Intellectuels français: Attention, un déclinisme peut en cacher un autre ! (Victims ot their own success: What’s a French intellectual to do when Obama and the Pope already sound like Mother Jones ?)

28 septembre, 2015
pantheonobamablackboardhttps://i1.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03448/pope-cuba-fidel-ca_3448075k.jpgC’est ainsi que finit le monde. Pas sur un Boum, sur un murmure. TS Eliot
If by « intellectual » you mean people who are a special class who are in the business of imposing thoughts, and framing ideas for people in power, and telling everyone what they should believe, and so on, well, yeah, that’s different. Those people are called « intellectuals » — but they’re really more a kind of secular priesthood, whose task is to uphold the doctrinal truths of the society. And the population should be anti-intellectual in that respect, I think that’s a healthy reaction. In fact, if you compare the United States with France, or with most of Europe for that matter, I think one of the healthy things about the United States is precisely this: there’s very little respect for intellectuals as such. And there shouldn’t be. What’s there to respect? I mean, in France if you’re part of the intellectual elite and you cough, there’s a front-page story in Le Monde. That’s one of the reasons why French intellectual culture is so farcical – it’s like Hollywood. You’re in front of the television cameras all the time, and you’ve got to keep doing something new so they’ll keep focusing on you and not the guy at the next table, and people don’t have ideas that are that good, so they have to come up with crazy stuff, and the intellectuals get all pompous and self-important. So I remember during the Vietnam War, there’d be these big international campaigns to protest the war, and a number of times I was asked to co-sign letters with, say, Jean-Paul Sartre [French philosopher]. Well, we’d co-sign some statement, and in France it was front-page news; here, nobody even mentioned it. And the French thought was scandalous; I thought it was terrific – why the hell should anybody mention it? What difference does it make if two guys who happen to have some name recognition got together and signed a statement? Why should that be of any particular interest to anybody? So I think the American reaction is much healthier in this respect. Noam Chomsky (Rowe, Massachusetts; April 1989)
Ces gens-là sont appelés « intellectuels », mais il s’agit en réalité plutôt d’une sorte de prêtrise séculière, dont la tâche est de soutenir les vérités doctrinales de la société. Et sous cet angle-là, la population doit être contre les intellectuels, je pense que c’est une réaction saine. (…) En France, si vous faites partie de l’élite intellectuelle et que vous toussez, on publie un article en première page du Monde. C’est une des raisons pour lesquelles la culture intellectuelle française est tellement burlesque : c’est comme Hollywood. Noam Chomsky
Le boulot des intellectuels du courant dominant, c’est de servir en quelque sorte de « clergé laïque », de s’assurer du maintien de la foi doctrinale. Si vous remontez à une époque où l’Église dominait, c’est ce que faisait le clergé : c’étaient eux qui guettaient et traquaient l’hérésie. Et lorsque les sociétés sont devenues plus laïques […], les mêmes contrôles sont restés nécessaires : les institutions devaient continuer à se défendre, après tout, et si elles ne le pouvaient pas le faire en brûlant les gens sur le bûcher […], il leur fallait trouver d’autres moyens. Petit à petit, cette responsabilité a été transférée vers la classe intellectuelle – être les gardiens de la vérité politique sacrée, des hommes de main en quelque sorte. Noam Chomsky
[La vie intellectuelle française] a quelque chose d’étrange. Au Collège de France, j’ai participé à un colloque savant sur  » Rationalité, vérité et démocratie « . Discuter ces concepts me semble parfaitement incongru. A la Mutualité, on m’a posé la question suivante :  » Bertrand Russell nous dit qu’il faut se concentrer sur les faits, mais les philosophes nous disent que les faits n’existent pas. Comment faire ?  » Une question de ce type laisse peu de place à un débat sérieux car, à un tel niveau d’abstraction, il n’y a rien à ajouter. (…) Comme observateur lointain, je formulerai une hypothèse. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la France est passée de l’avant-garde à l’arrière-cour et elle est devenue une île. Dans les années 30, un artiste ou un écrivain américain se devait d’aller à Paris, de même qu’un scientifique ou un philosophe avait les yeux tournés vers l’Angleterre ou l’Allemagne. Après 1945, tous ces courants se sont inversés, mais la France a eu plus de mal à s’adapter à cette nouvelle hiérarchie du prestige. Cela tient en grande partie à l’histoire de la collaboration. Alors, bien sûr, il y a eu la Résistance et beaucoup de gens courageux, mais rien de comparable avec ce qui s’est passé en Grèce ou en Italie, où la résistance a donné du fil à retordre à six divisions allemandes. Et il a fallu un chercheur américain [Robert Paxton, NDLR] pour que la France soit capable d’affronter ce passé. (…) beaucoup d’intellectuels français sont restés staliniens même quand ils sont passés à l’extrême droite. Comment peut-on accepter que l’Etat définisse la vérité historique et punisse la dissidence de la pensée ? (…) Au Timor-Oriental, entre un quart et un tiers de la population a été décimée avec l’accord des Etats-Unis et de la France, et peu de gens le savent alors que tout le monde connaît les crimes de Pol Pot. Noam Chomsky
Si les révolutions symboliques sont particulièrement difficiles à comprendre, surtout lorsqu’elles sont réussies, c’est parce que le plus difficile est de comprendre ce qui semble aller de soi, dans la mesure où la révolution symbolique produit les structures à travers lesquelles nous la percevons. Autrement dit, à la façon des grandes révolutions religieuses, une révolution symbolique bouleverse des structures cognitives et parfois, dans une certaine mesure, des structures sociales. Elle impose, dès lors que ‘elle réussit, de nouvelles structures cognitives qui, du fait qu’elles se généralisent, qu’elles se diffusent, qu’elles habitent l’ensemble des sujets percevants d’un univers social, deviennent imperceptibles. Pierre Bourdieu
C’est une chose que Weber dit en passant dans son livre sur le judaïsme antique : on oublie toujours que le prophète sort du rang des prêtres ; le Grand Hérésiarque est un prophète qui va dire dans la rue ce qui se dit normalement dans l’univers des docteurs. Bourdieu
La bourgeoisie s’est toujours méfiée – à raison – des intellectuels. Mais elle s’en méfie comme d’êtres étranges qui sont issus de son sein. La plupart des intellectuels, en effet, sont nés de bourgeois qui leur ont inculqué la culture bourgeoise. Ils apparaissent comme gardiens et transmetteurs de cette culture. De fait, un certain nombre de techniciens du savoir pratique se sont, tôt ou tard, faits leurs chiens de garde, comme a dit Nizan. Les autres, ayant été sélectionnés, demeurent élitistes même quand ils professent des idées révolutionnaires. Ceux-là, on les laisse contester : ils parlent le langage bourgeois. Mais doucement on les tourne et, le moment venu, il suffira d’un fauteuil à l’Académie française ou d’un prix Nobel ou de quelque autre manœuvre pour les récupérer. C’est ainsi qu’un écrivain communiste peut exposer actuellement les souvenirs de sa femme à la Bibliothèque nationale et que l’inauguration de l’exposition est faite par le ministre de l’éducation nationale. (…) Cependant il est des intellectuels – j’en suis un – qui, depuis 1968, ne veulent plus dialoguer avec la bourgeoisie. En vérité, la chose n’est pas si simple : tout intellectuel a ce qu’on appelle des intérêts idéologiques. Par quoi on entend l’ensemble de ses œuvres, s’il écrit, jusqu’à ce jour. Bien que j’aie toujours contesté la bourgeoisie, mes œuvres s’adressent à elle, dans son langage, et – au moins dans les plus anciennes – on y trouverait des éléments élitistes. Je me suis attaché, depuis dix-sept ans, à un ouvrage sur Flaubert qui ne saurait intéresser les ouvriers car il est écrit dans un style compliqué et certainement bourgeois. Aussi les deux premiers tomes de cet ouvrage ont été achetés et lus par des bourgeois réformistes, professeurs, étudiants, etc. Ce livre qui n’est pas écrit par le peuple ni pour lui résulte des réflexions faites par un philosophe bourgeois pendant une grande partie de sa vie. J’y suis lié. Deux tomes ont paru, le troisième est sous presse, je prépare le quatrième. J’y suis lié, cela veut dire : j’ai 67 ans, j’y travaille depuis l’âge de 50 ans et j’y rêvais auparavant. Or, justement, cet ouvrage (en admettant qu’il apporte quelque chose) représente, dans sa nature même, une frustration du peuple. C’est lui qui me rattache aux lecteurs bourgeois. Par lui, je suis encore bourgeois et le demeurerai tant que je ne l’aurai pas achevé. Il existe donc une contradiction très particulière en moi : j’écris encore des livres pour la bourgeoisie et je me sens solidaire des travailleurs qui veulent la renverser. Jean-Paul Sartre (1976)
Les intellectuels ont pris l’habitude de travailler non pas dans l’universel, l’exemplaire, le juste-et-le-vrai-pour-tous, mais dans des secteurs déterminés, en des points précis où les situaient soit leurs conditions de travail, soit leurs conditions de vie (le logement, l’hôpital, l’asile, le laboratoire, l’université, les rapports familiaux ou sexuels). (…) Ils y ont gagné à coup sûr une conscience beaucoup plus concrète et immédiate des luttes. Et ils ont rencontré là des problèmes qui étaient spécifiques, non universels, différents souvent de ceux du prolétariat ou des masses. (…) Et cependant, ils s’en sont rapprochés, je crois pour deux raisons : parce qu’il s’agissait de luttes réelles, matérielles, quotidiennes, et parce qu’ils rencontraient souvent, mais dans une autre forme, le même adversaire que le prolétariat, la paysannerie ou les masses (les multinationales, l’appareil judiciaire et policier, la spéculation immobilière) ; c’est ce que j’appellerais l’intellectuel spécifique par opposition à l’intellectuel universel. Michel Foucault
Tout ce qui pouvait nuire à Obama serait donc omis et caché; tout ce qui pouvait nuire à McCain serait monté en épingle et martelé à la tambourinade. On censurerait ce qui gênerait l´un, on amplifierait ce qui affaiblirait l´autre. Le bombardement serait intense, les haut-parleurs répandraient sans répit le faux, le biaisé, le trompeur et l´insidieux. Qu´importe! Nulle enquête, nulle révélation, nulle curiosité. «Je ne l´ai jamais entendu parler ainsi » -, mentait Obama, parlant de son pasteur de vingt ans, Jeremiah Wright, fasciste noir, raciste à rebours, mégalomane délirant des théories conspirationnistes – en vingt ans de prêches et de sermons. Circulez, vous dis-je, y´a rien à voir – et les media, pieusement, de n´aller rien chercher. ACORN, organisation d´activistes d´extrême-gauche, aujourd´hui accusée d´une énorme fraude électorale, dont Obama fut l´avocat – et qui se mobilise pour lui, et avec laquelle il travaillait à Chicago? Oh, ils ne font pas partie de la campagne Obama, expliquent benoîtement les media. Et, ajoute-t-on, sans crainte du ridicule, «la fraude aux inscriptions électorales ne se traduit pas forcément en votes frauduleux». Si, si, c´est ce que dit la presse. La démocratie part du postulat que : «la puissance de bien juger, et distinguer le vrai d’avec le faux» est possession de chaque citoyen, et non d´une élite basée sur la naissance, la fortune, la puissance, ni même le savoir. Bisque, bisque, le déchaînement d´aigreur de la gauche face à Sarah Palin et son adhésion passionnée à l´image vide, charismatique et caméléonesque d´Obama, le Rédempteur qui sauvera le parti intellectuel de la vulgarité du monde et de l´électorat; celui qui «s´accroche à sa foi et à ses armes à feu», comme Obama l´avait dit avec d´autant plus de candeur qu´il ne croyait pas être entendu par eux. (…) Je suggère que cette rage écumante est fondée sur un sentiment exacerbé de lèse-majesté. En l´occurrence, la majesté lésée est celle du monopole d´opinion, que la classe intellectuelle et assimilée (la classe médiatique, l´universitaire, celle du spectacle, etc.) estime lui revenir de droit, et exclusivement. (…) L´intellectuel manie des objets symboliques, ou objets mentaux, d´une grande variété. Leur maniement tend souvent à persuader l´intellectuel qu´il est mieux à même de saisir le monde que quiconque. Or, son pouvoir sur ce monde n´est pas du tout commensurable à la compréhension qu´il estime en avoir. Son ressentiment en est d´autant plus vif. Il ne peut se résoudre à n´être «que» professeur, écrivain, journaliste, lui qui en sait tant et plus que les autres, ceux qui ont du pouvoir. (…) C´est à lui qu´il faudrait s´adresser, vers lui qu´il faudrait se tourner. En l´absence d´une telle demande, l´intellectuel professionnel devient un homme révolté. L´intellectuel moderne tend donc souvent à se dresser contre cette réalité, qui lui refuse ce qu´il estime de droit être sa place en majesté. (…) Ce réel qui minimise et minore son importance personnelle est donc mauvais et devrait être refait. L´homme du commun, qui vote, est ignare. Les politiciens (qui n´écoutent pas notre intellectuel) sont nuls et ignorants. La dextérité dans le maniement des objets intellectuels (la dialectique, comme on disait jadis) devient mandat du Ciel. Laurent Murawiec
There’s little doubt that law student Obama was a political radical by any conventional, society-wide measure of the term. But that’s not the end of the story. At Harvard at least, radical was mainstream and conservative was radical. In fact, the radical view was so mainstream that one couldn’t help but think that even the loudest students would graduate, go to law firms, and fit in just as seamlessly to the new mainstream of their legal professions. And, in fact, most did. They weren’t intellectual leaders; they were followers. My reading of Barack Obama’s political biography is pretty simple: He’s not so much a liberal radical as a member of the liberal mainstream of whatever community he inhabits. In that video, he was doing no more and no less than what most politically engaged leftist law students were doing — supporting the radical race and gender politics that dominated campus. When he went to Chicago and met Bill Ayers, he was fitting within a second, and slightly different, liberal culture. He shifted again in Washington and then again in the White House. But radical, “conviction” politicians don’t decry Gitmo then keep it open, promise to end the wars then reinforce the troops, express outrage at Bush war tactics then maintain rendition and triple the number of drone strikes. Obama’s biography is essentially the same as many of the liberal mainstream-media journalists who cover him. They’ve made the same migration — from leading campus protests, to building families in urban liberal communities, to participating in a national political culture. At the risk of engaging in dime-store pop psychology, they like Obama in part because they identify with him so thoroughly and see much of themselves in him. David French
That pope endorsed the Iran deal, the UN’s environmentalist goals and what amounts to a worldwide open-borders policy on refugees — and ­offered a very specific view of how to promote development in the Third World that’s straight out of a left-wing textbook. (…) Sorry: When the pontiff sounds less like a theological leader and more like the 8 p.m. host on MSNBC or the editor of Mother Jones, what’s a guy to do? Pope Francis is entirely within his rights to become the world’s foremost liberal. But, since that’s what he is, it can’t be wrong to say so. (…) When a leader speaks in these sorts of bureaucratic specifics, he is descending from the highest heavens into ordinary, even trivial, reality. He’s using his ­authority in the realm of the spiritual to influence the ­political behavior of others. He becomes just another pundit. And who needs another one of those? John Podhoretz
Au lendemain des attentats contre Charlie Hebdo et le magasin Hyper Cacher de Vincennes, et après le refus cinglant des jeunes des « quartiers populaires » de participer à la grande manifestation unitaire du 11 janvier, il était difficile pour les Français, même les plus angéliques, de continuer à faire l’impasse sur les dangers et sur la séduction de l’islamisme radical. Mais la propension à noyer le poisson dans ses causes supposées n’a pas disparu. Et le gouvernement a donné l’exemple en dénonçant l’apartheid culturel, ethnique et territorial qui sévirait dans nos banlieues. Ainsi la République a-t-elle plaidé coupable pour les attaques mêmes dont elle faisait l’objet. (…)  Je ne vois chez nos intellectuels ni naïveté, ni lâcheté, mais, si j’ose dire, une vigilance anachronique. En Sarkozy, conseillé par Patrick Buisson, son « génie noir », ils combattaient la réincarnation du maréchal Pétain. Les musulmans leur apparaissaient comme les juifs du XXIe siècle. L’antifascisme façonnait leur vision du monde. Ils ne voulaient pas et ne veulent toujours pas voir dans la crise actuelle des banlieues autre chose qu’une résurgence de la xénophobie et du racisme français. (…) Les élites dont vous parlez ne sont pas francophobes ; face au nationalisme fermé de « l’idéologie française », elles se réclament de la patrie des droits de l’homme. Leur France est la « nation ouverte » célébrée par Victor Hugo, « qui appelle chez elle quiconque est frère ou veut l’être ». Le problème, c’est que, toutes à cette opposition gratifiante entre l’ouvert et le fermé, ces élites légitiment la haine qui se développe dans certains quartiers de nos villes pour les « faces de craie ». C’est l’exclusion, disent ces élites, qui engendre la francophobie. (…) « L’Amérique victime de son hyperpuissance », titrait Télérama après le 11 septembre 2001. Ce qu’on a du mal à penser aujourd’hui comme alors, c’est que l’Occident puisse être haï non pour l’oppression qu’il exerce, mais pour les libertés qu’il propose. Sayyid Qotb est devenu le principal doctrinaire des Frères musulmans, après un séjour aux Etats-Unis, en 1948, où il a été confronté à cette « liberté bestiale qu’on nomme la mixité », à « ce marché d’esclaves qu’on nomme « émancipation de la femme » », à « ces ruses et anxiétés d’un système de mariage et de divorce si contraire à la vie naturelle. En comparaison, quelle raison, quelle hauteur de vue, quelle joie en islam, et quel désir d’atteindre celui qui ne peut être atteint ». (…) L’esprit du temps réussit l’exploit paradoxal de nous faire vivre hors de notre temps, à côté de nos pompes. Alors que la France change de visage, il affirme, imperturbable, que l’histoire se répète, et il cherche des racistes et des fascistes pour donner corps à cette affirmation. J’ai beau être juif et défendre l’école républicaine, me voici lepéniste, et même – il faut ce qu’il faut – maurrassien. (…) La menace était très clairement énoncée en 2004 par le rapport Obin sur les signes et manifestations d’appartenance religieuse dans les établissements scolaires : « Tout laisse à penser que, dans certains quartiers, les élèves sont incités à se méfier de tout ce que les professeurs leur proposent, qui doit d’abord être un objet de suspicion, comme ce qu’ils trouvent à la cantine dans leur assiette ; et qu’ils sont engagés à trier les textes étudiés selon les mêmes catégories religieuses du halal (autorisé) et du haram (interdit). » La question du voile et celle de la nourriture sont deux composantes d’un phénomène beaucoup plus large de sécession culturelle. Et ce phénomène est en expansion. (…) Ce que je sais, grâce à Gilles Kepel, c’est que les Beurs, qui avaient fait la grande marche pour l’égalité en 1983, rejettent maintenant avec horreur ce vocable « tenu au mieux pour méprisant à leur endroit, au pire, pour un complot sioniste destiné à faire fondre comme du beurre leur identité arabo-islamique dans le chaudron des potes de SOS Racisme touillé par l’Union des étudiants juifs de France ». (…) Je pense que Michel Onfray préfère aussi – et il l’a dit – une analyse juste de Bernard-Henri Lévy à une analyse fausse d’Alain de Benoist. Pour ma part, je citerai Camus dans sa lettre adressée aux Temps modernes après la critique au vitriol de l’Homme révolté, parue dans cette revue : « On ne décide pas de la vérité d’une pensée selon qu’elle est à droite ou à gauche, et moins encore selon ce que la droite et la gauche décident d’en faire. A ce compte, Descartes serait stalinien et Péguy bénirait M. Pinay. Si, enfin, la vérité me paraissait à droite, j’y serais. » Je ne suis donc pas plus impressionné par la sortie de Manuel Valls que par la campagne de 1982 contre le « silence des intellectuels ». Le gouvernement est légitimement affolé par la montée du Front national, mais ce ne sont pas les incantations antifascistes qui inverseront la tendance et changeront la donne ; c’est la prise en compte par la gauche comme par la droite traditionnelle de l’inquiétude de toujours plus de Français devant la mutation culturelle qui nous tombe dessus, qui n’a été décidée par personne. (…) Fontenelle a écrit un jour : « On s’accoutume trop quand on est seul à ne penser que comme soi. » J’essaie donc de ne pas rester seul trop longtemps et je fais même l’émission « Répliques » pour être confronté à des points de vue très différents des miens. Mais ce n’est pas ma faute si l’actualité radote et me renvoie sans cesse à la réalité insupportable de l’éclatement de mon pays. Je suis attaqué et même insulté par ceux qui ne veulent surtout pas regarder cette réalité en face. Devant les mauvaises nouvelles, ou, pis encore, devant les nouvelles qui contredisent l’idée reçue du mal et du méchant, le plus simple est encore de s’en prendre au messager et de lui faire la peau. Alain Finkielkraut
Du XVIIIe au XXe siècle, les intellectuels étaient des guides spirituels. Une substitution au clergé – on parle d’ailleurs parfois de «clercs» pour les désigner ou d’«hérésie» de certaines conviction … Le débat d’idées y structure la société beaucoup plus qu’ailleurs. J’irai même jusqu’à dire que la pensée est une composante essentielle de ce que veut dire «être français». Et cela pour une raison historique simple : quand il fallu inventer une nation après la Révolution française, on a dû le faire à travers des principes abstraits. Procédez de cette manière, et vous serez constamment dans un débat d’idées. Etre français, c’est réfléchir sans fin aux valeurs sur lesquelles repose la citoyenneté, savoir ce qu’elles veulent dire, s’il faut les mettre à jour…  Sudhir Hazareesingh
Son essai L’Identité malheureuse a été l’un des plus grands succès de librairie de l’automne 2013, tandis que son auteur devenait l’incarnation ultime du repli de l’esprit français. Toute l’oeuvre d’Alain Finkielkraut est parcourue d’images de décadence, de maladie et de mort. Il a l’habitude des hypothèses paradoxales, par exemple que l’antiracisme serait plus pernicieux que le racisme. Il a des idées fixes, sur l’islamisme ou la prétendue omniprésence de l’antisémitisme.  De plus en plus nationaliste, il est de moins en moins républicain. Il défend une conception hiérarchique de l’ordre culturel et social et, tout comme le Front national, il dénonce le détournement de l’identité française par des minorités immigrées – encore une fantaisie. Son parcours illustre à quel point le pessimisme ambiant a corrompu l’héritage rousseauiste et républicain. (…) On confond trop souvent l’islam, qui est la religion paisible de l’écrasante majorité des musulmans de France, et l’islamisme radical, qui est le fait d’une petite minorité d’agités (nous les avons aussi en Angleterre, et il faut évidemment les combattre). Quant à l’antisémitisme, il faut situer ce phénomène aujourd’hui dans le cadre plus général d’une lepénisation (ou, pour être plus précis, une « marinisation ») des esprits, qui répand la peur de l’autre, qu’il soit musulman, juif, immigré ou homosexuel. Le repli identitaire, surtout lorsqu’il est relayé par des intellectuels complaisants, ne fait qu’alimenter tous les fantasmes. (…) J’y vois la résurgence d’un courant classique de l’individualisme français, à la fois frivole et cérébral, orienté vers ce que Benjamin Constant a appelé la « jouissance paisible de l’indépendance privée ». Dans Le Mystère français, Hervé Le Bras et Emmanuel Todd soulignent l’écart entre le pessimisme conscient des Français et leur optimisme inconscient au cours des trente dernières années: d’où la bonne tenue du taux de natalité, la baisse du nombre de suicides et d’homicides, les progrès de la réussite scolaire, l’émancipation des femmes et l’intégration des immigrés. (…) J’ai choisi ce discours [du ministre des Affaires étrangères Dominique de Villepin contre l’intervention armée en Irak, devant le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, le 14 février 2003] parce que c’est un condensé de l’esprit français, un mélange de virilité et de verve enracinées dans ce que la rhétorique française a de meilleur. Un appel à la raison et à la logique cartésienne, construit sous le signe d’oppositions binaires: conflit-harmonie, intérêt personnel- bien commun, politique de puissance-moralité… L’auteur se fait le porte-parole d’une sagesse ancestrale: « Nous sommes les gardiens d’un idéal, nous sommes les gardiens d’une conscience… » Avec le recul, cet exercice apparaît comme un ultime morceau de bravoure, le dernier acte d’une magnifique tradition universaliste. (…)  la France a la particularité de mettre en avant ses prouesses morales et intellectuelles, et la conviction de devoir penser pour le reste du monde. Au XIXe siècle, Auguste Comte affirme que Paris est le centre de l’humanité, parce que l' »esprit philosophique » y règne. L’historien Ernest Lavisse écrit en 1890 que la mission de la France est de « représenter la cause de l’humanité ». La Révolution française a été la source des idéaux messianiques français: liberté, égalité, fraternité, droits de l’homme… (…)  Ce culte se reflète dans la consécration de l’écrivain, véritable guide spirituel de la société, et dans l’importance accordée au style, à la syntaxe, au mot juste, au monde des idées. En 1944, un petit manuel avertissait les soldats britanniques du débarquement: « Vous aurez souvent l’impression [que les Français] se disputent violemment, alors qu’ils ne font que débattre d’une idée abstraite. » (…) Du début des années 1950 à la fin des années 1970, j’ai répertorié le « nouveau roman », la « nouvelle vague », la « nouvelle histoire », la « nouvelle philosophie », la « nouvelle société », la « nouvelle gauche », la « nouvelle droite » – sans oublier la « nouvelle cuisine »…  Il suffit d’examiner comment les uns et les autres se présentent ou sont présentés, sous la forme d’oxymores: « rationaliste passionné », « missionnaire laïque », « spectateur engagé », « défaite glorieuse »… Vous ne vous en rendez pas forcément compte, mais ce genre d’expression paradoxale est déroutante pour un étranger. Julien Green l’a vécu à ses dépens à Oxford lors d’une conférence qu’il donnait sur « les trois Barrès », c’est-à-dire les trois aspects contradictoires de la pensée de l’écrivain nationaliste. Mais l’assistance n’a pas forcément saisi cette subtilité. La preuve, à l’issue de son intervention, un auditeur a levé la main et demandé: « Quels sont les prénoms des deux autres frères Barrès? » (…) L’intellectuel est un « clerc »; son engagement, une « foi »; sa rupture avec une idéologie, une « hérésie » ou une « délivrance »… Rappelez-vous Edgar Morin racontant son adhésion au communisme comme « l’espérance du salut dans la rédemption collective ». Et depuis la Révolution, les héros nationaux entrent au Panthéon, une ancienne église, et de Gaulle est devenu le Saint-Père national. (…) J’avais été surpris par les Mémoires d’Elizabeth Teissier, l’astrologue de François Mitterrand, dénichées à l’étal d’un bouquiniste, avant de découvrir que le président français n’était que le dernier d’une longue série d’hommes célèbres à croire aux « forces de l’esprit »: Robespierre, Victor Hugo, Jaurès, Poincaré, Clemenceau… Entre les deux pôles de la théologie et du matérialisme s’étend un territoire où coexistent l’attachement au rationalisme et la foi dans le surnaturel. Même si cela peut paraître paradoxal s’agissant d’un XVIIIe siècle rejetant les croyances en tout genre, certains principes de l’occultisme à la française sont enracinés dans les idées des Lumières, voire dans celles de la gauche: croyance en la bonté de l’homme, ouverture sur les valeurs et cultures différentes… (…) Cette prédisposition utopiste puise sa source chez Rousseau, qui considère que la faculté première de l’homme est l’imagination. Les oeuvres de Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Etienne Cabet sont toutes marquées par la révolte contre l’injustice et par l’ambition d’épanouir la nature humaine. Par ailleurs, le raisonnement utopique est marqué par son caractère systématique et radical.  Ces idéaux progressistes ont contribué à l’adhésion de très nombreux Français au communisme. Car, au fond, les promesses du Parti communiste français ne renvoyaient-elles pas à l’ambition des Lumières de former des citoyens instruits partageant une morale laïque commune, à l’aspiration rousseauiste à régénérer l’homme, au désir de Fourier de promouvoir une plus grande harmonie sociale, au culte de la perfection et de l’industrie de Saint-Simon, à la « dictature bienveillante » de Cabet… ?  Sudhir Hazareesingh
Today’s Left Bank is but a pale shadow of this eminent past. Fashion outlets have replaced high theoretical endeavor in Saint-Germain-des-Près (…) Indeed, as Europe fumbles shamefully in its collective response to its current refugee crisis, it is sobering that the reaction which has been most in tune with the Enlightenment’s Rousseauist heritage of humanity and cosmopolitan fraternity has come not from socialist France, but from Christian-democratic German. Sudhir Hazareesingh
French thought is in the doldrums. French philosophy, which taught the world to reason with sweeping and bold systems such as rationalism, republicanism, feminism, positivism, existentialism and structuralism, has had conspicuously little to offer in recent decades. Saint-Germain-des-Prés, once the engine room of the Parisian Left Bank’s intellectual creativity, has become a haven of high-fashion boutiques, with fading memories of its past artistic and literary glory. As a disillusioned writer from the neighbourhood noted grimly: “The time will soon come when we will be reduced to selling little statues of Sartre made in China.” French literature, with its once glittering cast of authors, from Balzac and George Sand to Jules Verne, Albert Camus and Marguerite Yourcenar, has likewise lost much of its global appeal – a loss barely concealed by recent awards of the Nobel prize for literature to JMG Le Clézio and Patrick Modiano.  Yet little of this ideological fertility is now in evidence, and French thinking is no longer a central point of reference for progressives across the world.  (…) Since the late 20th century French thought has lost many of the qualities that made for its universal appeal: its abundant sense of imagination, its buoyant sense of purpose, and above all its capacity (even when engaging in the most byzantine of philosophical issues) to give everyone tuning in, from Buenos Aires to Beirut, the sense that they were participating in a conversation of transcendental significance. In contrast, contemporary French thinking has become increasingly inward-looking – a crisis that manifests itself in the sense of disillusionment among the nation’s intellectual elites, and in the rise of the xenophobic Front National, which has become one of the most dynamic political forces in contemporary France. (…) This pessimistic sensibility has been exacerbated by a widespread belief that French culture is itself in crisis. The representation of France as an exhausted and alienated country, corrupted by the egalitarian heritage of May 68, overrun by Muslim immigrants and incapable of standing up for its own core values is a common theme in French conservative writings. Among the bestselling works in this genre are Alain Finkielkraut’s L’identité malheureuse (2013) and Éric Zemmour’s Suicide Français (2014). This morbid sensibility (which has no real equivalent in Britain, despite its recent economic troubles) is also widespread in contemporary French literature, as best exemplified in Michel Houellebecq’s recent oeuvre: La carte et le territoire (2010) presents France as a haven for global tourism, “with nothing to sell except charming hotels, perfumes, and potted meat”; his latest novel Soumission (2015) is a dystopian parable about the election of an Islamist president in France, set against a backdrop of a general collapse of Enlightenment values. (…) This ascendency of technocratic values among French progressive elites is itself reflective of a wider intellectual crisis on the left. The singular idea of the world (a mixture of Cartesian rationalism, republicanism and Marxism) that dominated the mindset of the nation’s progressive elites for much of the modern era has disintegrated. The problem has been compounded by the self-defeating success of French postmodernism: at a time when European progressives have come up with innovative frameworks for confronting the challenges to democratic power and civil liberties in western societies (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s notion of empire, and Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the state of exception), their Gallic counterparts have been indulging in abstract word games, in the style of Derrida and Baudrillard. French progressive thinkers no longer produce the kind of sweeping grand theories that typified the constructs of the Left Bank in its heyday. They advocate an antiquated form of Marxism (Alain Badiou), a nostalgic and reactionary republicanism (Régis Debray), or else offer a permanent spectacle of frivolity and self-delusion (Bernard-Henri Lévy). Sudhir Hazareesingh
Sur les migrants, au lieu de mener son peuple, Hollande a parlé comme un fonctionnaire : toujours cette peur du Front national qui empoisonne la vie politique française. Sudhir Hazareesingh

Et si la French theory avait été victime de son succès ?

A l’heure où, entre l’Iran, Cuba et les Palestiniens, les chefs prétendus à la fois du Monde libre et de la chrétienté ne sont plus que les petits perroquets des slogans les plus éculés du gauchisme primaire …

Et où – accès de folie (ou retour du refoulé ?) et avec les conséquences catastrophiques que l’on sait, la jusqu’ici plutôt pragmatique chef du gouvernement allemand  s’est transformée sous nos yeux en passionaria du multiculturalisme …

Comment ne pas être surpris après l’étonnante inimitié (réciproque) d’un des plus grands intellectuels américains vivants, déclaré persona non grata au Pays des intellectuels depuis sa défense de la liberté de parole d’un Faurisson …

Du néo-déclinisme de ce Mauriço-britannique d’Oxford et groupie déclarée de nos Napoléon et autre Villepin …

Se lamentant, dans son dernier livre, du déclin et du déclinisme de l’actuelle pensée française ?

