Médias: Attention, un pompier-pyromane peut en cacher un autre ! (No Trump, no ratings: Are media-influenced perceptions of political polarization self-serving self-fulfilling prophecies ?)

3 novembre, 2018
Résultat de recherche d'images pour "POLL: Media More Divisive Than Trump" Il y a une grande colère dans notre pays causée en partie par le traitement erroné, et souvent fourbe, des informations par les médias. Les médias Fake News, le véritable Ennemi du Peuple, doivent arrêter l’hostilité ouverte et évidente et rapporter les informations correctement et de manière équitable. Ça fera beaucoup pour éteindre l’incendie de la Colère et de l’Indignation et nous serons alors en mesure de rapprocher les deux côtés dans la Paix et l’Harmonie. Les Fake News Doivent Cesser! Donald Trump
Le président a pris des mesures, mais, sur le plan législatif, il n’a rien fait hormis la baisse des impôts. Il y a très peu de chances qu’il forge un compromis sur les projets sociaux. Les démocrates ont déjà sorti les couteaux, préparé des enquêtes, et ils sont prêts à engager une procédure de destitution. Je serais étonnée qu’ils ne trouvent pas de chefs d’inculpation contre Donald Trump, sachant qu’une procédure de destitution peut être adoptée à la majorité simple à la Chambre des représentants. Au Sénat, une telle procédure n’aboutirait pas avec des républicains toujours majoritaires. Mais face à une Chambre sous contrôle démocrate, je ne sais pas où Donald Trump s’arrêtera pour sauver sa peau. (…) [l’élément le plus saillant de la campagne électorale, c’est] La mobilisation des femmes. Je n’ai jamais vu autant de femmes faire acte de candidature au Congrès, surtout dans le camp démocrate. Mais les circonscriptions électorales étant ce qu’elles sont, il n’y aura pas de tsunami féminin à Washington. (…) Dans la même semaine, des Noirs américains ont été tués parce qu’ils étaient Noirs, des colis piégés auraient pu tuer des figures démocrates comme Barack Obama ou Hillary Clinton, et enfin Pittsburgh a été le théâtre de la pire tuerie antisémite de l’histoire du pays. A l’époque de la présidence de George W. Bush, Elie Wiesel m’avait demandé: faut-il avoir peur pour l’Amérique? Avec ce qu’on a vu ces derniers jours, je dirais qu’il faut avoir peur pour, mais aussi de l’Amérique. On sait que c’est un pays violent où circulent 300 millions d’armes à feu. En 2016, plus de 11 000 personnes ont été tuées par de telles armes. Mais je n’ai pas souvenir d’avoir vu un tel déferlement de haine raciste et meurtrière dans un temps aussi resserré. Sous la présidence de George W. Bush, il y avait de fortes divisions, mais les gens se parlaient encore de manière civile. Je l’ai vécu. On n’avait pas le sentiment d’être remis en cause dans son être profond. Là, avec Donald Trump, c’est très différent. Les pro- et anti-Trump divergent tellement sur des valeurs essentielles qu’ils ne peuvent plus s’adresser la parole. (…) Si vous regardez ses meetings, ils se déroulent tous selon le même schéma. Il dramatise la question de l’immigration, décrit les journalistes comme des ennemis du peuple et vitupère contre les alliés qui profitent de l’Amérique. Il arrive à susciter une rage incroyable chez les gens. Il a un grand talent pour manipuler les foules. Il désigne à la vindicte publique tous ceux qui représentent une opposition. L’exemple vient d’en haut. Les gens se sentent habilités à insulter, voire à tuer, des individus qui ne pensent pas comme eux. Dans ces meetings, il y a indubitablement des incitations à la violence. Les Américains ont un président qui piétine toutes les valeurs de civilité, de tolérance mutuelle propres à une démocratie, et qui a fait de la violence une valeur à part entière. (…) Pour la communauté juive, c’est un choc énorme. Dans l’histoire américaine, il y a eu des agressions et des insultes antisémites, des périodes de quotas défavorables ou d’hostilité envers les juifs de Pologne et de Russie qui arrivaient aux Etats-Unis au début du XXe siècle. Mais les juifs ont toujours eu le sentiment de vivre aux Etats-Unis plus en liberté qu’ailleurs à l’exception d’Israël, d’être des piliers du pays. Ils ont beaucoup défendu l’intégration des migrants, se sont engagés pour les droits civiques. Ils se sont souvent considérés comme ce qu’il y avait de plus américain. Donald Trump n’a pas appelé à la violence antisémite. Mais la manière dont il a libéré la parole raciste a un impact. Quand des suprémacistes blancs criaient à Charlottesville en 2017 que «les juifs ne les remplaceraient pas» et qu’ils défilaient avec des torches enflammées rappelant Nuremberg, Donald Trump ne les a pas encouragés, mais il ne les a pas contredits. (…) C’est son calcul. Il ne cherche pas à apaiser les tensions, mais à générer le plus de colère possible au sein même de son électorat. Sa technique, c’est le mensonge avéré quotidien, sans vergogne, érigé en système. Or, quand les faits ne comptent plus, cela rappelle les années 1930. C’est en tout cas ainsi que ça commence. La honte a disparu. Le migrant devient l’ennemi. Si je pouvais résumer la présidence Trump, je choisirais cette image: l’homme à la tête de l’armée la plus puissante du monde promet d’envoyer jusqu’à 15 000 soldats à la frontière américano-mexicaine face à quelque 4000 déguenillés. Il y a la grandeur de la fonction et la petitesse de l’homme. Donald Trump maintient son électorat dans une vraie paranoïa. Si vous êtes un Américain qui regarde Fox News et qui écoute le polémiste Rush Limbaugh, vous vous sentez menacé par tout. Selon moi, Donald Trump est habité par la peur. Il l’a identifiée avec un véritable génie comme un moyen qui fait sa fortune. Quand les gens n’auront plus peur, ils ne voteront plus pour lui. (…) Le temps commence à presser. Un an et demi avant leur élection en 1992 et en 2008, on voyait toutefois mal Bill Clinton et Barack Obama l’emporter. Chez les démocrates, ils sont très nombreux à vouloir se lancer pour la présidentielle. Mais ils restent pour l’heure assommés par la défaite de novembre 2016, qui n’aurait pas dû avoir lieu. C’est un fait: sans chercher à l’éteindre, Barack Obama n’a pas porté la nouvelle génération. Le parti est aussi très divisé entre les héritiers d’Obama et de Clinton d’un côté et le camp Bernie Sanders de l’autre. Les premiers n’ont pas un message très emballant pour l’instant et les seconds, qui ont une volonté marquée de s’en prendre frontalement aux inégalités sociales, n’auront jamais de majorité dans un pays comme les Etats-Unis. (…) Les républicains n’ont rien accompli en termes législatifs. Ils n’ont pas réussi à abroger l’Obamacare, la loi sur le système de santé. Mais leur stratégie électorale à long terme s’est révélée très payante. Je pense que les démocrates ont désormais appris la leçon, même s’ils n’ont pas forcément un système en place pour renverser la vapeur. (…) On se pose en effet beaucoup de questions sur l’avenir de la démocratie et de la Constitution américaine, en particulier à l’ère des réseaux sociaux. La Constitution a déjà résisté à des périodes très difficiles. L’Amérique est au bord du gouffre. (…) la nomination du juge Brett Kavanaugh à la Cour suprême a été dévastatrice. La manière très partisane dont il a répondu aux questions d’une commission sénatoriale aurait dû le disqualifier. Or il n’en fut rien. La Cour suprême n’est plus respectée. Elle est devenue une institution purement partisane, avec d’un côté des juges progressistes et de l’autre des juges non pas conservateurs, mais ultra-conservateurs. On va sans doute voir une haute cour en décalage continu avec l’évolution de la société américaine. (…) Face à l’érosion de la vérité et à la promotion de la violence politique combinées à l’effet amplificateur des réseaux sociaux, il faudra de grandes ressources démocratiques aux Etats-Unis pour se remettre de la présidence d’un Donald Trump qui se décrit comme l’Ernest Hemingway des 140 signes, de Twitter. L’Amérique est capable de nous surprendre. En bien et en mal. (…) C’est un aspect de la dégradation du climat politique outre-Atlantique dont Donald Trump n’est pas responsable. Le Parti républicain est à la dérive depuis une vingtaine d’années. On est désormais à des années-lumière du parti de Rockefeller. Il est aujourd’hui la carpette du président. Le Tea Party a pris le pouvoir en 2009 avec une haine raciale incroyable sous la présidence Obama et un refus complet de l’esprit de compromis qui est pourtant l’essence même de la Constitution américaine. Nicole Bacharan
Non, Monsieur Macron, notre époque n’a rien à voir avec les années 30 (…) l’URSS et le IIIe Reich avaient des ambitions d’expansion territoriale, sinon d’hégémonie planétaire, et il s’agissait de nations hyper militarisées. En quoi les «lépreux» Orban et Salvini – pour ne retenir qu’eux – ont-ils une quelconque ambition belliqueuse de cette nature? Ils souhaitent simplement se concentrer sur leurs intérêts strictement nationaux, protéger leurs frontières de flux migratoires incontrôlés par l’Europe de Schengen, refuser la société multiculturelle dont ils observent les échecs en France, en Allemagne, au Royaume-Uni, en Belgique. C’est un choix de souveraineté politique, leurs citoyens les ont élus pour cette politique et peuvent se dédire aux prochaines élections puisque ni Orban ni Salvini pour l’heure n’ont remplacé la démocratie par l’autocratie. Barbara Lefebvre
The media have devolved into a weird Ministry of Truth. News seems defined now as what information is necessary to release to arrive at correct views.  In recent elections, centrists, like John McCain and Mitt Romney – once found useful by the media when running against more-conservative Republicans — were reinvented as caricatures of Potterville scoundrels right out of a Frank Capra movie. When the media got through with a good man like McCain, he was left an adulterous, confused septuagenarian, unsure of how many mansions he owned, and a likely closeted bigot. Another gentleman like Romney was reduced to a comic-book Ri¢hie Ri¢h, who owned an elevator, never talked to his garbage man, hazed innocents in prep school, and tortured his dog on the roof of his car. If it were a choice between shouting down debate moderator Candy Crowley and shaming her unprofessionalism, or allowing her to hijack the debate, Romney in Ajaxian style (“nobly live, or nobly die”) chose the decorous path of dignified abdication. In contrast, we were to believe Obama’s adolescent faux Greek columns, hokey “lowering the seas and cooling the planet,” vero possumus seal on his podium as president-elect, and 57 states were Lincolnesque. Why would 2016 not end up again in losing nobly? Would once again campaigning under the Marquess of Queensberry rules win Republicans a Munich reprieve? In such a hysterical landscape, it was possible that no traditional Republican in 2016 was likely to win, even against a flawed candidate like Hillary Clinton, who emerged wounded from a bruising primary win over aged socialist Bernie Sanders. Then came along the Trump, the seducer of the Right when the Republican establishment was busy early on coronating Jeb Bush. (…) That Trump was an amateur, a cad, his own worst enemy, cynically leveraging a new business or brand, and at any time could say anything was supposedly confirmation of Hillary’s inevitable victory. Trump’s hare-and-tortoise strategy, his mishmash politics, reinventions, mastery of free publicity, and El Jefe celebrity had always offered him an outside chance of winning. But he is most aided by the daily news cycle that cannot be quite contorted to favor Hillary Clinton. (…) That the establishment was repulsed by his carroty look, his past scheming, his Queens-accented bombast, and his nationalist policies only made him seem more authentic to his supporters, old and possibly new as well. Victor Davis Hanson (20.09.2016)
Entre janvier et avril 2017, le Centre Shorenstein (en) sur les médias et la politique de l’université Harvard examine ce que les journalistes de dix grands médias ont publié par écrit sur Donald Trump durant les cent premiers jours de sa présidence. De cette étude, il ressort que538,539 : Trump domine la couverture médiatique. Il est le sujet de 41 % de toutes les nouvelles (trois fois plus que pour les précédents présidents américains). Son aptitude à présider est mise en doute plus souvent en Europe qu’aux États-Unis. La couverture journalistique crée un nouveau standard en matière de presse défavorable. Pas un seul media n’est plus positif que négatif. Globalement, le ton est négatif dans 80 % des nouvelles (57 % négatif pour George W. Bush, 60 % pour Bill Clinton). Le ton négatif s’élève à 93 % pour CNN et NBC, à 91 % pour CBS, à 87 % pour le New York Times, à 83 % pour le Washington Post, à 70 % pour The Wall Street Journal, à 52 % pour Fox News ; en Europe, le ton négatif atteint un record de 98 % pour ARD, de 84 % pour le Financial Times et de 74 % pour la BBC. Les trois sujets les moins contestés par les journalistes sont l’économie (54 % de ton négatif), la menace terroriste (70 %) et les autres affaires de politique intérieure (72 %)538. Commentant cette étude, plusieurs médias rappellent qu’une tonalité négative ne signifie pas que le traitement de l’information soit biaisé540,541. Commentant cette étude, le Washington Post souligne par ailleurs que « quand on fait des choses controversées – et les sondages montrent qu’une énorme quantité des choses que fait Trump le sont – on se retrouve critiqué par certaines personnes. Et quand on promet d’accomplir des choses extraordinaires et que les résultats contredisent vos promesses, il est difficile de couvrir cela comme une victoire. » Wikipedia
European reporters were more likely than American journalists to directly question Trump’s fitness for office.Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president. Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic. Shorenstein center
While we understand this is a work of fiction, the insinuation that the U.S. Secret Service would participate in the assassination of a President is outrageous and an insult to the men and women of this agency. The U.S. Secret Service prides itself on being an apolitical agency with a long and distinguished history of protecting our nation’s elected officials. Secret Service spokesperson
Some 40 percent of black likely voters approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing, according to the daily Rasmussen poll released on Oct. 29. The number marks a record high, the pollster noted, and shows a rapid rise in support for the president among black voters, compared to Rasmussen’s own results from a year ago. The poll showed 29 percent support for Trump among blacks on Aug. 6, compared with 15 percent on Aug. 3, 2017. Reuters/Ipsos polls also have revealed an increase, though more modest, to 16.5 percent approval among blacks in an Oct. 18–22 survey, from 11 percent at the end of August. Among all likely voters, Rasmussen has been tracking Trump job approval at around the 50 percent mark throughout October, compared to the 40 to 47 percent range being reported by other pollsters. Black Americans have voted exceedingly left since the 1960s. The presidential election in 1964, especially, fixated black voters on the Democrats. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy the year before primed the nation to choose his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, to continue his legacy. Democrats also portrayed the Republican contender, Barry Goldwater, as a racist, because he opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (…) Trump, with an unabashedness of his own, received only 8 percent of the black vote in 2016. But that was still more than Goldwater or even Mitt Romney. Trump has steered clear of talking up welfare cuts at large, taking more popular angles, such as repealing Obamacare and imposing job requirements on welfare seekers. But, perhaps more than Goldwater, he was liberally accused of racism by Democrats. Those attacks, however, seem to be losing effectiveness. To begin with, Trump hadn’t been considered racist in the left-leaning circles of mainstream media and entertainment until he ran for president. He’s also spent considerable effort to appeal to black voters, asking them to consider how electing Democrats for decades benefited them. Trump promised them jobs, safety, and education. (…) Black unemployment, a powerful talking point, has dropped to historic lows under his administration’s “America First” economic agenda. Violent crime also slightly declined in 2017, after two years of increases. The support of singer, producer, and businessman Kanye West has been helping Trump from another angle. (…) Conservative political commentators such as Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza have popularized the expression “the Democratic Plantation,” which draws a parallel between the racism against blacks advocated by the Democratic Party in the past and the system of government dependency represented by the welfare state advocated by the Democrats of the present. Some effects of the efforts of Owens and others can be seen among the blacks joining the Walk Away movement to leave the Democratic Party. Owens has recently announced a new initiative called “Blexit,” which specifically urges black Americans to leave the Democratic Party. The Epoch Times
There were 1,211 antisemitic incidents in Obama’s first year in office. This was after four straight years of declining antisemitism. For instance, in 2008, there were 1,352 incidents. Attacks had peaked in 2004 with 1,821. Over the years, the number of incidents continued to decline. After an initial uptick to 1,239 in 2010, they declined to 751 in 2013. They began to rise again to 914 in 2015, the last year for which we have data. When we tally the total number of incidents between 2009 and 2015, the overall number of attacks reaches more than 7,000. However, the number of assaults increased, almost doubling during the Obama administration. Overall, there was an average of 84 incidents a month under the Obama administration. Let’s step back for a moment and compare that to the 95 incidents between January and February 2017. That’s a 10% increase. It could be more once all the data comes in. But the media haven’t been telling us there is a slight increase; the narrative has been that there is an antisemitic wave sweeping the US. In Berlin, there was a 16% increase in antisemitic incidents by comparison. It was also “sweeping” the UK in 2014. One of the key indicators of rising antisemitism during the Obama years was the number of physical assaults. From a low of 17 in 2012 they rose to 56 in 2015. The ADL noted a “dramatic rise” in assaults that year. So why are headlines today claiming a “pandemic” of antisemitism in the US? Abe Foxman used the word “pandemic” to describe antisemitism in the US in 2009. “This is the worst, the most intense, the most global that it’s been in most of our memories. And the effort to get the good people to stand up is not easy,” he said in a speech that year. Jonathan Greenblatt said in November of 2016 that the US was suffering extreme levels of hate. “Anti-Jewish public and political discourse in America is worse than at any point since the 1930s,” he was quoted by JTA as saying. Looking back almost a decade puts things in perspective. Where was the media in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 to highlight thousands of incidents of antisemitism? 210 physical assaults on Jews. 3,900 threats against Jews and Jewish institutions. 2,900 incidents of vandalism. 180 incidents of antisemitism on campus. Every six days, a Jewish person in America was being attacked in 2015 and it went largely ignored. On average, there were threats every day against Jews and Jewish institutions over the last eight years and most of them did not receive headlines. There were also incidents of vandalism every day on average. Why did 7,034 incidents of antisemitism not get major headlines for so long? Was it because of an agenda to protect the Obama administration from criticism, or due to complacency and people becoming inured to the phenomenon? The cesspool and swamp from which today’s hate crimes on Jewish cemeteries emerge is not in a vacuum and it may not be due to the toxic divisions of 2016; it may have deeper roots. That’s the elephant in the room: 7,000 incidents that were recorded — and reported by the ADL — which almost no one wants to talk about. Is the media misleading us through fear-mongering about antisemitism in the United States? The data seems to show that the recent wave of threats, while unique in their target and regularity, are not a massive increase from years past. Threats occurred throughout the last decades, and many went unreported. The key indicator of physical assaults has been rising in the last years. Campus antisemitism, the ADL says, peaked in 2015. The most important thing is to present the public with real data on the number of incidents. The 24-hour news cycle tends to encourage the feeling that antisemitism is leaving people under siege, with swastikas on subways and memorials, at rural synagogues and on homes. There is also a tendency to feed a narrative that there is a major rise in hate crimes in the United States connected with the toxic election of Trump. There may be a rise in hate crimes, but many of them are not directed at Jews; many of them are directed at Muslims and other groups, such as the Georgia couple recently sentenced for threatening African-Americans. The reality is that the American press even ignores serious antisemitism in other countries, while reporting on its expression in the US. Video footage recently emerged of a preacher at Canada’s Al Andalous Islamic Centre — Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi — claiming Jews were “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood and cursed the Lord.” Another sermon in Toronto referred to the “filth of the Jews.” Are there videos in America of anyone preaching such hatred openly without a pushback? This raises serious questions about how we discuss and learn from antisemitism. When people sit through a sermon and don’t raise a hand in protest when a preacher says Jews should be killed, that’s a huge problem. What about when there are clear cases of antisemitism whose perpetrators are not charged with hate crimes? In Avignon, a man tried to light firecrackers in front of a synagogue, but was cleared of antisemitism charges. He just happened to do it in front of a synagogue, not any of the dozens of churches in the town? This is one of but many examples. The question is: Are we only offended by certain types of antisemitism and not others? Seth Frantzman
Donald Trump pourrait être pour les médias d’information la plus grande opportunité de construire un modèle économique viable. Ken Doctor
There is a segment of the ideological national media that’s actively working to stoke divisions for shorter or long-term political gain. The press themselves have become a tribe, as opposed to a foundational source of information. They’re viewed as much as a political player as advocate groups or partisan interests are. Angelo Carusone (Media Matters)
To a certain extent, a new Morning Consult/Politico survey suggests Trump’s criticism rang true for roughly two-thirds of Americans, although it shows a majority also says he has been a mostly divisive presence. In the new Morning Consult/Politico poll, 64 percent of registered voters said the press has done more to divide the country than unite it since Trump took office, compared with 56 percent who said the same was true of the president. The poll of 2,543 voters was conducted Oct. 25-30, after news first broke of mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc’s attempted acts of politically motivated violence and amid news of a shooting by suspect Robert Bowers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The view that the national news media has been a mostly divisive presence was shared among partisans: A plurality of Democrats (46 percent) said the national media has done more to divide than unite — about half the share of Democrats (88 percent) who said the same of Trump. Eight in 10 Republicans agree that the media has done more to divide, while a quarter of Republicans said Trump has been mostly divisive. Much of this can be driven by opinions from political elites, such as that of the president, as political commentator Craig Crawford wrote in his 2005 book on politicians in the press: “Politicians won the war against the media with a simple rule: first, attack the messenger.” A Morning Consult/Politico poll in July found that 28 percent of voters said they had “a lot” of confidence in the presidency — more than twice the 13 percent who said the same of television news and double the 14 percent who said the same of newspapers. When it comes to the media’s involvement in political division, one theory — detailed in a 2013 paper by Matthew Levendusky of the University of Pennsylvania and Neil Malhotra of Stanford — suggests that press coverage of polarization leads people to overestimate its actual degree, leading to a phenomenon among moderates of antipathy toward partisans and more intensity in opposition to the other side among shrewder partisans. Morning consult
Across multiple studies, we show that media coverage of polarization leads citizens to exaggerate the degree of polarization in the mass public, a phenomenon known as false polarization. We also find that false polarization causes voters to moderate their own issue positions but increases dislike of the opposing party. (…) Our findings (…) suggest that the media likely are not shrinking mass polarization, as their moderating effects are centered on those who are already middle-of-the-road ex ante.  Rather, the media help to further segment and stratify the electorate into a more moderate core turned off by polarization (…) and a more extreme segment (…). However, our results also make clear that polarized media coverage causes all citizens come to view the opposing party less positively. (…) By presenting the public as deeply polarized, similar to political elites, the media shape ordinary Americans’ attitudes and their perceptions of politics more generally. Although false polarization is a basic cognitive phenomenon, media coverage exacerbates people’s views of the partisan divide, and has real—and politically important—consequences. Matthew S. Levendusky & Neil A. Malhotra
People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump. I’ve had too much Trump. And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away. So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates. Jeff Zucker (CNN)

Cherchez l’erreur !

Un président français en chute libre dans les sondages qui, contre toute réalité historique, nous ressort la vieille ficelle des « heures les plus sombres de notre histoire » … ?

Un président américain objet de la couverture médiatique la plus biaisée de l’histoire mais au plus haut dans les sondages, minorités comprises, voué aux gémonies pour avoir pointé la part des médias dans l’actuelle polarisation de son pays … ?

Un sondage américain qui montre (à quelques arrondis près ?) des médias perçus comme plus clivants même que le président … ?

Un décompte de mars 2017 rappelant que plus de 7 000 actes antisémites sous la présidence Obama avaient quasiment été passés sous silence … ?

Une étude américaine qui dès 2013 montrait qu’à la manière des prophéties auto-réalisatrices les médias peuvent non seulement exagérer le degré de polarisation du pays mais l’accentuer dans la perception des gens … ?

Le plus grand quotidien américain qui, entre deux nouvelles appelant à l’assassinat du président, voit ses ventes et abonnements exploser depuis l’arrivée du président Trump à la Maison Blanche … ?

Le patron de la plus influente chaine satellite de la planète qui reconnait que sans Trump ils n’ont plus d’audience … ?

Donald Trump s’en prend à nouveau aux médias, « véritables ennemis du Peuple »

Les déclarations du président américain interviennent au lendemain d’un week-end endeuillé par la tuerie dans une synagogue de Pittsburgh
Le HuffPost avec AFP
9/10/2018

ÉTATS-UNIS – Les attaques du président américain contre les journalistes se répètent, encore. Donald Trump a rejeté la responsabilité de la « grande colère » ressentie à travers les États-Unis sur les médias, ce lundi 29 octobre. « Il y a une grande colère dans notre pays causée en partie par le traitement erroné, et souvent fourbe, des informations par les médias », a tweeté le milliardaire républicain, deux jours après la tuerie dans une synagogue de Pittsburgh.

« Les médias Fake News, le véritable Ennemi du Peuple, doivent arrêter l’hostilité ouverte et évidente et rapporter les informations correctement et de manière équitable », a-t-il poursuivi. « Ça fera beaucoup pour éteindre l’incendie de la Colère et de l’Indignation et nous serons alors en mesure de rapprocher les deux côtés dans la Paix et l’Harmonie. Les Fake News Doivent Cesser! ».

Familier des attaques, le président américain voit sa rhétorique anti-médias de plus en plus critiquée, y compris au sein de son propre camp. « Il n’y a aucune raison d’avoir une guerre avec les médias », a ainsi indiqué Anthony Scaramucci, ex-directeur de la communication de la Maison Blanche, au micro de CNN dimanche.

À Pittsburgh, Trump accusé d’attiser la haine

Ces déclarations sur les réseaux sociaux interviennent surtout au lendemain d’un week-end endeuillé par une fusillade dans un synagogue de Pittsburgh. Au total, onze personnes ont été abattues samedi dernier. Donald Trump a fait savoir qu’il se rendrait dans cette ville de Pennsylvanie pour présenter ses condoléances. Mais des familles de victimes ne souhaitent pas rencontrer celui qu’elles accusent d’attiser la haine.

Lynnette Lederman, ancienne présidente de la synagogue Tree of Life où s’est déroulé le drame, a fait savoir lundi matin sur CNN que Donald Trump n’était « pas le bienvenu dans [sa] ville ». « Parce que c’est un pourvoyeur du discours de haine. Les mots hypocrites qui sortent de sa bouche ne signifient rien pour moi », a-t-elle expliqué. « Nous avons des gens auprès de nous qui croient en nos valeurs, pas seulement les valeurs juives, et ce ne sont pas les valeurs de ce président ».

Trump « toujours le bienvenu »

En revanche, le rabbin de la synagogue, Jeffrey Myers, a précisé sur la chaîne américaine que le « président des Etats-Unis est toujours le bienvenu ». « Je suis un citoyen. Il est mon président. Il est bien sûr le bienvenu », a ajouté le rabbin qui se trouvait dans le bâtiment lorsque Robert Bowers, 46 ans, y a fait irruption et a fait feu sur les fidèles.

« Je ne jette pas vraiment le blâme sur quiconque. La haine ne connaît pas de religion, de race, de croyance, de parti politique. Ce n’est pas un problème politique d’une quelconque manière. La haine ne connaît pas l’une de ces choses. Elle existe dans toute personne », a-t-il relevé.

Voir aussi:

Barbara Lefebvre : «Non, Monsieur Macron, notre époque n’a rien à voir avec les années 30»

Barbara Lefebvre
Le Figaro
01/11/2018

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – Dans ses propos rapportés par Ouest-France, le chef de l’État a comparé la période actuelle avec celle de l’entre-deux-guerres. Selon l’enseignante, le contexte est radicalement différent : les États nations européens ne cherchent pas à s’étendre mais à conserver leur souveraineté.

Barbara Lefebvre, enseignante et essayiste, est l’auteur de Génération j’ai le droit, (éd. Albin Michel 2018).

Pierre Nora avait mis en garde contre «ce moment historique habité par l’obsession commémorative» et la captation de cette belle expression, les «lieux de mémoire», utilisée pour célébrer la mémoire alors que la profondeur du travail historiographique des trois tomes qu’il avait dirigés était précisément de composer «une histoire de type contre-commémoratif». Les historiens scrupuleux, ceux qui écrivent l’histoire sans tomber dans les pièges idéologiques de leur temps, sont souvent incompris par les technocrates, qui ne s’embarrassent pas de nuances pour rédiger les formules-chocs autrement appelées «éléments de langage». Le service communication de l’Élysée nous a annoncé une semaine «d’itinérance mémorielle» pour commémorer le centenaire de l’armistice, et elle s’ouvre par une «itinérance historique» du président Macron dans Ouest France suivant un chemin tortueux qui le conduit à une impasse comparative!

Dans les propos rapportés par Ouest-France, le Président Macron se lance dans des comparaisons historiques pour le moins problématiques: «je suis frappé par la ressemblance entre le moment que nous vivons et celui de l’entre-deux-guerres». Tout y est: «la lèpre nationaliste», «la souveraineté européenne (sic) bousculée par des puissances extérieures», «la crise économique». Et dans un élan de prophétie, véritable représentation mécaniste de l’Histoire avec son «H» majuscule grandiloquent, Emmanuel Macron nous révèle sa vision: «on voit presque méthodiquement se réarticuler tout ce qui a rythmé la vie de l’Europe de l’après Première Guerre mondiale à la crise de 1929». L’histoire, éternelle répétition du même? Emmanuel Macron, président-historien après le président-philosophe? Les permanences et les continuités de l’histoire ne sont pas des répétitions, Monsieur le Président, et les ruptures ne sont en général comprises et analysées qu’une fois survenues. Non l’histoire n’a pas le hoquet, car l’histoire n’est pas une réalité tangible qui s’opère sous nos yeux comme des bactéries visibles sous la loupe du microscope. L’histoire est modeste, elle n’est qu’une écriture, un récit humain qui se modifie sans cesse, se réécrit au fil du temps qui passe. L’histoire n’est pas un point fixe, établie une fois pour toutes. En revanche, on le sait, elle est fort utile pour servir les idéologies, servir la politique politicienne, pour jouer le «sachant» qui éclaire les ténèbres du présent en se donnant des airs de prophète d’un futur, si possible apocalyptique, sauf à suivre la marche du sauveur.

Comparer l’Europe de 2018 à celle des années 1930 répond à cette inflation inquiétante de la récupération politicienne de l’histoire nationale et européenne, inflation qui s’accentue depuis bientôt vingt ans à mesure que nous produisons des générations d’amnésiques sortis frais émoulus avec un baccalauréat mais ignorants de leur histoire. Il faut faire un détour par l’histoire scolaire actuelle pour comprendre comment de tels propos peuvent être entendus par l’opinion en dépit de leur non-véracité. En effet, elle alimente les élèves en simplismes manichéens depuis plus de trois décennies, depuis que l’histoire postmoderne (donc postnationale) a mis la main sur l’organisation des programmes officiels. Au lieu de transmettre des connaissances simplifiées qui rendent la complexité du passé intelligible pour des élèves âgés de dix à dix-sept ans, on a réduit l’histoire scolaire à une histoire finaliste. Le passé n’est plus qu’un perpétuel combat entre des gentils et des méchants. Ce simplisme autorise tous les anachronismes. Or la simplification n’est pas le simplisme ; la vulgarisation n’est pas la platitude du binaire. L’histoire scolaire qui avait forgé, pendant près d’un siècle, chez des générations de Français – autochtones ou venus d’ailleurs – le sentiment d’appartenance nationale, aussi appelé patriotisme, s’appuyait certes sur des simplifications historiques non exemptes d’une part de mythes, mais elle ne versait pas dans les simplismes actuels où l’idéologie postmoderne affleure sous chaque thématique, où l’histoire nationale n’est plus qu’une histoire criminelle. La France a une histoire nationale. Les mémoires des groupes composant notre nation qui n’est pas fondée sur l’homogénéité ethno-religieuse, ont toujours existé mais jusqu’aux années 1990 elles n’avaient pas été valorisées au point de supplanter l’histoire nationale. En glorifiant les revendications mémorielles, souvent réinventions du passé, contre l’histoire commune, le projet poursuivi est bien la destruction de l’attachement à la nation, à cet héritage forgé par l’histoire et porté par des mœurs et des coutumes communes.

Ni de Gaulle, ni Mitterrand n’auraient osé une comparaison aussi manichéenne.

Ni de Gaulle, ni Mitterrand n’auraient osé une comparaison aussi manichéenne, simpliste, que celle opérée par Emmanuel Macron. Et pour cause, les deux seuls «vrais» Présidents d’après-guerre avaient une vision, car ils étaient d’abord «enracinés» par une ample culture littéraire et historique – la composition de la bibliothèque de François Mitterrand en est l’illustration frappante – et ensuite parce qu’ils avaient connu l’entre-deux-guerres et la guerre. Cela fait toute la différence. Cela explique leur hauteur de vue, eux qui étaient passés par cette épreuve de la guerre, qu’ils connaissaient la complexité de cet avant-guerre, qu’ils ne réduisaient pas cette période à des caricatures binaires. L’un comme l’autre ont vu monter les périls, ils ont eux-mêmes fait des choix politiques qui ne suivaient pas toujours la ligne droite que les politiques actuels ont réinventée pour trier dans cette époque troublée les bons des méchants, pour juger les hommes du passé au regard du confort dans lequel est plongée notre Europe pacifiée, abrutie par la société de consommation.

Personne ne viendrait nier que Staline, Hitler et Mussolini étaient des dirigeants néfastes pour leurs peuples et pour la paix du monde, que les idéologies portées par les deux premiers en particulier ont conduit à des ravages d’une ampleur inédite en Europe et au-delà et que nous sommes encore héritiers des ravages moraux qu’ils ont constitués pour l’humanité. Néanmoins oser les comparer à Orban, Salvini et pourquoi pas Morawiecki en Pologne et Kurz en Autriche, est non seulement une absurdité historique, mais une opération politique profondément anti-européenne qui attise les colères. Anti-européenne car celui qui aggrave les tensions entre partenaires européens en insultant les peuples qui ont élu les dirigeants précités, c’est le président français. Cette montée en tension n’est pas imputable au seul Emmanuel Macron, elle est à l’œuvre depuis que les progressistes autoproclamés ont décidé que l’Europe se ferait contre les peuples, c’est-à-dire depuis le non au référendum sur la Constitution européenne en 2005 qui ne fut pas respecté. Le mépris du «non», pourtant majoritaire, par les présidents Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande et Macron est fondamental pour comprendre la défiance des Français à qui on dénie toute forme d’intelligence politique quand ils ne votent pas comme on le leur prescrit. Cette atteinte profonde au contrat civique fondateur de la démocratie n’est pas le fait des partis «lépreux» que je sache.

Plus grave, l’énormité historique suivante: l’Europe de l’entre-deux-guerres n’est évidemment pas lisible en termes politiques comme l’Union européenne des 28. Elle était composée d’États-nations souverains qui n’obéissaient pas à une entité supranationale comme c’est notre cas. En outre, aujourd’hui, l’hégémonie mondiale de l’idéologie capitaliste ultralibérale est telle qu’aucun modèle n’émerge pour s’opposer sérieusement à elle, alors que dans l’Europe d’entre-deux-guerres, des idéologies concurrentes puissantes avaient pris forme parmi les peuples (communisme, fascisme, nazisme) et se sont cristallisées politiquement dans trois pays, la Russie, l’Italie puis l’Allemagne. Autre différence et non des moindres s’agissant de menaces pour la paix: l’URSS et le IIIe Reich avaient des ambitions d’expansion territoriale, sinon d’hégémonie planétaire, et il s’agissait de nations hyper militarisées. En quoi les «lépreux» Orban et Salvini – pour ne retenir qu’eux – ont-ils une quelconque ambition belliqueuse de cette nature? Ils souhaitent simplement se concentrer sur leurs intérêts strictement nationaux, protéger leurs frontières de flux migratoires incontrôlés par l’Europe de Schengen, refuser la société multiculturelle dont ils observent les échecs en France, en Allemagne, au Royaume-Uni, en Belgique. C’est un choix de souveraineté politique, leurs citoyens les ont élus pour cette politique et peuvent se dédire aux prochaines élections puisque ni Orban ni Salvini pour l’heure n’ont remplacé la démocratie par l’autocratie.

Autre aspect de cet absurde raccourci comparatif: dans les trois cas, URSS, Italie fasciste, Allemagne nazie, la prise du pouvoir n’a rien eu de démocratique à la différence des gouvernements italiens, autrichiens ou hongrois vilipendés par Emmanuel Macron. La Russie est devenue l’URSS à la suite de la révolution bolchévique qui fut pour le moins un coup de force, venue d’une minorité politique extrémiste, favorisé par le contexte tragique des défaites militaires russes, la Russie de Nicolas II étant membre de la Triple entente. Staline prit le pouvoir après la mort de Lénine en 1924 après avoir éliminé tous ses concurrents, tout aussi violents politiquement et antidémocrates que lui, mais probablement moins malades mentalement que le Petit père des peuples. Mussolini accéda au pouvoir après une forme d’itinérance au demeurant ratée, la marche sur Rome d’octobre 1922. Cette démonstration de force maquillée a posteriori par le Duce en coup d’État, aura suffi à vaincre une démocratie italienne sans boussole, minée par les conflits internes, qui s’effondrera d’elle-même laissant Mussolini instaurer sa dictature fasciste, qui servira en partie de modèle à Hitler.

Dans les trois cas, URSS, Italie fasciste, Allemagne nazie, la prise du pouvoir n’a rien eu de démocratique.

Ce dernier n’a pas été élu démocratiquement, contrairement à la doxa qui sert le discours sentencieux actuel envers les citoyens-électeurs, à grand renfort de «retour des heures sombres» et d’entrisme par les Forces du Mal au sein de notre vertueuse machine démocratique. En effet, dans l’Allemagne de la jeune République de Weimar, née de l’effondrement du Reich en 1918, l’assemblée était élue à la proportionnelle intégrale et jusqu’aux élections de 1932 le NSDAP, le Parti des Travailleurs allemands Socialiste et National, ne dépasse pas les 20 %. Hitler échoue également à l’élection présidentielle de 1932 qui voit la réélection d’Hindenburg. Cette campagne aidera en effet le NSDAP à engranger des voix aux législatives suivantes puisque le parti dépasse les 30 % des suffrages, pour autant il n’est pas majoritaire. La majorité était composée par une coalition de centre-gauche qui n’échappa pas aux luttes intestines largement alimentées par la gauche (SPD et KPD), et empêchera la nomination d’un gouvernement d’union nationale qui aurait peut-être pu réduire la puissance montante du NSDAP. C’est l’incapacité des forces politiques démocratiques (cet adjectif est-il seulement admissible pour le KPD…) à s’entendre pour gouverner ensemble qui explique aussi qu’Hindenburg dût se résoudre à nommer Hitler. Il était après tout le chef du parti qui avait obtenu, seul, 33 % des voix aux législatives, mais les démocrates, en se coalisant durablement, pouvaient faire obstacle à sa nomination au poste de Chancelier. C’est leur faiblesse qui fit sa force, et non pas un imaginaire raz-de-marée électoral laissant penser que le peuple allemand aspirait unanimement à suivre Hitler dans les années 1930.

Quant à réduire la montée des totalitarismes dans l’entre-deux-guerres à une conséquence de la crise de 1929 comme le laisse croire le président Macron, c’est encore ne voir l’histoire par le petit bout de la lorgnette. Ce genre de raccourci ne sert à faire comprendre ni le passé, ni le présent, il sert à manipuler l’opinion pour une politique à venir décidée sans le consulter. La crise de 1929 a montré pour la première fois à l’échelle mondiale, où conduisaient le capitalisme financier et sa spéculation sans limite, les prises de bénéfices indignes des gros opérateurs financiers en plein cœur d’une crise sans précédent, son culte de l’argent-roi et déjà l’économie ouverte à tous les vents mauvais. La critique de ce capitalisme amoral, contraire aux intérêts des peuples souverains, destructeur de la nature, asservi aux machines et transformant l’homme lui-même en machine, fut étouffée pendant des décennies par les délires des théoriciens de la lutte prolétarienne. Ils ne firent qu’alimenter la puissance capitaliste qui conduira à la multiplication des crises économiques jusqu’à celle de 2008 dont aucun dirigeant n’a réellement tiré la moindre analyse qui se transformerait en action politique. Au contraire, comme dans une course vers l’abyme on alimente plus que jamais la destruction de tout ce que l’humanité a forgé en plus de cinq mille ans d’histoire. L’homme atomisé machine à consommer est le produit de cette crise, on l’endort en lui promettant comme seul horizon de bonheur «plus de pouvoir d’achat». Emmanuel Macron est l’homme de ce système: la société ouverte, inclusive, du village global, des flux sans contrôle de marchandises et des hommes – catégories bientôt synonymes. Et pourtant il ose accuser dans ces propos les «grands intérêts financiers qui dépassent parfois la place des États». On peut être stupéfait quand cela est dit par le fondé de pouvoir de la Commission de Bruxelles! Mais c’est habile pour convaincre une opinion publique rendue amnésique qu’on la protège des petits Hitler à nos portes, elle qu’on a rendue aveugle aux conséquences de l’irréparable. Cet irréparable est né quand l’économie industrielle au XIXe siècle prit le pas sur la politique au nom du Progrès, quand le capitalisme financier décréta la mise à mort des nations européennes seules capables de circonscrire sa dangerosité tant pour l’humanité que les écosystèmes. Cet irréparable est né quand des experts-comptables au service d’une oligarchie financière mondiale prirent la place des hommes d’État soucieux de défendre les intérêts de leur nation et de protéger leurs citoyens, tous leurs citoyens.

Voir également:

CNN boss: If we break away from Trump coverage ‘the audience goes away’
John Bowden
The Hill
11/01/18

CNN President Jeff Zucker said his network’s audience would dwindle if its news programming shifted away from covering President Trump.

In an interview published in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Zucker said the reason why CNN spends much of the day reporting on Trump’s day-to-day activities and his rhetoric is viewer demand.

“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump, I’ve had too much Trump,’ ” Zucker told Vanity Fair. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. »

« We’ve seen that anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away, » he added. « So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”

Zucker said he wants CNN to be a home for both supporters and opponents of the president, despite harsh criticism of the news outlet from Trump and other Republicans.

“On MSNBC, you rarely hear from people who do support Trump, » Zucker said. « We want to be home to both those points of view. »

« It is true some of these folks are not very good with the facts, but that’s OK in the sense that it’s our job then to call them out, » he added.

CNN is projected to report its most profitable year ever, a source familiar told Vanity Fair, though it lags behind both Fox News and MSNBC in average prime-time viewership.

Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday suggested it was time for CNN to embrace a « new business model. »
« CNN’s audience went away anyway. That’s why their ratings are so bad, » he tweeted, adding that the network should focus on his father’s « amazing wins. »

The president frequently trashes CNN and its ratings, and has taken aim at Zucker in the past. He wrote in August on Twitter that CNN’s parent company should fire Zucker over CNN’s ratings, which have improved significantly since Zucker took over.

« The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function, » the president tweeted. « But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time. Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility! »

Voir encore:

POLL: Media More Divisive Than Trump
Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

The Daily caller
11/01/2018

A larger part of the electorate believes the media does more to divide the country than President Donald Trump, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds.

Sixty four percent of voters told Politico/Morning Consult they believe the media has done more to divide the country than unite it, compared with 56 percent of those who responded similarly when discussing Trump. Opinions on divisiveness diverges significantly along party lines with the vast majority of Democrats believing the president is responsible for dividing the country and a slight majority of Republicans believing he has done more to unite it.

The poll has a sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points.

The poll comes as Trump continues to accuse a large group of the U.S. media of playing the most divisive role in American politics. “The left wing media doesn’t want to solve problems, they want to stoke resentment, it has to stop,” he declared Wednesday evening at a Florida rally.

Trump has tweeted multiple times to this effect making a distinction between the media writ large and what he calls “the fake news media.”

Voir de même:

Trump Approval Among Black Voters Rises to Record 40 Percent in Rasmussen Poll

Petr Svab
The Epoch Times

October 29, 2018

Some 40 percent of black likely voters approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing, according to the daily Rasmussen poll released on Oct. 29.

The number marks a record high, the pollster noted, and shows a rapid rise in support for the president among black voters, compared to Rasmussen’s own results from a year ago.

The poll showed 29 percent support for Trump among blacks on Aug. 6, compared with 15 percent on Aug. 3, 2017.

Reuters/Ipsos polls also have revealed an increase, though more modest, to 16.5 percent approval among blacks in an Oct. 18–22 survey, from 11 percent at the end of August.

Among all likely voters, Rasmussen has been tracking Trump job approval at around the 50 percent mark throughout October, compared to the 40 to 47 percent range being reported by other pollsters.

Why Trump

Black Americans have voted exceedingly left since the 1960s. The presidential election in 1964, especially, fixated black voters on the Democrats. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy the year before primed the nation to choose his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, to continue his legacy. Democrats also portrayed the Republican contender, Barry Goldwater, as a racist, because he opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Goldwater was actually against segregation and racial discrimination, The Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards wrote in 2014. Goldwater had voted for the civil rights bills of 1957 and 1960, but warned, prophetically, that the 1964 legislation was written in a way that would lead to another form of racial discrimination—affirmative action.

It didn’t help that Goldwater was, to a degree, a small-government libertarian who believed that welfare would lead to moral erosion by means of government dependency. His unabashed rhetoric gave his opponents ammunition to accuse him of wanting to drastically cut welfare.

Trump, with an unabashedness of his own, received only 8 percent of the black vote in 2016. But that was still more than Goldwater or even Mitt Romney.

Trump has steered clear of talking up welfare cuts at large, taking more popular angles, such as repealing Obamacare and imposing job requirements on welfare seekers. But, perhaps more than Goldwater, he was liberally accused of racism by Democrats.

Those attacks, however, seem to be losing effectiveness. To begin with, Trump hadn’t been considered racist in the left-leaning circles of mainstream media and entertainment until he ran for president.

He’s also spent considerable effort to appeal to black voters, asking them to consider how electing Democrats for decades benefited them. Trump promised them jobs, safety, and education.

“We’re fighting every day for African-Americans, for more jobs, for higher wages, for safer communities, for great schools, and we want school choice. We got to have,” Trump said at the Oct. 27 rally in Evansville, Indiana. “We’re fighting hard. It’s going to make a big difference.”

Black unemployment, a powerful talking point, has dropped to historic lows under his administration’s “America First” economic agenda. Violent crime also slightly declined in 2017, after two years of increases.

‘Blexit’

The support of singer, producer, and businessman Kanye West has been helping Trump from another angle. West says he doesn’t agree with Trump on everything, but that it frees his mind to put on a Trump hat, as it allows him to escape the certain modes of thinking that society expects of him.

Conservative political commentators such as Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza have popularized the expression “the Democratic Plantation,” which draws a parallel between the racism against blacks advocated by the Democratic Party in the past and the system of government dependency represented by the welfare state advocated by the Democrats of the present.

Some effects of the efforts of Owens and others can be seen among the blacks joining the Walk Away movement to leave the Democratic Party.

Owens has recently announced a new initiative called “Blexit,” which specifically urges black Americans to leave the Democratic Party. A clothing line accompanies the movement, sporting “Blexit” and “We Free” in capital letters.

Voir de plus:

Newsonomics: Trump may be the news industry’s greatest opportunity to build a sustainable model

Readers have finally understood that their payments for the news will actually make a difference in what they and their community know. That model needs to be extended down to states and cities.
Ken Doctor
Nieman lab
Jan. 20, 2017

One of the most challenging periods in American press history begins at noon Eastern today. The cries of “Lügenpresse” (defended by the outlet until recently run by new chief strategist to the president) echo almost as much as the stiff-arm salutes in the nation’s capital in late October. The Russian propaganda service Russia Today (now nicely rebranded as RT America) somehow taking over the airwaves of C-SPAN for 10 minutes is just icing on the cake. Who knows what language cable news’ crawls will be in soon?

As we feel the ever-louder banging on the doors of a free press, we should also hear, weirdly, another knocking. That’s the knocking of opportunity.

It’s not just the “journalistic spring” that Jack Shafer predicts as the conflicts and controversies of the Trump administration prove fertile ground for investigation. It’s the opportunity to rewrite the tattered social contract between journalists and readers, a chance to rebuild a relationship that’s been weakening by the year for a decade now.

That’s not just some wishful sentiment expressed in the face of the reality of Trump. We’ve seen it proven out over the past several months, and we must grasp this chance to reset an American press that has been withering away.

In both the immediate run-up to the election, and more so in its dramatic aftermath, we’ve witnessed one greatly ironic unintended benefit of Trumpism. More than 200,000 new subscribers signed up for New York Times subscriptions, many of them not even directly solicited — they just figured out it was the right thing to do. The Washington Post saw its own double-digit percentage increase in new subscriptions, and Jeff Bezos — sensing opportunity —- has just taken the dramatic step of adding more than five dozen journalists to the

Readers opened their wallets more widely, as The Atlantic, ProPublica, The Guardian, NPR, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, and the Los Angeles Times have all reported increased public support.What’s the lesson here?

Beyond “support,” readers clearly recognize value. They reward reporting, factual reporting, secure in the knowledge that certain news brands are more immune from the fakeries, forgeries, and foolishness than others. They see their own questions being answered with dutiful reporting and thoughtful analysis. The Times, in its 2020 report, long in the works, renewed the new social contract, as it designated $5 million for deeper and wider national government coverage, given the Trump ascendance.

Readers see courage and they support it. The Times and the Post led courageously in 2016, even as the din of press attacks got louder. (And, here, let us recognize the uneven but growing courage of CNN, its reporters and its hosts, for more insistently piercing the bellows of nonsense they encounter. At the same, time, let’s recognize the potential of CNN-taming implicit in Trump’s meeting last week with AT&T chief Randall Stephenson, the would-be buyer of CNN through the acquisition of its corporate parent, Time Warner.)And, yet, all of that outpouring of post-election support still amounts to a meager down payment on what the American press needs. The national news media lives on the thread of profit. It is not “failing,” as in the Trumpian taunt, but it’s just hanging on, having absorbed financial blow after blow of digital disruption. At the local level — where all but four of the nation’s 1,375 or so dailies operate -— the unraveling is far worse.

Those dailies approached the election emaciated, their weakness exacerbated by 10 years of disinvestment. Make no mistake: Most of the U.S. daily press still returns profits. They just don’t return as much news, or reporting, or knowledge, as they used to.

Further, it’s in that local press that Americans long got their basic news, the basic facts that informed their voting habits. We can draw a straight line between the decline of the American local press and a populace whose factual ignorance has been further distorted by the polarization of democratic discourse. We may struggle to point out a few direct illustrations of that straight line, but the impact — civic and electoral — is only logical. We can’t cut the number of journalists in the American daily workforce in half — replacing the most locally knowledgeable with less experienced, lower-paid recruits — and expect no loss.Looking forward, though, it’s that local press that we must look to cover the day-by-day repercussions of health, environmental, education, and racial justice policies and laws turned upside down. We’ll see mad spin coming out of Washington, and the national media will cover that. That national media, stretched as thin as it is, has little prayer to cover what seems likely to happen in the 50 states to the formerly insured, the women facing clinic closures, the aggrieved looking to federal legal insistence on fairness and justice, and the families seeking clean drinking water. Those are stories that must be unearthed, and told, across the country.

It’s a question that comes down to a single word: capacity.

Long-time media watcher Merrill Brown pointed recently to the drained ability of American news companies to adequately report on the administration that takes power today.

“There are not enough institutions in the American journalism community that are healthy enough to deal with what the Trump administration is likely to do in its early years,” he said on Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources on CNN a week ago. Speaking of both national and regional insufficiency, “We need more ProPublicas. We need more Jeff Bezoses. Philanthropists and investors need to be focused on how important media is, right now, during a dramatic change in government. We need more people to step up to the changes in journalism.”

Is it a news emergency? We can make a good case for that, but even if we want to classify it merely as a deepening crisis, let’s remember the advice of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama took over a country on the edge of depression in 2009. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

I’ve had many conversations with those in and around the industry since the election, and there’s clearly a greater realization of this existential moment in American journalistic life, yet no singular sense of what to do.

Let me suggest we act on what we’ve learned.

First, that means recognizing the new power of the reader/journalist relationship, one underutilized by-product of the digital age. Though the national/global newspaper-based media (The New York Times, the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, which is finally finding its feet, bringing its business acumen to tougher Trump conflict of interest reporting) still struggle with the digital transition, they’ve each crossed over. More than 50 percent of their revenue comes directly from readers; that’s up from the industry average of 20 to 25 percent just a decade ago.That not only provides them a more stable source of ongoing revenue, as digital ad markets prove increasingly troublesome — it also makes the point of journalists’ work crystal-clear. Journalists report and write to satisfy readers.

Finally, in the recent cases of Times and Post subscription spurts, paying readers have finally understood that deeper connection: My payment for the news will actually make a difference in what I know and what my community and country know.

So, on a national level, that message needs to be reinforced at every opportunity, just as John Oliver and Meryl Streep, among others, have begun to do. Another half million to a million digital subscriptions could well certify the successful digital transformation of national news outlets proving themselves indispensable to the democracy. That number now appears in reach, as we assess the progress noted in Monday’s New York Times 2020 report.

It is in local markets that the reader revenue lesson is going largely untested. Yes, most dailies have put up paywalls, but only a relative handful — mostly outside the major chains — have funded still-robust, if diminished, newsrooms. The common arithmetic I’ve described: Halve the product, double the price. Rather than invest in that reader/journalist relationship, too many companies simply milk the life of the disappearing print paper.My simple proposition: More Americans will pay more for a growing, smarter, and in-touch local news source if they are presented with one. As the local newspaper industry has shriveled, most readers have never been presented with that choice. Rather they’ve had to witness smaller and smaller papers, and then less and lower-quality digital news offerings.

It’s not simply an “It’s the content, stupid” moment. Too many news publishers have failed to create products, especially smartphone ones, that display well even what these local companies today produce. That, though, is a topic for another day.)Out of the welter of possibility in 2017, we need to see multiple tests of ramping up local quality, volume, and product. We need new scale brought back to local news reporting, which can now exploit the wonders of multimedia presentation, and do it far more cheaply than print could ever offer.

Will any of the local chain owners invest in a Bezosian long-term strategy? Already, I’ve heard discussion at the high levels of a couple of chains about the new public expectation of “watchdog journalism” and how to meet it — and benefit from it.

Will the trying-to-be-feisty independents — perhaps led by The Boston Globe with its own small bump to 70,000 paying digital subscribers and a broad reinvention plan taking shape — see Times- or Post-like rewards for their efforts? Will any of the larger public radio stations tie growing news capabilities to a kind of “news membership,” moving to fill the vacuum of news in their cities? How many local TV stations will test out the idea of becoming broader TV/digital news providers, and doing enough to get reader payment? What kind of stronger, regional roles might the likes of Kaiser Health News (health), The Marshall Project (criminal justice), and Chalkbeat (education) play? Can any of the most ambitious of LION’s 110 local member news sites step up their coverage to benefit significantly from the new reader/journalist virtuous circle?

In business — and news is a business — consumers expect the improved product to be offered first, and then to be asked to pay (or pay more) for it. That’s why we need to see the kind of investment — from investors to philanthropists, as Merrill Brown suggests.

It’s been astounding to me that so few people of wealth have come forward to rebuild the American press in digital form. Why will an Elon Musk, an early investor in newspaper entertainment product Zip2, pour hundreds of millions into space, cars, and batteries, but nothing into his local Silicon Valley news sources? For the most part, even the most sympathetic haven’t seen a sustainable model that they thought worthy of their time and money.Now, though, that model cries out before us: Majority reader revenue, built on a nationally proven next-generation content-and-product strategy. That’s the carrot. The big stick: Unless a new model is worked out soon, know-nothingism will find fewer challenges across the expanse of America’s news deserts.

Majority-reader-revenue models won’t work overnight, and, there, the bridging aid of a small fleet of foundations that have so far failed to fund a new sustainability will be key. I believe they will renew their own spirits — if and when they see building success.

Finally, let’s consider the intangible of civic pride in this strangest of political times. John Oliver made subscribing to the Times and Post and supporting ProPublica hip. Clearly, he tapped an open reservoir of goodwill. As high hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets this weekend, apprehensive of the future, and looking for accountability, the appetite for aggressive news media — national and local — may never have been as high.

Who will step forward and rise to the occasion?

Voir encore:

Why Were the 7,000 Antisemitic Incidents Under Obama Largely Ignored?
Seth Frantzman
The Algemeiner
March 1, 2017

In the last two months, almost 100 Jewish community centers and day schools have been targeted with antisemitic threats. The map of the threats is shocking. It stretches from Maine to Florida, Texas, Colorado, all the way to California and Washington. Despite more than 190 antisemitic incidents, no arrests have been made. These are terrifying times for many, and there is a feeling that antisemitism is reaching a crescendo in the US. The perception is that America has historically been safe and tolerant, but today a rising “wave” of antisemitism may be breaking on its golden door.

The US administration’s response has been tepid at best, and a case of denial at worst. Although Vice President Mike Pence stopped by a desecrated cemetery in St. Louis, it took more than a month for US President Donald Trump to make his denunciations clear, despite numerous chances to do. Trump is personally blamed for “unleashing” antisemitism during the election campaign last year. Rabbi Daniel Bogard, a victim of online antisemitic abuse, told the JTA,“There has been permission that’s been given to say these things we didn’t used to say.”

This feeds a growing narrative about the rise in antisemitism. There are more than nine million results in Google relating to “Trump antisemitism,” including the recent headlines “Report: Trump mulling axing antisemitism envoy as part of budget plan,” and “Trump suggests Jewish community is spreading antisemitic threats.”

However, Mark Oppenheimer at The Washington Post notes, “There is no good statistical evidence (yet, anyway) that Americans have grown more anti-Semitic in recent months…Overall, however, we won’t know for many more months, when the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League have better data to work with, if Nov. 9, 2016, was the start of something new or just a continuation of a regrettable but enduring legacy.”

The Anti-Defamation League has released a list of the 10 worst antisemitic incidents of 2016, though the data for that year is not yet complete. There is data, however, for previous years.

If there was a major rise in antisemitism, then the 190 incidents that the media have reported on in the first two months of 2017 should be significant. That’s 95 a month. Let’s use that as a barometer and look at the first seven years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The 2016 data, when it is released, will be influenced by the apparent rise in antisemitism during the election. But the years 2009-2015, for which we have data, are untainted by the alleged rise in attacks from Trump supporters.

There were 1,211 antisemitic incidents in Obama’s first year in office. This was after four straight years of declining antisemitism. For instance, in 2008, there were 1,352 incidents. Attacks had peaked in 2004 with 1,821.

Over the years, the number of incidents continued to decline. After an initial uptick to 1,239 in 2010, they declined to 751 in 2013. They began to rise again to 914 in 2015, the last year for which we have data. When we tally the total number of incidents between 2009 and 2015, the overall number of attacks reaches more than 7,000. However, the number of assaults increased, almost doubling during the Obama administration.

Overall, there was an average of 84 incidents a month under the Obama administration. Let’s step back for a moment and compare that to the 95 incidents between January and February 2017. That’s a 10% increase. It could be more once all the data comes in. But the media haven’t been telling us there is a slight increase; the narrative has been that there is an antisemitic wave sweeping the US. In Berlin, there was a 16% increase in antisemitic incidents by comparison. It was also “sweeping” the UK in 2014.

One of the key indicators of rising antisemitism during the Obama years was the number of physical assaults. From a low of 17 in 2012 they rose to 56 in 2015. The ADL noted a “dramatic rise” in assaults that year.

So why are headlines today claiming a “pandemic” of antisemitism in the US? Abe Foxman used the word “pandemic” to describe antisemitism in the US in 2009. “This is the worst, the most intense, the most global that it’s been in most of our memories. And the effort to get the good people to stand up is not easy,” he said in a speech that year. Jonathan Greenblatt said in November of 2016 that the US was suffering extreme levels of hate. “Anti-Jewish public and political discourse in America is worse than at any point since the 1930s,” he was quoted by JTA as saying.

Looking back almost a decade puts things in perspective. Where was the media in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 to highlight thousands of incidents of antisemitism? 210 physical assaults on Jews. 3,900 threats against Jews and Jewish institutions. 2,900 incidents of vandalism. 180 incidents of antisemitism on campus. Every six days, a Jewish person in America was being attacked in 2015 and it went largely ignored. On average, there were threats every day against Jews and Jewish institutions over the last eight years and most of them did not receive headlines.

There were also incidents of vandalism every day on average. Why did 7,034 incidents of antisemitism not get major headlines for so long? Was it because of an agenda to protect the Obama administration from criticism, or due to complacency and people becoming inured to the phenomenon? The cesspool and swamp from which today’s hate crimes on Jewish cemeteries emerge is not in a vacuum and it may not be due to the toxic divisions of 2016; it may have deeper roots. That’s the elephant in the room: 7,000 incidents that were recorded — and reported by the ADL — which almost no one wants to talk about.

Is the media misleading us through fear-mongering about antisemitism in the United States? The data seems to show that the recent wave of threats, while unique in their target and regularity, are not a massive increase from years past. Threats occurred throughout the last decades, and many went unreported. The key indicator of physical assaults has been rising in the last years. Campus antisemitism, the ADL says, peaked in 2015. The most important thing is to present the public with real data on the number of incidents. The 24-hour news cycle tends to encourage the feeling that antisemitism is leaving people under siege, with swastikas on subways and memorials, at rural synagogues and on homes.

There is also a tendency to feed a narrative that there is a major rise in hate crimes in the United States connected with the toxic election of Trump. There may be a rise in hate crimes, but many of them are not directed at Jews; many of them are directed at Muslims and other groups, such as the Georgia couple recently sentenced for threatening African-Americans.

The reality is that the American press even ignores serious antisemitism in other countries, while reporting on its expression in the US. Video footage recently emerged of a preacher at Canada’s Al Andalous Islamic Centre — Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi — claiming Jews were “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood and cursed the Lord.” Another sermon in Toronto referred to the “filth of the Jews.”

Are there videos in America of anyone preaching such hatred openly without a pushback?

This raises serious questions about how we discuss and learn from antisemitism. When people sit through a sermon and don’t raise a hand in protest when a preacher says Jews should be killed, that’s a huge problem.

What about when there are clear cases of antisemitism whose perpetrators are not charged with hate crimes? In Avignon, a man tried to light firecrackers in front of a synagogue, but was cleared of antisemitism charges. He just happened to do it in front of a synagogue, not any of the dozens of churches in the town?

This is one of but many examples.

The question is: Are we only offended by certain types of antisemitism and not others?

Voir par ailleurs:

Nicole Bacharan: «Aujourd’hui, il faut avoir peur de l’Amérique»

Politologue et historienne ayant longtemps vécu aux Etats-Unis, Nicole Bacharan commente la violence des mots et des actes sous la présidence Trump, et estime que la deuxième moitié de son mandat pourrait être fortement entravée par les enquêtes de la Chambre des représentants si celle-ci est reconquise par les démocrates
LE TEMPS
2 novembre 2018

Elle connaît Houston et New York comme sa poche pour y avoir vécu. Dans sa famille, on est Français, mais aussi Américains. Auteure de nombreux livres sur l’Amérique, Nicole Bacharan observe la scène politique outre-Atlantique avec intérêt et parfois effroi. A quelques jours des élections de mi-mandat (6 novembre) qui battent un nouveau record en termes de dépenses de campagne (5,2 milliards de dollars), cette historienne et politologue a reçu Le Temps dans son appartement parisien. Elle commente le climat de très forte tension sociale qui règne dans le pays à l’aube d’un scrutin qui pourrait avoir un impact majeur sur la deuxième moitié de la présidence de Donald Trump.

Le Temps: Pour les démocrates, l’un des enjeux majeurs des élections de mi-mandat, c’est la reconquête de la majorité de la Chambre des représentants. La majorité du Sénat étant vouée à rester en mains républicaines, quelles seraient les conséquences d’un tel scénario?

Nicole Bacharan: La première serait l’ouverture de plusieurs enquêtes. La Chambre des représentants a des pouvoirs d’enquête très larges. Je pense d’ailleurs que les enquêtes sont déjà prêtes. Vu ce qui se passe outre-Atlantique, les démocrates ne feront aucun cadeau. On peut imaginer deux scénarios. Les démocrates pourraient chercher un compromis avec Donald Trump sur les investissements dans les infrastructures, sur l’extension de Medicare (l’assurance maladie des plus de 65 ans) ou encore sur la réduction des prix des médicaments. Mais c’est très improbable dans un Washington aussi polarisé. Le président a pris des mesures, mais, sur le plan législatif, il n’a rien fait hormis la baisse des impôts. Il y a très peu de chances qu’il forge un compromis sur les projets sociaux.

Les démocrates ont déjà sorti les couteaux, préparé des enquêtes, et ils sont prêts à engager une procédure de destitution. Je serais étonnée qu’ils ne trouvent pas de chefs d’inculpation contre Donald Trump, sachant qu’une procédure de destitution peut être adoptée à la majorité simple à la Chambre des représentants. Au Sénat, une telle procédure n’aboutirait pas avec des républicains toujours majoritaires. Mais face à une Chambre sous contrôle démocrate, je ne sais pas où Donald Trump s’arrêtera pour sauver sa peau.

Quel est l’élément le plus saillant de la campagne électorale qui s’achève?

La mobilisation des femmes. Je n’ai jamais vu autant de femmes faire acte de candidature au Congrès, surtout dans le camp démocrate. Mais les circonscriptions électorales étant ce qu’elles sont, il n’y aura pas de tsunami féminin à Washington.

Les tentatives d’attentat aux colis piégés contre des personnalités démocrates, la tuerie dans une synagogue de Pittsburgh ont créé un climat délétère. Pour reprendre le titre de l’un de vos ouvrages, faut-il avoir peur de l’Amérique?

Dans la même semaine, des Noirs américains ont été tués parce qu’ils étaient Noirs, des colis piégés auraient pu tuer des figures démocrates comme Barack Obama ou Hillary Clinton, et enfin Pittsburgh a été le théâtre de la pire tuerie antisémite de l’histoire du pays. A l’époque de la présidence de George W. Bush, Elie Wiesel m’avait demandé: faut-il avoir peur pour l’Amérique? Avec ce qu’on a vu ces derniers jours, je dirais qu’il faut avoir peur pour, mais aussi de l’Amérique. On sait que c’est un pays violent où circulent 300 millions d’armes à feu. En 2016, plus de 11 000 personnes ont été tuées par de telles armes. Mais je n’ai pas souvenir d’avoir vu un tel déferlement de haine raciste et meurtrière dans un temps aussi resserré. Sous la présidence de George W. Bush, il y avait de fortes divisions, mais les gens se parlaient encore de manière civile. Je l’ai vécu. On n’avait pas le sentiment d’être remis en cause dans son être profond. Là, avec Donald Trump, c’est très différent. Les pro- et anti-Trump divergent tellement sur des valeurs essentielles qu’ils ne peuvent plus s’adresser la parole.

Donald Trump multiplie les meetings électoraux, radicalise son discours. Porte-t-il une part de responsabilité dans les événements de ces derniers jours?

Si vous regardez ses meetings, ils se déroulent tous selon le même schéma. Il dramatise la question de l’immigration, décrit les journalistes comme des ennemis du peuple et vitupère contre les alliés qui profitent de l’Amérique. Il arrive à susciter une rage incroyable chez les gens. Il a un grand talent pour manipuler les foules. Il désigne à la vindicte publique tous ceux qui représentent une opposition. L’exemple vient d’en haut. Les gens se sentent habilités à insulter, voire à tuer, des individus qui ne pensent pas comme eux. Dans ces meetings, il y a indubitablement des incitations à la violence. Les Américains ont un président qui piétine toutes les valeurs de civilité, de tolérance mutuelle propres à une démocratie, et qui a fait de la violence une valeur à part entière.

La tuerie de onze juifs dans une synagogue de Pittsburgh le week-end dernier a été un traumatisme.

Pour la communauté juive, c’est un choc énorme. Dans l’histoire américaine, il y a eu des agressions et des insultes antisémites, des périodes de quotas défavorables ou d’hostilité envers les juifs de Pologne et de Russie qui arrivaient aux Etats-Unis au début du XXe siècle. Mais les juifs ont toujours eu le sentiment de vivre aux Etats-Unis plus en liberté qu’ailleurs à l’exception d’Israël, d’être des piliers du pays. Ils ont beaucoup défendu l’intégration des migrants, se sont engagés pour les droits civiques. Ils se sont souvent considérés comme ce qu’il y avait de plus américain. Donald Trump n’a pas appelé à la violence antisémite. Mais la manière dont il a libéré la parole raciste a un impact. Quand des suprémacistes blancs criaient à Charlottesville en 2017 que «les juifs ne les remplaceraient pas» et qu’ils défilaient avec des torches enflammées rappelant Nuremberg, Donald Trump ne les a pas encouragés, mais il ne les a pas contredits.

Donald Trump (et par ricochet les républicains) va-t-il bénéficier de ce climat de haine le 6 novembre?

C’est son calcul. Il ne cherche pas à apaiser les tensions, mais à générer le plus de colère possible au sein même de son électorat. Sa technique, c’est le mensonge avéré quotidien, sans vergogne, érigé en système. Or, quand les faits ne comptent plus, cela rappelle les années 1930. C’est en tout cas ainsi que ça commence. La honte a disparu. Le migrant devient l’ennemi. Si je pouvais résumer la présidence Trump, je choisirais cette image: l’homme à la tête de l’armée la plus puissante du monde promet d’envoyer jusqu’à 15 000 soldats à la frontière américano-mexicaine face à quelque 4000 déguenillés. Il y a la grandeur de la fonction et la petitesse de l’homme. Donald Trump maintient son électorat dans une vraie paranoïa. Si vous êtes un Américain qui regarde Fox News et qui écoute le polémiste Rush Limbaugh, vous vous sentez menacé par tout. Selon moi, Donald Trump est habité par la peur. Il l’a identifiée avec un véritable génie comme un moyen qui fait sa fortune. Quand les gens n’auront plus peur, ils ne voteront plus pour lui.

Les démocrates semblent encore sonnés par la défaite d’Hillary Clinton face à Donald Trump le 8 novembre 2016. Les noms qui circulent actuellement pour la présidentielle de 2020 sont ceux de Joe Biden (76 ans), Bernie Sanders (77 ans) voire Hillary Clinton (71 ans) ou Michael Bloomberg (76 ans), l’ex-maire de New York. Où est le renouveau?

Le temps commence à presser. Un an et demi avant leur élection en 1992 et en 2008, on voyait toutefois mal Bill Clinton et Barack Obama l’emporter. Chez les démocrates, ils sont très nombreux à vouloir se lancer pour la présidentielle. Mais ils restent pour l’heure assommés par la défaite de novembre 2016, qui n’aurait pas dû avoir lieu. C’est un fait: sans chercher à l’éteindre, Barack Obama n’a pas porté la nouvelle génération. Le parti est aussi très divisé entre les héritiers d’Obama et de Clinton d’un côté et le camp Bernie Sanders de l’autre. Les premiers n’ont pas un message très emballant pour l’instant et les seconds, qui ont une volonté marquée de s’en prendre frontalement aux inégalités sociales, n’auront jamais de majorité dans un pays comme les Etats-Unis.

Il y a surtout ce constat: les démocrates ont déserté les zones rurales et la politique locale. Ils ont perdu plus de 800 sièges dans les parlements des Etats et 13 postes de gouverneur, le pire bilan depuis Eisenhower.

Les républicains n’ont rien accompli en termes législatifs. Ils n’ont pas réussi à abroger l’Obamacare, la loi sur le système de santé. Mais leur stratégie électorale à long terme s’est révélée très payante. Je pense que les démocrates ont désormais appris la leçon, même s’ils n’ont pas forcément un système en place pour renverser la vapeur.

Au Congrès, ces mêmes républicains que l’éditorialiste américain Frank Rich appelle les «Vichy Republicans» ne constituent pourtant plus un contrepoids au pouvoir exécutif. On pensait que l’Amérique avait un système de poids et contrepoids inébranlable garant du bon fonctionnement démocratique des Etats-Unis…

On se pose en effet beaucoup de questions sur l’avenir de la démocratie et de la Constitution américaine, en particulier à l’ère des réseaux sociaux. La Constitution a déjà résisté à des périodes très difficiles. L’Amérique est au bord du gouffre.

L’autre contrepoids, c’est la Cour suprême…

Oui, la nomination du juge Brett Kavanaugh à la Cour suprême a été dévastatrice. La manière très partisane dont il a répondu aux questions d’une commission sénatoriale aurait dû le disqualifier. Or il n’en fut rien. La Cour suprême n’est plus respectée. Elle est devenue une institution purement partisane, avec d’un côté des juges progressistes et de l’autre des juges non pas conservateurs, mais ultra-conservateurs. On va sans doute voir une haute cour en décalage continu avec l’évolution de la société américaine.

Les Américains ont-ils les moyens de restaurer leur démocratie?

Face à l’érosion de la vérité et à la promotion de la violence politique combinées à l’effet amplificateur des réseaux sociaux, il faudra de grandes ressources démocratiques aux Etats-Unis pour se remettre de la présidence d’un Donald Trump qui se décrit comme l’Ernest Hemingway des 140 signes, de Twitter. L’Amérique est capable de nous surprendre. En bien et en mal.

Comment expliquez-vous l’attitude très suiviste du Parti républicain?

C’est un aspect de la dégradation du climat politique outre-Atlantique dont Donald Trump n’est pas responsable. Le Parti républicain est à la dérive depuis une vingtaine d’années. On est désormais à des années-lumière du parti de Rockefeller. Il est aujourd’hui la carpette du président. Le Tea Party a pris le pouvoir en 2009 avec une haine raciale incroyable sous la présidence Obama et un refus complet de l’esprit de compromis qui est pourtant l’essence même de la Constitution américaine.

Quel est votre rapport personnel aux Etats-Unis?

En France, j’ai grandi dans un milieu franco-américain. C’était une volonté de ma mère, qui avait été une très jeune résistante durant la guerre. Ayant vécu des moments très durs, elle avait vu arriver les Américains comme des libérateurs. Elle nous disait: si tout va mal en Europe, il y a toujours l’Amérique. Au vu de cette histoire, ce qui se passe outre-Atlantique me touche affectivement et la présidence Trump est une expérience très difficile à vivre. Je vis personnellement depuis une vingtaine d’années en France, mais j’ai longtemps vécu aux Etats-Unis. J’ai habité à New York et au Texas, à Houston, un endroit que j’aime beaucoup et qui est très agréable pour les familles. Les gens y sont très gentils. J’avais l’impression que, dans les années 1980-1990, Houston était un peu la New York des années 1960 sur le plan culturel. Tout était possible. Les jeunes artistes y démarraient leur carrière.

Plus tard, à Stanford, où j’ai travaillé comme chercheuse associée à la Hoover Institution, j’ai découvert un écosystème où tout est fait pour faciliter le travail. Les bibliothèques sont ouvertes jour et nuit. Il y a un formidable mélange générationnel. Il y a des professeurs qui n’ont plus d’âge qui viennent toujours dans leur labo en déambulateur. Ils ont toujours quelque chose à apporter. Le foisonnement intellectuel est extraordinaire. Mais Stanford, c’est aussi la bulle de la Silicon Valley. Il ne faut jamais l’oublier.

Voir enfin:

News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Thomas E. Patterson
Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press

Shorenstein center

May 18, 2017,

A new report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzes news coverage of President Trump’s first 100 days in office.

The report is based on an analysis of news reports in the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets (The UK’s Financial Times and BBC, and Germany’s ARD).

Findings include:

  • President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents. He was also the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds of his coverage.
  • Republican voices accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency, compared to only 6 percent for Democrats and 3 percent for those involved in anti-Trump protests.
  • European reporters were more likely than American journalists to directly question Trump’s fitness for office.
  • Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.
  • Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic.

This research is partially funded by Rebecca Donatelli, with special thanks to the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

Listen to Thomas Patterson discuss the report with Shorenstein Center director Nicco Mele on our Media and Politics Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio or Stitcher. 
https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5365382/height/200/width/640/theme/legacy/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/

Introduction and Methodology

“The press is your enemy,” said the president. “Enemies. Understand that? . . . Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.”

Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with the media is not the first time a president has felt wronged by the press. The opening words are those of Richard Nixon.[1] Virtually every president since Nixon has obsessed over what they’ve seen as unfair treatment by the press. In the first two years of his presidency, Bill Clinton persuaded Congress to enact a tax increase on upper incomes, a family leave program, NAFTA, deficit reduction, the Brady bill, a youth training program, and other initiatives, yet was mired in a slew of headlines about Travelgate, Whitewater, and other alleged wrongdoings.  In a Rolling Stone interview, Clinton exploded at his treatment by the press: “I’ve fought more damn battles here than any president in 20 years with the possible exception of Reagan’s first budget and not gotten one damn bit of credit from the knee-jerk liberal press. I am damn sick and tired of it.”[2]

What’s different with President Trump is that he’s taken the fight to the press, openly and with relish. Nixon worked largely behind the scenes, threatening to take away broadcasters’ licenses if they didn’t shape up. Ronald Reagan created what amounted to a White House news service, feeding stories directly to local news outlets in order to bypass the national press. George W. Bush extended that strategy, adding video feeds to the mix. Clinton and Barack Obama relied on one-on-one interviews with reporters in an effort to get out their side of the story. During his presidency, Obama held more than a thousand such interviews.[3]

Trump’s dislike of the press was slow in coming. When he announced his presidential candidacy, journalists embraced him, and he returned the favor.  Trump received far more coverage, and far more positive coverage, than did his Republican rivals.[4] Only after he had secured the Republican nomination did the press sharpen its scrutiny and, as his news coverage turned negative, Trump turned on the press. [5] Trump tweeted that the “election is being rigged by the media, in a coordinated effort with the Clinton campaign.”[6] It’s been a running battle ever since. On his 100th day in office, he became the first president in more than three decades to skip the White House Correspondents Dinner, choosing instead to go to Pennsylvania for a rally with supporters. Said Trump: “I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”

This paper examines Trump’s first 100 days in office, not through the lens of what he said about the news media, but what they reported about him. The research is based on news coverage in the print editions of three U.S. daily papers (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post), the main newscasts of four U.S. television networks (CBS Evening News, CNN’s The Situation Room, Fox’s Special Report, and NBC Nightly News), and three European news outlets (Financial Times, based in London; BBC, Britain’s public service broadcaster; and ARD, Germany’s oldest public service broadcaster). The president’s role as a global leader, and Trump’s pledge to redefine that role, prompted the inclusion of European news in the study.[7]

The newspaper analysis covers all sections except sports, obituaries, and letters to the editor. Op-eds and editorials are included, but letters from the public are not. For television, the analysis covers the full daily content of each network’s major newscast. Network talk shows are not included. Except where individual news outlets are identified, the U.S. percentages presented in this paper are the combined averages for the seven U.S. news outlets whereas the European percentages are the combined averages for the three European news outlets.

The data for our studies are provided by Media Tenor, a firm that specializes in collecting and coding news content. Media Tenor’s coding of print and television news stories is conducted by trained full-time employees who visually evaluate the content. Coding of individual actors (in this case, Trump) is done on a comprehensive basis, capturing all mentions of more than five lines (print) or five seconds (TV) of coverage. For each report, coders identify the source(s), topic(s), and tone.

Tone is judged from the perspective of the actor. Negative stories include stories where the actor is criticized directly. An example is a headline story where Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump when the Labor Department’s April economic report showed that fewer jobs were created than had been predicted. Schumer was quoted as saying, in part: “Eleven weeks into his administration, we have seen nothing from President Trump on infrastructure, on trade, or on any other serious job-creating initiative.”[8] Negative stories also consist of stories where an event, trend, or development reflects unfavorably on the actor. Examples are the stories that appeared under the headlines “President Trump’s approval rating hits a new low”[9] and “GOP withdraws embattled health care bill, handing major setback to Trump, Ryan.”[10]

All Trump, All the Time

On national television, Trump was the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the usual amount.

Until the early 1960s, news coverage of national politics divided rather evenly between Congress and the president.[11] That situation began to shift in 1963, the year that the broadcast television networks expanded their evening newscasts to 30 minutes and hired the correspondents and camera crews needed to produce picture-driven news. With a national audience, the networks focused their coverage on the president who, in any case, was easier than Congress to capture on camera. Newspapers followed suit and, ever since, the president has received more coverage in the national press than all 535 members of Congress combined.[12] The White House’s dominance has been such that, on national television, the president typically accounts for roughly one-eighth of all news coverage.[13]

Even by that standard, Trump’s first 100 days were a landmark.[14] On national television, Trump was the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the usual amount.[15] It was also the case that Trump did most of the talking (see Figure 1). He was the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of his coverage. Members of the administration, including his press secretary, accounted for 11 percent of the sound bites. Other Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, accounted for 4 percent. Altogether, Republicans, inside and outside the administration, accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency.

Figure 1. Who Does the Talking When Trump Is the Story?

Percentage of TV talking time when Trump is topic of story

For their part, Democrats did not have a large voice in Trump’s coverage, accounting for only 6 percent of the sound bites. Participants in anti-Trump protests and demonstrations accounted for an additional 3 percent.

For their part, Democrats did not have a large voice in Trump’s coverage, accounting for only 6 percent of the sound bites.

The media have been fascinated by Trump since the first days of his presidential candidacy. Our studies of 2016 presidential election coverage found that Trump received more news coverage than rival candidates during virtually every week of the campaign.[16] The reason is clear enough. Trump is a journalist’s dream. Reporters are tuned to what’s new and different, better yet if it’s laced with controversy. Trump delivers that type of material by the shovel full. Trump is also good for business.[17] News ratings were slumping until Trump entered the arena.  Said one network executive, “[Trump] may not be good for America, but [he’s] damn good for [us].”[18]

Immigration, Health Care, Russia, and the Rest

Given the number of tasks facing an incoming administration, it is no surprise that Trump’s news coverage during his first 100 days in office touched on an array of topics (see Figure 2). Immigration was the most heavily covered topic, accounting for 17 percent of Trump’s coverage.[19] Health care ranked second (12 percent), followed by the terrorism threat (9 percent), and Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election (6 percent). Presidential appointments, global trade, Trump’s family and personal life, and the economy were the other topics that received 4 percent or more of the coverage.

Figure 2. Topics of Trump’s U.S. Coverage

percentage of news coverage

Compared with American journalists, [European reporters] were more likely to question directly Trump’s fitness for office.

The seven U.S. news outlets in our study had similar agendas. Each of them devoted considerable attention to immigration, health care, and the terrorist threat. Nevertheless, there were some measurable differences. Our print outlets devoted proportionally more attention to the immigration issue and Trump appointees while the TV outlets devoted proportionally more attention to the health care issue. Fox News was an outlier on one topic—Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election. Fox gave it less than half as much attention as it received on average from the other six U.S. outlets.

The European media’s coverage of Trump had a somewhat different focus (see Figure 3). Although, like their American counterparts, immigration was at the top of the agenda, they gave relatively more space to international trade, military, and foreign policy issues, a reflection of the extent to which Europe is affected by U.S. policies in these areas. On the other hand, Russia’s interference in the U.S. election received considerably less attention in the European media than in the U.S. media.[1]

Figure 3. Topics of Trump’s European Coverage

percentage of news coverage

European reporters stood out in another way as well. Compared with American journalists, they were more likely to question directly Trump’s fitness for office. For the most part, U.S. journalists worked around the edges of that issue, as when one of them reported that “Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) suggested Sunday that he thought President Trump was suffering from poor mental health and claimed some of his Republican colleagues felt the same way.”[20] Only 3 percent of Trump’s U.S. coverage explicitly explored the issue of Trump’s fitness for office. European journalists were less restrained with the exception of BBC journalists, who are governed by impartiality rules that prohibit such reporting.[21] Journalists at ARD, Germany’s main public broadcasting outlet, are not governed by the same rules, and Trump’s suitability for the presidency was ARD’s leading topic in January, accounting for a full fifth (20 percent) of its Trump coverage. ARD stayed on the issue in its February coverage, when it consumed 18 percent of its Trump coverage. In March and April, Trump’s fitness for office got less attention from ARD, but it nonetheless accounted for about 10 percent of ARD’s coverage. Even that reduced amount exceeded the level of any of our seven U.S. outlets in any month. And ARD’s journalists were unequivocal in their judgment—98 percent of their evaluations of Trump’s fitness for office were negative, only 2 percent were positive.

[1] Trump’s first 100 days were nearing their end when Russian meddling in the French presidential election was becoming a major issue. If the French election had come earlier, it’s conceivable that the European media would have given more coverage to Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election.

Bad News, Twice Over

Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity.

Presidents are more than the main focus of U.S. reporters. Presidents are also their main target. Although journalists are accused of having a liberal bias, their real bias is a preference for the negative.[22] News reporting turned sour during the Vietnam and Watergate era and has stayed that way.[23] Journalists’ incentives, everything from getting their stories on the air to acquiring a reputation as a hard-hitting reporter, encourage journalists to focus on what’s wrong with politicians rather than what’s right.[24] Once upon a time, the “honeymoon” period for a newly inaugurated president included favorable press coverage.[25] That era is now decades in the past. Today’s presidents can expect rough treatment at the hands of the press, and Donald Trump is no exception (see Figure 4). Of the past four presidents, only Barack Obama received favorable coverage during his first 100 days, after which the press reverted to form. During his second 100 days, Obama’s coverage was 57 percent negative to 43 percent positive.[26]

Figure 4. Tone of President’s News Coverage during First 100 Days

tone of coverage

Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity. Of news reports with a clear tone, negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak (see Figure 5). The best period for Trump was week 12 of his presidency, when he ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for the Assad regime’s use of nerve gas on civilians. That week, his coverage divided 70 percent negative to 30 percent positive. Trump’s worst periods were weeks 3 and 4 (a combined 87 percent negative) when federal judges struck down his first executive order banning Muslim immigrants, and weeks 9 and 10 (a combined 88 percent negative) when the House of Representatives was struggling without success to muster the votes to pass a “repeal and replace” health care bill.

Figure 5. Weekly Tone of Trump’s Coverage

tone of news coverage

In Unison, Almost

Fox was the only outlet where Trump’s overall coverage nearly crept into positive territory…Fox’s coverage was 34 percentage points less negative than the average for the other six outlets.

Trump’s attacks on the press have been aimed at what he calls the “mainstream media.” Six of the seven U.S. outlets in our study—CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post—are among those he’s attacked by name. All six portrayed Trump’s first 100 days in highly unfavorable terms (see Figure 6). CNN and NBC’s coverage was the most unrelenting—negative stories about Trump outpaced positive ones by 13-to-1 on the two networks. Trump’s coverage on CBS also exceeded the 90 percent mark. Trump’s coverage exceeded the 80 percent level in The New York Times (87 percent negative) and The Washington Post (83 percent negative). The Wall Street Journal came in below that level (70 percent negative), a difference largely attributable to the Journal’s more frequent and more favorable economic coverage.

Figure 6. Tone of Trump’s Coverage by News Outlet

Fox was the only outlet where Trump’s overall coverage nearly crept into positive territory—52 percent of Fox’s reports with a clear tone were negative, while 48 percent were positive. Fox’s coverage was 34 percentage points less negative than the average for the other six outlets.

Trump’s news coverage in the three European news outlets tilted strongly in the negative direction. Of the three, the BBC provided Trump with his best coverage, though only in relative terms. BBC’s coverage ran 3-to-1 negative over positive.  The Financial Times’ reporting was roughly 6-to-1 negative over positive. Germany’s ARD portrayed Trump in deeply unfavorable terms—98 percent of its Trump-based stories with a clear tone were negative.

Negative on All Counts

Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days was not merely negative in overall terms. It was unfavorable on every dimension. There was not a single major topic where Trump’s coverage was more positive than negative (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. Tone of Trump’s U.S. Coverage by Topic

tone of news coverage

Immigration was, at once, both the most heavily covered topic in U.S. news outlets and the topic that drew the most negative coverage. The proportion of negative news reports to positive ones exceeded 30-to-1. Health care reform and Russia’s election involvement were also subject to starkly negative coverage—in each case, the breakdown was 87 percent negative to 13 percent positive. International trade, Trump’s personal background, foreign and defense issues, Trump’s appointees, and Trump’s fitness for office were the other topics where the coverage was at least 80 percent negative.

The economy provided Trump with his most favorable coverage. Sources of positive stories were upward trends in economic growth, employment, and the stock market, as were Trump’s negotiations with firms threatening to relocate abroad. Nevertheless, when the full range of news about the economy is taken into account, the balance of coverage was slightly unfavorable—54 percent of reports were negative, while 46 percent were positive.

When Trump’s category-by-category coverage was examined for each of the seven U.S. news outlets in our study, a consistent pattern emerged. The sources of Trump’s most and least negative coverage were similar for every outlet, except for Fox News, as will be described in the next section.[2]

[2]The Wall Street Journal’s coverage less closely resembled Fox’s coverage than it did that of the other news outlets in our study. The main difference between their coverage and the Journal’s was on the issue of the economy. The Journal gave it more coverage, which, on balance, was more positive than negative. It was the only news category in which the Journal’s coverage was in positive territory. In the case of the other outlets, except Fox, no category had a positive balance of coverage.

A Ray of Sunshine

Trump had a few moments during his first 100 days when all the news outlets in our study gave him positive press, none more so than when he launched cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase.

Fox was the only news outlet in our study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall—the split was 52 percent negative to 48 percent positive. But Fox’s coverage varied widely by topic, ranging from highly negative to highly positive (Figure 8).[27] As was true at the other outlets, Fox’s reporters found few good things to say about the public and judicial response to Trump’s executive orders banning Muslim immigrants or the collapse of the House of Representatives’ first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Fox’s reporting on Trump’s appointees and Russian involvement in the election was also negative in tone.

Figure 8. Tone of Trump’s Coverage on Fox News

tone of news coverage

On the other hand, trade and terrorism were news categories where Fox’s coverage was starkly different from that of the other outlets. Whereas their coverage in these areas tipped strongly in the negative direction, Fox’s coverage tipped strongly positive.

Trump’s suitability for the presidency was also a topic where Fox News was at odds with what the other outlets were reporting (see Figure 9). Fox was the only U.S. outlet where news reports that spoke directly to Trump’s fitness for office were positive on balance. The ratio on Fox was 2-to-1 favorable. The other outlets averaged 6-to-1 unfavorable, with the range varying from 24-to-1 unfavorable to 4-to-1 unfavorable.

Figure 9. Trump’s “Fitness for Office” Coverage by Outlet

Trump had a few moments during his first 100 days when all the news outlets in our study gave him positive press, none more so than when he launched cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase. Although some critics questioned Trump’s larger objective in ordering the strikes, his action was widely praised in the policy community, including many top Democrats (see Figure 10).[28] In this instance, the tone of the other news outlets aligned with Fox’s—in each case, positive stories outnumbered negative ones by 4-1 (see Figure 10).

Figure 10. Tone of Coverage on Cruise Missile Attack on Syria

Thoughts on Trump’s Coverage

…the fact that Trump has received more negative coverage than his predecessor is hardly surprising. The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.

Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days was negative even by the standards of today’s hyper-critical press. Studies of earlier presidents found nothing comparable to the level of unfavorable coverage afforded Trump. Should it continue, it would exceed even that received by Bill Clinton. There was not a single quarter during any year of Clinton’s presidency where his positive coverage exceeded his negative coverage, a dubious record no president before or since has matched.[29] Trump can’t top that string of bad news but he could take it to a new level. During his first 100 days, Clinton’s coverage was 3-to-2 negative over positive.[30] Trump’s first 100 days were 4-to-1 negative over positive.

Have the mainstream media covered Trump in a fair and balanced way? That question cannot be answered definitively in the absence of an agreed-upon version of “reality” against which to compare Trump’s coverage. Any such assessment would also have to weigh the news media’s preference for the negative, a tendency in place long before Trump became president. Given that tendency, the fact that Trump has received more negative coverage than his predecessor is hardly surprising. The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.

What’s truly atypical about Trump’s coverage is that it’s sharply negative despite the fact that he’s the source of nearly two-thirds of the sound bites surrounding his coverage. Typically, newsmakers and groups complain that their media narrative is negative because they’re not given a chance to speak for themselves. Over the past decade, U.S. coverage of Muslims has been more than 75 percent negative. And Muslims have had little chance to tell their side of the story. Muslims account for less than 5 percent of the voices heard in news reports about Islam.[31] So why is Trump’s coverage so negative even though he does most of the talking? The fact is, he’s been on the defensive during most of his 100 days in office, trying to put the best face possible on executive orders, legislative initiatives, appointments, and other undertakings that have gone bad. Even Fox has not been able to save him from what analyst David Gergen called the “’worst 100 days we’ve ever seen.”[32]

Nevertheless, the sheer level of negative coverage gives weight to Trump’s contention, one shared by his core constituency, that the media are hell bent on destroying his presidency. As he tweeted a month after taking office,  “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

That tweet made headlines, as have many of Trump’s attacks on the press.[33] It’s understandable why journalists would report and respond to such attacks, but it could be counterproductive. A long-running battle in which Trump accuses the press of trafficking in fake news while journalists reply that their news is anything but fake would probably, fairly or not, weaken the public’s confidence in the press. Research has found that familiarity with a claim increases the likelihood people will believe it, whether it’s true or not. The more they hear of something, the more likely they are to believe it.[34]

If a mud fight with Trump will not serve the media’s interests, neither will a soft peddling of his coverage. Never in the nation’s history has the country had a president with so little fidelity to the facts, so little appreciation for the dignity of the presidential office, and so little understanding of the underpinnings of democracy. The media’s credibility today is at low ebb, but the Trump presidency is not the time for the press to pull back. The news media gave Trump a boost when he entered presidential politics. But a head-on collision at some point was inevitable. It’s happened, it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t over.

…except for his court-challenged immigration orders, the press paid only minimal attention to Trump’s executive orders…Collectively, these orders, immigration aside, accounted for less than 1 percent of Trump’s coverage, and rarely did a news report track an executive order into the agencies to see how it was being handled.

At the same time, the news media need to give Trump credit when his actions warrant it. The public’s low level of confidence in the press is the result of several factors, one of which is a belief that journalists are biased. That perception weakens the press’s watchdog role. One of the more remarkable features of news coverage of Trump’s first 100 days is that it has changed few minds about the president, for better or worse. The nation’s watchdog has lost much of its bite and won’t regain it until the public perceives it as an impartial broker, applying the same reporting standards to both parties. The news media’s exemplary coverage of Trump’s cruise missile strike on Syria illustrates the type of even-handedness that needs to be consistently and rigorously applied.

How might the press better navigate the days ahead? For starters, journalists need to keep their eye on the ball. We live in a fast-paced media era, as journalists rush to be at the crest of breaking news. Through his tweets and actions, Trump exploits this habit, enabling him to change the subject when it suits his needs. During the presidential campaign, that tactic enabled him to shed a number of damaging revelations before many voters had a chance to hear about them, much less think about them.

The press should also start doing what it hasn’t done well for a long time—focus on policy effects. Journalists’ focus on the Washington power game—who’s up and who’s down, who’s getting the better of whom—can be a fascinating story but at the end of the day, it’s food for political junkies. It’s remote enough from the lives of most Americans to convince them that the political system doesn’t speak for them, or to them.

A broadening of the scope of political coverage would require journalists to spend less time peering at the White House. Our analysis of news coverage of Trump’s first 100 days found that, except for his court-challenged immigration orders, the press paid only minimal attention to Trump’s executive orders. He issued a large number of them, covering everything from financial regulation to climate change. Collectively, these orders, immigration aside, accounted for less than 1 percent of Trump’s coverage, and rarely did a news report track an executive order into the agencies to see how it was being handled.

Since Trump’s inauguration, the press has been paying more attention to Main Street. But judging from the extent to which Trump’s voice has dominated coverage of his presidency, the balance is still off. More voices need to be aired.

Journalists would also do well to spend less time in Washington and more time in places where policy intersects with people’s lives. If they had done so during the presidential campaign, they would not have missed the story that keyed Trump’s victory—the fading of the American Dream for millions of ordinary people. Nor do all such narratives have to be a tale of woe. America at the moment is a divided society in some respects, but it’s not a broken society and the divisions in Washington are deeper than those beyond the Beltway.

The lesson of the 2016 election has been taken to heart by many journalists. Since Trump’s inauguration, the press has been paying more attention to Main Street. But judging from the extent to which Trump’s voice has dominated coverage of his presidency, the balance is still off. More voices need to be aired. Trump might be good for ratings but he’s not the only voice worth hearing. Never have journalists fixated on a single newsmaker for as long as they have on Trump. If he sees journalists as his main opponents, one reason is that between Trump and themselves there’s not much air time for everyone else. Journalists need to resist even the smallest temptation to see themselves as opponents of government. It’s the competition between the party in power and the opposing party, and not between government and the press, that’s at the core of the democratic process.[35] When spokespersons for the opposing party get a mere 6 percent of the airtime, something’s amiss.

Endnotes

[1] Nancy Benac, “Remember Nixon: There’s History Behind Trump’s Attacks on the Press,” Associated Press, February 17, 2017. The quote was originally reported by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. https://apnews.com/8b29195631f44033ad94d8b2b74048c0/remember-nixon-theres-history-behind-trumps-press-attacks

[2] Quoted in Thomas E. Patterson, Out of Order (New York: Vintage, 1993), p. 245.

[3] Martha Joynt Kumar, “Obama Meets the Press — on His Terms,” Real Clear Politics, August 29, 2015. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/08/29/obama_meets_the_press_–_on_his_terms_127907.html

[4] Thomas E. Patterson, “Pre-Primary News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Race: Trump’s Rise, Sanders’ Emergence, Clinton’s Struggle,” Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 13, 2016. http://shorensteincenter.org/pre-primary-news-coverage-2016-trump-clinton-sanders/

[5] Thomas E. Patterson, “News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Primaries: Horse Race Reporting Has Consequences,” Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, July 11, 2016. http://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-presidential-primaries/

[6] Trump tweet, October 16, 2016.

[7] See Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz, The Global President: International Media and the US Government (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

[8] Allan Smith, “Schumer rips Trump after underwhelming jobs report: He’s ‘failed to deliver’ on his economic promises,” Business Insider, April 7, 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/schumer-rips-trump-march-jobs-report-2017-4

[9] Jessica Estepa, “President Trump’s approval rating hits a new low,” USA Today, March 20, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/03/20/trump-approval-rating-low/99409570/

[10] Katie Leslie and Jamie Lovegrove, “GOP withdraws embattled health care bill, handing major setback to Trump, Ryan,” Dallas News, March 24, 2017. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/03/24/gop-health-care-bill-vote-peril-ryan-heads-white-house-debrief-trump

[11] Richard Davis, “News Coverage of National Political Institutions,” Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1986, p. 58.

[12] See, for example, Stephen J. Farnsworth and Robert S. Lichter, The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 29-58.

[13] Estimated from data in Jeffrey E. Cohen, The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 33.

[14] One indicator of Trump’s dominance is MediaQuant’s analysis. It records the number of times a newsmaker’s name is mentioned and then compares the relative amount of attention each of them receives. In January, 2017, Trump broke MediaQuant’s record for the most news attention afforded a newsmaker. Excluding outgoing President Barack Obama, Trump got more coverage than the next 1000 most heavily covered newsmakers combined.

[15] Media Tenor, January 20-April 29, 2017. Based on combined average for CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC.

[16] Thomas E. Patterson, “News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters,” Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, December 7, 2016. https://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-general-election/

[17] See, for example, John Koblinian, “Trump’s First Days in White House Keep Cable News Ratings Strong,” The New York Times, January 31, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/business/media/trumps-first-days-in-white-house-keep-cable-news-ratings-strong.html?_r=0

[18] CBS CEO Les Moonves, February 29, 2016.

[19] Media Tenor has several hundred topic categories that are applied to news reports. The graphs and percentages reported in this paper are based on all categories that received more than 0.5 percent of the coverage.

[20] Adam Edelman, “Sen. Al Franken admits some Senate Republicans have concerns about President Trump’s mental health,” New York Daily News, April 12, 2017. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sen-al-franken-admits-concerns-trump-mental-health-article-1.2970427

[21] Helen Boaden, draft paper, untitled, comparing U.S. and BBC journalism norms, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, May 6, 2017. Expected publication date of summer, 2017.

[22] See, for example, Patricia Moy and Michael Pfau, With Malice Toward All? (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000).

[23] Thomas E. Patterson, The Vanishing Voter (New York: Knopf, 2002), 70.

[24] Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dirty Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 215; Joe Klein, quoted in Peter Hamby, “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus?” Shorenstein Center on the Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA., September 2013, p. 93. http://shorensteincenter.org/d80-hamby/

[25] Cohen, The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News, 35.

[26] Center for Media and Public Affairs, George Mason University, as reported in Nikki Schwab, “Media Coverage of Obama Grows More Negative,” US News, September 14, 2009. https://www.usnews.com/news/washington-whispers/articles/2009/09/14/media-coverage-of-obama-grows-more-negative

[27] There were a few marginal differences of note in the amount of attention Fox gave to various issues. Fox gave somewhat more news attention to health care and presidential appointments and somewhat less attention to immigration than did the other news outlets.

[28] See, for example, Feliz Solomon, “What to Know About the U.S. Missile Attack on Syria,” Time, April 7, 2017. http://time.com/4730231/us-missile-airstrike-attack-syria-donald-trump-bashar-assad/

[29] Center for Media and Public Affairs, Media Monitor, various dates.

[30] Farnsworth and Lichter, The Mediated Presidency, p. 37.

[31] The content and data for the Muslim example, as well as the suggestion to compare it to Trump, were provided to the author in an email on May 15, 2017 from Roland Schatz, CEO of Media Tenor. The data cited are those of Media Tenor.

[32] Gergen spoke those words on CNN, March 24, 2017.

[33] Examples: Michael M. Grynbaum, “Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People,’” The New York Times, February 17, 2017; Jenna Johnson and Matea Gold, “Trump calls the news media ‘the enemy of the American People,’” Chicago Tribune, February 17, 2017.

[34] In forming their opinions, rather than through careful study, people typically rely on heuristics, as when they adopt an opinion because a trusted friend holds it. As it turns out, “familiarity” is a heuristic for many people, which is why a claim that is heard repeatedly is more likely to be believed than one that people find unfamiliar. The extent to which this is true was documented in research presented by Gordon Pennycook’s presentation at the Fake News Conference held at Harvard University on February 17, 2017. https://shorensteincenter.org/combating-fake-news-agenda-for-research/

[35] The classic analysis of the role of political parties in democratic government is E.E. Schattschneider, Party Government (New York: Rinehart, 1942), p. 1.

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Ainsi les derniers seront les premiers et les premiers seront les derniers. Jésus (Matthieu 20: 16)
The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast. The slow one now will later be fast as the present now will later be past. The order is rapidly fadin’ and the first one now will later be last for the times they are a-changin. Bob Dylan
Un peuple connait, aime et défend toujours plus ses moeurs que ses lois. Montesquieu
Aux États-Unis, les plus opulents citoyens ont bien soin de ne point s’isoler du peuple ; au contraire, ils s’en rapprochent sans cesse, ils l’écoutent volontiers et lui parlent tous les jours. Alexis de Tocqueville
Deliverance did for them what Jaws, another well-known movie, would later do for sharks. Daniel Roper (North Georgia Journal)
Depuis que la gauche a adopté l’économie de marché, il ne lui reste qu’une chose à faire pour garder sa posture de gauche : lutter contre un fascisme qui n’existe pas. Pasolini
J’ai résumé L’Étranger, il y a longtemps, par une phrase dont je reconnais qu’elle est très paradoxale : “Dans notre société tout homme qui ne pleure pas à l’enterrement de sa mère risque d’être condamné à mort.” Je voulais dire seulement que le héros du livre est condamné parce qu’il ne joue pas le jeu. En ce sens, il est étranger à la société où il vit, où il erre, en marge, dans les faubourgs de la vie privée, solitaire, sensuelle. Et c’est pourquoi des lecteurs ont été tentés de le considérer comme une épave. On aura cependant une idée plus exacte du personnage, plus conforme en tout cas aux intentions de son auteur, si l’on se demande en quoi Meursault ne joue pas le jeu. La réponse est simple : il refuse de mentir.  (…) Meursault, pour moi, n’est donc pas une épave, mais un homme pauvre et nu, amoureux du soleil qui ne laisse pas d’ombres. Loin qu’il soit privé de toute sensibilité, une passion profonde parce que tenace, l’anime : la passion de l’absolu et de la vérité. Il s’agit d’une vérité encore négative, la vérité d’être et de sentir, mais sans laquelle nulle conquête sur soi et sur le monde ne sera jamais possible. On ne se tromperait donc pas beaucoup en lisant, dans L’Étranger, l’histoire d’un homme qui, sans aucune attitude héroïque, accepte de mourir pour la vérité. Il m’est arrivé de dire aussi, et toujours paradoxalement, que j’avais essayé de figurer, dans mon personnage, le seul Christ que nous méritions. On comprendra, après mes explications, que je l’aie dit sans aucune intention de blasphème et seulement avec l’affection un peu ironique qu’un artiste a le droit d’éprouver à l’égard des personnages de sa création. Camus (préface américaine à L’Etranger)
Le thème du poète maudit né dans une société marchande (…) s’est durci dans un préjugé qui finit par vouloir qu’on ne puisse être un grand artiste que contre la société de son temps, quelle qu’elle soit. Légitime à l’origine quand il affirmait qu’un artiste véritable ne pouvait composer avec le monde de l’argent, le principe est devenu faux lorsqu’on en a tiré qu’un artiste ne pouvait s’affirmer qu’en étant contre toute chose en général. Albert Camus
Personne ne nous fera croire que l’appareil judiciaire d’un Etat moderne prend réellement pour objet l’extermination des petits bureaucrates qui s’adonnent au café au lait, aux films de Fernandel et aux passades amoureuses avec la secrétaire du patron. René Girard
What I take to be the film’s statement (upper case). This has to do with the threat that people like the nonconforming Wyatt and Billy represent to the ordinary, self-righteous, inhibited folk that are the Real America. Wyatt and Billy, says the lawyer, represent freedom; ergo, says the film, they must be destroyed. If there is any irony in this supposition, I was unable to detect it in the screenplay written by Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern. Wyatt and Billy don’t seem particularly free, not if the only way they can face the world is through a grass curtain. As written and played, they are lumps of gentle clay, vacuous, romantic symbols, dressed in cycle drag. The NYT (1969)
Since Easy Rider is the film that is said finally to separate the men from the boys – at a time when the generation gap has placed a stigma on being a man – I want to point out that those who make heroes of Wyatt and Billy (played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) have a reasonably acrid dose to swallow at the start of the picture. Wyatt and Billy (names borrowed from the fumigated memory of the two outlaws of the Old West) make the bankroll on which they hope to live a life of easy-riding freedom by smuggling a considerable quantity of heroin across from Mexico and selling it to a nutty looking addict in a goon-chauffered Rolls Royce. Pulling off one big job and thereafter living in virtuous indolence is a fairly common dream of criminals, and dope peddling is a particularly unappetizing way of doing it. Is it thought O.K. on the other side of the gap, to buy freedom at that price? If so, grooving youth has a wealth of conscience to spend. (…) Wyatt and Billy are presented as attractive and enviable; gentle, courteous, peaceable, sliding through the heroic Western landscape on their luxurious touring motorcycles (with the swag hidden in one of the gas tanks). It is true that they come to a bloody end, gunned down by a couple of Southern rednecks for their long hair. But it is not retribution; indeed, they might have passed safely if the cretins in the pickup truck had realized that they were big traders on holiday. (…) The hate is that of Fonda, Hopper and Southern, they hate the element in American life that tries to destroy anyone who fails to conform, who demands to ride free. And it is quite right that they should. But Wyatt and Billy are more rigidly conformist, their life more narrowly obsessive than that of any broker’s clerk on the nine to five. The Nation (2008)
 Easy Rider (1969) is the late 1960s « road film » tale of a search for freedom (or the illusion of freedom) in a conformist and corrupt America, in the midst of paranoia, bigotry and violence. Released in the year of the Woodstock concert, and made in a year of two tragic assassinations (Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King), the Vietnam War buildup and Nixon’s election, the tone of this ‘alternative’ film is remarkably downbeat and bleak, reflecting the collapse of the idealistic 60s. Easy Rider, one of the first films of its kind, was a ritualistic experience and viewed (often repeatedly) by youthful audiences in the late 1960s as a reflection of their realistic hopes of liberation and fears of the Establishment. The iconographic, ‘buddy’ film, actually minimal in terms of its artistic merit and plot, is both memorialized as an image of the popular and historical culture of the time and a story of a contemporary but apocalyptic journey by two self-righteous, drug-fueled, anti-hero (or outlaw) bikers eastward through the American Southwest. Their trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans takes them through limitless, untouched landscapes (icons such as Monument Valley), various towns, a hippie commune, and a graveyard (with hookers), but also through areas where local residents are increasingly narrow-minded and hateful of their long-haired freedom and use of drugs. The film’s title refers to their rootlessness and ride to make « easy » money; it is also slang for a pimp who makes his livelihood off the earnings of a prostitute. However, the film’s original title was The Loners. [The names of the two main characters, Wyatt and Billy, suggest the two memorable Western outlaws Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid – or ‘Wild Bill’ Hickcock. Rather than traveling westward on horses as the frontiersmen did, the two modern-day cowboys travel eastward from Los Angeles – the end of the traditional frontier – on decorated Harley-Davidson choppers on an epic journey into the unknown for the ‘American dream’.] According to slogans on promotional posters, they were on a search: A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere… Their costumes combine traditional patriotic symbols with emblems of loneliness, criminality and alienation – the American flag, cowboy decorations, long-hair, and drugs. (…) Easy Rider surprisingly, was an extremely successful, low-budget (under $400,000), counter-cultural, independent film for the alternative youth/cult market – one of the first of its kind that was an enormous financial success, grossing $40 million worldwide. Its story contained sex, drugs, casual violence, a sacrificial tale (with a shocking, unhappy ending), and a pulsating rock and roll soundtrack reinforcing or commenting on the film’s themes. Groups that participated musically included Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Band and Bob Dylan. The pop cultural, mini-revolutionary film was also a reflection of the « New Hollywood, » and the first blockbuster hit from a new wave of Hollywood directors (e.g., Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese) that would break with a number of Hollywood conventions. It had little background or historical development of characters, a lack of typical heroes, uneven pacing, jump cuts and flash-forward transitions between scenes, an improvisational style and mood of acting and dialogue, background rock ‘n’ roll music to complement the narrative, and the equation of motorbikes with freedom on the road rather than with delinquent behaviors. However, its idyllic view of life and example of personal film-making was overshadowed by the self-absorbent, drug-induced, erratic behavior of the filmmakers, chronicled in Peter Biskind’s tell-all Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1999). And the influential film led to a flurry of equally self-indulgent, anti-Establishment themed films by inferior filmmakers, who overused some of the film’s technical tricks and exploited the growing teen-aged market for easy profits. (…) Death seems to be the only freedom or means to escape from the system in America where alternative lifestyles and idealism are despised as too challenging or free. The romance of the American highway is turned menacing and deadly. Filmsite
Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qui se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Hussein Obama (2008)
Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. Barack Obama
I do think that when you combine that demographic change with all the economic stresses that people have been going through because of the financial crisis, because of technology, because of globalization, the fact that wages and incomes have been flatlining for some time, and that particularly blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they are no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck. You combine those things, and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear. Some of it justified, but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That’s what he’s exploiting during the course of his campaign. Barack Hussein Obama
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton (2016)
My mother is not watching. She said she doesn’t watch white award shows because you guys don’t thank Jesus enough. That’s true. The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads. Michael Che
Rire général, même chez les sans-dents. François Hollande
Dans les sociétés dans mes dossiers, il y a la société Gad : il y a dans cet abattoir une majorité de femmes, il y en a qui sont pour beaucoup illettrées ! On leur explique qu’elles n’ont plus d’avenir à Gad et qu’elles doivent aller travailler à 60 km ! Ces gens n’ont pas le permis ! On va leur dire quoi ? Il faut payer 1.500 euros et attendre un an ? Voilà, ça ce sont des réformes du quotidien, qui créent de la mobilité, de l’activité ! Emmanuel Macron
On ne va pas s’allier avec le FN, c’est un parti de primates. Il est hors de question de discuter avec des primates. Claude Goasguen (UMP, Paris, 2011)
Ne laissez pas la grande primate de l’extrême goitre prendre le mouchoir … François Morel (France inter)
Pendant toutes les années du mitterrandisme, nous n’avons jamais été face à une menace fasciste, donc tout antifascisme n’était que du théâtre. Nous avons été face à un parti, le Front National, qui était un parti d’extrême droite, un parti populiste aussi, à sa façon, mais nous n’avons jamais été dans une situation de menace fasciste, et même pas face à un parti fasciste. D’abord le procès en fascisme à l’égard de Nicolas Sarkozy est à la fois absurde et scandaleux. Je suis profondément attaché à l’identité nationale et je crois même ressentir et savoir ce qu’elle est, en tout cas pour moi. L’identité nationale, c’est notre bien commun, c’est une langue, c’est une histoire, c’est une mémoire, ce qui n’est pas exactement la même chose, c’est une culture, c’est-à-dire une littérature, des arts, la philo, les philosophies. Et puis, c’est une organisation politique avec ses principes et ses lois. Quand on vit en France, j’ajouterai : l’identité nationale, c’est aussi un art de vivre, peut-être, que cette identité nationale. Je crois profondément que les nations existent, existent encore, et en France, ce qui est frappant, c’est que nous sommes à la fois attachés à la multiplicité des expressions qui font notre nation, et à la singularité de notre propre nation. Et donc ce que je me dis, c’est que s’il y a aujourd’hui une crise de l’identité, crise de l’identité à travers notamment des institutions qui l’exprimaient, la représentaient, c’est peut-être parce qu’il y a une crise de la tradition, une crise de la transmission. Il faut que nous rappelions les éléments essentiels de notre identité nationale parce que si nous doutons de notre identité nationale, nous aurons évidemment beaucoup plus de mal à intégrer. Lionel Jospin (France Culture, 29.09.07)
You often hear men say, “Why don’t they just leave?” [. . .] And I ask them, how many of you seen the movie Deliverance? And every man will raise his hand. And I’ll say, what’s the one scene you remember in Deliverance? And every man here knows exactly what scene to think of. And I’ll say, “After those guys tied that one guy in that tree and raped him, man raped him, in that film. Why didn’t the guy go to the sheriff? What would you have done? “Well, I’d go back home get my gun. I’d come back and find him.” Why wouldn’t you go to the sheriff? Why? Well, the reason why is they are ashamed. They are embarrassed. I say, why do you think so many women that get raped, so many don’t report it? They don’t want to get raped again by the system. Joe Biden
After the election, in liberal, urban America, one often heard Trump’s win described as the revenge of the yahoos in flyover country, fueled by their angry “isms” and “ias”: racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on. Many liberals consoled themselves that Trump’s victory was the last hurrah of bigoted, Republican white America, soon to be swept away by vast forces beyond its control, such as global migration and the cultural transformation of America into something far from the Founders’ vision. As insurance, though, furious progressives also renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College, advocating for a constitutional amendment that would turn presidential elections into national plebiscites. Direct presidential voting would shift power to heavily urbanized areas—why waste time trying to reach more dispersed voters in less populated rural states?—and thus institutionalize the greater economic and cultural clout of the metropolitan blue-chip universities, the big banks, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, New York–Washington media, and Hollywood, Democrat-voting all. Barack Obama’s two electoral victories deluded the Democrats into thinking that it was politically wise to jettison their old blue-collar appeal to the working classes, mostly living outside the cities these days, in favor of an identity politics of a new multicultural, urban America. Yet Trump’s success represented more than simply a triumph of rural whites over multiracial urbanites. More ominously for liberals, it also suggested that a growing minority of blacks and Hispanics might be sympathetic with a “country” mind-set that rejects urban progressive elitism. For some minorities, sincerity and directness might be preferable to sloganeering by wealthy white urban progressives, who often seem more worried about assuaging their own guilt than about genuinely understanding people of different colors. Trump’s election underscored two other liberal miscalculations. First, Obama’s progressive agenda and cultural elitism prevailed not because of their ideological merits, as liberals believed, but because of his great appeal to urban minorities in 2008 and 2012, who voted in solidarity for the youthful first African-American president in numbers never seen before. That fealty wasn’t automatically transferable to liberal white candidates, including the multimillionaire 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Obama had previously lost most of America’s red counties, but not by enough to keep him from winning two presidential elections, with sizable urban populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turning out to vote for the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern. Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win. What is insufficiently understood is why a hurting rural America favored the urban, superrich Trump in 2016 and, more generally, tends to vote more conservative than liberal. Ostensibly, the answer is clear: an embittered red-state America has found itself left behind by elite-driven globalization, battered by unfettered trade and high-tech dislocations in the economy. In some of the most despairing counties, rural life has become a mirror image of the inner city, ravaged by drug use, criminality, and hopelessness. Yet if muscular work has seen a decline in its relative monetary worth, it has not necessarily lost its importance. After all, the elite in Washington and Menlo Park appreciate the fresh grapes and arugula that they purchase at Whole Foods. Someone mined the granite used in their expensive kitchen counters and cut the timber for their hardwood floors. The fuel in their hybrid cars continues to come from refined oil. The city remains as dependent on this elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as it always was. The two Palo Altoans at Starbucks might have forgotten that their overpriced homes included two-by-fours, circuit breakers, and four-inch sewer pipes, but somebody somewhere made those things and brought them into their world. In the twenty-first century, though, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacturing of products are more easily outsourced than are the arts of finance, insurance, investments, higher education, entertainment, popular culture, and high technology, immaterial sectors typically pursued within metropolitan contexts and supercharged by the demands of increasingly affluent global consumers. A vast government sector, mostly urban, is likewise largely impervious to the leveling effects of a globalized economy, even as its exorbitant cost and extended regulatory reach make the outsourcing of material production more likely. Asian steel may have devastated Youngstown, but Chinese dumping had no immediate effect on the flourishing government enclaves in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, filled with well-paid knowledge workers. Globalization, big government, and metastasizing regulations have enriched the American coasts, in other words, while damaging much of the nation’s interior. Few major political leaders before Trump seemed to care. He hammered home the point that elites rarely experienced the negative consequences of their own ideologies. New York Times columnists celebrating a “flat” world have yet to find themselves flattened by Chinese writers willing to write for a fraction of their per-word rate. Tenured Harvard professors hymning praise to global progressive culture don’t suddenly discover their positions drawn and quartered into four part-time lecturer positions. And senators and bureaucrats in Washington face no risk of having their roles usurped by low-wage Vietnamese politicians. Trump quickly discovered that millions of Americans were irate that the costs and benefits of our new economic reality were so unevenly distributed. As the nation became more urban and its wealth soared, the old Democratic commitment from the Roosevelt era to much of rural America—construction of water projects, rail, highways, land banks, and universities; deference to traditional values; and Grapes of Wrath–like empathy—has largely been forgotten. A confident, upbeat urban America promoted its ever more radical culture without worrying much about its effects on a mostly distant and silent small-town other. In 2008, gay marriage and women in combat were opposed, at least rhetorically, by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their respective presidential campaigns. By 2016, mere skepticism on these issues was viewed by urban elites as reactionary ignorance. In other words, it was bad enough that rural America was getting left behind economically; adding insult to injury, elite America (which is Democrat America) openly caricatured rural citizens’ traditional views and tried to force its own values on them. Lena Dunham’s loud sexual politics and Beyoncé’s uncritical evocation of the Black Panthers resonated in blue cities and on the coasts, not in the heartland. Only in today’s bifurcated America could billion-dollar sports conglomerates fail to sense that second-string San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem would turn off a sizable percentage of the National Football League’s viewing audience, which is disproportionately conservative and middle American. These cultural themes, too, Trump addressed forcefully. In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity. Trump, the billionaire Manhattanite wheeler-dealer, made an unlikely agrarian, true; but he came across during his presidential run as a clear advocate of old-style material jobs, praising vocational training and clearly enjoying his encounters with middle-American homemakers, welders, and carpenters. Trump talked more on the campaign about those who built his hotels than those who financed them. He could point to the fact that he made stuff, unlike Clinton, who got rich without any obvious profession other than leveraging her office. Give the thrice-married, orange-tanned, and dyed-haired Trump credit for his political savvy in promising to restore to the dispossessed of the Rust Belt their old jobs and to give back to farmers their diverted irrigation water, and for assuring small towns that arriving new Americans henceforth would be legal—and that, over time, they would become similar to their hosts in language, custom, and behavior. Ironically, part of Trump’s attraction for red-state America was his posture as a coastal-elite insider—but now enlisted on the side of the rustics. A guy who had built hotels all over the world, and understood how much money was made and lost through foreign investment, offered to put such expertise in the service of the heartland—against the supposed currency devaluers, trade cheats, and freeloaders of Europe, China, and Japan. Trump’s appeal to the interior had partly to do with his politically incorrect forthrightness. Each time Trump supposedly blundered in attacking a sacred cow—sloppily deprecating national hero John McCain’s wartime captivity or nastily attacking Fox superstar Megyn Kelly for her supposed unfairness—the coastal media wrote him off as a vulgar loser. Not Trump’s base. Seventy-five percent of his supporters polled that his crude pronouncements didn’t bother them. As one grape farmer told me after the Access Hollywood hot-mike recordings of Trump making sexually vulgar remarks had come to light, “Who cares? I’d take Trump on his worst day better than Hillary on her best.” Apparently red-state America was so sick of empty word-mongering that it appreciated Trump’s candor, even when it was sometimes inaccurate, crude, or cruel. Outside California and New York City and other elite blue areas, for example, foreigners who sneak into the country and reside here illegally are still “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented migrants,” a blue-state term that masks the truth of their actions. Trump’s Queens accent and frequent use of superlatives—“tremendous,” “fantastic,” “awesome”—weren’t viewed by red-state America as a sign of an impoverished vocabulary but proof that a few blunt words can capture reality. To the rural mind, verbal gymnastics reveal dishonest politicians, biased journalists, and conniving bureaucrats, who must hide what they really do and who they really are. Think of the arrogant condescension of Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the disastrous Obamacare law, who admitted that the bill was written deliberately in a “tortured way” to mislead the “stupid” American voter. To paraphrase Cicero on his preference for the direct Plato over the obscure Pythagoreans, rural Americans would have preferred to be wrong with the blunt-talking Trump than to be right with the mush-mouthed Hillary Clinton. One reason that Trump may have outperformed both McCain and Romney with minority voters was that they appreciated how much the way he spoke rankled condescending white urban liberals. Poorer, less cosmopolitan, rural people can also experience a sense of inferiority when they venture into the city, unlike smug urbanites visiting red-state America. The rural folk expect to be seen as deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers by city folk. My countryside neighbors do not wish to hear anything about Stanford University, where I work—except if by chance I note that Stanford people tend to be condescending and pompous, confirming my neighbors’ suspicions about city dwellers. And just as the urban poor have always had their tribunes, so, too, have rural residents flocked to an Andrew Jackson or a William Jennings Bryan, politicians who enjoyed getting back at the urban classes for perceived slights. The more Trump drew the hatred of PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, the elite press, the universities, the foundations, and Hollywood, the more he triumphed in red-state America. Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that identity politics became a lethal boomerang for progressives. After years of seeing America reduced to a binary universe, with culpable white Christian males encircled by ascendant noble minorities, gays, feminists, and atheists—usually led by courageous white-male progressive crusaders—red-state America decided that two could play the identity-politics game. In 2016, rural folk did silently in the voting booth what urban America had done to them so publicly in countless sitcoms, movies, and political campaigns. In sum, Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history. Victor Davis Hanson
Né à Detroit dans les années 1950, j’ai grandi dans une famille où personne n’avait fréquenté l’université. Lorsque j’ai obtenu une bourse pour l’université du Michi­gan, j’ai été confronté à un snobisme de gauche qui méprisait la classe ouvrière, son attache­ment à la famille, la religion. Cette gauche caviar a suscité chez moi une forte réaction. Mark Lilla
Une des nombreuses leçons à tirer de la présidentielle américaine et de son résultat détestable, c’est qu’il faut clore l’ère de la gauche « diversitaire ». Hillary Clinton n’a jamais été aussi excellente et stimulante que lorsqu’elle évoquait l’engagement des États-Unis dans les affaires du monde et en quoi il est lié à notre conception de la démocratie. En revanche, dès qu’il s’agissait de politique intérieure, elle n’avait plus la même hauteur de vue et tendait à verser dans le discours de la diversité, en en appelant explicitement à l’électorat noir, latino, féminin et LGBT (lesbiennes, gays, bisexuels et trans). Elle a commis là une erreur stratégique. Tant qu’à mentionner des groupes aux États-Unis, mieux vaut les mentionner tous. Autrement, ceux que l’on a oubliés s’en aperçoivent et se sentent exclus. C’est exactement ce qui s’est passé avec les Blancs des classes populaires et les personnes à fortes convictions religieuses. Pas moins des deux tiers des électeurs blancs non diplômés du supérieur ont voté pour Donald Trump, de même que plus de 80 % des évangéliques blancs. (…) l’obsession de la diversité à l’école et dans la presse a produit à gauche une génération de narcissiques, ignorant le sort des personnes n’appartenant pas aux groupes auxquels ils s’identifient, et indifférents à la nécessité d’être à l’écoute des Américains de toutes conditions. Dès leur plus jeune âge, nos enfants sont incités à parler de leur identité individuelle, avant même d’en avoir une. Au moment où ils entrent à l’université, beaucoup pensent que le discours politique se réduit au discours de la diversité, et on est consterné de voir qu’ils n’ont pas d’avis sur des questions aussi éternelles que les classes sociales, la guerre, l’économie et le bien commun. L’enseignement de l’histoire dans les écoles secondaires en est grandement responsable, car les programmes adoptés plaquent sur le passé le discours actuel de l’identité et donnent une vision déformée des grandes forces et des grands personnages qui ont façonné notre pays (les conquêtes du mouvement pour les droits des femmes, par exemple, sont réelles et importantes, mais on ne peut les comprendre qu’à la lumière des accomplissements des Pères fondateurs, qui ont établi un système de gouvernement fondé sur la garantie des droits). Quand les jeunes entrent à l’université, ils sont incités à rester centrés sur eux-mêmes par les associations étudiantes, par les professeurs ainsi que par les membres de l’administration qui sont employés à plein temps pour gérer les « questions de diversité » et leur donner encore plus d’importance. La chaîne Fox News et d’autres médias de droite adorent railler la « folie des campus » autour de ces questions, et il y a le plus souvent de quoi. Cela fait le jeu des démagogues populistes qui cherchent à délégitimer le savoir aux yeux de ceux qui n’ont jamais mis les pieds sur un campus. Comment expliquer à l’électeur moyen qu’il y a censément urgence morale à accorder aux étudiants le droit de choisir le pronom personnel par lequel ils veulent être désignés ? Comment ne pas rigoler avec ces électeurs quand on apprend qu’un farceur de l’université du Michigan a demandé à se faire appeler « Sa majesté » ? Cette sensibilité à la diversité sur les campus a déteint sur les médias de gauche, et pas qu’un peu. L’embauche de femmes et de membres des minorités au titre de la discrimination positive dans la presse écrite et l’audiovisuel est une formidable avancée sociale – et cela a même transformé le visage des médias de droite. Mais cela a aussi contribué à donner le sentiment, surtout aux jeunes journalistes et rédacteurs en chef, qu’en traitant de l’identité ils avaient accompli leur travail. (…) Combien de fois, par exemple, nous ressert-on le sujet sur le « premier ou la première X à faire Y » ? La fascination pour les questions d’identité se retrouve même dans la couverture de l’actualité internationale qui est, hélas, une denrée rare. Il peut être intéressant de lire un article sur le sort des personnes transgenre en Égypte, par exemple, mais cela ne contribue en rien à informer les Américains sur les puissants courants politiques et religieux qui détermineront l’avenir de l’Égypte et, indirectement, celui de notre pays. (…) Mais c’est au niveau de la stratégie électorale que l’échec de la gauche diversitaire a été le plus spectaculaire, comme nous venons de le constater. En temps normal, la politique nationale n’est pas axée sur ce qui nous différencie mais sur ce qui nous unit. Et nous choisissons pour la conduire la personne qui aura le mieux su nous parler de notre destin collectif. Ronald Reagan a été habile à cela, quoiqu’on pense de sa vision. Bill Clinton aussi, qui a pris exemple sur Reagan. Il s’est emparé du Parti démocrate en marginalisant son aile sensible aux questions d’identité, a concentré son énergie sur des mesures de politique intérieure susceptibles de bénéficier à l’ensemble de la population (comme l’assurance-maladie) et défini le rôle des États-Unis dans le monde d’après la chute du mur de Berlin. En poste pour deux mandats, il a ainsi été en mesure d’en faire beaucoup pour différentes catégories d’électeurs membres de la coalition démocrate. La politique de la différence est essentiellement expressive et non persuasive. Voilà pourquoi elle ne fait jamais gagner des élections – mais peut en faire perdre. L’intérêt récent, quasi ethnologique, des médias pour l’homme blanc en colère en dit autant sur l’état de la gauche américaine que sur cette figure tant vilipendée et, jusqu’ici, dédaignée. Pour la gauche, une lecture commode de la récente élection présidentielle consisterait à dire que Donald Trump a gagné parce qu’il a réussi à transformer un désavantage économique en colère raciste – c’est la thèse du whitelash, du retour de bâton de l’électorat blanc. C’est une lecture commode parce qu’elle conforte un sentiment de supériorité morale et permet à la gauche de faire la sourde oreille à ce que ces électeurs ont dit être leur principale préoccupation. Cette lecture alimente aussi le fantasme selon lequel la droite républicaine serait condamnée à terme à l’extinction démographique – autrement dit, que la gauche n’a qu’à attendre que le pays lui tombe tout cuit dans l’assiette. Le pourcentage étonnamment élevé du vote latino qui est allé à M. Trump est là pour nous rappeler que plus des groupes ethniques sont établis depuis longtemps aux États-Unis, moins leur comportement électoral est homogène. Enfin, la thèse du whitelash est commode parce qu’elle disculpe la gauche de ne pas avoir vu que son obsession de la diversité incitait les Américains blancs, ruraux, croyants, à se concevoir comme un groupe défavorisé dont l’identité est menacée ou bafouée. Ces personnes ne réagissent pas contre la réalité d’une Amérique multiculturelle (en réalité, elles ont tendance à vivre dans des régions où la population est homogène). Elles réagissent contre l’omniprésence du discours de l’identité, ce qu’elles appellent le « politiquement correct ». La gauche ferait bien de garder à l’esprit que le Ku Klux Klan est le plus ancien mouvement identitaire de la vie politique américaine, et qu’il existe toujours. Quand on joue au jeu de l’identité, il faut s’attendre à perdre. Il nous faut une gauche postdiversitaire, qui s’inspire des succès passés de la gauche prédiversitaire. Cette gauche-là s’attacherait à élargir sa base en s’adressant aux Américains en leur qualité d’Américains et en privilégiant les questions qui concernent une vaste majorité d’entre eux. Elle parlerait à la nation en tant que nation de citoyens qui sont tous dans le même bateau et doivent se serrer les coudes. Pour ce qui est des questions plus étroites et symboliquement très chargées qui risquent de faire fuir des électeurs potentiels, notamment celles qui touchent à la sexualité et à la religion, cette gauche-là procéderait doucement, avec tact et sens de la mesure. Les enseignants acquis à cette gauche-là se recentreraient sur la principale responsabilité politique qui est la leur dans une démocratie : former des citoyens engagés qui connaissent leur système politique ainsi que les grandes forces et les principaux événements de leur histoire. Cette gauche postdiversitaire rappellerait également que la démocratie n’est pas qu’une affaire de droits ; elle confère aussi des devoirs à ses citoyens, par exemple le devoir de s’informer et celui de voter. Une presse de gauche postdiversitaire commencerait par s’informer sur les régions du pays dont elle a fait peu de cas, et sur les questions qui les préoccupent, notamment la religion. Et elle s’acquitterait avec sérieux de sa responsabilité d’informer les Américains sur les grandes forces qui régissent les relations internationales. J’ai été invité il y a quelques années à un congrès syndical en Floride pour parler du célèbre discours du président Franklin D. Roosevelt de 1941 sur les quatre libertés. La salle était bondée de représentants de sections locales – hommes, femmes, Noirs, Blanc, Latinos. Nous avons commencé par chanter l’hymne national puis nous nous sommes assis pour écouter un enregistrement du discours de Roosevelt. J’observais la diversité des visages dans l’assistance et j’étais frappé de voir à quel point ces personnes si différentes étaient concentrées sur ce qui les rassemblait. Et, en entendant Roosevelt invoquer d’une voix vibrante la liberté d’expression, la liberté de culte, la liberté de vivre à l’abri du besoin et la liberté de vivre à l’abri de la peur – des libertés qu’il réclamait « partout dans le monde » – cela m’a rappelé quels étaient les vrais fondements de la gauche américaine moderne. Mark Lilla
Dix jours à peine après l’élection de Trump, Lilla publie une tribune dans le New York Times, où il étrille la célébration univoque de la diversité par l’élite intellectuelle progressiste comme principale cause de sa défaite face à Trump. «Ces dernières années, la gauche américaine a cédé, à propos des identités ethniques, de genre et de sexualité, à une sorte d’hystérie collective qui a faussé son message au point de l’empêcher de devenir une force fédératrice capable de gouverner […], estime-t-il. Une des nombreuses leçons à tirer de la présidentielle américaine et de son résultat détestable, c’est qu’il faut clore l’ère de la gauche diversitaire.» De cette diatribe à succès, l’universitaire a fait un livre tout aussi polémique, The Once and Future Liberal. After Identity Politics, dont la traduction française vient d’être publiée sous le titre la Gauche identitaire. L’Amérique en miettes (Stock). Un ouvrage provocateur destiné à sonner l’alerte contre le «tournant identitaire» pris par le Parti démocrate sous l’influence des «idéologues de campus», «ces militants qui ne savent plus parler que de leur différence.» «Une vision politique large a été remplacée par une pseudo-politique et une rhétorique typiquement américaine du moi sensible qui lutte pour être reconnu», développe Lilla. Dans son viseur : les mouvements féministes, gays, indigènes ou afro comme Black Lives Matter («le meilleur moyen de ne pas construire de solidarité»). Bref, tout ce qui est minoritaire et qui s’exprime à coups d’occupation de places publiques, de pétitions et de tribunes dans les journaux est fautif à ses yeux d’avoir fragmenté la gauche américaine. L’essayiste situe l’origine de cette «dérive» idéologique au début des années 70, lorsque la Nouvelle Gauche interprète «à l’envers» la formule «le privé est politique», considérant que tout acte politique n’est rien d’autre qu’une activité personnelle. Ce «culte de l’identité» et des «particularismes» issus de la révolution culturelle et morale des Sixties a convergé avec les révolutions économiques sous l’ère Reagan pour devenir «l’idéologie dominante.» «La politique identitaire, c’est du reaganisme pour gauchiste», résume cet adepte de la «punchline» idéologico-politique. Intellectuel au profil hybride, combattant à la fois la pensée conservatrice et la pensée progressiste, Lilla agace plus à gauche qu’à droite où sa dénonciation de «l’idéologie de la diversité», de «ses limites» et «ses dangers» est perçue comme l’expression ultime d’un identitarisme masculin blanc. Positionnement transgressif qu’on ferait volontiers graviter du côté de la «nouvelle réaction», ce qu’il réfute. (…) L’essai de Lilla peut se lire comme un avertissement lancé à la gauche intellectuelle française, aujourd’hui divisée entre «républicanistes» et « décoloniaux ». Libération
Notre situation est parfaitement paradoxale. Jamais les ennemis de l’Union européenne n’ont eu à ce point le sentiment de toucher au but, de presque en voir la fin, et cependant jamais, je le crois, les peuples d’Europe n’ont été plus sérieusement, plus gravement attachés à l’Union. Quel malentendu! Voilà bien l’un des plus fâcheux résultats de notre incapacité à discuter, de notre nouvelle inclination pour la simplification à outrance des points de vue. L’hypothèse d’un repli nationaliste procède d’une erreur d’interprétation. Il n’y a pas de demande de repli nationaliste, mais une demande de protection, de régulation politique, de contrôle du cours des choses. C’est une demande de puissance publique qui ne heurte pas l’idée européenne. C’est en refusant de répondre à cette demande éminemment légitime et recevable que l’Union finira par conduire les Européens à revenir, la mort dans l’âme, au dogme nationaliste. (…) Trump marque le retour d’une figure classique mais oubliée chez nous, celle de l’homme d’État qui n’a d’intérêt que pour son pays. Il assume une politique de puissance. (…) [ souligner le clivage avec l’Europe de l’Est] C’est un risque politique, sur le plan national comme sur le plan européen. (…) La double défaite signifierait a posteriori l’imprudence du pari et pèserait sur les deux niveaux, européen et national en affaiblissant dangereusement le président. (…) Du côté des gouvernements, cessons de surjouer l’opposition frontale. (…) nous devons accepter cet attachement viscéral des Européens à leur patrimoine immatériel, leur manière de vivre, leur souveraineté, parfois si récente ou retrouvée depuis si peu et si chèrement payée. Dominique Reynié
La société ouverte (…), c’est la grande fake news de la mondialisation. Quand on regarde les choses de près, les gens qui vendent le plus la société ouverte sont ceux qui vivent dans le plus grand grégarisme social, ceux qui contournent le plus la carte scolaire, ceux qui vivent dans l’entre-soi et qui font des choix résidentiels qui leur permettent à la fin de tenir le discours de la société ouverte puisque de toute façon, ils ont, eux, les moyens de la frontière invisible. Et précisément, ce qui est à l’inverse la situation des catégories modestes, c’est qu’elles n’ont pas les moyens de la frontière invisible. Ca n’en fait pas des xénophobes ou des gens qui sont absolument contre l’autre. Ca fait simplement des gens qui veulent qu’un Etat régule. Christophe Guilluy
Que nous dit Christophe Guilluy ? Que la scission est aujourd’hui consommée entre une élite déconnectée et une classe populaire précarisée. Et que la classe moyenne, qu’il définit comme « une classe majoritaire dans laquelle tout le monde était intégré, de l’ouvrier au cadre », est un champ de ruines. Ce dernier point est affirmé, répété, martelé, « implosion d’un modèle qui n’intègre plus les classes populaires, qui constituaient, hier, le socle de la classe moyenne occidentale et en portait les valeurs ». Dès lors, les groupes sociaux en présence « ne font plus société ». C’est là le sens du titre, « No Society », reprise qui n’a rien d’innocente d’un aphorisme de feu la Première ministre britannique Margaret Thatcher – déjà responsable du célèbre Tina, « There is no alternative » –, dont la politique néolibérale agressive, véritable plan de casse sociale dans les années 1980, définit toujours le modèle outre-Manche. Guilluy se fait lanceur d’alerte. Il constate, à l’instar de l’économiste Thomas Piketty, dont il cite les travaux à plusieurs reprises, le fossé toujours plus large qui sépare les catégories les plus aisées, des classes défavorisées. Une situation qui induit une nouvelle géographie sociale et politique. Et explique, selon lui, l’insécurité culturelle s’ajoutant à l’insécurité sociale, la vague populiste qui balaie la France, la Grande-Bretagne, l’Italie, l’Allemagne, les États-Unis et aujourd’hui le Brésil. Pour l’auteur, comme pour d’autres analystes, l’élection de Trump n’est pas un accident, mais l’aboutissement d’un processus que les élites, drapées dans « un mépris de classe », auraient voulu renvoyer aux marges. Ce qui fâche politiques, chefs d’entreprise et médias ? Cette propension à mettre tout le monde dans le même sac, tous complices de défendre, « au nom du bien commun », une idéologie néolibérale jugée destructrice. Et de masquer les vrais problèmes à l’aide d’éléments de langage. Guilluy conspue les 0,1 %, ces superpuissances économiques, tentées par l’anarcho-capitalisme, qui siphonnent les richesses mondiales. Tout comme il rejette la métropolisation des territoires, encouragée par l’Europe, qui tend à concentrer les créations d’emplois dans les zones urbaines, alors même que les classes populaires en sont rejetées par le coût du logement et une fiscalité dissuasive. Effondrement du modèle intégrateur, ascenseur social en berne… Cette France à qui on demande de traverser la rue attend vainement, selon lui, que le feu repasse au vert pour elle. Guilluy la crédite cependant d’un « soft power », capacité, amplifiée par les réseaux sociaux, à remettre sur la table les sujets qui fâchent, ceux-là mêmes que les élites aimeraient conserver sous le tapis. Une donnée que les tribuns populistes, de droite comme de gauche, ont bien intégrée, s’en faisant complaisamment chambre d’écho. Sud Ouest
The slide in his popularity – Macron is now more unpopular than his predecessor, François Hollande, at the same stage – is a dire warning to “globalists”. It comes at a time when Trump’s popularity among his voters is relatively stable by comparison and the American economy is growing. Macron’s fate could have far-reaching consequences for Europe’s political future. What makes the contrast between Trump’s and Macron’s fortunes so striking is that the two presidents have so much in common. Both found electoral success by breaking free of their own side: Macron from the left and Trump from mainstream Republicanism; they both moved beyond the old left-right divide. Both realised that we were seeing the disappearance of the old western middle class. Both grasped that, for the first time in history, the working people who make up the solid base of the lower middle classes live, for the most part, in regions that now generate the fewest jobs. It is in the small or middling towns and vast stretches of farmland that skilled workers, the low-waged, small farmers and the self-employed are concentrated. These are the regions in which the future of western democracy will be decided. But the similarities end there. While Trump was elected by people in the heartlands of the American rustbelt states, Macron built his electoral momentum in the big globalised cities. While the French president is aware that social ties are weakening in the regions, he believes that the solution is to speed up reform to bring the country into line with the requirements of the global economy. Trump, by contrast, concluded that globalisation was the problem, and that the economic model it is based on would have to be reined in (through protectionism, limits on free trade agreements, controls on immigration, and spending on vast public infrastructure building) to create jobs in the deindustrialised parts of the US. It could be said that to some extent both presidents are implementing the policies they were elected to pursue. Yet, while Trump’s voters seem satisfied, Macron’s appear frustrated. Why is there such a difference? This has as much to do with the kind of voters involved as the way the two presidents operate politically. Trump speaks to voters who constitute a continuum, that of the old middle class. It is a body of voters with clearly expressed demands – most call for the creation of jobs, but they also want the preservation of their social and cultural model. Macron’s problem, on the other hand, is that his electorate consists of different elements that are hard to keep together. The idea that Macron was elected just by the big city “winners” isn’t accurate: he also attracted the support of many older voters who are not especially receptive to the economic and societal changes the president’s revolution demands.This holds true throughout Europe. Those who support globalisation often tend to forget a vital fact: the people who vote for them aren’t just the ones on the winning side in the globalisation stakes or part of the new, cool bourgeoisie in Paris, London or New York, but are a much more heterogeneous group, many of whom are sceptical about the effects of globalisation. In France, for example, most of Macron’s support came in the first instance from the ranks of pensioners and public sector workers who had been largely shielded from the effects of globalisation. (…) These developments are an illustration of the political difficulty that Europe’s globalising class now finds itself in. From Angela Merkel to Macron, the advocates of globalisation are now relying on voters who cling to a social model that held sway during the three decades of postwar economic growth. Thus their determination to accelerate the adaptation of western societies to globalisation automatically condemns them to political unpopularity. Locked away in their metropolitan citadels, they fail to see that their electoral programmes no longer meet the concerns of more than a tiny minority of the population – or worse, of their own voters. They are on the wrong track if they think that the “deplorables” in the deindustrialised states of the US or the struggling regions of France will soon die out. Throughout the west, people in “peripheral” regions still make up the bulk of the population. Like it or not, these areas continue to represent the electoral heartlands of western democracies. Christophe Guilluy
La focalisation sur le « problème des banlieues » fait oublier un fait majeur : 61 % de la population française vit aujourd’hui hors des grandes agglomérations. Les classes populaires se concentrent dorénavant dans les espaces périphériques : villes petites et moyennes, certains espaces périurbains et la France rurale. En outre, les banlieues sensibles ne sont nullement « abandonnées » par l’État. Comme l’a établi le sociologue Dominique Lorrain, les investissements publics dans le quartier des Hautes Noues à Villiers-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne) sont mille fois supérieurs à ceux consentis en faveur d’un quartier modeste de la périphérie de Verdun (Meuse), qui n’a jamais attiré l’attention des médias. Pourtant, le revenu moyen par habitant de ce quartier de Villiers-sur-Marne est de 20 % supérieur à celui de Verdun. Bien sûr, c’est un exemple extrême. Il reste que, à l’échelle de la France, 85 % des ménages pauvres (qui gagnent moins de 993 € par mois, soit moins de 60 % du salaire médian, NDLR) ne vivent pas dans les quartiers « sensibles ». Si l’on retient le critère du PIB, la Seine-Saint-Denis est plus aisée que la Meuse ou l’Ariège. Le 93 n’est pas un espace de relégation, mais le cœur de l’aire parisienne. (…)  En se désindustrialisant, les grandes villes ont besoin de beaucoup moins d’employés et d’ouvriers mais de davantage de cadres. C’est ce qu’on appelle la gentrification des grandes villes, symbolisée par la figure du fameux « bobo », partisan de l’ouverture dans tous les domaines. Confrontées à la flambée des prix dans le parc privé, les catégories populaires, pour leur part, cherchent des logements en dehors des grandes agglomérations. En outre, l’immobilier social, dernier parc accessible aux catégories populaires de ces métropoles, s’est spécialisé dans l’accueil des populations immigrées. Les catégories populaires d’origine européenne et qui sont éligibles au parc social s’efforcent d’éviter les quartiers où les HLM sont nombreux. Elles préfèrent déménager en grande banlieue, dans les petites villes ou les zones rurales pour accéder à la propriété et acquérir un pavillon. On assiste ainsi à l’émergence de « villes monde » très inégalitaires où se concentrent à la fois cadres et catégories populaires issues de l’immigration récente. Ce phénomène n’est pas limité à Paris. Il se constate dans toutes les agglomérations de France (Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Grenoble), hormis Marseille. (…) On a du mal à formuler certains faits en France. Dans le vocabulaire de la politique de la ville, « classes moyennes » signifie en réalité « population d’origine européenne ». Or les HLM ne font plus coexister ces deux populations. L’immigration récente, pour l’essentiel familiale, s’est concentrée dans les quartiers de logements sociaux des grandes agglomérations, notamment les moins valorisés. Les derniers rapports de l’observatoire national des zones urbaines sensibles (ZUS) montrent qu’aujourd’hui 52 % des habitants des ZUS sont immigrés, chiffre qui atteint 64 % en Île-de-France. Cette spécialisation tend à se renforcer. La fin de la mixité dans les HLM n’est pas imputable aux bailleurs sociaux, qui font souvent beaucoup d’efforts. Mais on ne peut pas forcer des personnes qui ne le souhaitent pas à vivre ensemble. L’étalement urbain se poursuit parce que les habitants veulent se séparer, même si ça les fragilise économiquement. Par ailleurs, dans les territoires où se côtoient populations d’origine européenne et populations d’immigration extra-européenne, la fin du modèle assimilationniste suscite beaucoup d’inquiétudes. L’autre ne devient plus soi. Une société multiculturelle émerge. Minorités et majorités sont désormais relatives. (…)  ces personnes habitent là où on produit les deux tiers du PIB du pays et où se crée l’essentiel des emplois, c’est-à-dire dans les métropoles. Une petite bourgeoisie issue de l’immigration maghrébine et africaine est ainsi apparue. Dans les ZUS, il existe une vraie mobilité géographique et sociale : les gens arrivent et partent. Ces quartiers servent de sas entre le Nord et le Sud. Ce constat ruine l’image misérabiliste d’une banlieue ghetto où seraient parqués des habitants condamnés à la pauvreté. À bien des égards, la politique de la ville est donc un grand succès. Les seuls phénomènes actuels d’ascension sociale dans les milieux populaires se constatent dans les catégories immigrées des métropoles. Cadres ou immigrés, tous les habitants des grandes agglomérations tirent bénéfice d’y vivre – chacun à leur échelle. En Grande-Bretagne, en 2013, le secrétaire d’État chargé des Universités et de la Science de l’époque, David Willetts, s’est même déclaré favorable à une politique de discrimination positive en faveur des jeunes hommes blancs de la « working class » car leur taux d’accès à l’université s’est effondré et est inférieur à celui des enfants d’immigrés. (…) Le problème social et politique majeur de la France, c’est que, pour la première fois depuis la révolution industrielle, la majeure partie des catégories populaires ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Au XIXe siècle, lors de la révolution industrielle, on a fait venir les paysans dans les grandes villes pour travailler en usine. Aujourd’hui, on les fait repartir à la « campagne ». C’est un retour en arrière de deux siècles. Le projet économique du pays, tourné vers la mondialisation, n’a plus besoin des catégories populaires, en quelque sorte. (…) L’absence d’intégration économique des catégories modestes explique le paradoxe français : un pays qui redistribue beaucoup de ses richesses mais dont une majorité d’habitants considèrent à juste titre qu’ils sont de plus en plus fragiles et déclassés. (…) Les catégories populaires qui vivent dans ces territoires sont d’autant plus attachées à leur environnement local qu’elles sont, en quelque sorte, assignées à résidence. Elles réagissent en portant une grande attention à ce que j’appelle le «village» : sa maison, son quartier, son territoire, son identité culturelle, qui représentent un capital social. La contre-société s’affirme aussi dans le domaine des valeurs. La France périphérique est attachée à l’ordre républicain, réservée envers les réformes de société et critique sur l’assistanat. L’accusation de «populisme» ne l’émeut guère. Elle ne supporte plus aucune forme de tutorat – ni politique, ni intellectuel – de la part de ceux qui se croient «éclairés». (…) Il devient très difficile de fédérer et de satisfaire tous les électorats à la fois. Dans un monde parfait, il faudrait pouvoir combiner le libéralisme économique et culturel dans les agglomérations et le protectionnisme, le refus du multiculturalisme et l’attachement aux valeurs traditionnelles dans la France périphérique. Mais c’est utopique. C’est pourquoi ces deux France décrivent les nouvelles fractures politiques, présentes et à venir. Christophe Guilluy
Les pays de l’OCDE, et plus encore les démocraties occidentales, répondent pleinement au projet que la Dame de fer appelait de ses vœux. Partout, trente ans de mondialisation ont agi comme une concasseuse du pacte social issu de l’après-guerre. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale est actée. Et pas seulement en France. Les poussées de populisme aux Etats-Unis, en Italie, et jusqu’en Suède, où le modèle scandinave de la social-démocratie n’est désormais plus qu’une sorte de zombie, en sont les manifestations les plus évidentes. Personne n’ose dire que la fête est finie. On se rassure comme on peut. Le monde académique, le monde politique et médiatique, chacun constate la montée des inégalités, s’inquiète de la hausse de la dette, de celle du chômage, mais se rassure avec quelques points de croissance, et soutient que l’enjeu se résume à la question de l’adaptabilité. Pas celle du monde d’en haut. Les gagnants de la mondialisation, eux, sont parfaitement adaptés à ce monde qu’ils ont contribué à forger. Non, c’est aux anciennes classes moyennes éclatées, reléguées, que s’adresse cette injonction d’adaptation à ce nouveau monde. Parce que, cahin-caha, cela marche, nos économies produisent des inégalités, mais aussi plus de richesses. Mais faire du PIB, ça ne suffit pas à faire société. (…) Election de Trump, Brexit, arrivée au pouvoir d’une coalition improbable liant les héritiers de la Ligue du Nord à ceux d’une partie de l’extrême gauche en Italie. De même qu’il y a une France périphérique, il y a une Amérique périphérique, un Royaume-Uni périphérique, etc. La périphérie, c’est, pour faire simple, ces territoires autour des villes-mondes, rien de moins que le reste du pays. L’agglomération parisienne, le Grand-Londres, les grandes villes côtières américaines, sont autant de territoires parfaitement en phase avec la mondialisation, des sortes de Singapour. Sauf que, contrairement à cette cité-Etat, ces territoires disposent d’un hinterland, d’une périphérie. L’explosion du prix de l’immobilier est la traduction la plus visible de cette communauté de destin de ces citadelles où se concentrent la richesse, les emplois à haute valeur ajoutée, où le capital culturel et financier s’accumule. Cette partition est la traduction spatiale de la notion de ruissellement des richesses du haut vers le bas, des premiers de cordée vers les autres. Dans ce modèle, la richesse créée dans les citadelles doit redescendre vers la périphérie. Trente ans de ce régime n’ont pas laissé nos sociétés intactes. Ce sont d’abord les ouvriers et les agriculteurs qui ont été abandonnés sur le chemin, puis les employés, et c’est maintenant au tour des jeunes diplômés d’être fragilisés. Les plans sociaux ne concernent plus seulement l’industrie mais les services, et même les banques… Dans les territoires de cette France périphérique, la dynamique dépressive joue à plein : à l’effondrement industriel succède celui des emplois présentiels lequel provoque une crise du commerce dans les petites villes et les villes moyennes. Les gens aux Etats-Unis ou ailleurs ne se sont pas réveillés un beau matin pour se tourner vers le populisme. Non, ils ont fait un diagnostic, une analyse rationnelle : est-ce que ça marche pour eux ou pas. Et, rationnellement, ils n’ont pas trouvé leur compte. Et pas que du point de vue économique. S’il y a une exception française, c’est la victoire d’Emmanuel Macron, quand partout ailleurs les populistes semblent devoir l’emporter. (…) Emmanuel Macron est le candidat du front bourgeois. A Paris, il n’est pas anodin que les soutiens de François Fillon et les partisans de La Manif pour tous du XVIe arrondissement aient voté à 87,3 % pour le candidat du libéralisme culturel, et que leurs homologues bobos du XXe arrondissement, contempteurs de la finance internationale, aient voté à 90 % pour un banquier d’affaires. Mais cela ne fait pas une majorité. Si Emmanuel Macron l’a emporté, c’est qu’il a reçu le soutien de la frange encore protégée de la société française que sont les retraités et les fonctionnaires. Deux populations qui ont lourdement souffert au Royaume-Uni par exemple, comme l’a traduit leur vote pro-Brexit. Et c’est bien là le drame qui se noue en France. Car, parmi les derniers recours dont dispose la technocratie au pouvoir pour aller toujours plus avant vers cette fameuse adaptation, c’est bien de faire les poches des retraités et des fonctionnaires. Emmanuel Macron applique donc méticuleusement ce programme. Il semble récemment pris de vertige par le risque encouru pour les prochaines élections, comme le montre sa courbe de popularité, laquelle se trouve sous celle de François Hollande à la même période de leur quinquennat. Un autre levier, déjà mis en branle par Margaret Thatcher puis par les gouvernements du New Labour de Tony Blair, est la fin de l’universalité de la redistribution et la concentration de la redistribution. Sous couvert de faire plus juste, et surtout de réduire les transferts sociaux, on réduit encore le nombre de professeurs, mais on divise les classes de ZEP en deux, on limite l’accès des classes populaires aux HLM pour concentrer ce patrimoine vers les franges les plus pauvres, et parfois non solvables. De quoi fragiliser le modèle de financement du logement social en France, déjà mis à mal par les dernières réformes, et ouvrir la porte à sa privatisation, comme ce fut le cas dans l’Angleterre thatchérienne. (…) Partout en Europe, dans un contexte de flux migratoire intensifié, ce ciblage des politiques publiques vers les plus pauvres – mais qui est le plus pauvre justement, si ce n’est celui qui vient d’arriver d’un territoire dix fois moins riche ? – provoque inexorablement un rejet de ce qui reste encore du modèle social redistributif par ceux qui en ont le plus besoin et pour le plus grand intérêt de la classe dominante. C’est là que se noue la double insécurité économique et culturelle. Face au démantèlement de l’Etat-providence, à la volonté de privatiser, les classes populaires mettent en avant leur demande de préserver le bien commun comme les services publics. Face à la dérégulation, la dénationalisation, elles réclament un cadre national, plus sûr moyen de défendre le bien commun. Face à l’injonction de l’hypermobilité, à laquelle elles n’ont de toute façon pas accès, elles ont inventé un monde populaire sédentaire, ce qui se traduit également par une économie plus durable. Face à la constitution d’un monde où s’impose l’indistinction culturelle, elles aspirent à la préservation d’un capital culturel protecteur. Souverainisme, protectionnisme, préservation des services publics, sensibilité aux inégalités, régulation des flux migratoires, sont autant de thématiques qui, de Tel-Aviv à Alger, de Detroit à Milan, dessinent un commun des classes populaires dans le monde. Ce soft power des classes populaires fait parfois sortir de leurs gonds les parangons de la mondialisation heureuse. Hillary Clinton en sait quelque chose. Elle n’a non seulement pas compris la demande de protection des classes populaires de la Rust Belt, mais, en plus, elle les a traités de « déplorables ». Qui veut être traité de déplorable ou, de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, de Dupont Lajoie ? L’appartenance à la classe moyenne n’est pas seulement définie par un seuil de revenus ou un travail d’entomologiste des populations de l’Insee. C’est aussi et avant tout un sentiment de porter les valeurs majoritaires et d’être dans la roue des classes dominantes du point de vue culturel et économique. Placées au centre de l’échiquier, ces catégories étaient des références culturelles pour les classes dominantes, comme pour les nouveaux arrivants, les classes populaires immigrées. En trente ans, les classes moyennes sont passées du modèle à suivre, l’American ou l’European way of life, au statut de losers. Il y a mieux comme référents pour servir de modèle d’assimilation. Qui veut ressembler à un plouc, un déplorable… ? Personne. Pas même les nouveaux arrivants. L’ostracisation des classes populaires par la classe dominante occidentale, pensée pour discréditer toute contestation du modèle économique mondialisé – être contre, c’est ne pas être sérieux – a, en outre, largement participé à l’effondrement des modèles d’intégration et in fine à la paranoïa identitaire. L’asociété s’est ainsi imposée partout : crise de la représentation politique, citadéllisation de la bourgeoisie, communautarisation. Qui peut dès lors s’étonner que nos systèmes d’organisation politique, la démocratie, soient en danger ? Christophe Guilluy
En 2016, Hillary Clinton traitait les électeurs de son opposant républicain, c’est-à-dire l’ancienne classe moyenne américaine déclassée, de « déplorables ». Au-delà du mépris de classe que sous-tend une expression qui rappelle celle de l’ancien président français François Hollande qui traitait de « sans-dents » les ouvriers ou employés précarisés, ces insultes (d’autant plus symboliques qu’elles étaient de la gauche) illustrent un long processus d’ostracisation d’une classe moyenne devenue inutile.  (…) Depuis des décennies, la représentation d’une classe moyenne triomphante laisse peu à peu la place à des représentations toujours plus négatives des catégories populaires et l’ensemble du monde d’en haut participe à cette entreprise. Le monde du cinéma, de la télévision, de la presse et de l’université se charge efficacement de ce travail de déconstruction pour produire en seulement quelques décennies la figure répulsive de catégories populaires inadaptées, racistes et souvent proches de la débilité. (…) Des rednecks dégénérés du film « Deliverance » au beauf raciste de Dupont Lajoie, la figure du « déplorable » s’est imposée dès les années 1970 dans le cinéma. La télévision n’est pas en reste. En France, les années 1980 seront marquées par l’émergence de Canal +, quintessence de ll’idéologie libérale-libertaire dominante. (…) De la série « Les Deschiens », à la marionnette débilitante de Johnny Hallyday des Guignols de l’info, c’est en réalité toute la production audiovisuelle qui donne libre cours à son mépris de classe. Christophe Guilluy
Étant donné l’état de fragilisation sociale de la classe moyenne majoritaire française, tout est possible. Sur les plans géographique, culturel et social, il existe bien des points communs entre les situations françaises et américaines, à commencer par le déclassement de la classe moyenne. C’est « l’Amérique périphérique » qui a voté Trump, celle des territoires désindustrialisés et ruraux qui est aussi celle des ouvriers, employés, travailleurs indépendants ou paysans. Ceux qui étaient hier au cœur de la machine économique en sont aujourd’hui bannis. Le parallèle avec la situation américaine existe aussi sur le plan culturel, nous avons adopté un modèle économique mondialisé. Fort logiquement, nous devons affronter les conséquences de ce modèle économique mondialisé : l’ouvrier – hier à gauche –, le paysan – hier à droite –, l’employé – à gauche et à droite – ont aujourd’hui une perception commune des effets de la mondialisation et rompent avec ceux qui n’ont pas su les protéger. La France est en train de devenir une société américaine, il n’y a aucune raison pour que l’on échappe aux effets indésirables du modèle. (…) Dans l’ensemble des pays développés, le modèle mondialisé produit la même contestation. Elle émane des mêmes territoires (Amérique périphérique, France périphérique, Angleterre périphérique… ) et de catégories qui constituaient hier la classe moyenne, largement perdue de vue par le monde d’en haut. (…) la perception que des catégories dominantes – journalistes en tête – ont des classes populaires se réduit à leur champ de vision immédiat. Je m’explique : ce qui reste aujourd’hui de classes populaires dans les grandes métropoles sont les classes populaires immigrées qui vivent dans les banlieues c’est-à-dire les minorités : en France elles sont issues de l’immigration maghrébine et africaine, aux États-Unis plutôt blacks et latinos. Les classes supérieures, qui sont les seules à pouvoir vivre au cœur des grandes métropoles, là où se concentrent aussi les minorités, n’ont comme perception du pauvre que ces quartiers ethnicisés, les ghettos et banlieues… Tout le reste a disparu des représentations. Aujourd’hui, 59 % des ménages pauvres, 60 % des chômeurs et 66 % des classes populaires vivent dans la « France périphérique », celle des petites villes, des villes moyennes et des espaces ruraux. (…) Faire passer les classes moyennes et populaires pour « réactionnaires », « fascisées », « pétinisées » est très pratique. Cela permet d’éviter de se poser des questions cruciales. Lorsque l’on diagnostique quelqu’un comme fasciste, la priorité devient de le rééduquer, pas de s’interroger sur l’organisation économique du territoire où il vit. L’antifascisme est une arme de classe. Pasolini expliquait déjà dans ses Écrits corsaires que depuis que la gauche a adopté l’économie de marché, il ne lui reste qu’une chose à faire pour garder sa posture de gauche : lutter contre un fascisme qui n’existe pas. C’est exactement ce qui est en train de se passer. (…) Il y a un mépris de classe presque inconscient véhiculé par les médias, le cinéma, les politiques, c’est énorme. On l’a vu pour l’élection de Trump comme pour le Brexit, seule une opinion est présentée comme bonne ou souhaitable. On disait que gagner une élection sans relais politique ou médiatique était impossible, Trump nous a prouvé qu’au contraire, c’était faux. Ce qui compte, c’est la réalité des gens depuis leur point de vue à eux. Nous sommes à un moment très particulier de désaffiliation politique et culturel des classes populaires, c’est vrai dans la France périphérique, mais aussi dans les banlieues où les milieux populaires cherchent à préserver ce qui leur reste : un capital social et culturel protecteur qui permet l’entraide et le lien social. Cette volonté explique les logiques séparatistes au sein même des milieux modestes. Une dynamique, qui n’interdit pas la cohabitation, et qui répond à la volonté de ne pas devenir minoritaire. (…) La bourgeoisie d’aujourd’hui a bien compris qu’il était inutile de s’opposer frontalement au peuple. C’est là qu’intervient le « brouillage de classe », un phénomène, qui permet de ne pas avoir à assumer sa position. Entretenue du bobo à Steve Jobs, l’idéologie du cool encourage l’ouverture et la diversité, en apparence. Le discours de l’ouverture à l’autre permet de maintenir la bourgeoisie dans une posture de supériorité morale sans remettre en cause sa position de classe (ce qui permet au bobo qui contourne la carte scolaire, et qui a donc la même demande de mise à distance de l’autre que le prolétaire qui vote FN, de condamner le rejet de l’autre). Le discours de bienveillance avec les minorités offre ainsi une caution sociale à la nouvelle bourgeoisie qui n’est en réalité ni diverse ni ouverte : les milieux sociaux qui prônent le plus d’ouverture à l’autre font parallèlement preuve d’un grégarisme social et d’un entre-soi inégalé. (…) Nous, terre des lumières et patrie des droits de l’homme, avons choisi le modèle libéral mondialisé sans ses effets sociétaux : multiculturalisme et renforcement des caommunautarismes. Or, en la matière, nous n’avons pas fait mieux que les autres pays. (…) Le FN n’est pas le bon indicateur, les gens n’attendent pas les discours politiques ou les analyses d’en haut pour se déterminer. Les classes populaires font un diagnostic des effets de plusieurs décennies d’adaptation aux normes de l’économie mondiale et utilisent des candidats ou des référendums, ce fut le cas en 2005, pour l’exprimer. Christophe Guilluy
La réalisation [de « Dupont Lajoie »] ne se fit pas sans difficultés. Le film s’inspire en partie de la vague de meurtres racistes commis dans le sud de la France au début des années 1970, notamment à Marseille durant l’été 1973, mais également d’un fait divers réel s’étant déroulé à Grasse. Le sujet est encore très sensible dans le Var où Boisset souhaite tourner. Ses autorisations de tournage sont souvent retirées, et l’agressivité reste présente autour de l’équipe. (…) Le groupe extrémiste Charles Martel (qui a été notamment l’auteur d’un attentat à la bombe à Marseille en 1973) menace l’équipe de Boisset. Le camping, principal lieu de tournage, est caillassé, et reçoit même des grenades et des cocktails Molotov. Les figurants devant jouer les Maghrébins ne trouvent pas de logement, et l’acteur Mohamed Zinet est même agressé par un groupe de quatre personnes ; hospitalisé, il ne reprendra pas le tournage. Les figurants « blancs », bien que connaissant le scénario, auraient troqué leurs accessoires contre de vrais gourdins, supposant que leurs homologues maghrébins ont quelque chose à se reprocher. La censure veut l’interdire aux moins de seize ans, sauf si Boisset accepte trois coupes : une scène de dialogue, et deux plans (les images où l’on voit le sexe d’Isabelle Huppert, et celui où la tête de la victime de la ratonnade heurte le pavé). Boisset accepte sans sourciller : les plans n’existent pas dans le film, les scènes n’étant que suggérées par la mise en scène. Le film sort dans les salles en février 1975. Mal accueilli par ceux qui ne voulaient voir que l’aspect polémique du sujet, il est parfois soumis au refus des exploitants de salle, qui refusent de le diffuser, comme le patron du cinéma Pathé de la place Clichy, qui craint que le public arabe attiré par le film ne fasse fuir ses « habitués ». Les salles connaissent également des échauffourées à la sortie des séances. Ce film fut aussi un grand succès public, et l’œuvre la plus importante d’Yves Boisset. Il proposait une peinture sans complaisance de gens ordinaires, qui collectivement se laissent gagner par la haine raciste. Caricature et réalisme s’y confondent sans qu’il soit possible de les démêler. La qualité de la distribution assura le succès du film : Carmet en meurtrier lâche et raciste, Lanoux en fier à bras, beauf et ancien d’Algérie, des acteurs généralement sympathiques Marielle, Peyrelon, interprétant avec justesse des personnages aussi odieux qu’ordinaires, archétypes du fameux « Français moyen ». L’animation et jeu Intercamping animé par Léo Tartaffione (Jean-Pierre Marielle) était largement inspirée de l’émission télévisée Intervilles, le nom lui-même de Léo Tartaffione rappelant celui de Léon Zitrone. Wikipedia
Les Deschiens ont un style très personnel et reconnaissable : décor minimaliste (fond de couleur unie, très peu voire aucun élément de mobilier), costumes au kitsch volontaire (vêtements surannés, couleurs démodées, matières bon marché), cadrage immuable (séquences réalisées en plan fixe et en plan séquence). Les dialogues, en langage courant voire relâché, font surgir l’absurde dans le quotidien de personnages incarnant un certain bon sens populaire, mais dont l’ignorance ou l’étroitesse d’esprit vire souvent au burlesque. Les Deschiens font un usage comique des accents régionaux, chaque comédien représentant les stéréotypes d’une région. Ainsi, François Morel et Olivier Saladin représentent la Normandie (Orne pour François Morel et Seine-Maritime pour Olivier Saladin), Bruno Lochet la Sarthe, Philippe Duquesne le Nord-Pas-de-Calais, et Yolande Moreau la Belgique. M. Morel : c’est le personnage principal de la série. Il est extrêmement rationnel, attaché à la vie quotidienne, et n’entend jamais utiliser la technologie moderne. C’est le stéréotype du Français « moyen » et il est hermétique à la culture (principalement aux livres). M. Saladin : c’est un ami de M. Morel avec lequel il discute de toutes sortes de sujets. Il est la plupart du temps dans l’ombre de M. Morel et il cherche toujours à exprimer ses idées, bien qu’il ait du mal à les faire clairement comprendre. Yolande : la femme de M. Morel. Elle suit souvent les préceptes de son mari sur l’éducation de leurs enfants. Elle représente elle aussi un stéréotype : celui de la femme au foyer inculte. Olivier : le fils de M. Morel et de Yolande. Il essaye sans cesse de se cultiver en lisant des ouvrages de littérature classique (Gide, Yourcenar…) au grand dam de ses parents qui l’obligent à avoir des activités moins intellectuelles. Atmen « Atemen » Kelif : c’est « l’arabe de service » qui se fait maltraiter verbalement et physiquement par M. Morel et M. Duquesne. (…) Les auteurs des Deschiens ont été accusés de brocarder la France d’en-bas. François Morel a dit ne pas comprendre qu’on les ait en partie tenus responsables de l’échec de Lionel Jospin en 2002 parce qu’ils auraient « déculpabilisé la gauche bobo enfin autorisée à se moquer des pauvres ». Il attribue ce malentendu à leur réussite qui entraîne des commentaires mettant davantage en avant la portée politique de leurs sketchs que l’aspect humoristique. Gérard Guégan reproche aux Deschiens (et à « l’humour Canal+ » de cette époque) de rendre grotesque par la parodie une seule classe sociale : les ouvriers. Toutefois, les acteurs défendent une démarche théâtrale qui ne vise pas à stigmatiser les « petites gens », bien plutôt, à travers un miroir déformant, à nous renvoyer tous à l’aspect dérisoire de notre vie. Wikipedia
An old man with a straw hat and work shirt appeared at Lewis’ window, talking in. He looked like a hillbilly in some badly cast movie, a character actor too much in character to be believed. I wondered where the excitement was that intrigued Lewis so much; everything in Oree was sleepy and hookwormy and ugly, and most of all, inconsequential. Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place. (…) There is always something wrong with people in the country, I thought. In the comparatively few times I had ever been in the rural South I had been struck by the number of missing fingers. Offhand, I had counted around twenty, at least. There had also been several people with some form of crippling or twisting illness, and some blind or one-eyed. No adequate medical treatment maybe. But there was something else. You’d think that farming was a healthy life, with fresh air and fresh food and plenty of exercise, but I never saw a farmer who didn’t have something wrong with him, and most of the time obviously wrong. The catching of an arm in a tractor park somewhere off in the middle of a field where nothing happened but that the sun blazed back more fiercely down the open mouth of one’s screams. And so many snakebites deep in the woods as one stepped over a rotten log, so many domestic animals suddenly turning and crushing one against the splintering side of a barn stall. I wanted none of it, and I didn’t want to be around where it happened either. But I was there, and there was no way for me to escape, except by water, from the country of nine-fingered people. James Dickey
They’re buildin’ a dam across the Cahulawassee River. They’re gonna flood a whole valley, Bobby (…) Dammit, they’re drownin’ the river…Just about the last wild, untamed, unpolluted, unf–ked up river in the South. Don’t you understand what I’m sayin’?…They’re gonna stop the river up. There ain’t gonna be no more river. There’s just gonna be a big, dead lake…You just push a little more power into Atlanta, a little more air-conditioners for your smug little suburb, and you know what’s gonna happen? We’re gonna rape this whole god-damned landscape. We’re gonna rape it. (…) We didn’t lose it – we sold it. Lewis Medlock (principal protagoniste de Delivrance)
 These are the men. Nothing very unusual about them. Suburban guys like you or your neighbor. Nothing very unusual about them until they decided to spend one weekend canoeing down the Cahulawassee River. Ed Gentry – he runs an art service, his wife Martha has a boy Dean. Lewis Medlock has real estate interests, talks about resettling in New Zealand or Uruguay. Drew Ballinger – he’s sales supervisor for a soft drink company. Bobby Trippe – bachelor, insurance and mutual funds. These are the men who decided not to play golf that weekend. Instead, they sought the river. Bande-annonce de Deliverance
Deliverance (1972) is British director John Boorman’s gripping, absorbing action-adventure film about four suburban Atlanta businessmen friends who encounter disaster in a summer weekend’s river-canoeing trip. It was one of the first films with the theme of city-dwellers against the powerful forces of nature. The exciting box-office hit, most remembered for its inspired banjo duel and the brutal, violent action (and sodomy scene), was based on James Dickey’s adaptation of his own 1970 best-selling novel (his first) of the same name – he contributed the screenplay and acted in a minor part as the town sheriff. (…) The increasingly claustrophobic, downbeat film, shot in linear sequence along forty miles of a treacherous river, has been looked upon as a philosophical or mythical allegory of man’s psychological and grueling physical journey against adversity. It came during the 70s decade when many other conspiracy or corruption-related films were made with misgivings, paranoia or questioning of various societal institutions or subject areas, such as the media (i.e., Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976)), politics (i.e., The Parallax View (1974), All the President’s Men (1976)), science (i.e., Capricorn One (1977), Coma (1978), The China Syndrome (1979)), and various parts of the US itself (i.e., Race with the Devil (1975), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and later Southern Comfort (1981)). A group of urban dwellers test their manhood and courage, totally vulnerable in the alien wild, and pit themselves against the hostile violence of nature. At times, however, they are attracted to nature, and exhilarated and joyful about their experiences in the wild. (Director Boorman pursued the same complex eco-message theme of man vs. nature in other films, including Zardoz (1973) and The Emerald Forest (1985).) As they progress further and further along in uncharted territory down the rapids, the men ‘rape’ the untouched, virginal wilderness as they are themselves violated by the pristine wilderness and its degenerate, inbred backwoods inhabitants. Survivalist skills come to the forefront when civilized standards of decency and logic fail. (…) The river is the potent personification of the complex, natural forces that propel men further and further along their paths. It tests their personal values, exhibiting the conflict between country and city, and accentuates what has been hidden or unrealized in civilized society. The adventurers vainly seek to be ‘delivered’ from the evil in their own hearts, and as in typical horror films, confront other-worldly forces in the deep woods. The flooding of the region after the completion of a dam construction project alludes to the purification and cleansing of the sins of the world by the Great Flood. The film was also interpreted as an allegory of the US’ involvement in the Vietnam War – as the men (the US military) intruded into a foreign world (Southeast Asia), and found it was raped or confronted by wild forces it couldn’t understand or control.The film opens with voice-overs of the main characters discussing the « vanishing wilderness » and the corruption of modern civilization, while the credits play over views of the flooding of one of the last untamed stretches of land, and the imminent wiping out of the entire Cahulawassee River and the small town of Aintry. (…) They leave behind their business jobs and civilized values for their « last chance » to go back to unspoiled nature for a weekend of canoeing, hunting, and fishing, in northern Georgia’s scenic Appalachian wilderness. (…) More threatening than the untamed river are two evil, violent, primitive, degenerate and hostile mountain men, a gay hillbilly (Bill McKinney) and a grizzly, toothless man (Herbert « Cowboy » Coward) armed with a 12 gauge double-barreled shotgun who suddenly appear from the woods and confront the intruders. [The wilderness isn’t populated with romantic survivalists or enobled, heroic characters as in adventure stories, but sadistic brutes.] The two inexperienced, naive adventurers, assuming that the menacing backwoodsmen (who are harrassing them) are hiding a still to manufacture bootleg whiskey, promise not to tell anyone where it is located. Even away from his urban citified element, Ed maintains an inappropriate decorum of decency and ineffectually calls the animalistic rednecks ‘gentlemen’ (…) At shotgun point, in a nightmarish and frightening sequence, the two sexually-perverted rustics viciously target them. They order them up into the woods where they tie Ed (with his own belt) to a tree. The mountain man sexually humiliates Bobby – the chubby-faced, defenseless intruder into his territory. (…) Returning home, Ed is ‘delivered’ from the malevolent horrors of nature and reunited with his wife (Belinda Beatty) and son (Charlie Boorman, the director’s son who played a major role in The Emerald Forest (1985)). The final frightening image is of Ed, snapping awake next to his wife from a vivid nightmare of his journey. He is fearfully haunted by a white, bony hand (of the murdered Mountain Man) rising above the surface of the water of the newly-flooded wilderness. The man’s stiff, outstretched hand – pointing nowhere – serves as a signpost. Ed lies back in his wife’s arms – unable to rest and experience ‘deliverance’ from his recurring nightmare of their experience with extreme violence. Filmsite
And we all know what happens to funny city people in rural Georgia. Jon Stewart (The Daily Show)
We were portrayed as ignorant, backward, scary, deviant, redneck hillbillies. That stuck with us through all these years and in fact that was probably furthest from the truth. These people up here are a very caring, lovely people.  There are lots of people in Rabun County that would be just as happy if they never heard the word, ‘Deliverance’ again. Stanley “Butch” Darnell  (Rabun County Commissioner)
Dickey’s novel created for readers an Appalachia that served as the site of a collective ‘nightmare,’ to use a term adopted by several of Dickey’s reviewers. The rape of city men by leering ‘hicks,’ central to the novel… became almost synonymous with popular conceptions of the mountain South. (…) Dickey preferred to claim that he grew up in the mountains. He attributed his blustery aggressiveness to his ‘North Georgia folk heritage’ and averred, ‘My people are all hillbillies. I’m only second-generation city.’” [But] though Dickey’s ancestors had indeed lived in mountainous Fannin County, Georgia, they were not the plain folks he made them out to be. He failed to acknowledge that they were slaveholders and among the largest landowners and wealthiest residents of the county. Dickey’s romantic — and racist — vision of Appalachia as a place apart stayed with him his entire life. (…) The consequences of fictional representation have never been more powerful for the imagination of mountainness — or perhaps even for southernness, ruralness, and ‘primitiveness’ more generically — than in the case of ‘Deliverance. (…) Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the thoroughness with which ‘Deliverance,’ transformed by Dickey and director John Boorman into a film classic, has imbricated itself into Americans’ understanding and worldview. From the ubiquitous rendition of the ‘Dueling Banjos’ theme song to allude to danger from hicks to bumper stickers for tourists reading, ‘Paddle faster, I hear banjoes,’ the novel and film have created artifacts that many of us encounter on an almost weekly basis. (…) Southern hopes for self-promotion were evident at the film’s premiere in Atlanta. “Dickey leaned over to say to Jimmy Carter, then the governor: ‘Ain’t no junior league movie is it, Governor?’ ‘It’s pretty rough,’ Carter agreed, ‘but it’s good for Georgia.’ Carter paused. ‘It’s good for Georgia. I hope.’” Emily Satterwhite
The release of “Deliverance” was, without question, a difficult time for rural Southerners. The mountaineers of “Deliverance” were “crippled misfits and savage sodomizers of the North Georgia wilderness” who terrorize the foursome of Atlanta canoeists who simply want to run the rapids of the fictitious Cahulawassee River. Indisputably the most influential film of the modern era in shaping national perceptions of southern mountaineers and rural life in general, Deliverance’s portrayal of degenerate, imbecilic, and sexually voracious predators bred fear into several generations of Americans.  As film scholar Pat Arnow only partly facetiously argued in 1991, the film ‘is still the greatest incentive for many non-Southerners to stay on the Interstate.’” (…) The film’s infamous scenes of sodomy at gunpoint and of a retarded albino boy lustily playing his banjo became such instantly recognizable shorthand for demeaning references to rural poor whites that comedians needed to say only ‘squeal like a pig’ or hum the opening notes of the film’s guitar banjo duet to gain an immediate visceral reaction from a studio audience. (…) To (the character) Lewis (and Dickey), the mountain folk’s very backwardness and social isolation has allowed them to retain a physical and mental toughness and to preserve a code of commitment to family and kin that has long ago been lost in the rush to a commodified existence. Lewis praised the ‘values’ passed down from father to son. But all of that meaning appeared to be lost in the film. Instead, Hollywood was much more interested in the horrific tale and captivating adventure of traveling down a North Georgia river being chased by crazed hillbillies. (…) Resentment grew even while the film was being made. As word of how the mountaineers were being portrayed spread, (James Dickey’s son) Christopher Dickey, who was staying with his family in a low-budget motel and had more contact with the local residents acting or working on the set than did Boorman and the lead actors staying in chalets at a nearby golf resort, began to fear for his safety. Shaped by a century of media depictions of brutally violent mountaineers, he worried that some ‘real mountain men’ with ‘real guns’ might ‘teach some of these movie people a lesson.’” Anthony Harkins (Western Kentucky University)
The movie, « Deliverance, » made tourist dollars flow into the area, but there was one memorable, horrifying male rape scene that lasted a little more than four minutes, but has lasted 40 years inside the hearts and minds of the people who live here. Locals say the film painted the county’s residents as deviant, uneducated mountain folk. (…) But despite any negative stereotypes, the Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says more than a quarter-million people flock to the area each year to shoot the same rapids they saw come to life on the big screen. (…) County officials say tourism brings in $42 million a year in revenue, which makes for a huge surplus for a county whose operating budget is about $17 million. These days, the county has an 80% high school graduation rate, and its average home price is more than $300,000. (…) The area has become a playground for high-end homeowners with lakefront property in the multimillion-dollar range on places like Lake Burton, which has 62 miles of shoreline. (…) Indeed, downtown shops and art galleries convey an image far from anything portrayed in the 1972 film. Jeanne Kronsoble (…) said (…) « When people build houses and they come here, they need art on their walls. » But despite this prosperity, the 40-year pain has managed to hang on, because so many people saw a fictional film. « There are lots of people in Rabun County that would be just as happy if they never heard the word, ‘Deliverance’ again, » Darnell said. CNN
The portrait of mountain people as toothless, sexual deviants in a “country of nine-fingered people” was too much for many Southerners to accept. (…) By the time director John Boorman brought “Deliverance” to the big screen in 1972 starring Burt Reynolds as Lewis and Jon Voight as Ed, the damage to the South’s reputation was in full force. (…) Ironically, the movie’s most memorable line, “Squeal like a pig!” was never a part of the book. It was allegedly improvised by the actor during filming. But the South wanted to still promote Dickey, an accomplished Atlanta author, so articles in the Columbia Record and other South Carolina and Georgia newspapers frequently featured Dickey’s novel. The film version of “Deliverance” was also honored at the Atlanta film festival. (…) Although many people in the region still bristle at the movie’s portrayal of locals as ignorant hillbillies, there were some major benefits to the book and film. (…) Both helped create the more than $20 million rafting and outdoor sports industry along the Chattooga River in North Georgia. In 2012, the national media descended on Rabun County again when reporters quickly learned the film’s 40th anniversary was going to be celebrated during the Chattooga River Festival. (…) The Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also pointed out that tourism brings in more than $42 million a year in revenue, which makes for a huge surplus for a county whose operating budget was about $17 million at the time. (…) “It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed since this movie first brought fame to the Northeast Georgia Mountains,” Tanya Jacobson-Smith wrote on the grill’s website promoting the festival. “Much has happened over the years here in Rabun County Georgia and around the world. Some good, some bad. Some still believe the movie was a poor portrayal of this county and it’s people. Other’s believe it is at least part of what has helped this region survive.” (…) “When ‘Deliverance’ was released in 1972, it was for many outside the community their first introduction to the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the ways of the people living and working in their shadow,” she wrote. “Many of us (myself included) saw the breathtaking beauty of this area for the first time via the big screen. We caught a glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabit this place, some good and some not so good. There are those who believe that ‘Deliverance’ made the mountain people seem ‘backwards, uneducated, scary, and even deviant.’ I believe there were also many who, like myself, saw a people of great strength, caring and compassion. A community knit together by hardship, sharing and caring for each other and willing to help anyone who came along. (…) Most importantly ‘Deliverance’ introduced the world to the natural beauty of this mountain region, the unforgettable sounds of the Appalachian music and the wild excitement of river rafting. Drawn here by what they saw on the big screen, tourists flocked to the area to see and experience for themselves the good things they had seen in the movie. (…) “Forty years later, people from all over the world still come to this area to experience the beauty and simplicity of mountain living,” she wrote. “It is here in these beautiful mountains that ‘strangers’ find a vibrant community of lifelong residents and newcomers, working together to maintain a quality of life that has been lost in much of today’s world.” (…) But there was also some growing pains. Thousands of “suburbanites” flocked to the river in search of whitewater thrills and exhibited what author Anthony Harkins calls “the Deliverance syndrome.” These individuals showed the “same lack of respect and reverence for the river that the characters in the film had displayed,” Harkins wrote, adding “to the shame of local guides, some even would make pig squeals when they reached the section of the river where the rape scene had been filmed.” Some of those individuals paid a price. “Seventeen people drowned on the river between 1972 and 1975, most with excessive blood-alcohol levels, until new regulations were imposed when the river was officially designated Wild and Scenic in 1974,” Harkins wrote. Stacey Edson
Since its release, [Deliverance] has provoked passionate critiques, inspired different analyses, and has become a cult phenomenon. The imagery, stereotypes, and symbols produced by the film still inform popular perceptions of the US South, even by those who have never actually watched it. (…) The “rise of the Sunbelt” brought Dixie economic and political power, creating a need for the reconfiguration of the traditional North vs. South identity dynamic. World War II government defense spending led to an impressive economic development of the region. The New South economy and the migration of people and jobs below the Mason-Dixon line produced rapid urbanization and industrialization, contributing to the rise of education and income levels and an upheaval to the system of racial segregation. (…) If the 1970s delivered films and television series that presented southern white working-class men as charming rebels, it also solidified the image of a degenerate « race » of underclass southern whites, marking the rise of the redneck nightmare movie. (…) According to The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, “Deliverance has powerfully shaped national perceptions of Appalachia, the South, and indeed all people and places perceived as ‘backwoods.’” It has done so, in no small part, by ushering in a host of similar films inaugurating a new subgenre in Hollywood and independent US cinema. (…) It has been spoofed, parodied, and referenced in countless movies, TV shows, and cartoons since its release. Furthermore, references to the film still serve as shorthand for poor white (especially southern) backwardness and degeneracy. (…) Deliverance seems to be a curse and a blessing to everyone and everything involved with it. It brought money and tourism to the region, but it also caused ecological problems and the death of several people who tried to emulate the film’s stars. It brought James Dickey fame and fortune but, according to his son, it also caused great personal and emotional damage to him and his family. It simultaneously popularized and stigmatized banjo music. And it helped create a fascination with (and prejudices against) poor, rural southern whites. Maybe that is quite fitting for a story that seemed to condemn while being inescapably part of a complicated moment in American history. Isabel Machado

