de deuil. […] Des phrases ont commencé à se dire comme « Nous sommes tous Américains » – un sentiment purement fictif pour la plupart d’entre nous. Ce fut étonnant de voir l’unité se former autour du centre sacré, rapidement nommé Ground Zero, une unité qui se concrétisera ensuite par un drapeau, une grande participation aux cérémonies religieuses, les chefs religieux soudainement pris au sérieux, des bougies, des lieux saints, des prières, tous les signes de la religion de la mort. […] Et puis il y avait le deuil. Comme nous aimons le deuil ! Cela nous donne bonne conscience, nous rend innocents. Voilà ce qu’Aristote voulait dire par katharsis, et qui a des échos profonds dans les racines sacrificielles de la tragédie dramatique. Autour du centre sacrificiel, les personnes présentes se sentent justifiées et moralement bonnes. Une fausse bonté qui soudainement les sort de leurs petites trahisons, leurs lâchetés, leur mauvaise conscience. James Alison
La révolte contre l’ethnocentrisme est une invention de l’Occident, introuvable en dehors. (…) À la différence de toutes les autres cultures, qui ont toujours été ethnocentriques tout de go et sans complexe, nous autres occidentaux sommes toujours simultanément nous-mêmes et notre propre ennemi. René Girard
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 marxisme.  René Girard
J’ai l’impression que beaucoup de gens ont oublié le 11 Septembre – pas complètement, mais ils l’ont réduit à une espèce de norme tacite. Quand j’ai donné cet entretien au Monde, l’opinion générale pensait qu’il s’agissait d’un événement inhabituel, nouveau, et incomparable. Aujourd’hui, je pense que beaucoup de gens seraient en désaccord avec cette remarque. Malheureusement, l’attitude des Américains face au 11 Septembre a été influencée par l’idéologie politique, à cause de la guerre en Irak. Le fait d’insister sur le 11 Septembre est devenu « « conservateur » et « alarmiste ». Ceux qui aimeraient mettre une fin immédiate à la guerre en Irak tendent donc à le minimiser. Cela dit, je ne veux pas dire qu’ils ont tort de vouloir terminer la guerre en Irak, mais avant de minimiser le 11 Septembre, ils devraient faire très attention et considérer la situation dans sa globalité. Aujourd’hui, cette tendance est très répandue, car les événements dont vous parlez – qui ont eu lieu après le 11 Septembre et qui en sont, en quelque sorte, de vagues réminiscences – sont incomparablement moins puissants et ont beaucoup moins de visibilité. Par conséquent, il y a tout le problème de l’interprétation : qu’est-ce que le 11 Septembre ? (…) je le vois comme un événement déterminant, et c’est très grave de le minimiser aujourd’hui. Le désir habituel d’être optimiste, de ne pas voir l’unicité de notre temps du point de vue de la violence, correspond à un désir futile et désespéré de penser notre temps comme la simple continuation de la violence du XXe siècle. Je pense, personnellement, que nous avons affaire à une nouvelle dimension qui est mondiale. Ce que le communisme avait tenté de faire, une guerre vraiment mondiale, est maintenant réalisé, c’est l’actualité. Minimiser le 11 Septembre, c’est ne pas vouloir voir l’importance de cette nouvelle dimension. (…)  [la guerre froide et le terrorisme islamiste] sont similaires dans la mesure où elles représentent une menace révolutionnaire, une menace globale. Mais la menace actuelle va au-delà de la politique, puisqu’elle comporte un aspect religieux. Ainsi, l’idée qu’il puisse y avoir un conflit plus total que celui conçu par les peuples totalitaires, comme l’Allemagne nazie, et qui puisse devenir en quelque sorte la propriété de l’islam, est tout simplement stupéfiante, tellement contraire à ce que tout le monde croyait sur la politique. Il faudrait beaucoup y travailler, car il n’y a pas de vraie réflexion sur la coexistence des autres religions, et en particulier du christianisme avec l’islam. Le problème religieux est plus radical dans la mesure où il dépasse les divisions idéologiques – que bien sûr, la plupart des intellectuels aujourd’hui ne sont pas prêts d’abandonner. En deçà de ces visions idéologiques, nos réflexions sur le 11 Septembre resteront superficielles. Nous devons réfléchir dans le contexte plus large de la dimension apocalyptique du christianisme. Celle-ci est une menace, car la survie même de la planète est en jeu. Notre planète est menacée par trois choses qui émanent de l’homme : la menace nucléaire, la menace écologique et la manipulation biologique de l’espèce humaine. L’idée que l’homme ne puisse pas maîtriser ses propres pouvoirs est aussi vraie dans le domaine biologique que dans le domaine militaire. C’est cette triple menace mondiale qui domine aujourd’hui. (…) Le terrorisme est une forme de guerre, et la guerre est la continuation de la politique par d’autres moyens. En ce sens, le terrorisme est politique. Mais le terrorisme est la seule forme possible de guerre face à la technologie. Les événements actuels en Irak le confirment. La supériorité de l’Occident, c’est sa technologie, et elle s’est révélée inutile en Irak. L’Occident s’est mis dans la pire des situations en déclarant qu’il transformerait l’Irak en une démocratie jeffersonienne ! C’est précisément ce qu’il ne peut pas faire. Il est impuissant face à l’islam car la division entre les sunnites et les chiites est infiniment plus importante. Alors même qu’ils combattent l’Occident, ils parviennent encore à lutter l’un contre l’autre. Pourquoi l’Occident devrait-il s’investir dans ce conflit interne à l’islam alors que nous ne parvenons même pas à en concevoir l’immense puissance au sein du monde islamique lui-même ? (…) Il s’agit de notre incompréhension du rôle de la religion, et de notre propre monde ; c’est ne pas comprendre que ce qui nous unit est très fragile. Lorsque nous évoquons nos principes démocratiques, parlons-nous de l’égalité et des élections, ou bien parlons-nous de capitalisme, de consommation, de libre échange, etc. ? Je pense que dans les années à venir, l’Occident sera mis à l’épreuve. Comment réagira-t-il : avec force ou faiblesse ? Se dissoudra-t-il ? Les occidentaux devraient se poser la question de savoir s’ils ont de vrais principes, et si ceux-ci sont chrétiens ou bien purement consuméristes. Le consumérisme n’a pas d’emprise sur ceux qui se livrent aux attentats suicides. L’Amérique devrait y réfléchir, car elle offre au monde ce que l’on considère de plus attrayant. Pourquoi cela ne fonctionne- t-il pas vraiment chez les musulmans ? Est-ce par ressentiment ou ont-ils, contre cela, un système de défense bien organisé ? Ou bien, leur perspective religieuse est-elle plus authentique et plus puissante ? Le vrai problème est là. (…) Je suis bien moins affirmatif que je ne l’étais au moment du 11 Septembre sur l’idée d’un ressentiment total. Je me souviens m’être emporté lors d’une rencontre à l’École Polytechnique lorsque je me suis mis d’accord avec Jean-Pierre Dupuy sur l’interprétation du ressentiment du monde musulman. Maintenant, je ne pense pas que cela suffise. Le ressentiment seul peut-il motiver cette capacité de mourir ainsi ? Le monde musulman pourrait-il vraiment être indifférent à la culture de consommation de masse ? Peut-être qu’il l’est. Je ne sais pas. Il serait sans doute excessif de leur attribuer une telle envie. Si les islamistes ont vraiment pour objectif la domination du monde, alors ils l’ont déjà dépassée. Nous ne savons pas si l’industrialisation rapide apparaîtra dans le monde musulman, ou s’ils tenteront de gagner sur la croissance démographique et la fascination qu’ils exercent. Il y a de plus en plus de conversions en Occident. La fascination de la violence y joue certainement un rôle. (…) Il y a là du ressentiment, évidemment. Et c’est ce qui a dû émouvoir ceux qui ont applaudi les terroristes, comme s’ils étaient dans un stade. C’est cela le ressentiment. C’est évident et indéniable. Mais est-ce qu’il représente l’unique force ? La force majeure ? Peut-il être l’unique cause des attentats suicides ? Je n’en suis pas sûr. La richesse accumulée en Occident, comparée au reste du monde, est un scandale, et le 11 Septembre n’est pas sans rapport avec ce fait. Si je ne veux donc pas complètement supprimer l’idée du ressentiment, il ne peut pas être l’unique explication. (…)  L’autre force serait religieuse. Allah est contre le consumérisme, etc. En réalité, le musulman pense que les rituels de prohibition religieuse sont une force qui maintient l’unité de la communauté, ce qui a totalement disparu ou qui est en déclin en Occident. Les gens en Occident ne sont motivés que par le consumérisme, les bons salaires, etc. Les musulmans disent : « leurs armes sont terriblement dangereuses, mais comme peuple, ils sont tellement faibles que leur civilisation peut être facilement détruite ». C’est ce qu’ils pensent et ils n’ont peut-être pas complètement tort. Il me semble qu’il y a quelque chose de juste dans ce propos. Finalement, je crois que la perspective chrétienne sur la violence surmontera tout, mais ce sera une épreuve importante. (…) Il faut faire attention à ne pas justifier le 11 Septembre en le qualifiant de sacrificiel. Je pense que Jean-Pierre Dupuy ne le dit pas. Il maintient une sorte de neutralité. Mais ce qu’il dit sur la nature sacrée de Ground Zero au World Trade Center est, je pense, parfaitement justifié. (…) Je pense que James Alison a raison de parler de la katharsis dans le contexte du 11 Septembre. La notion de katharsis est extrêmement importante. C’est un mot religieux. En réalité, cela veut dire « la purge » au sens de purification. Dans l’Église orthodoxe, par exemple, katharos veut dire purification. C’est le mot qui exprime l’effet positif de la religion. La purge est ce qui nous rend purs. C’est ce que la religion est censée faire, et ce qu’elle fait avec le sacrifice. Je considère l’utilisation du mot katharsis par Aristote comme parfaitement juste. Quand les gens condamnent la théorie mimétique, ils ne voient pas l’apport d’Aristote. Il ne semble parler que de tragédie, mais pourtant, le théâtre tragique traite du sacrifice comme un drame. On l’appelle d’ailleurs ‘l’ode de la chèvre’. Aristote est toujours conventionnel dans ses explications – conventionnel au sens positif. Un Grec très intelligent cherchant à justifier sa religion, utiliserait, je pense, le mot katharsis. Ainsi, ma réponse mettrait l’accent sur la katharsis au sens aristotélicien du terme. (…) pour le 11 Septembre, il y avait la télévision qui nous rendait présents à l’événement, et intensifiait ainsi l’expérience. L’événement était en direct, comme nous le disons en français. On ne savait pas ce qui allait advenir par la suite. Moi-même, j’ai vu le deuxième avion frapper le gratte-ciel, en direct. C’était comme un spectacle tragique, mais réel en même temps. Si nous ne l’avions pas vécu dans le sens le plus littéral, il n’aurait pas eu le même impact. Je pense que si j’avais écrit La Violence et le Sacré après le 11 Septembre, j’y aurais très probablement inclus cet événement. C’est l’événement qui rend possible une compréhension des événements contemporains, car il rend l’archaïque plus intelligible. Le 11 Septembre représente un étrange retour à l’archaïque à l’intérieur du sécularisme de notre temps. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, les gens auraient eu une réaction chrétienne vis-à-vis du 11 Septembre. Aujourd’hui, ils ont une réaction archaïque, qui augure mal de l’avenir. (…) L’avenir apocalyptique n’est pas quelque chose d’historique. C’est quelque chose de religieux sans lequel on ne peut pas vivre. C’est ce que les chrétiens actuels ne comprennent pas. Parce que, dans l’avenir apocalyptique, le bien et le mal sont mélangés de telle manière que d’un point de vue chrétien, on ne peut pas parler de pessimisme. Cela est tout simplement contenu dans le christianisme. Pour le comprendre, lisons la Première Lettre aux Corinthiens : si les puissants, c’est-à-dire les puissants de ce monde, avaient su ce qui arriverait, ils n’auraient jamais crucifié le Seigneur de la Gloire – car cela aurait signifié leur destruction (cf. 1 Co 2, 8). Car lorsque l’on crucifie le Seigneur de la Gloire, la magie des pouvoirs, qui est le mécanisme du bouc émissaire, est révélée. Montrer la crucifixion comme l’assassinat d’une victime innocente, c’est montrer le meurtre collectif et révéler ce phénomène mimétique. C’est finalement cette vérité qui entraîne les puissants à leur perte. Et toute l’histoire est simplement la réalisation de cette prophétie. Ceux qui prétendent que le christianisme est anarchiste ont un peu raison. Les chrétiens détruisent les pouvoirs de ce monde, car ils détruisent la légitimité de toute violence. Pour l’État, le christianisme est une force anarchique, surtout lorsqu’il retrouve sa puissance spirituelle d’autrefois. Ainsi, le conflit avec les musulmans est bien plus considérable que ce que croient les fondamentalistes. Les fondamentalistes pensent que l’apocalypse est la violence de Dieu. Alors qu’en lisant les chapitres apocalyptiques, on voit que l’apocalypse est la violence de l’homme déchaînée par la destruction des puissants, c’est-à-dire des États, comme nous le voyons en ce moment. (…) mais (…) à la fin, la force religieuse est du côté du Christ. Cependant, il semblerait que la vraie force religieuse soit du côté de la violence. (…) Lorsque les puissances seront vaincues, la violence deviendra telle que la fin arrivera. Si l’on suit les chapitres apocalyptiques, c’est bien cela qu’ils annoncent. Il y aura des révolutions et des guerres. Les États s’élèveront contre les États, les nations contre les nations. Cela reflète la violence. Voilà le pouvoir anarchique que nous avons maintenant, avec des forces capables de détruire le monde entier. On peut donc voir l’apparition de l’apocalypse d’une manière qui n’était pas possible auparavant. Au début du christianisme, l’apocalypse semblait magique : le monde va finir ; nous irons tous au paradis, et tout sera sauvé ! L’erreur des premiers chrétiens était de croire que l’apocalypse était toute proche. Les premiers textes chronologiques chrétiens sont les Lettres aux Thessaloniciens qui répondent à la question : pourquoi le monde continue-t-il alors qu’on en a annoncé la fin ? Paul dit qu’il y a quelque chose qui retient les pouvoirs, le katochos (quelque chose qui retient). L’interprétation la plus commune est qu’il s’agit de l’Empire romain. La crucifixion n’a pas encore dissout tout l’ordre. Si l’on consulte les chapitres du christianisme, ils décrivent quelque chose comme le chaos actuel, qui n’était pas présent au début de l’Empire romain. Comment le monde peut-il finir alors qu’il est tenu si fortement par les forces de l’ordre ? (…)  [La religion chrétienne], fondamentalement, c’est la religion qui annonce le monde à venir ; il n’est pas question de se battre pour ce monde. C’est le christianisme moderne qui oublie ses origines et sa vraie direction. L’apocalypse au début du christianisme était une promesse, pas une menace, car ils croyaient vraiment en un monde prochain. (…) Je suis pessimiste au sens actuel du terme. Mais en fait, je suis optimiste si l’on regarde le monde actuel qui confirme vraiment toutes les prédictions. On voit l’apocalypse s’étendre tous les jours : le pouvoir de détruire le monde, les armes de plus en plus fatales, et autres menaces qui se multiplient sous nos yeux. Nous croyons toujours que tous ces problèmes sont gérables par l’homme mais, dans une vision d’ensemble, c’est impossible. Ils ont une valeur quasi surnaturelle. Comme les fondamentalistes, beaucoup de lecteurs de l’Évangile reconnaissent la situation mondiale dans ces chapitres apocalyptiques. Mais les fondamentalistes croient que la violence ultime vient de Dieu, alors ils ne voient pas vraiment le rapport avec la situation actuelle – le rapport religieux. Cela montre combien ils sont peu chrétiens. La violence humaine, qui menace aujourd’hui le monde, est plus conforme au thème apocalyptique de l’Évangile qu’ils ne le pensent. (…) Par exemple, nous avons moins de violence privée. Comparé à aujourd’hui, si vous regardez les statistiques du XVIIIe siècle, c’est impressionnant de voir la violence qu’il y avait. (…) le mouvement pacifiste est totalement chrétien, qu’il l’avoue ou non. Mais en même temps, il y a un déferlement d’inventions technologiques qui ne sont plus retenues par aucune force culturelle. Jacques Maritain disait qu’il y a à la fois plus de bien et plus de mal dans le monde. Je suis d’accord avec lui. Au fond, le monde est en permanence plus chrétien et moins chrétien. Mais le monde est fondamentalement désorganisé par le christianisme. (…) la pensée de Marcel Gauchet résulte de toute l’interprétation moderne du christianisme. Nous disons que nous sommes les héritiers du christianisme, et que l’héritage du christianisme est l’humanisme. Cela est en partie vrai. Mais en même temps, Marcel Gauchet ne considère pas le monde dans sa globalité. On peut tout expliquer avec la théorie mimétique. Dans un monde qui paraît plus menaçant, il est certain que la religion reviendra. Le 11 Septembre est le début de cela, car lors de cette attaque, la technologie n’était pas utilisée à des fins humanistes mais à des fins radicales, métaphysico-religieuses non chrétiennes. Je trouve cela incroyable, car j’ai l’habitude d’observer les forces religieuses et humanistes ensemble, et non pas en opposition. Mais suite au 11 Septembre, j’ai eu l’impression que la religion archaïque revenait, avec l’islam, d’une manière extrêmement rigoureuse. L’islam a beaucoup d’aspects propres aux religions bibliques à l’exception de la compréhension de la violence comme un mal non pas divin mais humain. Il considère la violence comme totalement divine. C’est pour cela que l’opposition est plus significative qu’avec le communisme, qui est un humanisme même s’il est factice et erroné, et qu’il tourne à la terreur. Mais c’est toujours un humanisme. Et tout à coup, on revient à la religion, la religion archaïque – mais avec des armes modernes. Ce que le monde attend est le moment où les musulmans radicaux pourront d’une certaine manière se servir d’armes nucléaires. Il faut regarder le Pakistan, qui est une nation musulmane possédant des armes nucléaires et l’Iran qui tente de les développer. (…) [la Guerre Froide est] complètement dépassée (…) Et la rapidité avec laquelle elle a été dépassée est incroyable. L’Union Soviétique a montré qu’elle devenait plus humaine lorsqu’elle n’a pas tenté de forcer le blocus de Kennedy, et à partir de cet instant, elle n’a plus fait peur. Après Khrouchtchev on a eu rapidement besoin de Gorbatchev. Quand Gorbatchev est arrivé au pouvoir, les oppositions ne se trouvaient plus à l’intérieur de l’humanisme. Les communistes voulaient organiser le monde pour qu’il n’y ait plus de pauvres. Les capitalistes ont constaté que les pauvres n’avaient pas de poids. Les capitalistes l’ont emporté. [Et ce conflit sera plus dangereux parce qu’il ne s’agit plus d’une lutte au sein de l’humanisme] bien qu’ils n’aient pas les mêmes armes que l’Union Soviétique – du moins pas encore. Le monde change si rapidement. Cela dit, de plus en plus de gens en Occident verront la faiblesse de notre humanisme ; nous n’allons pas redevenir chrétiens, mais on fera plus attention au fait que la lutte se trouve entre le christianisme et l’islam, plus qu’entre l’islam et l’humanisme. (…) Avec l’islam je pense que l’opposition est totale. Dans l’islam, si l’on est violent, on est inévitablement l’instrument de Dieu. Cela veut donc dire que la violence apocalyptique vient de Dieu. Aux États-Unis, les fondamentalistes disent cela, mais les grandes églises ne le disent pas. Néanmoins, ils ne poussent pas suffisamment leur pensée pour dire que si la violence ne vient pas de Dieu, elle vient de l’homme, et que nous en sommes responsables. Nous acceptons de vivre sous la protection d’armes nucléaires. Cela a probablement été la plus grande erreur de l’Occident. Imaginez-vous les implications. (…) la dissuasion nucléaire. Mais il s’agit de faibles excuses. Nous croyons que la violence est garante de la paix. Mais cette hypothèse ne me paraît pas valable. Nous ne voulons pas aujourd’hui réfléchir à ce que signifie cette confiance dans la violence. [Après autre événement tel que le 11 Septembre] Je pense que les personnes deviendraient plus conscientes. Mais cela serait probablement comme la première attaque. Il y aurait une période de grande tension spirituelle et intellectuelle, suivie d’un lent relâchement. Quand les gens ne veulent pas voir, ils y arrivent. Je pense qu’il y aura des révolutions spirituelles et intellectuelles dans un avenir proche. Ce que je dis aujourd’hui semble complètement invraisemblable, et pourtant je pense que le 11 Septembre va devenir de plus en plus significatif.  (…) Il faut distinguer entre le sacrifice des autres et le sacrifice de soi. Le Christ dit au Père : « Vous ne vouliez ni holocauste, ni sacrifice ; moi je dis : “Me voici” » (cf. He 10, 6-7). Autrement dit, je préfère me sacrifier plutôt que de sacrifier l’autre. Mais cela doit toujours être nommé sacrifice. Lorsque nous utilisons le mot « sacrifice » dans nos langues modernes, c’est dans le sens chrétien. Dieu dit : « Si personne d’autre n’est assez bon pour se sacrifier lui plutôt que son frère, je le ferai. » Ainsi, je satisfais à la demande de Dieu envers l’homme. Je préfère mourir plutôt que tuer. Mais tous les autres hommes préfèrent tuer plutôt que mourir. (…)  Dans le christianisme, on ne se martyrise pas soi-même. On n’est pas volontaire pour se faire tuer. On se met dans une situation où le respect des préceptes de Dieu (tendre l’autre joue, etc.) peut nous faire tuer. Cela dit, on se fera tuer parce que les hommes veulent nous tuer, non pas parce qu’on s’est porté volontaire. Ce n’est pas comme la notion japonaise de kamikaze. La notion chrétienne signifie que l’on est prêt à mourir plutôt qu’à tuer. C’est bien l’attitude de la bonne prostituée face au jugement de Salomon. Elle dit : « Donnez l’enfant à mon ennemi plutôt que de le tuer. » Sacrifier son enfant serait comme se sacrifier elle-même, car en acceptant une sorte de mort, elle se sacrifie elle-même. Et lorsque Salomon dit qu’elle est la vraie mère, cela ne signifie pas qu’elle est la mère biologique, mais la mère selon l’esprit. Cette histoire se trouve dans le Premier Livre des Rois (3, 16-28), qui est, à certains égards, un livre assez violent. Mais il me semble qu’il n’y a pas de meilleur symbole préchrétien du sacrifice de soi par le Christ. (…) Je vois en cela le contraste du christianisme avec toutes les religions archaïques du sacrifice. Cela dit, la religion musulmane a beaucoup copié le christianisme et elle n’est donc pas ouvertement sacrificielle. Mais la religion musulmane n’a pas détruit le sacrifice de la religion archaïque comme l’a fait le christianisme. Bien des parties du monde musulman ont conservé le sacrifice prémusulman. (…) bien entendu. Il faut lire les romans de William Faulkner. Bien des gens croient que le sud des États-Unis est une incarnation du christianisme. Je dirais que le sud est sans doute la partie la moins chrétienne des États-Unis en termes d’esprit, bien qu’il en soit la plus chrétienne en termes de rituel. Il n’y a pas de doute que le christianisme médiéval était beaucoup plus proche du fondamentalisme actuel. Mais il y a beaucoup de manières de trahir une religion. En ce qui concerne le sud, cela est évident, car il y a un grand retour aux formes les plus archaïques de la religion. Il faut interpréter ces lynchages comme une forme d’acte religieux archaïque. (…) Le terme de « violence religieuse » est souvent employé d’une manière qui ne m’aide pas à résoudre les problèmes que je me pose, à savoir ceux d’un rapport à la violence en mouvement constant et également historique. (…) Je dirais que toute violence religieuse implique un degré d’archaïsme. Mais certains points sont très compliqués. Par exemple, lors de la première guerre mondiale, est-ce que les soldats qui acceptaient d’être mobilisés pour mourir pour leur pays, et beaucoup au nom du christianisme, avaient une attitude vraiment chrétienne ? Il y a là quelque chose qui est contraire au christianisme. Mais il y a aussi quelque chose de vrai. Cela ne supprime pas, à mon avis, le fait qu’il y a une histoire de la violence religieuse, et que les religions, surtout le christianisme, au fond, sont continuellement influencées par cette histoire, bien que son influence soit, le plus souvent, pervertie. René Girard
Des millions de Faisal Shahzad sont déstabilisés par un monde moderne qu’ils ne peuvent ni maîtriser ni rejeter. (…) Le jeune homme qui avait fait tous ses efforts pour acquérir la meilleure éducation que pouvait lui offrir l’Amérique avant de succomber à l’appel du jihad a fait place au plus atteint des schizophrènes. Les villes surpeuplées de l’Islam – de Karachi et Casablanca au Caire – et ces villes d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord où la diaspora islamique est maintenant présente en force ont des multitudes incalculables d’hommes comme Faisal Shahzad. C’est une longue guerre crépusculaire, la lutte contre l’Islamisme radical. Nul vœu pieu, nulle stratégie de « gain des coeurs et des esprits », nulle grande campagne d’information n’en viendront facilement à bout. L’Amérique ne peut apaiser cette fureur accumulée. Ces hommes de nulle part – Shahzad Faisal, Malik Nidal Hasan, l’émir renégat né en Amérique Anwar Awlaki qui se terre actuellement au Yémen et ceux qui leur ressemblent – sont une race de combattants particulièrement dangereux dans ce nouveau genre de guerre. La modernité les attire et les ébranle à la fois. L’Amérique est tout en même temps l’objet de leurs rêves et le bouc émissaire sur lequel ils projettent leurs malignités les plus profondes. Fouad Ajami
Relire aujourd’hui les principaux textes consacrés à ces attentats par des philosophes de renom constitue une étrange expérience. De manière prévisible, on y rencontre élaborations sophistiquées, affirmations grandioses ou péremptoires, performances rhétoriques bluffantes. Malgré tout, avec le recul, on ne peut qu’être saisi par un décalage profond entre ces performances virtuoses et la réalité rampante du terrorisme mondialisé que nous vivons à présent quotidiennement. Au fil des ans, un écart frappant s’est creusé entre discours subtils et réalités grossières, propos éthérés et faits massifs. Le 11 septembre devait être nécessairement considéré comme une énigme. Le philosophe français Jacques Derrida affirmait qu’« on ne sait pas, on ne pense pas, on ne comprend pas, on ne veut pas comprendre ce qui s’est passé à ce moment-là ». Il fallait d’abord récuser les évidences, considérées comme clichés idéologiques ou manipulations médiatiques. Ne parler donc ni de d’acte de guerre, ni de haine de l’Occident, ni de volonté de détruire les libertés fondamentales. Dialoguant à propos du 11 septembre avec Jürgen Habermas, qui centrait alors son analyse principalement sur la politique de l’Europe, Derrida, pour comprendre l’événement, s’attardait sur la notion d’Ereignis (« événement », ou « avenance ») dans l’histoire de l’être selon Heidegger et finissait par proposer une « hospitalité sans condition ». « C’est eux qui l’on fait, mais c’est nous qui l’avons voulu » soutenait pour sa part le sociologue Jean Baudrillard, attribuant aux rêves suicidaires de l’Occident l’effondrement des tours et la fascination des images des attentats. Pour celui voulait mettre en lumière « l’esprit du terrorisme », les « vrais » responsables étaient donc, au choix, les Etats-Unis, l’hégémonie occidentale ou chacun d’entre nous… D’autres se demandèrent aussitôt « à qui profite le crime » et conclurent que ce ne pouvait être qu’à la CIA, préparant ainsi les théories du complot qui firent florès. Ce ne sont que quelques exemples. Une histoire des lectures philosophiques du 11 septembre reste à écrire. Elle montrerait combien anti-américanisme et anti-capitalisme ont empêché tant d’esprits affutés de voir la nature religieuse du nouveau terrorisme comme les singularités de la nouvelle guerre. S’y ajoutaient la volonté de n’être pas dupe et la défiance envers les propagandes, transformées en déni systématique des informations de base. Les philosophes ont évidemment pour rôle indispensable d’être critiques, donc de démonter préjugés et fausses évidences, mais n’ont-ils pas pour devoir de ne jamais faire l’impasse sur les faits ? Au lieu de mettre en cause l’empire américain, l’arrogance des tours, le règne des images, il fallait scruter l’islamisme politique, les usages inédits de la violence, l’art terroriste de la communication. Quelques-uns l’ont fait, en parlant dans le désert. Aujourd’hui, il est urgent d’analyser ce qu’impliquent les changements intervenus depuis le 11 septembre. Car ce ne sont plus des symboles, comme les Twin Towers ou le Pentagone, qui sont ciblés, mais n’importe qui vivant chez les « impies » – dans la rue, aux terrasses, au concert, à l’école…. Les terroristes ne sont plus des commandos organisés d’ingénieurs formés au pilotage pour transformer des Boeing en bombes, mais de petits délinquants autogérés, s’emparant d’un couteau de cuisine ou d’un camion. Pour en venir à bout, il va falloir rattraper, au plus vite, le temps perdu à penser à côté de la plaque. Roger-Pol Droit
Le Cair a été fondé après le 11 Septembre parce qu’ils ont pris acte du fait que des gens avaient fait quelque chose et que nous tous allions commencer à perdre accès à nos libertés civiles. Ilhan Omar
Je pense que c’est un produit des médias sensationnalistes. Vous avez ces extraits sonores, et ces mots, et tout le monde les prononce avec une telle intensité, car ça doit avoir une signification plus grande. Je me souviens quand j’étais à la fac, j’ai suivi un cours sur l’idéologie du terrorisme. A chaque fois que le professeur disait « Al-Qaeda », ses épaules se soulevaient. Ilhan Omar
I was 18 years old when that happened. I was in a classroom in college and I remember rushing home after being dismissed and getting home and seeing my father in complete horror as he sat in front of that TV. And I remember just feeling, like the world was ending. The events of 9/11 were life-changing, life-altering for all of us. My feeling around it is one of complete horror. None of us are ever going to forget that day and the trauma that we will always have to live with. Ilhan Omar
9/11 was an attack on all Americans. It was an attack on all of us. And I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel. But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting, right, the aftermath of what happened after 9/11. Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them. And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect. Ilhan Omar
This book is painful to read. Even with the passage of nearly 18 years, reliving modern America’s most terrible day hits an exposed nerve that you thought had been fully numbed, only to discover that the ache was merely in remission. In “Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11,” Mitchell Zuckoff relives each minute of that morning in 2001 through the perspectives of those who endured the worst: passengers and crew members on the four planes turned into missiles by Islamist hijackers; innocents trapped in the burning twin towers and the Pentagon; rescue workers who struggled valiantly but futilely and, in many cases, fatally; people in Shanksville, Pa., on whom death rained from a clear sky. As much as anything, “Fall and Rise” is a quilt work of futures unrealized, from the woman about to tell her parents she was pregnant to the doctor hoping to build a kidney dialysis center, from the retired bookkeeper set to move in with her daughter to the college student with dreams of becoming a child psychologist. Zuckoff, a professor of narrative studies at Boston University and the author of several nonfiction books, relies on his own interviews with survivors, but also leans heavily on government studies, trial transcripts, books and documentaries long in the public realm. And so the overall picture that he shapes is not really new. But freshness of detail seems less his objective than preservation of memory — an attempt, as he says, “to delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history.” By design, this narrative of close to 500 pages is not encyclopedic. Big Picture grandiosity — how Sept. 11 changed America and the world — has been left to others. The terrorism puppet master Osama bin Laden gets scant attention. Actions (and inactions) of President George W. Bush and his team merit only a few pages. Rudolph Giuliani, who made a lucrative life for himself after 9/11, earns glancing mention. Flawed communications systems that doomed hundreds of New York’s emergency responders are not explored with the kind of detail that can be found in, say, “102 Minutes,” a 2005 work by the New York Times journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. Rather, this book derives its power from its focus on individuals in the main unknown to the larger world, who managed to survive the ordeal or who lost their lives simply because they were unlucky. With journalistic rigor, Zuckoff acknowledges what he doesn’t know, for example how exactly each group of hijackers seized control of its plane. His language is largely unadorned; then again, embellishment is neither needed nor wanted. Many details are hard to take: the melted flesh, the pulverized bodies, the scorched lungs and, for sure, the revived memory of scores of desperate victims leaping from on high to escape the World Trade Center inferno. But there are also inspiring moments, like the grit shown by those aboard United Airlines Flight 93. It was the plane that never reached its target, crashing in Shanksville after passengers revolted against the hijackers. Phone messages that they left “formed a spoken tapestry of grace, warning, bravery, resolve and love.” Heroes abound, though not in the way that word is routinely used and abused. Heroism, as we see here, is often a product of necessity. Some may ask if this book, covering territory already well traveled, needed to be written. For those who lived through the horror, perhaps not. But a full generation has come of age with no memory of that day. It needs to hear anew what happened, and maybe learn that time, in fact, does not heal all wounds. Clyde Haberman
I teach really engaged journalism students. I’m not sure how the generation as a whole reacts to it. My students approach it with curiosity and a little bit of uncertainty because they didn’t experience it. They are well-read and aware of things, but for them it is a little like Pearl Harbor. They know who was involved and can cite numbers. They can say 3,000 dead, 9/11, four hijacked planes, 19 hijackers. They got the test questions down very well. They don’t have the human connection or that feeling for it that I wish they did. I hope that’s what my book can do. Mitchell Zuckoff
There is this entire generation who didn’t live through this, who don’t have any independent memories of what happened those days. Some members of that generation are going off to war to fight in Afghanistan — a war that started after this — and they don’t have any direct connection to it. Right now, other than Osama bin Laden, is there a single name that’s a household name associated with 9/11?. Names are news, and we connect to them, and that is what’s so important about this: before the time passes, before the people who I could talk to were gone, dead or just not available, to capture this as one story. (…) People do I think know to some extent what happened on Flight 93, the 40 heroes of 93, who rose up and fought back to try to save themselves and ultimately ended up saving untold numbers of people, either at the Capitol or the White House, was the destination. But there in Shanksville — and I tell the story largely through Terry Shaffer, who was the volunteer fire chief there, who had been planning for something his whole life, and he thought it might be a pile-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And he races toward the scene expecting to find casualties, expecting to find people he can help. The story of the people in Shanksville and how they came together, and sort of embraced the families of the Flight 93 victims, is I think one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. (…) One of the advantages of a book almost 18 years after the event is so much of the material has become public, that all the FAA records of the flight altitudes almost on a second-by-second basis, as we’re approaching Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the transcript of the cockpit recorder — which was enormously valuable, where we have the terrorist pilots discussing what they’re doing with each other, ‘Should we put it into the ground?’ All of those different things, because that and the the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006 [the so-called 20th hijacker,] certainly a conspirator even though he didn’t get on one of the planes. All of that material became available, and it was a mountain of material. But for me, it was priceless. (…) It was too important not to. It becomes a responsibility when you realize that there are so many people who don’t have a human connection to this story — the way I think of it is sometimes, 9/11 is becoming a story reduced to numbers: 9 and 11, four planes, 19 hijackers, 3,000 people killed. But you don’t connect names to it. And I felt if I could do that, if I could give people the story as it unfolded through the people that they could connect to, then I would have done something worthwhile. Mitchell Zuckoff