A l’instar justement, comme il le rappelle lui-même, d’un pays qui, entre culte de la culture, clercs nouveaux directeurs de conscience et rites panthéoniques …

Semble ne s’être toujours pas remis de la laïcisation forcée de sa Révolution ?

A moins qu’après la débâcle communiste que l’on sait et l’américanisation honnie qu’appelait de ses voeux Chomsky pour l’Europe et la France, il ait enfin perdu son « respect » pour les membres de cette « sorte de prêtrise séculière » ou de « clergé laïc » qui n’étaient en fait que les « gardiens de la vérité politique sacrée » ?

« La France croit devoir penser pour le reste du monde »
Propos recueillis par Emmanuel Hecht
L’Express
28/08/2015

Francophile invétéré et grand spécialiste de Napoléon et du général de Gaulle, Sudhir Hazareesingh porte un regard d’entomologiste sur les moeurs, us et coutumes de nos intellectuels et penseurs. Interview.
Sudhir Hazareesingh, professeur au Balliol College, à Oxford, fait paraître Ce pays qui aime les idées (éd. Flammarion). En version originale: « Comment les Français pensent. Portrait affectueux d’un peuple intellectuel ». Plutôt que d’un essai à charge, il s’agit en effet d’une enquête sur les moeurs, us et coutumes de nos intellectuels et penseurs. Il a enseigné à l’EHESS, à l’Ecole pratique des hautes études et à Sciences po, et n’ignore pas que « sans la liberté de blâmer… »

Comment, en étant originaire de l’océan Indien, peut-on se passionner pour la vie culturelle et politique française?

C’est une vieille histoire. Au Collège royal de Curepipe, à l’île Maurice, j’ai été nourri de littérature française: Molière, Racine, Saint-Exupéry, Gide, Sartre et Camus. Mon père, Kissoonsingh, historien formé à Cambridge et à la Sorbonne, chef de cabinet du Premier ministre sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, avait des liens étroits avec Malraux et Senghor. Je baignais dans un climat de francophilie. Et je n’oublierai jamais le rôle de l’attaché culturel français Antoine Colonna, qui me permettait de suivre l’actualité dans les hebdomadaires, dont L’Express!

Ma francophilie a également été aiguisée par Apostrophes, l’émission télévisée de Bernard Pivot. Je me souviens en particulier d’une intervention de Marguerite Yourcenar, en 1979, sur les notions du bien et du mal. Vous ne pouvez pas imaginer comment, de l’océan Indien, cette émission avait quelque chose de léger et subtil. Etudiant à Oxford pendant les années 1980, j’ai conservé cette passion pour la France, pour son dynamisme culturel, pour son mépris du matérialisme et pour l’éventail de ses opinions politiques et leur complexité historique. C’était un bonheur que de se plonger dans les arcanes du catholicisme, du communisme, de l’extrême droite, de la république, de la monarchie… dans un Royaume-Uni à l’apogée du bipartisme et en pleine déprime thatchérienne!

Votre dernier livre traduit en français, Ce pays qui aime les idées, est la synthèse d’une trentaine d’années consacrées à l’histoire des idées en France, mais aussi une tentative de réponse à la question: pourquoi les Français sont-ils si pessimistes? Quelle est votre réponse, à vous, qui êtes familier des rives de la Seine et qui enseignez de l’autre côté du Channel, dans la prestigieuse université d’Oxford?

Le « malaise français » est au coeur des débats intellectuels depuis une vingtaine d’années: perte de repères idéologiques, crise du modèle républicain, euroscepticisme et rejet de la mondialisation, obsession du « déclinisme » devenue l’idée fixe de la classe politique. En 1995, Jean-Marie Domenach dressait un bilan accablant de la littérature contemporaine française et de l’absence de véritable critique littéraire à la mode anglo-saxonne, celles du Times Literary Supplement et de la New York Review of Books.

En ce début de rentrée littéraire – un rendez-vous très français -, il faut souligner que, pour le monde anglophone, la littérature française s’est égarée entre nombrilisme et abstraction. Lorsqu’un livre attire l’attention à l’étranger, c’est rarement un roman ou un essai philosophique. Le dernier best-seller hors des frontières est Le Capital au XXIe siècle, de l’économiste Thomas Piketty.

A vos yeux, les intellectuels, Alain Finkielkraut en tête, sont les porte-drapeaux d’un « nationalisme fermé ». Notre philosophe n’est-il pas un « coupable » parfait?

Je ne crois pas. Tenons-nous-en aux faits. Son essai L’Identité malheureuse a été l’un des plus grands succès de librairie de l’automne 2013, tandis que son auteur devenait l’incarnation ultime du repli de l’esprit français. Toute l’oeuvre d’Alain Finkielkraut est parcourue d’images de décadence, de maladie et de mort. Il a l’habitude des hypothèses paradoxales, par exemple que l’antiracisme serait plus pernicieux que le racisme. Il a des idées fixes, sur l’islamisme ou la prétendue omniprésence de l’antisémitisme.

De plus en plus nationaliste, il est de moins en moins républicain. Il défend une conception hiérarchique de l’ordre culturel et social et, tout comme le Front national, il dénonce le détournement de l’identité française par des minorités immigrées – encore une fantaisie. Son parcours illustre à quel point le pessimisme ambiant a corrompu l’héritage rousseauiste et républicain.

Vous ne croyez pas au danger de l’islamisme en France? Et vous ne constatez pas la montée d’un antisémitisme de banlieue?

On confond trop souvent l’islam, qui est la religion paisible de l’écrasante majorité des musulmans de France, et l’islamisme radical, qui est le fait d’une petite minorité d’agités (nous les avons aussi en Angleterre, et il faut évidemment les combattre). Quant à l’antisémitisme, il faut situer ce phénomène aujourd’hui dans le cadre plus général d’une lepénisation (ou, pour être plus précis, une « marinisation ») des esprits, qui répand la peur de l’autre, qu’il soit musulman, juif, immigré ou homosexuel. Le repli identitaire, surtout lorsqu’il est relayé par des intellectuels complaisants, ne fait qu’alimenter tous les fantasmes.

En France, l’intellectuel est un « clerc », son engagement une « foi » et de Gaulle « le Saint-Père national ». Ici, la cérémonie des panthéonisés du 27 mai.
Comment expliquez-vous le contraste entre le pessimisme collectif des Français et, à en croire les sondages, leur relatif optimisme individuel?

J’y vois la résurgence d’un courant classique de l’individualisme français, à la fois frivole et cérébral, orienté vers ce que Benjamin Constant a appelé la « jouissance paisible de l’indépendance privée ». Dans Le Mystère français, Hervé Le Bras et Emmanuel Todd soulignent l’écart entre le pessimisme conscient des Français et leur optimisme inconscient au cours des trente dernières années: d’où la bonne tenue du taux de natalité, la baisse du nombre de suicides et d’homicides, les progrès de la réussite scolaire, l’émancipation des femmes et l’intégration des immigrés.

Cet état d’esprit n’est pas si nouveau. Il est ancré chez les élites depuis l’ère postrévolutionnaire, dites-vous. Y compris à gauche, où vous avez même repéré un « désespoir progressiste »? On ne sait plus à qui se fier…

Eh oui, la gauche n’a pas toujours baigné dans un optimisme béat, fondé sur la croyance au progrès. En 1863, au faîte de la gloire de Napoléon III, Proudhon écrit: « Je crois que nous sommes en pleine décadence, et plus je reconnais que j’ai été dupe de mon excessive générosité, moins il me reste de confiance dans la vitalité de ma nation. »

Les premières pages de votre essai sont consacrées au discours du ministre des Affaires étrangères Dominique de Villepin contre l’intervention armée en Irak, devant le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, le 14 février 2003. C’est plutôt inattendu, comme entrée en matière?

J’ai choisi ce discours parce que c’est un condensé de l’esprit français, un mélange de virilité et de verve enracinées dans ce que la rhétorique française a de meilleur. Un appel à la raison et à la logique cartésienne, construit sous le signe d’oppositions binaires: conflit-harmonie, intérêt personnel- bien commun, politique de puissance-moralité… L’auteur se fait le porte-parole d’une sagesse ancestrale: « Nous sommes les gardiens d’un idéal, nous sommes les gardiens d’une conscience… » Avec le recul, cet exercice apparaît comme un ultime morceau de bravoure, le dernier acte d’une magnifique tradition universaliste.

N’est-ce pas le cas de nombreuses nations que de se considérer comme investies d’une mission, les Etats-Unis, la Russie, Israël…?

Certes, mais la France a la particularité de mettre en avant ses prouesses morales et intellectuelles, et la conviction de devoir penser pour le reste du monde. Au XIXe siècle, Auguste Comte affirme que Paris est le centre de l’humanité, parce que l' »esprit philosophique » y règne. L’historien Ernest Lavisse écrit en 1890 que la mission de la France est de « représenter la cause de l’humanité ». La Révolution française a été la source des idéaux messianiques français: liber té, égalité, fraternité, droits de l’homme…

Vous avez été frappé par l’étrange culte à la culture célébré par les Français. Il s’agit vraiment d’une spécificité nationale?

J’en suis convaincu. Ce culte se reflète dans la consécration de l’écrivain, véritable guide spirituel de la société, et dans l’importance accordée au style, à la syntaxe, au mot juste, au monde des idées. En 1944, un petit manuel avertis sait les soldats britanniques du débarquement: « Vous aurez souvent l’impression [que les Français] se disputent violemment, alors qu’ils ne font que débattre d’une idée abstraite. »

Pour les Français, dites-vous, la meilleure façon de vendre des idées, c’est d’affirmer qu’elles sont nouvelles. N’y aurait-il pas un peu de marketing dans l’air?

La question se pose. Du début des années 1950 à la fin des années 1970, j’ai répertorié le « nouveau roman », la « nouvelle vague », la « nouvelle histoire », la « nouvelle philosophie », la « nouvelle société », la « nouvelle gauche », la « nouvelle droite » – sans oublier la « nouvelle cuisine »…

Autre trouvaille de vos recherches: le paradoxe serait l’une des clefs d’entrée de la pensée française?

Il suffit d’examiner comment les uns et les autres se présentent ou sont présentés, sous la forme d’oxymores: « rationaliste passionné », « missionnaire laïque », « spectateur engagé », « défaite glorieuse »… Vous ne vous en rendez pas forcément compte, mais ce genre d’expression paradoxale est déroutante pour un étranger. Julien Green l’a vécu à ses dépens à Oxford lors d’une conférence qu’il donnait sur « les trois Barrès », c’est-à-dire les trois aspects contradictoires de la pensée de l’écrivain nationaliste. Mais l’assistance n’a pas forcément saisi cette subtilité. La preuve, à l’issue de son intervention, un auditeur a levé la main et demandé: « Quels sont les prénoms des deux autres frères Barrès? »

Au vocabulaire. L’intellectuel est un « clerc »; son engagement, une « foi »; sa rupture avec une idéologie, une « hérésie » ou une « délivrance »… Rappelez-vous Edgar Morin racontant son adhésion au communisme comme « l’espérance du salut dans la rédemption collective ». Et depuis la Révolution, les héros nationaux entrent au Panthéon, une ancienne église, et de Gaulle est devenu le Saint-Père national.

Autre surprise: au pays de Descartes et du rationalisme philosophique, les Français se passionneraient pour l’occultisme?

J’avais été surpris par les Mémoires d’Elizabeth Teissier, l’astrologue de François Mitterrand, dénichées à l’étal d’un bouquiniste, avant de découvrir que le président français n’était que le dernier d’une longue série d’hommes célèbres à croire aux « forces de l’esprit »: Robespierre, Victor Hugo, Jaurès, Poincaré, Clemenceau… Entre les deux pôles de la théologie et du matérialisme s’étend un territoire où coexistent l’attachement au rationalisme et la foi dans le surnaturel. Même si cela peut paraître paradoxal s’agissant d’un XVIIIe siècle rejetant les croyances en tout genre, certains principes de l’occultisme à la française sont enracinés dans les idées des Lumières, voire dans celles de la gauche: croyance en la bonté de l’homme, ouverture sur les valeurs et cultures différentes…

Dernière caractéristique des Français cartésiens, selon vous, l’inclination pour l’utopie…

Cette prédisposition utopiste puise sa source chez Rousseau, qui considère que la faculté première de l’homme est l’imagination. Les oeuvres de Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Etienne Cabet sont toutes marquées par la révolte contre l’injustice et par l’ambition d’épanouir la nature humaine. Par ailleurs, le raisonnement utopique est marqué par son caractère systématique et radical.

Ces idéaux progressistes ont contribué à l’adhésion de très nombreux Français au communisme. Car, au fond, les promesses du Parti communiste français ne renvoyaient-elles pas à l’ambition des Lumières de former des citoyens instruits partageant une morale laïque commune, à l’aspiration rousseauiste à régénérer l’homme, au désir de Fourier de promouvoir une plus grande harmonie sociale, au culte de la perfection et de l’industrie de Saint-Simon, à la « dictature bienveillante » de Cabet… ?

Sudhir Hazareesingh en 6 dates

1961 Naissance à l’île Maurice dans une famille de lettrés et de hauts fonctionnaires d’origine indienne.

1981 Etudiant au Balliol College, à Oxford, où il enseigne aujourd’hui les sciences politiques et les relations internationales.

1990 Soutenance d’une thèse sur les rapports entre les intellectuels français et le communisme.

2006 Prix d’histoire de la Fondation Napoléon pour La Légende de Napoléon.

2010 Le Mythe gaullien (Gallimard).

2015 Ce pays qui aime les idées. Histoire d’une passion française (Flammarion).

Interview
Sudhir Hazareesingh : «Chez les intellectuels français émerge un néoconservatisme républicain, frileux et nombriliste»
Sonya Faure
Libération
28 août 2015

Professeur à Oxford, le Britannique né sur l’île Maurice publie «Ce pays qui aime les idées», un essai consacré à la passion typiquement française pour le débat, de plus en plus schématisant et pessimiste.

Face au succès des thèses déclinistes d’Eric Zemmour, d’Alain Finkielkraut ou de Michel Houellebecq, on les cherche anxieusement du regard : mais où sont les intellectuels de gauche ? Pourquoi un tel silence du camp «progressiste» quand ne cesse de se répandre une vision anxieuse et anxiogène du monde ? Dans Ce pays qui aime les idées, un essai paru cette semaine chez Flammarion, un Britannique, professeur à Oxford, se penche sur cette inclination si française pour le débat. Sudhir Hazareesingh a connu son premier émoi intellectuel sur l’île Maurice, où il a grandi, quand il a vu, sur le petit écran, Marguerite Yourcenar débattre des notions de bien et de mal à Apostrophes, l’émission culte de Bernard Pivot. «Même si tant de subtilité avait quelque chose de légèrement cocasse (tout particulièrement lorsqu’on l’observait d’une île tropicale de l’océan Indien), personne ne pouvait à l’époque rivaliser avec l’énergie intellectuelle et le panache des Français», écrit-il. Que reste-t-il de ce panache ? L’universitaire britannique dresse un tableau assez alarmant. Qu’est-il donc arrivé à la France et à ses intellectuels pour qu’ils s’enlisent dans un tel pessimisme teinté d’ethnocentrisme ?
Vous faites le constat très sévère d’une crise de la pensée française. Quels en sont les symptômes ?

La neurasthénie s’est emparée de la France. La vie intellectuelle a versé dans une très forte tendance au déclinisme. En témoigne l’élection d’Alain Finkielkraut à l’Académie française ou les deux derniers romans de Houellebecq, qui a certes toujours donné dans le morbide, mais qui touche désormais à l’extrême névrose… Ce qui me frappe, c’est que ces intellectuels, polémistes ou écrivains ont une vision psychologisante du déclin français. On parle de la France comme d’un patient, on évoque la pourriture – voyez Bernard-Henri Lévy qui compare la gauche française à un «grand cadavre à la renverse», reprenant un mot de Sartre. Dans la culture anglo-saxonne, ce genre de constat s’accompagnerait d’une analyse empirique. On irait voir ce qu’il en est réellement, sur le terrain. Ainsi, l’école française républicaine tant brocardée est-elle vraiment en déclin ? Sur quelles notations s’appuie ce constat ? Où est la chute du taux d’alphabétisation ? C’est une particularité bien française : le débat – et particulièrement le débat décadentiste – s’en tient à un discours très abstrait et à des schémas globalisants.

Ce pessimisme français est-il nouveau ?

Il me semble au contraire être le propre de la pensée française : la certitude que la France est un grand pays, qui doit penser non seulement pour lui-même mais aussi pour le reste du monde, est associée à une grande angoisse de déclin. On retrouve cette dialectique depuis la Révolution jusqu’aux écrits du général de Gaulle. Lorsqu’on a des ambitions extraordinaires, on craint toujours de ne pas être à la hauteur. La France est chargée de représenter la cause de l’humanité, selon Lavisse. Et quand la France n’arrive pas à concrétiser cet universalisme, elle se dit : «Tout est foutu».
Ce qui est plus grave aujourd’hui, c’est qu’une partie du monde intellectuel diffuserait, dites-vous, «une forme étriquée de nationalisme ethnique»…
Pour le dire vite, jusqu’à la fin du XXe siècle, le nationalisme qui dominait en France était républicain : un patriotisme plutôt. On était français tant qu’on adhérait à des valeurs abstraites – le fameux «plébiscite de tous les jours» de Renan. L’identité collective était une construction sociale réinventée à chaque génération. Mais ce schéma-là a commencé à s’effriter à la fin du XXe siècle – à droite surtout, mais aussi à gauche. Le «non» au référendum sur la Constitution européenne de 2005 est un tournant majeur : il représente, entre autres choses, la victoire de la gauche fermée, repliée sur elle-même (le silence des intellectuels, lors de cette campagne, est d’ailleurs éloquent). A partir de 2011, le «marinisme» a commencé à émerger, avec l’ambition de banaliser les idées et les valeurs du Front national, et à droite, Alain Finkielkraut a entamé son évolution vers un nationalisme xénophobe et larmoyant. Une espèce de néoconservatisme républicain, frileux, nombriliste et nostalgique émerge en France.

Cette pensée, on la retrouve aussi chez l’acteur royaliste Lorànt Deutsch, qui vend ses livres sur Paris et la France à plusieurs dizaines milliers de d’exemplaires…

Pour comprendre les grands mouvements de pensée et leur diffusion, il ne faut pas se contenter d’étudier les grands intellectuels. On assiste aujourd’hui à la résurgence d’une histoire conservatrice (dans la tradition royaliste et nationaliste). Y participent aussi bien Deutsch que Jean Sévillia, du Figaro magazine. C’est important car l’histoire a une place de premier plan dans la constitution de l’identité collective française. Pour Sévillia, depuis plus d’un siècle, un complot entre historiens républicains aurait servi à occulter la vraie histoire de la France en minimisant le poids du royalisme et de la chrétienté, et en inventant le mythe d’une terre d’accueil et d’assimilation. Ces polémiques – on pourrait aussi mentionner les débats houleux sur les lois mémorielles – soulignent à quel point l’historien est toujours considéré en France à la fois comme un guérisseur et un oracle chargé de révéler la continuité de la nation et son destin.

Pourquoi le débat français ne parvient-il pas à se saisir plus sereinement de la question des minorités ?

La source du problème vient là encore de l’approche très schématisée des problèmes sociaux en France. On ne pense pas au sort concret des musulmans ou des minorités postcoloniales, on réfléchit à leur place par rapport au principe abstrait qu’est la laïcité. La tournure qu’a pris le débat sur le voile en France est frappante. Dès les années 80, à partir de l’histoire de deux jeunes filles qui arrivent voilées dans un collège de banlieue, un texte signé par des intellectuels de gauche, comme Régis Debray ou Elisabeth Badinter, parle du «Munich de l’école républicaine» ! Les traits caractéristiques du débat d’idées français sont en place : explosion de concepts tonitruants, schématisation extrême. On ne parle jamais des immigrés eux-mêmes, de ce qu’ils sont ou de la manière dont ils se voient. On touche ici à un autre problème : l’interdiction de faire des statistiques ethniques en France. Elles sont pourtant devenues indispensables si on ne veut pas laisser le champ libre aux «fantasmagoristes» qui occupent le terrain aujourd’hui.

Ce refus du multiculturalisme en France, vous le faites remonter à Descartes.

Descartes pose que la pensée est l’essence fondamentale de l’être humain. Et la pensée est indivisible. C’est pour cette raison que toute la tradition républicaine a vu en Descartes son fondateur. Les républicains disaient en effet exactement la même chose au niveau politique : c’est la rationalité qui fonde l’identité politique, et celle-ci ne se divise pas – des schémas très holistiques déjà. Cette grande tradition totalisante a certes été très créative, mais elle a aussi empêché les Français de réfléchir à l’identité de manière souple. Le contraste est évident avec l’Angleterre, où l’on peut être British-Asian, à la fois britannique et asiatique. En France, les mots n’existent pas pour dire cette possible hybridation. On en revient toujours à l’expression «Français d’origine» algérienne ou malienne. Mais l’origine est un faux problème. Elle ne dit que la trace de ce qu’était la personne – ou ses parents – il y a vingt ou cinquante ans. Pas ce qu’elle est aujourd’hui et qui peut tenir d’un brassage des identités.

La figure de l’intellectuel français existe-t-elle encore ?

Elle a connu un repli indéniable. Du XVIIIe au XXe siècle, les intellectuels étaient des guides spirituels. Une substitution au clergé – on parle d’ailleurs parfois de «clercs» pour les désigner ou d’«hérésie» de certaines convictions. La grande tradition intellectuelle française, de Voltaire et Rousseau à Sartre et Foucault, reposait sur un socle littéraire et philosophique, et sur la puissance de l’Ecole normale supérieure. On est désormais passé du lettré philosophe au technocrate. Sans doute parce qu’une société très moderne n’a plus besoin de maître à penser. Sans doute aussi parce que les intellectuels français ont abusé de concepts abstraits – Derrida et les structuralistes notamment. Les fonctions intellectuelles sont toujours là – elles n’évoluent d’ailleurs pas beaucoup quand on voit que Saint-Germain-des-Près concentre toujours autant de maisons d’édition -, des pamphlets s’écrivent tous les six mois… Mais les intellectuels ne s’investissent plus autant dans le débat politique et les politiques n’en sont d’ailleurs plus demandeurs.

Les intellectuels de gauche sont-ils responsables de leur perte de crédit, en France ou à l’étranger ?

Ils ont toujours de nobles sentiments : la défense des plus démunis, le rejet de la fatalité sociale, le mépris pour le mercantilisme anglo-saxon. Mais ils n’ont pas su développer une alternative européenne, une authentique troisième voie entre le mirage du social-libéralisme et les vieilles chimères jacobino-marxistes. Nous l’attendions justement de la France, pays des intellectuels. Mais ils se sont repliés et ont fermé les volets, tournant ainsi le dos au grand principe francais de fraternité. Dès le XVIIIe siècle pourtant, les républicains avaient une culture totalement européenne : ils lisaient Kant et, plus tard, les utilitaristes anglais… Rousseau n’était même pas français ! Mais la production intellectuelle est aujourd’hui devenue très franco-française. A double titre : elle ne parle que de la France et s’exporte peu… à de rares exceptions près, comme le travail sur les lieux de mémoire de l’historien Pierre Nora.

Vous oubliez l’économiste Thomas Piketty ?

Pour le dire de manière provocante, Piketty n’est pas aussi français que les Français le pensent. Sa formation intellectuelle est en partie anglo-américaine et son mode de raisonnement – sa grande utilisation de statistiques – ne s’inscrit pas précisément dans la tradition française. Je suis surtout frappé par une chose : à quel point il est célébré en France, mais à quel point aussi il n’est pas du tout écouté par le gouvernement socialiste. Nul n’est prophète en son pays…

L’autre grand échec des intellectuels français selon vous, c’est de ne pas avoir su endiguer la montée du Front national.

C’est navrant pour le pays de la tradition dreyfusarde. C’est une constante depuis les années 80 : on a systématiquement sous-estimé le Front national. Sans doute est-ce encore une fois dû à une forme de pensée holistique et essentialiste typiquement française : on part de l’idée que la France est le pays de la Révolution et des droits de l’homme. Donc, dans ce pays-là, le Front national ne peut être qu’un phénomène éphémère. Donc on n’a pas besoin d’y réfléchir.

La France est-elle vraiment si intello ?

Le débat d’idées y structure la société beaucoup plus qu’ailleurs. J’irai même jusqu’à dire que la pensée est une composante essentielle de ce que veut dire «être français». Et cela pour une raison historique simple : quand il fallu inventer une nation après la Révolution française, on a dû le faire à travers des principes abstraits. Procédez de cette manière, et vous serez constamment dans un débat d’idées. Etre français, c’est réfléchir sans fin aux valeurs sur lesquelles repose la citoyenneté, savoir ce qu’elles veulent dire, s’il faut les mettre à jour… En France, le moindre village célèbre l’écrivain inconnu qui est né sur ses terres. Il y a encore une épreuve de philo au bac et, chaque année, en juin, la France se met à en discuter… Hier, j’assistais à une altercation entre deux automobilistes parisiens au sujet d’une place de parking. En tout dernier recours, la femme a lancé à l’homme : «C’est une question de principe, monsieur !» Je me suis dit : «Voilà, je suis en France.»

Ce qui est d’abord nouveau aujourd’hui, c’est cela : une forme de fusion des pensées antimodernes dans un éloge commun d’un « républicanisme » nostalgique et passéiste qui réunit les ennemis d’hier, ceux qui sont effectivement les héritiers d’une culture républicaine comme ceux qui s’inscrivent dans une tradition profondément antirépublicaine. La deuxième chose qui me frappe, c’est la dimension très franco-française de cette pensée du repli. (…) Troisième élément qui caractérise notre époque : l’absence de véritable débat. (…) . On n’entend plus de contre-discours. Les antimodernes ont cannibalisé l’espace public. Enfin, quatrième point frappant : la tendance très actuelle à diaboliser tout ce qui est « autre ». (…) Tout ce qui est « autre » est représenté comme une menace pour « l’identité française », cet autre étant à la fois l’étranger (l’Allemagne, les Etats-Unis, le monde arabo-musulman) et le minoritaire (les féministes, les homosexuels, les immigrés, etc.). (…) ces auteurs définissent l’identité française comme un archipel d’îlots menacés. Le premier de ces îlots, c’est la laïcité, dont l’ennemi est à leurs yeux le multiculturalisme. Le deuxième, c’est la souveraineté : ici, l’adversaire s’appelle la mondialisation (ou l’Europe). Le troisième de ces îlots, c’est la civilisation française au sens large : dès lors que tout ce qui est français est par définition supérieur à ce qui ne l’est pas, tout doit être fait pour éviter l’invasion d’une culture étrangère, par essence barbare et immorale. D’où, chez ces auteurs, l’éloge fréquent de la notion de frontière et, à l’inverse, le rejet de toute forme de cosmopolitisme.(…) Dans d’autres pays européens, le réflexe souverainiste et pessimiste peut exister : il est le socle des populismes qui se manifestent un peu partout. Mais (…) En France (…) le pessimisme repose fondamentalement sur le déclinisme, et s’appuie sur certains traits caractéristiques de la tradition intellectuelle nationale : le penchant pour le schématisme, l’abstraction et le refus des faits, le goût du paradoxe, le recours systématique à la diabolisation et aux arguments extrêmes, et une vision apocalyptique de l’avenir. Sudhir Hazareesingh

Voir aussi:

Sudhir Hazareesingh : « En France, le déclinisme a gagné beaucoup de terrain »
LE MONDE DES LIVRES

20.08.2015

Propos recueillis par Julie Clarini

Professeur à Oxford, spécialiste de Napoléon, Sudhir Hazareesingh s’intéresse à l’histoire et à la ­culture politique françaises (La Saint-Napoléon, ­Tallandier, 2007 ; Le Mythe gaullien, Gallimard, 2010). Son nouveau livre, à paraître le 27 août, brosse un portrait intellectuel des Français.

Comment dégager un « esprit français » ?

Il s’agit d’éviter toute forme d’essentialisme. J’essaie de montrer que la pensée française est une construction sociale : à partir des Lumières, un certain mode et style de pensée s’impose et devient hégémonique. J’en décris les caractéristiques et je montre comment cette pensée a été soutenue par les institutions françaises, par l’Etat, par les grandes écoles, par les producteurs de savoirs… Par exemple, le moment que nous vivons aujourd’hui, la rentrée littéraire, est une des manifestations de cet esprit français. Tout est très codifié, très ritualisé. Après une période de vide absolu pendant l’été, les livres arrivent en masse. Et on commence à ­parler des prix, à chuchoter des noms. Surtout, très vite, s’opère la distinction implicite entre la masse des livres et la petite élite qui va vraiment compter.

Votre essai dégage ce qui ­soutient cet esprit français. On reconnaît certains traits (un rapport à la raison, à l’abstraction, une certaine propension à l’utopie, etc.) ; d’autres sont plus étonnants, comme cette tendance à l’occultisme…

Par hasard, en flânant sur les quais de la Seine, j’ai acheté les Mémoires de l’astrologue Elizabeth Teissier (Sous le signe de Mitterrand, Editions n° 1, 1997). C’est étonnant de voir à quel point Mitterrand était proche d’elle. Vous vous souvenez sans doute de cette scène où le président déclare, en 1995, face à la caméra : « Je crois aux forces de l’esprit. » Or, en travaillant sur le mythe de Napoléon, j’avais déjà repéré ­l’importance d’un certain mysticisme au XIXe siècle. J’ai voulu creuser un peu plus. Et il s’avère que l’ésotérisme est une composante fondamentale de la pensée républicaine et socialiste, jusqu’au milieu du XXe siècle. Ce qui est surtout très particulier à la France, c’est que ce sont les hommes et les femmes de gauche, qui croient au progrès, aux Lumières, qui sont fascinés par l’ésotérisme. L’occultisme est la partie submergée à la fois de la tradition républicaine et de la tradition progressiste. Je me permets donc d’avancer la thèse d’une continuité depuis la Révolution jusqu’à Mitterrand.

Vous analysez, dans votre dernier chapitre, l’évolution du monde intellectuel depuis dix ans. Que voyez-vous ?
Un esprit décliniste a gagné beaucoup de terrain, y compris à gauche, elle qui représentait pourtant la tradition philosophique de l’optimisme et du volontarisme. Je crois qu’il s’agit d’un conservatisme nationaliste qui auparavant était aux marges de la République. Barrès, par exemple, se disait républicain mais au sens très minimal. Ses écrits portent la trace de son refus des valeurs républicaines comme l’égalité ou la fraternité. Il me semble que c’est cette tradition-là qui renaît, mais elle renaît cette fois à l’intérieur de la tradition républicaine.

Car le repli que j’essaie d’analyser se manifeste à la fois dans l’espace et dans le temps : un repli nombriliste, qui tourne le dos à l’internationalisme et à la fraternité ; et un repli sur la IIIe République, qui devient un âge d’or. C’est par exemple étrange que François Hollande soit allé s’agenouiller devant la statue de Jules Ferry. Comment Ferry peut-il incarner un modèle pour l’homme d’Etat du XXIe siècle, lui qui justifiait l’empire colonial au nom de la ­supériorité de la race française ? Voilà qui reflète bien l’incapacité française à regarder en face son héritage colonial.

Qu’avez-vous pensé de la ­manifestation du 11 janvier ?