Attention: un racisme peut en cacher un autre !

A l’heure où se déchaine, à la mesure de ses désormais indéniables succès en matière d’emploi et même de popularité, la véritable hystérie collective contre l’idiot du village de la Maison blanche …

Et où de ce côte-ci de l’Atlantique n’en finit pas de plonger, à la mesure de la déconvenue des retraités et fonctionnaires jusqu’ici protégés de la mondialisation à qui il devait son élection, la popularité du dernier défenseur du progressisme et de l’ouverture …

Pendant que nos valeureux journalistes découvrent des décennies après les faits l’islamisation de la société française

Retour après la conquête de l’espace sans drapeau et à l’instar du film américain de 1972 « Deliverance » (trois ans après déjà les victimes hippies de la vindicte « redneck » d' »Easy Rider« ) …

Ou de leurs avatars français comme « Dupont Lajoie » ou les Deschiens  à la télévision …

Sur ces décennies de délégitimation des classes populaires que rappelle dans son dernier livre le géographe français Christophe Guilluy …

Auxquelles nous devons, sur fond d’un évident mépris de classe, tant les tristement fameux « aigris accros aux armes et à la religion » d’un Obama que le « panier de déplorables » d’une Hillary Clinton ….

Ou plus près de chez nous les « sans-dents » d’un François Hollande et les « illettrés » d’un Emmanuel Macron …

Avec bien sûr, sur fond de migration massive et hors contrôle, les conséquences tant sur la sécurité culturelle que l’assimilation des nouveaux arrivants …

Mais que, signe de ce nouveau « soft power » des oubliés de la mondialisation amplifié par les réseaux sociaux et les nouveaux tribuns du populisme dont parle Guilluy, les élites semblent avoir de plus en plus de mal à conserver sous le tapis …

The Impact of “Deliverance”

Stacey Eidson
Metro spirit
April 15, 2015

Long before moviegoers watched in horror as actor Ned Beatty was forced to strip off his clothes and told to “squeal like a pig” during a film set in the rural mountains of North Georgia, there was the novel by Atlanta writer and poet James Dickey that started it all.

It’s been 45 years since “Deliverance” first hit the book shelves across this nation, but the profound impact that the tale of four suburban men canoeing down the dangerous rapids of a remote Georgia river and encountering a pair of deranged mountain men can still be felt today.

When the book was first released back in April of 1970, the reaction was definitely mixed, to say the least. Most critics praised the adventurous tale, describing the novel as “riveting entertainment” or a “monument to tall stories.”

The New York Times called the book a “double-clutching whopper” of a story that was a “weekend athlete’s nightmare.”

“Four men decide to paddle two canoes down the rapids of a river in northern Georgia to get one last look at pure wilderness before the river is dammed up and ‘the real estate people get hold of it,’” the New York Times book review stated in 1970.

But to the shock of the reader, the whitewater adventure turns into a struggle for survival when the character Bobby Trippe is brutally sodomized by a mountain man while his friend Ed Gentry is tied to a nearby tree.

“In the middle of the second day of the outing, two of the campers pull over to the riverbank for a rest,” the New York Times wrote in 1970. “Out of the woods wander two scrofulous hillbillies with a shotgun, and proceed to assault the campers with a casual brutality that leaves the reader squirming.

“It’s a bad situation inside an impossible one wrapped up in a hopeless one, with rapids crashing along between sheer cliffs and bullets zinging down from overhead. A most dangerous game.”

The New Republic described “Deliverance” as a powerful book that readers would not soon forget.

“I wondered where the excitement was that intrigued Lewis so much; everything in Oree was sleepy and hookwormy and ugly, and most of all, inconsequential. Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place.”

“How a man acts when shot by an arrow, what it feels like to scale a cliff or to capsize, the ironic psychology of fear,” The New Republic review stated. “These things are conveyed with remarkable descriptive writing.”

But the Southern Review probably said it best by stating that “Deliverance” touched on the basic “questions that haunt modern urban man.”

The book spent 26 weeks on the New York Times best-selling hardback list, and 16 weeks on that newspaper’s paperback list.

Within two years, it had achieved its eighth printing and sold almost 2 million copies.

The novel was having an immediate impact on the image of northern Georgia, according to the book, “Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878” by author Emily Satterwhite.

“Dickey’s novel created for readers an Appalachia that served as the site of a collective ‘nightmare,’ to use a term adopted by several of Dickey’s reviewers,” Satterwhite wrote. “The rape of city men by leering ‘hicks,’ central to the novel… became almost synonymous with popular conceptions of the mountain South.”

The book is a tall tale written by a man raised in a wealthy neighborhood in Atlanta, who both loved and feared the mountains of North Georgia, according to Satterwhite.

“Dickey’s father, James II, was a lawyer who loved hunting and cockfighting; his North Georgia farm served as a refuge from his wife, her family inheritance and the Buckhead mansion and servants that her wealth afforded them even in the depths of the Great Depression,” Satterwhite wrote, adding that James Dickey, like his father, was also uncomfortable with his family’s wealth. “Dickey preferred to claim that he grew up in the mountains. He attributed his blustery aggressiveness to his ‘North Georgia folk heritage’ and averred, ‘My people are all hillbillies. I’m only second-generation city.’”

But that was far from the truth.

“Though Dickey’s ancestors had indeed lived in mountainous Fannin County, Georgia, they were not the plain folks he made them out to be,” Satterwhite wrote. “He failed to acknowledge that they were slaveholders and among the largest landowners and wealthiest residents of the county. Dickey’s romantic — and racist — vision of Appalachia as a place apart stayed with him his entire life.”

Dickey’s conflicting feeling about these so-called “mountain people” of North Georgia is evident in many of the conversations between two of the novel’s main characters, graphic artist Ed Gentry and outdoor survivalist Lewis Medlock.

In the beginning of the book, Lewis attempts to describe to Ed, the narrator of the novel and the character who is generally believed to be loosely based on Dickey himself, what makes the mountains of northern Georgia so special.

Lewis insists that there “may be something important in the hills.”

But Ed quickly fires back, “I don’t mind going down a few rapids with you and drinking a little whiskey by a campfire. But I don’t give a fiddler’s f*** about those hills.”

Lewis continues to try to persuade Ed by telling him about a recent trip he took with another friend, Shad Mackey, who got lost in these very same mountains.

“I happened to look around, and there was a fellow standing there looking at me,” Lewis said. “‘What you want, boy down around here?’ he said. He was skinny, and had on overall pants and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I told him I was going down the river with another guy, and that I was waiting for Shad to show up.”

The man who stepped out of the woods was a moonshiner who, to Lewis’ surprise, offered to help.

“‘You say you got a man back up there hunting with a bow and arrow. Does he know what’s up there?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s rougher than a night in jail in south Georgia,’ he said, ‘and I know what I’m talking about. You have any idea whereabouts he is?’ I said no, ‘just up that way someplace, the last time I saw him.’”

What happened next opened Lewis’ eyes to these mountain people, he told Ed.

“The fellow stood up and went over to his boy, who was about fifteen. He talked to him for a while, and then came about halfway back to me before he turned around and said, ‘Son, go find that man.’

“The boy didn’t say a thing. He went and got a flashlight and an old single-shot twenty-two. He picked up a handful of bullets from a box and put them in his pocket. He called his dog, and then he just faded away.”

Several hours later, the boy returned with Shad, who had broken his leg. When Lewis finishes his story, it’s obvious the tale means very little to Ed.

“That fellow wasn’t commanding his son against his will,” Lewis said. “The boy just knew what to do. He walked out into the dark.”

Ed quickly asks, “So?”

“So, we’re lesser men, Ed,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry, but we are.”

“From the ubiquitous rendition of the ‘Dueling Banjos’ theme song to allude to danger from hicks to bumper stickers for tourists reading, ‘Paddle faster, I hear banjoes,’ the novel and film have created artifacts that many of us encounter on an almost weekly basis.”

When the pair reaches the fictitious mountain town of Oree, Georgia, in the novel, Ed is clearly even less impressed.

“An old man with a straw hat and work shirt appeared at Lewis’ window, talking in. He looked like a hillbilly in some badly cast movie, a character actor too much in character to be believed. I wondered where the excitement was that intrigued Lewis so much; everything in Oree was sleepy and hookwormy and ugly, and most of all, inconsequential. Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place.”

As Lewis continues to negotiate with the mountain men, Ed becomes even more harsh in his description of Oree and its residents.

“There is always something wrong with people in the country, I thought. In the comparatively few times I had ever been in the rural South I had been struck by the number of missing fingers. Offhand, I had counted around twenty, at least. There had also been several people with some form of crippling or twisting illness, and some blind or one-eyed. No adequate medical treatment maybe. But there was something else. You’d think that farming was a healthy life, with fresh air and fresh food and plenty of exercise, but I never saw a farmer who didn’t have something wrong with him, and most of the time obviously wrong.

“The catching of an arm in a tractor park somewhere off in the middle of a field where nothing happened but that the sun blazed back more fiercely down the open mouth of one’s screams. And so many snakebites deep in the woods as one stepped over a rotten log, so many domestic animals suddenly turning and crushing one against the splintering side of a barn stall. I wanted none of it, and I didn’t want to be around where it happened either. But I was there, and there was no way for me to escape, except by water, from the country of nine-fingered people.”

The South Squeals Like a Pig

The portrait of mountain people as toothless, sexual deviants in a “country of nine-fingered people” was too much for many Southerners to accept.

“The consequences of fictional representation have never been more powerful for the imagination of mountainness — or perhaps even for southernness, ruralness, and ‘primitiveness’ more generically — than in the case of ‘Deliverance,’” Satterwhite wrote.

By the time director John Boorman brought “Deliverance” to the big screen in 1972 starring Burt Reynolds as Lewis and Jon Voight as Ed, the damage to the South’s reputation was in full force.

The movie, which was primarily filmed in Rabun County in North Georgia during the summer of 1971, grossed about $6.5 million in its first year and was considered a great success at home and internationally.

“Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the thoroughness with which ‘Deliverance,’ transformed by Dickey and director John Boorman into a film classic, has imbricated itself into Americans’ understanding and worldview,” Satterwhite wrote. “From the ubiquitous rendition of the ‘Dueling Banjos’ theme song to allude to danger from hicks to bumper stickers for tourists reading, ‘Paddle faster, I hear banjoes,’ the novel and film have created artifacts that many of us encounter on an almost weekly basis.”

Ironically, the movie’s most memorable line, “Squeal like a pig!” was never a part of the book. It was allegedly improvised by the actor during filming.

But the South wanted to still promote Dickey, an accomplished Atlanta author, so articles in the Columbia Record and other South Carolina and Georgia newspapers frequently featured Dickey’s novel. The film version of “Deliverance” was also honored at the Atlanta film festival.

“Southern hopes for self-promotion were evident at the film’s premiere in Atlanta,” Satterhite wrote. “Dickey leaned over to say to Jimmy Carter, then the governor: ‘Ain’t no junior league movie is it, Governor?’ ‘It’s pretty rough,’ Carter agreed, ‘but it’s good for Georgia.’ Carter paused. ‘It’s good for Georgia. I hope.’”

However, the success of “Deliverance” had such an impact on the Peach State, Carter decided to create a state film office in 1973 to ensure Georgia kept landing movie roles.

As a result, the film and video industry has contributed more than $5 billion to the state’s economy since the Georgia Film Commission was established.

But the release of “Deliverance” was, without question, a difficult time for rural Southerners, wrote Western Kentucky University professor Anthony Harkins, author of “Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon.”

The mountaineers of “Deliverance” were “crippled misfits and savage sodomizers of the North Georgia wilderness” who terrorize the foursome of Atlanta canoeists who simply want to run the rapids of the fictitious Cahulawassee River.

“Indisputably the most influential film of the modern era in shaping national perceptions of southern mountaineers and rural life in general, Deliverance’s portrayal of degenerate, imbecilic, and sexually voracious predators bred fear into several generations of Americans,” Harkins wrote. “As film scholar Pat Arnow only partly facetiously argued in 1991, the film ‘is still the greatest incentive for many non-Southerners to stay on the Interstate.’”

“As film scholar Pat Arnow only partly facetiously argued in 1991, the film ‘is still the greatest incentive for many non-Southerners to stay on the Interstate.’”

In fact, Harkins points out that Daniel Roper of the North Georgia Journal described the movie’s devastating local effect as “Deliverance did for them [North Georgians] what ‘Jaws’ did for sharks.”

“The film’s infamous scenes of sodomy at gunpoint and of a retarded albino boy lustily playing his banjo became such instantly recognizable shorthand for demeaning references to rural poor whites that comedians needed to say only ‘squeal like a pig’ or hum the opening notes of the film’s guitar banjo duet to gain an immediate visceral reaction from a studio audience,” Harkins writes.

Harkins believes that’s not at all what Dickey intended in writing both the book and the movie’s screenplay.

“To (the character) Lewis (and Dickey), the mountain folk’s very backwardness and social isolation has allowed them to retain a physical and mental toughness and to preserve a code of commitment to family and kin that has long ago been lost in the rush to a commodified existence,” Harkins wrote. “Lewis praised the ‘values’ passed down from father to son.”

But all of that meaning appeared to be lost in the film, Harkins wrote. Instead, Hollywood was much more interested in the horrific tale and captivating adventure of traveling down a North Georgia river being chased by crazed hillbillies.

The film was about the shock and fear of such an incident in the rural mountains that enthralled moviegoers.

“The film explicitly portrays Lewis (Burt Reynolds) shooting the rapist through the back with an arrow and the man’s shocked expression as he sees the blood smeared projectile protruding from his chest just before he dies violently,” Harkins wrote.

Surprisingly, Dickey seemed to thoroughly enjoy that scene in the film during the movie’s New York premiere, Harkins writes.

“Known for his outrageous antics and drunken public appearances, (Dickey) is said to have shouted out in the crowded theater, ‘Kill the son of a bitch!’ at the moment Lewis aims his fatal arrow,” Harkins wrote. “And then ‘Hot damn’ once the arrow found its mark.”

Many years later, Ned Beatty, the actor in the famous rape scene wrote an editorial for the New York Times called “Suppose Men Feared Rape.”

“‘Squeal like a pig.’ How many times has that been shouted, said or whispered to me since then?” wrote Beatty, who, according to Atlanta’s Creative Loafing would reply, “When was the last time you got kicked by an old man?”

Beatty wrote the editorial amid the outcry of 1989’s high-profile Central Park jogger rape case, and offered his experience with the snide catcalls, Creative Loafing reported.

“Somewhere between their shouts and my threats lies a kernel of truth about how men feel about rape,” he wrote. “My guess is, we want to be distanced from it. Our last choice would be to identify with the victim. If we felt we could truly be victims of rape, that fear would be a better deterrent than the death penalty.”

The Shock in Rabun County, Georgia

The rape of Ned Beatty’s character was easily the most memorable scene in the film, and, needless to say, many of the residents in Rabun County who were interviewed after the movie was released were less than thrilled.

“Resentment grew even while the film was being made,” Harkins wrote. “As word of how the mountaineers were being portrayed spread, (James Dickey’s son) Christopher Dickey, who was staying with his family in a low-budget motel and had more contact with the local residents acting or working on the set than did Boorman and the lead actors staying in chalets at a nearby golf resort, began to fear for his safety. Shaped by a century of media depictions of brutally violent mountaineers, he worried that some ‘real mountain men’ with ‘real guns’ might ‘teach some of these movie people a lesson.’”

Although many people in the region still bristle at the movie’s portrayal of locals as ignorant hillbillies, there were some major benefits to the book and film.

“That river doesn’t care about you. It’ll knock your brains out. Most of the people going up there don’t know about whitewater rivers. They are just out for a lark, just like those characters in ‘Deliverance.’ They wouldn’t have gone up there if I hadn’t written the book.”

Both helped create the more than $20 million rafting and outdoor sports industry along the Chattooga River in North Georgia.

In 2012, the national media descended on Rabun County again when reporters quickly learned the film’s 40th anniversary was going to be celebrated during the Chattooga River Festival.

“The movie, ‘Deliverance’ made tourist dollars flow into the area, but there was one memorable, horrifying male rape scene that lasted a little more than four minutes, but has lasted 40 years inside the hearts and minds of the people who live here,” CNN reported in 2012.

Rabun County Commissioner Stanley “Butch” Darnell told the media he was disgusted by the way the region was depicted in the film.

“We were portrayed as ignorant, backward, scary, deviant, redneck hillbillies,” he told CNN. “That stuck with us through all these years and in fact that was probably furthest from the truth. These people up here are a very caring, lovely people.”

“There are lots of people in Rabun County that would be just as happy if they never heard the word, ‘Deliverance’ again,” he added.

The news media interviewed everyone, including Rabun County resident Billy Redden, who as a teen was asked to play the “Banjo boy” in the film.

“I don’t think it should bother them. I think they just need to start realizing that it’s just a movie,” Redden, who still lives in Rabun County and works at Walmart, told CNN in 2012. “It’s not like it’s real.”

The Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also pointed out that tourism brings in more than $42 million a year in revenue, which makes for a huge surplus for a county whose operating budget was about $17 million at the time.

Several local businesses embraced the 2012 festival including the owners of the Tallulah Gorge Grill.

The Tallulah Gorge is the very gorge that Jon Voight climbed out of near the end of the 1972 film and the owners of the Tallulah Gorge Grill wanted to celebrate that milestone.

“It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed since this movie first brought fame to the Northeast Georgia Mountains,” Tanya Jacobson-Smith wrote on the grill’s website promoting the festival. “Much has happened over the years here in Rabun County Georgia and around the world. Some good, some bad. Some still believe the movie was a poor portrayal of this county and it’s people. Other’s believe it is at least part of what has helped this region survive.”

Both thoughts are justified, Jacobson-Smith wrote.

“When ‘Deliverance’ was released in 1972, it was for many outside the community their first introduction to the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the ways of the people living and working in their shadow,” she wrote. “Many of us (myself included) saw the breathtaking beauty of this area for the first time via the big screen. We caught a glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabit this place, some good and some not so good. There are those who believe that ‘Deliverance’ made the mountain people seem ‘backwards, uneducated, scary, and even deviant.’ I believe there were also many who, like myself, saw a people of great strength, caring and compassion. A community knit together by hardship, sharing and caring for each other and willing to help anyone who came along.”

She wrote that, as in any community, if people look hard enough and thoroughly examine its residents, they will find some bad, but most often they will find “a greater good that outshines the bad.”

“That is certainly the case here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains,” she wrote. “Most importantly ‘Deliverance’ introduced the world to the natural beauty of this mountain region, the unforgettable sounds of the Appalachian music and the wild excitement of river rafting. Drawn here by what they saw on the big screen, tourists flocked to the area to see and experience for themselves the good things they had seen in the movie.”

As a result, tourists filled hotels and campgrounds to capacity, tasted the local fare in restaurants and cafes and discovered the thrill of swimming in, or paddling on, the state’s beautiful rivers and lakes.

“Forty years later, people from all over the world still come to this area to experience the beauty and simplicity of mountain living,” she wrote. “It is here in these beautiful mountains that ‘strangers’ find a vibrant community of lifelong residents and newcomers, working together to maintain a quality of life that has been lost in much of today’s world.”

Over the years, Rabun County and surrounding North Georgia communities have embraced these changes. Some parts of the area have become a playground for high-end homeowners with multi-million-dollar lakefront property.

But there was also some growing pains.

Thousands of “suburbanites” flocked to the river in search of whitewater thrills and exhibited what author Anthony Harkins calls “the Deliverance syndrome.”

These individuals showed the “same lack of respect and reverence for the river that the characters in the film had displayed,” Harkins wrote, adding “to the shame of local guides, some even would make pig squeals when they reached the section of the river where the rape scene had been filmed.”

Some of those individuals paid a price.

“Seventeen people drowned on the river between 1972 and 1975, most with excessive blood-alcohol levels, until new regulations were imposed when the river was officially designated Wild and Scenic in 1974,” Harkins wrote.

Ironically, some people like to point out that “Deliverance” author James Dickey tried to warn people prior to his death in 1997 about their need to respect the rivers located in the mountains of North Georgia.

“That river doesn’t care about you. It’ll knock your brains out,” Dickey told the Associated Press in 1973. “Most of the people going up there don’t know about whitewater rivers. They are just out for a lark, just like those characters in ‘Deliverance.’ They wouldn’t have gone up there if I hadn’t written the book. There’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t patrol the river. But it just makes me feel awful.”

Voir aussi:

40 years later, ‘Deliverance’ still draws tourists, stereotypes
Rich Phillips
CNN
June 23, 2012

One look at the landscape and you know why people come here — running white water, along a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

This is Rabun County, Georgia. It was the residents’ own best-kept secret until the world discovered it by way of a 1972 movie.

The movie, « Deliverance, » made tourist dollars flow into the area, but there was one memorable, horrifying male rape scene that lasted a little more than four minutes, but has lasted 40 years inside the hearts and minds of the people who live here.
Locals say the film painted the county’s residents as deviant, uneducated mountain folk.
« We were portrayed as ignorant, backward, scary, deviant, redneck hillbillies, » said Rabun County Commissioner Stanley « Butch » Darnell.
« That stuck with us through all these years and in fact that was probably furthest from the truth. These people up here are a very caring, lovely people. »
This weekend, the film’s 40th anniversary will be celebrated at the Chattooga River Festival. A re-release of the iconic film on Blu-ray by Warner Home Video will play at the local drive-in on Saturday.
The film tells the story of four big-city guys who take a drive up to northern Georgia to canoe the white water of the Chattooga River that separates Georgia from South Carolina. It’s remembered for the dueling banjo scene at the beginning of the film, where one man, played by Ronnie Cox, plays a duet with a local teen, who is portrayed as inbred and mentally challenged.
« Dueling banjos, of course, was iconic, but then there’s the rape scene, too, » Cox said. « And for a lot of people it became a tough pill to swallow.
« Some people, I think they missed the artistic essence of it (the film), the value of it. »
But it’s the rape scene that seems to dominate any conversation about the film.
« You were in the middle of the Bible Belt, the biggest thing we had gong back then is we had square dancing at the Mountain City Playhouse, » said Darnell, the county commissioner.
But many people, like Billy Redden, say the local folks should put this behind them. The 40th anniversary means a lot to him. He’s 56 now, but 40 years ago, he was a student who was asked to play the « Banjo boy » after the film’s producers found him on a visit to his high school.
« I don’t think it should bother them. I think they just need to start realizing that it’s just a movie. It’s not like it’s real, » said Redden, who still lives in Rabun County.
But despite any negative stereotypes, the Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says more than a quarter-million people flock to the area each year to shoot the same rapids they saw come to life on the big screen.
« It essentially started the white-water rafting industry in the Southeast,  » said Larry Mashburn, who owns Southeastern Expeditions, a rafting company.
County officials say tourism brings in $42 million a year in revenue, which makes for a huge surplus for a county whose operating budget is about $17 million. These days, the county has an 80% high school graduation rate, and its average home price is more than $300,000.
« It’s allowed us to do things with our education system, with all these different services that we offer, we could not have offered, » Darnell said.
The area has become a playground for high-end homeowners with lakefront property in the multimillion-dollar range on places like Lake Burton, which has 62 miles of shoreline.
« Once people come to Rabun County, they don’t want to leave, » said Debra Butler, a real estate agent. « This is a lifestyle that you have here. It’s a way of life. ‘Deliverance’ depicts a backwoods, inbred kind of community. That is not Rabun County. »
Indeed, downtown shops and art galleries convey an image far from anything portrayed in the 1972 film. Jeanne Kronsoble’s Main Street Gallery in Clayton shows off a wide range of contemporary folk artists, many self-taught. She’s been open for 28 years.
« I became interested in contemporary folk art because of the things I’d seen up here, » she said. « When people build houses and they come here, they need art on their walls. »
Most believe « Deliverance » got it all started.
But despite this prosperity, the 40-year pain has managed to hang on, because so many people saw a fictional film. « There are lots of people in Rabun County that would be just as happy if they never heard the word, ‘Deliverance’ again, » Darnell said.
Voir également:

Revisiting Deliverance
The Sunbelt South, the 1970s Masculinity Crisis, and the Emergence of the Redneck Nightmare Genre
Isabel Machado
June 19, 2017

1Introduction

On May 1, 2013, Vice President Joe Biden delivered the keynote speech at the Voices Against Violence event in Washington, D.C. Even though the VP had written the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, and therefore had the authority to speak about the subject, he decided to add a clumsy personal touch to his address:

You often hear men say, “Why don’t they just leave?” [. . .] And I ask them, how many of you seen the movie Deliverance? And every man will raise his hand. And I’ll say, what’s the one scene you remember in Deliverance? And every man here knows exactly what scene to think of. And I’ll say, “After those guys tied that one guy in that tree and raped him, man raped him, in that film. Why didn’t the guy go to the sheriff? What would you have done? “Well, I’d go back home get my gun. I’d come back and find him.” Why wouldn’t you go to the sheriff? Why? Well, the reason why is they are ashamed. They are embarrassed. I say, why do you think so many women that get raped, so many don’t report it? They don’t want to get raped again by the system.1

The plot of Deliverance (1972) is relatively simple and so familiar that the vice president of the United States used it as shorthand to convey the humiliation and horror of sexual assault in the celebration of the anniversary of an institution dedicated to help victims of domestic abuse. (In the film, four middle-class suburban men paddle down the Cahulawassee River to explore the Georgia Mountains’ wilderness before it is flooded by the construction of a dam. Their adventure turns into a nightmare when they come across two “inbred hillbillies” and one of the canoeists is violently raped. In order to survive the southern “heart of darkness,” the suburbanites must give in to their primal instincts and break a series of laws and moral codes.) But what exactly does Vice Pres. Biden’s reference to the film mean? Is Deliverance a story about survivalism? An ecological cautionary tale? An allegory of the rise of the Sunbelt? A thinly veiled homoerotic fantasy?

Since its release, the film has provoked passionate critiques, inspired different analyses, and has become a cult phenomenon. The imagery, stereotypes, and symbols produced by the film still inform popular perceptions of the US South, even by those who have never actually watched it. Readings of Deliverance have tended to privilege one particular interpretation, failing to fully grasp its relevance. The movie is a rich cultural text that provides historians with multiple ways to analyze the South, particularly concepts such as southern identity and masculinity.

What makes a film an important, iconic, cultural text? It is not simply a matter of popularity at the moment of its release. Deliverance premiered in New York on July 30, 1972, and was quite successful that year, but so were Deep Throat and What’s Up Doc? And it did not even closely approach the box office numbers achieved by The Godfather. The Blaxsploitation classic Super Fly (1972) premiered the same week and, by August 9, had made $145,000. Deliverance earned almost a third of that, making $45,023.2 The initial Variety review described it as a “heavy” and uneven version of a novel that would “divide audiences, making promotion a major challenge” for Warner Brothers.3 The two New York Times critics who reviewed Deliverance appear to have watched different films. Although Vincent Canby had some kind words about the film’s cinematography and performances, he calls it a “an action melodrama that doesn’t trust its action to speak louder than words.” Stephen Farber, however, saw an “uncompromising adventure movie” that “also happens to be the most stunning piece of moviemaking released this year.”4

This essay argues that an important cultural text needs to fulfill three criteria: 1) It reinforces or reworks ideas, images, and stereotypes of the past. 2) It captures the sociocultural spirit and anxieties of the present. And 3) it leaves a legacy that informs future representations. Deliverance accomplishes all of those. It dialogues with past representations of underclass white southerners; reflects and questions the historical moment in which it was produced and consumed; and, to this day, affects the way the region and its inhabitants are perceived and depicted. It can be read as a reflection of the reconfiguration of southern identity during the rise of the Sunbelt, but also as an expression of the perceived masculinity crisis of the 1970s. In addition, although other, more positive images of working-class white southerners were also emerging in the 1970s, the “ redneck nightmare” trope popularized by Deliverance became iconic and enduring.5

In general, studies of the South in film tend to either focus on a specific period and analyze how a particular set of films represent certain views or ideas, or to survey a larger time frame and show how images and perceptions have changed.6 This article proposes instead to analyze a single film, trying to glean from it the sociocultural climate of the period in which it was produced and consumed. Yet, it also connects Deliverance with past stereotypes, archetypes, and discourses, while considering how it affected future representations of underclass white southerners. It is not the objective of this study, however, to argue that this was the only portrayal of the South in celluloid in that period. Other contemporary texts presented very different images of the region.7

2The South as “Other”

In his seminal 1985 article about horror movies, film critic Robin Wood discusses how “the Other” in those texts has to be rejected and eliminated or rendered safe by assimilation. Wood contends that Otherness “functions not simply as something external to the culture or to the self, but also as what is repressed (but never destroyed) in the self and projected outwards in order to be hated and disowned.”8 He uses the depictions of Native Americans and white settlers in classical Westerns as examples of this process. Yet, strong parallels also exist in relation to representations of the South.

Scholars from different disciplines have demonstrated how the South and southerners have played the fundamental role of the “Other” in the establishment of an elevated national identity. Historian James Cobb has pointed out that the tendency to compare South and North “and to see the latter as the normative standard for the entire nation” can be dated at least as far back as to the earliest days of US independence.9 Geographer David R Jansson sees this process as “internal orientalism.”10 Film critic Godfrey Cheshire places Hollywood in the role of colonizer, while Southern Cultures editor Larry Griffin argues that there are as many different “Americas” as there are “Souths,” therefore, we need to question why a particular paradigm is chosen and think about the implications of that choice.11 In “The Quest for the Central Theme in Southern History,” David L. Smiley, suggests: “Perhaps a more fruitful question for students of the American South would be not what the South is or has been, but why the idea of the South began, and how it came to be accepted as axiomatic among Americans.”12 The same advice can also be applied to analyses of representations of Dixie in popular culture.

The stigmatization of a group as “the Other” always implies a relation of power.13 The negotiation of power in Deliverance happens not only on an interregional level, but also between classes. The new, educated, and “redeemed” Sunbelt white South needed to construct its own “Other.” In the post–civil rights era, African Americans, the other “Others,” seemed to be off limits. Hence, what better demographic group to serve this function than the historically stigmatized poor white southerners?14

3The Exoticization of “Poor White Trash”

They are “crackers,” “hillbillies,” and especially “rednecks,”‑all pejoratives bestowed by representatives of a long succession of southern hegemonies, then consumed and broadcast by Yankees who share hegemonic understanding and control communications media.15

Poor white trash, not a nickel in my jeans
Poor white trash, don’t know what lovin’ means
Poor white trash, never had no fun
Poor white trash, ain’t got no one.
In the swamp I live, in the swamp I die.
For poor white trash no one will cry.
16

Underclass southern whites complicate our understanding of US racial dynamics by challenging two important concepts: white supremacy and white privilege. The novel Deliverance describes the North Georgia region as “the country of the nine-fingered people.”17 James Dickey’s son, Christopher, says that this is “because there’s so much inbreeding and so many bad accidents (in the region) that everybody’s missing something.”18 In the film’s DVD audio commentary, director John Boorman notes that the people he encountered in the Georgia Mountains were “all hillbillies” whose “notorious” inbreeding he maladroitly explains: “The reason, I discovered up there, is that these are the descendants of white people who married Indians, and they were then ostracized by the Indians and the whites, and so they had to turn in on themselves, and this strange, hostile, inward-looking group grew up around that history. And you can see, in some of those people’s faces, traces of the Indian.”19 Although it is unclear where the director got this information, he is inadvertently employing the same rationale used to stigmatize and oppress underclass white southerners in the past.

Even prior to the Civil War, abolitionists and proslavery groups portrayed poor southern whites as people outside of a respectable white society.20 Both Harriet Beecher Stowe’s A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1854) and white supremacist Daniel R. Hundley’s Social Relations in Our Southern States (1860) have chapters entitled “Poor White Trash.” Stowe believed that slavery not only corrupted the “black working classes,” but also produced “a poor white population as degraded and brutal as ever existed in any of the most crowded districts of Europe.” She notes that this “inconceivably brutal” group of whites resemble “some blind, savage monster, which, when aroused, tramples heedlessly over everything in its way.”21Hundley sees underclass southern whites as the “laziest two-legged animals that walk erect on the face of the Earth” whose appearance was: lank, lean, angular, and bony, with . . . sallow complexion, awkward manners, and a natural stupidity or dullness of intellect that almost surpasses belief.”22 The focus on the appearance of poor whites is indicative of the association between poverty and physical deformity and the tendency to see poor whites as practically an inferior race. This rationale allowed southerners to ignore the structural barriers to upward mobility in a slave society. Hunley blames “bad blood” and not the “peculiar institution” for the degeneracy of poor whites.23

In 1926 Arthur H. Estabrook and Ivan E. McDougle published Mongrel Virginians: The Win Tribe, which examined a mixed-population group in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western Virginia, not all that far from Deliverance country.24 According to Eastabrook and McDougle, “the white folks look down on them, as do the negroes, and this, with their dark skin color, has caused segregation from the general community.”25 As we have seen, Deliverance director John Boorman gave a similar explanation to the strange appearance of the people he used as extras in his film.

The general acceptance of eugenics laws and involuntary sterilization in the early twentieth century informed public perception of poor whites as potentially dangerous.26 Yet, the stigmatization of underclass whites also had some relatively positive outcomes. In 1909 John D. Rockefeller Sr. granted $1,000,000 to the creation of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. Although they did not necessarily represent underclass southern whites negatively, hookworm crusaders provided one more instance in which this group of people would be perceived as a socially marginal “Other.”27 During the New Deal, another benevolent stereotype of underclass white southerners captured the country’s imagination as Rexford Tugwell instructed Roy Striker “to tell people about the lower third‑how ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed they are.”28 In the hands of talented Farm Securities Administration (FSA) photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein, southern tenants and sharecroppers were transformed into icons of New Deal populism, but the headlines accompanying the powerful images highlighted their exoticism: “Poverty’s Prisoners,” “Uncensored Views of Sharecroppers’ Misery,” or “Is This America?”29

Social realism in the US was not only manifested in the FSA photographs. The Depression also generated socially engaged literature, also known as “sharecropper realism,” which offered dignified depictions of southern sharecroppers.30 At the same time, however, poor southern whites were popularized by a different set of novels: the Southern Gothic literary tradition, which influenced the perception of poor white southerners not only on the printed page, but also on movie screens.31 It can be argued that the work of Flannery O’Connor, Erskine Caldwell, William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, among others, provided a more direct antecedent for the redneck nightmare genre.

These images, archetypes, and stereotypes, some dating back to the nineteenth century, have served as a template for the haunting images of the mountain people in Deliverance. The “creepy banjo boy” played by Billy Redden provides one of the most iconic images of the film. The scene is praised in the Variety review as a “very touching banjo and giutar [sic] duet between [Ronnie] Cox and a retarded.”32 According to J. W. Williamson, some of the local people “felt queasy about the filming of Mrs. Webb’s retarded granddaughter and the use of Billy Redden, who played the inbred banjoist.”33 Redden was a special-education student at the time of the shooting who would later enjoy the status of a local celebrity, having his picture taken with tourists and even resuming his “Hollywood career” three decades later by making a cameo playing banjo on Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003).34 Much has been said about the “authenticity” of the scene, but little attention has been paid to the fact that the character is described in a second draft of film’s screenplay as “probably a half-wit, likely from a family inbred to the point of imbecility and Albinism.”35 Redden’s “face was powdered and his head was shaven for the part” to accentuate his exoticism.36 In the audio commentary over the scene with Mrs. Webb and her grandchild, director John Boorman states: “Look at this character now, this woman, look, the way they live there, that was just absolutely how it was. No set up in any way. It was just us peering through a window with a camera.”37 He ignores the process of pre-production that selected people and locations that fit the screenplay’s descriptions, the ideas and ambiance the filmmakers wanted to convey, and their assumptions about underclass rural southerners.

Ellen Glasgow criticized the Southern Gothic School for its exclusive focus on negative aspects of life in the South and for presenting its Gothic elements as pseudo-realism.38 Similar criticism has been made of Deliverance’s portrayal of the Georgia mountain folk. Former mayor of Clayton, Georgia, Edward Cannon Norton, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1990 that he “despises Deliverance” for the way it depicted his people, noting the film is “too filthy” and it “pictures us as a sorry lot of people.” S. K. Graham, who wrote the article quoting Mr. Norton, also notes that the film “played to every stereotype the mountaineers have tried to live down.”39

4A Sunbelt Allegory?

The “rise of the Sunbelt” brought Dixie economic and political power, creating a need for the reconfiguration of the traditional North vs. South identity dynamic. World War II government defense spending led to an impressive economic development of the region. The New South economy and the migration of people and jobs below the Mason-Dixon line produced rapid urbanization and industrialization, contributing to the rise of education and income levels and an upheaval to the system of racial segregation.40

Nevertheless, as Bruce J. Schulman has argued, the process that transformed the US South from the Cotton Belt to the Sunbelt did not affect the whole section equally: the Sunbelt had its “shadows.” In the decades that produced this drastic change, the coexistence of extreme poverty and prosperity led commentators to criticize the moniker.41 Federal intervention, Schulman notes, “ignited growth at the top,” neglecting “the poverty smoldering at the bottom.” Southern politicians and elites used their influence and supported federal programs for industrial development and agricultural subsidies, while opposing welfare programs.42 Therefore, the Sunbelt did not shine equally to everyone. In the 1970s as the New South reconstructed the image of a region “too busy to hate,” uneducated, underclass whites represented an unredeemed link to the section’s troublesome past. As Christopher Dickey notes, Deliverance “played with the tension between the new South and the old South. The new South was Atlanta. The old South up in the mountains was a whole different world. You didn’t have to drive far to hit it.”43

Jimmy Carter’s inauguration seemed to affirm the acceptance of the New South into the national fold.44 In 1976, the year Carter took office, a captivating representation of the southern redneck conquered the nation when Burt Reynolds’s Bo “Bandit” Darville charmed audiences in Smokey and the Bandit and a number of subsequent “Good Ol’ Boy” movies. Yet, Reynolds’s charming outlaws were not the only images of working-class white southern masculinity to emerge in that decade. If the 1970s delivered films and television series that presented southern white working-class men as charming rebels, it also solidified the image of a degenerate “race” of underclass southern whites, marking the rise of the redneck nightmare movie. Unlike previous films that associated southern evilness with racism, redneck nightmare films generally ignored the social context in which these terrifying “natives” exist. There is no reason why they are the way they are, and their deviance appears to be something congenital or fostered by the evil environment they inhabit. Early prototypes of the subgenre include the adaptation of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary (1931), The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and the exploitation cult classic Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964). The subgenre is solidified in the 1970s with films such as Easy Rider (1969), Deliverance (1972), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Macon County Line (1974), and Southern Comfort (1981).

Derek Nystrom argues that Hollywood’s white working-class southern men in the 1970s can only be understood in the context of the Sunbelt industrialization and urbanization. Nystrom analyzes the “move from redneck to the good ole boy” in representations of white working-class southern masculinity, placing Deliverance as a precursor to what he calls the “southern cycle” or as “an allegory of the Sunbelt’s rise.”45 Along with the transfer of economic and political power to the region, the rise of the Sunbelt also meant a shift from the unionized North to the antiunion South, a process that also contributed to the rise of the New Right. According to Nystrom, the role of class identity in the film’s “allegorical structure” must be considered in order to fully understand “the social history” of its production, identifying Deliverance as a key part of the period’s “larger cultural rearticulation of the South.” His analysis explains the “good ol’ boy” movies, but by placing Deliverance as an anomaly he obscures the film’s true legacy. Boorman’s film actually engendered a host of similar texts, affecting the way that poor southern whites are portrayed and represented.

Deliverance is a complex text, created by skillful artists, which complicates any easy reading of it as just a product of Sunbelt sociocultural angst. Although it has undoubtedly contributed to the stigmatization of underclass southern whites, it refuses to make the suburbanite protagonists the heroes of the story. The film’s opening sequence makes it very clear who attacks first. Lewis (Burt Reynolds) tells his companions that after the dam is built “there ain’t gon’ be no more river. There’s just gonna be a big, dead lake. . . . You just push a little more power into Atlanta, a little more air-conditioners for your smug little suburb, and you know what’s gonna happen? We’re gonna rape this whole god-damned landscape.46 We’re gonna rape it.” It can be argued, then, that the suburban Sunbelt is violating the wilderness and the “savage locals” are only retaliating. The plot also does not make it clear if the canoers’ actions are based on actual threat. Nevertheless, by producing the ultimate emasculating humiliation in the harrowing homosexual rape scene, the film essentially justifies any act of violence committed by its protagonists. When Christopher asked his father why was that scene in the story, James Dickey replied he “had to put the moral weight of murder on the suburbanites.”47

Although Deliverance refuses to have straightforward heroes and villains, the film’s publicity material clearly establishes with whom the audience should identify. Here is how the theatrical trailer introduces the characters: “These are the men, nothing very unusual about them. Suburban guys like you or your neighbor. Nothing very unusual about them until they decided to spend one weekend canoeing down the Cahulawassee River. . . . These are the men who decided not to play golf that weekend. Instead they sought the river.”48 Although the trailer proposes a more generically suburban identity for the protagonists, the film does not shy away from their “southerness.” A few years before the symbol had been reconfigured to symbolize carefree rebelliousness in good ol’ boy movies and television series, Lewis drives a car with a Confederate flag license plate. The trailer emphasizes the canoers’ middle-class suburban identity and contrasts them with the local rednecks, but it also makes it very clear that these are “men,” these are “guys.”