A ceux pour qui à chaque fois qu’il est prononcé, le nom « Al-Qaeda » soulève les épaules …

En cette 18e commémoration de l’abomination islamiste du 11 septembre 2001 …

Où, après l’avoir minimisé drapée dans son hijab, une membre du Congrès américain nous joue [avant comme à son habitude de se rétracter quatre jours plus tard – mise à jour du 15.09.2019] les sanglots longs de l’automne

Comment ne pas saluer les efforts ô combien méritoires de l’auteur d’un récent livre réunissant l’ensemble des témoignages possibles de l’évènement …

Contre les ravages du temps et les faiblesses et dérives de la psychologie et de la mémoire humaines …

Où à l’instar de ce journaliste de la radio publique américaine NPR qui n’avait en tête comme noms liés au 11/9 hormis Ben Laden, que le nom honni de Mohamed Atta …

Un peuple américain qui au lendemain de la tragédie avait plébiscité leur président jusqu’au score de popularité proprement soviétique ou africain de 99% le traine à présent dans la boue …

Et où, le même peuple qui avait, entre mémoriaux, noms d’écoles ou de bâtiments publics, films, livres, chansons ou tee-shirts, fait un véritable triomphe aux véritables héros du jour et aux dernières paroles de leur leader Todd Beamer (« Let’s roll !« ) …

En est à présent, via l’antisémite de service du Congrès américain Ilhan Omar et heureusement sauf exceptions, à minimiser l’attentat le plus proprement diabolique de leur histoire ?

‘Fall And Rise’ Seeks To Capture 9/11 As ‘One Story’ — And Keep It From Fading
Jeremy Hobson
WBUR
April 29, 2019

« There is this entire generation who didn’t live through this, who don’t have any independent memories of what happened those days, » Zuckoff (@mitchellzuckoff) tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson. « Some members of that generation are going off to war to fight in Afghanistan — a war that started after this — and they don’t have any direct connection to it. »

One of the driving forces behind the book was an effort to tie 9/11 into a single narrative before it was too late, Zuckoff says — and to ensure the attacks don’t fade too far from the public consciousness.

« Right now, other than Osama bin Laden, is there a single name that’s a household name associated with 9/11? » he says. « Names are news, and we connect to them, and that is what’s so important about this: before the time passes, before the people who I could talk to were gone, dead or just not available, to capture this as one story. »

Interview Highlights

On starting the book with what happened in the days leading up to Sept. 11

« That was very much by design, to start the book actually on September 10th, because what Mohamed Atta, what Ziad Jarrah, what the other terrorists were doing, all these machinations: training to fly planes coming here, living in this country and coming closer and closer — the circle is tightening — to get them in a position doing trial runs and making this plan which took very little money, a lot of planning but very little money, very little overhead, if you will, and to position themselves where they could be here in Boston, they could go up to Portland, Maine, and be ready to do these events.

« It’s not entirely clear [why they started their journey from Portland.] One strong suspicion we have is that the trip to Portland would allow them to avoid some suspicion. If you had eight Arab men all arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport at the same exact time for the same flights, they thought this might avoid some of that. But that is one of those unanswerable questions. »

« The idea of turning [a plane] into a guided missile wasn’t, quite literally, on the radar for anyone. And that’s unfortunately so sadly why it was so effective. »

Mitchell Zuckoff

On whether all of the hijackers knew the full extent of what they were doing

« I think it’s clear that all 19 knew exactly what was being planned, because it was a very coordinated attack. What happened on each one of the four planes was quite similar, where at a trigger moment, the muscle hijackers — the guys who were not flying the plane — went into attack mode. All of them had discussed … the preparations for purifying themselves for what they understood would be their last day. »

On the hijackers’ use of Mace in the cabin so that it would be more difficult for passengers to thwart the attack

« The Mace is an open question. There was some discussion they had it. A lot of it was just the element of surprise, was the greatest thing, and they committed an act of violence almost on every plane. They immediately cut someone’s throat to make it clear that they meant business. They said they had a bomb, they herded — these were very lightly attended planes, it was a random Tuesday morning to most people — they herded everyone into the back. And they also understood that the flight attendants and the crews would know that there was a standard protocol: You negotiate with terrorists. You expect that they’re going to want to land somewhere and exchange passengers and money for their freedom, or for their political aims. This was not part of anyone’s script except the terrorists.

« The idea of turning [a plane] into a guided missile wasn’t, quite literally, on the radar for anyone. And that’s unfortunately so sadly why it was so effective. »

On how communication failures shaped the way Sept. 11 unfolded

« Communication failures were rampant that day on every level, and that’s where really, that’s the sort of ground zero, if you will, of the communications failures — that people were calling saying what was going on. The airlines knew about it. And then even when it did finally reach the FAA, they weren’t alerting the military. So planes are still taking off. Things are still happening that [are] allowing one after another of these hijackings. The communication failures, they’re rampant, they’re across everything in terms of the communication failures at the towers, communication failures even before it happened.

« A fact that always stayed with me was on 9/11, the FAA had a list, a no-fly list, of a dozen people on it. The State Department had a list, its tip-off terrorists list of 60,000 people it was watching. The director of airline security for the FAA didn’t even know that State Department list existed. »

« Communication failures were rampant that day on every level. »

Mitchell Zuckoff

On stories about passengers on the planes that have stuck with him

« There are so many. One is from … United Flight 175, the second plane that [crashed into the World Trade Center,] took off from from Boston’s Logan Airport. And on that plane was a fellow named Peter Hanson and his wife Sue Kim and their daughter Christine. Christine was 2 years old and she was the youngest person directly affected by 9/11.

« While they were approaching the South Tower and it was clear something terrible was happening, they knew it, Peter called his father Lee in Connecticut, and the two phone calls between Peter and Lee are so poignant. And I spent time with Lee and Eunice Hanson in their home, in Peter’s boyhood bedroom, talking about those. Peter was actually first telling his father, ‘Please call someone, let them know what’s happening.’ And then Peter is actually comforting his father on the phone, when his wife and daughter are there huddled next to him in the back of this plane that they understand is flying too low, is heading toward the Statue of Liberty and toward the World Trade Center. »

On people in the first tower to be hit thinking they didn’t need to evacuate

« They were being told not to evacuate in both the towers. Some people were being told, ‘It’s over in the other tower.’ People didn’t know what was happening. And when the plane cut through, it knocked out the telecommunication system within the building that would have allowed people down in the basement and in the first floor to communicate to them. So the confusion began immediately, and people — some of them stayed in place for well over an hour. They didn’t know there was a ticking clock for the survival of the building.

« I spoke to a number of the Port Authority police officers who were the dispatchers that day who took those calls. They haunted by them still. And they are recorded calls, so I can hear them, I can see the transcripts. They’re remarkable in that they’re trying to keep these people calm, they’re trying to hope for the best. But there is no way up, and there’s no way out. »

On « the miracle of Stairwell B »

« One group of firefighters was Ladder 6, it was a unit in New York led by a remarkable guy named Jay Jonas, and Jay Jonas was a fire captain and he had this team of guys, a half dozen guys, and they’re sent into the North Tower, and they’re going up and they’re walking stair by stair. And when the South Tower collapses, Jay realizes, ‘I gotta get my guys out of here, quick.’

« On the way down, they pause to help a woman, Josephine Harris, who has been injured, who was exhausted, who can’t go any farther. But they slow their exit to help Josephine, and as they’re going farther and farther down through the building to get to the lobby, the North Tower starts to collapse. They’re inside this center stairwell, and they just huddled together, hold on for dear life, and the building literally peels away around them, just keeping a few floors of Stairwell B — which is exactly where they are. And Jay realizes that having slowed to help Josephine ended up saving all of them, because had they been in the lobby, the lobby was completely destroyed. Had they been just outside, they would have been wiped out as well. So it truly was a miracle. »

On what unfolded in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11

« People do I think know to some extent what happened on Flight 93, the 40 heroes of 93, who rose up and fought back to try to save themselves and ultimately ended up saving untold numbers of people, either at the Capitol or the White House, was the destination. But there in Shanksville — and I tell the story largely through Terry Shaffer, who was the volunteer fire chief there, who had been planning for something his whole life, and he thought it might be a pile-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And he races toward the scene expecting to find casualties, expecting to find people he can help. The story of the people in Shanksville and how they came together, and sort of embraced the families of the Flight 93 victims, is I think one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. »

On the difficulties of determining what exactly was happening on the planes

« One of the advantages of a book almost 18 years after the event is so much of the material has become public, that all the FAA records of the flight altitudes almost on a second-by-second basis, as we’re approaching Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the transcript of the cockpit recorder — which was enormously valuable, where we have the terrorist pilots discussing what they’re doing with each other, ‘Should we put it into the ground?’ All of those different things, because that and the the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006 [the so-called 20th hijacker,] certainly a conspirator even though he didn’t get on one of the planes. All of that material became available, and it was a mountain of material. But for me, it was priceless. »

On why he wrote this book

« It was too important not to. It becomes a responsibility when you realize that there are so many people who don’t have a human connection to this story — the way I think of it is sometimes, 9/11 is becoming a story reduced to numbers: 9 and 11, four planes, 19 hijackers, 3,000 people killed. But you don’t connect names to it. And I felt if I could do that, if I could give people the story as it unfolded through the people that they could connect to, then I would have done something worthwhile. »

Book Excerpt: ‘Fall And Rise’

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Just after 9 a.m., inside her hilltop house in rural Stoystown, Pennsylvania, homemaker Linda Shepley watched her television in shock. The screen showed smoke billowing from a gash in the North Tower as Today show anchor Katie Couric interviewed an NBC producer who witnessed the crash of American Flight 11.

“You say that emergency vehicles are there?” Couric asked Elliott Walker by phone.

“Oh, my goodness!” Walker cried at 9:03 a.m. “Ah! Another one just hit!”

Linda watched the terror in her living room beside her husband, Jim, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation manager, who’d taken the day off to trade in their old car. The Shepleys saw a grim-faced President Bush speak to the nation from Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Then Couric interviewed a terrorism expert but interrupted him for a phone call with NBC military correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, who declared at 9:39 a.m., “Katie, I don’t want to alarm anybody right now, but apparently, it felt just a few moments ago like there was an explosion of some kind here at the Pentagon.”

From the home where they’d lived for nearly three decades, the Shepleys could have driven to Washington in time for lunch or to New York City for an afternoon movie. Yet as the political and financial capitals reeled, those big cities felt almost as far away as the caves of Afghanistan. Jim went to the garage, to clean out the car he still planned to trade in that day. Linda hurried to finish the laundry before she accompanied Jim to the dealership.

Forty-seven years old, with kind eyes and three grown sons, Linda loved the smell of clothes freshly dried by the crisp Allegheny mountain air. As ten o’clock approached, she filled a basket with wet laundry and carried it to the clothesline in her backyard, two grassy acres with unbroken views over rolling hills that stretched southeast toward the neighboring borough of Shanksville. As Linda lifted a wet T-shirt toward the line, she heard a loud thump-thump sound behind her, like a truck rumbling over a bridge. Startled, she glanced over her left shoulder and saw a large commercial passenger plane, its wings wobbling, rocking left and right, flying much too low in the bright blue sky.

As the plane passed overhead at high speed, Linda saw the jet was intact, with neither smoke nor flame coming from either engine. Linda made no connection between the plane’s strange behavior and the news she’d watched minutes earlier about hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Instead, she suspected that a mechanical problem had forced the plane low and wobbly, on a flight path over her house that she’d never before witnessed. Maybe, Linda thought, the pilot was signaling distress and searching for someplace to make an emergency landing. Linda worried that their local airstrip, Somerset County Airport, was far too small to handle such a big plane. And if that was the pilot’s destination, she thought, he or she was heading the wrong way.

Linda didn’t know the plane was United Flight 93, and she couldn’t imagine that minutes earlier the passengers and crew had taken a vote to fight back. Or that CeeCee Lyles, Jeremy Glick, Todd Beamer, Sandy Bradshaw, and others on board had shared that decision during emotional phone calls, or that the revolt was reaching its peak, or that the four hijackers had resolved to crash the plane short of their target to prevent the hostages from retaking control.

Linda tracked the jet as sunlight glinted off its metal skin. Its erratic flight pattern continued. The right wing dipped farther and farther. The left wing rose higher, until the plane was almost perpendicular with the earth, like a catamaran in high winds. Linda saw it start to turn and roll, flipping nearly upside down. Then the plane plunged, nosediving beyond a stand of hemlocks two miles from where Linda stood. As quickly as the jet disappeared, an orange fireball blossomed, accompanied by a thick mushroom cloud of dark smoke.

“Jim!” Linda screamed. “Call 9-1-1!”

Her husband burst outside, fearing that their neighbor’s Rottweiler mix had broken loose from its chain and attacked her.

“A big plane just crashed!” Linda yelled.

“A small plane,” Jim said skeptically, as he regained his bearings. “No, no, no, no. It was a big one. It was a big one! I saw the engines on the wings.”

Jim rushed inside and grabbed a phone.

Heartsick, still clutching the wet T-shirt, Linda stared toward the rising smoke. Soon she’d wonder whether, in the last seconds before the crash, any of the men and women on board saw her hanging laundry on this glorious late-summer day.


Excerpted from the book FALL AND RISE by Mitchell Zuckoff. Copyright © 2019 by Mitchell Zuckoff. Republished with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Voir aussi:

The Many Tragedies of 9/11
Clyde Haberman
The NYT
May 3, 2019

FALL AND RISE
The Story of 9/11
By Mitchell Zuckoff

This book is painful to read. Even with the passage of nearly 18 years, reliving modern America’s most terrible day hits an exposed nerve that you thought had been fully numbed, only to discover that the ache was merely in remission.

In “Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11,” Mitchell Zuckoff relives each minute of that morning in 2001 through the perspectives of those who endured the worst: passengers and crew members on the four planes turned into missiles by Islamist hijackers; innocents trapped in the burning twin towers and the Pentagon; rescue workers who struggled valiantly but futilely and, in many cases, fatally; people in Shanksville, Pa., on whom death rained from a clear sky. As much as anything, “Fall and Rise” is a quilt work of futures unrealized, from the woman about to tell her parents she was pregnant to the doctor hoping to build a kidney dialysis center, from the retired bookkeeper set to move in with her daughter to the college student with dreams of becoming a child psychologist.

Zuckoff, a professor of narrative studies at Boston University and the author of several nonfiction books, relies on his own interviews with survivors, but also leans heavily on government studies, trial transcripts, books and documentaries long in the public realm. And so the overall picture that he shapes is not really new. But freshness of detail seems less his objective than preservation of memory — an attempt, as he says, “to delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history.”

By design, this narrative of close to 500 pages is not encyclopedic. Big Picture grandiosity — how Sept. 11 changed America and the world — has been left to others. The terrorism puppet master Osama bin Laden gets scant attention. Actions (and inactions) of President George W. Bush and his team merit only a few pages. Rudolph Giuliani, who made a lucrative life for himself after 9/11, earns glancing mention. Flawed communications systems that doomed hundreds of New York’s emergency responders are not explored with the kind of detail that can be found in, say, “102 Minutes,” a 2005 work by the New York Times journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.

Rather, this book derives its power from its focus on individuals in the main unknown to the larger world, who managed to survive the ordeal or who lost their lives simply because they were unlucky. With journalistic rigor, Zuckoff acknowledges what he doesn’t know, for example how exactly each group of hijackers seized control of its plane. His language is largely unadorned; then again, embellishment is neither needed nor wanted.

Many details are hard to take: the melted flesh, the pulverized bodies, the scorched lungs and, for sure, the revived memory of scores of desperate victims leaping from on high to escape the World Trade Center inferno. But there are also inspiring moments, like the grit shown by those aboard United Airlines Flight 93. It was the plane that never reached its target, crashing in Shanksville after passengers revolted against the hijackers. Phone messages that they left “formed a spoken tapestry of grace, warning, bravery, resolve and love.”