J’ai regardé cela avec intérêt et fascination. D’abord il y a cette chose très française, et tout à fait admirable, que chaque fois qu’on s’en prend vraiment à la Répu­blique, le peuple descend dans la rue. Mais la question, c’est : au nom de quelles valeurs ces Français et ces Françaises ont-ils ­manifesté ?
Je ne suis pas complètement d’accord avec la thèse d’Emmanuel Todd (dans Qui est Charlie ?, Seuil), mais je pense qu’il saisit quelque chose de profond : dans tout grand mouvement de défense de valeurs républicaines, il y a aussi parfois la tentation d’une certaine forme d’exclusion. D’ailleurs, historiquement, cette ambiguïté fait aussi partie de la grande tradition républicaine : le dissident est mis au ban de la communauté politique. Le grand slogan révolutionnaire, c’était : « Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité ou la mort ! »
Il est grand temps d’avoir en France des statistiques ethniques pour savoir ce que pensent vraiment les minorités. Et dédramatiser. En Grande-Bretagne ou aux Etats-Unis, on aurait déjà eu vingt-cinq sondages ! Mais encore une fois, en France, on préfère les schémas, et la grande ­opposition laïcité-religions. C’est une opposition très peu subtile, trop binaire, pour permettre de comprendre ce que veut dire être musulman en France.
Les données essentielles de l’esprit français

Sans doute faut-il être un spécialiste de Napoléon, et qui plus est un Britannique, pour se découvrir non seulement l’envie mais aussi le talent de cerner « l’esprit français ». Sudhir Hazareesingh est dans ce cas. En signant Ce pays qui aime les idées (titre anglais : « Comment pensent les Français », moins flatteur), il fait montre de tout le sérieux et de toute la bienveillante ironie qui sied à l’entreprise. Bref, on le lit avec plaisir, et profit. Les premiers chapitres sont de parfaites synthèses des grandes tendances de la culture française telle qu’elle s’est construite depuis le XVIIIe siècle : l’auteur y tente d’identifier les schémas de pensée, les croyances, et la rhétorique qui forment l’enveloppe dans laquelle se déploie la réflexion.
Il dégage, par exemple, cet attachement français aux grandes oppositions binaires (ouverture et isolement, immobilisme et réforme, liberté et déterminisme, progrès et décadence), dû à l’influence du rationalisme et à son corollaire, le goût de l’abstraction. Les pages sur la réception et l’utilisation, au fil des siècles, de la référence à Descartes sont d’ailleurs instructives. Mais il convient, insiste l’auteur, de ne pas négliger le pouvoir de l’imagination qui est une donnée essentielle de l’esprit français (elle expliquerait en partie la propension nationale à l’utopie). Sudhir Hazareesingh pointe avec soin les paradoxes : en France, la fascination pour l’ordre et la prédictibilité coexiste avec le rejet du conformisme. C’est aussi un pays où l’on peut rencontrer des rationalistes mystiques (lire l’entretien ci-contre) et subir de « glorieuses défaites » (utile invention, au demeurant, comme le souligne l’auteur).

« Tentation du repli »

La fin de l’essai se consacre à des analyses plus thématiques sur la place de l’intellectuel depuis l’après-guerre (décrit subtilement comme une histoire en trois parties : l’influence de Sartre, de Tocqueville puis de Camus) ou sur le rôle de l’histoire dans la construction du sentiment national. Enfin, l’ouvrage aborde le climat intellectuel depuis une dizaine d’années : l’anxiété et le déclinisme paraissent avoir nettement emporté la partie. Cette « tentation du repli », qui semble toucher la gauche autant que la droite, « a corrompu l’héritage rousseauiste et républicain de la pensée française ». Il en résulte en effet un affaiblissement de l’influence française sur la scène ­politique et culturelle à l’échelle mondiale.
Ce pays qui aime les idées. Histoire d’une passion française (How the French Think. An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People), de Sudhir Hazareesingh, traduit de l’anglais par Marie-Anne de Béru, Flammarion, « Au fil de l’histoire », 464 p., 26 € (en librairie le 27 août).

Voir également:

« Les antimodernes ont cannibalisé l’espace public »
Propos recueillis par Thomas Wieder
Le Monde
26.09.2015

Sudhir Hazareesingh est professeur à l’université d’Oxford. Spécialiste de la France des XIXe et XXe siècles, il vient de publier Ce pays qui aime les idées. Histoire d’une passion française (Flammarion, 464 pages, 23,90 euros).

Quel regard portez-vous sur la pensée française d’aujourd’hui ? Dans votre livre, vous parlez d’une « tentation du repli » pour caractériser la période actuelle. Quelles en sont les caractéristiques ?

Sudhir Hazareesingh : Selon moi, quatre phénomènes définissent la situation actuelle. Le premier, c’est le fait que le déclinisme et le pessimisme ne sont plus l’apanage de la droite antimoderne et réactionnaire. Aujourd’hui, l’idée que « rien ne va plus » ou que « tout fout le camp » dépasse de loin cette famille de pensée, au point que certains de ses porte-parole les plus éloquents viennent de la gauche, comme Michel Onfray ou Régis Debray. Ce qui est d’abord nouveau aujourd’hui, c’est cela : une forme de fusion des pensées antimodernes dans un éloge commun d’un « républicanisme » nostalgique et passéiste qui réunit les ennemis d’hier, ceux qui sont effectivement les héritiers d’une culture républicaine comme ceux qui s’inscrivent dans une tradition profondément antirépublicaine.
La deuxième chose qui me frappe, c’est la dimension très franco-française de cette pensée du repli. Il y a deux siècles, les auteurs français réactionnaires avaient un rayonnement international. Joseph de Maistre, par exemple, appartenait au patrimoine mondial de la pensée. Il était lu et discuté à l’étranger. Aujourd’hui, les pamphlétaires français antimodernes n’écrivent que pour un public hexagonal. A l’étranger, personne ne lit Eric Zemmour, Michel Onfray ou Alain Finkielkraut. Il y a quelques années, l’historien Pierre Nora avait dénoncé le « provincialisme » croissant de la vie intellectuelle française. J’adhère totalement à son analyse.
Troisième élément qui caractérise notre époque : l’absence de véritable débat. Autrefois, l’antimodernisme n’était qu’une composante de la scène intellectuelle française. Face aux déclinistes et aux pessimistes, il y avait des progressistes et des optimistes qui pouvaient leur porter la contradiction. De nos jours, il n’y a quasiment plus personne dans le camp d’en face. On n’entend plus de contre-discours. Les antimodernes ont cannibalisé l’espace public.

Enfin, quatrième point frappant : la tendance très actuelle à diaboliser tout ce qui est « autre ». Dans un livre merveilleux, traduit en français sous le titre Deux siècles de rhétorique réactionnaire (Fayard, 1991), le sociologue américain Albert O. Hirschman expliquait qu’un élément central de cette rhétorique était la notion de « mise en péril ». C’est exactement ce qu’on observe aujourd’hui. Tout ce qui est « autre » est représenté comme une menace pour « l’identité française », cet autre étant à la fois l’étranger (l’Allemagne, les Etats-Unis, le monde arabo-musulman) et le minoritaire (les féministes, les homosexuels, les immigrés, etc.).
Quelle est cette identité française qui serait mise en péril ?

Je dirais volontiers que ces auteurs définissent l’identité française comme un archipel d’îlots menacés. Le premier de ces îlots, c’est la laïcité, dont l’ennemi est à leurs yeux le multiculturalisme. Le deuxième, c’est la souveraineté : ici, l’adversaire s’appelle la mondialisation (ou l’Europe). Le troisième de ces îlots, c’est la civilisation française au sens large : dès lors que tout ce qui est français est par définition supérieur à ce qui ne l’est pas, tout doit être fait pour éviter l’invasion d’une culture étrangère, par essence barbare et immorale. D’où, chez ces auteurs, l’éloge fréquent de la notion de frontière et, à l’inverse, le rejet de toute forme de cosmopolitisme.
Face à l’intérêt que suscitent ces intellectuels, les responsables politiques semblent peu audibles. Pourquoi ?

Il y a un élément très important, a fortiori dans un pays comme la France, où l’on aime les idées : c’est la langue. Que l’on partage ou non leurs analyses, force est de constater que les auteurs dont nous parlons savent manier la langue française. Certes, tous ne brillent pas dans le même registre : Finkielkraut, par exemple, est assez mauvais à la télévision mais il écrit remarquablement bien ; Zemmour, même si sa prose n’est pas exceptionnelle, a un talent oratoire hors pair ; Onfray, lui, est bon à peu près partout, que ce soit dans ses livres, dans ses cours ou sur un plateau télévisé, comme celui d’« On n’est pas couché ».

De l’autre côté, le problème est que l’on a une génération d’hommes politiques qui utilisent tous, peu ou prou, une langue technocratique. Ce sont des gestionnaires, incapables de varier de registre en citant un écrivain ou un poète. Or, quand vous mettez des gestionnaires face à des intellectuels qui savent manier la rhétorique, il est logique que l’on écoute davantage les seconds.
Ce que vous observez en France, l’observez-vous ailleurs en Europe ?

Non, pas vraiment. Dans d’autres pays européens, le réflexe souverainiste et pessimiste peut exister : il est le socle des populismes qui se manifestent un peu partout. Mais la manière dont cette pensée se présente en France est particulière, autant dans sa substance que dans son style. En Grande-Bretagne, par exemple, vous avez actuellement, autour de UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), un état d’esprit un peu analogue. Mais c’est un mouvement très anti-intellectuel et antipolitique, qui ne repose sur aucun système de valeurs cohérent. Surtout, il n’est pas obsédé par l’idée de déclin.
En France, par contre, le pessimisme repose fondamentalement sur le déclinisme, et s’appuie sur certains traits caractéristiques de la tradition intellectuelle nationale : le penchant pour le schématisme, l’abstraction et le refus des faits, le goût du paradoxe, le recours systématique à la diabolisation et aux arguments extrêmes, et une vision apocalyptique de l’avenir.

Voir encore:

Ce pays qui aime les idées

Aux yeux du monde, les Français seraient arrogants, présomptueux, ingouvernables… Ne seraient-ils pas d’abord et avant tout de grands amoureux des idées ? C’est, en tout cas, dans cette passion spécifiquement française qu’il faut, selon l’historien britannique Sudhir Hazareesingh, chercher les racines de notre identité, et en particulier celles de notre fameuse exception culturelle. Au fond, à quoi reconnaît-on la pensée française ? Peut-être à cette façon d’être un art de vivre partagé par tous.
Sans doute aussi à son inextinguible vitalité : si les Français donnent l’impression de ne jamais débattre sans se disputer, c’est qu’ils ont l’exercice de la controverse trop à coeur ; s’ils passent facilement pour des donneurs de leçons, c’est qu’ils aspirent toujours vivement à l’universel, au point de s’en estimer seuls garants ; s’ils sont râleurs, anarchiques et prompts à la révolte, c’est qu’ils ont une âme frondeuse et l’esprit critique chevillé au corps ; s’ils se croient supérieurs, c’est qu’ils ont le goût de l’abstraction, l’art d’inventer des concepts qui séduisent au-delà des frontières – le socialisme, le structuralisme, l’existentialisme, la déconstruction, le mot même d’intellectuel.
Enfin, s’ils sont enclins aujourd’hui à broyer du noir, c’est qu’ils sont nostalgiques de leur grandeur passée et qu’ils refusent d’abdiquer. Catalogue passionné des spécificités de la pensée française, ce livre nous décrit mieux que nous ne saurions le faire, en même temps qu’il nous pousse à interroger l’inquiétude que nous inspire l’idée de notre déclin

http://www.franceculture.fr/emission-la-grande-table-2eme-partie-histoire-des-idees-la-france-pense-t-elle-encore-2015-08-31

Biographie et informations
Nationalité : Royaume-Uni
Né(e) à : Île Maurice , 1961

Biographie :

Sudhir Hazareesingh est né dans une famille de hauts fonctionnaires indiens.

Il est chargé de recherches et directeur d’études en Sciences Politiques à Balliol College, à l’Université d’Oxford, et Fellow de la British Academy.

Il a été professeur invité à l’EHESS, à l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, et à Sciences-Po.

Il est membre du Comité Scientifique de la revue French Politics, de l’European Journal of Political Theory, ainsi que la revue Napoleonica.

Il contribue régulièrement au Times Literary Supplement, et a publié de nombreux ouvrages sur l’histoire et la culture politique française, dont La Saint-Napoleon. Quand le 14 Juillet se fêtait le 15 Août (Paris, Éditions Tallandier, 2007.

Son ouvrage La Légende de Napoléon (2005) a remporté le Prix du Mémorial d’Ajaccio, le Prix d’Histoire de la Fondation Napoléon, et le Prix de la Ville de Meaux.

http://www.babelio.com/auteur/Sudhir-Hazareesingh/93932

Contre ces intellectuels apôtres d’une France moisise

http://www.babelio.com/auteur/Sudhir-Hazareesingh/93932

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/13/from-left-bank-to-left-behind-where-have-the-great-french-thinkers-gone

« I was struck that on the night of the attacks people gathered spontaneously at the Place de la République, and then marched in their millions on 11 January. When confronted by a crisis, the French band together to reaffirm what they call the lien social, the social bond. It’s very much part of their democratic, Rousseauian tradition, reclaiming public space in order to illustrate that the Republic is made up not only of individual citizens but of people with shared values. That said, there were many different sensibilities represented in the march, and it is not easy to ascribe an unequivocal meaning to it. »

http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/sudhir-hazareesingh-discusses-french-secularism-on-the-bbc-in-the-aftermath-of-charlie-hebdo.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b051cpx8

Philosophy
From Left Bank to left behind: where have the great French thinkers gone?
From Voltaire and Rousseau to Sartre and De Beauvoir, France has long produced world-leading thinkers. It even invented the word ‘intellectual’. But progressives around the globe no longer look to Paris for their ideas. What went wrong?
Sudhir Hazareesingh
The Guardian
13 June 2015

Writing shortly after the end of the second world war, the French historian André Siegfried claimed (with a characteristic touch of Gallic aplomb) that French thought had been the driving force behind all the major advances of human civilisation, before concluding that “wherever she goes, France introduces clarity, intellectual ease, curiosity, and … a subtle and necessary form of wisdom”. This ideal of a global French rayonnement (a combination of expansive impact and benevolent radiance) is now a distant and nostalgic memory.

French thought is in the doldrums. French philosophy, which taught the world to reason with sweeping and bold systems such as rationalism, republicanism, feminism, positivism, existentialism and structuralism, has had conspicuously little to offer in recent decades. Saint-Germain-des-Prés, once the engine room of the Parisian Left Bank’s intellectual creativity, has become a haven of high-fashion boutiques, with fading memories of its past artistic and literary glory. As a disillusioned writer from the neighbourhood noted grimly: “The time will soon come when we will be reduced to selling little statues of Sartre made in China.” French literature, with its once glittering cast of authors, from Balzac and George Sand to Jules Verne, Albert Camus and Marguerite Yourcenar, has likewise lost much of its global appeal – a loss barely concealed by recent awards of the Nobel prize for literature to JMG Le Clézio and Patrick Modiano. In 2012, the Magazine Littéraire sounded the alarm with an apocalyptic headline: “La France pense-t-elle encore?” (“Does France still think?”)

Nowhere is this retrenchment more poignantly apparent than in France’s diminishing cultural imprint on the wider world. An enduring source of the French pride is that their ideas and historical experiences have decisively shaped the values of other nations. Versailles in the age of the Sun King was the unrivalled aesthetic and political exemplar for European courts. Caraccioli, the 18th-century author of L’Europe Française, expressed a common view when he enthused about the “sparkling manners and lively vivacity” of the French, before concluding: “Every European is now a Frenchman.” Through the revolutionary epics of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, French civilian and military heroes inspired national liberators throughout the world, from Wolfe Tone in Ireland and Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti to Simón Bolívar in Latin America. The Napoleonic Civil Code was widely adopted by newly independent states during the 19th century, and the emperor’s art of war was celebrated by progressive writers and poets across Europe, from William Hazlitt to Adam Mickiewicz, but also by Japanese samurai warriors and Tartar tribesmen (a Central Asian folk song celebrated “Genghis Khan and his nephew Napoleon”), and by the Vietnamese revolutionary hero Võ Nguyên Giáp. In the late 1930s, when he was a history tutor at the Than Long school in Hanoi, Giáp taught French revolutionary history; one of his students later recalled the “mesmerising” quality of his lectures on Napoleon.

Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir take tea together in 1946. Photograph: David E Scherman/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Progressive men and women across Europe celebrated the heritage of the 1789 revolution throughout the 19th century, and the first generation of Russian Bolsheviks was obsessed by the analogies between their own revolution in 1917 and the overthrow of the French ancien régime. Lenin drew on the Jacobin heritage as an inspiration for his own revolutionary organisation in Russia, and dismissed those who opposed him as “Girondists”. Stalin’s francophilia extended to obsessively reading the novels of Victor Hugo. French ideas and symbols were universally equated with self-determination and emancipation from servitude: the Statue of Liberty, the iconic emblem of American-ness, was designed by the French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi; Poland’s national anthem celebrated Napoleon Bonaparte, while Brazil’s flag bore the motto “order and progress”, after Auguste Comte’s motto of positivism. French inspiration was most evident in stimulating traditions of critical and dissenting inquiry about modern society: Olympe de Gouges’s Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791) was embraced by champions of feminine emancipation across the world, while social inequality and political oppression were eloquently denounced by Rousseau and the radical republican tradition of Babeuf, Buonarroti and Blanqui all the way through to the works of Sartre, Fanon, Foucault and Bourdieu. Yet little of this ideological fertility is now in evidence, and French thinking is no longer a central point of reference for progressives across the world. It is noteworthy that none of the recent social revolutions, whether the fall of Soviet-style communism in eastern Europe or the challenge to authoritarian regimes in the Arab world, took their cue from the French tradition.

A yearning towards universality

This intellectual retreat is of course not unique to France. Notwithstanding the recent electoral successes of populist radical movements such as Syriza and Podemos, the horizons of reformist, progressive and internationalist politics have dimmed across Europe since the late 20th century. But the phenomenon is felt much more acutely in France because (in notable contrast with Britain) the nation’s self-image is existentially bound up with its sense of cultural excellence, and with the assumption that their ideas have universal appeal: “France,” claimed the historian Ernest Lavisse without any irony, “is charged with representing the cause of humanity.” From the Enlightenment onwards, France was renowned for her génie scientifique. Paris was celebrated as a principal centre of the European “republic of sciences”, and indeed the discoveries of French scientists revolutionised modern life – from the Cassinis’ new principles of cartography to Louis Pasteur’s seminal findings on disease prevention, and Marie Curie’s ground-breaking research on radioactivity. France also played a pioneering role in devising original forms of intellectual sociability, such as masonic lodges, salons and cafes (the daily Libération celebrated the bistro as a provider of “key social links” among French people). Likewise, the primary impetus for the nation’s ways of thinking has traditionally come from Paris. Indeed, to an extent which is unique in western culture, France’s major cultural bodies – from the state to the great educational and research institutions, academies, publishing houses and press organs – are concentrated in its capital, hence Victor Hugo’s exorbitant claim that Paris was the “centre of the earth”.

This centralisation is one of the main reasons why French ways of thinking exhibit such a striking degree of stylistic consistency – a phenomenon further accentuated by the nation’s profoundly ambivalent intellectual relationship with religion. On the one hand, there has been an ardent tradition of anticlericalism in France, assertively upheld in recent decades by publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and in a colourful lexicon of derogatory designations of priests, with terms such as bouc, calotin, corbeau and ratichon; the place of Islam in contemporary French society continues to generate confusion and acrimonious debate. Yet, in stark contrast with Britain, French thought is also haunted by a pervasive neo-religious rhetoric. One of the modern French words for an intellectual is clerc (a member of the clergy), and the positions held by intellectuals have been consistently defined through concepts such as faith, commitment, heresy and deliverance. Like many men and women of his generation, the philosopher Edgar Morin defined his experiences in the French communist movement as a form of “religious mysticism”. France’s endemic incapacity to reform its state institutions is often represented as a mal, a term which carries connotations of physical disorder as well as sinfulness. One of the classic pamphlets denouncing France’s passion for authority and state centralisation was Alain Peyrefitte’s Le Mal Français; when in 2014 former socialist leader Lionel Jospin challenged what he perceives as France’s unhealthy fascination with Bonapartism, he entitled his polemical essay Le Mal Napoléonien.

This intellectual unity of French thought is crystallised in a number of lasting tropes about Frenchness. The most celebrated, as Siegfried said, is the sense of an exceptional Gallic aptitude for lucidity. The writer Rivarol put it even more imperiously: “What is not clear is not French.” Typically French, too, is an insouciance of manner, “doing frivolous things seriously, and serious things frivolously”, as the philosopher Montesquieu wrote. But it also bears a contrarian and disputatious tendency, as the historian Jules Michelet observed: “We gossip, we quarrel, we expend our energy in words; we use strong language, and fly into great rages over the smallest of subjects.” Above all, French thinking is famous for its love of general notions, such as the French Revolution’s classic triad of liberty, equality and fraternity. As the essayist Emile de Montégut said, “There is no people among whom abstract ideas have played such a great role, whose history is rife with such formidable philosophical tendencies, and where individuals are so oblivious to facts and possessed to such a high degree with a rage for abstractions.”

This passion for generality strongly contrasts with the practical, empirical reasoning of the British. It shows up in many dimensions of the esprit français, especially the tendency for arguments about the good life to revolve around first principles. Burke railed against the “clumsy metaphysics” of the French Revolution’s concept of the rights of man – but the ideal of monarchy celebrated in France by royalist thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald and later Charles Maurras was just as abstract (if not more so). Equally widespread is the passion for considering questions in their totality as opposed to their particular manifestations. In his classic work Les origines de la France contemporaine (1875), Hippolyte Taine described this holism as entrenched since the Enlightenment, a method which sought “to extract, circumscribe and isolate a few very simple and general notions, then, without any reference to experience, to compare and combine them, and from the artificial compound thus obtained, to deduce by pure reasoning all the consequences which it contains”. The resistance leader Charles de Gaulle thus opened his War Memoirs by sketching his “certaine idée de la France” – a country with a vocation for an “eminent and exceptional destiny”. Such lofty aspirations remain an integral feature of French thinking, according to the academician Jean d’Ormesson: “More than any nation, France is haunted by a yearning towards universality.”
Yet paradoxically – the French love paradoxes – this holism comes with the equally cherished Gallic intellectual habit of dividing things into two. This explains why French public debate is invariably structured around a small number of recurring binaries. La France coupée en deux is a familiar representation of the political realm, referring to historical divisions between conservative and progressive blocs, but also dichotomous ways of seeing the world such as opening and closure, stasis and transformation, reason and sentiment, unity and diversity, civilisation and barbarity, masculine and feminine, and good and evil.

The progressive imagination

One of most distinctive features of modern French thought since the Enlightenment, which long provided the basis for its global appeal, is the richness of its progressive tradition. This ingeniousness shines through in the sheer number of mainstream concepts and discursive practices that have their origins in France: a (cursory) list would include the notions of ideology and socialism, the invention of the figure of the “intellectual”, and of the discipline of sociology; the spatial representation of politics as between left and right; the ideas of popular sovereignty and altruism, and the belief that culture should not only be democratically accessible, but should be assigned its own specific department in government (an innovation introduced in 1959 by De Gaulle on his return to power, the first incumbent of the new ministry being the writer André Malraux). This emphasis on creativity bears witness to the consecration of the writer as a spiritual guide for society, and to the central role assigned to imagination in French political and literary culture – hence one of the most celebrated slogans of May ’68: “L’imagination au pouvoir”.
Such has been the centrality of the ideal of creativity that the concepts of revolution and rupture have become familiar tropes across the French humanities and social sciences, whether in politics, history, literature, philosophy, sociology, linguistics, psychology or anthropology. The period between the early 1950s and the late 1970s alone gave us the nouveau roman, the nouvelle vague (in cinema), the nouvelle histoire, the nouvelle philosophie, the nouvelle gauche (and even, in echo, the nouvelle droite), without forgetting nouvelle cuisine – although that concept dates back at least as far as Menon’s Nouveau traité in 1742. For the ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose notion of structuralism arguably represented the single most inventive French contribution to western thought in the second half of the 20th century, this thirst for innovation is inherent in the very idea of knowledge: “The great speculative structures are made to be broken. There is not one of them that can hope to last more than a few decades, or at most a century or two.”

This creativity also manifests itself in the French predilection for grand theorising, and in the often breathtaking ambition of progressive thinkers in their quest to uncover original truths about the human condition. Descartes’ cogito ergo sum broke new philosophical ground by locating the source of all certain knowledge in the thinking self, and providing an account of human understanding that was independent of God. Much of Rousseau’s political philosophy was driven by the goal of regenerating humankind through the achievement of republican virtue. Comte wrote extensively about astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, and he devoted his life to elaborating an original scientific synthesis that would herald “the definitive stage of human intelligence”. Indeed, the most remarkable feature of French grand theorising is its aspiration to find comprehensive and universal explanations for all social phenomena: hence the Annales historians’ ambition to provide an account of the entire range of human activities (histoire totale). Likewise, Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) aimed to establish “whether there is any such thing as a Truth of humanity as a whole”. Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex offered a sweeping alternative to the classic view that gender difference was grounded in human nature: “One is not born, but one becomes a woman.” His scattered observations of Brazilian-Amerindian tribes led Claude Lévi-Strauss to conclude that all social thought was based on certain shared symbolic patterns or myths, while Michel Foucault’s sprawling oeuvre claimed to uncover the forms of control and domination that were inherent in all ideologies and ways of thinking. The most recent product of this distinguished line of grand theorising is the republican historian Pierre Nora’s concept of lieux de mémoire, which offers an overarching framework for reconsidering France’s relationship with its own past.

These intellectual constructs have enjoyed such wide appeal not only because of their seductive literary qualities, but also because of their critical functions in shaping the French collective self-understanding (the contrast with British self-perception is again noteworthy: in Keir Hardie’s memorable expression, the British are “not given to chasing bubbles”). Rousseau’s political philosophy, to take the most obvious example, has consistently provided the bedrock for French republican patterns of thinking over the past two centuries – notably the belief in the possibility of a more rational organisation of society; and the thought that not just society but human nature itself could be regenerated through collective endeavour. Comte’s celebration of the dead (who in his view represented “the better part of humankind”) tapped into a deep fascination among French progressives for the occult. His Religion of Humanity, a secular system of belief complete with its institutions, cults and festivals, exemplified the consistent French quest for a more buoyant and less reactionary alternative to Catholicism. Sartre’s existentialism and his excursions across the philosophical terrain of Marxism in the postwar era underwrote the orthodox idea of a proletarian revolution, and justified the intellectual hegemony of the French Communist party (in his pithy expression: “un anticommuniste est un chien”). The works of De Beauvoir and Foucault are littered with intuitions about the pervasive manifestations (and corrupting effects) of power that have deep roots in French social thought from Rousseau onwards. Nora’s conception of memory has transformed the way the French see themselves, and has also provided the bedrock for a conservative form of neo-republicanism, which has become intellectually and culturally dominant in France since the late 20th century.

The darker sides of abstraction

Over the longue durée, these French progressive ways of thinking have been formidably productive, helping to generate powerful and engaging systems of thought. French thinkers have been especially influential in shaping modern conceptions of citizenship – notably the revolution’s concept of civic patriotism (based on adhesion to common values rather than ethnicity), the notion of the general interest, and the vision of the state’s enabling and enlightening power, embodied in the holistic philosophy of Jacobinism. But this penchant for abstract generality also has its darker sides: an insensitivity to the potentially intrusive and coercive role of the state; a suspicion of social groups that do not conform to shared universalistic norms (in the past, these included Catholics, women and colonial subjects); a disposition to fall back on stereotypes, negative fantasies and conspiracy theories; and a fondness for dividing the political sphere into antagonistic camps of good v evil.
Indeed, the “other” has been an enduringly problematic concept in French culture: hence the long tradition of antisemitism in French nationalist thought. But progressives have also faltered here, notably in their entrenched hostility to female emancipation (women were long viewed by republicans as reactionary agents of Catholicism, and were only granted the vote in 1944). Progressives also struggled to reconcile their universalist ideals of the good life with notions of cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity. Part of the reason why multiculturalism is regarded so negatively by the French is that it is perceived as an alien Anglo-Saxon practice. A contemporary example of these shortcomings is the discussion of the integration of postcolonial minorities from the Maghreb. The roots of this issue lie in the deeply held assumption of the beneficial quality of French civilisation for humankind. This vision underpinned the expansion of French power in Europe during the revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. A belief in the emancipatory quality of their culture explain why leading French progressives consistently advocated a policy of assimilation in the colonies, and – with the honourable exception of the communists – largely turned a blind eye to the racism and social inequalities produced by their own empire. This uncritical belief in the supremacy of the French mission civilisatrice was epitomised during the Algerian war of national liberation in the 1950s and early 1960s by François Mitterrand’s endorsement of the precept of “L’Algérie, c’est la France”. The same way of thinking led the socialist Guy Mollet to reject all manifestations of Algerian nationalism as reactionary and “obscurantist”.

This colonialist legacy still casts a long shadow over the ways in which France treats and perceives its ethnic minority citizens, especially those originating from the Maghreb. These minorities are demonised in the French conservative press and by the extreme right, in a way that would be found shocking in Britain. This vilification has been made easier by the typically abstract way French progressives have framed the debate about minority integration. Thus the principle of laïcité (secularism) has been deployed not to protect the religious freedom of the Maghrebi minorities, as would follow from a strict interpretation of the 1905 law of separation of churches from the state, but to question their Frenchness. Those who have opposed the ban on the veil in schools have been spuriously accused of communitarianism and Islamism – terms all the more terrifying in that they are never precisely defined. Since the January 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo there have been widespread calls for French citizens of Maghrebi origin to “prove” their attachment to the nation. Presenting the issue of civic integration in such terms has proved counterproductive, not least because it has detracted from the real problems confronting these populations: unemployment, racial discrimination and educational underachievement.

This French penchant for abstraction appears in most paradoxical (and perverse) form in the absence of precise statistical information about their Maghrebi minorities, as it is illegal to collect data about ethnicity and religion in France. And so, instead of drawing on specific social facts and trends, the debate about minority integration has become mired in crude ideological oversimplifications: the equation of secularism with Frenchness; the suggestion that the (white, secular) French are the bearers of “reason”, while those who practise the Islamic faith are “reactionary” (the very same argument deployed earlier against any natives who dared question French colonial rule); and the essentialist assumption of an immutable, and yet paradoxically fragile, French national identity. This unitary and implicitly masculine sense of the French collective self, one of the less salubrious legacies of Descartes’ conception of philosophical reason, remains widespread among progressives today. As the editor of Libération, Laurent Joffrin, put it in an article in February: “Only an abstract conception of Man can confer unity upon France.”

The pessimistic turn

Since the late 20th century French thought has lost many of the qualities that made for its universal appeal: its abundant sense of imagination, its buoyant sense of purpose, and above all its capacity (even when engaging in the most byzantine of philosophical issues) to give everyone tuning in, from Buenos Aires to Beirut, the sense that they were participating in a conversation of transcendental significance. In contrast, contemporary French thinking has become increasingly inward-looking – a crisis that manifests itself in the sense of disillusionment among the nation’s intellectual elites, and in the rise of the xenophobic Front National, which has become one of the most dynamic political forces in contemporary France. Nora, writing in 2010, concluded despondently that France had become the land of “shrinking horizons, the atomisation of the life of the mind, and national provincialism”. Time magazine proved him right in 2015 when it included Marine Le Pen in its list of the world’s 100 most influential figures (the only other French person on the list was the economist Thomas Piketty, the author of the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century).
How is this transformation to be explained? Among the most important factors is a collective recognition that France is no longer a major power. The complicated condition of the European project, which was decisively shaped in the past by a string of French figures (from Jean Monnet to Jacques Delors), bears witness to this decline. This change in the nation’s collective psychology also stems from a delayed recognition of the devastating character of France’s military defeat in 1940, and the impact of two further catastrophes that were not fully internalised: the loss of Indochina and the withdrawal from Algeria. For most of the post-liberation decades, these events were cushioned by the reassuring fiction that the French had behaved heroically during the war, and that France still represented an alternative force in world politics, thanks to its seat at the UN security council, its messianic Gaullist leadership and its distinct political and cultural values (as De Gaulle once observed: “I prefer uplifting lies to demeaning truths”). This myth was largely intended as a replacement of the (equally fabulous) ideal of the French mission civilisatrice in the colonies. Yet this collective confidence has been seriously damaged by the unravelling of the myth of the resistance and the emergence of a “Vichy syndrome”, which in the last two decades of the 20th century detailed the extent of French collaboration during the years of occupation.

This pessimistic sensibility has been exacerbated by a widespread belief that French culture is itself in crisis. The representation of France as an exhausted and alienated country, corrupted by the egalitarian heritage of May 68, overrun by Muslim immigrants and incapable of standing up for its own core values is a common theme in French conservative writings. Among the bestselling works in this genre are Alain Finkielkraut’s L’identité malheureuse (2013) and Éric Zemmour’s Suicide Français (2014). This morbid sensibility (which has no real equivalent in Britain, despite its recent economic troubles) is also widespread in contemporary French literature, as best exemplified in Michel Houellebecq’s recent oeuvre: La carte et le territoire (2010) presents France as a haven for global tourism, “with nothing to sell except charming hotels, perfumes, and potted meat”; his latest novel Soumission (2015) is a dystopian parable about the election of an Islamist president in France, set against a backdrop of a general collapse of Enlightenment values. A major underlying consideration here is the perception of the decline of French as a global language, and its (much-resented) replacement by English. A variety of groups and associations have long been campaigning vigorously against the importation of English words into French. The linguist Claude Hagège referred to the invasion of the English language as a “war”, claiming that its promotion “served the interests of neoliberalism”. Since 2011, the website of the Académie Française has a section dedicated to weeding out anglicisms from the French language. Among the expressions recently singled out for censure were conf call, off record, donner son go (authorise), chambre single, news and faire du running (notwithstanding this crusade, the word “selfie” is set to be included in the 2016 edition of the Larousse dictionary).

