Messianisme homosexuel: Quand le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût (What moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment », the newest semantic heirs to « love »?)

11 février, 2020

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Si toutes les valeurs sont relatives, alors le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût. Leo Strauss (?)
Tu ne coucheras pas avec un homme comme on couche avec une femme. C’est une abomination. Lévitique 18:22
Il n’y aura aucune prostituée parmi les filles d’Israël, et il n’y aura aucun prostitué parmi les fils d’Israël. Tu n’apporteras point dans la maison de l’Éternel, ton Dieu, le salaire d’une prostituée ni le prix d’un chien, pour l’accomplissement d’un voeu quelconque; car l’un et l’autre sont en abomination à l’Éternel, ton Dieu. Deutéronome 23: 17-18
La vertu même devient vice, étant mal appliquée, et le vice est parfois ennobli par l’action. Frère Laurent (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
La liberté, c’est la liberté de dire que deux et deux font quatre. Lorsque cela est accordé, le reste suit. George Orwell (1984)
Parler de liberté n’a de sens qu’à condition que ce soit la liberté de dire aux gens ce qu’ils n’ont pas envie d’entendre. George Orwell
Il faut constamment se battre pour voir ce qui se trouve au bout de son nez. Orwell
Le plus difficile n’est pas de dire ce que l’on voit mais d’accepter de voir ce que l’on voit. Péguy
Si vous admettez qu’un homme revêtu de la toute-puissance peut en abuser contre ses adversaires, pourquoi n’admettez-vous pas la même chose pour une majorité?  (…) Le pouvoir de tout faire, que je refuse à un seul de mes semblables, je ne l’accorderai jamais à plusieurs. Tocqueville
Si j’étais législateur, je proposerais tout simplement la disparition du mot et du concept de “mariage” dans un code civil et laïque. Le “mariage”, valeur religieuse, sacrale, hétérosexuelle – avec voeu de procréation, de fidélité éternelle, etc. -, c’est une concession de l’Etat laïque à l’Eglise chrétienne – en particulier dans son monogamisme qui n’est ni juif (il ne fut imposé aux juifs par les Européens qu’au siècle dernier et ne constituait pas une obligation il y a quelques générations au Maghreb juif) ni, cela on le sait bien, musulman. En supprimant le mot et le concept de “mariage”, cette équivoque ou cette hypocrisie religieuse et sacrale, qui n’a aucune place dans une constitution laïque, on les remplacerait par une “union civile” contractuelle, une sorte de pacs généralisé, amélioré, raffiné, souple et ajusté entre des partenaires de sexe ou de nombre non imposé.(…) C’est une utopie mais je prends date. Jacques Derrida
C’est le sens de l’histoire (…) Pour la première fois en Occident, des hommes et des femmes homosexuels prétendent se passer de l’acte sexuel pour fonder une famille. Ils transgressent un ordre procréatif qui a reposé, depuis 2000 ans, sur le principe de la différence sexuelle. Evelyne Roudinesco
Les enfants adoptés ou nés sous X revendiquent aujourd’hui le droit de connaître leur histoire. Nul n’échappe à son destin, l’inconscient vous rattrape toujours. (…)  les enfants adoptés ou issus de la PMA ne sortent jamais indemnes des perturbations liées à leur naissance. Il faut rester ouvert, être attentif à leurs questions, s’ils en posent, et surtout ne pas chercher à cacher la vérité. L’idéal serait de trouver une position équilibrée entre le système de transparence absolue à l’américaine et le système de dissimulation à la française, lequel, ne l’oublions pas, reposait autrefois sur une intention généreuse d’égalité des droits entre les enfants issus de différentes filiations. Evelyne Roudinesco
1936, dans les quartiers bourgeois de Tokyo. Sada Abe, ancienne prostituée devenue domestique, aime épier les ébats amoureux de ses maîtres et soulager de temps à autre les vieillards vicieux. Son patron Kichizo, bien que marié, va bientôt manifester son attirance pour elle et va l’entraîner dans une escalade érotique qui ne connaîtra plus de bornes. Kichizo a désormais deux maisons : celle qu’il partage avec son épouse et celle qu’il partage avec Sada. Les rapports amoureux et sexuels entre Sada et Kichizo sont désormais épicés par des relations annexes, qui sont pour eux autant de célébrations initiatiques. Progressivement, ils vont avoir de plus en plus de mal à se passer l’un de l’autre, et Sada va de moins en moins tolérer l’idée qu’il puisse y avoir une autre femme dans la vie de son compagnon. Kichizo demande finalement à Sada, pendant un de leurs rapports sexuels, de l’étrangler sans s’arrêter, quitte à le tuer. Sada accepte, l’étrangle jusqu’à ce qu’il meure, avant de l’émasculer, dans un geste ultime de mortification ; puis elle écrit sur la poitrine de Kichizo, avec le sang de ce dernier : ‘Sada et Kichi, maintenant unis’. Wikipedia
Il nous arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer (…) ce contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. On en a un exemple dans l’homme qui, sentant s’affaiblir son goût pour la femme qu’il aime, applique spontanément les règles qu’il a dégagées, et pour être sûr qu’il ne cesse pas d’aimer la femme, la met dans un milieu dangereux où il faut la protéger chaque jour. Proust (La Prisonnière)
C’est déjà ou presque de l’homosexualité, en vérité, que nous parlons puisque le modèle-rival se trouve normalement un individu du même sexe, du fait même que l’objet est hétérosexuel. Toute rivalité sexuelle est donc structurellement homosexuelle. Ce que nous appelons homosexualité, c’est la subordination complète, cette fois, de l’appétit sexuel aux effets du jeu mimétique qui concentre toutes les puissances d’attention et d’absorption du sujet sur l’individu responsable du double bind, le modèle en tant que rival, le rival en tant que modèle. Pour rendre cette genèse plus évidente, il faut évoquer ici un fait curieux observé par l’éthologie. Chez certains singes, quand un mâle se reconnaît battu par un rival et renonce à la femelle qu’il lui disputait, il se met, vis à vis de ce vainqueur, en position, nous dit-on, d’ ‘offre homosexuelle’. (…) S’il n’y a pas d’homosexualité ‘véritable’ chez les animaux, c’est parce que le mimétisme, chez eux, n’est pas assez intense pour infléchir durablement l’appétit sexuel vers le rival. Il est déjà assez intense, pourtant, au paroxysme des rivalités mimétiques, pour ébaucher cet infléchissement. Si j’ai raison, on devrait trouver dans les formes rituelles, le chaînon manquant entre la vague ébauche animale et l’homosexualité proprement dite. Et effectivement, l’homosexualité rituelle est un phénomène assez fréquent; elle se situe au paroxysme de la crise et on la trouve dans des cultures qui ne font aucune place, semble-t-il, à l’homosexualité, en dehors des rites religieux. Une fois de plus, en somme, c’est dans un contexte de rivalité aigüe qu’apparait l’homosexualité. Une comparaison du phénomène animal, de l’homosexualité rituelle, et de l’homosexualité moderne ne peut manquer de signaler que c’est le mimétisme qui entraine la sexualité et non l’inverse. De cette l’homosexualité rituelle, il faut rapprocher, je pense, un certain cannibalisme rituel qui se pratique dans des cultures , également, où le cannibalisme n’existe pas en temps ordinaire. Dans ce cas comme dans l’autre, il me semble, l’appétit instinctuel, alimentaire ou sexuel, se détache de l’objet que les hommes se disputent pour se fixer sur celui ou ceux qui nous le disputent. (…) Un des avantages de la genèse par la rivalité, c’est qu’elle se présente de façon absolument symétrique chez les deux sexes. Autrement dit, toute rivalité sexuelle est de structure homosexuelle chez la femme comme chez l’homme, aussi longtemps toutefois que l’objet reste hétérosexuel, c’est-à-dire qu’il reste l’objet prescrit par le montage instinctuel hérité de la vie animale. (…) C’est sur ce parallélisme que se base Proust pour affirmer qu’on peut transcrire une expérience homosexuelle en termes hétérosexuels sans jamais trahir la vérité de l’un ou l’autre désir. René Girard
La lisibilité de la filiation, qui est dans l’intérêt de l’enfant, est sacrifiée au profit du bon vouloir des adultes et la loi finit par mentir sur l’origine de la vieConférence des évêques
C’est au nom de l’égalité, de l’ouverture d’esprit, de la modernité et de la bien-pensance dominante qu’il nous est demandé d’accepter la mise en cause de l’un des fondements de notre société. (…) Ce n’est pas parce que des gens s’aiment qu’ils ont systématiquement le droit de se marier. Des règles strictes délimitent et continueront de délimiter les alliances interdites au mariage. Un homme ne peut pas se marier avec une femme déjà mariée, même s’ils s’aiment. De même, une femme ne peut pas se marier avec deux hommes. (…) « le mariage pour tous est uniquement un slogan car l’autorisation du mariage homosexuel maintiendrait des inégalités et des discriminations à l’encontre de tous ceux qui s’aiment, mais dont le mariage continuerait d’être interdit. (…) L’enjeu n’est pas ici l’homosexualité qui est un fait, une réalité, quelle que soit mon appréciation de Rabbin à ce sujet (…)  c’est l’institution qui articule l’alliance de l’homme et de la femme avec la succession des générations. C’est l’institution d’une famille, c’est-à-dire d’une cellule qui crée une relation de filiation directe entre ses membres. C’est un acte fondamental dans la construction et dans la stabilité tant des individus que de la société. (…) résumer le lien parental aux facettes affectives et éducatives, c’est méconnaître que le lien de filiation est un vecteur psychique et qu’il est fondateur pour le sentiment d’identité de l’enfant. (…) l’enfant ne se construit qu’en se différenciant, ce qui suppose d’abord qu’il sache à qui il ressemble. Il a besoin, de ce fait, de savoir qu’il est issu de l’amour et de l’union entre un homme, son père, et une femme, sa mère, grâce à la différence sexuelle de ses parents. (…) Le droit à l’enfant n’existe ni pour les hétérosexuels ni pour les homosexuels. Aucun couple n’a droit à l’enfant qu’il désire, au seul motif qu’il le désire. L’enfant n’est pas un objet de droit mais un sujet de droit. Gilles Bernheim
Ce qui pose problème dans la loi envisagée, c’est le préjudice qu’elle causerait à l’ensemble de notre société au seul profit d’une infime minorité, une fois que l’on aurait brouillé de façon irréversible trois choses:  les généalogies en substituant la parentalité à la paternité et à la maternité;  le statut de l’enfant, passant de sujet à celui d’un objet auquel chacun aurait droit; les identités où la sexuation comme donnée naturelle serait dans l’obligation de s’effacer devant l’orientation exprimée par chacun, au nom d’une lutte contre les inégalités, pervertie en éradication des différences. Ces enjeux doivent être clairement posés dans le débat sur le mariage homosexuel et l’homoparentalité. Ils renvoient aux fondamentaux de la société dans laquelle chacun d’entre nous a envie de vivre. Gilles Bernheim (Grand rabbin de France)
He said, ‘Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you. Juan Carlos Cruz
The pope is saying what every reputable biologist and psychologist will tell you, which is that people do not choose their sexual orientation. A great failing of the church is that many Catholics have been reluctant to say so, which then “makes people feel guilty about something they have no control over. Rev. James Martin (Jesuit)
The Vatican declined to confirm or deny the remarks in keeping with its policy not to comment on the pope’s private conversations. The comments first were reported by Spain’s El Pais newspaper. Official church teaching calls for gay men and lesbians to be respected and loved, but considers homosexual activity “intrinsically disordered.” Francis, though, has sought to make the church more welcoming to gays, most famously with his 2013 comment “Who am I to judge?” He also has spoken of his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting they are children of God, loved by God and deserving of accompaniment by the church. As a result, some sought to downplay the significance of the comments as merely being in line with Francis’ pastoral-minded attitude. In addition, there was a time not so long ago when the Catholic Church officially taught that sexual orientation was not something people choose, the implication being it was how God made them. The first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the dense summary of Catholic teaching published by St. John Paul II in 1992, said gay individuals “do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial.” The updated edition, which is the only edition available online and on the Vatican website, was revised to remove the reference to homosexuality not being a choice. The revised edition says: “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.” Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for equality for LGBTQ Catholics, said the pope’s comments were “tremendous” and would do a lot of good. “It would do a lot better if he would make these statements publicly, because LGBT people need to hear that message from religious leaders, from Catholic leaders,” he said. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit whose book “Building a Bridge” called for the church to find new pastoral ways of ministering to gays, noted that the pope’s comments were in a private conversation, not a public pronouncement or document. But citing the original version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Martin said they were nevertheless significant. Martin’s book is being published this week in Italian, with a preface by the Francis-appointed bishop of Bologna, Monsignor Matteo Zuppi, a sign that the message of acceptance is being embraced even in traditionally conservative Italy. NBC news
Why did god make me this way? Why did god make me wrong? Mia Lamay
The doctor said that we had a girl coming, so we started thinking of girl names. » « ‘Mia’ was born in 2010. » « Mia constantly wanted to change her clothes, like 12 times a day. » »Then the dog sweater came and she became obsessed with wearing one garment for six months straight. In hindsight I think she was trying to dispel a sense of discomfort in her image that was being shown to the world. » »She would take on boy personas and always want to play with boy things, we thought we had a tomboy on our hands. » « She didn’t fit in with the boys and she didn’t fit in with the girls. It was obvious to her and to the other kids. » « Her need to play boy roles and to be seen or spoken to as a boy at home became very persistent, and very consistent. Those are the hallmarks of a possibly transgender child — consistence, persistence, and insistence. And she was meeting all of those markers. » « A mother’s heart knows when her child is suffering, » says Jacob’s mom. « He was talking about hating his body, I found him angrily poking at himself one day, wanting to be something different. He would say ‘Why did god make me this way? Why did god make me wrong?' »One day after a near car accident, Jacob’s mom realized that if something were to happen, she didn’t want to « force her to be Mia for that one last day. At that point, my mind was made up. » In April of last year, the family took a trip and bought Jacob a Prince Charming costume. « We hadn’t yet transitioned Jacob, but he had short hair and was wearing almost entirely boy clothes… and he just glowed. Something clicked. » « There had been a video that had gone viral of an adorable little boy in California, Ryland Whittington, and his parents had made a video of him explaining transitioning and clearly this boy is so happy now. We were struck by that. » Jacob’s parents showed him the video of the boy, asking if he wanted to be like Ryland, but he said: « I can’t, I can be what I like at home, but I have to be Mia at school. » Jacob’s parents explained that he could start at a new school where everyone would know him as a boy from the beginning, and he immediately said « That’s what I want. I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob. » « Before the transition, he didn’t smile a lot. I had never seen him throw his head back and laugh. He’s a different person, he’s becoming himself. » »He started looking people in the eye, talking to people, and striking up conversations. I realized how much he had come out of his shell and how much being Jacob suited him. » »I couldn’t ask for a better son, » concludes Jacob’s dad. His mom agrees: « I want him to know how proud of him I am, how brave I believe he is, how no matter what I am in his corner, and I will always love him — because he’s my son. » Business insider
It’s not how you act, or what you wear, or anything like that. It’s just how you really are inside. … You just feel like you just got put in the wrong body. Jacob Lemay
Fourth grader Jacob Lemay knew he was a boy before he could properly pronounce the word “transgender.” His whole family now advocates for trans rights. Now, Mimi Lemay has written a memoir titled “What We Will Become” about love, acceptance and change. Jacob is now in fourth grade. He has a pet hedgehog named Trinket, and he loves hockey, jumping on his backyard trampoline and playing with his sisters. He is a typical 9-year-old boy in every way, except for being transgender. He said some of his friends know and some don’t. But to most kids, it’s just not that big a deal. Over the last five years, he has grown and matured, and he is more sophisticated now when he talks about what it means to him to be transgender. And since he has reached the early stages of puberty, Jacob has opted to take a puberty blocker. This is a completely reversible step endorsed by the medical community. It is also the very kind of treatment that some state lawmakers are looking to stop. More than half a dozen states, most recently Ohio, have introduced bills seeking to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. This type of care, Mimi Lemay said, will save the lives of children like Jacob. More than half a dozen states, most recently Ohio, have introduced bills seeking to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. This type of care, Mimi Lemay said, will save the lives of children like Jacob. Mimi and Joe Lemay said their entire family now advocates for transgender rights. In fact, Jacob recently asked presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a question at a televised town hall. The Lemays said they want to keep sharing their story to help other families with trans kids. “Your child will be OK as long as you support them,” Mimi Lemay said. “There is no harm in saying to your child, ‘I see you … and believe you, and you are who you say you are.’ NBC news
Je suis un prêtre clandestin. (…) À 18 ans, j’ai fait mon coming-out. Cela ne s’est pas bien passé. Au point que j’en suis venu à cette alternative : le suicide ou l’exil. (…) J’ai été accusé d’être un activiste homosexuel infiltré dans l’Église. Tout récemment, un archevêque a même voulu me défroquer. (…) Le point de départ a été la découverte de l’œuvre de René Girard. Avec sa lecture rigoureusement anthropologique du texte biblique, il a montré que l’on n’est face ni à une mythologie ni même à une théologie humaine mais, au contraire, à une anthropologie divine. (…) René Girard m’a aidé à prendre conscience que ce n’est pas Dieu qui est violent mais l’homme. Par exemple, le Christ n’est pas sacrifié par les hommes pour payer le prix exigé par un dieu sanguinaire. Que signifie alors la mort de Jésus ? Que les hommes sont violents. Et, ne se rebellant pas, Jésus s’est donné au milieu d’un de nos typiques épisodes de lynchage comme incarnant le pardon en tant que valeur divine. (…) La haine des autres est réelle mais je n’ai pas à me laisser définir par elle. Je cherche toujours à enseigner comment vivre au-delà du ressentiment. Devenir soi et pardonner, voici quelque chose au cœur de la foi chrétienne. (…) Si le rejet de l’homosexualité au sein de l’Église est si fort, c’est aussi parce qu’il y a tellement de gays mal à l’aise au sein du clergé (…) Cette parole est trop rare et pourtant indispensable pour que les positions dogmatiques sur la famille ou sur l’homosexualité évoluent au sein de l’Église et de la société. James Alison
In general, despite what those who try to conflate “gay” with “paedophile” would have you believe, a knowing clerical gay milieu is genuinely shocked and baffled when minors are involved. In all these cases, in as far as the behaviour was adult-related, plenty of people in authority sort-of-knew what was going on, and had known throughout the clerics’ respective careers. However the informal rule among the Catholic Clergy – the last remaining outpost of enforced homosociality in the Western world – is strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Typically, blind eyes are turned to the active sex lives of those clerics who have them, only two things being beyond the pale: whistle-blowing on the sex lives of others, or public suggestions that the Church’s teaching in this area is wrong. These lead to marginalisation, whether formal or informal. Given all this, it seems to me entirely reasonable that people should now be asking “How deep does this go?” If such careers were the result of blind eyes being turned, legal settlements made, and these clerics themselves were in positions of influence and authority, how much more are we going to learn about those who promoted and protected them? Or about those whom they promoted? So it is that voices like Rod Dreher – keenly followed blogger at The American Conservative – are resuscitating talk of the “Lavender Mafia”, and the demand, which became popular in conservative circles from 2002 onwards, that the priesthood be purged of gay men. Investigative journalists are being encouraged to lay bare the informal gay networks of friendship, patronage, and potential for blackmail which structure clerical life (or are being excoriated for their politically correct cowardice in failing to do so). The aim is to weed out the gays, especially the treasonous bishops who have perpetuated the system. Ross Douthat – the New York Times columnist – has called for a papally mandated investigation into the American Church (I guess along the lines of Mgr Charles Scicluna’s in Chile) in order to restore its moral authority. Others, like Robert Mickens, The Tablet’s Rome correspondent for many years, are equally aware of the “elephant in the sacristy” which is the massively disproportionate number of gay men in the clergy, but highlight the refusal of the Roman authorities to engage in any kind of publicly accountable, adult discussion about this fact. Their refusal reinforces collective dishonesty and perpetuates the psychosexual immaturity of all gay clergy, whether celibate, partnered or practitioners of so-called “serial celibacy”. How to approach this issue in a healthy way? As a gay priest myself I am obviously more in agreement with Mickens than with Dreher or Douthat. However I would like to record my complete sympathy with the passion of the latter two as well as with their rage at a collective clerical dishonesty which renders farcical the claim to be teachers of anything at all, let alone divine truth. Jesus becomes credible through witnesses, not corrupt party-line pontificators. Having said that, I suspect that particular interventions, whether by civil authority or Papal mandate, are always going to run aground on the fact that they can only deal with, and bring to light specific bad acts, usually ones that rise to the level of criminality. I cannot imagine a one-off legal intervention in this sphere that would be able to make appropriate distinctions where there are so many fine lines: between innocent friendship, sexually charged admiration, abusive sexual suggestion, emotional blackmail, financial blackmail, recognition of genuine talent, genuine love lived platonically, genuine love lived with sexual intimacy, sexual favours granted with genuine freedom, sexual favours granted out of fear or in exchange for promotion, covering peccadillos for a friend, covering graver matters for a rival in exchange for some benefit, not wanting to know too much about other people’s lives, or obsessively wanting to know too much about them. Let alone the usual rancours of break-ups, career disappointments, petty jealousies, bitterness, revenge and so on. All of these tend to shade into or out of each other over time, making effective outside assessment, even if it were desirable, impossible. (…) An anecdotal illustration: a few years ago, I found myself leading a retreat for Italian gay priests in Rome. Of the nearly fifty participants some were single, some partnered, for others it was the first time they had ever been able to talk honestly with other priests outside the confessional. Among them there were seven or eight mid-level Vatican officials. I asked one from the Congregation for the Clergy what he made of those attending with their partners. He smiled and said, “Of course, we know that the partnered ones are the healthy ones.” Let that sink in. In the clerical closet, dishonesty is functional, honesty is dysfunctional, and the absence or presence of circumspect sexual practice between adult males is irrelevant. And so to some systemic dimensions of “The elephant in the sacristy”. The first is its size. A far, far greater proportion of the clergy, particularly the senior clergy, is gay than anyone has been allowed to understand, even the bishops and cardinals themselves. Harvard Professor Mark Jordan’s phrase “a honeycomb of closets”, in which each enclosed participant has very little access to the overall picture, is exactly right. But the proportion is going to become more and more self-evident thanks to social media and the generalized expectations of gay honesty and visibility in the civil sphere. This despite many years of bishops resisting accurate sociological clergy surveys. At the time of the last papal election in 2013 we did have hints that the Vatican and the cardinal electors were shocked at discovering from reports commissioned by Benedict how many of them were gay. Part of their shock has to have been their fear at how the faithful would be scandalized if they had any idea. They were right to be afraid, and the faithful are going to have an idea as the implosion of the closet accelerates. (…) A second dimension is grasped when you understand the general rule that the heterosexuality of a cleric is inversely proportional to the stridency of his homophobia. This is one of the reasons why I am sceptical of all attempts to “weed out the gays”. The principal clerical crusaders in this area turn out to be gay themselves – in some cases, so deeply in denial that they don’t know it. And in some cases knowingly so. My own experience, which has since been confirmed by hundreds of echoes worldwide, is that there are proportionately few straight men in the clergy (leaving aside rural dioceses in some countries, where heterosexual concubinage is the customary norm) and they do not, as a rule, persecute gay men. It is closeted men who are the worst persecutors. Some are very sadly disturbed souls who cannot but try to clean outwardly what they cannot admit to being inwardly. These can’t be helped since Church teaching reinforces their hell. For others the lure of upward mobility leads them to strategic displays of enthusiasm for the enforcement of the house rules. A third dimension is that banning gay men from the seminary never works. In practise, the ban means that those “tempted” by honesty will be weeded out, or will weed themselves out, uncomfortable with the inducements to a double life. Those unconcerned by honesty, and happy to swim in the wake of the double lives of those doing the weeding, will learn how to look the part. The only seminaries that might avoid this are those that differentiate on the basis not of sexual orientation, but of honesty, which is a primary requisite for any form of psycho-sexual maturity. And there are some that do, presumably with the permission of wise Bishops, but in quiet contravention of the official line. These of course are instantly vulnerable to accusations of being liberal, of promoting homosexuality or whatever, when in practical terms, the reverse is true. For honesty is effectively forbidden by a Church teaching, which tells you that you are an intrinsically heterosexual person who is inexplicably suffering from a grave objective disorder called “same-sex attraction”. And so we get seminaries in which there are no gay seminarians, but whose rectors nevertheless push programmes like those of “Courage” on their oh-so-non-gay-but-transitorily-same-sex-attracted charges. A fourth dimension: no attempt to view this issue through culture war lenses will be helpful. The clerical closet is not the result of some 1960s liberal conspiracy. It is a systemic structure in which, absent scandal, all of its survivors are functional. (…) This is not a matter of left or right, traditional or progressive, good or bad, chaste or practising; nor even a matter of twenty five years of Karol Wojtyla’s notoriously poor judgment of character, though all these feed into it. It is a systemic structural trap, and if we are to get out of it, it must be described in such a way as to recognise that unknowing innocence as much as knowing guilt, well-meaning error as well as malice, has been, and is, involved in both its constitution and its maintenance. (…) What is to be done, and what is quietly happening? In my view the first thing is for the laity to be encouraged in their fast growing majority acceptance of being gay as a normal part of life. This, despite fierce resistence from elements of the clerical closet. Pope Francis’ reported conversation with Juan Carlos Cruz (a gay man abused in his youth by the Chilean priest, Fr Karadima) is a gem in this area: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you”. This remark led to much spluttering and explaining away from those who realise that the moment you say “God made you like this” then the game is up as regards the “intrinsic evil” of the acts. Nevertheless, it is only when straightforward, and obviously true, Christian messaging like Francis’ becomes normal among the laity themselves that honesty can become the norm among the clergy. Otherwise we will continue with the absurd and pharisaical current situation in which there is one rule for the clergy (“doesn’t matter what you do so long as you don’t say so in public or challenge the teaching”) and another for the laity, passed off as “the teaching of the Church”, and brutally enforced, for instance, among employees of Catholic schools, parish organists, softball coaches and the like. Only when it is clear (as it is increasingly) that the laity are quite confident in the (obviously true) view that “if you are this way, then learning to love appropriately is going to flow from, not despite, this” will it be possible to change, without scandal, the formal rules regarding the clergy. I bring this out since much was made of Francis’ reported answer to the Italian Bishops when asked if they should admit gay men to the seminary: “if you are in any doubt, no”. This was read as Francis being against gay men. I read the remark differently: that of a wise and merciful man addressing a group of men, a significant proportion of whom are gay, and telling them, in effect, that only those among them who are capable of honesty in dealing with their future charges should induct people like themselves into the clergy. “Are you yourself going to vacillate in standing up publicly for the honesty of the young man? If so, don’t make his future dependent on your cowardice”. James Alison
Aucune religion n’interdit le cannibalisme. Je ne trouve pas non plus de loi qui nous empêche de manger des gens. J’ai profité de l’espace entre la morale et la loi et c’est là-dessus que j’ai basé mon travail. Zhu Yu 
Sur internet : les gens racontent beaucoup de choses. Des choses pour se faire peur, ou pour se faire jouir, et parfois les deux se confondent. Il suffit de fouiller un peu sur le web pour s’en rendre compte. Commençons par le vore, une « paraphilie » (ce qu’on appelait autrefois « perversion », une pratique ou attirance considérée comme « anormale ») qui consiste à avaler ou être avalé par un animal ou un individu, sans effusion de sang ni violence. On se fait engloutir d’un coup, gloups, comme le Petit Chaperon rouge, fantasme du retour au ventre de la mère, avant de ressortir indemne. La plupart des sites pornos en proposent quelques vidéos, souvent une mauvaise 3D, le reste se passe dans la tête. Variantes : les giant vore, où des hommes minuscules se font ingurgiter par d’immenses maîtresses plantureuses ; ou le cock vore, lorsque la proie se fait avaler par un urètre géant, souvent à grands traits de style manga et avec des personnages indéterminés, quelque part entre l’humain et l’animal. Loin de ces supports masturbatoires, d’autres préfèrent une version plus réaliste : des vidéos façon snuff movies, où des membres plus vrais que nature grillent sur des barbecues. Devant lesquelles on se demande si c’est pour de faux, ou pas. Ils ont un rapport sexuel, puis décident ensemble de couper le pénis de Bernd, de le faire flamber, de le goûter. Puis ils le font sauter à la poêle avant de le terminer. Dans les Google Groupes, des topics spécialisés recensent les annonces de milliers de personnes « sérieuses » qui veulent manger, ou se faire manger, au milieu de dessins et montages grossiers de femmes avec une pomme dans la bouche et d’hommes avec une broche dans le derrière. Mais pour remonter à la source de l’imaginaire cannibale, il faut se rendre sur le forum DolcettGirls : fondé par un dessinateur canadien sous le pseudo de Perro Loco, il rassemble une communauté qui s’échange bons plans pornos, nouvelles érotiques, comics mordants et recettes. C’est à Perro Loco, aussi, qu’on doit le Cannibal Cafe Forum, institution fermée après un « terrible fait divers » : c’est là que l’informaticien allemand Armin Meiwes (aka le cannibale de Rotenbourg) a posté ses annonces pour trouver sa victime. En 2001, il reçoit la réponse de Bernd Jürgen Brandes, un Berlinois de 43 ans à la recherche de « l’excitation ultime ». Armin, qui rêve de « quelqu’un qui serait pour toujours avec lui », le reçoit. Ils ont un rapport sexuel, puis décident ensemble de couper le pénis de Bernd, de le faire flamber, de le goûter. Puis ils le font sauter à la poêle avant de le terminer. Armin tue ensuite Bernd de plusieurs coups de couteau, en découpe 30 kg et met « les meilleurs morceaux » au congélateur. « Ce qui a le plus choqué n’est pas le fait que Meiwes ait mangé une partie de Brandes, mais que Brandes ait consenti à être mangé », note le psychologue Mark Grifths, de la Nottingham Trent University : « On connaît peu la prévalence de ce type de comportements, bien que Meiwes affirme qu’au moins 800 personnes partageaient sa passion. » Alors Perro Loco a fermé le Cannibal Cafe et ouvert DolcettGirls, spécialisé dans les trips trash. Depuis cette affaire, il affirme que son site n’est qu’une plate-forme d’échanges de fantasmes, pas de rencontres meurtrières. Condamné à perpétuité, Armin est aujourd’hui en prison. Et végétarien. (…) Comme l’explique Bill Schutt dans son livre Cannibalism, a Perfectly Natural History, la nature abonde de cas de cannibalisme. Les araignées Amaurobius ferox pondent dans l’unique but de nourrir leur portée. Quand les bébés deviennent trop gros et que les œufs viennent à manquer, maman se laisse dévorer, dernière étape avant que sa progéniture, une fois adulte, puisse reproduire le schéma. En se faisant cannibaliser, les mantes religieuses produisent plus de sperme. Et on ne vous parle pas des requins : les fœtus s’entredévorent dans l’utérus de la mère et seul naît le plus fort, ragaillardi par toutes ces protéines avalées. Difficile pourtant de généraliser : d’une région à une autre, ou même d’un groupe à un autre au sein d’une même espèce, le cannibalisme apparaît ou disparaît. Pas de déterminisme, simplement une stratégie contingente de survie et d’évolution. Il en fut de même chez les humains : chez nous non plus, le cannibalisme n’a jamais été ancré, jamais des « sauvages » n’ont mangé leur prochain comme ils auraient savouré un steak d’élan. Chez nos ancêtres préhistoriques, on ne soupçonne que des cas isolés ; d’ailleurs l’espèce n’aurait pas survécu à un cannibalisme généralisé. Partout où l’anthropophagie s’est développée, elle était encadrée et liée à un contexte précis. Plus souvent, elle ne se résumait en réalité qu’à des fantasmes d’Occidentaux ou à des arguments inventés pour mieux éradiquer des populations (coucou Christophe Colomb). « Le cannibalisme survient toujours dans des sociétés en proie à des crises historiques, démographiques ou écologiques terribles. En plus, dès que les Européens arrivaient, ils décuplaient les crises, et vingt ans après les premiers contacts, le phénomène avait pris des proportions monumentales », explique l’anthropologue et chercheur au CNRS Georges Guille-Escuret. Parfois autorisé, voire valorisé (pour honorer un ancêtre ou saluer le courage d’un ennemi), le cannibalisme a très vite été rejeté par ceux qui ne le pratiquaient pas. « Nous vivons dans des sociétés qui ont décrété une rupture entre le monde de la nature et celui de la culture, analyse l’anthropologue. Dans la vision chinoise par exemple, cette césure n’existe pas : le cannibalisme va être progressivement prohibé pour maintenir les rapports sociaux, mais une anthropophagie pour raisons médicales ou sexuelles perdure encore, ce n’est pas un tabou ultime. » Chez nous, si. La faute aux Grecs, tout d’abord, qui jugeaient le cannibalisme incompatible avec le fonctionnement d’une cité, au même titre qu’un gouvernement de femmes. « Deux sociétés les effrayaient : les cannibales et les Amazones. D’ailleurs, partout où on a trouvé les premiers, on a subodoré les secondes. » Plus tard vient s’ajouter la phobie chrétienne : le fait de consommer de la chair humaine devient un sacrilège, l’homme ayant été créé « à l’image de Dieu ». « Il y a aussi la règle de l’interdiction du “redoublement du même” : on ne peut pas mettre l’identique sur l’identique », développe l’anthropologue. En clair : on ne couche pas avec sa sœur car c’est le même sang, on ne mange pas un membre de notre espèce car c’est la même chair. « En Polynésie, on considère même que le cannibalisme est un inceste alimentaire. Mais le double tabou, la phobie politique grecque et la phobie cosmogonique chrétienne, peut créer une double fascination. Toute prohibition implique une contestation fantasmatique. On n’interdit pas sans provoquer le désir de transgression. » Alors, dès qu’un cas est connu, tout le monde fait « beurk », mais tout le monde veut savoir. L’histoire du vol 571, où les survivants du crash ont dû manger leurs congénères pendant les deux mois qu’ont duré les recherches dans les Andes, a été adaptée au cinéma. Luka Rocco Magnotta, le dépeceur de Montréal, a son fan-club et va bientôt se marier. Issei Sagawa, l’étudiant japonais qui a mangé une Néerlandaise à Paris en 1981 (jugé irresponsable et libéré depuis), a écrit une douzaine de livres et tourné des pubs pour des restaurants de viande. Il a même participé à quelques pornos. « Il n’y a rien de plus excitant qu’une jolie fille en train de manger, quoi qu’elle mange. » Au restaurant, si Appetizing Kid en voit une en train de ronger une cuisse de poulet « ou une saucisse » avec les mains, le Croate de 28 ans reconnaît qu’il doit masquer son trouble avec sa serviette. « Je suis sûr que beaucoup imaginent pire, mais ils ne l’admettront jamais. » « La sexualité et l’alimentation sont des zones de métaphore l’une pour l’autre : c’est universel, comme Levi-Strauss l’avait remarqué, confirme Georges Guille-Escuret. Dans le cannibalisme, beaucoup de métaphores sexuelles s’expriment. Le va-et-vient est permanent. » Ne dit-on pas qu’il/elle est « à croquer » ? Au lit, qui ne s’est jamais fait mordiller une oreille ou un téton ? Et ce bébé joufflu, pourquoi mémé dit-elle qu’« on le mangerait » en embrassant ses petits petons ? « Bien sûr, je trouve excitant une cannibale qui mange une jambe ou la masculinité d’un mec, mais je préfère encore plus le vore classique, précise Appetizing Kid : un requin qui avale un surfeur, une géante qui mange un homme… » Alors quand Dinoshark ou Shark Attack passe à la télé, il sort le Sopalin. Des cannibales, des vrais, il affirme en avoir croisé. Il a vu des photos (je recevrai moi-même quelques images où le montage est difficile à prouver). Des gens dont il se tient éloigné. « J’aime l’art, l’imaginaire du cannibalisme, mais ça reste virtuel pour la plupart d’entre nous. On estime plus nos vies que nos fantasmes. » Ce désir, le psychologue américain Steven J. Scher et son équipe l’ont analysé. Résultat : le degré d’horreur que nous ressentons vis-à-vis de l’anthropophagie dépend de notre attirance pour la victime. En demandant à leurs cobayes de choisir, parmi plusieurs personnes, qui ils embrasseraient et qui ils mangeraient, ils ont remarqué qu’on trouve moins dégoûtant de manger une personne de l’autre sexe, soit un potentiel partenaire. On trouve aussi moins répugnant de manger une personne « sexuellement attirante » qu’une moche, un adulte qu’un enfant. « La corrélation [entre désir et cannibalisme] est proche de 90 %, écrivent-ils dans leur étude. En général, ce qui provoque le dégoût à l’idée de manger une personne est aussi ce qui provoque le dégoût lorsqu’il s’agit de choisir un partenaire sexuel. » A quel moment peut-on switcher de « tiens, si on faisait l’amour » à « tiens, si on se grignotait l’oignon » ? D’un point de vue purement sadomasochiste, on peut imaginer le fait de cannibaliser comme l’acte ultime de domination, et le fait d’être mangé comme celui de la soumission. Neon
L’oppression mentale totalitaire est faite de piqûres de moustiques et non de grands coups sur la tête. (…) Quel fut le moyen de propagande le plus puissant de l’hitlérisme? Etaient-ce les discours isolés de Hitler et de Goebbels, leurs déclarations à tel ou tel sujet, leurs propos haineux sur le judaïsme, sur le bolchevisme? Non, incontestablement, car beaucoup de choses demeuraient incomprises par la masse ou l’ennuyaient, du fait de leur éternelle répétition.[…] Non, l’effet le plus puissant ne fut pas produit par des discours isolés, ni par des articles ou des tracts, ni par des affiches ou des drapeaux, il ne fut obtenu par rien de ce qu’on était forcé d’enregistrer par la pensée ou la perception. Le nazisme s’insinua dans la chair et le sang du grand nombre à travers des expressions isolées, des tournures, des formes syntaxiques qui s’imposaient à des millions d’exemplaires et qui furent adoptées de façon mécanique et inconsciente. Victor Klemperer (LTI, la langue du IIIe Reich)
Il m’était arrivé plusieurs fois que certains gosses ouvrent ma braguette et commencent à me chatouiller. Je réagissais de manière différente selon les circonstances, mais leur désir me posait un problème. Je leur demandais : « Pourquoi ne jouez-vous pas ensemble, pourquoi m’avez-vous choisi, moi, et pas d’autres gosses? » Mais s’ils insistaient, je les caressais quand même ». Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Grand Bazar, 1975)
Dénoncé en direct comme un quasi-pédophile appelé à répondre de ses actes devant la justice pour les outrages imposés à des  jeunes filles flétries», «Gab’la rafale» tint le choc, mais ce lynchage télévisuel laissa des traces. En avouant son penchant pour des jouvencelles, Matzneff fut la proie d’un néopuritanisme conquérant qui, paradoxalement, accompagnerait, les années suivantes, le déferlement d’une pornographie «chic» sévissant aussi bien dans le cinéma, la publicité que la littératureLe Figaro (2009)
 Matzneff est un personnage public. Lui permettre d’exprimer au grand jour ses viols d’enfants sans prendre les mesures nécessaires pour que cela cesse, c’est donner à la pédophilie une tribune, c’est permettre à des adultes malades de violenter des enfants au nom de la littérature. Marie-France Botte et Jean-Paul Mari
Un écrivain comme Gabriel Matzneff n’hésite pas à faire du prosélytisme. Il est pédophile et s’en vante dans des récits qui ressemblent à des modes d’emploi. Or cet écrivain bénéficie d’une immunité qui constitue un fait nouveau dans notre société. Il est relayé par les médias, invité sur les plateaux de télévision, soutenu dans le milieu littéraire. Souvenez-vous, lorsque la Canadienne Denise Bombardier l’a interpellé publiquement chez Pivot, c’est elle qui, dès le lendemain, essuya l’indignation des intellectuels. Lui passa pour une victime : un comble ! (…) Je ne dis pas que ce type d’écrits sème la pédophilie. Mais il la cautionne et facilite le passage du fantasme à l’acte chez des pédophiles latents. Ces écrits rassurent et encouragent ceux qui souffrent de leur préférence sexuelle, en leur suggérant qu’ils ne sont pas les seuls de leur espèce. D’ailleurs, les pédophiles sont très attentifs aux réactions de la société française à l’égard du cas Matzneff. Les intellectuels complaisants leur fournissent un alibi et des arguments: si des gens éclairés défendent cet écrivain, n’est-ce pas la preuve que les adversaires des pédophiles sont des coincés, menant des combats d’arrière-garde? Bernard Cordier (psychiatre, 1995)
Nous considérons qu’il y a une disproportion manifeste entre la qualification de ‘crime’ qui justifie une telle sévérité, et la nature des faits reprochés; d’autre part, entre le caractère désuet de la loi et la réalité quotidienne d’une société qui tend à reconnaître chez les enfants et les adolescents l’existence d’une vie sexuelle (si une fille de 13 ans a droit à la pilule, c’est pour quoi faire ?), TROIS ANS DE PRISON POUR DES CARESSES ET DES BAISERS, CELA SUFFIT !” Nous ne comprendrions pas que, le 29 janvier, Dejager, Gallien et Bruckardt ne retrouvent pas la liberté.  Aragon, Ponge, Barthes, Beauvoir, Deleuze, Glucksmann,  Hocquenghem, Kouchner, Lang, Gabriel Matzneff, Catherine Millet,  Sartre, Schérer et Sollers (Pétition de soutien à trois accusés de pédophilie, Le Monde, 1977)
Presidents run for re-election against real opponents, not public perceptions. For all the media hype, voters often pick the lesser of two evils, not their ideals of a perfect candidate. Victor Davis Hanson
How can evangelicals support Donald Trump? That question continues to befuddle and exasperate liberals. How, they wonder, can a man who is twice divorced, a serial liar, a shameless boaster (including about alleged sexual assault) and an unrepentant xenophobe earn the enthusiastic backing of so many devout Christians? About 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016; according to a recent poll, almost 70% of white evangelicals approve of how he has handled the presidency – far more than any other religious group. To most Democrats, such support seems a case of blatant hypocrisy and political cynicism. Since Trump is delivering on matters such as abortion, the supreme court and moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, conservative Christians are evidently willing to overlook the president’s moral failings. In embracing such a one-dimensional explanation, however, liberals risk falling into the same trap as they did in 2016, when their scorn for evangelicals fed evangelicals’ anger and resentment, contributing to Trump’s huge margin among this group. Bill Maher fell into this trap during a biting six-minute polemic he delivered on his television show in early March. Evangelicals, he said, “needed to solve this little problem” – they want to support a Republican president, but this particular one “happens to be the least Christian person ever”. “How to square the circle?” he asked. “Say that Trump is like King Cyrus.” According to Isaiah 45, God used the non-believer Cyrus as a vessel for his will; many evangelicals today believe that God is similarly using the less-than-perfect Trump to achieve Christian aims. But Trump isn’t a vessel for God’s will, Maher said, and Cyrus “wasn’t a fat, orange-haired, conscience-less scumbag”. Trump’s supporters “don’t care”, he ventured, because “that’s religion. The more it doesn’t make sense the better, because it proves your faith.” Maher portrayed evangelical Christians as a dim-witted group willing to make the most ludicrous theological leaps to advance their agenda. As I watched, I tried to imagine how evangelicals would view this routine. I think they would see a secular elitist eager to assert what he considers his superior intelligence. They would certainly sense his contempt for the many millions of Americans who believe fervently in God, revere the Bible and see Trump as representing their interests. Maher’s diatribe reminded me of a pro-Trump acquaintance from Ohio who now lives in Manhattan and who says that New York liberals are among the most intolerant people he has ever met. Liberals have good cause to decry the ideology of conservative Christians, given their relentless assault on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and climate science. But the disdain for Christians common among the credentialed class can only add to the sense of alienation and marginalization among evangelicals. Many evangelicals feel themselves to be under siege. In a 2016 survey, 41% said it was becoming more difficult to be an evangelical. And many conservative Christians see the national news media as unrelievedly hostile to them. Most media coverage of evangelicals falls into a few predictable categories. One is the exotic and titillating – stories of ministers who come out as transgender, or stories of evangelical sexual hypocrisies. Another favorite subject is progressive evangelicals who challenge the Christian establishment. (…) In 2016, [ the Times’ Nicholas Kristof,] wrote a column criticizing the pervasive discrimination toward Christians in liberal circles. He quoted Jonathan Walton, a black evangelical and professor of Christian morals at Harvard, who compared the common condescension toward evangelicals to that directed at racial minorities, with both seen as “politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor”. Strangely, the group most overlooked by the press is the people in the pews. It would be refreshing for more reporters to travel through the Bible belt and talk to ordinary churchgoers about their faith and values, hopes and struggles. Such reporting would no doubt show that the world of American Christianity is far more varied and complex than is generally thought. It would reveal, for instance, a subtle but important distinction between the Christian right and evangelicals in general, who tend to be less political (though still largely conservative). This kind of deep reporting would probably also highlight the enduring power of a key tenet of the founder of Protestantism. “Faith, not works,” was Martin Luther’s watchword. In his view, it is faith in Christ that truly matters. If one believes in Christ, then one will feel driven to do good works, but such works are always secondary. Trump’s own misdeeds are thus not central; what he stands for – the defense of Christian interests and values – is. Luther also preached the doctrine of original sin, which holds that all humans are tainted by Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden and so remain innately prone to pride, anger, lust, vengeance and other failings. Many evangelicals have themselves struggled with divorce, broken families, addiction and abuse. We are thus all sinners – the president included. (…) I can hear the reactions of some readers to this column: Enough! Enough trying to understand a group that helped put such a noxious man in the White House. Yet such a reaction is both ungenerous and shortsighted. Liberals take pride in their empathy for “the other” and their efforts to understand the perspective of groups different from themselves. They should apply that principle to evangelicals. If liberals continue to scoff, they risk reinforcing the rage of evangelicals – and their support for Trump. Michael Massing
Comment les évangéliques peuvent-ils soutenir Donald Trump? Cette question continue de brouiller et d’exaspérer les progressistes. Comment, se demandent-ils, un homme qui est divorcé deux fois, un menteur en série, un fanfaron éhonté (y compris au sujet d’une agression sexuelle présumée) et un xénophobe impénitent peut-il obtenir le soutien enthousiaste de tant de chrétiens dévots? Environ 80% des évangéliques ont voté pour Trump en 2016; selon un récent sondage, près de 70% des évangéliques blancs approuvent la façon dont il a géré la présidence – bien plus que tout autre groupe religieux. Pour la plupart des démocrates, un tel soutien semble être un cas d’hypocrisie flagrante et de cynisme politique. Étant donné que Trump se prononce sur des questions telles que l’avortement, la Cour suprême et le déplacement de l’ambassade américaine en Israël à Jérusalem, les chrétiens conservateurs sont évidemment prêts à ignorer les défauts moraux du président. Cependant, en adoptant une telle explication unidimensionnelle, les libéraux risquent de tomber dans le même piège qu’en 2016, lorsque leur mépris pour les évangéliques a nourri la colère et le ressentiment des évangéliques, contribuant à l’énorme marge de Trump parmi ce groupe. Bill Maher est tombé dans ce piège dans la diatribe mordante de six minutes qu’il a prononcée lors de son émission de télévision début mars. Les évangéliques, a-t-il dit, « devaient résoudre ce petit problème » – ils veulent soutenir un président républicain, mais celui-ci « se trouve être le moins chrétien de tous les temps ». « Comment résoudre cette quadrature du cercle? », a-t-il demandé. « Dire que Trump est comme le roi Cyrus. » Selon Ésaïe 45, Dieu a utilisé le non-croyant Cyrus comme véhicule de sa volonté; de nombreux évangéliques croient aujourd’hui que Dieu utilise de la même manière un Trump moins que parfait pour atteindre les objectifs chrétiens. Mais Trump n’est pas un vaisseau pour la volonté de Dieu, a déclaré Maher, et Cyrus « n’était pas un nul gras, aux cheveux orange et sans conscience ». Les partisans de Trump « ne s’en soucient pas », s’est-il aventuré, parce que « c’est la religion. Moins cela a de sens, mieux c’est, car cela prouve votre foi. »Maher a dépeint les chrétiens évangéliques comme un groupe humble disposé à faire les sauts théologiques les plus ridicules pour faire avancer leur programme. Pendant que je regardais, j’ai essayé d’imaginer comment les évangéliques verraient cette routine. Je pense qu’ils verraient un élitiste laïc désireux d’affirmer ce qu’il considère comme son intelligence supérieure. Ils ressentiraient certainement son mépris pour les millions d’Américains qui croient ardemment en Dieu, vénèrent la Bible et considèrent Trump comme représentant leurs intérêts. La diatribe de Maher m’a rappelé une connaissance pro-Trump de l’Ohio qui vit maintenant à Manhattan et qui dit que les libéraux de New York sont parmi les personnes les plus intolérantes qu’il ait jamais rencontrées. Les libéraux ont de bonnes raisons de dénoncer l’idéologie des chrétiens conservateurs, étant donné leur assaut incessant contre les droits à l’avortement, le mariage homosexuel, les droits des transgenres et la science du climat. Mais le mépris pour les chrétiens, commun à la classe diplômée, ne peut qu’ajouter au sentiment d’aliénation et de marginalisation des évangéliques. De nombreux évangéliques se sentent assiégés. Dans une enquête de 2016, 41% ont déclaré qu’il devenait plus difficile d’être évangélique. Et de nombreux chrétiens conservateurs considèrent les médias nationaux comme hostiles à leur égard. La plupart des reportages médiatiques sur les évangéliques se répartissent en quelques catégories prévisibles. L’une est les histoires exotiques et émouvantes – des histoires de pasteurs qui se révèlent transgenres, ou des histoires d’hypocrisies sexuelles évangéliques. Un autre sujet de prédilection est celui des évangélistes progressistes qui défient l’establishment chrétien. (…) En 2016, [léditorialiste du NYT Nicholas Kristof] a écrit une chronique critiquant la discrimination omniprésente envers les chrétiens dans les milieux de gauche. Il a cité Jonathan Walton, un évangélique noir et professeur de morale chrétienne à Harvard, qui a comparé la condescendance commune envers les évangéliques à celle dirigée contre les minorités raciales, les deux étant considérées comme «politiquement peu sophistiquées, manquant d’éducation, en colère, amères, émotionnelles, pauvres». Étrangement, le groupe le plus négligé par la presse est celui des blancs. Il serait rafraîchissant que davantage de journalistes parcourent la « Bible belt » et parlent aux fidèles ordinaires de leur foi et de leurs valeurs, de leurs espoirs et de leurs luttes. De tels reportages montreraient sans aucun doute que le monde du christianisme américain est beaucoup plus varié et complexe qu’on ne le pense généralement. Cela révélerait, par exemple, une distinction subtile mais importante entre la droite chrétienne et les évangéliques en général, qui ont tendance à être moins politiques (quoique encore largement conservateurs). Ce genre de reportage approfondi mettrait probablement également en évidence le pouvoir durable d’un principe clé du fondateur du protestantisme.«La foi, pas les œuvres», était le mot d’ordre de Martin Luther. Selon lui, c’est la foi en Christ qui compte vraiment. Si l’on croit en Christ, on se sent poussé à faire de bonnes œuvres, mais ces œuvres sont toujours secondaires. Les propres manquements de Trump ne sont donc pas centraux; mais c’est ce qu’il représente – la défense des intérêts et des valeurs chrétiennes – qui l’est. Luther a également prêché la doctrine du péché originel, selon laquelle tous les humains sont entachés par la transgression d’Adam dans le jardin d’Eden et restent donc naturellement enclins à l’orgueil, la colère, la luxure, la vengeance et d’autres défauts. De nombreux évangéliques ont eux-mêmes lutté contre le divorce, la rupture dans leurs familles, la toxicomanie et les abus. Nous sommes donc tous pécheurs – y compris le président. (…) J’entends les réactions de certains lecteurs à cette chronique: Il y en assez d’essayer de comprendre un groupe qui a permis l’arrivée d’un homme aussi nocif à la Maison Blanche. Pourtant, une telle réaction est à la fois peu généreuse et à courte vue. Les libéraux sont fiers de leur empathie pour ‘l’autre’ et de leurs efforts pour comprendre la perspective de groupes différents d’eux. Ils devraient appliquer ce principe aux évangéliques. Si la gauche continue ses moqueries, elle risque de renforcer la rage des évangéliques – et leur soutien à Trump. » Michael Massing
C’est au nom de la liberté, bien entendu, mais aussi au nom de l’ « amour, de la fidélité, du dévouement » et de la nécessité de « ne pas condamner des personnes à la solitude » que la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis a finalement validé le mariage entre personnes de même sexe. Tels furent en tout cas les mots employés au terme de cette longue décision rédigée par le Juge Kennedy au nom de la Cour. (…) Le mariage gay est entré dans le droit américain non par la loi, librement débattue et votée au niveau de chaque Etat, mais par la jurisprudence de la plus haute juridiction du pays, laquelle s’impose à tous les Etats américains. Mais c’est une décision politique. Eminemment politique à l’instar de celle qui valida l’Obamacare, sécurité sociale à l’américaine, reforme phare du Président Obama, à une petite voix près. On se souviendra en effet que cette Cour a ceci de particulier qu’elle prétend être totalement transparente. Elle est composée de neuf juges, savants juristes, et rend ses décisions à la suite d’un vote. Point de bulletins secrets dans cette enceinte ; les votants sont connus. A se fier à sa composition, la Cour n’aurait jamais dû valider le mariage homosexuel : cinq juges conservateurs, quatre progressistes. Cinq a priori hostiles, quatre a priori favorables. Mais le sort en a décidé autrement ; le juge Kennedy, le plus modéré des conservateurs, fit bloc avec les progressistes, basculant ainsi la majorité en faveur de ces derniers. C’est un deuxième coup dur pour les conservateurs de la Cour en quelques mois : l’Obamacare bénéficia également de ce même coup du sort ; à l’époque ce fut le président, le Juge John Roberts, qui permit aux progressistes de l’emporter et de valider le système. (…) La spécificité de l’évènement est que ce sont des juges qui, forçant l’interprétation d’une Constitution qui ne dit rien du mariage homosexuel, ont estimé que cette union découlait ou résultait de la notion de « liberté ». C’est un « putsch judiciaire » selon l’emblématique juge Antonin Scalia, le doyen de la Cour. Un pays qui permet à un « comité de neuf juges non-élus » de modifier le droit sur une question qui relève du législateur et non du pouvoir judiciaire, ne mérite pas d’être considéré comme une « démocratie ». Mais l’autre basculement désormais acté, c’est celui d’une argumentation dont le centre de gravité s’est déplacé de la raison vers l’émotion, de la ratio vers l’affectus. La Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis s’est en cela bien inscrite dans une tendance incontestable au sein de la quasi-totalité des juridictions occidentales. L’idée même de raisonnement perd du terrain : énième avatar de la civilisation de l’individu, les juges éprouvent de plus en plus de mal à apprécier les arguments en dehors de la chaleur des émotions. Cette décision fait en effet la part belle à la médiatisation des revendications individualistes, rejouées depuis plusieurs mois sur le modèle de la « lutte pour les droits civiques ». Ainsi la Cour n’hésite pas à comparer les lois traditionnelles du mariage à celles qui, à une autre époque, furent discriminatoires à l’égard des afro-américains et des femmes. (…) La Maison Blanche s’est instantanément baignée des couleurs de l’arc-en-ciel, symbole de la « gay pride ». Les réseaux sociaux ont été inondés de ces mêmes couleurs en soutien à ce qui est maintenant connu sous le nom de la cause gay. (…) Comme le relève un autre juge de la Cour ayant voté contre cette décision, il est fort dommage que cela se fasse au détriment du droit et de la Constitution des Etats-Unis d’Amérique. Yohann Rimokh
Le droit a pour rôle d’instituer et d’assurer les personnes de leur identité. Il faudrait se demander si reporter sur les individus, et en particulier sur les jeunes, le poids de devoir définir et (ré)affirmer eux-mêmes à tout moment les éléments de leur identité sans jamais pouvoir rien tenir pour acquis est vraiment libérateur. Muriel Fabre-Magnan
Une des raisons qui m’ont poussée à écrire ce livre était la lassitude de voir des termes juridiques employés à contresens, comme le contrat ou le consentement, qu’on associe toujours à la liberté dans le grand public, alors qu’en réalité, pour un juriste, qui dit contrat et consentement dit au contraire que l’on renonce à une partie de sa liberté ; le contrat n’est pas le mode normal de l’exercice des libertés. Je voulais alors souligner le risque de retournement de la liberté qui en résulte. Le lexique utilisé dans le cadre de débats de société conduit en outre souvent à polariser les opinions. La question de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH) est un excellent exemple. On trouve un camp qui pousse à une interprétation toujours plus individualiste des droits de l’homme par la CEDH et un autre qui condamne de façon générale les droits de l’homme. Le Royaume-Uni, par exemple, avait menacé de dénoncer la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme avant même le Brexit. Il me semble possible et préférable de trouver une voie alternative : il faut en effet défendre les droits de l’homme, qui sont une avancée démocratique essentielle, et la CEDH a ainsi rendu une série d’arrêts extrêmement précieux, par exemple pour condamner l’état des prisons, garantir le respect des droits de la défense ou encore dénoncer des pays qui se livrent à des traitements inhumains ou dégradants. Et, en même temps, la CEDH dérape parfois dans ses arrêts et abuse de ses prérogatives. Seule une analyse juridique précise permet de démonter les rouages, comprendre à quel endroit exact se fait ce dérapage et d’essayer d’y remédier. Sinon, on est inévitablement conduit à adopter une position excessive dans un sens ou dans un autre. (…) C’est effectivement très récemment que ce terme de liberté a pris un sens général, et presque philosophique, qui est celui du droit pour les individus de mener leur vie comme ils l’entendent. La liberté est devenue la faculté de pouvoir faire tous les choix pour soi-même, ce qu’on appelle aujourd’hui un droit à l’autonomie personnelle. Cet énoncé peut certes sembler satisfaisant dans un cadre autre que juridique, mais demander au droit de garantir que les personnes puissent faire ce qu’elles veulent quand elles veulent conduit à l’effet inverse et à un risque de retournement de cette liberté. Si, en effet, le droit doit garantir à toute personne la possibilité de faire ce qu’elle veut, y compris de renoncer à sa liberté, on finit évidemment par détruire le concept même de liberté. (…) Et, comme le soulignent plusieurs auteurs, l’ultralibéralisme économique ou sociétal sont les deux faces d’une même médaille. La liberté est souvent revendiquée pour que les autres puissent se mettre à notre disposition. La faculté de renoncer à sa liberté n’est cependant pas la liberté. Plus généralement, ce qu’on appelle une protection des personnes contre elles-mêmes, et qui est dénoncé comme une forme de paternalisme étatique, est en réalité toujours une protection des personnes contre autrui. L’exemple de la prostitution est assez typique, et il illustre aussi un des autres points que je voulais souligner dans ce livre, à savoir que tous les débats contemporains, sociétaux ou économiques qui posent la question de la licéité sont toujours appréciés par rapport au seul critère du consentement. Cela signifie que l’on ramène tout à un débat interindividuel quand il serait plus pertinent de s’interroger, par exemple, sur les politiques économiques et sociales donnant aux personnes une plus grande faculté de choix de vie. Que signifie le consentement d’une prostituée si elle n’a pas d’autre choix que de consentir ? (…) La liberté sexuelle implique la faculté pour chacun d’avoir la sexualité de son choix sans avoir à subir aucune discrimination. Mais pourquoi l’État devrait-il donner sa bénédiction à chaque nouvelle pratique ? De même, la contractualisation des relations sexuelles n’est pas la meilleure façon de protéger juridiquement contre les agressions sexuelles ni de respecter le consentement des personnes. Si on contractualise, on s’oblige à ces pratiques. Or la liberté consiste en la capacité de pouvoir refuser un rapport initialement consenti. (…) Le droit doit tenir compte des évolutions sociales, mais il est aussi un horizon tracé pour une société. Il est en effet de l’ordre du devoir-être. Les juristes opposent toujours le fait et le droit, donc le réel et ce qui doit être. Le droit est, dans une société, les valeurs et les objectifs sur lesquels les personnes s’accordent. Pour vivre ensemble, il est nécessaire de définir un projet commun, lequel peut évidemment évoluer dans le temps. Le terme d’institution de la liberté cherche à exprimer l’aspect dynamique de cette liberté et le rôle que le droit doit jouer pour la garantir. On ne naît pas libre, on le devient, et c’est ce processus d’émancipation que doit soutenir le droit. Muriel Fabre-Magnan
Nine in 10 Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in their personal life, a new high in Gallup’s four-decade trend. The latest figure bests the previous high of 88% recorded in 2003. Gallup
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-eight percent (48%) disapprove. Rasmussen (Feb. 10, 2020)
The turnout in the Iowa caucus was below what we expected, what we wanted. Trump’s approval rating is probably as high as it’s been. This is very bad. And now it appears the party can’t even count votes. (…) We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party. For fuck’s sake, we’ve got Trump at Davos talking about cutting Medicare and no one in the party has the sense to plaster a picture of him up there sucking up to the global elites, talking about cutting taxes for them while he’s talking about cutting Medicare back home. Jesus, this is so obvious and so easy and I don’t see any of the candidates taking advantage of it. The Republicans have destroyed their party and turned it into a personality cult, but if anyone thinks they can’t win, they’re out of their damn minds. (…) Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat. He’s never been a Democrat. He’s an ideologue. And I’ve been clear about this: If Bernie is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. No question. I’ll take an ideological fanatic over a career criminal any day. But he’s not a Democrat. (…) what I’m saying is the Democratic Party isn’t Bernie Sanders, whatever you think about Sanders. (…) First, a lot of people don’t trust the Democratic Party, don’t believe in the party, for reasons you’ve already mentioned, and so they just don’t care about that. They want change. And I guess the other thing I’d say is, 2016 scrambled our understanding of what’s possible in American politics. (…) Sanders might get 280 electoral votes and win the presidency and maybe we keep the House. But there’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public. Eighteen percent of the country elects more than half of our senators. That’s the deal, fair or not. So long as McConnell runs the Senate, it’s game over. There’s no chance we’ll change the courts, and nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution. The purpose of a political party is to acquire power. All right? Without power, nothing matters. (…) [The answer is] framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you. The Democratic Party is the party of African Americans. It’s becoming a party of educated suburbanites, particularly women. It’s the party of Latinos. We’re a party of immigrants. Most of the people aren’t into all this distracting shit about open borders and letting prisoners vote. They don’t care. They have lives to lead. They have kids. They have parents that are sick. That’s what we have to talk about. That’s all we should talk about. It’s not that this stuff doesn’t matter. And it’s not that we shouldn’t talk about race. We have to talk about race. It’s about how you deliver and frame the message. (…) They’ve tacked off the damn radar screen. And look, I don’t consider myself a moderate or a centrist. I’m a liberal. But not everything has to be on the left-right continuum. (…) Here’s another stupid thing: Democrats talking about free college tuition or debt forgiveness. I’m not here to debate the idea. What I can tell you is that people all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans. They don’t want to hear this shit. And you saw Warren confronted by an angry voter over this. It’s just not a winning message. The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly. That’s all I care about. (…) We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant. (…) With a lot of these candidates, their consultants are telling them, “If you doubt it, just go left. We got to get the nomination.” (…) I’m hoping that someone gets knocked off their horse on the road to Damascus. (…) Mayor Pete has to demonstrate over the course of a campaign that he can excite and motivate arguably the most important constituents in the Democratic Party: African Americans. These voters are a hell of a lot more important than a bunch of 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter. James Carville
Progressive candidates and new Democratic representatives have offered lots of radical new proposals lately about voting and voters. They include scrapping the 215-year-old Electoral College. Progressives also talk of extending the vote to 16- or 17-year-olds and ex-felons. They wish to further relax requirements for voter identification, same-day registration and voting, and undocumented immigrants voting in local elections.The 2016 victory of Donald Trump shocked the left. It was entirely unexpected, given that experts had all but assured a Hillary Clinton landslide. Worse still for those on the left, Trump, like George W. Bush in 2000 and three earlier winning presidential candidates, lost the popular vote.  From 2017 on, Trump has sought to systematically dismantle the progressive agenda that had been established by his predecessor, Barack Obama — often in a controversial and unapologetic style. The furor over the 2016 Clinton loss and thenew Trump agenda, the fear that Trump could be re-elected, and anger about the Electoral College have mobilized progressives to demand changes to the hallowed traditions of electing presidents. (…) Most Americans are skeptical of reparations. They do not favor legalizing infanticide. They do not want open borders, sanctuary cities, or blanket amnesties. They are troubled by the idea of wealth taxes and top marginal tax rates of 70 percent or higher. Many Americans certainly fear the Green New Deal. Many do not favor abolishing all student debt, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the Electoral College. Nor do many Americans believe in costly ideas such as Medicare for All and free college tuition. The masses do not unanimously want to stop pipeline construction or scale back America’s booming natural gas and oil production. A cynic might suggest that had Hillary Clinton actually won the 2016 Electoral College vote but lost the popular vote to Trump, progressives would now be praising our long-established system of voting. Had current undocumented immigrants proved as conservative as past waves of legal immigrants from Hungary and Cuba, progressives would now likely wish to close the southern border and perhaps even build a wall. If same-day registration and voting meant that millions of new conservatives without voter IDs were suddenly showing their Trump support at the polls, progressives would insist on bringing back old laws that required voters to have previously registered and to show valid identification at voting precincts. If felons or 16-year-old kids polled conservative, then certainly there would be no progressive push to let members of these groups vote. Expanding and changing the present voter base and altering how we vote is mostly about power, not principles. Without these radical changes, a majority of American voters, in traditional and time-honored elections, will likely not vote for the unpopular progressive agenda. Victor Davis Hanson
When candidate Donald Trump campaigned on calling China to account for its trade piracy, observers thought he was either crazy or dangerous. Conventional Washington wisdom had assumed that an ascendant Beijing was almost preordained to world hegemony. Trump’s tariffs and polarization of China were considered about the worst thing an American president could do. The accepted bipartisan strategy was to accommodate, not oppose, China’s growing power. The hope was that its newfound wealth and global influence would liberalize the ruling communist government. Four years later, only a naif believes that. Instead, there is an emerging consensus that China’s cutthroat violations of international norms were long ago overdue for an accounting. China’s re-education camps, its Orwellian internal surveillance, its crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists and its secrecy about the deadly coronavirus outbreak have all convinced the world that China has now become a dangerous international outlier. Trump courted moderate Arab nations in forming an anti-Iranian coalition opposed to Iran’s terrorist and nuclear agendas. His policies utterly reversed the Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel and outreach to Tehran. Last week, Trump nonchalantly offered the Palestinians a take-it-or-leave-it independent state on the West Bank, but without believing that a West Bank settlement was the key to peace in the entire Middle East. Trump’s cancellation of the Iran deal, in particular, was met with international outrage. More global anger followed after the targeted killing of Iranian terrorist leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In short, Trump’s Middle East recalibrations won few supporters among the bipartisan establishment. But recently, Europeans have privately started to agree that more sanctions are needed on Iran, that the world is better off with Soleimani gone, and that the West Bank is not central to regional peace. Iran has now become a pariah. U.S.-sponsored sanctions have reduced the theocracy to near-bankruptcy. Most nations understand that if Iran kills Americans or openly starts up its nuclear program, the U.S. will inflict disproportional damage on its infrastructure — a warning that at first baffled, then angered and now has humiliated Iran. In other words, there is now an entirely new Middle East orthodoxy that was unimaginable just three years ago. Suddenly the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Palestinians have few supporters. Israel and a number of prominent Arab nations are unspoken allies of convenience against Iran. And Iran itself is seemingly weaker than at any other time in the theocracy’s history. Stranger still, instead of demanding that the U.S. leave the region, many Middle Eastern nations privately seem eager for more of a now-reluctant U.S. presence. (…) Trump got little credit for these revolutionary changes because he is, after all, Trump — a wheeler-dealer, an ostentatious outsider, unpredictable in action and not shy about rude talk. But his paradoxical and successful policies — the product of conservative, antiwar and pro-worker agendas — are gradually winning supporters and uniting disparate groups. (…) The result of the new orthodoxy is that the U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies. And yet Trump’s paradox is that America’s successful new foreign policy is as praised privately as it is caricatured publicly — at least for now. Victor Davis Hanson
Une cote de popularité au plus bas, des cafouillages dans la majorité, une étude qui remet en question sa politique économique… Les obstacles se multiplient pour le président de la République française. Cela pourrait avoir des conséquences désastreuses pour la suite, explique la presse étrangère. “Pas de repos pour Emmanuel Macron”, souligne le quotidien espagnol El País. En effet, si “le président a survécu à la plus longue grève de ces dernières décennies en France, il ne cesse d’accumuler les problèmes”. Le conflit autour des retraites, d’une part, n’est pas totalement réglé. Certes, les transports ont repris et les dernières manifestations ont rassemblé moins de monde qu’au début du mouvement. Mais “les ennuis de Macron ne sont pas terminés”, prévient le site britannique The Article. “Beaucoup s’attendent à ce que le printemps à Paris soit, eh bien, le printemps à Paris.” D’autant que de nombreux secteurs, habituellement peu prompts à protester, ont rejoint la grogne. Aujourd’hui, avec les 22 000 amendements déposés en parallèle au projet de réforme, le processus législatif est encore loin d’être terminé. Des journées de mobilisations sont d’ailleurs déjà prévues à la RATP le 17 février et partout en France le 20 février. Dans sa majorité aussi, Emmanuel Macron rencontre des difficultés. À un mois des municipales, La République en marche multiplie les faux pas et fait preuve de division. Avec bien sûr, le duel fraticide entre les candidats, Benjamin Griveaux (tête d’affiche officielle) et Cédric Villani (dissident qui refuse de reculer) pour la mairie de Paris. Mais les récents cafouillages des ministres macronistes, au sujet du droit au blasphème ou de la durée d’allongement du congé en cas de perte d’un enfant, n’arrangent pas non plus les choses pour Macron. Résultat ? Le gouvernement est “qualifié d’amateur” et l’image du président se retrouve toujours plus entachée, relate ABC. Au point que le jeune chef d’État rivalise désormais avec “François Hollande pour le titre de président le plus impopulaire de l’histoire de la Vème République”. Selon les derniers sondages, 73 % des Français auraient une mauvaise opinion d’Emmanuel Macron. Ce n’est assurément pas le rapport publié le 5 février par l’OFCE [Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques] qui va changer la donne. Après l’abrogation partielle de l’impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), le chef d’État avait très vite “hérité du surnom de ‘président des riches’”, rappelle le quotidien Suisse Le Temps. Or, la récente publication des économistes “juge qu’il correspond à la réalité”. Plus aucun doute : “La théorie macronienne du ‘ruissellement’ – selon laquelle l’attractivité fiscale conçue pour inciter les entreprises et les ménages les plus aisés à investir engendre à terme une hausse de revenus pour tous – ne fonctionne pas.” Pire encore, ajoute le quotidien suisse, “l’OFCE souligne une détérioration de la fracture sociale” puisque, assurent les experts : Les ménages appartenant aux 20 % les plus modestes, c’est-à-dire ceux ayant un niveau de vie individuel inférieur à 1 315 euros par mois, devraient perdre en 2020.” Ces difficultés pourraient avoir de lourdes conséquences sur l’avenir politique de Macron, prévient donc The Financial Times. Un an à peine après le “grand débat national”, “son attitude hautaine et son manque de finesse psychologique le rendent vulnérable”, et Marine Le Pen entend profiter de la situation pour la prochaine présidentielle. Or, sa potentielle arrivée à l’Élysée, en 2022, incarnerait un “séisme politique” dont les “ondes de choc seraient ressenties bien au-delà des frontières de la France”. Toutefois, si “le ciel s’assombrit pour le Roi Soleil français, il est beaucoup trop tôt pour affirmer que c’en est fait des espoirs de Macron”, rassure le FT. Ceux qui prédisent aujourd’hui sa chute, sont les mêmes qui se sont souvent trompés en 2017 sur sa capacité à briser l’ancien système” du bipartisme français. En somme, personne n’est capable de dire si la crise actuelle que rencontre le chef de l’État s’envenimera pour le reste de son quinquennat, conclut El País.“Mais en tout cas, elle envoie un signal inquiétant pour le président.” Courrier international
La dauphine désignée d’Angela Merkel en Allemagne, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a décidé de renoncer à lui succéder et va abandonner la présidence du parti conservateur, a indiqué à l’AFP ce lundi 10 février une source proche du mouvement. Lors d’une réunion ce matin de la direction du parti démocrate-chrétien CDU de la chancelière, Kramp-Karrenbauer a notamment justifié sa décision par les événements de Thuringe et la tentation d’une frange du parti de s’allier avec le mouvement d’extrême droite Alternative pour l’Allemagne (AfD). Elle a expliqué qu’«une partie de la CDU a une relation non clarifiée avec l’AfD» mais aussi avec le parti de gauche radicale Die Linke, alors qu’elle même rejette clairement toute alliance avec l’une ou l’autre de ces formations, a indiqué à l’AFP une source proche du mouvement. Dans la mesure où la candidature à la chancellerie doit aller de pair avec la présidence du parti à ses yeux, AKK a en conséquence décidé de renoncer dans les mois qui viennent à cette présidence. «AKK va organiser cet été le processus de sélection de la candidature à la chancellerie» pour succéder à Angela Merkel au plus tard fin 2021, a indiqué cette source. «Elle va continuer à préparer le parti pour affronter l’avenir et ensuite abandonner la présidence», a-t-elle ajouté. Elle doit en revanche conserver son poste de ministre de la Défense. AKK avait été élue en décembre 2018 à la présidence de la CDU, en remplacement d’Angela Merkel qui avait à l’époque renoncé en raison de son impopularité croissante après une série de revers électoraux et la poussée dans les urnes de l’extrême droite. AKK n’a toutefois jamais réussi à s’imposer à la présidence de la CDU. Elle a été en particulier très critiquée après l’alliance surprise nouée la semaine dernière entre des élus CDU de Thuringe et l’extrême droite pour élire un nouveau dirigeant pour cet Etat régional. AKK s’est vu reprocher de ne pas tenir son parti, tiraillé entre adversaires et partisans d’une coopération avec l’AfD, surtout dans les Etats de l’ex-RDA, où l’extrême droite est très puissante et complique la formation des majorités régionales. Le Figaro
Buttigieg is a gay Episcopalian veteran in a party torn between identity politics and heartland appeals. He’s also a fresh face in a year when millennials are poised to become the largest eligible voting bloc. Many Democrats are hungry for generational change, and the two front runners are more than twice his age. (…) In many ways, Buttigieg is Trump’s polar opposite: younger, dorkier, shorter, calmer and married to a man. His success may depend on whether Democrats want a fighter to match Trump, or whether Americans want to ‘change the channel,’ as Buttigieg puts it. ‘People already have a leader who screams and yells,’ he says. ‘How do you think that’s working out for us?’Time
Le 16 juin 2015, Buttigieg annonce dans une publication qu’il est homosexuel. Il est le premier homme politique ouvertement gay de l’Indiana. Le 28 décembre 2017, Buttigieg annonce ses fiançailles avec Chasten Glezman (né en 1989), professeur de pédagogie Montessori dans un collège privé de l’Indiana. Le couple se marie le 16 juin 2018 lors d’une cérémonie à la cathédrale de Saint-James de South Bend et fait en 2019 la couverture du magazine Time. En plus de l’anglais, Pete Buttigieg parle le norvégien, le français, l’espagnol, l’italien, le maltais, l’arabe et le dari, soit un total de huit langues. Buttigieg est chrétien et a déclaré que sa foi avait fortement influencé sa vie. Wikipedia
Va-t-il transformer l’essai? Après ses résultats inespérés dans l’Iowa (toujours contestés par Bernie Sanders), Pete Buttigieg espère bien récolter les fruits de l’énorme coup de pouce médiatique dont il a bénéficié tout au long de cette semaine chaotique. Le jeune candidat, encore inconnu il y a un an, croise donc les doigts ce mardi 11 février pour à nouveau s’imposer -ou du moins décrocher un score plus qu’honorable- dans le New Hampshire, deuxième État à voter aux primaires démocrates.  Si créer la surprise au cours des prochains scrutins et finir par décrocher la nomination du parti cet été est actuellement le rêve de tous les candidats, la seule vraie prouesse sera la suivante: battre Donald Trump lors de l’élection générale du 3 novembre et le sortir de la Maison Blanche. Pete Buttigieg est-il le meilleur candidat pour cette périlleuse mission? Le HuffPost a rassemblé plusieurs forces (et faiblesses) du candidat pour tenter d’y voir plus clair. Comme il aime souvent le rappeler en campagne, Pete Buttigieg a un atout majeur face à Donald Trump: son CV. Il faut dire qu’on pourrait difficilement imaginer un curriculum plus à l’opposé de celui du président républicain. Contrairement à l’occupant actuel de la Maison Blanche, le démocrate a tout d’abord de l’expérience politique. Alors que le magnat de l’immobilier était l’hôte d’une téléréalité avant de se présenter à la présidence, Pete Buttigieg vient lui de terminer son 2e mandat de maire. Trump s’est construit dans la plus grande ville du pays qu’est New York, Buttiegieg a fait décoller sa carrière à South Bend, 100.000 habitants, dans l’État de l’Indiana. Buttigieg met aussi régulièrement en avant son expérience dans l’armée. Il a passé sept mois en Afghanistan, un avantage sur tous ses concurrents démocrates et surtout sur Trump. Ce dernier a en effet réussi à échapper pas mois de cinq fois à la guerre du Vietnam: quatre reports grâce aux études qu’il suivait puis une dispense médicale pour une excroissance osseuse au pied dont les médias n’ont jamais retrouvé de trace. Diplômé de grandes universités, le candidat a aussi montré qu’il était polyglotte. En plus de l’anglais, il peut parler en norvégien, espagnol, italien, arabe, dari ou encore français comme il l’a montré en commentant l’incendie de Notre-Dame. Face à un président qui est parfois pointé du doigt pour la faiblesse du vocabulaire qu’il emploie dans son anglais natal. Pete Buttigieg se présente aussi aux antipodes de Donald Trump sur des aspects plus personnels. Là où Trump s’emporte et est devenu le roi du surnom mesquin, Buttigieg apparaît dans ses interventions comme calme, confiant et au point sur ses dossiers. Alors que les Américains LGBT ont vu leurs droits régresser sous la présidence républicaine, Buttigieg est le premier candidat démocrate ouvertement gay et apparaît régulièrement au bras de son mari Chasten. Âgé de seulement 38 ans, il est de loin le plus jeune de la course. Il n’hésite pas non plus à mettre l’accent sur sa foi chrétienne, un sujet généralement accaparé par les républicains. Quant à son programme, il ne renferme pas (encore?) de mesure phare, mais sa position modérée sur les impôts et la couverture santé pourrait bien attirer de précieux électeurs indépendants qui avaient penché pour Donald Trump en 2016. Au sein de ce groupe-clé pour départager une élection, la question du système de santé sera en effet la priorité numéro un pour faire son choix en novembre 2020, selon un sondage Gallup paru en janvier. Si la réussite de Pete Buttigieg dans l’Iowa et un très bon score dans le New Hampshire ce mardi serait un énorme tremplin, le candidat traîne cependant un énorme problème de popularité auprès d’électorats-clés pour un démocrate dans une élection présidentielle. Comme le montrent de nombreux sondages, l’ancien maire n’enregistre pour l’heure qu’un soutien très faible auprès des deux minorités ethniques principales aux États-Unis: les électeurs afro-américains et hispaniques. La présence de ces derniers, qui ont peu voté républicain en 2016, sera cruciale dans les bureaux de vote en novembre 2020 face à Trump. Les difficultés ne s’arrêtent pas là. Buttigieg pourrait aussi avoir une mauvaise surprise avec les jeunes, potentiel sous-exploité en 2016. Bien qu’il se vante d’incarner le renouveau politique du haut de ses 38 ans, le candidat n’est à l’heure actuelle pas très populaire avec les démocrates de moins de 38 ans, un groupe d’âge qui englobera 25% des électeurs en novembre. Son approche trop modérée ne fait pas le poids face à la politique autrement plus radicale de Sanders, qui lui a gagné le soutien massif des générations Y et Z. Buttigieg pourrait donc avoir bien du mal à donner envie à ce réservoir de voix démocrates de participer au scrutin. Reste enfin la faible notoriété de l’ancien maire de South Bend. The Huffington post
Il est déjà assez sûr de déduire des recherches en laboratoire et des parallèles éthologiques que les différentes manières dont les hommes et les femmes sont câblés sont directement liées à nos rôles sexuels traditionnels … Freud a dramatiquement déclaré que notre anatomie est notre destinée. Les scientifiques qui frémissent devant une formulation aussi dramatique, quelle que soit sa justesse, pourraient le reformuler ainsi: l’anatomie est fonctionnelle, les fonctions corporelles ont des significations psychologiques profondes pour les gens, et l’anatomie et la fonction sont souvent élaborées socialement. Arno Karlen
Les questions morales nous entraînent dans le bourbier de perpétuelles recherches philosophiques de nature fondamentale. D’une certaine manière, cela facilite le problème pour celui qui cherche une opinion juive. Le judaïsme n’accepte pas le type de relativisme poussé utilisé pour justifier le mode de vie homosexuel comme un simple mode de vie alternatif. Et tandis que la question de l’autonomie humaine mérite certainement d’être prise en considération dans le domaine de la sexualité, il faut se méfier des conséquences de tout argument quand il est poussé jusqu’à sa logique extrême. Le judaïsme chérit clairement la sainteté comme une valeur supérieure à la liberté ou à la santé. De plus, si l’autonomie de chaque individu nous amène à conférer une légitimité morale à toute forme d’expression sexuelle que celui-ci désire, nous devons être prêts à tirer la couverture de cette validité morale sur presque tout le catalogue de la perversion décrit par Krafft-Ebing, puis, par le tour de passe-passe consistant à accorder des droits civiques aux pratiques moralement non répréhensibles ou à autoriser le prosélytisme public aux défenseurs de la sodomie, du fétichisme ou de n’importe autre pratique. Dans ce cas, pourquoi pas dans le système scolaire? Et si le consentement est obtenu avant la mort d’un partenaire, pourquoi pas la nécrophilie ou le cannibalisme? Sûrement, si nous déclarons que la pédérastie est simplement idiosyncrasique et non une « abomination », quel droit avons-nous de condamner le cannibalisme sexuel – simplement parce que la plupart des gens réagiraient avec répulsion et dégoût? «L’affection aimante et désintéressée» et les «relations personnelles significatives» – les grands slogans de la Nouvelle Moralité et les représentants de l’éthique de la situation – sont devenus la litanie de la sodomie à notre époque. Une logique simple devrait nous permettre d’utiliser les mêmes critères pour excuser l’adultère ou tout autre acte considéré jusqu’ici comme immoral: et c’est exactement ce qui a été fait, et il a reçu la sanction non seulement des progressistes et des humanistes, mais de certains les religieux aussi. « Amour », « épanouissement », « exploiteur », « significatif » – la liste elle-même ressemble à un lexique de termes chargés d’émotions tirés au hasard des sources disparates des cercles agnostiques à la fois chrétiens et psychologiquement orientés. Logiquement, nous devons nous poser la question suivante: quelles dépravations morales ne peuvent pas être excusées par le seul critère des «relations humaines chaleureuses et significatives» ou de «l’accomplissement», les nouveaux héritiers sémantiques de «l’amour»? L’amour, l’épanouissement et le bonheur peuvent également être atteints dans les contacts incestueux – et certainement dans les relations polygames. N’y a-t-il plus rien qui soit « pécheur », « contre nature » ou « immoral » s’il est pratiqué « entre deux adultes consentants? » Pour les groupes religieux, établir qu’une relation homosexuelle doit être jugée selon les mêmes critères qu’une relation hétérosexuelle – c’est-à-dire «si elle vise à entretenir une relation d’amour permanente» – revient à abandonner la dernière prétention de représenter le « judéo-chrétien ». Dr. Norman Lamm
The moral issues lead us into the quagmire of perennial philosophical disquisitions of a fundamental nature. In a way, this facilitates the problem for one seeking a Jewish view. Judaism does not accept the kind of thoroughgoing relativism used to justify the gay life as merely an alternate lifestyle And while the question of human autonomy is certainly worthy of consideration in the area of sexuality, one must beware of the consequences of taking the argument to its logical extreme. Judaism clearly cherishes holiness as a greater value than either freedom or health. Furthermore, if every individual’s autonomy leads us to lend moral legitimacy to any form of sexual expression he may desire, we must be ready to pull the blanket of this moral validity over almost the whole catalogue of perversion described by Krafft-Ebing, and then, by the legerdemain of granting civil rights to the morally non-objectionable, permit the advocates of buggery, fetishism, or whatever to proselytize in public. In that case, why not in the school system? And if consent is obtained before the death of one partner, why not necrophilia or cannibalism? Surely, if we declare pederasty to be merely idiosyncratic and not an « abomination, » what right have we to condemn sexually motivated cannibalism – merely because most people would react with revulsion and disgust? « Loving, selfless concern » and « meaningful personal relationships » – the great slogans of the New Morality and the exponents of situation ethics – have become the litany of sodomy in our times. Simple logic should permit us to use the same criteria for excusing adultery or any other act heretofore held to be immoral: and indeed, that is just what has been done, and it has received the sanction not only of liberals and humanists, but of certain religionists as well. « Love, » « fulfillment, » « exploitative, » « meaningful » – the list itself sounds like a lexicon of emotionally charged terms drawn at random from the disparate sources of both Christian and psychologically-orientated agnostic circles. Logically, we must ask the next question: what moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment, » the newest semantic heirs to « love »? Love, fulfillment, and happiness can also be attained in incestuous contacts -and certainly in polygamous relationships. Is there nothing at all left that is « sinful, » « unnatural, » or « immoral » if it is practiced « between two consenting adults? » For religious groups to aver that a homosexual relationship should be judged by the same criteria as a heterosexual one – i.e., « whether it is intended to foster a permanent relationship of love » – is to abandon the last claim of representing the « Judeo-Christian tradition. »Clearly, while Judaism needs no defense or apology in regard to its esteem for neighborly love and compassion for the individual sufferer, it cannot possibly abide a wholesale dismissal of its most basic moral principles on the grounds that those subject to its judgments find them repressive. All laws are repressive to some extent -they repress illegal activities- and all morality is concerned with changing man and improving him and his society. Homosexuality imposes on one an intolerable burden of differentness, of absurdity, and of loneliness, but the Biblical commandment outlawing pederasty cannot be put aside solely on the basis of sympathy for the victim of these feelings. Morality, too, is an element which each of us, given his sensuality, his own idiosyncracies, and his immoral proclivities, must take into serious consideration before acting out his impulses. Several years ago I recommended that Jews regard homosexual deviance as a pathology, thus reconciling the insights of Jewish tradition with the exigencies of contemporary life and scientific information, such as it is, on the nature of homosexuality. (…) The proposal that homosexuality be viewed as an illness will immediately be denied by three groups of people. Gay militants object to this view as an instance of heterosexual condescension. Evelyn Hooker and her group of psychologists maintain that homosexuals are no more pathological in their personality structures than heterosexuals. And psychiatrists Thomas Szasz in the U.S. and Ronald Laing in England reject all traditional ideas of mental sickness and health as tools of social repressiveness or, at best, narrow conventionalism. While granting that there are indeed unfortunate instances where the category of mental disease is exploited for social or political reasons, we part company with all three groups and assume that there are significant number of pederasts and lesbians who, by the criteria accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists, can indeed be termed pathological. (…) Of course, one cannot say categorically that all homosexuals are sick – any more than one can casually define all thieves as kleptomaniacs. In order to develop a reasonable Jewish approach to the problem and to seek in the concept of illness some mitigating factor, it is necessary first to establish the main types of homosexuals. Dr. Judd Marmor speaks of four categories. « Genuine homosexuality » is based on strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex. « Transitory homosexual behavior » occurs among adolescents who would prefer heterosexual experiences but are denied such opportunities because of the social, cultural, or psychological reasons. « Situational homosexual exchanges » are characteristic of prisoners, soldiers and others who are heterosexual but are denied access to women for long periods of time. « Transitory and opportunistic homosexuality » is that of delinquent young men who permit themselves to be used by pederasts in order to make money or win other favors, although their primary erotic interests are exclusively heterosexual. To these may be added, for purposes of our analysis, two other types. The first category, that of genuine homosexuals, may be said to comprehend two sub-categories: those who experience their condition as one of duress or uncontrollable passion which they would rid themselves of if they could, and those who transform their idiosyncrasy into an ideology, i.e., the gay militants who assert the legitimacy and validity of homosexuality as an alternative way to heterosexuality. The sixth category is based on what Dr. Rollo May has called « the New Puritanism », the peculiarly modern notion that one must experience all sexual pleasures, whether or not one feels inclined to them, as if the failure to taste every cup passed at the sumptuous banquet of carnal life means that one has not truly lived. Thus, we have transitory homosexual behavior not of adolescents, but of adults who feel that: they must « try everything » at least once or more than once in their lives. (…) Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible. As for the intermediate categories, while they cannot be called illness, they do have a greater claim on our sympathy than the three types mentioned above. (…) To apply the Halakhah strictly in this case is obviously impossible; to ignore it entirely is undesirable, and tantamount to regarding Halakhah as a purely abstract, legalistic system which can safely be dismissed where its norms and prescriptions do not allow full formal implementation. Admittedly, the method is not rigorous, and leaves room to varying interpretations as well as exegetical abuse, but it is the best we can do. Hence there are types of homosexuality that do not warrant any special considerateness, because the notion of ones or duress (i.e., disease) in no way applies. Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to´evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these senses, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act, where it is legitimate to distinguish between the objective itself including its social and moral consequences, and the mentality and inner development of the person who perpetrates the act. For instance, if a man murders in a cold and calculating fashion for reasons of profit, the act is criminal and the transgressor is criminal. If, however, a psychotic murders, the transgressor is diseased rather than criminal, but the objective act itself remains a criminal one. The courts may therefore treat the perpetrator of the crime as they would a patient, with all the concomitant compassion and concern for therapy, without condoning the act as being morally neutral. To use halakhic terminology, the objective crime remains a ma´aseh averah, whereas a person who transgresses is considered innocent on the grounds of ones. In such case, the transgressor is spared the full legal consequences of his culpable act, although the degree to which he may be held responsible varies from case to case. (…) By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable. Were society to give its open or even tacit approval to homosexuality, it would invite more aggressiveness on the part of adult pederasts toward young people. Indeed, in the currently permissive atmosphere, the Jewish view would summon us to the semantic courage of referring to homosexuality not as « deviance » with the implication of moral neutrality and non-judgmental idiosyncrasy, but as « perversion » – a less clinical and more old-fashioned word, perhaps, but one that is more in keeping with the Biblical to´evah. (…) There is nothing in the Jewish law’s letter or spirit that should incline us toward advocacy of imprisonment for homosexuals. The Halakhah did not, by and large, encourage the denial of freedom as a recommended form of punishment. Flogging is, from a certain perspective, far less cruel and far more enlightened. Since capital punishment is out of the question, and since incarceration is not an advisable substitute, we are left with one absolute minimum: strong disapproval of the proscribed act. But we are not bound to any specific penological instrument that has no basis in Jewish law or tradition. (…) As long as violence and the seduction of children are not involved, it would best to abandon all laws on homosexuality and leave it to the inevitable social sanctions to control, informally,what can be controlled. However, this approach is not consonant with Jewish tradition. The repeal of anti-homosexual laws implies the removal of the stigma from homosexuality, and this diminution of social censure weakens society in its training of the young toward acceptable patterns of conduct. The absence of adequate social reproach may well encourage the expression of homosexual tendencies by those in whom they might otherwise be suppressed. Law itself has an educative function, and the repeal of laws, no matter how justifiable such repeal may be from one point of view, does have the effect of signaling the acceptability of greater permissiveness. Perhaps all that has been said above can best be expressed in the proposals that follow. First, society and government must recognize the distinctions between the various categories enumerated earlier in this essay. We must offer medical and psychological assistance to those whose homosexuality is an expression of pathology, who recognize it as such, and are willing to seek help. We must be no less generous to the homosexual than to the drug addict, to whom the government extends various forms of therapy upon request. Second, jail sentences must be abolished for all homosexuals, save those who are guilty of violence, seduction of the young, or public solicitation. Third, the laws must remain on the books, but by mutual consent of judiciary and police, be unenforced. This approximates to what lawyers call « the chilling effect », and is the nearest one can come to the category so well known in the Halakhah, whereby strong disapproval is expressed by affirming a halakhic prohibition, yet no punishment is mandated. It is a category that bridges the gap between morality and law. In a society where homosexuality is so rampant, and where incarceration is so counterproductive, the hortatory approach may well be a way of formalizing society’s revulsion while avoiding the pitfalls in our accepted penology. (…) Regular congregations and other Jewish groups should not hesitate to accord hospitality and membership, on an individual basis, to those « visible » homosexuals who qualify for the category of the ill. Homosexuals are no less in violation of Jewish norms than Sabbath desecrators or those who disregard the laws of kashrut. But to assent to the organization of separate « gay » groups under Jewish auspices makes no more sense, Jewishly, than to suffer the formation of synagogues that care exclusively to idol worshipers, adulterers, gossipers, tax evaders, or Sabbath violators. Indeed, it makes less sense, because it provides, under religious auspices, a ready-made clientele from which the homosexual can more easily choose his partners. In remaining true to the sources of Jewish tradition. Jews are commanded to avoid the madness that seizes society at various times and in many forms, while yet retaining a moral composure and psychological equilibrium sufficient to exercise that combination of discipline and charity that is the hallmark of Judaism. Dr. Norman Lamm