Heroes abound, though not in the way that word is routinely used and abused. Heroism, as we see here, is often a product of necessity.

Some may ask if this book, covering territory already well traveled, needed to be written. For those who lived through the horror, perhaps not. But a full generation has come of age with no memory of that day. It needs to hear anew what happened, and maybe learn that time, in fact, does not heal all wounds.

Clyde Haberman, the former NYC columnist for The Times, is a contributing writer for the newspaper.

FALL AND RISE
The Story of 9/11
By Mitchell Zuckoff
589 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $29.99.

Voir également:

 

When the first of the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11 2001, paramedic Moussa Diaz was among thousands of people engulfed in the cloud of smoke and debris that surged from the wreckage.

Asphyxiating in the toxic swirl around him, he fought the urge to give up, staggering on until he saw a spotlight wielded by a man with a white beard and long hair.

“Are you Jesus Christ?” Diaz asked, convinced he must already be dead. “No,” came the reply. “I’m a cameraman.”

Those who have been close to death often talk of how the experience played tricks on their mind, including the fleeting belief that they could not possibly have survived and must already be in the afterlife.

Yet as Mitchell Zuckoff notes in his new book about 9/11, little of the extraordinary individual testimony from that awful day has worked its way into the public memory.

The average person may recall what they were doing on 9/11, and perhaps the names of hijackers such as Mohamed Atta, but would likely struggle to name a single one of the 2,977 people who died.

“Of the nearly three thousand men, women, and children killed on 9/11, arguably none can be considered a household name,” Zuckoff writes. “The best ‘known’ victim might be the so-called Falling Man, photographed plummeting from the North Tower.”

This is not because the world sought to forget: merely that in the avalanche of events triggered by the atrocity – Afghanistan was invaded less than a month later – the voices of the day itself got buried in the sheer weight of news coverage.

With that in mind, Zuckoff, who covered the attacks for the Boston Globe, has produced this doorstopper of a reconstruction, aimed partly at younger generations who feel no “personal connection” to what happened. He notes that for some of his students at Boston University, where he now teaches journalism, it seems “as distant as World War I”.

Rather like the investigators who searched the mountains of rubble for victims’ personal effects, it is a mammoth undertaking. As well as interviews with Diaz and others, Zuckoff sifts through official archives, trials of terror suspects, and countless news reports. The stories of rescuers and survivors are interwoven with the poignant last words of victims, many of whom left only desperate voice messages as their planes hit the towers.

This, however, is not a print version of United 93, the Hollywood take on the “Let’s roll” passenger rebellion, which brought down one hijacked plane before it could hit the White House. Reluctant to use journalistic licence for a topic of such gravitas, Zuckoff sticks strictly to the known facts.

As a result, his account of the “Let’s roll” incident favours accuracy over drama, relying partly on the more fragmentary version of events preserved by the cockpit voice recorder. The sounds of a struggle, followed by the hijacker-turned-pilot screaming “Hey, hey, give it to me!” suggests passengers may have got as far as wrestling the joystick from his control. But Zuckoff leaves us to fill in many of the gaps for ourselves.

Far more vivid are the scenes inside the burning towers, where witnesses are still alive to recreate what they saw. A dead lobby guard sits melted to his desk by the fireball from the planes’ fuel. Women have hair clips melted into their skulls by the heat. One paramedic, reminded of his own daughter by the sight of a girl’s severed foot inside a pink trainer, looks skywards to clear his mind, only to see people jumping from the towers.

In all, about 200 people ended their lives that way, one killing a firefighter as they landed. Ernest Armstead, a fire department medic, recalls a harrowing conversation with one female jumper who was somehow still alive, despite being little more than a head on a crumpled torso. When she saw him place a black triage tag around her neck, indicating she was beyond help, she shouted: “I am not dead!”

For many rescuers, it was clear early on that the entire crash scene was beyond help. As they contemplate the 1,000ft climb to the blazing North Tower impact zone – the lifts are out of action – firefighter-farmer Gerry Nevins speaks for all his colleagues when he says: “We may not live through today.” They shake hands, then start climbing nonetheless. Father-of-two Nevins was among the 420 emergency workers to perish.

For all the heroism, it was also a day of failures, not least in imagining that terrorists might use planes as bombs in the first place. Air safety chiefs considered hijackings a thing of the past, leading to lax security procedures that allowed the hijackers to carry knives on board.

A plan to stage an exercise where terrorists flew a cargo plane into the UN’s New York HQ had been ruled out as too fanciful. Boasts that the Twin Towers could withstand airline crashes failed to consider the thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel, which weakened their steel cores and caused them to collapse.

This book is not an easy read: heartwarming in parts, horrific in others and studiously cautious in those areas where only the dead really know what happened.

But as a definitive “lest we forget” account, it will take some beating. For those too young to remember where they were on 9/11, and for all future generations too, it should be required reading.

Voir encore:

Mitchell Zuckoff on Writing His 9/11 Magnum Opus

Adam Vitcavage
The Millions
July 10, 2019

The seniors graduating from high school this year know what 9/11 is. They know four planes, two towers, 3,000-plus victims, 19 terrorists, Osama bin Laden. They know all of that because they were taught it in history classes. Because, to them, that’s all it is: history.

With each passing year, the terrorist attacks that happened on the bright blue morning of September 11, 2001 become more of a history lesson than a lived experience. This year, most high school seniors were born in 2001. Eighteen years later, they have the facts memorized, but often fail to understand the emotional and lived experience of that day.

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11, a new book by former Boston Globe reporter and current Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff, aims to fix that. Fall and Rise reports the facts, but Zuckoff also weaves the lives of people affected by 9/11 to create a narrative not frequently seen on cable news channels or in documentaries.

Fall and Rise shares stories about pilots, passengers, and aviation professionals linked to American Airlines Flights 11 and 77, and United Airlines Flights 93 and 175. He reveals stories about Mohammed Atta and other terrorists. Zuckoff also dives into the stories of New Yorkers and other Americans who experienced that day in different ways. The result is a woven story that puts the humanity back into a day the history books won’t forget.

I spoke with Zuckoff about what he was doing the day of the attacks, what followed, and how a Boston Globe feature published five days after the attacks turned into an essential book more than 6,000 days later.

The Millions: What was the day of September 11, 2001 like for you?

Mitchell Zuckoff: I was on book leave from the Boston Globe trying to write my first book. When the first plane went in, I didn’t think much of it. It could have been an accident. When the second plane went in, I ran to the phone and it was ringing as I got there. Globe editor Mark Morrow was on the other line and said my book leave was over.

He told me to come to the paper and it became apparent that I was going to be in what we call the control chair to write the lead story for that day. It became a matter of trying to figure out what was going on by taking feeds from several of my colleagues, working closely with the aviation reporter, Matthew Brelis, who took the byline with me. It was an intense and confusing day.

This was personal, on top of everything, because two of the planes took off about a mile from the Globe office at Logan International Airport.

TM: You mention the confusion. When did it become clear to you that it was a coordinated terrorist attack?

MZ: I think when the second plane went in. I was still home. When the first plane went in, we didn’t know what size it was. There was speculation that it was some sightseeing plane that got confused. Then there was no way, 17 minutes apart, that two planes were going to hit two towers accidentally. When I got in my car, we didn’t know about the flight heading to the Pentagon or United 93.

TM: What exactly were you looking for in real time during an event like this?

MZ: Really, what we do on any story. We were trying to answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it in as much detail as possible. I was just trying to process it all. My desk is an explosion of papers and printers and notes from reporters. We want it to come out so our readers can digest it in a meaningful way.

TM: I was in seventh grade and in Arizona at the time, so I had no clue what was going on. I was hours back—

MZ: That’s significant. Really significant. Folks on the West Coast, by the time they woke up, it was essentially over. People on the East Coast were watching the Today Show or running to CNN to watch it unfold. It’s a different experience.

TM: I remember it as my mother waking me up for school. She said something, and to this day I remember it as being “They’re attacking us.” I always second-guessed myself, but as you said it was something being reported.

MZ: That would have been a good thing to say.

TM: As the day continued to unfold, how much of a rush was it to finish the initial report out there?

MZ: The adrenaline is flying. We had a rolling deadline because we knew we had as many editions as we needed. The first probably left my hands at 6:00 p.m. I continued to write through the story as it continued to unfold. There were little details—little edits like finding better verbs—that continued to be changed until about 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m.

You can’t unwind after that. You walk around the newsroom waiting until it comes off the presses. I needed to let the adrenaline leave because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

TM: Then that first week, and this may be a dumb question, but how much did the events consume your writing life?

MZ: Completely. I wrote the lead story again the next day. I came back in and it was understood I would do it again. The next day, on Thursday the 13th, I approached the editors with the idea that I could keep doing the leads, but I had an idea for a narrative I could have done for Sunday’s paper. I needed to dispatch some reporters to help me, but I pitched them to weave a narrative. I wanted to weave together six lives: three people on the first plane and three people from New York: one who got out, one who we didn’t know, and a first responder.

That consumed me all day Thursday and Friday reporting it with those reporters. Then writing it Friday into Saturday for the lead feature in the Sunday paper.

TM: That’s what became the backbone of Fall and Rise. But, at the time, you were already reporting the facts. What was it like going into the humanity of those affected less than a week after the attacks?

MZ: Satisfying in a really deep way. I felt, as much as I valued writing the news, I felt we could do something distinctive and lasting with this narrative. I think all of us—not just reporting the news, but consuming the news—all of us were so inundated with information.

I felt we needed to reflect on the emotion of the moment. By talking about the pilot John Oganowsky and the other folks I focused in on, I felt it could be a bit cathartic. We were all numb and in shock. But this could help.

TM: Did you talk to the people in the narrative or was it strictly the other reporters?

MZ: It was the reporters. I was focused on telling the story of Mohammad Atta. I gave myself that assignment. I was guiding my four teammates to some extent. If someone came up with an important detail or timestamp, I would ask the other reporters to follow up with questions about that particular moment to build around it. I didn’t talk to the families until much later.

TM: When was the first time you talked to survivors or the families of victims?

MZ: I talked to some back then. I was teamed up two weeks after the attacks with Michael Rezendes, who was on the Spotlight team, to write about the terrorists. So, at that point, I wasn’t talking a lot with the families—I did some in 2001 and 2002—but really my deep dive into the families didn’t start until five years ago when I really began working on this book.

TM: What did focusing on the terrorists do to you mentally and emotionally?

MZ: It took a lot out of me. We were really trying to instill the journalistic impartiality to it. But you can’t be objective about this sort of thing. We could be impartial. We couldn’t be exactly sure of who these guys were. We had their identities, but we were aware people use false identities or other’s identities. We had to enforce this impartiality to it. We had to be detached in our work even as we were grieving in our hearts.

TM: With the toll it takes, why continue to write about 9/11 after all these years?

MZ: Exactly that reason: because it does take a toll. The way I process things is to write about them. I didn’t really have a let down for months. I was focused on the work before letting the emotion in. It never really left me. I was still talking about this story to my students. I was still talking about this to my family. There are certain stories that will never leave, but I have to instill something of value into it. I wanted to write something that outlasts me.

TM: You’ve had books come out over the years that weren’t related to 9/11—most notably 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi. This comes out nearly 18 years later. What was the process like throughout all these years?

MZ: I was not writing directly on Fall and Rise during those years. I was working on those other books and projects. It was on a back processor in my mind. The lede story from 9/11 hangs in my office at Boston University. It’s in the corner of my eye. I think it was always playing in the back of my mind.

Once I dove into it in 2014, it was all consuming. It was the deepest dive I have ever taken on a story. As much as I care about all of the work I’ve done, I kind of knew I would never tell a more important story than this. I had to respect the stories of the people telling me about the worst day of their lives. That responsibility was with me day and night for these past five years.

TM: What were the families’ responses to a reporter coming to ask about the worst day of their lives after all this time?

MZ: It amazed me because overwhelmingly people said yes. There were some who understood what I was doing, but told me they couldn’t go there again. They couldn’t revisit that day. The ones who said yes were amazing. I know I was tearing open a wound. A lot of the interviews go for hours and hours. There were moments of weeping and I have no problem acknowledging I did so along with them.

TM: These stories aren’t necessarily widely known and now they’re preserved in this book. It’s so important because now 9/11 may just seem like an event students study in textbooks. Eighteen years…your college freshmen were born the year it happened or the year after, I suppose. How does this generation react to it?

MZ: I teach really engaged journalism students. I’m not sure how the generation as a whole reacts to it. My students approach it with curiosity and a little bit of uncertainty because they didn’t experience it. They are well-read and aware of things, but for them it is a little like Pearl Harbor. They know who was involved and can cite numbers. They can say 3,000 dead, 9/11, four hijacked planes, 19 hijackers. They got the test questions down very well. They don’t have the human connection or that feeling for it that I wish they did. I hope that’s what my book can do.

Voir enfin:

Tweets racistes de Trump : qu’a vraiment dit Ilhan Omar sur Al-Qaeda et le 11 Septembre ?

Pauline Moullot
Libération
17 juillet 2019

Le président américain a accusé une élue démocrate d’origine somalienne de «bomber le torse» en pensant à l’organisation terroriste.

Question posée par Annie le 16/07/2019

Bonjour,

Nous avons reformulé votre question, qui était : «Quels ont été les propos d’Ilhan Omar sur Al-Qaeda et sur le 11 Septembre, que Trump a cités par sous-entendu dans sa conférence de presse ?»

Dans une nouvelle saillie raciste lundi 15 juillet, Donald Trump a accusé la députée démocrate Ilhan Omar, née en Somalie, d’encenser Al-Qaeda. Pour comprendre ce qu’il s’est passé, il faut rembobiner au dimanche 14 juillet. Ce jour-là, le président américain s’en prend, sans les nommer, à quatre élues démocrates, toutes issues de minorités, à la Chambre des représentants : Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib et Ayanna Pressley. Il les appelle notamment à «retourner dans leur pays». La première, réfugiée somalienne, est devenue avec Rashida Tlaib l’une des deux premières femmes musulmanes élues au Congrès en novembre. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez est la plus jeune représentante démocrate de l’histoire, et Ayanna Pressley, première élue afro-américaine au conseil municipal de Boston en 2009. Surnommées «The Squad» par la presse américaine, ces femmes non-blanches se sont démarquées par leur progressisme et leurs prises de position régulières contre la politique de Donald Trump sur l’immigration.

Le lendemain, le Président réitère ses injures racistes en conférence de presse, les appelant de nouveau à quitter les Etats-Unis. A ce moment-là, il assure qu’Ilhan Omar aurait défendu Al-Qaeda et les attentats du 11 Septembre.

A la question «que répondez-vous à ceux qui disent que vos tweets sont racistes ?», Trump rétorque ainsi : «Et bien, elles sont très malheureuses. Elles ne font que se plaindre à longueur de temps. Tout ce que je dis, c’est que si elles veulent partir, qu’elles partent. Elles peuvent partir. Je veux dire, je pense à Omar. Je ne sais pas, je ne l’ai jamais rencontrée. Je l’écoute parler d’Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda a tué beaucoup d’Américains. Et elle dit : « Vous pouvez bomber le torse, quand je pense à Al-Qaeda, je peux bomber le torse. » Quand elle parle des attentats du World Trade Center, elle dit « des gens ». Vous vous souvenez de ce fameux « des gens ». Ces personnes, à mon avis, détestent l’Amérique. Donc quand je les entends dire à quel point Al-Qaeda est merveilleux, quand je les entends parler de « ces gens » à propos du World Trade Center…»

Ses propos sur Al-Qaeda

Vous nous demandez ce qu’a vraiment dit Ilhan Omar à propos d’Al-Qaeda et du 11 septembre. L’équipe de Trump a indiqué à nos confrères américains de Politifact que le président faisait référence à deux déclarations d’Omar, largement reprises par les pro-Trump pour la décrédibiliser ces derniers mois.

La première remonte à 2013. Invitée sur une chaîne locale de Minneapolis, TwinCities PBS, Ilhan Omar commente les répercussions sur la communauté somalienne d’un attentat commis par les shebab somaliens au Kenya, affiliés à Al-Qaeda. Plusieurs extraits de cette interview de vingt-huit minutes ont été repris par ses opposants ces derniers mois. Elle ne parle pourtant pas une seule fois de bomber le torse en pensant à Al-Qaeda. Elle discute avec le présentateur du fait que l’on demande à la communauté somalienne aux Etats-Unis de condamner ces actes, et plus largement aux musulmans de condamner tous les actes terroristes. Elle parle alors de «cette supposition qui fait croire que nous sommes tous connectés à ces actes. […] La population générale doit comprendre qu’il y a une différence entre les personnes qui commettent ces actes diaboliques, car c’est un acte diabolique, et nous avons des gens diaboliques dans le monde. Et des gens normaux qui essaient de continuer à mener leur vie.» Elle parle ensuite du fait que les Somaliens sont les premières victimes des shebab et insiste : «Ces personnes exercent la terreur. Et toute leur idéologie est basée sur le fait de terroriser les communautés.»

La partie la plus détournée de l’interview intervient quand le présentateur l’interroge ensuite sur le fait que l’on conserve les noms arabes, sans les traduire, pour désigner les groupes terroristes. Ces noms, qui ont pourtant d’autres significations en arabe, «polluent notre langage quotidien», ajoute le présentateur. Là, Ilhan Omar acquiesce et répond : «Je pense que c’est un produit des médias sensationnalistes. Vous avez ces extraits sonores, et ces mots, et tout le monde les prononce avec une telle intensité, car ça doit avoir une signification plus grande. Je me souviens quand j’étais à la fac, j’ai suivi un cours sur l’idéologie du terrorisme. A chaque fois que le professeur disait « Al-Qaeda », ses épaules se soulevaient.» Ilhan Omar parle donc de la façon dont les médias évoquent les groupes terroristes, et explique comment cela se voit dans le langage corporel. Mais ne parle pas du tout de bomber le torse.

Ses propos sur le 11 Septembre

Enfin, les propos de Trump sur de supposées déclarations d’Ilhan Omar sur l’attentat du World Trade Center visent un discours prononcé par l’élue au Conseil des relations américano-islamiques (Cair) de Los Angeles, en mars. Le président américain avait alors publié sur Twitter une vidéo montrant les tours jumelles s’effondrer, avec une citation d’Ilhan Omar en arrière-plan. Que disait-elle exactement ? Expliquant que les musulmans étaient fatigués d’être considérés comme «des citoyens de seconde zone», elle ajoute : «Le Cair a été fondé après le 11 Septembre parce qu’ils ont pris acte du fait que des gens avaient fait quelque chose et que nous tous allions commencer à perdre accès à nos libertés civiles.» C’est ce terme «gens» qui lui a été reproché. Mais à aucun moment elle ne loue l’organisation terroriste.

Le Washington Post et Ilhan Omar ont fait remarquer que George W. Bush avait utilisé la même expression après les attentats de 2001. «Je vous entends, je vous entends. Et le reste du monde vous entend. Et les gens, ces gens qui ont fait tomber les tours, vont nous entendre bientôt».

Selon le New York Times, Ilhan Omar a qualifié les accusations de Trump de «ridicules». Toutes les élues démocrates ont répliqué lundi 15 juillet, en organisant une conférence de presse commune pour dénoncer le racisme du président américain. Mercredi, celui-ci s’est de nouveau emparé de son clavier pour assurer qu’il n’était pas raciste, en leur demandant de nouveau de quitter le pays.


Barbie/60e: Les sionistes ont même inventé les poupées Barbie ! (From high-end German call girl to America’s iconic Barbie doll, sexist and anorexic scourge of the feminists or shameful Jewish symbol of decadence of the perverted West)