A more profound cause of the current malaise relates to the ways in which French elites are recruited and trained. For much of the modern era, the nation’s republican and socialist leaders were grounded in a meritocratic and humanist culture typically provided by institutions such as the École Normale Supérieure: among its most famous graduates were the likes of Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum. However, since the 1960s French elites have increasingly come from technocratic grandes écoles such as the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA). Most of the recent leaders of the Socialist party, including prime ministers Fabius, Rocard and Jospin; and president Hollande, are énarques. Their intellectual outlook reflects the strengths of this type of technocratic education, such as a capacity for hard work and for mastering complex briefs. But it also illustrates its endemic weaknesses: an inability to think creatively, a tendency towards formalism and rule-following, a socially exclusive and complacent metropolitan outlook, a corporatist, bunker mentality (as the joke goes, “Spain has the ETA, Ireland the IRA, and France the ENA”). Above all, it shows an overwhelmingly masculine style and ethos. Women in France struggle even more than in other advanced industrial societies to assume leading positions in politics (the law on parité, for example, is openly flouted by all parties) – and when they do break through the glass ceiling, female politicians face an exceptional barrage of hostility: Édith Cresson is the only woman to have served as prime minister, and she lasted less than a year.

This ascendency of technocratic values among French progressive elites is itself reflective of a wider intellectual crisis on the left. The singular idea of the world (a mixture of Cartesian rationalism, republicanism and Marxism) that dominated the mindset of the nation’s progressive elites for much of the modern era has disintegrated. The problem has been compounded by the self-defeating success of French postmodernism: at a time when European progressives have come up with innovative frameworks for confronting the challenges to democratic power and civil liberties in western societies (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s notion of empire, and Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the state of exception), their Gallic counterparts have been indulging in abstract word games, in the style of Derrida and Baudrillard. French progressive thinkers no longer produce the kind of sweeping grand theories that typified the constructs of the Left Bank in its heyday. They advocate an antiquated form of Marxism (Alain Badiou), a nostalgic and reactionary republicanism (Régis Debray), or else offer a permanent spectacle of frivolity and self-delusion (Bernard-Henri Lévy). The sociologist Bruno Latour clearly had this syndrome in mind when he observed: “It has been a long time since intellectuals were in the vanguard. Indeed it has been a long time since the very notion of the avant-garde …passed away.” But we should remember that in France especially, there is always the potential for a sudden reversal: regeneration is one of the essential myths of French culture.

• Sudhir Hazareesingh’s How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People is published by Allen Lane this month. To order a copy for £16 (RRP £20), go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.,

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LEFT BANK
The decline of the French intellectual
Paris has ceased to be a major center of innovation in the humanities and social sciences.
Sudhir Hazareesingh
Politico
9/19/15

One of the most characteristic inventions of modern French culture is the “intellectual.”

Intellectuals in France are not just experts in their particular fields, such as literature, art, philosophy and history. They also speak in universal terms, and are expected to provide moral guidance about general social and political issues. Indeed, the most eminent French intellectuals are almost sacred figures, who became global symbols of the causes they championed — thus Voltaire’s powerful denunciation of religious intolerance, Rousseau’s rousing defense of republican freedom, Victor Hugo’s eloquent tirade against Napoleonic despotism, Émile Zola’s passionate plea for justice during the Dreyfus Affair, and Simone de Beauvoir’s bold advocacy of women’s emancipation.

Above all, intellectuals have provided the French with a comforting sense of national pride. As the progressive thinker Edgar Quinet put it, with a big dollop of Gallic self-satisfaction: “France’s vocation is to consume herself for the glory of the world, for others as much as for herself, for an ideal which is yet to be attained of humanity and world civilization.”

* * *

This French intellectualism has also manifested itself in a dazzling array of theories about knowledge, liberty, and the human condition. Successive generations of modern intellectuals — most of them schooled at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris — have hotly debated the meaning of life in books, newspaper articles, petitions, reviews and journals, in the process coining abstruse philosophical systems such as rationalism, eclecticism, spiritualism, republicanism, socialism, positivism, and existentialism.

This feverish theoretical activity came to a head in the decades after World War Two in the emergence of structuralism, a grand philosophy which underscored the importance of myths and the unconscious in human understanding. Its leading exponents were the philosopher of power and knowledge Michel Foucault and the ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, both professors at the Collège de France. Because he shared the name of the famous brand of American garments, Lévi-Strauss received letters throughout his life asking for supplies of blue jeans.

The ultimate symbol of the Left Bank intellectual was the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who took the role of the public intellectual to its highest prominence. The intellectuel engagé had a duty to dedicate himself to revolutionary activity, to question established orthodoxies, and to champion the interests of all oppressed groups. Integral to Sartre’s appeal was the sheer glamor he gave to French intellectualism — with his utopian promise of a radiant future; his sweeping, polemical tone, and his celebration of the purifying effects of conflict; his bohemian and insouciant lifestyle, which deliberately spurned the conventions of bourgeois life; and his undisguised contempt for the established institutions of his time — be they the republican State, the Communist party, the French colonial regime in Algeria, or the university system.

As he put it, he was always a “traitor” — and this contrarian spirit was central to the aura which surrounded modern French intellectuals. And even though he detested nationalism, Sartre unwittingly contributed to the French sense of greatness through his embodiment of cultural and intellectual eminence, and his effortless superiority. Indeed, Sartre was undoubtedly one of the most famous French figures of the 20th century, and his writings and polemics were ardently followed by cultural elites across the globe, from Buenos Aires to Beirut.

* * *

Today’s Left Bank is but a pale shadow of this eminent past. Fashion outlets have replaced high theoretical endeavor in Saint-Germain-des-Près. In fact, with very rare exceptions, such as Thomas Piketty’s book on capitalism, Paris has ceased to be a major center of innovation in the humanities and social sciences.

The dominant characteristics of contemporary French intellectual production are its superficial, derivative qualities (typified by figures such as Bernard-Henri Lévy) and its starkly pessimistic state of mind. The pamphlets which top the best-selling non-fiction charts in France nowadays are not works offering the promise of a new dawn, but nostalgic appeals to lost traditions of heroism, such as Stéphane Hessel’s “Indignez Vous!” (2010), and Islamophobic and self-pitying tirades echoing the message of Marine Le Pen’s Front National about the destruction of French identity.

Two recent examples are Alain Finkielkraut’s “L’Identité Malheureuse” (2013) and Eric Zemmour’s “Le Suicide Français” (2014), both suffused with images of degeneration and death. The most recent work in this morbid vein is Michel Houellebecq’s “Soumission” (2015), a dystopic novel which features the election of an Islamist to the French presidency, against the backdrop of a general disintegration of Enlightenment values in French society.

* * *

How is France’s loss of its bearings to be explained? Changes in the wider cultural landscape have had a major impact on Gallic self-confidence. The disintegration of Marxism in the late 20th century left a void which was filled only by postmodernism.

But the writings of the likes of Foucault, Derrida and Baudrillard if anything compounded the problem with their deliberate opaqueness, their fetish for trivial word-play and their denial of the possibility of objective meaning (the hollowness of postmodernism is brilliantly satirized in Laurent Binet’s latest novel, “La septième fonction du langage,” a murder mystery framed around the death of the philosopher Roland Barthes in 1980).

But French reality is itself far from comforting. The overcrowded and underfunded French higher education system is fraying, as shown by the relatively low global rankings of French universities in the Shanghai league table. The system has become both less meritocratic and more technocratic, producing an elite which is markedly less sophisticated and intellectually creative than its 19th and 20th century forebears: The contrast in this respect between Sarkozy and Hollande, who can barely speak grammatical French, and their eloquent and cerebral presidential predecessors is striking.

Arguably the most important reason for the French loss of intellectual dynamism is the growing sense that there has been a major retreat of French power on the global stage, both in its material, “hard” terms and in its cultural “soft” dimensions. In a world dominated politically by the United States, culturally by the dastardly ‘Anglo-Saxons,” and in Europe by the economic might of Germany, the French are struggling to reinvent themselves.

Few of France’s contemporary writers — with the notable exception of Houellebecq — are well known internationally, not even recent Nobel-prize winners such as Le Clézio and Patrick Modiano. The ideal of Francophonia is nothing but an empty shell, and behind its lofty rhetoric the organization has little real resonance among French-speaking communities across the world.

This explains why French intellectuals appear so gloomy about their nation’s future, and have become both more inward-looking, and increasingly turned to their national past: As the French historian Pierre Nora put it even more bluntly, France is suffering from “national provincialism.” It is worth noting, in this context, that neither the collapse of communism in the former Soviet bloc nor the Arab spring were inspired by French thought — in stark contrast with the philosophy of national liberation which underpinned the struggle against European colonialism, which was decisively shaped by the writings of Sartre and Fanon.

Indeed, as Europe fumbles shamefully in its collective response to its current refugee crisis, it is sobering that the reaction which has been most in tune with the Enlightenment’s Rousseauist heritage of humanity and cosmopolitan fraternity has come not from socialist France, but from Christian-democratic Germany.

Sudhir Hazareesingh is a fellow in politics at Balliol College, Oxford. His new book, “How the French think: an affectionate portrait of an intellectual people,” is published by Allen Lane in London and Basic Books in New York. The French version is published by Flammarion as “Ce pays qui aime les idées.”

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Obama, Critical Race Theory, and Harvard Law School

David French

National Review

March 8, 2012

Watching Breitbart.com’s footage of law student Barack Obama praising radical law professor Derrick Bell gave me a strong sense of déjà vu. I arrived at Harvard Law School in August 1991, just a couple months after Barack Obama graduated. It would be hard to overstate the level of poison and vitriol that pervaded the school throughout the early 1990s. In 1993, GQ dubbed the law school “Beirut on the Charles” as HLS campus politics made national news.

This was the era of proud political correctness — including booing, hissing, and shouting down dissenting voices in class — combined with the vocal ascendance of the “crits.” Critical legal theorists rejected American legal systems root and branch, decrying them as the products of an irretrievably broken racist patriarchy. Their “scholarship” was unorthodox (and that’s being charitable), their voices were strident, and their student followers tended to be vicious. Many of the “crits” also had magnetic, preacher-like personalities, and it was more than a little disturbing to see the psychological hold they had over their student constituency.

Conservatives navigating this environment had to watch themselves. I can remember seeing cut-and-paste pictures of gay porn on the walls of the Harkness Commons, with the faces of Federalist Society leaders superimposed on the nude figures of the gay “actors.” If you truly angered the activist Left, they would call your future employers demanding that job offers be revoked, and I can recall receiving more than one note with some variation of “die, you f***ing fascist” for my pro-life advocacy. I was shouted down in class and verbally attacked by teachers. If it weren’t for the courageous free-speech advocacy of professors like Alan Dershowitz, the atmosphere would undoubtedly have been even worse. (I don’t mean to imply that Barack Obama ever participated in acts of political intimidation — I never heard that he did — but these stories do provide some sense of the background political intensity.)

Two events truly caused the campus to explode in the early 1990s. The first was the denial of tenure to Regina Austin (Jake Tapper tells the story here), and the second was the granting of tenure to four white male professors. The first event occurred during Barack Obama’s time at the law school, and the second almost two years later. In both instances there was enormous pressure on all left-leaning students to unite in outrage — and unite they did. But what does all this mean now? In 2012? There’s little doubt that law student Obama was a political radical by any conventional, society-wide measure of the term.

But that’s not the end of the story. At Harvard at least, radical was mainstream and conservative was radical. In fact, the radical view was so mainstream that one couldn’t help but think that even the loudest students would graduate, go to law firms, and fit in just as seamlessly to the new mainstream of their legal professions. And, in fact, most did. They weren’t intellectual leaders; they were followers.

My reading of Barack Obama’s political biography is pretty simple: He’s not so much a liberal radical as a member of the liberal mainstream of whatever community he inhabits. In that video, he was doing no more and no less than what most politically engaged leftist law students were doing — supporting the radical race and gender politics that dominated campus. When he went to Chicago and met Bill Ayers, he was fitting within a second, and slightly different, liberal culture. He shifted again in Washington and then again in the White House. But radical, “conviction” politicians don’t decry Gitmo then keep it open, promise to end the wars then reinforce the troops, express outrage at Bush war tactics then maintain rendition and triple the number of drone strikes.

Obama’s biography is essentially the same as many of the liberal mainstream-media journalists who cover him. They’ve made the same migration — from leading campus protests, to building families in urban liberal communities, to participating in a national political culture. At the risk of engaging in dime-store pop psychology, they like Obama in part because they identify with him so thoroughly and see much of themselves in him. They call him “pragmatic” or “moderate” or “technocratic” because they’re fully aware of legions of leftists who never made the transition from the purer form of activist politics. The pure activist is still leading campus protests or camped out in various parks across the country or writing radical tracts for minuscule readerships. The more moderate Left is running the country.

I would imagine that law school Barack Obama would never imagine ordering drone strikes on American citizens on foreign soil or Navy SEAL raids deep into Pakistan. Law school Barack Obama would likely think Obamacare was a thoroughly unsatisfactory half-measure and oppose it bitterly. Law school Obama is not our president, and I’m not sure that the videos tell us much at all about the man who sits in the oval office.

Voir aussi:

Pope Francis is just another liberal political pundit
John Podhoretz
New York Post

September 25, 2015

Pope Francis is unquestionably a man of ­uncommon personal grace, the possessor of a genuinely beautiful soul. “On Heaven and Earth,” his book-length exchange with Rabbi Abraham Skorka first published in 2010, is a remarkable testament to the breadth of his perspective.

But that’s not exactly the guy who showed up Friday at the United Nations. That pope endorsed the Iran deal, the UN’s environmentalist goals and what amounts to a worldwide open-borders policy on refugees — and ­offered a very specific view of how to promote development in the Third World that’s straight out of a left-wing textbook.

“The International Financial Agencies,” the pope said, “should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.”

We’re told we must not view the pope’s expression of views on contemporary subjects through the lens of day-to-day issues — that we belittle him and ourselves by examining his words through an ideological filter.

Because of the awesome position he holds, and by dint of his own teachings and his life and teachings before he rose to service as the Vicar of Christ, Francis is said to be deeper and loftier than mere politics.

Sorry: When the pontiff sounds less like a theological leader and more like the
8 p.m. host on MSNBC or the editor of Mother Jones, what’s a guy to do?

Pope Francis is entirely within his rights to become the world’s foremost liberal. But, since that’s what he is, it can’t be wrong to say so.

It is undoubtedly the role of theological leaders to speak to our highest selves, to remind us of eternal moral teachings, to remove us from the everyday and put us in touch with the divine. We look to leaders to tell us what our faith traditions expect of us — what we should do and what we must do.

And, of course, it is impossible to do so without touching on the behavior of people and nations in the present. A leader whose role it is to save the souls of his flock must take account of the particular temptations that beset them and the particular challenges they face.

But that’s wildly different from specifically embracing a UN document, or endorsing a specific agreement ­between nations. And this is what Francis told us:

“The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable ­Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.”

When a leader speaks in these sorts of bureaucratic specifics, he is descending from the highest heavens into ordinary, even trivial, reality. He’s using his ­authority in the realm of the spiritual to influence the ­political behavior of others.

He becomes just another pundit. And who needs another one of those?

Voir également:

De Thomas Merton à Dorothy Day, les quatre modèles américains du pape François
Dans son discours au Congrès américain, jeudi 24 septembre, le pape François a donné en exemple quatre figures historiques aux États-Unis, aussi spirituelles qu’engagées : Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day et Thomas Merton.
La Croix
24/9/15

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), « gardien de la liberté »
C’est l’un des présidents favoris des Américains. Né en 1809 dans le Kentucky, fils d’un fermier descendant d’une famille émigrée d’Angleterre au XVIIe  siècle, cet autodidacte devient avocat, député de l’Illinois, avant d’être élu à la Chambre des représentants à Washington sous les couleurs républicaines (le parti progressiste à l’époque). L’élection de cet abolitionniste convaincu – et profondément religieux – à la présidence des États-Unis, en 1860, a pour conséquence la sécession des États du sud et la guerre du même nom. Lincoln abolit l’esclavage en 1865 et est assassiné la même année, par un sudiste nommé John Wilkes Booth, avant d’avoir vu la réunification du pays. Le pape François a salué en Lincoln un homme qui « a travaillé sans relâche en sorte que” cette nation, sous Dieu (puisse) avoir une nouvelle naissance de liberté” ».

Dr. Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King (1929-1968), « la liberté dans la pluralité et la non-exclusion »
Militant non-violent pour les droits civiques des noirs américains, ce pasteur baptiste d’Atlanta a joué un rôle majeur pour leur émancipation et la prise de conscience de l’injustice de la ségrégation aux États-Unis. En 1963, devant 250 000 personnes rassemblées à Washington, il dit son rêve, « I have a dream… », devenu un hymne à la solidarité et à la réconciliation entre les communautés. Deux ans plus tard, les noirs américains obtiennent le droit de vote. Entre-temps, lui a reçu le prix Nobel de la Paix. Son combat se radicalise : il dénonce la grande pauvreté, la guerre du Vietnam, prêche la désobéissance à l’égard des lois injustes, donnant l’exemple du Christ. Ce « Gandhi noir » est assassiné à Memphis, en 1968, d’une main jamais identifiée. « Son rêve continue de nous inspirer tous », a souligné le pape François, rêve qui conduit « à l’action, à la participation, à l’engagement ».

Dorothy Day (1897-1980), « la justice sociale et les droits des personnes »
C’est l’une des figures catholiques américaines les plus célèbres. Née dans une famille épiscopalienne peu pratiquante qui fuit le séisme de 1906 de San Francisco et connaît des années difficiles à Chicago, elle conçoit très tôt un sentiment aigu de l’injustice sociale. Devenue journaliste, proche des milieux anarchistes et d’ultra-gauche, elle s’engage dans des campagnes publiques en faveur de la justice sociale, des pauvres, des marginaux, des affamés et des sans-abri. Après une vie de bohème et un avortement, elle donne naissance à une fille, et se convertit au catholicisme en 1927. Cette révoltée n’aura de cesse de concilier sa volonté d’un changement radical de la société et sa foi. En 1933, au cœur de la crise économique, elle fonde, avec le Français Pierre Maurin, le Catholic Worker, l’un des plus grands journaux catholiques des États-Unis, puis le « Mouvement catholique ouvrier », qui défend la non-violence et l’hospitalité envers les exclus de la société. « Son activisme social, sa passion pour la justice et pour la cause des opprimés étaient inspirés par l’Évangile, par sa foi, par l’exemple des saints », a souligné le pape François. Pendant la guerre froide, son pacifisme lui vaudra maints séjours en prison. Elle reçoit le prix Pacem in Terris en 1972. Sa cause en canonisation a été ouverte en 2000.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), « la capacité au dialogue et l’ouverture à Dieu »
Du fond de son monastère de Gethsemani, dans le Kentucky, ce moine cistercien non-conformiste a milité pour l’égalité raciale et contre la guerre froide, correspondu avec des dizaines de personnalités… Né à Prades (Pyrénées-Orientales) en 1915, il gardera toujours un grand attachement à la culture française. Mais ses études le conduisent en Angleterre, où il passe plus de temps dans les cabarets que dans les bibliothèques. Aux États-Unis, grâce à des amis influents et à la lecture de Gilson et Maritain, il se convertit et est reçu dans l’Église catholique en 1938. Après un contact avec les franciscains, il entre chez les cisterciens en 1941. À la demande de son abbé, cet écrivain talentueux rédige une autobiographie qui va faire le tour du monde : La Nuit privée d’étoiles, en 1948. Il mourra accidentellement en Asie à l’âge de 53 ans. Cet homme de prière, de dialogue, « promoteur de paix entre les peuples et les religions », a commenté le pape François, « demeure la source d’une inspiration spirituelle et un guide pour beaucoup de personnes ».

Voir par ailleurs:

 » La France est devenue une île « 
Propos recueillis par Elisabeth Lévy

Le Point

24/06/2010

Noam Chomsky Le Point : Comment jugez-vous la vie intellectuelle française ?

Noam Chomsky : Elle a quelque chose d’étrange. Au Collège de France, j’ai participé à un colloque savant sur  » Rationalité, vérité et démocratie « . Discuter ces concepts me semble parfaitement incongru. A la Mutualité, on m’a posé la question suivante :  » Bertrand Russell nous dit qu’il faut se concentrer sur les faits, mais les philosophes nous disent que les faits n’existent pas. Comment faire ?  » Une question de ce type laisse peu de place à un débat sérieux car, à un tel niveau d’abstraction, il n’y a rien à ajouter.

Avez-vous une explication ?

Comme observateur lointain, je formulerai une hypothèse. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la France est passée de l’avant-garde à l’arrière-cour et elle est devenue une île. Dans les années 30, un artiste ou un écrivain américain se devait d’aller à Paris, de même qu’un scientifique ou un philosophe avait les yeux tournés vers l’Angleterre ou l’Allemagne. Après 1945, tous ces courants se sont inversés, mais la France a eu plus de mal à s’adapter à cette nouvelle hiérarchie du prestige. Cela tient en grande partie à l’histoire de la collaboration. Alors, bien sûr, il y a eu la Résistance et beaucoup de gens courageux, mais rien de comparable avec ce qui s’est passé en Grèce ou en Italie, où la résistance a donné du fil à retordre à six divisions allemandes. Et il a fallu un chercheur américain [Robert Paxton, NDLR] pour que la France soit capable d’affronter ce passé.

Depuis, nous nous rattrapons : la repentance est devenue une de nos spécialités, même si elle s’est déplacée du terrain de Vichy à celui de la colonisation.

Il est tout de même surprenant que les guerres coloniales n’aient pas suscité de protestations.

Vous exagérez ! La lutte contre la guerre d’Algérie a été l’acte de naissance de la deuxième gauche.

Il y a eu une mobilisation, limitée d’ailleurs, sur l’Algérie. Mais j’ai suivi la guerre d’Indochine et j’ai été frappé par l’absence de réaction sur la scène intellectuelle. Certes, on peut dire la même chose des intellectuels américains pendant la guerre du Vietnam. Mais, de la France, on attendait autre chose !

Nous sommes au XXIe siècle et vous êtes américain. Vous critiquez durement votre pays. Les Etats-Unis peuvent-ils être responsables de tous les maux du monde ?

Ils sont responsables d’un très grand nombre d’atrocités, parce que, depuis 1945, ils dominent la politique et l’économie mondiales. Et cette domination a été voulue par les décideurs qui, pendant la guerre, imaginaient une zone d’influence américaine comprenant l’hémisphère occidental, l’ancien Empire britannique et l’Extrême-Orient – les  » deux rives des deux océans « . Dans cette zone qu’ils appelaient The Grand Area, aucune souveraineté ne devait s’opposer à celle de l’Amérique. Et ils ont réussi. En commettant de nombreux crimes.

Mais le monde est désormais multipolaire, la Chine est une puissance mondiale.

Combien de bases militaires la Chine possède-t-elle dans le monde ? Aucune. Les Etats-Unis en ont environ 800. Combien de soldats chinois sont-ils déployés à l’étranger ? Presque aucun. Le gouvernement chinois est horrible sur le plan interne, mais il n’est pas agressif à l’extérieur. De plus, la croissance chinoise est en partie fallacieuse : la Chine est un atelier d’assemblage, mais la technologie et les composants viennent du Japon, de Corée, de Taïwan et des Etats-Unis. Aussi le déficit du commerce américano-chinois est-il une illusion. Il en va de même pour la dette. Les premiers créanciers des Etats-Unis sont les Japonais, mais le Premier ministre a dû renoncer à sa promesse d’évacuer Okinawa. Alors, bien sûr, le système international est plus complexe, le nouvel ordre mondial s’est adapté, mais il reste à l’ordre du jour.

Qui est responsable ? Les Etats-Unis seraient-ils dirigés par une bande de sadiques ?

Il ne s’agit pas de culpabilité mais de la nature du système. Or, aux Etats-Unis, le pouvoir est depuis longtemps aux mains du grand capital et, depuis une trentaine d’années, du secteur financier. Obama a gagné parce qu’il était soutenu par les banques. Tous ses conseillers économiques viennent de ce secteur, de sorte que les gens qui ont créé la crise sont ceux qui ont élaboré le plan de sauvetage des banques. Lesquelles sont aujourd’hui plus puissantes qu’avant.

Donc, rien n’a changé avec l’élection d’Obama ?

Les démocrates sont bien obligés de faire quelques pas en direction des plus pauvres, qui constituent leur base électorale, mais cela, même les Etats totalitaires le font. Sur le fond, Obama ne se distingue pas radicalement du second mandat de Bush. La rhétorique a changé, pas la politique.

Vous diriez-vous toujours anarchiste ? Croyez-vous que les sociétés humaines peuvent se passer de pouvoir ?

Je crois à un principe fondamental de la morale humaine qui consiste à s’opposer à toute forme de domination ou de hiérarchie, à moins que celle-ci ne puisse faire la preuve de sa légitimité. Or, la plupart du temps, c’est impossible. Il faut donc détruire ces dominations.

Sauf que, dans les pays démocratiques comme le vôtre, les dirigeants peuvent se prévaloir de la légitimité des urnes.

Il est préférable d’avoir des élections que de ne pas en avoir, mais tout dépend des conditions dans lesquelles elles ont lieu. On critique l’Iran et à juste titre parce que les candidats sont sélectionnés par le clergé mais, en Amérique, ils sont de fait choisis par le grand capital : le vainqueur est celui qui lève le plus de fonds. J’ajouterai que l’un des Etats les plus démocratiques du monde est la Bolivie, où la population indigène, la plus pauvre et la plus opprimée, a su s’organiser politiquement pour porter l’un des siens à la tête du pays. Tous les Etats commettent des crimes, mais ne sont-ils pas pour leurs populations des instances de protection ? Plus les Etats sont puissants, plus ils sont criminels, mais je ne crois nullement que la protection des peuples soit leur priorité. En envahissant l’Irak, les responsables américains savaient qu’ils allaient provoquer une intensification du terrorisme et, donc, mettre en danger les Américains. L’Europe n’a jamais été aussi sauvage qu’au moment où elle inventait l’Etat-nation, qui est à mon sens une véritable calamité imposée au monde, responsable jusqu’à aujourd’hui de nombreux conflits.

Mais le monde sans frontières dont vous rêvez n’est-il pas celui que souhaitent les partisans les plus acharnés de la globalisation capitaliste que vous honnissez ?

Absolument pas. Le  » libre-échange  » ne fait que protéger les droits des investisseurs et du grand capital. On pourrait définir comme  » service  » tout ce qui intéresse l’être humain : éducation, électricité… Mais les accords sur  » le commerce et les services  » ne visent qu’à privatiser ces derniers, donc à réserver leur accès à une minorité privilégiée.

En attendant, personne n’a prouvé qu’il existe une alternative au capitalisme.

C’est un peu comme si vous m’aviez dit en 1943 qu’il n’y avait pas d’alternative au nazisme parce que l’Allemagne gagnait.

Vous charriez, professeur ! Il y en a eu une, d’alternative, et elle n’a pas donné les meilleurs résultats.

L’Union soviétique n’a pas instauré le socialisme mais un capitalisme d’Etat. Seulement, comme la propagande de l’Est et celle de l’Ouest convergeaient, le monde a avalé le bobard selon lequel ce qui se réalisait là-bas était le socialisme. Je continue donc à croire au socialisme véritable, fondé sur le contrôle de la production par les producteurs et sur celui des communautés par elles-mêmes.

Difficile de prononcer votre nom à Paris sans qu’un autre nom surgisse. Comprenez-vous que votre défense de Robert Faurisson ait choqué ?

Cela prouve que beaucoup d’intellectuels français sont restés staliniens même quand ils sont passés à l’extrême droite. Comment peut-on accepter que l’Etat définisse la vérité historique et punisse la dissidence de la pensée ?

L’extermination des juifs d’Europe est une vérité historique, peut-être pas unique mais singulière, non ?

Ce fut un crime horrible et unique, mais il y a beaucoup d’autres crimes uniques. Pourquoi aurait-on le droit de nier le génocide des Mayas au Guatemala ou celui de nombreuses populations indigènes de l’hémisphère occidental – ce que d’excellents journaux américains ne se privent pas de faire – et pas celui-là ?

Le génocide des Indiens n’a peut-être pas, ne serait-ce que parce qu’il est plus ancien, le même poids dans la conscience européenne et occidentale.

C’est bien le problème ! Mais cela n’a rien à voir avec le temps écoulé : le génocide des juifs s’est arrêté en 1945, le massacre des populations indigènes se poursuit. Au Timor-Oriental, entre un quart et un tiers de la population a été décimée avec l’accord des Etats-Unis et de la France, et peu de gens le savent alors que tout le monde connaît les crimes de Pol Pot. La vérité, c’est qu’on a le droit de nier les crimes des puissants – les nôtres. Seuls les crimes des autres ou des perdants sont protégés du négationnisme. Cette hypocrisie est insupportable.

Repères
1928 Naissance à Philadelphie. 1955 Doctorat de linguistique de l’université de Pennsylvanie. 1957  » Structures syntaxiques « . 1964 Milite activement contre la guerre du Vietnam 1968  » L’Amérique et ses nouveaux mandarins  » (Seuil). 1966/1976 Titulaire de la chaire de linguistique au MIT. Depuis 1976  Institute Professor au MIT. 1980 Prend la défense de Faurisson au nom de la liberté d’expression. 2001  » 11-9. Autopsie des terrorismes  » (Le Serpent à plumes). 2007  » Les Etats manqués. Abus de puissance et déficit démocratique  » (Fayard). 2010  » Pour une éducation humaniste  » (Editions de L’Herne).

Haro sur un imprécateur

La mauvaise réputation de Noam Chomsky

Telle qu’elle est relayée par les grands médias, la vie intellectuelle française suscite parfois la consternation à l’étranger : phrases extraites de leur contexte, indignations prévisibles, « polémiques » de pacotille, intellectuels de télévision qui prennent la pose à l’affût du mot trop rapide qui servira de pâture à leurs éditoriaux indignés. En France, Noam Chomsky a été l’objet de campagnes de disqualification d’autant plus vives et régulières qu’il a su détailler, calmement, l’imposture d’un discours à géométrie variable sur les « droits de l’homme », lequel, souvent, couvrait les forfaits de l’Occident.

Jean Bricmont
Le Monde diplomatique
avril 2001

Le New York Times, qui n’aime guère Noam Chomsky (c’est réciproque), admet néanmoins qu’il compte au nombre des plus grands intellectuels vivants. En dehors des départements de linguistique, et des colonnes du Monde diplomatique, il reste néanmoins ignoré en France.

Quand son nom est évoqué, c’est trop souvent pour y associer ceux de Robert Faurisson ou de Pol Pot. Chomsky serait l’archétype de l’intellectuel passant son temps à minimiser ou à nier divers génocides dont l’évocation risquerait de servir l’impérialisme occidental. Il n’a d’ailleurs trouvé qu’un éditeur marginal, Spartacus, pour publier en 1984 ses Réponses inédites à mes détracteurs parisiens, compilation de lettres et d’un entretien, non publiés ou de façon tronquée et adressés à des journaux comme Le Monde, Le Matin de Paris, Les Nouvelles littéraires, pour répondre, entre autres, à des attaques de Jacques Attali et de Bernard-Henri Lévy. D’où l’importance de la publication récente de certains de ses textes (1).

Pendant la guerre du Vietnam, les écrits de Chomsky jouissaient d’une certaine audience en France. Mais, déjà à l’époque, un malentendu implicite commençait à poindre. Dans les mouvements anti-impérialistes dominait une mentalité de « prise de parti ». Il fallait choisir son camp : pour l’Occident ou pour les révolutions du tiers-monde. Une telle attitude est étrangère à Chomsky, rationaliste au sens classique du terme. Non pas qu’il se place « au-dessus de la mêlée » – rares sont les intellectuels plus engagés que lui -, mais son engagement est fondé sur des principes comme la vérité et la justice, et non sur le soutien à un camp historique et social, quel qu’il soit.