5Anxieties Over Masculinity

A few weeks after the film’s release, Life published an article about Jon Voight’s participation in Deliverance. The article has four images of the actor on the set. One larger, dominant image shows Voight climbing a cliff and describes the actor’s “nerve” to shoot the scene without a double. The smaller, central, picture shows him and Reynolds wrestling in the river and discusses their on-screen rivalry, noting how both men “pride themselves in being athletic.” The image on the lower right side shows “a dramatic white-water scene from the film.” The other small image, however, seems slightly out of place. It is a photo of Voight “relaxing with Marcheline Bertrand, the gentle, storybook pretty girl” he had recently married.49 Marcheline’s lovely, peaceful smile contrasts with the other images of intense male action. She is there to comfort her man. She presents no threat to his masculinity. And she is obviously not a part of the men’s sphere. If after some unforeseeable catastrophe that article were the only surviving artifact left of the 1970s, future investigators would have a hard time guessing that women were agitating for equality and against the patriarchy in the 1970s.50

Suburbanization and a pattern of domesticated consumer-oriented masculinity emerged by the 1950s, spawning the notion that US masculinity was in crisis. The social movements of the 1960s intensified that process, and by the 1970s a rhetoric proposing the emasculation of the white male was consolidated.51 The three cores of masculine identity‑breadwinning, soldiering, and heterosexuality‑were no longer guaranteed.52 Women started to gain prominence in the public sphere and to demand equal rights.53 As Steve Estes notes, the civil rights and Black Power movements defied the exclusion of African American males “from claiming their stake in American manhood.”54 The Gay Liberation movement defied heterosexual normalcy, counterculture challenged moral standards and family “values,” and the antiwar movement questioned the military service.55

These radical changes inspired the emergence of scientific, academic, and popular literature trying to deal with the perceived emasculation of American men. Magazines catering to this distressed male audience grew popular in the 1970s. A good example of this rhetoric in action is the advertisement for the revamped TRUE magazine: “One word describes the new TRUE magazine: MACHO. The honest-to-God American MAN deserves a magazine sans naked cuties, Dr. Spock philosophies, foppish, gutless ‘unisex’ pap, and platform shoes.” The ad advocates for the liberation the American male from the “sterile couches of pedantic psychiatrists” and from “the frivolous skirts of libbers.”56 In 1974 Ann Steinmann and David J. Fox published The Male Dilemma: How to Survive the Sexual Revolution. The book tries to find solutions for the crisis faced by American men in a rapidly changing society, in which for every gain made by women, “there is a corresponding loss of male power and prestige.”57 Sexual ambivalence, the authors argued, was affecting every aspect of men’s lives. Steinmann and Fox denounced the “highly mechanized, highly specialized society of the midcentury” in which males’ physical strength, individual expression, and moral codes are not appreciated, compromising their manhood.58 Furthermore, they contend, this world in which “the once clear-cut distinctions that separated men from women in their sexual and social roles have began to blur and break down” was not only detrimental to men. It caused constant marital conflict, venereal disease epidemics, “soaring” divorce and illegitimacy rates, and “the less identifiable atmosphere of object love, of sex for sex’s sake.”59

Deliverance is a crucial text to consider these issues, not only because of the onscreen story, but also because of how it was promoted, discussed, and criticized upon its release. Much of the film’s publicity revolved around the personalities of the men involved in its production. The set of Deliverance was a man’s world. According to Christopher Dickey, “It was like the whole film was becoming some kind of macho gamble in which each man had to prove he could take the risks the characters were running.”60 In promotional materials and interviews, cast members often complimented each other’s manly attributes: There are constant praises to Burt Reynolds’ physicality, Jon Voight’s courage and focus, and director John Boorman’s pushing them all to their limits. James Dickey’s persona also provided an important subtext for the film’s reception. Part suburbanite, part rugged outdoorsman, he was, according various commentators, a combination of the four protagonists’ qualities and defects. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution refers to him as “an almost mythical macho man in the Hemingway mold.”61 While describing the men involved in the picture, the documentary promo for the film’s release exudes testosterone. Dickey is as a man who “leaves his imprint on everything, and everybody he meets.” An accomplished college professor, he is “one of the major American poets of his generation” but also someone who has a “striking physical presence,” with the authority conferred by personal experience to write about “raging white water in a frail canoe, or hunting deer with a bow and arrow in the wilderness.” In the promo, Boorman compliments Reynolds’s “magnificent physique” and Dickey raves about the cast: “All I can say about these actors, Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, and Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox is that every one of them’s got more guts than a burglar.” Even the film’s production is portrayed as a battle of wills between two powerful dominant males: the director and the author/screenwriter. Boorman describes his relationship with Dickey as “turbulent,” but boasts that he maintained his ground: “I can say that I went fifteen rounds with a champ and I’m still on my feet.”62 There were even rumors that they actually engaged in a fistfight that left the director with a broken nose and minus four teeth.63 The intense level of competition and conflict resolution through homosocial bonding was an important subtext in both the film’s plot and publicity.

In the 1970s, Joan Mellen assessed gender in US cinema with two influential books: Women and Their Sexuality in the New Film (1974) and Big Bad Wolves: Masculinity in the American Cinema (1977). Her work shows how Deliverance was already considered an important text for understanding gender and sexuality shortly after its release. Mellen sees the disappearance of women from 1970s films as a punishment for their new demands and gains and as a reflection of “the belief that a relationship of equals would lead to male impotence.”64 Ultimately she reads the film through a logic of repressed homosexual desire, saying that rape scene was “exciting because it evoked an act they would willingly perform on each other were they not so repressed and alienated by the false accouterments of civilization.”65 Yet, the assumption that class and location affect men’s ability to express their sexual desires is latent in her analysis. Mellen mentions “cultures where male physical feeling does not impair masculine identity” without providing any concrete examples, but also describes the suburbanites’ attackers as “two rural degenerates, men primitive enough to act out those forbidden sexual impulses ‘civilized’ men like our heroes deflect into more acceptable manifestations such as hunting and contact sports.”66 Interestingly, she does not mention the regional identity of the characters, talking about them in terms of archetypes of American masculinity or in psychoanalytical terms by interpreting the story as a reflection of repressed desires projected into the “ghoulish hillbillies” (or the men’s “id”), concluding that the film is a “Freudian fable of the dangers of our instinctual life.” Robert Armour provides a similar reading in “Deliverance: Four Variations of the American Adam” (1973), noting that violence of nature and raw sexual instincts are familiar to the “hillbillies,” for whom “sexual acts satisfy natural urges, whether they are committed with a man, woman, cousin, or pig.”67 The film worked so well because for contemporary readers and critics, the role of the “exotic southern Other” was confined to the rural, underclass whites, which meant they could identify with the Atlanta suburbanites.

Stephen Farber’s reading of Deliverance’s depiction of masculinity contrasts sharply with Mellen’s. The New York Times critic sees it as “a devastating critique of machismo.” He compares Deliverance to Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), noting that “the heroes of both movies are decent, rather fastidious men forced to confront the violent nature in themselves.” Yet, he argues that whereas Peckinpah “clings to the code of the Old West, implying that in a savage world a baptism of blood is the first step to becoming a man,” Boorman makes “a sardonic comment against the sportsman mystique.” Farber concludes that Deliverance “is a major work, important for the artistic vision it brings to the urgent question of understanding and redefining masculinity.”68 Although Farber and Mellen have different opinions about the movie and come to different conclusions about its representation of masculinity, they both reveal how the film resonated with 1970s audiences and critics trying to deal with a “masculinity crisis.”

6The Legacy

Trying to establish a film’s popularity through box office figures and reviews alone can be tricky. It is possible to establish if it was widely seen or favorably reviewed, but that does not necessarily tell us who related to the film or how. What makes Deliverance such a relevant text is that it helped establish a subgenre (and a few tropes) in US cinema; it had a lasting impact on the people, the region, and even objects related to it; and it still serves as shorthand for poor white, and especially southern, scary backwardness and degeneracy.

Deliverance premiered on August 11, 1972, at the Atlanta International Film Festival. At 2:00 p.m. the following day a “Deliverance Seminar” was held.69 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s review was not exactly raving. Howell Raines called it a “peacock of a movie‑beautiful and proud, but rendered faintly ridiculous by an inflated sense of its own importance.” Raines praised the film’s action and photography, but was less impressed by its philosophical pretention. Nevertheless, he calls it the “most anxiously awaited film here since Gone with the Wind,” noting that more than 1,750 tickets were sold for its first local showing.70 Georgia’s governor, Jimmy Carter, along with the Atlanta’s vice mayor, Maynard Jackson, attended the screening. Also in attendance were James Dickey, Burt Reynolds (who came in a Playboy private airplane), and Hollywood director Otto Preminger. Reynolds was made honorary citizen of Atlanta at the event.71 Deliverance received the festival’s top award, the Golden Phoenix Best of the Festival prize. It also grabbed Best Director, Best Actor (Jon Voight), Best Supporting Actor (Ned Beatty), and Best Editor (Tom Priest).72 It then set in motion four decades of film production in Georgia. For the fiscal year of 2011 alone, the impact of that industry for the state’s economy was $2.4 billion.73 The movie made Burt Reynolds a bankable star, rescued Jon Voight’s career, and introduced two great theater performers to the movie screen: Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox.

Despite all that success, according to Christopher Dickey, “the book appeared in the stores in the summer of 1970 and quickly became a bestseller. The next summer, it was made into a movie with Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds. And after that, nothing good was the same.”74 Deliverance has left an ambiguous legacy to the region it made infamous. Environmental historian Timothy Silver notes that the film’s success “spawned a boom in tourism that inevitably led to overdevelopment, pollution, and a host of other environmental problems within the Chattooga watershed.”75 Only 7,600 people had floated down the Chattooga River in 1972. That number almost tripled the following year and reached an astounding 67,784 in 1989.76 The death of twenty-two rafters following the film’s release made the US Forest Services heighten safety restrictions in the area, but rafting has become the cornerstone of the region’s tourism industry.

Doug Woodward, a technical advisor on the set, who later founded Southeastern Expedition, notes that there was some strife in the relationship between cast and crew and the locals. He recalls that when the film’s producers returned to a previously selected location, the owner of the property told them, “I just read the book and you’re not shooting that filthy story on my place!”77 The Rabun County Board of Commissioners, Stan Darnell, had mixed feelings about the film. Referring to the infamous rape scene he remarks: “Everybody up here was kind of up in arms. They didn’t expect that one scene to be in there. But we got the rafting industry, and quite a few other movies came here and helped real estate, and other businesses around.”78 An Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the novel explored this ambiguous legacy, noting that the movie had a positive effect on the region’s economy, boosting its tourism and putting it on the map for future film productions, while stigmatizing the local population. George Reynolds, a folklorist and music teacher who worked in the area, contends that the film affected the way that the people of the region perceived themselves, and how they “perceived the way the world sees them.”79

According to The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, “Deliverance has powerfully shaped national perceptions of Appalachia, the South, and indeed all people and places perceived as ‘backwoods.’”80 It has done so, in no small part, by ushering in a host of similar films inaugurating a new subgenre in Hollywood and independent US cinema.81 Although the redneck nightmare subgenre has antecedents that go as far back as the 1930s, it can be argued that Deliverance established its “semantic and syntactic” elements.82 It has been spoofed, parodied, and referenced in countless movies, TV shows, and cartoons since its release.

Furthermore, references to the film still serve as shorthand for poor white (especially southern) backwardness and degeneracy. On September 18, 2013, The Daily Show presented a sketch about a land dispute on the Georgia-Tennessee border. The clichéd piece interviewed “ignorant hillbillies” and ridiculed them for a quick laugh. When “reporter” Al Madrigal makes a silly Honey Boo Boo joke, one of the interviewees, Dade County, Georgia, executive chairman Ted Rumley tells him the issue is not “something to joke about.” The segment then cuts to five seconds of Deliverance footage with the voice over: “And we all know what happens to funny city people in rural Georgia.” No context is given. No introduction is made. Five seconds of the movie are enough to provide the joke’s punch line.83

One of the most interesting anecdotes about the film’s international appeal comes from anthropologist Jim Birckhead, who studies popular media and minority group identity, focusing on both Appalachia and Aboriginal Australia. Birckhead watched a play in the Australian Outback that had a vignette about southern snake handling, performed by the Wagga Wagga theater company. When the cast and crew realized that he was a “specialist” on the topic, they asked him if snake handlers are “inbred like Deliverance.” After inquiring where the play’s director and cast got information to build their characters, he finds out that they did not find actual literature on Holiness people, but rather relied on media representation of mountain people, especially Deliverance, which “conjured up for them lurid images of bizarre, grotesque, inbred ‘hillbillies.’”84

Deliverance seems to be a curse and a blessing to everyone and everything involved with it. It brought money and tourism to the region, but it also caused ecological problems and the death of several people who tried to emulate the film’s stars. It brought James Dickey fame and fortune but, according to his son, it also caused great personal and emotional damage to him and his family. It simultaneously popularized and stigmatized banjo music.85 And it helped create a fascination with (and prejudices against) poor, rural southern whites. Maybe that is quite fitting for a story that seemed to condemn while being inescapably part of a complicated moment in American history. President Jimmy Carter, who was the governor of the state made infamous by the feature summarized it well: “It’s pretty rough. But it’s good for Georgia . . . I hope.”86

A short documentary film on Deliverance from 1972, which includes footage of James Dickey and John Boorman discussing the film. Directed by Ronald Saland, written by Jay Anson, photographed by Marcel Brockman and Morris Cruodo, and edited by Welater Hess. A Professional Films/Robbins Nest Production

Isabel Machado is a Brazilian historian currently living in Monterrey, Mexico, while writing her PhD dissertation for the University of Memphis. Her two master’s‑in history (University of South Alabama) and film studies (University of Iowa)‑provided her the interdisciplinary lens through which she approaches cultural history. Her current research uses Mardi Gras as a vehicle for understanding social and cultural changes in Mobile, Alabama, in the second half of the twentieth century. On her breaks from academic work she directed documentaries that also explored her fascination with, and affection for, the US South, where she lived for most of the thirteen years she spent in the United States. Her film Rootsy Hip: Hip-Hop Alabama Folk (2009) is a portrait of struggling musicians in Mobile, Alabama, and a meditation on what it means to be a white young man who makes quintessentially African American music in the South. Grand Fugue on the Art of Gumbo (2011) uses Eugene Walter’s radio broadcasts as narration and takes a peek at the ingredients that compose the Gulf Coast and its signature cuisine.

Notes

  • A Portuguese version of this article will be published simultaneously by the academic journal O Olha da Historia (Brazil).
    1. “Dueling Banjos: Joe Biden Talks about ‘Man Rape’ in Deliverance.” Filmed May 2013. YouTube video, 1:36. Posted May 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSszgkaWMwY.
    2. “50 Top‑Grossing Films [Week ending August 9].” Variety, August 16, 1972, 11. It should be noted that even though Deliverance was released five days earlier, while Super Fly opened in two theaters, Deliverance was screened in only one that first week. “‘Fat City’ Fat Start 31G; ‘Deliverance’ Delivers Big First Days in NY; Nixon Spoof, Self‑Sold, Watched,” Variety, August 2, 1972, 8.
    3. “Deliverance,” Variety, July 19, 1972, 14.
    4. Stephen Farber, “Deliverance‑How It Delivers,” New York Times, August 20, 1972.
    5. “Redneck nightmare” films are those in which a person, or a group of people, travel to or through the US South and have dreadful things done to them by monstrous “natives.” For more on the definition and contextualization of the redneck nightmare subgenre/cycle see: Isabel Machado dos Santos Wildberger, “The Redneck Nightmare Film Genre: How and Why the South of Moonshine and Inbred Maniacs Replaced the South of Moonlight and Magnolias in Popular Imagination” (MA Thesis, University of South Alabama, 2013).
    6. For studies that follow the former approach, see Allison Graham, Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2001), Karen L. Cox, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), and articles in Deborah E. Barker and Kathryn McKee eds., American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011). For examples of the latter, see Edward Campbell Jr., The Celluloid South: Hollywood and the Southern Myth (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981), Warren French, ed., The South and Film (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1981), Jack Temple Kirby, Media‑Made Dixie: The South in the American Imagination (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), Larry Langman and David Ebner, eds., Hollywood’s Image of the South: A Century of Southern Films (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001).
    7. Peter Applebome has contended that the country, and Hollywood in particular, “has Ping‑Ponged between views of the South as a hellhole of poverty, torment, and depravity and as an American Eden of tradition, strength, and grace.” This is an interesting analogy, but only if we disregard the fact that negative and positive images of the section tend to historically coexist rather that alternate. Tara McPherson might be closer to the mark when she notes that there seems to be a recurring “cultural schizophrenia about the South” in popular culture. See Peter Applebome, Dixie Rising: How the South Is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1997), 11; Tara McPherson, Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003) 3.
    8. Robin Wood, “An Introduction to the American Horror Film,” in Movies and Methods Volume II, ed. Bill Nichols (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 199.
    9. James C. Cobb, Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 4.
    10. David R. Jansson, “Internal Orientalism in America: W. J. Cash’s The Mind of the South and the Spatial Construction of American National Identity,” Political Geography, vol. 22 (March 2003), 293‑316.
    11. Larry J. Griffin, “Southern Distinctiveness, Yet Again, or, Why America Still Needs the South,” Southern Cultures 6, no. 3 (2000): 47‑72. 68.
    12. David L Smiley, “The Quest for the Central Theme in Southern History,” in The New South, volume 2 of Major Problems in the History of the American South: Documents and Essays, ed. Paul D. Escott et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), 18.
    13. J. F. Staszak, “Other/Otherness,” in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, eds. Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (Oxford: Elsevier, 2009), 43‑44.
    14. See Matt Wray, Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).
    15. Jack Temple Kirby, The Countercultural South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 56.
    16. This song is from the re‑edited version of the film Bayou, directed by Harold Daniels (1957). In 1961 the movie was revamped with more nudity and violence along with a prologue featuring a banjo player singing this tune. This new version was re‑baptized Poor White Trash. See https://youtu.be/H2ZFPW5Cm6s.
    17. James Dickey, Deliverance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970), 56.
    18. Christopher Dickey, Summer of Deliverance (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 164.
    19. John Boorman, audio commentary, Deliverance, directed by John Boorman (1972; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2007), DVD.
    20. Wray, Not Quite White, 48.
    21. Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (London: Clarke, Beeton, and Co., 1853), 365, 368.
    22. Daniel Robinson Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States (New York: Henry B. Price, 1860), 264
    23. Hunley contends that unlike the noble Cavaliers, the “thrifty Middle classes,” or “useful Yeomanry,” the poor white trash were descended from the “paupers and convicts whom Great Britain sent over to her faithful Virginia,” and of “indentured servants who were transported in great numbers from the mother country, or who followed their masters, the Cavaliers and Huguenots.” See Hundley, 264–65.
    24. Arthur H. Estabrook and Ivan E. McDougle, Mongrel Virginians: The Win Tribe (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co., 1926).
    25. Wray, Not Quite White, 82
    26. Mongrel Virginians denunciation of the “degenerative” nature of interracial families helped justify stricter antimiscegenation marriage legislation, such as the Virginia Racial Integrity Act (1924), throughout the South. Interracial marriage had already been outlawed in Virginia since 1691, but what the new act added was a definition of whiteness. For more on this subject, see Gregory Michael Dorr, “Racial Integrity Laws of the 1920s,” in Encyclopedia Virginia, ed. Brendan Wolfe (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2011), http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Racial_Integrity_Laws_of_the_1920s.
    27. By the turn of the twentieth century, there were estimates that least 40 percent of southerners, mostly poor whites, were infected with the hookworm parasite. See Thomas Waisley, “Public Health Programs in Early Twentieth-Century Louisiana,” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, 41, no. 1 (Winter, 2000), 41; William J. Cooper and Thomas E. Terril, The American South: A History, vol. 2, rev. ed. (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009), 613.
    28. Tugwell was the director of the Resettlement Administration at the Information Division of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and Striker was chief of the Historical Section of the Information Division of the Resettlement Administration. See Richard D. MacCann, The People’s Films: A Political History of US Government Motion Pictures (New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1973), 60.
    29. Stuart Kidd, “FSA Photographers and the Southern Underclass, 1935–1943,” in Reading Southern Poverty Between the Wars, 1918–1939, ed. Richard Godden and Martin Crawford (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006).
    30. It includes works such as Edith Summers Kelly’s Weeds (1923) and Henry Kroll’s The Cabin in the Cotton (1931). See Jack Temple Kirby, The Countercultural South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995).
    31. O’Connor’s work only had one major feature adaptation, John Huston’s Wise Blood (1979), but there were several adaptations of Faulkner’s fiction. The work of Erskine Caldwell has arguably generated some of the greatest sources of poor white southerner stereotypes. Two contemporary adaptations of well-known novels, directed by the same acclaimed Hollywood director, provide a good example of the impact of the southern gothic tradition of the portrayal of underclass southern whites. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941) were both directed by John Ford, but the representations of the Joads and the Lesters could not be more contrasting; while the Okie family is dignified, the Georgia sharecroppers are a collection of hillbilly stereotypes.
    32. “Deliverance,” Variety, July 19, 1972, 14.
    33. J. W. Williamson, Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains and What the Mountains Did to the Movies (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 195.
    34. Redden was also featured in a number of fortieth anniversary articles on Deliverance. See Rich Philips, “40 years later, Deliverance still draws tourists, stereotypes,” CNN.com, June 22, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/22/us/deliverance-40-years/index.html?iref=allsearch; Charles Bethea, “Mountain Men: An Oral History of Deliverance,” Atlanta Magazine, September 01, 2011, http://www.atlantamagazine.com/great-reads/deliverance/.
    35. James Dickey, Deliverance, Screenplay Second Draft (January 11, 1971), 13. http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/deliverance.pdf.
    36. S. Keith Graham, “Twenty Years after Deliverance: A Tale of a Mixed Blessing for Rabun County,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 18, 1990, M4.
    37. Deliverance, directed by John Boorman (1972; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2007), DVD.
    38. Ellen Glasgow, “Heroes and Monsters,” Saturday Review of Literature, May 4, 1934, 4.
    39. Graham, M4.
    40. Robert P. Steed, Lawrence W. Moreland, and Tod A. Baker, eds., The Disappearing South? Studies in Regional Change and Continuity (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990), 125.
    41. See Bruce J. Schulman, From Cotton South to Sunbelt: Federal Policy, Economic Development, and the Transformation of the South, 19381980 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) and Randall M. Miller and George E. Pozzetta, Shades of the Sunbelt: Essays on Ethnicity, Race, and the Urban South (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988).
    42. Schulman, From Cotton South to Sunbelt, 180.
    43. Christopher Dickey, Summer of Deliverance, 170.
    44. Jack Temple Kirby relates Carter’s political success to “the redemption of the white masses from pity and from racism.” See Kirby, Media-Made Dixie: The South in the American Imagination, 170.
    45. Derek Nystrom, Hard Hats, Rednecks, and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 57.
    46. This association of the landscape with a violated body mirrors a previous scene in the screenplay (which did not make it to the final film), where Lewis calls Atlanta “that old whore.” See Deliverance, Boorman, and James Dickey, Deliverance, Screenplay Second Draft.
    47. Christopher Dickey, Summer of Deliverance, 180.
    48. Deliverance Theatrical Trailer, in Deliverance, Boorman.
    49. Joan Downs, “Ascent of a Reluctant Winner,” Life, August 15, 1972, 44.
    50. As an interesting side note: The same issue has an article about chess champion Bobby Fischer with the subhead, “The news from Reyjavik is that the Big Bad Wolf of chess has turned into Little Red Riding Hood.” See Brad Darrach, “Can This Be Bobby Fischer?,” Life, August 15, 1972, 42.
    51. K. Michael Prince, “Neoconfederates in the Basement: The League of the South and the Crusade against Southern Emasculation,” in White Masculinity in the Recent South, ed. Trent Watts (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), 235.
    52. Robert O. Self shows how the shift from “breadwinner liberalism” to “breadwinner conservatism,” a reaction to the gains made by nonwhites, women, and gay men and lesbians, would lead to a discourse of the defense of family values that would fuel the rise of the New Right and Religious Right. See Robert O. Self, All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s (New York: Hill and Wang, 2012).
    53. Michael Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press, 1996), 262.
    54. Steve Estes shows that the relationship between white southern masculinity and sexual control was manifested in their violence against black men, which usually had sexual undertones, and that challenges to segregation also fueled male anxieties. See Steve Estes, “A Question of Honor: Masculinity and Massive Resistance to Integration” in White Masculinity in the Recent South, ed. Trent Watts (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), 111.
    55. See Kimmel, Manhood in America; Self, All in the Family.
    56. Kimmel, Manhood in America, 332n29.
    57. Ann Steinmann and David J. Fox, The Male Dilemma: How to Survive the Sexual Revolution (New York: Jason Aronson, 1974), ix.
    58. Steinmann and Fox, The Male Dilemma, 6.
    59. Steinmann and Fox, The Male Dilemma, 9.
    60. Christopher Dickey, Summer of Deliverance, 182.
    61. Graham, “Twenty Years after Deliverance.”
    62. Ronald Saland, The Dangerous World of Deliverance (short promo documentary,1972), in Deliverance, Boorman.
    63. Oliver Lyttelton, “5 Things You Might Not Know about Deliverance, Released 40 Years Ago Today,” Indiewire, July 30, 2012, http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/5-things-you-might-not-know-about-deliverance-released-40-years-ago-today-20120730.
    64. Joan Mellen, Big Bad Wolves: Masculinity in American Film (New York: Pantheon, 1977), 311.
    65. Mellen, Big Bad Wolves, 320
    66. Mellen, Big Bad Wolves, 318
    67. Robert Armour, “Deliverance: Four Variations of the American Adam,” Literature Film Quarterly 1, no. 3 (July 1973), 280–82.
    68. Farber, “Deliverance—How It Delivers.”
    69. Advertising for the festival on Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 11, 1972.
    70. Howel Raines, “Deliverance—A Too-Proud Peacock,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 20, 1972, 8-F.
    71. Sam Lucchese, “Burt Reynolds, Mister Nude, Flies to Atlanta (On Playboy’s Plane),” Variety, August 16, 1972, 7.
    72. It was also nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editor in the 45th Annual Academy Awards (1973). Sam Lucchese, “Deliverance is Mostest of Bestest at Atlanta; Sounder and Tyson, Too,” Variety, August 23, 1972, 7. Scott Cain, “Deliverance Wins Top festival Prize,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 20, 1972.
    73. Bethea, “Mountain Men.”
    74. Christopher Dickey, Summer of Deliverance, 14.
    75. Timothy Silver, “The Deliverance Factor,” Environmental History 12, no. 2 (April 2007), 371.
    76. Graham, “Twenty Years after Deliverance.”
    77. Bethea, “Mountain Men.”
    78. Bethea, “Mountain Men.”
    79. Graham, “Twenty Years after Deliverance.”
    80. Emily Satterwhite, “Deliverance,” in Media, vol. 18 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, ed. Allison Graham and Sharon Monteith, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 233.
    81. See Wildberger, “The Redneck Nightmare Genre.”
    82. For film scholar Rick Altman, the analysis of a film genre is only complete once we consider both its semantic (iconic codes) and syntactic (narrative construction) elements. See Rick Altman, Film/Genre (London, BFI, 1999).
    83. “Georgia vs. Tennessee,” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 18, 2013, http://www.cc.com/video-clips/4txix4/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-georgia-vs–tennessee.
    84. Jim Birkhead, “On Snakes and People,” in Images of the South: Constructing a Regional Culture on Film and Video, ed. Karl G. Heider (Athens: University of Georgia Press), 1993.
    85. Timothy Silver noted that on a visit to favorite breakfast stop in the Appalachian Mountains he spotted T-shirts for sale that read, “Paddle faster. I think I hear banjo music.” Different versions of the T-shirt can also be easily found online. See Silver, “The Deliverance Factor.”
    86. Satterwhite, “Deliverance.”

Voir encore:

40 years later, ‘Deliverance’ causes mixed feelings in Georgia
Cory Welles
Market place
August 22, 2012

Tess Vigeland: When big movies are filmed in small towns, they can pour money into the local economy. Crews need to be fed, housed, moved about and entertained. Productions need extras, and every once in awhile a local gets cast in a speaking part. Some movies even leave a footprint long after the cameras are gone. Santa Barbara Wine Country saw a huge influx of tourists after « Sideways. »

But not every production leaves a sweet taste in locals’ mouths. Film producer Cory Welles and director Kevin Walker decided to make a documentary about one such movie, and the people it portrayed. Cory filed this story about her own film, « The Deliverance of Rabun County. »


Cory Welles: The folks in Rabun County, Ga., put on the Chattooga River Festival this past June to encourage people to visit and take care of their river. But it wasn’t the moonshine tastin’ or banjo pickin’ that got me out to this lush, green mountainous part of the state. It was “Deliverance.”

The movie was shot on and around the Chattooga 40 years ago this year, and they were using that as the hook for the festival.  What Sarah Gillespie and others who helped put the event together didn’t count on was how it would split the community.

Sarah Gillespie: We had a commissioners meeting, and someone stood up and was very emotional — very real feelings — and said that the movie had ruined her life.

I heard stories of people being passed up for jobs because they came from Rabun County. And those negative images have been reinforced by 40 years of “Deliverance” jokes.

But not everyone around has bad feelings about “Deliverance.” And that includes Billy Redden, the backwoods-looking boy who played Dueling Banjos with Ronny Cox in the film. Billy’s 55 years old now, and he says “Deliverance” was the best thing that ever happened to him. But that doesn’t mean he saw much money from it.

Billy Redden: I’d like to have all the money I thought I’d make from this movie. I wouldn’t be working at Walmart right now. And I’m struggling really hard to make ends meet.

Billy didn’t make alot from “Deliverance,” but Rabun County did. Before the movie came out, the number of people who visited the Chattooga was in the hundreds. Afterwards, it was in the tens of thousands. Rafting is now a $20 million industry here and tourism is the area’s number one source of revenue.  So you can understand why the organizers of the Chattooga River Festival decided to highlight the film.

But you can also understand the objections.

Tammy Whitmire: A lot of people tried to talk me into supporting this and so they justified it and said, « Tammy, but it’s making money, it’s tourism, it’s bringing people to the county, why does it matter how they get here? »

Tammy Whitmire is a county official who’s lived in the area since she was nine and married a man whose family has been here for 15 generations. But she refused to support the Chatooga River Festival because of “Deliverance.”

Whitmire: As long as they get here and spend their money, and my thought to that particularly is, you know you’re gonna sell what are you selling, to get those few dollars? Is it worth a few dollars? For people around the world to think that’s what we are here? No. Or for me, it is not worth it.

But it’s more than just a few dollars. Then-governor Jimmy Carter established a film commission in Georgia after “Deliverance” came out.  And since then, the state’s become one of the top five production destinations in the U.S. And it’s not just movie money that’s been drawn to this part of the state, it’s people with money. These days, million-dollar vacation homes line the shores of the area’s lakes.

You can understand why city-folk might want to have a place in these parts. The Chattooga is beautiful — unbelievably beautiful. On a raft ride down the river, our guide pointed to a tree-lined bank and said “That’s where the rape scene was filmed!” And 40 years after “Deliverance” hit theaters, that’s still the issue: Can this gorgeous river and the disturbing scenes that were filmed here ever be separated? Do they need to be?

Sarah Gillespie: “Deliverance” is a significant part of our history, good or bad. It’s a significant part of the river’s history.  It was filmed here. Stereotypes are stereotypes — they’re in every single movie that you’ll see in your life.

For what it’s worth, my partner Kevin and I found the stereotypes to be anything but true. We met so many great people in Rabun County — especially Billy Redden, the “banjo boy.”

Redden: We’re not a bad people up here, we’re a loving people. Rabun County is a pretty good town. It’s peaceful, not a lot of crime going on, just a real peaceful town. Everybody pretty much gets along with everybody.

I’m Cory Welles for Marketplace.

Voir de plus:

Deliverance (1972)

Background

Deliverance (1972) is British director John Boorman’s gripping, absorbing action-adventure film about four suburban Atlanta businessmen friends who encounter disaster in a summer weekend’s river-canoeing trip. It was one of the first films with the theme of city-dwellers against the powerful forces of nature.

The exciting box-office hit, most remembered for its inspired banjo duel and the brutal, violent action (and sodomy scene), was based on James Dickey’s adaptation of his own 1970 best-selling novel (his first) of the same name – he contributed the screenplay and acted in a minor part as the town sheriff.

The stark, uncompromising film was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing), but went away Oscar-less. The beautifully-photographed film, shot entirely on location (in northern Georgia’s Rabun County that is bisected by the Chattooga River), was the least-nominated film among the other Best Picture nominees. Ex-stuntman Burt Reynolds took the role of bow-and-arrow expert Lewis after it was turned down by James Stewart, Marlon Brando, and Henry Fonda on account of its on-location hazards.

The increasingly claustrophobic, downbeat film, shot in linear sequence along forty miles of a treacherous river, has been looked upon as a philosophical or mythical allegory of man’s psychological and grueling physical journey against adversity. It came during the 70s decade when many other conspiracy or corruption-related films were made with misgivings, paranoia or questioning of various societal institutions or subject areas, such as the media (i.e., Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976)), politics (i.e., The Parallax View (1974), All the President’s Men (1976)), science (i.e., Capricorn One (1977), Coma (1978), The China Syndrome (1979)), and various parts of the US itself (i.e., Race with the Devil (1975), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and later Southern Comfort (1981)).

A group of urban dwellers test their manhood and courage, totally vulnerable in the alien wild, and pit themselves against the hostile violence of nature. At times, however, they are attracted to nature, and exhilarated and joyful about their experiences in the wild. (Director Boorman pursued the same complex eco-message theme of man vs. nature in other films, including Zardoz (1973) and The Emerald Forest (1985).) As they progress further and further along in uncharted territory down the rapids, the men ‘rape’ the untouched, virginal wilderness as they are themselves violated by the pristine wilderness and its degenerate, inbred backwoods inhabitants. Survivalist skills come to the forefront when civilized standards of decency and logic fail.

The film’s taglines were tantalizing:

      • « This is the weekend they didn’t play golf. »
      • « Where does the camping trip end…and the nightmare begin…? »
      • « What did happen on the Cahulawassee River?

The river is the potent personification of the complex, natural forces that propel men further and further along their paths. It tests their personal values, exhibiting the conflict between country and city, and accentuates what has been hidden or unrealized in civilized society. The adventurers vainly seek to be ‘delivered’ from the evil in their own hearts, and as in typical horror films, confront other-worldly forces in the deep woods. The flooding of the region after the completion of a dam construction project alludes to the purification and cleansing of the sins of the world by the Great Flood. The film was also interpreted as an allegory of the US’ involvement in the Vietnam War – as the men (the US military) intruded into a foreign world (Southeast Asia), and found it was raped or confronted by wild forces it couldn’t understand or control.

The Story


The film opens with voice-overs of the main characters discussing the « vanishing wilderness » and the corruption of modern civilization, while the credits play over views of the flooding of one of the last untamed stretches of land, and the imminent wiping out of the entire Cahulawassee River and the small town of Aintry.

[The film’s trailer provides details about the foursome: « These are the men. Nothing very unusual about them. Suburban guys like you or your neighbor. Nothing very unusual about them until they decided to spend one weekend canoeing down the Cahulawassee River. Ed Gentry – he runs an art service, his wife Martha has a boy Dean. Lewis Medlock has real estate interests, talks about resettling in New Zealand or Uruguay. Drew Ballinger – he’s sales supervisor for a soft drink company. Bobby Trippe – bachelor, insurance and mutual funds. These are the men who decided not to play golf that weekend. Instead, they sought the river. »]

The four characters include:

      • Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), a bow-hunter and avowed, macho survivalist and outdoorsman
      • Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty in his film debut), an overweight insurance salesman
      • Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox in his film debut), a guitar player and sales supervisor
      • Ed Gentry (Jon Voight, a star actor due to his appearance in Midnight Cowboy (1969)), married, runs an art service

Lewis lectures his friends and anxiously bemoans the dam construction that will soon destroy the (‘damned’ or ‘dammed’) Cahulawassee River and town. He urges his friends to take a ride down the river before a man-made lake will forever flood it:

…because they’re buildin’ a dam across the Cahulawassee River. They’re gonna flood a whole valley, Bobby, that’s why. Dammit, they’re drownin’ the river…Just about the last wild, untamed, unpolluted, unf–ked up river in the South. Don’t you understand what I’m sayin’?…They’re gonna stop the river up. There ain’t gonna be no more river. There’s just gonna be a big, dead lake…You just push a little more power into Atlanta, a little more air-conditioners for your smug little suburb, and you know what’s gonna happen? We’re gonna rape this whole god-damned landscape. We’re gonna rape it.

His friends Bobby, Ed, and Drew label Lewis’ views as « extremist. » In voice-over, Lewis coaxes his three, soft city-slicker friends to join him for a weekend canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River – to pit themselves against the US wilderness. (The film’s major poster declared: « This is the weekend they didn’t play golf. ») They leave behind their business jobs and civilized values for their « last chance » to go back to unspoiled nature for a weekend of canoeing, hunting, and fishing, in northern Georgia’s scenic Appalachian wilderness.

Their two cars, Lewis’ International Scout 4 x 4 and Drew’s station wagon with canoes strapped on top, drive into the hillbilly wilderness to their odyssey’s starting point:

We’re gonna leave Friday, from Atlanta. I’m gonna have you back in your little suburban house in time to see the football game on Sunday afternoon. I know you’ll be back in time to see the pom-pom girls at halftime ’cause I know that’s all you care about…Yeah, there’s some people up there that ain’t never seen a town before, no bigger than Aintry anyway. And then those woods are real deep. The river’s inaccessible except at a couple of points…This is the last chance we got to see this river. You just wait till you feel that white-water under you, Bobby…I’ll have you in the water in an hour.

The first view of the city-dwelling buddies in the film occurs when the vehicles pull into a junk-littered, backwoods area that appears « evacuated already. » The men reveal more of their believable personalities by their reactions to the community of mountain folk they meet in this first scene:

      • the virile, dark-haired, dare-devil, savvy, somewhat repulsive leader Lewis (a patch on his jacket identifies him as the Co-captain of a skydiving group
      • the chubby-overweight, comical, middle-class salesman Bobby
      • the soft-spoken, decent, liberal and intellectually-minded, gentle, guitar-strumming Drew
      • and the thoughtful, complex, timid, mild-mannered, pipe-smoking, curious Ed

From behind a dilapidated, squalid shanty building, the first primitive hillbilly emerges, suspicious that they are from the power company. Lewis asks the old mountain man (Ed Ramey) about hiring him to drive their two cars to a point downstream at their landing point of Aintry:

Lewis: We want somebody to drive ’em down to Aintry for us.
Man: Hell, you’re crazy.
Lewis: No s–t. Hey, fill that one up with gas, huh, OK?

As the mountain man pumps gas, Bobby ridicules the strange man’s repulsive look:

Say, mister, I love the way you wear that hat.

He is told: « You don’t know nuthin’. » Possible drivers are suggested to Lewis for hire: « You might get the Griner Brothers…They live back over that way. »

One of the film’s highlights is a lively, captivating banjo duel of bluegrass music, « Dueling Banjos » (actual title « Feudin’ Banjos » – arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with guitarist Steve Mandell). [The song was authored by Arthur « Guitar Boogie » Smith in the 50s, and copyrighted by the Combine Music Corp.] Drew begins by playing chords on his guitar. A deformed, retarded, albino hillbilly youngster (Billy Redden) (on banjo) appears on the porch and answers him. Under his breath, Bobby criticizes the cretinous hillbilly boy: « Talk about genetic deficiencies. Isn’t that pitiful? » From behind him, one of the backwoods folks asks: « Who’s pickin’ a banjo here? » The impromptu song is played as a rousing challenge between the two. Toward its furious ending, Drew admits to the grinning boy: « I’m lost. » When Drew, seen as a suspicious stranger, compliments the moon-faced winner when they are done – « God damn, you play a mean banjo, » the mute, inbred, half-witted boy resumes his stony stare, turns his head sharply, and refuses to shake hands with the interloping foreigner. Drew is obviously disappointed that the boy ignores him.

As Lewis drives to the nearby Griner Bros. garage, he ridicules Bobby’s means of making a living – insurance sales, thereby tempting fate: « I’ve never been insured in my life. I don’t believe in insurance. There’s no risk. » In an edgy, volatile encounter, Lewis bargains firmly with one of the grimy, poverty-stricken Griner brothers (Seamon Glass and Randall Deal) to have them drive their vehicles to Aintry for $40 – and receives a second ominous warning about the hazardous river:

Griner: Canoe trip?
Lewis: That’s right, a canoe trip.
Griner: What the hell you wanna go f–k around with that river for?
Lewis: Because it’s there.
Griner: It’s there all right. You get in there and can’t get out, you’re gonna wish it wasn’t.

Ed fears that they have pushed too hard: « Listen, Lewis, let’s go back to town and play golf…Lewis, don’t play games with these people. » With Ed as his passenger, Lewis races his Bronco against the Griner’s pickup truck to the river’s launch point a few miles away through the dense woods – in his station wagon, Drew follows at a safe distance behind with Bobby. The reflections of leaves from the colorful canopy above shrouds and obscures a clear view of Ed and Lewis through the windshield – the jostling ride frightens Ed: « Lewis, you son-of-a-bitch, why do we have to go so god-damned fast?…Lewis, you’re gonna kill us both, you son-of-a-bitch, before we ever see any water. » When they reach the peaceful water’s edge, Lewis philosophically contemplates the view:

Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything…A couple more months, she’ll all be gone…from Aintry on up. One big dead lake.

They finally venture onto the river in two canoes: Drew with Ed, and Bobby with Lewis. Through the trees, they are observed at the water’s edge by the Griners – inhabitants of the area before ‘civilization’ took over. The neophyte canoers are unsure of their direction:

Bobby: Which way are we goin’, this way or that?
Lewis: I think, uh, downstream would be a good idea, don’t you? Drew – you and Bobby see some rocks, you yell out now, right?…
Bobby: Lewis, is this the way you get your rocks off?

At first, their encounter with the river and nature is peaceful and tranquil as they paddle along – on a sunny day. Above them on a cross-walk bridge high above the placid river, the banjo-playing lad silently but intently watches them – the camera shooting from Drew’s perspective. Before the first of many, increasingly-exciting sequences on the water, Lewis stands upright in the canoe and announces: « This gonna be fun! » They confront the twisting and turning white-water rapids of the swift-moving Chattooga River. They are exuberant and euphoric after victoriously navigating the challenging but not overwhelming wild-flowing water – under Lewis’ expert instruction. Bobby is thrilled about shooting the rapids:

That’s the best – the second best sensation I ever felt.

But Ed isn’t as certain: « Damn, I thought we bought the farm there, for a while. » Lewis reminisces about how it must have been for the original pioneers, while Bobby foolishes thinks they’ve masterfully beaten the river:

Lewis: The first explorers saw this country, saw it just like us.
Drew: I can imagine how they felt.
Bobby: Yeah, we beat it, didn’t we? Did we beat that?
Lewis: You don’t beat it. You don’t beat this river.

With a high-powered bow-and-arrow fishing rod, Lewis takes aim at a fish, misses and then warns:

Machines are gonna fail and the system’s gonna fail…then, survival. Who has the ability to survive? That’s the game – survive.

Lewis remarks that the mild-mannered, secure-in-life Ed has all the comforts of civilization, but does he know how to survive in the wild like a man? His implication to his companion is that only the strong survive:

Ed: Well, the system’s done all right by me.
Lewis: Oh yeah. You gotta nice job, you gotta a nice house, a nice wife, a nice kid.
Ed: You make that sound rather s–tty, Lewis.
Lewis: Why do you go on these trips with me, Ed?
Ed: I like my life, Lewis.
Lewis: Yeah, but why do you go on these trips with me?
Ed: You know, sometimes I wonder about that.

The comrades camp at night by the river’s edge, setting up tents, sitting around a campfire, listening to Drew’s guitar playing, drinking beer, and roasting a fish that Lewis has speared. Bobby expresses some appreciation for the virgin river and the wilderness surrounding it:

Bobby: It’s true, Lewis, what you said. There’s somethin’ in the woods and in the water that we have lost in the city.
Lewis: We didn’t lose it. We sold it.
Bobby: Well, I’ll say one thing for the system – the system did produce the air-mattress. Or as it’s better known among we camping types the instant broad. And if you fellows will excuse me, I’m gonna go be mean to my air mattress.

Tension is heightened when Lewis senses « something or someone » in the blackness of the night around them. The three tenderfoots criticize Lewis’ affinity to nature as he disappears to investigate: « He wants to be one with nature and he can’t hack it. » Ed drunkenly philosophizes about their isolation from the world:

No matter what disasters may occur in other parts of the world, or what petty little problems arise…, no one can find us up here.

The next morning after rising early, Ed takes his bow and arrow and stalks a deer – emulating his buddy. But his hands tremble at the moment of the arrow’s release toward a live animal, and the shot veers into a tree trunk. Drew sensitively comments: « I don’t understand how anyone could shoot an animal. » Ed later explains his reason for faltering: « I lost control psychologically. » No longer intoxicated by the thrill of the outdoors, Bobby complains about his mosquito bites: « I got eaten alive last night. My bites have got bites…I’m a salesman, Ed. » Further down the river, Ed and Bobby become separated from the other two behind them. They pull their canoe out of the river when they decide to rest in the thick wilderness next to it.

More threatening than the untamed river are two evil, violent, primitive, degenerate and hostile mountain men, a gay hillbilly (Bill McKinney) and a grizzly, toothless man (Herbert « Cowboy » Coward) armed with a 12 gauge double-barreled shotgun who suddenly appear from the woods and confront the intruders. [The wilderness isn’t populated with romantic survivalists or enobled, heroic characters as in adventure stories, but sadistic brutes.] The two inexperienced, naive adventurers, assuming that the menacing backwoodsmen (who are harrassing them) are hiding a still to manufacture bootleg whiskey, promise not to tell anyone where it is located. Even away from his urban citified element, Ed maintains an inappropriate decorum of decency and ineffectually calls the animalistic rednecks ‘gentlemen’:

Mountain Man: What the hell you think you’re doin’?
Ed: Headin’ down river. A little canoe trip, headin’ for Aintry.
Mountain Man: Aintry?
Bobby: Sure, this river only runs one way, captain, haven’t you heard?
Mountain Man: You ain’t never gonna get down to Ain-.
Ed: Well, why not?
Mountain Man: ‘Cause. This river don’t go to Aintry. You done taken a wrong turn. See uh, this here river don’t go nowhere near Aintry.
Bobby: Where does it go, then?
Mountain Man: Boy, you are a lost one, ain’t ya?
Bobby: Well, hell, I guess this river comes out somewhere, don’t it? That’s where we’re goin’. Somewhere. Look, we don’t want any trouble here.
Ed: If you gentlemen have a still near here, hell, that’s fine with us.
Bobby: Why sure. We’d never tell anybody where it is. You know somethin’, you’re right, we’re lost. We don’t know where in the hell we are.
Toothless Man: A still?
Bobby: Right, yeah. You’re makin’ some whiskey up here. We’ll buy some from ya, we could use it, couldn’t we?
Mountain Man: Do you know what you’re talkin’ about?
Ed: We don’t know what we’re talkin’ about, honestly we don’t.
Mountain Man: No, no. You said somethin’ about makin’ whiskey, right? Isn’t that what you said?
Ed: We don’t know what you’re doin’ and we don’t care. That’s none of our business.
Mountain Man: That’s right. It’s none of your god-damned business, right.
Ed: We got quite a long journey ahead of us, gentlemen.
Toothless Man: Hold it. You ain’t goin’ no damn wheres.
Ed: This is ridiculous.
Toothless Man: Hold it, or I’ll blow your guts out all over these woods.
Ed: Gentlemen, we can talk this thing over. What is it you require of us?


At shotgun point, in a nightmarish and frightening sequence, the two sexually-perverted rustics viciously target them. They order them up into the woods where they tie Ed (with his own belt) to a tree. The mountain man sexually humiliates Bobby – the chubby-faced, defenseless intruder into his territory. He forces the fat salesman to first strip down to his underwear.

After a degrading roll around in the dirt and up a steep, leaf-strewn hillside while fondling and groping his prey, the mountain man/rapist makes Bobby squeal like a female sow before sodomizing him. Strapped against a tree, Ed helplessly watches in horror:

Mountain Man: Now, let’s you just drop them pants.
Bobby: Drop?
Mountain Man: Just take ’em right off.
Bobby: I-I mean, what’s this all about?
Toothless Man: Don’t say anything, just do it.
Mountain Man: Just drop ’em, boy! (To Ed – at knifepoint) You ever had your balls cut off, you f–kin’ ape?
Bobby: Lord.
Mountain Man: Look at there, that’s sharp. I bet it’d shave a hair.
Toothless Man: Why don’t ya try it and see?
Bobby: Lord, lord. Deliver us from all.
Toothless Man (To Bobby): Pull off that little ol’ bitty shirt there, too. (To Mountain Man) Did he bleed?
Mountain Man: He bled. (To Bobby) Them panties, take ’em off. (After attacking him) Get up, boy. Come on, get on up there.
Bobby: No, no, no. Oh, no. No. Don’t.
Mountain Man: Hey boy. You look just like a hog.
Bobby: Don’t, don’t.
Mountain Man: Just like a hog. Come here, piggy, piggy, piggy. (Holding Bobby’s nose as he straddled him from behind) Come on, piggy, come on, piggy, come on, piggy, give me a ride, a ride. Hey, boy. Get up and give me a ride.
Bobby: All right.
Mountain Man: Get up and give me a ride, boy.
Bobby: All right. All right.
Mountain Man: Get up! Get up there!
Bobby: All right. (His underwear was pulled off) Oh no, no!
Mountain Man: Looks like we got us a sow here, instead of a boar.
Bobby: Don’t. Don’t.
Mountain Man: What’s the matter, boy? I bet you can squeal. I bet you can squeal like a pig. Let’s squeal. Squeal now. Squeal. (Bobby’s ear was pulled)
Bobby: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Mountain Man: Squeal. Squeal louder. Louder. Louder, louder. Louder! Louder! Louder! Get down now, boy. There, get them britches down. That’s that. You can do better than that, boy. You can do better than that. Come on, squeal. Squeal.

Lewis and Drew silently paddle up and come upon the scene of brutalization. Meanwhile, the Toothless Man (with a bare-gummed sneer on his face) prepares to order Ed to perform fellatio upon him at gunpoint: « He’s got a real purty mouth, ain’t he? » With his bow and arrow, Lewis shoots and kills the Mountain Man with one arrow that is shot through his back and protrudes from his chest. The Toothless Man drops his shotgun and scurries away into the woods, as the Mountain Man staggers around with the arrow through his body – and then falls dead.

Nervously and dramatically, the outsider-tourists argue about what to do next – should they report the killing to the authorities or submerge the evidence in the ground?

Lewis: What are we gonna do with him?
Drew: There’s not but one thing to do. Take the body down to Aintry. Turn it over to the Highway Patrol. Tell ’em what happened.
Lewis: Tell ’em what exactly?
Drew: Just what happened. This is justifiable homicide if anything is. They were sexually assaulting two members of our party at gunpoint. Like you said, there was nothin’ else we could do.
Ed: Is he alive?
Lewis: Not now. Well, let’s get our heads together. (To vengeful Bobby) Come on now, let’s not do anything foolish. Does anybody know anything about the law?
Drew: Look, I-I was on jury duty once. It wasn’t a murder trial.
Lewis: A murder trial? Well, I don’t know the technical word for it, Drew, but I know this. You take this man down out of the mountains and turn him over to the Sheriff, there’s gonna be a trial all right, a trial by jury.
Drew: So what?
Lewis: We killed a man, Drew. Shot him in the back – a mountain man, a cracker. It gives us somethin’ to consider.
Drew: All right, consider it, we’re listenin’.
Lewis: S–t, all these people are related. I’d be god-damned if I’m gonna come back up here and stand trial with this man’s aunt and his uncle, maybe his momma and his daddy sittin’ in the jury box. What do you think, Bobby? (Bobby rushes at the corpse, but is restrained) How about you, Ed?
Ed: I don’t know. I really don’t know.
Drew: Now you listen, Lewis. I don’t know what you got in mind, but if you try to conceal this body, you’re settin’ yourself up for a murder charge. Now that much law I do know! This ain’t one of your f–kin’ games. You killed somebody. There he is!
Lewis: I see him, Drew. That’s right, I killed somebody. But you’re wrong if you don’t see this as a game…Dammit, we can get out of this thing without any questions asked. We get connected up with that body and the law, this thing gonna be hangin’ over us the rest of our lives. We gotta get rid of that guy!…Anywhere, everywhere, nowhere.
Drew: How do you know that other guy hasn’t already gone for the police?
Lewis: And what in the hell is he gonna tell ’em, Drew, what he did to Bobby?
Drew: Now why couldn’t he go get some other mountain men? Now why isn’t he gonna do that? You look around you, Lewis. He could be out there anywhere, watchin’ us right now. We ain’t gonna be so god-damned hard to follow draggin’ a corpse.
Lewis: You let me worry about that, Drew. You let me take care of that. You know what’s gonna be here? Right here? A lake – as far as you can see hundreds of feet deep. Hundreds of feet deep. Did you ever look out over a lake, think about something buried underneath it? Buried underneath it. Man, that’s about as buried as you can get.
Drew: Well, I am tellin’ you, Lewis, I don’t want any part of it.
Lewis: Well, you are part of it!
Drew: IT IS A MATTER OF THE LAW!
Lewis: The law? Ha! The law?! What law?! Where’s the law, Drew? Huh? You believe in democracy, don’t ya?
Drew: Yes, I do.
Lewis: Well then, we’ll take a vote. I’ll stand by it and so will you.

Under stress, the normal demeanor of the urban professionals becomes more primal and crazed. Drew persuasively argues that they must take the body with them and lawfully report the incident as self-defense (a « justifiable homicide ») to the police. Drew is outvoted when the decent, pipe-smoking Ed casts the decisive vote in the ‘democratic’ process – a consequential vote that Drew calls « the most important decision of your whole life…We’re gonna have to live with this for the rest of our lives. » Lewis’ viewpoint eventually wins out with Ed’s collaboration – they decide to bury the man without reporting the incident (fearing the vengeful local residents wouldn’t accept their explanation and would be antagonistic toward them in a local trial). They expect that the waters of the future dam site would keep the corpse a secret and cover up their own awful crime. They add another dead creature to the soon-to-be dead wilderness.

To prepare for the burial, Lewis pulls the arrow out of the chest of Bobby’s attacker. The foursome awkwardly carry the body to a chosen gravesite. In a frenzy, they dig a grave with their bare hands, animalistically scratching and clawing with their hands. The gravediggers place the Mountain Man and the shotgun in the shallow grave, but the body’s stubborn, outstretched arm won’t willingly remain buried under the soft earth.

In haste, the panicked quartet anxiously race to their canoes to « paddle on down to Aintry to get the cars and go home. » As they descend and approach more frightening rapids downriver, Drew has neglected to put on his lifejacket. He rises, shakes his dazed head, loses his balance, topples and pitches (or falls) forward into the rough water in some noisy, churned-up rapids and disappears under the surface – he doesn’t resurface. Ed’s wooden canoe hits a large boulder, capsizes, and splinters into two pieces. The second canoe collides with it and also capsizes. All of the men are catapulted and spilled into a vicious set of cascading water and carried downstream in the frothy white foam. Lewis suffers an excruciatingly-painful right thighbone compound fracture when he strikes some underwater rocks – he cries out: « My leg’s broke. » With viscera (bone and flesh) hanging out of his pant’s leg where the wound was sustained, Lewis conjectures that « Drew was shot » by « that toothless bastard. » Clutching his leg and screaming in agony, Lewis finds refuge on some jagged rocks on the shoreline next to the river where high cliffs overlook them. Drew’s damaged guitar floats by in the water, as Ed vainly calls out for his companion – his voice echoes throughout the gorge’s canyons.

They paranoically suspect that they are the targets of gunshots, fired by the murdered man’s buddy poised high atop the towering cliff above them (« he’s right up there »). Ed surmises that they are retaliatory targets: « He’s gonna try and kill us, too. If he killed Drew, he’s gonna have to kill us. » The three are trapped in a gorge, feeling like sitting ducks [filmed at Tallulah Gorge]. Now they are compelled to play the deadly ‘game’ of survival. Ed yells at the group’s self-proclaimed leader who has suffered a debilitating fate:

Ed: What are we gonna do, Lewis? You’re the guy with the answers. What the hell do we do now?
Lewis: Now you get to play the game.
Ed: Lewis, you’re wrong.

Bobby is reduced to a fearful, whimpering weakling, and Lewis is so seriously injured that his leg must be splinted with a canoe paddle. Alone, Ed must provide active leadership and guide his friends to safety and civilization. He becomes changed forever by the struggle to survive in the malevolent, backwoods world. In a daring scene, he scales the face of the sheer rock cliff within the gorge in the darkness, with a bow and arrow on his back, to end the threat of a rifleman that he suspects shot Drew. Hanging precariously, he glances at his wallet’s picture of his wife and child – but they slip from his grasp. He fears: « God damn it, you’re never gonna get out of this gorge alive! »

Exhausted by the torturous climb, he falls asleep at the top, waking to the early morning light and a silhouetted glimpse of an unidentified mountaineer with a Winchester Model 1892 lever-action repeating rifle. He presumes the figure is the toothless man bent on revenge. Ed’s hands shake as he aims his bow and arrow. At the same instant the arrow releases, he slips on the rocks and painfully falls on his side onto one of his own arrows – it pierces his side. It first looks like he has missed his target. The hillbilly with the rifle staggers over to shoot his wounded attacker from point-blank range, but then falls dead from the arrow protruding through his neck.

Ed frantically searches inside the man’s mouth to identify him but remains uncertain whether he is the toothless man. He hurls both his bow and the man’s shotgun into the river far below, and then slowly lowers the corpse down the gorge’s cliff face at the end of a rope. When he uses the rope to rappel down the cliff, the line snaps and he is tossed into the river with the corpse. He is almost drowned under the surface when he becomes entangled with both the line and the clinging dead man. To hide any possible clues of the unknown killer, he later weights down the body with rocks and sinks it into the river.

The three finish their journey (with the seriously-wounded Lewis lying on the floor of the canoe). They locate Drew’s lifeless, drowned body along the way, lodged against a boulder and a fallen tree with his disfigured arm twisted behind his head. They scour his body for evidence of bullet wounds [whether he was shot or not remains uncertain], and then are also compelled to dispose of his weighted body at the bottom of the river:

Bobby: What are you going to do with Drew?
Ed: If a bullet made this, there are people who can tell.
Bobby: Oh God, there’s no end to it. I didn’t really know him.
Ed: Drew was a good husband to his wife Linda and you were a wonderful father to your boys, Drew – Jimmie and Billie Ray. And if we come through this, I promise to do all I can for ’em. He was the best of us.
Bobby: Amen.

In the final, jostling leg of the journey, the sides of their aluminum canoe scrape and crash against the rocks, causing severe pain for the incapacitated Lewis. At last, they return to civilization at Aintry, marked by junked cars at the river’s edge. Bobby is jubilant at the sight of rusted hulks of cars:

We made it. We made it, Ed. We made it. We’re back, Ed.

Tenaciously insistent that they all have the same story, Ed manufactures an explanatory alibi for their entire weekend:

Ed: Everything happened right here. Lewis broke his leg in those rapids there, and Drew drowned here.
Bobby: No, nothin’ happened here.
Ed: Bobby, listen to me. We got to stop them from lookin’ up river. It’s important that we get together on this thing. Do you understand?…We’re not out of this yet.

At Aintry, Ed is stunned to discover that the Griner brothers delivered their cars as they had arranged. After phoning for help, both Lewis and Ed are taken away in an ambulance for medical attention. Even the simplest signs of civilization (paper tissues and hot water) are appreciated by Ed who is obviously overwhelmed by his experience. In a local boarding house where they are placed by country lawmen, Bobby and Ed are served a home-cooked meal that includes corn, and a conversation about « the darndest-looking cucumber you ever seen. »

But they do not tell the local law officers what has really happened to them, and deny having any encounters with hillbillies. Bobby is worried that their story isn’t holding together: « We’re in trouble. They don’t believe us. » Even though Bobby claims he « told ’em like we said, » Ed doesn’t believe that his cowardly pal is telling the truth. Their story (that both Lewis’ broken leg and Drew’s drowning occurred at the end of the trip) contradicts the discovery of their shattered wooden canoe upstream. At the river’s edge, a skeptical Deputy Queen (Macon McCalman) and suspicious Aintry County Sheriff Ed Bullard (James Dickey) report a missing hunter in the woods (related by marriage to Deputy Queen) from a couple of days earlier, but the officials have no proof and « nothin’ to hold them for. » The Sheriff knowingly responds with an omen of their gruesome secrets:

Let’s just wait and see what comes out of the river.

As Ed and Bobby are driven back into town to the County Memorial Hospital to visit Lewis, the taxicab driver (Pete Ware) confirms their own guilt-ridden hopes:

All this land’s gonna be covered with water. Best thing ever happened to this town.

To their relief, when Lewis regains consciousness in the hospital, he confirms their story by claiming: « I don’t remember nuthin’. Nuthin' ». Before they leave Aintry, the smiling, omniscient Sheriff asks a few more biting questions and then offers home-grown advice:

Sheriff: How come you all end up with four life jackets?
Bobby: Didn’t we have an extra one?
Ed: No, Drew wasn’t wearin’ his.
Sheriff: Well, how come he wasn’t wearin’ it?
Ed: I don’t know.
Sheriff: Don’t ever do nothin’ like this again. Don’t come back up here.
Bobby: You don’t have to worry about that, Sheriff.
Sheriff: I’d kinda like to see this town die peaceful.

Ed and Bobby agree to not see each other for a while. Returning home, Ed is ‘delivered’ from the malevolent horrors of nature and reunited with his wife (Belinda Beatty) and son (Charlie Boorman, the director’s son who played a major role in The Emerald Forest (1985)).

The final frightening image is of Ed, snapping awake next to his wife from a vivid nightmare of his journey. He is fearfully haunted by a white, bony hand (of the murdered Mountain Man) rising above the surface of the water of the newly-flooded wilderness. The man’s stiff, outstretched hand – pointing nowhere – serves as a signpost. Ed lies back in his wife’s arms – unable to rest and experience ‘deliverance’ from his recurring nightmare of their experience with extreme violence.

Voir enfin:

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider (1969) is the late 1960s « road film » tale of a search for freedom (or the illusion of freedom) in a conformist and corrupt America, in the midst of paranoia, bigotry and violence. Released in the year of the Woodstock concert, and made in a year of two tragic assassinations (Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King), the Vietnam War buildup and Nixon’s election, the tone of this ‘alternative’ film is remarkably downbeat and bleak, reflecting the collapse of the idealistic 60s. Easy Rider, one of the first films of its kind, was a ritualistic experience and viewed (often repeatedly) by youthful audiences in the late 1960s as a reflection of their realistic hopes of liberation and fears of the Establishment.

The iconographic, ‘buddy’ film, actually minimal in terms of its artistic merit and plot, is both memorialized as an image of the popular and historical culture of the time and a story of a contemporary but apocalyptic journey by two self-righteous, drug-fueled, anti-hero (or outlaw) bikers eastward through the American Southwest. Their trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans takes them through limitless, untouched landscapes (icons such as Monument Valley), various towns, a hippie commune, and a graveyard (with hookers), but also through areas where local residents are increasingly narrow-minded and hateful of their long-haired freedom and use of drugs. The film’s title refers to their rootlessness and ride to make « easy » money; it is also slang for a pimp who makes his livelihood off the earnings of a prostitute. However, the film’s original title was The Loners.

[The names of the two main characters, Wyatt and Billy, suggest the two memorable Western outlaws Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid – or ‘Wild Bill’ Hickcock. Rather than traveling westward on horses as the frontiersmen did, the two modern-day cowboys travel eastward from Los Angeles – the end of the traditional frontier – on decorated Harley-Davidson choppers on an epic journey into the unknown for the ‘American dream’.]

According to slogans on promotional posters, they were on a search:

A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere…

Their costumes combine traditional patriotic symbols with emblems of loneliness, criminality and alienation – the American flag, cowboy decorations, long-hair, and drugs.

Both Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper co-starred, Fonda produced, and 32 year old Hopper directed (his first effort). [It was produced by B.B.S. (formed by Bob Rafelson – the director of Five Easy Pieces (1970), Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner), already known for the groundbreaking, surrealistic Head (1968), a cult masterpiece that starred the Monkees (from the popular TV series) and was co-written by unemployed actor Jack Nicholson.] Fonda (as lead actor), Hopper (as uncredited second unit director), and Jack Nicholson (as screenwriter) had participated in director Roger Corman’s low-budget, definitive LSD film The Trip (1967) a few years earlier. And Fonda had also starred in Roger Corman’s and American International’s ground-breaking The Wild Angels (1966) – a biker’s tale about the ‘Hell’s Angels’. The first scenes to be shot were on grainy 16 mm. in New Orleans (during Mardi Gras) on a budget of $12,000, afterwards followed by funds for a total budget of $380,000.

This follow-up film to The Wild Angels (1966) premiered at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival and won the festival’s award for the Best Film by a new director. The film received two Academy Award nominations: Best Original Screenplay (co-authored by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern – known previously for scripting Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or… (1964)), and Best Supporting Actor for Jack Nicholson in one of his earlier, widely-praised roles as a drunken young lawyer.

Easy Rider surprisingly, was an extremely successful, low-budget (under $400,000), counter-cultural, independent film for the alternative youth/cult market – one of the first of its kind that was an enormous financial success, grossing $40 million worldwide. Its story contained sex, drugs, casual violence, a sacrificial tale (with a shocking, unhappy ending), and a pulsating rock and roll soundtrack reinforcing or commenting on the film’s themes. Groups that participated musically included Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Band and Bob Dylan.

The pop cultural, mini-revolutionary film was also a reflection of the « New Hollywood, » and the first blockbuster hit from a new wave of Hollywood directors (e.g., Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese) that would break with a number of Hollywood conventions. It had little background or historical development of characters, a lack of typical heroes, uneven pacing, jump cuts and flash-forward transitions between scenes, an improvisational style and mood of acting and dialogue, background rock ‘n’ roll music to complement the narrative, and the equation of motorbikes with freedom on the road rather than with delinquent behaviors.

However, its idyllic view of life and example of personal film-making was overshadowed by the self-absorbent, drug-induced, erratic behavior of the filmmakers, chronicled in Peter Biskind’s tell-all Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1999). And the influential film led to a flurry of equally self-indulgent, anti-Establishment themed films by inferior filmmakers, who overused some of the film’s technical tricks and exploited the growing teen-aged market for easy profits. Hopper’s success with this film gave him the greenlight from Universal Pictures (and $850,000) for his next project The Last Movie (1971) which ended up being a colossal failure, due in part to reports of drug-induced orgies during filming, and its year-long editing process (delayed by alleged use of psychedelic drugs for ‘inspiration’).

The Story


One morning, two free-wheeling, long-haired, social misfits/dropouts/hippies ride up to La Contenta Bar, south of the border in Mexico. With Jesus (Antonio Mendoza), they walk around the side of the bar through an auto-wrecking dump yard. After Jesus scoops out a small amount of white powder (cocaine) onto a mirror, they both sniff the dope. In Spanish, the thinner, calmer one chuckles: « Si pura vida (Yes, it’s pure life.) » Then, he hands a packet of money to Jesus who thumbs through it and smiles. The two bikers, who have presumably orchestrated the decision to buy the cocaine in Mexico, are given cases of the powder in the drug deal.

Before the film cuts to the next scene, the loud noise of a jet engine plays on the soundtrack. In the next scene of their dope deal, they are now in California where they have smuggled the drugs for sale to a dealer. The two are on an airport road next to the touch down point of jet planes at Los Angeles International Airport – the sound of approaching planes is excruciatingly loud. A Rolls Royce pulls into the frame with their Connection (Phil Spector, the famous rock and roll producer in a cameo role). While testing the white powder in the front seat of their white pickup truck, the Connection ducks every time a plane lands. In exchange for the drugs, the Bodyguard (Mac Mashourian) gives a large quantity of cash to one of the bikers in the front seat of the Rolls. The drug deal is finalized to the tune of Steppenwolf’s « The Pusher, » a song which is overtly against hard-drug pushers and dealing.

You know I smoked a lot of grass
Oh Lord, I popped a lot of pills
But I’ve never touched nothin’
That my spirit could kill
You know I’ve seen a lot of people walkin’ round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don’t care
Aw, if you live or if you die
God damn the Pusher
God damn, hey I say the Pusher
I said God damn, God damn the Pusher man.

With the stash of money they’ve made from selling drugs, they have financed their trip, including the purchase of high-handled motorcycles. One of them rolls up the banknotes and stuffs them into a long plastic tube that will be inserted snake-like into the tear-drop shaped gas tank of his stars-and-stripes decorated motorcycle. The two part-time drug dealers are:

  • a cool and introspective « Captain America » Wyatt (Peter Fonda) on a gleaming, silver-chromed low-riding bike with a ‘stars-and-stripes’ tear-drop gas tank, wearing a tight leather pants held at the waist by a round belt-buckle and a black leather jacket with an American flag emblazoned on the back; also with a ‘stars-and-stripes’ helmet
  • mustached and shaggy, long-haired Billy the Kid (Dennis Hopper), with a tan-colored bush hat, fringed buckskin jacket, shades, and an Indian necklace of animals’ teeth

Wyatt casts off his wristwatch to the ground, a literal and symbolic flourish that shows his new-found freedom and rejection of time constraints in modern society. As they take to the open road on their motorcycles, cross the Colorado River and pass through unspoiled buttes and sand-colored deserts, the credits begin to scroll, accompanied by the sound of the popular song by Steppenwolf: « Born To Be Wild. » It is the start of a beautiful adventure as they travel through memorable landscapes of America’s natural beauty, accompanied by the pounding of rock music.

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way

Chorus 1
Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of the guns at once and
Explode into space.

I like smoke and lightnin’
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Repeat of Chorus 1

Chorus 2
Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die.
Born to Be Wild
Born to Be Wild…

That evening, they are immediately rebuffed at a motel when they ask for a room – presumably because of their long hair, general unkempt and far-out appearance. The manager flashes the NO Vacancy sign at them. They camp out on the first leg of their cross-country odyssey to New Orleans, hoping to arrive there before the Mardi Gras celebration.

In the first of a number of campfire scenes, there is time for discussion and for short snatches of dialogue to illuminate the characters and themes of the film. In front of an open fire, Billy sings of his materialistic dreams:

I’m goin’ down to Mardi Gras
I’m gonna get me a Mardi Gras queen…

In contrast, Wyatt smokes on a joint and seems withdrawn and remote to Billy: « You’re pulling inside man. You’re getting a little distance tonight. » Wyatt explains that he is tired: « Yeah, well, I’m just getting my thing together. » The next morning, Wyatt wakens first, and explores a deserted, broken-down shed, and a drawer on the ground with a rusted compass and a withered piece of paper inside. He also looks at a frayed booklet with pages blown by the breeze.

They stop at a horse ranch to repair Wyatt’s flat tire on his bike – in symbolic, parallel juxtaposition – to a rancher who is shoeing his horse nearby. Although the loud sounding motorcycle makes the horses skittish, the rancher (Warren Finnerty), not intimidated by their odd appearance, admires Wyatt’s « good-looking machine. » Wyatt and Billy are invited to join the ranchhouse family (the rancher, his Mexican wife, and his many Mexican-American children) for an outdoor meal at the long dinner table. Wyatt respectfully compliments the rancher on his simple life of hard work, approves his self-sustaining piece of land (« nice spread »), and then clarifies his profound thoughts on his own attraction to the man’s commitment to building a comfortable life for his family – an embodiment of freedom and responsibility:

You’ve got a nice place. It’s not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud.

Soon restless and impatient with the domestic scene, they are on their way again through a wooded, mountainous area, while The Byrds’ « Wasn’t Born to Follow » plays on the soundtrack. Wyatt picks up a Stranger/hitchhiker (Luke Askew) and they ride up to an Enco gas station [at Sacred Mountain] to fill their tanks. Billy, who is paranoid and terrified of losing their one opportunistic chance at the good life, is nervous about having the Stranger help fill the tanks:

Billy: Hey man, everything that we ever dreamed of is in that teardrop gas tank – and you got a stranger over there pourin’ gasoline all over it. Man, all he’s got to do is turn and look over into it, man, and he can see that…
Wyatt: He won’t know what it is, man. He won’t know what it is. Don’t worry, Billy. Everything’s all right.

After filling both tanks, Wyatt holds out a bill, looking for someone to pay, but the hitchhiker dismisses him: « That’s all taken care of. » Wyatt is pleased: « I like that. » [There may be some pre-arranged payment scheme that the hitchhiker has with the owner of the gas station, but that is only speculation.] As they pull out onto the highway, the last shot cuts to the gas station building, where a poor Mexican girl looks out the window.

As they ride through more open desert terrain and the golden sun begins to set over Monument Valley, the Band’s « The Weight » is heard on the soundtrack:

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ ’bout half-past dead
I just need some place, where I can lay my head
Hey Mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed
He just grinned and shook my hand, and ‘no’ was all he said
Take a load off, Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny, yeah, and you put the load right on me
I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
Then I saw Carmen and the devil, walkin’ side by side
I said ‘Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown’
She said, ‘I gotta go, but my friend can stick around’…

When night falls, they must camp again, choosing an ancient Pueblo Indian rock ruins. In the film’s second campfire scene, their figures are silhouetted against a beautiful Southwest sunset of many hues. They have a week left to get to New Orleans and the Mardi Gras. The evasive Stranger, whom they are taking to his commune, enigmatically reveals he was originally from the repression of the city:

It doesn’t make any difference what city. All cities are alike. That’s why I’m out here now…cause I’m from the city, a long way from the city – and that’s where I want to be right now.

The Stranger reprimands Billy for disrespecting the Indian graves directly underneath them: « The people this place belongs to are buried right under you. You could be a trifle polite…It’s a small thing to ask. » When Wyatt asks: « You ever want to be somebody else? », the Stranger replies: « I’d like to try Porky Pig. » Wyatt answers his own question: « I never wanted to be anybody else. »

The next day, the Stranger leads them to his New Mexico commune where hippies are gathered outside the buildings. The commune is the typical 60s embodiment of idealized dreams – another alternative style of living quite different from the world of the rancher. The bikers are immediately drawn into the commune without fear or prejudice – their dress and mode of speaking are at one with the counter-cultural commune. The Stranger is relieved to be home – he hugs and kisses one of the women and washes his face in a washbasin. Billy plays ‘cowboys and Indians’ with the hippie children, yelling: « Bang bang » as he exchanges imaginary gunfire with them. Foreshadowing future events, Billy cries out: « Pow, pow, pow. Ppttwanng. You can’t hit me, I’m invisible. I’m invisible. » But a big glob of mud hits him in the middle of his chest – an ominous foreshadowing.

Inside the barn/kitchen area of the commune building, Sarah (Sabrina Scharf) « raps » with the Stranger, concerned about more visitors and the burden they place on the hippie commune. The promise of Paradise in the commune is a lost dream:

We just can’t take anymore, Stranger. Just too many people dropping in. Oh, I’m not talking about you and your friends, you know that. And like the week before, Susan dropped in with twelve people from Easter City. She wanted to take ten pounds of rice with her…Well naturally, we had to say no…So she gets all up tight and she breaks out some hash – and she won’t give us any. Oh, and…that’s not all. The next morning, they went outside to start their bus and they couldn’t get it started…

A mime troupe in the commune has « gone down to the hot springs to bathe. » Joanne (Sandy Wyeth), one of the younger hippie girls, reads an interpretation from the I Ching and asks Lisa (Luana Anders) for help in understanding the passage:

Starting brings misfortune. Per-serverance brings danger. Not every demand for change in the existing order should be heeded. On the other hand, repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail to a hearing.

The members of the mime troupe return and interrupt the proceedings. Their self-conscious leader theatrically takes the role of the Devil:

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. We’ve come to play for our dinner. Or should I say, stay for our dinner. Or even slay for our dinner…We’ve come to drink your wine, taste your food and take pleasure in your women.

Sarah grabs the Devil and pulls him out of the kitchen – she gestures for the rest of the troupe to leave so she can prepare dinner [the women are delegated to do all the cooking!]. The barefooted Stranger walks across a dirt field and explains how the touchy-feely commune is life-affirming but barely surviving – commune members (would-be hippie farmers) are sowing seeds on unplowed, barren, sandy ground:

You see, what happened here is these people got here late in the summer. Too late to plant. But the weather was beautiful and it was easy livin’, and everything was fine. And then came that winter. There were forty or fifty of them here living in this one-room place down here. Nothing to eat – starvin’. Out by the side of the road lookin’ for dead horses…Anything they could get ahold of. Now there’s – there’s eighteen or twenty of them left and they’re city kids. Look at them. But they’re getting this crop in. They’re gonna stay here until it’s harvested. That’s the whole thing.

Wyatt asks: « You get much rain here, man? » Billy and Wyatt predict opposite outcomes for the stoned-out labors of the workers. Wyatt admires the brave determination of the inhabitants:

Billy: This is nothing but sand, man. They ain’t gonna make it, man. They ain’t gonna grow anything here.
Wyatt: They’re gonna make it. Dig, man. They’re gonna make it.

In one of the film’s more memorable scenes, the blessing before the meal, the camera begins a 360 degree pan around on the varied faces of a circle of people holding hands together inside the commune. The camera returns to Jack (Robert Walker, Jr.) who leads the group in an Eastern-style religious blessing for the meal, thanking God for « a place to make a stand »:

We have planted our seeds. We ask that our efforts be worthy to produce simple food for our simple taste. We ask that our efforts be rewarded. And we thank you for the food we eat from other hands – that we may share it with our fellow man and be even more generous when it is from our own. Thank you for a place to make a stand. (Amen.)

While the dance troupe, the Gorilla Theatre, entertains outdoors during the meal on a makeshift stage by singing « Does Your Hair Hang Low, » Lisa, who has taken a liking to Wyatt, sits with him against a rock. She opens by asking: « Are you an Aquarius? » Wyatt shakes his head. Then she guesses right: « Pisces. » Uneasy in the commune, Billy is not permitted to join a group including the Stranger and Sarah – one of the group holds a cross out in front of Billy and turns him away. The Stranger asks: « Who sent ya? » Billy, who is distrustful and confused by the commune’s values and unable to see any pay-off, turns back and walks over to Wyatt:

Whew. Man, look, I gotta get out of here, man. Now we – we got things we want to do, man, like – I just – uh – I gotta get out of here, man.

In exchange for the food they have eaten, Wyatt and Billy give Lisa and her friend Sarah a lift on their bikes « over across the canyon » to the hot springs. « I Wasn’t Born to Follow » by The Byrds is again heard as the group of four walk along the bank of a stream and then shed their clothes for a skinny-dip together in a rock grotto.