9 mars, 2019
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Ruth and Elliot Handler, both raised in Colorado, pose with an early version of Barbie. Photo courtesy of Mattel
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A création 1959, poupée Barbie coûtait 3$. Aujourd’hui faut débourser, moyenne, dollars.
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Barbie (Andy Warhol, 1985)
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Checking out the barbies in Prague (Aug. 2013)Les poupées Barbie juives, avec leurs vêtements révélateurs, leurs postures, accessoires et outils honteux sont un symbole de la décadence de l’Occident perverti. Prenons garde à ces dangers et faisons très attention. Comité saoudien pour la promotion de la vertu et la prévention du vice
It is no problem that little girls play with dolls. But these dolls should not have the developed body of a woman and wear revealing clothes. These revealing clothes will be imprinted in their minds and they will refuse to wear the clothes we are used to as Muslims. Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas (Riyadh mosque preacher)
Saudi Arabia’s religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the « Jewish » toy — already banned in the kingdom — are offensive to Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as the religious police are officially known, lists the dolls on a section of its Web site devoted to items deemed offensive to the conservative Saudi interpretation of Islam. « Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful, » said a message posted on the site. A spokesman for the Committee said the campaign against Barbie — banned for more than 10 years — coincides with the start of the school year to remind children and their parents of the doll’s negative qualities. Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the holy city of Medina, he claimed that Barbie was modeled after a real-life Jewish woman. Although illegal, Barbies are found on the black market, where a contraband doll could cost $27 or more. Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas, a preacher in a Riyadh mosque, said the muttawa, the committee’s enforcers, take their anti-Barbie campaign to the shops, confiscating dolls from sellers and imposing a fine. Fox news
Born a busty, bathing suit-clad  »teen-age fashion model » in the 1959 Mattel catalogue, Barbie in the book is shown dressed for success as  »Campus Belle, »  »Career Girl » and  »Student Teacher » in the mid-1960’s; as a nurse and a doctor by 1973, and, most recently, as a silver-gilded astronaut and glitter rock star. (…) While her critics may say she is no more than a mannequin, Billy Boy refers to Barbie as a  »life style. »  »Every woman has a Barbie quality about her, » he said. Marilyn Motz, a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State, has a different view.  »The whole point of the Barbie doll is that she owns things and buys things, » said Professor Motz, who published a study of Barbie in 1983. She said that the doll, if copied to scale as a life-size woman, would have a torso measuring 33 inches at the bust, 18 inches at the waist and 28 inches at the hips – a feminine ideal that, she pointed out, is  »almost not possible anatomically. » NYT (1987)
Barbie, the fashion doll famous around the world, celebrates her 60th anniversary on Saturday with new collections honoring real-life role models and careers in which women remain under-represented. It is part of Barbie’s evolution over the decades since her debut at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959. To mark the milestone, manufacturer Mattel Inc created Barbie versions of 20 inspirational women from Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka to British model and activist Adwoa Aboah. The company also released six dolls representing the careers of astronaut, pilot, athlete, journalist, politician and firefighter, all fields in which Mattel said women are still under-represented. Barbie is a cultural icon celebrated by the likes of Andy Warhol, the Paris Louvre museum and the 1997 satirical song “Barbie Girl” by Scandinavian pop group Aqua. She was named after the daughter of creator Ruth Handler. Barbie has taken on more than 200 careers from surgeon to video game developer since her debut, when she wore a black-and-white striped swimsuit. After criticism that Barbie’s curvy body promoted an unrealistic image for young girls, Mattel added a wider variety of skin tones, body shapes, hijab-wearing dolls and science kits to make Barbie more educational. Barbie is also going glamorous for her six-decade milestone. A diamond-anniversary doll wears a sparkly silver ball gown. Reuters
Barbie Millicent Roberts, from Wisconsin US, is celebrating her 60th birthday. She is a toy. A doll. Yet she has grown into a phenomenon. An iconic figure, recognised by millions of children and adults worldwide, she has remained a popular choice for more than six decades – a somewhat unprecedented feat for a doll in the toy industry. She is also, arguably, the original “influencer” of young girls, pushing an image and lifestyle that can shape what they aspire to be like. (…) When Barbie was born many toys for young girls were of the baby doll variety; encouraging nurturing and motherhood and perpetuating the idea that a girl’s future role would be one of homemaker and mother. Thus Barbie was born out of a desire to give girls something more. Barbie was a fashion model with her own career. The idea that girls could play with her and imagine their future selves, whatever that may be, was central to the Barbie brand. However, the “something more” that was given fell short of empowering girls, by today’s standards. And Barbie has been described as “an agent of female oppression”. The focus on play that imagined being grown up, with perfect hair, a perfect body, a plethora of outfits, a sexualised physique, and a perfect first love (in the equally perfect Ken) has been criticised over the years for perpetuating a different kind of ideal – one centred around body image, with dangerous consequences for girls’ mental and physical health. (…) Exposure to unhealthy, unrealistic and unattainable body images is associated with eating disorder risk. Indeed, the increasing prevalence of eating disorder symptoms in non-Western cultures has been linked to exposure to Western ideals of beauty. Barbie’s original proportions gave her a body mass index (BMI) so low that she would be unlikely to menstruate and the probability of this body shape is less than one in 100,000 women. (…) With growing awareness of body image disturbances and cultural pressures on young girls, many parents have begun to look for more empowering toys for their daughters. Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, has been listening, possibly prompted by falling sales, and in 2016 a new range of Barbies was launched that celebrated different body shapes, sizes, hair types and skin tones. (…) If Barbie was about empowering girls to be anything that they want to be, then the Barbie brand has tried to move with the times by providing powerful role playing tools for girls. (…) Such changes can have a remarkable impact on how young girls imagine their career possibilities, potential futures, and the roles that they are expected to take. Mattel’s move to honour 20 women role models including Japanese Haitian tennis player Naomi Osaka – currently the world number one – with her own doll is a positive step in bringing empowering role models into the consciousness of young girls. Gemma Witcomb
Ruth Moskowicz was born into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants in Denver, Colorado in 1916. She married her high school boyfriend, an artistic young man named Elliot Handler, and they moved to Los Angeles in 1938. After her husband decided to make their furniture out of two new plastics, Lucite and Plexiglas, Ruth ambitiously suggested that he turn furniture making into a business. (…) During World War II, the Handlers started a company, Mattel, combining Elliot’s name with the last name of their partner, Harold Matson. On weekends home from wartime duties at Camp Robert, California, Elliot made toy furniture for Ruth to sell. (…) The Handlers took their two teenagers — Barbara and Ken — on a trip to Europe in 1956. There, they saw a doll that looked like an adult woman, vastly different from the baby dolls most little girls owned. Ruth was inspired. Three years later, Mattel’s version, Barbie, would debut, with a wardrobe of outfits that could be purchased separately. In 1960, the Handlers took Mattel public, with a valuation of $10 million ($60.3 million in 2003 dollars). It was on its way to the Fortune 500, and Barbie quickly became an icon, with ever-changing wardrobe and career options that mirrored women’s changing aspirations. PBS
Ruth Mosko (…) was born November 4, 1916, to Jacob Joseph Mosko (née Moskowicz), a blacksmith, and Ida Rubinstein, a housewife. Ruth was the youngest of 10 children. Her father arrived at Ellis Island in 1907. After telling immigration officials that he was a blacksmith, he was sent to Denver, the center of the railroad industry. In 1908, his wife, Ida, arrived in America with their six children and joined her husband in Colorado. (…) In 1941 Ruth left her secretarial job at Paramount to work with her husband, who was designing and making furniture and household accessories out of the new acrylic materials, Lucite and Plexiglas. Her husband produced the pieces and she did the selling. (…) In 1945, they (…) and Harold “Matt” Matson started Mattel Creations, joining elements of Matt’s and Elliot’s names. Under the Mattel moniker, the two partners began fabricating dollhouse furniture. Ruth continued to run the marketing department. Due to his poor health, Matt soon sold his share to Elliot. The company had its first hit toy in 1947 with a ukulele called Uke-A-Doodle. That proved such a success that Mattel switched to making nothing but toys. Ruth drove Mattel’s business decisions, while her husband nurtured new toys. (…) After watching her daughter, Barbara, ignore her baby dolls to play make-believe with paper dolls representing adult women, Ruth realized there may be a niche for a three-dimensional doll that encouraged girls to imagine the future. When visiting Germany in 1956, Ruth saw a doll that looked like a teenager, and this doll inspired her to follow her dream. Mattel’s designers spent several years creating Ruth’s doll using the German doll as an inspiration. Barbie Millicent Roberts debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. Ruth named the blond 11-and-a-half-inch doll for her daughter, who was a 17-year-old attending a local Los Angeles high school. Dressed in a black and white striped swimsuit with the necessary accessories of sunglasses, high-heeled shoes and gold-colored hoop earrings, Barbie’s body was not only shapely but also had a movable head, arms and legs. Barbie had a chic wardrobe that had to be purchased separately and updated regularly. Barbie was a marketing sensation. Within a year of her introduction in 1959, Barbie became the biggest selling fashion doll of all time. Sales increased with the introduction of different Barbie dolls and accessories. Barbie became a staple in the toy chests of little girls everywhere. It was Ruth’s marketing genius that changed toy marketing when she acquired the rights to produce the popular “Mickey Mouse Club” products in 1955. The cross-marketing promotion became common practice for future companies. Barbie made her first television appearance on the “The Mickey Mouse Club.” This marketing technique helped sell 351,000 Barbie dolls in the first year at $3 each. Barbie quickly became an icon, with her ever-changing wardrobe and career options that mirrored women’s changing aspirations. (…) Over the years, Barbie changed jobs more than 75 times, becoming a dentist, a paleontologist, an Air Force fighter pilot, a World Cup soccer competitor, a firefighter and a candidate for president. Even in demanding positions, though, Barbie retained her fashion sense. She was joined by friends and family over the years, including Ken, Midge, Skipper and Christie. Barbie kept up with current trends in hairstyles, makeup and clothing. (…) Barbie’s world is more than a doll and accessories. Kids today can use their high-tech gadgets and interactive smartphones and apps to personalize their Barbie doll experience. Other licensed products include books, apparel, home furnishings and home electronics. She even has a YouTube site and a Facebook page. But Barbie’s popularity doesn’t stop there. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is affiliated with the Louvre in Paris, held a Barbie exhibit in 2016. The exhibit featured 700 Barbie dolls displayed on two floors, as well as works by contemporary artists and documents (newspapers, photos, video) representing Barbie. Barbie has become a popular collectible among adults. Collectors prize early numbered Barbie dolls from 1969 and the 1990’s, as well as a range of rare and special editions of the iconic toy. Over the past few years, Mattel transformed Barbie, and she now may look a bit more like those who play with her, curves and all. The new 2016 Barbie Fashionistas doll line includes four body types (the original and three new bodies), seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles and countless on-trend fashions and accessories. With these changes, Barbie added diversity and more variety in styles, fashions, shoes and accessories. Mattel claims girls everywhere will now have infinitely more ways to spark their imagination and play out their stories. Cyndy Thomas Klepinger
When Ruth Handler (formerly Moskowitz) traveled to Switzerland in 1956 with her family, her husband Elliot and their children Barbara and Kenneth, they came across a small figurine, blonde, thin, and tall at 11 inches (28 cm), whose name was Lilli. The Lilli doll was a novelty item for adults. The all-American Barbie doll, named for little Barbara Handler of course, which debuted in 1959 would become a mass-produced doll for young girls (and also boys, we don’t judge, and neither should you) and end up being the most popular doll in the history of toys. The Ken doll, which debuted a few years later, was named for Ruth Handler’s son Kenneth, of course. Ruth Handler’s story, and Barbie’s, is part and parcel of the American story. The daughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants, Ruth Moskowitz was born the youngest of 10 children in Denver, Colorado. As a teenager she was sent to be a shop-girl in her aunt’s store, where she not only learned the basics of running a business, but to love it. During her marriage to Elliot Handler, the two formed a business in plastic and wood, making props and toys for Hollywood studios and toy shops nationwide. Along with another business partner, the Handlers formed “Mattel”. In 1959, after three years of development, Barbie sprang fully formed into the world, bathing suit and all. Barbie was a child’s toy with adult outfits, accessories, and most importantly – a job. (…) The Barbie doll was the first doll aimed at girls that was an adult, not a doll in the shape of a baby or a doll that was a child, but a doll with which the young girl could play at being a grown up and dress up with her most loyal doll companion. The Barbie doll doesn’t “look” Jewish. But her heritage is Jewish and full of chutzpah. Ruth Handler was ambitious and held her own in the so-called man’s world of business. She thought of young girls not merely as consumers, but as the future generation of women in America and all around the world. Well, almost all. Back in 2003 Saudi officials declared the “Jewish Barbie Dolls” a threat to morality. Though Barbie’s Jewish roots are bleached blonde, Ruth Handler and consequently Barbie is particularly Jewish-American. Just by immigrating from Europe, changing her name and weaving herself into the very fabric of American life, the Barbie doll became international and a part of culture that is both inspired and inspirational. Melodie Barron
Ruth Handler (née le 4 novembre 1916, décédée le 27 avril 2002) est une femme d’affaires américaine qui a révolutionné l’industrie du jouet en 1959 en créant la poupée Barbie, du nom de sa fille Barbara, et la poupée Ken du nom de son fils Kenneth. La poitrine opulente, la taille fine et les longues jambes de Barbie allaient totalement à l’encontre du style rond et asexué des poupées de l’époque et firent date, par leur audace et leur réalisme, dans l’histoire du jouet pour petites filles. Née Ruth Mosko, Ruth Handler était la plus jeune des dix enfants d’une famille d’immigrants judéo-polonais. Avec son époux Elliot Handler et le designer Harold Mattson, elle avait créé Mattel en 1945, un nom formé du Matt de Mattson et du El d’Elliot. (…) Ruth Handler avait constaté que sa fille Barbara, une préado de 10 ans, préférait jouer avec ses poupées de papier qu’avec ses poupées de petite fille et qu’elle leur octroyait des rôles d’adultes. Forte de cette observation Ruth voulut produire une poupée en plastique d’apparence adulte, mais son mari et M. Matson ont pensé que le jouet serait invendable. Lors d’un voyage en Europe du couple, Ruth découvre la poupée allemande Bild Lilli (qui était en fait un jouet gag pour adultes créé d’après le personnage de BD Lilli qui paraissait dans le journal Bill Zeitung) dans un magasin suisse et la ramène à la maison. Une fois rentrée donc, Ruth Handler retravaille le design de la poupée et la baptise Barbie en référence à sa fille Barbara. Barbie fait ses débuts à la foire de jouet de New York, le 9 mars 1959. La poupée est vite devenue un immense succès, lançant les Handlers et leur société de jouets vers la gloire et la fortune. Par la suite ils ajouteraient un petit ami pour Barbie nommé Ken, en référence à Kenneth, leur fils. D’autres personnages viendront enrichir la gamme « des amis et de la famille ». Le monde de Barbie prenait forme. Ruth Handler a plus tard affirmé que, lorsqu’elle a acheté « Bild Lilli », elle ignorait que c’était un jouet pour adulte. Ruth Handler a expliqué qu’elle a pensé que cela « était important pour l’estime d’une fille qu’elle joue avec une poupée avec une poitrine adulte » et Barbie a été créée pour jouer ce rôle. Si la poupée commercialisée à l’origine était transposée à taille humaine, ses mensurations auraient été assez irréalistes et de nombreux critiques ont prétendu que les mesures ont été basées sur la fantaisie masculine plutôt que la métrique humaine réelle. Au fil des années les mensurations peu réalistes de Barbie ont continué à être controversées, avec beaucoup de théories qui expliquent que de jouer avec une poupée Barbie diminue l’estime de soi et complexe les petites filles. En réponse à ces critiques, à la fin des années 1990, Mattel a ajusté le tour de poitrine en le diminuant et a augmenté le tour de taille, même si ces nouvelles mensurations sont encore loin des femmes réelles. Wikipedia
Barbie est une poupée de 29 cm commercialisée depuis 1959 par Mattel, une société américaine de jouets et jeux. Elle reprenait la forme adulte, les cheveux blonds et le principe de Bild Lilli, première poupée mannequin lancée en Allemagne un peu plus tôt. Si la Barbie caractéristique est blonde aux cheveux longs et aux traits européens, sa couleur de cheveux varie en fait considérablement et son type ethnique s’est diversifié dès 1967 et plus systématiquement à partir de 1980, si bien qu’à ce jour il existe une Barbie pour à peu près tous les groupes ethniques du monde. Elle exerce de multiples métiers et professions tels que : docteur, enseignante, jockey, vétérinaire, hôtesse de l’air, Chevalier du Roi, Première-Dame (CNN) etc. En 1997, Mattel a vendu sa milliardième poupée Barbie. En 2009, et malgré une forte baisse des ventes due à la concurrence, la poupée a généré plus d’un milliard d’euros de chiffre d’affaires. En fin d’année 2015, un petit garçon apparait pour la 1re fois dans une des publicités de la marque, vantant les qualités de la Barbie habillée par l’entreprise de mode italienne Moschino3. Cette publicité qui a créé l’événement au niveau mondial, est alors acclamée par la critique, tandis que la Barbie Moschino, elle, se retrouve très vite en rupture de stock. En 2016, face à l’accélération de la chute des ventes de Barbie, Mattel va beaucoup plus loin dans sa démarche de diversification, en lançant trois nouvelles silhouettes de Barbie aux côtés de la Barbie traditionnelle ; l’une de ces nouvelles silhouettes, baptisée en anglais « Curvy » (« arrondie »), propose une Barbie bien en chair, presque dodue, assez éloignée de la Barbie d’origine. (…) Mattel est une société américaine de jouets et jeux fondée en 1945 par Harold Matson et Elliot Handler, d’où le nom de l’entreprise : Mat+Ell = Mattel. C’est la femme d’Elliot Handler, Ruth Handler, qui créa Barbie (diminutif de leur fille Barbara) en 1959 en reprenant les caractéristiques de Bild Lilli, une poupée allemande avec un corps d’adulte, des cheveux blonds et une garde-robe contemporaine, prototype de la poupée mannequin. La première poupée Barbie a été présentée à l’American International Toy Fair de New York le 9 mars 1959 par sa créatrice Ruth Handler. Le succès presque immédiat de ce nouveau genre de poupée poussa son époux et un associé à créer la société Mattel Creations. La poupée Barbie avec sa poitrine opulente, sa taille fine et ses longues jambes allaient, en effet, totalement à l’encontre du style rond et asexué des poupées de l’époque. En cela, elle fut la seconde poupée au corps adulte après la Bild Lilli. En effet, en 1951, le dessinateur Reinhard Beuthin crée pour une bande-dessinée dans le magazine allemand Bild Zeitung une poupée : la Bild Lilli. Quatre ans plus tard, l’entreprise Hauser commercialise la poupée. Lors d’un voyage en famille à Lucerne en Suisse en 1956, Barbara, la fille de Elliot et Ruth Handler, réclama à ses parents un jouet peu commun pour l’époque : une poupée mannequin du nom de Lilli. Ce jouet au regard taquin et à forte poitrine intrigua Ruth Handler, mais, ce n’est seulement qu’en observant sa fille jouer des heures durant avec la poupée Lilli que la directrice de Mattel décida de produire ce même jouet aux États-Unis. Ainsi, la famille Handler ramena Lilli dans ses valises sur le continent américain et trois ans plus tard, Mattel lança son nouveau jouet : la poupée Barbie, qui, excepté quelques modifications au niveau du maquillage, était la parfaite réplique de la poupée allemande Lilli. Le succès de Barbie se répand dans tous les États-Unis comme une trainée de poudre, et très vite, la nouvelle poupée de Mattel envahit les magasins de jouets européens. En 1963, Rolf Hausser, directeur de l’entreprise de jouets O&M Hausser et créateur de Lilli, découvre avec surprise sa poupée dans une vitrine de magasin de jouets à Nuremberg la copie parfaite de sa Lilli rebaptisée Barbie. Rolf, décida dans un premier temps de poursuivre le géant Mattel en justice, mais raisonné par son frère et compte tenu du peu de ressources financières de la petite entreprise allemande, les poursuites furent abandonnées. En 1964, Rolf Hausser vendit les droits de la poupée Lilli à Mattel pour sauver l’entreprise familiale qui fit faillite malgré tout quelques années plus tard. Barbie est le diminutif de Barbara, le prénom de la fille de Ruth Handler20. Ses mensurations, initialement hypertrophiées, sont ramenées à des proportions plus habituelles au fil des années. (…) En (…) 1986 (…) Des Barbie représentant le monde entier sont également commercialisées : la Barbie japonaise, la Barbie indienne, la Barbie hispanique (qui sera connue comme Theresa, une des amies de Barbie) la Barbie allemande, la Barbie irlandaise… (…) En 2016, la Barbie traditionnelle aux longues jambes, à la poitrine imposante et à la taille ultra-fine se voit concurrencée par trois Barbie nouvelles : « Tall » (grande et longiligne), « Petite » (toute menue), et « Curvy » (« bien en chair », avec moins de poitrine, mais un petit ventre rond, des hanches plus larges, ainsi que des fesses et des cuisses arrondies). Ces évolutions, qui constituent en fait une révolution de l’approche marketing de la marque au point que Barbie « Curvy » fait la couverture de Time Magazine, résultent d’une remise en cause rendue indispensable par la perte de part de marché des poupées Barbie (ventes en baisse de 16 % en 2014, après une chute de 6 % l’année précédente), accentuée encore par la perte de la licence Disney pour commercialiser la poupée Elsa tirée de La Reine des neiges, et récupérée par Hasbro ; cette perte représente pour Mattel une perte de chiffre d’affaires évaluée à 500 millions de dollars. Cependant, cet abandon de la silhouette traditionnelle de Barbie présente d’intéressantes possibilités de développement, dans la mesure où il entraînera un renouvellement accéléré de la garde-robe : Barbie « Curvy » ne peut en effet pas enfiler les vêtements de la Barbie traditionnelle. La nouvelle démarche de la marque vise à se rapprocher de la réalité de la population féminine américaine en abandonnant une partie des stéréotypes véhiculés par Barbie, au profit de nouveaux canons de beauté popularisés par des personnalités telles que Mariah Carey, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Christina Hendricks31, Meghan Trainor, voire Melissa McCarthy et sa ligne de vêtements en « taille plus ».Développé dans le plus grand secret sous le nom de code de « Project Dawn »31, ce virage radical n’est pas sans risque : les clientes habituelles peuvent se sentir trahies, et les mères des petites filles à qui on offre une Barbie « Curvy » peuvent y voir une critique voilée de l’embonpoint de leur progéniture33. De plus, ce changement de stratégie va constituer un cauchemar logistique pour gérer dans la pratique ces nouvelles variantes, sans même parler des problèmes qu’il a fallu résoudre pour traduire les trois nouvelles appellations dans des douzaines de langues différentes. Face à la chute des ventes, cependant, Mattel n’avait plus le choix. Et les difficultés à affronter ne font que refléter le statut d’icône américaine qu’a atteint Barbie depuis bien des années, puisque 92 % des Américaines ont possédé une Barbie entre l’âge de 3 ans et l’âge de 12 ans. Toujours est-il que, selon Le Journal de Montréal qui publie les images de ces nouvelles « Barbie Fashionistas », « la nouvelle Barbie « Curvy » pourrait changer la façon dont les femmes se perçoivent ». Parallèlement aux poupées Barbie disponibles dans les grandes surfaces et à destination des enfants, la société Mattel commercialise depuis les années 1990 des poupées Barbie de collection. La marque s’inspire principalement de la culture populaire de masse telle que : le cinéma, la musique et la télévision, afin de créer une gamme exclusivement basée autour de ces disciplines. Ces poupées Barbie à tirage limité sont vendues dans des magasins spécialisés à un prix beaucoup plus élevé. (…) D’autres poupées Barbie sont habillées par de grands couturiers110, avec, entre autres, pour les cinquante ans de Barbie en 2009, cinquante créateurs qui ont participé au relooking de celle-ci. : Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta (1998), Karl Lagerfeld111 (2009), Calvin Klein, Versace, Vera Wang, Christian Dior (1995 et 1997), Louis Vuitton112 (2011), Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Jean Paul Gaultier (2 poupées), Robert Mackie, Chantal Thomass et plus récemment en 2014 : une « barbie » Karl Lagerfeld, etc. (…) Barbie est fréquemment associée au monde de la joaillerie, pour l’édition de poupées en éditions limitées. Ainsi, la poupée Barbie neuve la plus chère est celle créée par Stefano Canturi130 présentée en Australie en 2010, avec un tarif de 500 000 dollars. Le précédent record pour le prix unitaire datait de 2008 avec une poupée à 94 800 dollars présentée au Mexique. (…) En Arabie saoudite, pour justifier l’interdiction des poupées Barbie dans le royaume, le Comité pour la promotion de la vertu et la prévention du vice (organisme chargé de la police religieuse) déclara : « Les poupées Barbie juives, avec leurs vêtements révélateurs, leurs postures, accessoires et outils honteux sont un symbole de la décadence de l’Occident perverti. Prenons garde à ces dangers et faisons très attention. » Pour les psychiatres, Barbie est un fantasme d’adulte mais pas de petites filles. Dans un brûlot intitulé Toy-Monster : the Big Bad World of Mattel, le journaliste et essayiste américain Jerry Oppenheimer présente le designer de Barbie, Jack Ryan, comme un pervers sexuel. Pour l’essayiste, Barbie serait l’incarnation du fantasme ultime de son inventeur : une call-girl de luxe, à la taille ultrafine, aux seins en obus et au visage enfantin. Des parents l’accusent de fausser l’image de la femme et d’encourager notamment l’anorexie. La pédopsychiatre Gisèle George et la psychanalyste Claude Halmos rejettent l’idée que Barbie ait un quelconque pouvoir, cette dernière va plus loin en disant que la construction psychique d’un enfant dépend des adultes et non pas des objets qui l’entourent. Cette polémique persiste, et des chercheurs en médecine montrent que les mensurations de Barbie ne sont pas compatibles avec une vie normale, et qu’elle conduit à adopter des conduites alimentaires anorexiques. Fin 2013, une campagne est lancée en vue de promouvoir l’image d’une Barbie plus « ronde ». En 1992, Mattel commercialise la Teen Talk Barbie : elle peut émettre quelques phrases « comme les ados » à propos de shopping, vêtements, pizzas etc. La phrase : « Math class is tough! » (« Les maths, c’est dur ! ») attire la réprobation de l’Association américaine des femmes diplômées des universités (AAUW). Mattel retire rapidement la phrase du « répertoire » de Barbie. Par contre la phrase : « Allons faire les courses après l’école » ne fut jamais retirée de l’exemplaire français de la Teen Talk Barbie malgré les réticences de l’AAUW. Hugo Chávez, le président vénézuélien, a proposé de fabriquer des « poupées avec des visages d’Indiens » pour remplacer « la Barbie, qui n’a rien à voir avec notre culture »141. En 2010, la sortie de Barbie Vidéo Girl suscite l’inquiétude du FBI. Cette poupée équipée d’une caméra et d’un écran LCD pourrait être utilisée selon l’agence comme un moyen détourné de produire du contenu pédopornographique. Durant le premier semestre 2012, Barbie fait de la politique, mais sans prendre parti, avec la commercialisation de la poupée Yes She Can. La même année, Valeria Lukyanova se fait remarquer par les médias du monde entier en se faisant surnommer la « Barbie vivante ». À la suite de la publication d’un rapport en octobre 2013144, les associations Peuples Solidaires et China Labor Watch ont lancé une campagne pour dénoncer les conditions de travail des ouvrières et ouvriers chinois qui fabriquent les poupées Barbie. La campagne « Barbie ouvrière » a été lancée peu avant Noël 2013 afin de sensibiliser les consommateurs et de faire pression sur l’entreprise Mattel. Wikipedia
Lilli est une poupée mannequin produite de 1955 à 1961 par la société allemande O. & M. Hausser. Elle apparaît pour la première fois en 1952 dans une bande dessinée publiée dans le journal allemand Bild Zeitung. Sa morphologie adulte, ses cheveux implantés et sa fabrication en matière plastique avec plusieurs trousseaux de vêtements contemporains en tissus, ont été repris aux États-Unis pour devenir la poupée Barbie. À l’origine, Lilli est un personnage de bande dessinée créé par Reinhard Beuthien. Elle fait sa première apparition le 24 juin 1952 dans le journal Bild Zeitung. Devant le succès remporté par ce personnage, Bild décide d’en faire une poupée pour la commercialiser en tant que mascotte. Le journal fait alors appel à la société allemande O. & M. Hausser, un fabricant de jouets établi à Neustadt et dirigé par les frères Rolf et Kurt Hausser. Créée par Max Weissbrodt, la poupée Lilli est lancée le 12 août 1955. O. & M. Hausser lui adjoint des meubles ainsi qu’une garde-robe conséquente inspirée de la mode des années 50, dessinée par Martha Maar et confectionnée par la société 3M Puppenfabrik. Avec son corps de jeune femme sexy, sa bouche sensuelle, son maquillage et ses yeux « en coulisse », Lilli tranche avec les poupées-fillettes et les poupons joufflus. Elle promeut un nouveau modèle : la poupée mannequin. Des poupées-femmes existaient déjà avant l’apparition de Lilli mais dans la plupart des cas elles n’étaient pas considérées comme des jouets et n’étaient pas destinées aux enfants.L’arrivée de Barbie sur le marché du jouet va lui être fatale. Lors d’un séjour en Europe, Ruth Handler, co-fondatrice de la société Mattel avec son mari Elliot, découvre la poupée Lilli dans une boutique suisse. De retour aux États-Unis, Ruth Handler décide de s’en inspirer pour créer la poupée Barbie. Wikipedia
On s’en doutait, les mensurations de la poupée Barbie de Mattel sont inapplicables à un humain. Le site anglais rehabs.co a décidé de se pencher sur la question en comparant le corps de Barbie à celui d’une Américaine moyenne. Cette étude fait partie d’un rapport sur les désordres alimentaires et les problèmes des jeunes filles avec leur image. Le verdict est sans appel : si Barbie était en chair et en os, elle serait en très mauvaise santé. Son cou est beaucoup trop long et 15 cm plus fin que celui d’une femme normale. Sans ce soutien, sa tête tombe donc sur le côté. Avec une taille de 40 cm, impossible de loger tous les organes. Adieu l’estomac et une bonne partie de l’intestin. Sa taille est également trop fine puisqu’elle ne représenterait que 56% des hanches. Ses jambes, elles, sont anormalement longues et beaucoup trop maigres. Résultat, avec des chevilles de 15 cm, soit la même taille du pied d’un enfant de trois ans, elle ne tiendrait pas debout. Impossible de marcher donc, ni même de se soutenir avec les mains, car des poignets de 7,6 cm ne sont pas suffisants pour porter son corps. Si Barbie était vivante, elle serait donc constamment allongée, et ne pourrait pas survivre longtemps à cause de ses problèmes d’organes. Top santé
Mais vous ne vous rendez pas compte à quoi on s’est heurtés quand on a introduit Barbie en France il y a vingt-cinq ans. Aux mêmes comportements de refus que ceux qui avaient accueilli Barbie dix ans plus tôt aux Etats-Unis. Cette première poupée sexuée, en pleine Amérique puritaine, elle ne passait pas du tout. Nous avons mis dix ans à remonter la pente. Robert Gerson (Mattel France)
Certes, celui qui a conçu la Barbie n’avait pas une once de féminisme : il a projeté l’image d’un objet sexuel, d’après un prototype américain à la Jane Mansfield. En revanche, on ne peut pas donner à Barbie un pouvoir qu’elle n’a pas : une poupée ne peut pas influer sur l’orientation sexuelle, professionnelle, ou quoi que ce soit d’autre… Gisèle George (pédopsychiatre)
Il est devenu courant d’accuser les objets : la violence serait de la faute de la télé, l’anorexie, celle de Barbie… mais on oublie l’essentiel : la construction psychique d’un enfant dépend des adultes qui l’entourent. Une petite fille conçoit la féminité à travers ce que sa mère ressent et vit pour elle-même, et à travers la façon dont son père ou un compagnon masculin considère sa mère. Claude Halmos (psychanalyste)
Si Playmobil fait l’unanimité auprès des parents, ce n’est pas le cas de Barbie, la plus célèbre des poupées, qui a fêté ses 50 ans en 2009 et s’est retrouvée, cette année encore, parmi les cadeaux les plus offerts aux petites filles pour Noël. Avec ses mensurations improbables – soit 95-45-82 à l’échelle humaine -, Barbie est accusée de fausser l’image de la femme et d’encourager notamment l’anorexie. Dans l’Hexagone, de plus en plus de mamans répugnent à l’offrir à leurs filles. Avec 3 millions de poupées vendues par an en France sur une cible de… 3 millions de petites filles âgées de 2 à 9 ans, le fabricant Mattel n’est pourtant pas encore aux abois. « 80 % de l’offre Barbie et ses accessoires, château, voiture, chevaux… est renouvelé chaque année », explique Arnaud Roland-Gosselin, directeur marketing de Mattel France. De quoi entretenir l’intérêt des petites consommatrices, qui possèdent, chacune, une moyenne de douze poupées. Dernière excentricité marketing en date, la sortie, pour les fêtes de fin d’année, d’une Barbie chaussée par le créateur Christian Louboutin : 115 euros le modèle avec ses escarpins à semelle rouge. En 2009, Barbie aura été à l’honneur : les plus grands créateurs lui ont consacré un défilé en février lors de la semaine de la mode à New York, un livre-coffret luxueux retraçant sa saga a été édité chez Assouline et les studios Universal ont annoncé qu’elle allait bientôt être l’héroïne d’une superproduction hollywoodienne. Pour autant, la poupée n’a pas fêté son cinquantième anniversaire en toute sérénité. Dans un brûlot intitulé Toy-Monster : the Big Bad World of Mattel (« Jouet-Monstre : le grand méchant monde de Mattel ») et publié aux Etats-Unis chez Wiley-Blackwell, le journaliste et essayiste américain Jerry Oppenheimer écorne sérieusement le mythe. Auteur de la biographie non autorisée de Bill et Hillary Clinton, Jerry Oppenheimer présente dans son ouvrage le père de Barbie, Jack Ryan, comme un pervers sexuel. Pour l’essayiste, Barbie serait l’incarnation du fantasme ultime de son inventeur : une call-girl de luxe, à la taille ultrafine, aux seins en obus et au visage enfantin. De quoi effrayer encore davantage les mamans ? (…) Les enfants ne voient pas le jouet au premier degré, comme les adultes, assure pour sa part Patrice Huerre, chef du service de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent à l’hôpital d’Antony (Hauts-de-Seine) et auteur de Place au jeu : jouer pour apprendre à vivre (Nathan, 144 pages, 14,95 euros). « Les enfants ne sont pas empêchés de rêver par la forme d’un objet, la preuve : d’un caillou, ils font un bolide », précise Patrice Huerre. En revanche, certains jouets, en rupture avec leur époque, peuvent, selon le psychiatre, avoir un pouvoir d’anticipation, comme la littérature de fiction. « Barbie, ce fantasme d’adulte, anticipe sur la révolution sexuelle, Mai 68, la contraception, et l’émancipation des femmes…, estime-t-il. Elle est entrée en résonance avec une attente implicite des enfants, qui sont ensuite devenus les adolescents des années 1968 ». Le médecin a coorganisé cette année au Musée des arts décoratifs de Paris une exposition intitulée « Quand je serai grand, je serai… » Dans ce cadre, il avait été demandé à 600 enfants de dire ce qu’ils aimeraient faire plus tard, et de désigner les jouets symbolisant le mieux leurs aspirations. On y trouvait en bonne place la fameuse Barbie. Le Monde
La milliardième Barbie va être vendue cette année. La maison Mattel, qui fabrique la poupée mannequin, a annoncé cette nouvelle de poids la semaine dernière, en la lestant d’autres chiffres considérables: six millions de Barbie vendues chaque année en France, une progression de 20% entre 1995 et 1996, six poupées en moyenne entre les mains de chaque fillette de ce pays. Une affaire qui marche, en somme. Et pourtant, comme à chaque fois qu’elle convoque la presse pour parler de Barbie, la firme s’est armée d’une escouade de spécialistes de l’enfance: psychologue, sociologue, pédiatre, professeur » Pour dire quoi? Que Barbie est «un jeu de rêve pour une meilleure adaptation à la réalité» (Armelle Le Bigot, chargée d’études), qu’elle est un «facteur de structuration de la personnalité chez la petite fille» (Dominique Charton, psychothérapeute), que «l’intérêt de Barbie est d’être liée aux évolutions sociales de la deuxième moitié du XXe siècle» (Gilles Brougère, professeur de sciences de l’éducation à Paris-Nord). En résumé, parents, «ne vous inquiétez pas »» (Edwige Antier, pédiatre). S’inquiéter? Bigre » Il y aurait donc lieu de se faire du souci quand une gamine joue aux Barbie. C’est en tout cas ce que Mattel semble indiquer en s’évertuant ainsi à se justifier. (…) Dans le dossier de presse, Gilles Brougère rappelle qu’«à cette époque, Barbie, plus qu’aujourd’hui, sentait le soufre.» De son côté, Armelle Le Bigot, qui écoute depuis des années des mères pour le compte de Mattel, se souvient que «les premières réactions des mamans étaient plutôt musclées. Elles nous parlaient de « cette bonne femme, « cette Américaine, « cette pute» » Par bonheur pour Mattel, les premières utilisatrices de Barbie ont grandi, sont devenues parfois mères à leur tour et c’est cette génération-là qui cause aujourd’hui dans les panels d’Armelle Le Bigot. Désormais, c’est du tout-cuit. «Barbie est dédiabolisée», diagnostique la chargée d’études. Les mères seraient même rassurées de voir que leurs filles, même en caleçon et baskets, «rêvent de belles robes et de paillettes, comme elles au même âge». Ces changements n’ont pas bousculé l’approche prudente des dirigeants de Mattel France. Interrogé sur cette stratégie défensive, le PDG finit par admettre que «non, Barbie ne dérange plus». Et ajoute: «Je me demande si ce n’est pas moi qui me fais un peu de cinéma de temps en temps. » Sibylle Vincendon
Barbie idéalisée, un peu trop parfaite, a sans doute existé à une certaine époque mais elle appartient aujourd’hui au passé. Pour nous, toutes les filles sont belles, quelles que soient leur silhouette, leur taille, la couleur de leurs cheveux, et les poupées doivent être le reflet de cette diversité. Robert Best (designer en chef chez Mattel)
Barbie est bien plus qu’un simple jouet, elle est un personnage emblématique de notre culture et de notre société. L’engouement pour Barbie s’est appuyé sur l’univers très vite créé par Mattel autour du personnage, avec sa famille, ses amis, ses activités, une savante alchimie qui permet aux enfants de projeter leur imagination dans toutes les situations. Anne Monier (Musée des Arts Décoratifs)
C’est la poupée la plus célèbre du monde, et sans doute aussi la plus critiquée, pour ses mensurations improbables et son inatteignable perfection. Barbie se dévoile dans une exposition inédite à Paris qui raconte l’histoire de cette icône de beauté de 29 centimètres. « Barbie est bien plus qu’un simple jouet, elle est un personnage emblématique de notre culture et de notre société », explique à l’AFP Anne Monier, commissaire de l’exposition (jusqu’au 18 septembre au Musée des Arts Décoratifs), la première de cette ampleur dans un musée français. Quelque 700 poupées y sont présentées avec autant de tenues. Avec ses cheveux blond platine, ses jambes interminables et sa poitrine généreuse, Barbie s’est distinguée dès sa naissance, il y a 57 ans, par sa ressemblance avec une jeune femme adulte, une révolution dans le monde des poupons qui régnaient jusqu’alors en maîtres dans les coffres à jouets. Oeuvre de l’Américaine Ruth Handler, épouse du cofondateur de la société Mattel, qui lui donna le prénom de sa fille Barbara, elle fit sa première apparition publique le 9 mars 1959, à la foire du jouet de New York, avant de connaître un immense succès commercial, d’abord aux Etats-Unis puis en Europe. Le cap du milliard de Barbie vendues dans le monde a été franchi dans le monde en 1997. Au fil des années, la reine des poupées a élargi la palette de ses compétences, des plus classiques aux plus insolites: infirmière, top modèle, danseuse, gymnaste mais aussi astronaute (elle a posé le pied sur la Lune avant Neil Armstrong) ou encore présidente des Etats-Unis. Cette gloire planétaire va apporter à Barbie son lot de controverses, ses détracteurs lui reprochant de renvoyer une image trop stéréotypée de la femme, celle d’une européenne, active, blonde et mince. Des psychiatres ont affirmé qu’elle était un fantasme d’adulte avant d’être un jouet de petites filles. Des parents l’ont accusée d’encourager l’anorexie chez les adolescentes. Des scientifiques sont allés jusqu’à démontrer que si Barbie était une vraie femme, elle pèserait 49 kilos et mesurerait 175 cm, son tour de taille ferait 45 cm et ses pieds 21 cm. Ils en ont conclu que la pauvre créature serait alors obligée de marcher à quatre pattes car ses pieds et ses jambes ne pourraient pas la porter. En 2009, le journaliste américain Jerry Oppenheimer écorne sévèrement l’image de la belle – qui célébrait cette année-là son cinquantième anniversaire – en la décrivant comme l’incarnation du fantasme ultime de son designer: une call-girl de luxe, à la taille ultra fine, aux seins en obus et au visage enfantin. « La Barbie idéalisée, un peu trop parfaite, a sans doute existé à une certaine époque mais elle appartient aujourd’hui au passé », assure à l’AFP Robert Best, designer en chef chez Mattel. « Pour nous, toutes les filles sont belles, quelles que soient leur silhouette, leur taille, la couleur de leurs cheveux, et les poupées doivent être le reflet de cette diversité », poursuit-il. Témoin de cette volonté, les trois nouvelles versions lancées par Mattel en début d’année: la grande, la petite, et surtout la ronde, une Barbie potelée, tout en courbes, qui s’éloigne de la poupée d’origine pour s’approcher de Madame Tout Le Monde. Une stratégie visant aussi à endiguer l’érosion des ventes. L’enseigne américaine a déjà fait plusieurs tentatives pour ouvrir Barbie à la différence, sans pour autant faire évoluer ses mensurations. En 1980, elle avait commercialisé Black Barbie, une Barbie noire. L’arrivée des trois nouvelles silhouettes a été célébrée par l’hebdomadaire américain Time qui a mis Barbie en couverture en janvier avec cette question, posée par la poupée elle-même: « A présent, peut-on arrêter de parler de mon corps ? » Le Parisien
La poupée traverse les générations. Depuis sa création, 1 milliard de modèles ont été vendus dans le monde et chaque année, environ 58 millions de poupées sont achetées. En 1959, la poupée californienne, produite par Mattel, débarque dans les foyers comme un pavé dans la marre. Pour la première fois, une poupée type adulte et sexualisée vient casser les modèles traditionnels des poupées enfantines. Emerge alors un jouet aux allures de femme irréaliste : des jambes interminables, une poitrine pulpeuse et une taille de guêpe. Barbie a alors des proportions inhumaines. Face aux critiques récurrentes, et surtout à la chute des ventes, Mattel opère une petite révolution en 2015 : les premières poupées à corpulences dites “normales” sont commercialisées. Aujourd’hui, Barbie n’est plus seulement cette mannequin blonde californienne au teint hâlé. Moins stéréotypée, elle est blonde, brune, rousse, à la peau noire, blanche, métisse… Elle met des pantalons et des jupes, travaille au McDo, danse ou dirige une entreprise. Selon la marque, 55% des poupées vendues dans le monde n’auraient ni les cheveux blonds, ni les yeux bleus. La marque s’efforce de déconstruire les clichés sexistes de sa poupée, parfois non sans mal. En novembre 2014, Mattel sort Barbie, je peux être une ingénieure informatique, un livre qui dépeint une jeune femme nulle en informatique et incapable de faire quoique ce soit sans l’aide de ses amis masculins… Face à la polémique, Mattel présente ses excuses et retire le livre de la vente. Les Echos
Puisant dans les collections des Arts Décoratifs et dans les archives inédites de la maison Mattel®, l’exposition s’efforce d’offrir deux lectures possibles, pour les enfants en évoquant la pure jubilation d’un jouet universellement connu, et pour les adultes, en replaçant cette figure phare depuis 1959 dans une perspective historique et sociologique. 700 Barbies sont ainsi déployées sur 1500m2, aux côtés d’œuvres issues des collections du musée (poupées, tenues), mais également d’œuvres d’artistes contemporains, de documents (journaux, photographies, vidéo) qui contribuent à contextualiser les « vies de Barbie ». Au-delà d’être un jouet, Barbie est le reflet d’une culture et de son évolution. On l’a d’abord associée à l’American way of life avant d’incarner une dimension plus universelle, épousant les changements sociaux, politiques, culturels. Elle évolue dans le confort moderne tout en épousant de nouvelles causes, questionnant les stéréotypes, haïe pour ce qu’elle représenterait d’une femme idéalisée, et pourtant autonome et indépendante, adoptant toutes ambitions de l’époque contemporaine. Ses silhouettes, ses coiffures, ses costumes, sont le fruit de quelques secrets de fabrication dont certains sont révélés pour l’occasion à travers maquettes ou témoignages de ceux qui font le succès de Barbie. Un succès qui tient à la capacité de la poupée à suivre l’évolution de son époque pour se renouveler tout en restant la même. Un succès qui imprègne la culture populaire depuis sa création jusqu’à nos jours, mais qui inspire aussi les artistes. Certains, comme Andy Warhol, en ont fait le portrait quand d’autres l’ont largement détourné. Nombreux sont les créateurs qui ont croisé son chemin de passionnée de mode, pour laquelle chacun a déjà imaginé les tenues les plus extravagantes ou les plus élégantes. Quelques-unes de ses robes de collections sont ainsi signées par des couturiers, parmi lesquels Thierry Mugler, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Agnès B, Cacharel ou encore Christian Louboutin. Sa garde-robe déployée pour l’occasion sur plusieurs mètres de cimaises n’est autre que le reflet de la mode dont le musée sortira en contrepoint quelques-unes des pièces les plus parlantes. Musée des Arts décoratifs
When I set out to write about the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the “doll wars”, at the centre of it was the doll that has dominated the pink toy shelves for three generations — Barbie. I wanted to uncover her secret history and how she has battled to keep her image and her near-monopoly market power for over five decades. The story of Barbie begins with Ruth Handler, born Ruth Moskowicz, the youngest of ten children, born in 1916 to a Jewish-Polish family in Colorado. Her father, a blacksmith, emigrated from Poland, finding work in Denver and sending for his wife and children two years later. The Moskowiczs were extremely poor and, when Ruth’s mother became ill, Ruth’s sister turned surrogate mother, which some people misinterpreted: “It has been suggested to me once or twice that this supposed ‘rejection’ by my mother may have been what spurred me to become the kind of person who always has to prove herself. This seems like utter nonsense.” Nonsense or not, the doll she claims to have invented would never become a mother. Rather, Barbie was destined to live the early dreams of Hertopia: a self-realised woman on her own. Ruth founded Mattel with her husband Elliot Handler, whom she had met at a Jewish youth dance in 1929. They married and had a daughter and a son, Barbara and Kenneth — the dolls Barbie and Ken were born later. In 1956, during a family trip to Switzerland, Handler came across a German doll called Bild Lilli. Lilli was a popular doll in post-war Germany but she was not a child’s plaything, she was an adult toy based on a cartoon. Bluntly, Lilli dolls were designed for sex-hungry German men who bought her for girlfriends and mistresses in lieu of flowers, or as a suggestive gift. Her promotional brochures had such phrases as “Gentlemen prefer Lilli. Whether more or less naked, Lilli is always discreet.” In Switzerland, Handler tucked Lilli in her suitcase, brought her back to the Mattel headquarters in California and launched Barbie based on her image. The story of Barbie’s success is inextricably tied to her secret past. A multimillion-dollar campaign began, led by another controversial Jewish immigrant, Ernst Ditcher, an Austrian psychologist turned American marketing guru. Dr Dichter used Freudian psychology to convince mothers to bring a hyper-sexualised adult doll into the hearts and minds of little girls. The Barbie campaign, along with many other consumer marketing campaigns he led, made him the nemesis of mid-century feminists. Dichter’s notorious reputation was based on his manipulation of human desire. He applied psychoanalysis to selling, forever shaping America’s consumption fetishism: a desire to own stuff — which has yet to subside. As Barbie’s sales soared, Lilli’s owners sued unsuccessfully for patent infringement. Until the early 2000s, Barbie reigned supreme. The challenge, when it came, was from a different doll, and another Jewish entrepreneur. In 1995, Islamic fundamentalists in Kuwait issued a fatwa against Barbie, a ruling under Islamic law prohibiting the buying or selling of this she-devil. In 2003, when Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls, the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced that the “Jewish Barbie” is the symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Orly Lobel
So it turns out Barbie’s original design was based on a German adult gag-gift escort doll named Lilli. That’s right, she wasn’t a dentist or a surgeon, an Olympian gymnast, a pet stylist or an ambassador for world peace. And she certainly wasn’t a toy for little girls… Unbeknownst to most, Barbie actually started out life in the late 1940s as a German cartoon character created by artist Reinhard Beuthien for the Hamburg-based tabloid, Bild-Zeitung. The comic strip character was known as “Bild Lilli”, a post-war gold-digging buxom broad who got by in life seducing wealthy male suitors. She was famously quick-witted and known to talk back when it came to male authority. In one cartoon, Lilli is warned by a policeman for illegally wearing a bikini out on the sidewalk. Lilli responds, “Oh, and in your opinion, what part should I take off?” She became so popular that in 1953, the newspaper decided to market a three-dimensional version which was sold as an adult novelty toy, available to buy from bars, tobacco kiosks and adult toy stores. They were often given out as bachelor party gag gifts and dangled from a car’s rearview mirror. Parents considered the doll inappropriate for children and a German brochure from the 1950s described Lilli as “always discreet,” and with her impressive wardrobe, she was “the star of every bar”. She did indeed have such a wide range of outfits and accessories you could buy for her, that eventually little girls began wanting her as a playdoll too. While toy factories tried to cash in on her popularity with children, Lilli still remained a successful adult novelty, especially outside of Germany. A journalist for The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy, later referred to Lilli as a “sex doll”. In the 1950s, one of the founders of Mattel, Ruth Handler (pictured above), was travelling to Europe and bought a few Lilli dolls to take home. She re-worked the design of the doll and later debuted Barbie at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959. Mattel acquired the rights to Bild Lilli in 1964, and production of the German doll ceased. (Funny how Barbie’s lighter skin tone was just about the only noticeable change in the early days). (…) So which version would you prefer? Barbie’s ballsy European precursor or Mattel’s squeaky clean lookalike? MessyNessy