Son opposition à la guerre ne découlait pas du pronostic que la révolution vietnamienne offrirait un avenir radieux aux peuples d’Indochine, mais de l’observation que l’agression américaine serait catastrophique parce que, loin d’être motivée par la défense de la démocratie, elle visait à empêcher toute forme de développement indépendant en Indochine et dans le tiers-monde.

Dénoncer l’idéologie de l’Occident

Rigoureux, les écrits de Chomsky offraient aux opposants à la guerre du Vietnam des outils intellectuels précieux ; la différence d’optique entre lui et ses partisans en France pouvait alors passer pour secondaire. La contre-offensive politique et idéologique se déclencha quand, à partir de 1975, des boat people se mirent à fuir le Vietnam et, plus encore, lorsque les Khmers rouges commirent leurs massacres. Un mécanisme de culpabilisation de ceux qui s’étaient opposés à la guerre occidentale, et plus généralement à l’impérialisme, permit de leur imputer la responsabilité de ces événements. Mais, comme le fait remarquer Chomsky, reprocher à des adversaires de l’invasion de l’Afghanistan par l’URSS en 1979 les atrocités commises par les rebelles afghans depuis le retrait des troupes soviétiques ne serait pas moins absurde : s’opposant à l’invasion, ils avaient voulu empêcher une catastrophe dont portent la responsabilité ceux qui l’ont décidée, pas leurs adversaires. Presque banal, un argument de ce type est quasiment inaudible dans le camp occidental.

En France, la mentalité de camp avait conduit nombre d’opposants aux guerres coloniales à se bercer d’illusions sur la possibilité de « lendemains qui chantent » dans les sociétés décolonisées. Cela a rendu la culpabilisation d’autant plus efficace que la fin de la guerre du Vietnam coïncida avec le grand tournant de l’intelligentsia française, qui allait amener celle-ci à s’écarter du marxisme et des révolutions du tiers-monde et, peu à peu, avec le mouvement des « nouveaux philosophes », à adopter des positions favorables à la politique occidentale au Tchad et au Nicaragua. Une bonne partie des intellectuels français, surtout ceux de la « génération 68 », d’abord passive dans la lutte contre les euro-missiles (1982-1983), devint franchement belliciste au moment de la guerre du Golfe puis lors de l’intervention de l’OTAN au Kosovo.

N’ayant jamais eu d’illusions à perdre, Noam Chomsky n’avait aucun combat à renier. Il demeura donc à la pointe de la lutte contre les interventions militaires et les embargos qui, de l’Amérique centrale à l’Irak, ont provoqué des centaines de milliers de victimes. Mais pour ceux qui avaient opéré le grand tournant, Chomsky devenait un anachronisme bizarre et dangereux. Comment pouvait-il ne pas avoir compris que le bon camp était devenu celui de l’Occident, des « droits de l’homme » ? Et le mauvais, celui de la « barbarie à visage humain », pays socialistes et dictatures post-coloniales mêlées ?

L’étude de sa démarche intellectuelle permet de répondre. Une bonne partie de l’œuvre de Chomsky est consacrée à l’analyse des mécanismes idéologiques des sociétés occidentales. Quand un historien étudie l’Empire romain, il essaie de relier les actions des dirigeants de l’époque à leurs intérêts économiques et politiques, ou du moins à la perception que ceux-ci en ont. Au lieu de s’en tenir aux seules intentions avouées des dirigeants, l’historien met au jour la structure « cachée » de la société (relations de pouvoir, contraintes institutionnelles) pour décrypter le discours officiel. Cette démarche est tellement naturelle qu’il ne faut même pas la justifier. On l’applique à des sociétés comme l’Union soviétique hier, la Chine et l’Iran aujourd’hui. Nul expert sérieux n’expliquerait le comportement des dirigeants de ces pays en privilégiant les motivations que ceux-ci mettent en avant pour justifier leurs actions.

Cette attitude méthodologique générale change du tout au tout quand il s’agit des sociétés occidentales. Il devient alors quasi obligatoire d’accepter que les intentions proclamées de leurs gouvernants constituent les ressorts de leurs actions. On peut douter de leur capacité à atteindre leurs objectifs, de leur intelligence. Mais mettre en cause la pureté de leurs motivations, chercher à expliquer leurs actions par les contraintes que des acteurs plus puissants feraient peser sur eux revient souvent à s’exclure du discours « respectable ».

Ainsi, lors de la guerre du Kosovo, on a pu discuter des moyens et de la stratégie mis en œuvre par l’OTAN, mais pas l’idée qu’il s’agissait d’une guerre humanitaire. On a critiqué les moyens utilisés par les Etats-Unis en Amérique centrale dans les années 1980, mais rarement douté qu’ils voulaient protéger ces pays de la menace soviétique ou cubaine. L’argument qui motive ce curieux dualisme dans l’approche des phénomènes politiques est que nos sociétés sont « réellement différentes », à la fois des sociétés passées et des pays comme l’URSS ou la Chine, parce que nos gouvernements seraient « réellement » soucieux des droits de la personne ou de la démocratie.

Mais le fait que les principes démocratiques soient souvent mieux respectés « chez nous » qu’ailleurs n’empêche nullement d’évaluer empiriquement la thèse de la singularité occidentale. On peut y parvenir en comparant deux tragédies (guerre, famine, attentat, etc.) plus ou moins semblables et en observant la réaction de nos gouvernements et de nos médias. Or, quand la responsabilité de ces situations est imputable à nos ennemis, l’indignation est générale et la présentation dépourvue de la moindre indulgence. En revanche, si la responsabilité des gouvernements occidentaux ou de leurs alliés est engagée, les horreurs sont souvent minimisées. Pourtant, si les actions de nos gouvernements étaient réellement motivées par les intentions altruistes qu’ils proclament, ils devraient d’abord agir sur les tragédies dont ils sont responsables, au lieu de donner la priorité à celles qu’ils peuvent attribuer à leurs ennemis. Constater que c’est presque toujours l’inverse qui se produit oblige à retenir l’accusation d’hypocrisie. Une bonne partie de l’œuvre de Chomsky est consacrée à des comparaisons de ce genre (2).

Dans le cas de l’Indochine et du Cambodge en particulier, les écrits de Chomsky, souvent présentés comme une « défense de Pol Pot », ont cherché à comparer les réactions des gouvernements et des médias occidentaux face à deux atrocités presque simultanées : les massacres commis par les Khmers rouges au Cambodge et ceux des Indonésiens au moment de l’invasion du Timor-Oriental.

Concernant le Cambodge, l’indignation fut vive – autant qu’hypocrite (3). En revanche, au moment de l’action militaire indonésienne, les médias et les intellectuels « médiatiques » observèrent un silence presque complet alors même que les Etats-Unis et leurs alliés, dont la France, livraient à l’Indonésie des armes en sachant qu’elles seraient utilisées au Timor (4). Dresser la longue liste des non-indignations de ce type obligerait à revenir sur la Turquie et les Kurdes, Israël et les Palestiniens, sans oublier l’Irak, où, au nom du droit international, on laisse des centaines de milliers de personnes mourir à petit feu.

En se livrant à ce genre de comparaisons, Chomsky a pris le contre-pied de la mentalité de parti particulièrement accusée depuis le grand tournant : puisque le Bien (l’Occident et ses alliés) affrontait le Mal (les nationalismes du tiers-monde et les pays dits socialistes), l’analogie fut interdite. Or Chomsky fit pire. Refusant la duplicité qu’il reproche à nos gouvernants et à nos médias, il a toujours estimé qu’il devait d’abord dénoncer les crimes des gouvernements sur lesquels il pouvait espérer agir, c’est-à-dire les nôtres.

Même s’il n’entrait dans sa démarche nulle illusion sur les régimes « révolutionnaires » ou absolution des crimes commis par les « autres », il était presque inévitable que ceux-là mêmes qui avaient entretenu de telles illusions et accepté de telles absolutions l’accuseraient de tomber dans leurs travers. On peut comprendre la réaction d’une partie de l’intelligentsia française, soucieuse de brûler ce qu’elle a adoré et d’adorer ce qu’elle a brûlé et naturellement désireuse de se venger sur le dos des autres des erreurs qu’elle a autrefois commises. Parfois, Chomsky en a été plus agacé qu’amusé.

Il faut à présent aborder l’« affaire Faurisson », qui alimente les attaques françaises les plus virulentes contre Chomsky. Professeur de littérature à l’université de Lyon, Robert Faurisson fut suspendu de ses fonctions à la fin des années 1970 et poursuivi parce qu’il avait, entre autres, nié l’existence des chambres à gaz pendant la seconde guerre mondiale. Une pétition pour défendre sa liberté d’expression fut signée par plus de cinq cents personnes, dont Chomsky. Pour répondre aux réactions violentes que suscita son geste, Chomsky rédigea alors un petit texte dans lequel il expliquait que reconnaître à une personne le droit d’exprimer ses opinions ne revenait nullement à les partager. Elémentaire aux Etats-Unis, cette distinction parut difficilement compréhensible en France.

Mais Chomsky commit une erreur, la seule dans cette affaire. Il donna son texte à un ami d’alors, Serge Thion, en lui permettant de l’utiliser à sa guise. Or Thion le fit paraître, comme « avis », au début du mémoire publié pour défendre Faurisson. Chomsky n’a cessé de rappeler qu’il n’avait jamais eu l’intention de voir publier son texte à cet endroit et qu’il chercha, mais trop tard, à l’empêcher (5).

Condamner Chomsky dans cette affaire impose, au minimum, de dire ce que l’on réprouve exactement : une erreur tactique ou le principe même de la défense inconditionnelle de la liberté d’expression ? Dans le second cas, il faut alors indiquer que la France ne possède pas, en matière d’expression d’opinions, la tradition libertaire des Etats-Unis. Là-bas, la position de Chomsky ne choque presque personne. Parfois comparée à la Ligue des droits de l’homme, l’American Civil Liberties Union, dans laquelle militent de nombreux antifascistes, porte ainsi plainte devant les tribunaux si on interdit au Ku Klux Klan ou à des groupuscules nazis de manifester, fût-ce en uniforme, dans des quartiers à majorité noire ou juive (6). Le débat à ce propos oppose donc deux traditions politiques différentes, l’une dominante en France, l’autre aux Etats-Unis, et pas un Noam Chomsky, représentant d’une ultra-gauche dévoyée, face à une France républicaine.

Dans un monde où des cohortes d’intellectuels disciplinés et de médias asservis servent de prêtrise séculière aux puissants, lire Chomsky représente un acte d’autodéfense. Il peut permettre d’éviter les fausses évidences et les indignations sélectives du discours dominant. Mais il enseigne aussi que, pour changer le monde, on doit le comprendre de façon objective et qu’il y a une grande différence entre romantisme révolutionnaire – lequel fait parfois plus de tort que de bien – et critique sociale simultanément radicale et rationnelle. Après des années de désespoir et de résignation, une contestation globale du système capitaliste semble renaître. Elle ne peut que tirer avantage de la combinaison de lucidité, de courage et d’optimisme qui marque l’œuvre et la vie de Noam Chomsky.

Jean Bricmont

Professeur de physique à l’université de Louvain (Belgique).
Voir également:

Noam Chomsky et les médias français

Arnaud Rindel, jeudi 27 mai 2010

À l’occasion de la venue de Noam Chomsky en France en cette fin mai 2010, nous rééditons sans changement un article paru en 2003.

* * *La pensée de Noam Chomsky est interdite de débat – du débat qu’elle mérite – dans les médias français. Comme si nous n’avions le choix qu’entre l’idolâtrie et la calomnie. Petit mémento de la bêtise ordinaire de certains seigneurs des médias (Acrimed).

Noam Chomsky, linguiste américain professeur au MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), et, selon les propres mots d’Alain Finkielkraut, « l’intellectuel planétaire le plus populaire » [1], n’est pas exactement la coqueluche des journalistes ou des intellectuels français, c’est le moins que l’on puisse dire.

Depuis une vingtaine d’années, ils ne parlent jamais de son œuvre, qui occupe pourtant (ou peut-être précisément parce qu’elle occupe) une place fondamentale dans la pensée critique moderne. Et les rares fois où son nom est évoqué, c’est pour ressasser encore et toujours les mêmes calomnies effarantes de bêtise et de malhonnêteté [2]. Tout en lui refusant, bien entendu, le droit de répondre librement à ces accusations [3].

Le Figaro , Libération, Le Monde, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Alain Finkielkraut, Alain-Gérard Slama, Jacques Attali, André Glucksmann, Philippe Val et bien d’autres, se sont ainsi époumonés à de nombreuses reprises [4], pour condamner les idées répugnantes qu’ils lui prêtent avec une mauvaise foi consternante.

Tout cela est pourtant connu et limpide pour toute personne qui s’est donné la peine de lire ses écrits, et qui est portée dans son travail de journaliste, ou d’intellectuel, par un minimum de rigueur et d’honnêteté.

Cambodge et Timor

Pour aller vite, car il est pénible d’être forcé de rappeler constamment ce qui ne devrait plus avoir à être discuté depuis une bonne vingtaine d’années, Chomsky n’a jamais nié ou minimisé le génocide perpétré au Cambodge par les Khmers rouges entre 1975 et 1978.

Une partie importante de son travail est consacrée à établir les preuves objectives de l’existence d’une propagande médiatique. Pour ce faire, il cherche à démontrer que toutes choses étant égales par ailleurs, les intérêts politiques et économiques en jeux influencent de manière importante la façon dont les médias rendent compte de conflits internationaux pourtant similaires.

Il a ainsi observé que pour un niveau de violence et un nombre de victimes à peu près équivalents, les atrocités commises par Pol Pot (ennemi des États-Unis), étaient traitées de manière emphatique, avec une exagération systématique des faits et des commentaires, tandis que le génocide perpétré à peu près à la même époque par l’armée indonésienne (alliée des États-Unis), au Timor oriental, était, à l’inverse, complètement occulté par les médias [5].

S’il a étudié les estimations officielles des victimes du Cambodge, c’est uniquement pour montrer que le niveau était comparable à celui du Timor, préalable indispensable à sa démonstration, non pour nier l’horreur des massacres commis, qu’il a par ailleurs, condamnés de manière parfaitement claire à plusieurs reprises, affirmant qu’il serait « difficile de trouver un exemple aussi horrible d’un tel déferlement de fureur » [6]. Tous ceux qui ont pris la peine de lire ses écrits le savent parfaitement.


La théorie du complot

Il n’a pas plus défendu ou propagé une « vulgate conspirationniste », contrairement à ce que laissent entendre là aussi, Philippe Corcuff, ou Daniel Schneidermann [7], sans doute soucieux, comme Alain Finkielkraut, que les citoyens s’en tiennent à « ce qui apparaît » [8].

Il n’a cessé, bien au contraire, de rabâcher que « rien n’est plus éloigné de ce [qu’il dit] que l’idée de conspiration » [9]. « L’idée qu’il y aurait une cabale organisée au plus haut niveau dans un pays comme les États-Unis est complètement idiote. Cela voudrait dire que cela se passe comme en Union Soviétique. C’est totalement différent, et c’est précisément pourquoi je dis exactement l’inverse » [10].

L’inverse étant, en l’occurrence, un « système de « marché dirigé » » [11], où l’information est un produit, que les médias, fonctionnant sur le même modèle que n’importe quelle société commerciale, cherchent à écouler sur un marché.

Les exigences de profit et de rentabilité communes à toute entreprise commerciale entraînent, en plus des pressions politiques, un ensemble de contraintes structurelles, et notamment, une triple dépendance des médias, à l’égard de leurs propriétaires, de leurs annonceurs, et de leurs sources d’information, la rentabilité limitant la possibilité d’investigations personnelles.

De toutes ces contraintes, découle logiquement une certaine orientation de l’information, dans sa forme et dans son contenu, et la sélection préférentielle d’un personnel en phase avec ces principes.

« Ce n’est pas une conspiration mais une analyse institutionnelle », conclut le plus naturellement du monde, Noam Chomsky. Et on se demande comment une évidence si limpide peut échapper à tous ces « grands esprits »…

Quant à la méfiance envers « ce qui apparaît », qui irrite tant Alain Finkielkraut, chez moi, cela s’appelle tout simplement garder un esprit critique.


L’affaire Faurisson

Enfin, les accusations de négationnisme trouvent leur source dans une pétition lancée en 1979 aux États-Unis, qui rassembla plus de 500 signatures, dont celle de Noam Chomsky, pour « assurer la sécurité et le libre exercice de ses droits légaux » à Robert Faurisson, un professeur de la faculté de Lyon, dont les « recherches » ont pour objet de nier la réalité du génocide juif sous le régime de l’Allemagne nazie [12].

Chomsky, devenu malgré lui, en raison de sa popularité, l’emblème de cette pétition, reçut une avalanche de protestations, ce qui l’amena à écrire un texte exposant sa position : Quelques commentaires élémentaires sur le droit à la liberté d’expression. Il y explique entre autre que la liberté d’expression, pour être réellement le reflet d’une vertu démocratique, ne peut se limiter aux opinions que l’on approuve, car même les pires dictateurs sont favorables à la libre diffusion des opinions qui leur conviennent. En conséquence de quoi la liberté d’expression se doit d’être défendue, y compris, et même avant tout, pour les idées qui nous répugnent [13].

Bien entendu, la position libertaire de Chomsky, qui s’explique en partie par l’importance capitale accordée dans la culture américaine à la liberté d’expression, peut et doit être discutée. Mais jamais les critiques n’abordent la question sous cet angle. Elles ont pour seul but de discréditer Chomsky, auteur peu connu du grand public en France, en laissant croire que c’est précisément Faurisson, et ses thèses qu’il aurait défendues et non la seule liberté d’expression.

Du reste, soupçonner Chomsky d’une quelconque sympathie ou complaisance envers les thèses négationnistes est tout simplement ridicule. Dès les débuts de son engagement politique, il affirmait en introduction à son premier ouvrage (American Power and the New Mandarins, 1969, cité dans Le Monde du 24 juillet 1994), et répétait à de nombreuses reprises (voir Chomsky, Les médias et les illusions nécessaires, K films éditions, Paris, 1993), que le simple fait de discuter avec des négationnistes de l’existence des crimes nazis, revenait à perdre notre humanité. Il a eu par la suite de multiples occasions de réitérer très clairement cette condamnation. Dans un autre de ses livres, il décrivait, par exemple, l’Holocauste comme « la plus fantastique flambée de violence collective dans l’histoire de l’humanité » [14]. Dans l’article publié dans The Nation sur l’affaire Faurisson, il indiquait encore « Les conclusions de Faurisson sont diamétralement opposées aux opinions qui sont les miennes et que j’ai fréquemment exprimées par écrit » [15], et dans l’interview publiée dans Le Monde en 1998, il décrivait le négationnisme comme « la pire atrocité de l’histoire humaine », ajoutant à nouveau que « le fait même d’en discuter est ridicule ».

Arnaud Rindel
(01.12.2003)

Ce texte est la version abrégée de la préface d’un recueil de textes de Noam Chomsky, De la guerre comme politique étrangère des Etats-Unis, Agone, Marseille, 2001.

(1) Outre De la guerre comme politique étrangère des Etats-Unis (Agone, Marseille), lire, pour les écrits les plus récents, Les Dessous de la politique de l’Oncle Sam (Ecosociété-EPO-Le Temps des cerises, Montréal-Bruxelles-Paris, 1996), Responsabilité des intellectuels (Agone, Marseille, 1998), Le Nouvel Humanisme militaire (Page Deux, Lausanne, 2000), La Conférence d’Albuquerque (Allia, Paris, 2001).

(2) Lire Edward S. Herman et Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent. The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Pantheon Books, New York, 1988, et Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions. Thought Control in Democratic Societies, Pluto Press, Londres, 1989.

(3) Quand, en 1979, les Vietnamiens mirent fin au régime de Pol Pot, les Occidentaux décidèrent de soutenir les Khmers rouges, diplomatiquement à l’ONU, mais aussi, indirectement, sur le plan militaire. A contrario, dans le cas de l’Indonésie, de simples pressions occidentales auraient sans doute suffi pour arrêter les massacres.

(4) Ministre français des affaires étrangères, Louis de Guiringaud se rendit à Djakarta pour y signer un accord militaire. Puis il déclara que la France ne placerait pas l’Indonésie dans une situation embarrassante aux Nations unies à propos du Timor. In Le Monde, 14 septembre 1978.

(5) La version anglaise de ce texte, « Some elementary comments on the rights of freedom of expression », est disponible sur www.zmag.org.

(6) C’est ce qui s’est produit à Skokie (Illinois) en 1978.

Voir enfin:

Florilège de Dorothy Day:

« We are on the side of the revolution. We believe there must be new concepts of property, which is proper to man, and that the new concept is not so new. There is a Christian communism and a Christian capitalism…. We believe in farming communes and cooperatives and will be happy to see how they work out in Cuba…. God bless Castro and all those who are seeing Christ in the poor. God bless all those who are seeking the brotherhood of man because in loving their brothers they love God even though they deny Him. »

Dorothy Day (1961)

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

Pope Francis (US Congress, 2015)

Far better to revolt violently than to do nothing about the poor destitute.

Dorothy Day (1960)

« I am most of all interested in the religious life of the people and so must not be on the side of a regime that favors the extirpation of religion. On the other hand, when that regime is bending all its efforts to make a good life for the people, a naturally good life (on which grace can build) one cannot help but be in favor of the measures taken.

Dorothy Day (Cuba, 1960)

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/793.html

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/248.html

As a young man Ho Chi Minh had traveled from Indo-China to Paris and on one of his first voyages he had stopped in the ports of New York and Boston. One story is that he had worked in Harlem briefly, and perhaps–who knows–he had stopped in the Chinese and Italian area on Mott Street where the Catholic Worker had its house for fifteen years, from 1936 to 1950. Perhaps he came in for a meal with us just as Chu did or Wong, who is with us now. London, Montreal and New York have seen many exiles and political fugitives. If we had had the privilege of giving hospitality to a Ho Chi Minh, with what respect and interest we would have served him, as a man of vision, as a patriot, a rebel against foreign invaders.

Dorothy Day (1970)

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/498.html

the two words [anarchist-pacifist] should go together, especially at this time when more and more people, even priests, are turning to violence, and are finding their heroes in Camillo Torres among the priests, and Che Guevara among laymen. The attraction is strong, because both men literally laid down their lives for their brothers. « Greater love hath no man than this. »

« Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. » Che Guevara wrote this, and he is quoted by Chicano youth in El Grito Del Norte.

Dorothy Day (1970)

http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/articles/500.pdf

« I in turn, can see Christ in them even though they deny Him, because they are giving themselves to working for a better social order for the wretched of the earth. »

Dorothy Day (on anarchists)

We believe in widespread private property, the de-proletarianizing of our American people. We believe in the individual owning the means of production, the land and his tools. We are opposed to the « finance capitalism » so justly criticized and condemned by Karl Marx but we believe there can be a Christian capitalism as there can be a Christian Communism.

Dorothy Day

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/300.html

« To labor is to pray — that is the central point of the Christian doctrine of work. Hence, it is that while both Communism and Christianity are moved by ‘compassion for the multitude,’ the object of communism is to make the poor richer but the object of Christianity is to make the rich poor and the poor holy. »

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/166.html

« [L]et it be remembered that I speak as an ex-Communist and one who has not testified before Congressional Committees, nor written works on the Communist conspiracy. I can say with warmth that I loved the [communist] people I worked with and learned much from them. They helped me to find God in His poor, in His abandoned ones, as I had not found Him in Christian churches. »

The Communists point to it as forced upon them, and say that when it comes they will take part in it, and in their plans they want to prepare the ground, and win as many as possible to their point of view and for their side. And where will we be on that day? …

[W]e will inevitably be forced to be on their side, physically speaking. But when it comes to activity, we will be pacifists, I hope and pray, non-violent resisters of aggression, from whomever it comes, resisters to repression, coercion, from whatever side it comes, and our activity will be the works of mercy. Our arms will be the love of God and our brother.

Dorothy Day (1949)

http://dorothyday.catholicworker.org/articles/246.html

« We must make a start. We must renounce war as an instrument of policy. . . . Even as I speak to you I may be guilty of what some men call treason. But we must reject war. . . . You young men should refuse to take up arms. Young women tear down the patriotic posters. And all of you–young and old–put away your flags.

Dorothy Day (1941)

We are still pacifists. Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers. Speaking for many of our conscientious objectors, we will not participate in armed warfare or in making munitions, or by buying government bonds to prosecute the war, or in urging others to these efforts.
But neither will we be carping in our criticism. We love our country and we love our President. We have been the only country in the world where men of all nations have taken refuge from oppression. We recognize that while in the order of intention we have tried to stand for peace, for love of our brother, in the order of execution we have failed as Americans in living up to our principles.

Dorothy Day (1942)

[O]urs was a long-range program, looking for ownership by the workers of the means of production, the abolition of the assembly line, decentralized factories, the restoration of crafts and ownership of property,” she wrote. “This meant, of course, an accent on the agrarian and rural aspects of our economy and a changing emphasis from the city to the land.”

http://cjd.org/2001/10/01/g-k-chesterton-and-dorothy-day-on-economicsneither-socialism-nor-capitalism-distributism/

We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists ‘of conspiring to teach [us] to do,’ but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York. »

Dorothy Day (1956)

http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/articles/710.pdf

We stand at the present time with the Communists, who are also opposing war…. The Sermon on the Mount is our Christian manifesto.

Dorothy Day ( « Our Stand, » Catholic Worker, June 1940)

Marx… Lenin… Mao Tse-Tung… These men were animated by the love of brother and this we must believe though their ends meant the seizure of power, and the building of mighty armies, the compulsion of concentration camps, the forced labor and torture and killing of tens of thousands, even millions.

Dorothy Day (« The Incompatibility of Love and Violence, » Catholic Worker, May 1951)

I am appalled that a woman of such loathsome character would be considered for sainthood. Vatican archives are filled with reports of Christians martyred under the regimes that Dorothy Day supported. I am revolted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ support for the canonization of a woman whose views supported the violent extermination of Christians throughout the world. I ask that these matters be carefully weighed so that the Holy See will not be inadvertently misled when considering the canonization of Dorothy Day. I am particularly concerned about her support for Ho Chi Minh » …

Virginia State Senator Richard H. “Dick” Black

Senator Richard H. Black of Virginia Objects to Sainthood for Marxist Dorothy Day

The name Dorothy Day has not been used in the United States Congress terribly often. She was a valiant fighter for workers, was very strong in her belief for social justice, and I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history. This would be one of the very, very few times that somebody as radical as Dorothy Day was mentioned. He is willing to identify with an extraordinarily courageous woman whose life was about standing with the poorest people in America, and having the courage to stand up to the very powerful. You know, her newspaper was the Catholic Worker, and she stood with the workers of America and fought for justice. His calling out for social justice, his talking about income and wealth inequality, his talking about creating an economy and a culture that works for everybody, not just a few, is a very, very powerful message.

Bernie Sanders

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/09/24/the-pope-name-dropped-a-radical-catholic-activist-and-bernie-sanders-couldnt-be-happier/

Voir de plus:

« La République ne doit pas plaider coupable »
Le philosophe et académicien s’interroge sur la difficulté de nos élites à penser ce qui nous arrive, sans céder aux anachronismes.
Alain Finkielkraut
Marianne
03/04/2015

– Marianne : Récemment, l’écrivain algérien Boualem Sansal livrait cette réflexion désabusée : « Les Européens ont toujours sous-estimé l’islamisme. » Cette minoration a-t-elle pris fin ?

Alain Finkielkraut : Au lendemain des attentats contre Charlie Hebdo et le magasin Hyper Cacher de Vincennes, et après le refus cinglant des jeunes des « quartiers populaires » de participer à la grande manifestation unitaire du 11 janvier, il était difficile pour les Français, même les plus angéliques, de continuer à faire l’impasse sur les dangers et sur la séduction de l’islamisme radical. Mais la propension à noyer le poisson dans ses causes supposées n’a pas disparu. Et le gouvernement a donné l’exemple en dénonçant l’apartheid culturel, ethnique et territorial qui sévirait dans nos banlieues. Ainsi la République a-t-elle plaidé coupable pour les attaques mêmes dont elle faisait l’objet.

– Pendant trente ans, un mélange de naïveté et de lâcheté a-t-il empêché de nombreux intellectuels de prendre la mesure du phénomène ?

Je ne vois chez nos intellectuels ni naïveté, ni lâcheté, mais, si j’ose dire, une vigilance anachronique. En Sarkozy, conseillé par Patrick Buisson, son « génie noir », ils combattaient la réincarnation du maréchal Pétain. Les musulmans leur apparaissaient comme les juifs du XXIe siècle. L’antifascisme façonnait leur vision du monde. Ils ne voulaient pas et ne veulent toujours pas voir dans la crise actuelle des banlieues autre chose qu’une résurgence de la xénophobie et du racisme français.

– En France, quelle place a tenu – et tient – la francophobie d’une part des élites dans cette minoration ?

Les élites dont vous parlez ne sont pas francophobes ; face au nationalisme fermé de « l’idéologie française », elles se réclament de la patrie des droits de l’homme. Leur France est la « nation ouverte » célébrée par Victor Hugo, « qui appelle chez elle quiconque est frère ou veut l’être ». Le problème, c’est que, toutes à cette opposition gratifiante entre l’ouvert et le fermé, ces élites légitiment la haine qui se développe dans certains quartiers de nos villes pour les « faces de craie ». C’est l’exclusion, disent ces élites, qui engendre la francophobie.

– Après le 11 septembre 2001, un vaste débat s’est levé. Vous avez pointé dans l’Imparfait du présent les disculpateurs de l’islamisme qui faisaient remonter tout le mal à « l’axe Washington – Tel-Aviv ». Ces personnes-là ont-elles empêché la prise de conscience de la menace globale ?

« L’Amérique victime de son hyperpuissance », titrait Télérama après le 11 septembre 2001. Ce qu’on a du mal à penser aujourd’hui comme alors, c’est que l’Occident puisse être haï non pour l’oppression qu’il exerce, mais pour les libertés qu’il propose. Sayyid Qotb est devenu le principal doctrinaire des Frères musulmans, après un séjour aux Etats-Unis, en 1948, où il a été confronté à cette « liberté bestiale qu’on nomme la mixité », à « ce marché d’esclaves qu’on nomme « émancipation de la femme » », à « ces ruses et anxiétés d’un système de mariage et de divorce si contraire à la vie naturelle. En comparaison, quelle raison, quelle hauteur de vue, quelle joie en islam, et quel désir d’atteindre celui qui ne peut être atteint ».

– L’année dernière, vous avez publié l’Identité malheureuse (1). Cet essai mélancolique a été étrillé par une partie de la critique, et le Monde des livres a cru pouvoir discerner des similitudes entre vos inquiétudes et celles de Marine Le Pen. Quelles réflexions vous inspire ce type de rapprochement ?

L’esprit du temps réussit l’exploit paradoxal de nous faire vivre hors de notre temps, à côté de nos pompes. Alors que la France change de visage, il affirme, imperturbable, que l’histoire se répète, et il cherche des racistes et des fascistes pour donner corps à cette affirmation. J’ai beau être juif et défendre l’école républicaine, me voici lepéniste, et même – il faut ce qu’il faut – maurrassien.

– Avec Régis Debray, Elisabeth Badinter, Catherine Kintzler et Elisabeth de Fontenay, vous avez signé un texte intitulé « Le Munich de l’école républicaine », au moment de l’affaire dite de Creil (sur le port du voile à l’école), en septembre 1989. Plus de vingt-cinq ans après, quelles menaces pèsent, d’après vous, dans l’enceinte scolaire sur la conception exigeante de la laïcité dont vous vous réclamez ?

La menace était très clairement énoncée en 2004 par le rapport Obin sur les signes et manifestations d’appartenance religieuse dans les établissements scolaires : « Tout laisse à penser que, dans certains quartiers, les élèves sont incités à se méfier de tout ce que les professeurs leur proposent, qui doit d’abord être un objet de suspicion, comme ce qu’ils trouvent à la cantine dans leur assiette ; et qu’ils sont engagés à trier les textes étudiés selon les mêmes catégories religieuses du halal (autorisé) et du haram (interdit). » La question du voile et celle de la nourriture sont deux composantes d’un phénomène beaucoup plus large de sécession culturelle. Et ce phénomène est en expansion.

– La géopolitique n’est pas votre registre d’intervention privilégié, mais vous suivez ce que l’islamologue Mohammed Arkoun a appelé « l’extension de la pandémie djihadiste ». Est-ce l’idée califale (c’est-à-dire le projet de rétablissement du califat) qui est devenue le moteur des revendications islamistes ?