Back at the commune just before they leave, the Stranger solemnly offers Wyatt a small square object, a tab of acid (LSD): « When you get to the right place, with the right people, quarter this. You know, this could be the right place. The time’s running out. » Wyatt wants to stay in the idyllic setting, but Billy is impatient and restless and insists that they leave. Both drifters finally decide that they need to keep moving. Although Wyatt might stay and develop a relationship with Lisa, he realizes time is running out for them and they are compelled to continue their journey: « Yeah, I’m, I’m hip about time. But I just gotta go. »

Along the way, they soon find themselves in the middle of a parade composed of red-uniformed band members and majorettes marching down the main street of Las Vegas, New Mexico. A revolving red light on the top of a police car signals them to pull over. They are thrown in jail for crashing the parade and « paradin’ without a permit. » Billy objects vehemently as the jail cell door is closed on him:

You gotta be kidding. I mean, you know who this is, man? This is Captain America. I’m Billy. Hey, we’re headliners baby. We played every fair in this part of the country. I mean, for top dollar, too!

A star-patterned symbol drawn on the cell wall reads: « I LOVE GOD » among other graffiti drawings and inscribed names. Bill calls his captors: « Weirdo hicks. » A colorful white plaster plaque reads: « Jesus Christ – the same yesterday, to-day and forever. »

In an adjoining cell and lying on a cot, they meet a genial, drunken ACLU Southern lawyer, George Hanson (Jack Nicholson, in the role that made him famous). He is moaning to himself about his aching head and sleeping off a hangover: « All right now, George – what are you gonna do now? I mean, you promised these people now. You promised these people – and you promised these people and – . » George’s activist ambitions in the community have been derailed by his drinking problem. Although they’re « in the same cage here, » George, experienced with the ACLU, the rule of law, and reconciliation between opposing groups, will function as their redemption because counter-culturalists Billy and Wyatt appear scruffy and foreign-looking to the red-neck townspeople:

Well, you boys don’t look like you’re from this part of the country. You’re lucky I’m here to see that you don’t get into anything…Well, they got this here – see – uh – scissor-happy ‘Beautify America’ thing goin’ on around here. They’re tryin’ to make everybody look like Yul Brynner. They used – uh – rusty razor blades on the last two long-hairs that they brought in here and I wasn’t here to protect them. You see – uh – I’m – uh – I’m a lawyer. Done a lot of work for the A. C. L. U.

George, a synthesizing combination of liberal and conservative ideals who has been able to transcend his parochial surroundings, assures them that they can get out of jail and find freedom with his political connections – if they « haven’t killed anybody – at least nobody white. » For just $25 dollars, they are set free. After Wyatt thanks George with the words: « very groovy, » George turns toward the guards and repeats the phrase: « Very groovy. Very groovy. See there. I bet nobody ever said that to you. » A binge drinker, George appears to be a frequent visitor to the jail and knows all the guards very well. Regarded as a fellow good-ol-boy by the guards, he is able to keep his rowdy behavior a secret from his disappointed father (he is the son of a wealthy, powerful, influential figure).

Outside while looking at their « super-machines, » George toasts the day with a bottle of Jim Beam, accompanied by his elbow flapping on his side like a chicken:

Here’s to the first of the day, fellas. To ol’ D. H. Lawrence. Nik-nik-nik-f-f-f-Indians!

George is also interested in saving himself by escaping from the small town and joining them on their two to three day ride to New Orleans: « I must’ve started off to Mardi Gras six or seven times. Never got further than the state line. » He shows them a business card from his wallet that the Governor of Louisiana once gave him that eventually directs them to hedonistic, self-interested pleasures at a legendary whore house:

‘Madame Tinkertoy’s House of Blue Lights. Corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, New Orleans, Louisiana.’ Now this is supposed to be the finest whorehouse in the South. These ain’t no pork chops. These are U. S. Prime.

George presents the most unforgettable image of the film after he tells them: « Oh, oh, I’ve got a helmet. I’ve got a beauty. » He is grinning from ear to ear, wearing a gold football helmet with a blue center stripe, and riding on the back of Wyatt’s motorcycle, as « If You Want to Be A Bird » (by The Holy Modal Rounders) plays on the soundtrack. George sits up and flaps his arms.

Around the campfire that night, [the third campfire scene in the film and the first of two campfire scenes with George], George – wearing a ‘M’ letter sweater (another symbol of his traditional scholastic leanings, along with the football helmet) – takes another drink and again flaps his arms: « Nik, nik, nik, nik – Fire! » They turn George on to marijuana (« grass ») and he is soon encouraged to inhale a joint for the first time in his life after sniffing at it and expressing his doubts about lighting it up:

You- you mean marijuana. Lord have mercy, is that what that is? Well, let me see that. Mmmmm-mmm. Mmmm….I-I-I couldn’t do that. I mean, I’ve got enough problems with the – with the booze and all. I mean, uh, I – I can’t afford to get hooked…it-it-it leads to harder stuff.

Thinking it has « a real nice, uh, taste to it, » George gets high. In a hilarious conversation, his marijuana smoking prompts him to espouse his belief in aliens and UFOs:

That was a UFO, beamin’ back at ya. Me and Eric Heisman was down in Mexico two weeks ago – we seen forty of ’em flying in formation. They-they-they’ve got bases all over the world now, you know. They’ve been coming here ever since nineteen forty-six – when the scientists first started bouncin’ radar beams off of the moon. And they have been livin’ and workin’ among us in vast quantities ever since. The government knows all about ’em.

George describes more of his « crackpot idea » to Billy about how aliens from the planet Venus (from a « more highly evolved » society without war, money, or political leaders) have already landed on Earth. They don’t reveal themselves as living and working people because they are indistinguishable from normal human beings. Their mission is to help « people in all walks of life » to evolve into a higher destiny. In his theory, the US government leaders have repressed information about the extraterrestrials who represent the status quo:

Well, they are people, just like us – from within our own solar system. Except that their society is more highly evolved. I mean, they don’t have no wars, they got no monetary system, they don’t have any leaders, because, I mean, each man is a leader. I mean, each man – because of their technology, they are able to feed, clothe, house, and transport themselves equally – and with no effort…Why don’t they reveal themselves to us is because if they did it would cause a general panic. Now, I mean, we still have leaders upon whom we rely for the release of this information. These leaders have decided to repress this information because of the tremendous shock that it would cause to our antiquated systems. Now, the result of this has been that the Venutians have contacted people in all walks of life – all walks of life. (He laughs) Yes. It-it-it would be a devastatin’ blow to our antiquated systems – so now the Venutians are meeting with people in all walks of life – in an advisory capacity. For once man will have a god-like control over his own destiny. He will have a chance to transcend and to evolve with some equality for all.

They decide to save the rest of the joint for the next morning, as Wyatt advises: « It gives you a whole new way of looking at the day. »

The next morning, they continue on their trip and wind up entering a rural cafe/diner in a small Southern town, as three songs play on the soundtrack:

  • Don’t Bogart Me (by the Fraternity of Man)
  • If Six Was Nine (by the Jimi Hendrix Experience)
  • Let’s Turkey Trot (by Little Eva) – the selection on the jukebox in the diner

Local rednecks at one of the cafe’s booths look up at the non-conformist intruders, as the Deputy Sheriff (Arnold Hess, Jr.) rhetorically asks: « What the hell is this? Troublemakers? » His construction-site booth mate with a yellow cap, Cat Man (Hayward Robillard) adds: « You name it – I’ll throw rocks at it, Sheriff. » Teenage girls at the next booth are excited by the strangers in a different way, particularly for George: « Oh, I like the one in the red shirt with the suspenders » and for Wyatt: « Mmmm-mmm, the white shirt for me » and « look at the one with the black pants on. » In response to the attention, George and Billy make funny noises with their tongues and say: « Poontang! »

The dialogue between the Sheriff and Cat Man despises and ridicules the bikers’ long hair with crude insults:

Cat Man: Check that joker with the long hair.
Deputy: I checked him already. Looks like we might have to bring him up to the Hilton before it’s all over with.
Cat Man: Ha! I think she’s cute.
Deputy: Isn’t she, though. I guess we’d put him in the women’s cell, don’t you reckon?
Cat Man: Oh, I think we ought to put ’em in a cage and charge a little admission to see ’em.

Overhearing their ill-natured comments, George gracefully sighs at the two good ol’ boys: « Those are what is known as ‘country witticisms.’ One of the girls boldly suggests asking the bikers to take them for a ride and then is dared to « go ahead. » Other customers are also threatened and make loud asides about their appearance, insulting them as « weirdo degenerates » – the local townfolk are fearful of something they don’t understand:

Customer 1: You know, I thought at first that bunch over there, their mothers had maybe been frightened by a bunch of gorillas, but now I think they were caught.
Customer 2: I know one of them’s Alley-oop – I think. From the beads on him.
Customer 4: Well, one of them darned sure is not Oola.
Customer 1: Look like a bunch of refugees from a gorilla love-in.
Customer 2: A gorilla couldn’t love that.
Customer 1: Nor could a mother.
Customer 3: I’d love to mate him up with one of those black wenches out there.
Customer 4: Oh, now I don’t know about that.
Customer 3: Well, that’s about as low as they come. I’ll tell ya…Man, they’re green.
Customer 4: No, they’re not green, they’re white.
Customer 3: White? Huh!
Customer 4: Uh-huh.
Customer 3: Man, you’re color blind. I just gotta say that…
Customer 1: I don’t know. I thought most jails were built for humanity, and that won’t quite qualify.
Customer 2: I wonder where they got those wigs from.
Customer 1: They probably grew ’em. It looks like they’re standin’ in fertilizer. Nothin’ else would grow on ’em…
Customer 3: I saw two of them one time. They were just kissin’ away. Two males. Just think of it.

Feeling threatened by the « Yankee queers » and their alternative, non-conformist lifestyle, the narrow-minded Deputy and Cat Man suggest eliminating them:

Deputy: What’cha think we ought to do with ’em?
Cat Man: I don’t damn know, but I don’t think they’ll make the parish line.

George quickly loses his hungry appetite and Wyatt rises to « split » – the waitress has refused to serve them anyway. The teenage girls follow them outside and gather around to ask for a ride, but Billy changes his mind when he notices the Deputy peering out the cafe window at them – « the Man is at the window. »

At their next campsite around a campfire (because hotels and motels won’t accept them), the film’s fourth campfire scene, George (in a conversation with Billy) expresses the prophetic theme of the film – their threat to the Establishment and to Americans who are hypocritical about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In his famous « this used to be a helluva good country » speech, George articulates the real reason for the hostility and resentment that they generate. Billy’s notion is that their non-conformist mode of dress and long hair spark intolerance. But lawyer George philosophizes that they represent something much deeper and more fearful – freedom, unconventionality, and experimentation in a materialistic, capitalistic society:

George: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.
Billy: Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened, man. Hey, we can’t even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or something, man. They’re scared, man.
George: Oh, they’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.
Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.
George: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it – that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. ‘Course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George: No, it makes ’em dangerous.

George ends his confident words of wisdom with another flap of the arm and « nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik – Swamp. » After they settle down in their sleeping bags, unidentified men [presumably the men from the cafe] ambush and attack them and beat them with baseball bats in the dark. Billy and Wyatt are both bloodied and bruised, but George has been clubbed to death. [Ironically, George as a lawyer from a rich family shared more in common with his local assassins than either Billy or Wyatt, but he is the one who is murdered.] Billy goes through George’s wallet, wondering what to do « with his stuff. » They find some money, his driver’s license, and his card to a New Orleans brothel: « He ain’t gonna be usin’ that. » As homage to their departed friend/companion, they immediately travel on.

The next scene abruptly finds them in a New Orleans restaurant, where they are served a fancy meal with wine (as the soundtrack plays « Kyrie Eleison » by The Electric Prunes). Thinking they’ll « go there for one drink » because George « would have wanted us to, » Billy and Wyatt make their way to the House of Blue Lights, the brothel/whorehouse – a place of institutionalized love that George dreamed of visiting. The interior of the whorehouse is decorated with sexual and religious paintings and with an ornate ceiling and chandelier. The salon has a few prostitutes seated on couchs, a pimp, a Madame, and a golden-haired woman who dances on a table. After snuggling and being entertained, Billy gets smashed and enjoys spending their drug money. Remote and out of touch, Wyatt stares off into space postulating: « If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. » Wyatt looks up to an inscription on the wall which reads: « Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. »

There is a momentary, quick flash forward – an aerial shot of a fire burning alongside a highway – it is the final image of the film – Wyatt’s motorcycle burns beside the road.

The Madame brings in two hookers, Mary (Toni Basil), a dark-haired woman who accompanies Wyatt, and Karen (Karen Black), the « tall one » who joins Billy. With the two prostitutes, they wander through the crowded Mardi Gras celebration in the streets, where there are large floats and revellers are singing and parading in costumes. (« When the Saints Go Marching In » plays in the background.) As the group moves down the street, Wyatt comes upon a dead dog lying at the curb – they stoop down to it.

Then, the bonded quartet enter a cemetery, a place of institutionalized death, where they all split the packet of the hallucinogenic drug LSD, given them earlier by the Stranger. Although the drug experience promises peace and enlightenment, the acid trip is a sacrament of confusion and disillusion.

A girl’s voice repeatedly recites religious creeds during the sequence:

I believe in God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth…Was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell – the third day, he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, to sitteth at the right hand of God – the Father Almighty. Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in God, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ – his only son, Our Lord. Received Holy Ghost. Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried….Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now…

Their drug trip/experience is a disjointed, distorted, purposely chaotic sequence of images, painful memories and sounds. Wyatt overlaps the creed with his own crude ramblings and eventually ends up sobbing: « Oh Mother why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t anybody tell me anything?…What are you doing to me now?…Shut up!…How could you make me hate you so?…Oh God, I hate you so much. » Both women take off their clothes and pose nude in the cemetery while Wyatt embraces one of the marble statues. They frolic throughout the crypts, but ultimately they all share a sour, bad trip together. Both Mary and Karen scream and sob: « I’m going to die. I’m dead…Do you understand?…Oh dear God, please let it be. Please help me conceive a child…I’m right out here out of my head…Please God, let me out of here. I want to get out of here…You know what I mean…You wanted me…You wanted me ugly didn’t you? I know you johns – I know you johns. »

Toward the end of their restless, nomadic odyssey, they leave New Orleans and ride on eastward to Florida, accompanied by « Flash, Bam, Pow » by The Electric Flag.

At another campfire, the fifth and final campire scene [in the last scene before the film’s climax], Wyatt and Billy exchange deep thoughts about the freedom they have found on their journey pursuing the big drug score – « the big money. » Their rootless, drifting pursuit of the American dream and the promise of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has been questionably successful, dissatisfying, transitory and elusive. Billy is unaware of the cost of their trip to his own soul. Wyatt believes there may have been another less destructive, less diversionary, more spiritually fulfilling way to search for their freedom rather than selling hard drugs, taking to the road and being sidetracked, and wasting their lives:

Billy (gleefully greedy): We’ve done it. We’ve done it. We’re rich. Wyatt. (Laughs) Yeah, man. (Laughs) Yeah. Clearly, we did it, man we did it. We did it. Huh. We’re rich, man. We’re retired in Florida, now, mister. (Chuckles) Whew.
Wyatt (introspectively): You know, Billy? We blew it.
Billy: What? Huh? Wha-wha-wha- That’s what it’s all about, man. I mean, like you know – I mean, you go for the big money, man, and then you’re free. You dig? (Laughs)
Wyatt: We blew it. Good night, man.

On the road again the next morning to the sound of « It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) » (Bob Dylan’s tune sung by Roger McGuinn of the Byrds), they travel through more landscapes of America, scenes which reflect the regional diversity of the country and creeping industrial pollution.

The ending of the film is remarkably bleak, cynical and fatalistic. On one of the last stretches of roadside where American industry has not yet sprawled, two armed rednecks in a small pickup truck think they’ll have some fun with the two bikers:

Driver: Hey, Roy, look at them ginks!
Roy: Pull alongside, we’ll scare the hell out of ’em.

Roy reaches back and takes down his mounted shotgun from the back of the cab and aims it out the window at Billy:

Want me to blow your brains out? (Billy obscenely gestures with his ‘finger’) Why don’t you get a haircut?

A sudden shot-gun blasts Billy in the stomach and he is mortally wounded. His bike rolls and skids down the road. Wyatt stops and turns back toward Billy to help him:

Billy: Oh my God! (He gags)
Wyatt: Oh my God! I’m going for help Billy.
Billy: I got ’em. I’m gonna get ’em. (He sobs and moans)…Man, I-I’m gonna get ’em. Where are they now?

Middle America’s hatred for the long-haired cyclists is shown in the film’s famous ending. When Wyatt speeds down the road to seek help for his dying friend, the rednecks turn around and drive toward him – gunfire again blasts through the window and Wyatt’s bike flies through the air. [Significantly, Wyatt’s dead body doesn’t appear in the final scene.] The closing image (of the earlier flash-forward) is an aerial shot floating upwards above his motorcycle which is burning in flames by the side of the road. Death seems to be the only freedom or means to escape from the system in America where alternative lifestyles and idealism are despised as too challenging or free. The romance of the American highway is turned menacing and deadly.

The words of Ballad of Easy Rider (by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds) are heard under the rolling credits. The uneasy aerial camera shot pulls back on the winding river alongside the highway. The river – which extends to the hazy horizon – is the final image of the film before a fade-out to black. The ballad is about a man who only wanted to be free like the flowing river amidst America’s natural landscape:

The river flows, it flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes, that’s where I want to be
Flow river flow, let your waters wash down
Take me from this road to some other town
All I wanted was to be free
And that’s the way it turned out to be…

Voir par ailleurs:

« No Society » : l’essai au vitriol signé Christophe Guilluy
Le géographe prédit la fin de la classe moyenne occidentale. Et la poussée de vagues populistes générées par le système qui prétend la combattre
Philippe Belhache
Sud Ouest
25/10/2018

Faut-il brûler « No Society » ? La question se poserait presque, tant les réactions au brûlot de Christophe Guilluy sont parfois extrêmes, entre admiration béate et rejet affecté, récupération politique ou entreprise de décrédibilisation. L’auteur célébré de « La France périphérique », qui ouvrait sur une nouvelle appréhension de la société française, est aujourd’hui conspué par ceux qui l’ont jadis adoré. L’homme agace, il dérange. Il le sait, il en joue, brouille les cartes en refusant de débattre dans les colonnes de gauche du quotidien « Libération », répondant par ailleurs aux questions du pure player de droite Atlantico, alors même qu’il endosse le rôle de David face à ce Goliath protéiforme que représentent, pour lui, les élites.

L’homme agace, il dérange. Il le sait, il en joue, brouille les cartes

Christophe Guilluy est géographe. Mais son propos est ici tout autre. « No Society », ouvrage radical, volontiers polémiste, est sans ambiguïté un essai politique. Ce qui conduit les exégètes à s’interroger sur ses intentions. D’autant que ses travaux – qui ont permis de modéliser la montée du vote populiste en France sur la base du concept de France périphérique – sont récupérés par la quasi-totalité du champ politique, chacun en tirant les conclusions qui l’arrangent. À commencer par les mouvements d’extrême droite, qui y trouvent résonance à leurs théories, mais aussi à leur obsession complotiste.

Affirmé, répété, martelé

Que nous dit Christophe Guilluy ? Que la scission est aujourd’hui consommée entre une élite déconnectée et une classe populaire précarisée. Et que la classe moyenne, qu’il définit comme « une classe majoritaire dans laquelle tout le monde était intégré, de l’ouvrier au cadre », est un champ de ruines. Ce dernier point est affirmé, répété, martelé, « implosion d’un modèle qui n’intègre plus les classes populaires, qui constituaient, hier, le socle de la classe moyenne occidentale et en portait les valeurs».

Dès lors, les groupes sociaux en présence « ne font plus société ». C’est là le sens du titre, « No Society », reprise qui n’a rien d’innocente d’un aphorisme de feu la Première ministre britannique Margaret Thatcher – déjà responsable du célèbre Tina, « There is no alternative » –, dont la politique néolibérale agressive, véritable plan de casse sociale dans les années 1980, définit toujours le modèle outre-Manche.

Une nouvelle géographie

Guilluy se fait lanceur d’alerte. Il constate, à l’instar de l’économiste Thomas Piketty, dont il cite les travaux à plusieurs reprises, le fossé toujours plus large qui sépare les catégories les plus aisées, des classes défavorisées. Une situation qui induit une nouvelle géographie sociale et politique. Et explique, selon lui, l’insécurité culturelle s’ajoutant à l’insécurité sociale, la vague populiste qui balaie la France, la Grande-Bretagne, l’Italie, l’Allemagne, les États-Unis et aujourd’hui le Brésil. Pour l’auteur, comme pour d’autres analystes, l’élection de Trump n’est pas un accident, mais l’aboutissement d’un processus que les élites, drapées dans « un mépris de classe », auraient voulu renvoyer aux marges.

Ce qui fâche politiques, chefs d’entreprise et médias ? Cette propension à mettre tout le monde dans le même sac, tous complices de défendre, « au nom du bien commun », une idéologie néolibérale jugée destructrice. Et de masquer les vrais problèmes à l’aide d’éléments de langage. Guilluy conspue les 0,1 %, ces superpuissances économiques, tentées par l’anarcho-capitalisme, qui siphonnent les richesses mondiales. Tout comme il rejette la métropolisation des territoires, encouragée par l’Europe, qui tend à concentrer les créations d’emplois dans les zones urbaines, alors même que les classes populaires en sont rejetées par le coût du logement et une fiscalité dissuasive.

Effondrement du modèle intégrateur, ascenseur social en berne… Cette France à qui on demande de traverser la rue attend vainement, selon lui, que le feu repasse au vert pour elle. Guilluy la crédite cependant d’un « soft power », capacité, amplifiée par les réseaux sociaux, à remettre sur la table les sujets qui fâchent, ceux-là mêmes que les élites aimeraient conserver sous le tapis. Une donnée que les tribuns populistes, de droite comme de gauche, ont bien intégrée, s’en faisant complaisamment chambre d’écho.

« No Society. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale », de Christophe Guilluy, éd. Flammarion, 240 p., 18 €.

Voir encore:

Trump’s poll ratings are better than Macron’s, after a year. Why?

The Guardian

A little over a year after coming to power, Emmanuel Macron is turning out to be just another run-of-the-mill disappointing French president. Like his predecessors, he has seen his popularity nosedive among his political base. This “Jupiter”, who embodied newness, youth and modernity, is now bogged down in forced reshuffles and goings-on that look very much like old-fashioned political manoeuvrings. Worse, despite claiming he would lead France to become the “start-up nation”, economic performance is poor. Growth is stagnant, unemployment isn’t falling and poverty is taking a firm hold. The disappointment is all the more acute because of the expectations Macron raised among those who rejected populism in favour of a candidate who both stood for good sense and could run the economy.

This turn of events isn’t just worrying for Macron, it’s worrying for those in Europe’s pro-globalisation camp who placed their faith in him to halt the wave of populism sweeping the western world. For them, after the twin shocks of the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the United States, Macron simply must succeed. The slide in his popularity – Macron is now more unpopular than his predecessor, François Hollande, at the same stage – is a dire warning to “globalists”. It comes at a time when Trump’s popularity among his voters is relatively stable by comparison and the American economy is growing. Macron’s fate could have far-reaching consequences for Europe’s political future.

What makes the contrast between Trump’s and Macron’s fortunes so striking is that the two presidents have so much in common. Both found electoral success by breaking free of their own side: Macron from the left and Trump from mainstream Republicanism; they both moved beyond the old left-right divide. Both realised that we were seeing the disappearance of the old western middle class.

Both grasped that, for the first time in history, the working people who make up the solid base of the lower middle classes live, for the most part, in regions that now generate the fewest jobs. It is in the small or middling towns and vast stretches of farmland that skilled workers, the low-waged, small farmers and the self-employed are concentrated. These are the regions in which the future of western democracy will be decided.

But the similarities end there. While Trump was elected by people in the heartlands of the American rustbelt states, Macron built his electoral momentum in the big globalised cities. While the French president is aware that social ties are weakening in the regions, he believes that the solution is to speed up reform to bring the country into line with the requirements of the global economy. Trump, by contrast, concluded that globalisation was the problem, and that the economic model it is based on would have to be reined in (through protectionism, limits on free trade agreements, controls on immigration, and spending on vast public infrastructure building) to create jobs in the deindustrialised parts of the US.

It could be said that to some extent both presidents are implementing the policies they were elected to pursue. Yet, while Trump’s voters seem satisfied, Macron’s appear frustrated. Why is there such a difference? This has as much to do with the kind of voters involved as the way the two presidents operate politically.

Trump speaks to voters who constitute a continuum, that of the old middle class. It is a body of voters with clearly expressed demands – most call for the creation of jobs, but they also want the preservation of their social and cultural model. Macron’s problem, on the other hand, is that his electorate consists of different elements that are hard to keep together.

The idea that Macron was elected just by the big city “winners” isn’t accurate: he also attracted the support of many older voters who are not especially receptive to the economic and societal changes the president’s revolution demands.This holds true throughout Europe. Those who support globalisation often tend to forget a vital fact: the people who vote for them aren’t just the ones on the winning side in the globalisation stakes or part of the new, cool bourgeoisie in Paris, London or New York, but are a much more heterogeneous group, many of whom are sceptical about the effects of globalisation. In France, for example, most of Macron’s support came in the first instance from the ranks of pensioners and public sector workers who had been largely shielded from the effects of globalisation.

They may dislike populism, but that doesn’t mean they have been won round to globalisation. It is among pensioners that the president’s popularity has fallen most dramatically over recent months. The Benalla scandal, when a presidential bodyguard beat up a leftwing protester, has tarnished his image. But Macron’s ratings were damaged much more by the first round of reforms he embarked on. These measures include an additional tax burden on pensioners and an overhaul of the rights of public sector workers.

So, while Trump appears to be delivering what his voters want, Macron is pushing through more and more measures that go against the wishes of his.

These developments are an illustration of the political difficulty that Europe’s globalising class now finds itself in. From Angela Merkel to Macron, the advocates of globalisation are now relying on voters who cling to a social model that held sway during the three decades of postwar economic growth. Thus their determination to accelerate the adaptation of western societies to globalisation automatically condemns them to political unpopularity. Locked away in their metropolitan citadels, they fail to see that their electoral programmes no longer meet the concerns of more than a tiny minority of the population – or worse, of their own voters.

They are on the wrong track if they think that the “deplorables” in the deindustrialised states of the US or the struggling regions of France will soon die out. Throughout the west, people in “peripheral” regions still make up the bulk of the population. Like it or not, these areas continue to represent the electoral heartlands of western democracies. By ignoring them, those who promote global economic solutions are deliberately shunning any meaningful involvement in politics. They limit themselves to supporting and managing implementation of the globalised economic model. With opinion polarising as it is now, such political passivity is suicidal. In France, voters are looking to President Macron to show that he can drive the political agenda, not just be a supporting actor to a movement that only benefits a minority. Macron promised to lead a “revolution” (the title of the book setting out his programme) but that has to be done through, and with, the forgotten regions of France – in other words through society itself.

Christophe Guilluy is the author of Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, Periphery and the Future of France

Voir de plus:

Mark Lilla, procureur de la gauche multiculturelle
L’historien américain s’attire les foudres des démocrates aux Etats-Unis en dénonçant l’«idéologie de la diversité». Portrait d’une figure transgressive de la vie intellectuelle outre-Atlantique.
Simon Blin
Libération
11 octobre 2018

Bientôt deux ans après la défaite de Hillary Clinton face à Donald Trump, l’heure est au réglement de compte chez les démocrates américains, où le deuil de l’ère Obama semble encore lourd à porter. Une phase de reconstruction intellectuelle et politique dans laquelle Mark Lilla, historien des idées et professeur à Columbia University, détonne par l’âpreté de son propos, nettement plus conservateur que celui de ses congénères opposants à Trump classés à gauche – citons, entre autres, l’historien Timothy Snyder, le journaliste Ta-Nehisi Coates ou le politologue Yascha Mounk.

Dix jours à peine après l’élection de Trump, Lilla publie une tribune dans le New York Times, où il étrille la célébration univoque de la diversité par l’élite intellectuelle progressiste comme principale cause de sa défaite face à Trump. «Ces dernières années, la gauche américaine a cédé, à propos des identités ethniques, de genre et de sexualité, à une sorte d’hystérie collective qui a faussé son message au point de l’empêcher de devenir une force fédératrice capable de gouverner […], estime-t-il. Une des nombreuses leçons à tirer de la présidentielle américaine et de son résultat détestable, c’est qu’il faut clore l’ère de la gauche diversitaire.»

«Dérive».
De cette diatribe à succès, l’universitaire a fait un livre tout aussi polémique, The Once and Future Liberal. After Identity Politics, dont la traduction française vient d’être publiée sous le titre la Gauche identitaire. L’Amérique en miettes (Stock). Un ouvrage provocateur destiné à sonner l’alerte contre le «tournant identitaire» pris par le Parti démocrate sous l’influence des «idéologues de campus», «ces militants qui ne savent plus parler que de leur différence.» «Une vision politique large a été remplacée par une pseudo-politique et une rhétorique typiquement américaine du moi sensible qui lutte pour être reconnu», développe Lilla. Dans son viseur : les mouvements féministes, gays, indigènes ou afro comme Black Lives Matter («le meilleur moyen de ne pas construire de solidarité»). Bref, tout ce qui est minoritaire et qui s’exprime à coups d’occupation de places publiques, de pétitions et de tribunes dans les journaux est fautif à ses yeux d’avoir fragmenté la gauche américaine.

L’essayiste situe l’origine de cette «dérive» idéologique au début des années 70, lorsque la Nouvelle Gauche interprète «à l’envers» la formule «le privé est politique», considérant que tout acte politique n’est rien d’autre qu’une activité personnelle. Ce «culte de l’identité» et des «particularismes» issus de la révolution culturelle et morale des Sixties a convergé avec les révolutions économiques sous l’ère Reagan pour devenir «l’idéologie dominante.» «La politique identitaire, c’est du reaganisme pour gauchiste», résume cet adepte de la «punchline» idéologico-politique.

Intellectuel au profil hybride, combattant à la fois la pensée conservatrice et la pensée progressiste, Lilla agace plus à gauche qu’à droite où sa dénonciation de «l’idéologie de la diversité», de «ses limites» et «ses dangers» est perçue comme l’expression ultime d’un identitarisme masculin blanc. Positionnement transgressif qu’on ferait volontiers graviter du côté de la «nouvelle réaction», ce qu’il réfute.

A Paris, loin de la tempête médiatique new-yorkaise, chez son éditeur au cœur du Quartier latin, costume bleu marine d’intello-worldwide en promo et lunettes noires cerclées posées sur un visage imberbe, il se définit comme «liberal, centrist» (un «modéré de gauche», dirait-on en France). On lit aussi dans le New Yorker «démocrate à col bleu», ces «travailleurs» d’ateliers, usiniers et ouvriers du Midwest, frappés de plein fouet par la crise économique et oubliés par le Parti démocrate durant la présidentielle de 2016. Refusant toute étiquette, il revendique une «posture républicaine» et «universaliste», rêvant pour son pays d’un républicanisme à la française, intransigeant et farouchement laïque. De ce point de vue là, Mark Lilla est l’anti-Joan Scott, son homologue américaine, elle aussi francophile, dont le dernier livre la Religion de la laïcité (Flammarion) épingle a contrario l’utilisation «évolutive, opportuniste et de circonstance» de ce concept en France au nom de l’égalité entre les sexes.

Champ.
L’essai de Lilla peut se lire comme un avertissement lancé à la gauche intellectuelle française, aujourd’hui divisée entre «républicanistes» et «décoloniaux». Un signal à prendre au sérieux de la part d’une sommité académique qui connaît bien la France. Entre 1988 et 1990, le chercheur pose ses valises à Paris, où il fait la rencontre du cercle universitaire entourant François Furet, alors directeur du Centre d’études sociologiques et politiques Raymond-Aron. Décidément bien inspiré par la critique de la modernité, il publie en 1994 New French Thought. Political Philosophy, un recueil de textes consacré à la nouvelle pensée française façonnée par Marcel Gauchet, Luc Ferry ou Alain Renaut.

Plus globalement, Lilla est connu dans le champ intellectuel pour le regard neuf qu’il porte sur la pensée européenne. En 1993, son essai sur Giambattista Vico, G.B. Vico. The Making of an Antimodern, lui offre ses premières bribes de notoriété. «Lilla a pris le contre-pied des travaux de l’époque sur Vico, se souvient Alain Pons, spécialiste du philosophe italien, rencontré à Paris au début des années 90. Contrairement à la conception dominante qui place Vico dans la lignée d’un idéalisme hégélien, il a su déceler chez lui un fond à contre-courant des Lumières. Lecture inédite.»

Celui qui contribue à faire connaître Michel Houellebecq outre-Atlantique, «un écrivain qui dit la vérité sur la réalité», tient ce rôle d’entremetteur entre les deux continents. «C’est sa grande force, pointe le politologue et ex-compagnon de route parisien Philippe Raynaud. Contrairement à ses compatriotes, il ne s’intéresse pas exclusivement à ce qui est anglo-saxon. Il a sur la France un regard compréhensif.» Seule ombre au tableau de ses amitiés franco-américaines, une relation contrariée avec le philosophe Pierre Manent, qui a refusé poliment de répondre à nos questions. Leur lien se serait distendu après que Lilla a critiqué ses positions catholiques conservatrices dans la New York Review of Books. Quand ce n’est pas à son goût, ami ou pas, Lilla allume. «C’est un esprit indépendant, témoigne l’historien Marcel Gauchet, autre membre du centre Aron. Ce qui n’est pas forcément bien vu dans les milieux universitaires.»

Si son livre a reçu un accueil chaleureux dans la presse française, l’américaniste Denis Lacorne craint qu’il ne soit «mal lu, donc mal compris»,même s’il reconnaît à Lilla quelques «prises de positions musclées». Quitte à frôler l’injure à son propre public. Comme lorsqu’il dit que les étudiants de gauche s’intéressent plus à leur nombril qu’au reste du monde. «Une insulte à ses étudiants ? Je ne pense pas, réagit Lacorne. Lilla fait état d’une certaine difficulté de l’enseignement aux Etats-Unis. En retour, c’est lui qu’on traite de supremaciste blanc !»

Mark Lilla est blanc, il a 62 ans. Né à Detroit, père ouvrier chez Chevrolet et mère infirmière. Installée près de la frontière avec le Canada, sa famille est à l’entendre «un îlot progressiste» au milieu d’«un océan d’ouvriers blancs racistes.» Voir la classe ouvrière des années 60 sombrer dans sa version white trash pré-Trump lui fait dire : «Le racisme, je le connais mieux que mes étudiants noirs et pour la plupart tous bourgeois.» Pour payer ses études, Lilla fait éboueur «à l’arrière du camion-poubelle». Il obtient une bourse de l’université du Michigan et s’envole pour Harvard. Son entrée dans l’élite universitaire coïncide avec la fin de son époque «Jesus Freak», «ces hippies qui lisaient la Bible au lieu de fumer des joints». Sa rencontre avec le sociologue Daniel Bell, en 1979, le délivre pour de bon de l’emprise de la religion. «J’émergeais tout juste des brumes du fanatisme pentecôtiste, qui avait assombri mon adolescence, écrit-il en 2011 dans le trimestriel conservateur Commentaire […]. J’ai appris que ce que les convertis cherchent dans la foi est la chaleur.»

Autorité
A la longue, Lilla montre des occurrences biograhiques le baladant plus du côté des conservateurs que des réseaux intellectuels progressistes. C’est bien de cette facette et de son nouvel habit de pamphlétaire dont il est question depuis la parution de son essai. Le polémiste se serait-il substitué au chercheur à l’autorité planétaire ? «Il est ni plus ni moins polémique qu’avant, corrige Raynaud. Ce n’est pas un livre polémique mais un livre sur lequel on polémique. Mark Lilla se situe entièrement à l’intérieur de la gauche. Il veut son retour aux affaires en 2020.» L’intéressé assure que son essai est un «rappel à l’ordre» pour «renouer avec l’ambition d’un avenir commun.» On voudrait déclarer la guerre des gauches, qu’on ne s’y prendrait pas autrement.

Voir enfin:

Dominique Reynié : « Il n’y a pas de demande de repli nationaliste, mais de protection »

Alain Barluet

INTERVIEW – Professeur des universités à Sciences Po, directeur général de la Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Dominique ­Reynié analyse pour Le Figaro les frac­tures européennes.

LE FIGARO.- L’Europe est-elle aujourd’hui menacée d’implosion par les nationalismes?

Dominique REYNIÉ.- Notre situation est parfaitement paradoxale. Jamais les ennemis de l’Union européenne n’ont eu à ce point le sentiment de toucher au but, de presque en voir la fin, et cependant jamais, je le crois, les peuples d’Europe n’ont été plus sérieusement, plus gravement attachés à l’Union. Quel malentendu! Voilà bien l’un des plus fâcheux résultats de notre incapacité à discuter, de notre nouvelle inclination pour la simplification à outrance des points de vue. L’hypothèse d’un repli nationaliste procède d’une erreur d’interprétation.

Il n’y a pas de demande de repli nationaliste, mais une demande de protection, de régulation politique, de contrôle du cours des choses. C’est une demande de puissance publique qui ne heurte pas l’idée européenne. C’est en refusant de répondre à cette demande éminemment légitime et recevable que l’Union finira par conduire les Européens à revenir, la mort dans l’âme, au dogme nationaliste.

Quelles sont les principales causes des fractures européennes actuelles?

Il existe bien sûr des causes particulières à chacune de nos nations. Mais les causes communes dominent et c’est l’autre face du paradoxe, puisque ces causes, en tant qu’elles sont continentales, qu’elles nous sont communes, devraient nous fournir la matière d’un nouveau grand dessein européen. Considérons ici notre crise démographique. Chaque année, il y a en Europe plus de décès que de naissances. Pas une nation du continent n’est épargnée par ce terrible déficit. Les conséquences sont immenses, sur nos capacités économiques, scientifiques, militaires, sur nos budgets, etc.

Notre crise démographique est-elle la réponse des peuples européens à la question de leur rôle dans la nouvelle histoire? Ce ne sont pas les États qui font des enfants. Et ce n’est pas à coups d’incitations fiscales ou de médailles nationales que nous corrigerons cela. À l’échelle de l’histoire, il n’y a pas de plus pure démonstration de force que la démographie. On peut refuser le multiculturalisme, mais que vaut une culture nationale qui n’engendre plus de vivants? Notre perte de vitalité dans un monde bouillonnant est l’une des grandes causes du malaise européen, des peuples et de leurs États.

«Nous devons accepter cet attachement viscéral des Européens à leur patrimoine immatériel, leur manière de vivre, leur souveraineté, parfois si récente ou retrouvée depuis si peu et si chèrement payée»

Quel rôle a joué Trump?

Les Européens observent Trump. Ils ne l’aiment pas, mais ils le comprennent. Ils voient un chef d’État qui affirme la primauté de son pays et de son peuple. Trump marque le retour d’une figure classique mais oubliée chez nous, celle de l’homme d’État qui n’a d’intérêt que pour son pays. Il assume une politique de puissance. On verra ses résultats. Mais on ne doute pas que cette politique le conduirait à sacrifier l’intérêt européen s’il le fallait, et même les intérêts du monde. L’abandon des accords de Paris sur le climat a été une réussite de ce point de vue: c’est l’affirmation éclatante du retour à une politique égoïste sans fard. C’est la réponse à un monde que les démocraties ne dominent plus.

Les Européens regardent Trump comme ils regardent Xi Jinping: impossible de les aimer puisqu’ils sont redoutables et qu’ils jettent sur nous des regards de prédateurs. C’est bel et bien conscients de cela, de la faiblesse de leurs moyens s’ils avaient l’idée d’agir séparément, que les Européens restent attachés à l’Union, notre dernière condition pour survivre dans la grande bataille des politiques de puissance qui a commencé. Les Américains font ce qu’ils ont à faire pour eux-mêmes. À nous, les Européens, de faire ce qu’il nous revient de faire pour nous-mêmes, voilà ce que cherchent à dire aujourd’hui les Européens.

Macron a-t-il raison de souligner le clivage avec l’Europe de l’Est?

C’est un risque politique, sur le plan national comme sur le plan européen. Le risque peut être gagnant si le vote populiste, qui menace l’Union, amorce un reflux lors des élections européennes. À ce jour, ce n’est pas le plus probable. Mais on peut obtenir un résultat combinant une défaite européenne et une victoire nationale, si la liste LaREM termine en tête. La double défaite signifierait a posteriori l’imprudence du pari et pèserait sur les deux niveaux, européen et national en affaiblissant dangereusement le président.

Quelles pistes pour «réduire» les fractures européennes?

Du côté des gouvernements, cessons de surjouer l’opposition frontale. Elle est spectaculaire, médiatique, elle frappe les esprits. Autant l’Europe, avec son langage hermétique et ses représentants extraterritorialisés, ne sait jamais expliquer les bénéfices qu’elle permet pourtant, autant elle met en scène avec brio ses disputes. Les effets sont désastreux. Hélas, le retour de la modération n’aura pas lieu avant les européennes, ces excès étant supposés favoriser la mobilisation des bataillons électoraux. Il y a une impérieuse nécessité à mieux se comprendre. Orban et ses amis doivent comprendre que le respect des principes et des procédures qui fondent l’État de droit démocratique est au cœur du projet politique européen, il n’est pas négociable. Mais nous aussi nous devons accepter cet attachement viscéral des Européens à leur patrimoine immatériel, leur manière de vivre, leur souveraineté, parfois si récente ou retrouvée depuis si peu et si chèrement payée.


Cinéma/First man: Look what they’ve done to my flag, Ma ! (First postnational hero: why can’t Lalaland recognize a true American hero when it sees one ?)