Quand le cannibalisme n’est plus qu’une affaire de goût…

A l’heure où l’actualité se charge de nous rappeler chaque jour …

Les ravages dans tous les secteurs de la société, entre « mariage » et « enfants pour tous », du dérèglement des moeurs que nous vivons …

Pendant que devant le retour du réel le costume messianique de nos Obama français ou allemand semble lui aussi sérieusement prendre l’eau …

Et où face à l’insubmersible Donald Trump …

Et la confirmation de plus en plus éclatante par la réalité et les faits  …

De la justesse, face aux tigres de papier iraniens, chinois ou palestiniens, de nombre de ses intuitions et décisions …

Les Démocrates et progressistes américains semblent au contraire redoubler dans la caricature et dans l’aberration

Entre soutien aux villes-sanctuaire et appels à l’extension du droit de vote aux mineurs, repris de justice et immigrés illégaux comme à la suppression du collège électoral, des contrôles d’identité pour les électeurs et des frontières …

Et où profitant de la campagne présidentielle américaine …

Les lobbies homosexuels et leur claque médiatique …

Tentent contre toute évidence …

De nous imposer la candidature de ce qui serait …

Jeune, ancien militaire, surdiplômé d’Harvard, malto-américain, polyglotte, dûment marié à l’église et revendiquant sa foi chrétienne, s’il vous plait !

Le premier président ouvertement homosexuel et, putsch judiciaire et couverture de Time aidant, de son éventuelle « première famille » …

Petit retour avec le président de la Yeshiva university, le Dr. Norman Lamm

Et contre les nouveaux diktats de la pensée unique et du politiquement correct …

A la réalité non seulement biblique mais concrète de tous les jours …

Des nombreux problèmes moraux et sociaux que, sauf rares exceptions, posent …

Le véritable messianisme homosexuel qui, par médias et show biz interposés, nous est actuellement imposé …

Et qui au nom des nouveaux impératifs catégoriques de l »amour », de « l’épanouissement » et du « bonheur » …

Pourrait en arriver à nous faire avaliser …

A condition bien sûr d’être pratiqué « entre deux adultes consentants » et avec la « visée d’une relation d’amour permanente »…

Sans compter, dès l’âge de deux ans, le choix de sa propre assignation sexuelle …

Tant les contacts incestueux que les relations polygames …

Voire la nécrophilie ou le cannibalisme sexuel ?

Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality
Dr. Norman Lamm
Jonah web
March 30, 2007

Dr. Norman Lamm presently serves as President of Yeshiva University.

Popular wisdom has it that our society is wildly hedonistic, with the breakdown of family life, rampant immorality, and the world, led by the United States, in the throes of a sexual revolution. The impetus of this latest revolution is such that new ground is constantly being broken, while bold deviations barely noticed one year are glaringly more evident the year following and become the norm for the « younger generation » the year after that.

Some sex researchers accept this portrait of a steady deterioration in sex inhibitions and of increasing permissiveness. Opposed to them are the « debunkers » who hold that this view is mere fantasy and that, while there may have been a significant leap in verbal sophistication, there has probably been only a short hop in actual behavior. They point to statistics which confirm that now, as in Kinsey’s day, there has been no reported increase in sexual frequencies along with alleged de-inhibition to rhetoric and dress. The « sexual revolution » is, for them, largely a myth. Yet others maintain that there is in Western society a permanent revolution against moral standards, but that the form and style of the revolt keeps changing.

The determination of which view is correct will have to be left to the sociologists and statisticians -or, better, to historians of the future who will have the benefit of hindsight. But certain facts are quite clear. First, the complaint that moral restraints are crumbling has a two or three thousand year history in Jewish tradition and in continuous history of Western civilization. Second, there has been a decided increase at least in the area of sexual attitudes, speech, and expectations, if not in practice. Third, such social and psychological phenomena must sooner or later beget changes in mores and conduct. And finally, it is indisputable that most current attitudes are profoundly at variance with traditional Jewish views on sex and sex morality.

Of all the current sexual fashions, the one most notable for its militancy, and which most conspicuously requires illumination from the sources of Jewish tradition, is that of sexual deviancy. This refers primarily to homosexuality, male or female, along with a host of other phenomena such as transvestism and transexualism. They all form part of the newly approved theory of idiosyncratic character of sexuality. Homosexuals have demanded acceptance in society, and this demand has taken various forms -from a plea that they should not be liable to criminal prosecution, to a demand that they should not be subjected to social sanctions, and then to a strident assertion that they represent an « alternative life-style » no less legitimate that « straight heterosexuality. The various forms of homosexual apologetics appear largely in contemporary literature and theater, as well as in the daily press. In the United States, « gay » activists have become increasingly and progressively more vocal and militant.

Legal Position

Homosexuals have, indeed, been suppressed by the law. For instance, the Emperor Valentinian, in 390 C.E., decreed that pederasty be punished by burning at the stake. The sixth-century Code of Justinian ordained that homosexuals be tortured, mutilated, paraded in public, and executed. A thousand years later, Gibbon said of the penalty the Code decreed that « pederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed ». In more modern times, however, the Napoleonic Code declared consensual homosexuality legal in France. A century ago, anti-homosexual laws were repealed in Belgium and Holland. In this century, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland followed suit and, more recently, Czechoslovakia and England. The most severe laws in the West are found in the United States, where they come under the jurisdiction of the various states and are known by a variety of names, usually as « sodomy laws ». Punishment may range from light fines to five or more years in prison (in some cases even life imprisonment), indeterminate detention to a mental hospital, and even to compulsory sterilization. Moreover, homosexuals are, in various states, barred from licensed professions, from many professional societies, from teaching, and from the civil service -to mention only a few of the sanctions encountered by the known homosexual.

More recently, a new tendency has been developing in the United States and elsewhere with regard to homosexuals. Thus, in 1969, the National Institute of Mental Health issued a majority report advocating that adult consensual homosexuality be declared legal. The American Civil Liberties Union concurred. Earlier, Illinois had done so in 1962, and in 1971 the state of Connecticut revised its laws accordingly. Yet despite the increasing legal and social tolerance of deviance, basic feelings toward homosexuals have not really changed. The most obvious example is France, where although legal restraints were abandoned over 150 years ago, the homosexual of today continues to live in shame and secrecy.

Statistics

Statistically, the proportion the proportion of homosexuals in society does not seem to have changed much since Professor Kinsey’s day (his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was published in 1948, and his volume on the human female in 1953). Kinsey’s studies revealed that hard-core male homosexuals constituted about 4-6% of the population: 10% experienced « problem » behavior during a part of their lives. One man out of three indulges in some form of homosexual behavior from puberty until his early twenties. The dimensions of the problem become quite overwhelming when it is realized that, according to these figures, of 200 million people in the United States some ten million will become or are predominant or exclusive homosexuals, and over 25 million will have at least a few years of significant homosexual experience.

The New Permissiveness

The most dramatic change in our attitudes to homosexuality has taken place in the new mass adolescent subculture -the first such in history- where it is part of the whole new outlook on sexual restraints in general. It is here that the fashionable Sexual Left has had its greatest success on a wide scale, appealing especially to the rejection of Western traditions of sex roles and sex typing. A number of different streams feed into this ideological reservoir from which the new sympathy for homosexuality flows. Freud and his disciples began the modern protest against traditional restraints, and blamed the guilt that follows transgression for the neuroses that plague man. Many psychoanalysts began to overemphasize the importance of sexuality in human life, and this ultimately gave birth to a kind of sexual messianism. Thus, in our own day Wilhelm Reich identifies sexual energy as « vital energy per se » and, in conformity with his Marxist ideology, seeks to harmonize Marx and Freud. For Reich and his followers, the sexual revolution is a machina ultima for the whole Leninist liberation in all spheres of life and society. Rebellion against restrictive moral codes has become, for them, not merely a way to hedonism but a form of sexual mysticism: orgasm is seem not only as the pleasurable climatic release of internal sexual pressure, but as a means to individual creativity and insight as well as to the reconstruction and liberation of society. Finally, the emphasis on freedom and sexual autonomy derives from the Sartrean version of Kant’s view of human autonomy.

It is in this atmosphere that pro-deviationist sentiments have proliferated, reaching into many strata of society. Significantly, religious groups have joined the sociologists and ideologists of deviance to affirm what has been called « man’s birthright of unbounded ambisexuality. » A number of Protestant churches in America, and an occasional Catholic clergyman, have plead for more sympathetic attitudes toward homosexuals. Following the new Christian permissiveness espoused in Sex and Morality (1966), the report of a working party of the British Council of Churches, a group of American Episcopalian clergymen in November 1967 concluded that homosexual acts ought not to be considered wrong, per se. A homosexual relationship is, they implied, no different from a heterosexual marriage: but must be judged by one criterion -« whether it is intended to foster a permanent relation of love. » Jewish apologists for deviationism have been prominent in the Gay Liberation movement and have not hesitated to advocate their position in American journals and in the press. Christian groups began to emerge which catered to a homosexual clientele, and Jews were not too far behind. This latest Jewish exemplification of the principle of wie es sich christelt, so juedelt es sich will be discussed at the end of this essay.

Homosexual militants are satisfied neither with a « mental health » approach nor with demanding civil rights. They are clear in insisting on society’s recognition of sexual deviance as an « alternative lifestyle, » morally legitimate and socially acceptable.
Such are the basic facts and theories of the current advocacy of sexual deviance. What is the classical Jewish attitude to sodomy, and what suggestions may be made to develop a Jewish approach to the complex problem of the homosexual in contemporary society?

Biblical View

The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse and labels it an abomination: « Thou shalt not lie with a man as one lies with a woman: it is an abomination » (Lev. 18:22). Capital punishment is ordained for both transgressors in Lev. 20:13. In the first passage, sodomy is linked with buggery, and in the second with incest and buggery. (There is considerable terminological confusion with regard to these words. We shall here use « sodomy » as a synonym for homosexuality and « buggery » for sexual relations with animals.)

The city of Sodom had the questionable honor of lending its name to homosexuality because of the notorious attempt at homosexual rape, when the entire population -« both young and old, all the people from every quarter »- surrounded the home of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and demanded that he surrender his guests to them « that we may know them » (Gen. 19:5). The decimation of the tribe of Benjamin resulted from the notorious incident, recorded in Judges 19, of a group of Benjamites in Gibeah who sought to commit homosexual rape.

Scholars have identified the kadesh proscribed by the Torah (Deut. 23:18) as a ritual male homosexual prostitute. This form of healthen cult penetrated Judea from the Canaanite surroundings in the period of the early monarchy. So Rehoboam, probably under the influence of his Ammonite mother, tolerated this cultic sodomy during his reign (I Kings 14:24). His grandson Asa tried to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem of the practice (I Kings 15:12), as did his great-grandson Jehoshaphat. But it was not until the days of Josiah and the vigorous reforms he introduced that the kadesh was finally removed from the Temple and the land (II Kings 23:7). The Talmund too (Sanhedrin, 24b) holds that the kadesh was a homosexual functionary. (However, it is possible that the term also alludes to a heterosexual male prostitute. Thus, in II kings 23:7, women are described as weaving garments for the idols in the batei ha-kedeshim (houses of the kadesh): the presence of women may imply that the kadesh was not necessarily homosexual. The Talmudic opinion identifying the kadesh as a homosexual prostitute may be only an asmakhta. Moreover, there are other opinions in Talmudic literature as to the meaning of the verse: see Onkelos, Lev. 23:18, and Nachmanides and Torah Temimah, ad loc.)

Talmudic Approach

Rabbinic exegesis of the Bible finds several other homosexual references in the scriptural narratives. The generation of Noah was condemned to eradication by the Flood because they had sunk so low morally that, according to Midrashic teaching, they wrote out formal marriage contracts for sodomy and buggery -a possible cryptic reference to such practices in the Rome of Nero and Hadrian (Lev. R. 18:13).

Of Ham, the son of Noah, we are told that « he saw the nakedness of his father » and told his two brothers (Gen. 9:22). Why should this act have warranted the harsh imprecation hurled at Ham by his father? The Rabbis offer two answers: one, that the text implied that Ham castrated Noah: second, that the Biblical expression is an idiom for homosexual intercourse (see Rashi, ad loc.). On the scriptural story of Potiphar’s purchase of Joseph as a slave (Gen. 39:1), the Talmund comments that he acquired him for homosexual purposes, but that a miracle occurred and God sent the angel Gabriel to castrate Potiphar (Sotah 13b).

Post-Biblical literature records remarkably few incidents of homosexuality. Herod’s son Alexander, according to Josephus (Wars, I, 24:7), had homosexual contact with a young eunuch. Very few reports of homosexuality have come to us from the Talmudic era (TJ Sanhedrin 6:6, 23c: Jos. Ant., 15:25-30).

The incidence of sodomy among Jews is interestingly reflected in the Halakhah on mishkav zakhur (the Talmudic term for homosexuality: the Bible uses various terms- thus the same term in Num. 31:17 and 35 refers to heterosexual intercourse by a woman, whereas the expression for male homosexual intercourse in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 is mishkevei ishah). The Mishnah teaches that R. Judah forbade two bachelors from sleeping under the same blanket, for fear that this would lead to homosexual temptation (Kiddushin 4:14). However, the Sages permitted it (ibid.) because homosexuality was so rare among Jews that such preventive legislation was considered unnecessary (Kiddushin 82a). This latter view is codified as Halakhah by Malmonides (Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 22:2). Some 400 years later R. Joseph Caro , who did not codify the law against sodomy proper, nevertheless cautioned against being alone with another male because of the lewdness prevalent « in our times » (Even ha-Ezer 24). About a hundred years later, R. Joel Sirkes reverted to the original ruling, and suspended the prohibition because such obscene acts were unheard of amongst Polish Jewry (Bayit Hadash to Tur, Even ha-Ezer 24). Indeed, a distinguished contemporary of R. Joseph Caro, R. Solomon Luria, went even further and declared homosexuality so very rare that, if one refrains from sharing a blanket with another male as a special act of piety, one is guilty of self-righteous pride or religious snobbism (for the above and additional authorities, see Ozar ha-Posekim, IX, 236-238).

Responsa

As is to be expected, the responsa literature is also very scant in discussions of homosexuality. One of the few such responsa is by the late R. Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, when he was still the rabbi of Jaffa. In 1912 he was asked about a ritual slaughterer who had come under suspicion of homosexuality. After weighing all aspects of the case, R. Kook dismissed the charges against the accused, considering them unsupported hearsay. Furthermore, he maintained the man might have repented and therefore could not be subject to sanctions at the present time.

The very scarcity of halakhic deliberations on homosexuality, and the quite explicit insistence of various halakhic authorities, provide sufficient evidence of the relative absence of this practice among Jews from ancient times down to the present. Indeed, Prof. Kinsey found that, while religion was usually an influence of secondary importance on the number of homosexual as well as heterosexual acts by males. Orthodox Jews proved an exception, homosexuality being phenomenally rare among them.

Jewish laws treated the female homosexual more leniently than the male. It considered lesbianism as issur, an ordinary religious violation, rather than arayot, a specifically sexual infraction, regarded much more severely than issur. R. Huna held that lesbianism is the equivalent of harlotry and disqualified the woman from marrying a priest. The Halakhah is, however, more lenient, and decides that while the act is prohibited, the lesbian is not punished and is permitted to marry a priest (Sifra 9:8: Shab. 65a: Yev. 76a). However, the transgression does warrant disciplinary flagellation (Maimonides, Yad, Issurei Bi’ah 21:8). The less punitive attitude of the Halakhah to the female homosexual than to the male does not reflect any intrinsic judgment on one as opposed to the other, but is rather the result of a halakhic technicality: there is no explicit Biblical proscription of lesbianism, and the act does not entail genital intercourse (Maimonides, loc. cit.).

The Halakhah holds that the ban on homosexuality applies universally, to non-Jew as well as to Jew (Sanh 58a: Maimonides, Melakhim 9:5, 6). It is one of the six instances of arayot (sexual transgressions) forbidden to the Noachide (Maimonides, ibid).

Most halakhic authorities – such as Rashba and Ritba – agree with Maimonides. A minority opinion holds that pederasty and buggery are « ordinary » prohibitions rather than arayot – specifically sexual infractions which demand that one submit to martyrdom rather than violate the law – but the Jerusalem Talmud supports the majority opinion. (See D. M. Krozer, Devar Ha-Melekh, I, 22, 23 (1962), who also suggests that Maimonides may support a distinction whereby the « male » or active homosexual partner is held in violation of arayot whereas the passive or « female » partner transgresses issur, an ordinary prohibition.)

Reasons of Prohibition

Why does the Torah forbids homosexuality? Bearing in mind that reasons proferred for the various commandments are not to be accepted as determinative, but as human efforts to explain immutable divine law, the rabbis of the Talmud and later Talmudists did offer a number of illuminating rationales for the law.

As stated, the Torah condemns homosexuality as to’evah, an abomination. The Talmud records the interpretation of Bar Kapparah who, in a play on words, defined to’evah as to’eh attah bah. « You are going astray because of it » (Nedarim 51a). The exact meaning of this passage is unclear, and various explanations have been put forward.

The Pesikta (Zutarta) explains the statement of Bar Kapparah as referring to the impossibility of such a sexual resulting in procreation. One of the major functions (if not the major purpose) of sexuality is reproduction, and this reason for man’s sexual endowment is frustrated by mishkav zakhur (so too Sefer ha-Hinnukh, no. 209).

Another interpretation is that of the Tosafot and R. Asher ben Jehiel (in their commentaries to Ned. 51a) which applies the « going astray » or wandering to the homosexual’s abandoning his wife. In other words, the abomination consists of the danger that a married man with homosexual tendencies may disrupt his family life in order to indulge his perversions. Saadiah Gaon holds the rational basis of most of the Bible’s moral legislation to be the preservation of the family structure (Emunot ve-De’ot 3:1: cf. Yoma 9a). (This argument assumes contemporary cogency in the light of the avowed aim of some gay militants to destroy the family, which they consider an « oppressive institution. »)

A third explanation is given by a modern scholar, Rabbi Baruch Ha-Levi Epstein (Torah Temimah to Lev. 18:22), who emphasizes the unnaturalness of the homosexual liaison: « You are going astray from the foundations of the creation. » Mishkav zakhur defies the very structure of the anatomy of the sexes, which quite obviously was designed for heterosexual relationships.

It may be, however, that the very variety of interpretations of to’evah points to a far more fundamental meaning, namely, that an act characterized as an « abomination » is prima facie disgusting and cannot be further defined or explained. Certain acts are considered to’evah by the Torah, and there the matter rests. It is, as it were, a visceral reaction, an intuitive disqualification of the act, and we run the risk of distorting the Biblical judgment if we rationalize it. To’evah constitutes a category of objectionableness sui generis: it is a primary phenomenon. (This lends additional force to Rabbi David Z. Hoffmann’s contention that to’evah is used by the Torah to indicate the repulsiveness of a proscribed act, no matter how much it may be in vogue among advanced and sophisticated cultures: see his Sefer Va-yikra, II, p. 54.).

Jewish Attitudes

It is on the basis of the above that an effort must be made to formulate a Jewish response to the problems of homosexuality in the conditions under which most Jews live today, namely, those of free and democratic societies and, with the exception of Israel, non-Jewish lands and traditions.

Four general approaches may be adopted:1) Repressive: No leniency toward the homosexual, lest the moral fiber of the rest of society be weakened.2) Practical: Dispense with imprisonment and all forms of social harassment, for eminently practical and prudent reasons.3) Permissive: The same as the above, but for the ideological reasons, viz., the acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate alternative « lifestyle »4) Psychological: Homosexuality, in at least some forms, should be recognized as a disease and this recognition must determine our attitude toward the homosexual.
Let us consider each of these critically.

Repressive Attitude

Exponents of the most stringent approach hold that pederasts are the vanguard of moral malaise, especially in our society. For on thing, they are dangerous to children. According to a recent work, one third of the homosexuals in the study were seduced in their adolescence by adults. It is best for society that they be imprisoned, and if our present penal institutions are faulty, let them be improved. Homosexuals should certainly not be permitted to function as teachers, group leaders, rabbis, or in any other capacity where they might be models for, and come into close contact with, young people. Homosexuality must not be excused as a sickness. A sane society assumes that its members have free choice, and are therefore responsible for their conduct. Sex offenders, including homosexuals, according to another recent study, operate « at a primate level with the philosophy that necessity is the mother of improvisation. » As Jews who believe that the Torah legislated certain moral laws for all mankind, it is incumbent upon us to encourage all societies, including non-Jewish ones, to implement the Noachide laws. And since, according to the halakhah, homosexuality is prohibited to Noachides as well as to Jews, we must seek to strengthen the moral quality of society by encouraging more restrictive laws against homosexuals. Moreover, if we are loyal to the teachings of Judaism, we cannot distinguish between « victimless » crimes and crimes of violence. Hence, if our concern for the murder, racial oppression, or robbery, we must do no less with regard to sodomy.

This argument is, however, weak on a number of grounds. Practically, it fails to take into cognizance the number of homosexuals of all categories, which, as we have pointed out, is vast. We cannot possibly imprison all offenders, and it is a manifest miscarriage of justice to vent our spleen only on the few unfortunates who are caught by the police. It is inconsistent because there has been no comparable outcry for harsh sentencing of other transgressors of sexual morality, such as those who indulge in adultery or incest. To take consistency to its logical conclusion, this hard line on homosexuality should not stop with imprisonment but demand the death sentence, as is Biblically prescribed. And why not the same death sentence for blasphemy, eating a limb torn from a live animal, idolatry, robbery -all of which are Noachide commandments? And why not capital punishment for Sabbath transgressors in the State of Israel? Why should the pederast be singled out for opprobrium and be made an object lesson while all others escape?

Those who might seriously consider such logically consistent, but socially destructive, strategies had best think back to the fate of that Dominican reformer, the monk Girolamo Savonarola, who in 15th-century Florence undertook a fanatical campaign against vice and all suspected of venal sin, with emphasis on pederasty. The society of that time and place, much like ours, could stand vast improvement. But too much medicine in too strong doses was the monk’s prescription, whereupon the population rioted and the zealot was hanged.

Finally, there is indeed some halakhic warrant for distinguishing between violent and victimless (or consensual and non-consensual) crimes. Thus, the Talmud permits a passer-by to kill a man in pursuit of another man or of a woman when the pursuer is attempting homosexual or heterosexual rape, as the case may be, whereas this is not permitted in the case of a transgressor pursuing an animal to commit buggery or on his way to worship an idol or to violate the Sabbath, (Sanh. 8:7, and v. Rashi to Sanh. 73a, s.v. al ha-behemah).

Practical Attitude

The practical approach is completely pragmatic and attempts to steer clear of any ideology in its judgments and recommendations. It is, according to its advocates, eminently reasonable. Criminal laws requiring punishment for homosexuals are simply unenforceable in society at the present day. We have previously cited the statistics on the extremely high incidence of pederasty in our society. Kinsey once said of the many sexual acts outlawed by the various states, that, were they all enforced, some 95% of men in the United States would be in jail. Furthermore, the special prejudice of law enforcement authorities against homosexuals – rarely does one hear of police entrapment or of jail sentences for non-violent heterosexuals – breeds a grave injustice: namely, it is an invitation to blackmail. The law concerning sodomy has been called « the blackmailer’s charter. » It is universally agreed that prison does little to help the homosexual rid himself of his peculiarity. Certainly, the failure of rehabilitation ought to be of concern to civilized men. But even if it is not, and the crime be considered so serious that incarceration is deemed advisable even in the absence of any real chances of rehabilitation, the casual pederast almost always leaves prison as a confirmed criminal. He has been denied the company of women and forced into society of those whose sexual expression is almost always channeled to pederasty. The casual pederast has become a habitual one: his homosexuality has now been ingrained in him. Is society any safer for having taken an errant man and, in the course of a few years, for having taught him to transform his deviancy into a hard and fast perversion, then turning him loose on the community? Finally, from a Jewish point of view, since it is obviously impossible for us to impose the death penalty for sodomy, we may as well act on purely practical grounds and do away with all legislation and punishment in this area of personal conduct.

This reasoning is tempting precisely because it focuses directly on the problem and is free of any ideological commitments. But the problem with it is that it is too smooth, too easy. By the same reasoning one might, in a reductio ad absurdum do away with all laws on income tax evasion, or forgive, and dispense with all punishment of Nazi murders. Furthermore, the last element leaves us with a novel view of the Halakhah: if it cannot be implemented in its entirely, it ought to be abandoned completely. Surely the Noachide laws, perhaps above all others, place us under clear moral imperatives, over and above purely penological instructions? The very practicality of this position leaves it open to the charge of evading the very real moral issues, and for Jews the halakhic principles, entailed in any discussion of homosexuality.

Permissive Attitude

The ideological advocacy of a completely permissive attitude toward consensual homosexuality and the acceptance of its moral legitimacy is, of course, the « in » fashion in sophisticated liberal circles. Legally, it holds that deviancy is none of the law’s business; the homosexual’s civil rights are as sacred as those of any other « minority group. » From the psychological angle, sexuality must be emancipated from the fetters of guilt induced by religion and code-morality, and its idiosyncratic nature must be confirmed.

Gay Liberationists aver that the usual « straight » attitude toward homosexuality is based on three fallacies or myths: that homosexuality is an illness; that it is unnatural; and that it is immoral. They argue that it cannot be considered an illness, because so many people have been shown to practice it. It is not unnatural, because its alleged unnaturalness derives from the impossibility of sodomy leading to reproduction, whereas our overpopulated society no longer needs to breed workers, soldiers, farmers, or hunters. And it is not immoral, first, because morality is relative, and secondly, because moral behavior is that characterized by « selfless, loving concern. »

Now, we are here concerned with the sexual problem as such, and not with homosexuality as a symbol of the whole contemporary ideological polemic against restraint and tradition. Homosexuality is too important – and too agonizing – a human problem to allow it to be exploited for political aims or entertainment or shock value.

The bland assumption that pederasty cannot be considered an illness because of the large number of people who have or express homosexual tendencies cannot stand up under criticism. No less an authority than Freud taught that a whole civilization can be neurotic. Erich Fromm appeals for the establishment of The Sane Society – because ours is not. If the majority of a nation are struck down by typhoid fever, does this condition, by so curious a calculus of semantics, become healthy? Whether or not homosexuality can be considered an illness is a serious question, and it does depend on one’s definition of health and illness. But mere statistics are certainly not the coup de grâce to the psychological argument, which will be discussed shortly.

The validation of gay life as « natural » on the basis of changing social and economic conditions is an act of verbal obfuscation. Even if we were to concur with the widely held feeling that the world’s population is dangerously large, and that Zero Population Growth is now a desideratum, the anatomical fact remains unchanged: the generative organs are structured for generation. If the words « natural » and « unnatural » have any meaning at all, they must be rooted in the unchanging reality of man’s sexual apparatus rather than in his ephmeral social configurations.

Militant feminists along with the gay activists react vigorously against the implication that natural structure implies the naturalness or unnaturalness of certain acts, but this very view has recently been confirmed by one of the most informed writers on the subject. « It is already pretty safe to infer from laboratory research and ethological parallels that male and female are wired in ways that relate to our traditional sex roles… Freud dramatically said that anatomy is destiny. Scientists who shudder at the dramatic, no matter how accurate, could rephrase this: anatomy is functional, body functions have profound psychological meanings to people, and anatomy and function are often socially elaborated » (Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality, p. 501).

The moral issues lead us into the quagmire of perennial philosophical disquisitions of a fundamental nature. In a way, this facilitates the problem for one seeking a Jewish view. Judaism does not accept the kind of thoroughgoing relativism used to justify the gay life as merely an alternate lifestyle And while the question of human autonomy is certainly worthy of consideration in the area of sexuality, one must beware of the consequences of taking the argument to its logical extreme. Judaism clearly cherishes holiness as a greater value than either freedom or health. Furthermore, if every individual’s autonomy leads us to lend moral legitimacy to any form of sexual expression he may desire, we must be ready to pull the blanket of this moral validity over almost the whole catalogue of perversion described by Krafft-Ebing, and then, by the legerdemain of granting civil rights to the morally non-objectionable, permit the advocates of buggery, fetishism, or whatever to proselytize in public. In that case, why not in the school system? And if consent is obtained before the death of one partner, why not necrophilia or cannibalism? Surely, if we declare pederasty to be merely idiosyncratic and not an « abomination, » what right have we to condemn sexually motivated cannibalism – merely because most people would react with revulsion and disgust?

« Loving, selfless concern » and « meaningful personal relationships » – the great slogans of the New Morality and the exponents of situation ethics – have become the litany of sodomy in our times. Simple logic should permit us to use the same criteria for excusing adultery or any other act heretofore held to be immoral: and indeed, that is just what has been done, and it has received the sanction not only of liberals and humanists, but of certain religionists as well. « Love, » « fulfillment, » « exploitative, » « meaningful » – the list itself sounds like a lexicon of emotionally charged terms drawn at random from the disparate sources of both Christian and psychologically-orientated agnostic circles. Logically, we must ask the next question: what moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of « warm, meaningful human relations » or « fulfillment, » the newest semantic heirs to « love »?

Love, fulfillment, and happiness can also be attained in incestuous contacts -and certainly in polygamous relationships. Is there nothing at all left that is « sinful, » « unnatural, » or « immoral » if it is practiced « between two consenting adults? » For religious groups to aver that a homosexual relationship should be judged by the same criteria as a heterosexual one – i.e., « whether it is intended to foster a permanent relationship of love » – is to abandon the last claim of representing the « Judeo-Christian tradition. »

I have elsewhere essayed a criticism of the situationalists, their use of the term « love, » and their objections to traditional morality as exemplified by the Halakhah as « mere legalism » (see my Faith and Doubt, chapter IX, p. 249 ff). Situationalists, such as Joseph Fletcher, have especially attacked « pilpolistic Rabbis » for remaining entangled in the coils of statutory and legalistic hairsplitting. Among the other things this typically Christian polemic reveals is an ignorance of the nature of Halakhah and its place in Judaism, which never held that law was totality of life, pleaded again and again for supererogatory conduct, recognized that individuals may be disadvantaged by the law, and which strove to rectify what could be rectified without abandoning the large majority to legal and moral chaos simply because of the discomfiture of the few.

Clearly, while Judaism needs no defense or apology in regard to its esteem for neighborly love and compassion for the individual sufferer, it cannot possibly abide a wholesale dismissal of its most basic moral principles on the grounds that those subject to its judgments find them repressive. All laws are repressive to some extent -they repress illegal activities- and all morality is concerned with changing man and improving him and his society. Homosexuality imposes on one an intolerable burden of differentness, of absurdity, and of loneliness, but the Biblical commandment outlawing pederasty cannot be put aside solely on the basis of sympathy for the victim of these feelings. Morality, too, is an element which each of us, given his sensuality, his own idiosyncracies, and his immoral proclivities, must take into serious consideration before acting out his impulses.

Psychological Attitudes

Several years ago I recommended that Jews regard homosexual deviance as a pathology, thus reconciling the insights of Jewish tradition with the exigencies of contemporary life and scientific information, such as it is, on the nature of homosexuality (Jewish Life, Jan-Feb. 1968). The remarks that follow are an expansion and modification of that position, together with some new data and notions.

The proposal that homosexuality be viewed as an illness will immediately be denied by three groups of people. Gay militants object to this view as an instance of heterosexual condescension. Evelyn Hooker and her group of psychologists maintain that homosexuals are no more pathological in their personality structures than heterosexuals. And psychiatrists Thomas Szasz in the U.S. and Ronald Laing in England reject all traditional ideas of mental sickness and health as tools of social repressiveness or, at best, narrow conventionalism. While granting that there are indeed unfortunate instances where the category of mental disease is exploited for social or political reasons, we part company with all three groups and assume that there are significant number of pederasts and lesbians who, by the criteria accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists, can indeed be termed pathological. Thus, for instance, Dr. Albert Ellis, an ardent advocate of the right to deviancy, denies there is such a thing as a well-adjusted homosexual. In an interview, he has stated that whereas he used to believe that most homosexuals were neurotic, he is now convinced that about 50% are borderline psychotics, that the usual fixed male homosexual is a severe phobic, and that lesbians are even more disturbed than male homosexuals (see Karlem, op. cit., p. 223ff.).

No single cause of homosexuality has been established. In all probability, it is based on a conglomeration of a number of factors. There is overwhelming evidence that the condition is developmental, not constitutional. Despite all efforts to discover something genetic in homosexuality, no proof has been adduced, and researchers incline more and more to reject the Freudian concept of fundamental human biological bisexuality and its corollary of homosexual latency. It is now widely believed that homosexuality is the result of a whole family constellation. The passive, dependent, phobic male homosexual is usually the product of an aggressive, covertly seductive mother who is overly rigid and puritanical with her son – thus forcing him into a bond where he is sexually aroused, yet forbidden to express himself in any heterosexual way – and of a father who is absent, remote, emotionally detached, or hostile (I. Bieber et al. Homosexuality, 1962).

Can the homosexual be cured? There is a tradition of therapeutic pessimism that goes back to Freud but a number of psychoanalysis, including Freud’s daughter Anna, have reported successes in treating homosexuals as any other phobics (in this case, fear of the female genitals). It is generally accepted that about a third of all homosexuals can be completely cured: behavioral therapists report an even larger number of cures.

Of course, one cannot say categorically that all homosexuals are sick – any more than one can casually define all thieves as kleptomaniacs. In order to develop a reasonable Jewish approach to the problem and to seek in the concept of illness some mitigating factor, it is necessary first to establish the main types of homosexuals. Dr. Judd Marmor speaks of four categories. « Genuine homosexuality » is based on strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex. « Transitory homosexual behavior » occurs among adolescents who would prefer heterosexual experiences but are denied such opportunities because of the social, cultural, or psychological reasons. « Situational homosexual exchanges » are characteristic of prisoners, soldiers and others who are heterosexual but are denied access to women for long periods of time. « Transitory and opportunistic homosexuality » is that of delinquent young men who permit themselves to be used by pederasts in order to make money or win other favors, although their primary erotic interests are exclusively heterosexual. To these may be added, for purposes of our analysis, two other types. The first category, that of genuine homosexuals, me be said to comprehend two sub-categories: those who experience their condition as one of duress or uncontrollable passion which they would rid themselves of if they could, and those who transform their idiosyncrasy into an ideology, i.e., the gay militants who assert the legitimacy and validity of homosexuality as an alternative way to heterosexuality. The sixth category is based on what Dr. Rollo May has called « the New Puritanism », the peculiarly modern notion that one must experience all sexual pleasures, whether or not one feels inclined to them, as if the failure to taste every cup passed at the sumptuous banquet of carnal life means that one has not truly lived. Thus, we have transitory homosexual behavior not of adolescents, but of adults who feel that: they must « try everything » at least once or more than once in their lives.

A Possible Halakhic Solution

This rubric will now permit us to apply the notion of disease (and, from the halakhic point of view, of its opposite, moral culpability) to the various types of sodomy. Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible. As for the intermediate categories, while they cannot be called illness, they do have a greater claim on our sympathy than the three types mentioned above.

In formulating the notion of homosexuality as a disease, we are not asserting the formal halakhic definition of mental illness as mental incompetence, as described in TB Hag. 3b, 4a, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the categorization of a prohibited sex act as ones (duress) because of uncontrolled passions is valid, in a technical halakhic sense, only for a married woman who was ravished and who, in the course of the act, became a willing participant. The Halakhah decides with Rava, against the father of Samuel, that her consent is considered duress because of the passions aroused in her (Ket, 51b). However, this holds true only if the act was initially entered into under physical compulsion (Kesef Mishneh to Yad, Sanh. 20:3). Moreover, the claim of compulsion by one’s erotic passions is not valid for a male, for any erection is considered a token of his willingness (Yev, 53b; Maimonides, Yad, Sanh, 20:3). In the case of a male who was forced to cohabit with a woman forbidden to him, some authorities consider him guilty and punishable, while others hold him guilty but not subject to punishment by the courts (Tos., Yev, 53b; Hinnukh, 556; Kesef Mishneh, loc. cit.: Maggid Mishneh to Issurei Bi´ah, 1:9). Where a male is sexually aroused in a permissible manner, as to begin coitus with his wife and is then forced to conclude the act with another woman, most authorities exonerate him (Rabad and Maggid Mishned, to Issurei Bi´ah, in loc). If, now, the warped family background of the genuine homosexual is considered ones, the homosexual act may possibly lay claim to some mitigation by the Halakhah. (However, see Minhat Hinnukh, 556, end; and M. Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe (1973) on YD, no. 59, who holds, in a different context, that any pleasure derived from a forbidden act performed under duress increases the level of prohibition. This was anticipated by R. Joseph Engel, Atvan de-Oraita, 24). These latter sources indicate the difficulty of exonerating sexual transgressors because of psycho-pathological reasons under the technical rules of the Halakhah.

However, in the absence of a Sanhedrin and since it is impossible to implement the whole halakhic penal system, including capital punishment, such strict applications are unnecessary. What we are attempting is to develop guidelines, based on the Halakhah, which will allow contemporary Jews to orient themselves to the current problems of homosexuality in a manner articulating with the most fundamental insights of the Halakhah in a general sense, and consistent with the broadest world-view that the halakhic commitment instills in its followers. Thus, the aggadic statement that « no man sins unless he is overcome by a spirit of madness » (Sot. 3a) is not an operative halakhic rule, but does offer guidance on public policy and individual pastoral compassion. So in the present case, the formal halakhic strictures do not in any case apply nowadays, and it is our contention that the aggadic principle must lead us to seek out the mitigating halakhic elements so as to guide us in our orientation to homosexuals who, by the standards of modern psychology, may be regarded as acting under compulsion.

To apply the Halakhah strictly in this case is obviously impossible; to ignore it entirely is undesirable, and tantamount to regarding Halakhah as a purely abstract, legalistic system which can safely be dismissed where its norms and prescriptions do not allow full formal implementation. Admittedly, the method is not rigorous, and leaves room to varying interpretations as well as exegetical abuse, but it is the best we can do.

Hence there are types of homosexuality that do not warrant any special considerateness, because the notion of ones or duress (i.e., disease) in no way applies. Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to´evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these sense, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act, where it is legitimate to distinguish between the objective itself including its social and moral consequences, and the mentality and inner development of the person who perpetrates the act. For instance, if a man murders in a cold and calculating fashion for reasons of profit, the act is criminal and the transgressor is criminal. If, however, a psychotic murders, the transgressor is diseased rather than criminal, but the objective act itself remains a criminal one. The courts may therefore treat the perpetrator of the crime as they would a patient, with all the concomitant compassion and concern for therapy, without condoning the act as being morally neutral. To use halakhic terminology, the objective crime remains a ma´aseh averah, whereas a person who transgresses is considered innocent on the grounds of ones. In such case, the transgressor is spared the full legal consequences of his culpable act, although the degree to which he may be held responsible varies from case to case.

An example of a criminal act that is treated with compassion by the Halakhah, which in practice considers the act pathological rather than criminal, is suicide. Technically, the suicide or attempted suicide is in violation of the law. The Halakhah denies to the suicide the honor of a eulogy, the rending of the garments by relatives or witnesses to the death, and (according to Maimonides) insist that the relatives are not to observe the usual mourning period for the suicide. Yet, in the course of time, the tendency has been to remove the stigma from the suicide on the basis of mental disease. Thus, halakhic scholars do not apply the technical category of intentional (la-da´at) suicide to one who did not clearly demonstrate before performing the act, that he knew what he was doing and was of sound mind, to the extent that there was no hiatus between the act of self-destruction and actual death. If these conditions are not present, we assume that it was an insane act or that between the act and death he experienced pangs of contrition and is therefore repentant, hence excused before the law. There is even one opinion which exonerates the suicide unless he received adequate warning (hatra´ah) before performing the act, and responded in a manner indicating that he was fully aware of what he was doing and that he was lucid (J.M Tykocinski, Gesher ha-Hayyim, I, ch. 25, and Encyclopaedia Judaica, 15:490).

Admittedly, there are differences between the two cases: pederasty is clearly a severe violation of Biblical law, whereas the stricture against suicide is derived exegetically from a verse in the Genesis. Nevertheless, the principle operative in the one is applicable to the other: where one can attribute an act to mental illness, it is done out of simple humanitarian considerations.

The suicide analogy should not, of course, lead one to conclude that there are grounds for a blanket exculpation of homosexuality as mental illness. Not all forms of homosexuality can be so termed, as indicated above, and the act itself remains an « abomination ». With few exceptions, most people do not ordinarily propose that suicide be considered an acceptable and legitimate alternative to the rigors of daily life. No sane and moral person sits passively and watches a fellow man attempt suicide because he « understands » him and because it has been decided that suicide is a « morally neutral » act. By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable. Were society to give its open or even tacit approval to homosexuality, it would invite more aggressiveness on the part of adult pederasts toward young people. Indeed, in the currently permissive atmosphere, the Jewish view would summon us to the semantic courage of referring to homosexuality not as « deviance » with the implication of moral neutrality and non-judgmental idiosyncrasy, but as « perversion » – a less clinical and more old-fashioned word, perhaps, but one that is more in keeping with the Biblical to´evah.

Yet, having passed this moral judgment, we cannot in the name of Judaism necessarily demand that we strive for the harshest possible punishment. Even where it was halakhically feasible to execute capital punishment, we have a tradition of leniency. Thus, R. Akiva and R. Tarfon declared that had they lived during the time of the Sanhedrin, they never would have executed a man. Although the Halakhah does not decide in their favor (Mak., end of ch. I), it was rare indeed that the death penalty was actually imposed. Usually, the Biblically mandated penalty was regarded as an index of the severity of the transgression, and the actual execution was avoided by strict insistence upon all technical requirements – such al hatra´ah (forewarning the potential criminal) and rigorous cross-examination of witnesses, etc. In the same spirit, we are not bound to press for the most punitive policy toward contemporary lawbreakers. We are required to lead them to rehabilitation (teshuva). The Halakhah sees no contradiction between condemning a man to death and exercising compassion, even love, toward him (Sanh. 52a). Even a man on the way to his execution was encouraged to repent (Sanh. 6:2). In the absence of a death penalty, the tradition of teshuva and pastoral compassion to the sinner continues.

I do not find any warrant in the Jewish tradition for insisting on prison sentences for homosexuals. The singling-out of homosexuals as victims of society’s righteous indignation is patently unfair. In Western history, anti-homosexual crusades have too often been marked by cruelty, destruction, and bigotry. Imprisonment in modern times has proven to be extremely haphazard. The number of homosexuals unfortunate enough to be apprehended is infinitesimal as compared to the number of known homosexuals; estimates vary from one to 300.000 to one to 6.000.000!. For homosexuals to be singled out for special punishment while all the rest of society indulges itself in every other form of sexual malfeasance (using the definitions of Halakhah, not the New Morality) is a species of double-standard morality that the spirit of Halakhah cannot abide. Thus, the Mishnah declares that the « scroll of the suspected adulteress » (megillat sotah) – whereby a wife suspected of adultery was forced to undergo the test of « bitter waters » – was cancelled when the Sages became aware of the ever-larger number of adulterers in general (Sot. 9:9). The Talmud bases this decision on an aversion to the double standard: if the husband is himself an adulterer, the « bitter waters » will have no effect on his wife, even though she too be guilty of the offense (Sot. 47b). By the same token, a society in which heterosexual immorality is not conspicuously absent has no moral right to sit in stern judgment and mete out harsh penalties to homosexuals.

Furthermore, sending a homosexual to prison is counterproductive if punishment is to contain any element of rehabilitation or teshuva. It has rightly been compared to sending an alcoholic to a distillery. The Talmud records that the Sanhedrin was unwilling to apply the full force of the law where punishment had lost its quality of deterrence; thus, 40 (or four) years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin voluntarily left the precincts of the Temple so as not to be able, technically, to impose the death sentence, because it had noticed the increasing rate of homicide (Sanh. 41a, and elsewhere).

There is nothing in the Jewish law’s letter or spirit that should incline us toward advocacy of imprisonment for homosexuals. The Halakhah did not, by and large, encourage the denial of freedom as a recommended form of punishment. Flogging is, from a certain perspective, far less cruel and far more enlightened. Since capital punishment is out of the question, and since incarceration is not an advisable substitute, we are left with one absolute minimum: strong disapproval of the proscribed act. But we are not bound to any specific penological instrument that has no basis in Jewish law or tradition.

How shall this disapproval be expressed? It has been suggested that, since homosexuality will never attain acceptance anyway, society can afford to be humane. As long as violence and the seduction of children are not involved, it would best to abandon all laws on homosexuality and leave it to the inevitable social sanctions to control, informally,what can be controlled.

However, this approach is not consonant with Jewish tradition. The repeal of anti-homosexual laws implies the removal of the stigma from homosexuality, and this diminution of social censure weakens society in its training of the young toward acceptable patterns of conduct. The absence of adequate social reproach may well encourage the expression of homosexual tendencies by those in whom they might otherwise be suppressed. Law itself has an educative function, and the repeal of laws, no matter how justifiable such repeal may be from one point of view, does have the effect of signaling the acceptability of greater permissiveness.

Some New Proposals

Perhaps all that has been said above can best be expressed in the proposals that follow.

First, society and government must recognize the distinctions between the various categories enumerated earlier in this essay. We must offer medical and psychological assistance to those whose homosexuality is an expression of pathology, who recognize it as such, and are willing to seek help. We must be no less generous to the homosexual than to the drug addict, to whom the government extends various forms of therapy upon request.

Second, jail sentences must be abolished for all homosexuals, save those who are guilty of violence, seduction of the young, or public solicitation.

Third, the laws must remain on the books, but by mutual consent of judiciary and police, be unenforced. This approximates to what lawyers call « the chilling effect », and is the nearest one can come to the category so well known in the Halakhah, whereby strong disapproval is expressed by affirming a halakhic prohibition, yet no punishment is mandated. It is a category that bridges the gap between morality and law. In a society where homosexuality is so rampant, and where incarceration is so counterproductive, the hortatory approach may well be a way of formalizing society’s revulsion while avoiding the pitfalls in our accepted penology.

For the Jewish community as such, the same principles, derived from the tradition, may serve as guidelines. Judaism allows for no compromise in its abhorrence of sodomy, but encourages both compassion and efforts at rehabilitation. Certainly, there must be no acceptance of separate Jewish homosexual societies, such as – or specially – synagogues set aside as homosexual congregations. The first such « gay synagogue », apparently, was the « Beth Chayim Chadashim » in Los Angeles. Spawned by that city’s Metropolitan Community Church in March 1972, the founding group constituted itself as a Reform congregation with the help of the Pacific Southwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations some time in early 1973. Thereafter, similar groups surfaced in New York City and elsewhere. The original group meets on Friday evenings in the Leo Baeck Temple and is searching for a rabbi – who must himself be « gay ». The membership sees itself as justified by « the Philosophy of Reform Judaism ». The Temple president declared that God is « more concerned in our finding a sense of peace in which to make a better world, than He is in whom someone sleeps with » (cited in « Judaism and Homosexuality » C.C.A.R. Journal, summer 1973, p. 38; five articles in this issue of the Reform group’s rabbinic journal are devoted to the same theme, and most of them approve of the Gay Synagogue).

But such reasoning is specious, to say the least. Regular congregations and other Jewish groups should not hesitate to accord hospitality and membership, on an individual basis, to those « visible » homosexuals who qualify for the category of the ill. Homosexuals are no less in violation of Jewish norms than Sabbath desecrators or those who disregard the laws of kashrut. But to assent to the organization of separate « gay » groups under Jewish auspices makes no more sense, Jewishly, than to suffer the formation of synagogues that care exclusively to idol worshipers, adulterers, gossipers, tax evaders, or Sabbath violators. Indeed, it makes less sense, because it provides, under religious auspices, a ready-made clientele from which the homosexual can more easily choose his partners.

In remaining true to the sources of Jewish tradition. Jews are commanded to avoid the madness that seizes society at various times and in many forms, while yet retaining a moral composure and psychological equilibrium sufficient to exercise that combination of discipline and charity that is the hallmark of Judaism.

Voir aussi:

Buttigieg en tête des démocrates dans l’Iowa, une première

Métro

12 novembre 2018

Le jeune maire américain modéré Pete Buttigieg a dépassé pour la première fois les poids lourds de la primaire démocrate dans un sondage publié mardi portant sur l’Iowa, un État-clé dans la course à la Maison-Blanche car il sera le premier à voter.

C’est la première fois que Pete Buttigieg, 37 ans, arrive en tête d’un sondage dans la campagne pour la primaire démocrate.

Le maire enregistre 22% des intentions de vote dans l’Iowa selon un sondage de l’institut de Monmouth University, devant les grands favoris jusqu’ici: l’ancien vice-président de Barack Obama, Joe Biden (19%), la sénatrice progressiste Elizabeth Warren (18%) et le sénateur indépendant Bernie Sanders (13%).

Encore inconnu du grand public il y a un an, le maire de South Bend, dans l’Indiana, s’est depuis forgé un nom en se posant en modéré capable de rassembler l’Amérique pour battre le républicain Donald Trump en novembre 2020.

Ancien militaire, polyglotte et utra-diplômé, il est le premier grand candidat ouvertement homosexuel à la Maison-Blanche, marié depuis 2018 à un enseignant, Chasten.