Après l’école, Supermanl’humourla fête nationale, Thanksgiving, les droits civiques, les Harlem globetrotters et le panier à trois points, le soft power, l’Amérique, le génocide et même eux-mêmes  et sans parler des chansons de Noël et de la musique pop ou d’Hollywood, la littérature… les poupées Barbie  !

Corps de jeune femme sexy, bouche sensuelle, maquillage, yeux « en coulisse », silhouette élancée, poitrine pulpeuse, taille de guêpe, jambes interminables, pute, call-girl de luxe, seins en obus, visage enfantin, objet sexuel,  prototype américain à la Jane Mansfield, fantasme d’adulte, qui fausse l’image de la femme, encourage l’anorexie, mensurations improbables, proportions inhumaines, inatteignable perfection, icône de beauté, image trop stéréotypée de la femme, européenne, active, blonde et mince, vêtements révélateurs, postures, accessoires et outils honteux, menace morale, symbole de la décadence de l’Occident perverti, Américaine, juive …

Au lendemain de la fête des droits de la femme …

Et en ce 60e anniversaire de la poupée Barbie

Devinez par qui a été (re)créée …

A partir de la sulfureuse mascotte pour hommes tirée d’une bande dessinée du tabloid allemand Bild …

Et avant sa renaissance, politiquement correct et diversité obligent il y a trois ans, en modèle aux multiples professions, formes et tailles de la femme moderne aux 27 teints de peau, 22 couleurs d’yeux et 24 coiffures …

Comme, avant elle l’ultime repoussoir Disney, sa muséification française …

Cette ultime icône de la beauté américaine…

Devenue épouvantail préféré des féministes et des psys …

Et symbole juif, pour les diverses polices religieuses des Etats musulmans, de la « décadence de l’Occident perverti » ?

Saudi Religious Police Say Barbie Is a Moral Threat
Fox News
September 10, 2003

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —  Saudi Arabia’s religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the « Jewish » toy — already banned in the kingdom — are offensive to Islam.

The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as the religious police are officially known, lists the dolls on a section of its Web site devoted to items deemed offensive to the conservative Saudi interpretation of Islam.

« Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful, » said a message posted on the site.

A spokesman for the Committee said the campaign against Barbie — banned for more than 10 years — coincides with the start of the school year to remind children and their parents of the doll’s negative qualities.

Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the holy city of Medina (search), he claimed that Barbie was modeled after a real-life Jewish woman.

Although illegal, Barbies are found on the black market, where a contraband doll could cost $27 or more.

Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas, a preacher in a Riyadh mosque, said the muttawa, the committee’s enforcers, take their anti-Barbie campaign to the shops, confiscating dolls from sellers and imposing a fine.

« It is no problem that little girls play with dolls. But these dolls should not have the developed body of a woman and wear revealing clothes, » al-Merdas said.

« These revealing clothes will be imprinted in their minds and they will refuse to wear the clothes we are used to as Muslims. »

U.S.-based Mattel Inc. (search), which has been making the doll since 1959, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Women in Saudi Arabia must cover themselves from head to toe with a black cloak in public. They are not allowed to drive and cannot go out in public unaccompanied by a male family member.

Other items listed as violations on the site included Valentine’s Day gifts, perfume bottles in the shape of women’s bodies, clothing with logos that include a cross, and decorative copies of religious items or text — offensive because they could be damaged and thus insult Islam.

An exhibition of all the offensive items is found in Medina, and mobile tours go around to schools and other public areas in the kingdom.

The Committee acts as a monitoring and punishing agency, propagating conservative Islamic beliefs according to the teachings of the puritan Wahhabi (search) sect, adhered to the kingdom since the 18th century, and enforcing strict moral code.

Voir aussi:

Meet Lilli, the High-end German Call Girl Who Became America’s Iconic Barbie Doll

MessyNessy
January 29, 2016

So it turns out Barbie’s original design was based on a German adult gag-gift escort doll named Lilli. That’s right, she wasn’t a dentist or a surgeon, an Olympian gymnast, a pet stylist or an ambassador for world peace. And she certainly wasn’t a toy for little girls…

Unbeknownst to most, Barbie actually started out life in the late 1940s as a German cartoon character created by artist Reinhard Beuthien for the Hamburg-based tabloid, Bild-Zeitung. The comic strip character was known as “Bild Lilli”, a post-war gold-digging buxom broad who got by in life seducing wealthy male suitors.

She was famously quick-witted and known to talk back when it came to male authority. In one cartoon, Lilli is warned by a policeman for illegally wearing a bikini out on the sidewalk. Lilli responds, “Oh, and in your opinion, what part should I take off?”

She became so popular that in 1953, the newspaper decided to market a three-dimensional version which was sold as an adult novelty toy, available to buy from bars, tobacco kiosks and adult toy stores. They were often given out as bachelor party gag gifts and dangled from a car’s rearview mirror.

Parents considered the doll inappropriate for children and a German brochure from the 1950s described Lilli as “always discreet,” and with her impressive wardrobe, she was “the star of every bar”. She did indeed have such a wide range of outfits and accessories you could buy for her, that eventually little girls began wanting her as a playdoll too. While toy factories tried to cash in on her popularity with children, Lilli still remained a successful adult novelty, especially outside of Germany. A journalist for The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy, later referred to Lilli as a “sex doll”.

In the 1950s, one of the founders of Mattel, Ruth Handler (pictured above), was travelling to Europe and bought a few Lilli dolls to take home. She re-worked the design of the doll and later debuted Barbie at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959.

Mattel acquired the rights to Bild Lilli in 1964, and production of the German doll ceased. (Funny how Barbie’s lighter skin tone was just about the only noticeable change in the early days).

And the rest is a history you’re a little more familiar with, and no doubt one Mattel is a little more comfortable with…

So which version would you prefer? Barbie’s ballsy European precursor or Mattel’s squeaky clean lookalike?

Voir également:

Barbie Millicent Roberts, from Wisconsin US, is celebrating her 60th birthday. She is a toy. A doll. Yet she has grown into a phenomenon. An iconic figure, recognised by millions of children and adults worldwide, she has remained a popular choice for more than six decades – a somewhat unprecedented feat for a doll in the toy industry.