23 octobre, 2018
Condamner le nationalisme parce qu’il peut mener à la guerre, c’est comme condamner l’amour parce qu’il peut conduire au meurtre. C.K. Chesterton
Deliverance did for them [North Georgians] what ‘Jaws’ did for sharks. Daniel Roper (North Georgia Journal)
The movie, ‘Deliverance’ made tourist dollars flow into the area, but there was one memorable, horrifying male rape scene that lasted a little more than four minutes, but has lasted 40 years inside the hearts and minds of the people who live here. CNN
Il n’y a pas d’identité fondamentale, pas de courant dominant, au Canada. Il y a des valeurs partagées — ouverture, compassion, la volonté de travailler fort, d’être là l’un pour l’autre, de chercher l’égalité et la justice. Ces qualités sont ce qui fait de nous le premier État postnational. Justin Trudeau
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Hussein Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton (2016)
On vous demande une carte blanche, et vous salissez l’adversaire, et vous proférez des mensonges. Votre projet, c’est de salir, c’est de mener une campagne de falsifications, de vivre de la peur et des mensonges. La France que je veux vaut beaucoup mieux que ça. Il faut sortir d’un système qui vous a coproduit. Vous en vivez. Vous êtes son parasite. L’inefficacité des politiques de droite et de gauche, c’est l’extrême droite qui s’en nourrit. Je veux mener la politique qui n’a jamais été menée ces trente dernières années. Emmanuel Macron (2017)
Les démocrates radicaux veulent remonter le temps, rendre de nouveau le pouvoir aux mondialistes corrompus et avides de pouvoir. Vous savez qui sont les mondialistes? Le mondialiste est un homme qui veut qu’il soit bon de vivre dans le monde entier sans, pour dire le vrai, se soucier de notre pays. Cela ne nous convient pas. (…) Vous savez, il y a un terme devenu démodé dans un certain sens, ce terme est « nationaliste ». Mais vous savez qui je suis? Je suis un nationaliste. OK? Je suis nationaliste. Saisissez-vous de ce terme! Donald Trump
La NFL et CBS voulaient vraiment Rihanna pour l’année prochaine à  Atlanta. Ils lui ont fait l’offre, mais elle a dit non à cause de la polémique sur le genou au sol. Elle n’est pas d’accord avec la position de la NFL. Proche de la chanteuse Rihanna
Je sais que ça ressemble à un sacrifice de privilégiée, mais c’est tout ce que je peux faire. Frapper la NFL au niveau des annonceurs, c’est le seul moyen de leur faire vraiment mal. Je sais que s’opposer à la NFL, c’est comme s’opposer à la NRA (une association américaine qui fait la promotion des armes à feu, ndlr). C’est très dur, mais vous ne voulez pas être fier de votre vie? Amy Schumer
Car les yeux du monde sont dorénavant tournés vers l’espace, vers la Lune et les planètes au-delà, et nous avons fait le serment de ne pas voir cet espace sous le joug d’un étendard hostile et spoliateur, mais sous la bannière de la liberté et de la paix. Nous avons fait le serment de ne pas voir l’espace envahi par des armes de destruction massive, mais par des instruments de connaissance et de découverte. Cependant, les promesses de cette nation ne pourront être tenues qu’à l’impérieuse condition que nous soyons les premiers. Et telle est bien notre intention. En résumé, notre suprématie dans le domaine scientifique et industriel, nos espoirs de paix et de sécurité, nos obligations envers nous-mêmes et envers les autres, tout cela exige de nous cet effort ; afin de percer ces mystères pour le bien de l’humanité toute entière et devenir la première nation au monde à s’engager dans l’espace. Nous levons les voiles pour explorer ce nouvel océan, car il y a de nouvelles connaissances à acquérir, de nouveaux droits à conquérir, qui doivent être conquis et utilisés pour le développement de tous les peuples. Car la science spatiale, comme la science nucléaire et toutes les technologies, n’a pas de conscience intrinsèque. Qu’elle devienne une force bénéfique ou maléfique dépend de l’homme et c’est seulement si les États-Unis occupent une position prééminente que nous pourrons décider si ce nouvel océan sera un havre de paix ou un nouveau champ de bataille terrifiant. John Kennedy (12.09.1962)
In the end it was decided by Congress that this was a United States project. We were not going to make any territorial claim, but we were to let people know that we were here and put up a US flag. My job was to get the flag there. I was less concerned about whether that was the right artefact to place. I let other, wiser minds than mine make those kinds of decisions. Neil Armstrong
C’est de la folie totale. Et un mauvais service rendu à un moment où notre peuple a besoin de rappels de ce que nous pouvons accomplir lorsque nous travaillons ensemble. Le peuple américain a payé pour cette mission, sur des fusées construites par des Américains, avec de la technologie américaine et pour transporter des astronautes américains. Ce n’était pas une mission de l’ONU. Marco Rubio
I think it’s very unfortunate. (…) it’s almost like they’re embarrassed at the achievement coming from America. I think it’s a terrible thing. (…) because when you think of Neil Armstrong and when you think about the landing on the moon, you think about the American flag. And I understand they don’t do it. So for that reason I wouldn’t even want to watch the movie. (…) I don’t want to get into the world of boycotts. Same thing with Nike. I wouldn’t say you don’t buy Nike because of the Colin Kaepernick. I mean, look, as much as I disagree, as an example, with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way, I wouldn’t have done it. In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people may think you shouldn’t do. So you know, I personally am on a different side of it, you guys are probably too, I’m on a different side of it. Donald Trump
Pour répondre à la question de savoir s’il s’agissait d’une revendication politique, la réponse est non. Mon but avec ce film était de partager avec le public les aspects invisibles et inconnus de la mission états-unienne sur la lune – en particulier la saga personnelle de Neil Armstrong et ce qu’il a pu penser et ressentir pendant ces quelques heures de gloire. Damien Chazelle
Cette histoire est humaine et elle est universelle. Bien sûr, il célèbre une réalisation américaine. Il célèbre également une réalisation ‘pour toute l’humanité. Les cinéastes ont choisi de se concentrer sur Neil qui regarde la Terre, sa marche vers le Petit Cratère Occidental, son expérience personnelle et unique de clôturer ce voyage, un voyage qui a eu tant de hauts et de bas dévastateurs. Mark et Rick Armstrong
Je pense que cela a été largement considéré à la fin comme une réalisation humaine [et] c’est ainsi que nous avons choisi de voir les choses. Je pense aussi que Neil était extrêmement humble, comme beaucoup de ces astronautes, et qu’à maintes reprises, il a différé l’attention de lui-même aux 400 000 personnes qui ont rendu la mission possible. Ryan Gosling
I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible. He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s not just to be humble, that’s also true. So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil. I’m Canadian, so might have cognitive bias. Ryan Gosling
As a half-Canadian, half-French, I agree with everything Ryan said. Damien Chazelle
We’ve read a number of comments about the film today and specifically about the absence of the flag planting scene, made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie. As we’ve seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in. This is a film that focuses on what you don’t know about Neil Armstrong. It’s a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon. The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story. It’s a movie that gives you unique insight into the Armstrong family and fallen American Heroes like Elliot See and Ed White. It’s a very personal movie about our dad’s journey, seen through his eyes. This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement “for all mankind,” as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible. Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows. In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest. Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves. Rick and Mark Armstrong and James R. Hansen
In ‘First Man’ I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon. To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours. I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA. This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind. This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history. My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was. Damien Chazelle
[The moon landing] cost money, it tore families apart. There was this tremendous sacrifice and loss that came with the success story that we all know,” Chazelle said. “That, in some ways more than anything, was what motivated us — trying to put a human face to that toll and really pay tribute to the people who literally gave everything so that all of us can grow up knowing that people walked on the moon. Damien Chazelle
By focusing on that loss and sacrifice and failure, it humanizes this person who we think of as an idol and helps us really understand that this wasn’t easy, this wasn’t superheroes that did it. Josh Singer
I don’t know if I’ll do that. That’s a hard one — never conquered the script on that. To tell the drama of it is going to be difficult. I’ve met with him, played golf with him. He’s a very nice guy but he likes his privacy and I can’t blame him for that. Clint Eastwood
Voulant absolument se décoller des références L’Etoffe des héros et Apollo (la grandeur de la nation américaine dans toute sa splendeur), Chazelle bidouille les séquences dans l’espace en secouant sa caméra, en bricolant l’image et en filmant les poils de barbe de son personnage. C’est parfois un peu fatigant parce que systématique.  En revanche – et c’est là où l’eastwoodien qui est en lui se réveille – la partie intimiste est passionnante. Armstrong est prêt à tout sacrifier pour être le premier. Pas forcément pour recevoir les applaudissements mais pour nourrir sa propre névrose. Comme si le héros américain, bouffé par une machine mythologique basée sur le « do it yourself » devait forcément en passer par là. Armstrong a le visage fermé et Ryan Gosling, qui n’est pas l’acteur le plus expressif au monde, est parfait. Claire Foy, son épouse, également ; femme de tête, actrice de coeur. La face cachée de la Lune est finalement ce qu’il y a de plus intéressant à voir. L’Express
Avec La La Land, Damien Chazelle, le jeune prodige de Hollywood, remettait de la fragilité dans la glorieuse comédie musicale à l’américaine : danser et chanter n’y était pas si facile pour les deux acteurs principaux, et la mise en scène exploitait subtilement leurs faiblesses. Dans cette biographie de Neil Armstrong, la discipline incertaine, laborieuse, faillible, c’est la conquête spatiale elle-même. Le cinéaste insiste sans cesse sur la précarité des engins et vaisseaux pilotés par l’astronaute, du début des années 1960 à ses premiers pas sur la Lune, le 21 juillet 1969. Leitmotiv des scènes d’action : les antiques cadrans à aiguilles s’affolent, les carlingues tremblotent, fument, prennent feu… La réussite, lorsqu’elle survient, paraît arbitraire, et ne parvient jamais à dissiper l’effroi et le doute devant l’entreprise du héros. Voilà comment, dès la saisissante première scène, le réalisateur s’approprie le genre si codifié du biopic hollywoodien. Le visage de Ryan Gosling est l’autre facteur majeur de stylisation. Avec son jeu minimaliste, son refus de l’expressivité ordinaire, l’acteur de Drive bloque la sympathie et l’identification. Damien Chazelle filme sa star en très gros plans, avec une fascination encore accentuée depuis La La Land : Ryan Gosling est lunaire bien avant d’alunir et il le demeure ensuite. Le scénario donne et redonne, trop souvent, l’explication la plus évidente à cette absence mélancolique — la perte d’une fille, emportée en bas âge par le cancer. Cette tragédie intime, véridique, devient même la composante la plus convenue, avec flash-back mélodramatiques sur le bonheur familial perdu, un peu comme pour le personnage de spationaute de Sandra Bullock dans Gravity, d’Alfonso Cuarón. Or l’attendrissement sied peu à Damien Chazelle, cinéaste cruel, dur — voir le sadisme de Whiplash, et le gâchis amoureux de La La Land, pour cause d’égocentrisme des deux amants. Le film brille, en revanche, dès qu’il s’agit de la distance qui éloigne toujours plus le héros des siens — sa femme et ses deux fils —, au fil des expériences spatiales. Sommé par son épouse d’annoncer son départ vers la Lune à ses enfants, Neil Armstrong leur parle soudain comme s’il était en conférence de presse, sans plus d’émotion ni de tendresse — scène glaçante. Plus tard, l’homme (en quarantaine après une mission) est séparé de sa femme par une épaisse cloison de verre. La paroi devient alors, tout comme le casque-miroir du scaphandre, le symbole d’une vie à part, « hors de ce monde » — les mots de l’épouse. A la même époque, des mouvements sociaux dénoncent, aux Etats-Unis, les dépenses publiques faramineuses consacrées à la conquête spatiale, tandis que des millions de citoyens vivent mal. Damien Chazelle s’attarde sur cette critique-là, comme pour contredire la formule d’Armstrong une fois sur la Lune : « … un grand pas pour l’humanité »… Scepticisme et froideur contribuent ainsi à élever First Man au-delà de l’hagiographie attendue, au profit d’une réelle étrangeté, et d’une grande tenue. Télérama
Damien Chazelle nous propose d’entrer dans l’intimité de ce héros de l’espace. Cernant au plus près ce personnage complexe, qui n’arriva jamais à faire le deuil d’une enfant de deux ans emportée par une tumeur au cerveau, il nous fait ainsi entrer dans la psyché de ces pionniers de l’aventure spatiale. Très vite, et une scène en particulier est terrifiante, Neil Armstrong est littéralement absorbé par son envie d’infini, de découverte, au point de dire au revoir à ses enfants, en 1969, sous forme d’interview ! (…) Entre drame intime et conquête spatiale, le dernier opus de Damien Chazelle est aussi un véritable documentaire sur ces moments exceptionnels.  (…) Si le scénario fait l’impasse sur le fanion américain hardiment planté sur le sol lunaire, il ne fait pas l’économie des problèmes liés aux dépenses titanesques de la recherche spatiale aux USA. Sommes absolument exorbitantes dont le but inavoué était de rattraper le retard sur l’URSS dans ce domaine… Actu.fr
What do words cost? In contemporary Hollywood, quite a bit, apparently. If you believe those who say First Man was hurt by Ryan Gosling’s ‘globalist’ defense of director Damien Chazelle’s decision not to depict astronaut Neil Armstrong’s planting of an American flag on the moon—and the Internet is crawling with those who make that claim—then Gosling’s explanation cost up to $45,000 a word this weekend. First Man, from Universal and DreamWorks among others, opened to about $16.5 million in ticket sales at the domestic box office. That’s $4.5 million short of expectations that were pegged at around $21 million. At the Venice Film Festival in late August, Gosling, who is Canadian, spoke about 100 words in defending the flag-planting omission. “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” he said:  “From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil. If the ensuing controversy really suppressed ticket sales—and who can know whether sharper-than-expected competition from Venom and A Star Is Born was perhaps a bigger factor?—the $45,000-per-word price tag is just a down payment. Under-performance by First Man of, say, $50 million over the long haul would raise the per-word price to a breathtaking $500,000. Such is the terror of entertainment in the age of digital rage and partisanship. The simplest moment of candor at a routine promotional appearance can suddenly become a show-killer. The real math, of course, is mysterious. To what extent a slip of the tongue or an interesting thought helped or hindered a film or television show will never be clear. But, increasingly, the stray word seems to be taking a toll on vastly expensive properties that have been years, or even decades, in the making. Michael Cieply
Movies about space exploration have tended to be pretty strong box-office performers lately, whether they’re films based on events that did happen, films based on events that didn’t happen or films based on events that will one day happen if only we could get Matt Damon enough potatoes. So it’s been a surprise to see “First Man,” the Neil Armstrong drama starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy and directed by “La La Land” filmmaker Damien Chazelle, do as poorly as it has. The film took in just $16 million last week in its first weekend of release, despite showing on nearly 4,000 screens. (…) It didn’t do much better on its second weekend — barely $8 million in receipts and bested by four other releases. Absent a major awards run, the film seems poised to become a disappointment for its studio, Universal, not to mention its star and its previously red-hot director. (…) “First Man,” about one of the great unifying American achievements of the 20th century and the internal conflict of the man who risked hi s life to achieve it, was humming along, seemingly set for a nice theatrical run after its premieres at the upscale Venice and Toronto film festivals in the late summer. That’s when several outlets, including Business Insider, pointed out the absence of an iconic moment in the moon-landing saga, with Armstrong not shown planting the American flag on the lunar surface. Gosling himself, a Canadian, poured some unintentional gasoline on the flame when he told reporters that “I don’t think he saw himself as an American hero,” referring to Armstrong. (…) This in turn set off political leaders, particularly Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). (…) The Rubio criticism was echoed by a number of public figures, including fellow Armstrong moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, who tweeted photos many saw as a pointed response to the omission. (…) By the time it was over, the film had become as divisive as the lunar-landing itself was unifying. Some Hollywood pundits certainly thought so. In a post on the trade site Deadline, Michael Cieply asked, “What Do Words Cost? For ‘First Man,’ Perhaps, Quite A Lot,” and broke down the box-office underperformance by the word count in Gosling’s interview. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg advanced the theory even more directly. “FIRST MAN got Swiftboated,” he posted on Twitter, referring to the politically motivated set of attacks during the 2004 presidential election about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. “I genuinely believe its box-office performance was undercut by the BS about the planting of the American flag.” He makes a potent case, given the decibel level of the controversy and the fact that “First Man” contains subject matter that might be expected to play strongly in red states. (…) One inference they both might have pointed out, and even agreed on: In times so divided, making a movie about unity could be the most politicizing act of all. Steven Zeitchik
The First Man true story reveals that unlike many astronauts, Neil Armstrong was not the hotshot type, nor was he a fame-seeker. He was a man of few words who was driven to accomplish something no other human being had done. Up to his death, he largely remained a bit of an enigma. (…) The movie is based on author James R. Hansen’s New York Times bestselling biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. First published in 2005, the book is the only official biography of Armstrong. (…) Film rights to the book were sold in 2003, prior to its publication, but a Neil Armstrong movie took years to get off the ground. Initially, Clint Eastwood had been attached to direct. (…) As we explored the First Man true story, we quickly discovered that there are no good photos of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. (…) The reason for the lack of photos of Armstrong on the lunar surface is because most of the time it was Armstrong who was carrying the camera. (…) Aldrin (…) felt horrible that there were so few photos of Armstrong but there was too much going on at the time to realize it. The most iconic shot of an astronaut on the Moon is of Buzz Aldrin standing and posing for the camera. If you look closely at that photo, you can actually see Armstrong taking the picture in the visor’s reflection. (…) We do know that he took with him remnants of fabric and the propeller from the Wright Brothers plane in which they took the first powered flight in 1903. (…) Armstrong’s Moon walk lasted 2 and 3/4 hours, even though it feels much shorter in the movie. Astronauts on the five subsequent NASA missions that landed men on the Moon were given progressively longer periods of time to explore the lunar surface, with Apollo 17 astronauts spending 22 hours on EVA (Extravehicular Activity). The reason Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didn’t get to spend more time outside the Lunar Module is that there were uncertainties as to how well the spacesuits would hold up to the extremely high temperatures on the lunar surface. History vs. Hollywood
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon in 1969, it marked one of the proudest moments in US history. But a new film about Armstrong has chosen to leave out this most patriotic of scenes, arguing that the giant leap for mankind should not be seen as an example of American greatness. The film, First Man, was unveiled at the Venice Film Festival yesterday, where the absence of the stars and stripes was noted by critics. Its star, Ryan Gosling, was asked if the film was a deliberately un-American take on the moon landing. He replied that Armstrong’s accomplishment « transcended countries and borders ». (…)The planting of the flag was controversial in 1969. There was disagreement over whether a US or United Nations flag should be used. Armstrong said later: « In the end it was decided by Congress that this was a United States project. We were not going to make any territorial claim, but we were to let people know that we were here and put up a US flag. My job was to get the flag there. » The Telegraph
On Thursday evening, Ryan Gosling made international news when he justified the fact that the new Damien Chazelle biopic of Neil Armstrong will skip the whole planting the American flag on the moon thing. Gosling, a Canadian, explained, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.” Now, the real reason that the film won’t include the planting of the American flag is that the distributors obviously fear that Chinese censors will be angry, and that foreign audiences will scorn the film. But it’s telling that the Left seems to attribute every universal sin to America, and every specific victory to humanity as a whole. Slavery: uniquely American. Racism: uniquely American. Sexism: uniquely American. Homophobia: uniquely American. Putting a man on the moon: an achievement of humanity. All of this is in keeping with a general perspective that sees America as a nefarious force in the world. This is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States view: that America’s birth represented the creation of a terrible totalitarian regime, but that Maoist China is the “closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government, independent of outside control”; that Castro’s Cuba had “no bloody record of suppression,” but that the U.S. responded to the “horrors perpetrated by the terrorists against innocent people in New York by killing other innocent people in Afghanistan.” In reality, however, America remains the single greatest force for human freedom and progress in the history of the world. And landing a man on the moon was part of that uniquely American legacy. President John F. Kennedy announced his mission to go to the moon in 1961; in 1962, he gave a famous speech at Rice University in which he announced the purpose of the moon landing (…) The moon landing was always nationalist. It was nationalism in service of humanity. But that’s been America’s role in the world for generations. Removing the American flag from an American mission demonstrates the anti-American animus of Hollywood, if we’re to take their values-laden protestations seriously. Ben Shapiro
When the prime minister says Canada is the world’s “first postnational state,” I believe he’s saying this is a place where respect for minorities trumps any one group’s way of doing things. (…) The New York Times writer who obtained this quote said Trudeau’s belief Canada has no core identity is his “most radical” political position. It seems especially so combined with criticism Trudeau is a lightweight on national security and sovereignty. Not too many Canadians, however, seem disturbed by Trudeau talking about us as a “postnational state.” Maybe they just write it off as political bafflegab. But of all the countries in the world, Canada, with its high proportion of immigrants and official policy of multiculturalism, may also be one of the few places where politicians and academics treat virtually all forms of nationalism with deep suspicion. Of course, no one defends nationalism in its rigid or extreme forms. Ultranationalism has been blamed for us-against-them belligerence throughout the 20th century, which led to terrible military aggressions out of Germany, Japan, the former Yugoslavia, China and many regions of Africa. But would it be wise to let nationalism die? What if our sense of a national identity actually was eradicated? What if borders were erased and the entire world became “transnational?” We sometimes seem to be heading that way, with the rise of the European Union, the United Nations and especially transnational deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership. The aim of these transnational business agreements is to override the rules, customs and sovereignty of individual nations and allow the virtually unrestricted flow of global migrants and money. Such transnational agreements benefit some, especially the “cosmopolitan” elites and worldwide corporations. But the results for others are often not pretty. (…) Trudeau contradicts himself, or is at least being naive, when he argues Canada is a postnational state. On one hand Trudeau claims Canada has no “core identity.” On the other hand he says the Canadian identity is quite coherent – we all share the values of “openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. » Can it be both ways? Most Canadians don’t think so. Regardless of what Trudeau told the New York Times, a recent Angus Reid Institute poll confirmed what many Canadians judge to be common sense: 75 per cent of residents believe there is a “unique Canadian culture.” I wish some of that common sense about nationalism was being brought to the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver and Toronto. (…) As a result many average Canadians who are desperate to make a home and livelihood in Metro Vancouver can’t come close to affording to live here. It’s the kind of thing that can happen when too many politicians believe we’re living in the world’s first “postnational state.” Douglas Todd
Dans le cas de Christophe Guilluy, traité par le géographe, Jacques Lévy, invité le 9 octobre des Matins de Guillaume Erner sur France Culture, d’ « idéologue géographe du Rassemblement national », ce sont vingt-et-un géographes, historiens, sociologues, politistes, membres de la rédaction de la revue Métropolitiques, qui se sont chargés de l’exécution pour la partie scientifique, quand Thibaut Sardier, journaliste à Libération se chargeait du reste consistant, pour l’essentiel, à trouver une cohérence à des potins glanés auprès de personnes ayant côtoyé Christophe Guilluy ou ayant un avis sur lui. La tribune des vingt-et-un s’intitule « Inégalités territoriales : parlons-en ! » On est tenté d’ajouter : « Oui, mais entre nous ! ». On se demande si les signataires ont lu le livre qu’ils attaquent, tant la critique sur le fond est générale et superficielle. Ils lui reprochent d’abord le succès de sa France périphérique qui a trouvé trop d’échos, à leur goût, dans la presse, mais aussi auprès des politiques, de gauche comme de droite. Pour le collectif de Métropolitiques, Christophe Guilluy est un démagogue et un prophète de malheur qui, lorsqu’il publie des cartes et des statistiques, use « d’oripeaux scientifiques » pour asséner des « arguments tronqués ou erronés », « fausses vérités » qui ont des « effets performatifs ». Christophe Guilluy aurait donc fait naître ce qu’il décrit, alimentant ainsi « des visions anxiogènes de la France ». Ce collectif se plaint de l’écho donné par la presse aux livres de Christophe Guilluy qui soutient des « théories nocives », alors que ses membres si vertueux, si modestes, si rigoureux et si honnêtes intellectuellement sont si peu entendus et que « le temps presse ». Le même collectif aurait, d’après Thibaut Sardier, déclaré que l’heure n’était plus aux attaques ad hominem ! On croit rêver. Thibaut Sardier, pour la rubrique « potins », présente Christophe Guilluy comme un « consultant et essayiste […], géographe de formation [qui] a la réputation de refuser les débats avec des universitaires ou les interviews dans certains journaux, comme Libé ». L’expression « géographe de formation » revient dans le texte pour indiquer au lecteur qu’il aurait tort de considérer Christophe Guilluy comme un professionnel de la géographie au même titre que ceux qui figurent dans le collectif, qualifiés de chercheurs, ou que Jacques Lévy. Je cite : « Le texte de Métropolitiques fait écho aux relations houleuses entre l’essayiste, géographe de formation, et les chercheurs. » Si l’on en croit Thibaut Sardier, Christophe Guilluy aurait le temps d’avoir des relations avec LES chercheurs en général. Le même Thibaut Sardier donne à Jacques Lévy, le vrai géographe, l’occasion de préciser sa pensée : « Je ne veux pas dire qu’il serait mandaté par le RN. Mais sa vision de la France et de la société correspond à celle de l’électorat du parti. » Le journaliste a tendance à lui donner raison. La preuve : « La place qu’il accorde à la question identitaire et aux travaux de Michèle Tribalat, cités à droite pour défendre l’idée d’un ‘grand remplacement’ plaide en ce sens. » Thibaut Sardier se fiche pas mal de ce que j’ai pu effectivement écrire – il n’a probablement jamais lu aucun de mes articles ou de mes livres – tout en incitant incidemment le lecteur à l’imiter, compte tenu du danger qu’il encourrait s’il le faisait. Ce qui compte, c’est que je sois lue et citée par les mauvaises personnes. Ne pas croire non plus à l’affiliation à gauche de Christophe Guilluy. Le vrai géographe en témoigne : « On ne peut être progressiste si on ne reconnaît pas le fait urbain et la disparition des sociétés rurales. » Voilà donc des propos contestant l’identité politique que Christophe Guilluy pourrait se donner pour lui en attribuer une autre, de leur choix, et qui justifie son excommunication, à une époque où il est devenu pourtant problématique d’appeler Monsieur une personne portant une moustache et ayant l’air d’être un homme ! Et l’on reproche à Christophe Guilluy de ne pas vouloir débattre avec ceux qui l’écrasent de leur mépris, dans un article titré, c’est un comble, « Peut-on débattre avec Christophe Guilluy ? » Mais débattre suppose que l’on considère celui auquel on va parler comme son égal et non comme une sorte d’indigent intellectuel que l’on est obligé de prendre en compte, de mauvais gré, simplement parce que ses idées ont du succès et qu’il faut bien combattre les théories nocives qu’il développe. Michèle Tribalat
Étant donné l’état de fragilisation sociale de la classe moyenne majoritaire française, tout est possible. Sur les plans géographique, culturel et social, il existe bien des points communs entre les situations françaises et américaines, à commencer par le déclassement de la classe moyenne. C’est « l’Amérique périphérique » qui a voté Trump, celle des territoires désindustrialisés et ruraux qui est aussi celle des ouvriers, employés, travailleurs indépendants ou paysans. Ceux qui étaient hier au cœur de la machine économique en sont aujourd’hui bannis. Le parallèle avec la situation américaine existe aussi sur le plan culturel, nous avons adopté un modèle économique mondialisé. Fort logiquement, nous devons affronter les conséquences de ce modèle économique mondialisé : l’ouvrier – hier à gauche –, le paysan – hier à droite –, l’employé – à gauche et à droite – ont aujourd’hui une perception commune des effets de la mondialisation et rompent avec ceux qui n’ont pas su les protéger. La France est en train de devenir une société américaine, il n’y a aucune raison pour que l’on échappe aux effets indésirables du modèle. (…) Dans l’ensemble des pays développés, le modèle mondialisé produit la même contestation. Elle émane des mêmes territoires (Amérique périphérique, France périphérique, Angleterre périphérique… ) et de catégories qui constituaient hier la classe moyenne, largement perdue de vue par le monde d’en haut. (…) la perception que des catégories dominantes – journalistes en tête – ont des classes populaires se réduit à leur champ de vision immédiat. Je m’explique : ce qui reste aujourd’hui de classes populaires dans les grandes métropoles sont les classes populaires immigrées qui vivent dans les banlieues c’est-à-dire les minorités : en France elles sont issues de l’immigration maghrébine et africaine, aux États-Unis plutôt blacks et latinos. Les classes supérieures, qui sont les seules à pouvoir vivre au cœur des grandes métropoles, là où se concentrent aussi les minorités, n’ont comme perception du pauvre que ces quartiers ethnicisés, les ghettos et banlieues… Tout le reste a disparu des représentations. Aujourd’hui, 59 % des ménages pauvres, 60 % des chômeurs et 66 % des classes populaires vivent dans la « France périphérique », celle des petites villes, des villes moyennes et des espaces ruraux. (…) Faire passer les classes moyennes et populaires pour « réactionnaires », « fascisées », « pétinisées » est très pratique. Cela permet d’éviter de se poser des questions cruciales. Lorsque l’on diagnostique quelqu’un comme fasciste, la priorité devient de le rééduquer, pas de s’interroger sur l’organisation économique du territoire où il vit. L’antifascisme est une arme de classe. Pasolini expliquait déjà dans ses Écrits corsaires que depuis que la gauche a adopté l’économie de marché, il ne lui reste qu’une chose à faire pour garder sa posture de gauche : lutter contre un fascisme qui n’existe pas. C’est exactement ce qui est en train de se passer. (…) Il y a un mépris de classe presque inconscient véhiculé par les médias, le cinéma, les politiques, c’est énorme. On l’a vu pour l’élection de Trump comme pour le Brexit, seule une opinion est présentée comme bonne ou souhaitable. On disait que gagner une élection sans relais politique ou médiatique était impossible, Trump nous a prouvé qu’au contraire, c’était faux. Ce qui compte, c’est la réalité des gens depuis leur point de vue à eux. Nous sommes à un moment très particulier de désaffiliation politique et culturel des classes populaires, c’est vrai dans la France périphérique, mais aussi dans les banlieues où les milieux populaires cherchent à préserver ce qui leur reste : un capital social et culturel protecteur qui permet l’entraide et le lien social. Cette volonté explique les logiques séparatistes au sein même des milieux modestes. Une dynamique, qui n’interdit pas la cohabitation, et qui répond à la volonté de ne pas devenir minoritaire. (…) La bourgeoisie d’aujourd’hui a bien compris qu’il était inutile de s’opposer frontalement au peuple. C’est là qu’intervient le « brouillage de classe », un phénomène, qui permet de ne pas avoir à assumer sa position. Entretenue du bobo à Steve Jobs, l’idéologie du cool encourage l’ouverture et la diversité, en apparence. Le discours de l’ouverture à l’autre permet de maintenir la bourgeoisie dans une posture de supériorité morale sans remettre en cause sa position de classe (ce qui permet au bobo qui contourne la carte scolaire, et qui a donc la même demande de mise à distance de l’autre que le prolétaire qui vote FN, de condamner le rejet de l’autre). Le discours de bienveillance avec les minorités offre ainsi une caution sociale à la nouvelle bourgeoisie qui n’est en réalité ni diverse ni ouverte : les milieux sociaux qui prônent le plus d’ouverture à l’autre font parallèlement preuve d’un grégarisme social et d’un entre-soi inégalé. (…) Nous, terre des lumières et patrie des droits de l’homme, avons choisi le modèle libéral mondialisé sans ses effets sociétaux : multiculturalisme et renforcement des communautarismes. Or, en la matière, nous n’avons pas fait mieux que les autres pays. (…) Le FN n’est pas le bon indicateur, les gens n’attendent pas les discours politiques ou les analyses d’en haut pour se déterminer. Les classes populaires font un diagnostic des effets de plusieurs décennies d’adaptation aux normes de l’économie mondiale et utilisent des candidats ou des référendums, ce fut le cas en 2005, pour l’exprimer. Christophe Guilluy
Les candidats ont compris que la France périphérique existait, c’est pourquoi leurs diagnostics sont assez proches. Mais ils ont la plus grande difficulté à remettre en cause leur modèle économique, aussi ne dépassent-ils pas le stade du constat. Un parti et un discours politiques s’adressent d’abord à un électorat. Or, l’électorat de la France périphérique se trouve ailleurs que dans les grands partis de gouvernement, ce qui complique un peu les choses. François Fillon a compris que son socle électoral libéral-conservateur ne suffisait pas et qu’il devait aussi parler à cette France populaire périphérique. Au PS, certains cadres m’ont contacté pendant la primaire car ils ont compris que quelque chose se jouait dans ces territoires. Mais ces élus lucides sont enfermés dans leur électorat, ce qui n’aide pas ces thématiques à émerger. En réalité, aucune thématique n’a émergé dans la campagne présidentielle. Une fois l’affaire Fillon retombée, le débat portera sur un autre sujet monothématique :  quel niveau le Front national atteindra. Cela permet de ne pas parler de l’essentiel. (…) Le Front national n’est que la fin d’une longue histoire de mise à l’écart de ce qu’on appelait hier la classe moyenne et aujourd’hui les classes populaires. Ces dernières soulèvent des problèmes aussi essentiels que le choix du modèle économique mondialisé, le multiculturalisme, les flux migratoires. Passer son temps à se demander si Marine Le Pen peut atteindre 30%, 35%, 45% voire être élue permet de faire l’impasse sur le fond. Si rien n’est fait, Marine Le Pen ou un autre candidat contestant le modèle dominant sous une autre étiquette gagnera en 2022, si ce n’est en 2017. On est à un moment de basculement. Il suffit de prolonger les courbes et les dynamiques en cours pour comprendre que si cela ne se fait pas maintenant, cela arrivera plus tard. De deux choses l’une : soit on décide de se rendre sur ces territoires délaissés et de prendre au sérieux le diagnostic des habitants, soit on reste dans une logique de citadelle qui consiste à serrer les fesses pour préserver l’essentiel et essayer de passer encore un tour. (…) Rien ne sert de s’alarmer sans comprendre les causes des phénomènes qu’on combat. Le FN n’est qu’un indicateur. De la même manière, après le Brexit et l’élection de Trump, le monde d’en haut a exprimé son angoisse. Mais les racines du Brexit sont à chercher dans le thatchérisme qui a désindustrialisé le Royaume-Uni. Et les racines de la victoire de Trump se trouvent dans les années 1980 et 1990, époque de dérégulation et de financiarisation de l’économie sous Reagan et Clinton. Sur le temps long, l’émergence du Front national correspond bien sûr à l’installation d’une immigration de masse mais aussi à la désindustrialisation de la France engagée à la fin des années 1970. (…) C’est systémique. Jusqu’à une certaine mesure, la diabolisation du FN marche. Car si on prend une à une les grandes thématiques qui structurent l’électorat, comme le rapport à la mondialisation, le capitalisme mondialisé, la financiarisation, l’immigration (70% des Français considèrent qu’il faut arrêter les flux migratoires !), on obtient des majorités écrasantes en faveur du discours du FN. Et pourtant le Front national ne rassemble qu’une minorité d’électeurs. Cela veut bien dire que la diabolisation fonctionne, quoique de plus en plus mal. Si le système en place parvient à faire élire un Macron, il préservera l’essentiel mais en sortira fragilisé : certains sondages donnent Marine Le Pen à 40% voire 45% au second tour, ce qui est considérable par rapport aux 18% de Jean-Marie Le Pen en 2002. La dynamique est de ce côté-là. De ce point de vue, la grande différence entre Marine Le Pen et Donald Trump c’est que celui-ci avait la puissance du Parti républicain derrière lui, ce dont ne dispose pas la présidente du FN. (…) N’oublions pas que la France d’en haut agglomère beaucoup de monde, toutes les catégories qui veulent sauver le statu quo ou l’accentuer, autant dire les privilégiés et les bénéficiaires du système économique en place. Ce qui est intéressant chez Macron, c’est qu’il se définit comme un candidat ni de gauche ni de droite. Il arrive d’en haut et en cas de duel avec Marine Le Pen au second tour, on verra un clivage chimiquement pur : le haut contre le bas, les métropoles mondialisées contre la France périphérique, etc. Même si ces sujets-là ne seront à mon avis pas abordés si on a droit à une quinzaine antifasciste entre les deux tours. On voit bien que le clivage droite-gauche est cassé. Mais l’amusant, c’est qu’au moment où ce clivage ne marche plus, on organise des primaires de gauche et de droite dont les vainqueurs (Hamon et Fillon) sont d’ailleurs aujourd’hui dans l’impasse ! (…) J’avais rencontré Emmanuel Macron et lui avais montré mes cartes. Dans son livre Révolution, il cite d’ailleurs La France périphérique plusieurs fois. C’est quelqu’un d’intelligent qui valide mon diagnostic sans bouger de son système idéologique. Selon la bonne vieille logique des systèmes, quand le communisme ne marche plus, il faut plus de communisme, quand le modèle mondialisé ne fait pas société, quand la métropolisation ne marche pas, il faut encore plus de mondialisation et de métropolisation ! Le bateau ne change pas de direction mais tangue sérieusement (…) Pour le moment, personne n’offre de véritable modèle alternatif. C’est toute la difficulté. Quand je me balade en France, j’entends des élus qui ont des projets de développement locaux mais tout cela est très dispersé et ne fait pas un projet à l’échelle du pays. D’autant que ces élus et ces territoires détiennent de moins en moins de pouvoir politique. A l’image de la Clause Molière contre le travail détaché, c’est par petites touches que le système sera grignoté. Mais n’oublions pas que les élus locaux ne pèsent absolument rien ! Les départements n’ont par exemple plus aucune compétence économique, ce qui fait que la France périphérique a perdu non seulement sa visibilité culturelle mais aussi son pouvoir politique. Changer les choses exige une certaine mobilité intellectuelle car il ne s’agira pas de gommer du jour au lendemain le modèle économique tel qu’il est. On ne va pas supprimer les métropoles et se priver des deux tiers du PIB français ! Dans l’état actuel des choses, l’économie française se passe de la France périphérique, crée suffisamment de richesses et fait un peu de redistribution. D’ailleurs, ce n’est pas un hasard si l’idée du revenu universel arrive aujourd’hui sur le devant de la scène avec Benoît Hamon. (…) La question centrale demeure : comment donner du travail à ces millions de Français ? Comment faire société avec cette France rurale et péri-urbaine ? Le revenu universel valide la mise à l’écart de la classe moyenne paupérisée dans les pays développés. A partir de là, reste à gérer politiquement la question pour éviter les révoltes et autres basculements politiques violents. Dans l’esprit des gagnants de la mondialisation, cela risque de se faire à l’ancienne, avec beaucoup de redistribution, des cotations, voire un revenu universel. Mais ils oublient un petit détail : ce gros bloc constitue potentiellement une majorité de Français !  En réalité, les tenants du système n’ont aucun projet pour le développement économique de ces territoires, si ce n’est de prétendre que la prospérité des métropoles arrivera par ruissellement jusqu’aux zones rurales et que le numérique nous fera nous en sortir. Ils ne perçoivent absolument pas la dynamique de désaffiliation politique et culturelle qui s’approfondit dans ces territoires. Ce n’est pas socialement  ni politiquement durable. Si la France d’en haut ne fixe pas comme priorité le sauvetage des classes populaires, le système est condamné. Les métropoles sont devenues les citadelles intellectuelles du monde d’en haut (…) Le FN, qui est le parti de la sortie de la classe moyenne, a capté les catégories délaissées les unes après les autres. D’abord les ouvriers, premiers touchés par la mondialisation, puis les employés, les paysans et maintenant la petite fonction publique. En face, le monde hyper-intégré se réduit comme peau de chagrin. Christophe Guilluy
Ce qui est intéressant, c’est que les deux candidats sont ceux qui se positionnent en dehors du clivage gauche-droite. Ceux qui ont été identifiés à droite et à gauche, issus des primaires, ne sont pas au second tour. La structure n’est plus le clivage gauche / droite. Le clivage qui émerge est lié complètement au temps long, c’est-à-dire à l’adaptation de l’économie française à l’économie monde. Dès 1992, avec Maastricht, ce clivage était apparu, avec la contestation d’un modèle mondialisé. Si on veut remonter plus loin, les causes sont à chercher dans le virage libéral, qui est le basculement des sociétés occidentales dans le néolibéralisme. C’est une logique ou les sociétés vont se désindustrialiser au profit de la Chine ou de l’Inde par exemple. Cela est aussi vrai avec Donald Trump ou le Brexit, qui nait de la financiarisation de l’économie américaine sous Clinton et du thatchérisme. Ce sont des dynamiques de temps long qui vont avoir un impact d’abord sur les catégories qui sont concernées par ce grand plan social de l’histoire : celui des classes moyennes. Tout cela se fait au rythme de la sortie de la classe moyenne. Logiquement, ce sont d’abord les ouvriers, qui subissent ce processus de désaffiliation politique et culturelle, qui sont les premiers à grossir le nombre des abstentionnistes et à rejoindre les mouvements populistes. Puis, ce sont les employés, les agriculteurs, qui suivent ce mouvement. La désaffiliation aux appartenances s’accentue. Les ouvriers qui votaient à gauche se retrouvent dans l’abstention ou dans le vote Front national, c’est également le cas aujourd’hui du monde rural qui votait à droite. Ce que l’on constate, c’est que l’effet majeur de la disparition des classes moyennes est de mettre hors-jeu les partis traditionnels. Parce que le Parti socialiste ou Les Républicains ont été conçus pour et par la classe moyenne. Or, ces partis continuent de s’adresser à une classe moyenne qui n’existe plus, qui est mythique. Il ne reste plus que les retraités, cela a d’ailleurs été le problème de François Fillon, qui a perdu par son incapacité à capter le vote de la France périphérique, ces gens qui sont au front de la mondialisation. Il ne capte que ceux qui sont protégés de la mondialisation ; les retraités. C’est le même constat à gauche, dont le socle électoral reste la fonction publique, qui est aussi plus ou moins protégée de la mondialisation. Nous parlons d’électorats qui se réduisent d’année en année, ce n’est donc pas un hasard que les partis qui s’adressent à eux ne parviennent plus à franchir le premier tour. C’est aussi ce qui passe en Europe, ou aux États Unis. Les territoires populistes sont toujours les mêmes, l’Amérique périphérique, l’Europe périphérique. Ce sont toujours ces territoires où l’on créé le moins d’emplois qui produisent ces résultats : les petites villes, les villes moyennes désindustrialisées et les zones rurales. La difficulté est intellectuelle pour ce monde d’en haut ; les politiques, les journalistes, les universitaires etc… Il faut penser deux choses à la fois. Objectivement, nous avons une économie qui créée de la richesse, mais ce modèle fonctionne sur un marché de l’emploi très polarisé, et qui intègre de moins en moins et créé toujours plus d’inégalités sociales et territoriales C’est ce qui a fait exploser ce clivage droite gauche qui était parfait, aussi longtemps que 2 Français sur 3 faisaient partie de la classe moyenne. Si on n’intègre pas les gens économiquement, ils se désaffilient politiquement. (…) C’est son modèle inversé. Emmanuel Macron comme Marine Le Pen ont fait le constat que cela ne se jouait plus autour du clivage gauche / droite. Ils ont pris en compte la polarisation de l’économie, entre un haut et un bas, et sans classes moyennes. Dans ce sens-là, l’un est la réponse de l’autre. (…) Géographiquement, c’est l’opposition entre la France des métropoles et la France périphérique qui structure le match Emmanuel Macron/ Marine Le Pen. On a déjà pu voir quelques cartes sur l’opposition est ouest, mais ce clivage est ancien, hérité, il ne dit rien des dynamiques en cours. Lorsque j’étais étudiant ces cartes est ouest existaient déjà, elles expriment l’héritage de l’industrie, et donc de la désindustrialisation. C’est là où il y a le plus de chômage, de pauvreté, d’ouvriers, et le plus de gens qui votent FN. Ce qui est intéressant, c’est de voir les dynamiques. C’est en zoomant à partir des territoires qui créent le plus d’emplois et ceux qui en créent le moins. Par exemple, en Bretagne, ou Marine Le Pen fait 6% à Rennes, et 20% dans les zones rurales. C’est toujours un distinguo entre les dynamiques économiques. Aujourd’hui les classes populaires ne vivent plus aux endroits où se créent les emplois et la richesse. Le marché de l’immobilier s’est chargé, non pas dans une logique de complot, évidemment, mais dans une simple logique de marché, de chasser les catégories dont le marché de l’emploi n’avait pas besoin. Ces gens se trouvent déportés vers les territoires où il ne se passe rien. Or, les élites n’ont de cesse de parier sur la métropolisation, il est donc nécessaire que s’opère une révolution intellectuelle. Il serait peut-être temps de penser aux gens qui ne bénéficient pas de ces dynamiques, si on ne veut pas finir avec un parti populiste en 2022. (…) Tout le bas ne peut pas être représenté que par le Front national. Il faut que les partis aillent sur ces thématiques. Il y a toujours eu un haut et un bas, et des inégalités, la question est qu’il faut que le haut soit exemplaire pour le bas, et qu’il puisse se connecter avec le bas. Il faut que le « haut » intègre les problématiques du « bas » de façon sincère. C’est exactement ce qui s’était passé avec le parti communiste, qui était composé d’une base ouvrière, mais aussi avec des intellectuels, des gens qui parlaient « au nom de ». Aujourd’hui c’est la grande différence, il n’y a pas de haut qui est exemplaire pour le bas. La conséquence se lit dans le processus de désaffiliation et de défiance des milieux populaires dans la France périphérique mais aussi en banlieues. Plus personne n’y croit et c’est cela l’immense problème de la classe politique, des journalistes etc. et plus généralement de la France d’en haut. Ces gens-là considèrent que le diagnostic des gens d’en bas n’est pas légitime. Ce qui est appelé « populisme ». Et cela est hyper fort dans les milieux académiques, et cela pèse énormément. On ne prend pas au sérieux ce que disent les gens. Et là, toute la machinerie se met en place. Parce que l’aveuglement face aux revendications des classes populaires se double d’une volonté de se protéger en ostracisant ces mêmes classes populaires. La posture de supériorité morale de la France d’en haut permet en réalité de disqualifier tout diagnostic social. La nouvelle bourgeoisie protège ainsi efficacement son modèle grâce à la posture antifasciste et antiraciste. L’antifascisme est devenu une arme de classe, car elle permet de dire que ce racontent les gens n’est de toute façon pas légitime puisque fasciste, puisque raciste. La bien-pensance est vraiment devenue une arme de classe. Notons à ce titre que dans les milieux populaires, dans la vie réelle les gens, quels que soient leurs origines ne se parlent pas de fascisme ou d’antifascistes, ça, ce n’est qu’un truc de la bourgeoisie. Dans la vie, les gens savent que tout est compliqué, et les gens sont en réalité d’une hyper subtilité et cherchent depuis des décennies à préserver leur capital social et culturel sans recourir à la violence. Le niveau de violence raciste en France reste très bas par rapport à la situation aux États Unis ou au Royaume Uni. Cette posture antifasciste, à la fin, c’est un assèchement complet de la pensée. Plus personne ne pense la question sociale, la question des flux migratoires, la question de l’insécurité culturelle, celle du modèle économique et territorial. Mais le haut ne pourra se régénérer et survivre que s’il parvient à parler et à se connecter avec le bas. Ce que j’espère, c’est que ce clivage Macron Le Pen, plutôt que de se régler par la violence, se règle par la politique. Cela implique que les partis intègrent toutes ces questions ; mondialisation, protectionnisme, identité, migrations etc… On ne peut pas traiter ces questions derrière le masque du fascisme ou de l’antifascisme. Christophe Guilluy
La Corse est un territoire assez emblématique de la France périphérique. Son organisation économique est caractéristique de cette France-là. Il n’y a pas de grande métropole mondialisée sur l’île, mais uniquement des villes moyennes ou petites et des zones rurales. Le dynamisme économique est donc très faible, mis à part dans le tourisme ou le BTP, qui sont des industries dépendantes de l’extérieur. Cela se traduit par une importante insécurité sociale : précarité, taux de pauvreté gigantesque, chômage des jeunes, surreprésentation des retraités modestes. L’insécurité culturelle est également très forte. Avant de tomber dans le préjugé qui voudrait que « les Corses soient racistes », il convient de dire qu’il s’agit d’une des régions (avec la PACA et après l’Ile-de-France) où le taux de population immigrée est le plus élevé. Il ne faut pas l’oublier. La sensibilité des Corses à la question identitaire est liée à leur histoire et leur culture, mais aussi à des fondamentaux démographiques. D’un côté, un hiver démographique, c’est-à-dire un taux de natalité des autochtones très bas, et, de l’autre, une poussée de l’immigration notamment maghrébine depuis trente ans conjuguée à une natalité plus forte des nouveaux arrivants. Cette instabilité démographique est le principal générateur de l’insécurité culturelle sur l’île. La question qui obsède les Corses aujourd’hui est la question qui hante toute la France périphérique et toutes les classes moyennes et populaires occidentales au XXIe siècle : « Vais-je devenir minoritaire dans mon île, mon village, mon quartier ? » C’est à la lumière de cette angoisse existentielle qu’il faut comprendre l’affaire du burkini sur la plage de Sisco, en juillet 2016, ou encore les tensions dans le quartier des Jardins de l’Empereur, à Ajaccio, en décembre 2015. C’est aussi à l’aune de cette interrogation qu’il faut évaluer le vote « populiste » lors de la présidentielle ou nationaliste aujourd’hui. En Corse, il y a encore une culture très forte et des solidarités profondes. À travers ce vote, les Corses disent : « Nous allons préserver ce que nous sommes. » Il faut ajouter à cela l’achat par les continentaux de résidences secondaires qui participe de l’insécurité économique en faisant augmenter les prix de l’immobilier. Cette question se pose dans de nombreuses zones touristiques en France : littoral atlantique ou méditerranéen, Bretagne, beaux villages du Sud-Est et même dans les DOM-TOM. En Martinique aussi, les jeunes locaux ont de plus en plus de difficultés à se loger à cause de l’arrivée des métropolitains. La question du « jeune prolo » qui ne peut plus vivre là où il est né est fondamentale. Tous les jeunes prolos qui sont nés hier dans les grandes métropoles ont dû se délocaliser. Ils sont les pots cassés du rouleau compresseur de la mondialisation. La violence du marché de l’immobilier est toujours traitée par le petit bout de la lorgnette comme une question comptable. C’est aussi une question existentielle ! En Corse, elle est exacerbée par le contexte insulaire. Cela explique que, lorsqu’ils proposent la corsisation des emplois, les nationalistes font carton plein chez les jeunes. C’est leur préférence nationale à eux. (…) La condition de ce vote, comme de tous les votes populistes, est la réunion de l’insécurité sociale et culturelle. Les électeurs de Fillon, qui se sont majoritairement reportés sur Macron au second tour, étaient sensibles à la question de l’insécurité culturelle, mais étaient épargnés par l’insécurité sociale. À l’inverse, les électeurs de Mélenchon étaient sensibles à la question sociale, mais pas touchés par l’insécurité culturelle. C’est pourquoi le débat sur la ligne que doit tenir le FN, sociale ou identitaire, est stérile. De même, à droite, sur la ligne dite Buisson. L’insécurité culturelle de la bourgeoisie de droite, bien que très forte sur la question de l’islam et de l’immigration, ne débouchera jamais sur un vote « populiste » car cette bourgeoisie estime que sa meilleure protection reste son capital social et patrimonial et ne prendra pas le risque de l’entamer dans une aventure incertaine. Le ressort du vote populiste est double et mêlé. Il est à la fois social et identitaire. De ce point de vue, la Corse est un laboratoire. L’offre politique des nationalistes est pertinente car elle n’est pas seulement identitaire. Elle prend en compte la condition des plus modestes et leur propose des solutions pour rester au pays et y vivre. Au-delà de l’effacement du clivage droite/gauche et d’un rejet du clanisme historique, leur force vient du fait qu’ils représentent une élite et qu’ils prennent en charge cette double insécurité. Cette offre politique n’a jamais existé sur le continent car le FN n’a pas intégré une fraction de l’élite. C’est même tout le contraire. Ce parti n’est jamais parvenu à faire le lien entre l’électorat populaire et le monde intellectuel, médiatique ou économique. Une société, c’est une élite et un peuple, un monde d’en bas et un monde d’en haut, qui prend en charge le bien commun. Ce n’est plus le cas aujourd’hui. Le vote nationaliste et/ou populiste arrive à un moment où la classe politique traditionnelle a déserté, aussi bien en Corse que sur le continent. L’erreur de la plupart des observateurs est de présenter Trump comme un outsider. Ce n’est pas vrai. S’il a pu gagner, c’est justement parce qu’il vient de l’élite. C’est un membre de la haute bourgeoisie new-yorkaise. Il fait partie du monde économique, médiatique et culturel depuis toujours, et il avait un pied dans le monde politique depuis des années. Il a gagné car il faisait le lien entre l’Amérique d’en haut et l’Amérique périphérique. Pour sortir de la crise, les sociétés occidentales auront besoin d’élites économiques et politiques qui voudront prendre en charge la double insécurité de ce qu’était hier la classe moyenne. C’est ce qui s’est passé en Angleterre après le Brexit, ce qui s’est passé aux Etats-Unis avec Trump, ce qui se passe en Corse avec les nationalistes. Il y a aujourd’hui, partout dans le monde occidental, un problème de représentation politique. Les électeurs se servent des indépendantismes, comme de Trump ou du Brexit, pour dire autre chose. En Corse, le vote nationaliste ne dit pas l’envie d’être indépendant par rapport à la France. C’est une lecture beaucoup trop simpliste. Si, demain, il y a un référendum, les nationalistes le perdront nettement. D’ailleurs, c’est simple, ils ne le demandent pas. (…) [Avec la Catalogne] Le point commun, c’est l’usure des vieux partis, un système représentatif qui ne l’est plus et l’implosion du clivage droite/gauche. Pour le reste, la Catalogne, c’est l’exact inverse de la Corse. Il ne s’agit pas de prendre en charge le bien commun d’une population fragilisée socialement, mais de renforcer des positions de classes et territoriales dans la mondialisation. La Catalogne n’est pas l’Espagne périphérique, mais tout au contraire une région métropole. Barcelone représente ainsi plus de la moitié de la région catalane. C’est une grande métropole qui absorbe l’essentiel de l’emploi, de l’économie et des richesses. Le vote indépendantiste est cette fois le résultat de la gentrification de toute la région. Les plus modestes sont peu à peu évincés d’un territoire qui s’organise autour d’une société totalement en prise avec les fondamentaux de la bourgeoisie mondialisée. Ce qui porte le nationalisme catalan, c’est l’idéologie libérale libertaire métropolitaine, avec son corollaire : le gauchisme culturel et l’« antifascisme » d’opérette. Dans la rhétorique nationaliste, Madrid est ainsi présentée comme une « capitale franquiste » tandis que Barcelone incarnerait l’« ouverture aux autres ». La jeunesse, moteur du nationalisme catalan, s’identifie à la gauche radicale. Le paradoxe, c’est que nous assistons en réalité à une sécession des riches, qui ont choisi de s’affranchir totalement des solidarités nationales, notamment envers les régions pauvres. C’est la « révolte des élites » de Christopher Lasch appliquée aux territoires. L’indépendance nationale est un prétexte à l’indépendance fiscale. L’indépendantisme, un faux nez pour renforcer une position économique dominante. Dans Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut (*), j’ironisais sur les Rougon-Macquart déguisés en hipsters. Là, on pourrait parler de Rougon-Macquart déguisés en « natios ». Derrière les nationalistes, il y a les lib-lib. (…) L’exemple de la Catalogne préfigure peut-être, en effet, un futur pas si lointain où le processus de métropolisation conduira à l’avènement de cités-Etats. En face, les défenseurs de la nation apparaîtront comme les défenseurs du bien commun. Aujourd’hui, la seule critique des hyperriches est une posture trop facile qui permet de ne pas voir ce que nous sommes devenus, nous : les intellectuels, les politiques, les journalistes, les acteurs économiques, et on pourrait y ajouter les cadres supérieurs. Nous avons abandonné le bien commun au profit de nos intérêts particuliers. Hormis quelques individus isolés, je ne vois pas quelle fraction du monde d’en haut au sens large aspire aujourd’hui à défendre l’intérêt général. (…) [Pour Macron] Le point le plus intéressant, c’est qu’il s’est dégagé du clivage droite/gauche. La comparaison avec Trump n’est ainsi pas absurde. Tous les deux ont l’avantage d’être désinhibés. Mais il faut aussi tenir à l’esprit que, dans un monde globalisé dominé par la finance et les multinationales, le pouvoir du politique reste très limité. Je crois davantage aux petites révolutions culturelles qu’au grand soir. Trump va nous montrer que le grand retournement ne peut pas se produire du jour au lendemain mais peut se faire par petites touches, par transgressions successives. Trump a amené l’idée de contestation du libre-échange et mis sur la table la question du protectionnisme. Cela n’aura pas d’effets à court terme. Ce n’est pas grave car cela annonce peut-être une mutation à long terme, un changement de paradigme. La question est maintenant de savoir qui viendra après Trump. La disparition de la classe moyenne occidentale, c’est-à-dire de la société elle-même, est l’enjeu fondamental du XXIe siècle, le défi auquel devront répondre ses successeurs. (…) On peut cependant rappeler le mépris de classe qui a entouré le personnage de Johnny, notamment via « Les Guignols de l’info ». Il ne faut pas oublier que ce chanteur, icône absolue de la culture populaire, a été dénigré pendant des décennies par l’intelligentsia, qui voyait en lui une espèce d’abruti, chantant pour des « déplorables », pour reprendre la formule de Hillary Clinton. L’engouement pour Johnny rappelle l’enthousiasme des bobos et de Canal+ pour le ballon rond au moment de la Coupe du monde 1998. Le foot est soudainement devenu hype. Jusque-là, il était vu par eux comme un sport d’ « ouvriers buveurs de bière ». On retrouve le même phénomène aux États-Unis avec le dénigrement de la figure du white trash ou du redneck. Malgré quarante ans d’éreintement de Johnny, les classes populaires ont continué à l’aimer. Le virage à 180 degrés de l’intelligentsia ces derniers jours n’est pas anodin. Il démontre qu’il existe un soft power des classes populaires. L’hommage presque contraint du monde d’en haut à ce chanteur révèle en creux l’importance d’un socle populaire encore majoritaire. C’est aussi un signe supplémentaire de l’effritement de l’hégémonie culturelle de la France d’en haut. Les classes populaires n’écoutent plus les leçons de morale. Pas plus en politique qu’en chanson. Christophe Guilluy
Nous sommes dans un processus de sortie lente – mais dans un processus de sortie quand même – de la classe moyenne de la part des différentes catégories qui la composent, les unes après les autres. C’est ce que j’ai voulu identifier. La notion de classe moyenne est déjà morte mais on utilise encore cette catégorie comme si elle existait encore. Mais en réalité, en parlant des classes moyennes aujourd’hui, on parle des catégories supérieures. Finalement, quand on regarde les élections, toutes les vagues populistes reposent sur deux éléments. D’une part, une sociologie, c’est-à-dire le socle de l’ancienne classe moyenne que sont les catégories populaires, ouvriers, employés, petits paysans, petits indépendants, etc…et on retrouve ces mêmes catégories partout. Et d’autre part des territoires. C’est la géographie des périphéries avec à chaque fois les mêmes logiques quel que soit le pays occidental que l’on considère. (…) Les classes ouvrières britannique et américaine ont été fracassées beaucoup plus rapidement que la classe populaire française. Il y a les effets de l’État providence en France qui sont réels, et qui a fait que nous avons encore des catégories protégées dans notre pays. (…) Emmanuel Macron a fait des scores de dirigeant soviétique dans les grandes métropoles, avec des pourcentages incroyables à Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse etc…Emmanuel Macron se sauve avec les deux gros bataillons que sont les retraités et les fonctionnaires – la majorité des fonctionnaires ont voté Macron – qui sont les deux catégories qui sont en train d’être tondues par ce président. Nous sommes donc effectivement à la limite d’un système qui se raccroche à des catégories encore protégées mais le vent tourne. (…) Aujourd’hui, 30% des 53-69 ans vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté, nous voyons les choses se transformer en douceur pour des catégories que l’on pensait préservées. Cela est le contexte français, mais en Grande Bretagne par exemple, les retraités ont été fracassés tout de suite et n’ont pas hésité à voter en faveur du Brexit. L’idée que les retraités vont continuer à protéger le système est à mon avis un leurre. C’est la même chose pour les fonctionnaires, les catégories B et C qui s’en prennent plein la figure ne vont pas éternellement protéger un système dont elles ne bénéficient pas. Cela est vraiment intéressant de constater que tout évolue partout mais toujours en fonction des contextes. (…) Les catégories modestes ont été relativement mieux protégées en France qu’elles ne l’ont été aux Etats-Unis ou en Grande Bretagne. On a bien un contexte français très particulier avec une fonction publique très importante etc…c’est là-dessus que nous faisons la différence. Mais une fois encore, cela n’est qu’une question de temps. Et le temps joue effectivement vers la disparition de cette classe moyenne. C’est donc bien la structuration sociale de l’ensemble des pays développés qui est en train de se modifier avec ces 20-30% de gens « en haut » qui vont s’en sortir et une immense classe populaire qui n’est plus dans l’espoir d’une amélioration de ses conditions de vie. (…) ces gens ont vraiment joué le jeu de la mondialisation et de l’Europe. Il n’y a jamais eu d’opposition de principe, ils ont joué le jeu et après 20 ou 30 ans ils font le diagnostic pour eux-mêmes et pour leurs enfants que finalement cela n’a pas marché. Il s’agit simplement d’un constat rationnel de leur part. Ce qui est frappant, c’est que tous les modèles sont affectés, du modèle américain au britannique, au modèle français républicain, jusqu’au modèle scandinave. (…) Mais (…) la disparition de la classe moyenne a commencé par les ouvriers, les paysans, les employés, les professions intermédiaires et demain, ce sera une fraction des catégories supérieures qui sera emportée. On voit déjà que les jeunes diplômés du supérieur n’arrivent plus à s’intégrer. Le processus est enclenché et il va détruire aussi des catégories qui pensent encore être protégées. (…) A partir du moment où la gauche a abandonné la question sociale, elle a abandonné les catégories populaires et c’est la dessus que le divorce s’est réalisé. Ce mouvement s’est accompagné d’une forme d’ostracisation des plus modestes qui était très forte dans certains milieux de gauche, et aujourd’hui la rupture est totale. On a en plus un processus de sécession, que Christopher Lash avait vu très tôt, qui est celle des bourgeoisies, qui s’ajoute au phénomène de citadellisation des élites, qui fait qu’il n’y a pas plus de connexion entre ces catégories. (…) Il faut arrêter le discours du magistère des prétentieux. Cette idée de rééducation du peuple, en lui montrant la voie, n’est pas possible. Une société c’est une majorité de catégories modestes et l’objectif d’une démocratie, c’est de servir prioritairement ces catégories. C’est dans ce sens là qu’il faut aller. Il faut prendre ces gens au sérieux, il faut prendre en compte les diagnostics des classes populaires sur leurs souhaits d’être protégés, ce qui ne veut pas dire être assistés. Ces catégories veulent du travail, elles veulent qu’on les respecte culturellement, et ne pas se faire traiter de « déplorables » ou de sans dents » – ce qui fait partie intégrante du problème identitaire que nous avons aujourd’hui qui est le produit de ces attaques là -. (…) Les gens veulent de la protection, du travail, de la régulation économique mais aussi une régulation des flux migratoires. Je parle ici de tout le monde d’en bas, parce que la demande de régulation des flux migratoires vient de toutes les catégories modestes quelles que soient les origines. Tout le monde veut la même chose alors que lorsque les gens parlent de la question migratoire, on les place sur la question raciale, non. C’est anthropologiquement vrai pour toutes les catégories modestes, et cela est vrai partout. Dans tous les pays, les catégories modestes veulent vivre tranquillement, ce qui ne veut pas dire vivre derrière des murs, mais vivre dans un environnement que l’on connaît avec des valeurs communes. (…) Ce qui est amusant aujourd’hui, c’est qu’il y a une ethnicisation des classes moyennes – on pense blanc – cela montre bien la fin du concept qui était censé être intégrateur pour le plus grand nombre. (…) Les autoritaires ne sont pas ceux que l’on croit. Sauver les démocraties occidentales, c’est faire entendre le plus grand nombre. (…) Soit le monde d’en haut refuse d’entendre la majorité et on basculera dans une forme d’autoritarisme soft, ce qui pourrait faire durer le système un peu plus longtemps, mais avec le risque que cela se termine très mal. Soit  on essaye de faire baisser la tension en disant : « maintenant on essaye d’intégrer économiquement et culturellement le plus grand nombre ». Cette réflexion existe, il n’y a pas encore de parti politique qui représente tout cela, qui fait cette connexion, mais cela est en gestation. Il n’y a pas 50 sorties possibles de cette impasse, il n’y en a qu’une. Inclure les catégories populaires parce qu’elles sont la société elle-même. C’est pour cela que le discours sur les marges a été destructeur. Les ouvriers, les ruraux etc…ce ne sont pas des marges, c’est un tout, et ce tout est la société. Maintenant tout est sur la table, les diagnostics sont faits. Alors il faut se retrousser les manches et aller dans le dur en essayant de réellement inventer quelque chose de plus efficace, et en oubliant ce truc absurde du premier de cordée. Mais là, il faut bien remarquer le problème que nous avons concernant le personnel en place. Ils pensent tous la même chose. Il faut une révolution culturelle du monde d’en haut, ce qui devrait être à la portée des nations occidentales…cela ne coûte pas cher. La question pour eux est donc de protéger ou disparaître. Christophe Guilluy
Les catégories populaires – qui comprennent aussi les petits agriculteurs, ainsi que les jeunes et les retraités issus de ces catégories – n’ont donc nullement disparu. Leur part dans la population française est restée à peu près stable depuis un demi-siècle. La nouveauté, c’est uniquement que «le peuple» est désormais moins visible, car il vit loin des grands centres urbains. Le marché foncier crée les conditions d’accueil des populations dont les métropoles ont besoin. En se désindustrialisant, les grandes villes nécessitent beaucoup moins d’employés et d’ouvriers. Face à la flambée des prix dans le parc privé, les catégories populaires cherchent des logements en dehors des grandes agglomérations. Le problème crucial politique et social de la France, c’est donc que la majeure partie des catégories populaires ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Nulle volonté de «chasser les pauvres», pas de complot, simplement la loi du marché. Le projet économique de la France, tourné vers la mondialisation, n’a plus besoin des catégories populaires, en quelque sorte. C’est une situation sans précédent depuis la révolution industrielle. (…)  Dans tous les pays développés, on vérifie le phénomène déjà constaté en France: la majorité des catégories populaires vit désormais à l’écart des territoires les plus dynamiques, ceux qui créent de l’emploi. Ces évolutions dessinent les contours d’une Amérique périphérique et d’une Angleterre périphérique tout autant que d’une France périphérique. De la Rust Belt américaine au Yorkshire britannique, des bassins industriels de l’est de l’Allemagne au Mezzogiorno italien, villes petites et moyennes, régions désindustrialisées et espaces ruraux décrochent. (…)  La dimension sociale et économique du vote populiste se complète par une dynamique culturelle. Les catégories les plus fragiles socialement (celles qui ne peuvent mettre en œuvre des stratégies d’évitements résidentiels et scolaires) sont aujourd’hui les plus sensibles à la question migratoire. Les mêmes demandent à être protégés d’un modèle économique et sociétal qui les fragilise. Dans des sociétés multiculturelles, l’assimilation ne fonctionne plus. L’autre ne devient plus soi, ce qui suscite de l’inquiétude. Le nombre de l’autre importe. Personne n’a envie de devenir minoritaire dans les catégories populaires. En France, l’immobilier social, dernier parc accessible aux catégories populaires des métropoles, s’est spécialisé dans l’accueil des populations immigrées. Les catégories populaires d’origine européenne et qui sont éligibles au parc social s’efforcent d’éviter les quartiers où les HLM sont nombreux. Elles préfèrent consentir des sacrifices pour déménager en grande banlieue, dans les petites villes ou les zones rurales afin d’accéder à la propriété et d’acquérir un pavillon. Dans chacun des grands pays industrialisés, les catégories populaires « autochtones » éprouvent une insécurité culturelle. (…) ce sont bien les territoires populaires les plus éloignés des grandes métropoles qui portent la dynamique populiste. La Rust Belt et les régions désindustrialisées de Grande-Bretagne pèsent respectivement plus dans le vote Trump ou dans le Brexit que New York ou le Grand Londres. Dans les zones périurbaines de Rotterdam, ce sont bien aussi les catégories modestes (qui ne se confondent pas avec les pauvres) qui voient leur statut de référent culturel remis en question par la dynamique migratoire et qui votent pour Geert Wilders. Ainsi, si la situation de l’ouvrier allemand n’est pas celle du paysan français, de l’employé néerlandais ou d’un petit travailleur indépendant italien, il existe un point commun : tous, quel que soit leur niveau de vie, font le constat d’être fragilisés par un modèle économique qui les a relégués socialement et culturellement. (…) On ne s’intègre pas à un modèle ou à un système de valeur mais à une population à qui on désire ressembler. On se marie, on tisse des liens d’amitié, de voisinage avec des gens qui sont proches. Or cette intégration ne se réalise pas dans n’importe quelle catégorie sociale, mais d’abord dans des milieux populaires. Et ce qui a changé depuis les années 1970 et surtout 1980, c’est précisément le changement de statut de ces catégories populaires. Les ouvriers, les employés, les « petites gens » sont désormais perçus en grande partie comme les perdants de la mondialisation. Quel nouveau venu dans un pays peut avoir envie de ressembler à des « autochtones » qui ne sont pas en phase d’ascension sociale et que, de surcroît, leurs propres élites méprisent en raison de l’attachement des intéressés à certaines valeurs traditionnelles ? Souvenons-nous de la phrase de Hillary Clinton présentant les électeurs de Donald Trump comme des « déplorables » pendant la campagne présidentielle de 2016 aux États-Unis. C’est pourquoi, alors que la France, les États-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne ou la Scandinavie se sont construits sur des modèles culturels très différents, tous ces pays connaissent la même dynamique populiste, la même crise sociale et identitaire et le même questionnement sur la pertinence de leurs modèles d’intégration. (…) la rupture entre le haut et le bas (…) nous conduit à un modèle qui ne fait plus société. La disparition de la classe moyenne n’en est qu’une conséquence. Le monde d’en haut refuse d’écouter celui d’en bas qui le lui rend bien notamment en grossissant les camps de l’abstention ou du vote populiste. Cette rupture du lien, y compris conflictuel, entre le haut et le bas, porte en germe l’abandon du bien commun et nous fait basculer dans l’asociété. Trump vient de l’élite américaine, c’est un des points communs qu’il partage avec Macron. Tous les deux se sont affranchis de leur propre camp pour se faire élire : Macron de la gauche, Trump du camp républicain. Ils ont enterré le vieux clivage gauche-droite. Les deux ont compris que nous étions entrés dans le temps de la disparition de la classe moyenne occidentale. L’un et l’autre ont saisi que, pour la première fois dans l’histoire, les classes populaires, celles qui constituaient hier le socle de la classe moyenne, vivent désormais sur les territoires qui créent le moins d’emplois : dans l’Amérique périphérique et dans la France périphérique. Mais la comparaison s’arrête là. Si Trump a été élu par l’Amérique périphérique, Macron a au contrai- re construit sa dynamique électorale à partir des métropoles mondialisées. Si le président français est conscient de la fragilisation sociale de la France périphérique, il pense que la solution passe par une accélération de l’adaptation de l’économie française aux normes de l’économie mondialisée. À l’opposé, le président américain fait le constat des limites d’un modèle qu’il convient de réguler (protectionnisme, remise en cause des traités de libre-échange, volonté de réguler l’immigration, politique de grands travaux) afin de créer de l’emploi sur ces territoires de la désindustrialisation américaine. Il existe un autre point de divergence fondamental, c’est le refus chez Trump d’un argumentaire moral qui sert depuis des décennies à disqualifier les classes populaires. Christophe Guilluy
Les pays de l’OCDE, et plus encore les démocraties occidentales, répondent pleinement au projet que la Dame de fer appelait de ses vœux. Partout, trente ans de mondialisation ont agi comme une concasseuse du pacte social issu de l’après-guerre. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale est actée. Et pas seulement en France. Les poussées de populisme aux Etats-Unis, en Italie, et jusqu’en Suède, où le modèle scandinave de la social-démocratie n’est désormais plus qu’une sorte de zombie, en sont les manifestations les plus évidentes. Personne n’ose dire que la fête est finie. On se rassure comme on peut. Le monde académique, le monde politique et médiatique, chacun constate la montée des inégalités, s’inquiète de la hausse de la dette, de celle du chômage, mais se rassure avec quelques points de croissance, et soutient que l’enjeu se résume à la question de l’adaptabilité. Pas celle du monde d’en haut. Les gagnants de la mondialisation, eux, sont parfaitement adaptés à ce monde qu’ils ont contribué à forger. Non, c’est aux anciennes classes moyennes éclatées, reléguées, que s’adresse cette injonction d’adaptation à ce nouveau monde. Parce que, cahin-caha, cela marche, nos économies produisent des inégalités, mais aussi plus de richesses. Mais faire du PIB, ça ne suffit pas à faire société. (…) Election de Trump, Brexit, arrivée au pouvoir d’une coalition improbable liant les héritiers de la Ligue du Nord à ceux d’une partie de l’extrême gauche en Italie. De même qu’il y a une France périphérique, il y a une Amérique périphérique, un Royaume-Uni périphérique, etc. La périphérie, c’est, pour faire simple, ces territoires autour des villes-mondes, rien de moins que le reste du pays. L’agglomération parisienne, le Grand-Londres, les grandes villes côtières américaines, sont autant de territoires parfaitement en phase avec la mondialisation, des sortes de Singapour. Sauf que, contrairement à cette cité-Etat, ces territoires disposent d’un hinterland, d’une périphérie. L’explosion du prix de l’immobilier est la traduction la plus visible de cette communauté de destin de ces citadelles où se concentrent la richesse, les emplois à haute valeur ajoutée, où le capital culturel et financier s’accumule. Cette partition est la traduction spatiale de la notion de ruissellement des richesses du haut vers le bas, des premiers de cordée vers les autres. Dans ce modèle, la richesse créée dans les citadelles doit redescendre vers la périphérie. Trente ans de ce régime n’ont pas laissé nos sociétés intactes. Ce sont d’abord les ouvriers et les agriculteurs qui ont été abandonnés sur le chemin, puis les employés, et c’est maintenant au tour des jeunes diplômés d’être fragilisés. Les plans sociaux ne concernent plus seulement l’industrie mais les services, et même les banques… Dans les territoires de cette France périphérique, la dynamique dépressive joue à plein : à l’effondrement industriel succède celui des emplois présentiels lequel provoque une crise du commerce dans les petites villes et les villes moyennes. Les gens aux Etats-Unis ou ailleurs ne se sont pas réveillés un beau matin pour se tourner vers le populisme. Non, ils ont fait un diagnostic, une analyse rationnelle : est-ce que ça marche pour eux ou pas. Et, rationnellement, ils n’ont pas trouvé leur compte. Et pas que du point de vue économique. S’il y a une exception française, c’est la victoire d’Emmanuel Macron, quand partout ailleurs les populistes semblent devoir l’emporter. (…) Emmanuel Macron est le candidat du front bourgeois. A Paris, il n’est pas anodin que les soutiens de François Fillon et les partisans de La Manif pour tous du XVIe arrondissement aient voté à 87,3 % pour le candidat du libéralisme culturel, et que leurs homologues bobos du XXe arrondissement, contempteurs de la finance internationale, aient voté à 90 % pour un banquier d’affaires. Mais cela ne fait pas une majorité. Si Emmanuel Macron l’a emporté, c’est qu’il a reçu le soutien de la frange encore protégée de la société française que sont les retraités et les fonctionnaires. Deux populations qui ont lourdement souffert au Royaume-Uni par exemple, comme l’a traduit leur vote pro-Brexit. Et c’est bien là le drame qui se noue en France. Car, parmi les derniers recours dont dispose la technocratie au pouvoir pour aller toujours plus avant vers cette fameuse adaptation, c’est bien de faire les poches des retraités et des fonctionnaires. Emmanuel Macron applique donc méticuleusement ce programme. Il semble récemment pris de vertige par le risque encouru pour les prochaines élections, comme le montre sa courbe de popularité, laquelle se trouve sous celle de François Hollande à la même période de leur quinquennat. Un autre levier, déjà mis en branle par Margaret Thatcher puis par les gouvernements du New Labour de Tony Blair, est la fin de l’universalité de la redistribution et la concentration de la redistribution. Sous couvert de faire plus juste, et surtout de réduire les transferts sociaux, on réduit encore le nombre de professeurs, mais on divise les classes de ZEP en deux, on limite l’accès des classes populaires aux HLM pour concentrer ce patrimoine vers les franges les plus pauvres, et parfois non solvables. De quoi fragiliser le modèle de financement du logement social en France, déjà mis à mal par les dernières réformes, et ouvrir la porte à sa privatisation, comme ce fut le cas dans l’Angleterre thatchérienne. (…) Partout en Europe, dans un contexte de flux migratoire intensifié, ce ciblage des politiques publiques vers les plus pauvres – mais qui est le plus pauvre justement, si ce n’est celui qui vient d’arriver d’un territoire 10 fois moins riche ? – provoque inexorablement un rejet de ce qui reste encore du modèle social redistributif par ceux qui en ont le plus besoin et pour le plus grand intérêt de la classe dominante. C’est là que se noue la double insécurité économique et culturelle. Face au démantèlement de l’Etat-providence, à la volonté de privatiser, les classes populaires mettent en avant leur demande de préserver le bien commun comme les services publics. Face à la dérégulation, la dénationalisation, elles réclament un cadre national, plus sûr moyen de défendre le bien commun. Face à l’injonction de l’hypermobilité, à laquelle elles n’ont de toute façon pas accès, elles ont inventé un monde populaire sédentaire, ce qui se traduit également par une économie plus durable. Face à la constitution d’un monde où s’impose l’indistinction culturelle, elles aspirent à la préservation d’un capital culturel protecteur. Souverainisme, protectionnisme, préservation des services publics, sensibilité aux inégalités, régulation des flux migratoires, sont autant de thématiques qui, de Tel-Aviv à Alger, de Detroit à Milan, dessinent un commun des classes populaires dans le monde. Ce soft power des classes populaires fait parfois sortir de leurs gonds les parangons de la mondialisation heureuse. Hillary Clinton en sait quelque chose. Elle n’a non seulement pas compris la demande de protection des classes populaires de la Rust Belt, mais, en plus, elle les a traités de « déplorables ». Qui veut être traité de déplorable ou, de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, de Dupont Lajoie ? L’appartenance à la classe moyenne n’est pas seulement définie par un seuil de revenus ou un travail d’entomologiste des populations de l’Insee. C’est aussi et avant tout un sentiment de porter les valeurs majoritaires et d’être dans la roue des classes dominantes du point de vue culturel et économique. Placées au centre de l’échiquier, ces catégories étaient des références culturelles pour les classes dominantes, comme pour les nouveaux arrivants, les classes populaires immigrées. En trente ans, les classes moyennes sont passées du modèle à suivre, l’American ou l’European way of life, au statut de losers. Il y a mieux comme référents pour servir de modèle d’assimilation. Qui veut ressembler à un plouc, un déplorable… ? Personne. Pas même les nouveaux arrivants. L’ostracisation des classes populaires par la classe dominante occidentale, pensée pour discréditer toute contestation du modèle économique mondialisé – être contre, c’est ne pas être sérieux – a, en outre, largement participé à l’effondrement des modèles d’intégration et in fine à la paranoïa identitaire. L’asociété s’est ainsi imposée partout : crise de la représentation politique, citadéllisation de la bourgeoisie, communautarisation. Qui peut dès lors s’étonner que nos systèmes d’organisation politique, la démocratie, soient en danger ? Christophe Guilluy
Qui pourrait avoir envie d’intégrer une catégorie sociale condamnée par l’histoire économique et présentée par les médias comme une sous-classe  faible, raciste, aigrie et inculte ? (…) On peut débattre sans fin de la pertinence des modèles, de la crise identitaire, de la nécessité de réaffirmer les valeurs républicaines, de définir un commun: tous ces débats sont vains si les modèles ne sont plus incarnés. On ne s’assimile pas, on ne se marie pas, on ne tombe psas amoureux d’un système de valeurs, mais d’individus et d’un mode vie que l’on souhaite adopter. Christophe Guilluy
En 2016, Hillary Clinton traitait les électeurs de son opposant républicain, c’est-à-dire l’ancienne classe moyenne américaine déclassée, de « déplorables ». Au-delà du mépris de classe que sous-tend une expression qui rappelle celle de l’ancien président français François Hollande qui traitait de « sans-dents » les ouvriers ou employés précarisés, ces insultes (d’autant plus symboliques qu’elles étaient de la gauche) illustrent un long processus d’ostracisation d’une classe moyenne devenue inutile.  (…) Depuis des décennies, la représentation d’une classe moyenne triomphante laisse peu à peu la place à des représentations toujours plus négatives des catégories populaires et l’ensemble du monde d’en haut participe à cette entreprise. Le monde du cinéma, de la télévision, de la presse et de l’université se charge efficacement de ce travail de déconstruction pour produire en seulement quelques décennies la figure répulsive de catégories populaires inadaptées, racistes et souvent proches de la débilité. (…) Des rednecks dégénérés du film « Deliverance » au beauf raciste de Dupont Lajoie, la figure du « déplorable » s’est imposée dès les années 1970 dans le cinéma. La télévision n’est pas en reste. En France, les années 1980 seront marquées par l’émergence de Canal +, quintessence de ll’idéologie libérale-libertaire dominante. (…) De la série « Les Deschiens », à la marionnette débilitante de Johnny Hallyday des Guignols de l’info, c’est en réalité toute la production audiovisuelle qui donne libre cours à son mépris de classe. Christophe Guilluy
La diabolisation vise moins les partis populistes ou leur électorat (considéré comme définitivement « perdu » aux yeux de la classe dominante) que la fraction des classes supérieures et intellectuelles qui pourrait être tentée par cette solidarité de classe et ainsi créer les conditions du changement. (…) Si l’élection de Donald Trump aux Etats-Unis a provoqué autant de réactions violentes dans l’élite mondialisée, ce n’est pas parce qu’il parle comme un « white trash » mais parce que au contraire il est issu de l’hyper-classe. En évoquant le protectionnisme ou la régulation des flux migratoires, Donald Trump brise le consensus idéologique à l’intérieur même de la classe dominante. Il contribue ainsi à un basculement d’une fraction des classes supérieures qui assurent la survie du système. Le 45e président n’a pas gagné parce qu’il a fait le plein de voix dans la « white working class » mais parce qu’il a réalisé l’alliance improbable entre une fraction du monde d’en haut et celui de l’Amérique périphérique. La prise de conscience des réalités populaires par une fraction de l’élite est un vrai risque, elle peut se réaliser à tout moment, dans n’importe quel pays ou région. Christophe Guilluy
Quitte à scier, comme la polémique qui a suivi et semblent l’indiquer les premiers chiffres d’exploitation en berne, la branche sur laquelle l’industrie cinématographique américaine reste néanmoins assise …
Comment ne pas regretter …
Ce qu’aurait pu en faire, avant son jet de l’éponge et à l’inverse d’un réalisateur et d’un acteur principal issus du « premier Etat postnational » autoproclamé, un Clint Eastwood ?
Et comment surtout ne pas y voir …
Après l’ancien collègue d’Armstrong Buzz Aldrin, le sénateur Rubio ou le président Trump
L’énième illustration et confirmation ….
De cette entreprise systématique de déconstruction et de délégitimation des valeurs de la classe moyenne américaine et occidentale …
Qui comme le décrit si bien le désormais sulfureux lui aussi géographe français Christophe Guilluy notamment dans son dernier ouvrage …
Est en train non seulement de démoraliser tout le socle populaire d’une classe moyenne hier encore triomphante …
Mais de priver une immigration désormais hors de contrôle de toute chance d’assimilation ?
.
Fier d’être américain : Buzz Aldrin twitte une photo du drapeau américain sur la Lune en pleine controverse avec le film “First Man”

L’astronaute légendaire Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin a twitté dimanche soir des photos historiques de l’alunissage d’Apollo 11 au cœur de l’indignation suscitée par la décision du réalisateur de First Man Damien Chazelle d’exclure le drapeau américain d’être planté sur la Lune.

Joshuah Caplan

Breibart

traduction Nouvel Ordre mondial

3 septembre 2018

Buzz Aldrin a twitté deux photos de la mission de 1969, mettant en évidence le drapeau américain, avec divers hashtags, dont “#proudtobeanAmerican” et “onenation”.

Samedi, Aldrin a tweeté quatre photos de lui-même en portant un t-shirt qui se lit “Buzz Aldrin, Future Martian”, avec un astronaute plantant le drapeau américain sur une planète.

De plus, l’astronaute emblématique a retwitté la photo de l’utilisateur @pir8lksat40 qui le salue avec une photo de l’alunissage derrière lui.

Aldrin a également retwitté une photo de lui-même en saluant tout en se tenant à côté d’une photo agrandie de la mission Apollo 11 qui inclut le drapeau sur la lune.

La semaine dernière, Chazelle a rejeté les critiques selon lesquelles l’omission du drapeau américain était censée être une revendication politique. “Pour répondre à la question de savoir s’il s’agissait d’une revendication politique, la réponse est non”, a déclaré le réalisateur de First Man dans une interview avec Variety. “Mon but avec ce film était de partager avec le public les aspects invisibles et inconnus de la mission états-unienne sur la lune – en particulier la saga personnelle de Neil Armstrong et ce qu’il a pu penser et ressentir pendant ces quelques heures de gloire.”

Mark et Rick Armstrong, les fils de l’astronaute d’Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong, ont critiqué ceux qui ont étiqueté le sujet “d’antiaméricain”.

“Cette histoire est humaine et elle est universelle. Bien sûr, il célèbre une réalisation américaine. Il célèbre également une réalisation ‘pour toute l’humanité’”, peut-on lire dans la déclaration des Armstrong. “Les cinéastes ont choisi de se concentrer sur Neil qui regarde la Terre, sa marche vers le Petit Cratère Occidental, son expérience personnelle et unique de clôturer ce voyage, un voyage qui a eu tant de hauts et de bas dévastateurs.”

Dans une interview accordée au Telegraph, Ryan Gosling, star de First Man, a déclaré que la décision d’exclure le drapeau américain était motivée par l’idée que l’alunissage est considéré comme un “accomplissement humain plutôt qu’américain”.

“Je pense que cela a été largement considéré à la fin comme une réalisation humaine [et] c’est ainsi que nous avons choisi de voir les choses”, a déclaré l’acteur, qui joue Armstrong, au journal britannique. “Je pense aussi que Neil était extrêmement humble, comme beaucoup de ces astronautes, et qu’à maintes reprises, il a différé l’attention de lui-même aux 400 000 personnes qui ont rendu la mission possible”, a déclaré l’acteur au journal britannique.

Le sénateur Marco Rubio (F-FL) a pris Twitter pour faire exploser l’omission du drapeau américain comme une “folie totale” et un “mauvais service” rendu au peuple américain. “C’est de la folie totale. Et un mauvais service rendu à un moment où notre peuple a besoin de rappels de ce que nous pouvons accomplir lorsque nous travaillons ensemble”, a écrit Rubio. “Le peuple américain a payé pour cette mission, sur des fusées construites par des Américains, avec de la technologie américaine et pour transporter des astronautes américains. Ce n’était pas une mission de l’ONU.”

Voir aussi:

Hollywood Just Cut The Flag Out Of The Moon Landing. Here’s Why That Matters.

On Thursday evening, Ryan Gosling made international news when he justified the fact that the new Damien Chazelle biopic of Neil Armstrong will skip the whole planting the American flag on the moon thing. Gosling, a Canadian, explained, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.”

Now, the real reason that the film won’t include the planting of the American flag is that the distributors obviously fear that Chinese censors will be angry, and that foreign audiences will scorn the film. But it’s telling that the Left seems to attribute every universal sin to America, and every specific victory to humanity as a whole. Slavery: uniquely American. Racism: uniquely American. Sexism: uniquely American. Homophobia: uniquely American. Putting a man on the moon: an achievement of humanity.

All of this is in keeping with a general perspective that sees America as a nefarious force in the world. This is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States view: that America’s birth represented the creation of a terrible totalitarian regime, but that Maoist China is the “closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government, independent of outside control”; that Castro’s Cuba had “no bloody record of suppression,” but that the U.S. responded to the “horrors perpetrated by the terrorists against innocent people in New York by killing other innocent people in Afghanistan.”

In reality, however, America remains the single greatest force for human freedom and progress in the history of the world. And landing a man on the moon was part of that uniquely American legacy. President John F. Kennedy announced his mission to go to the moon in 1961; in 1962, he gave a famous speech at Rice University in which he announced the purpose of the moon landing:

For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding. Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation. We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.

The moon landing was always nationalist. It was nationalism in service of humanity. But that’s been America’s role in the world for generations. Removing the American flag from an American mission demonstrates the anti-American animus of Hollywood, if we’re to take their values-laden protestations seriously.

Voir également:

Why Neil Armstrong’s sons don’t think the biopic ‘First Man’ is anti-American

The Washington Post

September 3

Ryan Gosling is not an American, but he is part of a species that visited a celestial body beyond Earth.

That is one perspective the Canadian used in describing the Apollo 11 mission, and specifically Neil Armstrong, whom he plays in the upcoming film “First Man.”

It depicts the 1969 mission to land men on the moon and return them safely. But the film does not show Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin unfurling and planting an American flag on the lunar surface. And its creators, including Gosling, say they view the moment as a human achievement more than an American one, and have suggested Armstrong did not believe he was an “American hero.”

“From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite,” Gosling said, according to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. “And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”

Predictably, the Canadian actor’s comments, paired with the omission of the Stars and Stripes, have sparked outrage, particularly in American conservative circles. The criticism, in turn, has prompted Armstrong’s sons to defend the film’s depiction of events and its attention to quieter, lesser-known aspects of their father’s life.

“This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement ‘for all mankind,’ as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon,” according to a statement released Friday by Rick and Mark Armstrong.

The statement was also attributed to “First Man” biographer James R. Hansen, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible,” the men said. Their father died in 2012.

Some conservative figures have taken Gosling’s Telegraph interview as proof of Hollywood globalism run amok, and an outcropping of the ongoing controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police killing of black citizens.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) weighed in Saturday among conservatives propelling social media calls for boycotts of the film.

“Really sad: Hollywood erases American flag from moon landing. This is wrong, and consistent with Leftists’ disrespecting the flag & denying American exceptionalism,” Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tight reelection race, wrote on Twitter. “JFK saw that it mattered that America go to the moon — why can’t Hollywood see that today?”

“Fox & Friends,” a Fox News program favored by President Trump, discussed the issue Friday.

Co-host Pete Hegseth simply called Gosling “an idiot.”

Ainsley Earhardt, his co-host, grimly assessed the social implications.

“This is where our country is going. They don’t think America is great,” she said. “They want to kneel for the flag.” Later in the day, #BoycottFirstMan was trending on social media.

Chuck Yeager, the legendary American pilot who was the first to break the sound barrier, called leaving out the flag-planting “more Hollywood make-believe.”

On Sunday Aldrin tweeted photos of the historic moment with the hashtag #proudtobeanAmerican.

Director Damien Chazelle, who also helmed “La La Land” and “Whiplash,” has echoed the sentiments of the Armstrong brothers on the selective storytelling.

“I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the [Lunar Module], his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar [exploration],” he said in a statement Friday, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The film, which debuted this past week at the Venice Film Festival, will arrive stateside Oct. 12, and have plenty of American flags waving throughout.

“First Man” does not show the flag planting, but there are several shots of the U.S. flag on the moon, Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern said after attending the screening.

Ironically, the controversy may endure longer than the flag itself: Aldrin told controllers he saw the flag knocked over with a blast of spacecraft exhaust, NASA has said.

The flag really wasn’t designed to endure the blastoff, let alone the lunar environment, or lack thereof. It was purchased from a Sears store for $5.50, NASA said. Department-store flags cannot even withstand terrestrial wear and tear, like sunlight and wind, for more than a few years.

On the moon, decades of extreme temperatures, ultraviolet radiation and micrometeorites have probably disintegrated the flag entirely, scientists say, and the bombardment of unfiltered sunlight has probably bleached flags left on subsequent missions stark white.

Even the original flag planting was controversial. Debate raged over whether to raise an American flag or a banner of the United Nations. Congress forbid NASA from placing flags of other countries or international bodies on the moon during U.S.-funded missions, the agency said.

“In the end, it was decided by Congress that this was a United States project. We were not going to make any territorial claim, but we were to let people know that we were here and put up a U.S. flag,” Armstrong said, according to Newsweek. “My job was to get the flag there. I was less concerned about whether that was the right artifact to place. I let other, wiser minds than mine make those kinds of decisions.”

Voir de même:

‘First Man’: Neil Armstrong film fails to fly flag for US patriotism
Anita Singh
The Telegraph
29 August 2018

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon in 1969, it marked one of the proudest moments in US history.

But a new film about Armstrong has chosen to leave out this most patriotic of scenes, arguing that the giant leap for mankind should not be seen as an example of American greatness.

The film, First Man, was unveiled at the Venice Film Festival yesterday, where the absence of the stars and stripes was noted by critics.

Its star, Ryan Gosling, was asked if the film was a deliberately un-American take on the moon landing. He replied that Armstrong’s accomplishment « transcended countries and borders ».

Gosling explained: « I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible. »

« He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s not just to be humble, that’s also true.

« So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil. »

Gosling joked: « I’m Canadian, so might have cognitive bias. » The film’s director, Damien Chazelle, Who previously worked with Gosling on the Oscar-winning La La Land, is French-Canadian.

The planting of the flag was controversial in 1969. There was disagreement over whether a US or United Nations flag should be used. Armstrong said later: « In the end it was decided by Congress that this was a United States project. We were not going to make any territorial claim, but we were to let people know that we were here and put up a US flag.

« My job was to get the flag there. I was less concerned about whether that was the right artefact to place. I let other, wiser minds than mine make those kinds of decisions. »

First Man is based on an authorised biography of Armstrong by James Hansen. It has the backing of the astronaut’s family, including his two sons, and of NASA.

Armstrong died in 2012, aged 82. President Obama paid tribute to him as « among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time ».

First Man also features Claire Foy as Armstrong’s first wife, Janet, mother of his two boys. She said her focus was on the family dynamics behind the space mission: « I wanted to honour how these children saw their mum and dad. Their dad wasn’t an astronaut to them, he was their dad. »

Venice in recent years has been a launch pad for Oscar campaigns – including last year’s best picture winner, The Shape of Water – and First Man will be a contender.

Other films being unveiled include a new version of A Star Is Born, featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

There is only one woman director in the official line-up, Jennifer Kent, prompting criticism from female filmmakers. However, the Festival director, Albert Barbera, has resisted pressure to introduce gender balance, saying: « If we impose quotas, I resign. »

:: The London Film Festival released its competition line-up yesterday with five of the 10 contenders directed by women. Tricia Tuttle, the festival’s artistic director, said it was « a real pleasure to see that half of these films come from female directors ».

Voir de plus:

Neil Armstrong’s Sons, Director Damien Chazelle Defend Absence of Flag-Planting Scene in ‘First Man’
Dave McNary
Variety
August 31, 2018

Neil Armstrong’s sons and director Damien Chazelle have defended the absence of a flag-planting scene in the movie “First Man,” which details the 1969 moon landing.

Rick Armstrong and Mark Armstrong released a statement jointly with “First Man” author James R. Hansen on Friday in the wake of claims that the lack of the flag planting in the movie is unpatriotic.

“We do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest,” the trio said. “Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.”

“First Man” is directed by Chazelle from a script by Josh Singer, based on Hansen’s book “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.” The film stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and focuses on the the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. “First Man” had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday and hits theaters in the U.S. on Oct. 12.

Gosling has also responded to the criticism, telling reporters when asked about the omission, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”

“In ‘First Man’ I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon,” he said in a statement. “To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours.”

“I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA,” Chazelle added. “This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind. This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history. My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was.”

Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82.

Here’s the statement from Armstrong’s son and Hansen:

We’ve read a number of comments about the film today and specifically about the absence of the flag planting scene, made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie. As we’ve seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in.

This is a film that focuses on what you don’t know about Neil Armstrong. It’s a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon. The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story. It’s a movie that gives you unique insight into the Armstrong family and fallen American Heroes like Elliot See and Ed White. It’s a very personal movie about our dad’s journey, seen through his eyes.

This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement “for all mankind,” as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible.

Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.

In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest. Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.

Voir encore:

Cinéma: First Man, La la lune

Le réalisateur de Whiplash retrace la vie de l’astronaute Neil Amstrong, homme névrosé et obsédé. Le film décolle souvent mais pas toujours.

Eric Libiot

L’Express

Damien Chazelle est un Clint Eastwood en velours. L’un et l’autre racontent des héros (du quotidien ou de la grande histoire) mus par leur seule obsession. Eastwood fait plutôt dans le brutal, quand Chazelle y met de la rondeur et quelques pas de danse. Mais entre Red Stovall (Honkytonk Man) et William Munny (Impitoyable) d’un côté, Andrew (Whiplash) et Sebastian (La la land), de l’autre, il n’est question que d’hommes qui se détruisent pour parvenir à leurs fins. Le revers de la médaille du héros américain. Difficile de dire quelle voie va emprunter Chazelle – il est moins désabusé que le grand Clint – mais s’il se durcit la couenne, il pourrait devenir un portraitiste passionnant du rêve étoilé d’aujourd’hui.

First Man. Le premier homme sur la lune (et pourquoi pas rallonger le titre en italien et en chinois tant qu’à faire ?), raconte l’épopée de Neil Armstrong, le gars qui fit un petit pas pour l’homme et un grand pour l’humanité. Pilote moyen qui parvint à s’envoler et à marquer son temps à force d’abnégation et de maîtrise. Héros national mais tête de lard, père absent et mari mal luné. On a assez envie de lui mettre deux claques.

Ryan Gosling parfait

Voulant absolument se décoller des références L’Etoffe des héros et Apollo (la grandeur de la nation américaine dans toute sa splendeur), Chazelle bidouille les séquences dans l’espace en secouant sa caméra, en bricolant l’image et en filmant les poils de barbe de son personnage. C’est parfois un peu fatigant parce que systématique.

En revanche – et c’est là où l’eastwoodien qui est en lui se réveille – la partie intimiste est passionnante. Armstrong est prêt à tout sacrifier pour être le premier. Pas forcément pour recevoir les applaudissements mais pour nourrir sa propre névrose. Comme si le héros américain, bouffé par une machine mythologique basée sur le « do it yourself » devait forcément en passer par là. Armstrong a le visage fermé et Ryan Gosling, qui n’est pas l’acteur le plus expressif au monde, est parfait. Claire Foy, son épouse, également ; femme de tête, actrice de coeur. La face cachée de la Lune est finalement ce qu’il y a de plus intéressant à voir.

First Man. Le premier homme sur la lune, de Damien Chazelle. 2 h 22.

First Man – Le premier homme sur la lune – Bande Annonce

Voir aussi:

First Man : le premier homme sur la lune

Louis Guichard

Télérama

17 octobre 2018
Après La La Land, Ryan Gosling enfile le scaphandre de Neil Armstrong avec une froideur lunaire fascinante. Une biographie distanciée et troublante.

Avec La La Land, Damien Chazelle, le jeune prodige de Hollywood, remettait de la fragilité dans la glorieuse comédie musicale à l’américaine : danser et chanter n’y était pas si facile pour les deux acteurs principaux, et la mise en scène exploitait subtilement leurs faiblesses. Dans cette biographie de Neil Armstrong, la discipline incertaine, laborieuse, faillible, c’est la conquête spatiale elle-même. Le cinéaste insiste sans cesse sur la précarité des engins et vaisseaux pilotés par l’astronaute, du début des années 1960 à ses premiers pas sur la Lune, le 21 juillet 1969. Leitmotiv des scènes d’action : les antiques cadrans à aiguilles s’affolent, les carlingues tremblotent, fument, prennent feu… La réussite, lorsqu’elle survient, paraît arbitraire, et ne parvient jamais à dissiper l’effroi et le doute devant l’entreprise du héros. Voilà comment, dès la saisissante première scène, le réalisateur s’approprie le genre si codifié du biopic hollywoodien. Le visage de Ryan Gosling est l’autre facteur majeur de stylisation. Avec son jeu minimaliste, son refus de l’expressivité ordinaire, l’acteur de Drive bloque la sympathie et l’identification. Damien Chazelle filme sa star en très gros plans, avec une fascination encore accentuée depuis La La Land : Ryan Gosling est lunaire bien avant d’alunir et il le demeure ensuite.

Le scénario donne et redonne, trop souvent, l’explication la plus évidente à cette absence mélancolique — la perte d’une fille, emportée en bas âge par le cancer. Cette tragédie intime, véridique, devient même la composante la plus convenue, avec flash-back mélodramatiques sur le bonheur familial perdu, un peu comme pour le personnage de spationaute de Sandra Bullock dans Gravity, d’Alfonso Cuarón. Or l’attendrissement sied peu à Damien Chazelle, cinéaste cruel, dur — voir le sadisme de Whiplash, et le gâchis amoureux de La La Land, pour cause d’égocentrisme des deux amants. Le film brille, en revanche, dès qu’il s’agit de la distance qui éloigne toujours plus le héros des siens — sa femme et ses deux fils —, au fil des expériences spatiales. Sommé par son épouse d’annoncer son départ vers la Lune à ses enfants, Neil Armstrong leur parle soudain comme s’il était en conférence de presse, sans plus d’émotion ni de tendresse — scène glaçante. Plus tard, l’homme (en quarantaine après une mission) est séparé de sa femme par une épaisse cloison de verre. La paroi devient alors, tout comme le casque-miroir du scaphandre, le symbole d’une vie à part, « hors de ce monde » — les mots de l’épouse. A la même époque, des mouvements sociaux dénoncent, aux Etats-Unis, les dépenses publiques faramineuses consacrées à la conquête spatiale, tandis que des millions de citoyens vivent mal. Damien Chazelle s’attarde sur cette critique-là, comme pour contredire la formule d’Armstrong une fois sur la Lune : « … un grand pas pour l’humanité »… Scepticisme et froideur contribuent ainsi à élever First Man au-delà de l’hagiographie attendue, au profit d’une réelle étrangeté, et d’une grande tenue.

Voir également:

What Do Words Cost? For ‘First Man,’ Perhaps, Quite A Lot
Michael Cieply
Deadline

October 14, 2018

What do words cost? In contemporary Hollywood, quite a bit, apparently.

If you believe those who say First Man was hurt by Ryan Gosling’s ‘globalist’ defense of director Damien Chazelle’s decision not to depict astronaut Neil Armstrong’s planting of an American flag on the moon—and the Internet is crawling with those who make that claim—then Gosling’s explanation cost up to $45,000 a word this weekend.

First Man, from Universal and DreamWorks among others, opened to about $16.5 million in ticket sales at the domestic box office. That’s $4.5 million short of expectations that were pegged at around $21 million. At the Venice Film Festival in late August, Gosling, who is Canadian, spoke about 100 words in defending the flag-planting omission. “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” he said:  “From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil. »

If the ensuing controversy really suppressed ticket sales—and who can know whether sharper-than-expected competition from Venom and A Star Is Born was perhaps a bigger factor?—the $45,000-per-word price tag is just a down payment. Under-performance by First Man of, say, $50 million over the long haul would raise the per-word price to a breathtaking $500,000.

Such is the terror of entertainment in the age of digital rage and partisanship. The simplest moment of candor at a routine promotional appearance can suddenly become a show-killer.

The real math, of course, is mysterious. To what extent a slip of the tongue or an interesting thought helped or hindered a film or television show will never be clear.

But, increasingly, the stray word seems to be taking a toll on vastly expensive properties that have been years, or even decades, in the making. Asked in May by a Huffington Post interviewer whether Star Wars character Lando Calrissian was “pansexual,” Jonathan Kasdan, co-writer of Solo: A Star Wars Story, answered: “I would say yes.”

What followed was a full-throated digital debate about sexual identity in the Star Wars series. Some fans loved it. Some didn’t. But the film, which had about $213.8 million in domestic ticket sales, seriously lagged its predecessors, leaving a scary question: Did Kasdan’s answer cost Disney and Lucasfilm some millions of dollars per word?

On the conservative side of the Great Divide, Roseanne Barr cost herself and ABC tens of millions of dollars per word when she compared former Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett to a combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet Of The Apes, in a brief Tweet that led to her own firing and her show’s cancellation. On the progressive side, Marvel and Star Wars writer Chuck Wendig was just fired for a series of Tweets saying things at least as rude about Republicans (though the cost-per-word is clearly lower than Barr’s).

In retrospect, I begin to understand a backstage encounter I once witnessed between Bob Weinstein and Viggo Mortensen before a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Weinstein was delivering a ferocious, finger-jabbing lecture about what Mortensen could and could not say as he answered questions about his role in John Hillcoat’s The Road.

Back in 2009, this struck me as a rude, heavy-handed attempt to censor an intelligent actor who was perfectly capable of speaking for himself. But having seen what a few misplaced words can now cost, I suspect that Weinstein was ahead of his time.

Voir aussi:

The dangers of Trudeau’s ‘postnational’ Canada
Douglas Todd
The Vancouver Sun
April 28, 2016

Justin Trudeau says Canada is the world’s first « postnational state. » But the goal of the alternative, transnationalism, is to override the rules, customs and sovereignty of individual nations and allow the virtually unrestricted flow of global money.

I’m trying to understand Justin Trudeau’s idealistic thinking.

When the prime minister says Canada is the world’s “first postnational state,” I believe he’s saying this is a place where respect for minorities trumps any one group’s way of doing things.

‘There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,’ Trudeau claimed after the October election. ‘There are shared values – openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice.”

The New York Times writer who obtained this quote said Trudeau’s belief Canada has no core identity is his “most radical” political position. It seems especially so combined with criticism Trudeau is a lightweight on national security and sovereignty.

Not too many Canadians, however, seem disturbed by Trudeau talking about us as a “postnational state.”

Maybe they just write it off as political bafflegab. But of all the countries in the world, Canada, with its high proportion of immigrants and official policy of multiculturalism, may also be one of the few places where politicians and academics treat virtually all forms of nationalism with deep suspicion.

Of course, no one defends nationalism in its rigid or extreme forms. Ultranationalism has been blamed for us-against-them belligerence throughout the 20th century, which led to terrible military aggressions out of Germany, Japan, the former Yugoslavia, China and many regions of Africa.

But would it be wise to let nationalism die?

 

What if our sense of a national identity actually was eradicated? What if borders were erased and the entire world became “transnational?”

We sometimes seem to be heading that way, with the rise of the European Union, the United Nations and especially transnational deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The aim of these transnational business agreements is to override the rules, customs and sovereignty of individual nations and allow the virtually unrestricted flow of global migrants and money.

Such transnational agreements benefit some, especially the “cosmopolitan” elites and worldwide corporations. But the results for others are often not pretty.

Indeed, a case can be made that the housing affordability crises in Metro Vancouver and Toronto is a result of a “postnational” mindset.

Canada’s politicians are failing to put serious effort into protecting residents of Vancouver or Toronto from transnational financial forces.

Before digging further into the influences behind our overheated housing markets, however, I’ll make a case for healthy nationalism.

Avoid extremes

The first thing to keep in mind is to not judge nationalism by its extremes.

As G.K. Chesterton once said, condemning nationalism because it can lead to war is like condemning love because it can lead to murder.

In recent years many regions have developed generally positive forms of nationalism: Scotland, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Argentina, Japan, Sweden to name a few.

Healthy nationalism encourages diverse people to cooperate.

“Patriotism is what makes us behave unselfishly. It is why we pay taxes to support strangers, why we accept election results when we voted for the loser, why we obey laws with which we disagree,” writes Daniel Hannan, author of Inventing Freedom.

“A functioning state requires broad consensus on what constitutes the first-person plural. Take that sense away, you get Syria or Iraq or Ukraine or – well, pretty much any war zone you can name.”

Though Canada’s particular style of nationalism is fluid and not simple to define, it’s part of what makes the country attractive to immigrants, who often arrive from dysfunctional regions torn by corruption and cynicism about national officials.

Many immigrants seem to realize that it’s not normally nationalism that foments catastrophic division – it’s religion, race or tribalism.

In contrast, some of the world’s most economically successful and egalitarian countries have a sense of mutual trust and appreciation for good government that is in part based on the glue of nationalism.

People in proud Nordic countries, for instance, often decorate even their birthday cakes with their national flags. At the same time Nordic nations are generous to their disadvantaged and in distributing foreign aid.

Michael McDonald, former head of the University of B.C.’s Centre for Applied Ethics, thinks Trudeau’s belief that Canada is the world’s first “postnational state” emerges out of his concern that it’s dangerous to “affirm a dominant culture that suppresses and marginalizes those outside the mainstream.”

But even though the ethics professor believes it’s important to protect minorities, he isn’t prepared to overlook the value of nationalism.

McDonald believes being Canadian is like being a member of a community, or a big family.

“Some are born into the family and others are adopted. There is a shared family history – interpreted in diverse ways,” McDonald says.

“Not everyone is happy being in the family. Some think being a family member is important and others do not. But we are shaped by our families, and we shape ourselves within and sometimes against our families. So also with our country.”

Transnationalist dangers

Embracing McDonald’s view that Canada is a giant, unruly but somewhat bonded family, I’d suggest Trudeau contradicts himself, or is at least being naive, when he argues Canada is a postnational state.

On one hand Trudeau claims Canada has no “core identity.” On the other hand he says the Canadian identity is quite coherent – we all share the values of “openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice.”

Can it be both ways?

Most Canadians don’t think so. Regardless of what Trudeau told the New York Times, a recent Angus Reid Institute poll confirmed what many Canadians judge to be common sense: 75 per cent of residents believe there is a “unique Canadian culture.”

I wish some of that common sense about nationalism was being brought to the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver and Toronto.

While some of the strongest support for transnationalism comes from big business, we need to hear more from economists who stand up for healthy nationalism.

They include the famous Scottish economist Adam Smith, who is often cited as the father of capitalism. Smith believed free enterprise would work most effectively within the cultures of unified nations.

 

Healthy nationalism requires loyalty between citizens and leaders, says Geoffrey Taunton-Collins, who writes for http://www.adamsmith.org. A nation’s leaders are expected to protect their citizens from outside powers.

That is not what is happening in Vancouver and Toronto, where the forces of transnationalism have been allowed to run amok. “The city has become a commodity,” former Vancouver city councillor Jonathan Baker recently lamented. It’s being increasingly occupied by transnational wealth.

Global capital is coming to Toronto and Vancouver because it seeks a haven that has no ethical, legal or physical boundaries, Eveline Xia and UBC planning department director Penny Gurstein wrote this month in The Vancouver Sun.

Xia and Gurstein say federal and B.C. politicians are not protecting citizens from transnational speculators. Unlike the officials who represent London, Hong Kong or Singapore, Xia and Gurstein say, Canadian politicians are failing to regulate residency requirements on home purchases or charge nonresidents extra fees.

As a result many average Canadians who are desperate to make a home and livelihood in Metro Vancouver can’t come close to affording to live here.

It’s the kind of thing that can happen when too many politicians believe we’re living in the world’s first “postnational state.”

Voir enfin:

First Man (2018)

History vs. Hollywood
Questioning the Story:

How much of Neil Armstrong’s life does the First Man movie cover?