Dans l’Iowa, où la primaire sera organisée le 3 février, «Buttigieg émerge comme un choix de premier plan pour un large éventail de démocrates», quel que soit leur niveau d’«éducation ou leur idéologie», a écrit mardi Patrick Murray, directeur de l’institut de sondage Monmouth University, dans un communiqué.

Plus de deux tiers des 451 personnes interrogées –du 7 au 11 novembre– disent pouvoir encore changer d’avis, précise l’institut. La marge d’erreur est importante, à 4,6 points, mais ce nouveau sondage vient confirmer l’ascension de M. Buttigieg dans l’Iowa depuis plusieurs semaines.

Sur les 17 candidats encore en lice pour l’investiture démocrate, Joe Biden reste favori au niveau national mais est en perte de vitesse (26,8%), suivi par Elizabeth Warren (20,8%), Bernie Sanders (17%), avec, loin derrière, Pete Buttigieg (7,5%).

Voir également:

Pete Buttigieg, meilleur candidat pour battre Trump à l’élection présidentielle?

Après avoir brillé dans l’Iowa, l’ancien maire mise sur la primaire dans le New Hampshire pour affronter Donald Trump à l’élection présidentielle américaine.

PRÉSIDENTIELLE AMÉRICAINE – Va-t-il transformer l’essai? Après ses résultats inespérés dans l’Iowa (toujours contestés par Bernie Sanders), Pete Buttigieg espère bien récolter les fruits de l’énorme coup de pouce médiatique dont il a bénéficié tout au long de cette semaine chaotique.

Le jeune candidat, encore inconnu il y a un an, croise donc les doigts ce mardi 11 février pour à nouveau s’imposer -ou du moins décrocher un score plus qu’honorable- dans le New Hampshire, deuxième État à voter aux primaires démocrates.

Si créer la surprise au cours des prochains scrutins et finir par décrocher la nomination du parti cet été est actuellement le rêve de tous les candidats, la seule vraie prouesse sera la suivante: battre Donald Trump lors de l’élection générale du 3 novembre et le sortir de la Maison Blanche.

Pete Buttigieg est-il le meilleur candidat pour cette périlleuse mission? Le HuffPost a rassemblé plusieurs forces (et faiblesses) du candidat pour tenter d’y voir plus clair.

Aux antipodes de Trump

Comme il aime souvent le rappeler en campagne, Pete Buttigieg a un atout majeur face à Donald Trump: son CV. Il faut dire qu’on pourrait difficilement imaginer un curriculum plus à l’opposé de celui du président républicain.

Contrairement à l’occupant actuel de la Maison Blanche, le démocrate a tout d’abord de l’expérience politique. Alors que le magnat de l’immobilier était l’hôte d’une téléréalité avant de se présenter à la présidence, Pete Buttigieg vient lui de terminer son 2e mandat de maire. Trump s’est construit dans la plus grande ville du pays qu’est New York, Buttiegieg a fait décoller sa carrière à South Bend, 100.000 habitants, dans l’État de l’Indiana.

Buttigieg met aussi régulièrement en avant son expérience dans l’armée. Il a passé sept mois en Afghanistan, un avantage sur tous ses concurrents démocrates et surtout sur Trump. Ce dernier a en effet réussi à échapper pas mois de cinq fois à la guerre du Vietnam: quatre reports grâce aux études qu’il suivait puis une dispense médicale pour une excroissance osseuse au pied dont les médias n’ont jamais retrouvé de trace.

Diplômé de grandes universités, le candidat a aussi montré qu’il était polyglotte(vidéo ci-dessous). En plus de l’anglais, il peut parler en norvégien, espagnol, italien, arabe, dari ou encore français comme il l’a montré en commentant l’incendie de Notre-Dame. Face à un président qui est parfois pointé du doigt pour la faiblesse du vocabulaire qu’il emploie dans son anglais natal.

 


Hanouka/2184e: Trump invente le sionisme antisémite ! (Ultimate sleight of hand: How can opposition to the existence of an apartheid state be called racism ?)

23 décembre, 2019
tied willyPresident Trump at the Israeli American Council National Summit last week in Hollywood, Fla.En ces jours-là surgit d’Israël une génération de vauriens qui séduisirent beaucoup de personnes en disant : “Allons, faisons alliance avec les nations qui nous entourent, car depuis que nous nous sommes séparés d’elles, bien des maux nous sont advenus.” (…) Plusieurs parmi le peuple s’empressèrent d’aller trouver le roi, qui leur donna l’autorisation d’observer les coutumes païennes. Ils construisirent donc un gymnase à Jérusalem, selon les usages des nations, se refirent des prépuces et renièrent l’alliance sainte pour s’associer aux nations. 1 Maccabées 1: 11-15
Il n’était même pas permis de célébrer le sabbat, ni de garder les fêtes de nos pères, ni simplement de confesser que l’on était Juif. On était conduit par une amère nécessité à participer chaque mois au repas rituel, le jour de la naissance du roi et, lorsqu’arrivaient les fêtes dionysiaques, on devait, couronné de lierre, accompagner le cortège de Dionysos. (…) Ainsi deux femmes furent déférées en justice pour avoir circoncis leurs enfants. On les produisit en public à travers la ville, leurs enfants suspendus à leurs mamelles, avant de les précipiter ainsi du haut des remparts. D’autres s’étaient rendus ensemble dans des cavernes voisines pour y célébrer en cachette le septième jour. Dénoncés à Philippe, ils furent brûlés ensemble, se gardant bien de se défendre eux-mêmes par respect pour la sainteté du jour. (…) Eléazar, un des premiers docteurs de la Loi, homme déjà avancé en âge et du plus noble extérieur, était contraint, tandis qu’on lui ouvrait la bouche de force, de manger de la chair de porc. Mais lui, préférant une mort glorieuse à une existence infâme, marchait volontairement au supplice de la roue,non sans avoir craché sa bouchée, comme le doivent faire ceux qui ont le courage de rejeter ce à quoi il n’est pas permis de goûter par amour de la vie. 2 Maccabées 6 : 6-20
On célébrait à Jérusalem la fête de la Dédicace. C’était l’hiver. Et Jésus se promenait dans le temple, sous le portique de Salomon. Jean 10: 22
La crise maccabéenne n’est pas un affrontement entre un roi grec fanatique et des Juifs pieux attachés à leurs traditions. C’est d’abord une crise interne au judaïsme, d’un affrontement entre ceux qui estiment qu’on peut rester fidèle au judaïsme en adoptant néanmoins certains traits de la civilisation du monde moderne, le grec, la pratique du sport, etc.., et ceux qui au contraire, pensent que toute adoption des mœurs grecques porte atteinte de façon insupportable à la religion des ancêtres. Si le roi Antiochos IV intervient, ce n’est pas par fanatisme, mais bien pour rétablir l’ordre dans une province de son royaume qui, de plus, se place sur la route qu’il emprunte pour faire campagne en Égypte. (…) Là où Antiochos IV commettait une magistrale erreur politique, c’est qu’il n’avait pas compris qu’abolir la Torah ne revenait pas seulement à priver les Juifs de leurs lois civiles, mais conduisait à l’abolition du judaïsme. Maurice Sartre
L’assemblée générale (…) considère que le sionisme est une forme de racisme et de discrimination raciale. Résolution 379 (ONU, le 10 novembre 1975)
L’assemblée générale décide de déclarer nulle la conclusion contenue dans le dispositif de sa résolution 3379 (XXX) du 10 novembre 1975. Résolution 4686 (ONU, le 16 décembre 1991)
I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights – the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment. I cannot stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the State of Israel. I love our country’s freedom of speech, madam speaker. Dissent is how we nurture democracy. and grow to be better and more humane and just. This is why I oppose resolution 243. All Americans have a right, a constitutional right guaranteed by the first amendment to freedom of speech. To petition their government and participate in boycotts. Speech in pursuit of civil rights at home and abroad is protected by our first amendment. That is one reason why our first amendment is so powerful. With a few exceptions the government is simply not allowed to discriminate against speech based on its viewpoint or speaker. The right to boycott is deeply rooted in the fabric of our country. What was the Boston tea party but a boycott ? Where would we be now with the civil rights activists in the 1950’s and 1960’s like the united farm workers grape boycott? Some of this country’s most important advances in racial equality and equity and workers’ rights has been achieved through collective action, protected by our constitution. Americans of conscience have long and proud history of participating in boycotts, specifically to advocate for human rights abroad. Americans boycotted nazi Germany in response to dehumanization, imprisonment, and genocide of Jewish people. In the 1980’s, many of us in this very body boycotted South African goods in the fight against apartheid. Our right to free speech is being threatened with this resolution. It sets a dangerous precedent because it attempts to delegitimatize a certain people’s political speech and to send a message that our government can and will take action against speech it doesn’t like. Madam speaker, the Supreme court has time and time again recognized the expressive conduct is protected by the constitution. from burning a flag to baking a cake, efforts to restrict and target that protected speech run the risk of eroding the civil rights that form the foundation of our democracy. All Americans have the right to participate in boycotts, and I oppose all legislative efforts that target speech. I urge congress, state governments, and civil rights leaders from all communities to preserve our constitution, preserve our bill of rights, and preserve the first amendment’s guaranteed of freedom of speech by opposing h. res. 246 and the boycott, anti-boycott efforts wherever they rise. Rashida Tlaib (July 23, 2019)
Melania and I send our warmest wishes to Jewish people in the United States, Israel and across the world as you commence the 8-day celebration of Hanukkah. More than 2,000 years ago, the Maccabees boldly reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, securing a victory for the Jewish people and their faith. They proudly lit the menorah to rededicate the Second Temple. Even though there was only enough olive oil to burn for one day, through divine providence, the flames miraculously burned for eight nights. As the Jewish community gathers together to celebrate this special and sacred time of year, we are reminded of God’s message of hope, mercy, and love. Throughout the coming eight days, each candle to be lit on the menorah will signal to the world that freedom and justice will always shine brighter than hate and oppression. Today, the relationship between the United States and Israel, one of our most cherished allies and friends, is stronger than ever. We will continue to stand with the Jewish people in defending the God-given right to worship freely and openly. As our Jewish brothers and sisters gather around the menorah each night, we pray for a memorable and blessed celebration of the Festival of Lights. May the light of the menorah and the fellowship of family and friends fill your hearts with happiness and a renewed sense of faith. Happy Hanukkah! President Trump
Le président Donald J. Trump prend un décret présidentiel pour renforcer la lutte contre la montée de l’antisémitisme aux États-Unis. Le décret du président Trump indique clairement que le Titre VI de la loi sur les droits civils de 1964 s’applique à la discrimination antisémite fondée sur la race, la couleur ou l’origine nationale. Dans le cadre de l’application du Titre VI contre la discrimination antisémite dissimulée, les agences se référeront à la définition de l’antisémitisme de l’Alliance internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste (IHRA) ainsi que ses exemples contemporains. (…) Ces dernières années, les Américains ont assisté à une augmentation inquiétante des incidents antisémites et à une montée de la rhétorique correspondante dans l’ensemble du pays. (…) Les incidents antisémites se sont multipliés en Amérique depuis 2013, en particulier dans les écoles et sur les campus universitaires. Il s’agit en particulier d’actes de violence horribles à l’encontre de Juifs américains et de synagogues aux États-Unis. 18 membres démocrates du Congrès ont coparrainé cette année une législation en faveur du mouvement antisémite « Boycott, désinvestissement, sanctions » (BDS). Dans leur résolution, ces membres du Congrès comparaient de manière choquante le soutien à Israël à celui à l’Allemagne nazie. Ambassade des Etats-Unis en France
États-unis. Quand Trump voit le judaïsme comme une nationalité: Sous prétexte de combattre l’antisémitisme, le président américain signe un décret qui empêche toute critique d’Israël. L’Humanité
Le président Trump prévoit de signer mercredi un décret visant à cibler ce qu’il considère comme de l’antisémitisme sur les campus universitaires en menaçant de retenir l’argent fédéral des établissements d’enseignement qui ne parviennent pas à lutter contre la discrimination, ont déclaré mardi trois responsables de l’administration. L’ordonnance devrait effectivement interpréter  le judaïsme comme une race ou une nationalité, et pas seulement comme une religion, pour inciter une loi fédérale pénalisant les collèges et universités qui se dérobent à leur responsabilité à favoriser un climat ouvert pour les étudiants issus de minorités. Ces dernières années, le boycott, le désinvestissement et les sanctions – ou B.D.S. – le mouvement contre Israël a troublé certains campus, laissant certains étudiants juifs se sentir importuns ou attaqués. En signant l’ordonnance, M. Trump utilisera son pouvoir exécutif pour agir là où le Congrès ne l’a pas fait, reproduisant essentiellement une législation bipartite bloquée par le Capitol Hill depuis plusieurs années. D’éminents démocrates se sont joints aux républicains pour promouvoir un tel changement de politique afin de combattre l’antisémitisme ainsi que le mouvement de boycott d’Israël. Mais les critiques se sont plaints qu’une telle politique pourrait être utilisée pour étouffer la liberté d’expression et l’opposition légitime à la politique d’Israël envers les Palestiniens au nom de la lutte contre l’antisémitisme. La définition de l’antisémitisme utilisée dans l’ordonnance correspond à celle utilisée par le Département d’État et par d’autres nations, mais elle a été critiquée comme étant trop ouverte et trop générale. Par exemple, il y est décrit comme antisémite « nier au peuple juif son droit à l’autodétermination » dans certaines circonstances et offre comme exemple de ce comportement « affirmer que l’existence d’un État d’Israël est une entreprise raciste ». (…) Les responsables de l’administration, qui ont insisté sur l’anonymat pour discuter de l’ordonnance avant son annonce officielle, ont déclaré qu’elle n’était pas destiné à étouffer la liberté d’expression. La Maison Blanche a contacté certains démocrates et groupes militants qui ont critiqué le président pour obtenir un soutien à cette décision. (…) Au fil des ans, M. Trump a été accusé de faire des remarques antisémites, de fermer les yeux sur les tropes antisémites ou d’enhardir les suprémacistes blancs comme ceux de Charlottesville, en Virginie, en 2017. Le week-end dernier, il a été critiqué pour ses propos tenus en Floride devant le Conseil israélo-américain au cours de laquelle il a déclaré au public juif qu’ils n’étaient « pas des gens sympas » mais qu’ils appuieraient sa réélection parce que « vous n’allez pas voter pour l’impôt sur la fortune ». Mais il s’est également positionné comme un partisan indéfectible d’Israël et un champion des Juifs américains, en déplaçant l’ambassade des États-Unis à Jérusalem, en soutenant les colonies en Cisjordanie et en reconnaissant la saisie des hauteurs du Golan. Il a également agressé la représentante Ilhan Omar, démocrate du Minnesota, lorsqu’elle a déclaré que le soutien à Israël était « tout au sujet des Benjamins », ce qui signifie de l’argent. (…) L’ordonnance à signer par M. Trump habiliterait le Département de l’éducation à de telles actions. En vertu du titre VI de la loi sur les droits civils de 1964, le ministère peut retenir le financement de tout collège ou programme éducatif qui établit une discrimination «fondée sur la race, la couleur ou l’origine nationale». La religion n’était pas incluse dans les catégories protégées, donc l’ordre de Donald Trump aura pour effet d’embrasser un argument selon lequel les Juifs sont un peuple ou une race d’origine nationale collective au Moyen-Orient, comme les Italo-Américains ou les Polonais américains. La définition de l’antisémitisme qui doit être adoptée par le Département d’État et formulée à l’origine par l’Alliance internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste comprend « une certaine perception des Juifs, qui peut être exprimée comme de la haine envers les Juifs ». Cependant, elle ajoute que « des critiques d’Israël similaires à ce niveau contre tout autre pays ne peut pas être considéré comme antisémite ». (…) Bien qu’un ordre exécutif ne soit pas aussi permanent que la législation et puisse être annulé par le prochain président, l’action de M. Trump peut avoir pour effet d’étendre la politique au-delà de son administration, car ses successeurs peuvent trouver politiquement peu attrayant de le renverser. NYT
President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday. The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. NYT
In an alternate universe, the idea of a presidential order designed to protect Jews from discrimination on college campuses would not necessarily create a firestorm of mutual recrimination and internecine political warfare. True, there is no consensus on whether “Jewish” is a religious, cultural, ethnic, or national identity. Most often, it is framed as a combination of at least three, but not always and certainly not in the views of all the various denominations and sects that accept the appellation. But there is no question that anti-Semitic acts are increasing across the United States, and they are being undertaken by people who could not care less about these distinctions. And there is nothing inherently objectionable about using the power of the federal government to try to protect people, including college students, from those incidents’ consequences. But in this universe, the guy who ordered this protection, Donald Trump, has revealed himself repeatedly to be an inveterate anti-Semite. (…) That’s on the one hand. On the other, Trump has been a perfect patsy for Israel’s right-wing government and its supporters in what is misnamed the American “pro-Israel” community. While previous presidents sought, without much success, to restrain Israel on behalf of a hoped-for future peace agreement with the Palestinians, Trump has given that nation’s most corrupt and extremist leadership in its 71-year-history carte blanche—peace and the Palestinians be damned. If the simultaneous embrace of anti-Semitism at home and philo-Semitism when it comes to Israel strikes one as contradictory, this is a mistake. Trump, like so many of today’s elected “populists,” sees considerable advantage in playing to hometown prejudices for personal gain while boosting Israel as a bulwark against worldwide Islam, which many of the president’s supporters consider an even greater offense to Christian belief than Jews are. Jews may be greedy and disloyal at home, but as long as Israel is out there kicking the shit out of the Arabs, it’s a trade-off that right-wing autocrats and their neofascist followers can get behind. (…) But the issue of the executive order is complicated by the fact that it is understood by all to be a means for the federal government to step in and quash the intensifying criticism of Israel on college campuses—most notably, criticism that takes the form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or BDS. And it does this in part by insisting, as Jared Kushner recently argued in a New York Times op-ed, that all “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” I’ve been an outspoken critic of the academic BDS movement for some time now. But if you ask me, the movement has been a spectacular failure in every respect, save one: It has succeeded in turning many college campuses into anti-Israel inculcation centers and therefore has scared the bejesus out of the Jewish parents paying for their kids to attend them. At the same time—even if you allow that occasional anti-Semitic comments and actions by some of BDS’s supporters are outliers and not indicative of most of its followers—I find the idea and, even more so, the practice of an academic boycott to be undeniably contradictory to universities’ philosophical commitment to freedom of expression and ideas. Nonetheless, the explicit and intellectually indefensible equation of anti-Zionism with actionable anti-Semitism is an obvious offense to the notion of freedom of expression, however much it cheers the tiny hearts of right-wing Jews and other Trump defenders. Jewish students already had all the protections they needed before Trump’s executive order. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act covers discrimination on the basis of a “group’s actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic characteristics” or “actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.” The New York Times’ early, inaccurate reporting on the executive order, in which the paper falsely stated that the order would “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality,” deserves special mention here for creating the panic. But the result of the entire episode is that, yet again, the Trump administration has placed a stupid, shiny object before the media, and the hysteria that has ensued has divided Americans, Jews, liberals and conservatives, and free speech and human rights activists, all while the administration continues its relentless assault on our democracy and better selves. The Nation
US President Donald Trump thinks that anti-Semitism is a serious problem in America. But Trump is not so much concerned about neo-Nazis who scream that Jews and other minorities “will not replace us,” for he thinks that many white supremacists are “very fine people.” No, Trump is more worried about US college campuses, where students call for boycotts of Israel in support of the Palestinians. (…) In the first years of the Jewish state, Israel was popular among many leftists, because it was built on socialist ideas. Left-wing opinion in Europe and the United States began to turn against Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Arab territories were occupied by Israeli troops. More and more, Israel came to be seen as a colonial power, or an apartheid state. One may or may not agree with that view of Israel. But few would deny that occupation, as is usually the case when civilians are under the thumb of a foreign military power, has led to oppression. So, to be a strong advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli policies, on college campuses or anywhere else, does not automatically make one an anti-Semite. But there are extreme forms of anti-Zionism that do. The question is when that line is crossed. Some would claim that it is anti-Semitic to deny Jews the right to have their own homeland. This is indeed one of the premises of Trump’s presidential order. There are also elements on the radical left, certainly represented in educational institutions, who are so obsessed by the oppression of Palestinians that they see Israel as the world’s greatest evil. Just as anti-Semites in the past often linked Jews with the US, as the twin sources of rootless capitalist malevolence, some modern anti-Zionists combine their anti-Americanism with a loathing for Israel.In the minds of certain leftists, Israel and its American big brother are not just the last bastions of racist Western imperialism. The idea of a hidden Jewish capitalist cabal can also enter left-wing demonology as readily as it infects the far right. This noxious prejudice has haunted the British Labour Party, something its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has consistently failed to recognize.In short, anti-Zionism can veer into anti-Semitism, but not all critics of Israel are anti-Zionist, and not all anti-Zionists are prejudiced against Jews.Quite where people stand on this issue depends heavily on how they define a Jew – a source of endless vagueness and confusion. (…)There is, in any case, something ill-conceived about the stress on race and nationhood in Trump’s order on combating anti-Semitism. Israel is the only state claiming to represent all Jews, but not all Jews necessarily identify with Israel. Some even actively dislike it. Trump’s order might suggest that such people are renegades, or even traitors. This idea might please Israel’s current government, but it is far from the spirit of the Halakha, or even from the liberal idea of citizenship.Defining Jews as a “race” is just as much of a problem. Jews come from many ethnic backgrounds: Yemenite, Ethiopian, Russian, Moroccan, and Swedish Jews are hard to pin down as a distinctive ethnic group. Hitler saw Jews as a race, but that is no reason to follow his example.To combat racism, wherever it occurs, is a laudable aim. But singling out anti-Semitism in an executive order, especially when the concept is so intimately linked to views on the state of Israel, is a mistake. Extreme anti-Zionists may be a menace; all extremists are. But they should be tolerated, as long as their views are peacefully expressed. To stifle opinions on campuses by threatening to withhold funds runs counter to the freedom of speech guaranteed by the US Constitution. This is, alas, not the only sign that upholding the constitution is not the main basis of the current US administration’s claim to legitimacy. Ian Buruma
Donald Trump has a knack for taking some of humanity’s most problematic ideas and turning them on their head to make them even worse. He has done it again. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order that will allow federal funds to be withheld from colleges where students are not protected from anti-Semitism—using an absurdly defined version of what constitutes anti-Semitism. Recent precedent and the history of legislative efforts that preceded the executive order would suggest that its main targets are campus groups critical of Israeli policies. What the order itself did not make explicit, the President’s son-in-law did: on Wednesday, Jared Kushner published an Op-Ed in the Times in which he stressed that the definition of anti-Semitism used in the executive order “makes clear what our administration has stated publicly on the record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” Both Kushner and the executive order refer to the definition of anti-Semitism that was formulated, in 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; it has since been adopted by the State Department. The definition supplies examples of anti-Semitism, and Kushner cited the most problematic of these as the most important: “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”; denial to “the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor”; and comparing “contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” All three examples perform the same sleight of hand: they reframe opposition to or criticism of Israeli policies as opposition to the state of Israel. And that, says Kushner, is anti-Semitism. To be sure, some people who are critical of Israeli policies are opposed to the existence of the state of Israel itself. And some of those people are also anti-Semites. I am intimately familiar with this brand of anti-Semitism, because I grew up in the Soviet Union, where anti-Zionist rhetoric served as the propaganda backbone of state anti-Semitism. The word “Zionist,” when deployed by Pravda, served as incitement to violence and discrimination against Soviet Jews. All of this can be true at the same time that it is also true that Israel has effectively created an apartheid state, in which some Palestinians have some political rights and the rest have none. Human-rights organizations such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem—Israeli groups, founded and run by Jews—continue to document harrowing abuse of Palestinians in Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Gaza. One does not have to be an anti-Semite to be an anti-Zionist, but one certainly can be both an anti-Semite and an anti-Zionist. Trump, however, has inverted this formula by positioning himself as a pro-Zionist anti-Semite. Masha Gessen (New Yorker)
The key point we were making is that sometimes discrimination against Jews, Muslims, and others is based on a perception of shared race, ethnicity, or national origin, and in those cases it’s appropriate to think of that discrimination as race or national origin discrimination as well as religious discrimination. It doesn’t mean that the government is saying that the group is a racial or national group. The government is saying that the discrimination is based on the discriminator’s perception of race or national origin. That’s a very different matter from saying that anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian speech constitutes discrimination. Sam Bagenstos (University of Michigan Law School)
The text of the order, which leaked on Wednesday, does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality. It does not claim that Jews are a nation or a different race. The order’s interpretation of Title VI—insofar as the law applies to Jews—is entirely in line with the Obama administration’s approach. It only deviates from past practice by suggesting that harsh criticism of Israel—specifically, the notion that it is “a racist endeavor”—may be used as evidence to prove anti-Semitic intent. There is good reason, however, to doubt that the order can actually be used to suppress non-bigoted disapproval of Israel on college campuses. Title VI bars discrimination on the basis of “race, color or national origin” in programs that receive federal assistance—most notably here, educational institutions. It does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, an omission that raises difficult questions about religions that may have an ethnic component. For example, people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities can be Muslim. But Islamophobia often takes the form of intolerance against individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern origin. If a college permits rampant Islamophobic harassment on campus, has it run afoul of Title VI? In a 2004 policy statement, Kenneth L. Marcus—then–deputy assistant secretary for enforcement at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights—answered that question. “Groups that face discrimination on the basis of shared ethnic characteristics,” Marcus wrote, “may not be denied the protection” under Title VI “on the ground that they also share a common faith.” Put differently, people who face discrimination because of their perceived ethnicity do not lose protection because of their religion. The Office of Civil Rights, Marcus continued, “will exercise its jurisdiction to enforce the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination, regardless of whether the groups targeted for discrimination also exhibit religious characteristics. Thus, for example, OCR aggressively investigates alleged race or ethnic harassment against Arab Muslim, Sikh and Jewish students.” The Obama administration reaffirmed this position in a 2010 letter written by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, who is now the chair of the Democratic National Committee. “We agree,” Perez wrote, with Marcus’ analysis. “Although Title VI does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups violates Title VI when that discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, rather than its members’ religious practice.” Perez added that Title VI “prohibits discrimination against an individual where it is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.” On Wednesday, I asked Perez’s former principal deputy, Sam Bagenstos—now a professor at University of Michigan Law School—whether he felt this reasoning equated any religious group of a nationality or race. “The key point we were making,” he told me, “is that sometimes discrimination against Jews, Muslims, and others is based on a perception of shared race, ethnicity, or national origin, and in those cases it’s appropriate to think of that discrimination as race or national origin discrimination as well as religious discrimination. It doesn’t mean that the government is saying that the group is a racial or national group. The government is saying that the discrimination is based on the discriminator’s perception of race or national origin. That’s a very different matter from saying that anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian speech constitutes discrimination.” Trump’s executive order mostly just reaffirms the current law. Trump’s EO does not deviate from this understanding of the overlap between discrimination on the basis of race or nationality and discrimination against religion. It only changes the law insofar as it expands the definition of anti-Semitism that may run afoul of Title VI. In assessing potential violations, the order directs executive agencies to look to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition—chiefly “hatred toward Jews” directed at individuals, their property, their “community institutions and religious facilities.” Agencies must also refer to the IHRA’s “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism.” That list contains a number of obvious, unobjectionable examples. But it also includes two more controversial examples: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” and “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” To the extent that anyone is alarmed by Wednesday’s order, these examples should be the focus of their concern. A tendentious reading of this rule could theoretically get students in trouble for severe condemnation of Israeli policy, even when it does not cross the line into a condemnation of Jews. But the order only directs agencies to consider the IHRA’s list “to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.” In other words, applying double standards to Israel alone would not trigger a Title VI investigation. Instead, the IHRA’s list would only come into play after an individual is accused of overt anti-Semitism with an ethnic component, and then only as evidence of bigoted intent. Moreover, the order states that agencies “shall not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under Federal law or under the First Amendment” in enforcing Title VI. Because political criticism of Israel is plainly protected speech, the impact of the order’s revised definition of anti-Semitism will likely be limited. In fact, it’s unclear whether Wednesday’s order will have any impact, given that it mostly just reaffirms the current law. The New York Times’ reporting provoked anger among many Jews, who feared that an order to “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality” would stoke anti-Semitism. But the order does no such thing. It restates the federal government’s long-standing interpretation of Title VI to encompass some anti-Jewish bias. And it raises the faint possibility that, in some case down the road, a student’s sharp criticism of Israel may be used as evidence of anti-Semitic intent after he has been accused of targeting Jews because of their perceived race or nationality. Is this order red meat for Republicans who believe colleges are increasingly hostile to Jews? Probably. Will it quash the pro-Palestine movement on campuses or impose an unwanted classification on American Jews? Absolutely not.

Plus raciste que moi, tu meurs !

En cette première journée d’Hanoukah, la Fête des lumières juive célébrant la reconsécration du Temple par les Maccabées en décembre 165 avant notre ère suite à sa désécration par le roi Séleucide (syrien descendant des généraux d’Alexandre) Antiochus (ou Antiochos) IV dit Epiphane …

Qui derrière la tentative d’héllénisation forcée et les mesures d’une sorte de génocide culturel …

Et la véritable crise identitaire que déclencha, avant celle des Romains puis la nôtre aujourd’hui, cette première mondialisation …

Vit en fait au sein même d’Israël non seulement une révolte fiscale…

Mais une véritable guerre civile entre factions opposées du judaïsme (héllenisés contre traditionalistes) …

Les premiers allant jusqu’à faire appel à la puissante occupante des Séleucides pour arbitrer le conflit …

Et au lendemain de la retentissante et réjouissante remise aux poubelles de l’histoire par le peuple britannique …

De la véritable institutionnalisation de l’antisémitisme, derrière le parti de Jeremy Corbyn, de toute une gauche européenne et américaine …

Comment ne pas voir rejouer sous nos yeux, toutes proportions gardées, cette même guerre culturelle …

Au sein même de la communauté juive aussi bien américaine que mondiale …

Et, 70 ans après sa re-création, ce même refus d’une souveraineté juive restaurée

Suite aux premières fuites (d’un toujours aussi zélé NYT ayant conclu un peu hâtivement à une assimilation qui y aurait été faite du judaïsme à une race ou un groupe ethnique) d’un décret que vient de publier le président Trump contre l’antisémitisme  …

Qui, entre appels au boycott d’Israël et intimidation de toute parole pro-israélienne, continue ses ravages sur les campus américains …

Et comment ne pas découvrir horrifié derrière l’interdiction de l’antisionisme …

L’opposition à un « Etat d’apartheid » ne pouvant être, y compris on le sait à coup d’associations au nazisme, qualifié de racisme …

L’abomination de cette nouvelle race de super-racistes …

A savoir celle du… sioniste antisémite ?

Trump’s Racist Ban on Anti-Semitism
To combat racism, wherever it occurs, is a laudable aim. But singling out anti-Semitism in an executive order, especially when the concept is so intimately linked to views on the state of Israel, is a mistake.
Ian Buruma
Project syndicate
Dec 13, 2019

NEW YORK – US President Donald Trump thinks that anti-Semitism is a serious problem in America. But Trump is not so much concerned about neo-Nazis who scream that Jews and other minorities “will not replace us,” for he thinks that many white supremacists are “very fine people.” No, Trump is more worried about US college campuses, where students call for boycotts of Israel in support of the Palestinians.

Trump just signed an executive order requiring that federal money be withheld from educational institutions that fail to combat anti-Semitism. Since Jews are identified in this order as a discriminated group on the grounds of ethnic, racial, or national characteristics, an attack on Israel would be anti-Semitic by definition. This is indeed the position of Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, who believes that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”There are, of course, as many forms of anti-Semitism as there are interpretations of what it means to be Jewish. When Trump and his supporters rant in campaign rallies about shadowy cabals of international financiers who undermine the interests of “ordinary, decent people,” some might interpret that as a common anti-Semitic trope, especially when an image of George Soros is brandished to underline this message. Trump even hinted at the possibility that the liberal Jewish human rights promoter and philanthropist was deliberately funding “caravans” of refugees and illegal aliens so that they could spread mayhem in the US. In Soros’s native Hungary, attacks on him as a cosmopolitan enemy of the people are unmistakably anti-Semitic.Conspiracy theories about sinister Jewish power have a long history. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian forgery published in 1903, popularized the notion that Jewish bankers and financiers were secretly pulling the strings to dominate the world. Henry Ford was one of the more prominent people who believed this nonsense.The history of extreme anti-Zionism is not so long. In the first years of the Jewish state, Israel was popular among many leftists, because it was built on socialist ideas. Left-wing opinion in Europe and the United States began to turn against Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Arab territories were occupied by Israeli troops. More and more, Israel came to be seen as a colonial power, or an apartheid state.One may or may not agree with that view of Israel. But few would deny that occupation, as is usually the case when civilians are under the thumb of a foreign military power, has led to oppression. So, to be a strong advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli policies, on college campuses or anywhere else, does not automatically make one an anti-Semite. But there are extreme forms of anti-Zionism that do. The question is when that line is crossed.

Some would claim that it is anti-Semitic to deny Jews the right to have their own homeland. This is indeed one of the premises of Trump’s presidential order. There are also elements on the radical left, certainly represented in educational institutions, who are so obsessed by the oppression of Palestinians that they see Israel as the world’s greatest evil. Just as anti-Semites in the past often linked Jews with the US, as the twin sources of rootless capitalist malevolence, some modern anti-Zionists combine their anti-Americanism with a loathing for Israel.

In the minds of certain leftists, Israel and its American big brother are not just the last bastions of racist Western imperialism. The idea of a hidden Jewish capitalist cabal can also enter left-wing demonology as readily as it infects the far right. This noxious prejudice has haunted the British Labour Party, something its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has consistently failed to recognize.In short, anti-Zionism can veer into anti-Semitism, but not all critics of Israel are anti-Zionist, and not all anti-Zionists are prejudiced against Jews.Quite where people stand on this issue depends heavily on how they define a Jew – a source of endless vagueness and confusion. According to Halakha, or Jewish law, anyone with a Jewish mother, or who has converted to Judaism, is Jewish. That is the general Orthodox view. But more liberal Reform Jews allow Jewish identity to pass through the father as well.On the other hand, while most Orthodox Jews consider a person to be Jewish even if they convert to another religion, Reform Jews do not. Israel’s Law of Return grants “every Jew” the right to immigrate, but refrains from defining Jewishness. Since 1970, even people with one Jewish grandparent have been eligible to become Israeli citizens. In the infamous Nuremberg laws, promulgated by the Nazis in 1935, people with only one Jewish parent could retain German citizenship, while “full” Jews could not.The whole thing is so complicated that Amos Oz, the Israeli novelist, once sought to simplify the matter as follows: “Who is a Jew? Everyone who is mad enough to call himself or herself a Jew, is a Jew.”There is, in any case, something ill-conceived about the stress on race and nationhood in Trump’s order on combating anti-Semitism. Israel is the only state claiming to represent all Jews, but not all Jews necessarily identify with Israel. Some even actively dislike it. Trump’s order might suggest that such people are renegades, or even traitors. This idea might please Israel’s current government, but it is far from the spirit of the Halakha, or even from the liberal idea of citizenship.Defining Jews as a “race” is just as much of a problem. Jews come from many ethnic backgrounds: Yemenite, Ethiopian, Russian, Moroccan, and Swedish Jews are hard to pin down as a distinctive ethnic group. Hitler saw Jews as a race, but that is no reason to follow his example.To combat racism, wherever it occurs, is a laudable aim. But singling out anti-Semitism in an executive order, especially when the concept is so intimately linked to views on the state of Israel, is a mistake. Extreme anti-Zionists may be a menace; all extremists are. But they should be tolerated, as long as their views are peacefully expressed. To stifle opinions on campuses by threatening to withhold funds runs counter to the freedom of speech guaranteed by the US Constitution. This is, alas, not the only sign that upholding the constitution is not the main basis of the current US administration’s claim to legitimacy.

Voir aussi:

The Real Purpose of Trump’s Executive Order on Anti-Semitism
The President’s new order will not protect anyone against anti-Semitism, and it’s not intended to. Its sole aim is to quash the defense—and even the discussion—of Palestinian rights.
Masha Gessen
The New Yorker
December 12, 2019

Donald Trump has a knack for taking some of humanity’s most problematic ideas and turning them on their head to make them even worse. He has done it again. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order that will allow federal funds to be withheld from colleges where students are not protected from anti-Semitism—using an absurdly defined version of what constitutes anti-Semitism. Recent precedent and the history of legislative efforts that preceded the executive order would suggest that its main targets are campus groups critical of Israeli policies. What the order itself did not make explicit, the President’s son-in-law did: on Wednesday, Jared Kushner published an Op-Ed in the Times in which he stressed that the definition of anti-Semitism used in the executive order “makes clear what our administration has stated publicly on the record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Both Kushner and the executive order refer to the definition of anti-Semitism that was formulated, in 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; it has since been adopted by the State Department. The definition supplies examples of anti-Semitism, and Kushner cited the most problematic of these as the most important: “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”; denial to “the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor”; and comparing “contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” All three examples perform the same sleight of hand: they reframe opposition to or criticism of Israeli policies as opposition to the state of Israel. And that, says Kushner, is anti-Semitism.

To be sure, some people who are critical of Israeli policies are opposed to the existence of the state of Israel itself. And some of those people are also anti-Semites. I am intimately familiar with this brand of anti-Semitism, because I grew up in the Soviet Union, where anti-Zionist rhetoric served as the propaganda backbone of state anti-Semitism. The word “Zionist,” when deployed by Pravda, served as incitement to violence and discrimination against Soviet Jews. All of this can be true at the same time that it is also true that Israel has effectively created an apartheid state, in which some Palestinians have some political rights and the rest have none. Human-rights organizations such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem—Israeli groups, founded and run by Jews—continue to document harrowing abuse of Palestinians in Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Gaza.

In August, I went on a tour designed by Breaking the Silence that aims to show Israelis and foreigners what the occupation looks like. This particular tour ended in a Palestinian village which has been largely overtaken by an Israeli settlement that is illegal under international law. One of the Palestinian houses ended up on territory claimed by the settlers, so the settlers built a chain-link cage around the house, the yard, and the driveway. A young Palestinian child, who is growing up in a house inside a cage, waved to us through the fencing. Comparing this sort of approach to Nazi policies may not make for the most useful argument, but it is certainly not outlandish. The memory of the Holocaust stands as a warning to humanity about the dangers of dehumanizing the other—and invoking that warning in Palestine is warranted.

One does not have to be an anti-Semite to be an anti-Zionist, but one certainly can be both an anti-Semite and an anti-Zionist. Trump, however, has inverted this formula by positioning himself as a pro-Zionist anti-Semite. He has proclaimed his support often for the state of Israel. His Administration’s policies, which have included moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and, more recently, declaring that the U.S. does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal, have pleased the state of Israel, especially its most militantly expansionist citizens. Over the weekend, however, at the Israeli American Council National Summit, in Florida, Trump gave a speech that brimmed with Jewish stereotypes: Jews and greed, Jews and money, Jews as ruthless wheeler-dealers. “A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well,” he said. « You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all.” It was the kind of stuff that requires no definitions, op-eds, or explanations—it was plain, easily recognizable anti-Semitism. And it was not the first time that Trump trafficked in anti-Semitic stereotypes. The world view behind these stereotypes, combined with support for Israel, is also recognizable. To Trump, Jews—including American Jews, some of whom vote for him—are alien beings whom he associates with the state of Israel. He finds these alien beings at once distasteful and worthy of a sort of admiration, perhaps because he ascribes to them many of the features that he also recognizes in himself.

It should come as no surprise that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased by sixty per cent during the first year of Trump’s Presidency, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The current year is on track to set a record for the number of anti-Semitic attacks. The latest appears to have occurred on Tuesday, when shooters reportedly connected to a fringe group targeted a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, killing four people.

The new executive order will not protect anyone against anti-Semitism, and it’s not intended to. Its sole aim is to quash the defense—and even the discussion—of Palestinian rights. Its victim will be free speech.

Voir également:

No, the Trump Administration Is Not Redefining Judaism as a Nationality

Its executive order on anti-Semitism won’t change much at all.

The New York Times published a bombshell report on Tuesday claiming that President Donald Trump planned to sign an executive order that interpreted Judaism “as a race or nationality” under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI governs federally funded educational programs, so the Times warned that the order might be deployed to squelch anti-Israel speech on campus. “Mr. Trump’s order,” the Times further claimed, “will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.”

That turned out to be untrue. The text of the order, which leaked on Wednesday, does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality. It does not claim that Jews are a nation or a different race. The order’s interpretation of Title VI—insofar as the law applies to Jews—is entirely in line with the Obama administration’s approach. It only deviates from past practice by suggesting that harsh criticism of Israel—specifically, the notion that it is “a racist endeavor”—may be used as evidence to prove anti-Semitic intent. There is good reason, however, to doubt that the order can actually be used to suppress non-bigoted disapproval of Israel on college campuses.

Title VI bars discrimination on the basis of “race, color or national origin” in programs that receive federal assistance—most notably here, educational institutions. It does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, an omission that raises difficult questions about religions that may have an ethnic component. For example, people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities can be Muslim. But Islamophobia often takes the form of intolerance against individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern origin. If a college permits rampant Islamophobic harassment on campus, has it run afoul of Title VI?

In a 2004 policy statement, Kenneth L. Marcus—then–deputy assistant secretary for enforcement at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights—answered that question. “Groups that face discrimination on the basis of shared ethnic characteristics,” Marcus wrote, “may not be denied the protection” under Title VI “on the ground that they also share a common faith.” Put differently, people who face discrimination because of their perceived ethnicity do not lose protection because of their religion. The Office of Civil Rights, Marcus continued, “will exercise its jurisdiction to enforce the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination, regardless of whether the groups targeted for discrimination also exhibit religious characteristics. Thus, for example, OCR aggressively investigates alleged race or ethnic harassment against Arab Muslim, Sikh and Jewish students.”

The Obama administration reaffirmed this position in a 2010 letter written by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, who is now the chair of the Democratic National Committee. “We agree,” Perez wrote, with Marcus’ analysis. “Although Title VI does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups violates Title VI when that discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, rather than its members’ religious practice.” Perez added that Title VI “prohibits discrimination against an individual where it is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.”

On Wednesday, I asked Perez’s former principal deputy, Sam Bagenstos—now a professor at University of Michigan Law School—whether he felt this reasoning equated any religious group of a nationality or race. “The key point we were making,” he told me, “is that sometimes discrimination against Jews, Muslims, and others is based on a perception of shared race, ethnicity, or national origin, and in those cases it’s appropriate to think of that discrimination as race or national origin discrimination as well as religious discrimination. It doesn’t mean that the government is saying that the group is a racial or national group. The government is saying that the discrimination is based on the discriminator’s perception of race or national origin. That’s a very different matter from saying that anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian speech constitutes discrimination.”

Trump’s EO does not deviate from this understanding of the overlap between discrimination on the basis of race or nationality and discrimination against religion. It only changes the law insofar as it expands the definition of anti-Semitism that may run afoul of Title VI. In assessing potential violations, the order directs executive agencies to look to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition—chiefly “hatred toward Jews” directed at individuals, their property, their “community institutions and religious facilities.”

Agencies must also refer to the IHRA’s “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism.” That list contains a number of obvious, unobjectionable examples. But it also includes two more controversial examples: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” and “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” To the extent that anyone is alarmed by Wednesday’s order, these examples should be the focus of their concern. A tendentious reading of this rule could theoretically get students in trouble for severe condemnation of Israeli policy, even when it does not cross the line into a condemnation of Jews.

But the order only directs agencies to consider the IHRA’s list “to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.” In other words, applying double standards to Israel alone would not trigger a Title VI investigation. Instead, the IHRA’s list would only come into play after an individual is accused of overt anti-Semitism with an ethnic component, and then only as evidence of bigoted intent. Moreover, the order states that agencies “shall not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under Federal law or under the First Amendment” in enforcing Title VI. Because political criticism of Israel is plainly protected speech, the impact of the order’s revised definition of anti-Semitism will likely be limited.

In fact, it’s unclear whether Wednesday’s order will have any impact, given that it mostly just reaffirms the current law. The New York Times’ reporting provoked anger among many Jews, who feared that an order to “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality” would stoke anti-Semitism. But the order does no such thing. It restates the federal government’s long-standing interpretation of Title VI to encompass some anti-Jewish bias. And it raises the faint possibility that, in some case down the road, a student’s sharp criticism of Israel may be used as evidence of anti-Semitic intent after he has been accused of targeting Jews because of their perceived race or nationality. Is this order red meat for Republicans who believe colleges are increasingly hostile to Jews? Probably. Will it quash the pro-Palestine movement on campuses or impose an unwanted classification on American Jews? Absolutely not.

Voir de même:

In an alternate universe, the idea of a presidential order designed to protect Jews from discrimination on college campuses would not necessarily create a firestorm of mutual recrimination and internecine political warfare. True, there is no consensus on whether “Jewish” is a religious, cultural, ethnic, or national identity. Most often, it is framed as a combination of at least three, but not always and certainly not in the views of all the various denominations and sects that accept the appellation. But there is no question that anti-Semitic acts are increasing across the United States, and they are being undertaken by people who could not care less about these distinctions. And there is nothing inherently objectionable about using the power of the federal government to try to protect people, including college students, from those incidents’ consequences.

But in this universe, the guy who ordered this protection, Donald Trump, has revealed himself repeatedly to be an inveterate anti-Semite. Just a few days before he issued the executive order, he told supporters of the Israeli-American Council, “You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all…. Some of you don’t like me. Some of you I don’t like at all, actually.” He went on to insist nevertheless that the Jews gathered to hear him were “going to be my biggest supporters,” because Democrats were proposing to raise taxes on the superwealthy. In other words, Jews are greedy and care only about their personal fortunes. Trump, of course, was playing to type. He, his party, and his highest-profile supporters have repeatedly demonized Jews in political advertisements, deploying age-old anti-Semitic tropes that have been used to stir up violence against vulnerable Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere. In addition, Trump frequently implies that Jews are not “real” Americans. He tells Jews that Bibi Netanyahu is “your prime minister” and complains that Jewish Democrats—which is most Jews—are “disloyal to Israel.”

That’s on the one hand. On the other, Trump has been a perfect patsy for Israel’s right-wing government and its supporters in what is misnamed the American “pro-Israel” community. While previous presidents sought, without much success, to restrain Israel on behalf of a hoped-for future peace agreement with the Palestinians, Trump has given that nation’s most corrupt and extremist leadership in its 71-year-history carte blanche—peace and the Palestinians be damned.

If the simultaneous embrace of anti-Semitism at home and philo-Semitism when it comes to Israel strikes one as contradictory, this is a mistake. Trump, like so many of today’s elected “populists,” sees considerable advantage in playing to hometown prejudices for personal gain while boosting Israel as a bulwark against worldwide Islam, which many of the president’s supporters consider an even greater offense to Christian belief than Jews are. Jews may be greedy and disloyal at home, but as long as Israel is out there kicking the shit out of the Arabs, it’s a trade-off that right-wing autocrats and their neofascist followers can get behind.

Most American Jews understandably want no part of this devil’s bargain. They are not interested in having their patriotism questioned. They remain among the most loyal and liberal constituencies in what is left of the decidedly tattered New Deal coalition that Franklin Roosevelt constructed back in the 1930s. And most hold Trump and his alt-right supporters accountable for the atmosphere of menace that has led to horrific attacks on Jews, like the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.

But the issue of the executive order is complicated by the fact that it is understood by all to be a means for the federal government to step in and quash the intensifying criticism of Israel on college campuses—most notably, criticism that takes the form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or BDS. And it does this in part by insisting, as Jared Kushner recently argued in a New York Times op-ed, that all “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the academic BDS movement for some time now. But if you ask me, the movement has been a spectacular failure in every respect, save one: It has succeeded in turning many college campuses into anti-Israel inculcation centers and therefore has scared the bejesus out of the Jewish parents paying for their kids to attend them. At the same time—even if you allow that occasional anti-Semitic comments and actions by some of BDS’s supporters are outliers and not indicative of most of its followers—I find the idea and, even more so, the practice of an academic boycott to be undeniably contradictory to universities’ philosophical commitment to freedom of expression and ideas.

Nonetheless, the explicit and intellectually indefensible equation of anti-Zionism with actionable anti-Semitism is an obvious offense to the notion of freedom of expression, however much it cheers the tiny hearts of right-wing Jews and other Trump defenders. Jewish students already had all the protections they needed before Trump’s executive order. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act covers discrimination on the basis of a “group’s actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic characteristics” or “actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.”

The New York Times’ early, inaccurate reporting on the executive order, in which the paper falsely stated that the order would “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality,” deserves special mention here for creating the panic. But the result of the entire episode is that, yet again, the Trump administration has placed a stupid, shiny object before the media, and the hysteria that has ensued has divided Americans, Jews, liberals and conservatives, and free speech and human rights activists, all while the administration continues its relentless assault on our democracy and better selves.

The president’s order would allow the government to withhold money from campuses deemed to be biased, but critics see it as an attack on free speech.

Peter Baker and

NYT

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday.

The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — or B.D.S. — movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked.

In signing the order, Mr. Trump will use his executive power to take action where Congress has not, essentially replicating bipartisan legislation that has stalled on Capitol Hill for several years. Prominent Democrats have joined Republicans in promoting such a policy change to combat anti-Semitism as well as the boycott-Israel movement.

But critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism to be used in the order matches the one used by the State Department and by other nations, but it has been criticized as too open-ended and sweeping.

For instance, it describes as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” under some circumstances and offers as an example of such behavior “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said Mr. Trump’s order is part of a sustained campaign “to silence Palestinian rights activism” by equating opposition to Israeli treatment of Palestinians with anti-Semitism.

“Israeli apartheid is a very hard product to sell in America, especially in progressive spaces,” Mr. Munayyer said, “and realizing this, many Israeli apartheid apologists, Trump included, are looking to silence a debate they know they can’t win.”

Administration officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the order before its official announcement, said it was not intended to squelch free speech. The White House reached out to some Democrats and activist groups that have been critical of the president to build support for the move.

Among those welcoming the order on Tuesday was Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, who said the group recorded its third-highest level of anti-Semitic episodes in the United States last year.

“Of course we hope it will be enforced in a fair manner,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is we see Jewish students on college campuses and Jewish people all over being marginalized. The rise of anti-Semitic incidents is not theoretical; it’s empirical.”

David Krone, a former chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada when he was Senate Democratic leader, has lobbied for years for such a policy change and praised Mr. Trump for taking action.

“I know people are going to criticize me for saying this,” Mr. Krone said, “but I have to give credit where credit is due.” He added, “It’s too important to let partisanship get in the way.”

Mr. Reid helped push for legislation similar to the order called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016. It passed the Senate in December 2016 unanimously but died in the House as that session of Congress ended. It has been reintroduced by Democrats and Republicans but has made little progress to Mr. Trump’s desk.

Mr. Krone continued to work on the issue after Mr. Reid retired and reached out through a mutual friend last summer to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. The Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Kushner embraced the idea, which also had been explored over the past year by the president’s domestic policy aides. With Mr. Kushner’s support, the White House drafted the order and Mr. Trump agreed to sign it.

Mr. Trump over the years has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, turning a blind eye to anti-Jewish tropes or emboldening white supremacists like those in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. Just last weekend, he drew criticism for remarks in Florida before the Israeli American Council in which he told the Jewish audience they were “not nice people” but would support his re-election because “you’re not going to vote for the wealth tax.”

But he has also positioned himself as an unflinching supporter of Israel and a champion of Jewish Americans, moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting settlements in the West Bank and recognizing the seizure of the Golan Heights. He also assailed Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, when she said support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” meaning money.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal Israel advocacy group, said the president’s order was a cynical effort to crack down on critics, not to defend Jews from bias. “It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money,” he said in a statement.

The president’s action comes soon after the Education Department ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their joint Middle East studies program on the grounds that it featured a biased curriculum. The move was part of a broader campaign by Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, and her civil rights chief, Kenneth L. Marcus, to go after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education.

The order to be signed by Mr. Trump would empower the Education Department in such actions. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.

The definition of anti-Semitism to be adopted from the State Department and originally formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance includes “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” However, it adds that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

The American Civil Liberties Union was among the groups that opposed using the definition in the 2016 legislation, deeming it overly broad. “It cannot and must not be that our civil rights laws are used in such a way to penalize political advocacy on the basis of viewpoint,” the group said in a letter to Congress at the time. Kenneth S. Stern, the original lead author of the definition, also objected to using it, saying that “students and faculty members will be scared into silence, and administrators will err on the side of suppressing or censuring speech.”

But Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, who was among the sponsors of the 2016 legislation, wrote in an op-ed article in The Times of Israel last week that the definition “was drafted not to regulate free speech or punish people for expressing their beliefs.” Instead, he wrote, “This definition can serve as an important tool to guide our government’s response to anti-Semitism.”

Last week, a group of 80 education, civil rights and religious organizations sent a letter to Ms. DeVos complaining that some Middle East studies centers on college campuses financed by the government under Title VI have sought to boycott Israel or shut down their universities’ study abroad programs in Israel.

“Recent incidents have demonstrated the willingness of faculty across the country to implement the academic boycott of Israel on their campuses,” the letter said.

The president is expected to be joined at the signing by several prominent Republican lawmakers, including Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma and Representative Doug Collins of Georgia. But Democrats who have advocated the legislation in the past are not expected, including Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who on Tuesday released articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.

While an executive order is not as permanent as legislation and can be overturned by the next president, Mr. Trump’s action may have the effect of extending the policy beyond his administration anyway because his successors may find it politically unappealing to reverse.

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from Hershey, Pa.

Etats-Unis/Antisémitisme – Donald Trump cible l’antisémitisme et le boycott israélien sur les campus universitaires

L’ordonnance du président permettrait au gouvernement de retenir de l’argent sur les campus réputés biaisés, mais les critiques y voient une attaque contre la liberté d’expression.

Publié le 10 décembre dans le New York Times sous le titre Trump Targets Anti-Semitism and Israeli Boycotts on College Campuses

Traduction proposée par le Crif

Le président Trump prévoit de signer mercredi un décret visant à cibler ce qu’il considère comme de l’antisémitisme sur les campus universitaires en menaçant de retenir l’argent fédéral des établissements d’enseignement qui ne parviennent pas à lutter contre la discrimination, ont déclaré mardi trois responsables de l’administration.

L’ordonnance interprétera efficacement le judaïsme comme une race ou une nationalité, et pas seulement comme une religion, pour inciter une loi fédérale pénalisant les collèges et universités réputés pour se dérober à leur responsabilité afin de favoriser un climat ouvert pour les étudiants issus de minorités. Ces dernières années, le boycott, le désinvestissement et les sanctions – ou B.D.S. – le mouvement contre Israël a troublé certains campus, laissant certains étudiants juifs se sentir importuns ou attaqués.

En signant l’ordonnance, M. Trump utilisera son pouvoir exécutif pour agir là où le Congrès ne l’a pas fait, reproduisant essentiellement une législation bipartite bloquée par le Capitol Hill depuis plusieurs années. D’éminents démocrates se sont joints aux républicains pour promouvoir un tel changement de politique afin de combattre l’antisémitisme ainsi que le mouvement de boycott d’Israël.

Mais les critiques se sont plaints qu’une telle politique pourrait être utilisée pour étouffer la liberté d’expression et l’opposition légitime à la politique d’Israël envers les Palestiniens au nom de la lutte contre l’antisémitisme. La définition de l’antisémitisme utilisée dans l’ordonnance correspond à celle utilisée par le Département d’État et par d’autres nations, mais elle a été critiquée comme étant trop ouverte et trop générale.

Par exemple, il y est décrit comme antisémite « nier au peuple juif son droit à l’autodétermination » dans certaines circonstances et offre comme exemple de ce comportement « affirmer que l’existence d’un État d’Israël est une entreprise raciste ».

Yousef Munayyer, directeur exécutif de la Campagne américaine pour les droits des Palestiniens, a déclaré que l’ordonnance de M. Trump faisait partie d’une campagne soutenue « pour faire taire l’activisme pour les droits des Palestiniens » en assimilant l’opposition au traitement israélien des Palestiniens à l’antisémitisme.

« L’apartheid israélien est un produit très difficile à vendre en Amérique, en particulier dans les espaces progressistes« , a déclaré M. Munayyer, « et réalisant cela, de nombreux apologistes de l’apartheid israélien, Trump inclus, cherchent à faire taire un débat qu’ils savent qu’ils ne peuvent pas gagner… « 

Les responsables de l’administration, qui ont insisté sur l’anonymat pour discuter de l’ordonnance avant son annonce officielle, ont déclaré qu’elle n’était pas destiné à étouffer la liberté d’expression. La Maison Blanche a contacté certains démocrates et groupes militants qui ont critiqué le président pour obtenir un soutien à cette décision.

Mardi, Jonathan Greenblatt, directeur général de la Ligue anti-diffamation, a déclaré que le groupe avait enregistré son troisième épisode antisémite aux États-Unis l’année dernière.

« Bien sûr, nous espérons qu’il sera appliqué de manière équitable », a-t-il déclaré. « Mais le fait est que nous voyons des étudiants juifs sur les campus universitaires et des Juifs partout marginalisés. La montée des incidents antisémites n’est pas théorique; c’est empirique. « 

David Krone, ancien chef de cabinet du sénateur Harry Reid du Nevada lorsqu’il était leader démocrate du Sénat, a fait pression pendant des années pour un tel changement de politique et a félicité M. Trump d’avoir pris des mesures.

« Je sais que les gens vont me critiquer pour avoir dit cela », a déclaré M. Krone, « mais je dois donner du crédit là où le mérite est dû ». Il a ajouté: « Il est trop important de laisser la partisanerie faire obstacle. »

M. Reid a aidé à faire pression pour une législation similaire à l’ordonnance appelée Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016. Elle a été adoptée à l’unanimité par le Sénat en décembre 2016, mais est décédée à la Chambre à la fin de cette session du Congrès. Il a été réintroduit par les démocrates et les républicains mais a peu progressé sur le bureau de M. Trump.

M. Krone a continué de travailler sur la question après que M. Reid a pris sa retraite et a contacté l’été dernier un ami commun avec Jared Kushner, gendre du président et conseiller principal. Le petit-fils juif des survivants de l’Holocauste, M. Kushner, a adopté l’idée, qui avait également été explorée au cours de l’année écoulée par les aides à la politique intérieure du président. Avec le soutien de M. Kushner, la Maison-Blanche a rédigé l’ordonnance et M. Trump a accepté de la signer.

Au fil des ans, M. Trump a été accusé de faire des remarques antisémites, de fermer les yeux sur les tropes antisémites ou d’enhardir les suprémacistes blancs comme ceux de Charlottesville, en Virginie, en 2017. Le week-end dernier, il a critiqué les propos tenus dans La Floride devant le Conseil israélo-américain au cours de laquelle il a déclaré au public juif qu’ils n’étaient « pas des gens sympas » mais qu’ils appuieraient sa réélection parce que « vous n’allez pas voter pour l’impôt sur la fortune ».

Mais il s’est également positionné comme un partisan indéfectible d’Israël et un champion des Juifs américains, en déplaçant l’ambassade des États-Unis à Jérusalem, en soutenant les colonies en Cisjordanie et en reconnaissant la saisie des hauteurs du Golan. Il a également agressé la représentante Ilhan Omar, démocrate du Minnesota, lorsqu’elle a déclaré que le soutien à Israël était « tout au sujet des Benjamins », ce qui signifie de l’argent.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, président de J Street, un groupe de défense libéral d’Israël, a déclaré que l’ordre du président était un effort cynique pour réprimer les critiques, pas pour défendre les Juifs contre les préjugés. « Il est particulièrement scandaleux et absurde que le président Trump prétende se préoccuper de l’antisémitisme au cours de la même semaine au cours de laquelle il a de nouveau publiquement jeté des tropes antisémites sur les Juifs et l’argent », a-t-il déclaré dans un communiqué.

L’action du président intervient peu de temps après que le département de l’éducation a ordonné à l’Université Duke et à l’Université de Caroline du Nord à Chapel Hill de refaire leur programme d’études conjointes sur le Moyen-Orient au motif qu’il comportait un programme biaisé. Cette décision faisait partie d’une campagne plus large menée par Betsy DeVos, la secrétaire à l’Éducation, et son chef des droits civiques, Kenneth L. Marcus, pour s’attaquer aux préjugés anti-Israël perçus dans l’enseignement supérieur.

L’ordonnance à signer par M. Trump habiliterait le Département de l’éducation à de telles actions. En vertu du titre VI de la loi sur les droits civils de 1964, le ministère peut retenir le financement de tout collège ou programme éducatif qui établit une discrimination «fondée sur la race, la couleur ou l’origine nationale». La religion n’était pas incluse dans les catégories protégées, donc l’ordre de Donald Trump aura pour effet d’embrasser un argument selon lequel les Juifs sont un peuple ou une race d’origine nationale collective au Moyen-Orient, comme les Italo-Américains ou les Polonais américains.

La définition de l’antisémitisme qui doit être adoptée par le Département d’État et formulée à l’origine par l’Alliance internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste comprend « une certaine perception des Juifs, qui peut être exprimée comme de la haine envers les Juifs« . Cependant, elle ajoute que « des critiques d’Israël similaires à ce niveau contre tout autre pays ne peut pas être considéré comme antisémite ».

L’American Civil Liberties Union faisait partie des groupes qui se sont opposés à l’utilisation de la définition dans la législation de 2016, la jugeant trop large. « Il ne peut et ne doit pas être que nos lois sur les droits civils sont utilisées de manière à pénaliser le plaidoyer politique sur la base du point de vue », a déclaré le groupe dans une lettre au Congrès de l’époque. Kenneth S. Stern, l’auteur principal de la définition, s’est également opposé à son utilisation, affirmant que « les étudiants et les professeurs seront effrayés dans le silence, et les administrateurs se tromperont du côté de la suppression ou de la censure du discours. »

Mais le représentant Ted Deutch, démocrate de Floride, qui était parmi les sponsors de la législation de 2016, a écrit dans un article d’opinion dans le Times of Israel la semaine dernière que la définition « avait été rédigée pour ne pas réglementer la liberté d’expression ou punir les gens pour avoir exprimé leur opinion ». Au lieu de cela, il a écrit: « Cette définition peut servir d’outil important pour guider la réponse de notre gouvernement à l’antisémitisme ». 

La semaine dernière, un groupe de 80 organisations de l’éducation, des droits civils et des organisations religieuses a envoyé une lettre à Mme DeVos se plaignant que certains centres d’études du Moyen-Orient sur les campus universitaires financés par le gouvernement au titre VI ont cherché à boycotter Israël ou à fermer les programmes d’études de leurs universités à l’étranger en Israël.

« Les récents incidents ont démontré la volonté des professeurs à travers le pays de mettre en œuvre le boycott universitaire d’Israël sur leurs campus », indique la lettre.

Le président devrait être rejoint lors de la signature par plusieurs éminents législateurs républicains, dont les sénateurs Tim Scott de Caroline du Sud et James Lankford d’Oklahoma et le représentant Doug Collins de Géorgie. Mais les démocrates qui ont préconisé la législation dans le passé ne sont pas attendus, y compris le représentant Jerrold Nadler de New York, qui a publié mardi des articles de destitution contre M. Trump.

Bien qu’un ordre exécutif ne soit pas aussi permanent que la législation et puisse être annulé par le prochain président, l’action de M. Trump peut avoir pour effet d’étendre la politique au-delà de son administration, car ses successeurs peuvent trouver politiquement peu attrayant à renverser.

Voir de plus:

Donald Trump signe un décret controversé pour élargir la définition de l’antisémitisme sur les campus

Alors que le décret présidentiel vise à défendre les étudiants juifs, les détracteurs de Donald Trump dénoncent une atteinte à la liberté d’expression.

Le Monde avec AFP

12 décembre 2019

Le président américain se retrouve au cœur d’une nouvelle controverse. Donald Trump a signé, mercredi 11 décembre, un décret visant à lutter contre l’antisémitisme sur les campus américains. Ce texte élargit la définition de l’antisémitisme utilisée par le ministère de l’éducation lorsqu’il fait appliquer la loi sur les droits civiques de 1964. Il ordonne en particulier d’utiliser la définition de l’antisémitisme donnée par l’Alliance internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste (IHRA).

« C’est notre message aux universités : si vous voulez bénéficier des énormes sommes que vous recevez chaque année de la part de l’Etat fédéral, vous devez rejeter l’antisémitisme », a déclaré M. Trump à l’occasion d’une cérémonie à la Maison Blanche pour célébrer Hanouka, la fête des lumières. Avec ce décret, Donald Trump « défend les étudiants juifs » et « indique clairement que l’antisémitisme ne sera pas toléré », a insisté son gendre et conseiller Jared Kushner dans une tribune publiée dans le New York Times.

Un décret pour « limiter » les critiques visant Israël

Mais des défenseurs de la liberté d’expression redoutent qu’une définition trop large et trop vague de l’antisémitisme soit utilisée pour interdire tous les propos critiques envers la politique du gouvernement israélien.

Pour Jeremy Ben-Ami, président de l’organisation progressiste juive J-Street, le décret présidentiel « semble moins destiné à combattre l’antisémitisme qu’à limiter la liberté d’expression et sévir sur les campus contre les critiques visant Israël ».

Voir encore:

Ambassade des Etas-Unis en France

« Le poison vil et haineux de l’antisémitisme doit être condamné et combattu quel que soit le lieu et le moment auquel il surgit. »

Président Donald J. Trump

COMBATTRE L’ANTISÉMITISME : Le président Donald J. Trump prend un décret présidentiel pour renforcer la lutte contre la montée de l’antisémitisme aux États-Unis.

  • Le décret du président Trump indique clairement que le Titre VI de la loi sur les droits civils de 1964 s’applique à la discrimination antisémite fondée sur la race, la couleur ou l’origine nationale.
  • Dans le cadre de l’application du Titre VI contre la discrimination antisémite dissimulée, les agences se référeront à la définition de l’antisémitisme de l’Alliance internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste (IHRA) ainsi que ses exemples contemporains.
  • Le président demande également aux agences fédérales d’identifier d’autres moyens par lesquels le gouvernement peut utiliser ses pouvoirs en matière de lutte contre la discrimination pour combattre l’antisémitisme.
  • Cette action démontre en outre l’engagement indéfectible du président Trump et de son administration à lutter contre toutes les formes d’antisémitisme.

LUTTER CONTRE LA MONTÉE DE LA HAINE : Ces dernières années, les Américains ont assisté à une augmentation inquiétante des incidents antisémites et à une montée de la rhétorique correspondante dans l’ensemble du pays.

  • Au cours des quelques dernières années, on a assisté à une tendance inquiétante à la montée de l’antisémitisme aux États-Unis.
  • Les incidents antisémites se sont multipliés en Amérique depuis 2013, en particulier dans les écoles et sur les campus universitaires.
  • Il s’agit en particulier d’actes de violence horribles à l’encontre de Juifs américains et de synagogues aux États-Unis.
  • 18 membres démocrates du Congrès ont coparrainé cette année une législation en faveur du mouvement antisémite « Boycott, désinvestissement, sanctions » (BDS).
    • Dans leur résolution, ces membres du Congrès comparaient de manière choquante le soutien à Israël à celui à l’Allemagne nazie.

AGIR : Le président Trump et son administration ont pris des mesures à plusieurs reprises pour lutter contre la haine et soutenir la communauté juive.

  • Lors du discours sur l’état de l’Union de cette année, le président Trump a promis de « ne jamais ignorer le vil poison de l’antisémitisme ou ceux qui répandent cette idéologie venimeuse ».
  • Depuis janvier 2017, la division des droits civils du département de la Justice a obtenu 14 condamnations dans des affaires d’attentats ou de menaces contre des lieux de culte.
    • La division a également obtenu 11 condamnations dans des affaires de crimes motivés par la haine en raison des convictions religieuses des victimes.
  • Le département de la Justice a lancé un nouveau site web complet qui constitue un portail centralisé permettant aux forces de l’ordre, aux médias, aux groupes de défense des droits et à d’autres organismes d’accéder à des ressources sur les crimes motivés par la haine.
  • Le service des relations avec la communauté du département de la Justice a facilité 17 forums axés sur la protection des lieux de culte et la prévention des crimes motivés par la haine depuis septembre 2018.
  • Le président a signé la loi JUST Act en faveur des efforts de restitution à la suite de l’Holocauste.
  • L’administration Trump a expulsé le dernier criminel nazi connu des États-Unis.
    Voir enfin:

    NYT

    WASHINGTON — The House, brushing aside Democratic voices of dissent over American policy in the Middle East, on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution condemning the boycott-Israel movement as one that “promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.”

    The 398-to-17 vote, with five members voting present, came after a debate that was equally lopsided; no one in either party spoke against the measure. The House’s two most vocal backers of the boycott movement — Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, freshman Democrats and the first two Muslim women in Congress — did not participate in the floor debate.

    However, earlier in the day, Ms. Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, delivered an impassioned speech in defense of the boycott movement. She branded Israel’s policies toward Palestinians “racist” and invoked American boycotts of Nazi Germany, among others, as an example of what she described as a legitimate economic protest to advance human rights around the world.

    “I stand before you as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment,” Ms. Tlaib said. “So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel.”

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or B.D.S., movement is intended, among other things, to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the West Bank, and backed by some who advocate a single state with equal rights for all, instead of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Opponents warn it would lead to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state; during Tuesday’s debate, they repeatedly quoted from a founder of the movement, Omar Barghouti, who has argued for the creation of a “secular democratic state” and has called for Israel to “accept the dismantling of its Zionist apartheid regime.”

    “Boycotts have been previously used as tools for social justice in this very country,” said Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida and a backer of the resolution. “But B.D.S. doesn’t seek social justice. It seeks a world in which the state of Israel doesn’t exist.”

    For months, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar have been the target of intense criticism for statements about Israel and Israel’s supporters that many have regarded as anti-Semitic tropes, including insinuations that Jews have dual loyalty to the United States and Israel. Ms. Omar drew the condemnation of House Democratic leaders, and was forced to apologize after invoking an ancient trope about Jews and money by suggesting that American support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” — a reference to $100 bills.

    At a hearing last week, Ms. Omar spoke out forcefully against Israel, and the resolution.

    “We should condemn in the strongest terms violence that perpetuates the occupation, whether it is perpetuated by Israel, Hamas or individuals,” she said. “But if we are going to condemn violent means of resisting the occupation, we cannot also condemn nonviolent means.”

    Ms. Tlaib, Ms. Omar and two other freshman Democratic women of color — Representatives Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — have lately been under fire from President Trump, who has accused them of being anti-American and suggested they should “go back” to their home countries, even though just one of them, Ms. Omar, was born outside the United States. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez voted against the resolution, as did a number of other progressives; Ms. Pressley voted in favor.

    The timing of the vote drew complaints from Palestinian rights activists and supporters of Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib, who said House Democratic leaders were effectively isolating them. Both women have also joined with Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil rights icon, in introducing a measure affirming that “all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad,” as protected by the First Amendment.

    “They are displaying leadership even as the president is attacking and marginalizing people of color,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

    But Democratic backers of Israel were eager to have their votes on record before Congress goes home for its six-week August recess. Earlier Tuesday, Representative Josh Gottheimer, an ardent supporter of Israel, was joined in his home state, New Jersey, by Elan Carr, the State Department’s envoy to combat anti-Semitism, at an event billed to address anti-Semitism.