She is also, arguably, the original “influencer” of young girls, pushing an image and lifestyle that can shape what they aspire to be like. So, at 60, how is the iconic Barbie stepping up to support her fellow women and girls?

When Barbie was born many toys for young girls were of the baby doll variety; encouraging nurturing and motherhood and perpetuating the idea that a girl’s future role would be one of homemaker and mother. Thus Barbie was born out of a desire to give girls something more. Barbie was a fashion model with her own career. The idea that girls could play with her and imagine their future selves, whatever that may be, was central to the Barbie brand.

However, the “something more” that was given fell short of empowering girls, by today’s standards. And Barbie has been described as “an agent of female oppression”. The focus on play that imagined being grown up, with perfect hair, a perfect body, a plethora of outfits, a sexualised physique, and a perfect first love (in the equally perfect Ken) has been criticised over the years for perpetuating a different kind of ideal – one centred around body image, with dangerous consequences for girls’ mental and physical health.

Body image

Toys have a significant influence on the development of children, far beyond innocent play. Through play, children mimic social norms and subtle messages regarding gender roles, and stereotypes can be transmitted by seemingly ubiquitous toys. Early studies in the 1930s by Kenneth and Mamie Clark showed how young black girls would more often choose to play with a white doll rather than a black doll, as the white doll was considered more beautiful – a reflection of internalised feelings as a result of racism.

The same supposition – that girls playing with Barbie may internalise the unrealistic body that she innocently promotes – has been the subject of research and what is clear is that parents are often unaware of the potential effects on body image when approving toys for their children.

A group of UK researchers in 2006 found that young girls aged between five-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half years old who were exposed to a story book with Barbie doll images had greater body dissatisfaction and lower body esteem at the end of the study compared to young girls who were shown the same story with an Emme doll (a fashion doll with a more average body shape) or a story with no images.

More worrying, there were no differences between groups of girls aged five-and-a half and eight-and-a-half years of age, with all girls showing heightened body dissatisfaction. Another study ten years later found that exposure to Barbie dolls led to a higher thin-ideal internalisation, supporting findings that girls exposed to thin dolls eat less in subsequent tests.

Exposure to unhealthy, unrealistic and unattainable body images is associated with eating disorder risk. Indeed, the increasing prevalence of eating disorder symptoms in non-Western cultures has been linked to exposure to Western ideals of beauty. Barbie’s original proportions gave her a body mass index (BMI) so low that she would be unlikely to menstruate and the probability of this body shape is less than one in 100,000 women.

Changing shape

With growing awareness of body image disturbances and cultural pressures on young girls, many parents have begun to look for more empowering toys for their daughters. Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, has been listening, possibly prompted by falling sales, and in 2016 a new range of Barbies was launched that celebrated different body shapes, sizes, hair types and skin tones.

These have not been without criticism; the naming of the dolls based on their significant body part (curvy, tall, petite) is questionable and again draws attention to the body, while “curvy” Barbie, with her wider hips and larger thighs, remains very thin. Despite this, these additions are a welcome step in the right direction in allowing girls to play with Barbie dolls that provide more diversity.

More than a body

If Barbie was about empowering girls to be anything that they want to be, then the Barbie brand has tried to move with the times by providing powerful role playing tools for girls. No longer is Barbie portrayed in roles such as the air hostess – or, when promoted to pilot, still dressed in a feminine and pink version of the uniform. Modern pilot Barbie is more appropriately dressed, with a male air steward as a sidekick.

Such changes can have a remarkable impact on how young girls imagine their career possibilities, potential futures, and the roles that they are expected to take. Mattel’s move to honour 20 women role models including Japanese Haitian tennis player Naomi Osaka – currently the world number one – with her own doll is a positive step in bringing empowering role models into the consciousness of young girls.

Children who are less stereotyped in their gender and play are less likely to be stereotyped in their occupations and are more creative. But of course, society needs to mirror this. In the week when Virgin Atlantic abolished the requirement to wear make up for female cabin crew, the arduous journey away from constraining female body and beauty ideals could slowly be taking off. But in a culture where female ageing is now an aesthetic pressure felt by many, perhaps Mattel will show us diversity in age and womanhood? Happy 60th birthday to the still 20-year-old looking Barbie.

Voir de même:

(Reuters) – Barbie, the fashion doll famous around the world, celebrates her 60th anniversary on Saturday with new collections honoring real-life role models and careers in which women remain under-represented.

It is part of Barbie’s evolution over the decades since her debut at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.

To mark the milestone, manufacturer Mattel Inc created Barbie versions of 20 inspirational women from Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka to British model and activist Adwoa Aboah.

The company also released six dolls representing the careers of astronaut, pilot, athlete, journalist, politician and firefighter, all fields in which Mattel said women are still under-represented.

Barbie is a cultural icon celebrated by the likes of Andy Warhol, the Paris Louvre museum and the 1997 satirical song “Barbie Girl” by Scandinavian pop group Aqua. She was named after the daughter of creator Ruth Handler.

Barbie has taken on more than 200 careers from surgeon to video game developer since her debut, when she wore a black-and-white striped swimsuit. After criticism that Barbie’s curvy body promoted an unrealistic image for young girls, Mattel added a wider variety of skin tones, body shapes, hijab-wearing dolls and science kits to make Barbie more educational.

Barbie is also going glamorous for her six-decade milestone. A diamond-anniversary doll wears a sparkly silver ball gown.

Voir de plus:

Un milliard de Barbie adoptées. Mal acceptée il y a vingt-cinq ans, la poupée ne fait plus peur aux mères.
Sibylle Vincendon
Libération
28 juin 1997

La milliardième Barbie va être vendue cette année. La maison Mattel, qui fabrique la poupée mannequin, a annoncé cette nouvelle de poids la semaine dernière, en la lestant d’autres chiffres considérables: six millions de Barbie vendues chaque année en France, une progression de 20% entre 1995 et 1996, six poupées en moyenne entre les mains de chaque fillette de ce pays. Une affaire qui marche, en somme. Et pourtant, comme à chaque fois qu’elle convoque la presse pour parler de Barbie, la firme s’est armée d’une escouade de spécialistes de l’enfance: psychologue, sociologue, pédiatre, professeur » Pour dire quoi? Que Barbie est «un jeu de rêve pour une meilleure adaptation à la réalité» (Armelle Le Bigot, chargée d’études), qu’elle est un «facteur de structuration de la personnalité chez la petite fille» (Dominique Charton, psychothérapeute), que «l’intérêt de Barbie est d’être liée aux évolutions sociales de la deuxième moitié du XXe siècle» (Gilles Brougère, professeur de sciences de l’éducation à Paris-Nord). En résumé, parents, «ne vous inquiétez pas »» (Edwige Antier, pédiatre).

S’inquiéter?

Bigre » Il y aurait donc lieu de se faire du souci quand une gamine joue aux Barbie. C’est en tout cas ce que Mattel semble indiquer en s’évertuant ainsi à se justifier. «Mais vous ne vous rendez pas compte à quoi on s’est heurtés quand on a introduit Barbie en France il y a vingt-cinq ans», s’exclame Robert Gerson, le PDG de Mattel France. «Aux mêmes comportements de refus que ceux qui avaient accueilli Barbie dix ans plus tôt aux Etats-Unis. Cette première poupée sexuée, en pleine Amérique puritaine, elle ne passait pas du tout » Nous avons mis dix ans à remonter la pente.» Dans le dossier de presse, Gilles Brougère rappelle qu’«à cette époque, Barbie, plus qu’aujourd’hui, sentait le soufre.» De son côté, Armelle Le Bigot, qui écoute depuis des années des mères pour le compte de Mattel, se souvient que «les premières réactions des mamans étaient plutôt musclées. Elles nous parlaient de « cette bonne femme, « cette Américaine, « cette pute» » Par bonheur pour Mattel, les premières utilisatrices de Barbie ont grandi, sont devenues parfois mères à leur tour et c’est cette génération-là qui cause aujourd’hui dans les panels d’Armelle Le Bigot. Désormais, c’est du tout-cuit. «Barbie est dédiabolisée», diagnostique la chargée d’études. Les mères seraient même rassurées de voir que leurs filles, même en caleçon et baskets, «rêvent de belles robes et de paillettes, comme elles au même âge». Ces changements n’ont pas bousculé l’approche prudente des dirigeants de Mattel France. Interrogé sur cette stratégie défensive, le PDG finit par admettre que «non, Barbie ne dérange plus». Et ajoute: «Je me demande si ce n’est pas moi qui me fais un peu de cinéma de temps en temps»;

Voir de même:

Pour les psychiatres, Barbie est un fantasme d’adulte mais pas de petites filles
Si Barbie s’est retrouvée, cette année encore, parmi les cadeaux les plus offerts aux petites filles pour Noël, elle est accusée de fausser l’image de la femme et d’encourager notamment l’anorexie.
Véronique Lorelle
Le Monde
29 décembre 2009

Si Playmobil fait l’unanimité auprès des parents, ce n’est pas le cas de Barbie, la plus célèbre des poupées, qui a fêté ses 50 ans en 2009 et s’est retrouvée, cette année encore, parmi les cadeaux les plus offerts aux petites filles pour Noël. Avec ses mensurations improbables – soit 95-45-82 à l’échelle humaine -, Barbie est accusée de fausser l’image de la femme et d’encourager notamment l’anorexie. Dans l’Hexagone, de plus en plus de mamans répugnent à l’offrir à leurs filles.
Avec 3 millions de poupées vendues par an en France sur une cible de… 3 millions de petites filles âgées de 2 à 9 ans, le fabricant Mattel n’est pourtant pas encore aux abois. « 80 % de l’offre Barbie et ses accessoires, château, voiture, chevaux… est renouvelé chaque année », explique Arnaud Roland-Gosselin, directeur marketing de Mattel France.
De quoi entretenir l’intérêt des petites consommatrices, qui possèdent, chacune, une moyenne de douze poupées. Dernière excentricité marketing en date, la sortie, pour les fêtes de fin d’année, d’une Barbie chaussée par le créateur Christian Louboutin : 115 euros le modèle avec ses escarpins à semelle rouge.
En 2009, Barbie aura été à l’honneur : les plus grands créateurs lui ont consacré un défilé en février lors de la semaine de la mode à New York, un livre-coffret luxueux retraçant sa saga a été édité chez Assouline et les studios Universal ont annoncé qu’elle allait bientôt être l’héroïne d’une superproduction hollywoodienne. Pour autant, la poupée n’a pas fêté son cinquantième anniversaire en toute sérénité.
Dans un brûlot intitulé Toy-Monster : the Big Bad World of Mattel (« Jouet-Monstre : le grand méchant monde de Mattel ») et publié aux Etats-Unis chez Wiley-Blackwell, le journaliste et essayiste américain Jerry Oppenheimer écorne sérieusement le mythe. Auteur de la biographie non autorisée de Bill et Hillary Clinton, Jerry Oppenheimer présente dans son ouvrage le père de Barbie, Jack Ryan, comme un pervers sexuel. Pour l’essayiste, Barbie serait l’incarnation du fantasme ultime de son inventeur : une call-girl de luxe, à la taille ultrafine, aux seins en obus et au visage enfantin. De quoi effrayer encore davantage les mamans ?
« Certes, celui qui a conçu la Barbie n’avait pas une once de féminisme : il a projeté l’image d’un objet sexuel, d’après un prototype américain à la Jane Mansfield, estime Gisèle George, pédopsychiatre, auteur de La Confiance en soi de votre enfant (Odile Jacob, 2008, 227 p., 7,50 euros). En revanche, on ne peut pas donner à Barbie un pouvoir qu’elle n’a pas : une poupée ne peut pas influer sur l’orientation sexuelle, professionnelle, ou quoi que ce soit d’autre… »
Pouvoir d’anticipation
Un point de vue que partage Claude Halmos, psychanalyste et écrivain. « Il est devenu courant d’accuser les objets : la violence serait de la faute de la télé, l’anorexie, celle de Barbie… mais on oublie l’essentiel : la construction psychique d’un enfant dépend des adultes qui l’entourent. » Selon la psychanalyste, « une petite fille conçoit la féminité à travers ce que sa mère ressent et vit pour elle-même, et à travers la façon dont son père ou un compagnon masculin considère sa mère ».Les enfants ne voient pas le jouet au premier degré, comme les adultes, assure pour sa part Patrice Huerre, chef du service de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent à l’hôpital d’Antony (Hauts-de-Seine) et auteur de Place au jeu : jouer pour apprendre à vivre (Nathan, 144 pages, 14,95 euros).
« Les enfants ne sont pas empêchés de rêver par la forme d’un objet, la preuve : d’un caillou, ils font un bolide », précise Patrice Huerre.
En revanche, certains jouets, en rupture avec leur époque, peuvent, selon le psychiatre, avoir un pouvoir d’anticipation, comme la littérature de fiction. « Barbie, ce fantasme d’adulte, anticipe sur la révolution sexuelle, Mai 68, la contraception, et l’émancipation des femmes…, estime-t-il. Elle est entrée en résonance avec une attente implicite des enfants, qui sont ensuite devenus les adolescents des années 1968″.
Le médecin a coorganisé cette année au Musée des arts décoratifs de Paris une exposition intitulée « Quand je serai grand, je serai… » Dans ce cadre, il avait été demandé à 600 enfants de dire ce qu’ils aimeraient faire plus tard, et de désigner les jouets symbolisant le mieux leurs aspirations. On y trouvait en bonne place la fameuse Barbie.
Voir de plus:

On s’en doutait, les mensurations de la poupée Barbie de Mattel sont inapplicables à un humain. Le site anglais rehabs.co a décidé de se pencher sur la question en comparant le corps de Barbie à celui d’une Américaine moyenne. Cette étude fait partie d’un rapport sur les désordres alimentaires et les problèmes des jeunes filles avec leur image. Le verdict est sans appel : si Barbie était en chair et en os, elle serait en très mauvaise santé.

Son cou est beaucoup trop long et 15 cm plus fin que celui d’une femme normale. Sans ce soutient, sa tête tombe donc sur le côté. Avec une taille de 40 cm, impossible de loger tous les organes. Adieu l’estomac et une bonne partie de l’intestin. Sa taille est également trop fine puisqu’elle ne représenterait que 56% des hanches. Ses jambes, elles, sont anormalement longues et beaucoup trop maigres.

Résultat, avec des chevilles de 15 cm, soit la même taille du pied d’un enfant de trois ans, elle ne tiendrait pas debout. Impossible de marcher donc, ni même de se soutenir avec les mains, car des poignets de 7,6 cm ne sont pas suffisants pour porter son corps.

Si Barbie était vivante, elle serait donc constamment allongée, et ne pourrait pas survivre longtemps à cause de ses problèmes d’organes.

Voir encore:

Blonde et icône à la fois, la poupée Barbie entre au musée à Paris

Le Parisien
10 mars 2016

C’est la poupée la plus célèbre du monde, et sans doute aussi la plus critiquée, pour ses mensurations improbables et son inatteignable perfection. Barbie se dévoile dans une exposition inédite à Paris qui raconte l’histoire de cette icône de beauté de 29 centimètres.
« Barbie est bien plus qu’un simple jouet, elle est un personnage emblématique de notre culture et de notre société », explique à l’AFP Anne Monier, commissaire de l’exposition (jusqu’au 18 septembre au Musée des Arts Décoratifs), la première de cette ampleur dans un musée français. Quelque 700 poupées y sont présentées avec autant de tenues.
Avec ses cheveux blond platine, ses jambes interminables et sa poitrine généreuse, Barbie s’est distinguée dès sa naissance, il y a 57 ans, par sa ressemblance avec une jeune femme adulte, une révolution dans le monde des poupons qui régnaient jusqu’alors en maîtres dans les coffres à jouets.
Oeuvre de l’Américaine Ruth Handler, épouse du cofondateur de la société Mattel, qui lui donna le prénom de sa fille Barbara, elle fit sa première apparition publique le 9 mars 1959, à la foire du jouet de New York, avant de connaître un immense succès commercial, d’abord aux Etats-Unis puis en Europe. Le cap du milliard de Barbie vendues dans le monde a été franchi dans le monde en 1997.
« L’engouement pour Barbie s’est appuyé sur l’univers très vite créé par Mattel autour du personnage, avec sa famille, ses amis, ses activités, une savante alchimie qui permet aux enfants de projeter leur imagination dans toutes les situations », explique Anne Monier.
Au fil des années, la reine des poupées a élargi la palette de ses compétences, des plus classiques aux plus insolites: infirmière, top modèle, danseuse, gymnaste mais aussi astronaute (elle a posé le pied sur la Lune avant Neil Armstrong) ou encore présidente des Etats-Unis.
Cette gloire planétaire va apporter à Barbie son lot de controverses, ses détracteurs lui reprochant de renvoyer une image trop stéréotypée de la femme, celle d’une européenne, active, blonde et mince.
– Call-girl de luxe… –
Des psychiatres ont affirmé qu’elle était un fantasme d’adulte avant d’être un jouet de petites filles. Des parents l’ont accusée d’encourager l’anorexie chez les adolescentes.
Des scientifiques sont allés jusqu’à démontrer que si Barbie était une vraie femme, elle pèserait 49 kilos et mesurerait 175 cm, son tour de taille ferait 45 cm et ses pieds 21 cm.
Ils en ont conclu que la pauvre créature serait alors obligée de marcher à quatre pattes car ses pieds et ses jambes ne pourraient pas la porter.
En 2009, le journaliste américain Jerry Oppenheimer écorne sévèrement l’image de la belle – qui célébrait cette année-là son cinquantième anniversaire – en la décrivant comme l?incarnation du fantasme ultime de son designer: une call-girl de luxe, à la taille ultra fine, aux seins en obus et au visage enfantin.
« La Barbie idéalisée, un peu trop parfaite, a sans doute existé à une certaine époque mais elle appartient aujourd’hui au passé », assure à l’AFP Robert Best, designer en chef chez Mattel.
« Pour nous, toutes les filles sont belles, quelles que soient leur silhouette, leur taille, la couleur de leurs cheveux, et les poupées doivent être le reflet de cette diversité », poursuit-il.
Témoin de cette volonté, les trois nouvelles versions lancées par Mattel en début d’année: la grande, la petite, et surtout la ronde, une Barbie potelée, tout en courbes, qui s’éloigne de la poupée d’origine pour s’approcher de Madame Tout Le Monde. Une stratégie visant aussi à endiguer l’érosion des ventes.
Les nouvelles Barbie disposeront de 27 teints de peau, 22 couleurs d’yeux et 24 coiffures.
L’enseigne américaine a déjà fait plusieurs tentatives pour ouvrir Barbie à la différence, sans pour autant faire évoluer ses mensurations. En 1980, elle avait commercialisé Black Barbie, une Barbie noire.
L’arrivée des trois nouvelles silhouettes a été célébrée par l’hebdomadaire américain Time qui a mis Barbie en couverture en janvier avec cette question, posée par la poupée elle-même: « A présent, peut-on arrêter de parler de mon corps ? »

Voir aussi:

60 ans après, Barbie a bien changé

TIMELINE // Barbie célèbre ses 60 ans cette année. Si la poupée américaine n’a pas pris de ride, elle a néanmoins subi quelques modifications.

Camille Wong
Les Echos
03/01/2019

La poupée traverse les générations. Depuis sa création, 1 milliard de modèles ont été vendus dans le monde et chaque année, environ 58 millions de poupées sont achetées. En 1959, la poupée californienne, produite par Mattel, débarque dans les foyers comme un pavé dans la marre. Pour la première fois, une poupée type adulte et sexualisée vient casser les modèles traditionnels des poupées enfantines.

Emerge alors un jouet aux allures de femme irréaliste : des jambes interminables, une poitrine pulpeuse et une taille de guêpe. Barbie a alors des proportions inhumaines. Face aux critiques récurrentes, et surtout à la chute des ventes, Mattel opère une petite révolution en 2015 : les premières poupées à corpulences dites “normales” sont commercialisées.

Aujourd’hui, Barbie n’est plus seulement cette mannequin blonde californienne au teint hâlé. Moins stéréotypée, elle est blonde, brune, rousse, à la peau noire, blanche, métisse… Elle met des pantalons et des jupes, travaille au McDo, danse ou dirige une entreprise. Selon la marque, 55% des poupées vendues dans le monde n’auraient ni les cheveux blonds, ni les yeux bleus.

La marque s’efforce de déconstruire les clichés sexistes de sa poupée, parfois non sans mal. En novembre 2014, Mattel sort Barbie, je peux être une ingénieure informatique, un livre qui dépeint une jeune femme nulle en informatique et incapable de faire quoique ce soit sans l’aide de ses amis masculins… Face à la polémique, Mattel présente ses excuses et retire le livre de la vente.

Voir également:

How Jewish is Barbie?

Orly Lobel’s new book examines the doll’s history – and the many broiguses she’s been caught up in

April 5, 2018

When I was a little girl, my mother videotaped me playing with Barbie dolls and other toys. It was my short-lived acting career but it was a prelude to my real career: it was research.

My mother is a psychology professor at Tel-Aviv University and she ran studies all over the world showing me having fun with girl toys and boy toys. She then asked participants questions about my intellect, popularity, abilities and found that without exception whether she ran the study in Israel or Europe or Asia or North America, the result was the same. When I was shown playing with the boy toys I was perceived as more intelligent and more likely to be a leader in my social group. When I was playing with Barbies and other girly toys the subjects of her studies thought less of me.

Needless to say, a side-effect of her research was inadvertently turning her daughter into a critic of the toy industry and our gendered culture from a very early age. Years passed and I became a military commander in the IDF, a lawyer, a law professor, an author and a mother, and the insights I learned from those early psychology experiments persisted: how we play matters. Toys are a serious business.

When I set out to write about the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the “doll wars”, at the centre of it was the doll that has dominated the pink toy shelves for three generations — Barbie. I wanted to uncover her secret history and how she has battled to keep her image and her near-monopoly market power for over five decades. The story of Barbie begins with Ruth Handler, born Ruth Moskowicz, the youngest of ten children, born in 1916 to a Jewish-Polish family in Colorado.

Her father, a blacksmith, emigrated from Poland, finding work in Denver and sending for his wife and children two years later. The Moskowiczs were extremely poor and, when Ruth’s mother became ill, Ruth’s sister turned surrogate mother, which some people misinterpreted: “It has been suggested to me once or twice that this supposed ‘rejection’ by my mother may have been what spurred me to become the kind of person who always has to prove herself. This seems like utter nonsense.” Nonsense or not, the doll she claims to have invented would never become a mother. Rather, Barbie was destined to live the early dreams of Hertopia: a self-realised woman on her own. Ruth founded Mattel with her husband Elliot Handler, whom she had met at a Jewish youth dance in 1929. They married and had a daughter and a son, Barbara and Kenneth the dolls Barbie and Ken were born later. In 1956, during a family trip to Switzerland, Handler came across a German doll called Bild Lilli. Lilli was a popular doll in post-war Germany but she was not a child’s plaything, she was an adult toy based on a cartoon. Bluntly, Lilli dolls were designed for sex-hungry German men who bought her for girlfriends and mistresses in lieu of flowers, or as a suggestive gift. Her promotional brochures had such phrases as “Gentlemen prefer Lilli. Whether more or less naked, Lilli is always discreet.”

In Switzerland, Handler tucked Lilli in her suitcase, brought her back to the Mattel headquarters in California and launched Barbie based on her image. The story of Barbie’s success is inextricably tied to her secret past. A multimillion-dollar campaign began, led by another controversial Jewish immigrant, Ernst Ditcher, an Austrian psychologist turned American marketing guru. Dr Dichter used Freudian psychology to convince mothers to bring a hyper-sexualised adult doll into the hearts and minds of little girls.

The Barbie campaign, along with many other consumer marketing campaigns he led, made him the nemesis of mid-century feminists. Dichter’s notorious reputation was based on his manipulation of human desire. He applied psychoanalysis to selling, forever shaping America’s consumption fetishism: a desire to own stuff — which has yet to subside.

As Barbie’s sales soared, Lilli’s owners sued unsuccessfully for patent infringement. Until the early 2000s, Barbie reigned supreme. The challenge, when it came, was from a different doll, and another Jewish entrepreneur.

When I first tried to interview Isaac Larian, the man who introduced Bratz to the world, I hit a wall. His company, MGA’s communications department told me that it had no obligation to talk about its affairs.

I continued trying to contact him when, one day, out of the blue, I received the following e-mail: “Dear Orly, I understand that you are writing a book about [Mattel/MGA] and have talked to some of the lawyers and jurors in this case. Mattel’s stated goal (since they aren’t able to compete and innovate) was to ‘litigate MGA to death.’ Mattel has a history of using litigation to stifle innovation. . . . This time they faced a persistent Iranian Jewish immigrant who stood up to them and prevailed. I would be happy to discuss further detail as I was personally involved from day 1 in this case. Thanks & Best Regards, Isaac Larian CEO MGA Entertainment”.

Larian was positioning himself in the battle against Mattel, now the largest toy-maker in the world, and in his correspondence with me, as the underdog Jewish immigrant entrepreneur.

His email signature ended with the mantra “Fortune Favors the Bold”. This is his favourite maxim, which he has also placed in strategic spots on MGA’s walls, such as the corporate boardroom where I interviewed him.

Boldness is at the heart of Larian’s personality. Nevertheless, along with his loudly defiant nature, Larian has a soft side, which he is confident enough to display. He weeps in public, writes poetry, enjoys fashion and, well, loves his dolls. Mattel’s early days parallel MGA’s — Ruth Handler’s immigrant rags-to-riches story and her statements about being bold shows that she had far more in common with Isaac Larian than with Robert Eckert, the CEO of Mattel during the Barbie-Bratz battles, which ended, after eight years, in a bitter and costly stalemate.