The biopic covers the period of Neil Armstrong’s life from 1961 up to the Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969. On that day, Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the lunar surface. He was joined by Buzz Aldrin approximately 20 minutes later. This can be seen in the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Video.

Was astronaut Neil Armstrong really an introverted and quiet hero like he’s portrayed to be in the movie?Yes. The First Man true story reveals that unlike many astronauts, Neil Armstrong was not the hotshot type, nor was he a fame-seeker. He was a man of few words who was driven to accomplish something no other human being had done. Up to his death, he largely remained a bit of an enigma.

Is the First Man movie based on a Neil Armstrong book?

Yes. The movie is based on author James R. Hansen’s New York Times bestselling biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. First published in 2005, the book is the only official biography of Armstrong. It chronicles his involvement in the space program, concluding with the climactic Apollo 11 mission. At the same time, it explores his personal life as well. Armstrong gave his full support to Hansen and encouraged others to provide any necessary information that the author requested. Film rights to the book were sold in 2003, prior to its publication, but a Neil Armstrong movie took years to get off the ground. Initially, Clint Eastwood had been attached to direct.

Was Ryan Gosling the first choice for the role of Neil Armstrong?

Yes. Director Damien Chazelle told People Magazine that the first time he ever met Ryan Gosling was to pitch him the role in the Neil Armstrong biopic. This was before the director and actor teamed up to make the 2016 musical La La Land together.

Is the movie’s opening scene, in which Neil Armstrong pilots an X-15 rocket plane into the stratosphere, depicted accurately?

For the most part, yes. He indeed had trouble returning to Earth as the plane began to bounce off the atmosphere instead of slicing back into it. Armstrong was more than 20 miles above the Earth. The only part of that scene that isn’t as realistic is when we’re able to look out the window of his plane and see the white clouds just below. At 120,000 feet, he was roughly double the altitude of the highest clouds, so realistically, the clouds would have been much further beneath him. -TIME

Is the song playing when Neil and Janet dance in the living room based on an actual song that they listened to?

Yes. The eerie space melody that Neil and Janet dance to in the biopic is an actual song that they listened to. “It was a track that Neil and Janet shared with each other and that Neil wound up bringing with him on the Apollo 11 mission, » says director Damien Chazelle. « It’s called ‘Lunar Rhapsody’. It’s quite appropriate, but it’s this sort of weird Theremin orchestral track from the early days of the Theremin [an electric instrument with metal antennas].” -People.com

Did Neil Armstrong really lose a daughter to brain cancer?

Yes. On January 28, 1962, Neil and Janet lost their two-year-old daughter Karen to a case of pneumonia while suffering from a malignant brain tumor. « I thought the best thing for me to do in that situation was to continue with my work, » said Armstrong, « keep things as normal as I could, and try as hard as I could not to have it affect my ability to do useful things. » He became an astronaut that same year. The movie seems to depict this time in Armstrong’s life rather accurately. -First Man Book Interview

Did Neil Armstrong’s home really catch on fire?

Yes. Though the scene was cut from the final version of the movie, the First Man true story confirms that the Armstrongs’ Houston home caught fire in the spring of 1964. Janet woke in the middle of the night and smelled smoke, at which time she alerted Neil. Astronaut Ed White (portrayed by Jason Clarke in the movie) was their neighbor at the time and jumped the fence to help. The Armstrongs nearly lost their lives. Neil passed their ten-month-old son Mark through a window to Ed. He then went to save his six-year-old son Rick, holding a wet cloth over Rick’s face as they made it outside to the backyard. Neil described the 25 feet to Rick’s bedroom as « the longest journey I ever made in my life. » Rick was okay except for a burn on his thumb.

Not shown in the movie, the Armstrongs’ home burned to cinders in a 1964 house fire. They nearly lost their lives. Actor Ryan Gosling stands in the backyard of the burning home in a scene omitted from the biopic (above).

Did Neil Armstrong almost die while training for the lunar landing?

Yes. Two Lunar Landing Research Vehicles were built. Each used a single jet engine turned right-side up to simulate the Moon’s one-sixth gravity of Earth. On May 6, 1968, Neil Armstrong was piloting one of the vehicles roughly 100 feet above the ground. Unanticipated depletion of helium used to pressurize the fuel tanks led to a total failure of his flight controls and the LLRV started to go into a roll. He ejected and parachuted safely to the ground. Future analysis concluded that if he had ejected just half a second later, his parachute would not have deployed in time. His brush with death can be seen in the Neil Armstrong LLRV Training Crash Video. The top image below shows Neil Armstrong floating to the ground after Lunar Landing Research Vehicle 1 exploded into a ball of flames upon hitting the field. -First Man book

Did astronaut Neil Armstrong injure his face during the Lunar Lander training accident like in the movie?

No, he did not injure his face when he was forced to eject from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle and parachute to the ground. The worst that happened was that he bit his tongue hard during his impact with the ground.

Did Neil Armstrong really have a serious talk with his kids about the possibility of him not returning from the mission?

Yes. Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark, told USA Today that their father indeed talked with them before going to space and walking on the moon. « That scene came from us, » Rick said. He and his brother collaborated with director Damien Chazelle for two-and-a-half years. As for the specifics of the conversation, Mark says he was too young to remember, but Rick says that the movie gets the gist of it right. However, he never remembers directly asking his father, « Do you think you’re coming back? »

« I didn’t have any doubt that he was coming back, » says Rick, who was 12 at the time. « So I wouldn’t have asked that. » -Collider

« We think we’re coming back, but there is some risk, » is basically what Armstrong told his sons. With regard to the oldest son shaking his father’s hand at the end of the conversation, that was added by the filmmakers. Rick said that it could have happened, or maybe it was a hug. He wasn’t sure.

Were Neil and Buzz really running low on fuel as they approached the moon’s surface?

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the moon’s surface in the Lunar Lander, they believed that they were running low on fuel because the computers were telling that to mission control, indicating that they had less than a minute to either touch down or abort the mission. The nail-biting sequence is true. However, they later learned that the lander hadn’t actually been low on fuel.

« You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot, » flight controller Charlie Duke radioed to Armstrong after the successful landing. -The Wrap

Does the lunar footprint in the famous photo belong to Neil Armstrong?

No. The famous photo of the lunar footprint that is often shown with Armstrong’s iconic quote, « That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, » is actually Buzz Aldrin’s footprint, not Neil Armstrong’s. Therefore, it’s not the footprint of the first step taken on the Moon, which we see in the movie. Aldrin made the bootprint in the photo as part of an experiment to test the properties of the lunar regolith (the loose rock and dust sitting on top of the lunar bedrock).

Why aren’t there any good photos of Neil Armstrong on the Moon?

As we explored the First Man true story, we quickly discovered that there are no good photos of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. The best image is displayed below. It was taken by fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin and shows Armstrong removing equipment from storage in the Lunar Module. The reason for the lack of photos of Armstrong on the lunar surface is because most of the time it was Armstrong who was carrying the camera. Some people blamed Aldrin for the insufficient number of photos of Armstrong, reasoning that he wanted the limelight since Armstrong was first to step onto the moon. Aldrin later addressed the criticism, saying he felt horrible that there were so few photos of Armstrong but there was too much going on at the time to realize it.

The most iconic shot of an astronaut on the Moon is of Buzz Aldrin standing and posing for the camera. If you look closely at that photo, you can actually see Armstrong taking the picture in the visor’s reflection.

Did Neil Armstrong really leave his daughter Karen’s bracelet on the moon?

No. It is here that the movie perhaps takes one of its biggest liberties. There is no historical record that Armstrong left a bracelet of his daughter’s on the moon (in the film, he drops it into Little West Crater). Astronauts flew with a PPK (personal preference kit), which included any non-regulation or sentimental items that they wanted to bring with them. Armstrong said that he lost the manifest for his PPK, so we can’t be sure what all it contained. We do know that he took with him remnants of fabric and the propeller from the Wright Brothers plane in which they took the first powered flight in 1903. Since Karen’s death is believed to have set the course of Armstrong’s life (especially at NASA), it’s not hard to imagine him bringing a sentimental item of Karen’s like the bracelet to the moon. We just don’t know for certain if he did, and if so, what he brought. -TIME

How much time did Neil Armstrong spend walking on the Moon?

Armstrong’s Moon walk lasted 2 and 3/4 hours, even though it feels much shorter in the movie. Astronauts on the five subsequent NASA missions that landed men on the Moon were given progressively longer periods of time to explore the lunar surface, with Apollo 17 astronauts spending 22 hours on EVA (Extravehicular Activity). The reason Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didn’t get to spend more time outside the Lunar Module is that there were uncertainties as to how well the spacesuits would hold up to the extremely high temperatures on the lunar surface. -Space.com

Did Neil Armstrong and his wife Janet stay together?

No. After 38 years of marriage, Neil Armstrong’s wife Janet divorced him on April 12, 1994 after a long separation. He had begun a relationship with Carol Held Knight, a widow who he had met at a golf tournament in 1992. Armstrong married Knight, who was 15 years his junior, on June 12, 1994, exactly two months after his divorce became final.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Footage & Related Videos

Below, you can further explore the true story behind the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man by watching actual footage of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, including witnessing Armstrong take the first steps on the surface of the Moon. You can also view footage of his ejection from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) and its subsequent crash, which happened more than a year prior to landing on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong Lunar Lander Training Crash
Apollo 11 Moon Landing Live Broadcast Footage
First Man Movie Trailer

Voir de même:

The Impact of “Deliverance”

Stacey Eidson
Metro spirit
April 15, 2015

Long before moviegoers watched in horror as actor Ned Beatty was forced to strip off his clothes and told to “squeal like a pig” during a film set in the rural mountains of North Georgia, there was the novel by Atlanta writer and poet James Dickey that started it all.

It’s been 45 years since “Deliverance” first hit the book shelves across this nation, but the profound impact that the tale of four suburban men canoeing down the dangerous rapids of a remote Georgia river and encountering a pair of deranged mountain men can still be felt today.

When the book was first released back in April of 1970, the reaction was definitely mixed, to say the least. Most critics praised the adventurous tale, describing the novel as “riveting entertainment” or a “monument to tall stories.”

The New York Times called the book a “double-clutching whopper” of a story that was a “weekend athlete’s nightmare.”

“Four men decide to paddle two canoes down the rapids of a river in northern Georgia to get one last look at pure wilderness before the river is dammed up and ‘the real estate people get hold of it,’” the New York Times book review stated in 1970.

But to the shock of the reader, the whitewater adventure turns into a struggle for survival when the character Bobby Trippe is brutally sodomized by a mountain man while his friend Ed Gentry is tied to a nearby tree.

“In the middle of the second day of the outing, two of the campers pull over to the riverbank for a rest,” the New York Times wrote in 1970. “Out of the woods wander two scrofulous hillbillies with a shotgun, and proceed to assault the campers with a casual brutality that leaves the reader squirming.

“It’s a bad situation inside an impossible one wrapped up in a hopeless one, with rapids crashing along between sheer cliffs and bullets zinging down from overhead. A most dangerous game.”

The New Republic described “Deliverance” as a powerful book that readers would not soon forget.

“I wondered where the excitement was that intrigued Lewis so much; everything in Oree was sleepy and hookwormy and ugly, and most of all, inconsequential. Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place.”

“How a man acts when shot by an arrow, what it feels like to scale a cliff or to capsize, the ironic psychology of fear,” The New Republic review stated. “These things are conveyed with remarkable descriptive writing.”

But the Southern Review probably said it best by stating that “Deliverance” touched on the basic “questions that haunt modern urban man.”

The book spent 26 weeks on the New York Times best-selling hardback list, and 16 weeks on that newspaper’s paperback list.

Within two years, it had achieved its eighth printing and sold almost 2 million copies.

The novel was having an immediate impact on the image of northern Georgia, according to the book, “Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878” by author Emily Satterwhite.

“Dickey’s novel created for readers an Appalachia that served as the site of a collective ‘nightmare,’ to use a term adopted by several of Dickey’s reviewers,” Satterwhite wrote. “The rape of city men by leering ‘hicks,’ central to the novel… became almost synonymous with popular conceptions of the mountain South.”

The book is a tall tale written by a man raised in a wealthy neighborhood in Atlanta, who both loved and feared the mountains of North Georgia, according to Satterwhite.

“Dickey’s father, James II, was a lawyer who loved hunting and cockfighting; his North Georgia farm served as a refuge from his wife, her family inheritance and the Buckhead mansion and servants that her wealth afforded them even in the depths of the Great Depression,” Satterwhite wrote, adding that James Dickey, like his father, was also uncomfortable with his family’s wealth. “Dickey preferred to claim that he grew up in the mountains. He attributed his blustery aggressiveness to his ‘North Georgia folk heritage’ and averred, ‘My people are all hillbillies. I’m only second-generation city.’”

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But that was far from the truth.

“Though Dickey’s ancestors had indeed lived in mountainous Fannin County, Georgia, they were not the plain folks he made them out to be,” Satterwhite wrote. “He failed to acknowledge that they were slaveholders and among the largest landowners and wealthiest residents of the county. Dickey’s romantic — and racist — vision of Appalachia as a place apart stayed with him his entire life.”

Dickey’s conflicting feeling about these so-called “mountain people” of North Georgia is evident in many of the conversations between two of the novel’s main characters, graphic artist Ed Gentry and outdoor survivalist Lewis Medlock.

In the beginning of the book, Lewis attempts to describe to Ed, the narrator of the novel and the character who is generally believed to be loosely based on Dickey himself, what makes the mountains of northern Georgia so special.

Lewis insists that there “may be something important in the hills.”

But Ed quickly fires back, “I don’t mind going down a few rapids with you and drinking a little whiskey by a campfire. But I don’t give a fiddler’s f*** about those hills.”

Lewis continues to try to persuade Ed by telling him about a recent trip he took with another friend, Shad Mackey, who got lost in these very same mountains.

“I happened to look around, and there was a fellow standing there looking at me,” Lewis said. “‘What you want, boy down around here?’ he said. He was skinny, and had on overall pants and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I told him I was going down the river with another guy, and that I was waiting for Shad to show up.”

The man who stepped out of the woods was a moonshiner who, to Lewis’ surprise, offered to help.

“‘You say you got a man back up there hunting with a bow and arrow. Does he know what’s up there?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s rougher than a night in jail in south Georgia,’ he said, ‘and I know what I’m talking about. You have any idea whereabouts he is?’ I said no, ‘just up that way someplace, the last time I saw him.’”

What happened next opened Lewis’ eyes to these mountain people, he told Ed.

“The fellow stood up and went over to his boy, who was about fifteen. He talked to him for a while, and then came about halfway back to me before he turned around and said, ‘Son, go find that man.’

“The boy didn’t say a thing. He went and got a flashlight and an old single-shot twenty-two. He picked up a handful of bullets from a box and put them in his pocket. He called his dog, and then he just faded away.”

Several hours later, the boy returned with Shad, who had broken his leg. When Lewis finishes his story, it’s obvious the tale means very little to Ed.

“That fellow wasn’t commanding his son against his will,” Lewis said. “The boy just knew what to do. He walked out into the dark.”

Ed quickly asks, “So?”

“So, we’re lesser men, Ed,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry, but we are.”

“From the ubiquitous rendition of the ‘Dueling Banjos’ theme song to allude to danger from hicks to bumper stickers for tourists reading, ‘Paddle faster, I hear banjoes,’ the novel and film have created artifacts that many of us encounter on an almost weekly basis.”

When the pair reaches the fictitious mountain town of Oree, Georgia, in the novel, Ed is clearly even less impressed.

“An old man with a straw hat and work shirt appeared at Lewis’ window, talking in. He looked like a hillbilly in some badly cast movie, a character actor too much in character to be believed. I wondered where the excitement was that intrigued Lewis so much; everything in Oree was sleepy and hookwormy and ugly, and most of all, inconsequential. Nobody worth a damn could ever come from such a place.”

As Lewis continues to negotiate with the mountain men, Ed becomes even more harsh in his description of Oree and its residents.

“There is always something wrong with people in the country, I thought. In the comparatively few times I had ever been in the rural South I had been struck by the number of missing fingers. Offhand, I had counted around twenty, at least. There had also been several people with some form of crippling or twisting illness, and some blind or one-eyed. No adequate medical treatment maybe. But there was something else. You’d think that farming was a healthy life, with fresh air and fresh food and plenty of exercise, but I never saw a farmer who didn’t have something wrong with him, and most of the time obviously wrong.

“The catching of an arm in a tractor park somewhere off in the middle of a field where nothing happened but that the sun blazed back more fiercely down the open mouth of one’s screams. And so many snakebites deep in the woods as one stepped over a rotten log, so many domestic animals suddenly turning and crushing one against the splintering side of a barn stall. I wanted none of it, and I didn’t want to be around where it happened either. But I was there, and there was no way for me to escape, except by water, from the country of nine-fingered people.”

The South Squeals Like a Pig

The portrait of mountain people as toothless, sexual deviants in a “country of nine-fingered people” was too much for many Southerners to accept.

“The consequences of fictional representation have never been more powerful for the imagination of mountainness — or perhaps even for southernness, ruralness, and ‘primitiveness’ more generically — than in the case of ‘Deliverance,’” Satterwhite wrote.

By the time director John Boorman brought “Deliverance” to the big screen in 1972 starring Burt Reynolds as Lewis and Jon Voight as Ed, the damage to the South’s reputation was in full force.

The movie, which was primarily filmed in Rabun County in North Georgia during the summer of 1971, grossed about $6.5 million in its first year and was considered a great success at home and internationally.

“Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the thoroughness with which ‘Deliverance,’ transformed by Dickey and director John Boorman into a film classic, has imbricated itself into Americans’ understanding and worldview,” Satterwhite wrote. “From the ubiquitous rendition of the ‘Dueling Banjos’ theme song to allude to danger from hicks to bumper stickers for tourists reading, ‘Paddle faster, I hear banjoes,’ the novel and film have created artifacts that many of us encounter on an almost weekly basis.”

Ironically, the movie’s most memorable line, “Squeal like a pig!” was never a part of the book. It was allegedly improvised by the actor during filming.

But the South wanted to still promote Dickey, an accomplished Atlanta author, so articles in the Columbia Record and other South Carolina and Georgia newspapers frequently featured Dickey’s novel. The film version of “Deliverance” was also honored at the Atlanta film festival.

“Southern hopes for self-promotion were evident at the film’s premiere in Atlanta,” Satterhite wrote. “Dickey leaned over to say to Jimmy Carter, then the governor: ‘Ain’t no junior league movie is it, Governor?’ ‘It’s pretty rough,’ Carter agreed, ‘but it’s good for Georgia.’ Carter paused. ‘It’s good for Georgia. I hope.’”

However, the success of “Deliverance” had such an impact on the Peach State, Carter decided to create a state film office in 1973 to ensure Georgia kept landing movie roles.

As a result, the film and video industry has contributed more than $5 billion to the state’s economy since the Georgia Film Commission was established.

But the release of “Deliverance” was, without question, a difficult time for rural Southerners, wrote Western Kentucky University professor Anthony Harkins, author of “Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon.”

The mountaineers of “Deliverance” were “crippled misfits and savage sodomizers of the North Georgia wilderness” who terrorize the foursome of Atlanta canoeists who simply want to run the rapids of the fictitious Cahulawassee River.

“Indisputably the most influential film of the modern era in shaping national perceptions of southern mountaineers and rural life in general, Deliverance’s portrayal of degenerate, imbecilic, and sexually voracious predators bred fear into several generations of Americans,” Harkins wrote. “As film scholar Pat Arnow only partly facetiously argued in 1991, the film ‘is still the greatest incentive for many non-Southerners to stay on the Interstate.’”

“As film scholar Pat Arnow only partly facetiously argued in 1991, the film ‘is still the greatest incentive for many non-Southerners to stay on the Interstate.’”

In fact, Harkins points out that Daniel Roper of the North Georgia Journal described the movie’s devastating local effect as “Deliverance did for them [North Georgians] what ‘Jaws’ did for sharks.”

“The film’s infamous scenes of sodomy at gunpoint and of a retarded albino boy lustily playing his banjo became such instantly recognizable shorthand for demeaning references to rural poor whites that comedians needed to say only ‘squeal like a pig’ or hum the opening notes of the film’s guitar banjo duet to gain an immediate visceral reaction from a studio audience,” Harkins writes.

Harkins believes that’s not at all what Dickey intended in writing both the book and the movie’s screenplay.

“To (the character) Lewis (and Dickey), the mountain folk’s very backwardness and social isolation has allowed them to retain a physical and mental toughness and to preserve a code of commitment to family and kin that has long ago been lost in the rush to a commodified existence,” Harkins wrote. “Lewis praised the ‘values’ passed down from father to son.”

But all of that meaning appeared to be lost in the film, Harkins wrote. Instead, Hollywood was much more interested in the horrific tale and captivating adventure of traveling down a North Georgia river being chased by crazed hillbillies.

The film was about the shock and fear of such an incident in the rural mountains that enthralled moviegoers.

“The film explicitly portrays Lewis (Burt Reynolds) shooting the rapist through the back with an arrow and the man’s shocked expression as he sees the blood smeared projectile protruding from his chest just before he dies violently,” Harkins wrote.

Surprisingly, Dickey seemed to thoroughly enjoy that scene in the film during the movie’s New York premiere, Harkins writes.

“Known for his outrageous antics and drunken public appearances, (Dickey) is said to have shouted out in the crowded theater, ‘Kill the son of a bitch!’ at the moment Lewis aims his fatal arrow,” Harkins wrote. “And then ‘Hot damn’ once the arrow found its mark.”

Many years later, Ned Beatty, the actor in the famous rape scene wrote an editorial for the New York Times called “Suppose Men Feared Rape.”

“‘Squeal like a pig.’ How many times has that been shouted, said or whispered to me since then?” wrote Beatty, who, according to Atlanta’s Creative Loafing would reply, “When was the last time you got kicked by an old man?”

Beatty wrote the editorial amid the outcry of 1989’s high-profile Central Park jogger rape case, and offered his experience with the snide catcalls, Creative Loafing reported.

“Somewhere between their shouts and my threats lies a kernel of truth about how men feel about rape,” he wrote. “My guess is, we want to be distanced from it. Our last choice would be to identify with the victim. If we felt we could truly be victims of rape, that fear would be a better deterrent than the death penalty.”

The Shock in Rabun County, Georgia

The rape of Ned Beatty’s character was easily the most memorable scene in the film, and, needless to say, many of the residents in Rabun County who were interviewed after the movie was released were less than thrilled.

“Resentment grew even while the film was being made,” Harkins wrote. “As word of how the mountaineers were being portrayed spread, (James Dickey’s son) Christopher Dickey, who was staying with his family in a low-budget motel and had more contact with the local residents acting or working on the set than did Boorman and the lead actors staying in chalets at a nearby golf resort, began to fear for his safety. Shaped by a century of media depictions of brutally violent mountaineers, he worried that some ‘real mountain men’ with ‘real guns’ might ‘teach some of these movie people a lesson.’”

Although many people in the region still bristle at the movie’s portrayal of locals as ignorant hillbillies, there were some major benefits to the book and film.

“That river doesn’t care about you. It’ll knock your brains out. Most of the people going up there don’t know about whitewater rivers. They are just out for a lark, just like those characters in ‘Deliverance.’ They wouldn’t have gone up there if I hadn’t written the book.”

Both helped create the more than $20 million rafting and outdoor sports industry along the Chattooga River in North Georgia.

In 2012, the national media descended on Rabun County again when reporters quickly learned the film’s 40th anniversary was going to be celebrated during the Chattooga River Festival.

“The movie, ‘Deliverance’ made tourist dollars flow into the area, but there was one memorable, horrifying male rape scene that lasted a little more than four minutes, but has lasted 40 years inside the hearts and minds of the people who live here,” CNN reported in 2012.

Rabun County Commissioner Stanley “Butch” Darnell told the media he was disgusted by the way the region was depicted in the film.

“We were portrayed as ignorant, backward, scary, deviant, redneck hillbillies,” he told CNN. “That stuck with us through all these years and in fact that was probably furthest from the truth. These people up here are a very caring, lovely people.”

“There are lots of people in Rabun County that would be just as happy if they never heard the word, ‘Deliverance’ again,” he added.

The news media interviewed everyone, including Rabun County resident Billy Redden, who as a teen was asked to play the “Banjo boy” in the film.

“I don’t think it should bother them. I think they just need to start realizing that it’s just a movie,” Redden, who still lives in Rabun County and works at Walmart, told CNN in 2012. “It’s not like it’s real.”

The Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also pointed out that tourism brings in more than $42 million a year in revenue, which makes for a huge surplus for a county whose operating budget was about $17 million at the time.

Several local businesses embraced the 2012 festival including the owners of the Tallulah Gorge Grill.

The Tallulah Gorge is the very gorge that Jon Voight climbed out of near the end of the 1972 film and the owners of the Tallulah Gorge Grill wanted to celebrate that milestone.

“It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed since this movie first brought fame to the Northeast Georgia Mountains,” Tanya Jacobson-Smith wrote on the grill’s website promoting the festival. “Much has happened over the years here in Rabun County Georgia and around the world. Some good, some bad. Some still believe the movie was a poor portrayal of this county and it’s people. Other’s believe it is at least part of what has helped this region survive.”

Both thoughts are justified, Jacobson-Smith wrote.

“When ‘Deliverance’ was released in 1972, it was for many outside the community their first introduction to the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the ways of the people living and working in their shadow,” she wrote. “Many of us (myself included) saw the breathtaking beauty of this area for the first time via the big screen. We caught a glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabit this place, some good and some not so good. There are those who believe that ‘Deliverance’ made the mountain people seem ‘backwards, uneducated, scary, and even deviant.’ I believe there were also many who, like myself, saw a people of great strength, caring and compassion. A community knit together by hardship, sharing and caring for each other and willing to help anyone who came along.”

She wrote that, as in any community, if people look hard enough and thoroughly examine its residents, they will find some bad, but most often they will find “a greater good that outshines the bad.”

“That is certainly the case here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains,” she wrote. “Most importantly ‘Deliverance’ introduced the world to the natural beauty of this mountain region, the unforgettable sounds of the Appalachian music and the wild excitement of river rafting. Drawn here by what they saw on the big screen, tourists flocked to the area to see and experience for themselves the good things they had seen in the movie.”

As a result, tourists filled hotels and campgrounds to capacity, tasted the local fare in restaurants and cafes and discovered the thrill of swimming in, or paddling on, the state’s beautiful rivers and lakes.

“Forty years later, people from all over the world still come to this area to experience the beauty and simplicity of mountain living,” she wrote. “It is here in these beautiful mountains that ‘strangers’ find a vibrant community of lifelong residents and newcomers, working together to maintain a quality of life that has been lost in much of today’s world.”

Over the years, Rabun County and surrounding North Georgia communities have embraced these changes. Some parts of the area have become a playground for high-end homeowners with multi-million-dollar lakefront property.

But there was also some growing pains.

Thousands of “suburbanites” flocked to the river in search of whitewater thrills and exhibited what author Anthony Harkins calls “the Deliverance syndrome.”

These individuals showed the “same lack of respect and reverence for the river that the characters in the film had displayed,” Harkins wrote, adding “to the shame of local guides, some even would make pig squeals when they reached the section of the river where the rape scene had been filmed.”

Some of those individuals paid a price.

“Seventeen people drowned on the river between 1972 and 1975, most with excessive blood-alcohol levels, until new regulations were imposed when the river was officially designated Wild and Scenic in 1974,” Harkins wrote.

Ironically, some people like to point out that “Deliverance” author James Dickey tried to warn people prior to his death in 1997 about their need to respect the rivers located in the mountains of North Georgia.

“That river doesn’t care about you. It’ll knock your brains out,” Dickey told the Associated Press in 1973. “Most of the people going up there don’t know about whitewater rivers. They are just out for a lark, just like those characters in ‘Deliverance.’ They wouldn’t have gone up there if I hadn’t written the book. There’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t patrol the river. But it just makes me feel awful.”

Voir par ailleurs:

Comment le néolibéralisme détruit les classes moyennes, par Christophe Guilluy

« There is no such thing as society » (« La société, cela n’existe pas »), ce message de Margaret Thatcher de 1987, au plus fort de son pouvoir, vous en tirez le titre de votre dernier livre*. Vous êtes devenu thatchérien ?
Christophe Guilluy : Moi, non. Mais le monde, oui. En tout cas, les pays de l’OCDE, et plus encore les démocraties occidentales, répondent pleinement au projet que la Dame de fer appelait de ses vœux. Partout, trente ans de mondialisation ont agi comme une concasseuse du pacte social issu de l’après-guerre. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale est actée. Et pas seulement en France. Les poussées de populisme aux Etats-Unis, en Italie, et jusqu’en Suède, où le modèle scandinave de la social-démocratie n’est désormais plus qu’une sorte de zombie, en sont les manifestations les plus évidentes. Personne n’ose dire que la fête est finie. On se rassure comme on peut. Le monde académique, le monde politique et médiatique, chacun constate la montée des inégalités, s’inquiète de la hausse de la dette, de celle du chômage, mais se rassure avec quelques points de croissance, et soutient que l’enjeu se résume à la question de l’adaptabilité. Pas celle du monde d’en haut. Les gagnants de la mondialisation, eux, sont parfaitement adaptés à ce monde qu’ils ont contribué à forger. Non, c’est aux anciennes classes moyennes éclatées, reléguées, que s’adresse cette injonction d’adaptation à ce nouveau monde. Parce que, cahin-caha, cela marche, nos économies produisent des inégalités, mais aussi plus de richesses. Mais faire du PIB, ça ne suffit pas à faire société.
Comme géographe, vous avez imposé dans le débat hexagonal la notion de « France périphérique« . Ce n’est pas une de ces fameuses exceptions françaises ?

Election de Trump, Brexit, arrivée au pouvoir d’une coalition improbable liant les héritiers de la Ligue du Nord à ceux d’une partie de l’extrême gauche en Italie. De même qu’il y a une France périphérique, il y a une Amérique périphérique, un Royaume-Uni périphérique, etc. La périphérie, c’est, pour faire simple, ces territoires autour des villes-mondes, rien de moins que le reste du pays. L’agglomération parisienne, le Grand-Londres, les grandes villes côtières américaines, sont autant de territoires parfaitement en phase avec la mondialisation, des sortes de Singapour. Sauf que, contrairement à cette cité-Etat, ces territoires disposent d’un hinterland, d’une périphérie. L’explosion du prix de l’immobilier est la traduction la plus visible de cette communauté de destin de ces citadelles où se concentrent la richesse, les emplois à haute valeur ajoutée, où le capital culturel et financier s’accumule. Cette partition est la traduction spatiale de la notion de ruissellement des richesses du haut vers le bas, des premiers de cordée vers les autres. Dans ce modèle, la richesse créée dans les citadelles doit redescendre vers la périphérie. Trente ans de ce régime n’ont pas laissé nos sociétés intactes. Ce sont d’abord les ouvriers et les agriculteurs qui ont été abandonnés sur le chemin, puis les employés, et c’est maintenant au tour des jeunes diplômés d’être fragilisés. Les plans sociaux ne concernent plus seulement l’industrie mais les services, et même les banques… Dans les territoires de cette France périphérique, la dynamique dépressive joue à plein : à l’effondrement industriel succède celui des emplois présentiels lequel provoque une crise du commerce dans les petites villes et les villes moyennes.

Les gens aux Etats-Unis ou ailleurs ne se sont pas réveillés un beau matin pour se tourner vers le populisme. Non, ils ont fait un diagnostic, une analyse rationnelle : est-ce que ça marche pour eux ou pas. Et, rationnellement, ils n’ont pas trouvé leur compte. Et pas que du point de vue économique. S’il y a une exception française, c’est la victoire d’Emmanuel Macron, quand partout ailleurs les populistes semblent devoir l’emporter.

En quoi la victoire d’Emmanuel Macron est-elle un cas particulier ?

Emmanuel Macron est le candidat du front bourgeois. A Paris, il n’est pas anodin que les soutiens de François Fillon et les partisans de La Manif pour tous du XVIe arrondissement aient voté à 87,3 % pour le candidat du libéralisme culturel, et que leurs homologues bobos du XXe arrondissement, contempteurs de la finance internationale, aient voté à 90 % pour un banquier d’affaires. Mais cela ne fait pas une majorité. Si Emmanuel Macron l’a emporté, c’est qu’il a reçu le soutien de la frange encore protégée de la société française que sont les retraités et les fonctionnaires. Deux populations qui ont lourdement souffert au Royaume-Uni par exemple, comme l’a traduit leur vote pro-Brexit. Et c’est bien là le drame qui se noue en France. Car, parmi les derniers recours dont dispose la technocratie au pouvoir pour aller toujours plus avant vers cette fameuse adaptation, c’est bien de faire les poches des retraités et des fonctionnaires. Emmanuel Macron applique donc méticuleusement ce programme. Il semble récemment pris de vertige par le risque encouru pour les prochaines élections, comme le montre sa courbe de popularité, laquelle se trouve sous celle de François Hollande à la même période de leur quinquennat. Un autre levier, déjà mis en branle par Margaret Thatcher puis par les gouvernements du New Labour de Tony Blair, est la fin de l’universalité de la redistribution et la concentration de la redistribution. Sous couvert de faire plus juste, et surtout de réduire les transferts sociaux, on réduit encore le nombre de professeurs, mais on divise les classes de ZEP en deux, on limite l’accès des classes populaires aux HLM pour concentrer ce patrimoine vers les franges les plus pauvres, et parfois non solvables. De quoi fragiliser le modèle de financement du logement social en France, déjà mis à mal par les dernières réformes, et ouvrir la porte à sa privatisation, comme ce fut le cas dans l’Angleterre thatchérienne.

Cette situation, vous la décrivez comme explosive…

Partout en Europe, dans un contexte de flux migratoire intensifié, ce ciblage des politiques publiques vers les plus pauvres – mais qui est le plus pauvre justement, si ce n’est celui qui vient d’arriver d’un territoire 10 fois moins riche ? – provoque inexorablement un rejet de ce qui reste encore du modèle social redistributif par ceux qui en ont le plus besoin et pour le plus grand intérêt de la classe dominante. C’est là que se noue la double insécurité économique et culturelle. Face au démantèlement de l’Etat-providence, à la volonté de privatiser, les classes populaires mettent en avant leur demande de préserver le bien commun comme les services publics. Face à la dérégulation, la dénationalisation, elles réclament un cadre national, plus sûr moyen de défendre le bien commun. Face à l’injonction de l’hypermobilité, à laquelle elles n’ont de toute façon pas accès, elles ont inventé un monde populaire sédentaire, ce qui se traduit également par une économie plus durable. Face à la constitution d’un monde où s’impose l’indistinction culturelle, elles aspirent à la préservation d’un capital culturel protecteur. Souverainisme, protectionnisme, préservation des services publics, sensibilité aux inégalités, régulation des flux migratoires, sont autant de thématiques qui, de Tel-Aviv à Alger, de Detroit à Milan, dessinent un commun des classes populaires dans le monde. Ce soft power des classes populaires fait parfois sortir de leurs gonds les parangons de la mondialisation heureuse. Hillary Clinton en sait quelque chose. Elle n’a non seulement pas compris la demande de protection des classes populaires de la Rust Belt, mais, en plus, elle les a traités de « déplorables ». Qui veut être traité de déplorable ou, de ce côté-ci de l’Atlantique, de Dupont Lajoie ? L’appartenance à la classe moyenne n’est pas seulement définie par un seuil de revenus ou un travail d’entomologiste des populations de l’Insee. C’est aussi et avant tout un sentiment de porter les valeurs majoritaires et d’être dans la roue des classes dominantes du point de vue culturel et économique. Placées au centre de l’échiquier, ces catégories étaient des références culturelles pour les classes dominantes, comme pour les nouveaux arrivants, les classes populaires immigrées. En trente ans, les classes moyennes sont passées du modèle à suivre, l’american ou l’european way of life, au statut de losers. Il y a mieux comme référents pour servir de modèle d’assimilation. Qui veut ressembler à un plouc, un déplorable… ? Personne. Pas même les nouveaux arrivants. L’ostracisation des classes populaires par la classe dominante occidentale, pensée pour discréditer toute contestation du modèle économique mondialisé – être contre, c’est ne pas être sérieux – a, en outre, largement participé à l’effondrement des modèles d’intégration et in fine à la paranoïa identitaire. L’asociété s’est ainsi imposée partout : crise de la représentation politique, citadéllisation de la bourgeoisie, communautarisation. Qui peut dès lors s’étonner que nos systèmes d’organisation politique, la démocratie, soient en danger ?

Voir aussi:

Guilluy / Smith : démolition médiatique demandée!

Ces intellectuels qui pensent mal et que certains médias exécutent


Depuis la parution de leur dernier livre, Christophe Guilluy et Stephen Smith sont victimes d’une fatwa. Coupables de penser différemment de la majorité de la « communauté scientifique », sur les sujets démographiques et migratoires notamment, ils sont minutieusement disqualifiés médiatiquement. 


Une constante des liquidations professionnelles en sciences sociales est le mélange d’attaques personnelles – on s’en prend à l’auteur, on se livre à une analyse psychologique et idéologique de l’auteur, de son passé, de penchants politiques dont il n’est pas forcement conscient lui-même – et de critiques qui, pour être percutantes, nécessitent de faire des raccourcis ou une lecture partielle, parfois des démonstrations frauduleuses. Au mieux, on le taxe d’imprudence, au pire on l’accuse de faire le jeu du camp du mal et des heures les plus sombres qui ne sont pas toutes derrière nous.

Eux pour tous et tous contre un !

Deux affaires récentes racontent le règlement de compte de deux gêneurs, Stephen Smith et Christophe Guilluy. Le premier a écrit un livre traitant de l’avenir des migrations subsahariennes qui a rencontré un gros succès – La ruée vers l’Europe : La jeune Afrique en route pour le Vieux Continent. Le second vient de publier No Society, la fin de la classe moyenne occidentale, dont certains commentaires laissent à penser qu’il n’a pas été vraiment lu. C’est le cas lorsqu’on lui attribue l’expression « ancienne classe moyenne blanche » qui n’apparaît jamais dans son livre (Libération).

Dans ces deux affaires, un procès en légitimité est fait aux auteurs qui, contrairement à ceux qui les ont pris en grippe, n’auraient pas les compétences nécessaires pour traiter les sujets qu’ils abordent.

Deux solutions pour liquider professionnellement un gêneur : ou on y va seul, mais soutenu par des titres qui rendent la contestation quasiment impossible aux yeux du grand public ou des journalistes, ou, n’écoutant que son courage, on chasse en groupe et on se met à plusieurs pour revendiquer les compétences dont manquerait le fauteur de trouble.

« Vrai » scientifique contre « faux » scientifique

Le procès fait à Stephen Smith relève du premier cas. Le démolisseur, François Héran, est présenté, à tour de rôle ou en même temps, comme philosophe, anthropologue,  sociologue ou démographe, sans oublier ses titres académiques : directeur de l’Ined pendant 10 ans, fraîchement nommé professeur au Collège de France et directeur du tout récent Institut Convergences sur les migrations. Avec tout ça, il ne peut que parler d’or. C’est le syndrome Mister Chance. Si l’on y ajoute le fait que la première salve a été tirée dans une revue de réputation scientifique – Population & Sociétés, le quatre pages de l’Ined – l’effet médiatique est assuré. En effet, le plan de bataille a consisté à frapper fort sur le terrain scientifique, puis à finir le travail dans la presse ou sur internet. Le timing est impeccable. Et si l’accusé se rebelle, l’accusateur est à peu près sûr d’avoir le dernier mot ; un journal ne se risquerait pas à refuser ses pages à un aussi grand savant. Sans compter la reprise en boucle sur internet. Aucun décodeur donc pour voir si la réfutation, dénommée scientifique avec une certaine emphase par son auteur et ceux qui le répètent sans en connaître, tient la route. Pas même les « Décodeurs » du Monde qui titra le 12 septembre 2018 sur la « réponse des démographes », comme si un homme aussi prestigieux – « sociologue, anthropologue et démographe, meilleur spécialiste du sujet » – ne pouvait qu’entraîner l’ensemble de la profession derrière lui. Il faut dire, à la décharge du Monde, que la publication dans la supposée très sérieuse revue Population & sociétés de l’Ined peut le laisser croire.

Permis de tuer

Le succès provient d’abord de la satisfaction idéologique procurée par la dénégation d’un risque de migrations massives en provenance de l’Afrique. Ouf ! On croit tenir là un argument scientifique à opposer aux prophètes de malheur. Une lecture attentive et critique est alors impossible, y compris par les chercheurs en sciences sociales qui en auraient les moyens et dont c’est la mission. C’est ainsi que la sociologue Dominique Méda répondit ceci à Guillaume Erner, l’animateur des Matins de France Culture, qui l’interrogeait lundi 15 octobre sur la nécessité d’un débat avec ceux qui pensent mal (il était question de Christophe Guilluy): « Je pense qu’il faut absolument débattre. Je pense à une autre controverse sur l’immigration, le fait qu’on va être submergés par l’Afrique subsaharienne [là, Guillaume Erner intervient pour préciser qu’il s’agit de Stephen Smith et de François Héran qui ont été tous deux reçus, séparément, dans l’émission]… C’est très bien, évidemment il faut donner autant… Les médias ont un rôle absolument central… dans cette question. Il faut donner autant de place à l’un qu’à l’autre… Et montrer… François Héran a fait une démonstration magistrale pour montrer la fausseté des thèses du premier. Donc il faut absolument débattre. »

Cette déclaration de Dominique Méda est intéressante car elle dénote une conception du débat  particulière – débattre, oui, à condition d’être sûr d’écraser son adversaire – et un aveuglement sur les qualités scientifiques de la démonstration de François Héran, qu’elle qualifie de magistrale. Elle a donc privilégié sa satisfaction idéologique à l’interrogation scientifique qui aurait pu l’alerter sur le caractère frauduleux de la démonstration magistrale en question.

On ne « fact-check » pas les bons scientifiques !

J’ai la chance de porter un intérêt aux questions méthodologiques et d’avoir déjà exercé cet intérêt sur les écrits antérieurs de François Héran. Mais, comme on va le voir, la critique était à la portée d’un lecteur ordinaire. François Héran fait l’hypothèse, dans sa démonstration magistrale, qu’il existe un rapport fixe dans le temps entre la population résidant en Afrique subsaharienne et celle d’immigrés de cette origine résidant en Europe, et donc en France. Si la population subsaharienne double d’ici 2050, celle vivant en France doublerait aussi.

La première question à se poser est : est-ce que cette relation repose sur une observation antérieure ? Les instituts de statistiques, lorsqu’ils élaborent des projections, apportent un soin tout particulier à quantifier ce qui s’est passé avant le démarrage de la projection. Il serait, à cet égard, utile d’avoir l’avis de l’Insee qui réalise les projections de population pour la France sur la méthode de projection de François Héran.

Que disent donc les observations rétrospectives de ce rapport supposé fixe par François Héran ? De 1982 à 2015, la population immigrée d’Afrique hors Maghreb a été multipliée par 5,1 en France, alors qu’elle ne l’a été que par 2,4 en Afrique hors Maghreb. L’hypothèse à la base de la démonstration magistrale est donc fausse et conditionne entièrement la conclusion qu’en tire François Héran. Ce raisonnement était à la portée de tous, a fortiori des sept membres du comité de rédaction de Population & Sociétés, dont le rédacteur en chef Gilles Pison. Là aussi, la satisfaction idéologique et le fait que tous partagent la même idéologie ont prévalu sur l’esprit critique attendu d’un comité de rédaction. C’est même la partie de l’histoire qui m’attriste le plus : les relecteurs de la revue de vulgarisation de l’Ined, institut public de recherche scientifique, n’y ont vu que du feu.

Je passe ici sur la morgue et le mépris affichés à l’égard de Stephen Smith dans d’autres publications. Cette exécution s’est faite au prix d’une simplification outrancière de son livre qui, rappelons-le, présente, en conclusion, cinq scénarios qui ne se réduisent pas à celui critiqué par François Héran dans lequel Stephen Smith se demande ce qui se passerait si l’Afrique subsaharienne rejoignait en trente ans un niveau de développement équivalent à celui du Mexique.

« Je ne veux pas dire que Christophe Guilluy serait mandaté par le RN, mais… »

Dans le cas de Christophe Guilluy, traité par le géographe, Jacques Lévy, invité le 9 octobre des Matins de Guillaume Erner sur France Culture, d’ « idéologue géographe du Rassemblement national », ce sont vingt-et-un géographes, historiens, sociologues, politistes, membres de la rédaction de la revue Métropolitiques, qui se sont chargés de l’exécution pour la partie scientifique, quand Thibaut Sardier, journaliste à Libération se chargeait du reste consistant, pour l’essentiel, à trouver une cohérence à des potins glanés auprès de personnes ayant côtoyé Christophe Guilluy ou ayant un avis sur lui.

La tribune des vingt-et-un s’intitule « Inégalités territoriales : parlons-en ! » On est tenté d’ajouter : « Oui, mais entre nous ! ». On se demande si les signataires ont lu le livre qu’ils attaquent, tant la critique sur le fond est générale et superficielle. Ils lui reprochent d’abord le succès de sa France périphérique qui a trouvé trop d’échos, à leur goût, dans la presse, mais aussi auprès des politiques, de gauche comme de droite. Pour le collectif de Métropolitiques, Christophe Guilluy est un démagogue et un prophète de malheur qui, lorsqu’il publie des cartes et des statistiques, use « d’oripeaux scientifiques » pour asséner des « arguments tronqués ou erronés », « fausses vérités » qui ont des « effets performatifs ». Christophe Guilluy aurait donc fait naître ce qu’il décrit, alimentant ainsi « des visions anxiogènes de la France ». Ce collectif se plaint de l’écho donné par la presse aux livres de Christophe Guilluy qui soutient des « théories nocives », alors que ses membres si vertueux, si modestes, si rigoureux et si honnêtes intellectuellement sont si peu entendus et que « le temps presse ». Le même collectif aurait, d’après Thibaut Sardier, déclaré que l’heure n’était plus aux attaques ad hominem ! On croit rêver.

Thibaut Sardier, pour la rubrique « potins », présente Christophe Guilluy comme un « consultant et essayiste […], géographe de formation [qui] a la réputation de refuser les débats avec des universitaires ou les interviews dans certains journaux, comme Libé ». L’expression « géographe de formation » revient dans le texte pour indiquer au lecteur qu’il aurait tort de considérer Christophe Guilluy comme un professionnel de la géographie au même titre que ceux qui figurent dans le collectif, qualifiés de chercheurs, ou que Jacques Lévy. Je cite : « Le texte de Métropolitiques fait écho aux relations houleuses entre l’essayiste, géographe de formation, et les chercheurs. » Si l’on en croit Thibaut Sardier, Christophe Guilluy aurait le temps d’avoir des relations avec LES chercheurs en général. Le même Thibaut Sardier donne à Jacques Lévy, le vrai géographe, l’occasion de préciser sa pensée : « Je ne veux pas dire qu’il serait mandaté par le RN. Mais sa vision de la France et de la société correspond à celle de l’électorat du parti. » Le journaliste a tendance à lui donner raison. La preuve : « La place qu’il accorde à la question identitaire et aux travaux de Michèle Tribalat, cités à droite pour défendre l’idée d’un ‘grand remplacement’ plaide en ce sens. » Thibaut Sardier se fiche pas mal de ce que j’ai pu effectivement écrire – il n’a probablement jamais lu aucun de mes articles ou de mes livres – tout en incitant incidemment le lecteur à l’imiter, compte tenu du danger qu’il encourrait s’il le faisait. Ce qui compte, c’est que je sois lue et citée par les mauvaises personnes.

« Peut-on débattre avec Christophe Guilluy ? »

Ne pas croire non plus à l’affiliation à gauche de Christophe Guilluy. Le vrai géographe en témoigne : « On ne peut être progressiste si on ne reconnaît pas le fait urbain et la disparition des sociétés rurales. » Voilà donc des propos contestant l’identité politique que Christophe Guilluy pourrait se donner pour lui en attribuer une autre, de leur choix, et qui justifie son excommunication, à une époque où il est devenu pourtant problématique d’appeler Monsieur une personne portant une moustache et ayant l’air d’être un homme !

Et l’on reproche à Christophe Guilluy de ne pas vouloir débattre avec ceux qui l’écrasent de leur mépris, dans un article titré, c’est un comble, « Peut-on débattre avec Christophe Guilluy ? » Mais débattre suppose que l’on considère celui auquel on va parler comme son égal et non comme une sorte d’indigent intellectuel que l’on est obligé de prendre en compte, de mauvais gré, simplement parce que ses idées ont du succès et qu’il faut bien combattre les théories nocives qu’il développe.

Voir encore:

Peut-on débattre avec Christophe Guilluy ?

Thibaut Sardier

Le géographe, théoricien de la «France périphérique», annonce dans son dernier essai la disparition de la classe moyenne occidentale. Celui qui avait ouvert une réflexion intéressante sur les inégalités de territoires a radicalisé son discours. Quitte à refuser toute controverse ?

Consultant et essayiste, Christophe Guilluy, géographe de formation, a la réputation de refuser les débats avec des universitaires ou les interviews dans certains journaux, comme Libé. Pourtant, il y a matière à discussion. Son dernier livre, No Society (Flammarion, 2018), élargit à l’Occident des réflexions auparavant centrées sur la France et explique que les classes moyennes ont disparu, créant des sociétés de plus en plus polarisées. D’un côté, Guilluy distingue des dominants vainqueurs de la mondialisation, volontairement retranchés à l’abri des grandes métropoles. De l’autre, l’ancienne classe moyenne blanche, appauvrie, se trouve selon lui reléguée dans les espaces ruraux et périurbains, ce que Guilluy englobe sous le terme «France périphérique» quand il ne s’intéresse qu’à l’Hexagone. Ces perdants de la mondialisation conserveraient toutefois un soft power dont on trouve la trace dans la victoire de Trump et des partis populistes européens, qui défendraient les sujets jusqu’ici négligés par les élites : «Souverainisme, protectionnisme, préservation des services publics, refus des inégalités, régulation des flux migratoires, frontières, ces thématiques dessinent un commun, celui des classes populaires dans le monde», écrit-il.

A ses contradicteurs, Guilluy oppose une fin de non-recevoir. Il invite à ne pas écouter «les médias» et «le monde académique», dont le discours a pour seul but de légitimer les dominants. A plus forte raison s’ils tentent d’introduire de la nuance : «Cette rhétorique […] vise à mettre en avant la complexité pour mieux occulter le réel. Dans ce schéma, les classes populaires n’existent pas, la France périphérique non plus.»

Certains tentent pourtant le débat contradictoire. Dans la tribune qu’ils signent, les membres de la revue en ligne Métropolitiques, spécialisée dans les questions d’aménagement urbain, appellent à des débats sur les enjeux socio-spatiaux que connaissent nos sociétés. Rédacteur en chef de la revue, Aurélien Delpirou (1) justifie l’initiative : «Les débats sont préemptés par quelques figures devenues référentes pour les médias et pour les politiques. Il y a un grand décalage entre les idées qu’ils véhiculent et les savoirs académiques.» Premier objectif : critiquer les éléments qui fondent le raisonnement de Guilluy. Membre de Métropolitiques, la sociologue Anaïs Collet montre la difficulté à parler de disparition de la classe moyenne en France : «Même si on se limite aux « professions intermédiaires » de l’Insee, qui en forment le cœur incontestable pour les définir, les classes moyennes regroupent encore un quart des actifs, une proportion qui reste en croissance.» La chercheuse réfute aussi l’hypothèse d’un décrochage des classes moyennes d’hier, qui seraient devenues les classes populaires d’aujourd’hui : «Depuis trente ans, les enfants des professions intermédiaires sont la catégorie qui a le plus progressé parmi les diplômés du supérieur, même si les plus fragiles sont effectivement en difficulté.»

Mais la controverse entre Guilluy et le monde universitaire dépasse les enjeux scientifiques, elle concerne aussi les questions politiques. Organisé autour de l’idée que «Guilluy contribue, avec d’autres, à alimenter des visions anxiogènes de la France», le texte de Métropolitiques fait écho aux relations houleuses entre l’essayiste, géographe de formation, et les chercheurs. Le 9 octobre sur France Culture, Jacques Lévy le présentait comme un «idéologue géographe du Rassemblement national». Le géographe précise à Libération : «Je ne veux pas dire qu’il serait mandaté par le RN. Mais sa vision de la France et de la société correspond à celle de l’électorat du parti.» Dans No Society, la place qu’il accorde à la question identitaire et aux travaux de Michèle Tribalat, cités à droite pour défendre l’idée d’un «grand remplacement», plaide en ce sens. Difficile pourtant de situer politiquement Guilluy. Docteur en géographie, Laurent Chalard a retracé les étapes de sa réception politique. Il rappelle que ses premières tribunes furent publiées dans des journaux de gauche comme Libé dans les années 2000, et qu’il fut reçu à l’Elysée tant par Nicolas Sarkozy que par François Hollande. «Il a un fort prisme marxiste, avec la grande place donnée aux classes sociales, mais aussi une influence chevènementiste, avec un attachement à la souveraineté nationale», précise Chalard. Pour Lévy, l’opposition nette qu’il opère entre des métropoles mondialisées et des périphéries héritières de la France rurale le rattache à un courant conservateur. «On ne peut être progressiste si on ne reconnaît pas le fait urbain et la disparition des sociétés rurales», explique Lévy.

A la question politique s’ajoute celle de la médiatisation. «Sa médiatisation débute en 2011-2012, lorsque ses thèses sont reprises par Sarkozy,explique Chalard. Cela suscite une méfiance vis-à-vis de Guilluy, qui n’a pas de doctorat et se tient à l’écart du monde universitaire. Certains mandarins estiment que ce sont eux qui devraient avoir voix au chapitre.» A rebours des premiers ouvrages comme l’Atlas des nouvelles fractures françaises ou Fractures françaises, plutôt bien accueillis par nombre d’universitaires qui disent y avoir trouvé des pistes de réflexion, ceux parus à partir de 2014 sont jugés plus polémiques et scientifiquement peu fondés, ce qui débouche sur un «Guilluy bashing» parfois jugé excessif. C’est le cas de Pierre Veltz, économiste et sociologue : «Même s’il n’était pas le premier, il a pointé le fait que les groupes en difficulté ne se trouvent pas uniquement dans les banlieues, qu’il y avait aussi un décrochage dans les périphéries (2)», analyse-t-il avant de nuancer : «Mais contrairement à ce qu’il dit, les fractures sociales traversent les territoires.» Même constat pour l’économiste Laurent Davezies : «Il s’est fait lyncher. Cela l’a poussé à radicaliser son discours.»

Avec ses deux derniers ouvrages, c’est bien cette «radicalisation» qui pose problème, car elle diffuse une vision pessimiste des questions sociales et spatiales qui, par son succès médiatique, devient une prophétie autoréalisatrice. «Après dix ans à répéter les mêmes termes, vous construisez une réalité», explique l’économiste Frédéric Gilli, membre de Métropolitiques. Or, d’autres lectures sont possibles : «En France, les inégalités sont relativement contenues, grâce notamment à la redistribution. Elles sont bien plus fortes dans les pays anglo-saxons ou les pays émergents», souligne Veltz. Christophe Guilluy répondrait sans doute que son dernier livre s’intéresse désormais à tout l’Occident.

Pour l’équipe de Métropolitiques, qui signe la tribune, l’heure n’est plus aux attaques ad hominem. Il ne s’agit pas de refuser à Guilluy sa légitimité à parler, mais de revendiquer la possibilité de débattre pour élaborer une vision plus pertinente du territoire : «La France a longtemps construit son imaginaire territorial autour des campagnes, par opposition à la ville. Malgré l’urbanisation du territoire, nous sommes restés dans ce mode binaire», explique Gilli, qui espère ainsi «une société plus apaisée». Pour cela, il faudra poursuivre les efforts de vulgarisation, dans les médias, «mais aussi dans nos cours, où nous ne cessons de vulgariser les connaissances», souligne Collet. Un défi : il est plus délicat d’émettre des idées complexes que des oppositions binaires entre dominants et dominés, ou entre métropoles et espaces périphériques. Pas facile de nuancer l’idée d’un crépuscule de la France sans nier pour autant les difficultés des territoires.

(1) Trois signataires de la tribune sont cités dans cet article : Aurélien Delpirou, Anaïs Collet et Frédéric Gilli.

(2) La France invisible de Stéphane Beaud, Joseph Confavreux, Jade Lindgaard (La Découverte, 2006).

Voir enfin:

Face au Brexit, à Trump, aux populismes, le Front des bourgeoisies sort les crocs

«There is no society» : la société, ça n’existe pas. C’est en octobre 1987 que Margaret Thatcher prononce ces mots. Depuis, son message a été entendu par l’ensemble des classes dominantes occidentales. Voyage dans l’histoire du scandale de la destruction des classes moyennes, avec « No Society », le dernier livre de Christophe Guilluy, publié chez Flammarion. Extrait 1/2.

Représentantes autoproclamées de la société ouverte et du vivre-ensemble, les classes dominantes et supérieures du XXIe siècle ont réalisé en quelques décennies ce qu’aucune bourgeoisie n’avait réussi auparavant : se mettre à distance, sans conflit ni violence, des classes populaires. La citadellisation, que la technostructure appelle « métropolisation », n’est que la forme géographique du processus de sécession des bourgeoisies au temps de la mondialisation.

Une bourgeoisie asociale

L’arnaque de la société ou de la ville ouverte offre au monde d’en haut une supériorité morale qui lui permet de dissimuler la réalité de son repli géographique et culturel. L’« open society » est certainement la plus grande fake news de ces dernières décennies. En réalité, la société ouverte et mondialisée est bien celle du repli du monde d’en haut sur ses bastions, ses emplois, ses richesses. Abritée dans ses citadelles, la bourgeoisie « progressiste » du XXIe siècle a mis le peuple à distance et n’entend plus prendre en charge ses besoins. L’objectif est désormais de jouir des bienfaits de la mondialisation sans contraintes nationales, sociales, fiscales, culturelles… et, peut-être, demain, biologiques.

En 1979, l’historien et sociologue Christopher Lasch révélait comment la culture du narcissisme et de l’égoïsme allait conduire l’Amérique à sa ruine antisociale. Il dessinait déjà avec précision le portrait d’une nouvelle bourgeoisie asociale, et notamment son incapacité à évoluer et à interagir en dehors de ses propres réseaux. Inadaptée à la vie en société, elle vit aujourd’hui totalement dans le déni de la réalité des classes populaires.

On comprend dans ce contexte que l’émergence du monde des périphéries populaires et la menace qu’elle fait peser aient provoqué un tel vent de panique dans le monde d’en haut. Un petit monde de plus en plus fermé qui semble désormais tenté par la fuite de Varennes.

Vent de panique : le front des bourgeoisies

La vague populiste qui traverse l’Occident a déclenché un mouvement de panique sans précédent au sein de la classe dominante. Rappelons-nous par exemple les réactions politiques, médiatiques, académiques suscitées par le vote en faveur du Brexit ou l’élection de Donald Trump. Insultes, refus affichés des résultats électoraux : le comportement des classes dominantes et supérieures a révélé tous les symptômes de l’hystérie d’une bourgeoisie asociale. Découvrant la fragilité de sa position, le monde d’en haut a réagi en faisant front et en renforçant sa bunkerisation.

Extrait de No Society, Christophe Guilluy, Flammarion, 2018.

Comment l’Etat, et donc les hommes politiques, sont devenus dépendants des marchés financiers

«There is no society» : la société, ça n’existe pas. C’est en octobre 1987 que Margaret Thatcher prononce ces mots. Depuis, son message a été entendu par l’ensemble des classes dominantes occidentales. Voyage dans l’histoire du scandale de la destruction des classes moyennes, avec « No Society », le dernier livre de Christophe Guilluy, publié chez Flammarion. Extrait 2/2.

Atlantico

L’abandon du bien commun accompagne fatalement le processus de sécession du monde d’en haut. Ne pouvant assumer politiquement cette démission, et notamment le démantèlement d’un État-providence jugé trop coûteux, les classes dominantes ont créé les conditions de leur impuissance à réguler, à protéger. Cela passe par une dépendance accrue au système bancaire et aux normes supranationales du modèle mondialisé. Peu à peu, les marges de manœuvre des pouvoirs publics et politiques se sont ainsi réduites. Cet affaiblissement progressif de la gouvernance politique et sociale permet aujourd’hui de justifier la fuite en avant économique et sociétale promue par des classes dominantes désormais irresponsables.

Créer les conditions de l’impuissance des pouvoirs publics

Depuis des décennies, la classe dominante n’a de cesse de déplorer les conséquences d’un modèle économique et sociétal qu’elle promeut par ailleurs avec constance. Elle plébiscite par exemple un modèle fondé sur la division internationale du travail qui condamne les classes populaires occidentales, mais feint de déplorer l’explosion du chômage et de la précarité. Elle abandonne sa souveraineté monétaire à la Commission européenne et aux marchés financiers mais s’inquiète aujourd’hui de l’explosion de la dette et de la dépendance des États aux banques.

Si les effets de la « loi de 1973 » font débat (entre libéraux et antilibéraux de gauche et de droite) et qu’elle n’est évidemment pas la cause unique de l’envolée de l’endettement français (les emprunts d’État existaient avant 1973), elle a néanmoins contribué à créer les conditions d’un renforcement de la dépendance aux marchés financiers. Cette loi, inspirée de la Réserve fédérale américaine, interdit à la Banque centrale de faire des avances au Trésor français, c’est-à-dire de prêter de l’argent à l’État à un taux équivalent à zéro. Obligé de financer son endettement par des emprunts aux banques privées, l’État perd alors une part essentielle de sa souveraineté. Ce mécanisme, opérationnel dans l’ensemble des pays développés, a permis à l’industrie de la finance de prendre le contrôle de l’économie, mais aussi du monde politique. La suite est connue. La dépendance à l’industrie de la finance plonge les États dans la spirale de la dette en justifiant la nécessité d’une baisse des dépenses publiques et à terme le démantèlement de l’État-providence. Protégé par son impuissance, le très rebelle François Hollande pouvait déclarer sans risque : « Mon ennemi, c’est la finance », et suggérer une hypothétique reprise en main du politique sur la banque (la fameuse promesse de la séparation entre les banques de dépôts et les banques d’affaires), il savait que cette proposition transgressive ne serait jamais suivie d’effet.


Affaire Kashoggi: Cherchez l’erreur ! (Guess on which country the heroic and now martyred Muslim brotherhood liberal reformer who sought freedom for the Arab world cheered Hamas’ war ?)

20 octobre, 2018
saudi-flagLa récompense de ceux qui font la guerre contre Allah et Son messager, et qui s’efforcent de semer la corruption sur la terre, c’est qu’ils soient tués, ou crucifiés, ou que soient coupées leur main et leur jambe opposées, ou qu’ils soient expulsés du pays. Ce sera pour eux l’ignominie ici-bas; et dans l’au-delà, il y aura pour eux un énorme châtiment, excepté ceux qui se sont repentis avant de tomber en votre pouvoir: sachez qu’alors, Allah est Pardonneur et Miséricordieux. Le Coran (sourate 5: 33-34)
La démocratie et ses fondements jusqu’à aujourd’hui peuvent être perçus à la fois comme une fin en soi ou un moyen. Selon nous la démocratie est seulement un moyen. Si vous voulez entrer dans n’importe quel système, l’élection est un moyen. La démocratie est comme un tramway, il va jusqu’où vous voulez aller, et là vous descendezErdogan
On ne peut pas être musulman et laïque en même temps (…). Le milliard et demi de musulmans attend que le peuple turc se soulève. Nous allons nous soulever. Avec la permission d’Allah, la rébellion va commencer. Erdogan  (1992)
Notre démocratie est uniquement le train dans lequel nous montons jusqu’à ce que nous ayons atteint notre objectif. Les mosquées sont nos casernes, les minarets sont nos baïonnettes, les coupoles nos casques et les croyants nos soldats. Erdogan (1997)
L’expression ‘islam modéré’ est laide et offensante,  il n’y a pas d’islam modéré. L’Islam est l’Islam. Erdogan (2007)
Personne ne peut vous demander d’être assimilés. Pour moi, le fait de demander l’assimilation est un crime contre l’humanité. Erdogan (Paris, avril 2010)
La Turquie a besoin d’un nouvel esprit de conquête. Grâce à ce parc, nos enfants regarderont vers le futur à travers notre glorieuse histoire. Erdogan (inauguration du musée Panorama 1453)
Ni la mosquée d’Al Aksa, ni le tombeau du prophète Ibrahim ni la tombe de Rachel n’ont été et ne seront jamais des sites juifs, mais uniquement musulmans. Erdogan (mars 2010)
Nearly 15 years on, Huntington’s thesis about a civilizational clash seems more compelling to me than the critique I provided at that time. In recent years, for example, the edifice of Kemalism has come under assault, and Turkey has now elected an Islamist to the presidency in open defiance of the military-bureaucratic elite. There has come that “redefinition” that Huntington prophesied. To be sure, the verdict may not be quite as straightforward as he foresaw. The Islamists have prevailed, but their desired destination, or so they tell us, is still Brussels: in that European shelter, the Islamists shrewdly hope they can find protection against the power of the military. (…) Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.) I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young. More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision. Fouad Ajami
There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no « hearts and minds » to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq’s oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power. (…) America ought to be able to live with this distrust and discount a good deal of this anti-Americanism as the « road rage » of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds. There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects. Fouad Ajami
The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. Fouad Ajami
The Iraqis needn’t trumpet the obvious fact in broad daylight, but the balance of power in the Persian Gulf would be altered for the better by a security arrangement between the United States and the government in Baghdad. (…) There remains, of course, the pledge given by presidential candidate Barack Obama that a President Obama would liquidate the American military role in Iraq by the end of 2011. That pledge was one of the defining themes of his bid for the presidency, and it endeared him to the “progressives” within his own party, who had been so agitated and mobilized against the Iraq war. But Barack Obama is now the standard-bearer of America’s power. He has broken with the “progressives” over Afghanistan, the use of drones in Pakistan, Guantánamo, military tribunals, and a whole host of national security policies that have (nearly) blurred the line between his policies and those of his predecessor. The left has grumbled, but, in the main, it has bowed to political necessity. At any rate, the fury on the left that once surrounded the Iraq war has been spent; a residual American presence in Iraq would fly under the radar of the purists within the ranks of the Democratic Party. (…) The enemy will have a say on how things will play out for American forces in Iraq. Iran and its Iraqi proxies can be expected to do all they can to make the American presence as bloody and costly as possible. A long, leaky border separates Iran from Iraq; movement across it is quite easy for Iranian agents and saboteurs. They can come in as “pilgrims,” and there might be shades of Lebanon in the 1980s, big deeds of terror that target the American forces.  (…) Even in the best of worlds, an American residual presence in Iraq will have its costs and heartbreak. But the United States will have to be prepared for and accept the losses and adversity that are an integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting. Fouad Ajami
L’argument selon lequel la liberté ne peut venir que de l’intérieur et ne peut être offerte à des peuples lointains est bien plus fausse que l’on croit. Dans toute l’histoire moderne, la fortune de la liberté a toujours dépendu de la volonté de la ou des puissances dominantes du moment. Le tout récemment disparu professeur Samuel P. Huntington avait développé ce point de la manière la plus détaillée. Dans 15 des 29 pays démocratiques en 1970, les régimes démocratiques avaient été soit initiés par une puissance étrangère soit étaient le produit de l’indépendance contre une occupation étrangère. (…) Tout au long du flux et du reflux de la liberté, la puissance est toujours restée importante et la liberté a toujours eu besoin de la protection de grandes puissances. Le pouvoir d’attraction des pamphlets de Mill, Locke et Paine était fondé sur les canons de la Pax Britannica, et sur la force de l’Amérique quand la puissance britannique a flanché.  (…) L’ironie est maintenant évidente: George W. Bush comme force pour l’émancipation des terres musulmanes et Barack Hussein Obama en messager des bonnes vieilles habitudes. Ainsi c’est le plouc qui porte au monde le message que les musulmans et les Arabes n’ont pas la tyrannie dans leur ADN et l’homme aux fragments musulmans, kenyans et indonésiens dans sa propre vie et son identité qui annonce son acceptation de l’ordre établi. Mr. Obama pourrait encore reconnaître l’impact révolutionnaire de la diplomatie de son prédecesseur mais jusqu’à présent il s’est refusé à le faire. (…) Son soutien au  » processus de paix » est un retour à la diplomatie stérile des années Clinton, avec sa croyance que le terrorisme prend sa source dans les revendications des Palestiniens. M. Obama et ses conseillers se sont gardés d’affirmer que le terrorisme a disparu, mais il y a un message indubitable donné par eux que nous pouvons retourner à nos propres affaires, que Wall Street est plus mortel et dangereux que la fameuse  » rue Arabo-Musulmane ».  Fouad Ajami
L’Arabie Saoudite n’est rien d’autre qu’un Daesh qui a réussi. Éric Zemmour
Daesh noir, Daesh blanc. Le premier égorge, tue, lapide, coupe les mains, détruit le patrimoine de l’humanité, et déteste l’archéologie, la femme et l’étranger non musulman. Le second est mieux habillé et plus propre, mais il fait la même chose. L’Etat islamique et l’Arabie saoudite. Dans sa lutte contre le terrorisme, l’Occident mène la guerre contre l’un tout en serrant la main de l’autre. Mécanique du déni, et de son prix. On veut sauver la fameuse alliance stratégique avec l’Arabie saoudite tout en oubliant que ce royaume repose sur une autre alliance, avec un clergé religieux qui produit, rend légitime, répand, prêche et défend le wahhabisme, islamisme ultra-puritain dont se nourrit Daesh. (…) L’Arabie saoudite est un Daesh qui a réussi. Le déni de l’Occident face à ce pays est frappant: on salue cette théocratie comme un allié et on fait mine de ne pas voir qu’elle est le principal mécène idéologique de la culture islamiste. Les nouvelles générations extrémistes du monde dit « arabe » ne sont pas nées djihadistes. Elles ont été biberonnées par la Fatwa Valley, espèce de Vatican islamiste avec une vaste industrie produisant théologiens, lois religieuses, livres et politiques éditoriales et médiatiques agressives. (…) Il faut vivre dans le monde musulman pour comprendre l’immense pouvoir de transformation des chaines TV religieuses sur la société par le biais de ses maillons faibles : les ménages, les femmes, les milieux ruraux. La culture islamiste est aujourd’hui généralisée dans beaucoup de pays — Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Egypte, Mali, Mauritanie. On y retrouve des milliers de journaux et des chaines de télévision islamistes (comme Echourouk et Iqra), ainsi que des clergés qui imposent leur vision unique du monde, de la tradition et des vêtements à la fois dans l’espace public, sur les textes de lois et sur les rites d’une société qu’ils considèrent comme contaminée. Il faut lire certains journaux islamistes et leurs réactions aux attaques de Paris. On y parle de l’Occident comme site de « pays impies »; les attentats sont la conséquence d’attaques contre l’Islam ; les musulmans et les arabes sont devenus les ennemis des laïcs et des juifs. On y joue sur l’affect de la question palestinienne, le viol de l’Irak et le souvenir du trauma colonial pour emballer les masses avec un discours messianique. Alors que ce discours impose son signifiant aux espaces sociaux, en haut, les pouvoirs politiques présentent leurs condoléances à la France et dénoncent un crime contre l’humanité. Une situation de schizophrénie totale, parallèle au déni de l’Occident face à l’Arabie Saoudite. Ceci laisse sceptique sur les déclarations tonitruantes des démocraties occidentales quant à la nécessité de lutter contre le terrorisme. Cette soi-disant guerre est myope car elle s’attaque à l’effet plutôt qu’à la cause. Daesh étant une culture avant d’être une milice, comment empêcher les générations futures de basculer dans le djihadisme alors qu’on n’a pas épuisé l’effet de la Fatwa Valley, de ses clergés, de sa culture et de son immense industrie éditoriale? Kamel Daoud
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world. Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries? No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule. Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies. There is no one single overarching explanation for that tapestry of horrors in Syria and Iraq, where in the last five years more than a quarter of a million people perished, where famed cities like Aleppo, Homs and Mosul were visited by the modern terror of Assad’s chemical weapons and the brutal violence of the Islamic State. How could Syria tear itself apart and become—like Spain in the 1930s—the arena for Arabs and Muslims to re-fight their old civil wars? The war waged by the Syrian regime against civilians in opposition areas combined the use of Scud missiles, anti-personnel barrel bombs as well as medieval tactics against towns and neighborhoods such as siege and starvation. For the first time since the First World War, Syrians were dying of malnutrition and hunger. Iraq’s story in the last few decades is a chronicle of a death foretold. The slow death began with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision to invade Iran in September 1980. Iraqis have been living in purgatory ever since with each war giving birth to another. In the midst of this suspended chaos, the U.S. invasion in 2003 was merely a catalyst that allowed the violent chaos to resume in full force. The polarizations in Syria and Iraq—political, sectarian and ethnic—are so deep that it is difficult to see how these once-important countries could be restored as unitary states. In Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s 42-year reign of terror rendered the country politically desolate and fractured its already tenuous unity. The armed factions that inherited the exhausted country have set it on the course of breaking up—again, unsurprisingly—along tribal and regional fissures. Yemen has all the ingredients of a failed state: political, sectarian, tribal, north-south divisions, against the background of economic deterioration and a depleted water table that could turn it into the first country in the world to run out of drinking water. Bahrain is maintaining a brittle status quo by the force of arms of its larger neighbors, mainly Saudi Arabia. Lebanon, dominated by Hezbollah, arguably the most powerful non-state actor in the world—before the rise of the Islamic State—could be dragged fully to the maelstrom of Syria’s multiple civil wars by the Assad regime, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah as well as the Islamic State. (….) The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk—what was left of a broken-down civilization. They are a gruesome manifestation of a deeper malady afflicting Arab political culture, which was stagnant, repressive and patriarchal after the decades of authoritarian rule that led to the disastrous defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. That defeat sounded the death knell of Arab nationalism and the resurgence of political Islam, which projected itself as the alternative to the more secular ideologies that had dominated the Arab republics since the Second World War. If Arab decline was the problem, then “Islam is the solution,” the Islamists said—and they believed it. At their core, both political currents—Arab nationalism and Islamism—are driven by atavistic impulses and a regressive outlook on life that is grounded in a mostly mythologized past. Many Islamists, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (the wellspring of such groups)—whether they say it explicitly or hint at it—are still on a ceaseless quest to resurrect the old Ottoman Caliphate. Still more radical types—the Salafists—yearn for a return to the puritanical days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims. And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy. From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just or a practitioner of good governance. The short rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the presidency of Mohamed Morsi was no exception. The Brotherhood tried to monopolize power, hound and intimidate the opposition and was driving the country toward a dangerous impasse before a violent military coup ended the brief experimentation with Islamist rule. Like the Islamists, the Arab nationalists—particularly the Baathists—were also fixated on a “renaissance” of past Arab greatness, which had once flourished in the famed cities of Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Córdoba in Al-Andalus, now Spain. These nationalists believed that Arab language and culture (and to a lesser extent Islam) were enough to unite disparate entities with different levels of social, political and cultural development. They were in denial that they lived in a far more diverse world. Those minorities that resisted the primacy of Arab identity were discriminated against, denied citizenship and basic rights, and in the case of the Kurds in Iraq were subjected to massive repression and killings of genocidal proportion. Under the guise of Arab nationalism the modern Arab despot (Saddam, Qaddafi, the Assads) emerged. But these men lived in splendid solitude, detached from their own people. (…) The dictators, always unpopular, opened the door to the Islamists’ rise when they proved just as incompetent as the monarchs they had replaced. That, again, came in 1967 after the crushing defeat of Nasserite Egypt and Baathist Syria at the hands of Israel. From that moment on Arab politics began to be animated by various Islamist parties and movements. The dictators, in their desperation to hold onto their waning power, only became more brutal in the 1980s and ‘90s. But the Islamists kept coming back in new and various shapes and stripes, only to be crushed again ever more ferociously. The year 1979 was a watershed moment for political Islam. An Islamic revolution exploded in Iran, provoked in part by decades of Western support for the corrupt shah. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and a group of bloody zealots occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks. After these cataclysmic events political Islam became more atavistic in its Sunni manifestations and more belligerent in its Shia manifestations. Saudi Arabia, in order to reassert its fundamentalist “wahhabi” ethos, became stricter in its application of Islamic law, and increased its financial aid to ultraconservative Islamists and their schools throughout the world. The Islamization of the war in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation—a project organized and financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan—triggered a tectonic change in the political map of South Asia and the Middle East. The Afghan war was the baptism of fire for terrorist outfits like the Egyptian Islamic Group and al Qaeda, the progenitors of the Islamic State. This decades-long struggle for legitimacy between the dictators and the Islamists meant that when the Arab Spring uprisings began in early 2011, there were no other political alternatives. You had only the Scylla of the national security state and the Charybdis of political Islam. (…) Yes, it is misleading to lump—as some do—all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past. Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree—and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills. The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime. My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians (imperialists, Zionists, Soviets) massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city. Hisham Melhem
Israel does not need the love of the Arabs nor does it need to convince them of its right to exist in their midst. It knows that its existence is outside the context of history and logic and that it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force. Consequently, it will have to live with its finger on the trigger. (…) This background is important for Arab intellectuals and writers who, incomprehensibly, have been attacking the notion of resistance in the ongoing Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. This strange phenomenon warrants analysis. Regrettably, the number of such intellectuals here in Saudi Arabia is higher than average. If such a trend continues it will destroy the kingdom’s honourable claim to support and defend the Palestinian cause since the time of its founder, King Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud. We are only rivalled in this by the Egyptians, although they should not be taken too seriously because they are going through an exceptional phase that does not deserve much comment other than that we are waiting for it to pass. (…) The focus has to go back to Israel’s occupation to explain an Israeli war against the Palestinians that has not stopped for a single day since 1948. “It is meaningless to ask how the ongoing war on Gaza started,” wrote Dr Khalid Al-Dakhil last week. Did Hamas start it or Israel, he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. “When did the Israeli war on all the Palestinians, including Gaza, stop? War is not always about firing shells or rockets or about the hell of cluster and phosphorous bombs. It is also about assassinations, the demolition of houses, the theft of land, the settlements, administrative detention, forced displacement and humiliation at checkpoints that are spread across the [occupied] Palestinian territories. It is also about bedevilling the victim by calling him a terrorist who refuses to recognise the right of a ‘Jewish state’ to exist.” From this perspective, said Al-Dakhil, the Israeli war on the Palestinians has never stopped since 1948. “All that happens is that this war at times adopts the form of a low intensity conflict while at other times it becomes an open military onslaught. Israel is always the one that decides when and how the transition is made from one form to the other.” (…)  the Palestinians in Gaza are in a large prison. They cannot leave their homeland even if they wanted to, because it is their homeland and because a racist, arrogant Israeli state controls the borders; our implicit acquiescence doesn’t help. So why are we seeing this sudden hostility towards the resistance? In my opinion, it is for one reason and one reason only. Such writers are embarrassed by the resistance groups and their rhetoric against them is their way of saying, “We surrendered long ago; why can’t you do the same?” Jamal Khashoggi
Despite all the rhetoric about the Palestinian issue, such as it being “the Arab’s first cause”; the central, principal, existential and mother of causes; the initiator of revolutions and coups; and the justification for astronomical military spending, and so on; despite all of this, we, as Arabs and for more than 70 years, have never seriously fought against Israel. Our wars with it were always brief and we always deployed in them more propaganda and speeches than dedicated military planning. We never prepared long or well for them and we never showed patience or endurance. Most of those wars were waged against us rather than us waging a jihad. Even the 1948 and 1973 wars, which were initiated by the Arabs, were brief, confused and with limited political objectives; they were nowhere near decisive liberation wars. (…) The Bosnians fought with the determination of a full “independence war”; they had to either win completely or be defeated completely. They dedicated all their effort, sacrifices, men and women for that war. (…) This is what the Divine has ordained would happen with any people who seek “full freedom”: Algeria, Vietnam, Ireland and Nazi-occupied Europe are all examples. Freedom comes at a cost; its price involves blood and death. (…) The Palestinian is the only one who has not fought a long war for freedom since his historic revolution in 1936, which was almost decisive; until the war raging in Gaza right now. (…) The Ramadan 1435 (2014 CE) War is a different type of war. It is a purely Palestinian war from start to finish. (…) Everything in this war is new, including the weapons that entered Gaza; how did they enter despite the siege? Thousands of rockets entered a small country that is besieged from the land, sea and air. This fact alone is a miracle. Some people thought the tunnels were for bringing in rice, sugar and diesel as well as a few machine-guns and some explosives. They were closed, destroyed and filled with water. Yet, tons of explosives came through and so did hundreds of rockets. Smuggling 7 metre-long Grad rockets was a miracle. How did they pass through? Did they come through the tunnels or by sea? Hamas possesses hundreds of them; how did they do it? No one can believe that it benefited from the year that deposed President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were in power in Cairo. (…) The distinguished combat performance of its men and the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy; they will be used and reused whenever the enemy invades. All of this proves that the movement wasted no time while ruling in Gaza. (…) Another significant accomplishment made by this stubborn Palestinian combatant has been the national unity shown by the people of Gaza and their readiness to sacrifice; their readiness to die rather than return to a humiliating life under an inhumane siege. The Israelis are left with nothing but the complete destruction of the whole of Gaza. However, who can finish off a million Palestinians? The other new and important thing is that the Palestinian today is, unlike in previous Arab wars, the one imposing ceasefire conditions. He has nothing left to lose. (…) Direct occupation is not in the Israeli interest and the Palestinian combatant knows this very well and is using it for his own good. This is truly a new fact. The new thing, above all, is that the Palestinian is ready for a long, long fight. (…) Had the late Bosnian leader Alia Izetbegovic surrendered earlier, having been wounded severely and having seen his people die in their thousands in massacres perpetrated in front of the entire world, even under formal European protection, then US President Bill Clinton would not have moved in August 1995 against Europe’s wishes and led NATO to bomb the Serbs and force them to come to the negotiating table to accept the independence of Bosnia Hercegovina. No one will bomb Israel. But should the Palestinian hold fast this time, the peace negotiations, which failed several months ago despite the eagerness and optimism shown by US Secretary of State John Kerry, will get more serious and will cover the real causes of the war in Gaza; and will cover the occupation and the siege not only in Gaza but in the West Bank too. At that moment, the Arabs would have to join the stubborn Palestinian combatant, aiding and supporting him, and should forget everything they said and did or did not do during this time of Arab decline. Jamal Khashoggi
We are told [Khashoggi] was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. (…) In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy. (…) It was Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer. Khashoggi had this undeserved status in the West because of the publicity surrounding his sacking as editor of the Saudi daily Al Watan back in 2003. (I broke the news of his removal for Reuters. (…) He was dismissed because he allowed a columnist to criticise an Islamist thinker considered to be the founding father of Wahhabism. Thus, overnight, Khashoggi became known as a liberal progressive. The Muslim Brotherhood, though, has always been at odds with the Wahhabi movement. Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process. The Wahhabis loathe democracy as a western invention. Instead, they choose to live life as it supposedly existed during the time of the Muslim prophet. In the final analysis, though, they are different means to achieving the same goal: Islamist theocracy. This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family. Worse, from the royals’ point of view, was that Khashoggi had dirt on Saudi links to al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks. He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince. Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (…). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal. The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information. (…) Perhaps it was for this and other reasons — and working according to the dictum of keeping your enemies closer — that a few weeks ago, according to a friend of Khashoggi, bin Salman had made a traditional tribal offer of reconciliation — offering him a place as an adviser if he returned to the kingdom. Khashoggi had declined because of ‘moral and religious’ principles. And that may have been the fatal snub, not least because Khashoggi had earlier this year established a new political party in the US called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which would support Islamist gains in democratic elections throughout the region. Bin Salman’s nightmare of a Khashoggi-led Islamist political opposition was about to become a reality. The West has been fawning over bin Salman. But how now to overlook what seems to be a brazen Mafia-style murder? ‘I don’t like hearing about it,’ Donald Trump said. ‘Nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.’ Well, there are plenty more stories where that came from, stories about a ruthless prince whose opponents have a habit of disappearing. The fate of Khashoggi is the latest sign of what’s really happening inside Saudi Arabia. For how much longer will our leaders look the other way? John R. Bradley

Vous avez dit réformateur libéral frériste ?