    The coming vote proved to be a central topic.

    “There is of course nothing wrong about having a robust debate about our foreign policy, as I said, but that debate veers into something much darker when there is talk of dual loyalty or other ancient tropes,” Mr. Gottheimer said. “These are not legitimate opinions about our foreign policy. We have often seen such anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric when it comes to the global B.D.S. movement.”

    Asked if he thought the timing of the vote was inopportune, Mr. Gottheimer said, “We should look for any moment to stand up to anti-Semitism, and I think, to me, the sooner the better.”

    Backers of the boycott movement say the resolution threatens free speech rights, and they argue that boycotts are a legitimate form of economic protest. In her remarks, Ms. Tlaib cited civil rights boycotts, boycotts of apartheid South Africa and American boycotts of Nazi Germany “in response to dehumanization, imprisonment and genocide of Jewish people” — a comment that raised eyebrows among Republicans.

    Proponents of the resolution argue that nothing in it abridges the right to free speech; indeed, House Democrats rejected a more far-reaching bill, passed by the Republican-led Senate, that would allow state and local government to break ties with companies that participate in the boycott movement.

    The chief sponsor of the Senate bill, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, on Tuesday accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of promoting a watered-down measure and allowing “the radical, anti-Semitic minority in the Democratic Party to dictate the House floor agenda.”

    During Tuesday’s floor debate, many Republicans, including Representative Lee Zeldin of New York and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican whip, argued for the Rubio measure. But in a rare moment of House comity, both sounded eager to join with Democrats in passing the bipartisan resolution.

    “If a boycott is being used to advance freedom, that’s one we should support,” Mr. Scalise said. “But if a boycott is being used to undermine the very freedoms that exist in the only real elective democracy in the Middle East, we all need to rise up against that.”


Corbyn/Mélenchon: La synthèse mène au désastre (A long tradition of communist accommodation with antisemitism: how the demagogues from the race-card playing left made the private prejudices of conservative Muslim voters respectable)

17 décembre, 2019

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L’antisionisme est la trouvaille miraculeuse, l’aubaine providentielle qui réconcilie la gauche anti-impérialiste et la droite antisémite ; (il) donne la permission d’être démocratiquement antisémite. Qui dit mieux ? Il est désormais possible de haïr les Juifs au nom du progressisme ! Il y a de quoi avoir le vertige : ce renversement bienvenu, cette introuvable inversion ne peuvent qu’enfermer Israël dans une nouvelle solitude. Vladimir Jankélévitch
La nation juive n’est pas civilisée, elle est patriarchale, n’ayant point de souverain, n’en reconnaissant aucun en secret, et croyant toute fourberie louable, quand il s’agit de tromper ceux qui ne pratiquent pas sa religion. Elle n’affiche pas ses principes, mais on les connaît assez. Un tort plus grave chez cette nation, est de s’adonner exclusivement au trafic, à l’usure, et aux dépravations mercantiles […] Tout gouvernement qui tient aux bonnes mœurs devrait y astreindre les Juifs, les obliger au travail productif, ne les admettre qu’en proportion d’un centième pour le vice: une famille marchande pour cent familles agricoles et manufacturières; mais notre siècle philosophe admet inconsidérément des légions de Juifs, tous parasites, marchands, usuriers, etc.Charles Fourier (Analyse de la civilisation, 1848)
Juifs. Faire un article contre cette race qui envenime tout, en se fourrant partout, sans jamais se fondre avec aucun peuple. Demander son expulsion de France, à l’exception des individus mariés avec des Françaises ; abolir les synagogues, ne les admettre à aucun emploi, poursuivre enfin l’abolition de ce culte. Ce n’est pas pour rien que les chrétiens les ont appelés déicides. Le juif est l’ennemi du genre humain. Il faut renvoyer cette race en Asie, ou l’exterminer. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1849)
Observons le Juif de tous les jours, le Juif ordinaire et non celui du sabbat. Ne cherchons point le mystère du Juif dans sa religion, mais le mystère de sa religion dans le Juif réel. Quelle est donc la base mondaine du judaïsme ? C’est le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme. Quel est le culte mondain du Juif ? C’est le trafic. Quelle est la divinité mondaine du Juif ? C’est l’argent. Karl Marx
L’argent est le dieu jaloux d’Israël devant qui nul autre Dieu ne doit subsister. Karl Marx
Dans les villes, ce qui exaspère le gros de la population française contre les Juifs, c’est que, par l’usure, par l’infatigable activité commerciale et par l’abus des influences politiques, ils accaparent peu à peu la fortune, le commerce, les emplois lucratifs, les fonctions administratives, la puissance publique . […] En France, l’influence politique des Juifs est énorme mais elle est, si je puis dire, indirecte. Elle ne s’exerce pas par la puissance du nombre, mais par la puissance de l’argent. Ils tiennent une grande partie de de la presse, les grandes institutions financières, et, quand ils n’ont pu agir sur les électeurs, ils agissent sur les élus. Ici, ils ont, en plus d’un point, la double force de l’argent et du nombre. Jean Jaurès (La question juive en Algérie, Dépêche de Toulouse, 1er mai 1895)
Nous savons bien que la race juive, concentrée, passionnée, subtile, toujours dévorée par une sorte de fièvre du gain quand ce n’est pas par la force du prophétisme, nous savons bien qu’elle manie avec une particulière habileté le mécanisme capitaliste, mécanisme de rapine, de mensonge, de corset, d’extorsion. Jean Jaurès (Discours au Tivoli, 1898)
Le Brexit et Trump étaient inextricablement liés en 2016 et ils sont inextricablement liés aujourd’hui. Johnson annonce une grande victoire de Trump. Les classes populaires sont fatiguées de leurs élites de new York, de Londres et de Bruxelles, qui leur expliquent comment vivre et comment faire. (…) Si les démocrates n’en tirent pas les leçons, Trump voguera vers une victoire à la Reagan en 1984. Steve Bannon
Avec Johnson, on se retrouve paradoxalement avec une bonne chance d’avoir une social-démocratie modérée. La victoire de Johnson pourrait être, comme le Brexit en 2016, l’indicateur d’une tendance capable de se répéter à nouveau outre-Atlantique. Dans les deux cas, les deux hommes ont été incroyablement sous-estimés par leurs adversaires et les observateurs, qui les ont volontiers présentés comme des clowns. Mais Boris Johnson n’a pas le caractère brutal de Trump et son côté incontrôlable. Il offre de ce point de vue un visage optimiste et décent à la révolte populiste et montre à la droite européenne qu’il est possible de la chevaucher sans quelle dérive vers quelque chose d’illibéral. C’est une bonne nouvelle. David Goodhart
Donald Trump, in his telling, could have shot somebody on Fifth Avenue and won. Boris Johnson could mislead the queen. He could break his promise to get Britain out of Europe by Oct. 31. He could lie about Turks invading Britain and the cost of European Union membership. He could make up stories about building 40 new hospitals. He could double down on the phantom $460 million a week that Brexit would deliver to the National Health Service — and still win a landslide Tory electoral victory not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1987. The British, or at least the English, did not care. Truth is so 20th century. They wanted Brexit done; and, formally speaking, Johnson will now take Britain out of Europe by Jan. 31, 2020, even if all the tough decisions on relations with the union will remain. Johnson was lucky. In the pathetic, emetic Jeremy Corbyn, the soon-to-depart Labour Party leader, he faced perhaps the worst opposition candidate ever. In the Tory press, he had a ferocious friend prepared to overlook every failing. In Brexit-weary British subjects, whiplashed since the 2016 referendum, he had the perfect receptacle for his “get Brexit done.” (…) The British working class, concentrated in the Midlands and the North, abandoned Labour and Corbyn’s socialism for the Tories and Johnson’s nationalism. In the depressed provinces of institutionalized precariousness, workers embraced an old Etonian mouthing about unleashed British potential. Not a million miles from blue-collar heartland Democrats migrating to Trump the millionaire and America First demagogy. That’s not the only parallel with American politics less than 11 months from the election. Johnson concentrated all the Brexit votes. By contrast, the pro-Remain vote was split between Corbyn’s internally divided Labour Party, the hapless Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party. For anybody contemplating the divisions of the Democratic Party as compared with the Trump movement’s fanatical singleness of purpose, now reinforced by the impeachment proceedings, this can only be worrying. The clear rejection of Labour’s big-government socialism also looks ominous for Democrats who believe the party can lurch left and win. The British working class did not buy nationalized railways, electricity distribution and water utilities when they could stick it to some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels and — in that phrase as immortal as it is meaningless — take back their country. (…)That’s the story of our times. Johnson gets and fits those times better than most. He’s a natural. “Brexit and Trump were inextricably linked in 2016, and they are inextricably linked today,” Steve Bannon told me. “Johnson foreshadows a big Trump win. Working-class people are tired of their ‘betters’ in New York, London, Brussels telling them how to live and what to do. Corbyn the socialist program, not Corbyn the man, got crushed. If Democrats don’t take the lesson, Trump is headed for a Reagan-like ’84 victory.” I still think Trump can be beaten, but not from way out left and not without recognition that, as Hugo Dixon, a leader of the now defeated fight for a second British referendum, put it: “There is a crisis of liberalism because we have not found a way to connect to the lives of people in the small towns of the postindustrial wasteland whose traditional culture has been torn away.” Johnson, even with his 80-seat majority, has problems. His victory reconciled the irreconcilable. His moneyed coterie wants to turn Britain into free-market Singapore on the Thames. His new working-class constituency wants rule-Britannia greatness combined with state-funded support. That’s a delicate balancing act. The breakup of Britain has become more likely. The strong Scottish National Party showing portends a possible second Scottish referendum on independence. (…) As my readers know, I am a passionate European patriot who sees the union as the greatest achievement of the second half of the 20th century, and Britain’s exit as an appalling act of self-harm. But I also believe in democracy. Johnson took the decision back to the people and won. His victory must be respected. The fight for freedom, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights, a free press, independent judiciaries, breathable air, peace, decency and humanity continues — and has only become more critical now that Britain has marginalized itself irreversibly in a fit of nationalist delusion. Roger Cohen
Britain’s election on December 12th was the most unpredictable in years—yet in the end the result was crushingly one-sided. As we went to press the next morning, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was heading for a majority of well over 70, the largest Tory margin since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Labour, meanwhile, was expecting its worst result since the 1930s. Mr Johnson, who diced with the possibility of being one of Britain’s shortest-serving prime ministers, is now all-powerful. The immediate consequence is that, for the first time since the referendum of 2016, it is clear that Britain will leave the European Union. By the end of January it will be out—though Brexit will still be far from “done”, as Mr Johnson promises. But the Tories’ triumph also shows something else: that a profound realignment in British politics has taken place. Mr Johnson’s victory saw the Conservatives taking territory that Labour had held for nearly a century. The party of the rich buried Labour under the votes of working-class northerners and Midlanders. After a decade of governments struggling with weak or non-existent majorities, Britain now has a prime minister with immense personal authority and a free rein in Parliament. Like Thatcher and Tony Blair, who also enjoyed large majorities, Mr Johnson has the chance to set Britain on a new course—but only if his government can also grapple with some truly daunting tasks. Mr Johnson was lucky in his opponent. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s leader, was shunned by voters, who doubted his promises on the economy, rejected his embrace of dictators and terrorists and were unconvinced by his claims to reject anti-Semitism. But the result also vindicates Mr Johnson’s high-risk strategy of targeting working-class Brexit voters. Some of them switched to the Tories, others to the Brexit Party, but the effect was the same: to deprive Labour of its majority in dozens of seats. Five years ago, under David Cameron, the Conservative Party was a broadly liberal outfit, preaching free markets as it embraced gay marriage and environmentalism. Mr Johnson has yanked it to the left on economics, promising public spending and state aid for struggling industries, and to the right on culture, calling for longer prison sentences and complaining that European migrants “treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country.” Some liberal Tories hate the Trumpification of their party (the Conservative vote went down in some wealthy southern seats). But the election showed that they were far outnumbered by blue-collar defections from Labour farther north. This realignment may well last. The Tories’ new prospectus is calculated to take advantage of a long-term shift in voters’ behaviour which predates the Brexit referendum. Over several decades, economic attitudes have been replaced by cultural ones as the main predictor of party affiliation. Even at the last election, in 2017, working-class voters were almost as likely as professional ones to back the Tories. Mr Johnson rode a wave that was already washing over Britain. Donald Trump has shown how conservative positions on cultural matters can hold together a coalition of rich and poor voters. And Mr Johnson has an extra advantage in that his is unlikely to face strong opposition soon. Labour looks certain to be in the doldrums for a long time.The Economist
En juin 2016, le coup de tonnerre du Brexit avait précédé l’ouragan Trump, révélant le caractère transatlantique de la révolte nationaliste et populiste qui souffle sur l’Occident. Trois ans plus tard, la retentissante victoire de Boris Johnson annonce-t-elle à son tour une nouvelle prouesse de Donald Trump en novembre 2020? Beaucoup en Amérique accueillent l’idée avec horreur, mais certains commencent à envisager sérieusement l’hypothèse, en observant l’obstination avec laquelle ses électeurs lui restent fidèles, de la même manière que les électeurs du Brexit sont restés fidèles à leur désir de «sortir» de l’Union européenne. Les dérapages de Trump et les gigantesques efforts de ses adversaires pour lui ôter toute légitimité sont loin d’avoir fait bouger les lignes, peut-être même le contraire, à en croire de récents sondages favorables au président américain. Au Royaume-Uni, le slogan résolu de Boris Johnson, «Faisons le Brexit», a de son côté fait merveille, malgré tous les efforts des partisans du maintien dans l’Union qui voient leur rêve de « nouveau référendum » à nouveau fracassé. « Le Brexit et Trump étaient inextricablement liés en 2016 et ils sont inextricablement liés aujourdhui. Johnson annonce une grande victoire de Trump. Les classes populaires sont fatiguées de leurs élites de new York, de Londres et de Bruxelles; qui leur expliquent comment vivre et comment faire. (…) Si les démocrates n’en tirent pas les leçons, Trump voguera vers une victoire à la Reagan en 1984, déclare l’idéologue du national-populisme américain Steve Bannon à l’éditorialiste du New York Times Roger Cohen », qui semble partager à contre-coeur partager son pronostic.Même si on fait difficilement plus américain que Donald Trump, ni plus britannique que Boris Johnson, il y a incontestablement des parallèles saisissants entre les deux hommes et ils sont loin de se limiter à leur tignasse blonde, qui fait le régal des photographes. Premier point commun, les deux hommes appartiennent à l’élite « libérale » de leur pays, mais se sont définis en patriotes réalistes, surfant sur le désir viscéral du retour à la nation de l’électorat et offrant la promesse d’un pays « reprenant le contrôle » de son destin. Tous deux ont également joué de leurs personnalités hétérodoxes et charismatiques pour passer allègrement le Rubicon du politiquement correct et se poser en défenseurs du « petit peuple », grand perdant de la globalisation et de l’ouverture des frontières à l’immigration. Allant à rebours de la doxa du libre-échange pur et dur, ils ont engagé à la hussarde une redéfinition révolutionnaire de l’ADN de leur partis respectifs, instaurant un virage à gauche sur la question du commerce et du protectionnisme, tout en se situant à droite sur les questions sociétales et culturelles. La carte de leur électorat s’en trouve alors métamorphosée par le ralliement à la bannière conservatrice de régions traditionnellement acquises au Labour britannique ou au parti démocrate américain. De ce point de vue, l’humeur de la classe ouvrière des Midlands et du nord de l’Angleterre est presque un copié-collé du ressenti des ouvriers déclassés de l’industrie sidérurgique d l’Ohio ou de la Pennsylvanie. Boris comme Donald ont aussi séduit les petites villes et le pays rural, ce pays dit « périphérique » qui est en réalité « majoritaire », rappelle Christophe Guilluy. « Avec Johnson, on se retrouve paradoxalement avec une bonne chance d’avoir une soicial-démocratie modérée », note l’essayiste David Goodhart. Comme Steve Bannon, l’intellectuel anglais n’exclut pas que la victoire de Johnson soit, comme le Brexit en 2016, ‘l’indicateur d’une tendance capable de se répéter à nouveau outre-Atlantique ». Dans les deux cas, les deux hommes ont été incroyablement sous-estimés par leurs adversaires et les observateurs, qui les ont volontiers présentés comme des clowns, souligne l’intellectuel. Laure Mandeville
While Ken Livingstone was forcing startled historians to explain that Adolf Hitler was not a Zionist, I was in Naz Shah’s Bradford. A politician who wants to win there cannot afford to be reasonable, I discovered. He or she cannot deplore the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and say that the Israelis and Palestinians should have their own states. They have to engage in extremist rhetoric of the “sweep all the Jews out” variety or risk their opponents denouncing them as “Zionists”. George Galloway, who, never forget, was a demagogue from the race-card playing left rather than the far right, made the private prejudices of conservative Muslim voters respectable. Aisha Ali-Khan, who worked as Galloway’s assistant until his behaviour came to disgust her, realised how deep prejudice had sunk when she made a silly quip about David Miliband being more “fanciable” than Ed. Respect members accused her of being a “Jew lover” and, all of a sudden in Bradford politics, that did not seem an outrageous, or even an unusual, insult. Where Galloway led, others followed. David Ward, a now mercifully forgotten Liberal Democrat MP, tried and failed to save his seat by proclaiming his Jew obsession. Nothing, not even the murder of Jews, could restrain him. At one point, he told his constituents that the sight of the Israeli prime minister honouring the Parisian Jews whom Islamists had murdered made him “sick”. (He appeared to find the massacre itself easier to stomach.)Naz Shah’s picture of Israel superimposed on to a map of the US to show her “solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not a one-off but part of a race to the bottom. But Shah’s wider behaviour as an MP – a “progressive” MP, mark you – gives you a better idea of how deep the rot has sunk. She ignored a Bradford imam who declared that the terrorist who murdered a liberal Pakistani politician was a “great hero of Islam” and concentrated her energies on expressing her “loathing” of liberal and feminist British Muslims instead. (…) Liberal Muslims make many profoundly uncomfortable. Writers in the left-wing press treat them as Uncle Toms, as Shah did, because they are willing to work with the government to stop young men and women joining Islamic State. While they are criticised, politically correct criticism rarely extends to clerics who celebrate religious assassins. As for the antisemitism that allows Labour MPs to fantasise about “transporting” Jews, consider how jeering and dishonest the debate around that has become. When feminists talk about rape, they are not told as a matter of course “but women are always making false rape accusations”. If they were, they would suspect that their opponents wanted to deny the existence of sexual violence. Yet it is standard in polite society to hear that accusations of antisemitism are always made in bad faith to delegitimise justifiable criticism of Israel. I accept that there are Jews who say that all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. For her part, a feminist must accept that there are women who make false accusations of rape. But that does not mean that antisemitism does not exist, any more than it means that rape never happens. Challenging prejudices on the left wing is going to be all the more difficult because, incredibly, the British left in the second decade of the 21st century is led by men steeped in the worst traditions of the 20th. When historians had to explain last week that if Montgomery had not defeated Rommel at El Alamein in Egypt then the German armies would have killed every Jew they could find in Palestine, they were dealing with the conspiracy theory that Hitler was a Zionist, developed by a half-educated American Trotskyist called Lenni Brenner in the 1980s. When Jeremy Corbyn defended the Islamist likes of Raed Salah, who say that Jews dine on the blood of Christian children, he was continuing a tradition of communist accommodation with antisemitism that goes back to Stalin’s purges of Soviet Jews in the late 1940s. It is astonishing that you have to, but you must learn the worst of leftwing history now. For Labour is not just led by dirty men but by dirty old men, with roots in the contaminated soil of Marxist totalitarianism. If it is to change, its leaders will either have to change their minds or be thrown out of office. Put like this, the tasks facing Labour moderates seem impossible. They have to be attempted, however, for moral as much as electoral reasons. (…) Not just in Paris, but in Marseille, Copenhagen and Brussels, fascistic reactionaries are murdering Jews – once again. Go to any British synagogue or Jewish school and you will see police officers and volunteers guarding them. I do not want to tempt fate, but if British Jews were murdered, the leader of the Labour party would not be welcome at their memorial. The mourners would point to the exit and ask him to leave. If it is incredible that we have reached this pass, it is also intolerable. However hard the effort to overthrow it, the status quo cannot stand. Nick Cohen
Corbyn (…) a dû subir sans secours la grossière accusation d’antisémitisme à travers le grand rabbin d’Angleterre et les divers réseaux d’influence du Likoud (parti d’extrême droite de Netanyahou en Israël). Au lieu de riposter, il a passé son temps à s’excuser et à donner des gages. Dans les deux cas il a affiché une faiblesse qui a inquiété les secteurs populaires. (…) Tel est le prix pour les « synthèses » sous toutes les latitudes. Ceux qui voudraient nous y ramener en France perdent leur temps. En tous cas je n’y céderai jamais pour ma part. Retraite à point, Europe allemande et néolibérale, capitalisme vert, génuflexion devant les ukases arrogantes des communautaristes du CRIF : c’est non. Et non c’est non. Jean-Luc Mélenchon
Most people I know who used to be staunch Labour are now saying no way Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not our party any more. Same label, different bottle. Steve Hurt (engineer)
Because they hate Corbyn that much. The biggest message they can send to him is to elect a Tory government. Activist
Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have talked a good deal about winning back these working class voters, but his policy positions haven’t been designed to appeal to them. I’m not just talking about his ambivalence on Brexit—there’s a widespread feeling among voters who value flag, faith and family that Corbyn isn’t one of them. Toby Young
It’s the same story across England—working class electors deserting Labour en masse. We won’t have a breakdown of how people voted according to income and occupation for a while yet, but a few of the opinion polls in the run-up to election day contained some astonishing findings. For instance, a Deltapoll survey for the Mail on Sunday last month showed the Conservatives outpolling Labour by 49 per cent to 23 per cent in the C2DE social grades—the bottom half of the National Readership Survey classification system that ranks people according to their occupation. That is to say, people in the bottom half of the NRS distribution—skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers, state pensioners and people on benefits—were intending to vote Conservative rather than Labour by a ratio of more than two to one. (Exit polls suggest the actual figure was closer to 1.5 to one.) A taste of things to come was provided on Tuesday when a clandestine recording was released of Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health spokesman, telling a friend how “dire” things were for the party outside urban, metropolitan areas. “It’s abysmal out there,” he said. “They can’t stand Corbyn and they think Labour’s blocked Brexit.” Ashworth described the electoral map of Britain as “topsy turvey,” a reference not just to the anticipated losses in traditional Labour areas, but to the uptick in support for Labour in middle class cities like Canterbury. One of the other startling features of the opinion polls was Labour’s lead among graduates. As a general rule, the higher the concentration of graduates in an area, the more likely it was to skew Left on Thursday—and vice versa. (Labour held on to Canterbury.) The crumbling of the ‘Red Wall’ is the big story of this election and some commentators are describing it as a “one off.” The conventional wisdom is that working class voters have “lent” their votes to the Conservatives and, barring an upset, will give them back next time round. It’s Brexit, supposedly, that has been the game-changer—an excuse leapt on by Corbyn’s outriders in the media, who are loathe to blame Labour’s defeat on their man. If you look at the working class constituencies that turned blue, most of them voted to leave the European Union in 2016 by a significant margin—Great Grimsby, for instance, an English sea port in Yorkshire, where Leave outpolled Remain by 71.45 to 28.55 per cent. Labour’s problem, according to this analysis, is that it didn’t commit to taking Britain out of the EU during the campaign but instead said it would negotiate a new exit deal and then hold a second referendum in which the public would be able to choose between that deal and Remain. This fudge may have been enough to keep graduates on side, but it alienated working class Leave voters in England’s rust belt. This analysis doesn’t bear much scrutiny. To begin with, the desertion of Labour by its working class supporters—and its increasing popularity with more affluent, better educated voters—is a long-term trend, not an aberration. The disappearance of Labour’s traditional base isn’t just the story of this election, but one of the main themes of Britain’s post-war political history. At its height, Labour managed to assemble a coalition of university-educated liberals in London and the South and low-income voters in Britain’s industrial heartlands in the Midlands and the North—“between Hampstead and Hull,” as the saying goes. But mass immigration and globalization have driven a wedge between Labour’s middle class and working class supporters, as has Britain’s growing welfare bill and its membership of the European Union. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have talked a good deal about winning back these working class voters, but his policy positions haven’t been designed to appeal to them. I’m not just talking about his ambivalence on Brexit—there’s a widespread feeling among voters who value flag, faith and family that Corbyn isn’t one of them. Before he became Labour leader in 2015, he was an energetic protestor against nearly every armed conflict Britain has been involved in since Suez, including the Falklands War. He’s also called for the abandonment of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, the withdrawal of the UK from NATO and the dismantling of our security services—not to mention declining to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain service in 2015. From the point of view of many working class voters, for whom love of country is still a deeply felt emotion, Corbyn seems to side with the country’s enemies more often than he does with Britain. Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election was followed by a surge in party membership— from 193,754 at the end of 2014 to 388,103 by the end of 2015. But the activists he appeals to are predominantly middle class. According to internal Party data leaked to the Guardian, a disproportionate number of them are “high status city dwellers” who own their own homes. A careful analysis of the policies set out in Labour’s latest manifesto reveals that the main beneficiaries of the party’s proposed increase in public expenditure—which the Conservatives costed at an eye-watering £1.2 trillion—would be its middle class supporters. For instance, the party pledged to cut rail fares by 33 per cent and pay for it by slashing the money spent on roads. But only 11 per cent of Britain’s commuters travel by train compared to 68 per cent who drive—and the former tend to be more affluent than the latter. Corbyn also promised to abolish university tuition fees at a cost of £7.2 billion per annum, a deeply regressive policy which, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, would benefit middle- and high-earning graduates with “very little” upside for those on low incomes. It’s also worth noting that Corbyn’s interests and appearance—he’s a 70-year-old vegetarian with a fondness for train-drivers’ hats who has spent his life immersed in protest politics—strike many working class voters as “weird,” a word that kept coming up on the doorstep according to my fellow canvasser in Newcastle. He’s also presided over the invasion of his party by virulent anti-Semites and Labour is currently in the midst of an investigation by Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission thanks to his failure to deal with this. One of his supporters has already blamed the Jews for Labour’s defeat. But Corbyn isn’t the main reason C2DE voters have turned away from Labour, any more than Brexit is. Rather, they’ve both exacerbated a trend that’s been underway for at least 45 years, which is the fracturing of the “Hampstead and Hull” coalition and the ebbing away of Labour’s working class support. Another, related phenomenon that’s been overlooked is that these “topsy turvey” politics are hardly unique to Britain. Left-of-center parties in most parts of the Anglosphere, as well as other Western democracies, have seen the equivalent of their own ‘Red Walls’ collapsing. One of the reasons Scott Morrison’s Liberals confounded expectations to win the Australian election last May was because Bill Shorten’s Labour Party was so unpopular in traditional working class areas like Queensland, and support for socially democratic parties outside the large cities in Scandinavia has cratered over the past 15 years or so. Thomas Piketty, the French Marxist, wrote a paper about this phenomenon last year entitled ‘Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict’ and it’s the subject of Capital and Ideology, his new book. His hypothesis is that politics in the US, Britain, and France—he confines his analysis to those three countries—is dominated by the struggle between two elite groups: the Brahmin Left and the Merchant Right. He points out that left-wing parties in the US, Britain and France used to rely on ‘nativist’ voters to win elections—low education, low income—but since the 1970s have begun to attract more and more ‘globalist’ voters—high education, high income (with the exception of the top 10 per cent of income earners). The nativists, meanwhile, have drifted to the Right, forming a coalition with the business elite. He crunches the data to show that in the US, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated people were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Now, the opposite is true, with 70% of voters with masters degrees voting for Hilary in 2016. “The trend is virtually identical in all three countries,” he writes. In Piketty’s view, the electoral preferences of the post-industrial working class—the precariat—is a kind of false consciousness, often engendered by populist snake-charmers like Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban. He’s intensely suspicious of the unholy alliance between super-rich “merchants” and the lumpen proletariat, and similar noises have been made about the levels of support Boris has managed to attract. Plenty of better writers than me — Douglas Murray, John Gray — have debunked the notion that the only reason low-income voters embrace right-wing politics is because they’re drunk on a cocktail of ethno-nationalism and false hope (with Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin taking turns as mixologists). It surely has more to do with the Left’s sneering contempt for the “deplorables” in the flyover states as they shuttle back and forth between their walled, cosmopolitan strongholds. As Corbyn’s policy platform in Britain’s election showed, left-wing parties now have little to offer indigenous, working class people outside the big cities—and their activists often add insult to injury by describing these left-behind voters as “privileged” because they’re white or cis-gendered or whatever. So long as parties like Labour pander to their middle-class, identitarian activists and ignore the interests of the genuinely disadvantaged, they’ll continue to rack up loss after loss. Get woke, go broke. Will the Democrats learn fdrom Labour’s mistake and make Jo Biden the candidate—or even Pete Buttigieg? I wouldn’t bet on it. The zealots of the post-modern Left have a limitless capacity to ignore reality even when it’s staring them in the face. As I said to a friend last night after the election results starting rolling in, fighting political opponents like Jeremy Corbyn is a bit like competing in a round-the-world yacht race against a team that thinks the earth is flat. It can be kind of fun, even exhilarating. But until they acquire a compass and learn how to read a map, it’s not really a fair fight. Toby Young
C’est signe de naïveté que voir dans l’enseignement de la Shoah le moyen de faire reculer l’antisémitisme. Asséner l’histoire de la Shoah aux élèves comme une forme de catéchisme moral censé les protéger de l’antisémitisme est un non-sens. D’une part, parce que la compassion ne protège de rien : dans nos sociétés, une émotion chasse l’autre. D’autre part, parce qu’à force d’asséner cette histoire sous une forme moraliste on semble oublier que tout catéchisme provoque le rejet. On semble oublier aussi qu’on alimente une concurrence mémorielle qui nourrit le communautarisme. Enfin, qu’enfermer le peuple juif dans une essence de victime ne protège pas de la violence, mais tout au contraire y expose davantage. Georges Bensoussan
Je sais bien que les gens en ont par dessus de la tête de ces juifs qui se plaignent de l’antisémitisme, comme s’il n’y avait pas de trucs plus importants dans la vie. Qu’un type qui avait un peu abusé du chichon jette une vieille dame par dessus son balcon en hurlant qu’elle est le diable, qu’un autre mitraille des petits enfants dans une école confessionnelle ou qu’un troisième fasse un carton sur les clients d’un supermarché casher, et paf, les voilà à nouveau en train de jérémier sur les plateaux de télé…Forcément, ça agace. Regardez les élections en Grande-Bretagne, la gauche les perd dans les grandes largeurs, vraisemblablement parce que son programme de collectivisation des moyens de production était naze et son leader aussi charismatique et enthousiasmant qu’un bonnet de nuit en pilou, eh bien qui entend-on pousser des hauts-cris ? Les juifs. Et pourquoi donc ? Parce que pour l’état-major du Labour, les porteurs de kippa seraient en réalité les deus ex machina de la défaite. Mais bon sang, si on ne peut plus accuser les juifs d’être derrière tout ce qui ne nous fait pas plaisir dans la vie sans les entendre se lamenter devant leur mur, où va-t-on ? Et puis, franchement, il doit avoir un peu raison quelque part, l’ancien maire de Londres Ken Livingstone, lorsqu’il évoque ce satané « vote juif » sans lequel Corbyn serait aujourd’hui Premier ministre à la place de cette crapule de Boris Johnson. D’accord, il n’y a que 300 000 juifs dans tout le pays, les socialistes ont perdu par 4 millions de voix, mais on imagine tout de même que pour un « peuple élu », manipuler un scrutin doit être un jeu d’enfant… D’ailleurs, même notre gauche radicale à nous est d’accord avec l’analyse : les juifs, ils sont tous de droite. Ces Marx, ces Trotski, ces Mendès-France, ces Krivine, ces Cohn-Bendit, ces Bernie Sanders… Tous des fachos notoires. Du coup, on comprend que Mélenchon pousse un coup de gueule sur son blog en commentant le terrible résultat : chez nos voisins du dessus, la gauche a été laminée à cause du « grand rabbin et des réseaux d’influence du Likoud » (un parti politique israélien dont tous les juifs à travers le monde deviennent membres de droit dès leur circoncision). Mieux encore, c’est le Crif français, avec ses « oukases arrogantes » qui imposent « des génuflexions », qui a certainement tenu la main de ces pauvres électeurs britanniques. Fichu cosmopolitisme… D’autant plus que le point de vue de l’insoumis en chef doit être pas mal répandu : zéro réaction chez nos politiques de droite ou de gauche à ses propos ; pas le moindre froncement de sourcil dans la presse « comme il faut »… Un vrai « détail de l’histoire », son commentaire outragé façon Protocole des sages de Sion. Alors, est-ce qu’il est antisémite, le Méluche ? Au sens où, il rêverait d’une solution ultime au problème que pose la terrible engeance dont j’ai moi-même presque honte de faire partie ? Évidemment non. Les antisémites, les vrais, sont de droite (comme les juifs d’ailleurs, mais c’est pour ça qu’on a inventé le mot paradoxe). Non, il n’est pas antisémite. Il constate juste que les juifs utilisent leurs immenses moyens de pression financiers et médiatiques pour accomplir leurs noirs desseins colonialistes et qu’il est temps d’arrêter de se mettre à plat ventre devant eux par faiblesse. C’est tout. On ne va pas en faire un cheddar. Mélenchon, en fait, il dit juste tout haut ce que les gens pensent tout bas, comme le suggérait un autre bateleur d’estrade autrefois. Il dit juste que si Corbyn a perdu, c’est à cause du Crif, des rabbins, du Likoud et des oukases ! Prenez-vous ça dans la gueule, les juifs ! Si vous pensez vraiment qu’on n’a pas vu votre petit jeu ! Retournez manger votre pain azyme dans vos synagogues et arrêtez de vous mettre en travers de la justice sociale, non mais ! Hughes Serraf
Si la volte-face récente de Jean-Luc Mélenchon est un calcul électoraliste, alors ce calcul est une erreur. Car lorsque la Maison Mélenchon multiplie les ententes avec des activistes communautaristes, du strict point de vue électoraliste elle se tire une balle dans chaque pied: d’une, cela ne lui fait rien gagner du côté des Français de confession musulmane ; de deux, cela lui fait perdre massivement des électeurs de gauche qui, musulmans ou pas, sont restés fermes sur la défense de la laïcité et de l’égalité femmes-hommes. Il existe cependant une autre hypothèse que le calcul électoraliste: celle de l’erreur provoquée par un fonctionnement à la va-vite. Peut-être que tous ces députés LFI ont signé en bloc l’appel à marcher contre l’islamophobie parce qu’ils n’ont pas lu le texte avec suffisamment d’attention: ils ont donc cru signer un appel antiraciste habituel, sans en repérer les ambiguïtés. Et aussi, parce qu’ils ne se sont pas renseignés sur les idées d’une partie des porteurs du texte, idées pour le moins problématiques quand on est de gauche. Puis, après coup, Jean-Luc Mélenchon aura tenté de limiter la casse en trouvant des explications plus ou moins vraisemblables à cette catastrophique sortie de route. Toujours est-il que tout cela est incompréhensible venant de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, lui qui plaida rigoureusement contre le concept d’islamophobie au motif qu’on doit avoir, je cite, «le droit de ne pas aimer l’islam». Du reste, il n’y aurait eu aucune polémique et aucun problème si la marche et l’appel à manifester avaient invoqué le racisme anti-maghrébins ou le racisme anti-musulmans, plutôt que ce concept d’islamophobie dont le sens et la légitimité sont l’objet de controverses. Toute cette affaire, c’est vraiment dommage. Car assurément, lors de cette marche, plusieurs milliers de gens ont défilé sincèrement contre le racisme et pas du tout pour le communautarisme d’une partie des initiateurs. Chez LFI et ailleurs, les activistes communautaristes sont en réalité très peu nombreux. Et comme je vous le disais à l’instant, la population qu’ils prétendent défendre, dans sa très large majorité, ne veut pas de leurs idées. Pour compenser cette faiblesse numérique et ce rejet de leurs thèses par ceux qu’ils disent représenter, ils pratiquent donc un entrisme très agressif: partis, facultés, syndicats, médias, etc. Lorsqu’une structure va bien, les activistes communautaristes n’arrivent pas à y avoir une influence: leur entrisme a par exemple échoué dans presque tous les grands médias. Lorsqu’une structure est affaiblie ou en crise, en revanche, ils parviennent à y prendre pied: c’est arrivé à des petits partis et à des syndicats. Or, précisément, après deux années d’erreurs accumulées, la Maison Mélenchon est extrêmement affaiblie. C’est un astre mort, pareil à ces étoiles dont vous percevez encore la lumière alors qu’elles sont déjà éteintes. Au lendemain de la présidentielle de 2017, elle pouvait mobiliser au moins 50 000 militants de terrain dans toute la France pour une opération d’envergure nationale. Actuellement, elle peut difficilement en mobiliser 5 000 et peine à constituer des listes en vue des élections municipales de 2020. L’influence croissante des activistes communautaristes est un signe supplémentaire du fait que la Maison Mélenchon est affaiblie. Dans ce contexte, alors que les activistes communautaristes étaient encore fermement contenus en marge de l’appareil LFI juste après la présidentielle de 2017, aujourd’hui ils y prospèrent. Ce qui ne fait que faciliter la chute de la Maison Mélenchon puisque encore une fois, ni les Français en général, ni les Français de confession musulmane en particulier, ne veulent du communautarisme. Autrement dit, plutôt qu’un problème en soi, l’influence croissante des activistes communautaristes est plutôt un signe supplémentaire du fait que la Maison Mélenchon est affaiblie: l’hémorragie électorale, l’exode massif de militants, l’autodestruction de l’image d’homme d’État de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, ont probablement fait trop de dégâts pour que cela soit réparable. J’ai rejoint La France insoumise à l’été 2017. Je l’ai fait par idéal, parce que j’étais profondément d’accord avec le programme du mouvement: L’Avenir en commun. J’étais très enthousiaste et je me suis mis à la disposition du mouvement pour aider. Charlotte Girard, responsable du programme, m’a confié la formation politique des militants en tandem avec Manon Le Bretton. Pendant un an je ne me suis occupé que de cela. J’étais dans mon coin, et ce d’autant plus que le fonctionnement de l’appareil central est extrêmement cloisonné. Je n’avais des contacts avec le siège que pour des questions logistiques, et de temps en temps pour valider le planning ou les intervenants. Et puis, en été 2018, m’étant porté volontaire pour être l’un des candidats LFI à l’élection européenne, j’ai commencé à fréquenter régulièrement l’appareil central, avec des réunions de coordination, des échanges fréquents avec des cadres, etc. C’est à partir de là que j’ai eu de plus en plus de voyants rouges allumés, au fur et à mesure de ce que je voyais. C’est bien simple: la Maison Mélenchon pratique systématiquement en interne le contraire des valeurs qu’elle affiche. C’est orwellien. Dans les paroles, elle plaide pour une vraie démocratie, pour le respect des droits de l’opposition, pour l’émancipation humaine. Dans les actes, en interne, elle pratique le fonctionnement dictatorial, l’interdiction d’exprimer une parole critique sous peine d’encourir une «purge», et des façons de traiter les gens qui souvent sont humainement détestables. Je raconte par exemple dans un chapitre de mon livre comment les lanceurs d’alerte, qui exigeaient de passer à un fonctionnement démocratique, ont été systématiquement placardisés, calomniés, bannis, ou un mélange des trois. On m’objecte parfois que les tendances dictatoriales de Jean-Luc Mélenchon étaient évidentes dès 2017. Mais ce n’est pas vrai. Dès 2017, certes, chacun voyait qu’il était manifestement un homme à poigne et sujet à des grosses colères. Mais le fonctionnement interne systématiquement dictatorial de LFI, lui, n’était pas encore connu du grand public. On m’objecte plus souvent que ma désillusion aurait dû être plus rapide. Mais c’est négliger plusieurs choses. D’abord, le travail de lucidité est ralenti par le problème du double langage permanent des cadres de l’appareil: telle instance verrouillée est déguisée en instance aux participants «tirés au sort» ; tel congrès où il est interdit de proposer un autre texte que celui de la direction, est déguisé en exercice de démocratie participative ; telle purge pour se débarrasser d’un cadre trop critique, est déguisée en mesure disciplinaire «pour avoir tenu des propos sexistes» ; et ainsi de suite. Il faut donc le temps d’identifier une novlangue interne systématique et d’identifier la réalité autoritaire, centralisée, verrouillée, qu’elle sert à cacher. Ensuite, comme je vous le disais l’appareil est extrêmement opaque, cloisonné. Et les cadres ont souvent peur d’exprimer leurs critiques même entre eux. Comprendre le fonctionnement réel de la machine est donc matériellement difficile – et prend d’autant plus de temps. Enfin, si des dizaines de milliers de militants ont mis du temps avant de quitter La France insoumise, c’est aussi à cause du déni. Quand vous rejoignez un mouvement par idéal, vous devez d’abord épuiser en vous toutes les autres explications possibles, même tordues, avant d’accepter de regarder en face que c’est une vaste escroquerie politique qui trahit l’idéal au nom duquel vous vous êtes engagé. Au premier tour de la présidentielle de 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon a frôlé les 20 % malgré sa stratégie, et non pas grâce à elle. Au départ, la Maison Mélenchon a décidé de faire, par rapport à la campagne de 2012, ce qu’on appelle en marketing un «rebranding». Ils ont abandonné le vocabulaire, le message et les symboles de la campagne «Fier d’être de gauche» de 2012. Ils ont remplacé tout cela par une campagne «Fédérer le peuple contre les 1%», avec un message au-delà du clivage gauche-droite, apaisé sur la forme. C’est ce qu’on appelle la stratégie du «populisme de gauche». Jean-Luc Mélenchon est resté malgré lui un candidat d’union de la gauche. Résultat: cela a échoué. En janvier 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon reconstitue en intentions de vote son score de la présidentielle de 2012, ce qui signifie que malgré un changement profond de message et de mise en scène, c’est encore l’électorat de gauche radicale qu’il réunifie. Se produit alors cet effet-domino: quelques points d’électorat de centre-gauche abandonnent progressivement le vote Hamon pour le vote Macron, essentiellement par peur de Marine Le Pen et dans l’idée qu’Emmanuel Macron sera un meilleur candidat de barrage au FN. Ce qui fait baisser Benoît Hamon de 17 à 12-13, jusqu’à se trouver à touche-touche avec Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Par conséquent l’effet «vote utile de gauche», qui protège habituellement le candidat du PS contre tout rival de gauche, ne joue plus. Arrivent les débats de premier tour de la présidentielle: Hamon et Mélenchon disent en substance la même chose, mais Mélenchon est meilleur sur le fond et sur la forme. Mélenchon passe donc de quelques points devant Hamon dans les sondages – vraisemblablement un transfert d’électorat «aile gauche du PS». Enfin, dans la dernière ligne droite, Mélenchon étant devenu le candidat le mieux placé à gauche, l’effet «vote utile de gauche» se reconstitue dans la dernière ligne droite à son avantage, et le catapulte à presque 20 %. Il faut souligner que bien sûr, cette montée en puissance n’aurait pas été possible sans les talents d’orateur du candidat, son charisme hors normes, et son grand talent de pédagogue politique sur scène. Toujours est-il qu’ainsi, ce que Jean-Luc Mélenchon a dit, c’est qu’il allait fédérer le peuple par-delà le clivage gauche-droite – mais ce qu’il a fait, c’est être malgré lui un candidat d’union de la gauche. Une fois qu’on a compris cela, on comprend aussi que, lorsque la Maison Mélenchon a interprété ce score comme un nouveau socle de 20 % d’adhésion à la stratégie du «populisme de gauche», c’était une erreur. Puisque Jean-Luc Mélenchon avait été, certes malgré lui, un candidat d’union de la gauche, il fallait former une coalition de type «Front populaire» dès les législatives. Au lieu de cela, La France insoumise a préféré partir seule au combat des législatives, ce qui a mécaniquement abouti à un groupe parlementaire croupion. De même, pendant deux ans, le message politique martelé en boucle, celui de l’appel au soulèvement populaire, n’a correspondu qu’aux attentes de l’électorat de gauche radicale: c’est-à-dire moitié moins que les 20 % de 2017, ce qui a contribué à rétrécir l’espace électoral de LFI. La situation politique de l’Europe est très diverse, sans qu’on constate une dynamique commune à tout le continent. À cela s’ajoute un problème spécifique d’illisibilité du cap fixé. Par exemple, il fut tour à tour question de refuser les alliances avec d’autres forces de gauche, puis de les souhaiter, puis de les refuser à nouveau, et ainsi de suite. Autre exemple, concernant la stratégie «plan A plan B» face à l’Union européenne, il en a existé de 2017 à 2019 presque autant d’interprétations qu’il existe de porte-paroles de LFI. À la longue, cette ligne erratique a nécessairement conduit à ce que des électeurs, rendus méfiants par le flou, se détournent de LFI. rien n’indique un grand effondrement européen de la gauche. 2019 a vu plusieurs victoires. En Espagne, les législatives ont été gagnées par la gauche sociale-démocrate et elle vient de signer un accord de principe avec la gauche radicale pour gouverner ensemble. Au Portugal, les législatives ont été gagnées par la coalition sortante de gauche. En Italie, sans passer par des législatives, un nouveau gouvernement a été installé, sur une coalition du Mouvement 5-Etoiles et de la gauche. On pourrait ainsi multiplier les exemples. On pourrait cependant multiplier aussi les exemples de succès de la droite et dans une moindre mesure de l’extrême droite. Ni vague brune, ni vague bleue, ni vague rose, ni vague rouge: la situation politique de l’Europe, aujourd’hui, est tout simplement très diverse, sans qu’on constate une dynamique commune à tout le continent. Thomas Guénolé
L’antisémitisme de la gauche est un sujet tabou. Depuis longtemps, elle s’est dressée en pourfendeuse du racisme, forcément de droite, oubliant, par exemple, que la chambre du Front Populaire avait voté les pleins pouvoirs à Pétain, vite rejoint à Vichy par Laval, Déat, Marquet, Doriot, Luchaire, Belin et Bousquet. S’il y eut un antijudaïsme catholique, des antisémitismes agnostique (Voltaire) et protestant (Luther), l’un des plus virulents avec celui de l’extrême droite fut révolutionnaire et socialiste. Dans La question juive, Marx dénonce «l’essence du judaïsme et la racine de l’âme juive, l’opportunité et l’intérêt personnel qui se manifeste dans la soif de l’argent». Dans une lettre à Engels, il décrit le socialiste allemand Ferdinand Lassalle comme «un vrai juif de la frontière slave, (…) sa manie de masquer le juif crasseux de Breslau sous toutes sortes de pommades et de fard». Proudhon, qui va inspirer Jaurès, dénonce «l’ennemi du genre humain», une «race» qu’ «il faut renvoyer en Asie ou exterminer» . Staline, idole, sa vie entière, du PCF, lance en 1948 une campagne «anti-cosmopolite», prélude aux exécutions des «blouses blanches» et des intellectuels juifs «incapables de comprendre le caractère national russe». Dans l’entre-deux-guerres, les «néo-socialistes», tous pacifistes, sont aussi à l’œuvre chez nous: Déat souligne le «byzantinisme» de Léon Blum et sa «passivité tout orientale» ; c’est l’époque où la SFIO est accusée de subir une «dictature juive», et que le maire de Bordeaux, Marquet, lui reproche de «pousser à la guerre pour l’URSS et la juiverie». Mais parmi les figures emblématiques de l’antisémitisme de gauche, Jaurès tient une place de choix. Le sujet est tabou par excellence, tant l’idole du socialisme français est encaustiquée! Son journal, La Petite République, désigne le député Reinach comme un «juif ignoble» . Lors de son voyage en Algérie, en avril 1895, Jaurès décrit les juifs qui, «par l’usure, l’infatigable activité commerciale et l’abus de l’influence politique, accaparent peu à peu la fortune, le commerce, les emplois publics (…). Ils tiennent une grande partie de la presse, les grandes institutions financières, et quand ils n’ont pu agir sur les électeurs, ils agissent sur les élus» . Son historien «officiel», Gilles Candar, excusera la diatribe par la «fatigue» de son auteur! L’explication, si facile, par le «contexte» ne tient pas: Clemenceau ne tiendra jamais de tels propos. Dans son discours au Tivoli en 1898, Jaurès est plus caricatural encore: «nous savons bien que la race juive, concentrée, passionnée, subtile, toujours dévorée par une sorte de fièvre du gain quand ce n’est pas par la force du prophétisme, (…) manie avec une particulière habileté le mécanisme capitaliste, mécanisme de rapine, de mensonge, de corset, d’extorsion» . Longtemps convaincu de la culpabilité de Dreyfus, qui aurait échappé à la peine capitale grâce «au prodigieux déploiement de la puissance juive», Jaurès dénonce à la tribune de la Chambre la «bande cosmopolite»! Il sera d’ailleurs sanctionné pour ses propos! Après avoir, une dernière fois, souligné que «l’odeur du ghetto est souvent nauséabonde» , Jaurès opère un revirement tardif lors du procès de Zola, assigné en Justice par le Président Félix Faure en représailles du «J’accuse» paru dans L’Aurore. Devenu dreyfusard, Jaurès, le repenti, obtiendra le soutien financier magnanime du banquier Louis Dreyfus pour son journal l’Humanité… Anne Hidalgo envisageait de débaptiser la rue Alain pour les accents antisémites du journal intime du philosophe. Le fera-t-elle aussi pour Jaurès? L’antisionisme est-il aujourd’hui pour les islamo-gauchistes le cache-sexe de l’antisémitisme? La cause palestinienne est en tout cas mal servie! On se souviendra seulement que les enfants de Marx ont pris, comme Edwy Plenel, dans son journal «Rouge», la défense «inconditionnelle» des terroristes de Septembre Noir. Ceux qui, en 1973, aux JO de Munich, ont assassiné onze athlètes israéliens. Un acte «justifié», disait Sartre, parce que c’étaient des soldats. Bernard Carayon
Il faut distinguer deux choses. L’antisionisme est-il une forme d’antisémitisme dicible ? Et faut-il légiférer en la matière ? Il y a donc deux réponses distinctes. En premier lieu, définir l’antisionisme : c’est l’hostilité à l’idée d’un État juif. Les premiers milieux antisionistes, c’est à l’intérieur du monde juif qu’on les trouve et de bords opposés, d’une part dans les milieux de l’orthodoxie religieuse, de tendance hassidique ou non, d’autre part dans les milieux de la gauche juive, socialiste révolutionnaire ou issue du mouvement bundiste (le parti socialiste juif ouvrier, ndlr) né en 1897, l’année du premier congrès sioniste. Ce qui n’empêche pas d’ailleurs parallèlement et même immédiatement de voir se déclencher un antisionisme virulent du côté de l’Église catholique et des milieux d’extrême droite. Il faut rappeler que les Protocoles des Sages de Sion ont été rédigés dans la foulée du premier congrès sioniste. Ils sont nés du fantasme d’une domination universelle des Juifs à partir du projet de création d’un « foyer national » juif. S’il s’agit de s’opposer à la création d’un État juif, l’antisionisme est donc un débat légitime jusqu’au 14 mai 1948. Ensuite, il perd toute raison d’être puisque l’État existe. Si la polémique persiste, alors cela signifie en bonne logique que l’on est opposé à l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Et dans ce cas, on n’est plus dans un débat politique mais dans un projet meurtrier parce que la disparition d’un Etat, c’est le mot doucereux pour dire expulsions, spoliations et massacres. En ce sens, et depuis 1948, le débat sur la validité ou non du sionisme est clos puisque l’État est là. On peut certes continuer à discuter à l’infini sur ce qu’a représenté le projet sioniste, son bien-fondé ou non, mais on ne peut plus remettre en cause son résultat pratique, la création d’un Etat et d’une société nouvelle forte de neuf millions d’habitants. Pour autant, faut-il légiférer ? Je ne crois pas. L’antisionisme joue d’une ambiguïté, celle de faire croire qu’il se limite à la critique de la politique israélienne quand, en réalité, c’est le droit à l’existence de ce pays que l’antisionisme remet en cause, quelle que soit la politique de ses dirigeants et les concessions qu’ils feront demain. La critique de la politique israélienne, c’est autre chose, ce n’est pas de l’antisionisme ni de l’antisémitisme mais tout simplement la critique légitime de la politique d’un État. Légiférer dans ce domaine est une erreur dès lors que l’on n’a pas expliqué correctement ce que recouvrait le mot antisionisme, un appel à la destruction d’un État et non la critique de sa politique. Légiférer va conférer en effet un caractère intouchable à l’État juif qui ne peut qu’alimenter le fantasme complotiste. Il vaut mieux expliquer comment l’antisémitisme qui n’est plus dicible depuis Auschwitz se dissimule derrière le mot sioniste, comment le mot juif est systématiquement remplacé par le mot sioniste dans une démarche mystificatrice. Pour percer à jour cette supercherie intellectuelle, l’arsenal législatif contre l’antisémitisme suffisait amplement. Je crois surtout que la diabolisation de l’État d’Israël est l’héritage laissé par l’intense propagande communiste. Reste aussi qu’on aura mis cinquante ans à découvrir cette mystification. Léon Poliakov l’avait dit dès 1968, l’antisionisme militant était le refus à peine masqué de l’existence d’un Etat juif. Et plus encore dix ans plus tard le philosophe Vladimir Jankélévitch qui s’exprimait en ces termes : « L’antisionisme est la trouvaille miraculeuse, l’aubaine providentielle qui réconcilie la gauche anti-impérialiste et la droite antisémite ; (il) donne la permission d’être démocratiquement antisémite. Qui dit mieux ? Il est désormais possible de haïr les Juifs au nom du progressisme ! Il y a de quoi avoir le vertige : ce renversement bienvenu, cette introuvable inversion ne peuvent qu’enfermer Israël dans une nouvelle solitude [1]. » La doxa actuelle a fait de l’antisionisme un de ses credo de base pour des raisons profondes. Je ne pense pas qu’une loi puisse infléchir cette tendance. Il est préférable de la comprendre pour désamorcer la part inquiétante de ce raisonnement spécieux. Je crois surtout que la diabolisation de l’État d’Israël est l’héritage laissé par l’intense propagande communiste, aujourd’hui oubliée, en particulier celle de l’ex-Union soviétique qui entre les années 1950 et 1990, a produit une immense « littérature » anti-israélienne imprégnée du vieil antisémitisme russe mâtiné d’anticapitalisme. La diabolisation de l’État juif tient aussi au nouveau rapport de force démographique qui s’est instauré en Europe par le biais d’une immigration arabo-musulmane importante, en particulier en France, le pays qui abrite la plus importante communauté musulmane d’Europe (25% des musulmans d’Europe vivent en France) comme aussi la plus importante communauté juive. Dans leur immense majorité, cette immigration vient du monde arabe et en particulier du Maghreb où la haine de l’État d’Israël est diffuse et quotidienne, en particulier en Algérie. Par surcroit, cette récusation a été sourdement et silencieusement favorisée par la culpabilité née de la Shoah. Dans un autre ordre d’idées, l’État d’Israël a été fondé après la Seconde Guerre mondiale à contre-courant du principe de l’État-nation. Il représente le principe même de l’identité nationale, de la filiation et des racines, un principe qui a été puissamment récusé en Europe par le multiculturalisme dominant. On en veut à l’Etat juif de représenter le principe de l’État-nation dont beaucoup considèrent qu’il est porteur de guerre. D’un autre bord, on lui en veut aussi d’avoir perpétué ce qui est perdu en Europe aujourd’hui et dont on garde une nostalgie mais qui est difficile à dire en ce temps de pensée correcte : l’identité culturelle, l’enracinement et l’amour de la patrie. Des mots qui pourraient vous classer d’emblée à l’extrême droite dans ce tribunal permanent qu’est devenue la vie intellectuelle dans la France d’aujourd’hui. Je reviens sur cette diabolisation de l’État d’Israël comme forme sécularisée, profane et dicible, de l’antique stigmatisation du signe juif qui a participé à la matrice culturelle de l’Europe chrétienne. La restauration de l’indépendance nationale juive est le démenti infligé à l’abaissement d’Israël, partie intrinsèque de la théologie chrétienne comme de la théologie musulmane. Malédiction de l’origine… Il est difficile de sortir de ce moule. Ce n’est toutefois pas impossible à la condition de mettre les mots pour ne plus être parlé par ces mythologies. Il faut faire ici un sort particulier à la passion anti-israélienne qui anime certains Juifs de la diaspora dans leur relation torturée à leur identité juive. Je trouve particulièrement fallacieux d’avancer, par exemple, que les Juifs qui ne vivent pas en Israël sont antisionistes. Non, ils sont au mieux a-sionistes, certainement pas antisionistes. Avoir fait un autre choix que celui de s’établir dans l’État d’Israël ne signifie pas qu’on récuse le projet sioniste, mais simplement qu’on a d’autres attaches, d’autres enracinements, d’autres intérêts et d’autres filiations qui nous interdisent d’émigrer. Ce tour de passe-passe sémantique (tout Juif qui n’habite pas Israël est décrété « antisioniste ») participe d’une logique strictement idéologique. Près de 52% des Juifs du monde vivent aujourd’hui en Israël. En 1948, c’était à peine 5%. L’effectif du peuple juif dans le monde n’est pas de seize millions d’individus mais de treize millions au maximum. Sur ce chiffre, plus de 6,5 millions vivent aujourd’hui dans l’État juif. La seconde incohérence est de continuer à raisonner comme à l’époque d’avant l’État juif. Car la naissance de l’État d’Israël a modifié considérablement l’identité juive, l’identité de tous les Juifs du monde et pas seulement des Juifs citoyens israéliens. Y compris les plus hostiles au concept d’État juif. On est étonné que des militants antisionistes de profession, qui se situent généralement à gauche, se montrent aussi étrangers à la dialectique. Car la création de l’État d’Israël a bouleversé le regard que les Juifs portent sur leur propre identité, elle leur a donné une assurance et une force qu’ils ne connaissaient pas jusque-là. Elle les a transformés. C’est aussi pourquoi l’immense majorité d’entre eux est attachée à la vie et à la survie de l’État juif même s’ils n’ont aucune intention de s’y installer. Qu’on interroge les communautés juives de par le monde et l’on verra combien l’attachement à l’État d’Israël est puissant et va au-delà des vicissitudes de tel ou tel gouvernement, il est ancré dans la quasi-totalité des communautés juives de la diaspora en dépit du regard critique qu’elles peuvent porter sur la politique de l’État juif. Son existence est devenue chose vitale pour la quasi-totalité des Juifs du monde. Qu’on se souvienne par exemple des mots de Raymond Aron à ce sujet à la veille de la Guerre des Six Jours en 1967. Trois points me semblent essentiels. En premier lieu, cette augmentation de 74 % en 2018, une année où il n’y a pas eu de conflit majeur entre Israël et ses voisins, malgré quelques flambées de fièvre avec le Hamas à Gaza, rien toutefois qui ressemble à une véritable guerre comme en 2014, et a fortiori comme en 2006 avec le Hezbollah au Liban. Autrement dit, connecter perpétuellement la flambée d’actes antijuifs commis en France avec le conflit israélo-arabe est un leurre. L’antisémitisme qui sévit aujourd’hui en France se nourrit de lui-même, il peut certes être aggravé par l’actualité proche-orientale mais il n’en est pas né. Il n’a pas été créé par elle. Il est endogène. En matière d’actes agressifs, leurs auteurs sont connus et pour l’essentiel, sinon l’immense majorité d’entre eux, ils ne viennent pas de l’extrême droite. On s’abstiendra donc de désigner les antisémites tout en condamnant bien sûr l’antisémitisme. En deuxième lieu, l’arsenal législatif français est suffisant pour punir sévèrement les auteurs d’actes délictueux. C’est au pouvoir politique et à la justice de faire leur travail. De ne pas tergiverser sur la nature antisémite de crimes pour lesquels, on le sait, une dimension antisémite était avérée comme dans le cas de Sarah Halimi dont l’agresseur a traversé l’appartement de ses voisins maliens sans leur faire de mal pour aller frapper « la Juive » de l’immeuble qu’il bat à mort en la traitant de Sheitan (diable en arabe) avant de la défenestrer. Si ce n’était qu’une bouffée délirante, il s’en serait pris au premier voisin venu. Ce ne fut pas le cas : c’était à « la Juive » qu’il en voulait et à elle seule. Et jusqu’à ce jour, près de trois ans après les faits, on continue à débattre du caractère antisémite ou non de l’agression. En d’autres termes, si l’arsenal législatif suffit, mais si les actes ne suivent pas, c’est que la volonté politique est faible et qu’elle s’appuie sur cette maladie répandue mais qui prend en France une forme aiguë : le déni. Cette faiblesse a des causes profondes, mais elle est camouflée par des discours de compassion, souvent émouvants, qui de la droite à la gauche nous signifient que « la France sans les Juifs ne saurait être la France ». Dans la réalité, on a oublié ce sondage récent, il y a deux ans à peine, qui nous montrait que 67 % des Français étaient indifférents au départ des Juifs. Certes, seule une minorité infime s’en réjouissait et un bon tiers le déplorait. Mais le chiffre de 67 % était là, écrasant qui montrait la force de l’indifférence, ce moteur du malheur. Je doute fort que la loi puisse faire quoique en matière d’évolution sociétale. Nous sommes en présence d’une vague de fond, elle porte à terme l’abandon des Juifs sans qu’entre ici une part d’antisémitisme militant. Cet abandon n’est d’ailleurs que le signe avancé d’une fracturation et d’une désaffiliation françaises plus vastes. Mais c’est un autre sujet. En troisième lieu, c’est signe de naïveté que voir dans l’enseignement de la Shoah le moyen de faire reculer l’antisémitisme. Asséner l’histoire de la Shoah aux élèves comme une forme de catéchisme moral censé les protéger de l’antisémitisme est un non-sens. D’une part, parce que la compassion ne protège de rien : dans nos sociétés, une émotion chasse l’autre. D’autre part, parce qu’à force d’asséner cette histoire sous une forme moraliste on semble oublier que tout catéchisme provoque le rejet. On semble oublier aussi qu’on alimente une concurrence mémorielle qui nourrit le communautarisme. Enfin, qu’enfermer le peuple juif dans une essence de victime ne protège pas de la violence, mais tout au contraire y expose davantage. Georges Bensoussan
 Attention: une synthèse peut en cacher une autre !
Au lendemain du véritable triomphe de Boris Johnson et des Conservateurs britanniques …
Et surtout du désastre du leader travailliste Jeremy Corbyn …
Pendant que refusant d’y reconnaitre le funeste résultat de décennies de radicalisation à l’instar de l’ancien maire de Londres travailliste Jonathan Livingstone, Jean-Luc Mélenchon y va de sa dénonciation des tentatives de synthèse de Corbyn avec la gauche modérée du parti …
Et après avoir défilé le mois dernier contre la prétendue islamophobie, achève son coming out antisémite dans une violente dénonciation des « ukases arrogantes (sic) des communautaristes du CRIF » …
Comment ne pas y voir, du Brexit à l’élection de Trump – et avant sa probable réélection – jusqu’au mouvement des gilets jaunes en France, la continuation d’une révolte de toute une classse ouvrière et moyenne abandonnée par la gauche boboïsée et caviardisée ?
Et comment ne pas se réjouir de ces électeurs de cette même classe …
Qui déjouant toutes les accusations de xénophobie et de racisme dont ils sont régulièrement l’objet …
Ont su au nom des valeurs oubliées de leur classe des « trois F » (family, faith and flag) …
Retrouver le simple sens de la décence qu’oublient justement aujourd’hui leurs accusateurs de gauche …
Et démasquer enfin, de Livingstone à Galloway et Corbyn …
Mais aussi de Marx, Proudhon, Guesde, Jaurès et Lénine et Staline …
Cachée derrière le cache-sexe de l’antisionisme qui, puisque l’État d’Israël existe comme le rappelle Georges Bensoussan, ne vise plus que la disparition d’un Etat, et les expulsions, spoliations et massacres qu’elle suppose …
Cette nouvelle et pourtant si ancienne synthèse du fameux socialisme des imbéciles
Contre laquelle toute nouvelle législation comme le catéchisme moral ne fera que relancer le fantasme complotiste …
Entre la prétendue gauche antifasciste et antiraciste et les plus radicaux des immigrés musulmans dont il lorgnent les votes ?

L’antisionisme est-il un antisémitisme ? Grand entretien avec Georges Bensoussan

Désespérant et indéracinable, l’antisémitisme progresse en France, en Europe et aux Etats-Unis. Une résolution assimilant l’antisionisme à l’antisémitisme a été adoptée par le Parlement, suscitant une vive polémique. Le décryptage de Georges Bensoussan.

Cet entretien avec l’historien Georges Bensoussan apporte un nouvel éclairage sur un débat sulfureux. Rappelant que l’antisémitisme se dissimule effectivement derrière le mot sioniste, il doute néanmoins de l’efficacité d’une loi faussement protectrice qui risque au contraire d’alimenter le fantasme complotiste.

Georges Bensoussan est historien et auteur de nombreux ouvrages, tant sur la mémoire du génocide que sur la situation des juifs dans les pays arabes. Après le prémonitoire Les territoires perdus de la République (2002), il a dirigé l’ouvrage Une France soumise (Albin Michel, 2017) A paraître en janvier : L’alliance israélite universelle. Juifs d’Orient, Lumieres d’Occident (Albin Michel).


Marianne : Quel regard portez-vous sur la loi assimilant l’antisionisme à l’antisémitisme, qui fait polémique ?

Georges Bensoussan : Il faut distinguer deux choses. L’antisionisme est-il une forme d’antisémitisme dicible ? Et faut-il légiférer en la matière ? Il y a donc deux réponses distinctes. En premier lieu, définir l’antisionisme : c’est l’hostilité à l’idée d’un État juif. Les premiers milieux antisionistes, c’est à l’intérieur du monde juif qu’on les trouve et de bords opposés, d’une part dans les milieux de l’orthodoxie religieuse, de tendance hassidique ou non, d’autre part dans les milieux de la gauche juive, socialiste révolutionnaire ou issue du mouvement bundiste (le parti socialiste juif ouvrier, ndlr) né en 1897, l’année du premier congrès sioniste. Ce qui n’empêche pas d’ailleurs parallèlement et même immédiatement de voir se déclencher un antisionisme virulent du côté de l’Église catholique et des milieux d’extrême droite. Il faut rappeler que les Protocoles des Sages de Sion ont été rédigés dans la foulée du premier congrès sioniste. Ils sont nés du fantasme d’une domination universelle des Juifs à partir du projet de création d’un « foyer national » juif.

S’il s’agit de s’opposer à la création d’un État juif, l’antisionisme est donc un débat légitime jusqu’au 14 mai 1948. Ensuite, il perd toute raison d’être puisque l’État existe. Si la polémique persiste, alors cela signifie en bonne logique que l’on est opposé à l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Et dans ce cas, on n’est plus dans un débat politique mais dans un projet meurtrier parce que la disparition d’un Etat c’est le mot doucereux pour dire expulsions, spoliations et massacres. En ce sens, et depuis 1948, le débat sur la validité ou non du sionisme est clos puisque l’État est là. On peut certes continuer à discuter à l’infini sur ce qu’a représenté le projet sioniste, son bien-fondé ou non, mais on ne peut plus remettre en cause son résultat pratique, la création d’un Etat et d’une société nouvelle forte de neuf millions d’habitants.

Pour autant, faut-il légiférer ?

Je ne crois pas. L’antisionisme joue d’une ambiguïté, celle de faire croire qu’il se limite à la critique de la politique israélienne quand, en réalité, c’est le droit à l’existence de ce pays que l’antisionisme remet en cause, quelle que soit la politique de ses dirigeants et les concessions qu’ils feront demain. La critique de la politique israélienne, c’est autre chose, ce n’est pas de l’antisionisme ni de l’antisémitisme mais tout simplement la critique légitime de la politique d’un État. Légiférer dans ce domaine est une erreur dès lors que l’on n’a pas expliqué correctement ce que recouvrait le mot antisionisme, un appel à la destruction d’un État et non la critique de sa politique. Légiférer va conférer en effet un caractère intouchable à l’État juif qui ne peut qu’alimenter le fantasme complotiste. Il vaut mieux expliquer comment l’antisémitisme qui n’est plus dicible depuis Auschwitz se dissimule derrière le mot sioniste, comment le mot juif est systématiquement remplacé par le mot sioniste dans une démarche mystificatrice. Pour percer à jour cette supercherie intellectuelle, l’arsenal législatif contre l’antisémitisme suffisait amplement.

Je crois surtout que la diabolisation de l’État d’Israël est l’héritage laissé par l’intense propagande communiste

Reste aussi qu’on aura mis cinquante ans à découvrir cette mystification. Léon Poliakov l’avait dit dès 1968, l’antisionisme militant était le refus à peine masqué de l’existence d’un Etat juif. Et plus encore dix ans plus tard le philosophe Vladimir Jankélévitch qui s’exprimait en ces termes : « L’antisionisme est la trouvaille miraculeuse, l’aubaine providentielle qui réconcilie la gauche anti-impérialiste et la droite antisémite ; (il) donne la permission d’être démocratiquement antisémite. Qui dit mieux ? Il est désormais possible de haïr les Juifs au nom du progressisme ! Il y a de quoi avoir le vertige : ce renversement bienvenu, cette introuvable inversion ne peuvent qu’enfermer Israël dans une nouvelle solitude [1]. »

Cette mesure votée à l’instigation du député Sylvain Maillard souhaitait lutter contre une préoccupante diabolisation d’Israël…

La doxa actuelle a fait de l’antisionisme un de ses credo de base pour des raisons profondes. Je ne pense pas qu’une loi puisse infléchir cette tendance. Il est préférable de la comprendre pour désamorcer la part inquiétante de ce raisonnement spécieux.

Je crois surtout que la diabolisation de l’État d’Israël est l’héritage laissé par l’intense propagande communiste, aujourd’hui oubliée, en particulier celle de l’ex-Union soviétique qui entre les années 1950 et 1990, a produit une immense « littérature » anti-israélienne imprégnée du vieil antisémitisme russe mâtiné d’anticapitalisme.

La diabolisation de l’État juif tient aussi au nouveau rapport de force démographique qui s’est instauré en Europe par le biais d’une immigration arabo-musulmane importante, en particulier en France, le pays qui abrite la plus importante communauté musulmane d’Europe (25% des musulmans d’Europe vivent en France) comme aussi la plus importante communauté juive. Dans leur immense majorité, cette immigration vient du monde arabe et en particulier du Maghreb où la haine de l’État d’Israël est diffuse et quotidienne, en particulier en Algérie.

D’autres facteurs d’explication ne s’y ajoutent-ils pas ? La haine de l’État d’Israël renvoie également à une disposition très ancienne dans la culture occidentale…

Oui : la stigmatisation du signe juif. Par surcroit, cette récusation a été sourdement et silencieusement favorisée par la culpabilité née de la Shoah. Dans un autre ordre d’idées, l’État d’Israël a été fondé après la Seconde Guerre mondiale à contre-courant du principe de l’État-nation. Il représente le principe même de l’identité nationale, de la filiation et des racines, un principe qui a été puissamment récusé en Europe par le multiculturalisme dominant. On en veut à l’Etat juif de représenter le principe de l’État-nation dont beaucoup considèrent qu’il est porteur de guerre. D’un autre bord, on lui en veut aussi d’avoir perpétué ce qui est perdu en Europe aujourd’hui et dont on garde une nostalgie mais qui est difficile à dire en ce temps de pensée correcte : l’identité culturelle, l’enracinement et l’amour de la patrie. Des mots qui pourraient vous classer d’emblée à l’extrême droite dans ce tribunal permanent qu’est devenue la vie intellectuelle dans la France d’aujourd’hui.