In 1995, Islamic fundamentalists in Kuwait issued a fatwa against Barbie, a ruling under Islamic law prohibiting the buying or selling of this she-devil.

In 2003, when Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls, the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced that the “Jewish Barbie” is the symbol of decadence to the perverted West.

Voir de même:


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)
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/IWCYJpSJaQY/hqdefault.jpg

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.


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

Image result for sin taxes

Related imageImage result for do sin taxes work ?
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.

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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.
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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 ».


Réseaux sociaux: Facebook confirme Girard (Universal theater of envy: Welcome to the brave new world of mimetic desire that social media has now brought to our personal computers !)

31 décembre, 2018

https://www.digitaltrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/facebook-high-res-friendship-world-map-paul-butler.png

Tu ne convoiteras point la maison de ton prochain; tu ne convoiteras point la femme de ton prochain, ni son serviteur, ni sa servante, ni son boeuf, ni son âne, ni aucune chose qui appartienne à ton prochain. Exode 20: 17
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)
Je vous le dis en vérité, toutes les fois que vous avez fait ces choses à l’un de ces plus petits de mes frères, c’est à moi que vous les avez faites. Jésus (Matthieu 25: 40)
Comme par une seule offense la condamnation a atteint tous les hommes, de même par un seul acte de justice la justification qui donne la vie s’étend à tous les hommes. (…) Là où le péché abonde, la grâce surabonde. Paul (Romains 5 : 18-20)
Les envieux mourront, mais non jamais l’envie. Molière (Tartuffe, V, III)
Il ne faut pas dissimuler que les institutions démocratiques développent à un très haut niveau le sentiment de l’envie dans le coeur humain. Ce n’est point tant parce qu’elle offrent à chacun les moyens de s’égaler aux autres, mais parce que ces moyens défaillent sans cesse à ceux qui les emploient. Les institutions démocratiques réveillent et flattent la passion de l’égalité sans pouvoir jamais la satisfaire entièrement. Cette égalité complète s’échappe tous les jours des mains du peuples au moment où il croit la saisir, et fuit, comme dit Pascal, d’une fuite éternelle; le peuple s’échauffe à la recherche de ce bien d’autant plus précieux qu’il est assez proche pour être connu et assez loin pour ne pas être goûté. Tout ce qui le dépasse par quelque endroit lui paraît un obstacle à ses désirs, et il n’y a pas de supériorité si légitime dont la vue ne fatigue ses yeux. Tocqueville
Il y a en effet une passion mâle et légitime pour l’égalité qui excite les hommes à vouloir être tous forts et estimés. Cette passion tend à élever les petits au rang des grands ; mais il se rencontre aussi dans le cœur humain un goût dépravé pour l’égalité, qui porte les faibles à vouloir attirer les forts à leur niveau, et qui réduit les hommes à préférer l’égalité dans la servitude à l’inégalité dans la liberté. Tocqueville
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
Si le Décalogue consacre son commandement ultime à interdire le désir des biens du prochain, c’est parce qu’il reconnaît lucidement dans ce désir le responsable des violences interdites dans les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Si on cessait de désirer les biens du prochain, on ne se rendrait jamais coupable ni de meurtre, ni d’adultère, ni de vol, ni de faux témoignage. Si le dixième commandement était respecté, il rendrait superflus les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Au lieu de commencer par la cause et de poursuivre par les conséquences, comme ferait un exposé philosophique, le Décalogue suit l’ordre inverse. Il pare d’abord au plus pressé: pour écarter la violence, il interdit les actions violentes. Il se retourne ensuite vers la cause et découvre le désir inspiré par le prochain. René Girard
Si Jésus ne parle jamais en termes d’interdits et toujours en termes de modèles et d’imitation, c’est parce qu’il tire jusqu’au bout la leçon du dixième commandement. Ce n’est pas par narcissisme qu’il nous recommande de l’imiter lui-même, c’est pour nous détourner des rivalités mimétiques. Sur quoi exactement l’imitation de Jésus-Christ doit-elle porter ? Ce ne peut pas être sur ses façons d’être ou ses habitudes personnelles : il n’est jamais question de cela dans les Evangiles. Jésus ne propose pas non plus une règle de vie ascétique au sens de Thomas a Kempis et de sa célèbre Imitation de Jésus-Christ, si admirable que soit cet ouvrage. Ce que Jésus nous invite à imiter c’est son propre désir, c’est l’élan qui le dirige lui, Jésus, vers le but qu’il s’est fixé : ressembler le plus possible à Dieu le Père. L’invitation à imiter le désir de Jésus peut sembler paradoxale car Jésus ne prétend pas posséder de désir propre, de désir « bien à lui ». Contrairement à ce que nous prétendons nous-mêmes, il ne prétend pas « être lui-même », il ne se flatte pas de « n’obéir qu’à son propre désir ». Son but est de devenir l’image parfaite de Dieu. Il consacre donc toutes ses forces à imiter ce Père. En nous invitant à l’imiter lui, il nous invite à imiter sa propre imitation. Loin d’être paradoxale, cette invitation est plus raisonnable que celle de nos gourous modernes. Ceux-ci nous invitent tous à faire le contraire de ce qu’ils font eux-mêmes, ou tout au moins prétendent faire. Chacun d’eux demande à ses disciples d’imiter en lui le grand homme qui n’imite personne. Jésus, tout au contraire, nous invite à faire ce qu’il fait lui-même, à devenir tout comme lui un imitateur de Dieu le Père. Pourquoi Jésus regarde-t-il le Père et lui-même comme les meilleurs modèles pour tous les hommes ? Parce que ni le Père ni le Fils ne désirent avidement, égoïstement. Dieu « fait lever son soleil sur les méchants et sur les bons ». Il donne aux hommes sans compter, sans marquer entre eux la moindre différence. Il laisse les mauvaises herbes pousser avec les bonnes jusqu’au temps de la moisson. Si nous imitons le désintéressement divin, jamais le piège des rivalités mimétiques ne se refermera sur nous. C’est pourquoi Jésus dit aussi : « Demandez et l’on vous donnera… » Lorsque Jésus déclare que, loin d’abolir la Loi, il l’accomplit, il formule une conséquence logique de son enseignement. Le but de la Loi, c’est la paix entre les hommes. Jésus ne méprise jamais la Loi, même lorsqu’elle prend la forme des interdits. A la différence des penseurs modernes, il sait très bien que, pour empêcher les conflits, il faut commencer par les interdits. L’inconvénient des interdits, toutefois, c’est qu’ils ne jouent pas leur rôle de façon satisfaisante. Leur caractère surtout négatif, saint Paul l’a bien vu, chatouille en nous, forcément, la tendance mimétique à la transgression. La meilleure façon de prévenir la violence consiste non pas à interdire des objets, ou même le désir rivalitaire, comme fait le dixième commandement, mais à fournir aux hommes le modèle qui, au lieu de les entraîner dans les rivalités mimétiques, les en protégera. (…) Loin de surgir dans un univers exempt d’imitation, le commandement d’imiter Jésus s’adresse à des êtres pénétrés de mimétisme. Les non-chrétiens s’imaginent que, pour se convertir, il leur faudrait renoncer à une autonomie que tous les hommes possèdent naturellement, une autonomie dont Jésus voudrait les priver. En réalité, dès que nous imitons Jésus, nous nous découvrons imitateurs depuis toujours. Notre aspiration à l’autonomie nous agenouillait devant des êtres qui, même s’ils ne sont pas pires que nous, n’en sont pas moins de mauvais modèles en ceci que nous ne pouvons pas les imiter sans tomber avec eux dans le piège des rivalités inextricables. (…) Même si le mimétisme du désir humain est le grand responsable des violences qui nous accablent, il ne faut pas en conclure que le désir mimétique est mauvais. Si nos désirs n’étaient pas mimétiques, ils seraient à jamais fixés sur des objets prédéterminés, ils seraient une forme particulière d’instinct. Les hommes ne pourraient pas plus changer de désir que les vaches dans un pré. Sans désir mimétique il n’y aurait ni liberté ni humanité. Le désir mimétique est intrinsèquement bon. L’homme est cette créature qui a perdu une partie de son instinct animal pour accéder à ce qu’on appelle le désir. Une fois leurs besoins naturels assouvis, les hommes désirent intensément, mais ils ne savent pas exactement quoi car aucun instinct ne les guide. Ils n’ont pas de désir propre. Le propre du désir est de ne pas être propre. Pour désirer vraiment, nous devons recourir aux hommes qui nous entourent, nous devons leur emprunter leurs désirs. Cet emprunt se fait souvent sans que ni le prêteur ni l’emprunteur s’en aperçoivent. Ce n’est pas seulement leur désir qu’on emprunte à ceux qu’on prend pour modèles c’est une foule de comportements, d’attitudes, de savoirs, de préjugés, de préférences, etc., au sein desquels l’emprunt le plus lourd de conséquences, le désir, passe souvent inaperçu. La seule culture vraiment nôtre n’est pas celle où nous sommes nés, c’est la culture dont nous imitons les modèles à l’âge où notre puissance d’assimilation mimétique est la plus grande. Si leur désir n’était pas mimétique, si les enfants ne choisissaient pas pour modèles, forcément, les êtres humains qui les entourent, l’humanité n’aurait ni langage ni culture. Si le désir n’était pas mimétique, nous ne serions ouverts ni à l’humain ni au divin. C’est dans ce dernier domaine, nécessairement, que notre incertitude est la plus grande et notre besoin de modèles le plus intense. René Girard (Je vois Satan tomber comme l’éclair)
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
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 marxisme.  René Girard
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la « victime inconnue », comme on dirait aujourd’hui le « soldat inconnu ». Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
« Que celui qui se croit sans péché lui jette la première pierre ! » Pourquoi la première pierre ? Parce qu’elle est seule décisive. Celui qui la jette n’a personne à imiter. Rien de plus facile que d’imiter un exemple déjà donné. Donner soi-même l’exemple est tout autre chose. La foule est mimétiquement mobilisée, mais il lui reste un dernier seuil à franchir, celui de la violence réelle. Si quelqu’un jetait la première pierre, aussitôt les pierres pleuvraient. En attirant l’attention sur la première pierre, la parole de Jésus renforce cet obstacle ultime à la lapidation. Il donne aux meilleurs de cette foule le temps d’entendre sa parole et de s’examiner eux-mêmes. S’il est réel, cet examen ne peut manquer de découvrir le rapport circulaire de la victime et du bourreau. Le scandale qu’incarne cette femme à leurs yeux, ces hommes le portent déjà en eux-mêmes, et c’est pour s’en débarrasser qu’ils le projettent sur elle, d’autant plus aisément, bien sûr, qu’elle est vraiment coupable. Pour lapider une victime de bon coeur, il faut se croire différent d’elle, et la convergence mimétique, je le rappelle, s’accompagne d’une illusion de divergence. C’est la convergence réelle combinée avec l’illusion de divergence qui déclenche ce que Jésus cherche à prévenir, le mécanisme du bouc émissaire. La foule précède l’individu. Ne devient vraiment individu que celui qui, se détachant de la foule, échappe à l’unanimité violente. Tous ne sont pas capables d’autant d’initiative. Ceux qui en sont capables se détachent les premiers et, ce faisant, empêchent la lapidation. (…) A côté des temps individuels, donc, il y a toujours un temps social dans notre texte, mais il singe désormais les temps individuels, c’est le temps des modes et des engouements politiques, intellectuels, etc. Le temps reste ponctué par des mécanismes mimétiques. Sortir de la foule le premier, renoncer le premier à jeter des pierres, c’est prendre le risque d’en recevoir. La décision en sens inverse aurait été plus facile, car elle se situait dans le droit fil d’un emballement mimétique déjà amorcé. La première pierre est moins mimétique que les suivantes, mais elle n’en est pas moins portée par la vague de mimétisme qui a engendré la foule. Et les premiers à décider contre la lapidation ? Faut-il penser que chez eux au moins il n’y a aucune imitation ? Certainement pas. Même là il y en a, puisque c’est Jésus qui suggère à ces hommes d’agir comme ils le font. La décision contre la violence resterait impossible, nous dit le christianisme, sans cet Esprit divin qui s’appelle le Paraclet, c’est-à-dire, en grec ordinaire, « l’avocat de la défense » : c’est bien ici le rôle de Jésus lui-même. Il laisse d’ailleurs entendre qu’il est lui-même le premier Paraclet, le premier défenseur des victimes. Et il l’est surtout par la Passion qui est ici, bien sûr, sous-entendue. La théorie mimétique insiste sur le suivisme universel, sur l’impuissance des hommes à ne pas imiter les exemples les plus faciles, les plus suivis, parce que c’est cela qui prédomine dans toute société. Il ne faut pas en conclure qu’elle nie la liberté individuelle. En situant la décision véritable dans son contexte vrai, celui des contagions mimétiques partout présentes, cette théorie donne à ce qui n’est pas mécanique, et qui pourtant ne diffère pas du tout dans sa forme de ce qui l’est, un relief que la libre décision n’a pas chez les penseurs qui ont toujours la liberté à la bouche et de ce fait même, croyant l’exalter, la dévaluent complètement. Si on glorifie le décisif sans voir ce qui le rend très difficile, on ne sort jamais de la métaphysique la plus creuse. Même le renoncement au mimétisme violent ne peut pas se répandre sans se transformer en mécanisme social, en mimétisme aveugle. Il y a une lapidation à l’envers symétrique de la lapidation à l’endroit non dénuée de violence, elle aussi. C’est ce que montrent bien les parodies de notre temps. Tous ceux qui auraient jeté des pierres s’il s’était trouvé quelqu’un pour jeter la première sont mimétiquement amenés à n’en pas jeter. Pour la plupart d’entre eux, la vraie raison de la non-violence n’est pas la dure réflexion sur soi, le renoncement à la violence : c’est le mimétisme, comme d’habitude. Il y a toujours emballement mimétique dans une direction ou dans une autre. En s’engouffrant dans la direction déjà choisie par les premiers, les « mimic men » se félicitent de leur esprit de décision et de liberté. Il ne faut pas se leurrer. Dans une société qui ne lapide plus les femmes adultères, beaucoup d’hommes n’ont pas vraiment changé. La violence est moindre, mieux dissimulée, mais structurellement identique à ce qu’elle a toujours été. Il n’y a pas sortie authentique du mimétisme, mais soumission mimétique à une culture qui prône cette sortie. Dans toute aventure sociale, quelle qu’en soit la nature, la part d’individualisme authentique est forcément minime mais pas inexistante. Il ne faut pas oublier surtout que le mimétisme qui épargne les victimes est infiniment supérieur objectivement, moralement, à celui qui les tue à coups de pierres. Il faut laisser les fausses équivalences à Nietzsche et aux esthétismes décadents. Le récit de la femme adultère nous fait voir que des comportements sociaux identiques dans leur forme et même jusqu’à un certain point dans leur fond, puisqu’ils sont tous mimétiques, peuvent néanmoins différer les uns des autres à l’infini. La part de mécanisme et de liberté qu’ils comportent est infiniment variable. Mais cette inépuisable diversité ne prouve rien en faveur du nihilisme cognitif ; elle ne prouve pas que les comportements sont incomparables et inconnaissables. Tout ce que nous avons besoin de connaître pour résister aux automatismes sociaux, aux contagions mimétiques galopantes, est accessible à la connaissance. René Girard
Jésus s’appuie sur la Loi pour en transformer radicalement le sens. La femme adultère doit être lapidée : en cela la Loi d’Israël ne se distingue pas de celle des nations. La lapidation est à la fois une manière de reproduire et de contenir le processus de mise à mort de la victime dans des limites strictes. Rien n’est plus contagieux que la violence et il ne faut pas se tromper de victime. Parce qu’elle redoute les fausses dénonciations, la Loi, pour les rendre plus difficiles, oblige les délateurs, qui doivent être deux au minimum, à jeter eux-mêmes les deux premières pierres. Jésus s’appuie sur ce qu’il y a de plus humain dans la Loi, l’obligation faite aux deux premiers accusateurs de jeter les deux premières pierres ; il s’agit pour lui de transformer le mimétisme ritualisé pour une violence limitée en un mimétisme inverse. Si ceux qui doivent jeter » la première pierre » renoncent à leur geste, alors une réaction mimétique inverse s’enclenche, pour le pardon, pour l’amour. (…) Jésus sauve la femme accusée d’adultère. Mais il est périlleux de priver la violence mimétique de tout exutoire. Jésus sait bien qu’à dénoncer radicalement le mauvais mimétisme, il s’expose à devenir lui-même la cible des violences collectives. Nous voyons effectivement dans les Évangiles converger contre lui les ressentiments de ceux qu’ils privent de leur raison d’être, gardiens du Temple et de la Loi en particulier. » Les chefs des prêtres et les Pharisiens rassemblèrent donc le Sanhédrin et dirent : « Que ferons-nous ? Cet homme multiplie les signes. Si nous le laissons agir, tous croiront en lui ». » Le grand prêtre Caïphe leur révèle alors le mécanisme qui permet d’immoler Jésus et qui est au cœur de toute culture païenne : » Ne comprenez-vous pas ? Il est de votre intérêt qu’un seul homme meure pour tout le peuple plutôt que la nation périsse » (Jean XI, 47-50) (…) Livrée à elle-même, l’humanité ne peut pas sortir de la spirale infernale de la violence mimétique et des mythes qui en camouflent le dénouement sacrificiel. Pour rompre l’unanimité mimétique, il faut postuler une force supérieure à la contagion violente : l’Esprit de Dieu, que Jean appelle aussi le Paraclet, c’est-à-dire l’avocat de la défense des victimes. C’est aussi l’Esprit qui fait révéler aux persécuteurs la loi du meurtre réconciliateur dans toute sa nudité. (…) Ils utilisent une expression qui est l’équivalent de » bouc émissaire » mais qui fait mieux ressortir l’innocence foncière de celui contre qui tous se réconcilient : Jésus est désigné comme » Agneau de Dieu « . Cela veut dire qu’il est la victime émissaire par excellence, celle dont le sacrifice, parce qu’il est identifié comme le meurtre arbitraire d’un innocent — et parce que la victime n’a jamais succombé à aucune rivalité mimétique — rend inutile, comme le dit l’Épître aux Hébreux, tous les sacrifices sanglants, ritualisés ou non, sur lesquels est fondée la cohésion des communautés humaines. La mort et la Résurrection du Christ substituent une communion de paix et d’amour à l’unité fondée sur la contrainte des communautés païennes. L’Eucharistie, commémoration régulière du » sacrifice parfait » remplace la répétition stérile des sacrifices sanglants. (…) En même temps, le devoir du chrétien est de dénoncer le péché là où il se trouve. Le communisme a pu s’effondrer sans violence parce que le monde libre et le monde communiste avaient accepté de ne plus remettre en cause les frontières existantes ; à l’intérieur de ces frontières, des millions de chrétiens ont combattu sans violence pour la vérité, pour que la lumière soit faite sur le mensonge et la violence des régimes qui asservissaient leurs pays. Encore une fois, face au danger de mimétisme universel de la violence, vous n’avez qu’une réponse possible : le christianisme. René Girard
Our supposedly insatiable appetite for the forbidden stops short of envy. Primitive cultures fear and repress envy so much that they have no word for it; we hardly use the one we have, and this fact must be significant. We no longer prohibit many actions that generate envy, but silently ostracize whatever can remind us of its presence in our midst. Psychic phenomena, we are told, are important in proportion to the resistance they generate toward revelation. If we apply this yardstick to envy as well as to what psychoanalysis designates as repressed, which of the two will make the more plausible candidate for the role of best-defended secret? René Girard
In the affluent West, we live in a world where there is less and less need therefore and more and more desire…. One has today real possibilities of true autonomy, of individual judgments. However, those possibilities are more commonly sold down the river in favour of false individuality, of negative mimesis…. The only way modernity can be defined is the universalization of internal mediation, for one doesn’t have areas of life that would keep people apart from each other, and that would mean that the construction of our beliefs and identity cannot but have strong mimetic components. René Girard
Dans notre époque où il n’est plus indécent de se vanter de manipulations en tous genres, le marketing a franchi un pas décisif grâce à Internet et aux réseaux sociaux. Il avait compris depuis longtemps les mécanismes du mimétisme et le rôle des modèles dans les décisions d’achat : la publicité n’a cessé d’en jouer. Mais délibérément ou en suivant un mouvement dont il n’a pas eu l’initiative, le marketing vient de révéler le pot aux roses. Des modèles de consommation officiels ont désormais un nom : influenceuses ou influenceurs. Et les victimes du désir mimétique sont des « followers », autrement dit des suiveurs ou des suiveuses des conseils ainsi dispensés. Ces modèles ont le plus souvent des comptes Instagram ou des chaînes YouTube. Ils parlent de beauté, de mode, de voyages, de sport, de culture… bref interviennent dans autant de marchés sur lesquels ils sont susceptibles d’orienter des comportements de consommation. Du point de vue de la théorie mimétique, ils sont plutôt des médiateurs externes, insusceptibles d’entrer en rivalité avec la plupart de leurs suiveurs, si ce n’est certains d’entre eux mus par leur ressentiment et qui sont dénommés « haters », donc haineux. Nous retrouvons ici les passions stendhaliennes de l’envie, de la jalousie et de la haine impuissante ou encore la figure du narrateur des Carnets du sous-sol de Dostoïevski, cet homme du ressentiment par excellence. La puissance des influenceurs se mesure au volume et à la croissance du nombre de leurs suiveurs. En découle une valeur économique qui se traduit par les rémunérations que leur servent les marques promues. Mais la relation n’est pas si simple : elle suppose aussi que l’influenceur donne des gages d’indépendance à ceux qui suivent leurs conseils. L’influenceur ne peut étendre et maintenir son influence qu’en apparaissant comme souverain vis-à-vis de ses suiveurs mais aussi des marques qu’il promeut. Sinon, il serait lui-même considéré comme influençable par les entreprises dont il vante les qualités, du moins celles de leurs produits et services. Cette suprématie est obtenue par sa capacité à modeler les goûts de ses suiveurs. Il est en effet beaucoup plus efficace, efficient et pertinent qu’une campagne de publicité par voie de presse – écrite, radiophonique ou télévisuelle. Il regroupe une population rendue homogène par l’attraction commune que ses membres ressentent pour son «charisme». Des jeunes gens de moins de vingt peuvent ainsi devenir ce qu’on appelait autrefois des leaders d’opinion. Sans avoir fait autre chose que s’enregistrer en vidéo dans leur appartement en tenant des propos persuasifs, ils peuvent être suivis par des millions d’admirateurs qui attendent leurs avis pour faire leurs choix. Enjoy Phenix, Cyprien, Natoo, Caroline Receveur ou encore SqueeZie seraient-ils les nouveaux maîtres du désir mimétique ? Au moins sont-ils d’indéniables révélateurs de sa persistante actualité et de sa pertinence. Jean-Marc Bourdin
René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the last of that race of Titans who dominated the human sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with their grand, synthetic theories about history, society, psychology, and aesthetics. That race has since given way to a more cautious breed of “researchers” who prefer to look at things up close, to see their fine grain rather than their larger patterns. Yet the times certainly seem to attest to the enduring relevance of Girard’s thought to our social and political realities. Not only are his ideas about mimetic desire and human violence as far-reaching as Marx’s theories of political economy or Freud’s claims about the Oedipus complex, but the explosion of social media, the resurgence of populism, and the increasing virulence of reciprocal violence all suggest that the contemporary world is becoming more and more recognizably “Girardian” in its behavior. (…) Somewhat like Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the site of ancient Troy by assuming that the Homeric epics contained a substrate of historical truth, Girard approached literary works as coffers containing the most fundamental truths about human desire, conflict, and self-deception. (…) For Girard there is no such thing as fullness of being among mortals. All of us—including the rich, the famous, the powerful, and the glamorous—have our mimetic models and suffer from a deficiency of being. That deficiency nourishes our desires, physical or metaphysical. (…)The common currency of mimetic desire is envy. Envy is a form of hostile worship. It turns admiration into resentment. Dante considered it radix malorum, the root of all evil, and Girard agreed. He claimed that envy is the one taboo that is alive and well in contemporary society—the vice that few will ever talk about or confess to (…) Since then social media has brought “the universalization of internal mediation” to a new level, while at the same time dramatically narrowing the “areas of life that would keep people apart from each other.” Social media is the miasma of mimetic desire. If you post pictures of your summer vacation in Greece, you can expect your “friends” to post pictures from some other desirable destination. The photos of your dinner party will be matched or outmatched by theirs. If you assure me through social media that you love your life, I will find a way to profess how much I love mine. When I post my pleasures, activities, and family news on a Facebook page, I am seeking to arouse my mediators’ desires. In that sense social media provides a hyperbolic platform for the promiscuous circulation of mediator-oriented desire. As it burrows into every aspect of everyday life, Facebook insinuates itself precisely into those areas of life that would keep people apart. Certainly the enormous market potential of Facebook was not lost on Girard’s student Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist who studied with him at Stanford in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A devoted Girardian who founded and funds an institute called Imitatio, whose goal is to “pursue research and application of mimetic theory across the social sciences and critical areas of human behavior,” Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook, selling most of his shares in 2012 for over a billion dollars (they cost him $500,000 in 2004). It took a highly intelligent Girardian, well schooled in mimetic theory, to intuit early on that Facebook was about to open a worldwide theater of imitative desire on people’s personal computers. Robert Pogue Harrison
After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life…When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders. Paul Butler
Depuis lors, les médias sociaux ont porté « l’universalisation de la médiation interne » à un nouveau niveau, tout en réduisant considérablement les « domaines de la vie qui séparaient les gens les uns des autres ». Les médias sociaux sont le miasme du désir mimétique. Si vous publiez des photos de vos vacances d’été en Grèce, vous pouvez vous attendre à ce que vos « amis » publient des photos d’une autre destination attrayante. Les photos de votre dîner seront égalées ou surpassées par les leurs. Si vous m’assurez, par le biais des médias sociaux, que vous aimez votre vie, je trouverai un moyen de dire à quel point j’aime la mienne. Lorsque je publie mes plaisirs, mes activités et mes nouvelles familiales sur une page Facebook, je cherche à susciter le désir de mes médiateurs. En ce sens, les médias sociaux fournissent une plate-forme hyperbolique pour la circulation imprudente du désir axé sur le médiateur. Alors qu’il se cache dans tous les aspects de la vie quotidienne, Facebook s’insinue précisément dans les domaines de la vie qui sépareraient les gens. Très certainement, l’énorme potentiel commercial de Facebook n’a pas échappé à Peter Thiel, l’investisseur en capital-risque et l’un de ses étudiants à Stanford à la fin des années 80 et au début des années 90. Girardien dévoué qui a fondé et financé un institut appelé Imitatio, dont le but est de « poursuivre la recherche et l’application de la théorie mimétique dans les sciences sociales et les domaines critiques du comportement humain », Thiel a été le premier investisseur extérieur de Facebook, vendant la plupart de ses actions. en 2012 pour plus d’un milliard de dollars (elles lui avaient coûté 500 000 dollars en 2004). Seul un girardien très intelligent, bien initié à la théorie mimétique, pouvait comprendre aussi tôt que Facebook était sur le point d’ouvrir un théâtre mondial de désir mimétique sur les ordinateurs personnels de ses utilisateurs. Robert Pogue Harrison

Après la neuroscience et les djihadistesHarry Potter et Superman, devinez qui confirme René Girard ?