Je ne sais pas. Ce que je sais, grâce à Gilles Kepel, c’est que les Beurs, qui avaient fait la grande marche pour l’égalité en 1983, rejettent maintenant avec horreur ce vocable « tenu au mieux pour méprisant à leur endroit, au pire, pour un complot sioniste destiné à faire fondre comme du beurre leur identité arabo-islamique dans le chaudron des potes de SOS Racisme touillé par l’Union des étudiants juifs de France ».

– Etes-vous de ceux qui préférez, avec Michel Onfray, une analyse juste d’Alain de Benoist à une analyse fausse de Bernard-Henri Lévy ? Qu’avez-vous pensé de la réaction de Manuel Valls, accusant le fondateur de l’Université populaire de Caen de « brouiller les cartes » avec le Front national, et regrettant, plus généralement, le silence des intellectuels face à l’extrême droite et à sa menace ?

Je pense que Michel Onfray préfère aussi – et il l’a dit – une analyse juste de Bernard-Henri Lévy à une analyse fausse d’Alain de Benoist. Pour ma part, je citerai Camus dans sa lettre adressée aux Temps modernes après la critique au vitriol de l’Homme révolté, parue dans cette revue : « On ne décide pas de la vérité d’une pensée selon qu’elle est à droite ou à gauche, et moins encore selon ce que la droite et la gauche décident d’en faire. A ce compte, Descartes serait stalinien et Péguy bénirait M. Pinay. Si, enfin, la vérité me paraissait à droite, j’y serais. » Je ne suis donc pas plus impressionné par la sortie de Manuel Valls que par la campagne de 1982 contre le « silence des intellectuels ». Le gouvernement est légitimement affolé par la montée du Front national, mais ce ne sont pas les incantations antifascistes qui inverseront la tendance et changeront la donne ; c’est la prise en compte par la gauche comme par la droite traditionnelle de l’inquiétude de toujours plus de Français devant la mutation culturelle qui nous tombe dessus, qui n’a été décidée par personne.

– Est-ce qu’il vous arrive de douter de la justesse de vos angoisses ? Vous arrive-t-il de vous demander si, comme certains vous le reprochent, vous êtes devenu obsédé par vos combats ?

Fontenelle a écrit un jour : « On s’accoutume trop quand on est seul à ne penser que comme soi. » J’essaie donc de ne pas rester seul trop longtemps et je fais même l’émission « Répliques » pour être confronté à des points de vue très différents des miens. Mais ce n’est pas ma faute si l’actualité radote et me renvoie sans cesse à la réalité insupportable de l’éclatement de mon pays. Je suis attaqué et même insulté par ceux qui ne veulent surtout pas regarder cette réalité en face. Devant les mauvaises nouvelles, ou, pis encore, devant les nouvelles qui contredisent l’idée reçue du mal et du méchant, le plus simple est encore de s’en prendre au messager et de lui faire la peau.

(1) L’Identité malheureuse, réédition, Gallimard, « Folio essais ».

Voir enfin:

Réné Girard et les joies du bashing
Nicolas journet
Sciences humaines
juin 2010
Mis à jour le 15/06/2011

Le père du désir mimétique est la dernière victime expiatoire du critique René Pommier. Le bashing est-il si nuisible qu’il se l’imagine ?
Commencer par choisir un « père fondateur », « un gourou international » ou un « maître à penser » sur lequel plus de vingt thèses ont été soutenues, couvert de récompenses et de doctorats honoris causa, bardé d’une œuvre traduite en plus de cinq langues. Autopsier cette dernière jusqu’à l’écœurement, puis en livrer les morceaux les plus obscurs et les plus navrants nappés de sauce piquante : c’est la recette de René Pommier, agrégé de lettres, professeur émérite à la Sorbonne, esprit rationaliste et autoproclamé « fervent mécréant ». À trente ans d’intervalle, il s’est offert un tableau de chasse honorable : Roland Barthes (servi en deux fois : 1978 et 1987) et Sigmund Freud (croqué en 2008). Et voici qu’il récidive : René Girard, un allumé qui se prend pour un phare (Kimé, 2010) n’est pas un quatrain de potache, mais le titre d’une jubilante entreprise de déboulonnage du maître de la pensée mimétique.

R. Girard, rappelons-le, est un spécialiste de la littérature devenu, au fil d’une œuvre abondante, l’auteur d’une ambitieuse thèse sur l’origine de la violence, des religions, de la culture et du christianisme. Académicien célébré en France, il est depuis des années tout autant enseigné, lu et commenté en Californie et à Sydney. C’est une figure internationale. En réalité, annonce d’entrée R. Pommier, son cas est simple : c’est un mégalomane, son œuvre n’est que « divagation » et sa pensée « ne vaut pas tripette ». On fait difficilement plus concis, mais on n’écrit pas cela sans quelques munitions.

Le désir mimétique, postulat séduisant mais absurde
Malgré la brièveté de son pamphlet, R. Pommier parvient à s’attaquer dans le détail à quelques thèses centrales de la pensée de R. Girard en se livrant à un épluchage en règle de ses sources et de sa logique.

Exemple  : la théorie du désir mimétique, fondamentale, est un postulat séduisant, mais absurde. Si nous ne désirons que ce qu’autrui a désiré avant nous, comment cela a-t-il bien pu commencer un jour ? Les archétypes littéraires que R. Girard avance pour preuve (Don Juan, Don Quichotte) sont contrefaits : Don Juan est un adepte du coup de foudre spontané, Sancho Pança un vrai glouton, qui ne partage nullement les désirs de son maître.

Autre exemple : R. Girard affirme que la violence naît toujours et partout de cette contagion du désir. Mais sa démonstration n’est, selon R. Pommier, qu’une épatante fiction. Dans la plupart des cas qu’il analyse, la peur ou la haine sont des facteurs autrement plus probables. R. Girard, de plus, a mal lu les anthropologues : aucune étude classique n’a montré que le rite du sacrifice eût pour fonction d’apaiser les rivalités entre les hommes ni d’enrayer la violence mimétique. Les bons auteurs ont tous compris qu’il est destiné à apaiser les dieux, non les hommes. Le modèle sacrificiel, à la moulinette duquel R. Girard passe la mythologie grecque et l’Ancien Testament, n’est donc qu’un « délire interprétatif », de même que la « vérité mimétique » dont il fait la clé de la révélation chrétienne. Au mépris de la diversité des textes nouveau testamentaires et de la tradition théologique, R. Girard prétend que, deux mille ans avant lui, le Christ ne dit pas autre chose que ce que lui-même a compris : le sacrifice n’est qu’un mensonge, car la victime est innocente. C’est ainsi que le christianisme, soutenait R. Girard il y a quelques années, a anticipé sur une vérité dont lui-même serait le génial et l’unique découvreur. On fait difficilement plus fort. Il conviendrait donc, persifle R. Pommier, « que tous les chrétiens fêtassent la naissance de René Girard en même temps que celle du Christ ».

En fin de partie, le verdict tombe, et on se doute qu’il n’est pas tendre : d’élucubrations en lectures abusives, R. Girard, selon R. Pommier, ne parvient certes pas à « battre les records d’imbécillité » d’un R. Barthes, mais n’est pas loin de s’en approcher. Il l’écrase en tout cas sur un autre terrain : celui de l’outrecuidance et de l’autocélébration.

Pulsions tauromachiques et iconoclasme radical
Que dire de plus ? L’écriture de R. Pommier peut, selon le cas, réjouir ou indigner le lecteur pétrifié par tant de sarcasmes. La question de savoir si une telle critique est utile ou nuisible au débat s’efface d’abord devant la joie communicative de l’auteur. Il ne s’en cache pas : depuis qu’à l’âge de 15 ans, une vache a succombé sous la roue de sa bicyclette, il adore bousculer ces animaux sacrés. Mais pourquoi ceux-ci plutôt que ceux-là ? Il s’avère que R. Pommier déteste en particulier deux ou trois choses : la prétention intellectuelle, les idées « extravagantes » et le snobisme mêlé de crainte qui fait qu’on les écoute. Entré en lice à la fin des années 1970, il s’est donc heurté au goût immodéré de l’époque pour les théories ambitieuses, les éclats déconstructionnistes et les idées soupçonneuses des maîtres : Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida et d’autres, autant de figures de premier plan dont le culte et les idées trop neuves ont éveillé en lui des pulsions tauromachiques. De là vient son penchant pour l’iconoclasme radical, celui qui se soucie peu de quoi mettre à la place. À ce jeu-là, que gagne-t-on ?

Rappelons que R. Pommier n’est ni le premier, ni le dernier à pratiquer ce sport de plume que les Américains appellent « bashing », et qu’en français on traduira par « éreintement ». Souvenons-nous. D’abord, il y eut en 1980 le goguenard Effet ’yau de poêle de François Georges sur les pitreries de J. Lacan. Plus modéré, La Pratique de l’esprit humain, de Marcel Gauchet et Gladys Swain (1980), ne laissa pourtant pas intacte la réputation de M. Foucault. Puis vint le galop d’essai – sérieux mais accusateur – de La Pensée 68 (Luc Ferry et Alain Renaut, 1985) dénonçant les abus du quatuor Foucault-Lacan-Bourdieu-Derrida. Il inaugurait l’ère des « nouveaux philosophes », aujourd’hui à leur tour placés dans le collimateur. Huit ans plus tard, James Miller cible, lui, la vie sexuelle de Michel Foucault.

Puis Alan Sokal et Jean Bricmont épinglent, tout à la fois, J. Lacan, Julia Kristeva, J. Derrida et la nouvelle génération des postmodernes (Impostures intellectuelles, 1997). Ensuite, c’est au tour de P. Bourdieu, relativement épargné jusque-là : en 1998, Jeannine Verdès-Leroux le peint en charlatan et en terroriste (Le Savant et la Politique), Louis Gruel en illusionniste (2005). La même année, Le Livre noir de la psychanalyse importe en France une spécialité déjà florissante aux États-Unis : le « Freud bashing  », qui fera souche à Paris et vient de gagner Michel Onfray. Bien des têtes célèbres ont été dévissées avant celle de R. Girard. Ce qui signifie que, contrairement à une idée répandue, la vindicte n’est pas morte et que le politiquement correct ne règne pas vraiment. Ensuite, qu’elle ne tue personne : le bashing est aussi un hommage rendu au rayonnement des auteurs et des œuvres qu’il vise. La plupart y survivent très bien. Enfin, que sa fonction est aussi de faire de la place pour de nouvelles idées. Mais pas toujours : R. Pommier, quant à lui, se contenterait bien d’un retour au bon sens et au respect de l’antérieur. C’est sans doute là ce qu’il y a de moins passionnant chez lui.

René Pommier, René Girard, un allumé qui se prend pour un phare, Kimé, 2010.


Crise des réfugiés: Attention, une distorsion peut en cacher une autre (Politicians and media’s irresponsible coverage of current refugee invasion of Europe sparks online backlash of fake, twisted, edited or taken out of context refugee images)

27 septembre, 2015

Vlora

Vlora2

Dans les années 1980, les réformes de Mikhaïl Gorbatchev amènent de grands changement au sein du bloc de l’Est. À partir de 1989, les régimes communistes européens tombent tous les uns après les autres. De nombreux troubles politiques apparaissent en Albanie et plusieurs millions d’albanais fuient le pays. Le 7 août 1991, le Vlora décharge du sucre en provenance de Cuba à Durrës. Pendant le déchargement, plus de 20 000 migrants montent illégalement à bord et forcent le commandant, Halim Milaqi, à les amener en Italie. Celui-ci obtempère et demande l’autorisation d’accoster à Brindisi. Les autorités italiennes refusent et lui demandent de se rendre à Bari afin que des locaux soient aménagés pour les immigrants; mais le manque d’organisation lié à l’absence de plusieurs personnes nécessaires pour obtenir les autorisations (la majorité sont en vacances ce jour-là) fait que le navire arrive à Bari avant que les centres d’accueil pour les migrants ne soient prêts. Pour rentrer dans le port, le commandant mentionne des blessés graves à bord et invoque une impossibilité de reculer en raison de la lourde charge. De nombreux migrants se jettent à l’eau afin d’essayer de rejoindre la rive à la nage. Le navire est amarré au quai Molo Carboni, le plus éloigné de la ville, le 8 août 1991. Il s’agit encore aujourd’hui du plus grand débarquement illégal en Italie. Wikipedia
I am illegal, not refugee. In my country, the only thing you can do there is either drugs or crimes. So I was in prison several times, for drugs, also for trying to kill another guy. (…) We flew to Istanbul and then took a bus to Izmir. There we destroyed our passports and just mixed with the Syrian refugees. We then took the boat from Izmir to Greece. From there to Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and now we are in Vienna. (…) It’s really easy now to travel with these refugees. We received food and shelter, and a nice welcoming from people so far. (…) So when someone asks us, where do you live? We say Damascus. Where are you from? Answer Syria. Hamza (27, Algerian)
There are people who are trying to benefit from the situation. I’ve met Egyptians who claimed they were Syrians, but the dialect is Egyptian. I’ve also met people from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Libya who all are now flying to Istanbul and then go to Izmir where they destroy passports. I’ve also met Palestinians who live in camps in Lebanon and now claim they were from Yarmouk camp in Syria. Many of them said they have family in Germany and just use this situation to finally get asylum. Most of these people say they’ve lost their passports. The sad thing is that those Syrians who really are fleeing war will be the ones paying the price. Fares
Moving among the tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees passing through the train stations of Europe are many who are neither Syrian nor refugees, but hoping to blend into the mass migration and find a back door to the West. There are well-dressed Iranians speaking Farsi who insist they are members of the persecuted Yazidis of Iraq. There are Indians who don’t speak Arabic but say they are from Damascus. There are Pakistanis, Albanians, Egyptians, Kosovars, Somalis and Tunisians from countries with plenty of poverty and violence, but no war. It should come as no surprise that many migrants seem to be pretending they are someone else. The prize, after all, is the possibility of benefits, residency and work in Europe. (…) Many of the asylum seekers tell journalists and aid workers that they are from Syria, even if they are not, under the assumption that a Syrian shoemaker fleeing bombed-out Aleppo will be welcome, while a computer programmer from Kosovo will not be. It is common knowledge on the migratory route that some who are not from Syria shred their real passports in Turkey and simply fake it. A couple of reporters, one a native Arabic speaker, who wandered through train stations in Vienna found plenty of newcomers whose accents did not match their stories and whose stories did not make sense. Swimming in the river of humanity are shady characters, too, admitted criminals, Islamic State sympathizers and a couple of guys from Fallujah, one with a fresh bullet wound, who when asked their occupation seemed confused. (…) The refugees report that a forged Syrian passport can be bought on the Turkish border for as little as $200. A reporter for Britain’s Daily Mail bought a Syrian passport, ID card and driver’s license for $2,000 in Turkey under the name of a real man who was killed in the conflict. An Austrian security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there are also thriving black markets for Syrian passports in Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. But most are arriving in Vienna without ever having shown a passport or document to officials, as long as they travel in the stream of asylum seekers. Authorities along the way may ask for names and countries of origin, but they are not scrutinizing documents. Opportunists can easily pass through borders simply claiming to be Syrians, often without offering any proof. (…) Confronting a surge in migrants falsely claiming to be from war-torn nations, European authorities are seeking to bolster screening efforts, particularly at gateway nations such as Greece and Italy. (…) But Greece has been so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that many are slipping through. Most economic migrants and war refugees in Vienna say they have arrived without being photographed, fingerprinted or subjected to biometric measurements. Some of the new arrivals will make claims to stay based on threat of persecution because of clan or religion; others may seek to be reunited with family already in Europe. And some may never try to become legal residents, but live in the shadows. It will take months to sort out their stories. The NYT
Face à l’hostilité de certains sur l’accueil des migrants, les Européens feraient bien de se souvenir du passé. Voilà en substance le message qui accompagne une photo relayée à des centaines de reprises depuis quelques jours. Il s’agit d’un détournement. L’image est impressionnante : le bateau déborde littéralement de passagers; des grappes de personnes le recouvre presqu’entièrement. « Voilà des migrants européens vers le Maroc ou la Tunisie pendant la Première Guerre mondiale », précise le message qui accompagne l’image sur les réseaux sociaux. Le souci, c’est que cette photo ne remonte pas du tout au conflit de 1914-1918. Elle montre en fait l’arrivée du cargo Vlora dans le port italien de Bari le 8 août 1991. A son bord, plusieurs milliers de migrants albanais, venus tenter leur chance en Europe un an après la chute du régime communiste. Comme le raconte ce rapport du Conseil de l’Europe, Rome décide alors de regrouper ces candidats à l’asile dans un stade de la ville. De la nourriture et des vêtements sont distribués. Mais « les autorités ont considéré qu’ils étaient venus chercher une amélioration de leur situation économique et ne pouvaient donc pas être assimilés à des réfugiés politiques ». La très grande majorité des migrants albanais a donc été renvoyée en Albanie. Franceinfo
Qui arrêtera cette folie ? La prodigue Union européenne (UE) met le destin des peuples à l’encan en applaudissant, derrière l’Allemagne exaltée, à l’invasion des clandestins qui forcent les portes de Schengen. Des libérateurs ne seraient pas mieux acclamés. Or ils sont des millions, dans les pays arabo-musulmans, à vouloir gagner l’UE enivrée de ses vertus. Cette semaine, la petite île grecque de Lesbos était submergée par 20 000 «  migrants ». Les barrières volent en éclats, depuis qu’Angela Merkel a promis de recevoir 800 000 demandeurs d’asile cette année. François Hollande s’est engagé pour 24 000 personnes en deux ans. Peu importe les chiffres : les feux sont passés au vert, sans discernement ni recul. Les commissaires de Bruxelles, qui ont toujours appelé de leurs vœux une immigratAAæion massive, sans se soucier de son intégration culturelle, sont complices du bouleversement identitaire enclenché. La propagande émotionnelle s’est emballée, après la diffusion de la photo d’un corps d’enfant échoué sur une plage turque. Depuis, les « humanistes » de tréteaux, artistes ou politiques, moralisent sur la « fraternité humaine » en exposant publiquement leur grande bonté. Ils accusent évidemment l’Occident d’être coupable des désastres qui frappent l’Afghanistan, l’Irak, la Syrie, la Libye, etc. Persuadés d’avoir raison, ils exigent des excuses de ceux qui ont soutenu, depuis le 11 septembre 2001, les résistances aux offensives du nazislamisme. Ils crachent par habitude sur les États-Unis et leurs alliés, mais ignorent le totalitarisme coranique, responsable du chaos. Combien de soldats de Daech, infiltrés parmi ces exilés ? L’État islamique avait promis, début 2015, d’utiliser la bombe migratoire pour déstabiliser l’Europe. Mais cela fait longtemps que l’aveuglement narcissique berce les beaux parleurs. Il suffit d’observer la jubilation des idéologues de l’égalitarisme, de l’indifférenciation et de l’homme remplaçable pour les tenir comme inspirateurs de la béatitude des dirigeants et les médias du camp du Bien. Ivan Rioufol
Les « humanistes » sont des dangers publics, quand ils ne voient pas plus loin que leurs psychés. Lorsqu’ils se mêlent de diriger des pays, voire l’Union européenne elle-même, ils montrent leur inconsistance en se révélant incapables de prévoir les conséquences de leurs élans compassionnels. L’ahurissante légèreté Angela Merkel, qui a ouvert ses frontières aux « migrants » sous les hourras des belles âmes, restera probablement comme l’aboutissement de la régression politique réduite aux pulsions émotives. La décision de la chancelière, ce week-end, de rétablir le contrôle aux frontières de son pays soudainement envahi signe sans doute la fin des utopies sur l’accueil pour tous, dont elle était devenue l’étendard. Elle justifie sa volte-face par le fait que Schengen a démontré qu’il ne maîtrisait pas l’immigration et laissait passer, à côté des réfugiés politiques, beaucoup de faussaires. Mais cette situation, décrite ici depuis le début, est connue de tous depuis toujours. Elle n’est d’ailleurs pas un obstacle pour la France, qui se flatte d’accueillir et de prendre en charge des « réfugiés » dont rien ne dit qu’ils le sont tous. Il suffit de relire les dithyrambes de la presse française pour se désoler de la capitulation de l’esprit critique dans une large partie de la profession. « L’incroyable madame Merkel », « La dame de cœur », « le futur prix Nobel de la paix », auront été quelques-uns des lauriers tressés par le camp du Bien, dans un manichéisme réservant aux pays récalcitrants, et singulièrement au premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban, toutes les réprobations morales. Disons les choses comme elles se présentent : le revirement allemand couvre de ridicule les sermonneurs qui ont semé la tempête migratoire. Le ministre de l’Intérieur français, Bernard Cazeneuve, qui entend faire de la « pédagogie » pour expliquer sa politique d’accueil, ne peut que s’enliser dans une propagande irréfléchie qui n’a évidemment pas le soutien de l’opinion. Incapable idéologiquement de concevoir la moindre vertu aux frontières nationales, il parle d’ouvrir en Grèce, en Italie et en Hongrie des « hot spots », en collaboration avec l’Union européenne. Mais cette dernière se dévoile, avec l’Allemagne immature et la France suiveuse, comme autant de dangers pour l’Europe, fragilisée par quarante ans d’immigration de peuplement et de multiculturalisme imposé. Le cynisme mercantile du président du Medef, Pierre Gattaz, qui salue une « opportunité » dans l’arrivée d’une main d’oeuvre docile, est une autre agression pour les Français soucieux de préserver la cohésion de leur nation ouverte. En réalité, l’effet de cet excès de xénophilie est, dès à présent, de replacer au cœur du débat public des sujets évacués : l’immigration, le retour aux frontières, la préférence nationale, l’expulsion effective des migrants économiques et des clandestins. Sans parler de la faillite des partis politiques et de l’Union européenne elle-même. Dans le fond, merci Angela Merkel pour tant de maladresses ! Ivan Rioufol
Si les dirigeants allemands et français n’avaient pas applaudi quand Obama a retiré toutes les troupes américaines d’Irak ; soutenu ensuite les « rebelles » en Syrie ; défini l’État Islamique, alors embryonnaire, comme une équipe d’amateurs ; voulu, après la chute de Ben Ali et de Mouba­rak, celle de Kadhafi, la situation serait différente. (…) Ils ont voulu les causes. Ils ont les effets. Un président des États-Unis avait énoncé un projet stratégique destiné à éviter tout ce qui est en train de se passer, et qui découle de la guerre déclarée par l’islam radical au monde occidental. Il s’appelait George Walker Bush. Les dirigeants européens l’ont détesté. Ils ont à la Maison Blanche un homme à leur goût. Ils goûtent. Tous ceux qui vivent en Europe doivent déguster, hélas… Guy Millière
Of all the irresponsible decisions taken in recent years by European politicians, few will cause as much human misery as Angela Merkel’s plan to welcome Syrian refugees to Germany. Hailed as enlightened moral leadership, it is in fact the result of panic and muddled thinking. Her pronouncements will lure thousands more into the hands of unscrupulous people-traffickers. Her insistence that the rest of the continent should share the burden will add political instability to the mix. Merkel has made a dire situation worse. (…) The distinction between refugee and economic migrant is also being elided. Many of the Syrians making this journey are fleeing war, but many others are fleeing camps in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey. The incentive to do this is growing, because life there is becoming harsher. As Michael Moller, the head of the UN’s Geneva office, warned this week, these millions will ‘get up and leave and come to Europe’ unless conditions in the camps improve. Iraqis are also joining in; extra flights are being laid on from Baghdad to Turkey as people go on the move in the belief that Merkel has created a window of migration opportunity that may not last. It is at this point that the distinction between refugee and immigrant, on which European law is based, breaks down. The economic pull is exacerbated because, unlike in previous times, the residents of the refugee camps have access to mobile phones and information. They know that Germany has said it expects to accept 800,000 asylum-seekers this year (a figure greater than the population of some EU members). They will have heard about — or seen — the welcome being given to refugees arriving there, the reception committees and the politicians holding placards saying ‘refugees welcome’. All of this will encourage many more to embark on the perilous journey to Europe. The European Union’s energies would be far better spent improving life in the camps and finding ways to allow people to work there, as Professor Paul Collier suggested in these pages last month. (…) Another danger of Merkel’s open-door policy is that it may make Syria’s recovery from civil war harder. By accepting those who have managed to make it to Europe, rather than those still in the camps, Germany is, intentionally or not, cherry-picking the more prosperous members of what used to be Syrian society, those who have sufficient resources to pay the traffickers. Without them, their ravaged country is far less likely to make a recovery once the fighting eventually stops. (…) Merkel’s actions, now, will be hard to correct: her words cannot be unsaid. She has exacerbated a problem that will be with us for years, perhaps decades. More than 40 per cent of those who applied for asylum in Germany in the first half of this year came from the former Yugoslavia; the last of its wars ended 14 years ago. Handling all of this correctly will require true statesmanship, which means thinking through consequences. Merkel is failing that test spectacularly. The Spectator
Few people say it out loud, but it’s the image of Germans welcoming “others” on in-bound trains from the east—from Hungary, very telegenically, when I was there—that arrests their attention. What a contrast with the pictures of other Germans in an earlier time shipping “others” to the east, on out-bound trains, to places like Treblinka and Auschwitz. [But] What sort of sound is that other shoe going to make when it finally does drop? Truth be told, the German leadership—and the EU leadership as well, with Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg in the lead—are planting the seeds for long-term agony. That agony will comes in three forms: the economics of the welfare state; the self-blinding politics of multiculturalism; and security. (…) If only a tenth of one percent of these Arabs are now or are later turned toward salafi-based political violence for any number of reasons we can all think of, then Germany will have a problem that will shred its esteemed privacy laws to bits, whether Germans like it or not. (…) Meanwhile, the moral hazard problem is getting out of control. The word is out in Syria, and Iraq, and Lebanon, and among Palestinians in various places: They see the pictures, they send the men, then comes family reunification, and the next thing you know, in as little as a year or two, there could be five million Levantine Arabs (and a smattering of Kurds) clotting about in German cities. (…) Only a tiny percentage of these asylum seekers are well enough educated to hold down a middle-class enabling professional job in an economy like Germany’s.So the sound of the other shoe will consist of gunfire and bombs, most likely, and the telltale sucking sound of cash exiting the coffers of the still very generous but increasingly fiscally fragile German welfare state. And what of the politics?The Left’s normative seizure of Germany is truly amazing. Even the Chancellor, who by German standards is far from a raving leftist, appears to firmly believe that everyone must be a multiculturalist for moral reasons, and that all people who want to preserve the ethno-linguistic integrity of their communities—whether in Germany or in Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere—are acting out of base motives. One even sees self-righteous criticism of the Australians now in the German press. The German leadership’s understanding of its moral obligation is without qualification against contingency; they refuse to limit in any way the number of asylum seekers who can be taken into Germany, or the speed with which they may come. But(…) wanting one’s own community to be a certain way is not aggressively or actively prejudicial against others, any more than declining to give money to a beggar on a city street is morally equivalent to hitting him in the head with a crowbar. It is simply preferring the constituency of a high-social trust society, from which, social science suggests, many good things come: widespread security, prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity being prominent among them.It is, in my view, better morally to respect the dignity of difference than it is to try to expunge it though the mindless homogenization of humankind, which is the unstated premise at the base of the “thinking” of much of the EU elite. What better way to get rid of pesky nationalism than to get rid of nations, eh? One can hardly blame contemporary Germans for this sort of thinking, for their own nationalism turned out to be rabidly illiberal at one point in their history. But it is nonetheless an error of moral reasoning. Asylum seekers distort the moral choice with the intensity of their need, and their innocence; but the point is that what we see in Western Europe is not a case of what is moral versus what is base, but two kinds of rights, incommensurate (à la Isaiah Berlin) as they are, clashing. This basic truth seems to have gone missing in Germany lately, and, unfortunately, its expression in Hungary comes from a man who is toxic morally and opportunistic as well, and so gives that side of the argument a very bad name.(…) All this moral unction reminds me of the reality-challenged 1920s in Europe, which gave rise to the very ugly 1930s (and yes, there will be a sharp economic downturn to speed the effect; it’s already begun, in China, because we have allowed a half dozen major regional business cycles with their own, often balancing-out, dynamics to coalesce into one huge global business cycle), and we all know what happened next. How is the thinking in Berlin now different in essence from the calamity of Kellogg-Briand and Locarno? It is downright Kantian: The ethereal categorical imperative über alles. It also seems to me very Christian in the sense that it represents a tilt of intentions over consequences—and Kant was, remember, a Lutheran Pietist, so we know where his basic intellectual urges came from. Indeed, the denizens of the German Left seem to me a very religious people, only they think they’re secularists just because a clutch of proper names has changed, and they don’t often go to church anymore, but rather collect for the functional equivalent of communal worship in political meetings, university seminars, and protest rallies.For all this we can blame the Nazis, because the moral ricochet over time is clear, and it is in many ways very noble. It’s nice that the Germans want to be moral, charitable, hospitable, generous and kind, isn’t it? But absent a heavy doze of Niebuhrian moral realism, they now risk letting dead Nazis derange living thought from beyond the grave. (…) One fears that if reasonable people do not somehow apply a brake to this wild excess of selfless saintliness, unreasonable people eventually will. And guess who might still be around to cheer, encourage, and perhaps even arm the unreasonable? Yes, Vlad the Putin himself, as he is indeed already doing in a minor key. Putin would love to destroy the European Union and all it stands for, almost as much as he would destroy NATO if he could. There are, regrettably, plenty of European leaders these days who are unwittingly pitching in to help him, and so before very long we could be facing another kind of security problem. That would ultimately be a problem for Americans as well as for Europeans. Doesn’t it always go like that, again, whether we like it or not?  The American interest
Les photographies actuelles sont enracinées dans un héritage visuel ancien, celui des boat people, mais notre regard sur elles a changé pour devenir beaucoup plus ambigu. A l’époque, l’arrivée des Vietnamiens était présentée comme une question momentanée. Aujourd’hui, c’est le début d’un phénomène dont on ne voit pas la fin. On évoque en outre une masse uniforme d’immigrés; les panoplies de raisons qui les poussent à partir sont mises de côté au profit de la gestion de la crise. L’information n’est pas pourquoi ils viennent mais combien ils sont et comment y faire face. On oscille entre peur et compassion. [Avec les Albanais] Nous ne sommes plus dans une logique de Guerre froide puisque le Rideau de fer est tombé. Il n’y a plus de justification à la fuite. L’idée est ici celle du débarquement d’un flux immaîtrisé d’Albanais, avec cette question sous-jacente: «Que venez-vous faire chez nous maintenant que le régime autoritaire de votre pays a chuté?». La multitude est toujours menaçante si elle n’est pas accompagnée d’un discours, et la crainte d’une invasion est très claire dans cette image. On sent le débordement, la déferlante, comme aujourd’hui. [Avec les Africains] C’est une sorte de jeu des voleurs et du gendarme. Il y a un seul policier essayant de maîtriser un groupe dont on peut supposer qu’il est plus nombreux encore. Ces jeunes hommes semblent bien habillés et l’on pense tout de suite à un flux économique et non à des personnes en train de fuir un danger. Ils ne suscitent guère d’empathie; le policier est seul face à eux et s’il brandit sa matraque, il ne l’utilise pas. Evidemment, l’interprétation de cette image basculerait si c’était le cas. Là, on est dans l’idée de la défense de l’Europe face à l’afflux de migrants économiques. [Avec une petite fille dans un camp de réfugiés syriens] On est ici dans la tradition de la photographie humanitaire. L’enfant qui pleure ou qui a faim est une figure attendrissante qui revient depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Cette gamine représente ce qu’il y a de plus inoffensif face à un barbelé qui ne peut être perçu que comme une exagération. Elle suscite forcément de la compassion et exacerbe le drame. On aurait le même sentiment si elle se trouvait face à un policier, tandis que des adultes dans le même cas émeuvent beaucoup moins. Gianni Haver (Université de Lausanne)
Angela Merkel’s humane stance on immigration is a lesson to us all. The German leader has stood up to be counted. Europe should rally to her side. The Guardian
As debate about how to solve Europe’s refugee crisis continues, right-wing groups and commentators are using photos and memes to demonise the desperate people risking their lives to reach the continent. But many of the photos are being faked, twisted, edited or taken out of context in an effort to support the following myths and arguments. (…) In one of the most heartless conspiracy theories circulating online, people are claiming that the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was “staged” on a Turkish beach as part of a political plot to garner global sympathy.  People have seized on an image of a Turkish police officer picking up a child’s body on a markedly different section of beach to argue that the child’s body was moved for a photo opportunity. But the photo used as “evidence” of the alleged forgery is actually of Aylan’s older brother, five-year-old Galip, who also drowned alongside his mother as they tried to cross the Aegean Sea. His body, washed up on a different stretch of beach nearby, is visibly larger and dressed in different clothing and shoes. And far from it being a “staged” shot, the photographer who took the now iconic image of Aylan has told how she was in Bodrum to await refugee arrivals and noticed “lifeless bodies” on the beach by chance. (… ) Although the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe is undeniably huge – with estimates for this year so far hitting 500,000 people – many of the alarmist photos being circulated are fake. Belgian television station RTBF revealed that this image, claiming to show the “invasion of Italy” by “illegal immigrants” actually dates from 1991 and showed “La Vlora” bringing 20,000 migrants to the Italian port of Bari. The Independent

Attention: une distorsion peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où après le coup de folie pénitentiel de Mutti Merkel d’il y a deux semaines …

Et, entre le prétendu chef du Monde libre et celui de la chrétienté, l’orgie de bondieuseries des derniers jours…

L’Allemagne et le reste de l’Europe semblent enfin se réveiller …

Face à la véritable invasion de prétendus réfugiés qui à coup de pierres et d’Allah Akbar …

Ne sont pas loin, comme après la chute du communisme en Albanie il y a 25 ans et suite à la vacance du pouvoir à la tête du Monde libre aujourd’hui, de submerger le Vieux Continent …

Comment ne pas voir contre l’actuelle chape de plomb bien-pensante qu’illustre parfaitement l’hebdomadaire britannique The Independent …

Mais aussi, du côté musulman cette fois (?), les prétendues images de « migrants européens vers le Maroc ou la Tunisie pendant la Première Guerre mondiale » …

La flopée d’images fausses, distordues, recadrées ou prises hors contexte qui inondent actuellement l’internet …

Comme autre chose que le contrecoup logique du véritable tombereau d’images et de reportages pro-migrants …

Que taxant toute opinion contraire ou critique de racisme et de xénophobie …

Pour masquer la dimension totalement inouïe de l’évènement et de leur irresponsabilité …

Nous font subir à longueur de journée nos dirigeants et nos médias ?