La diabolisation de l’État juif tient aussi au nouveau rapport de force démographique qui s’est instauré en Europe par le biais d’une immigration arabo-musulmane importante, en particulier en France

Je reviens sur cette diabolisation de l’État d’Israël comme forme sécularisée, profane et dicible, de l’antique stigmatisation du signe juif qui a participé à la matrice culturelle de l’Europe chrétienne. La restauration de l’indépendance nationale juive est le démenti infligé à l’abaissement d’Israël, partie intrinsèque de la théologie chrétienne comme de la théologie musulmane. Malédiction de l’origine… Il est difficile de sortir de ce moule. Ce n’est toutefois pas impossible à la condition de mettre les mots pour ne plus être parlé par ces mythologies.

L’antisionisme est par ailleurs hautement revendiqué par des cercles juifs, se proclamant tels et se réclamant des souffrances passées pour stigmatiser l’État hébreu…

Il faut faire ici un sort particulier à la passion anti-israélienne qui anime certains Juifs de la diaspora dans leur relation torturée à leur identité juive. Je trouve particulièrement fallacieux d’avancer, par exemple, que les Juifs qui ne vivent pas en Israël sont antisionistes. Non, ils sont au mieux a-sionistes, certainement pas antisionistes. Avoir fait un autre choix que celui de s’établir dans l’État d’Israël ne signifie pas qu’on récuse le projet sioniste, mais simplement qu’on a d’autres attaches, d’autres enracinements, d’autres intérêts et d’autres filiations qui nous interdisent d’émigrer. Ce tour de passe-passe sémantique (tout Juif qui n’habite pas Israël est décrété « antisioniste ») participe d’une logique strictement idéologique. Près de 52% des Juifs du monde vivent aujourd’hui en Israël. En 1948, c’était à peine 5%. L’effectif du peuple juif dans le monde n’est pas de seize millions d’individus mais de treize millions au maximum. Sur ce chiffre, plus de 6,5 millions vivent aujourd’hui dans l’État juif.

La seconde incohérence est de continuer à raisonner comme à l’époque d’avant l’État juif. Car la naissance de l’État d’Israël a modifié considérablement l’identité juive, l’identité de tous les Juifs du monde et pas seulement des Juifs citoyens israéliens. Y compris les plus hostiles au concept d’État juif. On est étonné que des militants antisionistes de profession, qui se situent généralement à gauche, se montrent aussi étrangers à la dialectique. Car la création de l’État d’Israël a bouleversé le regard que les Juifs portent sur leur propre identité, elle leur a donné une assurance et une force qu’ils ne connaissaient pas jusque-là. Elle les a transformé. C’est aussi pourquoi l’immense majorité d’entre eux est attachée à la vie et à la survie de l’État juif même s’ils n’ont aucune intention de s’y installer. Qu’on interroge les communautés juives de par le monde et l’on verra combien l’attachement à l’État d’Israël est puissant et va au-delà des vicissitudes de tel ou tel gouvernement, il est ancré dans la quasi-totalité des communautés juives de la diaspora en dépit du regard critique qu’elles peuvent porter sur la politique de l’État juif. Son existence est devenue chose vitale pour la quasi-totalité des Juifs du monde. Qu’on se souvienne par exemple des mots de Raymond Aron à ce sujet à la veille de la Guerre des Six Jours en 1967.

Les actes antisémites ont augmenté de 74 % en 2018. Croyez-vous à des mesures capables d’endiguer le phénomène ? Si oui, lesquelles ?

Trois points me semblent essentiels.

En premier lieu, cette augmentation de 74 % en 2018, une année où il n’y a pas eu de conflit majeur entre Israël et ses voisins, malgré quelques flambées de fièvre avec le Hamas à Gaza, rien toutefois qui ressemble à une véritable guerre comme en 2014, et a fortiori comme en 2006 avec le Hezbollah au Liban. Autrement dit, connecter perpétuellement la flambée d’actes antijuifs commis en France avec le conflit israélo-arabe est un leurre. L’antisémitisme qui sévit aujourd’hui en France se nourrit de lui-même, il peut certes être aggravé par l’actualité proche-orientale mais il n’en est pas né. Il n’a pas été créé par elle. Il est endogène. En matière d’actes agressifs, leurs auteurs sont connus et pour l’essentiel, sinon l’immense majorité d’entre eux, ils ne viennent pas de l’extrême droite. On s’abstiendra donc de désigner les antisémites tout en condamnant bien sûr l’antisémitisme.

C’est au pouvoir politique et à la justice de faire leur travail. De ne pas tergiverser sur la nature antisémite de crimes pour lesquels, on le sait, une dimension antisémite était avérée comme dans le cas de Sarah Halimi

En deuxième lieu, l’arsenal législatif français est suffisant pour punir sévèrement les auteurs d’actes délictueux. C’est au pouvoir politique et à la justice de faire leur travail. De ne pas tergiverser sur la nature antisémite de crimes pour lesquels, on le sait, une dimension antisémite était avérée comme dans le cas de Sarah Halimi dont l’agresseur a traversé l’appartement de ses voisins maliens sans leur faire de mal pour aller frapper « la Juive » de l’immeuble qu’il bat à mort en la traitant de Sheitan (diable en arabe) avant de la défenestrer. Si ce n’était qu’une bouffée délirante, il s’en serait pris au premier voisin venu. Ce ne fut pas le cas : c’était à « la Juive » qu’il en voulait et à elle seule. Et jusqu’à ce jour, près de trois ans après les faits, on continue à débattre du caractère antisémite ou non de l’agression.

En d’autres termes, si l’arsenal législatif suffit, mais si les actes ne suivent pas, c’est que la volonté politique est faible et qu’elle s’appuie sur cette maladie répandue mais qui prend en France une forme aiguë : le déni. Cette faiblesse a des causes profondes, mais elle est camouflée par des discours de compassion, souvent émouvants, qui de la droite à la gauche nous signifient que « la France sans les Juifs ne saurait être la France ». Dans la réalité, on a oublié ce sondage récent, il y a deux ans à peine, qui nous montrait que 67 % des Français étaient indifférents au départ des Juifs. Certes, seule une minorité infime s’en réjouissait et un bon tiers le déplorait. Mais le chiffre de 67 % était là, écrasant qui montrait la force de l’indifférence, ce moteur du malheur.

Je doute fort que la loi puisse faire quoique en matière d’évolution sociétale. Nous sommes en présence d’une vague de fond, elle porte à terme l’abandon des Juifs sans qu’entre ici une part d’antisémitisme militant. Cet abandon n’est d’ailleurs que le signe avancé d’une fracturation et d’une désaffiliation françaises plus vastes. Mais c’est un autre sujet.

Enfermer le peuple juif dans une essence de victime ne protège pas de la violence, mais tout au contraire y expose davantage

En troisième lieu, c’est signe de naïveté que voir dans l’enseignement de la Shoah le moyen de faire reculer l’antisémitisme. Asséner l’histoire de la Shoah aux élèves comme une forme de catéchisme moral censé les protéger de l’antisémitisme est un non-sens. D’une part, parce que la compassion ne protège de rien : dans nos sociétés, une émotion chasse l’autre. D’autre part, parce qu’à force d’asséner cette histoire sous une forme moraliste on semble oublier que tout catéchisme provoque le rejet. On semble oublier aussi qu’on alimente une concurrence mémorielle qui nourrit le communautarisme. Enfin, qu’enfermer le peuple juif dans une essence de victime ne protège pas de la violence, mais tout au contraire y expose davantage.


[1] In Quelque part dans l’inachevé, entretiens avec Béatrice Berlowitz,Gallimard, 1978, p.143.

 Voir aussi:

Mélenchon et le poison antisémite : la fin d’un républicain

Les démons antisémites de la gauche anticapitaliste ont décidément du mal à mourir. Jean-Luc Mélenchon vient d’y ajouter sa pierre.

La peste ou le choléra ? C’est un peu le choix qui s’offrait aux Britanniques opposés au Brexit lors du vote pour les législatives du 12 décembre dernier. Impossible de finasser avec un scrutin à un tour, il fallait voter utile. Mais entre un Corbyn sur une ligne archéo-socialiste et démagogique, nageant dans les eaux troubles de l’antisémitisme, et un Boris Johnson déterminé à mener le Brexit jusqu’à bout, en trouvant un accord avec l’Union européenne, avait-on vraiment le choix ?

On peut déplorer la victoire éclatante des conservateurs lorsqu’on est attaché à l’Europe et qu’on regrette le Brexit. On ne peut que se réjouir de l’échec cuisant de Jeremy Corbyn lorsqu’on est attaché à l’Europe démocratique. La Grande-Bretagne, qui incarna l’honneur de l’Europe dans la bataille contre le nazisme, gouvernée par un antisémite ? Un scénario glaçant qui heureusement ne s’est pas réalisé.

« Ukases arrogantes des communautaristes du CRIF »

Commentant sur son blog la défaite de Jeremy Corbyn, son compagnon de lutte, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, commence par une analyse politique qui ne manque pas d’intérêt. À l’inverse de ceux qui pensent que c’est le radicalisme de Jeremy Corbyn qui l’a mené à la défaite, le patron de la France insoumise estime au contraire que c’est parce qu’il n’a pas osé être l’homme d’un véritable Brexit de gauche qu’il a perdu. Le flou, les tentatives de rapprochement et de synthèse avec la gauche modérée du parti, les ambivalences de son discours : tout cela a désarçonné le vote populaire qui a préféré (en partie) se rallier au Brexit clair et net de Boris Johnson.

Et puis brusquement, Mélenchon commet la faute : « Corbyn a dû subir sans secours la grossière accusation d’antisémitisme à travers le grand rabbin d’Angleterre et les divers réseaux d’influence du Likoud (parti d’extrême droite de Netanyahou en Israël). Au lieu de riposter, il a passé son temps à s’excuser et à donner des gages. Dans les deux cas il a affiché une faiblesse qui a inquiété les secteurs populaires ». Et pour finir la grandiose estocade : « Retraite à point, Europe allemande et néolibérale, capitalisme vert, génuflexion devant les ukases arrogantes des communautaristes du CRIF : c’est non. Et non c’est non. »

Le CRIF ? Le Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France ? Le CRIF, ennemi du peuple français comme le grand rabbin d’Angleterre et les réseaux du Likoud sont les ennemis du peuple anglais ? Le CRIF, responsable du malheur du peuple au même titre que les institutions européennes ? Que l’Allemagne honnie ? Le CRIF, allié du capitalisme et de l’ultralibéralisme ?

Les démons antisémites de la gauche anticapitaliste

Il ne manque plus qu’un montage photo avec la banque Rothschild, les sacs de dollars et le drapeau israélien ; mais cela a déjà été fait en 2017 par Gérard Filoche, qui avait posté sur son compte Twitter un consternant visuel accusant Emmanuel Macron de collusion avec le capital. (Tweet qu’il avait retiré face au tollé provoqué.)

Les démons antisémites de la gauche anticapitaliste (celle de Guesde, de Proudhon et même de Jaurès) ont décidément du mal à mourir. Jean-Luc Mélenchon vient d’y ajouter sa pierre. Car contrairement à ce qu’affirme le leader de la France insoumise, Jeremy Corbyn n’a pas dû « subir » une grossière accusation d’antisémitisme « à travers le grand rabbin d’Angleterre ». Jeremy Corbyn a un lourd passif de déclarations antisémites et de proximité avec des antisémites et des négationnistes notoires.

«  La dérive antisémite du parti travailliste n’est pas un fantasme : sa haine d’Israël et son obsession pro-palestinienne ont conduit aux extrêmes. »

La dérive antisémite du parti travailliste n’est pas un fantasme : sa haine d’Israël et son obsession pro-palestinienne ont conduit aux extrêmes. Des militants juifs ont été chassés du parti, soupçonnés de sionisme. Luciana Berger, dont le grand-oncle fut le ministre travailliste de la nationalisation du charbon, a quitté le parti.

Tout comme Louise Ellman, connue pour son combat de défense de l’hôpital public de Liverpool, qui démissionna après 55 ans de militantisme, ne supportant plus d’être la cible des militants pro-palestiniens à l’intérieur du parti. Meurtris par les commentaires antisémites virulents postés sur Facebook par les militants et sympathisants du Labour, de nombreux juifs ont quitté le Labour, devenu pour eux « institutionnellement antisémite ».

Le Labour de Corbyn s’est compromis dans l’antisémitisme

Jeremy Corbyn et sa grande bienveillance pour le Hamas et le Hezbollah. Jeremy Corbyn déposant une gerbe de fleurs sur la tombe des terroristes du groupe Septembre Noir, responsables de la mort de 11 athlètes israéliens aux Jeux olympiques de Munich en 1972.

Jeremy Corbyn qui déclarait en 2013 : « Les sionistes britanniques ont clairement deux problèmes. Premièrement, ils ne veulent pas étudier l’histoire et deuxièmement, bien qu’ayant vécu dans ce pays depuis très longtemps, probablement toute leur vie, ils ne comprennent pas non plus l’ironie anglaise. » Comprendre : ce pays qui n’est pas le leur, cette culture qui n’est pas la leur, puisqu’ils sont juifs.

« Jean-Luc Mélenchon a brûlé ses derniers vaisseaux républicains. Il a basculé dans le clientélisme de bas étage. »

Tout cela n’a rien à voir avec une « grossière » campagne d’intimidation du grand rabbin d’Angleterre. Tout cela constitue une faute morale du Labour qui s’est compromis dans l’antisémitisme depuis que Corbyn en a pris la tête. Le nier est de l’aveuglement idéologique. Dénoncer le lobby juif représenté par le CRIF, allié de la finance et ennemi du peuple, c’est exactement se mettre au même niveau que Corbyn.

Qu’espère Jean-Luc Mélenchon ? Sauver son parti en se ralliant à la bannière de l’antisionisme dont on sait qu’il représente une permission d’être « démocratiquement antisémite » selon la formule utilisée en 1978 par le philosophe Vladimir Jankélévitch : « L’antisionisme est la trouvaille miraculeuse, l’aubaine providentielle qui réconcilie la gauche anti-impérialiste et la droite antisémite ; (il) donne la permission d’être démocratiquement antisémite. » (1)

Il fut un temps où la radicalité de la France insoumise, son lyrisme révolutionnaire, sa passion robespierriste n’empêchaient pas de nous imaginer, sur quelques points essentiels comme la laïcité, l’égalité hommes-femmes, le combat contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme, dans une même famille républicaine. La défense par Jean-Luc Mélenchon de la République, de la nation, des valeurs humanistes de la France était, pensait-on, sincère. Cette époque est révolue. Jean-Luc Mélenchon a perdu tous ses repères.

La France insoumise préfère le déshonneur à ses valeurs pour éviter l’échec. Elle aura les deux.

Il a brûlé ses derniers vaisseaux républicains. Il a basculé dans le clientélisme de bas étage. Il s’est définitivement rallié à l’aile la plus anti-républicaine de son parti. Celle de l’islamo-gauchisme clientéliste qui espère rallier les voix des musulmans en plébiscitant la lutte contre l’« islamophobie », alors que ce terme est une génuflexion de la gauche envers la religion et non pas un engagement contre le racisme.

Celle qui pointe le « lobby juif et sioniste » de façon infamante en espérant caresser dans le sens du poil ceux qui, dans les quartiers, sont les familiers de ces thèses antisémites. Celle du courant décolonialiste « racisé », acquis aux thèses indigénistes, découpant la France en communautés. Celle du courant qui n’hésite pas à creuser les haines identitaires, à pêcher sur les terres du Rassemblement national, à renier l’universalisme dont la France des Lumières et la gauche humaniste sont issues.

La France insoumise espère-t-elle ainsi freiner la dégringolada qu’elle subit aux élections depuis deux ans ? C’est un calcul perdant. Elle préfère le déshonneur à ses valeurs pour éviter l’échec. Elle aura les deux.

1 Cité par George Bensoussan dans l’interview réalisée par Martine Gozlan in Marianne, 14 décembre 2019.

 Voir de plus:

L’antisémitisme, une histoire vieille comme la gauche

FIGAROVOX/ANALYSE – Bernard Carayon, auteur de Comment la gauche a kidnappé Jaurès, rappelle à quel point l’antisémitisme a pu trouver sa place dans la pensée de certains hommes de gauche.

Bernard Carayon

Bernard Carayon est avocat, maire (LR) de Lavaur et ancien député du Tarn. Il est l’auteur de Comment la gauche a kidnappé Jaurès (Privat, 2014).


L’antisémitisme de la gauche est un sujet tabou. Depuis longtemps, elle s’est dressée en pourfendeuse du racisme, forcément de droite, oubliant, par exemple, que la chambre du Front Populaire avait voté les pleins pouvoirs à Pétain, vite rejoint à Vichy par Laval, Déat, Marquet, Doriot, Luchaire, Belin et Bousquet. S’il y eut un antijudaïsme catholique, des antisémitismes agnostique (Voltaire) et protestant (Luther), l’un des plus virulents avec celui de l’extrême droite fut révolutionnaire et socialiste. Dans La question juive, Marx dénonce «l’essence du judaïsme et la racine de l’âme juive, l’opportunité et l’intérêt personnel qui se manifeste dans la soif de l’argent». Dans une lettre à Engels, il décrit le socialiste allemand Ferdinand Lassalle comme «un vrai juif de la frontière slave, (…) sa manie de masquer le juif crasseux de Breslau sous toutes sortes de pommades et de fard».

Proudhon, qui va inspirer Jaurès, dénonce «l’ennemi du genre humain», une «race» qu’ «il faut renvoyer en Asie ou exterminer» . Staline, idole, sa vie entière, du PCF, lance en 1948 une campagne «anti-cosmopolite», prélude aux exécutions des «blouses blanches» et des intellectuels juifs «incapables de comprendre le caractère national russe».

Parmi les figures emblématiques de l’antisémitisme de gauche, Jaurès tient une place de choix.

Dans l’entre-deux-guerres, les «néo-socialistes», tous pacifistes, sont aussi à l’œuvre chez nous: Déat souligne le «byzantinisme» de Léon Blum et sa «passivité tout orientale» ; c’est l’époque où la SFIO est accusée de subir une «dictature juive», et que le maire de Bordeaux, Marquet, lui reproche de «pousser à la guerre pour l’URSS et la juiverie».

Mais parmi les figures emblématiques de l’antisémitisme de gauche, Jaurès tient une place de choix. Le sujet est tabou par excellence, tant l’idole du socialisme français est encaustiquée! Son journal, La Petite République, désigne le député Reinach comme un «juif ignoble» . Lors de son voyage en Algérie, en avril 1895, Jaurès décrit les juifs qui, «par l’usure, l’infatigable activité commerciale et l’abus de l’influence politique, accaparent peu à peu la fortune, le commerce, les emplois publics (…). Ils tiennent une grande partie de la presse, les grandes institutions financières, et quand ils n’ont pu agir sur les électeurs, ils agissent sur les élus» . Son historien «officiel», Gilles Candar, excusera la diatribe par la «fatigue» de son auteur! L’explication, si facile, par le «contexte» ne tient pas: Clemenceau ne tiendra jamais de tels propos.

Dans son discours au Tivoli en 1898, Jaurès est plus caricatural encore: «nous savons bien que la race juive, concentrée, passionnée, subtile, toujours dévorée par une sorte de fièvre du gain quand ce n’est pas par la force du prophétisme, (…) manie avec une particulière habileté le mécanisme capitaliste, mécanisme de rapine, de mensonge, de corset, d’extorsion» . Longtemps convaincu de la culpabilité de Dreyfus, qui aurait échappé à la peine capitale grâce «au prodigieux déploiement de la puissance juive», Jaurès dénonce à la tribune de la Chambre la «bande cosmopolite»! Il sera d’ailleurs sanctionné pour ses propos! Après avoir, une dernière fois, souligné que «l’odeur du ghetto est souvent nauséabonde» , Jaurès opère un revirement tardif lors du procès de Zola, assigné en Justice par le Président Félix Faure en représailles du «J’accuse» paru dans L’Aurore. Devenu dreyfusard, Jaurès, le repenti, obtiendra le soutien financier magnanime du banquier Louis Dreyfus pour son journal l’Humanité…

Anne Hidalgo envisageait de débaptiser la rue Alain pour les accents antisémites du journal intime du philosophe. Le fera-t-elle aussi pour Jaurès?

Un doute sur le diagnostic ? Il est possible de demander une nouvelle analyse.

On se souviendra seulement que les enfants de Marx ont pris, comme Edwy Plenel la défense des terroristes de Septembre Noir.

L’antisionisme est-il aujourd’hui pour les islamo-gauchistes le cache-sexe de l’antisémitisme? La cause palestinienne est en tout cas mal servie! On se souviendra seulement que les enfants de Marx ont pris, comme Edwy Plenel, dans son journal «Rouge», la défense «inconditionnelle» des terroristes de Septembre Noir. Ceux qui, en 1973, aux JO de Munich, ont assassiné onze athlètes israéliens. Un acte «justifié», disait Sartre, parce que c’étaient des soldats.

Voir encore:

Mélenchon et les élections britanniques : le grand rabbin, le Crif et le Likoud ont-ils fait chuter la gauche ?

Hugues Serraf
14 décembre 2019

Je sais bien que les gens en ont par dessus de la tête de ces juifs qui se plaignent de l’antisémitisme, comme s’il n’y avait pas de trucs plus importants dans la vie. Qu’un type qui avait un peu abusé du chichon jette une vieille dame par dessus son balcon en hurlant qu’elle est le diable, qu’un autre mitraille des petits enfants dans une école confessionnelle ou qu’un troisième fasse un carton sur les clients d’un supermarché casher, et paf, les voilà à nouveau en train de jérémier sur les plateaux de télé…

Forcément, ça agace.

Regardez les élections en Grande-Bretagne, la gauche les perd dans les grandes largeurs, vraisemblablement parce que son programme de collectivisation des moyens de production était naze et son leader aussi charismatique et enthousiasmant qu’un bonnet de nuit en pilou, eh bien qui entend-on pousser des hauts-cris ? Les juifs. Et pourquoi donc ? Parce que pour l’état-major du Labour, les porteurs de kippa seraient en réalité les deus ex machina de la défaite.

Mais bon sang, si on ne peut plus accuser les juifs d’être derrière tout ce qui ne nous fait pas plaisir dans la vie sans les entendre se lamenter devant leur mur, où va-t-on ?

Et puis, franchement, il doit avoir un peu raison quelque part, l’ancien maire de Londres Ken Livingstone, lorsqu’il évoque ce satané « vote juif » sans lequel Corbyn serait aujourd’hui Premier ministre à la place de cette crapule de Boris Johnson. D’accord, il n’y a que 300 000 juifs dans tout le pays, les socialistes ont perdu par 4 millions de voix, mais on imagine tout de même que pour un « peuple élu », manipuler un scrutin doit être un jeu d’enfant…

D’ailleurs, même notre gauche radicale à nous est d’accord avec l’analyse : les juifs, ils sont tous de droite. Ces Marx, ces Trotski, ces Mendès-France, ces Krivine, ces Cohn-Bendit, ces Bernie Sanders… Tous des fachos notoires. Du coup, on comprend que Mélenchon pousse un coup de gueule sur son blog en commentant le terrible résultat : chez nos voisins du dessus, la gauche a été laminée à cause du « grand rabbin et des réseaux d’influence du Likoud » (un parti politique israélien dont tous les juifs à travers le monde deviennent membres de droit dès leur circoncision). Mieux encore, c’est le Crif français, avec ses « oukases arrogantes » qui imposent « des génuflexions », qui a certainement tenu la main de ces pauvres électeurs britanniques. Fichu cosmopolitisme…

D’autant plus que le point de vue de l’insoumis en chef doit être pas mal répandu : zéro réaction chez nos politiques de droite ou de gauche à ses propos ; pas le moindre froncement de sourcil dans la presse « comme il faut »… Un vrai « détail de l’histoire », son commentaire outragé façon Protocole des sages de Sion.

Alors, est-ce qu’il est antisémite, le Méluche ? Au sens où, il rêverait d’une solution ultime au problème que pose la terrible engeance dont j’ai moi-même presque honte de faire partie ? Évidemment non. Les antisémites, les vrais, sont de droite (comme les juifs d’ailleurs, mais c’est pour ça qu’on a inventé le mot paradoxe). Non, il n’est pas antisémite. Il constate juste que les juifs utilisent leurs immenses moyens de pression financiers et médiatiques pour accomplir leurs noirs desseins colonialistes et qu’il est temps d’arrêter de se mettre à plat ventre devant eux par faiblesse. C’est tout. On ne va pas en faire un cheddar.

Mélenchon, en fait, il dit juste tout haut ce que les gens pensent tout bas, comme le suggérait un autre bateleur d’estrade autrefois. Il dit juste que si Corbyn a perdu, c’est à cause du Crif, des rabbins, du Likoud et des oukases ! Prenez-vous ça dans la gueule, les juifs ! Si vous pensez vraiment qu’on n’a pas vu votre petit jeu ! Retournez manger votre pain azyme dans vos synagogues et arrêtez de vous mettre en travers de la justice sociale, non mais !

Corbyn : la synthèse mène au désastre

J’avoue que je ne suis pas étonné par le terrible revers électoral du parti travailliste et de Jeremy Corbyn. Il doit servir de leçon.

Première leçon : l’avant-gardisme bien-pensant ne mène nulle part. Ils ont fait du Tsípras avant même d’être élu. Annoncer qu’il voulait un nouveau référendum sur le Brexit, c’était inviter ceux qui veulent le Brexit à voter directement pour ceux qui le mettent en œuvre. Surtout que Corbyn a précisé qu’en cas de vote, il ne s’en mêlerait pas. On ne pouvait faire pire. À quoi bon des leaders qui ne s’engagent pas à propos de l’avenir de leur pays ? Les bastions ouvriers du nord qui votaient PS ont basculé dans le vote conservateur parce que ceux-ci leur garantissaient le Brexit. C’était toujours ça de pris !

Deuxième leçon. Pourquoi ont-ils fait une aussi grossière faute ? C’est le résultat des jeux d’appareils internes au Labour. Le Labour, c’est le PS anglais. Corbyn aurait du le refondre totalement au lieu de composer avec lui. Ou bien le quitter. Les vieux appareils bureaucratiques comme le Labour Party produisent des jeux d’appareils et rien de plus. Construire son raisonnement politique en fonction des points d’équilibre interne, c’est se tromper à coup sûr. Les problèmes comme les solutions sont dans les masses populaires, leurs attentes, leur volonté, leurs besoins. C’est là que Corbyn aurait du aller chercher ses consignes. Il a voulu plaire aux importants. En vain.

Corbyn a passé son temps à se faire insulter et tirer dans le dos par une poignée de députés blairistes. Au lieu de riposter, il a composé. Il a du subir sans secours la grossière accusation d’antisémitisme à travers le grand rabbin d’Angleterre et les divers réseaux d’influence du Likoud (parti d’extrême droite de Netanyahou en Israël). Au lieu de riposter, il a passé son temps à s’excuser et à donner des gages. Dans les deux cas il a affiché une faiblesse qui a inquiété les secteurs populaires.

Cette envie de bonne réputation, je l’ai vue de près. Quand je lui ai rendu visite, nous avons parlé en espagnol de ce qui se passait dans le monde. Il a publié un communiqué à ma sortie se félicitant de notre intérêt commun pour l’investissement public dans les entreprises. Ce genre de façon, je l’ai connu souvent. À l’étranger et en France. Ça ne mène nulle part ceux qui les adoptent. Au contraire. Les gens sérieux regardent en coin et comprennent qu’il y a anguille sous roche. Comment croire que nous ayons discuté d’investissement public alors que reposait sur nous l’espoir d’une bascule de notre famille dans le camp du changement des règles du jeu du monde ?

Tel est le prix pour les « synthèses » sous toutes les latitudes. Ceux qui voudraient nous y ramener en France perdent leur temps. En tous cas je n’y céderai jamais pour ma part. Retraite à point, Europe allemande et néolibérale, capitalisme vert, génuflexion devant les ukases arrogante des communautaristes du CRIF : c’est non. Et non c’est non.

Voir par ailleurs:

Britain’s Labour Party Got Woke—And Now It’s Broke

Quillette
December 13, 2019

The Conservatives’ resounding victory in yesterday’s British General Election won’t come as a surprise to anyone who spent time canvassing in the ‘Red Wall.’ That’s the name given to a thick wedge of seats in the Midlands and North of England, some of which have been held by the Labour Party for over 75 years. Seats like Penistone and Stockbridge in Sheffield, once the home of the British steel industry, and Bishop Auckland in County Durham, a former coal town. Both turned blue in this election, as did a large number of seats in Labour’s post-industrial heartland. Not so much a ‘Red Wall’ now as a Mondrian painting made up of blue and red squares. It was the voters in those constituencies—many of them working minimum wage jobs and living in social housing—that provided Boris Johnson’s Conservatives with their highest number of seats since 1983.

Not that they have much love for the blond-haired leader. A friend of mine was standing as the Conservative candidate in Newcastle upon Tyne North, where the Labour incumbent won a 10,000 majority two years ago, and I knocked on a few doors for him last week. Every person I spoke to said they were going to vote Tory. In some cases, it was because they wanted to “get Brexit done,” which has been the Conservatives’ endlessly repeated campaign slogan over the past six weeks, but in others it was because of their visceral dislike for Labour’s leader.

“Most people I know who used to be staunch Labour are now saying no way Jeremy Corbyn,” said Steve Hurt, an engineer. “It’s not our party any more. Same label, different bottle.”

According to the activist I was with, that had been the reaction wherever he went. He had knocked on 100 doors in a council estate earlier that day and all but three people he’d spoken to told him they intended to vote Conservative—and this in a city where 26 per cent of the population are among the most deprived in England. I asked why, if these electors disliked Corbyn, they didn’t simply abstain? Why were they planning to brave the elements on a cold day in December to vote for a party led by an old Etonian toff?

“Because they hate Corbyn that much,” he said. “The biggest message they can send to him is to elect a Tory government.”

It’s the same story across England—working class electors deserting Labour en masse. We won’t have a breakdown of how people voted according to income and occupation for a while yet, but a few of the opinion polls in the run-up to election day contained some astonishing findings. For instance, a Deltapoll survey for the Mail on Sunday last month showed the Conservatives outpolling Labour by 49 per cent to 23 per cent in the C2DE social grades—the bottom half of the National Readership Survey classification system that ranks people according to their occupation. That is to say, people in the bottom half of the NRS distribution—skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers, state pensioners and people on benefits—were intending to vote Conservative rather than Labour by a ratio of more than two to one. (Exit polls suggest the actual figure was closer to 1.5 to one.)

A taste of things to come was provided on Tuesday when a clandestine recording was released of Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health spokesman, telling a friend how “dire” things were for the party outside urban, metropolitan areas. “It’s abysmal out there,” he said. “They can’t stand Corbyn and they think Labour’s blocked Brexit.”

Ashworth described the electoral map of Britain as “topsy turvey,” a reference not just to the anticipated losses in traditional Labour areas, but to the uptick in support for Labour in middle class cities like Canterbury. One of the other startling features of the opinion polls was Labour’s lead among graduates. As a general rule, the higher the concentration of graduates in an area, the more likely it was to skew Left on Thursday—and vice versa. (Labour held on to Canterbury.)

The crumbling of the ‘Red Wall’ is the big story of this election and some commentators are describing it as a “one off.” The conventional wisdom is that working class voters have “lent” their votes to the Conservatives and, barring an upset, will give them back next time round. It’s Brexit, supposedly, that has been the game-changer—an excuse leapt on by Corbyn’s outriders in the media, who are loathe to blame Labour’s defeat on their man.

If you look at the working class constituencies that turned blue, most of them voted to leave the European Union in 2016 by a significant margin—Great Grimsby, for instance, an English sea port in Yorkshire, where Leave outpolled Remain by 71.45 to 28.55 per cent. Labour’s problem, according to this analysis, is that it didn’t commit to taking Britain out of the EU during the campaign but instead said it would negotiate a new exit deal and then hold a second referendum in which the public would be able to choose between that deal and Remain. This fudge may have been enough to keep graduates on side, but it alienated working class Leave voters in England’s rust belt.

This analysis doesn’t bear much scrutiny. To begin with, the desertion of Labour by its working class supporters—and its increasing popularity with more affluent, better educated voters—is a long-term trend, not an aberration. The disappearance of Labour’s traditional base isn’t just the story of this election, but one of the main themes of Britain’s post-war political history. At its height, Labour managed to assemble a coalition of university-educated liberals in London and the South and low-income voters in Britain’s industrial heartlands in the Midlands and the North—“between Hampstead and Hull,” as the saying goes. But mass immigration and globalization have driven a wedge between Labour’s middle class and working class supporters, as has Britain’s growing welfare bill and its membership of the European Union.

At the October election in 1974, 49 per cent of skilled workers (C2) and 57 per cent of semi-skilled and unskilled workers (DE) voted Labour; by 2010, those numbers had fallen to 29 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Among middle class voters (ABC1), support for the Conservatives fell over the same time period from 56 per cent in 1974 to 39 per cent in 2010. In 1974, Labour enjoyed a 23-point lead among skilled working class voters (C2), but by 2010 the Conservatives had overtaken them in this demo to lead by eight points—a pattern repeated in 2017. Among graduates, by contrast, Labour led by 17 points in 2017, up from a two-point lead in 2015. (See this data table compiled by Ipsos MORI, a polling company.)

Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have talked a good deal about winning back these working class voters, but his policy positions haven’t been designed to appeal to them. I’m not just talking about his ambivalence on Brexit—there’s a widespread feeling among voters who value flag, faith and family that Corbyn isn’t one of them. Before he became Labour leader in 2015, he was an energetic protestor against nearly every armed conflict Britain has been involved in since Suez, including the Falklands War. He’s also called for the abandonment of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, the withdrawal of the UK from NATO and the dismantling of our security services—not to mention declining to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain service in 2015. From the point of view of many working class voters, for whom love of country is still a deeply felt emotion, Corbyn seems to side with the country’s enemies more often than he does with Britain.

Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election was followed by a surge in party membership— from 193,754 at the end of 2014 to 388,103 by the end of 2015. But the activists he appeals to are predominantly middle class. According to internal Party data leaked to the Guardian, a disproportionate number of them are “high status city dwellers” who own their own homes.

A careful analysis of the policies set out in Labour’s latest manifesto reveals that the main beneficiaries of the party’s proposed increase in public expenditure—which the Conservatives costed at an eye-watering £1.2 trillion—would be its middle class supporters.

For instance, the party pledged to cut rail fares by 33 per cent and pay for it by slashing the money spent on roads. But only 11 per cent of Britain’s commuters travel by train compared to 68 per cent who drive—and the former tend to be more affluent than the latter. Corbyn also promised to abolish university tuition fees at a cost of £7.2 billion per annum, a deeply regressive policy which, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, would benefit middle- and high-earning graduates with “very little” upside for those on low incomes.

It’s also worth noting that Corbyn’s interests and appearance—he’s a 70-year-old vegetarian with a fondness for train-drivers’ hats who has spent his life immersed in protest politics—strike many working class voters as “weird,” a word that kept coming up on the doorstep according to my fellow canvasser in Newcastle. He’s also presided over the invasion of his party by virulent anti-Semites and Labour is currently in the midst of an investigation by Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission thanks to his failure to deal with this. One of his supporters has already blamed the Jews for Labour’s defeat.

But Corbyn isn’t the main reason C2DE voters have turned away from Labour, any more than Brexit is. Rather, they’ve both exacerbated a trend that’s been underway for at least 45 years, which is the fracturing of the “Hampstead and Hull” coalition and the ebbing away of Labour’s working class support.

Another, related phenomenon that’s been overlooked is that these “topsy turvey” politics are hardly unique to Britain. Left-of-center parties in most parts of the Anglosphere, as well as other Western democracies, have seen the equivalent of their own ‘Red Walls’ collapsing. One of the reasons Scott Morrison’s Liberals confounded expectations to win the Australian election last May was because Bill Shorten’s Labour Party was so unpopular in traditional working class areas like Queensland, and support for socially democratic parties outside the large cities in Scandinavia has cratered over the past 15 years or so.

Thomas Piketty, the French Marxist, wrote a paper about this phenomenon last year entitled ‘Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict’ and it’s the subject of Capital and Ideology, his new book. His hypothesis is that politics in the US, Britain, and France—he confines his analysis to those three countries—is dominated by the struggle between two elite groups: the Brahmin Left and the Merchant Right. He points out that left-wing parties in the US, Britain and France used to rely on ‘nativist’ voters to win elections—low education, low income—but since the 1970s have begun to attract more and more ‘globalist’ voters—high education, high income (with the exception of the top 10 per cent of income earners). The nativists, meanwhile, have drifted to the Right, forming a coalition with the business elite. He crunches the data to show that in the US, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated people were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Now, the opposite is true, with 70% of voters with masters degrees voting for Hilary in 2016. “The trend is virtually identical in all three countries,” he writes.

In Piketty’s view, the electoral preferences of the post-industrial working class—the precariat—is a kind of false consciousness, often engendered by populist snake-charmers like Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban. He’s intensely suspicious of the unholy alliance between super-rich “merchants” and the lumpen proletariat, and similar noises have been made about the levels of support Boris has managed to attract.

The Conservatives didn’t win in Hull or Hampstead on Thursday, but the party polled 43.6 per cent of the popular vote, which is its highest share since 1979. Labour, meanwhile, saw its seat tally fall to 203, the Party’s worst result since 1935.

Plenty of better writers than me—Douglas Murray, John Gray—have debunked the notion that the only reason low-income voters embrace right-wing politics is because they’re drunk on a cocktail of ethno-nationalism and false hope (with Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin taking turns as mixologists). It surely has more to do with the Left’s sneering contempt for the “deplorables” in the flyover states as they shuttle back and forth between their walled, cosmopolitan strongholds. As Corbyn’s policy platform in Britain’s election showed, left-wing parties now have little to offer indigenous, working class people outside the big cities—and their activists often add insult to injury by describing these left-behind voters as “privileged” because they’re white or cis-gendered or whatever. So long as parties like Labour pander to their middle-class, identitarian activists and ignore the interests of the genuinely disadvantaged, they’ll continue to rack up loss after loss. Get woke, go broke.

Will the Democrats learn from Labour’s mistake and make Jo Biden the candidate—or even Pete Buttigieg? I wouldn’t bet on it. The zealots of the post-modern Left have a limitless capacity to ignore reality even when it’s staring them in the face. As I said to a friend last night after the election results starting rolling in, fighting political opponents like Jeremy Corbyn is a bit like competing in a round-the-world yacht race against a team that thinks the earth is flat. It can be kind of fun, even exhilarating. But until they acquire a compass and learn how to read a map, it’s not really a fair fight.

Voir aussi:

Jean-Luc Mélenchon et La France insoumise: les raisons d’un naufrage

FIGAROVOX/ENTRETIEN – C’est le livre qui fait trembler les dirigeants de La France insoumise. Dans un essai intitulé La chute de la Maison Mélenchon, Thomas Guénolé accuse le parti de Jean-Luc Mélenchon de pratiques dictatoriales, et lui reproche une stratégie vouée à l’échec.

Alexandre Devecchio

Thomas Guénolé est politologue, maître de conférences à Sciences Po et docteur en Science politique (CEVIPOF). Ancien membre de La France Insoumise,il vient de publier La Chute de la Maison Mélenchon: Une machine dictatoriale vue de l’intérieur (Albin Michel, novembre 2019).


FIGAROVOX.- En participant à la marche contre l’islamophobie de dimanche dernier, Jean-Luc Mélenchon semble précipiter la chute que vous annoncez dans votre livre. Comment expliquez-vous la participation de celui qui récusait le terme d’«islamophobie» il y a encore peu? S’agit-il d’un calcul électoraliste à courte vue ou est-il prisonnier d’une partie de sa base?

Thomas GUÉNOLÉ.- Les enquêtes d’opinion les plus récentes indiquent qu’aujourd’hui, près des trois quarts des Français de confession musulmane ne veulent pas que des règles religieuses musulmanes s’imposent aux lois de la République. 70 % soutiennent le principe de laïcité. Plus largement, la très large majorité ne souhaitent pas être une «communauté musulmane» à part: ils demandent juste à être des citoyens à part entière, avec les mêmes droits et les mêmes devoirs que les autres. Et d’ailleurs, toutes les tentatives de lancer un «parti des musulmans», sans exception, se sont soldées par des raclées électorales.

Autrement dit, il est manifeste que l’écrasante majorité des Français de confession musulmane ne veulent pas du communautarisme ; et que les activistes communautaristes ne sont donc absolument pas représentatifs des gens qu’ils prétendent représenter.

Par conséquent, si la volte-face récente de Jean-Luc Mélenchon est un calcul électoraliste, alors ce calcul est une erreur. Car lorsque la Maison Mélenchon multiplie les ententes avec des activistes communautaristes, du strict point de vue électoraliste elle se tire une balle dans chaque pied: d’une, cela ne lui fait rien gagner du côté des Français de confession musulmane ; de deux, cela lui fait perdre massivement des électeurs de gauche qui, musulmans ou pas, sont restés fermes sur la défense de la laïcité et de l’égalité femmes-hommes.

Mélenchon se tire une balle dans chaque pied.

Il existe cependant une autre hypothèse que le calcul électoraliste: celle de l’erreur provoquée par un fonctionnement à la va-vite. Peut-être que tous ces députés LFI ont signé en bloc l’appel à marcher contre l’islamophobie parce qu’ils n’ont pas lu le texte avec suffisamment d’attention: ils ont donc cru signer un appel antiraciste habituel, sans en repérer les ambiguïtés. Et aussi, parce qu’ils ne se sont pas renseignés sur les idées d’une partie des porteurs du texte, idées pour le moins problématiques quand on est de gauche. Puis, après coup, Jean-Luc Mélenchon aura tenté de limiter la casse en trouvant des explications plus ou moins vraisemblables à cette catastrophique sortie de route.

Toujours est-il que tout cela est incompréhensible venant de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, lui qui plaida rigoureusement contre le concept d’islamophobie au motif qu’on doit avoir, je cite, «le droit de ne pas aimer l’islam». Du reste, il n’y aurait eu aucune polémique et aucun problème si la marche et l’appel à manifester avaient invoqué le racisme anti-maghrébins ou le racisme anti-musulmans, plutôt que ce concept d’islamophobie dont le sens et la légitimité sont l’objet de controverses.

Toute cette affaire, c’est vraiment dommage. Car assurément, lors de cette marche, plusieurs milliers de gens ont défilé sincèrement contre le racisme et pas du tout pour le communautarisme d’une partie des initiateurs.

Quand vous étiez cadre de LFI, vous étiez l’un des rares à être très clair et très ferme dans le refus de toute compromission avec les communautaristes. Quel est aujourd’hui le poids du courant indigéniste à l’intérieur du mouvement?

Chez LFI et ailleurs, les activistes communautaristes sont en réalité très peu nombreux. Et comme je vous le disais à l’instant, la population qu’ils prétendent défendre, dans sa très large majorité, ne veut pas de leurs idées. Pour compenser cette faiblesse numérique et ce rejet de leurs thèses par ceux qu’ils disent représenter, ils pratiquent donc un entrisme très agressif: partis, facultés, syndicats, médias, etc.

Lorsqu’une structure va bien, les activistes communautaristes n’arrivent pas à y avoir une influence: leur entrisme a par exemple échoué dans presque tous les grands médias. Lorsqu’une structure est affaiblie ou en crise, en revanche, ils parviennent à y prendre pied: c’est arrivé à des petits partis et à des syndicats.

Or, précisément, après deux années d’erreurs accumulées, la Maison Mélenchon est extrêmement affaiblie. C’est un astre mort, pareil à ces étoiles dont vous percevez encore la lumière alors qu’elles sont déjà éteintes. Au lendemain de la présidentielle de 2017, elle pouvait mobiliser au moins 50 000 militants de terrain dans toute la France pour une opération d’envergure nationale. Actuellement, elle peut difficilement en mobiliser 5 000 et peine à constituer des listes en vue des élections municipales de 2020.

L’influence croissante des activistes communautaristes est un signe supplémentaire du fait que la Maison Mélenchon est affaiblie.

Dans ce contexte, alors que les activistes communautaristes étaient encore fermement contenus en marge de l’appareil LFI juste après la présidentielle de 2017, aujourd’hui ils y prospèrent. Ce qui ne fait que faciliter la chute de la Maison Mélenchon puisque encore une fois, ni les Français en général, ni les Français de confession musulmane en particulier, ne veulent du communautarisme.

Autrement dit, plutôt qu’un problème en soi, l’influence croissante des activistes communautaristes est plutôt un signe supplémentaire du fait que la Maison Mélenchon est affaiblie: l’hémorragie électorale, l’exode massif de militants, l’autodestruction de l’image d’homme d’État de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, ont probablement fait trop de dégâts pour que cela soit réparable.

Au-delà de cette dérive précise, vous dénoncez «le fonctionnement dictatorial du mouvement». Pourquoi l’avoir soutenu si longtemps?

J’ai rejoint La France insoumise à l’été 2017. Je l’ai fait par idéal, parce que j’étais profondément d’accord avec le programme du mouvement: L’Avenir en commun. J’étais très enthousiaste et je me suis mis à la disposition du mouvement pour aider. Charlotte Girard, responsable du programme, m’a confié la formation politique des militants en tandem avec Manon Le Bretton. Pendant un an je ne me suis occupé que de cela. J’étais dans mon coin, et ce d’autant plus que le fonctionnement de l’appareil central est extrêmement cloisonné. Je n’avais des contacts avec le siège que pour des questions logistiques, et de temps en temps pour valider le planning ou les intervenants.

Et puis, en été 2018, m’étant porté volontaire pour être l’un des candidats LFI à l’élection européenne, j’ai commencé à fréquenter régulièrement l’appareil central, avec des réunions de coordination, des échanges fréquents avec des cadres, etc. C’est à partir de là que j’ai eu de plus en plus de voyants rouges allumés, au fur et à mesure de ce que je voyais.

Telle purge pour se débarrasser d’un cadre trop critique, est déguisée en mesure disciplinaire « pour avoir tenu des propos sexistes  » ; et ainsi de suite.

C’est bien simple: la Maison Mélenchon pratique systématiquement en interne le contraire des valeurs qu’elle affiche. C’est orwellien. Dans les paroles, elle plaide pour une vraie démocratie, pour le respect des droits de l’opposition, pour l’émancipation humaine. Dans les actes, en interne, elle pratique le fonctionnement dictatorial, l’interdiction d’exprimer une parole critique sous peine d’encourir une «purge», et des façons de traiter les gens qui souvent sont humainement détestables. Je raconte par exemple dans un chapitre de mon livre comment les lanceurs d’alerte, qui exigeaient de passer à un fonctionnement démocratique, ont été systématiquement placardisés, calomniés, bannis, ou un mélange des trois.

On m’objecte parfois que les tendances dictatoriales de Jean-Luc Mélenchon étaient évidentes dès 2017. Mais ce n’est pas vrai. Dès 2017, certes, chacun voyait qu’il était manifestement un homme à poigne et sujet à des grosses colères. Mais le fonctionnement interne systématiquement dictatorial de LFI, lui, n’était pas encore connu du grand public.

On m’objecte plus souvent que ma désillusion aurait dû être plus rapide. Mais c’est négliger plusieurs choses.

D’abord, le travail de lucidité est ralenti par le problème du double langage permanent des cadres de l’appareil: telle instance verrouillée est déguisée en instance aux participants «tirés au sort» ; tel congrès où il est interdit de proposer un autre texte que celui de la direction, est déguisé en exercice de démocratie participative ; telle purge pour se débarrasser d’un cadre trop critique, est déguisée en mesure disciplinaire «pour avoir tenu des propos sexistes» ; et ainsi de suite. Il faut donc le temps d’identifier une novlangue interne systématique et d’identifier la réalité autoritaire, centralisée, verrouillée, qu’elle sert à cacher.

Ensuite, comme je vous le disais l’appareil est extrêmement opaque, cloisonné. Et les cadres ont souvent peur d’exprimer leurs critiques même entre eux. Comprendre le fonctionnement réel de la machine est donc matériellement difficile – et prend d’autant plus de temps.

Enfin, si des dizaines de milliers de militants ont mis du temps avant de quitter La France insoumise, c’est aussi à cause du déni. Quand vous rejoignez un mouvement par idéal, vous devez d’abord épuiser en vous toutes les autres explications possibles, même tordues, avant d’accepter de regarder en face que c’est une vaste escroquerie politique qui trahit l’idéal au nom duquel vous vous êtes engagé.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon avait réuni 19 % des suffrages à la présidentielle. Comment expliquez-vous son effondrement? Cela tient-il à sa personnalité ou à un problème de stratégie?

Au premier tour de la présidentielle de 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon a frôlé les 20 % malgré sa stratégie, et non pas grâce à elle.

Au départ, la Maison Mélenchon a décidé de faire, par rapport à la campagne de 2012, ce qu’on appelle en marketing un «rebranding». Ils ont abandonné le vocabulaire, le message et les symboles de la campagne «Fier d’être de gauche» de 2012. Ils ont remplacé tout cela par une campagne «Fédérer le peuple contre les 1%», avec un message au-delà du clivage gauche-droite, apaisé sur la forme. C’est ce qu’on appelle la stratégie du «populisme de gauche».

Jean-Luc Mélenchon est resté malgré lui un candidat d’union de la gauche.

Résultat: cela a échoué. En janvier 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon reconstitue en intentions de vote son score de la présidentielle de 2012, ce qui signifie que malgré un changement profond de message et de mise en scène, c’est encore l’électorat de gauche radicale qu’il réunifie.

Se produit alors cet effet-domino: quelques points d’électorat de centre-gauche abandonnent progressivement le vote Hamon pour le vote Macron, essentiellement par peur de Marine Le Pen et dans l’idée qu’Emmanuel Macron sera un meilleur candidat de barrage au FN. Ce qui fait baisser Benoît Hamon de 17 à 12-13, jusqu’à se trouver à touche-touche avec Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Par conséquent l’effet «vote utile de gauche», qui protège habituellement le candidat du PS contre tout rival de gauche, ne joue plus.

Arrivent les débats de premier tour de la présidentielle: Hamon et Mélenchon disent en substance la même chose, mais Mélenchon est meilleur sur le fond et sur la forme. Mélenchon passe donc de quelques points devant Hamon dans les sondages – vraisemblablement un transfert d’électorat «aile gauche du PS». Enfin, dans la dernière ligne droite, Mélenchon étant devenu le candidat le mieux placé à gauche, l’effet «vote utile de gauche» se reconstitue dans la dernière ligne droite à son avantage, et le catapulte à presque 20 %.

Il faut souligner que bien sûr, cette montée en puissance n’aurait pas été possible sans les talents d’orateur du candidat, son charisme hors normes, et son grand talent de pédagogue politique sur scène.

Toujours est-il qu’ainsi, ce que Jean-Luc Mélenchon a dit, c’est qu’il allait fédérer le peuple par-delà le clivage gauche-droite – mais ce qu’il a fait, c’est être malgré lui un candidat d’union de la gauche. Une fois qu’on a compris cela, on comprend aussi que, lorsque la Maison Mélenchon a interprété ce score comme un nouveau socle de 20 % d’adhésion à la stratégie du «populisme de gauche», c’était une erreur.

Puisque Jean-Luc Mélenchon avait été, certes malgré lui, un candidat d’union de la gauche, il fallait former une coalition de type «Front populaire» dès les législatives. Au lieu de cela, La France insoumise a préféré partir seule au combat des législatives, ce qui a mécaniquement abouti à un groupe parlementaire croupion. De même, pendant deux ans, le message politique martelé en boucle, celui de l’appel au soulèvement populaire, n’a correspondu qu’aux attentes de l’électorat de gauche radicale: c’est-à-dire moitié moins que les 20 % de 2017, ce qui a contribué à rétrécir l’espace électoral de LFI.

La situation politique de l’Europe est très diverse, sans qu’on constate une dynamique commune à tout le continent.

À cela s’ajoute un problème spécifique d’illisibilité du cap fixé. Par exemple, il fut tour à tour question de refuser les alliances avec d’autres forces de gauche, puis de les souhaiter, puis de les refuser à nouveau, et ainsi de suite. Autre exemple, concernant la stratégie «plan A plan B» face à l’Union européenne, il en a existé de 2017 à 2019 presque autant d’interprétations qu’il existe de porte-paroles de LFI. À la longue, cette ligne erratique a nécessairement conduit à ce que des électeurs, rendus méfiants par le flou, se détournent de LFI.

La chute de LFI s’inscrit-elle dans un effondrement européen plus large de la gauche, et ceci qu’elle soit sociale-démocrate, radicale ou populiste?

Non, rien n’indique un grand effondrement européen de la gauche. 2019 a vu plusieurs victoires. En Espagne, les législatives ont été gagnées par la gauche sociale-démocrate et elle vient de signer un accord de principe avec la gauche radicale pour gouverner ensemble. Au Portugal, les législatives ont été gagnées par la coalition sortante de gauche. En Italie, sans passer par des législatives, un nouveau gouvernement a été installé, sur une coalition du Mouvement 5-Etoiles et de la gauche. On pourrait ainsi multiplier les exemples. On pourrait cependant multiplier aussi les exemples de succès de la droite et dans une moindre mesure de l’extrême droite. Ni vague brune, ni vague bleue, ni vague rose, ni vague rouge: la situation politique de l’Europe, aujourd’hui, est tout simplement très diverse, sans qu’on constate une dynamique commune à tout le continent.

Family, faith and flag

The Labour Party lost four million voters in England between 1997 and 2010. To win them back, it nee

New Statesman
7 April 2011

Not so long ago, few people outside the academic world had heard of Maurice Glasman. Since the turn of the year, however, when he was unexpectedly ennobled by Ed Miliband, the London Metropolitan University lecturer has been much discussed and even hailed as the “intellectual godfather” of a new kind of left-wing thinking.

To win again in England, argue Glasman and others like him, Labour needs to look back to before 1945, to a time before the left fell in love with big government, and to a forgotten « conservative socialism that places family, faith and work at the heart of a new politics of reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity ». Just as Phillip Blond’s short-lived « Red Tory » boom captured the imagination of commentators a couple of years ago, so what Glasman calls « Blue Labour » has become the subject of admiring features, including a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis that was broadcast on 21 March.

Like many other intellectual exercises in self-renewal, Glasman’s vision, which strives to capture a sense of Englishness amid the hurly-burly of globalisation, has something deeply backward-looking about it (see profile, page 34). The narrow political self-interest is hardly surprising. Between 1997 and 2010, as David Mili­band noted in a strikingly Glasmanesque piece for this magazine last summer, Labour lost four million English voters and 137 English MPs. By the time Gordon Brown faced the electorate, the party had lost the ability to talk to the people it once took for granted – not just aspirational Middle England, but also thousands of white working-class people in cities who looked instead to the Conservatives or the British National Party, or stayed at home. Once again, Labour is in danger of turning into a party of the industrial north and the Celtic fringe.

Beyond that, however, Glasman’s emphasis on looking back seems eminently familiar. Talking to the BBC, Roy Hattersley dismissed Blue Labour as an exercise in mere nostalgia, mocking “the idea of Arcadian England, the idea that there was some mythical time when we all loved each other”. And yet, contrary to what we might think, nostalgia has long been a central part of the left-wing political tradition. Despite the forward-looking, modernising connotations of the name, “progressives” have enjoyed looking back. As early as 1883, Henry Hyndman, the founder of the Social Democratic Federation and populariser of Marxism, insisted that he saw himself as working in a distinctly English radical tradition dating back to the Peasants’ Revolt, the Wars of the Roses and the 16th-century Commotion Time uprisings. “Tyler, Cade, Ball, Kett . . .” he wrote, “read to me like sound English names: not a foreigner in the whole batch. They all held opinions which our capitalist-landlord House of Commons would denounce as direct pla­giarism from ‘foreign revolutionists’. We islanders have been revolutionists, however, and will be again, ignorant as our capitalists are of the history of the people.”

Hyndman made an unlikely heir to the English radical tradition. The son of a rich businessman, he attended Trinity College, Cambridge and played cricket for Sussex, making him probably the only Marxist to have been a first-class right-handed batsman. He funded the Social Democrats almost single-handedly, their fortunes waxing and waning with his investments. A staunch anti-capitalist, he was also a committed patriot, his support for the First World War horrifying many of his colleagues. He stood for parliament five times, losing on everyoccasion, not least because he alienated voters by bombarding them with Virgil – in the original Latin. Even so, his example has echoed down the decades.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Marxist historians E P Thompson and Christopher Hill celebrated “the long and tenacious revolutionary tradition of the British commoner”, stretching from the Lollards to the Levellers and on to the Chartists and the suffragettes.

Amid the apocalyptic headlines and candle-lit evenings of the three-day week in 1974, Tony Benn immersed himself in books on the English Revolution, lamenting that « the Levellers lost and Cromwell won, and Harold Wilson or Denis Healey is the Cromwell of our day, not me ». Five years ago, promoting his radical English manifesto The Progressive Patriot, the folk singer Billy Bragg told readers that their freedoms « had to be fought for, from the Peasants’ Revolt to the Diggers and the Levellers, to the Chartists and the suffragettes ».

Given that the idea of a radical English tradition is so deeply embedded in the left’s collective memory, it is odd that people keep insisting it has been forgotten. To be fair, Labour in recent years has hardly been a party struggling under the weight of its own nostalgia. Tony Blair often seemed embarrassed even to recall that his party had a history before 1994, and despite Brown’s doctorate in history and eagerness to tell us about his “values”, he rarely harked back to the party’s past. Perhaps it is not surprising that, since their Scottish-educated masters left the stage, Labour’s bright young Englishmen are so keen to look backwards.

And yet it is hard, rereading David Miliband’s hymn of praise to a “specifically English story that points to the battle for social justice born of a proud tradition of personal liberty and independence”, to resist the feeling that this is merely another exercise in myth-making.

In truth, the idea of a golden thread of English radical action, stretching through the generations, is deeply problematic. Much of what we know about England’s most celebrated radical leaders comes from their opponents; after all, Wat Tyler and Jack Cade left no memoirs. As the historian Edward Vallance points out in his brilliantly provocative Radical History of Britain (2009), the idea of a simple « continuum of radicalism » is flawed.

Take, for example, the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. It was, after all, a tax revolt – something we now associate more with the right than the left – originating in some of England’s most prosperous counties: Essex, Kent and Norfolk. Many of the rebels were not peasants: according to contemporary accounts, the first leader of the protests was a local landowner, Thomas Baker, while another leading agitator, Geoffrey Litster, held the title of bailiff and was a literate local official.

When the protesters arrived in London, they soon became absorbed in what Vallance calls “a carnivalesque orgy of violence and destruction”, particularly targeted at foreigners and immigrants. They are said to have butchered and beheaded 35 Flemish weavers in one street alone. Perhaps this is an exaggeration; even so, the rebels do not sound like the medieval equivalent of Guardian readers.

Look closely at the other early moments in the great radical tradition, and you will find the story is much the same. Jack Cade’s rebellion in 1450 was motivated not by crusading proto-socialist idealism, but by exasperation at Henry VI’s weak government and the loss of England’s conquests abroad. There were plenty of peasants among the rebels, but there were also shopkeepers, craftsmen and landowners, including a knight and two MPs.

Robert Kett – whose anti-enclosures rebellion in Norfolk a century later so impressed Norwich’s Labour aldermen of the 1940s that they put up a plaque in his honour – was a big local landowner and, by the standards of the day, a very rich man. He had even previously enclosed common land, and joined the rebels only after a rival landowner bribed them to smash up his enclosures.

Then there are Tony Benn’s favourite English radicals, the Levellers, whose martyrdom is celebrated every year in the faintly implausible surroundings of the Cotswold town of Burford. To him, these Roundhead ultras “anticipated by a century and a half the main ideas of the American and French Revolutions”.

It is certainly easy to see why the story of the Leveller mutineers, shot by Cromwell in Burford, would appeal to Benn, who spent much of the mid-1970s fulminating against the betrayal of socialism by such well-known conservative figures in Labour as Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and Michael Foot. Unfortunately, the notion of the Levellers as cuddly proto-Marxists has been long since debunked.

Many historians see the civil wars of the 1640s and 1650s as essentially a religious conflict, rather than one comprehensible in modern ideological or economic terms. Far from being an early rehearsal for Labour’s 1983 election manifesto, the 1647 Putney Debates – which were voted the « most neglected radical event in British history » in a recent Guardian competition – consisted largely of detailed discussions about army policy, understandable only within the context of the civil war.

Even the nickname « Levellers » was deeply resented by many of the protesters, who disliked the implication that they were opposed
to private ownership. They had « never had it in [their] thoughts to level men’s estates », wrote their spokesmen John Lilburne, Richard Overton and William Walwyn in 1649.

Finally, whatever Benn might think, there is no evidence that the Levellers influenced subsequent radicals, whether in Britain, France or America. Far from being celebrated, they remained forgotten until the 20th century.

It would be easy to go through the radical pantheon, picking holes and pointing out embarrassing family secrets, from the social arrogance of the Georgian populist John Wilkes (“I have given orders to keep away from the house and gardens all the rabble … You would start at the number of little thefts they make”) to the snobbery of the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (“I have turned impatiently to the poor . . . but alas! what did I see! a being scarcely above the brutes”). Underpinning much of this, however, is a broader point that should make uncomfortable reading for many progressives. For while we typically see left-wing commitment in terms of enthusiasm for government intervention, most radicals in the English tradition were deeply and instinctively hostile to the state.

Take Thomas Spence, the 18th-century revolutionary who coined the phrase “the rights of man” long before Thomas Paine. Like so many others after him, Spence thought that private ownership of land was the source of England’s woes, but he never contemplated a grand system of centralised state ownership. Instead, he was an avowed localist, arguing that each parish should hold the land in trust: a case, one might think today, of parochialism taken to the extreme.

Indeed, many radicals were far less comfortable with collectivism than the idea of a golden tradition might lead us to think, largely because they had such distrust for the common people. Political associations, wrote the first modern anarchist, William Godwin, in the 1790s, were inherently dangerous: conviviality might easily turn into disorder, and there was “nothing more barbarous, cruel and bloodthirsty than the triumph of a mob”. The task of change, he thought, should be left to “a few favoured minds” – the classic position of the well-born and high-minded. You can imagine Sidney and Beatrice Webb nodding vigorously.

Yet it does not necessarily follow that the modern left has nothing to learn from such forerunners. Although we think of Labour as the liberal-minded, reforming champion of state intervention, it was not ever thus. As another academic, Martin Pugh, pointed out in his bracingly revisionist account of the party’s history published last year, there is a forgotten, pre-1945, even pre-1918 Labour story – just as Maurice Glasman argues. Glasman’s formula “Blue Labour” is well chosen precisely because Conservatives and Conservatism played such an important role in the party’s origins. That may sound odd, because Labour and the Tories are supposed to be implacable enemies. Surely Labour emerged as the working-class heir to Victorian Liberalism, picking up the baton of opposition to the Conservative ruling classes? Not at all. We remember that Foot and Benn came from a long line of Liberal nonconformists, yet often forget that many of Labour’s best-known figures came from public-school Tory, not Liberal, backgrounds.

Clement Attlee, who was educated at Hailey­bury and Oxford, was a Tory until he saw the poverty in the East End after becoming a manager at a children’s charitable foundation in Limehouse in his early twenties. Stafford Cripps, whose father was a Conservative MP, moved to the left only in his twenties, shocked by the plight of what he called “the poor slum-beings”. Hugh Dalton, son of John Neale Dalton, tutor tothe future George V, was another convert. At Eton, he later recalled, he was a “Joe Chamberlainite, a Tory Democrat, a self-confessed imperialist”, but when he went up to King’s College, Cambridge, he fell in with a more left-wing crowd, among them John Maynard Keynes, and became a keen member of the Fabian Society. Hugh Gaitskell came from a Conservative-voting family, as did Blair, the son of a Conservative Party activist in the north-east of England.

Seen in the light of the political journeys many Labour titans have made, talk of Blue Labour seems rather less outlandish. And there is more. In its early years, Labour often seemed a markedly conservative rather than socialist party. At the very first meeting of the Independent Labour Party in 1893, Ben Tillett, the future TUC president and MP for Salford, warned that if it was to be called “the Socialist Party he would repudiate it”. “The great mass of British workmen,” the meeting agreed, “do not understand Socialism and have rather a prejudice against it.” Other pioneers held similarly robust views, not least the supremely conser­vative socialist Robert Blatchford, whose bestselling left-wing manifesto Merrie England, published the following year, traduced “lily-livered Methodists”.

As David Marquand put it in the New Statesman last April, early socialists such as Blatchford « drew on a long line of working-class Toryism: a rollicking, rambunctious, fiercely patriotic and earthy tradition, at odds both with the preachy nonconformist conscience that saturated the culture of provincial liberalism and with the patronising, ‘we-know-best’ preconceptions of metropolitan intellectuals ».

Even at this early stage, they dreaded the influence of the well-meaning, clean-living recruits flooding over from the Liberal Party. If the ex-Liberals could select a king, warned Tillett, “he would be a feminist, a temperance crank, a nonconformist charlatan . . . an anti-sport, an anti-jollity advocate, a teetotaller, as well as a general wet blanket”. We can all think of people like that, some of them not so far away from the Labour leadership.

In this context, Blue Labour’s evocations of English voluntarism and self-help sound less like heretical borrowings from Margaret That­cher’s old speechwriters and more like a throwback to Labour’s early days.

The hard-drinking Ernest Bevin, a patriotic West Countryman who said that his foreign policy was to “take a ticket at Victoria Station and go anywhere I damn well please”, and who insisted that Britain have its own nuclear deterrent with a “bloody Union Jack on top of it”, would no doubt have agreed with Glasman’s prescription that, to win in England, Labour must wrap itself in “family, faith and the flag”.

The truth is that Glasman’s talk of « reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity », and even his vaguely Daily Mail-ish noises about the challenge of immigration in white working-class neighbourhoods, probably echo Labour’s founding values more closely than the anguish of the liberal elite. The academic is withering about the left’s record after 1945, which he calls « elitist, managerial [and] bureaucratic ». However, it was this managerial and bureaucratic mindset that built hundreds of thousands of homes, established the National Health Service and virtually eradicated the extreme poverty and disease that had blighted many lives before the Second World War.

All the same, it is hard to resist the feeling that Labour still suffers too much from a kind of knee-jerk Fabianism, preferring to meddle from Whitehall rather than to enable people to help themselves locally. To pick one small but telling example, we often forget that it was Harold Wilson’s 1970s Labour government that first toyed with the idea of allowing tenants to buy their council houses, even going so far as to have it discussed among ministers.

Years later, Wilson’s senior policy adviser Bernard Donoughue reflected that he had been desperate to give people “the freedom to decorate their homes as they wished and, very important, to move in pursuit of employment . . . It infuriated me when I raised this issue with my local Kentish Town Labour Party and was dismissed out of hand by a bunch of mainly left-wing activists, many of whom were prosperously middle-class and enjoyed the benefits of owning their own homes in nearby Hampstead and Camden Town.”

This was Blatchford and the Methodists all over again. The Methodists won; council house sales were shelved because they were deemed inegalitarian. “It was an own goal,” Donou­ghue’s Downing Street colleague Gavyn Davies conceded. “A monumental own goal.” Selling council houses – which would have allowed Wilson and his colleagues to plough the proceeds back into more social housing for the poor – is exactly the kind of counter-intuitive policy that their 21st-century successors need in order to rebuild their support in the English south and Midlands. For if the Labour leadership is serious about winning back even half of the four million English voters lost since 1997, sentimental evocations of a romanticised, radical tradition, or fond reminiscences of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the miners’ strike, will not be enough.

Instead, a healthy scepticism about the capacity of the state, a renewed enthusiasm for localism and self-help and respect for working-class anxieties would go a long way. Contrary to what we often think, these values are not alien to the Labour Party’s history or to the English radical tradition; they are part of their DNA. Strange as it may sound, if the party of the left wants to reconnect with its heritage and win again in England, it needs to rediscover its forgotten conservatism.

Dominic Sandbrook is a contributing writer of the New Statesman

Voir de plus:

Laure Mandeville: «Entre le vote Trump et le vote Johnson, un saisissant parallèle»

FIGAROVOX/CHRONIQUE – Les deux hommes appartiennent à l’élite «libérale» de leur pays, mais se sont définis en patriotes réalistes.

Laure Mandeville
Le Figaro

En juin 2016, le coup de tonnerre du Brexit avait précédé l’ouragan Trump, révélant le caractère transatlantique de la révolte nationaliste et populiste
qui souffle sur l’Occident. Trois ans plus tard, la retentissante victoire de Boris Johnson annonce-t-elle à son tour une nouvelle prouesse de Donald Trump en novembre 2020?

Beaucoup en Amérique accueillent l’idée avec horreur, mais certains commencent à envisager sérieusement l’hypothèse, en observant l’obstination avec laquelle ses électeurs lui restent fidèles, de la même manière que les électeurs du Brexit sont restés fidèles à leur désir de «sortir» de l’Union européenne. Les dérapages de Trump et les gigantesques efforts de ses adversaires pour lui ôter toute légitimité sont loin d’avoir fait bouger les lignes, peut-être même le contraire, à en croire de récents sondages favorables au président américain. Au Royaume-Uni, le slogan résolu de Boris Johnson, «Faisons le Brexit», a de son côté fait merveille, malgré tous les efforts des partisans du maintien dans l’Union qui voirnt leur rêve de « nouveau référendum » à nouveau fracassé.

« Le Brexit et Trump étaient inextricablement liés en 2016 et ils sont inextricablement liés aujourdhui. Johnson annonce une grande victoire de Trump. Les classes populaires sont fatiguées de leurs élitesde new York, de Londres et de Bruxelles; qui leur expliquent comment vivre et comment faire. (…) Si les démocrates n’en tirent pas les leçons, Trump voguera vers une victoire à la Reagan en 1984, déclare l’idéologue du national-populisme américain Steve Bannon à l’éditorialiste du New York Times Roger Cohen », qui semble partager à contrecoeur partager son pronostic.

Même si on fait difficilement plus américain que Donald Trump, ni plus britannique que Boris Johnson, il y a incontestablement des parallèles saissssants entre les deux hommes et ils sont loin de se limiter à leur tignasse blonde, qui fait le régal des photographes. Premier point commun, les deux hommes appartiennent à l’élite « libérale » de leur pays, mais se sont définis en patriotes réalistes, surfant sur le désir viscéral du retour à la nation de l’électorat et offrant la promesse d’un pays « reprenant le contrôle » de son destin. Tous deux ont également joué de leurs personnalités hétérodoxes et charismatiques pour passer allègrement le Rubicon du politiquement correct et se poser en défenseurs du « petit peuple », grand perdant de la globalisation et de l’ouverture des frontières à l’immigration. Allant à rebours de la doxa du libre-échange pur et dur, ils ont engagé à la hussarde une redéfinition révolutionnaire de l’ADN de leur partis respectifs, instaurant un virage à gauche sur la question du commerce et du protectionnsime, tout en se situant à droite sur les questions sociétales et culturelles. La carte de leur électorat s’en trouve alors métamorphosée par le ralliement à la bannière conservatrice de régions traditonnellement acquises au Labour britannique ou au parti démocrate américain. De ce point de vue, l’humeur de la classe ouvrière des midlands et du nord de l’Angleterre est presque un copié-collé du ressenti des ouvriers déclassés de l’industrie sidérurgique d l’Ohio ou de la Pennsylvannie. Boris comme Donald ont aussi séduit les petites villes et le pays rural, ce pays dit « périphérique » qui est en réalité « majoritaire », rappelle Christophe Guilluy. « Avec Johnson, on se retrouve paradoxalement avec une bonne chance d’avoir une soicial-démocratie modérée », note l’essayiste David Goodhart.