En ce nouveau et dernier réveillon de l’année 2018 …

Dont les meilleures photos ne devraient pas manquer pour bon nombre d’entre nous …

De faire les meilleures pages et les beaux jours de la formidable invention du docteur Frankenstein-Zuckerberg

Comme hélas depuis bientôt deux mois le déchainement auto-entretenu de la violence et de l’envie des casseurs aux gilets jaunes

Comment ne pas repenser avec la NY Review of books

Ou le girardien Jean-Marc Bourdin

 

Aux découvertes et analyses de René Girard sur « l’universalisation de la médiation interne » dont est faite notre modernité même …

Avec la réduction toujours plus implacable qu’elle implique …

Des « domaines de la vie qui séparaient les gens les uns des autres » …

Et qui avec les réseaux sociaux et ses « influenceurs » et « suiveurs » trouve sa confirmation la plus éclatante …

Ouvrant littéralement à la planète entière

Et pour le meilleur comme pour le pire

La scène sur laquelle chacun peut désormais s’exposer …

Au déchainement quasiment sans frein des « feux de l’envie »  ?

The Prophet of Envy
Robert Pogue Harrison
NY Review of Books
December 20, 2018

Violence and the Sacred

by René Girard, translated from the French by Patrick Gregory
Johns Hopkins University Press (1977)

Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoît Chantre

by René Girard, translated from the French by Mary Baker
Michigan State University Press (2010)

René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the last of that race of Titans who dominated the human sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with their grand, synthetic theories about history, society, psychology, and aesthetics. That race has since given way to a more cautious breed of “researchers” who prefer to look at things up close, to see their fine grain rather than their larger patterns. Yet the times certainly seem to attest to the enduring relevance of Girard’s thought to our social and political realities. Not only are his ideas about mimetic desire and human violence as far-reaching as Marx’s theories of political economy or Freud’s claims about the Oedipus complex, but the explosion of social media, the resurgence of populism, and the increasing virulence of reciprocal violence all suggest that the contemporary world is becoming more and more recognizably “Girardian” in its behavior.

In Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, Cynthia Haven—a literary journalist and the author of books on Joseph Brodsky and Czesław Miłosz—offers a lively, well-documented, highly readable account of how Girard built up his grand “mimetic theory,” as it’s sometimes called, over time. Her decision to introduce his thought to a broader public by way of an intellectual biography was a good one. Girard was not a man of action—the most important events of his life took place inside his head—so for the most part she follows the winding path of his academic career, from its beginnings in France, where he studied medieval history at the École des Chartes, to his migration to the United States in 1947, to the various American universities at which he taught over the years: Indiana, Duke, Bryn Mawr, Johns Hopkins, SUNY Buffalo, and finally Stanford, where he retired in 1997.

Girard began and ended his career as a professor of French and comparative literature. That was as it should have been. Although he was never formally trained in literary studies (he received a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University in 1950), he effectively built his theory of mimetic desire, in all its expansive anthropological aspects, on literary foundations. Somewhat like Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the site of ancient Troy by assuming that the Homeric epics contained a substrate of historical truth, Girard approached literary works as coffers containing the most fundamental truths about human desire, conflict, and self-deception.

His first book, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, published in French in 1961 when he was a professor at Johns Hopkins, treated the novels of Cervantes, Stendhal, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and Proust as forensic evidence of the essential structures of desire, not just of literary characters but of those who find themselves reflected in them. The prevailing modern belief that my desires are my own, that they arise from my autonomous inner self, is a “Romantic” falsehood that the novelistic tradition, according to Girard, exposes as a delusion (I’m echoing here the French title of the book: Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, literally “Romantic falsehood and novelistic truth”). Instead, he argues, my desires are mimetic: I want what others seem to want. Whether I am conscious of it or not (mostly not), I imitate their desires to such a degree that the object itself becomes secondary, and in some cases superfluous, to the rivalries that form around it.

Girard postulated that between a desiring subject and its object there is usually a “model” or “mediator,” who can be either “external” or “internal.” External mediators exist outside of my time and place, like Amadís de Gaule’s chivalric heroes, who impel Don Quixote’s desire to become a knight-errant; or Lancelot and Guinevere, whose adulterous kiss is imitated by Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s account in canto 5 of the Inferno; or the celebrities whom advertisers enlist to sell us products. The external mediator often figures as a hero or ego ideal, and there is typically no rivalry involved.

With internal mediators, however, we are in the realm of what Girard calls “interdividuals,” or people who interact with one another in the same social world. The internal mediator is my neighbor, so to speak, and is often a rival who arouses hatred or envy, or both at once. In the novels Girard dealt with, internal mediation often involves “triangulated desire” between three characters, two of whom vie for the other: Mathilde and Mme de Fervacques vying for Julien in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, for instance, or Julien and Valenod vying for Mme de Rênal. Even when a character views the mediator as an enemy, the former often secretly envies and idolizes the latter, as in the case of Proust’s Mme Verdurin, who loathed the Guermantes family until she married into it.

A crucial concept in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel is that of “metaphysical desire,” a somewhat misleading term for a common sentiment. We tend to attribute to the mediator a “fullness of being” that he or she does not in fact enjoy. For Girard there is no such thing as fullness of being among mortals. All of us—including the rich, the famous, the powerful, and the glamorous—have our mimetic models and suffer from a deficiency of being. That deficiency nourishes our desires, physical or metaphysical.

The English translation of Deceit, Desire, and the Novel came out in 1965, two years before V.S. Naipaul published The Mimic Men, which seems like a ringing endorsement of Girard’s claims about deficiency. (I don’t know if he ever read Girard.) In the novel Naipaul probes the psychology of elite ex-colonial “mimic men” who, after decolonization, model their desires on their former British masters. The mimic man will never enjoy the “fullness of being” he ascribes to his model, who, in Girard’s words, “shows the disciple the gate of paradise and forbids him to enter with one and the same gesture.” Naipaul’s narrator, Ralph Singh, knows this, yet such knowledge does not alleviate his unhappy consciousness. “We become what we see of ourselves in the eyes of others,” he declares. Girard would most likely deny Singh his one consolation, namely his belief that he is different from, and superior to, the mimic men who lack his own heightened self-awareness.

Girard might go even further and ask whether Naipaul’s mimic men in fact imitate one another more than the British models they share. The whole business gets altogether murkier—and more Girardian—when one considers that Naipaul himself was the perfect expression of the mimic man he defined and despised. The writer’s bearing, speech, racism, and invectives betray an ex-colonial subject mimicking the habits of his masters and the class to which he desperately wanted to belong. In this Naipaul falls well short of the novelists Girard dealt with in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, all of whom, Girard claims, ended up forswearing the mimetic mechanisms they so insightfully depicted in their work.

The common currency of mimetic desire is envy. Envy is a form of hostile worship. It turns admiration into resentment. Dante considered it radix malorum, the root of all evil, and Girard agreed. He claimed that envy is the one taboo that is alive and well in contemporary society—the vice that few will ever talk about or confess to:

Our supposedly insatiable appetite for the forbidden stops short of envy. Primitive cultures fear and repress envy so much that they have no word for it; we hardly use the one we have, and this fact must be significant. We no longer prohibit many actions that generate envy, but silently ostracize whatever can remind us of its presence in our midst. Psychic phenomena, we are told, are important in proportion to the resistance they generate toward revelation. If we apply this yardstick to envy as well as to what psychoanalysis designates as repressed, which of the two will make the more plausible candidate for the role of best-defended secret?

These sentences come from the introduction to the only book that Girard wrote in English, A Theater of Envy: William Shakespeare (1991), which is full of insights into the envy and imitative behavior of Shakespeare’s characters. Proceeding as incautiously as Schliemann did in his excavations, Girard bores through Shakespeare’s corpus to arrive at the substrate of mediated desire that he believed lies at its foundation. Girard plays by none of the rules of the tradition of commentary on Shakespeare, so it is not surprising that the book remains largely neglected, yet one day A Theater of Envy will likely be acknowledged as one of the most original, illuminating books on Shakespeare of its time, despite its speculative recklessness and relative ignorance of the vast body of secondary literature on Shakespeare’s works.

Speaking of “a theater of envy,” in Evolution and Conversion (in French, Les origines de la culture, 2004; the English translation was recently republished by Bloomsbury)—his conversations with Pierpaolo Antonello and João Cezar de Castro Rocha, which took place a couple of years before Facebook launched its website in 2004—Girard made some remarks that seem particularly resonant today:

In the affluent West, we live in a world where there is less and less need therefore and more and more desire…. One has today real possibilities of true autonomy, of individual judgments. However, those possibilities are more commonly sold down the river in favour of false individuality, of negative mimesis…. The only way modernity can be defined is the universalization of internal mediation, for one doesn’t have areas of life that would keep people apart from each other, and that would mean that the construction of our beliefs and identity cannot but have strong mimetic components.

Since then social media has brought “the universalization of internal mediation” to a new level, while at the same time dramatically narrowing the “areas of life that would keep people apart from each other.”

Social media is the miasma of mimetic desire. If you post pictures of your summer vacation in Greece, you can expect your “friends” to post pictures from some other desirable destination. The photos of your dinner party will be matched or outmatched by theirs. If you assure me through social media that you love your life, I will find a way to profess how much I love mine. When I post my pleasures, activities, and family news on a Facebook page, I am seeking to arouse my mediators’ desires. In that sense social media provides a hyperbolic platform for the promiscuous circulation of mediator-oriented desire. As it burrows into every aspect of everyday life, Facebook insinuates itself precisely into those areas of life that would keep people apart.

Certainly the enormous market potential of Facebook was not lost on Girard’s student Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist who studied with him at Stanford in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A devoted Girardian who founded and funds an institute called Imitatio, whose goal is to “pursue research and application of mimetic theory across the social sciences and critical areas of human behavior,” Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook, selling most of his shares in 2012 for over a billion dollars (they cost him $500,000 in 2004). It took a highly intelligent Girardian, well schooled in mimetic theory, to intuit early on that Facebook was about to open a worldwide theater of imitative desire on people’s personal computers.

In 1972, eleven years after Deceit, Desire, and the Novel appeared, Girard published Violence and the Sacred. It came as a shock to those familiar with his previous work. Here the literary critic assumed the mantle of cultural anthropologist, moving from the triangular desire of fictional bourgeois characters to the group behavior of primitive societies. Having immersed himself during the intervening decade in the work of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Bronisław Malinowski, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Émile Durkheim, Gabriel Tarde, and Walter Burkert, Girard offered in Violence and the Sacred nothing less than an anthropogenic theory of mimetic violence.

I will not attempt to describe the theory in all its speculative complexity. Suffice it to say that the only thing more contagious than desire is violence. Girard postulates that, prior to the establishment of laws, prohibitions, and taboos, prehistoric societies would periodically succumb to “mimetic crises.” Usually brought on by a destabilizing event—be it drought, pestilence, or some other adversity—mimetic crises amount to mass panics in which communities become unnerved, impassioned, and crazed, as people imitate one another’s violence and hysteria rather than responding directly to the event itself. Distinctions disappear, members of the group become identical to one another in their vehemence, and a mob psychology takes over. In such moments the community’s very survival is threated by internecine strife and a Hobbesian war of all against all.

Girard interpreted archaic rituals, sacrifices, and myth as the symbolic traces or aftermath of prehistoric traumas brought on by mimetic crises. Those societies that saved themselves from self-immolation did so through what he called the scapegoat mechanism. Scapegoating begins with accusation and ends in collective murder. Singling out a random individual or subgroup of individuals as being responsible for the crisis, the community turns against the “guilty” victim (guilty in the eyes of the persecutors, that is, since according to Girard the victim is in fact innocent and chosen quite at random, although is frequently slightly different or distinct in some regard). A unanimous act of violence against the scapegoat miraculously restores peace and social cohesion (unum pro multis, “one for the sake of many,” as the Roman saying puts it).

The scapegoat’s murder has such healing power over the community that the victim retroactively assumes an aura of sacredness, and is sometimes even deified. Behind the practice of sacrifice in ancient societies Girard saw the spasmodic, scapegoat-directed violence of communities in the throes of mimetic crises—a primal murder, as it were, for which there exists no hard evidence but plenty of indirect evidence in ancient sacrificial practices, which he viewed as ritualized reenactments of the scapegoat mechanism that everywhere founded the archaic religions of humanity. (“Every observation suggests that, in human culture, sacrificial rites and the immolation of victims come first.”)

Violence and the Sacred deals almost exclusively with archaic religion. Its argument is more hypothetical and abstract, more remote and less intuitive, than what Girard put forward in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. The same can be said for the main claims of his next major book, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978; the title comes from Matthew 13:35). There he argued that the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Gospels expose the “scandal” of the violent foundations of archaic religions. By revealing the inherent innocence of the victim—Jesus—as well as the inherent guilt of those who persecute and put him to death, “Christianity truly demystifies religion because it points out the error on which archaic religion is based.”*

Girard’s anthropological interpretation of Christianity in Things Hidden is as original as it is unorthodox. It views the Crucifixion as a revelation in the profane sense, namely a bringing to light of the arbitrary nature of the scapegoat mechanism that underlies sacrificial religions. After publishing Things Hidden, Girard gained a devoted following among various Christian scholars, some of whom lobbied him hard to open his theory to a more traditional theological interpretation of the Cross as the crux of man’s deliverance from sin. Girard eventually (and somewhat reluctantly) made room for a redemptive understanding of the Crucifixion, yet in principle his theory posits only its revelatory, demystifying, and scandalous aspect.

Orthodox Girardians insist that his corpusfrom Deceit, Desire, and the Novel to his last worksforms a coherent, integrated system that must be accepted or rejected as a whole. In my view, that is far from the case. One need not buy into the entire système Girard to recognize that his most fundamental insights can stand on their own.

Some of Girard’s most acute ideas come from his psychology of accusation. He championed legal systems that protect the rights of the accused because he believed that impassioned accusation, especially when it gains momentum by wrapping itself in the mantle of indignation, has a potential for mimetic diffusion that disregards any considered distinction between guilt and innocence. The word “Satan” in Hebrew means “adversary” or “accuser,” and Girard insisted in his later work that there is a distinctly satanic element at work in the zeal for accusation and prosecution.

Girard’s most valuable insight is that rivalry and violence arise from sameness rather than difference. Where conflicts erupt between neighbors or ethnic groups, or even among nations, more often than not it’s because of what they have in common rather than what distinguishes them. In Girard’s words: “The error is always to reason within categories of ‘difference’ when the root of all conflicts is rather ‘competition,’ mimetic rivalry between persons, countries, cultures.” Often we fight or go to war to prove our difference from an enemy who in fact resembles us in ways we are all too eager to deny.

A related insight of equal importance concerns the deadly cycles of revenge and reciprocal violence. Girard taught that retaliation hardly ever limits itself to “an eye for an eye” but almost always escalates the level of violence. Every escalation is imitated in turn by the other party:

Clausewitz sees very clearly that modern wars are as violent as they are only because they are “reciprocal”: mobilization involves more and more people until it is “total,” as Ernst Junger wrote of the 1914 war…. It was because he was “responding” to the humiliations inflicted by the Treaty of Versailles and the occupation of the Rhineland that Hitler was able to mobilize a whole people. Likewise, it was because he was “responding” to the German invasion that Stalin achieved a decisive victory over Hitler. It was because he was “responding” to the United States that Bin Laden planned 9/11…. The one who believes he can control violence by setting up defenses is in fact controlled by violence.

Those remarks come from the last book Girard wrote, Battling to the End (2010). It is in many ways one of his most interesting, for here he leaves behind speculations about archaic origins and turns his attention to modern history. The book’s conversations with Benoît Chantre, an eminent French Girardian, feature a major discussion of the war theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), whose ideas about the “escalation to extremes” in modern warfare converge uncannily with Girard’s ideas about the acceleration of mimetic violence.

Toward the end of his life, Girard did not harbor much hope for history in the short term. In the past, politics was able to restrain mass violence and prevent its tendency to escalate to extremes, but in our time, he believed, politics had lost its power of containment. “Violence is a terrible adversary,” he wrote in Battling to the End, “especially since it always wins.” Yet it is necessary to battle violence with a new “heroic attitude,” for “it alone can link violence and reconciliation…[and] make tangible both the possibility of the end of the world and reconciliation among all members of humanity.” To that statement he felt compelled to add: “More than ever, I am convinced that history has meaning, and that its meaning is terrifying.” That meaning has to do with the primacy of violence in human relations. And to that statement, in turn, he added some verses of Friedrich Hölderlin: “But where danger threatens/that which saves from it also grows.”

  • *Girard goes so far as to argue that “Christianity is not only one of the destroyed religions but it is the destroyer of all religions. The death of God is a Christian phenomenon. In its modern sense, atheism is a Christian invention.” The Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo was very drawn to Girard’s understanding of Christianity as a secularizing religion, and the two collaborated on a fine book on the topic, Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue (Columbia University Press, 2010). 

Voir aussi:

Influenceurs et «followers» : les nouveaux maîtres du désir mimétique

Jean-Marc Bourdin

Iphilo

17/12/2018

BILLET : Sur Instagram ou sur leur chaîne YouTube, les influenceurs médiatisent nos désirs dans une relation triangulaire qui est au cœur de la thèse du désir mimétique de René Girard, analyse Jean-Marc Bourdin dans iPhilo. 


Ancien élève de l’ENA, inspecteur général de la ville de Paris, Jean-Marc Bourdin a également soutenu en 2016 une thèse de doctorat en philosophie sur René Girard à l’Université Paris-VIII. Créateur du blog L’Emissaire et membre de l’Association Recherche Mimétique (ARM), il a publié René Girard philosophe malgré lui et René Girard promoteur d’une science des rapports humains chez L’Harmattan en 2018.


René Girard affirme en 1961 dans Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesqueque seuls les plus grands romanciers, à la liste desquels il ajoutera par la suite quelques dramaturges, ont la faculté de comprendre les mécanismes du désir mimétique. Ceux-ci resteraient inconnus non seulement du commun des mortels mais aussi d’écrivains moins doués qui se laissent duper par la prétention du désir à l’autonomie.

Cette affirmation radicale souffrirait-elle désormais d’au moins une exception de taille ? Dans notre époque où il n’est plus indécent de se vanter de manipulations en tous genres, le marketing a franchi un pas décisif grâce à Internet et aux réseaux sociaux. Il avait compris depuis longtemps les mécanismes du mimétisme et le rôle des modèles dans les décisions d’achat : la publicité n’a cessé d’en jouer. Mais délibérément ou en suivant un mouvement dont il n’a pas eu l’initiative, le marketing vient de révéler le pot aux roses. Des modèles de consommation officiels ont désormais un nom : influenceuses ou influenceurs. Et les victimes du désir mimétique sont des « followers », autrement dit des suiveurs ou des suiveuses des conseils ainsi dispensés.

Ces modèles ont le plus souvent des comptes Instagram ou des chaînes YouTube. Ils parlent de beauté, de mode, de voyages, de sport, de culture… bref interviennent dans autant de marchés sur lesquels ils sont susceptibles d’orienter des comportements de consommation.

Du point de vue de la théorie mimétique, ils sont plutôt des médiateurs externes, insusceptibles d’entrer en rivalité avec la plupart de leurs suiveurs, si ce n’est certains d’entre eux mus par leur ressentiment et qui sont dénommés « haters », donc haineux. Nous retrouvons ici les passions stendhaliennes de l’envie, de la jalousie et de la haine impuissante ou encore la figure du narrateur des Carnets du sous-sol de Dostoïevski, cet homme du ressentiment par excellence.

La puissance des influenceurs se mesure au volume et à la croissance du nombre de leurs suiveurs. En découle une valeur économique qui se traduit par les rémunérations que leur servent les marques promues. Mais la relation n’est pas si simple : elle suppose aussi que l’influenceur donne des gages d’indépendance à ceux qui suivent leurs conseils.

L’influenceur ne peut étendre et maintenir son influence qu’en apparaissant comme souverain vis-à-vis de ses suiveurs mais aussi des marques qu’il promeut. Sinon, il serait lui-même considéré comme influençable par les entreprises dont il vante les qualités, du moins celles de leurs produits et services. Cette suprématie est obtenue par sa capacité à modeler les goûts de ses suiveurs. Il est en effet beaucoup plus efficace, efficient et pertinent qu’une campagne de publicité par voie de presse – écrite, radiophonique ou télévisuelle. Il regroupe une population rendue homogène par l’attraction commune que ses membres ressentent pour son «charisme».

Des jeunes gens de moins de vingt peuvent ainsi devenir ce qu’on appelait autrefois des leaders d’opinion. Sans avoir fait autre chose que s’enregistrer en vidéo dans leur appartement en tenant des propos persuasifs, ils peuvent être suivis par des millions d’admirateurs qui attendent leurs avis pour faire leurs choix.

Enjoy Phenix, Cyprien, Natoo, Caroline Receveur ou encore SqueeZie seraient-ils les nouveaux maîtres du désir mimétique ? Au moins sont-ils d’indéniables révélateurs de sa persistante actualité et de sa pertinence.

Voir encore:

Visualizing Friendships
Paul Butler
Facebook
December 14, 2010

Visualizing data is like photography. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you manipulate the lens used to present the data from a certain angle.

When the data is the social graph of 500 million people, there are a lot of lenses through which you can view it. One that piqued my curiosity was the locality of friendship. I was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them.

I began by taking a sample of about ten million pairs of friends from Apache Hive, our data warehouse. I combined that data with each user’s current city and summed the number of friends between each pair of cities. Then I merged the data with the longitude and latitude of each city.

At that point, I began exploring it in R, an open-source statistics environment. As a sanity check, I plotted points at some of the latitude and longitude coordinates. To my relief, what I saw was roughly an outline of the world. Next I erased the dots and plotted lines between the points. After a few minutes of rendering, a big white blob appeared in the center of the map. Some of the outer edges of the blob vaguely resembled the continents, but it was clear that I had too much data to get interesting results just by drawing lines. I thought that making the lines semi-transparent would do the trick, but I quickly realized that my graphing environment couldn’t handle enough shades of color for it to work the way I wanted.

Instead I found a way to simulate the effect I wanted. I defined weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of friends between them. Then I plotted lines between the pairs by weight, so that pairs of cities with the most friendships between them were drawn on top of the others. I used a color ramp from black to blue to white, with each line’s color depending on its weight. I also transformed some of the lines to wrap around the image, rather than spanning more than halfway around the world.

After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.

Later I replaced the lines with great circle arcs, which are the shortest routes between two points on the Earth. Because the Earth is a sphere, these are often not straight lines on the projection.

When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.

Paul is an intern on Facebook’s data infrastructure engineering team.

Voir également:

Check out this stunning Facebook world map

Jeffrey Van Camp

Digital trends

12.14.10

Have you ever wondered what 10 million friendships would look like on a world map? Well, a Facebook engineer has the answer for you. The map below was made by Paul Butler, an engineering intern at Facebook. In a blog post, he explains how he created this visualized representation of friendships. His quest began when he became curious as to whether country or physical location had a big impact on friendships. In other words, he wondered if people had a lot of friends who live far away from them, perhaps around the world. So he took a sample of 10 million friendship pairs from the Facebook database and made this image.

The results are fairly evident and we recommend you check it out in high resolution to fully understand what you’re looking at. This data was not graphed onto a map, by the way. Every lit up dot of land is the geo-location of a friend. The map formed itself by the sheer number of connections. The most lit areas–Europe and the United States–are bright because of the density of smaller range friendships inside them.

“After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw,” said Butler. “The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life…When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.”

As much as we dog Facebook here and there, this perfectly shows the great qualities of social networking. With only 10 million of the 500 million connections, we are able to build a map of the world solely from our own personal connections. Very cool.


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