« Patriote solitaire », « intellectuel engagé », « trublion », « dissident »

Alors qu’avec l’élimination d’un de ses citoyens avec tous les raffinements que l’on sait (découpage de doigts, décapitation et démembrement à la scie à os) …

La famille désormais littéralement mafieuse des Saoud vient de confirmer sa longue réputation de barbarie d’un autre âge …

Et que nos médias n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour dénoncer les larmes de crocodile de nos dirigeants …

Comme de mots assez doux pour qualifier ce nouveau martyr de la démocratie dans le Monde arabe …

Retour avec l’ancien correspondant à Ryhad de l’Economist John R. Bradley qui a bien connu celui-ci …

Ainsi qu’avec deux de ses propres articles pour le journal Al Hayat

Sur les exploits injustement oubliés de ce « réformateur libéral » et accessoirement membre du parti des intermittents de la conduite de tramway

Qui pompom girl à ses heures perdues de la guerre du Hamas contre Israël …

N’avait pas ménagé sa peine pour rappeler à ses compatriotes et au monde il y a quatre ans à peine …

L’ « existence en dehors du contexte de l’histoire et de la logique » …

D’un pays qui « né par la force », vivra et mourra par la force » …

Death of a dissident: Saudi Arabia and the rise of the mobster state

What the media aren’t saying about Jamal Khashoggi

John R. Bradley

13 October 2018

As someone who spent three decades working closely with intelligence services in the Arab world and the West, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi knew he was taking a huge risk in entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to try to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife.

A one-time regime insider turned critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the de facto head of the Saudi kingdom which tolerates no criticism whatsoever — Khashoggi had been living in Washington for the previous year in self-imposed exile amid a crackdown on independent voices in his homeland.

He had become the darling of western commentators on the Middle East. With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world and a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States. Would the Saudis dare to cause him harm? It turns out that the answer to that question was ‘You betcha.’

Following uneventful visits to the consulate and, earlier, the Saudi embassy in Washington, Khashoggi was lured into a murderous plan so brazen, so barbaric, that it would seem far-fetched as a subplot in a John le Carré novel. He went inside the Istanbul consulate, but failed to emerge. Turkish police and intelligence officials claimed that a team of 15 hitmen carrying Saudi diplomatic passports arrived the same morning on two private jets. Their convoy of limousines arrived at the consulate building shortly before Khashoggi did.

Their not-so-secret mission? To torture, then execute, Khashoggi, and videotape the ghastly act for whoever had given the order for his merciless dispatch. Khashoggi’s body, Turkish officials say, was dismembered and packed into boxes before being whisked away in a black van with darkened windows. The assassins fled the country.

Saudi denials were swift. The ambassador to Washington said reports that Saudi authorities had killed Khashoggi were ‘absolutely false’. But under the circumstances — with his fiancée waiting for him, and no security cameras finding any trace of his leaving the embassy — the world is left wondering if bin Salman directed this murder. When another Saudi official chimed in that ‘with no body, there is no crime’, it was unclear whether he was being ironic. Is this great reforming prince, with aims the West applauds, using brutal methods to dispose of his enemies? What we have learned so far is far from encouraging. A Turkish newspaper close to the government this week published the photographs and names of the alleged Saudi hitmen, and claims to have identified three of them as members of bin Salman’s personal protection team.

There are also reports in the American media that all surveillance footage was removed from the consulate building, and that all local Turkish employees there were suddenly given the day off. According to the New York Times, among the assassination team was the kingdom’s top forensic expert, who brought a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body. None of this has yet been independently verified, but a very dark narrative is emerging.

In many respects, bin Salman’s regime has been revolutionary: he has let women drive, sided with Israel against Iran and curtailed the religious police. When Boris Johnson was foreign secretary, he said that bin Salman was the best thing to happen to the region in at least a decade, that the style of government of this 33-year-old prince was utterly different. But the cruelty and the bloodletting have not stopped. Saudi Arabia still carries out many public beheadings and other draconian corporal punishments. It continues to wage a war in Yemen which has killed at least 10,000 civilians.

Princes and businessmen caught up in a corruption crackdown are reported to have been tortured; Shia demonstrators have been mowed down in the streets and had their villages reduced to rubble; social media activists have been sentenced to thousands of lashes; families of overseas-based activists have been arbitrarily arrested. In an attempt to justify this, bin Salman said this week he was ‘trying to get rid of extremism and terrorism without civil war, without stopping the country from growing, with continuous progress in all elements,’ adding: ‘So if there is a small price in that area, it’s better than paying a big debt to do that move.’

The fate of Khashoggi has at least provoked global outrage, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. We are told he was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. This is not just wrong, but distracts us from understanding what the incident tells us about the internal power dynamics of a kingdom going through an unprecedented period of upheaval. It is also the story of how one man got entangled in a Saudi ruling family that operates like the Mafia. Once you join, it’s for life, and if you try to leave, you become disposable.

In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.

He had been a journalist in the 1980s and 1990s, but then became more of a player than a spectator. Before working with a succession of Saudi princes, he edited Saudi newspapers. The exclusive remit a Saudi government–appointed newspaper editor has is to ensure nothing remotely resembling honest journalism makes it into the pages. Khashoggi put the money in the bank — making a handsome living was always his top priority. Actions, anyway, speak louder than words.

It was Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer.

Khashoggi had this undeserved status in the West because of the publicity surrounding his sacking as editor of the Saudi daily Al Watan back in 2003. (I broke the news of his removal for Reuters. I’d worked alongside Khashoggi at the Saudi daily Arab News during the preceding years.) He was dismissed because he allowed a columnist to criticise an Islamist thinker considered to be the founding father of Wahhabism. Thus, overnight, Khashoggi became known as a liberal progressive.

The Muslim Brotherhood, though, has always been at odds with the Wahhabi movement. Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process. The Wahhabis loathe democracy as a western invention. Instead, they choose to live life as it supposedly existed during the time of the Muslim prophet. In the final analysis, though, they are different means to achieving the same goal: Islamist theocracy. This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family.

Worse, from the royals’ point of view, was that Khashoggi had dirt on Saudi links to al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks. He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince.

Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (which Khashoggi and I watched unfold together in the Arab News office in Jeddah). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal. The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information.

The Saudis, too, may have worried that Khashoggi had become a US asset. In Washington in 2005, a senior Pentagon official told me of a ridiculous plan they had to take ‘the Saudi out of Arabia’ (as was the rage post-9/11). It involved establishing a council of selected Saudi figures in Mecca to govern the country under US auspices after the US took control of the oil. He named three Saudis the Pentagon team were in regular contact with regarding the project. One of them was Khashoggi. A fantasy, certainly, but it shows how highly he was regarded by those imagining a different Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps it was for this and other reasons — and working according to the dictum of keeping your enemies closer — that a few weeks ago, according to a friend of Khashoggi, bin Salman had made a traditional tribal offer of reconciliation — offering him a place as an adviser if he returned to the kingdom. Khashoggi had declined because of ‘moral and religious’ principles. And that may have been the fatal snub, not least because Khashoggi had earlier this year established a new political party in the US called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which would support Islamist gains in democratic elections throughout the region. Bin Salman’s nightmare of a Khashoggi-led Islamist political opposition was about to become a reality.

The West has been fawning over bin Salman. But how now to overlook what seems to be a brazen Mafia-style murder? ‘I don’t like hearing about it,’ Donald Trump said. ‘Nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.’ Well, there are plenty more stories where that came from, stories about a ruthless prince whose opponents have a habit of disappearing. The fate of Khashoggi is the latest sign of what’s really happening inside Saudi Arabia. For how much longer will our leaders look the other way?

John R. Bradley is the author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, published by St Martin’s Press.

Palestine, the occupation and the resistance for beginners

Jamal Khashoggi

In March 1955, an Israeli army unit attacked a camp belonging to the Egyptian army inside the Gaza Strip, which was entrusted to Egypt after the 1948 war. The Israelis killed 36 Egyptian soldiers in cold blood and wounded 28 others. One of the perpetrators was the infamous Ariel Sharon, the late Israeli prime minister, who said that the purpose of the operation was “to kill all the soldiers, destroy all the weapons that were available inside the camp and destroy its entire installations.” According to a once-secret Israel report made public a few years ago, it was a punitive objective, not military, “to deliver a message to the Egyptian leadership under Gamal Abdel Nasser that any new commando operation [by Egypt] will have bloody consequences.”

Nasser learned the painful lesson and called off the operations that were carried out by Egyptian intelligence units. Such operations have always puzzled historians because during that same period he was in contact with Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett about making peace between the two countries. The Egyptian president later tightened his iron grip on Gaza and prevented and pursued any Palestinian who contemplated resistance. Compare that with the current situation in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion set up a military doctrine for his country to deal with the surrounding Arab states which did not recognise it; he called this “incremental deterrence”. The doctrine did not tolerate any resistance operations and responded with incremental and brutal force so that the Arab states would realise that they have no choice; they could accept or reject Israel, but they had to stop all forms of resistance. The result was the same either way. Israel does not need the love of the Arabs nor does it need to convince them of its right to exist in their midst. It knows that its existence is outside the context of history and logic and that it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force. Consequently, it will have to live with its finger on the trigger.

A glance at the history of Israel and the Palestinian resistance will prove that this doctrine is still alive. It is exactly what the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is implementing so faithfully in Gaza today, in the footsteps of his predecessors. In brief, and in accordance with Ben-Gurion’s doctrine, Israel will continue to persecute the Palestinians in Gaza until they give up resistance, just as the others have.

The problem is that Israel wants the Arabs to change while it does not change itself. The other constant factor, which renders the acceptance of Israel and succumbing to the status quo extremely bitter, is the Israeli occupation. Enjoying American political and military cover, Israel deals with its occupation with a combination of racism and arrogance. The negotiations encouraged by US Secretary of State John Kerry failed precisely because of the Israeli stance towards the occupation, which it seeks to legitimise. However, it is not even acceptable to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah despite it having succumbed to the status quo and to financial gains and privileges, let alone to the much-maligned Hamas. In as much as this renders peace impossible it also renders capitulation likewise.

This background is important for Arab intellectuals and writers who, incomprehensibly, have been attacking the notion of resistance in the ongoing Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. This strange phenomenon warrants analysis. Regrettably, the number of such intellectuals here in Saudi Arabia is higher than average. If such a trend continues it will destroy the kingdom’s honourable claim to support and defend the Palestinian cause since the time of its founder, King Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud. We are only rivalled in this by the Egyptians, although they should not be taken too seriously because they are going through an exceptional phase that does not deserve much comment other than that we are waiting for it to pass.

These intellectual and writers have jumped crudely on the Palestinian resistance groups, blaming and denouncing them “for not realising the difference in power between them and the Israelis” and “for seeking to alleviate the pressure on the Iranians”. Worse still, some claim that “everything taking place is nothing but a PR campaign to regain sympathy for political Islam.” They are wrong.

The focus has to go back to Israel’s occupation to explain an Israeli war against the Palestinians that has not stopped for a single day since 1948. “It is meaningless to ask how the ongoing war on Gaza started,” wrote Dr Khalid Al-Dakhil last week. Did Hamas start it or Israel, he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. “When did the Israeli war on all the Palestinians, including Gaza, stop? War is not always about firing shells or rockets or about the hell of cluster and phosphorous bombs. It is also about assassinations, the demolition of houses, the theft of land, the settlements, administrative detention, forced displacement and humiliation at checkpoints that are spread across the [occupied] Palestinian territories. It is also about bedevilling the victim by calling him a terrorist who refuses to recognise the right of a ‘Jewish state’ to exist.” From this perspective, said Al-Dakhil, the Israeli war on the Palestinians has never stopped since 1948. “All that happens is that this war at times adopts the form of a low intensity conflict while at other times it becomes an open military onslaught. Israel is always the one that decides when and how the transition is made from one form to the other.”

On that March morning in 1955, there was no Iran and no political Islam to use as an excuse, just a young Egyptian leader who wanted to negotiate with the Israelis and pressure them through the weapon of resistance. He was subjected to some of what Hamas is being subjected to today. He succumbed to the status quo and abandoned Gaza and the whole of Palestine. Now the Palestinians in Gaza are in a large prison. They cannot leave their homeland even if they wanted to, because it is their homeland and because a racist, arrogant Israeli state controls the borders; our implicit acquiescence doesn’t help.

So why are we seeing this sudden hostility towards the resistance? In my opinion, it is for one reason and one reason only. Such writers are embarrassed by the resistance groups and their rhetoric against them is their way of saying, “We surrendered long ago; why can’t you do the same?”

Translated from Al Hayat newspaper, 19 July, 2014


US Open/50e: Reviens, Arthur, ils sont devenus fous ! (Contrary to Ali or Kaepernick, the Jackie Robinson of tennis stayed committed to respectful dialogue knowing real change came from rational advocacy and hard work not emotional self-indulgence)

9 septembre, 2018

Arthur Ashe participates in a hearing on apartheid, at the United Nations in New York.

Segregation and racism had made me loathe aspects of the white South, but had scarcely left me less of a patriot. In fact, to me and my family, winning a place on our national team would mark my ultimate triumph over all those people who had opposed my career in the South in the name of segregation. (…) Despite segregation, I loved the United States. It thrilled me beyond measure to hear the umpire announce not my name but that of my country: ‘Game, United States,’ ‘Set, United States,’ ‘Game, Set, and Match, United States.’ (…) There were times when I felt a burning sense of shame that I was not with blacks—and whites—standing up to the fire hoses and police dogs. (…) I never went along with the pronouncements of Elijah Muhammad that the white man was the devil and that blacks should be striving for separate development—a sort of American apartheid. That never made sense to me. (…) Jesse, I’m just not arrogant, and I ain’t never going to be arrogant. I’m just going to do it my way. Arthur Ashe
I’ve always believed that every man is my brother. Clay will earn the public’s hatred because of his connections with the Black Muslims. Joe Louis
I’ve been told that Clay has every right to follow any religion he chooses and I agree. But, by the same token, I have every right to call the Black Muslims a menace to the United States and a menace to the Negro race. I do not believe God put us here to hate one another. Cassius Clay is disgracing himself and the Negro race. Floyd Patterson
Clay is so young and has been misled by the wrong people. He might as well have joined the Ku Klux Klan. Floyd Patterson
Bluebirds with bluebirds, red birds with red birds, pigeons with pigeons, eagles with eagles. God didn’t make no mistake! (…) I don’t hate rattlesnakes, I don’t hate tigers — I just know I can’t get along with them. I don’t want to try to eat with them or sleep with them. (…)  I know whites and blacks cannot get along; this is nature. (…) I like what he [George Wallace] says. He says Negroes shouldn’t force themselves in white neighborhoods, and white people shouldn’t have to move out of the neighborhood just because one Negro comes. Now that makes sense. Muhammed Ali
A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman. (…) We’ll kill anybody who tries to mess around with our women. Muhammed Ali
Long before he died, Muhammad Ali had been extolled by many as the greatest boxer in history. Some called him the greatest athlete of the 20th century. Still others, like George W. Bush, when he bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, endorsed Ali’s description of himself as “the greatest of all time.” Ali’s death Friday night sent the paeans and panegyrics to even more exalted heights. Fox Sports went so far as to proclaim Muhammad Ali nothing less than “the greatest athlete the world will ever see.” As a champion in the ring, Ali may have been without equal. But when his idolizers go beyond boxing and sports, exalting him as a champion of civil rights and tolerance, they spout pernicious nonsense. There have been spouters aplenty in the last few days — everyone from the NBA commissioner (“Ali transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights”) to the British prime minister (“a champion of civil rights”) to the junior senator from Massachusetts (“Muhammad Ali fought for civil rights . . . for human rights . . . for peace”). Time for a reality check. It is true that in his later years, Ali lent his name and prestige to altruistic activities and worthy public appeals. By then he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a cruel affliction that robbed him of his mental and physical keenness and increasingly forced him to rely on aides to make decisions on his behalf. But when Ali was in his prime, the uninhibited “king of the world,” he was no expounder of brotherhood and racial broad-mindedness. On the contrary, he was an unabashed bigot and racial separatist and wasn’t shy about saying so. In a wide-ranging 1968 interview with Bud Collins, the storied Boston Globe sports reporter, Ali insisted that it was as unnatural to expect blacks and whites to live together as it would be to expect humans to live with wild animals. “I don’t hate rattlesnakes, I don’t hate tigers — I just know I can’t get along with them,” he said. “I don’t want to try to eat with them or sleep with them.” Collins asked: “You don’t think that we can ever get along?” “I know whites and blacks cannot get along; this is nature,” Ali replied. That was why he liked George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who was then running for president. Collins wasn’t sure he’d heard right. “You like George Wallace?” “Yes, sir,” said Ali. “I like what he says. He says Negroes shouldn’t force themselves in white neighborhoods, and white people shouldn’t have to move out of the neighborhood just because one Negro comes. Now that makes sense.” This was not some inexplicable aberration. It reflected a hateful worldview that Ali, as a devotee of Elijah Muhammad and the segregationist Nation of Islam, espoused for years. At one point, he even appeared before a Ku Klux Klan rally. It was “a hell of a scene,” he later boasted — Klansmen with hoods, a burning cross, “and me on the platform,” preaching strict racial separation. “Black people should marry their own women,” Ali declaimed. “Bluebirds with bluebirds, red birds with red birds, pigeons with pigeons, eagles with eagles. God didn’t make no mistake!” In 1975, amid the frenzy over the impending “Thrilla in Manila,” his third title fight with Joe Frazier, Ali argued vehemently in a Playboy interview that interracial couples ought to be lynched. “A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman,” he said. And it was the same for a white man making a pass at a black woman. “We’ll kill anybody who tries to mess around with our women.” But suppose the black woman wanted to be with the white man, the interviewer asked. “Then she dies,” Ali answered. “Kill her too.” Jeff Jacoby
Muhammad Ali was the most controversial boxer in the history of the sport, arguably the most gifted and certainly the best known. His ring glories and his life on the political and racial frontline combine to make him one of the most famous, infamous and discussed figures in modern history. During his life he stood next to Malcolm X at a fiery pulpit, dined with tyrants, kings, crooks, vagabonds, billionaires and from the shell of his awful stumbling silence during the last decade his deification was complete as he struggled with his troubled smile at each rich compliment. (…) He was a one-man revolution and that means he made enemies faster than any boy-fighter – which is what he was when he first became world heavyweight champion – could handle. (…) but (…) His best years as a prize-fighter were denied him and denied us by his refusal to be drafted into the American military system in 1967. At that time he was boxing’s finest fighter, a man so gifted with skills that he knew very little about what his body did in the ring; his instincts, his speed and his developing power at that point of his exile would have ended all arguments over his greatness forever had he been allowed to continue fighting. Ali was out of the ring for three years and seven months and the forced exile took away enough of his skills to deny us the Greatest at his greatest, but it made him the icon he became. “We never saw the best of my guy,” Angelo Dundee told me in Mexico City in 1993. Dundee should know. He had been collecting the fighter’s sweat as the chief trainer from 1960 and would until the ring end in 1981. (…) He had gained universal respect during the break because of his refusal to endorse the bloody conflict in Vietnam, but he often walked a thin line in the 70s with the very people that had been happy to back his cause. He was not as loved then as he is now, and there are some obvious reasons for that. In 1970 there were still papers in Britain that called him Cassius Clay, the birth name he had started to shred the day after beating Sonny Liston for the world title in 1964. In America he still divided the boxing press and the people. In the 70s he attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting, accepted their awards and talked openly and disturbingly about mixed race marriages and a stance he shared with the extremists. His harshest opinions are always overlooked, discarded like his excessive cruelty in the ring, and explained by a misguided concept that everything he said and did, that was either uncomfortable or just wrong, was justifiable under some type of Ali law that insisted there was a twinkle in his eye. There probably was a twinkle in his eye but he had some misguided racist ideas back then and celebrated them. In the ring he had hurt and made people suffer during one-sided fights and spat at the feet of one opponent. He was mean and there is nothing wrong with that in boxing, but he was also cruel to honest fighters, men that had very little of his talent and certainly none of his wealth. The way he treated Joe Frazier before and after their three fights remains a shameful blot on Ali’s legacy. I sat once in dwindling light with Frazier in Philadelphia at the end of three days of talking and listened to his words and watched his tears of hate and utter frustration as he outlined the harm Ali’s words had caused him and his family. Big soft Joe had no problem with the damage Ali’s fists had caused him, that was a fair fight but the verbal slaughter had been a mismatch and recordings of that still make me feel sick. I don’t laugh at that type of abuse. (…) Away from the ring excellence he went to cities in the Middle East to negotiate for the release of hostages and smiled easily when men in masks, carrying AK47s, put blindfolds on him and drove like the lunatics they were through bombed streets. “Hey man, you sure you know where you’re going?” he asked one driver. “I hope you do, coz I can’t see a thing.” He went on too many missions to too many countries for too long, his drive draining his life as he handed out Islamic leaflets. He was often exploited on his many trips, pulled every way and never refusing a request. On a trip to Britain in 2009 he was bussed all over the country for a series of bad-taste dinners that ended with people squatting down next to his wheelchair; Ali’s gaze was off in another realm, but the punters, who had paid hundreds for the sickening pleasure, stuck up their thumbs or made fists for the picture. The great twist in the abhorrent venture was that Ali’s face looked so bad that his head was photo-shopped for a more acceptable Ali face. Who could have possibly sanctioned that atrocity? During his fighting days he had men to protect him, men like Gene Kilroy, the man with the perm, that loved him and helped form a protective guard at his feet to keep the jackals from the meat. When he left the sport and was alone for the first time in the real world, there were people that fought each other to get close, close enough to insert their invisible transfusion tubes deep into his open heart. His daughters started to resurrect their own wall of protection the older they got, switching duties from sitting on Daddy’s lap to watching his back like the devoted sentinels they became. In the end it felt like the whole world was watching his back, watching the last moments under the neon of the King of the World. Steve Bunce
I think Ali is being done a disservice by the way in which he’s these days cast as benign. He was always a lot more complicated than that. (…) Ali has been post-rationalised as a champion of the civil rights movement. But far from promoting the idea of black and white together, his was a much more tricky, divisive politics. John Dower
Far from being embarrassed about sharing jaw-time with the Grand Chief Bigot or whatever the loon in the sheet called himself, Ali boasted about it. The revelation of his cosy chats with white supremacists comes in a television documentary screened on More4. As Ali finds himself overtaken as the most celebrated black American in history, True Stories: Thrilla In Manila provides a timely re-assessment of his politics. (…) Before his third fight with Frazier, Ali was at his most elevated, symbolically as well as in the ring. Hard to imagine when these days he elicits universal reverence, back then he was a figure who divided America, as loathed as he was admired. At the time he was taking his lead from the Nation of Islam, which, in its espousal of a black separatism, found its politics dovetailing with the cross-burning lynch mob out on the political boondocks. Ali was by far the organisation’s most prominent cipher. The film reminds us why. Back then, black sporting prowess reinforced many a prejudiced theory about the black man being good for nothing beyond physical activity. But here was Ali, as quick with his mind as with his fists. When he held court the world listened. Intriguingly, the film reveals, many of his better lines were scripted for him by his Nation of Islam minders. Ferdie Pacheco, the man who converted Ali to the bizarre cause which insisted that a spaceship would imminently arrive in the United States to take the black man to a better place, tells Dower’s cameras that it was he who came up with the line, « No Viet Cong ever called me nigger ». There was never a more succinct summary of America’s hypocrisy in forcing its beleaguered black citizenry to fight in Vietnam. (…) The film suggests it was his opponent who got the blunt end of Ali’s political bludgeon. The pair were once friends and Frazier had supported Ali’s stance on refusing the draft. But leading up to the fight Ali turned on his old mate with a ferocity which makes uncomfortable viewing even 30 years on. Viciously disparaging of Frazier, he calls him an Uncle Tom, a white man’s puppet. Ali riled Frazier to the point where he entered the ring so infuriated that he abandoned his game plan and blindly struck out. So distracted was he by Ali’s politically motivated jibes, he lost. Indeed, what we might be watching in Dower’s film is not so much the apex of Ali’s political potency as the birth of sporting mind games. Jim White
In 1974, in the middle of a Michael Parkinson interview, Muhammad Ali decided to dispense with all the safe conventions of chat show etiquette. “You say I got white friends,” he declared, “I say they are associates.” When his host dared to suggest that the boxer’s trainer of 14 years standing, Angelo Dundee, might be a friend, Ali insisted, gruffly: “He is an associate.” Within seconds, with Parkinson failing to get a word in edgeways, Ali had provided a detailed account of his reasoning. “Elijah Muhammad,” he told the TV viewers of 1970s Middle England, “Is the one who preached that the white man of America, number one, is the Devil!” The whites of America, said Ali, had “lynched us, raped us, castrated us, tarred and feathered us … Elijah Muhammad has been preaching that the white man of America – God taught him – is the blue-eyed, blond-headed Devil!  No good in him, no justice, he’s gonna be destroyed! “The white man is the Devil.  We do believe that.  We know it!” In one explosive, virtuoso performance, Ali had turned “this little TV show” into an exposition of his beliefs, and the beliefs of “two million five hundred” other followers of the radically – to some white minds, dangerously – black separatist religious movement, the Nation of Islam. At the height of his tirade, Ali drew slightly nervous laughter from the studio when he told Parkinson “You are too small mentally to tackle me on anything I represent.” (…) By the time he met Ali in 1962, Malcolm X was Elijah Muhammad’s chief spokesman and most prominent apostle. His belief that violence was sometimes necessary, and the Nation of Islam’s insistence that followers remain separate from and avoid participation in American politics meant that not every civil rights leader welcomed Muhammad Ali joining the movement. “When Cassius Clay joined the Black Muslims [The Nation of Islam],” said Martin Luther King, “he became a champion of racial segregation, and that is what we are fighting against.” The bitter irony is that soon after providing the Nation of Islam with its most famous convert, Malcolm X became disillusioned with the movement.  A trip to Mecca exposed him to white Muslims, shattering his belief that whites were inherently evil.  He broke from the Nation of Islam and toned down his speeches. Ali, though, remained faithful to Elijah Muhammad.  “Turning my back on Malcolm,” he admitted years later, “Was one of the mistakes that I regret most in my life.” (…) By then, though, Ali’s own attitudes to the « blue-eyed devils” had long since mellowed.  In 1975 he converted to the far more conventional Sunni Islam – possibly prompted by the fact that Elijah Muhammad had died of congestive heart failure in the same year, and his son Warith Deen Mohammad had moved the Nation of Islam towards inclusion in the mainstream Islamic community. He rebranded the movement the “World Community of Islam in the West”, only for Farrakhan to break away in 1978 and create a new Nation of Islam, which he claimed remained true to the teachings of “the Master” [Fard]. “The Nation of Islam taught that white people were devils,” he wrote in 2004.  “I don’t believe that now; in fact, I never really believed that. But when I was young, I had seen and heard so many horrible stories about the white man that this made me stop and listen. » The attentive listener to the 1974 interview, might, in fact, have sensed that even then Ali wasn’t entirely convinced about white men being blue-eyed devils. He had, after all, set the bar pretty high for “associates” like Angelo Dundee to become friends. “I don’t have one black friend hardly,” he had said.  “A friend is one who will not even consider [before] giving his life for you.” And, despite calling Parky “the biggest hypocrite in the world” and “a joke”, he could also get a laugh by reassuring the chat show host: “I know you [are] all right.” Adam Lusher
The crime victories of the last two decades, and the moral support on which law and order depends, are now in jeopardy thanks to the falsehoods of the Black Lives Matter movement. Police operating in inner-city neighborhoods now find themselves routinely surrounded by cursing, jeering crowds when they make a pedestrian stop or try to arrest a suspect. Sometimes bottles and rocks are thrown. Bystanders stick cell phones in the officers’ faces, daring them to proceed with their duties. Officers are worried about becoming the next racist cop of the week and possibly losing their livelihood thanks to an incomplete cell phone video that inevitably fails to show the antecedents to their use of force.  (…) As a result of the anti-cop campaign of the last two years and the resulting push-back in the streets, officers in urban areas are cutting back on precisely the kind of policing that led to the crime decline of the 1990s and 2000s. (…) On the other hand, the people demanding that the police back off are by no means representative of the entire black community. Go to any police-neighborhood meeting in Harlem, the South Bronx, or South Central Los Angeles, and you will invariably hear variants of the following: “We want the dealers off the corner.” “You arrest them and they’re back the next day.” “There are kids hanging out on my stoop. Why can’t you arrest them for loitering?” “I smell weed in my hallway. Can’t you do something?” I met an elderly cancer amputee in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx who was terrified to go to her lobby mailbox because of the young men trespassing there and selling drugs. The only time she felt safe was when the police were there. “Please, Jesus,” she said to me, “send more police!” The irony is that the police cannot respond to these heartfelt requests for order without generating the racially disproportionate statistics that will be used against them in an ACLU or Justice Department lawsuit. Unfortunately, when officers back off in high crime neighborhoods, crime shoots through the roof. Our country is in the midst of the first sustained violent crime spike in two decades. Murders rose nearly 17 percent in the nation’s 50 largest cities in 2015, and it was in cities with large black populations where the violence increased the most. (…) I first identified the increase in violent crime in May 2015 and dubbed it “the Ferguson effect.” (…) The number of police officers killed in shootings more than doubled during the first three months of 2016. In fact, officers are at much greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks are from the police. Over the last decade, an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black has been 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop. (…) We have been here before. In the 1960s and early 1970s, black and white radicals directed hatred and occasional violence against the police. The difference today is that anti-cop ideology is embraced at the highest reaches of the establishment: by the President, by his Attorney General, by college presidents, by foundation heads, and by the press. The presidential candidates of one party are competing to see who can out-demagogue President Obama’s persistent race-based calumnies against the criminal justice system, while those of the other party have not emphasized the issue as they might have. I don’t know what will end the current frenzy against the police. What I do know is that we are playing with fire, and if it keeps spreading, it will be hard to put out. Heather Mac Donald
It’s ironic that Jerry’s longest-lasting legacy is that the big shoe company co-opted his slogan. Nike has Just Do It in all of their ad campaigns.
Sam Leff (Yippie, close friend of Hoffman’s)
Je ne vais pas afficher de fierté pour le drapeau d’un pays qui opprime les Noirs. Il y a des cadavres dans les rues et des meurtriers qui s’en tirent avec leurs congés payés. Colin Kaepernick
Je pense que tous les athlètes, tous les humains et tous les Afro-Américains devraient être totalement reconnaissants et honorés [par les manifestations lancées par les anciens joueurs de la NFL Colin Kaepernick et Eric Reid]. Serena Williams
Je ne suis pas une tricheuse! Vous me devez des excuses! (…) Je ne suis pas une tricheuse! Je suis mère de famille, je n’ai jamais triché de ma vie ! Serena Williams
For her country, Osaka has already succeeded in a major milestone: She is the first Japanese woman to reach the final of any Grand Slam. And she’s currently her country’s top-ranked player. Yet in Japan, where racial homogeneity is prized and ethnic background comprises a big part of cultural belonging, Osaka is considered hafu or half Japanese. Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka grew up in New York. She holds dual American and Japanese passports, but plays under Japan’s flag. Some hafu, like Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto, have spoken publicly about the discrimination the term can confer. “I wonder how a hafu can represent Japan,” one Facebook user wrote of Miyamoto, according to Al Jazeera America’s translation. For her part, Osaka has spoken repeatedly about being proud to represent Japan, as well as Haiti. But in a 2016 USA Today interview she also noted, “When I go to Japan people are confused. From my name, they don’t expect to see a black girl.” On the court, Osaka has largely been embraced as one of her country’s rising stars. Off court, she says she’s still trying to learn the language. “I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak,” she said. (…) Earlier this year, Osaka reveled a four-word mantra keeps her steady through tough matches: “What would Serena do?” Her idolization of the 23 Grand Slam-winning titan is well-known. “She’s the main reason why I started playing tennis,” Osaka told the New York Times. Time
Des sportifs semblent désormais plus facilement se mettre en avant pour évoquer leurs convictions, que ce soient des championnes de tennis ou des footballeurs. Mais ces athlètes activistes restent encore minoritaires. Peu ont suivi Kaepernick lorsqu’il s’est agenouillé pendant l’hymne national. La plupart se focalisent sur leur sport, ils ne sont pas vraiment désireux de jouer les trouble-fête. Dans notre culture, ces sportifs sont des dieux, qui peuvent exercer une influence positive. Ils peuvent être un bon exemple d’engagement civique pour des jeunes. Et puis une bonne controverse comme l’affaire Kaepernick permet de pimenter un peu le sport et d’élargir le débat au-delà du jeu. Orin Starn (anthropologue)
Son genou droit posé à terre le 1er septembre 2016 a fait de lui un paria. Ce jour-là, Colin Kaepernick, quarterback des San Francisco 49ers, avait une nouvelle fois décidé de ne pas se lever pour l’hymne national. Coupe afro et regard grave, il était resté dans cette position pour protester contre les violences raciales et les bavures policières qui embrasaient les Etats-Unis. Plus d’un an après, la polémique reste vive. Son boycott lui vaut toujours d’être marginalisé et tenu à l’écart par la Ligue nationale de football américain (NFL). L’affaire rebondit ces jours, à l’occasion des débuts de la saison de la NFL. Sans contrat depuis mars, Colin Kaepernick est de facto un joueur sans équipe, à la recherche d’un nouvel employeur. (…) Plus surprenant, une centaine de policiers new-yorkais ont manifesté ensemble fin août à Brooklyn, tous affublés d’un t-shirt noir avec le hashtag #imwithkap. Le célèbre policier Frank Serpico, 81 ans, qui a dénoncé la corruption généralisée de la police dans les années 1960 et inspiré Al Pacino pour le film Serpico (1973), en faisait partie. Les sportifs américains sont nombreux à afficher leur soutien à Colin Kaepernick. C’est le cas notamment des basketteurs Kevin Durant ou Stephen Curry, des Golden State Warriors. (…) La légende du baseball Hank Aaron fait également partie des soutiens inconditionnels de Colin Kaepernick. Sans oublier Tommie Smith, qui lors des Jeux olympiques de Mexico en 1968 avait, sur le podium du 200 mètres, levé son poing ganté de noir contre la ségrégation raciale, avec son comparse John Carlos. Le geste militant à répétition de Colin Kaepernick, d’abord assis puis agenouillé, a eu un effet domino. Son coéquipier Eric Reid l’avait immédiatement imité la première fois qu’il a mis le genou à terre. Une partie des joueurs des Cleveland Browns continuent, en guise de solidarité, de boycotter l’hymne des Etats-Unis, joué avant chaque rencontre sportive professionnelle. La footballeuse homosexuelle Megan Rapinoe, championne olympique en 2012 et championne du monde en 2015, avait elle aussi suivi la voie de Colin Kaepernick et posé son genou à terre. Mais depuis que la Fédération américaine de football (US Soccer) a édicté un nouveau règlement, en mars 2017, qui oblige les internationaux à se tenir debout pendant l’hymne, elle est rentrée dans le rang. Colin Kaepernick lui-même s’était engagé à se lever pour l’hymne pour la saison 2017. Une promesse qui n’a pas pour autant convaincu la NFL de le réintégrer. Barack Obama avait pris sa défense; Donald Trump l’a enfoncé. En pleine campagne, le milliardaire new-yorkais avait qualifié son geste d’«exécrable», l’hymne et le drapeau étant sacro-saints aux Etats-Unis. Il a été jusqu’à lui conseiller de «chercher un pays mieux adapté». Les chaussettes à motifs de cochons habillés en policiers que Colin Kaepernick a portées pendant plusieurs entraînements – elles ont été très remarquées – n’ont visiblement pas contribué à le rendre plus sympathique à ses yeux. Mais ni les menaces de mort ni ses maillots brûlés n’ont calmé le militantisme de Colin Kaepernick. Un militantisme d’ailleurs un peu surprenant et parfois taxé d’opportunisme: métis, de mère blanche et élevé par des parents adoptifs blancs, Colin Kaepernick n’a rallié la cause noire, et le mouvement Black Lives Matter, que relativement tardivement. Avant Kaepernick, la star de la NBA LeBron James avait défrayé la chronique en portant un t-shirt noir avec en lettres blanches «Je ne peux pas respirer». Ce sont les derniers mots d’un jeune Noir américain asthmatique tué par un policier blanc. Par ailleurs, il avait ouvertement soutenu Hillary Clinton dans sa course à l’élection présidentielle. Timidement, d’autres ont affiché leurs convictions politiques sur des t-shirts, mais sans aller jusqu’au boycott de l’hymne national, un geste très contesté. L’élection de Donald Trump et le drame de Charlottesville provoqué par des suprémacistes blancs ont contribué à favoriser l’émergence de ce genre de protestations. Ces comportements signent un retour du sportif engagé, une espèce presque en voie de disparition depuis les années 1960-1970, où de grands noms comme Mohamed Ali, Billie Jean King ou John Carlos ont porté leur militantisme à bras-le-corps. Au cours des dernières décennies, l’heure n’était pas vraiment à la revendication politique, confirme Orin Starn, professeur d’anthropologie culturelle à l’Université Duke en Caroline du Nord. A partir des années 1980, c’est plutôt l’image du sportif businessman qui a primé, celui qui s’intéresse à ses sponsors, à devenir le meilleur possible, soucieux de ne déclencher aucune polémique. Un sportif lisse avant tout motivé par ses performances et sa carrière. Comme le basketteur Michael Jordan ou le golfeur Tiger Woods. Le Temps
It was an incredible match. I mean, Arthur was an innovator. It was the first time he sort of sat down at the side of the court in between — they didn’t have chairs at the side of the court for a long time; we sort of had to towel off and go on — but he would sit and cover his head with the towel and just think. It was the first time you were conscious of the mental side of tennis. Arthur was instrumental in that. . . . Arthur was a thinker. Virginia Wade
Arthur didn’t need Vietnam. Arthur had his own Vietnam right there in the United States in those days, and some of the things that I saw while I was there — he didn’t need that. The thing that I always think about, and this was always the most important thing in my mind, was that Arthur represented so many possibilities. Arthur was the first to do so much so often that those of us who knew him would say: ‘What’s next? What mountain was he going to climb next?’ Arthur was always different. (…) Growing up, Arthur was a sponge. . . . That was just his nature. He was a voracious reader, and he had to satisfy his intellect. I tell people if Arthur had concentrated on just tennis, he would have been the best in the world. But tennis was a vehicle. . . . He wanted to be able to take kids outside of their environs, outside of their element for a little while and expose them to what they can be. . . . And, let’s face it, most parents don’t have the wherewithal to do that. It’s not easy. What happens is you get somebody like Arthur — and following Arthur, LeBron James is starting to do things — to expose kids. It’s so important that that happens. (…) “Until Arthur came along and Althea came along, tennis was a sport of the elites. Then you get two playground children — one from Harlem, one from Richmond — to break into the bigs. People had to stop and think about that. It opened the doors for other people, and that’s what it was all about. That’s what it was all about for him. Johnnie Ashe
The Apollo program was a national effort that depended on American derring-do and sacrifice. History is usually airbrushed to remove a figure who has fallen out of favor with a dictatorship, or to hide away an episode of national shame. Leave it to Hollywood to erase from a national triumph its most iconic moment. The new movie First Man, a biopic about the Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, omits the planting of the American flag during his historic walk on the surface of the moon. Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong in the film, tried to explain the strange editing of his moonwalk: “This was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement. I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero.” Armstrong was a reticent man, but he surely considered himself an American, and everyone else considered him a hero. (“You’re a hero whether you like it or not,” one newspaper admonished him on the 10th anniversary of the landing.) Gosling added that Armstrong’s walk “transcended countries and borders,” which is literally true, since it occurred roughly 238,900 miles from Earth, although Armstrong got there on an American rocket, walked in an American spacesuit, and returned home to America. (…) It was a chapter in a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union that involved national prestige and the perceived worth of our respective economic and political systems. The Apollo program wasn’t about the brotherhood of man, but rather about achieving a national objective before a hated and feared adversary did. The mission of Apollo 11 was, appropriately, soaked in American symbolism. The lunar module was called Eagle, and the command module Columbia. There had been some consideration to putting up a U.N. flag, but it was scotched — it would be an American flag and only an American flag. (…) There may be a crass commercial motive in the omission — the Chinese, whose market is so important to big films, might not like overt American patriotic fanfare. Neither does much of our cultural elite. They may prefer not to plant the flag — but the heroes of Apollo 11 had no such compunction. National Review
Billed as being based on “a crazy, outrageous incredible true story” about how a black cop infiltrated the KKK, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman would be more accurately described as the story of how a black cop in 1970s Colorado Springs spoke to the Klan on the phone. He pretended to be a white supremacist . . . on the phone. That isn’t infiltration, that’s prank-calling. A poster for the movie shows a black guy wearing a Klan hood. Great starting point for a comedy, but it didn’t happen. The cop who actually attended KKK meetings undercover was a white guy (played by Adam Driver). These led . . . well, nowhere in particular. No plot was foiled. Those meetups mainly revealed that Klansmen behave exactly how you’d expect Klansmen to behave. The movie is a typical Spike Lee joint: A thin story is told in painfully didactic style and runs on far too long. (…)  Washington (son of Denzel) has an easygoing charisma as the unflappable Ron Stallworth, a rookie cop in Colorado Springs who volunteers to go undercover as a detective in 1972, near the height of the Black Power movement and a moment when law enforcement was closely tracking the activities of radicals such as Stokely Carmichael, a.k.a. Kwame Ture, a speech of whose Stallworth says he attended while posing as an ordinary citizen. In the movie, Stallworth experiences an awakening of black pride and falls for a student leader, Patrice (a luminous Laura Harrier, who also played Peter Parker’s girlfriend in Spider-Man: Homecoming), inspiring in him the need to do something for his people. (…) The Klan also turn out to be grandstanders and blowhards given to Carmichael-style paranoid prophecies and seem to hope to troll their enemies into attacking them. When Lee realizes he needs something to actually happen besides racist talk, he turns to a subplot featuring a white-supremacist lady running around with a purse full of C-4 explosive with which she intends to blow up the black radicals. It’s so unconvincing that you watch it thinking, “I really doubt this happened.” It didn’t. The only other tense moment in the film, in which Driver’s undercover cop (who is Jewish) is nearly subjected to a lie-detector test about his religion by a suspicious Klansman, is also fabricated. Lee frames his two camps as opposites, but whether we’re with the black-power types or the white-power yokels, they’re equally wrong about the race war they seem to yearn for. The two sides are equally far from the stable center, the color-blind institution holding society together, which turns out to be . . . the police! After some talk from the radical Patrice (whose character is also a fabrication) about how the whole system is corrupt and she could never date a “pig,” and a scene in which Stallworth implies the police’s code of covering for one another reminds him of the Klan, Lee winds up having the police unite to fight racism, with one bad apple expunged and everybody else on the otherwise all-white force supporting Ron. That Spike Lee has turned in a pro-cop film has to be counted one of the stranger cultural developments of 2018, but Lee seems to have accidentally aligned with cops in the course of issuing an anti-Trump broadside. (…) (See also: an introduction in which Alec Baldwin plays a Southern cracker called Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard who rants about desegregation for several minutes, then is never seen again.) Lee’s other major goal is to link Stallworth’s story to Trumpism using David Duke. Duke, like Trump, said awful things at the time of the Charlottesville murder and played a part in the Stallworth story when the cop was assigned to protect the Klan leader (played by Topher Grace) on a visit to Colorado Springs and later threw his arm around him while posing for a picture. Saying Duke presaged Trump seems like a stretch, though. After all the nudge-nudge MAGA lines uttered by the Klansmen throughout the film, the let-me-spell-it-out-for-you finale, with footage from the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally, seems de trop. BlacKkKlansman was timed to hit theaters one year after the anniversary of the horror in Virginia. That Charlottesville II attracted only two dozen pathetic dorks to the cause of white supremacy would seem to undermine the coda. The Klan’s would-be successors, far from being more emboldened than they have been since Stallworth’s time, appear to be nearly extinct. National review
The all-seeing social-justice eye penetrates every aspect of our lives: sports, movies, public monuments, social media, funerals . . .A definition of totalitarianism might be the saturation of every facet of daily life by political agendas and social-justice messaging. At the present rate, America will soon resemble the dystopias of novels such as 1984 and Brave New World in which all aspects of life are warped by an all-encompassing ideology of coerced sameness. Or rather, the prevailing orthodoxy in America is the omnipresent attempt of an elite — exempt from the consequences of its own ideology thanks to its supposed superior virtue and intelligence — to mandate an equality of result. We expect their 24/7 political messaging on cable-channel news networks, talk radio, or print and online media. And we concede that long ago an NPR, CNN, MSNBC, or New York Times ceased being journalistic entities as much as obsequious megaphones of the progressive itinerary. But increasingly we cannot escape anywhere the lidless gaze of our progressive lords, all-seeing, all-knowing from high up in their dark towers. (…) Americans have long accepted that Hollywood movies no longer seek just to entertain or inform, but to indoctrinate audiences by pushing progressive agendas. That commandment also demands that America be portrayed negatively — or better yet simply written out of history. Take the new film First Man, about the first moon landing. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became famous when he emerged from The Eagle, the two-man lunar module, and planted an American flag on the moon’s surface. Yet that iconic act disappears from the movie version. (At least Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, does not walk out of the space capsule to string up a U.N. banner.) Gosling claimed that the moon landing should not be seen as an American effort. Instead, he advised, it should be “widely regarded as a human achievement” — as if any nation’s efforts or the work of the United Nations in 1969 could have pulled off such an astounding and dangerous enterprise. I suppose we are to believe that Gosling’s Canada might just as well have built a Saturn V rocket. (…) Sports offers no relief. It is now no more a refuge from political indoctrination than is Hollywood. Yet it is about as difficult to find a jock who can pontificate about politics as it is to encounter a Ph.D. or politico who can pass or pitch. The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and sports channels are now politicalized in a variety of ways, from not standing up or saluting the flag during the National Anthem to pushing social-justice issues as part of televised sports analysis. What a strange sight to see tough sportsmen of our Roman-style gladiatorial arenas become delicate souls who wilt on seeing a dreaded hand across the heart during the playing of the National Anthem. Even when we die, we do not escape politicization. At a recent eight-hour, televised funeral service for singer Aretha Franklin, politicos such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went well beyond their homages into political harangues. Pericles or Lincoln they were not. (…) Politics likewise absorbed Senator John McCain’s funeral the next day. (…) Even the long-ago dead are fair game. Dark Age iconoclasm has returned to us with a fury. Any statue at any time might be toppled — if it is deemed to represent an idea or belief from the distant past now considered racist, sexist, or somehow illiberal. Representations of Columbus, the Founding Fathers, and Confederate soldiers have all been defaced, knocked down, or removed. The images of mass murderers on the left are exempt, on the theory that good ends always allow a few excessive means. So are the images and names of robber barons and old bad white guys, whose venerable eponymous institutions offer valuable brands that can be monetized. At least so far, we are not rebranding Stanford and Yale with indigenous names. Victor Davis Hanson
Johnnie Ashe, like Wade, remembers his brother as an intellectual and an innovator, as someone who was meant to change the world. That’s why, when Johnnie came to understand that the military wouldn’t send two brothers into active duty in a war zone at the same time, he volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam. He was three months away from coming home.Since Johnnie stayed on active duty, Arthur could compete for both the U.S. amateur and U.S. Open championships in 1968. He is the only person to have won both. Ashe had many projects that helped extend his legacy beyond that of a pioneering tennis player who won 33 career singles championships; ever the thinker, bringing tennis and educational opportunities to youths was Ashe’s passion. He helped found the National Junior Tennis & Learning network in 1968, a grass-roots organization designed to make tennis more accessible. Today, the NJTL receives significant funding from the USTA. The Washington Post
Arthur Ashe always had an exquisite sense of timing, whether he was striking a topspin backhand or choosing when to speak out for liberty and justice for all. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the 50th anniversary of his victory at the first U.S. Open — a milestone to be celebrated on Saturday at the grand stadium bearing his name — coincides with a national conversation on the First Amendment rights and responsibilities of professional athletes. Mr. Ashe has been gone for 25 years, struck down at the age of 49 by AIDS, inflicted by an H.I.V.-tainted blood transfusion. But the example he set as a champion on and off the court has never been more relevant. As Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and others strive to use their athletic stardom as a platform for social justice activism, they might want to look back at what this soft-spoken African-American tennis star accomplished during the age of Jim Crow and apartheid. (…) He began his career as the Jackie Robinson of men’s tennis — a vulnerable and insecure racial pioneer instructed by his coaches to hold his tongue during a period when the success of desegregation was still in doubt. At the same time, Mr. Ashe’s natural shyness and deferential attitude toward his elders and other authority figures all but precluded involvement in the civil rights struggle and other political activities during his high school and college years. The calculus of risk and responsibility soon changed, however, as Mr. Ashe reinvented himself as a 25-year-old activist-in-training during the tumultuous year of 1968. With his stunning victory in September at the U.S. Open, where he overcame the best pros in the world as a fifth-seeded amateur, he gained a new confidence that affected all aspects of his life. Mr. Ashe’s political transformation had begun six months earlier when he gave his first public speech, a discourse on the potential importance of black athletes as community leaders, delivered at a Washington forum hosted by the Rev. Jefferson Rogers, a prominent black civil rights leader Mr. Ashe had known since childhood. Mr. Rogers had been urging Mr. Ashe to speak out on civil rights issues for some time, and when he finally did so, it released a spirit of civic engagement that enveloped his life. “This is the new Arthur Ashe,” the reporter Neil Amdur observed in this paper, “articulate, mature, no longer content to sit back and let his tennis racket do the talking.” In part, Mr. Ashe’s new attitude reflected a determination to make amends for his earlier inaction. “There were times, in fact,” he recalled years later, “when I felt a burning sense of shame that I was not with other blacks — and whites — standing up to the fire hoses and the police dogs, the truncheons, bullets and bombs.” He added: “As my fame increased, so did my anguish.” During the violent spring of 1968, the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Mr. Ashe had come to admire above all other black leaders, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, whom he had supported as a presidential candidate, shook Mr. Ashe’s faith in America. But he refused to surrender to disillusionment. Instead he dedicated himself to active citizenship on a level rarely seen in the world of sports. His activism began with an effort to expand economic and educational opportunities for young urban blacks, but his primary focus soon turned to the liberation of black South Africans suffering under apartheid. Later he supported a wide variety of causes, playing an active role in campaigns for black political power, high educational standards for college athletes, criminal justice reform, equality of the sexes and AIDS awareness. He also became involved in numerous philanthropic enterprises. By the end of his life, Mr. Ashe’s success on the court was no longer the primary source of his celebrity. He had become, along with Muhammad Ali, a prime example of an athlete who transcended the world of sports. In 2016, President Barack Obama identified Mr. Ali and Mr. Ashe as the sports figures he admired above all others. While noting the sharp contrast in their personalities, he argued that both men were “transformational” activists who pushed the nation down the same path to freedom and democracy. Mr. Ashe practiced his own distinctive brand of activism, one based on unemotional appeals to common sense and enlightened philosophical principles as simple as the Golden Rule. He had no facility for, and little interest in, using agitation and drama to draw attention to causes, no matter how worthy they might be. A champion of civility, he always kept his cool and never raised his voice in anger or frustration. Viewing emotional appeals as self-defeating and even dangerous, he relied on reasoned persuasion derived from careful preparation and research. Mr. Ashe preferred to make a case in written form, or as a speaker on the college lecture circuit or as a witness before the United Nations. His periodic opinion pieces in The Washington Post and other newspapers tackled a number of thorny issues related to sports and the broader society, including upholding high academic standards for college athletic eligibility and the expulsion of South Africa from international athletic competition. In the 1980s, he devoted several years to researching and writing “A Hard Road to Glory,” a groundbreaking three-volume history of African-American athletes. In retirement Mr. Ashe became a popular tennis broadcaster known for his clever quips, yet as an activist he never resorted to sound bites that excited audiences with reductionist slogans. Often working behind the scenes, he engaged in high-profile public debate only when he felt there was no other way to advance his point of view. Suspicious of quick fixes, he advocated incremental and gradual change as the best guarantor of true progress. Yet he did not let this commitment to long-term solutions interfere with his determination to give voice to the voiceless. Known as a risk taker on the court, he was no less bold off the court, where he never shied away from speaking truth to power. He was arrested twice, in 1985 while participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration in front of the South African Embassy and in 1992 while picketing the White House in protest of the George H.W. Bush administration’s discriminatory policies toward Haitian refugees. The first arrest embarrassed the American tennis establishment, which soon removed him from his position as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and the second occurred during the final months of his life as he struggled with the ravages of AIDS. In both cases he accepted the consequences of his principled activism with dignity. Mr. Ashe was a class act in every way, a man who practiced what he preached without being diverted by the temptations of power, fame or fortune. When we place his approach to dissent and public debate in a contemporary frame, it becomes obvious that his legacy is the antithesis of the scorched-earth politics of Trumpism. If Mr. Ashe were alive today, he would no doubt be appalled by the bullying tactics and insulting rhetoric of a president determined to punish athletes who have the courage and audacity to speak out against police brutality toward African-Americans. And yet we can be equally sure that Mr. Ashe would honor his commitment to respectful dialogue, refusing to lower himself to the president’s level of unrestrained invective. (…) Mr. Ashe would surely be gratified that to date, this high road has led to more protest, not less, confirming his belief that real change comes from rational advocacy and hard work, not emotional self-indulgence. As we celebrate his remarkable life and legacy a quarter-century after his death, we can be confident that Mr. Ashe would rush to join today’s activists in spirit and solidarity, solemnly but firmly taking a knee for social justice. Raymond Arsenault

Reviens, Arthur, Ils sont devenus fous !

En ces temps devenus fous …

Où après les médias et, enterrements compris, la haute fonction publique

Et, entre le négationnisme (pas de drapeau américain sur la lune) et la réécriture de l’histoire (les quelques mois d’infiltration du KKK par une équipe de policiers noir et blanc dans une petite ville du Colrado au début des années 70 transformés en film blaxploitation avec toute l’explosive subtilité d’un Spike Lee), Hollywood …

Comme au niveau des grosses multinationales du matériel de sport à l’occasion du 30e anniversaire d’un slogan de toute évidence fauché au yippie Jerry Rubin

Mais faussement attribué (droits obligent ?) aux dernière paroles du tristement célèbre premier exécuté (volontaire et déjà gratifié par Norman Mailer de son panégyrique littéraire) du retour de la peine de mort aux Etats-Unis …

La marchandisation d’un joueur (métis multimillionnaire abandonné par son père noir et adopté par des parents blancs) dont le seul titre de gloire est, outre ses chaussettes anti-policiers et ses tee-shirts à la gloire de Castro, son refus d’honorer le drapeau de son pays pour prétendument dénoncer les brutalités policières contre les noirs …

Tout semble dorénavant permis pour dénigrer l’actuel président américain et les forces de police …

Comment ne pas repenser …

En ce 50e anniversaire …

De la première victoire, dès la création du premier tournoi professionnel, d’un joueur de tennis noir à une épreuve de Grand chelem …

A la figure hélas oubliée d’un Arthur Ashe

Qui, de l’apartheid sud-africain à la défense des réfugiés haïtiens ou des enfants atteints du SIDA jusqu’à l’ONU …

Et loin des outrances racistes à l’époque d’un Mohamed Ali …

Ou de la violence actuelle (et surtout de ses conséquences sur les plus démunis quoi qu’en dise son biographe) du collectif Black lives matter que prétend défendre un Colin Kaeperinck …

Et sans parler du lamentable scandale, au nom d’un prétendu sexisme et face à une improbable nippo-haïtienne élevée aux Etats-Unis mais ne parlant pas japonais, de Serena Williams en finale du même US Open hier …

Avait toujours su joindre l’intelligence et le respect des autres comme de son propre pays à la plus redoutable des efficacités ?

What Arthur Ashe Knew About Protest

The tennis great was committed to respectful dialogue, refusing to lower himself to the level of invective

Raymond Arsenault

Mr. Arsenault is a biographer of Arthur Ashe.

Arthur Ashe always had an exquisite sense of timing, whether he was striking a topspin backhand or choosing when to speak out for liberty and justice for all. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the 50th anniversary of his victory at the first U.S. Open — a milestone to be celebrated on Saturday at the grand stadium bearing his name — coincides with a national conversation on the First Amendment rights and responsibilities of professional athletes.

Mr. Ashe has been gone for 25 years, struck down at the age of 49 by AIDS, inflicted by an H.I.V.-tainted blood transfusion. But the example he set as a champion on and off the court has never been more relevant. As Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and others strive to use their athletic stardom as a platform for social justice activism, they might want to look back at what this soft-spoken African-American tennis star accomplished during the age of Jim Crow and apartheid.

The first thing they will discover is that, like most politically motivated athletes, Mr. Ashe turned to activism only after his formative years as an emerging sports celebrity. He began his career as the Jackie Robinson of men’s tennis — a vulnerable and insecure racial pioneer instructed by his coaches to hold his tongue during a period when the success of desegregation was still in doubt. At the same time, Mr. Ashe’s natural shyness and deferential attitude toward his elders and other authority figures all but precluded involvement in the civil rights struggle and other political activities during his high school and college years.

The calculus of risk and responsibility soon changed, however, as Mr. Ashe reinvented himself as a 25-year-old activist-in-training during the tumultuous year of 1968. With his stunning victory in September at the U.S. Open, where he overcame the best pros in the world as a fifth-seeded amateur, he gained a new confidence that affected all aspects of his life.

Mr. Ashe’s political transformation had begun six months earlier when he gave his first public speech, a discourse on the potential importance of black athletes as community leaders, delivered at a Washington forum hosted by the Rev. Jefferson Rogers, a prominent black civil rights leader Mr. Ashe had known since childhood. Mr. Rogers had been urging Mr. Ashe to speak out on civil rights issues for some time, and when he finally did so, it released a spirit of civic engagement that enveloped his life. “This is the new Arthur Ashe,” the reporter Neil Amdur observed in this paper, “articulate, mature, no longer content to sit back and let his tennis racket do the talking.”

In part, Mr. Ashe’s new attitude reflected a determination to make amends for his earlier inaction. “There were times, in fact,” he recalled years later, “when I felt a burning sense of shame that I was not with other blacks — and whites — standing up to the fire hoses and the police dogs, the truncheons, bullets and bombs.” He added: “As my fame increased, so did my anguish.”

During the violent spring of 1968, the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Mr. Ashe had come to admire above all other black leaders, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, whom he had supported as a presidential candidate, shook Mr. Ashe’s faith in America. But he refused to surrender to disillusionment. Instead he dedicated himself to active citizenship on a level rarely seen in the world of sports.

His activism began with an effort to expand economic and educational opportunities for young urban blacks, but his primary focus soon turned to the liberation of black South Africans suffering under apartheid. Later he supported a wide variety of causes, playing an active role in campaigns for black political power, high educational standards for college athletes, criminal justice reform, equality of the sexes and AIDS awareness. He also became involved in numerous philanthropic enterprises.

By the end of his life, Mr. Ashe’s success on the court was no longer the primary source of his celebrity. He had become, along with Muhammad Ali, a prime example of an athlete who transcended the world of sports. In 2016, President Barack Obama identified Mr. Ali and Mr. Ashe as the sports figures he admired above all others. While noting the sharp contrast in their personalities, he argued that both men were “transformational” activists who pushed the nation down the same path to freedom and democracy.

Mr. Ashe practiced his own distinctive brand of activism, one based on unemotional appeals to common sense and enlightened philosophical principles as simple as the Golden Rule. He had no facility for, and little interest in, using agitation and drama to draw attention to causes, no matter how worthy they might be. A champion of civility, he always kept his cool and never raised his voice in anger or frustration. Viewing emotional appeals as self-defeating and even dangerous, he relied on reasoned persuasion derived from careful preparation and research.

Mr. Ashe preferred to make a case in written form, or as a speaker on the college lecture circuit or as a witness before the United Nations. His periodic opinion pieces in The Washington Post and other newspapers tackled a number of thorny issues related to sports and the broader society, including upholding high academic standards for college athletic eligibility and the expulsion of South Africa from international athletic competition. In the 1980s, he devoted several years to researching and writing “A Hard Road to Glory,” a groundbreaking three-volume history of African-American athletes.

In retirement Mr. Ashe became a popular tennis broadcaster known for his clever quips, yet as an activist he never resorted to sound bites that excited audiences with reductionist slogans. Often working behind the scenes, he engaged in high-profile public debate only when he felt there was no other way to advance his point of view. Suspicious of quick fixes, he advocated incremental and gradual change as the best guarantor of true progress.

Yet he did not let this commitment to long-term solutions interfere with his determination to give voice to the voiceless. Known as a risk taker on the court, he was no less bold off the court, where he never shied away from speaking truth to power.

He was arrested twice, in 1985 while participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration in front of the South African Embassy and in 1992 while picketing the White House in protest of the George H.W. Bush administration’s discriminatory policies toward Haitian refugees. The first arrest embarrassed the American tennis establishment, which soon removed him from his position as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and the second occurred during the final months of his life as he struggled with the ravages of AIDS. In both cases he accepted the consequences of his principled activism with dignity.

Mr. Ashe was a class act in every way, a man who practiced what he preached without being diverted by the temptations of power, fame or fortune. When we place his approach to dissent and public debate in a contemporary frame, it becomes obvious that his legacy is the antithesis of the scorched-earth politics of Trumpism. If Mr. Ashe were alive today, he would no doubt be appalled by the bullying tactics and insulting rhetoric of a president determined to punish athletes who have the courage and audacity to speak out against police brutality toward African-Americans. And yet we can be equally sure that Mr. Ashe would honor his commitment to respectful dialogue, refusing to lower himself to the president’s level of unrestrained invective.

Not all of the activist athletes involved in public protests during the past two years have followed Mr. Ashe’s model of restraint and civility. But many have made a good-faith effort to do so, resisting the temptation to respond in kind to Mr. Trump’s intemperate attacks on their personal integrity and patriotism. In particular, several of the most visible activists — including Mr. Kaepernick, Stephen Curry and Mr. James — have kept their composure and dignity even as they have borne the brunt of Mr. Trump’s racially charged Twitter storms and stump speeches. By and large, they have wisely taken the same high road that Mr. Ashe took two generations ago, eschewing the politics of character assassination while keeping their eyes on the prize.

Mr. Ashe would surely be gratified that to date, this high road has led to more protest, not less, confirming his belief that real change comes from rational advocacy and hard work, not emotional self-indulgence. As we celebrate his remarkable life and legacy a quarter-century after his death, we can be confident that Mr. Ashe would rush to join today’s activists in spirit and solidarity, solemnly but firmly taking a knee for social justice.

Raymond Arsenault is the author of “Arthur Ashe: A Life.”

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We remember Ashe for his electrifying talent. But he had a social conscience that was way ahead of its time

No one had expected a fifth-seeded, 25-year-old amateur on temporary leave from the army to come out on top in a field that included the world’s best pro players. The era of Open tennis, in which both amateurs and professionals competed, was only four months old. Many feared that mixing the two groups was a mistake. Yet Ashe, with help from a string of upsets that eliminated the top four seeds, defeated the Dutchman Tom Okker in the championship match – in the process becoming the first black man to reach the highest echelon of amateur tennis.

As an amateur, Ashe could not accept the champion’s prize money of $14,000. But the lost income proved inconsequential in light of the other benefits that came in the wake of his historic performance. He became not only as a bona fide sports star but also a citizen activist with important things to contribute to society and a platform to do so. Ashe began to speak out on questions of social and economic justice.

Earlier in the year, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had shocked Ashe out of his youthful reticence to become involved in the struggle for civil rights. Over the next 25 years, he worked tirelessly as an advocate for civil and human rights, a role model for athletes interested in more than fame and fortune.

“From what we get, we can make a living,” he counseled. “What we give, however, makes a life.”

Ashe’s 1968 win was truly impressive but his finest moment at the Open came, arguably, in 1992, four and a half months after the public disclosure that he had Aids and nearly a decade after he contracted HIV during a blood transfusion. If we apply Ashe’s professed standard of success, which placed social and political reform well above athletic achievement, the 25th US Open, not the first, is the tournament most deserving of commemoration. Without picking up a racket, he managed to demonstrate a moral leadership that far transcended the world of sports.

On 30 August, on the eve of the first round, a substantial portion of the professional tennis community rallied behind the stricken champion’s effort to raise funds for the new Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of Aids (AAFDA). The celebrity-studded event, the Arthur Ashe Aids Tennis Challenge, drew a huge crowd and nine of the game’s biggest stars. The support was unprecedented, leading one reporter to marvel: “The tennis world is known by and large as a selfish, privileged world, one crammed with factions and egos. So what is happening at the Open is unthinkable: gender and nationality and politics will take a back seat to a full-fledged effort to support Ashe.”

Participants included CBS correspondent Mike Wallace, then New York City mayor David Dinkins and two of tennis’s biggest celebrities, the up-and-coming star Andre Agassi and the four-time Open champion John McEnroe, who entertained the crowd by clowning their way through a long set. To Ashe’s delight, McEnroe, once known as the “Superbrat” of tennis, even put on a joke tantrum against the umpire.

Several days earlier, on a more serious note, McEnroe had spoken for many of his peers in explaining why he felt passionate about Ashe’s cause.

“It’s not something you can even think twice about when you’re asked to help,” he insisted. “The fact that the disease has happened to a tennis player certainly strikes home with all of us. I’m just glad someone finally organized the tennis community like this, and obviously it took someone like Arthur to do it.”

Ashe was thrilled with the response to the Aids Challenge, which raised $114,000 for the AAFDA. One man walked up and casually handed him a personal check for $25,000. Later in the week the foundation received $30,000 from an anonymous donor in North Carolina. Such generosity was what Ashe had hoped to inspire, and when virtually all of the US Open players complied with the foundation’s request to attach a special patch – “a red ribbon centered by a tiny yellow tennis ball” – to their outfits as a symbolic show of support for Aids victims, he knew he had started something important.

This awakening of social responsibility – among a group of athletes not typically known for political courage – was deeply gratifying to a man whose previous calls to action had been largely ignored. Seven years earlier he was fired as captain of the US Davis Cup team in part because leaders were uncomfortable with his growing political activism, especially his arrest during an anti-apartheid demonstration outside a South African embassy. This rebuke did not shake his belief in active citizenship as a bedrock principle, however, and as the 1992 Open drew to a close he demonstrated just how seriously he regarded personal commitment to social justice.

When his lifelong friend and anti-apartheid ally Randall Robinson asked Ashe to come to Washington for a protest march he immediately said yes, even though the march was scheduled four days before the end of the Open. The march concerned an issue that had become deeply important to Ashe: the Bush administration’s discriminatory treatment of Haitian refugees seeking asylum in the US. With more than 2,000 other protesters, Ashe gathered in front of the White House to seek justice for the growing mass of Haitian “boat people” being forcibly repatriated without a hearing.

In stark contrast to the warm reception accorded Cuban refugees fleeing Castro’s communist regime, the dark-skinned boat people were denied refuge due to a blanket ruling that Haitians, unlike Cubans, were economic migrants undeserving of political asylum. To Ashe and the organizers of the White House protest, this double standard – which flew in the face of the political realities of both islands – smacked of racism.

“The argument incensed me,” Ashe wrote. “Undoubtedly, many of the people picked up were economic refugees, but many were not.”

Ashe knew a great deal about Haiti: he had read widely and deeply about the island’s troubled past; he had visited on several occasions; he and his wife had even honeymooned there in 1977. More recently, he had monitored the truncated career of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a self-styled champion of the poor whose regime was toppled by a military coup with the tacit support of the Bush administration. Ashe felt compelled to speak out.

“I was prepared to be arrested to protest this injustice,” he said.

Considering his medical condition, he had no business being at a protest; certainly no one would have blamed him if he had begged off. No one, that is, but himself. At the appointed hour, he arrived at the protest site in jeans, T-shirt and straw hat, a human scarecrow reduced to 128lbs on his 6ft 1in frame, but resolute as ever. Big, bold letters on his shirt read: “Haitians Locked Out Because They’re Black.”

The throng included a handful of celebrities, but Ashe alone represented the sports world. He didn’t want to be treated as a celebrity, of course; he simply wanted to make a statement about the responsibilities of democratic citizenship. While he knew his presence was largely symbolic, he hoped to set an example.

Putting oneself at risk for a good cause, he assured one reporter, “does wonders for your outlook … Marching in a protest is a liberating experience. It’s cathartic. It’s one of the great moments you can have in your life.”

Since federal law prohibited large demonstrations close to the White House, the organizers expected arrests. The police did not disappoint: nearly 100 demonstrators, including Ashe, were arrested, handcuffed and carted away. Ashe, despite his physical condition, asked for and received no favors. After paying his fine and calling his wife Jeanne to assure her he was all right, he took the late afternoon train back to New York.

The next night, while sitting on his couch watching the nightly news, he felt a sharp pain in his sternum. Tests revealed he had suffered a mild heart attack, the second of his life. Prior to the trip to Washington, Jeanne had worried something like this might happen. But she knew her husband was never one to play it safe when something important was on the line.

On the tennis court, he had always been prone to fits of reckless play, going for broke with shots that defied logic or sense. Off the court, particularly in his later years, Arthur Ashe almost always went full-out. He did so not because he craved activity for its own sake but rather because he wanted to live a virtuous and productive life. Even near the end, weakened by disease, he still wanted to make a difference. And he did, as he always did.

    • Raymond Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin prof