Comme steve Bannon, l’intellectuel anglais n’exclut pas que la vicroire de Johnson soit, comme le brexit en 2016, ‘l’indicateur d’une tendance capable de se répéter à nouveau outre-Atlantique ». Dans les deux cas, les deux hommes ont été incroyablement sous-estimés par leurs adversaires et les observateurs, qui les ont volontiers présentés comme des clowns, souligne l’intellectuel. Mais Boris Johnson n’a pas « le caractère brutal de Trump et son côté incontrôlable », insiste Goodhart. Il offre de ce point de vue « un visage otpimiste et décent » à la révolte populiste et montre à la droite européenne qu’ « il est possible de la chevaucher sans quelle dérive vers quelque chose d’illibéral ». C’est une bonne nouvelle », conclut-il.

Voir encore:

Boris Johnson and the Coming Trump Victory in 2020
In the postindustrial wasteland, the working class embraced an old Etonian mouthing about unleashed British potential.
Roger Cohen
NYT
Dec. 13, 2019

Donald Trump, in his telling, could have shot somebody on Fifth Avenue and won. Boris Johnson could mislead the queen. He could break his promise to get Britain out of Europe by Oct. 31. He could lie about Turks invading Britain and the cost of European Union membership. He could make up stories about building 40 new hospitals. He could double down on the phantom $460 million a week that Brexit would deliver to the National Health Service — and still win a landslide Tory electoral victory not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1987.

The British, or at least the English, did not care. Truth is so 20th century. They wanted Brexit done; and, formally speaking, Johnson will now take Britain out of Europe by Jan. 31, 2020, even if all the tough decisions on relations with the union will remain. Johnson was lucky. In the pathetic, emetic Jeremy Corbyn, the soon-to-depart Labour Party leader, he faced perhaps the worst opposition candidate ever. In the Tory press, he had a ferocious friend prepared to overlook every failing. In Brexit-weary British subjects, whiplashed since the 2016 referendum, he had the perfect receptacle for his “get Brexit done.”

Johnson was also skillful, blunting Nigel Farage’s far-right Brexit Party, which stood down in many seats, took a lot of Labour votes in the seats where it did run, and ended up with nothing. The British working class, concentrated in the Midlands and the North, abandoned Labour and Corbyn’s socialism for the Tories and Johnson’s nationalism.

In the depressed provinces of institutionalized precariousness, workers embraced an old Etonian mouthing about unleashed British potential. Not a million miles from blue-collar heartland Democrats migrating to Trump the millionaire and America First demagogy.

That’s not the only parallel with American politics less than 11 months from the election. Johnson concentrated all the Brexit votes. By contrast, the pro-Remain vote was split between Corbyn’s internally divided Labour Party, the hapless Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party. For anybody contemplating the divisions of the Democratic Party as compared with the Trump movement’s fanatical singleness of purpose, now reinforced by the impeachment proceedings, this can only be worrying.

The clear rejection of Labour’s big-government socialism also looks ominous for Democrats who believe the party can lurch left and win. The British working class did not buy nationalized railways, electricity distribution and water utilities when they could stick it to some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels and — in that phrase as immortal as it is meaningless — take back their country.

It’s a whole new world. To win, liberals have to touch people’s emotions rather than give earnest lessons. They have to cease being arid. They have to refresh and connect. It’s not easy.

Facebook reaches about one-third of humanity. It is more powerful than any political party — and it’s full of untruths, bigotry and nonsense. As Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor, said last month of the social media behemoths: “The truth is that these companies won’t fundamentally change because their entire business model relies on generating more engagement, and nothing generates more engagement than lies, fear and outrage.”

That’s the story of Brexit, a national tragedy. That’s the story of Johnson, the man of no convictions. That’s the story of Trump, who makes puppets of people through manipulation of outrage and disregard for truth. That’s the story of our times. Johnson gets and fits those times better than most. He’s a natural.

“Brexit and Trump were inextricably linked in 2016, and they are inextricably linked today,” Steve Bannon told me. “Johnson foreshadows a big Trump win. Working-class people are tired of their ‘betters’ in New York, London, Brussels telling them how to live and what to do. Corbyn the socialist program, not Corbyn the man, got crushed. If Democrats don’t take the lesson, Trump is headed for a Reagan-like ’84 victory.”

I still think Trump can be beaten, but not from way out left and not without recognition that, as Hugo Dixon, a leader of the now defeated fight for a second British referendum, put it: “There is a crisis of liberalism because we have not found a way to connect to the lives of people in the small towns of the postindustrial wasteland whose traditional culture has been torn away.”

Johnson, even with his 80-seat majority, has problems. His victory reconciled the irreconcilable. His moneyed coterie wants to turn Britain into free-market Singapore on the Thames. His new working-class constituency wants rule-Britannia greatness combined with state-funded support. That’s a delicate balancing act. The breakup of Britain has become more likely. The strong Scottish National Party showing portends a possible second Scottish referendum on independence.

This time I would bet on the Scots bidding farewell to little England. And then there’s the small matter of what Brexit actually means. Johnson will need all his luck with that.

As my readers know, I am a passionate European patriot who sees the union as the greatest achievement of the second half of the 20th century, and Britain’s exit as an appalling act of self-harm. But I also believe in democracy. Johnson took the decision back to the people and won. His victory must be respected. The fight for freedom, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights, a free press, independent judiciaries, breathable air, peace, decency and humanity continues — and has only become more critical now that Britain has marginalized itself irreversibly in a fit of nationalist delusion.

Voir enfin:

Britain’s election
Victory for Boris Johnson’s all-new Tories

The Conservatives’ capture of the north points to a realignment in British politics. Will it last?

The Economist
December 13, 2019
Britain’s election on December 12th was the most unpredictable in years—yet in the end the result was crushingly one-sided. As we went to press the next morning, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was heading for a majority of well over 70, the largest Tory margin since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Labour, meanwhile, was expecting its worst result since the 1930s. Mr Johnson, who diced with the possibility of being one of Britain’s shortest-serving prime ministers, is now all-powerful.
 
The immediate consequence is that, for the first time since the referendum of 2016, it is clear that Britain will leave the European Union. By the end of January it will be out—though Brexit will still be far from “done”, as Mr Johnson promises. But the Tories’ triumph also shows something else: that a profound realignment in British politics has taken place. Mr Johnson’s victory saw the Conservatives taking territory that Labour had held for nearly a century. The party of the rich buried Labour under the votes of working-class northerners and Midlanders.
 
After a decade of governments struggling with weak or non-existent majorities, Britain now has a prime minister with immense personal authority and a free rein in Parliament. Like Thatcher and Tony Blair, who also enjoyed large majorities, Mr Johnson has the chance to set Britain on a new course—but only if his government can also grapple with some truly daunting tasks.
 
Mr Johnson was lucky in his opponent. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s leader, was shunned by voters, who doubted his promises on the economy, rejected his embrace of dictators and terrorists and were unconvinced by his claims to reject anti-Semitism.
 
But the result also vindicates Mr Johnson’s high-risk strategy of targeting working-class Brexit voters. Some of them switched to the Tories, others to the Brexit Party, but the effect was the same: to deprive Labour of its majority in dozens of seats.
 
Five years ago, under David Cameron, the Conservative Party was a broadly liberal outfit, preaching free markets as it embraced gay marriage and environmentalism. Mr Johnson has yanked it to the left on economics, promising public spending and state aid for struggling industries, and to the right on culture, calling for longer prison sentences and complaining that European migrants “treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country.” Some liberal Tories hate the Trumpification of their party (the Conservative vote went down in some wealthy southern seats). But the election showed that they were far outnumbered by blue-collar defections from Labour farther north.
 
This realignment may well last. The Tories’ new prospectus is calculated to take advantage of a long-term shift in voters’ behaviour which predates the Brexit referendum. Over several decades, economic attitudes have been replaced by cultural ones as the main predictor of party affiliation. Even at the last election, in 2017, working-class voters were almost as likely as professional ones to back the Tories. Mr Johnson rode a wave that was already washing over Britain. Donald Trump has shown how conservative positions on cultural matters can hold together a coalition of rich and poor voters. And Mr Johnson has an extra advantage in that his is unlikely to face strong opposition soon. Labour looks certain to be in the doldrums for a long time. The Liberal Democrats had a dreadful night in which their leader, Jo Swinson, lost her seat.
 
Yet the Tories’ mighty new coalition is sure to come under strain. With its mix of blue collars and red trousers, the new party is ideologically incoherent. The northern votes are merely on loan. To keep them Mr Johnson will have to give people what they want—which means infrastructure, spending on health and welfare, and a tight immigration policy. By contrast, the Tories’ old supporters in the south believe that leaving the EU will unshackle Britain and usher in an era of freewheeling globalism. Mr Johnson will doubtless try to paper over the differences. However, whereas Mr Trump’s new coalition in America has been helped along by a roaring economy, post-Brexit Britain is likely to stall.
 
Any vulnerabilities in the Tories’ new coalition will be ruthlessly found out by the trials ahead. Brexit will formally happen next month, to much fanfare. Yet the difficult bit, negotiating the future relationship with Europe, lies ahead. The hardest arguments, about whether to forgo market access for the ability to deregulate, have not begun. Mr Johnson will either have to face down his own Brexit ultras or hammer the economy with a minimal EU deal.
 
As he negotiates the exit from one union he will face a crisis in another. The Scottish National Party won a landslide this week, taking seats from the Tories, and expects to do well in Scottish elections in 2021. After Brexit, which Scots voted strongly against, the case for an independence referendum will be powerful. Yet Mr Johnson says he will not allow one. Likewise in Northern Ireland, neither unionists nor republicans can abide the prime minister’s Brexit plans. All this will add fuel to a fight over whether powers returning from Brussels reside in Westminster or Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The judiciary is likely to have to step in—and face a hostile prime minister whose manifesto promises that the courts will not be used “to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays”.
 
Led all that way for birth or death?
There is no doubting the strength of Mr Johnson’s position. He has established his personal authority by running a campaign that beat most expectations. His party has been purged of rebels, and their places taken by a new intake that owes its loyalty to him personally. Having lost control of Parliament for years, Downing Street is once more in charge.
 
Mr Johnson will be jubilant about the scale of his victory, and understandably so. But he should remember that the Labour Party’s red wall has only lent him its vote. The political realignment he has pulled off is still far from secure.

 


When they see us: Dans notre société tout homme qui ne parle pas bien risque d’être condamné à mort (Just in time: Guess why a Netflix series by Obama close friend on the 30-year old Central Park Five wilding case amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist just happened to come out a year and a half away from election time ?)

8 décembre, 2019

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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. Albert Camus (préface américaine à L’Etranger, 1955)
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 (discours de Suède, 1957)
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 (Critiques dans un souterrain, 1976)
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
En présence de la diversité, nous nous replions sur nous-mêmes. Nous agissons comme des tortues. L’effet de la diversité est pire que ce qui avait été imaginé. Et ce n’est pas seulement que nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui ne sont pas comme nous. Dans les communautés diverses, nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui nous ressemblent. Robert Putnam
What they’re trying to do is what the KGB under Lavrentiy Beria said to Stalin, the dictator — I’m not comparing our country to the Soviet Union — I just want to make sure it never becomes anything like that. Beria, once the Soviet deputy premier and interior minister, famously would reassure Stalin, « Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime. » And that’s what some of the Democrats are doing. They have Trump in their sights. They want to figure out a way of impeaching him and they’re searching for a crime. First, they came up with abuse of power — not a crime — it’s not in the Constitution. So now they’re saying ‘bribery,’ but they’re making it up. There is no case for bribery based on, even if all the allegations against the president were to be proved, which they haven’t been. Alan Dershowitz
I see him as the quintessential bully. Too much power truly does warp a person, even a very brilliant person who was once an authentic idealist. Like some of today’s bullies and Machiavellian politicians, he and his family benefited from the democratic society that he later scorned and tried to overpower. We can look back and use the clarity about the past to raise a warning about the present. You can experience viscerally what we lost when we let corrupt people move unchecked. What is our core national character?  Are we going to make heroes out of bullies and prioritize the achievements of power, or are we going to assert that heroism means having empathy for people’s struggles? Edward Norton
C’est une période au cours de laquelle les choses changeaient. On associe souvent New York à une ville libérale, progressive et cosmopolite. Mais dans les années 50, il y avait énormément d’anti-démocratie, de racisme, ce qui a eu un important impact sur le reste du siècle, jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Et je crois que choisir cette période m’a permis d’évoquer ce qui se passe aujourd’hui sans en parler directement. Edward Norton
In an op-ed from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein responded to the recent Netflix series on the Central Park Five, and accused its producer, Ava DuVernay, of fabricating words attributed to her character, played by Felicity Huffman, to portray her as a racist who was determined to convict the teens in the face of an alleged lack of evidence against them. Fairstein began the article, titled « Netflix’s False Story of the Central Park Five, » by declaring that the series, When They See Us, is « so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication, » and complained that it is « an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five). » She added that it « attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true. Fairstein listed a number of pieces of misinformation from the series and argued that there was plenty of evidence to reasonably convict them at the time, as she stood by charges that they attacked several other people in the park that same night. Among several pieces of misinformation she claimed were included in the series was that it « portrays the suspects as being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom, » and argued that if such accusations were true, they would have come out in the pre-trial hearings or inthe lawsuit that was filed years after their release from prison. Fairstein — who was supervisor over the sex crimes unit — argued that the series exaggerates how closely involved she was in handling the case and recalled that she « did not run the investigation, and never made any of the comments the screenwriter attributes to me. » She also directly contradicted a couple of scenes involving the questioning of an underage member of the group: The film claims that when Mr. Salaam’s mother arrived and told police that her son was only 15 — meaning they could not question him without a parent in the room — I tried to stop her, demanding to see a birth certificate. The truth is that Mr. Salaam himself claimed to be 16 and even had a forged bus pass to « prove » it. When I heard his mother say he was 15, I immediately halted his questioning. This is all supported by sworn testimony. The former prosecutor also argued that there was additional evidence of their guilt: There is, for example, the African American woman who testified at the trial — and again at the 2002 reinvestigation — that when Korey Wise called her brother, he told her that he had held the jogger down and felt her breasts while others attacked her. There were blood stains and dirt on clothing of some of the five. She soon added that more than a dozen other witnesses « named some or all of the five » in helping attack other victims. It is noteworthy that, while the Netflix series depicts the five teens as innocent bystanders who merely witnessed other assailants attacking and beating up other victims in the park, the film, The Central Park Five, by Ken Burns, accepted that they were « beating up other people » in the park even while that film was devoted to defending the teens regarding the attack on the jogger, Trisha Meili. Fairstein also recalled that Salaam « testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe — the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male school teacher and Ms. Meili. » The former prosecutor also argued that the fact that DNA testing on the semen found at the scene did not match any of the five teens did not mean that they could not have been part of the attack on her, as they were charged as « accomplices » to the person who eventually confessed to raping her, serial rapist Matias Reyes. She further recalled that « two of them admitted to climbing on top of her and siimulating intercourse, » adding that « Semen was found on the inside of their clothing, corroborating those confessions. » Fairstein concluded her article: That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims — and that her film includes so many falsehoods — is nonetheless an outrage. Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth. Newsbusters
The NYPD police officer who made the first arrests in the Central Park Five investigation has condemned Netflix’s drama When They See Us as ‘lies’ and said it puts the lives of cops and prosecutors at risk. Eric Reynolds, who as a plainclothes officer arrested Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, tells DailyMailTV that the four-part television adaptation is so filled with errors that it is ‘malicious recreation’. He described the miniseries, produced by Robert De Niro and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Ava DuVernay, as ‘total nonsense’ that left him ‘flabbergasted’ (…) He spoke out after an outcry in the wake of the series led to prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer losing publishing contracts, board seats and lecturing roles. Reynolds, 59, rejected criticism of the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the five for the rape of 28-year-old jogger, Patricia Meili – and particularly took issue with the portrayal of the black men as victims of a racist system. As an African American, he said, the allegations of racism cut particularly deep. (…) And he said that even the brief appearance he makes in the series, which has been watched by 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide, is pure ‘fiction,’ portraying events which simply did not happen; he was shown as a uniformed officer when he in fact wore plain clothes. He believes the series is inflammatory by depicting members of the five looking badly beaten when they were arrested. Reynolds told DailyMailTV, ‘Please, someone, show me the pictures of them. Show me the injuries, show me the black eyes, show me the swollen faces because every single one of them that came out of that precinct had none of that.’ He has shared his own recollections of the night of April 19, 1989 when more than 30 young men embarked on a violent spree of terror, and Meili was found raped and close to death in Central Park. Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes on April 19. But the one that is remembered is Meili’s rape. In 2002 their convictions were sensationally vacated in their entirety when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist already in prison, confessed to the crime and claimed to have acted alone. The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout. Supporters said they had been exonerated and the Central Park Five became synonymous with an unimaginable miscarriage of justice. When They See Us opens on the night of the ‘wilding’, where a mass of young men rushed through Central Park, casting the five very squarely as innocents caught up in events and on the fringes of any violence. Reynolds said, ‘When I saw the opening scenes it was like watching a musical. I was flabbergasted. That absolutely was not what occurred.’ The Central Park Five had their convictions vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted raping jogger Patricia Meili. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene In one scene a man, most likely a depiction of teacher John Loughlin, is shown being felled by a single punch while three of the five look on. Reynolds said, ‘It did not happen that way. They were beating him with a pipe. They beat him so savagely that both of his eyes were shut and he had a cracked skull.’ Testimony from one who was there stated that Yusef Salaam was wielding that pipe and ‘going to work on him.’ The cop who found Loughlin told Reynolds that he ‘looked like his head was dunked in a bucket of blood.’ In another scene the boys are part of a crowd halfheartedly harassing a couple on a tandem bike. Again Reynolds watched in outrage at what he said is a ‘total fiction.’ He explained, ‘The group lay in wait. They stretched out across the roadway and held hands to knock them off their bike. It was a couple on the tandem and the woman said she was scared for her life. ‘Her boyfriend just told her, ‘Put your head down and pedal as hard as you can.’ And they rode through them as they were grabbing at her clothes and by the grace of God they got away.’ Pointing to the couple attacked on their tandem he said it was the violence, not the ethnicity, of its perpetrators that mattered to police officers. He said, ‘I don’t understand how that’s a race issue if you’re in the middle of a park riding on a bike in the middle of the night and a group of males, whether they’re black, white or whatever, you know are standing on the road with the express purpose of knocking you off the bike. (…) He recalled, ‘We were getting numerous radio runs of a large crowd of black and Hispanic kids assaulting and robbing people. We had people going into the station house and cops out in the field who had gotten flagged down by civilians saying, ‘There’s a crowd of kids there. They’ve tried to assault us and thrown rocks. (…)  Reynolds recalled, ‘There were 30 of them on the move. There’s only two of us so, you know, clearly we’re not going to get all of them. Long story short we got five of them.’ Two were Raymond Santana – who had, Reynolds said, been leading the pack – and Kevin Richardson who started crying in the back of the squad car. Reynolds said, ‘He [Richardson] started crying and saying that he ‘knew who did the murder’. He said it was Antron McCray and he would tell us where he lived.’ The officers assumed he was talking about Loughlin who was beaten unconscious. (…) Reynolds’ partner asked Santana and Stephen Lopez, a member of the group he was arrested alongside, what they were doing out making trouble and why weren’t they with their girlfriends instead. According to Reynolds, ‘Santana said, ‘I already got mine,’ and they kind of laughed. I just assumed it was an in-joke. It only became significant after we learned what had happened to the jogger.’ (…) While the boys were waiting, at around 1.30am, the call came in that a female jogger had been found in the park, raped and beaten to within an inch of her life. The detectives responding to the crime had been told that Reynolds had arrested five out of a group of about 30 kids ‘wilding’ in the park. Now they instructed Reynolds not to let them go. He recalled, ‘They said, ‘Look, we don’t think these kids have anything to do with it but they were up there at the same time that she was attacked. They might have seen something so we’re going to come down and debrief them.’ Reynolds was in the room for all of those interviews. He said, ‘Their parents are there, they’re getting their rights read. We ask them what happened in the park? According to Reynolds they did not ask the kids about the rape directly. The first two kids told almost identical stories. They said they’d been in the park with a bunch of kids who were beating people up but they didn’t touch anybody Reynolds wrote them up and let them go home. Then, he said, ‘The third kid is Kevin Richardson. He’s there with his mother. We read him his rights. We ask him what happened. He said the exact same thing the other kids said – everyone else was beating people up but I didn’t touch anyone.’ Then one of the detectives noticed he had a scratch on his face. They asked him how he’d got it and at first he blamed Reynolds’s partner for the injury. When told the officer was next door and would be asked if that was true Richardson changed his story. Reynolds said, ‘He said, « Okay, it was the female jogger. » And I’ll be honest with you I almost fell off my seat because I was not expecting him to say that. ‘And then he starts to go into the story of the attack on the jogger. No coercion. We didn’t even think he was involved. He starts to give it up right there in front of us.’ Ultimately police questioned 37 boys and, contrary to Netflix’s dramatic depiction, there was nothing random or rushed in the five who were ultimately charged. They became the Central Park Five, he said, not because cops were anxious to pin the crime on someone but because they implicated themselves and each other when interviewed. In DuVernay’s drama particular attention is given to Korey Wise’s story. He is shown accompanying his friend Salaam to the station, an act of loyalty that sees him embroiled in the case when he wasn’t even on the cops’ radar. Reynolds is exasperated by this. He said: ‘Korey Wise was named by other participants in the wilding that day. We went specifically to look for him. ‘When detectives asked a couple of people in front of their building if they had seen him they said they saw him earlier and he said, « Y’all better stay away from me because the cops are after me. »‘ When they asked him why, Reynolds said, the people in front of the building stated that Wise had told them: ‘You see that woman in Central Park last night? That was us.’ (…) Reynolds points to a wealth of physical evidence that was never refuted at trial: hair and blood ‘consistent’ with the jogger’s was found on the boys’ sneakers and clothing, along with semen in the boys’ underwear. The fact that none of them claimed to be able to finish the act of penetrative sex is the reason, Reynolds said, that their semen was only found on the inside of their underwear and clothing rather than on Meili. (…) Reynolds explained, ‘Reyes comes forward to say he did it by himself and he can prove it because he knows something we don’t know. And he’s correct. ‘She had a fanny pack with her Walkman in it and he took it and he threw it away. (…) ‘But then Armstrong found that a detective had taken some notes of an interview with Korey Wise. And Korey said that there was a guy named ‘Rudy,’ who he said took her fanny pack and her Walkman.’ Reynolds believes that Rudy was Reyes and his name muddled up by Wise who has hearing difficulties. He said, ‘He told that to us on April 20, 1989, the day after. So how in the world does Korey Wise know about her fanny pack and Walkman in 1989 when Reyes says he knows about it because he was the only person there?’ (…) The report stated, ‘the most likely scenario for the events of April 19, 1989 was that the defendants came up on the jogger and subjected her to the same kind of attack, albeit with sexual overtones, that they inflicted upon other victims in the park that night. ‘Perhaps attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams, Reyes either joined in the attack as it was ending or waited until the defendants have moved on to their next victims before descending upon her himself, raping her and inflicting upon her the brutal injuries that almost caused her death.’ Reynolds’s view is supported by both the medical opinion of Meili’s two Urgent Care Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital and the Armstrong Report. Dr Robert Kurtz is on record as saying Meili had injuries consistent with a sharp, clean blade or object while Reyes’ confession only mentioned a blunt object. Dr Kurtz noted that Reyes, ‘never said he had used a knife, or broken glass, or broken bottle or something like that that would have been able to inflict a clean laceration.  Dr Jane Mauer, a surgeon who helped reconstruct Meili’s face recalled seeing hand print bruising on her thighs Dr Mauer said, ‘You could see the four fingers and the thumb indented in her skin to hold her legs apart.’ It led her to doubt that this could be the work of one man. Moreover the Armstrong Report concluded Reyes could not be considered a reliable witness. It revealed a fellow inmate in prison with Reyes said Reyes told him ‘the attack on the jogger was already in progress when he joined, attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams.’ Reynolds does not believe that the five should still be in prison. He said, ‘They did their time. They paid the price for what they did. You know, that’s it.’ When Bill de Blasio was elected New York City mayor in 2014 he ordered the $41 million settlement to go through for the five men. All legal action finished in 2016 when the men were awarded a further $3.9 million from New York State But despite the case now being closed, Reynolds feel the Netflix mini-series is unfairly punishing people who prosecuted the five. In the wake of the drama’s release Linda Fairstein, who supervised the prosecution, and lead prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer have both fallen victim to an angry public backlash. Fairstein, who now writes crime fiction, was dropped by her publisher. Lederer, who continues to work in the District Attorney’s office, resigned from teaching law as an adjunct at Columbia University in New York. Reynolds said, ‘It’s like mob justice. People are doing everything they can to destroy these women’s lives and they’ve done nothing wrong. They don’t even know that they’re not basing their opinions and their fury on what actually happened. (…) Reynolds believes the show falsely depicts a racist criminal justice system. He is keen to point out that growing up in Eighties New York, criminals posed the threat to public safety, not police officers. (…) He said, ‘This has got people so divided and so at each other’s throats it’s sad. Let me tell you there’s a lot of people who believe that they are guilty but they’re not going to say anything because they don’t want to get shouted down. They don’t want to be called racist.’ Daily Mail
More than three decades have passed since Jane Jacobs and Robert Caro tore down Moses’s once pristine public image, but his physical legacy remains standing. Our New York is Moses’s New York. He built 13 bridges, 416 miles of parkways, 658 playgrounds, and 150,000 housing units, spending $150 billion in today’s dollars. If you are riding the waves at Jones Beach or watching the Mets at Shea Stadium or listening to « La Traviata » at Lincoln Center or using the Triborough Bridge to get to the airport, then you are in the New York that Moses built. If we are to realize Mayor Bloomberg’s plans for a city of 9 million people with newer, greener infrastructure, then New York will again need to embrace construction and change. We will need again builders like Moses, who can put the needs of the city ahead of the opposition of a neighborhood. Yet Moses’s flaws, which were emphasized so eloquently by Jacobs and Mr. Caro, have led many to see nothing but evil in Moses and his works. Moses’s supposed villainy has established its place in the iconography of the preservationists who stand against growth. The opening of a three-part exhibition on Moses — at the Queens Museum of Art on January 28, at the Wallach Art Gallery of Columbia University on January 31, and at the Museum of the City of New York on February 1 — gives us a chance to reappraise his achievements. We should avoid the excesses of Moses’s early hagiography or his later vilification. The successes and failures of this master builder teach us that great cities need great builders, but that we must check their more Pharaonic excesses. The lessons of Moses’s life are taught by his projects. His best work, such as the parks and pools that had large benefits and modest costs, happened early in his career. When he was starting as Governor Smith’s park tsar, Moses could get public funding for his projects only if they were popular. The need to build support didn’t stop Moses from taking risks. Indeed, Smith accused Moses of wanting to « give the people a fur coat when what they need is red flannel underwear, » but Moses’s bold vision was just what the public wanted. Society was getting richer, and those parks and pools helped New York succeed as a place of consumption and as a center of production. Most of Moses’s bridges and expressways are also major successes. New York is a city of islands. The city’s waterways were ideal in the ages of sail and steam, but they became a major headache in the age of the car. Despite his lack of a driver’s license, Moses understood that New York needed to adapt to the automobile. His bridges made it easier for cars to cross between the city’s islands. His parkways made it more pleasant to drive into New York. Boston’s Big Dig should remind us that it is hard to retrofit a pre-car city for the automobile. By comparison, Moses’s achievements look cheap and effective. Some say Moses was wrong to build for the car. Some say the city should have bet exclusively on public transportation that would better serve the poor. But those critics ignore the millions of people who fled the older cities that weren’t car friendly. Every one of the 10 largest cities in the country in 1950 — except for Los Angeles and, miraculously, New York — lost at least one-fifth of its population between 1950 and today. Moses’s bridges and highways helped to keep some drivers living and working in New York. Those middle-class drivers helped New York to survive and grow, while every other large, cold city in the second half of the 20th century shrank. Not all of Moses’s transportation projects were winners. To build the Cross Bronx Expressway, Moses took thousands of apartments using the power of eminent domain. Neighborhoods were shattered as the highway smashed through a once-vibrant area. I cannot tell whether the benefits to the millions who have used the expressway outweigh the costs to the thousands who were evicted, but I am sure that the process was deeply flawed. To any friend of liberty, Robert Moses’s use of eminent domain represents big government at its most terrifying. At the stroke of a pen, entire communities can be wiped out because someone in government thinks that this removal is in the public interest. Without eminent domain, however, large-scale projects will either flounder or cost as much as the Big Dig. Mayor Bloomberg’s dream of a renewed New York will need eminent domain. But I hope that eminent domain in the post-Bloomberg era will become much fairer than it was during the era of Robert Moses. The state should develop better legal infrastructure to oversee takings. Perhaps there should be a state-level commission, independent of local government, with both elected and appointed members, that can subject each use of eminent domain to cost-benefit analysis and determine just compensation for the evicted. The right response to Moses’s excesses is not to renounce eminent domain, but to strengthen the process so that it can play its needed role. Mr. Caro criticizes Moses for catering to the prosperous by destroying low-income housing to build roads, housing, and amenities for the rich like Lincoln Center. This criticism may be apt, but the problem lies not in the man but in his situation. Moses was an appointed official whose career depended on the approval of elites, not the votes of the poor. While elected officials have an unfortunate tendency toward shortsighted populism, appointed officials have a tendency to cater to the well-connected. One of the most bizarre responses to the unelected power of Moses was to create the unelected power of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which seems almost designed to empower the most eloquent of squeaky wheels. A better response would have been to seek pro-growth solutions that combine the involvement of appointed and elected officials. Moses’s greatest failures were his housing projects. More than 40 years ago, Jacobs attacked Moses for replacing well-functioning neighborhoods with Le Corbusier-inspired towers. She was prescient. Moses spent millions and evicted tens of thousands to create buildings that became centers of crime, poverty, and despair. A simple but stark lesson emerged from Moses’s travails as housing tsar: The government is not good at the housing business. New York is filled with apartment buildings that provide decent housing and a comfortable social environment for their residents. Almost none of them were built by the government. New York has an affordable-housing problem, but it is the result of government intervention in the housing market that has limited housing supply. Rent control and an increasingly anti-growth regulatory environment have ensured that new supply has not kept up with the demand to live in reinvigorated New York. We need people with the vision of Robert Moses building homes in New York, but they should come from a private sector that is less fettered by government constraints. Moses was at his best when he had to make sure his projects would fund themselves or would really appeal to the people of New York. When Moses acquired vast federal funding, he also acquired the freedom to pursue his own vision, and that vision wasn’t always in the interests of the city. Mr. Bloomberg’s plan for New York in 2030 needs its own Moses-like master builders, but the city will be best served if those builders are funded by and accountable to the city. Those builders must not be beholden to every neighborhood group or cadre of unelected elites. While Moses’s successes would have been impossible under such conditions, his failures could have been checked if he had faced a greater degree of citywide oversight. Edward Glaeser
La violence le long de la ligne de tramway bordée de chênes Uptown a troublé ce qui avait été jusque là une journée de festivités plutôt paisible dans laquelle des centaines de milliers de personnes avaient fait la fête dans les rues en ce dernier jour du carnaval. NYT (sur les six victimes du Mardi gras de la Nouvelle–Orléans hier soir)
A l’exception d’un demandeur d’asile afghan, tous sont d’origine pakistanaise. Toutes les filles sont blanches. L’équation est aussi froide et simple qu’explosive, dans un Royaume-Uni en proie au doute sur son modèle multiculturel. (…) Dans les semaines suivant le procès, les médias égrènent les noms de villes où des gangs similaires à celui de Rochdale sont démantelés : Nelson, Oxford, Telford, High Wycombe… Et, fin octobre, c’est à nouveau à Rochdale qu’un groupe de neuf hommes est appréhendé. Chaque fois, les violeurs sont en grande majorité d’origine pakistanaise. Les micros se tendent vers les associations ou les chercheurs spécialisés dans la lutte contre les abus sexuels. Selon leurs conclusions, entre 46 % et 83 % des hommes impliqués dans ce type précis d’affaires – des viols commis en bande par des hommes qui amadouent leurs jeunes victimes en « milieu ouvert » – sont d’origine pakistanaise (les statistiques ethniques sont autorisées en Grande-Bretagne). Pour une population d’origine pakistanaise évaluée à 7 %. (…) En septembre, un rapport gouvernemental conclura à un raté sans précédent des services sociaux et de la police, qui renforce encore l’opinion dans l’idée qu’un « facteur racial » a joué dans l’affaire elle-même, mais aussi dans son traitement par les autorités : entre 2004 et 2010, 127 alertes ont été émises sur des cas d’abus sexuels sur mineurs, bon nombre concernant le groupe de Shabir Ahmed, sans qu’aucune mesure soit prise. A plusieurs reprises, les deux institutions ont estimé que des jeunes filles âgées de 12 à 17 ans « faisaient leurs propres choix de vie ». Pour Ann Cryer, ancienne députée de Keighley, une circonscription voisine, aucun doute n’est permis : police et services sociaux étaient « pétrifiés à l’idée d’être accusés de racisme ». Le ministre de la famille de l’époque, Tim Loughton, reconnaît que « le politiquement correct et les susceptibilités raciales ont constitué un problème ». L’air est d’autant plus vicié que, à l’audience, Shabir Ahmed en rajoute dans la provocation. Il traite le juge de « salope raciste » et affirme : « Mon seul crime est d’être musulman. » Un autre accusé lance : « Vous, les Blancs, vous entraînez vos filles à boire et à faire du sexe. Quand elles nous arrivent, elles sont parfaitement entraînées. » (…) un employé de la mairie s’interroge. Anonymement. « Où est la limite du racisme ? Les agresseurs voyaient ces filles comme du « déchet blanc », c’est indéniablement raciste. Mais les services sociaux, des gens bien blancs, ne les ont pas mieux considérées. » A quelques rues de là, dans sa permanence, Simon Danczuk, député travailliste de Rochdale qui a été l’un des premiers à parler publiquement d’un « facteur racial », juge tout aussi déterminant ce qu’il appelle le « facteur social » : « Les responsables des services sociaux ont pu imaginer que ces filles de même pas 15 ans se prostituaient, alors qu’ils en auraient été incapables à propos de leurs propres enfants. » (…) Mohammed Shafiq estime qu’ »une petite minorité d’hommes pakistanais voient les femmes comme des citoyens de seconde catégorie et les femmes blanches comme des citoyens de troisième catégorie ». Mais, pour lui, les jeunes filles agressées étaient surtout vulnérables. « Le fait qu’elles traînent dehors en pleine nuit, qu’elles soient habillées de façon légère, renforçait les agresseurs dans leur idée qu’elles ne valaient rien, qu’elles étaient inférieures. Mais cela faisait surtout d’elles des proies faciles, alors que les filles de la communauté pakistanaise sont mieux protégées par leur famille, et qu’un abus sexuel y est plus difficilement dissimulable. » Le Monde
Cologne résonne pourtant avec ce qui a pu être constaté en Egypte. On pense au film de Mohamed Diab Les Femmes du bus 678 (2011), et la façon dont des femmes subissent des attouchements. On pense à une enquête de l’écrivain et ancien journaliste du Monde Robert Solé qui décrivait les viols collectifs à répétition en Egypte (« Culture & idées » du 27 avril 2013). Des dizaines voire des centaines d’hommes se jettent sur une ou plusieurs femmes pour arracher leurs vêtements, les toucher, les pénétrer avec leurs doigts. Cette folie collective porte le nom de « taharosh ». Elle a souvent lieu lors de fêtes religieuses. Cela ressemble à ce qui s’est passé lors du soulèvement place Tahrir, au Caire, en 2011. Et cela ressemble à Cologne. Le Monde
We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up. This is terrorising our community. Jan Bøhler (Norwegian Labour Party)
Over the last month (…) Oslo’s city centre has witnessed an eruption of unprovoked attacks on random victims—most of them ethnic Norwegian men—by what police have described as youth gangs, each consisting of five to 10 young immigrants. The attacks typically take place on weekends. On Saturday, October 19, as many as 20 such attacks were recorded, with victims suffered varying degrees of injuries. One of the incidents involved a group of young men, originally from the Middle East, detained for attacking a man in his twenties in the affluent west end. According to police, the victim had been kicked repeatedly in the head while lying on the ground, in what appeared to be a random, unprovoked beating. Another victim that weekend was the uncle of Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr, who suffered several broken ribs after being mobbed at the Romsås subway station. The following weekend in Oslo, Kurds and Turks clashed over recent developments in Turkey, and ended up looting a branch of the Body Shop on Karl Johan gate, as well as destroying several cars. Car fires also have been on the rise, though the problem has been around for years. (Even in 2013, cars were set alight in Oslo at the rate of about one per week, mostly in the city’s poorer east end.) Overall, crime rates are still low by the standards of other cities, but the recent rise in youth crime suggests that may be changing. “We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up,” said Labour Party politician Jan Bøhler to the media last month. “This is terrorising our community.” While such observations are widely shared, Bøhler is notable for being one of the few politicians on the left who’s raised his voice about rising crime among young immigrants. Oslo is the fastest growing capital city in Europe, despite the fact the country now is registering fewer births than at any time since the government started keeping track in the 19th century. About 14% of the country’s population is now composed of immigrants, with Poles, Lithuanians and Swedes topping the European migration sources; and Somalian, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria supplying the greatest number of non-OECD arrivals. Many of the immigrants congregate in Oslo, where, according to Statistics Norway, about a third of all residents are immigrants or born to immigrants. (As recently as 2004, the figure was just 22%.) In several areas, such as Stovner, Alna and Søndre Nordstrand, the figure is over 50%. According to a 2015 Statistics Norway report, “most persons with an immigrant background living in Oslo come from Pakistan (22,000), while 13-14,000 are from Poland, Sweden and Somalia. There are large differences between the districts: Persons with a background from Pakistan and Sri Lanka are most represented in [the far eastern suburbs of] Oslo.” By one 2012 estimate, 70 percent of Oslo’s first- and second-generation immigrants will have roots outside Europe by 2040, and about half of the city’s residents will be immigrants. Until now, Norway had seemed to cope well with the influx of immigrants from war-torn Muslim countries, in part because the intake levels generally were kept at a level that permitted newcomers to be integrated without overwhelming local resources. Indeed, there has been a broad consensus in Norwegian politics to keep immigration rates lower than those of comparable countries such as Sweden and Germany. Nevertheless, concerns have been rising in recent years, even if the ruling class was hesitant to discuss the issue. The country’s libertarian Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) has repeatedly asked the country’s statistical agency to report on the statistical relationship between crime and country of origin. In the past, Statistics Norway refused, saying that such a task was “beyond its capacity.” But this year, for the first time, such a report was published. And the numbers were clear: Immigrants from certain backgrounds—particularly Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghanis—were many times more likely to commit violent crimes than other Norwegians (including other immigrant groups). In 65 out of 80 crime categories, non-Norwegians were over-represented. The largest discrepancy was in regard to domestic violence: Immigrants from non-Western countries were found to be eight times more likely to be charged for such crimes. Rape and murder were also heavily skewed toward these immigrant groups. Worryingly, the figures showed that second-generation immigrants were more likely to be criminals than their parents. For a long time, the expression svenske tilstander—“Swedish conditions”—has been used to describe large Swedish cities such as Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm, which feature areas plagued by bombings, gang-related gun violence, robbery and rape. In the past, Norwegians used the expression somewhat disparagingly, insisting that such issues would never arise in Norway (while also suggesting that the situation in Sweden was itself exaggerated by those with an anti-immigration agenda). But gradually, “Swedish conditions” have seemed less distant. Heidi Vibeke Pedersen, a Labour politician representing the immigrant-heavy area of Holmlia, recently wrote a Facebook post about her own experience, which was subsequently reprinted in VG, Norway’s biggest tabloid, under the headline “We have a problem in Oslo” (…) Pedersen’s article alluded to the fact that, in the quest to maintain their own cultures, some Muslims in Norway prefer to segregate instead of integrate. The newspaper Aftenposten recently uncovered the existence of Islamic schools presenting as cultural centres. And Islamsk Råd, the Islamic Council of Norway, now has proposed a separate branch of the Barnevernet—the government-run social services responsible for children—to deal with Muslim children. The article was shared by many. But Pedersen’s use of such terms as “Norwegian-Norwegian” (or norsk-norske) didn’t sit well with progressives and community advocates. Hasti Hamidi, a writer and Socialist Party politician, and Umar Ashraf, a Holmlia resident, wrote in VG that Pedersen’s use of the term “must mean that the author’s understanding of Norwegian-ness is synonymous with white skin.” Camara Lundestad Joof, a well known anti-racist activist and writer at the Dagbladet newspaper, accused Pedersen of branding local teenagers as terrorists. Using her own hard-done-by brother as an example, she explained how, in her opinion, Norwegian society has failed non-white young people. Had he been treated better, she argues, he and others like him would fare better. (One problem with this argument is that Norway is one of the least racist countries in the world.) Of course, this tension between racial sensitivity and blunt talk on crime has existed for generations in many Western societies. But it’s a relatively new topic in Norway, which is only now embracing certain hyper-progressive academic trends. (Oslo Metropolitan University, for instance, has recently produced an expert in so-called Whiteness Studies.) In fact, some influential Norwegians apparently would prefer that Statistics Norway had never released its report on crime and immigration in the first place. This includes Oslo’s vice mayor, Kamzy Gunaratnam, who told Dagbladet, “Damn, I’m angry! I’m not interested in these numbers…We don’t have a need to set people up against each other. These are our children, our people.” But burying the truth is never a good long-term strategy for anyone, including members of immigrant communities. The more persuasive view is that these issues should be addressed candidly, while they are still manageable. Unlike many other European countries, Norway doesn’t yet have an influential far-right party. But that may change if voters see that mainstream politicians are too polite to address a problem that ordinary people all over Oslo are talking about. Quillette
Les jeunes grandissent aujourd’hui dans un environnement où les menaces et la violence sont monnaie courante, où les adultes ont parfois peur d’intervenir et où on leur dit que la police est raciste. Notre quartier est de plus en plus divisé. Nous avons des régions qui sont principalement ‘norvégiennes-norvégiennes’, et d’autres à forte majorité immigrée. Ce n’est pas cela, la diversité. Heidi Vibeke Pedersen (élue travailliste norvégienne)
Depuis plusieurs semaines, le centre-ville d’Oslo est le théâtre d’agressions gratuites, qui prennent pour cible des hommes norvégiens « de souche ». Le mode opératoire est désormais connu des policiers, qui évoquent des gangs de jeunes immigrés, dont le nombre varie entre 5 et 10 habituellement. Une vingtaine de ces attaques, d’une rare violence, ont été recensées durant le seul samedi 19 octobre. Un jeune du quartier riche de la ville avait notamment été passé à tabac, prenant plusieurs cours de pied au visage. Au même moment, l’oncle du ministre de la Justice, le jeune Jøran Kallmyr, s’est fait casser plusieurs côtes. Le week-end suivant, plusieurs voitures ont été brûlées dans des échauffourées entre communautés turque et kurde. Mais en Norvège, rares sont les politiciens à se prononcer sur la hausse de la criminalité chez les jeunes immigrés… Valeurs actuelles
The random, apparently motiveless rampage in Central Park last week that the suspects in the case called wilding was an especially ferocious version of group delinquency that is common but usually not so vicious, law-enforcement officials and psychologists said this week. A 28-year-old investment banker, who was raped and savagely beaten, remains in a coma at Metropolitan Hospital as a result of the gang violence, and at least eight other people were assaulted by members of a group that the police now say numbered between 32 and 41. Eight youths have been arraigned on charges of rape, assault and attempted murder in the case, while five charges of assault, one involving a 13-year-old suspect, have been filed in the beating of a male jogger in his 40’s, who was seriously wounded in the head with a metal pipe. He was released from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center over the weekend. Also, a 15-year-old has been charged with being one of 17 youths who beat and robbed a male jogger who has been identified only as wearing an Army jacket. A grand jury is expected to take up all of the cases on Thursday.  »’Wilding seems to be a new term, but it’s hardly a new activity, » said Peter Reinharz, chief prosecutor for the Family Court Division of the city’s Law Department.  »In terms of group attacks, the No. 1 crime that we’ve seen among juveniles in Family Court, at least prior to the crack invasion, is robbery 2 – that is, aided robberies, the wolf-pack robberies.  »Prior to that, » he said,  »the No. 1 crime was jostling, which is pickpocketing. But for some reason, I guess it became a little bit easier to knock the old lady over and just grab the bag rather than to reach into the pocket and hope you came out with something. So things have gotten a lot rougher in the city with respect to wolf packs. » Last year, Mr. Reinharz said, 622 wolf-pack cases were referred to Family Court, along with 139 attempted robberies of that type. In 1987, there were 608 such cases and 144 attempted wolf-pack robberies. The police quoted some of the youths questioned in the case, all of whom live in Harlem near the park, as saying that the rampage grew out of a plan to attack joggers and bicyclists in the park for fun.  »It certainly got out of control, » Mr. Reinharz said of the episode,  »but I don’t know if it was out of control for these types of kids. I think that kids like this, given what I would call their predatory nature, are people who, given the chance, would do something like this again. There really isn’t any way to control them – at least we haven’t found it in the juvenile justice system. Although Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo said last week that the eight separate assaults on nine people seemed unrelated to money, drugs, alcohol or race, police officials said yesterday that they were investigating to what extent racial factors may have played a role in the youths’ choice of victims.  »The question of whether this was a series of bias-related incidents is being looked at very closely, » said Deputy Police Commissioner Alice T. McGillion. Police officials said that the evidence of bias consisted of testimony from victims, as well as a statement from one suspect in the rape attack, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam, who is said to have told detectives that one member of the group had suggested that they  »get a white girl. » Another 15-year-old, Jermain Robinson, who is charged with robbery of the male jogger in the Army jacket, is also said to have told detectives that youths who chased and threw stones at a white couple on a tandem bicycle had shouted racial epithets. All of those involved in the Central Park attacks are said to be black. The victims were a black man, who was briefly harassed until one youth shouted that he knew the man, two Hispanic people, – and six whites. Police investigators also said that while the other suspects had made no explicit references to racial factors, their acknowledgement that the chief target of their forays were joggers and bicyclists in the park was an indication that a racial motive was at work because, the police suggested, the majority of those who tend to use that part of the park at night tend to be white. For many psychologists, the idea of attacking people who seem to personify a level of unattainable affluence is a common pattern among particpants in wolf-pack attacks.  »From what I have been able to gether about the Central Park case, there seem to be some socioeconomic factors involved, » said Dr. Leah Blumberg Lapidus, a specialist in adolescent behavior in Columbia University’s department of clinical psychology.  »The media, especially television, is constantly advertising these various things that are necessary to define yourself, and the joggers may represent a level of socioeconomic attainment that the media has convinced everybody is necessary to have in order to be an acceptable person, » she said.  »So, to that extent, such people become a target. » On the other hand, Dr. Lapidus said, that did not explain why some of the victims were black or Hispanic. Law-enforcement officials said the the scale of the Central Park episode was reminiscent of an incident in July 1983, when gangs of youths ran amok at a Diana Ross concert in Central Park, beating and robbing scores of people. Two years later, in April 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon in which 26,000 people marched through Manhattan broke up in turmoil after packs of youths attacked and harassed dozens of people in and around Central Park, snatching chains, purses and other property. Police officials, who said Friday that none of the suspects in the park case had a criminal record, said yesterday that they had discovered that that one, 17-year-old Michael Brisco, had been on three years’ probation since December after a wolf-pack-style robbery last year. Officials said he and two others, 12 and 15 years old, had assaulted and robbed a 14-year-old on Nov. 10 on East 90th Street near Second Avenue. Authorities reported over the weekend that they were investigating the possibility that some of the participants in the park attacks had been involved in three separate robbery sprees four days earlier in East Harlem, one of which involved a stabbing. Professor Lapidus and another psychologist, Dr. Ann M. Jernberg, who is director of the Theraplay Institute of Chicago and Wilmette, Ill., both said that what they found set the park rampage apart from others were the intensity of the violence and the apparent failure of almost all of the nine accused youths to show any remorse. Police and prosecutors said they laughed and joked while in police custody, and that only one expressed any sorrow.  »This lack of awareness of the consequences of what they’ve done – almost as if they’re benumbed – is a little more extreme than what we’ve seen, » Dr. Lapidus said. For Dr. Jernberg, who traces the origin of many forms of antisocial behavior to early childhood problems in the family,  »the mob psychology that these kids were obviously caught up in protects them against remorse. » ‘You get together a group of adolescents and you’ve got the worst possible combination for trouble, » Dr. Jernberg said in a telephone interview from Chicago.  »The idea of collective violence, the risks involved, is terribly exciting, very dramatic, and sometimes all kids this age need is to see a violent movie or hear a song to encourage them. » For Mr. Reinharz, the randomness of such attacks – which he believes are largely underreported because  »people expect this kind of activity in the city » – is a component of what he called the  »predatory instincts » of youths who carry out wolf-pack behavior. NYT
En quatre épisodes, Dans leur regard reconstitue par la fiction l’affaire des “cinq de Central Park”, symbole de la violence et de l’arbitraire de la justice américaine envers les Noir.e.s. Au printemps 1989, cinq adolescents (quatre Afro-Américains et un Hispanique) ont été injustement accusés du viol et de la tentative de meurtre d’une joggeuse à Central Park. Condamnés par deux jurys successifs, ils ont passé entre six et treize ans derrière les barreaux avant que le véritable coupable ne se dénonce. Exonérés de toutes les charges en 2002, ils n’ont obtenu réparation de la part de l’Etat de New York qu’en 2014. Les Inrockuptibles
Pour ceux qui ne connaitraient pas l’affaire, elle a secoué New York et les États-Unis à la fin des années 80, et ses dernières répercussions ont eu lieu en 2014. Dans la nuit du 19 avril 1989, la joggeuse Trisha Melli est sauvagement attaquée, violée et laissée pour morte dans Central Park. La même nuit, une bande d’ados afro-américains et latinos (dont Raymond Santana et Kevin Richardson), sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc, est raflée par la police et emmenée au poste. Le lendemain, trois autres jeunes (Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, et Korey Wise) sont à leurs tours arrêtés, interrogés par les inspecteurs et poussés à avouer ce crime qu’ils n’ont jamais commis.  Les cinq garçons seront jugés coupables et jetés en prison en 1990. Il faudra attendre 2002 pour que le véritable criminel (ironie du sort, il était blanc) vienne se dénoncer et soit arrêté. La libération de Korey Wise et l’acquittement des cinq garçons suivront plus ou moins rapidement. Enfin, en 2014, ils recevront une compensation financière d’environ 40 millions de dollars. (…) Comment dépeindre, 30 ans après les faits, un New York pré-Giuliani gangréné par la drogue et les violences interraciales ? (…) Comment la presse a-t-elle a pu les jeter en pâture et les rendre coupables avant même le procès ? (…) Mais l’injustice de l’histoire de ce garçon commence bien avant le procès : au départ, il n’aurait même pas dû être arrêté. Celui qui n’était pas sur la liste de noms donnés par Raymond Santana au moment de son arrestation, celui qui s’est retrouvé au poste dans l’unique but de ne pas laisser son ami seul, est finalement celui qui a purgé la plus longue peine et a connu les conditions d’incarcération les plus difficiles – conditions auxquelles un jeune de 16 ans n’est absolument pas préparé. Le choix d’Ava DuVernay d’offrir à Korey Wise un épisode entier n’a alors rien d’étonnant. Si le calvaire du jeune garçon est de moins en moins supportable à regarder à mesure que l’épisode se déroule, c’est sans doute grâce au talent de son interprète. (…) Dans leur regard est puissante, l’injustice de son histoire et la souffrance de ses personnages font facilement passer de la rage aux larmes. En 1989, l’affaire avait pris une proportion nationale. L’attaque raciale et contre les minorités avait été mise en avant par les défenseurs des « Cinq de Central Park ». Mais Ava DuVernay se plaît à rappeler autre chose : contre eux, il y avait un milliardaire de l’immobilier (dont les bureaux bordaient le parc) maintenant président des États-Unis. Donald Trump avait payé plus de 80 000 dollars pour des pages entières dans des journaux, appelant notamment au rétablissement de la peine de mort dans l’État. Outre Donald Trump, la procureur Linda Fairstein, campée par Felicity Huffman, est également pointée du doigt. Les accusations de la réalisatrice vont même plus loin : elle serait responsable de l’arrestation et surtout de l’acharnement de la police et de la cour sur les cinq adolescents et leur famille. Aujourd’hui, l’ex-procureur reconvertie en autrice est à son tour lynchée sur la place publique (et notamment la tweetosphère). Il faut dire que devant les conditions des interrogatoires des cinq garçons, la violence verbale et physique dont ils ont (ou auraient, pour Fairstein) fait les frais, et l’instrumentalisation politique de leur incarcération, l’opportunisme de la procureur se confond facilement avec un racisme aveugle. Aujourd’hui encore, la femme dément la vision des interrogatoires que propose DuVernay et reproche à la réalisatrice d’avoir non seulement omis une grande partie des méfaits du gang cette nuit du 19 avril 1989, mais aussi de ne s’être penchée que sur l’innocence des cinq garçons. S’il fallait faire un reproche à la série émouvante et militante, on pourrait pointer du doigt sa mise en scène très classique. Comme le but n’est pas d’esthétiser, mais de redonner leur place, leur parole et leur dignité à des personnes à jamais meurtries, la réalisation use d’effets dramatiques (musique, ralentis…) pour augmenter l’empathie du spectateur. C’est un peu facile et attendu, mais rien d’étonnant de la part de la réalisatrice de Selma. Ecran large
“The fact that wilin’ became wilding, became wolf pack, became these boys are animals… I remember for the first time realizing that the news might not be true, that the news is something that you have to really think about and question. Ava DuVernay
When Donald Trump took out that full-page ad, and put them in all of New York City’s newspapers, calling for our execution, he placed a bounty on our head. Yusuf Salaam
I look at Donald Trump, and I understand him as a representation of a symptom of America. We were convicted because of the colour of our skin. People thought the worst of us. And this is all because of prominent New Yorkers – especially Donald Trump. Yusuf Salaam
Though the Central Park attacks were certainly the backdrop to Trump’s ad, his language did not presume the guilt of the defendants, whom he scarcely mentioned, and he did not call specifically for the execution of anyone. In fact, Trump demanded capital punishment only for murderers, and by the time his ad appeared, Trisha Meili was expected to survive. Moreover, Trump was hardly alone, in New York City, in expressing horror and anguish about the attack—neither the New York Times nor the Daily News objected to running the ad, after all. New York City in 1989 was under violent assault from predatory criminals. There were nine times as many murders then as now; robbery and muggings were more than ten times as frequent as they are today. Rape and felony assault were well over double today’s rates. Pack-style violence like what happened that night in Central Park was all too common. Gangs “ran amok” at a 1983 Diana Ross concert in the Park, according to the Times, “beating and robbing scores of people.” In 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon was broken up around Central Park when “packs of youth attacked and harassed dozens of people,” stealing jewelry and pocketbooks. David Dinkins, running against Ed Koch in the 1989 Democratic primary for mayor, called for “anti-wilding” legislation in the wake of the Central Park Jogger attack. He won the general election against Rudy Giuliani in part for his promise to be tough on crime. Trump’s ad, though cast as a brutal call for revenge, is actually a demand for public safety, and a return to the “feeling of security New York’s finest once gave to the citizens of this City.” Written in 1989, it is a prescient call for Broken Windows policing, which from 1994 on resulted in the sharpest and most enduring decrease in crime that any city has seen in American history. The policies that Trump called for saved the lives of tens of thousands of people—most of them black and Latino—who would otherwise have fallen victim to New York’s spiraling violence. The latest outbreak of passions regarding this case, and the novel twist of making Trump a central player in it, raise other questions. Given that there have been no new developments, except for the city payouts, in the Central Park case since Burns’s 2012 documentary, why was a new movie called for, anyway? The Netflix series, arguably, exists only to make Trump a target for his behavior in a long-ago New York episode—just in time for the 2020 campaign. Ana DuVernay, director of the docudrama, is a close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama. Like DuVernay, the Obamas have multiyear, multimillion-dollar development deals with Netflix. Amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist is likely to be part of the eventual Democratic candidate’s campaign strategy. When They See Us may be a valuable tool for that purpose; it certainly has little value for truthfulness. Seth Barron
Before their arrest, the teens crested through their city with youthful ebullience. They were “just baby boys.” But in the days following the rape of Trisha Meili, the teens—ages 14 to 16—transmogrified into a “wolf pack.” They became “savage.” Meili, who became known as the “Central Park jogger,” was often characterized as their “prey.” The flurry of media attention reached a galling crescendo when Donald J. Trump, then a local real-estate mogul, purchased full-page ads in four New York publications calling for the return of the death penalty so that the boys could be executed. The boys eventually became known as the “Central Park Five,” a pithy moniker picked up by local and national media outlets that served as much to undercut their humanity as it did to free up copy space. “If they had their way,” Salaam told CNN in 2012, 10 years after a man named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and two years before the Central Park Five received a $41 million settlement from the City of New York, “we would have been hanging from one of those lovely trees here in Central Park.” In rendering their journeys, DuVernay pays careful attention to the terrifying power of language, especially the animalistic rhetoric with which prosecutors and journalists referred to the teens. (Trump is referenced often, particularly in the second installment; he is depicted as the most powerful of the boys’ zealous detractors, not the sole purveyor of racial animus.) In its early installments, When They See Us implicates New York media, and the ensuing frenzy of the public, in spurring along the boys’ wrongful verdicts. The series re-creates the glee with which people seized upon words such as wildin’, common slang for any range of boisterous behavior, as evidence of the boys’ inherent criminality. The series enters a broader landscape of artistic reckoning with the Central Park Five case, as well as with the country’s history of weaponizing language against black and brown people. Most immediately, a new project from the artist and journalist Alexandra Bell appears in this year’s Whitney Biennial. No Humans Involved—After Sylvia Wynter takes its name from a seminal 1994 essay by the scholar and poet. In it, Wynter wrote at length about “NHI,” the unofficial acronym that Los Angeles law enforcement used to classify cases involving black men. Referencing a term coined by the sociologist Helen Fein, Wynter wrote that the acronym, and its attendant category of “nonhuman,” rendered black men (and by extension, all black people) targets for systemic violence: For the social effects to which this acronym, and its placing outside the “sanctified universe of obligation,” of the category of young Black males to which it refers, leads, whilst not overtly genocidal, are clearly having genocidal effects with the incarceration and elimination of young Black males by ostensibly normal and everyday means. Bell’s Wynter-inspired series is composed of photo prints she made using an exacting process of lithography and screen-printing. No Humans Involved zeroes in on the New York Daily News coverage of the Central Park Five case. The paper published some of the most egregious reporting on the case—details of the minors’ addresses and family histories, and inflammatory headlines such as “WOLF PACK’S PREY”—well before the case was even (wrongfully) adjudicated. The Daily News also published Trump’s full-page ad. By redacting and highlighting specific text and images from 10 days of the publication’s 1989 issues, Bell underscores the devastating effects of the outlet’s glaring bias against the young black and brown boys. “I really want people to look at [my series] and question the role that the Daily News played in the way we viewed these particular people,” she told The New Yorker recently. “And maybe even in some ways the outcome ultimately of the case.” (…) DuVernay’s project enters a wildly different political landscape. The man who wielded his money and influence to call for the teens’ execution now occupies the White House. From his perch, he refers to Mexicans as “rapists” and black men as “thugs”; the language of dehumanization has again shed its politesse. It’s understandable, then, if also sometimes frustrating, that When They See Us sometimes abandons subtlety in its references to Trump. The president’s lengthy, bombastic oeuvre of bigotry creates both a moral terror and an artistic quandary. Still, When They See Us pulls back the language of biased prosecution and journalistic malfeasance to revelatory effect. At the end—despite the cloud of animus that surrounds them—Yusef, Antron, Kevin, Korey, and Raymond get to be human. The Atlantic
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DuVernay said that when the case was first publicized, she was shocked at how the media’s misinterpretation of slang in the Central Park Five case led to the further dehumanization of the boys. One scene in Episode Two shows how, after some of the boys told detectives that they were “wilin’ out” in Central Park on the same night the rape occurred, the media interpreted the phrase to mean “wilding,” when it just means having fun or hanging out. The screen cuts to tabloids and newspapers with the words “WILDING” splashed across them as an indictment. Audio clips play newscasters interpreting « wilin’ out » as a description of violent acts committed by “wolf packs” of young people. To translate « wilin’ out » as « wilding » cements a vision of these innocent boys as « wild, » as savage, as animal, as other, a vision that’s rooted in the institutional dehumanization of Black people. (…) Unfortunately, even though the Central Park Five were convicted in 1990, this is still an issue today. In addition to facing barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and education, Black people are often punished simply for a way of speaking. Black language is thought to be deviant, something that is undesirable or indicative of unintelligence, criminality, or depravity (until, of course, it’s appropriated by non-Black pop stars). When neither court recorders, jurors, lawyers, or judges possess a grasp of this valid form of language, it can lead to injustices that take years to correct — if they ever are meaningfully addressed. The men of the Central Park Five case lost years of their lives because of linguistic discrimination. How many are still suffering? Bustle

Attention: une instrumentalisation peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où, entre chasse aux sorcières et procès de Moscou, un parti d’opposition américain n’ayant jamais accepté le choix populaire poursuit sa fuite en avant suicidaire pour se débarrasser de Trump …

Et où une vidéo de surveillance montre deux jeunes noirs cagoulés dévalisant avec force violence deux jeunes touristes étrangères à leur sortie du métro de Brooklyn …

Pendant que de Cologne à Stockholm ou même  Oslo, l’Europe découvre à son tour l’autre face de la diversité

Comment ne pas voir …

Ecrite par une proche de la famille Obama eux-mêmes sous contrat de la plateforme et sortie à un an et demi d’une élection présidentielle cruciale …

Et suvie de près, Alec Baldwin dans le rôle du méchant promoteur compris, par un autre film anti-Trump

La minisérie de Netflix sur les Cinq de Central Park « sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc » (sic) .. …

Comme la continuation, sous prétexte d’une tribune alors publiée appelant au retour de la paix civile y compris par la peine de mort, de l’actuel hallali sur l’actuel occupant de la maison Blanche ?

Et au moment où faisant l’impasse sur nombre des conditions de l’affaire comme notamment le climat de véritable sauvagerie de bandes de jeunes noirs descendant, avant la reprise de contrôle par Giuliani, en meutes dépouiller et molester les passants du célèbre parc de New York …

La réalisatrice elle-même et certains des commentateurs présentent les évnèments comme un effet de la discrimination linguistique …

Ne pas repenser au premier Camus qui avant de remettre lui-même en cause le « thème du poète maudit » qui ne pouvait s’affirmer que « contre la société de son temps, quelle qu’elle soit » …

Expliquait aussi doctement que faussement que « dans notre société tout homme qui ne pleure pas à l’enterrement de sa mère risque d’être condamné à mort » ?

Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix docuseries When They See Us depicts the heartbreaking story of the 1990 Central Park Five case in which a group of young Black and Latinx boys were convicted of a crime that they did not commit. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, falsely confessed to the rape of a female jogger, which led to them being imprisoned for six to 13 years. The series explores the ways the Central Park Five were villainized in the media and in public opinion — and particularly for their use of African American English (AAVE) and Black slang.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DuVernay said that when the case was first publicized, she was shocked at how the media’s misinterpretation of slang in the Central Park Five case led to the further dehumanization of the boys. One scene in Episode Two shows how, after some of the boys told detectives that they were “wilin’ out” in Central Park on the same night the rape occurred, the media interpreted the phrase to mean “wilding,” when it just means having fun or hanging out. The screen cuts to tabloids and newspapers with the words “WILDING” splashed across them as an indictment. Audio clips play newscasters interpreting « wilin’ out » as a description of violent acts committed by “wolf packs” of young people. To translate « wilin’ out » as « wilding » cements a vision of these innocent boys as « wild, » as savage, as animal, as other, a vision that’s rooted in the institutional dehumanization of Black people.

“The fact that wilin’ became wilding, became wolf pack, became these boys are animals… I remember for the first time realizing that the news might not be true, that the news is something that you have to really think about and question,” DuVernay told The Hollywood Reporter. Unfortunately, even though the Central Park Five were convicted in 1990, this is still an issue today. In addition to facing barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and education, Black people are often punished simply for a way of speaking.

It’s important to stress that not every Black person speaks AAVE and not every speaker of AAVE is Black. Nonetheless, it is a Black dialect with its own unique structure, rules, and syntax — all vital components of every language. Although many linguists now recognize the validity of AAVE, its association with a marginalized racial group can have devastating consequences.

University of Pennsylvania linguist Taylor Jones, along with New York University sociologist Jessica Kalbfeld, Ryan Hancock of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and Robin Clark, recently authored a study showing that Philadelphia court reporters frequently misinterpret AAVE. Philadelphia court reporters are required to score 95% accuracy when transcribing court proceedings, but none were able to score 95% when tested on AAVE. The study also found that most of the court recorders held negative beliefs about both AAVE and Black people, impacting their ability to correctly interpret what they heard.

Taylor tells Bustle that his team’s research illuminates how “the toxic mix of misunderstanding the language, negative attitudes about the language, negative attitudes about slang, and not understanding facial expressions,” can lead to unfair legal consequences for Black people. Think of what happened when Warren Demesme, then 22, was denied a lawyer because, during an interrogation by New Orleans police, he said, “just give me a lawyer, dawg.” This was misinterpreted to mean that he wanted a canine attorney and his request was denied, in a bewildering misapplication of justice. Anyone familiar with hip-hop slang or pop culture at large would know that “dawg” is shorthand for “dude” or “man.” While this kind of willfully obtuse reading of AAVE ultimately is rare, the more common forms of misinterpretation are more insidious.

That’s one reason, of many, that the Central Park Five case is so haunting.

Taylor points out that due to extensive racial segregation in the U.S., many non-Black folks truly don’t understand the most basic expressions of AAVE. He says although their study was intentionally careful about omitting slang terms — which he says are “ever-changing and shifting » — the participants were not able to accurately translate AAVE language structures into standard English. “We assume that we understand way more than we do and we assume that we’re communicating more effectively than we are,” Taylor says, meaning that sometimes AAVE speakers also don’t realize that they aren’t being heard.

Many speakers of AAVE — and this includes non-Black people, too — have found that to avoid the the possibility of their dialect being misinterpreted, they must code-switch, or use different tone and diction in different social settings. As a Black woman, I’ve had to code-switch in all aspects of my life. I even had to code-switch around my own family, as my great-grandmother felt that Black American language and slang was « undignified. » However, the ability to code-switch is a kind of privilege of its own, because as Taylor’s study points out, dialect is also correlated with socio-economic status. And while many people are vulnerable to discrimination within the criminal justice system, lower-income people with less education are disproportionately impacted. And in moments of intense emotion — such as an interrogation — anyone’s ability to code-switch can be impacted. This lack of access to code-switching can be devastating.

A 2016 paper by Stanford University researchers John R. Rickford and Sharese King argues that linguistic discrimination led to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Martin’s close friend Rachel Jeantel was the prosecution’s main witness, but because she spoke Carribbean-inflected AAVE, Rickford and King say her “crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible.” On Megyn Kelly’s show America Live, attorney Jonna Spilbor said that Jeantel, then 19, seemed “brutally ignorant.” On Fox News, Sean Hannity said that she had a “credibility problem.” In their paper, Rickford and King state that “the disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers.”

These cases are infuriating, because they’re unfair. It’s shocking to think of how many people might be wrongfully punished simply because they use a dialect that’s different to what’s considered standard. That’s one reason, of many, that the Central Park Five case is so haunting; these men spent years in prison because of institutionalized racism around the way they spoke.

Black language is thought to be deviant, something that is undesirable or indicative of unintelligence, criminality, or depravity (until, of course, it’s appropriated by non-Black pop stars). When neither court recorders, jurors, lawyers, or judges possess a grasp of this valid form of language, it can lead to injustices that take years to correct — if they ever are meaningfully addressed. The men of the Central Park Five case lost years of their lives because of linguistic discrimination. How many are still suffering?

Voir aussi:

Is Trump the Real Target of a Netflix Series?

A new film about the Central Park Jogger case seems conveniently timed.

Seth Barron
City journal

June 13, 2019

A Netflix docudrama about the 1989 Central Park “wilding” case has enflamed passions about the purported injustice done to the five teenagers who went to prison for it. Though they confessed that they had sexually assaulted Trisha Meili and beaten half-a-dozen other people in the park that night, their convictions were vacated 12 years later when a convicted murderer—whose DNA matched semen found on the victim—owned up to the rape. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio settled a civil suit brought by the “Central Park Five,” and the city paid out more than $40 million in damages—even though Linda Fairstein, head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit in 1989, and others have long maintained that significant evidence exists that the young men participated in the attack on Meili and committed other acts of violence in the park that night.

When They See Us, the new film about the case, has sparked fury among activists and retaliation against both Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecutor in the case. Fairstein, also a bestselling novelist, has been dumped by her publisher, Dutton, and Lederer has quit her professorship at Columbia University. Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, has called for both women to be disbarred and wants all their previous cases opened for review by Manhattan DA Cy Vance.

Somehow, amid the current rage about the Central Park case, President Trump has become a part of the story—at least, the story that activists are telling. That’s because, on May 1, 1989, ten days after news of the assaults broke, Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City dailies calling for a tough-on-crime approach to policing in a city then suffering an average of more than five murders a day. “Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” the ad blared in bold type. Trump spoke of the “complete breakdown of life as we knew it,” and lamented that “New York families—White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian—have had to give up the pleasure of a leisurely stroll in the Park at dusk.” Trump affirmed his “hate” for “muggers and murderers,” who, he said, “should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.”

In Netflix’s dramatized version of the story, Trump’s role in the prosecution of the teens is pivotal. “That devil wants to kill my son,” says the mother of one of the defendants. “You gonna take an ad out about killing my son?” The media have amplified this theme of Trump as a central figure in the purported hysteria surrounding the case. Receiving a “courage award” from the ACLU last week, Yusuf Salaam, one of the participants in the 1989 Central Park wilding, tearfully said, “when Donald Trump took out that full-page ad, and put them in all of New York City’s newspapers, calling for our execution, he placed a bounty on our head.”