The fake refugee images that are being used to distort public opinion on asylum seekers
The outpouring of public support for refugees in the wake of the death of Aylan Kurdi has sparked an online backlash
Lizzie Dearden
The Independent
16 September 2015

As debate about how to solve Europe’s refugee crisis continues, right-wing groups and commentators are using photos and memes to demonise the desperate people risking their lives to reach the continent.

But many of the photos are being faked, twisted, edited or taken out of context in an effort to support the following myths and arguments.

‘Isis jihadists are using the crisis to infiltrate Europe’
Several photos have surfaced online claiming to show Isis militants arriving in Europe, comparing images of men in battle dress and pictures of people arriving on the continent.
This man and several others ‘outed’ as Isis militants fought against the group, not with it
But even in cases where the photos do appear to be of the same person, claims that they are members of the so-called Islamic State have been wrong.

A widely shared picture claiming to be of refugees attacking police with an Isis flag actually showed a protest in Germany in 2012 – before the rise of the so-called Islamic State.
This photo is one of the many being wrongly used as ‘proof’ Isis militants are arriving in Europe
Several other images claiming to show refugees fighting for Isis wearing assault rifles and fatigues have also been debunked, with at least two of the men shown actually being part of groups fighting the jihadist group, including Kurdish forces and the Free Syrian Army.

Another meme shared by an anti-immigration group in Croatia claims to show another « Islamist » arriving in Europe. But online analysts said his uniform and equipment identified him as an anti-Isis fighter.

While there is a strong possibility that some of the people migrating to Europe may have been involved in armed conflict or linked with extremist groups, the UN has repeatedly dismissed claims that “thousands” of jihadists are arriving.

Following a Lebanese government minister’s assertion that one in 50 Syrians entering Europe could be Isis members, a  spokesperson for refugee agency the UNHCR said: “This kind of statement is extremely unhelpful.

“A refugee has a genuine fear of persecution, if you have any military connection at all then you lose your status as a refugee. There are over a million Syrians in Lebanon there is no legitimate way of providing figures like that.”

‘Refugees are healthy/rich and don’t need our help’
Pegida UK, a branch of the German group known for its huge “anti-Islamism” protests, has been sharing numerous photos claiming to show “fake” or undeserving refugees.

Many of the assertions are based on the fact people in the pictures appear not to be malnourished.

In one post spotted by news website France 24, photos of a muscular man are sarcastically labelled: “Please help feed and house this poor, defenceless refugee…’I heard we can get free steroids in England – don’t be racist and let me in!’”
But the photos were actually taken in 2013 on Christmas Island in Australia.

In other images taken at the same time, the border police’s blue uniforms can clearly be seen with “Australian Customs and Border Protection” written on them.
Numerous images of mainly Syrian refugees carrying smartphones have also been shared by right-wing blogs and commentators on social media arguing they do not need Europe’s help.

But as James O’Malley wrote in a comment piece for The Independent, possessing a phone is no indicator of how deserving an asylum seeker is of refuge, and middle-income countries like Syria are clearly just as susceptible to conflict as anywhere else.

“The answer to how surprised should we be that many of the Syrian refugees have smartphones is a resounding ‘not very’,” he said.

“The world isn’t a binary split between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ – and we should adjust our assumptions about the countries in the middle accordingly.”

‘Aylan Kurdi’s dead body was staged to sway opinion’
In one of the most heartless conspiracy theories circulating online, people are claiming that the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was “staged” on a Turkish beach as part of a political plot to garner global sympathy.

So the staged photo of poor little Aylan worked then? 20,000 Syrian. Not so much outcry if they used the original. pic.twitter.com/pLiBfZQIRc

— Lurkio (@alrightlandlord) September 7, 2015
People have seized on an image of a Turkish police officer picking up a child’s body on a markedly different section of beach to argue that the child’s body was moved for a photo opportunity.

“Little Aylan Kurdi, if he is dead, did not drown. He was killed. And the picture is a set-up fake. His body has been arranged in position,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Knights Templar International wrote: “Goulish (sic) propagandists moved and used the dead body of the little boy drowned on a Turkish beach to get pictures that would ‘best’ manipulate public opinion.”

“The media, who buy in to the UN’s politics, can not only advance its ideological aim, they can also financially benefit from twisting the true facts of the death of poor little Aylan Shenu,” a conspiracy blog added.

“And if there ever was a doubt about this being anything else, please, consider this, most telling fact:  before the most heart-wrenching photos of little Aylan were taken, his body was specifically and intentionally posed!”
Aylan Kurdi (L) and his brother Galip both died in the disaster
But the photo used as “evidence” of the alleged forgery is actually of Aylan’s older brother, five-year-old Galip, who also drowned alongside his mother as they tried to cross the Aegean Sea.

His body, washed up on a different stretch of beach nearby, is visibly larger and dressed in different clothing and shoes.

And far from it being a “staged” shot, the photographer who took the now iconic image of Aylan has told how she was in Bodrum to await refugee arrivals and noticed “lifeless bodies” on the beach by chance.

‘Europe is being invaded by swarms of refugees’
Although the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe is undeniably huge – with estimates for this year so far hitting 500,000 people – many of the alarmist photos being circulated are fake.

Belgian television station RTBF revealed that this image, claiming to show the “invasion of Italy” by “illegal immigrants” actually dates from 1991 and showed “La Vlora” bringing 20,000 migrants to the Italian port of Bari.

Zakia Khattabi, co-president of the country’s Ecolo party, reposted the photo on Twitter, writing that she’d had “enough” of the “disgusting political game” being played in Europe.

Another image of La Vlora, showing desperate Albanians climbing ion to the ship before it set off, was shared by Pegida UK on its Facebook page in a post that garnered comments calling for it to be “torpedoed”.

‘If refugees needed protection, they would bring their wives and children’
A much-shared meme posted on Facebook by far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) contrasts photos of British soldiers and male refugees arriving in Germany.
Above the soldiers, the caption reads: “Go to warzone. Leave women and children in safe country.” By the refugees, the writing says: “Go to safe country. Leave women and children in warzone.”

The image, which has been “liked” more than 2,200 times, summed up widely circulating claims that many of the people arriving are male “economic migrants” rather than asylum seekers.

But as Vice pointed out, it appears to have been taken from Reuters footage that shows dozens of women and children of all ages arriving on the same train.

The argument has been made by politicians across the world, including David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, who told BBC Radio Wales that refugees attempting to reach the UK were “mostly young men, mostly with mobile phones, chancing their luck”.

According to UNHCR figures, around 72 per cent of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean are men, with 13 per cent women and 15 per cent children.

Some aid workers have suggested the demographics may be caused by the danger of the journey, causing men to go ahead of their families in attempt to secure refuge in Europe and a home before more vulnerable relatives set off.

Voir aussi:

Non, ce bateau n’est pas rempli de migrants européens vers le Maroc
Le vrai du faux numérique

Antoine Krempf

15 septembre 2015

Face à l’hostilité de certains sur l’accueil des migrants, les Européens feraient bien de se souvenir du passé. Voilà en substance le message qui accompagne une photo relayée à des centaines de reprises depuis quelques jours. Il s’agit d’un détournement.
L’image est impressionnante : le bateau déborde littéralement de passagers; des grappes de personnes le recouvre presqu’entièrement. « Voilà des migrants européens vers le Maroc ou la Tunisie pendant la Première Guerre mondiale », précise le message qui accompagne l’image sur les réseaux sociaux.

Le souci, c’est que cette photo ne remonte pas du tout au conflit de 1914-1918. Elle montre en fait l’arrivée du cargo Vlora dans le port italien de Bari le 8 août 1991. A son bord, plusieurs milliers de migrants albanais, venus tenter leur chance en Europe un an après la chute du régime communiste.

Comme le raconte ce rapport du Conseil de l’Europe, Rome décide alors de regrouper ces candidats à l’asile dans un stade de la ville. De la nourriture et des vêtements sont distribués. Mais « les autorités ont considéré qu’ils étaient venus chercher une amélioration de leur situation économique et ne pouvaient donc pas être assimilés à des réfugiés politiques ». La très grande majorité des migrants albanais a donc été renvoyée en Albanie.

Voir encore:

« Un regard ambigu sur les migrants »
Caroline Stevan

Le Temps
01 septembre 2015

L’image des réfugiés a-t-elle évolué des boat people à aujourd’hui? Lectures de photographies avec le sociologue Gianni Haver, spécialiste des images et des médias

Il y a les chiffres, impressionnants. Il y a les histoires, effroyables. Puis il y a les images, saisissantes. Chaque jour depuis des mois, Internet et les médias relaient la tragédie de ces milliers de personnes fuyant la Syrie, l’Irak, la Libye ou l’Erythrée, s’entassant derrière des fils barbelés, crevant en mer ou pourrissant dans un camion. On s’interroge sur le sens et le poids des mots utilisés. «Migrants» n’est-il pas trop neutre face au drame vécu? «Réfugiés» peut-il être admis hors de sa définition en droit international?

Les termes, évidemment, reflètent le regard porté sur une réalité. Et les photographies, que disent-elles? Racontent-elles la même chose que celles qui montraient les boat people il y a quarante ans ou les Cubains dans les années 1990?

Le Temps a soumis six clichés au sociologue Gianni Haver, spécialiste des images et des médias. «Les photographies actuelles sont enracinées dans un héritage visuel ancien, celui des boat people, mais notre regard sur elles a changé pour devenir beaucoup plus ambigu, estime en préambule le professeur à l’Université de Lausanne. A l’époque, l’arrivée des Vietnamiens était présentée comme une question momentanée. Aujourd’hui, c’est le début d’un phénomène dont on ne voit pas la fin. On évoque en outre une masse uniforme d’immigrés; les panoplies de raisons qui les poussent à partir sont mises de côté au profit de la gestion de la crise. L’information n’est pas pourquoi ils viennent mais combien ils sont et comment y faire face. On oscille entre peur et compassion.»

«La terminologie de boat people est née avec la deuxième vague de réfugiés vietnamiens, embarqués sur des bateaux de fortune en 1979. Ceux-là sont ramenés directement par les Etats-Unis. Le cargo est bondé mais semble en bon état, avec la figure bienveillante du soldat américain. Il s’agit ici de sauver des gens du régime communiste, une logique d’accueil qui se monnaie en termes de communication. Cela valorise le système occidental par rapport à l’autre camp et cette politique n’a, du coup, jamais rencontré d’opposition malgré l’ampleur des chiffres. Les Américains ont ramené 200 000 Vietnamiens, les Français 123 000!»

«La logique ici est celle du «Radeau de la Méduse»; il y a même le drapeau qui flotte. On voit les visages, on reconnaît les gens, leur nombre est fini et on peut supposer une variété sociale. Ce n’est pas un hasard si on les présente souriants et tranquilles, c’est l’héritage de l’«exode de Mariel» en 1980, où 125 000 Cubains expulsés par Castro ont été accueillis en Floride. Ils ont directement reçu la Green Card, ce qui serait impensable aujourd’hui. On ne pensait pas aux camps de réfugiés. On était dans la même stratégie d’accueil et de communication anticommuniste que pour les Vietnamiens.»

«Nous ne sommes plus dans une logique de Guerre froide puisque le Rideau de fer est tombé. Il n’y a plus de justification à la fuite. L’idée est ici celle du débarquement d’un flux immaîtrisé d’Albanais, avec cette question sous-jacente: «Que venez-vous faire chez nous maintenant que le régime autoritaire de votre pays a chuté?». La multitude est toujours menaçante si elle n’est pas accompagnée d’un discours, et la crainte d’une invasion est très claire dans cette image. On sent le débordement, la déferlante, comme aujourd’hui.»

«Cette image symbolise les situations d’urgence en Méditerranée qui se succèdent et dont on a trouvé un coupable unique: le passeur. Les régimes que fuient ces gens et les pays qu’ils visent n’ont aucune responsabilité, toute la faute revient aux passeurs. On perçoit le drame mais, étonnamment, on est moins dans la compassion que pour les Cubains par exemple. La photographie est prise
de trop loin, on ne lit pas les visages, on ne se projette pas. La multitude provoque une mise à distance et une déshumanisation.»

«C’est une sorte de jeu des voleurs et du gendarme. Il y a un seul policier essayant de maîtriser un groupe dont on peut supposer qu’il est plus nombreux encore. Ces jeunes hommes semblent bien habillés et l’on pense tout de suite à un flux économique et non à des personnes en train de fuir un danger. Ils ne suscitent guère d’empathie; le policier est seul face à eux et s’il brandit sa matraque, il ne l’utilise pas. Evidemment, l’interprétation de cette image basculerait si c’était le cas. Là, on est dans l’idée de la défense de l’Europe face à l’afflux de migrants économiques.»

«On est ici dans la tradition de la photographie humanitaire. L’enfant qui pleure ou qui a faim est une figure attendrissante qui revient depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Cette gamine représente ce qu’il y a de plus inoffensif face à un barbelé qui ne peut être perçu que comme une exagération. Elle suscite forcément de la compassion et exacerbe le drame. On aurait le même sentiment si elle se trouvait face à un policier, tandis que des adultes dans le même cas émeuvent beaucoup moins.»

La déchéance d’Angela Merkel
Guy Milliere
Les 4 vérités
25 septembre 2015

Je n’ai pu m’empêcher, ces derniers jours, de poser un regard ironique sur la situation de chaos qui règne en Europe.

Angela Merkel, que la gauche médiatique s’empressait de béatifier, a dû revenir sur ses promesses, dans la panique et l’improvisation. Après avoir annoncé que les frontières de son pays étaient grandes ouvertes à tous les gens venus d’Afrique et d’Asie qui voulaient venir, elle a dû prendre une décision inverse et fermer les frontières de l’Allemagne.

Les arrivants se sont faits, d’un seul coup, trop nombreux. Ils ont trop demandé. Des désordres ont commencé à éclater, les gares d’arrivée se sont mises à ressembler à des lieux insalubres du tiers-monde.

Sainte Angela a dû poser les pieds sur terre, avant que les dégâts ne soient irréversibles. Des petits musulmans, venus d’un Proche-Orient où l’on s’étripe volontiers ou d’une Afrique où l’on ne fait pas mieux, a-t-elle semblé découvrir d’un seul coup, ne pourront pas si facilement remplacer les enfants blonds que les femmes allemandes ne font plus.

Des gens venus parce que les assistances sociales sont généreuses, a-t-elle semblé découvrir au même instant, ne permettront pas obligatoirement des gains de productivité mirifiques.

Je ne doute pas, pour autant, que, dès qu’elle en aura l’opportunité, elle renouvellera l’appel : elle veut vraiment, je pense, que l’Allemagne soit le pays où se pratiquera en premier le grand remplacement promis à toute l’Europe.

Hollande, qui suivait la ligne Merkel, et qui avait envoyé des émissaires à Munich pour ramener de futurs nouveaux Français bien sous tous rapports, car priant vers La Mecque, s’est plié à la volte-face de Merkel, et, dès que celle-ci reviendra à sa position initiale, il continuera à sui­vre la ligne.

Pour diluer sa responsabilité, Merkel a appelé à une réunion européenne destinée à mettre en place des quotas d’accueil obligatoire, et à forcer la main des autres pays de l’Union : la réunion s’est achevée par un échec.

Merkel et Hollande ont dû voir la réalité en face : il y a des dirigeants en Europe qui comprennent que davantage de musulmans et d’assistés en Europe, ce n’est pas nécessairement un atout.

Sans doute ces dirigeants n’ont-ils pas vu les reportages diffusés en Allemagne et en France, où on répète que tous ces jeunes hommes qui arrivent sont médecins, avocats, professeurs ou ingénieurs. Apparemment, ils raisonnent plutôt comme Viktor Orban, qui n’est pas un cas isolé et a, sur ce plan, de nombreux équivalents.

L’Europe centrale, dès lors, se hérisse de barbelés et de cordons militaires. Schengen se porte très mal. L’Union elle-même ne va pas bien du tout. Il est aisé d’anticiper que tout cela aura des conséquences politiques, en Allemagne, en France, ailleurs, et si Merkel et Hollande insistent, les conséquences seront plus lourdes encore.

Dois-je le dire ? Ce qui se passe était très prévisible. Merkel n’a pas prévu. Hollande non plus. Ils ont été aveugles et débordés. Merkel a montré son vrai visage. Hollande a montré, une fois de plus, qui il était.

La gauche médiatique a, elle, montré, une fois encore, sa xénophilie multiculturaliste et anti-occidentale et son aveuglement.

Dois-je l’ajouter ? L’appel d’air venu de Merkel (et, accessoirement, de Hollande) va continuer à faire son effet et à se diffuser. La vague qui se porte à l’assaut de l’Europe ne va pas retomber. Barbelés et cordons militaires ne vont pas disparaître de sitôt.

Dois-je l’ajouter aussi ? Si les dirigeants allemands et français n’avaient pas applaudi quand Obama a retiré toutes les troupes américaines d’Irak ; soutenu ensuite les « rebelles » en Syrie ; défini l’État Islamique, alors embryonnaire, comme une équipe d’amateurs ; voulu, après la chute de Ben Ali et de Mouba­rak, celle de Kadhafi, la situation serait différente.

Ils ont voulu les causes. Ils ont les effets. Un président des États-Unis avait énoncé un projet stratégique destiné à éviter tout ce qui est en train de se passer, et qui découle de la guerre déclarée par l’islam radical au monde occidental. Il s’appelait George Walker Bush. Les dirigeants européens l’ont détesté. Ils ont à la Maison Blanche un homme à leur goût. Ils goûtent. Tous ceux qui vivent en Europe doivent déguster, hélas…

Voir également:

Merkel’s grandstanding on Syrian refugees will lead to many more deaths at sea
The incentive is greater for people to risk the perilous journey to Europe
James Forsyth
The Spectator
12 September 2015

Of all the irresponsible decisions taken in recent years by European politicians, few will cause as much human misery as Angela Merkel’s plan to welcome Syrian refugees to Germany. Hailed as enlightened moral leadership, it is in fact the result of panic and muddled thinking. Her pronouncements will lure thousands more into the hands of unscrupulous people-traffickers. Her insistence that the rest of the continent should share the burden will add political instability to the mix. Merkel has made a dire situation worse.

On Tuesday last week, Germany declared that any Syrian who reaches the country can claim asylum there. In the days that followed, 25,000 arrived at Munich central station and that number is growing fast. Some trains from Austria have been diverted to other German cities to ease the pressure. Merkel now wants to use her clout to distribute these refugees around Europe — arguing that EU plans to resettle 160,000 may not be sufficient.

The current wave of migration started about 15 years ago, an unforeseen side-effect of globalisation. It has been vastly intensified by the chaos which followed the Arab Spring, and particularly the civil war in Syria. The EU’s responsibility is laid out in the Dublin Convention of 1990, which decrees that refugees must claim asylum in the first European Union country that they reach. This crucial safeguard was torn up by Merkel when her government declared that it will be ‘responsible’ for processing the claims of Syrians. The Dublin rules were made for a reason: to save lives, as well as to protect Europe’s borders. German panic has imperilled both priorities.

The welcome that has been given to refugees in Germany is remarkable. But encouraging these people to continue their journey is risky. The 71 refugees found dead in a lorry on an Austrian motorway last month might still be alive today had they ended their journey in Budapest. Some 7,000 refugees are estimated to have passed through Vienna during one day this week, but fewer than 100 claimed asylum there, choosing instead to head on north. Austria is rich, but Merkel’s promise exerts such a pull that people don’t want to stop until they reach Germany.

The distinction between refugee and economic migrant is also being elided. Many of the Syrians making this journey are fleeing war, but many others are fleeing camps in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey. The incentive to do this is growing, because life there is becoming harsher. As Michael Moller, the head of the UN’s Geneva office, warned this week, these millions will ‘get up and leave and come to Europe’ unless conditions in the camps improve. Iraqis are also joining in; extra flights are being laid on from Baghdad to Turkey as people go on the move in the belief that Merkel has created a window of migration opportunity that may not last. It is at this point that the distinction between refugee and immigrant, on which European law is based, breaks down.

The economic pull is exacerbated because, unlike in previous times, the residents of the refugee camps have access to mobile phones and information. They know that Germany has said it expects to accept 800,000 asylum-seekers this year (a figure greater than the population of some EU members). They will have heard about — or seen — the welcome being given to refugees arriving there, the reception committees and the politicians holding placards saying ‘refugees welcome’. All of this will encourage many more to embark on the perilous journey to Europe.

The European Union’s energies would be far better spent improving life in the camps and finding ways to allow people to work there, as Professor Paul Collier suggested in these pages last month. The camps should be properly funded. The UNHCR claims it currently has a $795 million funding gap in its Syrian operation. France has given a fraction of what Britain has to this work, which puts a rather different perspective on François Hollande’s insistence that Britain must take on more of the refugee burden. No country in Europe has given more to the refugee camps than Britain.

Another danger of Merkel’s open-door policy is that it may make Syria’s recovery from civil war harder. By accepting those who have managed to make it to Europe, rather than those still in the camps, Germany is, intentionally or not, cherry-picking the more prosperous members of what used to be Syrian society, those who have sufficient resources to pay the traffickers. Without them, their ravaged country is far less likely to make a recovery once the fighting eventually stops. As the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius warned this week, ‘If all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Isis has won the game.’

Compounding Merkel’s folly is her desire to impose mandatory refugee quotas on the rest of the EU. (Britain won’t be part of this, we are one of the countries with an opt-out.) Forcing countries to accept refugees they don’t want is bound to boost support for populist anti-immigrant parties. German public opinion might be strikingly liberal on these issues — it is important to remember that, before her recent announcements, Merkel was being criticised for not doing enough to help — but opinion in other European countries is far less so. Strong-arming recalcitrant eastern European countries into taking a significant numbers of refugees will push politics to the nationalist right in these countries. In France, Marine Le Pen has already been making political hay out of Merkel’s actions.

Given the disaster unfolding on the continent, it’s odd to see Britain coming under pressure to become more like Germany. The Prime Minister’s decision to accept refugees from the camps, rather than send thousands more into the hands of people traffickers, seems to demonstrate a better understanding of the issue. To criticise the Prime Minister for not taking those refugees who have already reached Europe is bizarre; it seems to play into the hands of the people-traffickers, who would be pushing for their customers — those who have reached Europe — to be given priority over those who are still on the Syrian border.

Many in Cameron’s circle are furious at Merkel. There is a suspicion that, as one of the Prime Minister’s confidants puts it, ‘This has more to do with what happened in Europe 70 years ago than what is happening today.’ There is also anger at the criticism being directed at London from other European capitals. One Downing Street figure says that if Britain were not supporting the camps on Syria’s borders, at least a million more people would be coming to Europe. And we should remember those who aren’t even in the camps, those who have been forced from their homes but remain trapped inside Syria.

To save lives, Europe needs to stop people from thinking that if they take the risk of trying to cross into the European Union, then they will be able to claim asylum. This means turning around the boats that attempt the journey, and paying for processing stations in Turkey and Egypt. This may be hard, but there is nothing compassionate about giving desperate people false hope.

Britain can be the voice of sanity in this debate, while others panic. Cameron can point out that refugees and migrants who are already in Europe are not in imminent fear for their lives. Those gathered at Calais trying to cross the Channel might have once fled Syria, Somali or other war-torn countries — but they are now risking their lives to leave France, which is another matter entirely.

Merkel’s actions, now, will be hard to correct: her words cannot be unsaid. She has exacerbated a problem that will be with us for years, perhaps decades. More than 40 per cent of those who applied for asylum in Germany in the first half of this year came from the former Yugoslavia; the last of its wars ended 14 years ago. Handling all of this correctly will require true statesmanship, which means thinking through consequences. Merkel is failing that test spectacularly.

Voir encore:

Insane asylum
Adam Garfinkle
Germany’s warm welcome to Syria’s refugees is earning the country good press, but it may also be sowing the seeds of long-term agony.
The American interest
September 12, 2015

I happened to be in Germany when the current refugee/asylum crisis struck. Indeed, for about a week I was in Berlin, the capital, in the Kreuzberg section of town, which happens to be about as multicultural as any thirty square block area in Germany. I did a “brown bag” seminar, as they are called, at the Aspen Institute, and also lucked into a fairly long meeting with an old friend who now works as a special assistant to the German President, Joachim Gauck. All anyone wanted to talk about, really, was the refugee crisis, and the first feeling that came to the fore was how proud—indeed astonishingly so—everyone was at the outpouring of welcome encouragement, volunteerism, and outright nobility on display in Munich and elsewhere around (most of) the country. Even columnists in Handelsblatt were blushing with pride.
Sober souls, my old friend among them in the 1994 “disappearing” black office building right next to Bellevueschloss, the President’s sprawling office complex, are counting mounting costs and waiting for the next shoe to drop. They know it will, even as they share in the wonderment that refugees far away in the Middle East could think of Germany as a country of hope. Few people say it out loud, but it’s the image of Germans welcoming “others” on in-bound trains from the east—from Hungary, very telegenically, when I was there—that arrests their attention. What a contrast with the pictures of other Germans in an earlier time shipping “others” to the east, on out-bound trains, to places like Treblinka and Auschwitz.Germans say they have an identity problem, and so they do. It’s mainly because they believe it to be so, in other words. But there are also reasons beyond self-perception. This is neither the time nor place to go into why this is, but certainly what has happened in recent days has transformed the question of Germans’ self-image. It hasn’t answered the question, but it has rephrased it in what most take to be a felicitous way. It goes something like this: We may not know exactly who we are, but whoever we are, we’re better people that we have feared we might be. We believed we could change. Now we see, at an unexpected moment of testing, that we have changed. The earth no long trembles beneath our feet as much as it did even a month ago.That is the sense of things, as I observed it, and it seems to me, further, to be infusing in the German elite a greater sense of self-confidence and willingness to lead within European affairs—at least for the time being. It has certainly transformed Chancellor Merkel from an austerity scold to someone with what we could call, for lack of a better phrase, abundant moral capital in a part of the world that values such a thing far more than it does other virtues of leadership.What sort of sound is that other shoe going to make when it finally does drop? Truth be told, the German leadership—and the EU leadership as well, with Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg in the lead—are planting the seeds for long-term agony. That agony will comes in three forms: the economics of the welfare state; the self-blinding politics of multiculturalism; and security.As to this third matter, DNI General James Clapper’s warning earlier this week, that this surge of Arabs into Europe is a security nightmare in the making, is surely correct. I tried to express this at a dinner in Warsaw on Tuesday evening, with an assortment of Poles, Germans, Norwegians, Brits, a Ukrainian, and some miscellaneous others present. I predicted that within five years Poland will be forced to erect passport control at airports for incoming European flights. (In case you are not aware, dear reader, there are none now. We flew from Berlin to Warsaw by way of Munich, and when one lands there is simply no passport control at all—meaning that any non-EU national who can get into Germany and pay for a ticket to get to Poland can indeed fly to Poland without anyone so much as asking his name or how long he intends to stay.) They all said I was wrong, but just a few days ago look what the Danes did: They basically sealed the border to rail and road traffic from Germany. And they were right to do it. If only a tenth of one percent of these Arabs are now or are later turned toward salafi-based political violence for any number of reasons we can all think of, then Germany will have a problem that will shred its esteemed privacy laws to bits, whether Germans like it or not.I confess I do not understand Juncker’s thinking. With the Schengen Zone in effect, what is to keep arriving refugees in the place to which they are originally assigned—assuming for a moment that some form of his share-the-burden scheme is agreed to? After a year or a month or in some cases even a few days they can pick themselves up and come to Berlin if they so desire, can’t they? Even if they are not supposed to, they will do it anyway—and who is going to stop them now? What Germans, in the mood the country is now in, are willing to shove them on a train against their will heading back east? (Imagine what those photos would look like . . . some ass will surely airbrush “Arbeit macht frei” into the pictures.) Why would a Syrian family want to stay in Poland, where nearly everyone quietly hates them, when they can come to Berlin, where nearly everyone, in public anyway, professes to love them?Meanwhile, the moral hazard problem is getting out of control. The word is out in Syria, and Iraq, and Lebanon, and among Palestinians in various places: They see the pictures, they send the men, then comes family reunification, and the next thing you know, in as little as a year or two, there could be five million Levantine Arabs (and a smattering of Kurds) clotting about in German cities.I do not wish to delve into the economic side of the story. The numbers are too soft in every sense, and I am not very good at the bean-counting business. I will only note that many Germans seem to think that the Levantine Arabs now entering their country by the hundreds of thousands will act like their Gastarbeiter Turks. They are in for a shock. Many also think that they’re getting the cream of the educated crop from Syria. I heard several observers note that the people coming are young men, coming not directly from Syria but from camps in Jordan and Turkey. They are presumed to be engineers, doctors, and the like, and given Germany’s age-cohort imbalanced demographic picture, the consensus among the saintly is that they will boost the German economy in the not-too-distant future. This means that they know not the first thing about the real status of education in the Arab world. Only a tiny percentage of these asylum seekers are well enough educated to hold down a middle-class enabling professional job in an economy like Germany’s.So the sound of the other shoe will consist of gunfire and bombs, most likely, and the telltale sucking sound of cash exiting the coffers of the still very generous but increasingly fiscally fragile German welfare state. And what of the politics?The Left’s normative seizure of Germany is truly amazing. Even the Chancellor, who by German standards is far from a raving leftist, appears to firmly believe that everyone must be a multiculturalist for moral reasons, and that all people who want to preserve the ethno-linguistic integrity of their communities—whether in Germany or in Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere—are acting out of base motives. One even sees self-righteous criticism of the Australians now in the German press. The German leadership’s understanding of its moral obligation is without qualification against contingency; they refuse to limit in any way the number of asylum seekers who can be taken into Germany, or the speed with which they may come. But more in Europe—a place of bloodline nationalisms compared to the U.S. creedal version—than in the United States there is a moral basis, too, for a community’s own sense of self-determination, which presumes the right of self-definition and self-composition. That is not racism in Europe any more than nervousness about immigrants is racism here in the United States. Wanting one’s own community to be a certain way is not aggressively or actively prejudicial against others, any more than declining to give money to a beggar on a city street is morally equivalent to hitting him in the head with a crowbar. It is simply preferring the constituency of a high-social trust society, from which, social science suggests, many good things come: widespread security, prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity being prominent among them.It is, in my view, better morally to respect the dignity of difference than it is to try to expunge it though the mindless homogenization of humankind, which is the unstated premise at the base of the “thinking” of much of the EU elite. What better way to get rid of pesky nationalism than to get rid of nations, eh? One can hardly blame contemporary Germans for this sort of thinking, for their own nationalism turned out to be rabidly illiberal at one point in their history. But it is nonetheless an error of moral reasoning. Asylum seekers distort the moral choice with the intensity of their need, and their innocence; but the point is that what we see in Western Europe is not a case of what is moral versus what is base, but two kinds of rights, incommensurate (à la Isaiah Berlin) as they are, clashing. This basic truth seems to have gone missing in Germany lately, and, unfortunately, its expression in Hungary comes from a man who is toxic morally and opportunistic as well, and so gives that side of the argument a very bad name.What the Europeans are doing, under the aegis of the European Union, but really at the instigation of Germany most of all, will have two basic political effects. First it will split the EU east and west, possibly even more bitterly than the economic woes of the past five years have split north and south. Indeed, it is doing so already. Second, it will reshape politics within most, if not all, West European countries.As to the former effect, think about Poland for just a moment. When Poland re-emerged into independence after World War I, it was a highly heterogeneous place. And that was troublesome for nearly every community involved, to put it mildly. The situation of most other Central and East European states was roughly comparable. Thanks to World War II and then the Russian insistence on a postwar territorial settlement of a westward-displaced kind, far more homogenous states emerged from the bloodbath. Poland today is vastly more homogeneous, both in ethno-linguistic and sectarian terms, than it ever was, and Poles by and large seem quite happy with the current situation—and they are doing well as a post-Warsaw Pact, post-communist society by most measures partly because of it. Why should they jump for joy when Mr. Juncker and the Commission in Brussels tell them that all this needs to end? They clearly are not jumping for joy, and the pressure from without is bound to help President Duda’s party in next month’s parliamentary elections.To Poland’s west we are about to witness the biggest boon for right-wing xenophobes since the 1930s. All this moral unction reminds me of the reality-challenged 1920s in Europe, which gave rise to the very ugly 1930s (and yes, there will be a sharp economic downturn to speed the effect; it’s already begun, in China, because we have allowed a half dozen major regional business cycles with their own, often balancing-out, dynamics to coalesce into one huge global business cycle), and we all know what happened next. How is the thinking in Berlin now different in essence from the calamity of Kellogg-Briand and Locarno? It is downright Kantian: The ethereal categorical imperative über alles. It also seems to me very Christian in the sense that it represents a tilt of intentions over consequences—and Kant was, remember, a Lutheran Pietist, so we know where his basic intellectual urges came from. Indeed, the denizens of the German Left seem to me a very religious people, only they think they’re secularists just because a clutch of proper names has changed, and they don’t often go to church anymore, but rather collect for the functional equivalent of communal worship in political meetings, university seminars, and protest rallies.For all this we can blame the Nazis, because the moral ricochet over time is clear, and it is in many ways very noble. It’s nice that the Germans want to be moral, charitable, hospitable, generous and kind, isn’t it? But absent a heavy doze of Niebuhrian moral realism, they now risk letting dead Nazis derange living thought from beyond the grave. At this point, most sober Germans in the elite strata are worried about money, about what all this will cost. But this is not really about money. It’s about much more important kinds of business, political business ultimately, and politics is trump.I would love to be proved wrong about all this. But the derangement of moral reasoning in Western Europe seems so advanced and deep that it is hard to be optimistic. One fears that if reasonable people do not somehow apply a brake to this wild excess of selfless saintliness, unreasonable people eventually will. And guess who might still be around to cheer, encourage, and perhaps even arm the unreasonable? Yes, Vlad the Putin himself, as he is indeed already doing in a minor key. Putin would love to destroy the European Union and all it stands for, almost as much as he would destroy NATO if he could. There are, regrettably, plenty of European leaders these days who are unwittingly pitching in to help him, and so before very long we could be facing another kind of security problem. That would ultimately be a problem for Americans as well as for Europeans. Doesn’t it always go like that, again, whether we like it or not?Anyway, folks, that’s my slant on this week’s news from Germany and Poland. Darn good beer in both countries, however. So not all the news is bad.