Ken Burns, whose documentary about the Central Park case was highly regarded but lacked the cultural impact of When They See Us, now gives Trump more significance than he did in his 2012 film. “There was an orange-haired real estate developer in New York. . . . And he believed that these children should be executed.” Time reports that “President Trump played a key role in the Central Park Five case.” The BBC tells us that Trump’s ad fed into “the atmosphere of high crime rates and poor race relations in the city at the time.” The New Yorker says that “one of Trump’s first political acts” was to demand the teens’ execution. CNN White House correspondent April Ryan tweeted, “The injustice against the Central Park Five and @realDonaldTrump inability to apologize after wrongfully asking for the death penalty is horrific.”

Though the Central Park attacks were certainly the backdrop to Trump’s ad, his language did not presume the guilt of the defendants, whom he scarcely mentioned, and he did not call specifically for the execution of anyone. In fact, Trump demanded capital punishment only for murderers, and by the time his ad appeared, Trisha Meili was expected to survive. Moreover, Trump was hardly alone, in New York City, in expressing horror and anguish about the attack—neither the New York Times nor the Daily News objected to running the ad, after all. New York City in 1989 was under violent assault from predatory criminals. There were nine times as many murders then as now; robbery and muggings were more than ten times as frequent as they are today. Rape and felony assault were well over double today’s rates.

Pack-style violence like what happened that night in Central Park was all too common. Gangs “ran amok” at a 1983 Diana Ross concert in the Park, according to the Times, “beating and robbing scores of people.” In 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon was broken up around Central Park when “packs of youth attacked and harassed dozens of people,” stealing jewelry and pocketbooks. David Dinkins, running against Ed Koch in the 1989 Democratic primary for mayor, called for “anti-wilding” legislation in the wake of the Central Park Jogger attack. He won the general election against Rudy Giuliani in part for his promise to be tough on crime.

Trump’s ad, though cast as a brutal call for revenge, is actually a demand for public safety, and a return to the “feeling of security New York’s finest once gave to the citizens of this City.” Written in 1989, it is a prescient call for Broken Windows policing, which from 1994 on resulted in the sharpest and most enduring decrease in crime that any city has seen in American history. The policies that Trump called for saved the lives of tens of thousands of people—most of them black and Latino—who would otherwise have fallen victim to New York’s spiraling violence.

The latest outbreak of passions regarding this case, and the novel twist of making Trump a central player in it, raise other questions. Given that there have been no new developments, except for the city payouts, in the Central Park case since Burns’s 2012 documentary, why was a new movie called for, anyway? The Netflix series, arguably, exists only to make Trump a target for his behavior in a long-ago New York episode—just in time for the 2020 campaign. Ana DuVernay, director of the docudrama, is a close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama. Like DuVernay, the Obamas have multiyear, multimillion-dollar development deals with Netflix. Amplifying the theme that Trump is a longtime racist is likely to be part of the eventual Democratic candidate’s campaign strategy. When They See Us may be a valuable tool for that purpose; it certainly has little value for truthfulness.

Voir également:

David E. Pitt
The New York Times
April 25, 1989

The random, apparently motiveless rampage in Central Park last week that the suspects in the case called wilding was an especially ferocious version of group delinquency that is common but usually not so vicious, law-enforcement officials and psychologists said this week.

A 28-year-old investment banker, who was raped and savagely beaten, remains in a coma at Metropolitan Hospital as a result of the gang violence, and at least eight other people were assaulted by members of a group that the police now say numbered between 32 and 41.

Eight youths have been arraigned on charges of rape, assault and attempted murder in the case, while five charges of assault, one involving a 13-year-old suspect, have been filed in the beating of a male jogger in his 40’s, who was seriously wounded in the head with a metal pipe. He was released from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center over the weekend. Also, a 15-year-old has been charged with being one of 17 youths who beat and robbed a male jogger who has been identified only as wearing an Army jacket. A grand jury is expected to take up all of the cases on Thursday.

‘Things Have Gotten a Lot Rougher’

 »’Wilding seems to be a new term, but it’s hardly a new activity, » said Peter Reinharz, chief prosecutor for the Family Court Division of the city’s Law Department.  »In terms of group attacks, the No. 1 crime that we’ve seen among juveniles in Family Court, at least prior to the crack invasion, is robbery 2 – that is, aided robberies, the wolf-pack robberies.

 »Prior to that, » he said,  »the No. 1 crime was jostling, which is pickpocketing. But for some reason, I guess it became a little bit easier to knock the old lady over and just grab the bag rather than to reach into the pocket and hope you came out with something. So things have gotten a lot rougher in the city with respect to wolf packs. »

Last year, Mr. Reinharz said, 622 wolf-pack cases were referred to Family Court, along with 139 attempted robberies of that type. In 1987, there were 608 such cases and 144 attempted wolf-pack robberies.

The police quoted some of the youths questioned in the case, all of whom live in Harlem near the park, as saying that the rampage grew out of a plan to attack joggers and bicyclists in the park for fun.

 »It certainly got out of control, » Mr. Reinharz said of the episode,  »but I don’t know if it was out of control for these types of kids. I think that kids like this, given what I would call their predatory nature, are people who, given the chance, would do something like this again. There really isn’t any way to control them – at least we haven’t found it in the juvenile justice system.

Racial Epithets, But Victims Mixed

Although Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo said last week that the eight separate assaults on nine people seemed unrelated to money, drugs, alcohol or race, police officials said yesterday that they were investigating to what extent racial factors may have played a role in the youths’ choice of victims.

 »The question of whether this was a series of bias-related incidents is being looked at very closely, » said Deputy Police Commissioner Alice T. McGillion.

Police officials said that the evidence of bias consisted of testimony from victims, as well as a statement from one suspect in the rape attack, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam, who is said to have told detectives that one member of the group had suggested that they  »get a white girl. »

Another 15-year-old, Jermain Robinson, who is charged with robbery of the male jogger in the Army jacket, is also said to have told detectives that youths who chased and threw stones at a white couple on a tandem bicycle had shouted racial epithets.

All of those involved in the Central Park attacks are said to be black. The victims were a black man, who was briefly harassed until one youth shouted that he knew the man, two Hispanic people, – and six whites.

Police investigators also said that while the other suspects had made no explicit references to racial factors, their acknowledgement that the chief target of their forays were joggers and bicyclists in the park was an indication that a racial motive was at work because, the police suggested, the majority of those who tend to use that part of the park at night tend to be white.

For many psychologists, the idea of attacking people who seem to personify a level of unattainable affluence is a common pattern among particpants in wolf-pack attacks.

 »From what I have been able to gether about the Central Park case, there seem to be some socioeconomic factors involved, » said Dr. Leah Blumberg Lapidus, a specialist in adolescent behavior in Columbia University’s department of clinical psychology.

 »The media, especially television, is constantly advertising these various things that are necessary to define yourself, and the joggers may represent a level of socioeconomic attainment that the media has convinced everybody is necessary to have in order to be an acceptable person, » she said.  »So, to that extent, such people become a target. »

On the other hand, Dr. Lapidus said, that did not explain why some of the victims were black or Hispanic.

Law-enforcement officials said the the scale of the Central Park episode was reminiscent of an incident in July 1983, when gangs of youths ran amok at a Diana Ross concert in Central Park, beating and robbing scores of people.

Two years later, in April 1985, a March of Dimes walkathon in which 26,000 people marched through Manhattan broke up in turmoil after packs of youths attacked and harassed dozens of people in and around Central Park, snatching chains, purses and other property.

Police officials, who said Friday that none of the suspects in the park case had a criminal record, said yesterday that they had discovered that that one, 17-year-old Michael Brisco, had been on three years’ probation since December after a wolf-pack-style robbery last year. Officials said he and two others, 12 and 15 years old, had assaulted and robbed a 14-year-old on Nov. 10 on East 90th Street near Second Avenue.

Authorities reported over the weekend that they were investigating the possibility that some of the participants in the park attacks had been involved in three separate robbery sprees four days earlier in East Harlem, one of which involved a stabbing.

Unusual in Intensity

Professor Lapidus and another psychologist, Dr. Ann M. Jernberg, who is director of the Theraplay Institute of Chicago and Wilmette, Ill., both said that what they found set the park rampage apart from others were the intensity of the violence and the apparent failure of almost all of the nine accused youths to show any remorse. Police and prosecutors said they laughed and joked while in police custody,and that only one expressed any sorrow.

 »This lack of awareness of the consequences of what they’ve done – almost as if they’re benumbed – is a little more extreme than what we’ve seen, » Dr. Lapidus said. For Dr. Jernberg, who traces the origin of many forms of antisocial behavior to early childhood problems in the family,  »the mob psychology that these kids were obviously caught up in protects them against remorse. »

 »You get together a group of adolescents and you’ve got the worst possible combination for trouble, » Dr. Jernberg said in a telephone interview from Chicago.  »The idea of collective violence, the risks involved, is terribly exciting, very dramatic, and sometimes all kids this age need is to see a violent movie or hear a song to encourage them. »

Attacks Thought Underreported

For Mr. Reinharz, the randomness of such attacks – which he believes are largely underreported because  »people expect this kind of activity in the city » – is a component of what he called the  »predatory instincts » of youths who carry out wolf-pack behavior.

 »These tend to be situations where these kids get together and there really isn’t any specific plan, » he said,  »I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t profess to understand them – but it seems to me that that one of the common threads you see among the most violent of these kids is that they really don’t have a game plan with respect to the day, let alone their lives.

 »They get up in the morning, or they get up in the afternoon many of them certainly only have only limited contact with school – and they just live for the moment. »

Slight Improvement Seen

Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital caring for the Wall Street banker said yesterday that she was still comatose and in critical condition, and that the prospects for her survival remained uncertain.

There have been a few improvements, including a reduction of brain swelling, according to Dr. Robert S. Kurtz, assistant chief of surgery and director of the surgical intensive care unit, and Dr. Kent Duffy, chief of neurosurgery.

Besides brain injuries, the woman also sustained fractures of the skull, of the bone around the left eye and the bone crossing the left temple.

 »We are worried about brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during the four to five hours she lay in the in the park, » Dr. Kurtz said.  »We won’t be able to assess that until the swelling is down. That is our deep and underlying concern. But the statistics are against her. »

Voir de plus:

EXCLUSIVE: ‘When They See Us is LIES.’ NYPD cop who arrested two of the Central Park Five says they DID attack jogger and forensic evidence proves it – and showing police and prosecutors as racist is putting lives at risk

  • On April 19, 1989, more than 30 young men terrorized New York’s Central Park, teacher James Loughlin was beaten and jogger Patricia Meili was raped
  • Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes. They were known as the Central Park Five.
  • In 2002 their convictions were vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes said he was Meili’s lone attacker. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene
  • The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout
  • Their arrest, incarceration and exoneration is the subject of Netflix miniseries When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey
  • But Eric Reynolds, lead police officer in the Central Park Five case tells DailyMailTV the series is filled with ‘malicious’ lies
  • Reynolds believes the Central Park Five did attack Meili and said, ‘That notion that there was none, no physical evidence, that tied them to the crime is an absolute lie.
  • Despite Reyes confession for rape, Reynolds said, ‘There was blood, semen, there was grass stains on Kevin Richardson’s underwear.’
  • He said inaccuracies in the show could cause people to threaten the lives of Central Park Five prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer
  • Reynolds said: ‘It’s a malicious recreation, which has nothing to do with the facts other than they ended up arrested and going to jail’

The NYPD police officer who made the first arrests in the Central Park Five investigation has condemned Netflix‘s drama When They See Us as ‘lies’ and said it puts the lives of cops and prosecutors at risk.

Eric Reynolds, who as a plainclothes officer arrested Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, tells DailyMailTV that the four-part television adaptation is so filled with errors that it is ‘malicious recreation’.

He described the miniseries, produced by Robert De Niro and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Ava DuVernay, as ‘total nonsense’ that left him ‘flabbergasted’.

Reynolds retired in 2001 after a 20-year career where he rose to Detective Third Grade and earned department recognition multiple times for his police work.

He spoke out after an outcry in the wake of the series led to prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer losing publishing contracts, board seats and lecturing roles.

Reynolds, 59, rejected criticism of the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the five for the rape of 28-year-old jogger, Patricia Meili – and particularly took issue with the portrayal of the black men as victims of a racist system.

As an African American, he said, the allegations of racism cut particularly deep.

Asked if he has been accused of being a race-traitor he said, ‘Oh yes and worse.’ Yet all he wanted to do as an officer was, he said, ‘serve his community.’

And he said that even the brief appearance he makes in the series, which has been watched by 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide, is pure ‘fiction,’ portraying events which simply did not happen; he was shown as a uniformed officer when he in fact wore plain clothes.

He believes the series is inflammatory by depicting members of the five looking badly beaten when they were arrested.

Reynolds told DailyMailTV, ‘Please, someone, show me the pictures of them. Show me the injuries, show me the black eyes, show me the swollen faces because every single one of them that came out of that precinct had none of that.’

He has shared his own recollections of the night of April 19, 1989 when more than 30 young men embarked on a violent spree of terror, and Meili was found raped and close to death in Central Park.

Raymond Santana, then 14, Kevin Richardson, 14, Korey Wise, 16, Antron McCray, 15 and Yusef Salaam, 15 all confessed and were convicted of participating in multiple crimes on April 19. But the one that is remembered is Meili’s rape.

In 2002 their convictions were sensationally vacated in their entirety when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist already in prison, confessed to the crime and claimed to have acted alone. The five sued New York City, said their confessions were coerced and won a $41 million payout.

Supporters said they had been exonerated and the Central Park Five became synonymous with an unimaginable miscarriage of justice.

When They See Us opens on the night of the ‘wilding’, where a mass of young men rushed through Central Park, casting the five very squarely as innocents caught up in events and on the fringes of any violence.

Reynolds said, ‘When I saw the opening scenes it was like watching a musical. I was flabbergasted. That absolutely was not what occurred.’

The Central Park Five had their convictions vacated after serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted raping jogger Patricia Meili. His DNA matched evidence found at the scene

In one scene a man, most likely a depiction of teacher John Loughlin, is shown being felled by a single punch while three of the five look on.

Reynolds said, ‘It did not happen that way. They were beating him with a pipe. They beat him so savagely that both of his eyes were shut and he had a cracked skull.’

Testimony from one who was there stated that Yusef Salaam was wielding that pipe and ‘going to work on him.’

The cop who found Loughlin told Reynolds that he ‘looked like his head was dunked in a bucket of blood.’

In another scene the boys are part of a crowd halfheartedly harassing a couple on a tandem bike. Again Reynolds watched in outrage at what he said is a ‘total fiction.’

He explained, ‘The group lay in wait. They stretched out across the roadway and held hands to knock them off their bike. It was a couple on the tandem and the woman said she was scared for her life.

‘Her boyfriend just told her, ‘Put your head down and pedal as hard as you can.’ And they rode through them as they were grabbing at her clothes and by the grace of God they got away.’

Pointing to the couple attacked on their tandem he said it was the violence, not the ethnicity, of its perpetrators that mattered to police officers.

He said, ‘I don’t understand how that’s a race issue if you’re in the middle of a park riding on a bike in the middle of the night and a group of males, whether they’re black, white or whatever, you know are standing on the road with the express purpose of knocking you off the bike.

‘As a woman I think you’re going to be scared out of your mind.’

As an example of one of the worst ‘lies’ in the drama Reynolds pointed to the scenes where Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, arrives at the precinct to take charge of the rape investigation.

She is shown repeatedly referring to the boys in the park as ‘animals’ and delivering orders to detectives with the words, « I need the whole group. Every young black male who was in the park. You go into the projects and stop every motherf**** you see. »‘

According to Reynolds, ‘It is so preposterous that it’s laughable. The sad thing is people believe it and are incensed by this.

‘As detectives we work on evidence. We don’t go rounding people up and Linda Fairstein wasn’t even there the first day. It just never happened.’

Reynolds was a plainclothes officer in the Anti-Crime Unit on patrol with his partner on the night of April 19, 1989.

He recalled, ‘We were getting numerous radio runs of a large crowd of black and Hispanic kids assaulting and robbing people. We had people going into the station house and cops out in the field who had gotten flagged down by civilians saying, ‘There’s a crowd of kids there. They’ve tried to assault us and thrown rocks.’

Reynolds and his partner were just one of many units looking for the group reportedly moving through the vast dark interior of Central Park.

And the reports were getting more serious. Reynolds said, ‘We find out about John Loughlin who had been beaten savagely and we figured because there were so many cops in the park they must have left.’

The cops were barely out of the park when they saw them. Reynolds recalled, ‘There were 30 of them on the move. There’s only two of us so, you know, clearly we’re not going to get all of them. Long story short we got five of them.’

Two were Raymond Santana – who had, Reynolds said, been leading the pack – and Kevin Richardson who started crying in the back of the squad car.

Reynolds said, ‘He [Richardson] started crying and saying that he ‘knew who did the murder’. He said it was Antron McCray and he would tell us where he lived.’

The officers assumed he was talking about Loughlin who was beaten unconscious.

Back at the precinct Reynolds began processing the arrests, reaching out to their parents and writing up appearance tickets for the boys who, as juveniles, would have to return to family court at a later date.

Reynolds’ partner asked Santana and Stephen Lopez, a member of the group he was arrested alongside, what they were doing out making trouble and why weren’t they with their girlfriends instead.

According to Reynolds, ‘Santana said, ‘I already got mine,’ and they kind of laughed. I just assumed it was an in-joke. It only became significant after we learned what had happened to the jogger.’

Reynolds couldn’t release any of them or complete the mounds of paperwork required by their juvenile status until their parents had shown up.

Reynolds, played by ‘Power’ actor Ty Jones, makes a brief appearance in the mini-series’ first episode – but Reynolds says the show makers got this wrong as well.

Reynolds is seen angrily remonstrating with Santana’s father Raymond Santana Sr, played by John Leguizamo, for turning up late. Reynolds says that never happened.

Instead, Reynolds explained, he sent a squad car to bring Santana’s grandmother to the station as various family members who said they would come failed to show.

He also noted, as a plainclothes officer, he never wore his uniform when in the police precinct. Jones wears a uniform in the scene.

While the boys were waiting, at around 1.30am, the call came in that a female jogger had been found in the park, raped and beaten to within an inch of her life.

The detectives responding to the crime had been told that Reynolds had arrested five out of a group of about 30 kids ‘wilding’ in the park. Now they instructed Reynolds not to let them go.

He recalled, ‘They said, ‘Look, we don’t think these kids have anything to do with it but they were up there at the same time that she was attacked. They might have seen something so we’re going to come down and debrief them.’

Reynolds was in the room for all of those interviews. He said, ‘Their parents are there, they’re getting their rights read. We ask them what happened in the park?’

According to Reynolds they did not ask the kids about the rape directly. The first two kids told almost identical stories. They said they’d been in the park with a bunch of kids who were beating people up but they didn’t touch anybody.

Reynolds wrote them up and let them go home.

Then, he said, ‘The third kid is Kevin Richardson. He’s there with his mother. We read him his rights. We ask him what happened. He said the exact same thing the other kids said – everyone else was beating people up but I didn’t touch anyone.’

Then one of the detectives noticed he had a scratch on his face. They asked him how he’d got it and at first he blamed Reynolds’s partner for the injury.

When told the officer was next door and would be asked if that was true Richardson changed his story.

Reynolds said, ‘He said, « Okay, it was the female jogger. » And I’ll be honest with you I almost fell off my seat because I was not expecting him to say that.

‘And then he starts to go into the story of the attack on the jogger. No coercion. We didn’t even think he was involved. He starts to give it up right there in front of us.’

Ultimately police questioned 37 boys and, contrary to Netflix’s dramatic depiction, there was nothing random or rushed in the five who were ultimately charged.

They became the Central Park Five, he said, not because cops were anxious to pin the crime on someone but because they implicated themselves and each other when interviewed.

In DuVernay’s drama particular attention is given to Korey Wise’s story. He is shown accompanying his friend Salaam to the station, an act of loyalty that sees him embroiled in the case when he wasn’t even on the cops’ radar.

Reynolds is exasperated by this. He said: ‘Korey Wise was named by other participants in the wilding that day. We went specifically to look for him.

‘When detectives asked a couple of people in front of their building if they had seen him they said they saw him earlier and he said, « Y’all better stay away from me because the cops are after me. »‘

When they asked him why, Reynolds said, the people in front of the building stated that Wise had told them: ‘You see that woman in Central Park last night? That was us.’

This account was committed to written statements.

Reynolds also pointed to the fact that the first thing Wise did when he got home late on April 19 was wash the clothes he’d been wearing.

When they went to pick up Antron McCray – whom Reynolds had earlier let go – the detective asked him to go and get the clothes he had been wearing the night before.

Reynolds said, ‘He comes back out and he’s got on a sweat suit. The front of it is completely covered with mud from head to toe. What could he possibly be doing that he’s completely flat in mud?’

NYPD mug shots taken of the Central Park Five on April 23, 1989. Top Row (L-R): Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana. Lower Row (L-R) Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Antron McCray

Reynolds said the officers who discovered the jogger told him she was ‘covered from head to toe in mud.’

Several weeks after his police confession to participating in the attack on Meili, McCray repeated this admission, while minimizing his own role, to the pre-trial psychologist appointed by his own team.

Meanwhile, while Wise was being held on Riker’s Island awaiting trial, a female friend came forward with information she thought would exonerate him but in fact only bolstered the case against him.

Reynolds said, ‘He called this young lady and she was surprised to hear his voice. She was like, ‘Korey, what did you do? They’re saying that you raped this woman.’

‘He says, ‘I didn’t rape her. I only held her legs while Kevin Richardson f***** her.’

If true, that scenario would make Wise every bit as guilty of rape as Richardson under New York law.

The crime, the trial and the convictions of the four black and one Hispanic teen were the focus of public outrage and racial conflict at the time.

Donald Trump took out newspaper advertisements demanding the death penalty for the Central Park Five in 1989

Donald Trump, then a real estate mogul in New York, took out newspaper advertisements calling for the return of the death penalty.

But Reynolds insisted, ‘Look, this idea that there’s outside pressure for us to wrap it up and get some suspects is totally false.

‘Nobody was looking at the newspaper and saying, ‘Donald Trump’s mad, we’d better do something.’ And the jury weren’t asking to see the newspaper, they were asking to see the evidence.’

Reynolds points to a wealth of physical evidence that was never refuted at trial: hair and blood ‘consistent’ with the jogger’s was found on the boys’ sneakers and clothing, along with semen in the boys’ underwear.

The fact that none of them claimed to be able to finish the act of penetrative sex is the reason, Reynolds said, that their semen was only found on the inside of their underwear and clothing rather than on Meili.

But isn’t Reynolds in danger of sounding like somebody who just can’t accept that he was involved in a terrible miscarriage of justice?

After all, weren’t the five exonerated thanks to Reyes’ confession – one backed up by the presence of his DNA on the victim and clear proof that he had penetrated her?

Reynolds rejected this notion. He does not equate the vacation of the five’s sentences with their exoneration. And he does not believe that Reyes’ clear guilt is proof of the others’ innocence.

Reynolds said, ‘They were not cleared. The convictions were vacated. They were given the opportunity to have another trial but there was no reason to retry because they had already done their time.

‘The reason they were granted that is because Matias Reyes came forward with the fictitious claim that he had attacked her alone.

Reynolds explained, ‘Reyes comes forward to say he did it by himself and he can prove it because he knows something we don’t know. And he’s correct.

‘She had a fanny pack with her Walkman in it and he took it and he threw it away.

‘She didn’t have it on her in the hospital. She was in a coma for 50 something days. She couldn’t tell us that she’d had one and it had been stolen, right?

‘But then Armstrong found that a detective had taken some notes of an interview with Korey Wise. And Korey said that there was a guy named ‘Rudy,’ who he said took her fanny pack and her Walkman.’

Reynolds believes that Rudy was Reyes and his name muddled up by Wise who has hearing difficulties.

He said, ‘He told that to us on April 20, 1989, the day after. So how in the world does Korey Wise know about her fanny pack and Walkman in 1989 when Reyes says he knows about it because he was the only person there?’

The Armstrong report noted, ‘At the time of this interview the police had no way of knowing that the jogger had a Walkman or that she carried it in a pouch.’

It said that, based on the evidence including Reyes confession, ‘it was more likely than not that the defendants participated in an attack upon the jogger.’

The report stated, ‘the most likely scenario for the events of April 19, 1989 was that the defendants came up on the jogger and subjected her to the same kind of attack, albeit with sexual overtones, that they inflicted upon other victims in the park that night.

‘Perhaps attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams, Reyes either joined in the attack as it was ending or waited until the defendants have moved on to their next victims before descending upon her himself, raping her and inflicting upon her the brutal injuries that almost caused her death.’

Reynolds’s view is supported by both the medical opinion of Meili’s two Urgent Care Physicians at Metropolitan Hospital and the Armstrong Report.

Dr Robert Kurtz is on record as saying Meili had injuries consistent with a sharp, clean blade or object while Reyes’ confession only mentioned a blunt object.

Dr Kurtz noted that Reyes, ‘never said he had used a knife, or broken glass, or broken bottle or something like that that would have been able to inflict a clean laceration.’

Dr Jane Mauer, a surgeon who helped reconstruct Meili’s face recalled seeing hand print bruising on her thighs.

Dr Mauer said, ‘You could see the four fingers and the thumb indented in her skin to hold her legs apart.’

It led her to doubt that this could be the work of one man.

Moreover the Armstrong Report concluded Reyes could not be considered a reliable witness.

It revealed a fellow inmate in prison with Reyes said Reyes told him ‘the attack on the jogger was already in progress when he joined, attracted to the scene by the jogger’s screams.’

Reynolds does not believe that the five should still be in prison. He said, ‘They did their time. They paid the price for what they did. You know, that’s it.’

When Bill de Blasio was elected New York City mayor in 2014 he ordered the $41 million settlement to go through for the five men.

All legal action finished in 2016 when the men were awarded a further $3.9 million from New York State.

But despite the case now being closed, Reynolds feel the Netflix mini-series is unfairly punishing people who prosecuted the five.

In the wake of the drama’s release Linda Fairstein, who supervised the prosecution, and lead prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer have both fallen victim to an angry public backlash.

Fairstein, who now writes crime fiction, was dropped by her publisher. Lederer, who continues to work in the District Attorney’s office, resigned from teaching law as an adjunct at Columbia University in New York.

Reynolds said, ‘It’s like mob justice. People are doing everything they can to destroy these women’s lives and they’ve done nothing wrong. They don’t even know that they’re not basing their opinions and their fury on what actually happened.

‘If they knew what actually happened they would be ashamed of themselves.’

But, he said, ‘Don’t come back for revenge and destroy two people who were only doing their job and did nothing wrong. Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer did absolutely nothing wrong.’

Reynolds believes the show falsely depicts a racist criminal justice system.

He is keen to point out that growing up in Eighties New York, criminals posed the threat to public safety, not police officers.

He said, ‘I grew up in the projects, my mother used to go to school at night. She got her high school diploma the same year I got mine. She went to college at night also.

‘I would have to go every night and meet [my mother] at the bus-stop and bring her upstairs because it just wasn’t safe. And who was she going to get victimized by? It wasn’t the cops.’

Reynolds said of When They See Us, ‘We can’t even call it a sanitized version. It’s a malicious recreation, which has nothing to do with the facts other than they ended up arrested and going to jail.

‘I think that’s the only thing in it that stays true to what actually occurred.’

He said, ‘This has got people so divided and so at each other’s throats it’s sad. Let me tell you there’s a lot of people who believe that they are guilty but they’re not going to say anything because they don’t want to get shouted down. They don’t want to be called racist.’

But Reynolds, who was there and part of it all, believes facing that backlash is the lesser of two evils and remaining silent in the face of what he sees as injustice isn’t an option.

For Reynolds, his reason for speaking up is clear and unimpeachable, ‘The truth matters.’

Voir encore:

In an op-ed from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein responded to the recent Netflix series on the Central Park Five, and accused its producer, Ava DuVernay, of fabricating words attributed to her character, played by Felicity Huffman, to portray her as a racist who was determined to convict the teens in the face of an alleged lack of evidence against them.

Fairstein began the article, titled « Netflix’s False Story of the Central Park Five, » by declaring that the series, When They See Us, is « so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication, » and complained that it is « an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five). »

She added that it « attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true. »

Fairstein listed a number of pieces of misinformation from the series and argued that there was plenty of evidence to reasonably convict them at the time, as she stood by charges that they attacked several other people in the park that same night.

Among several pieces of misinformation she claimed were included in the series was that it « portrays the suspects as being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom, » and argued that if such accusations were true, they would have come out in the pre-trial hearings or inthe lawsuit that was filed years after their release from prison.

Fairstein — who was supervisor over the sex crimes unit — argued that the series exaggerates how closely involved she was in handling the case and recalled that she « did not run the investigation, and never made any of the comments the screenwriter attributes to me. » She also directly contradicted a couple of scenes involving the questioning of an underage member of the group:

The film claims that when Mr. Salaam’s mother arrived and told police that her son was only 15 — meaning they could not question him without a parent in the room — I tried to stop her, demanding to see a birth certificate. The truth is that Mr. Salaam himself claimed to be 16 and even had a forged bus pass to « prove » it. When I heard his mother say he was 15, I immediately halted his questioning. This is all supported by sworn testimony.

The former prosecutor also argued that there was additional evidence of their guilt:

There is, for example, the African American woman who testified at the trial — and again at the 2002 reinvestigation — that when Korey Wise called her brother, he told her that he had held the jogger down and felt her breasts while others attacked her. There were blood stains and dirt on clothing of some of the five.

She soon added that more than a dozen other witnesses « named some or all of the five » in helping attack other victims.

It is noteworthy that, while the Netflix series depicts the five teens as innocent bystanders who merely witnessed other assailants attacking and beating up other victims in the park, the film, The Central Park Five, by Ken Burns, accepted that they were « beating up other people » in the park even while that film was devoted to defending the teens regarding the attack on the jogger, Trisha Meili.

Fairstein also recalled that Salaam « testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe — the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male school teacher and Ms. Meili. »

The former prosecutor also argued that the fact that DNA testing on the semen found at the scene did not match any of the five teens did not mean that they could not have been part of the attack on her, as they were charged as « accomplices » to the person who eventually confessed to raping her, serial rapist Matias Reyes.

She further recalled that « two of them admitted to climbing on top of her and siimulating intercourse, » adding that « Semen was found on the inside of their clothing, corroborating those confessions. »

Fairstein concluded her article:

That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims — and that her film includes so many falsehoods — is nonetheless an outrage. Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth.

Voir par ailleurs:

Dans leur regard Saison 1 : pourquoi Netflix frappe fort avec sa nouvelle série puissante, révoltante et politique

Camille Vignes
Ecran large
15 juin 2019

Après le biopic un peu académique Selma, et après le four Un raccourci dans le tempsAva DuVernay revient avec une nouvelle oeuvre engagée et sans concession, sur Netflix cette fois. Dans leur regard retrace la sordide histoire de cinq jeunes de Harlem, arrêtés en 1989, accusés à tort du viol d’une joggeuse et incarcérés. Et c’est certainement l’une des séries les plus bouleversantes de l’année, s’attaquant au racisme institutionnel et systémique aux Etats-Unis.

« CENTRAL PARK FIVE »

D’Escape at Dannemora(série de Brett Johnson et Michael Tolkin, réalisée par Ben Stiller) à The Act(de Nick Antosca et Michelle Dean), en passant par Dirty John (d’Alexandra Cunningham) ou American Crime Story : The People v OJ Simpson, c’est une mutation qui anime la télévision américaine depuis quelques années, laissant fleurir de plus en plus de séries romancées retraçant des faits divers glaçants. Que ce soit pour pointer du doigt un système corrompu ou pour en montrer l’efficacité, un nombre croissant de showrunners s’attaque à des affaires criminelles pour rappeler leur importance dans l’histoire judiciaire américaine.

Loin de la froideur et de la rigidité induite par le format du documentaire classique, comme The Central Park Five(Ken BurnsSarah Burns et David McMahon), et ne lésinant pas sur les effets de pathos, la minisérie Netflix Dans leur regard (When They See Us en VO – « Quand ils nous voient ») d’Ava DuVernay se détache du lot. La cinéaste (qui a coécrit et réalisé les quatre épisodes) se penche sur l’histoire tristement connue des « Cinq de Central Park ». 

Pour ceux qui ne connaitraient pas l’affaire, elle a secoué New York et les États-Unis à la fin des années 80, et ses dernières répercussions ont eu lieu en 2014. Dans la nuit du 19 avril 1989, la joggeuse Trisha Melli est sauvagement attaquée, violée et laissée pour morte dans Central Park. La même nuit, une bande d’ados afro-américains et latinos (dont Raymond Santana et Kevin Richardson), sortis pour terrifier les promeneurs du parc, est raflée par la police et emmenée au poste. Le lendemain, trois autres jeunes (Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, et Korey Wise) sont à leurs tours arrêtés, interrogés par les inspecteurs et poussés à avouer ce crime qu’ils n’ont jamais commis. 

Les cinq garçons seront jugés coupables et jetés en prison en 1990. Il faudra attendre 2002 pour que le véritable criminel (ironie du sort, il était blanc) vienne se dénoncer et soit arrêté. La libération de Korey Wise et l’acquittement des cinq garçons suivront plus ou moins rapidement. Enfin, en 2014, ils recevront une compensation financière d’environ 40 millions de dollars. 

DÉCOUPE CHIRURGICALE

Comment traiter une affaire aussi difficile et injuste ? Comment dépeindre, 30 ans après les faits, un New York pré-Giuliani gangréné par la drogue et les violences interraciales ?

Deux questions simples, terriblement actuelles et tellement innocentes comparées à celles que n’importe quelle personne ayant vu la série a dû se poser. Comment est-il possible de traiter cinq jeunes de la sorte ? Comment une procureur et un système peuvent-ils être assez cruels pour ignorer l’amas d’éléments prouvant leur innocence ? Comment la presse a-t-elle a pu les jeter en pâture et les rendre coupables avant même le procès ?

Divisé en quatre longues parties (64, 71, 73 et 88 minutes), le récit d’Ava DuVernay est extrêmement bien construit. Chacun des chapitres s’attarde sur un élément clef de l’histoire globale des cinq accusés, sans jamais dépasser le propos ni tomber dans la simplicité ou le cliché d’une série policière ou du récit d’un procès. Ce découpage permet non seulement de remettre en question différents aspects du système judiciaire américain, mais surtout de faire monter crescendo le sentiment de révolte et d’injustice du spectateur. 

Le premier chapitre montre comment les cinq jeunes ont été piégés et forcés de mentir pour avouer un crime qu’ils n’ont pas commis, pointant du doigt les méthodes plus que douteuses de la police et de la procureur Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman). Ils auraient contourné la loi et mené la plupart des interrogatoires sans la présence des parents (alors que les jeunes étaient âgés de 14 à 16 ans).

Le deuxième chapitre est centré sur le déroulement du procès, expliquant rapidement pourquoi il a été divisé en deux, mettant sous le feu des projecteurs le racisme systémique américain, et laissant tomber comme une sentence de mort la décision du jury en fin de course.

Après la narration linéaire des deux premiers chapitres, les deux suivants s’aventurent dans des chemins différents, s’attardant plus sur les destins des accusés. Le troisième épisode montre ainsi l’adaptation en milieu carcéral des quatre plus jeunes (Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray et Yusef Salaam) et surtout leur difficile tentative de réhabilitation dans le monde à leur sortie de prison, de nombreuses années après (6 à 13 ans).

Quant au dernier chapitre, il tourne autour de Korey Wise et de l’enfer qu’il a vécu en prison, entre passages à tabac et isolement volontaire. Âgé de 16 ans au moment des faits et jugé comme un adulte, il passe de prison en prison, demandant son transfert régulièrement pour se rapprocher de sa mère – sans réussite. 

WISE DECISION

Ce dernier chapitre est tout particulièrement poignant. S’il fallait faire une gradation, l’histoire de Korey Wise reste d’ailleurs peut-être la plus déchirante. Parce qu’il avait 16 ans au moment des faits, il a été jugé et jeté dans une prison pour adulte, alors que tous les autres ont été placés en détention pour mineurs. 

Mais l’injustice de l’histoire de ce garçon commence bien avant le procès : au départ, il n’aurait même pas dû être arrêté. Celui qui n’était pas sur la liste de noms donnés par Raymond Santana au moment de son arrestation, celui qui s’est retrouvé au poste dans l’unique but de ne pas laisser son ami seul, est finalement celui qui a purgé la plus longue peine et a connu les conditions d’incarcération les plus difficiles – conditions auxquelles un jeune de 16 ans n’est absolument pas préparé. Le choix d’Ava DuVernay d’offrir à Korey Wise un épisode entier n’a alors rien d’étonnant.

Si le calvaire du jeune garçon est de moins en moins supportable à regarder à mesure que l’épisode se déroule, c’est sans doute grâce au talent de son interprèteJharrel Jerome (vu dans MoonlightMr. Mercedesou encore Mon premier combat) se glisse dans la peau de Korey avec brio. C’est le seul à jouer le Korey Wise adolescent et adulte, alors que les quatre autres personnages ont chacun deux interprètes. C’est certainement l’acteur le plus marquant et puissant, même si Kevin RichardsonCaleel HarrisEthan Herisse, Marquis Rodriguez, Michael Kenneth WilliamsJovan AdepoChris Chalk et Justin Cunningham font aussi un excellent travail.

Et justement, deux de ses scènes sont particulièrement déchirantes et méritent d’être citées (bien qu’elles ne soient absolument pas les seules à révéler l’acteur). La première a lieu pendant le procès de Korey, alors qu’il est appelé à la barre, et qu’on le harcèle pour qu’il lise sa déposition, alors qu’il a bien dit et répété ne pas en être capable : il y a une telle détresse dans le regard de l’acteur, une telle incompréhension, que l’on ne peut qu’être révolté avec lui. 

La seconde arrive quand il est en prison, à des centaines de kilomètres de New York. Alors qu’il passe la plupart de son temps dans une cellule isolée pour ne pas se faire battre à mort par les autres détenus, il implore sa mère de venir le voir plus souvent lors d’une de ses trop rares visites. La scène est un véritable crève-coeur, un moment de désespoir brut.  

QUAND FICTION ET RÉALITÉ S’EMMÊLENT

Dans leur regard est puissante, l’injustice de son histoire et la souffrance de ses personnages font facilement passer de la rage aux larmes. En 1989, l’affaire avait pris une proportion nationale. L’attaque raciale et contre les minorités avait été mise en avant par les défenseurs des « Cinq de Central Park ».

Mais Ava DuVernay se plaît à rappeler autre chose : contre eux, il y avait un milliardaire de l’immobilier (dont les bureaux bordaient le parc) maintenant président des États-Unis. Donald Trump avait payé plus de 80 000 dollars pour des pages entières dans des journaux, appelant notamment au rétablissement de la peine de mort dans l’État.

Outre Donald Trump, la procureur Linda Fairstein, campée par Felicity Huffman, est également pointée du doigt. Les accusations de la réalisatrice vont même plus loin : elle serait responsable de l’arrestation et surtout de l’acharnement de la police et de la cour sur les cinq adolescents et leur famille. Aujourd’hui, l‘ex-procureur reconvertie en autrice est à son tour lynchée sur la place publique (et notamment la tweetosphère).

Il faut dire que devant les conditions des interrogatoires des cinq garçons, la violence verbale et physique dont ils ont (ou auraient, pour Fairstein) fait les frais, et l’instrumentalisation politique de leur incarcération, l’opportunisme de la procureur se confond facilement avec un racisme aveugle. Aujourd’hui encore, la femme dément la vision des interrogatoires que propose DuVernay et reproche à la réalisatrice d’avoir non seulement omis une grande partie des méfaits du gang cette nuit du 19 avril 1989, mais aussi de ne s’être penchée que sur l’innocence des cinq garçons. 

S’il fallait faire un reproche à la série émouvante et militante, on pourrait pointer du doigt sa mise en scène très classique. Comme le but n’est pas d’esthétiser, mais de redonner leur place, leur parole et leur dignité à des personnes à jamais meurtries, la réalisation use d’effets dramatiques (musique, ralentis…) pour augmenter l’empathie du spectateur. C’est un peu facile et attendu, mais rien d’étonnant de la part de la réalisatrice de Selma.

Dans tous les cas, Dans leur regard reste un uppercut porté par des acteurs formidables, et une série passionnante et déchirante, particulièrement importante.

Dans leur regard est disponible en intégralité sur Netflix depuis le 31 mai.

Résumé

L’adaptation de faits réels en fiction se soumet toujours à un point de vue (auteur, réalisateur…), et Dans leur regard n’y échappe pas. C’est pourtant une série forte, qui imprègne le spectateur et le suivra plusieurs heures après l’avoir finie. Et quand bien même le personnage incarné par Felicity Huffman n’est pas un témoignage de vérité, la série rappelle que le racisme institutionnel accuse encore aujourd’hui sans savoir. Elle éveille les consciences et met la lumière sur un système judiciaire américain à deux vitesses, qui existe toujours. 

Voir encore:

Dans leur regard: que vaut la mini-série de Netflix réalisée par Ava DuVernay?

 Constance Jamet

Le Figaro

CRITIQUE – Avec cette mini-série qui provoque une véritable onde de choc outre-Atlantique, Ava DuVernay, la réalisatrice de Selma, poursuit sa trilogie sur le racisme dans le système judiciaire américain.

C’est une des plus édifiantes erreurs judiciaires de l’histoire contemporaine américaine. En 1989, cinq adolescents originaires de Harlem sont condamnés à tort pour le viol barbare d’une joggeuse blanche dans Central Park. Embarqués par des policiers sur les dents, les garçons, quatre Afro-Américains et un Hispanique, se promenaient ce soir-là dans le parc de New York. Ils livrent des confessions forcées au bout de 42 heures d’interrogatoire musclé sans sommeil, sans nourriture, sans avocat. Malgré l’absence de preuves matérielles (leurs ADN ne correspondent pas à celui trouvé sur la victime) et leurs protestations, ils passeront entre six et quatorze ans en prison. Et ne seront innocentés qu’après les aveux du vrai coupable… en 2002.

Ce fait divers qui avait inspiré Donald Trump, alors simple magnat, à demander le rétablissement de la peine de mort, a divisé les États-Unis mais reste peu connu en France. Il est à redécouvrir dans le puissant réquisitoire Dans leur regard (When they see us), remarquable mini-série de quatre épisodes signée pour Netflix par Ava DuVernay. La réalisatrice engagée de Selma poursuit sa réflexion implacable sur le racisme latent du système judiciaire américain, inadapté à protéger les plus faibles. Comme avec son film Middle of Nowhere et son documentaire 13, nommé aux Oscars, qui liait esclavage et incarcération de masse, la cinéaste déconstruit les préjugés à l’égard des minorités.

Procès ubuesque

Face à l’engrenage, le quinté d’ados est d’une naïveté enfantine douloureuse. Ignorant jusqu’à la définition du mot viol. Considérés d’office comme de la mauvaise graine. Des boucs émissaires de l’insécurité qui gangrenait alors la Grosse pomme. Perdus, leurs parents les poussent à dire ce que les enquêteurs veulent entendre.

Lycéenne au moment des faits, Ava DuVernay s’est laissé convaincre de reconstituer l’affaire après avoir été contactée sur Twitter par l’un des membres de cette tragédie. Épaté par la rigueur de la réalisatrice sur Selma, Raymond Santana rêvait du même traitement pour raconter leur histoire. La réalisatrice a passé quatre ans de sa vie à discuter avec Santana, ses compagnons d’infortune et leurs familles.

Dans leur regard ne retrace pas uniquement le procès ubuesque. La fiction plonge dans l’enfer carcéral, les marques que ces années passées derrière les barreaux ont laissées. Corruption des gardiens, passage à tabac des autres détenus, isolement, réinsertion impossible… La série montre comment le système pousse à la récidive. Comme dans le fabuleux et éprouvant Chernobyl, le sens méticuleux des détails le dispute à l’humanité des personnages. Mention spéciale à Jharrel Jerome. Découvert dans Moonlight, il interprète Korey Wise, l’un des cinq innocents, à tous les âges. Fiction la plus regardée sur Netflix aux États-Unis depuis son lancement fin mai, Dans leur regard a déjà un impact qui la dépasse. Face à cette onde de choc, l’ex-procureur en charge du dossier a été lâché par son éditeur. De même, l’avocate générale de l’époque a démissionné de l’université de Columbia où elle enseignait. Et cette réparation tardive n’est sans doute pas terminée…

Voir enfin:

Fearful Norwegians Wonder: Are ‘Swedish Conditions’ Coming to the Streets of Oslo?

Quillette
November 21, 2019

Oslo is an unremarkable place compared to other European capitals, lacking the picturesque charm of smaller Norwegian cities such as Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. But it’s pleasant and pretty enough. Tourists find it easy to get around, with lots to explore. The Oslo Opera House, which opened in 2008, is spectacular. And in summer, you can swim in the Oslofjord and enjoy expensive utepils (“outside beer”) on the seafront or on Karl Johans gate, the city’s broad main street. Like the rest of Norway, Oslo traditionally has been a safe place, even by the standards of other wealthy countries. It’s also remained more demographically homogenous than most of its neighbours, being geographically isolated from migration patterns that have affected the rest of Europe.

Over the last month, however, Oslo’s city centre has witnessed an eruption of unprovoked attacks on random victims—most of them ethnic Norwegian men—by what police have described as youth gangs, each consisting of five to 10 young immigrants. The attacks typically take place on weekends. On Saturday, October 19, as many as 20 such attacks were recorded, with victims suffered varying degrees of injuries.

One of the incidents involved a group of young men, originally from the Middle East, detained for attacking a man in his twenties in the affluent west end. According to police, the victim had been kicked repeatedly in the head while lying on the ground, in what appeared to be a random, unprovoked beating. Another victim that weekend was the uncle of Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr, who suffered several broken ribs after being mobbed at the Romsås subway station.

The following weekend in Oslo, Kurds and Turks clashed over recent developments in Turkey, and ended up looting a branch of the Body Shop on Karl Johan gate, as well as destroying several cars. Car fires also have been on the rise, though the problem has been around for years. (Even in 2013, cars were set alight in Oslo at the rate of about one per week, mostly in the city’s poorer east end.) Overall, crime rates are still low by the standards of other cities, but the recent rise in youth crime suggests that may be changing. “We see more blind violence where people are attacked, ambushed and beaten up,” said Labour Party politician Jan Bøhler to the media last month. “This is terrorising our community.” While such observations are widely shared, Bøhler is notable for being one of the few politicians on the left who’s raised his voice about rising crime among young immigrants.

Oslo is the fastest growing capital city in Europe, despite the fact the country now is registering fewer births than at any time since the government started keeping track in the 19th century. About 14% of the country’s population is now composed of immigrants, with Poles, Lithuanians and Swedes topping the European migration sources; and Somalian, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria supplying the greatest number of non-OECD arrivals. Many of the immigrants congregate in Oslo, where, according to Statistics Norway, about a third of all residents are immigrants or born to immigrants. (As recently as 2004, the figure was just 22%.) In several areas, such as Stovner, Alna and Søndre Nordstrand, the figure is over 50%.

According to a 2015 Statistics Norway report, “most persons with an immigrant background living in Oslo come from Pakistan (22,000), while 13-14,000 are from Poland, Sweden and Somalia. There are large differences between the districts: Persons with a background from Pakistan and Sri Lanka are most represented in [the far eastern suburbs of] Oslo.” By one 2012 estimate, 70 percent of Oslo’s first- and second-generation immigrants will have roots outside Europe by 2040, and about half of the city’s residents will be immigrants.

Until now, Norway had seemed to cope well with the influx of immigrants from war-torn Muslim countries, in part because the intake levels generally were kept at a level that permitted newcomers to be integrated without overwhelming local resources. Indeed, there has been a broad consensus in Norwegian politics to keep immigration rates lower than those of comparable countries such as Sweden and Germany. Nevertheless, concerns have been rising in recent years, even if the ruling class was hesitant to discuss the issue. The country’s libertarian Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) has repeatedly asked the country’s statistical agency to report on the statistical relationship between crime and country of origin. In the past, Statistics Norway refused, saying that such a task was “beyond its capacity.”

A map of the Oslo area published by Statistics Norway, showing immigrant concentrations, from under 20% (yellow) to over 40% (brown).

But this year, for the first time, such a report was published. And the numbers were clear: Immigrants from certain backgrounds—particularly Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghanis—were many times more likely to commit violent crimes than other Norwegians (including other immigrant groups). In 65 out of 80 crime categories, non-Norwegians were over-represented. The largest discrepancy was in regard to domestic violence: Immigrants from non-Western countries were found to be eight times more likely to be charged for such crimes. Rape and murder were also heavily skewed toward these immigrant groups. Worryingly, the figures showed that second-generation immigrants were more likely to be criminals than their parents.

For a long time, the expression svenske tilstander—“Swedish conditions”—has been used to describe large Swedish cities such as Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm, which feature areas plagued by bombings, gang-related gun violence, robbery and rape. In the past, Norwegians used the expression somewhat disparagingly, insisting that such issues would never arise in Norway (while also suggesting that the situation in Sweden was itself exaggerated by those with an anti-immigration agenda). But gradually, “Swedish conditions” have seemed less distant.

Heidi Vibeke Pedersen, a Labour politician representing the immigrant-heavy area of Holmlia, recently wrote a Facebook post about her own experience, which was subsequently reprinted in VG, Norway’s biggest tabloid, under the headline “We have a problem in Oslo”:

Yesterday, my 15-year-old daughter went past [the suburb of] Bøler on a bus half an hour before another 15-year-old was robbed and beaten. Now I need to make a risk assessment: Is it too dangerous for her to go alone to the youth club…Young people now grow up in an environment where threats and violence are common, where adults might be afraid to interfere, and where they are told that the police are racist…Our part of the city is becoming more and more divided. We have areas that are mainly “Norwegian-Norwegian,” and others that have large immigrant populations. This isn’t diversity.

Pedersen’s article alluded to the fact that, in the quest to maintain their own cultures, some Muslims in Norway prefer to segregate instead of integrate. The newspaper Aftenposten recently uncovered the existence of Islamic schools presenting as cultural centres. And Islamsk Råd, the Islamic Council of Norway, now has proposed a separate branch of the Barnevernet—the government-run social services responsible for children—to deal with Muslim children.

The article was shared by many. But Pedersen’s use of such terms as “Norwegian-Norwegian” (or norsk-norske) didn’t sit well with progressives and community advocates. Hasti Hamidi, a writer and Socialist Party politician, and Umar Ashraf, a Holmlia resident, wrote in VG that Pedersen’s use of the term “must mean that the author’s understanding of Norwegian-ness is synonymous with white skin.”

Camara Lundestad Joof, a well known anti-racist activist and writer at the Dagbladet newspaper, accused Pedersen of branding local teenagers as terrorists. Using her own hard-done-by brother as an example, she explained how, in her opinion, Norwegian society has failed non-white young people. Had he been treated better, she argues, he and others like him would fare better. (One problem with this argument is that Norway is one of the least racist countries in the world.)

Of course, this tension between racial sensitivity and blunt talk on crime has existed for generations in many Western societies. But it’s a relatively new topic in Norway, which is only now embracing certain hyper-progressive academic trends. (Oslo Metropolitan University, for instance, has recently produced an expert in so-called Whiteness Studies.)

In fact, some influential Norwegians apparently would prefer that Statistics Norway had never released its report on crime and immigration in the first place. This includes Oslo’s vice mayor, Kamzy Gunaratnam, who told Dagbladet, “Damn, I’m angry! I’m not interested in these numbers…We don’t have a need to set people up against each other. These are our children, our people.”

But burying the truth is never a good long-term strategy for anyone, including members of immigrant communities. The more persuasive view is that these issues should be addressed candidly, while they are still manageable. Unlike many other European countries, Norway doesn’t yet have an influential far-right party. But that may change if voters see that mainstream politicians are too polite to address a problem that ordinary people all over Oslo are talking about.

Kathrine Jebsen Moore grew up in Norway. She now lives with her husband and four children in Edinburgh.


Historiquement correct: Souvenons-nous des croisades ! (Blame it on the Scotts: guess who actually taught Islam to hate the crusades ?)

24 novembre, 2019
Image result for Rodney Stark Bearing false witness book cover"Image result for Walter Scott The Talisman"
Image result for ridley scott kingdom of heaven film poster Saladin"Ispread_of_religions600l nous faut entrer dans une pensée du temps où la bataille de Poitiers et les Croisades sont beaucoup plus proches de nous que la Révolution française et l’industrialisation du Second Empire. René Girard
Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless. Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it. Bill Clinton
Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’Inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié par le Christ. Barack Hussein Obama
Dès le second siècle de l’Hégire, les Arabes deviennent les précepteurs de l’Europe. Voltaire
Sans Charles Martel (…), la France était une province mahométane. Voltaire
Chanoines, moines, curés même, si on vous imposait la loi de ne manger ni boire depuis quatre heures du matin jusqu’à dix heures du soir, pendant le mois de juillet, lorsque le carême arriverait dans ce temps ; si on vous défendait de jouer à aucun jeu de hasard sous peine de damnation ; si le vin vous était interdit sous la même peine ; s’il vous fallait faire un pèlerinage dans des déserts brûlants ; s’il vous était enjoint de donner au moins deux et demi pour cent de votre revenu aux pauvres ; si, accoutumés à jouir de dix-huit femmes, on vous en retranchait tout d’un coup quatorze ; en bonne foi, oseriez-vous appeler cette religion sensuelle ? (…) Il faut combattre sans cesse. Quand on a détruit une erreur, il se trouve toujours quelqu’un qui la ressuscite. Voltaire (dictionnaire philosophique 1764)
Sa religion est sage, sévère, chaste et humaine : sage puisqu’elle ne tombe pas dans la démence de donner à Dieu des associés, et qu’elle n’a point de mystère ; sévère puisqu’elle défend les jeux de hasard, le vin et les liqueurs fortes, et qu’elle ordonne la prière cinq fois par jour ; chaste, puisqu’elle réduit à quatre femmes ce nombre prodigieux d’épouses qui partageaient le lit de tous les princes de l’Orient ; humaine, puisqu’elle nous ordonne l’aumône, bien plus rigoureusement que le voyage de La Mecque. Ajoutez à tous ces caractères de vérité, la tolérance. Voltaire
Il n’y a point de religion dans laquelle on n’ait recommandé l’aumône. La mahométane est la seule qui en ait fait un précepte légal, positif, indispensable. L’Alcoran [le Coran] ordonne de donner deux et demi pour cent de son revenu, soit en argent, soit en denrées. La prohibition de tous les jeux de hasard est peut-être la seule loi dont on ne peut trouver d’exemple dans aucune religion. Toutes ces lois qui, à la polygamie près, sont si austères, et sa doctrine qui est si simple, attirèrent bientôt à la religion, le respect et la confiance. Le dogme surtout de l’unité d’un Dieu présenté sans mystère, et proportionné à l’intelligence humaine, rangea sous sa loi une foule de nations et, jusqu’à des nègres dans l’Afrique, et à des insulaires dans l’Océan indien. Le peu que je viens de dire dément bien tout ce que nos historiens, nos déclamateurs et nos préjugés nous disent : mais la vérité doit les combattre. Voltaire
Le plus grand changement que l’opinion ait produit sur notre globe fut l’établissement de la religion de Mahomet. Ses musulmans, en moins d’un siècle, conquirent un empire plus vaste que l’empire romain. Cette révolution, si grande pour nous, n’est, à la vérité, que comme un atome qui a changé de place dans l’immensité des choses, et dans le nombre innombrable de mondes qui remplissent l’espace; mais c’est au moins un événement qu’on doit regarder comme une des roues de la machine de l’univers, et comme un effet nécessaire des lois éternelles et immuables: car peut-il arriver quelque chose qui n’ait été déterminé par le Maître de toutes choses? Rien n’est que ce qui doit être. Voltaire
Ce fut certainement un très grand homme, et qui forma de grands hommes. Il fallait qu’il fût martyr ou conquérant, il n’y avait pas de milieu. Il vainquit toujours, et toutes ses victoires furent remportées par le petit nombre sur le grand. Conquérant, législateur, monarque et pontife, il joua le plus grand rôle qu’on puisse jouer sur la terre aux yeux du commun des hommes. Voltaire
J’ai dit qu’on reconnut Mahomet pour un grand homme; rien n’est plus impie, dites-vous. Je vous répondrai que ce n’est pas ma faute si ce petit homme a changé la face d’une partie du monde, s’il a gagné des batailles contre des armées dix fois plus nombreuses que les siennes, s’il a fait trembler l’empire romain, s’il a donné les premiers coups à ce colosse que ses successeurs ont écrasé, et s’il a été législateur de l’Asie, de l’Afrique, et d’une partie de l’Europe. Voltaire
Votre Majesté sait quel esprit m’animait en composant cet ouvrage ; l’amour du genre humain et l’horreur du fanatisme, deux vertus qui sont faites pour être toujours auprès de votre trône, ont conduit ma plume. J’ai toujours pensé que la tragédie ne doit pas être un simple spectacle qui touche le cœur sans le corriger. Qu’importent au genre humain les passions et les malheurs d’un héros de l’antiquité, s’ils ne servent pas à nous instruire ? On avoue que la comédie du Tartuffe, ce chef-d’œuvre qu’aucune nation n’a égalé, a fait beaucoup de bien aux hommes, en montrant l’hypocrisie dans toute sa laideur ; ne peut-on pas essayer d’attaquer, dans une tragédie, cette espèce d’imposture qui met en œuvre à la fois l’hypocrisie des uns et la fureur des autres ? Ne peut-on pas remonter jusqu’à ces anciens scélérats, fondateurs illustres de la superstition et du fanatisme, qui, les premiers, ont pris le couteau sur l’autel pour faire des victimes de ceux qui refusaient d’être leurs disciples ? Ceux qui diront que les temps de ces crimes sont passés ; qu’on ne verra plus de Barcochebas [Shimon bar Kokhba], de Mahomet, de Jean de Leyde, etc. ; que les flammes des guerres de religion sont éteintes, font, ce me semble, trop d’honneur à la nature humaine. Le même poison subsiste encore, quoique moins développé ; cette peste, qui semble étouffée, reproduit de temps en temps des germes capables d’infecter la terre. N’a-t-on pas vu de nos jours les prophètes des Cévennes tuer, au nom de Dieu, ceux de leur secte qui n’étaient pas assez soumis ? Voltaire (préface au Fanatisme ou Mahomet, le Prophète, 1742)
C’est un des plus grands événements de l’Histoire: les Sarrasins victorieux, le monde était mahométan. Chateaubriand
Il faut rendre justice au culte de Mahomet qui n’a imposé que deux grands devoirs à l’homme : la prière et la charité. (…) Les deux plus hautes vérités de toute religion. Lamartine (1833)
Cette bataille n’a pas l’importance qu’on lui attribue. Elle n’est pas comparable à la victoire remportée sur Attila. Elle marque la fin d’un raid, mais n’arrête rien en réalité. Si Charles avait été vaincu, il n’en serait résulté qu’un pillage plus considérable. (…) Sans l’Islam, l’Empire franc n’aurait sans doute jamais existé, et Charlemagne sans Mahomet serait inconcevable. Henri Pirenne (historien belge, 1922)
Monsieur Dubois demanda à Madame Nozière quel était le jour le plus funeste de l’Histoire de France. Madame Nozière ne le savait pas. C’est, lui dit Monsieur Dubois, le jour de la bataille de Poitiers, quand, en 732, la science, l’art et la civilisation arabes reculèrent devant la barbarie franque. Anatole France (1922)
Si à Poitiers Charles Martel avait été battu, le monde aurait changé de face. Puisque le monde était déjà condamné à l’influence judaïque (et son sous-produit le christianisme est une chose si insipide !), il aurait mieux valu que l’islam triomphe. Cette religion récompense l’héroïsme, promet au guerrier les joies du septième ciel… Animé d’un esprit semblable, les Germains auraient conquis le monde. Ils en ont été empêchés par le christianisme. Hitler (1942)
Bien des voix se sont élevées pour tenter de ramener la bataille à sa juste place. En vain, car, érigé en symbole, l’événement est passé à la postérité et avec lui son héros Charles Martel. Il appartient à ce fonds idéologique commun qui fonde la nation française, la civilisation chrétienne, l’identité européenne sur la mise en scène du choc des civilisations et l’exclusion de l’Autre. Françoise Micheau et Philippe Sénac (historiens mediévistes)
Recent scholars have suggested Poitiers, so poorly recorded in contemporary sources, was a mere raid and thus a construct of western mythmaking or that a Muslim victory might have been preferable to continued Frankish dominance. What is clear is that Poitiers marked a general continuance of the successful defense of Europe, (from the Muslims). Flush from the victory at Tours, Charles Martel went on to clear southern France from Islamic attackers for decades, unify the warring kingdoms into the foundations of the Carolingian Empire, and ensure ready and reliable troops from local estates. Victor Davis Hanson
Je n’ai jamais entendu un Arabe s’excuser d’être allé jusqu’à Poitiers. Stéphane Denis (2001)
Aujourd’hui les bicots ont dépassé Poitiers. Tunisiano (groupe Sniper, 2003)
I was stunned that the president could say something so at once banal and offensive. Here we are now two days away from an act shocking barbarism, the burning alive of a prisoner of war, and Obama’s message is that we should remember the crusades and the inquisition. I mean, for him to say that all of us have sinned, all religions have been transgressed, is, you know, is adolescent stuff. Everyone knows that. What’s important is what’s happening now. Christianity no longer goes on crusades and it gave up the inquisition a while ago. The Book of Joshua is knee deep in blood. That story is over too. The story of today, of our generation, is the fact that the overwhelming volume of the violence and the barbarism that we are seeing in the world from Nigeria to Paris all the way to Pakistan and even to the Philippines, the island of Mindanao in the Philippines is coming from one source. And that’s from inside Islam. It is not the prevalent idea of Islam, but it is coming from Islam, as many Islamic leaders including the president of Egypt and many others have admitted. And there needs to be a change in Islam. It is not a coincidence that all of these attacks on other religions are happening, all over the world, in a dozen countries, two dozen countries, all in the name of one religion. It’s not a coincidence. And for the president to be lecturing us and to say we shouldn’t get on our high horse and to not remember our own path is ridiculous. The present issue is Muslim radicalism and how to attack it. (…) From Obama’s first speech at West Point in December 2009, ironically announcing the surge in Afghanistan, you could tell that his heart has never been in this fight, never. Charles Krauthammer
Il est important que nous démontrions que nous croyants sommes un facteur de paix pour les sociétés humaines et que nous puissions ainsi répondre à ceux qui nous accusent injustement de fomenter la haine et d’être la cause de la violence. Dans le monde précaire d’aujourd’hui, le dialogue entre les religions n’est pas un signe de faiblesse. Elle trouve sa propre raison d’être dans le dialogue de Dieu avec l’humanité. Il s’agit de changer les attitudes historiques. Une scène de la Chanson de Roland me vient à l’esprit comme un symbole, quand les chrétiens battent les musulmans et les mettent tous en ligne devant les fonts baptismaux, et un avec une épée. Et les musulmans devaient choisir entre le baptême ou l’épée. C’est ce que les chrétiens ont fait. C’était une mentalité que nous ne pouvons plus accepter, ni comprendre, ni faire fonctionner. Prenons soin des groupes fondamentalistes, chacun a le sien. En Argentine, il y a un petit coin fondamentaliste. Et essayons avec la fraternité d’aller de l’avant. Le fondamentalisme est un fléau et toutes les religions ont une sorte de cousin germain fondamentaliste, qui est regroupé. Pape François
La Chanson de Roland n’est pas le reportage détaillé d’un journaliste mais un poème épique rédigé au 11ème siècle et qui traite, 3 siècles après les faits, de l’histoire de Roland de Ronceveaux, un guerrier franc parti combattre l’envahisseur musulman en Espagne aux côtés de Charlemagne. Il s’agissait alors de ralentir l’invasion islamique qui menaçait la Chrétienté d’Occident et la France. Dans ce contexte, on ne peut qu’être stupéfait par la dénonciation bergoglienne des « conversions forcées » de mahométans par les Francs partis porter secours aux Espagnols, les seuls véritablement obligés de se convertir à l’époque. L’intention de l’occupant du Vatican est particulièrement perverse et vise à établir un parallèle surréel entre la campagne de Charlemagne et les massacres de masse perpétrés par les musulmans contre les Chrétiens au 21ème siècle. Les victimes chrétiennes, selon Bergoglio, deviennent les coupables, dans l’Espagne du 8ème siècle tout comme dans l’Europe et l’Orient du 21ème siècle. Cette nouvelle provocation du chef de l’Eglise Catholique s’ajoute à une longue série de propos incendiaires en faveur l’immigration de masse et de l’islam en Europe. Déclarations qui l’ont très largement marginalisé, y compris au sein des derniers pans de la population qui se dit catholique et pratiquante. Caricature du curé gauchiste octogénaire, Bergoglio ne choque plus tant qu’il ne lasse une Europe déjà saturée de sermons iréniques sur l’islam alors que le terrorisme musulman prend toujours plus d’ampleur. Breizato
Le 18 novembre dernier, le pape François a reçu en audience les participants à la réunion organisée par l’Istituto para el Dialogo Interreligioso de la Argentina (IDI), et il a notamment salué trois des dirigeants de cet organisme, le Père Guillermo Marco, le responsable musulman Omar Abboud et le rabbin Daniel Goldman, tous trois vice-présidents de l’IDI. Le Souverain Pontife a prononcé une allocution (…) Il ne s’agit pas là d’une improvisation du pape François, comme il en commet tant notamment en avion, mais d’un texte écrit et publié. Le moins qu’on puisse en dire, c’est que le Saint-Père prend quelques libertés avec la vérité historique et le texte même de la Chanson de Roland, pour appuyer ses affirmations. La Chanson de Roland s’inspire en partie d’un événement historique, l’expédition de Charlemagne en Espagne de 778, le siège avorté de Saragosse, la retraite de l’armée des Francs menacée d’une intervention de l’émir de Cordoue, la prise et le pillage, au passage, de Pampelune, puis le revers de son arrière-garde prise en embuscade, essentiellement par des Basques, à Roncevaux. Il n’est pas inutile de rappeler que cette expédition en Espagne fut décidée à la demande de plusieurs gouverneurs musulmans d’Espagne, en rébellion contre l’émir de Cordoue, et que l’Espagne fut conquise par les musulmans sans que les autochtones les y invitent… La Chanson de Roland n’est évidemment pas une chronique historique racontant des événements, mais un poème épique, une chanson de geste, dont le plus ancien et plus complet manuscrit, rédigé en anglo-normand remonte au tout début du XIIe siècle, quatre siècles après les faits qu’il est supposé raconter… Le souvenir du pape François évoquant la victoire des Francs sur les musulmans, est donc confus, car l’expédition ne fut pas une victoire. Le texte même de cette chanson de geste, ne corrobore pas le souvenir que le Saint-Père en a et qu’il évoque. L’affaire fictive du baptême de force des musulmans supposés vaincus après la prise de Saragosse – qui n’eut pas lieu – n’a rien d’historique mais est une pure imagination du poète. On trouve aux vers 3666 à 3674 cette invention littéraire : Le roi [Charlemagne] croit en Dieu, il veut faire son service ; et ses évêques bénissent les eaux. On mène les païens jusqu’au baptistère ; s’il en est un qui résiste à Charles, le roi le fait pendre, ou brûler ou tuer par le fer [l’ancien français ocire veut dire tuer, massacrer, assassiner pas nécessairement par le fer : il n’est pas question d’un chrétien tenant une épée dans le texte original]. Bien plus de cent mille sont baptisés vrais chrétiens, mais non la reine. Elle sera menée en douce France, captive : le roi veut qu’elle se convertisse par amour. Comment dès lors affirmer que « c’est ce que les chrétiens firent » ? Riposte catholique
L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme.Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxisme.  René Girard
Malgré eux, les islamistes sont des Occidentaux. Même en rejetant l’Occident, ils l’acceptent. Aussi réactionnaires que soient ses intentions, l’islamisme intègre non seulement les idées de l’Occident mais aussi ses institutions. Le rêve islamiste d’effacer le mode de vie occidental de la vie musulmane est, dans ces conditions, incapable de réussir. Le système hybride qui en résulte est plus solide qu’il n’y paraît. Les adversaires de l’islam militant souvent le rejettent en le qualifiant d’effort de repli pour éviter la vie moderne et ils se consolent avec la prédiction selon laquelle il est dès lors condamné à se trouver à la traîne des avancées de la modernisation qui a eu lieu. Mais cette attente est erronée. Car l’islamisme attire précisément les musulmans qui, aux prises avec les défis de la modernité, sont confrontés à des difficultés, et sa puissance et le nombre de ses adeptes ne cessent de croître. Les tendances actuelles donnent à penser que l’islam radical restera une force pendant un certain temps encore. Daniel Pipes
They are not expressions of an outburst in the West of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in the Middle East. It is truly modern, aimed against American imperialism, capitalism, etc. In other words, they occupy the same space that the proletarian left had thirty years ago, that Action Directe had twenty years ago. . . . It partakes henceforth of the internal history of the West. (…) It can feel like a time-warp, a return to the European left of the 1970s and early 1980s. Europe’s radical-mosque practitioners can appear, mutatis mutandis, like a Muslim version of the hard-core intellectuals and laborers behind the aggrieved but proud Scottish National party in its salad days. (…) In the last three centuries, Europe has given birth and nourishment to most of mankind’s most radical causes. It shouldn’t be that surprising to imagine that Europe could nurture Islamic militancy on its own soil. (…) In Europe as elsewhere, Westernization is the key to the growth and virulence of hard-core Islamic radicalism. The most frightening, certainly the most effective, adherents of bin Ladenism are those who are culturally and intellectually most like us. The process of Westernization liberates a Muslim from the customary sanctions and loyalties that normally corralled the dark side of the human soul. (…) It would be a delightful irony if the more progressive political and religious debates among the Middle East’s Muslims saved their brethren in the intellectually backward lands of the European Union. Reuel Marc Gerecht
Wherever it occurs, Occidentalism is fed by a sense of humiliation, of defeat. It is a war against a particular idea of the West – a bourgeois society addicted to money, creature comforts, sex, animal lusts, self-interest, and security – which is neither new nor unique to Islamist extremism. This idea has historical roots that long precede any form of ‘U.S. imperialism’ . (…) Blood, soil, and the spirit of the Volk were what German romantics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries invoked against the universalist claims of the French Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and Napoleon’s invading armies. This notion of national soul was taken over by the Slavophiles in 19th-century Russia, who used it to attack the « Westernizers, » that is, Russian advocates of liberal reforms. It came up again and again, in the 1930s, when European fascists and National Socialists sought to smash « Americanism, » Anglo-Saxon liberalism, and « rootless cosmopolitanism » (meaning Jews). Aurel Kolnai, the great Hungarian scholar, wrote a book in the 1930s about fascist ideology in Austria and Germany. He called it War Against the West. Communism, too, especially under Stalin, although a bastard child of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, was the sworn enemy of Western liberalism and « rootless cosmopolitanism. » Many Islamic radicals borrowed their anti-Western concepts from Russia and Germany. The founders of the Ba’ath Party in Syria were keen readers of prewar German race theories. Jalal Al-e Ahmad, an influential Iranian intellectual in the 1960s, coined the phrase « Westoxification » to describe the poisonous influence of Western civilization on other cultures. He, too, was an admirer of German ideas on blood and soil. Clearly, the idea of the West as a malign force is not some Eastern or Middle Eastern idea, but has deep roots in European soil. Defining it in historical terms is not a simple matter. Occidentalism was part of the counter-Enlightenment, to be sure, but also of the reaction against industrialization. Some Marxists have been attracted to it, but so, of course, have their enemies on the far right. Occidentalism is a revolt against rationalism (the cold, mechanical West, the machine civilization) and secularism, but also against individualism. European colonialism provoked Occidentalism, and so does global capitalism today. But one can speak of Occidentalism only when the revolt against the West becomes a form of pure destruction, when the West is depicted as less than human, when rebellion means murder. Wherever it occurs, Occidentalism is fed by a sense of humiliation, of defeat. Isaiah Berlin once described the German revolt against Napoleon as « the original exemplar of the reaction of many a backward, exploited, or at any rate patronized society, which, resentful of the apparent inferiority of its status, reacted by turning to real or imaginary triumphs and glories in its past, or enviable attributes of its own national or cultural character. » The same thing might be said about Japan in the 1930s, after almost a century of feeling snubbed and patronized by the West, whose achievements it so fervently tried to emulate. It has been true of the Russians, who have often slipped into the role of inferior upstarts, stuck in the outer reaches of Asia and Europe. But nothing matches the sense of failure and humiliation that afflicts the Arab world, a once glorious civilization left behind in every respect by the post-Enlightenment West. Humiliation can easily turn into a cult of the pure and the authentic. Among the most resented attributes of the hated Occident are its claims to universalism. Christianity is a universalist faith, but so is the Enlightenment belief in reason. Napoleon was a universalist who believed in a common civil code for all his conquered subjects. The conviction that the United States represents universal values and has the God-given duty to spread democracy in the benighted world belongs to the same universalist tradition. Some of these values may indeed be universal. One would like to think that all people could benefit from democracy or the use of reason. The Code Napoleon brought many benefits. But when universal solutions are imposed by force, or when people feel threatened or humiliated or unable to compete with the powers that promote such solutions, that is when we see the dangerous retreat into dreams of purity. Not all dreams of local authenticity and cultural uniqueness are noxious, or even wrong. As Isaiah Berlin also pointed out, the crooked timber of humanity cannot be forcibly straightened along universal standards with impunity. The experiments on the human soul by Communism showed how bloody universalist dreams can be. And the poetic romanticism of 19th-century German idealists was often a welcome antidote to the dogmatic rationalism that came with the Enlightenment. It is when purity or authenticity, of faith or race, leads to purges of the supposedly inauthentic, of the allegedly impure, that mass murder begins. The fact that anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism, and a general hostility to the West often overlap is surely no coincidence. Even in Japan, where Jews play no part in national life, one of the participants at the 1942 Kyoto conference suggested that the war against the West was a war against the « poisonous materialist civilization » built on Jewish financial capitalist power. At the same time, European anti-Semites, not only in Nazi Germany, were blaming the Jews for Bolshevism. Both Bolshevism and capitalism are universalist systems in the sense that they do not recognize national, racial, or cultural borders. Since Jews are traditionally regarded by the defenders of purity as the congenital outsiders, the archetypal « rootless cosmopolitans, » it is no wonder that they are also seen as the main carriers of the universalist virus. To be sure, Jews had sound reasons to be attracted to such notions as equality before the law, secular politics, and internationalism, whether of a socialist or capitalist stamp. Exclusivity, whether racial, religious, or nationalist, is never good for minorities. Only in the Middle East have Jews brought their own form of exclusivity and nationalism. But Zionism came from the West. And so Israel, in the eyes of its enemies, is the colonial outpost of « Westoxification. » Its material success only added to the Arab sense of historic humiliation. The idea, however, that Jews are a people without a soul, mimics with no creative powers, is much older than the founding of the State of Israel. It was one of the most common anti-Semitic slurs employed by Richard Wagner. He was neither the first to do so, nor very original in this respect. Karl Marx, himself the grandson of a rabbi, called the Jews greedy parasites, whose souls were made of money. The same kind of thing was often said by 19th-century Europeans about the British. The great Prussian novelist Theodor Fontane, who rather admired England, nonetheless opined that « the cult of the Gold Calf is the disease of the English people. » He was convinced that English society would be destroyed by « this yellow fever of gold, this sellout of all souls to the devil of Mammon. » And much the same is said today about the Americans. Calculation — the accounting of money, interests, scientific evidence, and so on — is regarded as soulless. Authenticity lies in poetry, intuition, and blind faith. The Occidentalist view of the West is of a bourgeois society, addicted to creature comforts, animal lusts, self-interest, and security. It is by definition a society of cowards, who prize life above death. As a Taliban fighter once put it during the war in Afghanistan, the Americans would never win, because they love Pepsi-Cola, whereas the holy warriors love death. This was also the language of Spanish fascists during the civil war, and of Nazi ideologues, and Japanese kamikaze pilots. The hero is one who acts without calculating his interests. He jumps into action without regard for his own safety, ever ready to sacrifice himself for the cause. And the Occidentalist hero, whether he is a Nazi or an Islamist, is just as ready to destroy those who sully the purity of his race or creed. It is indeed his duty to do so. When the West is seen as the threat to authenticity, then it is the duty of all holy warriors to destroy anything to do with the « Zionist Crusaders, » whether it is a U.S. battleship, a British embassy, a Jewish cemetery, a chunk of lower Manhattan, or a disco in Bali. The symbolic value of these attacks is at least as important as the damage inflicted. What, then, is new about the Islamist holy war against the West? Perhaps it is the totality of its vision. Islamism, as an antidote to Westoxification, is an odd mixture of the universal and the pure: universal because all people can, and in the eyes of the believers should, become orthodox Muslims; pure because those who refuse the call are not simply lost souls but savages who must be removed from this earth. Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, among others, but did not view the entire West with hostility. In fact, he wanted to forge an alliance with the British and other « Aryan » nations, and felt betrayed when they did not see things his way. Stalinists and Maoists murdered class enemies and were opposed to capitalism. But they never saw the Western world as less than human and thus to be physically eradicated. Japanese militarists went to war against Western empires but did not regard everything about Western civilization as barbarous. The Islamist contribution to the long history of Occidentalism is a religious vision of purity in which the idolatrous West simply has to be destroyed. The worship of false gods is the worst religious sin in Islam as well as in ancient Judaism. The West, as conceived by Islamists, worships the false gods of money, sex, and other animal lusts. In this barbarous world the thoughts and laws and desires of Man have replaced the kingdom of God. The word for this state of affairs is jahiliyya, which can mean idolatry, religious ignorance, or barbarism. Applied to the pre-Islamic Arabs, it means ignorance: People worshiped other gods because they did not know better. But the new jahiliyya, in the sense of barbarism, is everywhere, from Las Vegas and Wall Street to the palaces of Riyadh. To an Islamist, anything that is not pure, that does not belong to the kingdom of God, is by definition barbarous and must be destroyed. Just as the main enemies of Russian Slavophiles were Russian Westernizers, the most immediate targets of Islamists are the liberals, reformists, and secular rulers in their own societies. They are the savage stains that have to be cleansed with blood. But the source of the barbarism that has seduced Saudi princes and Algerian intellectuals as much as the whores and pimps of New York (and in a sense all infidels are whores and pimps) is the West. And that is why holy war has been declared against the West. Ian Buruma
Il est malheureux que le Moyen-Orient ait rencontré pour la première fois la modernité occidentale à travers les échos de la Révolution française. Progressistes, égalitaristes et opposés à l’Eglise, Robespierre et les jacobins étaient des héros à même d’inspirer les radicaux arabes. Les modèles ultérieurs — Italie mussolinienne, Allemagne nazie, Union soviétique — furent encore plus désastreux …Ce qui rend l’entreprise terroriste des islamistes aussi dangereuse, ce n’est pas tant la haine religieuse qu’ils puisent dans des textes anciens — souvent au prix de distorsions grossières —, mais la synthèse qu’ils font entre fanatisme religieux et idéologie moderne. Ian Buruma et Avishai Margalit
La révolution iranienne fut en quelque sorte la version islamique et tiers-mondiste de la contre-culture occidentale. Il serait intéressant de mettre en exergue les analogies et les ressemblances que l’on retrouve dans le discours anti-consommateur, anti-technologique et anti-moderne des dirigeants islamiques de celui que l’on découvre chez les protagonistes les plus exaltés de la contre-culture occidentale. Daryiush Shayegan (Les Illusions de l’identité, 1992)
Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say « distorts » the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light. The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being « historically accurate » and designed to be « a fascinating history lesson ». Academics, however – including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain’s leading authority on the Crusades – attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as « rubbish », « ridiculous », « complete fiction » and « dangerous to Arab relations ». The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims. The script depicts Baldwin’s brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as « the arch-villain ». A further group, « the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians », is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship. « They were working together, » the film’s spokesman said. « It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar cause friction between them. » The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as « the baddies » while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a « a hero of the piece », Sir Ridley’s spokesman said. « At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct. » Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was « complete and utter nonsense ». He said that it relied on the romanticised view of the Crusades propagated by Sir Walter Scott in his book The Talisman, published in 1825 and now discredited by academics. (..) Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride. Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley’s efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. « It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. » (…) Sir Ridley’s spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. « It’s trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history. The Telegraph
[Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of heaven]  is not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality. Guy of Lusignan lost the Battle of Hattin against Saladin, yes, but he wasn’t any badder or better than anyone else. There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense. It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. Jonathan Riley-Smith
It does not do any good to distort history, even if you believe you are distorting it in a good way. Cruelty was not on one side but on all. Amin Maalouf
I recently refused to take part in a television series, produced by an intelligent and well-educated Egyptian woman, for whom a continuing Western crusade was an article of faith. Having less to do with historical reality than with reactions to imperialism, the nationalist and Islamist interpretations of crusade history help many people, moderates as well as extremists, to place the exploitation they believe they have suffered in a historical context and to satisfy their feelings of both superiority and humiliation. Jonathan Riley-Smith
For Christians . . . sacred violence cannot be proposed on any grounds save that of love, . . . [and] in an age dominated by the theology of merit this explains why participation in crusades was believed to be meritorious, why the expeditions were seen as penitential acts that could gain indulgences, and why death in battle was regarded as martyrdom. . . . As manifestations of Christian love, the crusades were as much the products of the renewed spirituality of the central Middle Ages, with its concern for living the vita apostolica and expressing Christian ideals in active works of charity, as were the new hospitals, the pastoral work of the Augustinians and Premonstratensians and the service of the friars. The charity of St. Francis may now appeal to us more than that of the crusaders, but both sprang from the same roots. Jonathan Riley-Smith
Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: “Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees. “I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it,” he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as “Crusaders.” Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the “Crusaders and Jews.” (…) Most people in the West do not believe that they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Catholics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as the Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both “nothing and everything,” a place filled with religion that “drives men mad.” (…) It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.” Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians. (…) One of the most profound misconceptions about the Crusades is that they represented a perversion of a religion whose founder preached meekness, love of enemies, and nonresistance. Riley-Smith reminds his reader that on the matter of violence Christ was not as clear as pacifists like to think. He praised the faith of the Roman centurion but did not condemn his profession. At the Last Supper he told his disciples, “Let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors.” St. Paul said of secular authorities, “He does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Several centuries later, St. Augustine articulated a Christian approach to just war, one in which legitimate authorities could use violence to halt or avert a greater evil. It must be a defensive war, in reaction to an act of aggression. For Christians, therefore, violence was ethically neutral, since it could be employed either for evil or against it. As Riley-Smith notes, the concept that violence is intrinsically evil belongs solely to the modern world. It is not Christian. All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187. In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’” But the Crusades were not just wars. They were holy wars, and that is what made them different from what came before. They were made holy not by their target but by the Crusaders’ sacrifice. The Crusade was a pilgrimage and thereby an act of penance. When Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095, he created a model that would be followed for centuries. Crusaders who undertook that burden with right intention and after confessing their sins would receive a plenary indulgence. The indulgence was a recognition that they undertook these sacrifices for Christ, who was crucified again in the tribulations of his people. And the sacrifices were extraordinary. As Riley-Smith writes in this book and his earlier The First ­Crusaders, the cost of crusading was staggering. Without financial assistance, only the wealthy could afford to embark on a Crusade. Many noble families impoverished themselves by crusading. Historians have long known that the image of the Crusader as an adventurer seeking his fortune is exactly backward. The vast majority of Crusaders returned home as soon as they had fulfilled their vow. What little booty they could acquire was more than spent on the journey itself. One is hard pressed to name a single returning Crusader who broke even, let alone made a profit on the journey. And those who returned were the lucky ones. As Riley-Smith explains, recent studies show that around one-third of knights and nobility died on crusade. The death rates for lower classes were even higher. One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character. It was the indulgence that led thousands of men to take on a burden that would certainly cost them dearly. The secular nobility of medieval Europe was a warrior aristocracy. They made their living by the sword. We know from their wills and charters that they were deeply aware of their own sinfulness and anxious over the state of their souls. A Crusade provided a way for them to serve God and to do penance for their sins. It allowed them to use their weapons as a means of their salvation rather than of their damnation. (…) The Crusader sewed a cloth cross to his garment to signify his penitential burden and his hope. Take away penitence and the Crusades cannot be explained. Yet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Protestants and then Enlightenment thinkers rejected the idea of temporal penalties due to sin—along with indulgences, purgatory, and the papacy. How then did they explain the Crusades? Why else would thousands of men march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory, if not for something precious? The first explanation was that they were fooled by the Antichrist: The Catholic Church had convinced the simple that their salvation lay in fighting its battles. Later, with the advent of liberalism, critics assumed that the Crusaders must have had economic motives. They were seeking wealth and simply used religion as a cover for their worldly desires. In the nineteenth century, the memory of the Crusades became hopelessly entangled with contemporary European imperialism. Riley-Smith tells the fascinating story of Archbishop Charles-Martial Allemand-Lavigerie of Algiers, the founder of the missionary orders of the White Fathers and White Sisters, who worked diligently to establish a new military order resembling the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller of the Middle Ages. His new order was to be sent to Africa, where it would protect missionaries, fight against the slave trade, and support the progress of French civilization in the continent. Drawing on money from antislavery societies, Lavigerie purchased lands on the edge of the Saharan Desert to use as a mother house for a new order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The order attracted hundreds of men from all social classes, and in 1891 the first brothers received their white habits emblazoned with red crosses. The dust cover of Riley-Smith’s book is itself a wonderful picture of these brothers at their African home. With palm trees behind them, they look proudly into the camera, each wearing a cross and some holding rifles. The Institut des Fréres Armés lasted scarcely more than a year before it was scrapped and its founder died, but other attempts to found a military order were made in the nineteenth century, even in Protestant England. All wove together the contrasting threads of Romanticism, imperialism, and the medieval Crusades. President Clinton is not alone in thinking that the Muslim world is still brooding over the crimes of the Crusaders. It is commonly thought—even by Muslims—that the effects and memory of that trauma have been with the Islamic world since it was first inflicted in the eleventh century. As Riley-Smith explains, however, the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage. Carole Hillenbrand first uncovered this fact in her groundbreaking book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize that the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory. In Europe, however, the Crusades were a well-remembered formative episode. Europeans, who had bound the Crusades to imperialism, brought the story to the Middle East during the nineteenth century and reintroduced it to the Muslims. Stripping the Crusades of their original purpose, they portrayed the Crusades as Europe’s first colonial venture—the first attempt of the West to bring civilization to the backward Muslim East. Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe’s assault on Islam—an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders. Arab nationalists made good use of the new story of the Crusades during their struggles for independence. Their enemies, the Islamists, then took over the same tool. Osama bin Laden is only the most recent Islamist to adopt this useful myth to characterize the actions of the West as a continual Crusade against Islam. That is the Crusades’ only connection with modern Islamist terrorism. And yet, so ingrained is this notion that the Crusades began the modern European assault on Islam that many moderate Muslims still believe it. In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality. Crusade historians sometimes try to yell across it but usually just talk to each other, while the leading churchmen, the scholars in other fields, and the general public hold to a caricature of the Crusades created by a pox of modern ideologies. Thomas F. Madden (Saint Louis University)
In 2001, former president Bill Clinton delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he discussed the West’s response to the recent terrorist attacks of September 11. The speech contained a short but significant reference to the crusades. Mr. Clinton observed that “when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they . . . proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount.” He cited the “contemporaneous descriptions of the event” as describing “soldiers walking on the Temple Mount . . . with blood running up to their knees.” This story, Mr. Clinton said emphatically, was “still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.” This view of the crusades is not unusual. It pervades textbooks as well as popular literature. One otherwise generally reliable Western civilization textbook claims that “the Crusades fused three characteristic medieval impulses: piety, pugnacity, and greed. All three were essential.”1 The film Kingdom of Heaven (2005) depicts crusaders as boorish bigots, the best of whom were torn between remorse for their excesses and lust to continue them. Even the historical supplements for role-playing games—drawing on supposedly more reliable sources—contain statements such as “The soldiers of the First Crusade appeared basically without warning, storming into the Holy Land with the avowed—literally—task of slaughtering unbelievers”; “The Crusades were an early sort of imperialism”; and “Confrontation with Islam gave birth to a period of religious fanaticism that spawned the terrible Inquisition and the religious wars that ravaged Europe during the Elizabethan era.” The most famous semipopular historian of the crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, ended his three volumes of magnificent prose with the judgment that the crusades were “nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.” The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged. But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. (…)  In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia. By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula. Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims. (…) The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them. The surviving central secular authority in the Christian world at this time was the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Having lost so much territory in the seventh and eighth centuries to sudden amputation by the Muslims, the Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack on Egypt, the first time since 645 that they had dared to come so far south. Between the 940s and the 970s, the Byzantines made great progress in recovering lost territories. Emperor John Tzimiskes retook much of Syria and part of Palestine, getting as far as Nazareth, but his armies became overextended and he had to end his campaigns by 975 without managing to retake Jerusalem itself. Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed, and the Byzantines barely managed to retain Aleppo and Antioch. The struggle continued unabated into the eleventh century. In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. He was soon deposed, and by 1038 the Byzantines had negotiated the right to try to rebuild the structure, but other events were also making life difficult for Christians in the area, especially the displacement of Arab Muslim rulers by Seljuk Turks, who from 1055 on began to take control in the Middle East. This destabilized the territory and introduced new rulers (the Turks) who were not familiar even with the patchwork modus vivendi that had existed between most Arab Muslim rulers and their Christian subjects. Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine: notable armed pilgrimages occurred in 1064–65 and 1087–91. (…) Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. In the early 1070s, the pope was Gregory VII, and he immediately began plans to lead an expedition to the Byzantines’ aid. He became enmeshed in conflict with the German emperors, however (what historians call “the Investiture Controversy”), and was ultimately unable to offer meaningful help. Still, the Byzantines persisted in their appeals, and finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade. (…) Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive. The crusades were simply one tool in the defensive options exercised by Christians. To put the question in perspective, one need only consider how many times Christian forces have attacked either Mecca or Medina. (…) One version of Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont in 1095 urging French warriors to embark on what would become known as the First Crusade does note that they might “make spoil of [the enemy’s] treasures,” but this was no more than an observation on the usual way of financing war in ancient and medieval society. And Fulcher of Chartres did write in the early twelfth century that those who had been poor in the West had become rich in the East as a result of their efforts on the First Crusade, obviously suggesting that others might do likewise. But Fulcher’s statement has to be read in its context, which was a chronic and eventually fatal shortage of manpower for the defense of the crusader states. Fulcher was not being entirely deceitful when he pointed out that one might become rich as a result of crusading. But he was not being entirely straightforward either, because for most participants, crusading was ruinously expensive. (…) One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown. The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther. Even by the thirteenth century, most crusade planners assumed that it would be impossible to attract enough volunteers to make a crusade possible, and crusading became the province of kings and popes, losing its original popular character. (…) In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations. (…) certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—beneath the obvious differences of technology and material culture, medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings. However (…) the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example. (…) It is hard to imagine a more conclusive way of proving one’s dedication to a cause than sacrificing one’s life for it, and very large numbers of crusaders did just that. But this assertion is also revealed to be false when we consider the way in which the crusades were preached. Crusaders were not drafted. Participation was voluntary, and participants had to be persuaded to go. The primary means of persuasion was the crusade sermon, and one might expect to find these sermons representing crusading as profoundly appealing. (…) In fact, the opposite is true: crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death. That this was the reality of crusading was well known anyway. (…) It worked because crusading was appealing precisely because it was a known and significant hardship, and because undertaking a crusade with the right motives was understood as an acceptable penance for sin. Far from being a materialistic enterprise, crusading was impractical in worldly terms, but valuable for one’s soul. There is no space here to explore the doctrine of penance as it developed in the late antique and medieval worlds, but suffice it to say that the willing acceptance of difficulty and suffering was viewed as a useful way to purify one’s soul (and still is, in Catholic doctrine today). Crusading was the near-supreme example of such difficult suffering, and so was an ideal and very thorough-going penance. (…) As difficult as it may be for modern people to believe, the evidence strongly suggests that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins, and put their lives at the service of their “neighbors,” understood in the Christian sense. (…) Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. (…) Up until quite recently, Muslims remembered the crusades as an instance in which they had beaten back a puny western Christian attack. (…) Most of the Arabic-language historical writing on the crusades before the mid-nineteenth century was produced by Arab Christians, not Muslims, and most of that was positive. There was no Arabic word for “crusades” until that period, either, and even then the coiners of the term were, again, Arab Christians. It had not seemed important to Muslims to distinguish the crusades from other conflicts between Christianity and Islam. Nor had there been an immediate reaction to the crusades among Muslims. As Carole Hillenbrand has noted, “The Muslim response to the coming of the Crusades was initially one of apathy, compromise and preoccupation with internal problems.” By the 1130s, a Muslim counter-crusade did begin, under the leadership of the ferocious Zengi of Mosul. But it had taken some decades for the Muslim world to become concerned about Jerusalem, which is usually held in higher esteem by Muslims when it is not held by them than when it is. Action against the crusaders was often subsequently pursued as a means of uniting the Muslim world behind various aspiring conquerors, until 1291, when the Christians were expelled from the Syrian mainland. And—surprisingly to Westerners—it was not Saladin who was revered by Muslims as the great anti-Christian leader. That place of honor usually went to the more bloodthirsty, and more successful, Zengi and Baibars, or to the more public-spirited Nur al-Din. The first Muslim crusade history did not appear until 1899. By that time, the Muslim world was rediscovering the crusades—but it was rediscovering them with a twist learned from Westerners. In the modern period, there were two main European schools of thought about the crusades. One school, epitomized by people like Voltaire, Gibbon, and Sir Walter Scott, and in the twentieth century Sir Steven Runciman, saw the crusaders as crude, greedy, aggressive barbarians who attacked civilized, peace-loving Muslims to improve their own lot. The other school, more romantic and epitomized by lesser-known figures such as the French writer Joseph-François Michaud, saw the crusades as a glorious episode in a long-standing struggle in which Christian chivalry had driven back Muslim hordes. In addition, Western imperialists began to view the crusaders as predecessors, adapting their activities in a secularized way that the original crusaders would not have recognized or found very congenial. At the same time, nationalism began to take root in the Muslim world. Arab nationalists borrowed the idea of a long-standing European campaign against them from the former European school of thought—missing the fact that this was a serious mischaracterization of the crusades—and using this distorted understanding as a way to generate support for their own agendas. This remained the case until the mid-twentieth century, when, in Riley-Smith’s words, “a renewed and militant Pan-Islamism” applied the more narrow goals of the Arab nationalists to a worldwide revival of what was then called Islamic fundamentalism and is now sometimes referred to, a bit clumsily, as jihadism. This led rather seamlessly to the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, offering a view of the crusades so bizarre as to allow bin Laden to consider all Jews to be crusaders and the crusades to be a permanent and continuous feature of the West’s response to Islam. Bin Laden’s conception of history is a feverish fantasy. He is no more accurate in his view about the crusades than he is about the supposed perfect Islamic unity which he thinks Islam enjoyed before the baleful influence of Christianity intruded. But the irony is that he, and those millions of Muslims who accept his message, received that message originally from their perceived enemies: the West. So it was not the crusades that taught Islam to attack and hate Christians. Far from it. Those activities had preceded the crusades by a very long time, and stretch back to the inception of Islam. Rather, it was the West which taught Islam to hate the crusades. The irony is rich. (….) Let us return to President Clinton’s Georgetown speech. How much of his reference to the First Crusade was accurate? It is true that many Muslims who had surrendered and taken refuge under the banners of several of the crusader lords—an act which should have granted them quarter—were massacred by out-of-control troops. This was apparently an act of indiscipline, and the crusader lords in question are generally reported as having been extremely angry about it, since they knew it reflected badly on them. To imply—or plainly state—that this was an act desired by the entire crusader force, or that it was integral to crusading, is misleading at best. In any case, John France has put it well: “This notorious event should not be exaggerated. . . . However horrible the massacre . . . it was not far beyond what common practice of the day meted out to any place which resisted.” And given space, one could append a long and bloody list, stretching back to the seventh century, of similar actions where Muslims were the aggressors and Christians the victims. Such a list would not, however, have served Mr. Clinton’s purposes. Mr. Clinton was probably using Raymond of Aguilers when he referred to “blood running up to [the] knees” of crusaders. But the physics of such a claim are impossible, as should be apparent. Raymond was plainly both bragging and also invoking the imagery of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. He was not offering a factual account, and probably did not intend the statement to be taken as such. As for whether or not we are “still paying for it,” (…)This is the most serious misstatement of the whole passage. What we are paying for is not the First Crusade, but western distortions of the crusades in the nineteenth century which were taught to, and taken up by, an insufficiently critical Muslim world. The problems with Mr. Clinton’s remarks indicate the pitfalls that await those who would attempt to explicate ancient or medieval texts without adequate historical awareness, and they illustrate very well what happens when one sets out to pick through the historical record for bits—distorted or merely selectively presented—which support one’s current political agenda. This sort of abuse of history has been distressingly familiar where the crusades are concerned. But nothing is served by distorting the past for our own purposes. Or rather: a great many things may be served . . . but not the truth. Distortions and misrepresentations of the crusades will not help us understand the challenge posed to the West by a militant and resurgent Islam, and failure to understand that challenge could prove deadly. Indeed, it already has. It may take a very long time to set the record straight about the crusades. It is long past time to begin the task. Paul F. Crawford
L’historiquement correct, c’est le politiquement correct appliqué à l’histoire : ce n’est pas une lecture scientifique du passé, une tentative de le restituer tel qu’il a été, c’est une interprétation idéologique et politique du monde d’hier, visant à lui faire dire quelque chose pour les hommes d’aujourd’hui, avec les mots et les concepts d’aujourd’hui. L’historiquement correct ne cherche pas à comprendre le passé pour éclairer le présent : il part du présent pour juger le passé. Dans cet état d’esprit, l’histoire devient un écran où se projettent toutes les passions contemporaines. A l’école, à la télévision ou au café du Commerce, l’historiquement correct règne en maître, proposant une histoire tronquée, falsifiée, manipulée. Et c’est ainsi que l’on voit tous les jours traquer l’obscurantisme, l’impérialisme, le colonialisme, le racisme, l’antisémitisme, le fascisme ou le sexisme à travers les siècles, même si ces mots n’ont pas de sens hors d’un contexte précis : l’historiquement correct s’en moque, car son but n’est pas la connaissance mais la propagande. L’historiquement correct pratique l’anachronisme (les événements d’hier sont évalués selon les critères de notre époque) et porte des jugements manichéens, le Bien et le Mal étant définis selon les valeurs qui ont cours aujourd’hui. Jean Sévillia
Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ? Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro, qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès la réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ». Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables. Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ». Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats. En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ». Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante. Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme. Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation. C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. (…) Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne [Dumézil] , nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi. Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle. Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église. (…)  En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier. Jean-Marc Bastière

C’est la faute aux Scott, imbécile !

Anitsémitisme, persécution des païens tolérants, sombre Moyen-Age, croisades en quête de terres, butin et convertis, monstres de l’Inquisition, hérésies scientifiques, bénédiction de l’esclavage, saint autoritarisme, archaïsme économique …

Moyen-Orient berceau du judaïsme et du christianisme, présence multi-millénaire et cumulée juive et chrétienne, 450 ans d’invasions et d’occupation musulmanes y compris jusqu’à Poitiers et au sac de Rome, décennies de provocations, incinération du Saint-Sépulcre, harcèlement et violences contre un marché pourtant longtemps lucratif de pèlerins chrétiens, « guerres justes » et croisades à la fois pénitentielles et défensives aux coûts humains et matériels prohibitifs, flux financiers massifs mais presque exclusivement dans le sens Europe-Levant, massacres occasionnels mais tout à fait dans les moeurs du temps, absence de tout projet d’attaque ou d’invasion de La Mecque ou Médine …

A l’heure où après un Clinton ou un Obama …

Et tant d’autres de leurs devanciers

Le pape nous ressort d’un poème épique, nouvelle petite merveille d’équivalence morale, les conversions forcées imaginaires de musulmans par des chrétiens pour mieux faire le parallèle avec les actuels égorgements de nos amis islamistes …

Pendant que massacre après massacre en Syrie, Irak ou Iran, l’islam montre son vrai visage …

Petite remise des pendules à l’heure ….

Avec la traduction française de l’ouvrage du sociologue des religions américains Rodney Stark …

Et sa recension des dernières recherches des historiens les plus reconnus …

Sur les préjugés antichrétiens en général et anticatholiques en particulier …

Et notamment comme le rappelle Paul F. Crawford …

Sur l’incroyable ironie dont l’Histoire a le secret …

Qui veut que comme souvent ça pourrait bien être l’Occident lui-même …

Via par exemple les Scott (Walter le romancier du 19e et son émule Ridley le cinéaste du 21e) …

Et leurs innombrables fans que nous sommes …

Qui ont appris à nos actuels Ben Laden à haïr les croisades !

Histoire de l’Église : pour en finir avec les clichés

La Croix

07/11/2019

Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ?

Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro,qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès. La réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ».

Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables.

De l’anticléricalisme au mépris

Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ».

Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats.

En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ».

Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante.

Des préjugés hérités du passé

Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme.

Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation.

C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. Dans le Baptême de Clovis : 24 décembre 505 ?, le médiéviste Bruno Dumézil (voir encadré p. 32) trouve « plutôt pas mal » cette démarche de lutter contre les idées fausses, en tout cas d’apporter de la « nuance ». Le sens de la nuance, que Verlaine applique à l’art poétique, est aussi le maître mot des historiens.

Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne, nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi.

L’Église n’est plus une forteresse

Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle.

Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église.

N’est-ce pas une tâche de Sisyphe, jamais achevée, de combattre des poncifs qui ont la vie dure ? Il est plus difficile, on le sait, de corriger des préjugés que de combler une ignorance. En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier.

À lire
L’Église en procès. La réponse des historiens
, sous la direction de Jean Sévillia, Tallandier.
Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques, de Rodney Stark, Salvator.
Le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, de Manfred Lütz, Éditions Emmanuel

Voir aussi:

Protestants et anticatholiques des “Lumières”, responsables des légendes noires contre l’Eglise

Salon beige

On lit souvent que l’Inquisition fut l’un des chapitres les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale ; que Pie XII, dit « le pape d’Hitler », était antisémite ; que l’obscurantisme a freiné la science jusqu’à l’arrivée des Lumières ; et que les croisades furent le premier exemple de l’avidité occidentale. Ces affirmations sont sans fondements historiques.

Dans cet ouvrage, Faux témoignages, Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques, l’éminent professeur de sociologie des religions Rodney Stark démontre que certaines idées fermement établies sont en réalité des mythes. Il s’attaque aux légendes noires de l’histoire de l’Église et explique de quelles façons elles se sont substituées à la réalité des faits. Son travail est d’autant plus méritoire qu’il est lui-même protestant. Et il écrit justement à propos de ces légendes :

Tout a débuté avec les guerres déclenchées en Europe à la suite de la Réforme qui a opposé protestants et catholiques et fait des millions de morts. A la même époque, l’Espagne apparaissait comme la principale puissance catholique. Par réaction, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas ont alors déclenché d’intenses campagnes de propagande qui décrivaient les Espagnols comme de fanatiques barbares assoiffés de sang. Jeffrey Burton Russel, éminent historien du Moyen Age, écrit :

D’innombrables livres et pamphlets furent édités par les presses du Nord accusant l’empire espagnol de dépravation inhumaine et d’horribles atrocités. […] L’Espagne était décrite comme un lieu de ténèbres, d’ignorance et de mal.

[…] Mais les protestants en colère n’étaient pas les seuls à inventer ces histoires ou à y acquiescer. De nombreux mensonges analysés dans les chapitres qui vont suivre étaient soutenus par des auteurs antireligieux, notamment à l’époque des “Lumières”.

Voir également:

Why is this non-Catholic scholar debunking “centuries of anti-Catholic history”?

An interview with Dr. Rodney Stark, sociologist and author of « Bearing False Witness »

The Catholic world report

Dr. Rodney Stark has written nearly 40 books on a wide range of topics, incuding a number of recent books on the history of Christianity, monotheism, Christianity in China, and the roots of modernity. After beginning as a newspaper reporter and spending time in the Army, Stark received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He later was Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington; he has been at Baylor University since 2004. Stark is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, and he has won a number of national and international awards for distinguished scholarship. Raised as a Lutheran, he has identified himself as an agnostic but has, more recently, called himself an “independent Christian”.

His most recent book isBearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (Templeton Press, 2016), which addresses ten prevalent myths about Church history. Dr. Stark recently responded by e-mail to some questions from Carl E. Olson, editor ofCatholic World Report.

CWR: You begin the book by first noting your upbringing as an American Protestant and then discussing “distinguished bigots”. What is a “distinguished bigot”? And how have such people influenced the way in which the Catholic Church is understood and perceived by many Americans today?

Dr. Rodney Stark: By distinguished bigots I mean prominent scholars and intellectuals who clearly are antagonistic to the Catholic Church and who promulgate false historical claims.

CWR: How did you go about identifying and selecting the ten anti-Catholic myths that you rebut in the book? To what degree are these myths part of a general (if sometimes vague) Protestant culture, and to what degree are they encouraged and spread by a more secular, elite culture?

Dr. Stark: For the most part I encountered these anti-Catholic myths as I wrote about various historical periods and events, and discovered that these well-known ‘facts” were false and therefore was forced to deal with them in those studies. These myths are not limited to some generalized Protestant culture—many Catholics, including well-known ones, have repeated them too. These myths have too often, and for too long, been granted truthful validity by historians in general. Of course secularists—especially ex-Catholics such as Karen Armstrong—love these myths.

CWR: The first chapter is on “sins of anti-Semitism,” perhaps the most divisive and controversial of the topics you address. How have your own views on this issue changed, and why? Why do you think there continues to be a wide-spread belief or impression that the Catholic Church in inherently anti-Semitic?

Dr. Stark: When I began as a scholar, “everybody” including leading Catholics knew the Church was a primary source of anti-Semitism. It was only later as I worked with materials on medieval attacks on Jews that I discovered the effective role of the Church in opposing and suppressing such attacks—this truth being told by medieval Jewish chroniclers and thereby most certainly true. Why do so many ‘intellectuals,’ many of them ex-Catholics, continue to accept the notion that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope,” when that is so obviously a vicious lie? It can only be hatred of the Church. Keep in mind that it is prominent Jews who defend the pope.

CWR: Why have various historians, such as Gibbons, presented the ancient pagans as either benevolent or mostly tolerant toward Christianity? What was the actual relationship between Christianity and paganism in the first centuries of the Church’s existence?

Dr. Stark: In those days, the safe way to attack religion was to let readers assume it was only an attack on Catholicism, so that’s what Gibbon and his contemporaries did. Perhaps surprisingly, once the pagans were no longer able to persecute Christians, they were pretty much ignored by the Church and by emperors and only slowly disappeared

CWR: How did the mythology of the “Dark Ages” develop? What are some of the main problems with that mythology?

Dr. Stark: Voltaire and his associates made up the fiction of the Dark Ages so that they could claim to have burst forth with the Enlightenment. As every competent historian (and even the encyclopedias) now acknowledges, there were no Dark Ages. To the contrary, it was during these centuries that Europe took the great cultural and technological leap forward that put it so far ahead of the rest of the world.

CWR: What relationship is there between the mythology of the “Dark Ages” and the myth of “secular Enlightenment”? How rational and scientific, in fact, was the Enlightenment?

Dr. Stark: The “philosophes” of the so-called “Enlightenment played no role in the rise of science—the great scientific progress of the time was achieved by highly religious men, many of them Catholic clergy.

CWR: The Crusades and the Inquisitions continue be presented as epochs and events that involved Christian barbarism and the murder of millions. Why are those myths so widespread and popular, especially after scholars have spent decades correcting and clarifying what really did (or did not) happen?

Dr. Stark: I am competent to reveal that the Crusades were legitimate defensive wars and that the Inquisition was not bloody. I am not competent to explain why the pile of fine research supporting these corrections have had no impact on the chattering classes. I suspect that these myths are too precious for the anti-religious to surrender.

CWR: In addressing “Protestant Modernity” you flatly stated that Max Weber’s thesis that Protestantism birthed capitalism and modernity is “nonsense”. What are the main problems with Weber’s thesis?

Dr. Stark: The problem is simply that capitalism was fully developed and thriving in Europe many centuries before the Reformation.

CWR:
 You emphatically state that as a scholar with a Protestant background working at a Baptist university you did not write your book as “a defense of the Church” but “in defense of history.” Why is that significant? And, finally, do you think most Americans actually give more credence to history than to the Church?

Dr. Stark: I think the distinguished bigots will have a hard time accusing me of being a Catholic toady, trying to cover up the sins of the Church. The only axe I have to grind is that history ought to be honestly reported. As to your final point: I don’t think ‘most Americans’ will ever know that this book was written. I can only hope that I will influence intellectuals and textbook writers—maybe.

Related CWR articles:

“The Story of the West: Who, Why, and How” (June 2014): A review of Rodney Stark’s book, How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity | Gregory J. Sullivan

“A Curious Mix of Sophistication, Sin, and Piety” (May 2011): An interview with sociologist Rodney Stark about the Crusades | Mark Sullivan

Voir de même:

An agnostic demolishes anti-Catholic myths

Michael Duggan

Bearing False Witness
by Rodney Stark
Templeton Press, £19

The Age of Reason began in the 2nd century AD. How about that for a claim? Rodney Stark is not a man to equivocate. In his judgment, the Catholic Church has been routinely traduced by “distinguished bigots” – historians who have twisted or ignored the evidence and polluted popular understanding. Hence Stark’s determination to put back by a millennium-and-a-half the dating of the Age of Reason, which really began, he argues, with certain Church Fathers and their decision to conduct theology; that is, formal reasoning about God. Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine: they all insisted on the power of reason and its place in God’s plan.

St Augustine went into raptures about the “sagacity” with which “the movements and connections of the stars have been discovered”. Man’s rational nature was an “unspeakable boon” conferred on us by God.

Hence also Stark’s fury about the term “Dark Ages”. It is remarkable how politicians and journalists wanting to convey disgust these days, whether for the actions of ISIS or for rules about wearing high heels at work, are liable to call such a thing “medieval” or “a return to the Dark Ages”.

And this darkness was, of course, the doing of the Catholic Church. Edward Gibbon said so. So did Voltaire. Daniel Boorstin, librarian of the United States Congress, wrote that the Church “built a grand barrier against the progress of knowledge”.

Rubbish, says Stark. The Dark Ages are nothing but a hoax invented by intellectuals to glorify themselves and vilify the Church. The period from 300 to 1300 was, in fact, one of the great innovative eras of mankind.

Technology was developed and put into use on a scale no civilisation had previously known: water mills, the three-field system, the horse collar, selective plant breeding, chimneys and much more. These things transformed productivity, increased the population, and widened horizons all over supposedly benighted Europe. But high-minded men of letters saw fit not to notice such things.

What else? Human dissection for scientific purposes began in medieval universities and without serious objections from the Church. Stark reels off clergymen-scientists who preceded Copernicus and who, among other things, fought and won the battle for empiricism in science.

There was moral progress too. The irony of ISIS comparisons, given that group’s recourse to abduction and enslavement, is that most of Europe had waved goodbye to slavery by 1300. Though not cited by Stark, Hugh Thomas, the great modern historian of the Atlantic slave trade, attributed the later resurgence of slavery to the memory of antiquity: “If Athens had slaves to build the Parthenon, and Rome to maintain the aqueducts, why should modern Europeans hesitate to have slaves to build its new world in America?” As for the treatment by some historians of the Church’s record on slavery, Stark accuses them of lying in plain sight.

And so, in Bearing False Witness, Rodney Stark takes aim at one “myth” after another about Catholicism. The Spanish Inquisition? A “pack of lies”, originally spread by English and Dutch propagandists. The Inquisition “made little use of the stake, seldom tortured anyone and maintained unusually decent prisons”.

The Crusades? Stark begins by saying, in effect, “the others started it”, and goes from there. He is particularly hot in attacking the idea that the Crusaders were driven by dreams of land and loot. Stark’s style is brusque and clear. He is like a man carefully setting up skittles before firing down bowling balls of fact and argument to send them scattering (though in a couple of cases he is, in reality, rebalancing rather than overturning the debate).

All of which means that Bearing False Witness is stirring, compelling, often convincing stuff. Some bits are especially fascinating, as when Stark makes the case for monasteries as the first true capitalist firms. One hopes that, as can happen when the pursuit of truth gets wrapped up in controversy, Stark is not carting more away from the evidence than he should. It would be fascinating to read a riposte.

And, of course, the greatest obstacle nowadays to perceiving the Catholic Church as a force for good is not the myth of the suppressed Gospels, or the myth of the Protestant work ethic, or whatever else. It is the anything but mythical abuse scandals.

Finally, a word on Professor Stark himself. He is co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, once a hotbed of militant anti-Catholicism. He grew up an American Protestant, “raised on the glories of the Reformation”. More recently, he has described himself as incapable of religious faith, an agnostic.

One thing Stark is not, therefore, is a Catholic: “I did not write this book in defence of the Church,” he states, looking possible critics straight in the eye. “I wrote it in defence of history.”

Voir de plus:

Lies, myths and patent frauds

Michael Duggan
Catholic Herald

‘Europe is a lot more religious than it appears to be’: sociologist Rodney Stark (Baylor University)

They all laughed at Columbus when he said the world was round,
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound.
Ira Gershwin

Professor Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, in the 1930s and 1940s. He was, in his own words, “an American Protestant with intellectual pretensions”.

Every October 12 – Columbus Day – he would look on at “throngs of Knights of Columbus members, accompanied by priests, marching in celebration of the arrival of the ‘Great Navigator’ in the New World”. The young Stark found the spectacle absurd. He knew that Columbus had acted in the teeth of unyielding opposition from Roman Catholic prelates who cited biblical proof that the world was flat. Any attempt to reach Asia by sailing west would mean ships falling off the edge of the world, they said.

Years later he found out that the whole story was a lie. Stark recounts all of this – and explains the real story of the opposition to Columbus – in the introduction to his latest book Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (reviewed in the Catholic Herald on June 3).

So how did he get his first direct experience of Catholicism? “I was about 16 when I first attended a Catholic service. I went with a girl I was dating. I found nothing remarkable about it.” Stark was raised as a Lutheran and was used to “highly liturgical services. So I did not find Catholic ritual strange. We stood when Catholics knelt.” He adds: “I don’t know that this had any influence on my historical views.”

The historical view that Stark sets out in Bearing False Witness is that a line of “distinguished bigots”, stretching from Gibbon to the present day, have created a common culture in which widely held assumptions about the Catholic Church are based on “extreme exaggerations, false accusations and patent frauds”.

Stark insists that he is not a whitewasher and that he is “simply reporting the prevailing view among qualified experts”. He also reminds his readers that he is not a Catholic. Though never an atheist, he was for some time primarily a “cultural Christian” or, as he has described it elsewhere, “an admirer but not a believer”. And now? “I have not been an agnostic for years. I wrote myself to faith.”

The process of writing himself to faith includes books such as The Triumph of Christianity, which records “how the Jesus Movement became the world’s largest religion”; The Victory of Reason, explaining how Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western success; and God’s Battalions, an incisive defence of the Crusades.

As a fledgling historian in the 1960s, though, Stark was still wedded to notions of the baneful role of the Church in history. In his first year of graduate school at Berkeley, he was asked to prepare a brief of research he had been doing on anti-Semitism to be distributed to bishops attending the Second Vatican Council. According to Cardinal Augustin Bea, this summary was influential in the production of Nostra Aetate, the Council’s statement on the Jews.

Stark glowed with pride. But over the years, as he carried out more work on ancient and medieval history, he became aware of “the extent to which the Catholic Church had stood as a consistent barrier against anti-Semitic violence”. A long analysis of all known outbursts of anti-Semitic violence in both Europe and the Islamic world from 500 to 1600 forced him to reconsider the entire link between Christianity and anti-Semitism. This was to become the theme of the first chapter of Bearing False Witness.

Turning to the current state of the Catholic Church, Stark is typically unequivocal. Shame among Catholics about scandals involving paedophile priests is (in America at least) “limited to a few intellectuals. Otherwise there should have been substantial declines in membership or in Mass attendance. And that hasn’t happened. There has been no decline in membership or mass attendance in the United States.

“The commitment of ordinary Catholics seems unaffected. In Latin America, rates of mass attendance have doubled and redoubled during the past 25 years. Catholic membership in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa is very far above that even claimed by the Catholic Almanac and continues to grow rapidly.”

But what about Europe? “Europe is a lot more religious than it is said to be or even than it appears to be. I have written a lot about this, most recently in The Triumph of Faith.” Stark has suggested in other interviews that the lack of attendance at church in Europe is down to “ineffective churches rather than lack of faith, since religious belief remains high all across the continent”.

This is typically trenchant stuff from someone who has spent decades understanding the past and present of Christianity. So what then does Prof Stark see as the future for the Catholic Church? “Continued strength.”

Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History

by Rodney Stark.
Templeton Press, 2016.
Hardcover, 280 pages, $28.

Rodney Stark, while doing research into the history of religion, discovered that the popular history of Catholicism is rife with errors, errors that have been repeatedly exposed as such by serious historians. However, the people who read pop history do not typically read serious historians, and so only a work of pop history can correct the errors in other works of pop history. Thus this book.

Each of the book’s ten chapters addresses a subject concerning which the Catholic Church has been held to have behaved badly. Each chapter begins with a number of examples of writers condemning the Church for some fault, which is useful in showing that Stark is not going after straw men. Nor does he claim that the Church, or those that claim to act in the Church’s name, are uniformly blameless. Rather, his debunk of the more extreme claims has a historiographical purpose: to show that the accusations against theChurch are themselves driven by an anti-Catholic animus rather than scholarly research or factual accuracy.

Stark, a professor of history at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University, first takes up the topic of Jews and the Catholic Church. Stark notes that while Christians sometimes attacked or killed Jews between 500 and 1400, the Church hierarchy consistently defended the Jews. For instance, during the First Crusade, some crusaders decided that, before they went all the way to the Middle East to fight “God’s enemies,” they should “take care” of those enemies who were living next door in Europe (i.e. Jews). And so a certain Emich of Leiningen set out to kill Jews in the Rhineland. Their first stop was Speyer, but:

The bishop of Speyer took the local Jews under his protection, and Emich’s forces could only lay their hands on a dozen Jews who had somehow failed to heed the bishop’s alarm. All twelve were killed. Then Emich led his forces to Worms. Here, too, the bishop took the local Jews into his palace for protection. But this time Emich would have none of that, and his forces broke down the bishop’s gate and killed about five hundred Jews. The same pattern was repeated the following week Mainz. Just as before, the bishop attempted to shield the Jews, but he was attacked and forced to flee for his life.

In the Second Crusade, St. Bernard of Clairvaux rode to the Rhine Valley—apparently the worst place in Medieval Europe to be a Jew—and, as told by a Jewish chronicler Ephraim, said, “Anyone who attacks a Jew and tries to kill him is as though he attacks Jesus himself.”

During the Black Death, rumors arose that Jews were poisoning wells and causing the plague deaths. But, “Pope Clement VI, who directed the clergy to protect the Jews, denounced all claims about poisoned wells, and ordered that those who spread the rumor, as well as anyone who harmed Jews, be excommunicated.” In short, attacks on Jews in the Middle Ages almost always arose from “the mob,” and were resisted by the Church hierarchy.

And so through today. Stark goes on to thoroughly debunk the idea that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope,” citing the hundreds of thousands of Jews saved by the Church during World War II, some of them sheltered from Nazis in the Vatican itself. In fact, in the years after the war, a number of prominent Jews, such as Golda Meir, praised Pius for his efforts.

Stark is somewhat less objective when it comes to the so-called “lost gospels.” These gospels are, to a great extent, “Gnostic” in character. The trait that characterizes gnosticism, in general, is that it is neither works nor faith that bring salvation, but knowledge. More specifically, it is usually secret knowledge, available only to spiritual adepts, that saves. And even more specifically, that knowledge is often held to be the knowledge that the physical world is a prison, trapping the adept in his or her body and blocking the adept from realizing the soul’s true nature, as a resident of a better, divine realm. Gnostic texts often set out an elaborate metaphysics of this imprisonment, involving multiple levels of divine beings. In particular, one divine being, the demiurge, had fallen from the Pleroma, the divine realm, essentially gone mad, and created a prison—the physical world—in which he could entrap other spiritual beings and garner their worship. Gnostics often identified this crazed divinity with … Jehovah, the Hebrew God.

This may seem mad or it may seem insightful, but Stark adopts an odd way to describe these beliefs: “[For Gnostics] God is the epitome of evil and the gleeful cause of human suffering.” But no gnostic would likely say that about “God” with a capital G: they always seemed to hold that the god who created the physical world was a distinctly lesser divine being, and that “God,” the ultimate divinity, is good and uniting with him is the true goal of Gnostic practice.

Over the nextfew pages, Stark demonstrates that he understands this quite well, and yet he (or perhaps an editor) continues to call the gnostic demiurge “God” with a capital G. It is as though someone took the fact that orthodox Christians believe that there is a fallen divine being, namely Satan, who epitomizes evil, and claimed that therefore Christians believe that God is evil! Gnostic beliefs seem nutty to Stark, and that is understandable: they have so seemed to many others, including the Church fathers. But the way these beliefs are presented is arguably misleading.

Stark’s next chapter debunks the notion that there were massive “forced conversions” to Christianity in late antiquity. His own work (The Rise of Christianity and The Triumph of Christianity) has shown that the main factors prompting conversions were social and doctrinal: “socially, Christianity generated an intense congregational life” and “doctrinally, in contrast to paganism’s belief in limited, unreliable, and often immoral gods, Christianity presented an image of God as moral, concerned, dependable, and omnipotent.” He demonstrates that the Christian emperors continued to employ large numbers of pagans as consuls and prefects. He quotes the Code of Justinian, from as late as the sixth century, declaring: “We especially command those persons who are truly Christians, or who are said to be so, that they should not abuse the authority of religion and dare to lay violent hands on Jews and pagans, who are living quietly and attempting nothing disorderly or contrary to law.” Of course, this means that there were Christians doing these things, but their acts were not official policy.

In another chapter, Stark shows how the belief in a “Dark Age” is essentially dead among serious historians. He quotes Warren Hollister: “To my mind, anyone who believes that the era that witnessed the building of the Chartres Cathedral and the invention of parliament and the university was ‘dark’ must be mentally retarded.…” And he demonstrates that, contrary to the myth promoted by “Enlightenment” thinkers, almost all of the major figures in the scientific revolution were religious, many of them very devout. Isaac Newton, for instance, devoted more time to biblical scholarship than to science or mathematics. The idea of a “Dark Age” was a piece of Enlightenment propaganda.

Stark relates how recent historical research has revealed the Crusades as largely a response to Muslim aggression in the Middle East. Most of the crusaders were motivated by a religious belief that they were on a mission from God, not by a desire to grab wealth from the Muslims. In fact, crusading was expensive and the Crusader states established in the Middle East had to be constantly subsidized by a flow of silver from Europe. The crusaders certainly committed what wetoday would regard as atrocities, but they were the standard for war at that time, and similar acts were committed by Muslim armies.

Stark next turns his attention to the Spanish Inquisition, today a symbol of oppression and persecution. But as Stark makes clear, by the standards of the day, the Spanish Inquisition was actually fairly innocuous. Torture, for instance, was a standard way of getting confessions at the time, and while the Inquisition employed it, it did so within strict guidelines secular courts often lacked. In fact, the Inquisition’s reputation was so much better than that of the secular courts that defendants would try to get their trials moved to an Inquisition venue.

Stark spends some time blowing apart the myth that having faith means rejecting reason. He quotes various Catholic thinkers, such as Quintus Tertullian: “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which he has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” Or, from Clement of Alexandria, we have: “Do not think we say these things [Christian doctrines] are only to be received by faith, but also that they are to be asserted by reason. For indeed it is not safe to commit these things to bare faith without reason, since assuredly truth cannot be without reason.”

The idea that faith is the opposite of reason is a fairly recent idea, and would have stunned most Christians from the time of Christ through the Middle Ages. It is based on a (willful?) misunderstanding of what was meant by “faith.” So, for instance, when Bertrand Russell writes, “We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence,” we should recognize this as another piece of propaganda and not a reasoned philosophical position. In fact, “faith,” properly understood, is every bit as necessary to science as it is to Christianity. We might see Michael Polanyi on this point, or consider this passage:

“I’ve found that a big difference between new coders and experienced coders is faith: faith that things are going wrong for a logical and discoverable reason, faith that problems are fixable, faith that there is a way to accomplish the goal. The path from ‘not working’ to ‘working’ might not be obvious, but with patience you can usually find it.” (Emphasis mine.)

Indeed, this is something I continually have to convey to my own computer science students: they must first believe that our whole enterprise is rational, and will make sense given time, before they will be able to commit to making the effort necessary to overcome all the obstacles to understanding they will face along the way. (Believe that they may know?) In any case, as Alfred North Whitehead has noted, science did not develop in Christian civilization by accident: the faith that creation is fundamentally reasonable was the basis for the whole scientific enterprise.

Stark runs into some problems when he attempts to address more technical aspects of the history of science. For instance, he writes, “To make his system work, Copernicus had to postulate that there were loops in the orbits of the heavenly bodies … However, these loops lacked any observational support; had they existed, a heavenly body should have been observed looping.” What are we to make of this? Copernicus introduced epicycles (Stark’s “loops”) precisely to get his system to fit with the observational data! The “observational support” was that, with the loops, Copernicus could predict where planets would appear reasonably well, but without them he could not. Stark writes that “a heavenly body should have been observed looping,” when in fact, for Copernicus, that is exactly what we are observing all the time.

Thanks to Kepler’s discovery of elliptical orbits, we now have a simpler system for explaining these apparent loops, but the point is that Copernicus introduced epicycles as the only way he could envision to explain the actual observations.

Furthermore, Stark seems to think that “loops” had to be introduced into the planets’ circular orbits to get the orbital period correct: “it would not do for the earth to circle the sun in only three hundred days.” But one can always change the diameter or speed of a circular orbit in one’s model and thus get the orbital period correct. The real problem with positing circular orbits instead of the actual elliptical ones has to do with the relationship of different segments of a planet’s orbit, as can be seen with a visual aid:

In the portions of a planet’s orbit where the ellipse is flatter than a circle, the planet will appear to move too fast for it to have a circular orbit. And in the portion of its elliptical orbit where the ellipse is more curved than a circle, the planet will appear to move too slowly.

So the problem is not that circular orbits show planets having years of too short (or too long) a duration—that problem could be trivially corrected. Instead, the problem is that if we mistakenly assume circular orbits, we are left with having to introduce “loops” to explain why some portions of a planet’s orbit proceed faster than other portions.

Stark next addresses the history of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis slavery. He notes that while slavery was hardly questioned in antiquity, the Catholic Church gradually eliminated it in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. When Aquinas condemned slavery as “contrary to natural law,” this soon became the official Church position. Recent controversies concerning Catholic colleges like Georgetown, which did own and sell slaves, make this a pertinent point, as well as the fact that slavery continues across wide parts of the non-Christian world.

Some Church officials, even some popes, continued to own slaves. (But some popes also engaged in fornication and had children out of wedlock, despite official Church opposition to sex outside of marriage: this shows that popes do not always follow Church doctrine, not that Church doctrine permits fornication.) And the Spanish and Portuguese imperialists often continued to enslave people, despite Church opposition. But when Spain colonized the Canary Islands in the early 1400s and started enslaving the islanders, the action prompted Pope Eugene IV to declare that “these people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without exaction or reception of any money.”

In the 1500s, Pope Paul II asserted that “the same Indians and all other peoples—even though they be outside the faith … should not be deprived of their liberty or their other possessions … and are not to be reduced to slavery.…” The Inquisition took up the matter in the 1600s, and asked:

Whether it is permitted to buy, sell, or make contracts in their respect Blacks and other natives who have harmed no one and have been made captives by force or deceit?

And it declared, “Answer: no.”

In fact, the papacy denounced slavery in 1462, 1537, 1639, 1741, 1815, and 1839.

Stark’s second-to-last chapter shows that the supposed close link between the Church and authoritarianism is actually rather flimsy; for instance, while the Church supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War, it did so because the Republicans were busily murdering Catholic clergy. Stark’s final chapter denies the link between the rise of capitalism and the Protestant Reformation, arguing that all of the necessary ingredients were already present in Scholastic economics, the large-scale enterprises run by monasteries, and the entrepreneurial Italian city-states.

Stark’s overall thesis, that popular history is frequently anti-Catholic in ways that serious historians today recognize as without factual basis, is certainly correct. And he is correct in suggesting that rectifying this bias is important: far too often, the Catholic argument against, say, abortion “rights” is dismissed with a “well, what does one expect from such a pro-slavery, anti-science, anti-Semitic, authoritarian institution?” But the importance of the project makes it unfortunate that Stark has been sloppy in his research in several sections of this work.


Gene Callahan is a Lecturer in Computer Science and Economics at St. Joseph’s College and a Research Fellow at the Collingwood and British Idealism Centre at Cardiff University, Wales. He is the author of Economics for Real People and Oakeshott on Rome and America.

Voir aussi:

A Baptist Scholar Debunks Anti-Catholic Historical Hogwash

In snappy prose, Bearing False Witness looks at the West’s Christian roots.It’s not exactly beach reading, but for those of a certain mind, Rodney Stark’s Bearing False Witness could prove a page turner. The subtitle — academics invariably include subtitles — makes plain that this is no potboiler: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. And true to academic form the book includes more than 20 pages of footnotes and citations. Stark, however, has written a wise and rollicking work of intellectual history that should be read by Catholics, non-Catholics, and, really, anyone who wants to comment on the Catholic Church’s proper place in some 2,000 years of history.

Stark is coordinator of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist University, and the author of several books: The Rise of Christianity; For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery; and One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism. In short, he’s a distinguished scholar with impeccable academic credentials, and he is working at the top of his game in Bearing False Witness. Of equal importance, he’s not a Roman Catholic. This is no polemic or tract. Stark’s overriding interest is the historical evidence and the most up-to-date scholarship, and he marshals that evidence and scholarship with a great and subdued power.

It all makes for a snappy and instructive read, because the professor actually writes in English, not academic jargon. He never minces words. He’ll tell you what’s historical hogwash and why, and who promoted anti-Catholic history — and who is promoting it today.

It also says something about Bearing False Witness that Stark does not spare himself scrutiny. Right from the start of the book, from the first chapter on “The Sins of Anti-Semitism,” he lets readers know when his past views were out sync with the historical record. He covers it all. In addition to the alleged anti-Semitism early on up to Pope Pius XII’s fabled complicity with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, he gives us chapters on the Crusaders and the Inquisition and the Dark Ages.

That is, the so-called Dark Ages, for Stark is at his best in showing how an era or age came by its name and how the vast historical evidence belies the easy — or intentionally hostile — handle. Enter the Dark Ages, which is said to have “fallen” over Europe following the fifth-century collapse of Rome and lasted to at least 1300, a benighted millennium hostile to progress and knowledge, thanks to orthodox Christendom. Even the most educated will be forgiven for accepting this view, which writers from Petrarch to Voltaire, Rousseau to Gibbon advanced for their own purposes. Yet, as Stark points out, “serious scholars” have known for decades that this organizing scheme for Western history is a “complete fraud” and, as Warren Hollister wrote, “an indestructible fossil of self-congratulatory Renaissance humanism.”

The Romans may have called the conquering Goths “barbarians,” but their chieftain (Alaric) had been a Roman commander, and many of the soldiers had served in the Roman army. It’s also the case that the “barbarian North” had been under the rule of Rome. While intellectuals have not been able to appreciate the technological, commercial, and moral progress that took place in the small communities of medieval Europe, that doesn’t mean the advances did not take place. On the contrary, revolutions in agriculture, weaponry, nonhuman power (water and wind power), transportation, manufacturing, education (the first universities in Paris and Bologna), and morals (the fall of slavery) occurred. Scholars have concluded that the flowering of science that followed during the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century was “an evolution, not a revolution.” As Stark writes: “Just as Copernicus simply took the next implicit step in the cosmology of his day, so too the flowering of science in that era was the culmination of the gradual progress that had been made over previous centuries.”

All this progress didn’t happen in spite of the Catholic Church or get started only in the fourth century or the 17th century. According to Stark, the rise of the West began late in the second century because of an “extraordinary faith in reason and progress” that originated in Christianity, which held that human reason could unlock God’s creation.

Bearing False Witness deserves a wide audience. It’s full of spunk and verve, wisdom and scholarship.

Voir également:

Catherine Pepinster sees points scored off historical sceptics

Catherine Pepinster

Churchtimes

16 June 2017

Bearing False Witness: Debunking centuries of anti-Catholic history

Rodney Stark

SPCK £14.99

(978-1-911096-62-7)

Church Times

UNTIL a visit to Louisiana a couple of years ago, I had always assumed that slaves were completely brutalised. But, on a tour of a New Orleans 19th-century home, I discovered that the lady of the house had worked closely alongside her slaves in the kitchen. Then I found out that slaves were forbidden to learn to read, and so their mistress had to read them the recipes. It might have not have been violent, but it was a deeply disturbing form of enslavement. Later, a friend told how the nuns at one of Louisiana’s most exclusive Roman Catholic convent schools, who had schooled the daughters of elite white families at that time, had also secretly taught the slave girls who accompanied them to read.

In reading Rodney Stark’s account of anti-Catholic history — a volume that debunks hundreds of years of prejudice, myth, and false allegations — I could set these stories in context. I now know that RC Louisiana’s treatment of slaves was rather different from the rest of North America’s; for it came under France’s Code Noir, influenced by papal teaching that insisted that Africans and Indians should be afforded the same dignity as anyone else.

Stark, an American sociologist as well as popular historian, guides the reader through some of the most controversial accusations that the Catholic Church has faced: its treatment of Jews, its hostility to learning during the so-called Dark Ages, its part in the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. With each chapter comes a useful list of historians who have explored the issue in more detail and are Stark’s key sources.

Protestants, as well as Voltaire and other Enlightenment intellectuals, are identified as the accusers-in-chief, claiming that the Roman Church suppressed truth and destroyed lives. The Crusades? Voltaire and others say they were caused by Catholic bigotry and cruelty; contemporary historians say that they were a response to Christians’ being robbed and enslaved by Muslims. The Dark Ages? Again, Voltaire and co., and also Bertrand Russell, say it was a time of barbarism and the stifling of learning thanks to the Catholic Church. Not so, says Stark, citing more historians: it was the age of building great cathedrals, developing universities and beautiful prose.

As an apologist, Stark seems on shakier ground over his defence of church treatment of Jews and of Galileo. After all, Pope John Paul II saw fit to apologise for the grievous harm that the Church did to them.

This is a story of a Church more sinned against than sinning. But Stark’s most significant conclusion is that papal authority has never been as strong as both its detractors and its most devoted adherents believe. Popes might denounce slavery and torture, but some powerful Roman Catholic monarchs ignored their teaching and carried out atrocities.

The story today is rather different. The RC Church still has its detractors, but in this ecumenical age, they tend to be ardent secularists rather than other Christians. The heirs of Voltaire, one might say.

Catherine Pepinster, a former editor of The Tablet, is UK Development Officer of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the author of a forthcoming book on the British and the papacy.

Voir de même:

Inventing the Crusades
Thomas F. Madden
First things
June 2009

The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam 
by Jonathan Riley-Smith
columbia university press, 136 pages, $24.50

Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: “Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees.

“I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it,” he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as “Crusaders.” Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the “Crusaders and Jews.” He later preached that “for the first time the Crusaders have managed to achieve their historic ambitions and dreams against our Islamic umma, gaining control over Islamic holy places and Holy Sanctuaries. . . . Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars and a beginning of the receding of their Zionist–Crusader tide against us.”

Most people in the West do not believe that they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Catholics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as the Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both “nothing and everything,” a place filled with religion that “drives men mad.”

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn’t stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, “How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?” I always answered: “They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.”

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven’t they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn’t it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas.

That answer is now contained in a book, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, written by the most distinguished historian of the Crusades, the Cambridge University scholar Jonathan Riley-Smith. A transcription of the Bampton Lectures he delivered in October 2007 at Columbia University, it is a thin book, brimming with insights, approachable by anyone interested in the subject.

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.”

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians.

So we continue to write our scholarly books and articles, learning more and more about the Crusades but scarcely able to be heard. And when we are heard, we are dismissed as daft. I once asked Riley-Smith if he believed popular perceptions of the Crusades would ever be changed by modern scholarship. “I’ve just about given up hope,” he answered. In his new book he notes that in the last thirty years historians have begun to reject “the long-held belief that it [the Crusade movement] was defined solely by its theaters of operation in the Levant and its hostility toward Islam—with the consequence that in their eyes the Muslims move slightly off center stage—and many of them have begun to face up to the ideas and motivation of the Crusaders. The more they do so the more they find themselves contra mundum or, at least, contra mundum Christianum.”

One of the most profound misconceptions about the Crusades is that they represented a perversion of a religion whose founder preached meekness, love of enemies, and nonresistance. Riley-Smith reminds his reader that on the matter of violence Christ was not as clear as pacifists like to think. He praised the faith of the Roman centurion but did not condemn his profession. At the Last Supper he told his disciples, “Let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors.

St. Paul said of secular authorities, “He does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Several centuries later, St. Augustine articulated a Christian approach to just war, one in which legitimate authorities could use violence to halt or avert a greater evil. It must be a defensive war, in reaction to an act of aggression. For Christians, therefore, violence was ethically neutral, since it could be employed either for evil or against it. As Riley-Smith notes, the concept that violence is intrinsically evil belongs solely to the modern world. It is not Christian.

All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187.

In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

But the Crusades were not just wars. They were holy wars, and that is what made them different from what came before. They were made holy not by their target but by the Crusaders’ sacrifice. The Crusade was a pilgrimage and thereby an act of penance. When Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095, he created a model that would be followed for centuries. Crusaders who undertook that burden with right intention and after confessing their sins would receive a plenary indulgence. The indulgence was a recognition that they undertook these sacrifices for Christ, who was crucified again in the tribulations of his people.

And the sacrifices were extraordinary. As Riley-Smith writes in this book and his earlier The First ­Crusaders, the cost of crusading was staggering. Without financial assistance, only the wealthy could afford to embark on a Crusade. Many noble families impoverished themselves by crusading.

Historians have long known that the image of the Crusader as an adventurer seeking his fortune is exactly backward. The vast majority of Crusaders returned home as soon as they had fulfilled their vow. What little booty they could acquire was more than spent on the journey itself. One is hard pressed to name a single returning Crusader who broke even, let alone made a profit on the journey. And those who returned were the lucky ones. As Riley-Smith explains, recent studies show that around one-third of knights and nobility died on crusade. The death rates for lower classes were even higher.

One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character. It was the indulgence that led thousands of men to take on a burden that would certainly cost them dearly. The secular nobility of medieval Europe was a warrior aristocracy. They made their living by the sword. We know from their wills and charters that they were deeply aware of their own sinfulness and anxious over the state of their souls. A Crusade provided a way for them to serve God and to do penance for their sins. It allowed them to use their weapons as a means of their salvation rather than of their damnation.

Of course it was difficult, but that is what penance is supposed to be. As Urban and later Crusade preachers reminded them, Christ Himself had said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As one Crusade preacher wrote, “Those who take the cross deny, that is to say renounce, themselves by exposing themselves to mortal danger, leaving behind their loved ones, using up their goods, carrying their cross, so that afterward they may be carried to heaven by the cross.” The Crusader sewed a cloth cross to his garment to signify his penitential burden and his hope.

Take away penitence and the Crusades cannot be explained. Yet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Protestants and then Enlightenment thinkers rejected the idea of temporal penalties due to sin—along with indulgences, purgatory, and the papacy. How then did they explain the Crusades? Why else would thousands of men march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory, if not for something precious? The first explanation was that they were fooled by the Antichrist: The Catholic Church had convinced the simple that their salvation lay in fighting its battles. Later, with the advent of liberalism, critics assumed that the Crusaders must have had economic motives. They were seeking wealth and simply used religion as a cover for their worldly desires.

In the nineteenth century, the memory of the Crusades became hopelessly entangled with contemporary European imperialism. Riley-Smith tells the fascinating story of Archbishop Charles-Martial Allemand-Lavigerie of Algiers, the founder of the missionary orders of the White Fathers and White Sisters, who worked diligently to establish a new military order resembling the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller of the Middle Ages. His new order was to be sent to Africa, where it would protect missionaries, fight against the slave trade, and support the progress of French civilization in the continent.

Drawing on money from antislavery societies, Lavigerie purchased lands on the edge of the Saharan Desert to use as a mother house for a new order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The order attracted hundreds of men from all social classes, and in 1891 the first brothers received their white habits emblazoned with red crosses. The dust cover of Riley-Smith’s book is itself a wonderful picture of these brothers at their African home. With palm trees behind them, they look proudly into the camera, each wearing a cross and some holding rifles.

The Institut des Fréres Armés lasted scarcely more than a year before it was scrapped and its founder died, but other attempts to found a military order were made in the nineteenth century, even in Protestant England. All wove together the contrasting threads of Romanticism, imperialism, and the medieval Crusades.

President Clinton is not alone in thinking that the Muslim world is still brooding over the crimes of the Crusaders. It is commonly thought—even by Muslims—that the effects and memory of that trauma have been with the Islamic world since it was first inflicted in the eleventh century. As Riley-Smith explains, however, the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage. Carole Hillenbrand first uncovered this fact in her groundbreaking book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize that the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory.

In Europe, however, the Crusades were a well-remembered formative episode. Europeans, who had bound the Crusades to imperialism, brought the story to the Middle East during the nineteenth century and reintroduced it to the Muslims. Stripping the Crusades of their original purpose, they portrayed the Crusades as Europe’s first colonial venture—the first attempt of the West to bring civilization to the backward Muslim East.

Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe’s assault on Islam—an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.

Arab nationalists made good use of the new story of the Crusades during their struggles for independence. Their enemies, the Islamists, then took over the same tool. Osama bin Laden is only the most recent Islamist to adopt this useful myth to characterize the actions of the West as a continual Crusade against Islam.

That is the Crusades’ only connection with modern Islamist terrorism. And yet, so ingrained is this notion that the Crusades began the modern European assault on Islam that many moderate Muslims still believe it. Riley-Smith recounts : “I recently refused to take part in a television series, produced by an intelligent and well-educated Egyptian woman, for whom a continuing Western crusade was an article of faith. Having less to do with historical reality than with reactions to imperialism, the nationalist and Islamist interpretations of crusade history help many people, moderates as well as extremists, to place the exploitation they believe they have suffered in a historical context and to satisfy their feelings of both superiority and humiliation.”

In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality. Crusade historians som