Voir de plus:

Thousands of Albanians Flee Aboard Ships to Italy
David Binder
The New York Times
March 7, 1991

WASHINGTON, March 6— For the third time in seven months, thousands of Albanians are fleeing their country, this time by sea as well as by land as the Communist Government sinks into what a resident of the capital called paralysis.

Since Monday, mass departures from the Adriatic ports of Vlora and Durres have been under way, virtually stripping the harbors of seaworthy vessels. A thousand or more ethnic Slavs made their way to the northern frontier, seeking entry to Yugoslavia, while other citizens in the south continue to flee to Greece.

In Tirana, huge crowds tried to storm heavily guarded Skanderbeg Square, site of half a dozen foreign embassies, on the strength of rumors that visas were available. They were driven back by security forces firing warning shots and using tear gas and water cannon, Tirana residents said. Some spoke of casualties, but offered no specifics.

Since May, when President Ramiz Alia began a program of democratization in a country where Communist doctrine held sway for 45 years, Albania has been swept by waves of unrest. The pauses between the waves have grown shorter and shorter. The latest flights are inspired at least as much by severe food shortages as by political fears stirred by arrests in the aftermath of anti-Communist demonstrations that led to bloodshed in the capital last month.

« There is no milk, » a Tirana resident said by telephone this afternoon. A member of the opposition Democratic Party in Vlora said « there is no food in the stores » in that harbor city.

Vlora, a city of about 65,000, is where the latest exodus started several days ago on the basis of rumors that ships were ferrying Albanians 50 miles across the Strait of Otranto to Italy. About 600 Albanians made it across on Tuesday, aboard a rust-spotted tugboat, a Soviet freighter and an Albanian naval tugboat.

Another 600 arrived from the port of Durres this morning aboard a Romanian freighter.

With crowds numbering in the thousands in Vlora and Durres, harbor security forces apparently gave up trying to exercise control, allowing people to swarm aboard vessels and commandeer them for transport to Italy.

Earlier today the vessel Ibridim radioed in midpassage, saying it was crammed with refugees and required assistance. Later, the freighters Tirana and Lirija approached Brindisi purportedly carrying a total of 6,000 Albanians, only to be told by Italian harbor officials to lie offshore until reception centers could be prepared.

Voir de même:

Angela Merkel’s humane stance on immigration is a lesson to us all
The German leader has stood up to be counted. Europe should rally to her side
Will Hutton
The Guardian
30 August 2015

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Saxony state governor Stanislaw Tillich leave after their visit to a refugee shelter that was attacked by far-right protesters over the weekend in Heidenau, eastern Germany. Photograph: Jens Meyer/AP
Sunday 30 August 2015 00.04 BST Last modified on Monday 31 August 2015 08.14 BST
The list of horrors swells. Last week, 71 migrants were found asphyxiated in an abandoned truck in Austria to add to the tally of hundreds of migrants drowning almost by the day in the Mediterranean. The few in Calais who die trying to get to Britain are but tragic notes in the margin of an unfolding narrative of death. The migrants know the odds; nonetheless, the UN says in the next few months the numbers will grow to 3,000 every day taking the risk and successfully entering Europe alive.

It is not Britain, the alleged “soft touch”, which is the favoured destination for what is emerging as one of the great movements of people in history, fleeing the mayhem of Syria, North Africa, Afghanistan, Eritrea or northern Nigeria aided and abetted by sinister, organised gangs of people traffickers. Instead, they prefer Germany. In the last 12 months alone, it has received some 300,000 asylum claims, 12 times more than Britain, on top of the immigration it receives within the EU under the freedom of movement rules it defends to the last. During 2015, the number of asylum seekers to Germany is set to rise to 800,000. Germany is becoming a country of immigration, the most popular destination for the global dispossessed.

If this happened here, the hysteria would be overwhelming. Ukip would perhaps have more than 100 MPs in the House of Commons. There would be a huge majority in favour of leaving the European Union. The air would be thick with calls for ever-tighter controls of our borders, the creation of mass detention centres and forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of migrants. British Conservatives and their press allies would be adopting attitudes ominously similar to the darkest periods in European history.

Yet last week, Chancellor Merkel visited a centre for asylum seekers in Heidenau in east Germany where there had been rightwing extremist rioting a few days earlier.

“There can be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people,” she said, standing in front of placards accusing her of being the people’s traitor. “There is no tolerance of those who are not ready to help, where, for legal and humanitarian reasons, help is due.”

Confronted by forces that would overwhelm British leaders, the woman the Greek left (and many on the British left who should know better) mistakenly accuse of being the leading advocate of conservative neoliberalism has stood up to be counted. Being the country to which so many want to migrate should be a source of pride, she says. She wants to keep Germany and Europe open, to welcome legitimate asylum seekers in common humanity, while doing her very best to stop abuse and keep the movement to manageable proportions. Which demands a European-wide response. So far, her electorate and her press back her.

Transposed to Germany, British Tories would be adopting attitudes ominously close to the darkest periods of history
She is right and deserving of support from every European. Migration is what we have done since the earliest of times, triggering growth and enlarging our circles of possibility. Whether we’re discussing the Roman or British empires, 15th-century Venice or 20th-century New York or London today, great civilisations and dynamic cities have been defined by being open to immigrants and refugees.

They are, as migration specialist Ian Goldin characterises them, “exceptional people”. Over centuries, as he painstakingly details, it has been immigrants and refugees who have been part of the alchemy of any country’s success: they are driven, hungry and talented and add to the pool of entrepreneurs, innovators and risk-takers. The hundreds of thousands today who have trekked across continents and dangerous seas are by any standards unusually driven. They are also, as Angela Merkel says, fellow human beings. To receive them well is not only in our interests, it is fundamental to an idea of what it means to be human.

But the disruption induced by migration is not all creative: it is disruptive and has downsides. It brings sometimes unwelcome traditions, notably Islamic fundamentalism, although witnesses to the nihilist barbarism of Isis, al-Qaida and the Taliban are least likely to be credulous adherents to global jihad or some mystic caliphate.

Wages are lowered in those low-skill, high-labour turnover occupations that are necessarily migrants’ first port of call; for example, around a fifth of the new jobs in British cafes, restaurants and bars are reckoned now to have been taken by immigrants. Meanwhile, the capacity in schools and hospitals is further stretched. And as immigration sceptic David Goodhart persuasively argues, it makes “host” communities fearful that immigrants are free-riding on social structures built up over decades and for which they have not paid. To ride roughshod over these powerful feelings is to make a cardinal mistake.

Politicians and their electorates now have to make a choice. There is no middle way. The choice is between building walls and electrified fences, creating mass detention centres, organising mass repatriation and conceding to the fear of the other or it is to find a way of sustaining openness while doing the very best that can be done to allay the natural fears and apprehensions of host populations.

Above all, it is to recognise this is a European – even a global – problem. Germany needs Europe to rally to its side. Together with France, Angela Merkel has called for a pan-European response jointly financing appraisal and screening centres in Greece and Italy, co-ordinating reprisals against traffickers and sharing out the numbers of asylum seekers.

Inevitably, the Cameron government has given the initiative the cold shoulder, preoccupied with negotiating a one-sided relationship with the EU in which Britain accepts as few European obligations as possible, but retains all the gains.

If everyone played that game, the whole project would implode. This is a moment for political vision and bravery, not least from the Labour party. Over the years ahead, and in the run-up to the referendum on EU membership, neither Britain or its left can risk having a leader tempted by leaving the EU, the only organisation we have that, however imperfectly, might address this crisis.

Eurosceptic Mr Corbyn, if elected, would have no authority nor place any sustained pressure on the Cameron government to do the right thing at this pivotal moment. He would accelerate our retreat from making common European cause, leaving all the burden to be borne by Germany.

Sustained selfishness in foreign affairs can only work for so long. Britain, within limits, needs to be as open as possible, with a Europe similarly open, and it needs to share the costs. The alternative is too dark to contemplate.

Voir enfin:

A look at the numbers behind the stream of refugees flowing into Europe as political leaders struggle to ease the burden. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
The New York Times
September 23, 2015
Moving among the tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees passing through the train stations of Europe are many who are neither Syrian nor refugees, but hoping to blend into the mass migration and find a back door to the West.There are well-dressed Iranians speaking Farsi who insist they are members of the persecuted Yazidis of Iraq. There are Indians who don’t speak Arabic but say they are from Damascus. There are Pakistanis, Albanians, Egyptians, Kosovars, Somalis and Tunisians from countries with plenty of poverty and violence, but no war.It should come as no surprise that many migrants seem to be pretending they are someone else. The prize, after all, is the possibility of benefits, residency and work in Europe.Leaders in Germany and other European states say they are prepared to award asylum to legitimate refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, but they are issuing more strident warnings that they will reject many of the economic migrants streaming over their borders.

“What we see here has nothing to do with seeking refuge and safety,” Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Monday. “It is nothing but opportunism.”

Many of the asylum seekers tell journalists and aid workers that they are from Syria, even if they are not, under the assumption that a Syrian shoemaker fleeing bombed-out Aleppo will be welcome, while a computer programmer from Kosovo will not be.

It is common knowledge on the migratory route that some who are not from Syria shred their real passports in Turkey and simply fake it.

A couple of reporters, one a native Arabic speaker, who wandered through train stations in Vienna found plenty of newcomers whose accents did not match their stories and whose stories did not make sense.

Swimming in the river of humanity are shady characters, too, admitted criminals, Islamic State sympathizers and a couple of guys from Fallujah, one with a fresh bullet wound, who when asked their occupation seemed confused.

“Army,” said one. His friend corrected him. “We’re all drivers,” he said.

The refugees report that a forged Syrian passport can be bought on the Turkish border for as little as $200. A reporter for Britain’s Daily Mail bought a Syrian passport, ID card and driver’s license for $2,000 in Turkey under the name of a real man who was killed in the conflict.

An Austrian security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there are also thriving black markets for Syrian passports in Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. But most are arriving in Vienna without ever having shown a passport or document to officials, as long as they travel in the stream of asylum seekers. Authorities along the way may ask for names and countries of origin, but they are not scrutinizing documents. Opportunists can easily pass through borders simply claiming to be Syrians, often without offering any proof.

There are enough pretenders that true Syrians complain about ersatz Syrians.

Syrian war refugees said Europe offered a welcome to them but that opportunists will quickly wear out the continent’s welcome, if they haven’t already.

“Look at these people, what are they doing here? We are the ones who are fleeing from war and slaughter, and now these men are taking away our space,” said Mustafa, 62, from Syria. He had stopped to help a woman who had fainted, letting a group of Afghans use the opportunity to cut in line.

“I don’t understand — we thought the Europeans invited Syrians like us to come,” said one of Mustafa’s companions.

Blending in with real refugees

At Vienna Westbahnhof railway station, a tight clutch of men lined up at the ticket windows. Days of rough travel lay behind them. All had one aim: Germany.

When asked by a reporter where they were from, the men answered, “We are from Syria.”

When a reporter switched to the North African dialect, the men laughed nervously. “We are Algerians,” they admitted.

Hamza, 27, is from Algiers. “I am illegal, not refugee,” he said. “In my country, the only thing you can do there is either drugs or crimes. So I was in prison several times, for drugs, also for trying to kill another guy.”

Hamza and his mates went to Turkey because the smuggling route to Sardinia has been shut down.

“We flew to Istanbul and then took a bus to Izmir. There we destroyed our passports and just mixed with the Syrian refugees. We then took the boat from Izmir to Greece. From there to Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and now we are in Vienna,” he said.

Did Hamza feel guilty? Not at all.

“It’s really easy now to travel with these refugees. We received food and shelter, and a nice welcoming from people so far.”

He said he has met Tunisians, Moroccans and Libyans playing the same game.

“So when someone asks us, where do you live? We say Damascus. Where are you from? Answer Syria.”

An Austrian aid volunteer at the train station, Hisham Fares, is of Libyan descent and has worked as an interpreter helping asylum seekers find their way in the present confusion.

“There are people who are trying to benefit from the situation. I’ve met Egyptians who claimed they were Syrians, but the dialect is Egyptian. I’ve also met people from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Libya who all are now flying to Istanbul and then go to Izmir where they destroy passports,” Fares said. “I’ve also met Palestinians who live in camps in Lebanon and now claim they were from Yarmouk camp in Syria. Many of them said they have family in Germany and just use this situation to finally get asylum.”

“Most of these people say they’ve lost their passports,” Fares added. “The sad thing is that those Syrians who really are fleeing war will be the ones paying the price.”

Another group of men, standing in line for free food, spoke English among themselves but with an Indian accent.

One said his name was “Hassan.”

“We grew up in Syria; our fathers worked there for many years,” Hassan said.

He had worked in Syria, in a bank, in Damascus, he said.

When a reporter spoke to them in Arabic, the men smiled and said, “No Arabic, only English.” Asked where they lived in Damascus, they couldn’t really say.

They excused themselves and wandered away.

Screening out impostors

Confronting a surge in migrants falsely claiming to be from war-torn nations, European authorities are seeking to bolster screening efforts, particularly at gateway nations such as Greece and Italy.

Ewa Moncure, a spokeswoman for Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, said officials are deploying interpreters to assess accents and are using geographic and other questions to weed out pretenders.

“You have interpreters working with officers, and they are asking questions,” she said. “If someone claims to be from Syria and he can’t say what the currency is or what the main street is in Damascus, there are going to be questions about his claim.”

Frontex, she said, is moving to double its staff in Greece in the coming weeks to at least 140 people, an effort that may help the agency identify more false refugees. Those identified as such, she said, should be detained and processed for rapid deportations.

But Greece has been so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that many are slipping through.

Most economic migrants and war refugees in Vienna say they have arrived without being photographed, fingerprinted or subjected to biometric measurements. Some of the new arrivals will make claims to stay based on threat of persecution because of clan or religion; others may seek to be reunited with family already in Europe. And some may never try to become legal residents, but live in the shadows.

It will take months to sort out their stories.

Anthony Faiola in Berlin contributed to this report.


Vandalisme: Il est inadmissible que l’art subisse l’obscurantisme de quelques-uns (How about a giant penis on Washington’s Mall shooting semen right across the Lincoln Memorial ?)

16 septembre, 2015
Anish-Kapoor-“Dirty-Corner”

Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor's "Shooting into the Corner" creation is seen in the Jeu de Paume at the Chateau de Versailles, in Versailles, France, June 5, 2015. The "Kapoor Versailles" exhibition of the artist's work runs from June 9 to November 1. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

VersaillesVagin-de-la-reine-2
Depuis que l’ordre religieux est ébranlé – comme le christianisme le fut sous la Réforme – les vices ne sont pas seuls à se trouver libérés. Certes les vices sont libérés et ils errent à l’aventure et ils font des ravages. Mais les vertus aussi sont libérées et elles errent, plus farouches encore, et elles font des ravages plus terribles encore. Le monde moderne est envahi des veilles vertus chrétiennes devenues folles. Les vertus sont devenues folles pour avoir été isolées les unes des autres, contraintes à errer chacune en sa solitude. Chesterton
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. (…) Jusqu’au nazisme, le judaïsme était la victime préférentielle de ce système de bouc émissaire. Le christianisme ne venait qu’en second lieu. Depuis l’Holocauste , en revanche, on n’ose plus s’en prendre au judaïsme, et le christianisme est promu au rang de bouc émissaire numéro un. (…) Le mouvement antichrétien le plus puissant est celui qui réassume et « radicalise » le souci des victimes pour le paganiser. (…) Comme les Eglises chrétiennes ont pris conscience tardivement de leurs manquements à la charité, de leur connivence avec l’ordre établi, dans le monde d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, elles sont particulièrement vulnérables au chantage permanent auquel le néopaganisme contemporain les soumet. René Girard
La société du spectacle, [selon] Roger Caillois qui analyse la dimension ludique dans la culture (…), c’est la dimension inoffensive de la cérémonie primitive. Autrement dit lorsqu’on est privé du mythe, les paroles sacrées qui donnent aux œuvres pouvoir sur la réalité, le rite se réduit à un ensemble réglés d’actes désormais inefficaces qui aboutissent finalement à un pur jeu, loedos. Il donne un exemple qui est extraordinaire, il dit qu’au fond les gens qui jouent au football aujourd’hui, qui lancent un ballon en l’air ne font que répéter sur un mode ludique, jocus, ou loedos, société du spectacle, les grands mythes anciens de la naissance du soleil dans les sociétés où le sacré avait encore une valeur. (…) Nous vivons sur l’idée de Malraux – l’art, c’est ce qui reste quand la religion a disparu. Jean Clair
Pourquoi l’avant-garde a-t-elle été fascinée par le meurtre et a fait des criminels ses héros , de Sade aux sœurs Papin, et de l’horreur ses délices, du supplice des Cent morceaux en Chine à l’apologie du crime rituel chez Bataille, alors que dans l’Ancien Monde, ces choses là étaient tenues en horreur? (…) Il en résulte que la fascination des surréalistes ne s’est jamais éteinte dans le petit milieu de l’ intelligentsia parisienne de mai 1968 au maoïsme des années 1970. De l’admiration de Michel Foucault pour ‘l’ermite de Neauphle-le-Château’ et pour la ‘révolution’ iranienne à… Jean Baudrillard et à son trouble devant les talibans, trois générations d’intellectuels ont été élevées au lait surréaliste. De là notre silence et notre embarras. Jean Clair
Tout est parti d’une plaisanterie : à l’origine, je trouvais que le plug anal avait une forme similaire aux sculptures de Brancusi. Après, je me suis rendu compte que cela ressemblait à un arbre de Noël. Mais c’est une œuvre abstraite. Les gens peuvent être offensés s’ils veulent se référer au plug, mais pour moi, c’est plus proche d’une abstraction. Paul McCarthy 
Bien sûr que cette œuvre est polémique, qu’elle joue sur l’ambiguïté entre un arbre de Noël et un plug : ce n’est ni une surprise, ni un secret. Mais il n’y a aucune offense au public, et suffisamment d’ambiguïté pour ne pas choquer les enfants. Cette œuvre a d’ailleurs reçu toutes les autorisations nécessaires : de la Préfecture de police, de la mairie de Paris, et du ministère de la Culture, en lien avec le Comité Vendôme qui regroupe les commerçants de la place. A quoi sert l’art si ce n’est de troubler, de poser des questions, de révéler des failles de la société ?  Jennifer Flay (directrice artistique de la Fiac)
La France sera toujours aux côtés des artistes comme je le suis aux côtés de Paul McCarthy, qui a été finalement souillé dans son oeuvre, quel que soit le regard que l’on pouvait porter sur elle. Nous devons toujours respecter le travail des artistes. François Hollande
Mais il y a peut-être pire que la bonne conscience suintante: l’exploitation à mauvais escient de la mauvaise conscience. (…) Et si une fois de plus, ceux qui donnent aujourd’hui, profitant de l’effet de sidération qui interdit la réflexion, une leçon de morale humaine n’étaient pas les premiers responsables en Europe du malheur des migrants et de l’impossibilité de leur apporter toute l’aide souhaitée? Les braves gens, qui pleurent sans pudeur sur le sort des Syriens. Pendant des décennies, la presse convenue n’estimait pas convenable de critiquer, sauf à être raciste ou islamophobe, la radicalité arabo – islamique. Ni celle du nationalisme alaouite des Assad qui gazaient déjà sans problèmes les malheureux kurdes et qui bombardent à présent les quartiers rebelles à coups de barils de dynamite, ni celle plus récente d’un islamisme dont l’usage du mot même était jusqu’à peu tabou pour cause de préfixe amalgamant. Depuis le début d’une guerre qui a fait près de 300 000 morts, aucune manifestation d’ampleur n’a été organisée en France en solidarité avec les populations qui souffrent en Syrie. Le sort du peuple kurde, encore moins son destin national, n’a jamais intéressé qui que ce soit en France. Comment se fait-il qu’alors que des milliers de djihadistes français partent en Syrie, aucun jeune et généreux rebelle progressiste , aucun aventurier du macadam parisien, aucun juste de la 25e heure, n’ait seulement l’idée de former une brigade internationale qui irait combattre les premiers responsables de la mort du petit kurde, aux côtés des forces kurdes à Kobané ou ailleurs? La réponse est facile: nos donneurs de leçons de morale se moquent comme d’une guigne du sort des Syriens en Syrie. La seule chose qui les intéresse, sans qu’ils s’en rendent compte eux-mêmes, c’est de pouvoir fustiger les Européens en Europe et les Français en France qui osent, les égoïstes, les rabougris, s’inquiéter que leur pays ne devienne dans une décennie une nouvelle Syrie. (…) Se préoccuper de son pays, de sa sécurité, de sa cohésion, de son identité (et oui, le mot-dit, le mot est dit) du sort de ses enfants, et de la possibilité d’accueil et d’intégration des populations étrangères n’est pas un signe particulier d’indifférence. Il vaut peut-être mieux que les élans du coeur irréfléchis, ou le suivisme conformiste sur fond de parallèle historique hystérique. Car les Français ont payé très cher pour apprendre et ne plus croire le discours des apprentis sorciers. Les déclarations extatiques sur l’immigration «chance pour la France» ou sur l’islam, forcément , toujours et encore «religion de paix». La manière dont on moqua les «fantasmes» de bouleversements démographiques pour expliquer un beau matin qu’il était trop tard pour regarder en arrière la France des clochers, puisque la France était devenue «multiculturelle». Alors oui, les Français ne croient plus dans les paroles verbales de la gauche gauchisante. Ils savent qu’à côté de populations terriblement souffrantes-et à qui ils veulent apporter assistance-se trouvent d’autres populations qui aspirent à profiter d’une Europe aujourd’hui saturée et appauvrie. Ils savent que tous les réfugiés ne sont pas des résistants anti-islamistes, et que certains même sont des djihadistes envoyés par l’État Islamique, comme ces quatre arrêtés il y a quelques jours à la frontière bulgare, et qui pourront peut-être aussi causer des morts à immortaliser sur papier glacé. Ils savent-exactement comme les forceurs de clôtures- l’Europe faible, et ses frontières totalement battues en brèche, enfoncées, niées . Ils savent qu’en dépit ou à cause des quotas accordés (qui en eux-mêmes seraient supportables), les déboutés du droit d’asile, piétineront les frontières délibérément violées et outragées. Ils savent, que les politiciens tétanisés et les fonctionnaires émasculés, n’exécutent plus ou presque les arrêtés d’expulsion qui s’imposent pourtant, précisément pour autoriser, valider et légitimer l’arrivée légale des bénéficiaires du droit au refuge. Ainsi donc, les premiers responsables de l’impossibilité d’accueillir tous ceux qui le mériteraient sont à rechercher chez ceux qui ont fait échouer une immigration bien tempérée et une intégration nécessaire. Ils l’ont fait échouer, parce qu’au fond d’eux-mêmes, même s’ils se refusent encore à le reconnaître, ils récusent la notion éculée à leurs yeux de nation, et obscène d’État-nation disposant de frontières, et de sa corollaire légale, le droit existentiel pour un peuple souverain de réguler souverainement les flux migratoires. (…) Un dernier mot: l’ONU, à l’efficacité bien connue , voudrait imposer à l’Europe l’accueil de 200 000 migrants. Curieusement, elle ne demande aucun effort aux pays arabes du golfe. Depuis deux ans, et notamment dans ces colonnes, je m’épuise régulièrement, mais bien seul, a demander pour quelles raisons ces pays désertiques et richissimes n’accueillent pas chez eux des populations souffrantes avec lesquels les unissent des liens ethniques, linguistiques, religieux et culturels fraternels. Ils devraient être à d’autant plus enclins à le faire, que leur responsabilité dans la montée de l’islamisme est certainement plus grande que tout ce que les esprits les plus torturés en Europe pourraient reprocher aux occidentaux. Gilles-William Goldnadel
Les romans et le cinéma ont déjà tendance à «coller à l’actu» d’une façon qui rend leur propos poisseux de ces sentiments qu’on appelle vendeurs, mais le clip composé par le chanteur Lalanne sous le titre ultra-original «plus jamais ça» (on se demande pourquoi il n’a pas ajouté «Madame Michu») mérite d’être considéré comme le symptôme d’une décadence artistique liée à la tyrannie de l’information. (…) C’est du «sampling» affectif. L’auteur «mixe». Il s’agit de prolonger une émotion déjà éprouvée au lieu de la fabriquer de toutes pièces en utilisant les plus petites briques du grand Lego de la création.Normalement la mission de l’artiste est justement de bâtir un palais inconnu à partir de presque rien, pas d’assembler la maison de Barbie, pas de commenter ce qu’a dit le journal, pas de colorier un album imprimé. Dans le cas qui nous occupe, l’auteur de la chanson plante son drapeau sur une construction déjà prête, fournie par les médias trois jours avant, et dont on a lieu de penser qu’elle a rendu le public réceptif au thème choisi. En termes de marketing on dit que c’est «chaud», ou «chaud-bouillant». Profiter de la noyade d’un enfant syrien, et de l’émotion qu’elle suscite, pour ajouter son filet de voix à la clameur générale, c’est à la fois facile et navrant. Il y a, dans cette hâte, dans cette tentation permanente du scoop émotionnel , quelque chose d’obscène au sens propre . C’est impudique, les intentions cachées dépassent de partout, on voit toutes les coutures, on imagine le producteur téléphonant «c’est bon ça, c’est porteur, mais il faut faire vite, tu vas te faire piquer le sujet». On a beau ménager la part de sincérité de l’artiste, sincérité reconnue même si elle est assez lourdaude, on se dit que le système quant à lui n’en a aucune et qu’il fait feu de tout bois. En tout cas la vigueur des commentaires que suscite ce détournement émotionnel témoigne que les gens n’ont plus aucune patience à l’égard des apitoiements sur ordonnance. Christian Combaz
Les élus socialistes du conseil municipal de Versailles sont profondément indignés par les dégradations commises sur l’œuvre d’Anish Kapoor. Il est inadmissible que l’art, vecteur d’émancipation, subisse l’obscurantisme de quelques-uns. La liberté d’expression est une valeur fondamentale de notre République et toute atteinte qui lui est portée doit être condamnée avec la plus grande fermeté. Isabelle Saint-Jean
Mes racines sont multiples. Je suis Irakien et juif par ma mère, hindou par mon père, Britannique par ma culture, ma vie, ma pratique. Et soudain, on me ramène à une catégorie; Je suis convaincu qu’il ne faut rien retirer de ces insultes, de ces mots propres à l’antisémitisme que l’on voudrait aussitôt oublier. Désormais, ces mots infamants font partie de mon oeuvre, la dépassent, la stigmatisent au nom de nos principes universels (…) « Dirty Corner » restera donc ainsi, de notre décision commune, et se montrera ainsi aux visiteurs et aux touristes de Versailles. Voilà ce qui conduit à l’exclusion de nos frères et soeurs syriens. Honte sur la France du seul fait d’une minorité pleine de haine!  Anish Kapoor
Les œuvres d’art sont parfois des catalyseurs pour de plus grands malaises de la société. Mon Dirty Corner de Versailles a subi ce destin. Il a été rabaissé dans la presse en «Vagin de la Reine» ou «Vagin sur le Gazon» et a, semble-il, offensé une frange de l’extrême droite française. En art, ce que vous voyez n’est pas ce que pensez voir. La ressemblance exacte de l’objet d’art nous trompe; Ceci n’est pas une pipe de René Magritte nous rappelle qu’une bonne œuvre d’art a quantité d’interprétations et pas une seule. La voix malveillante de quelques-uns a trop dominé le débat et même attiré dans leur camp des gens de bonne volonté. Cela a résulté en un acte de vandalisme. J’hérite d’un débat personnel: comment dois-je réagir? Doit-on retirer la peinture qui a été jetée sur l’ensemble de l’œuvre? Ou doit-elle rester et devenir une part de l’œuvre? Est-ce que cette violence politique qui s’exprime à travers le vandalisme rend plus sale mon Dirty Corner (Coin sale, en anglais)? Est-ce que ce sale acte politique reflète les sales politiques d’exclusion, de marginalisation, d’élitisme, de racisme, d’islamophobie, etc … La question que je me pose est la suivante: Est-ce que moi, artiste, je peux transformer un vil acte de vandalisme politique en acte créatif, esthétique et public? Ne serait-ce pas la meilleure vengeance? En posant cette question, je suis conscient du pouvoir de l’art et de toutes les capacités qu’il offre. Dirty Corner est par certains aspects un acte de violence artistique. Il tente de mettre à nu la surface ordonnée du Versailles de Le Nôtre. Il engage un dialogue qui bouscule la géométrie rigide de Versailles. Il regarde sous le tapis de Le Nôtre, sous son Tapis Vert, et nous permet de voir ce qui y est d’inconfortable, de sexuel. La violence politique n’est pas la même que la violence artistique. Ce vandalisme politique se sert d’un «matériel artistique» (la peinture) pour en faire une violence bien réelle. Cela aurait pu être une bombe ou une cagoule jetée sur la tête de quelqu’on kidnappe. La violence artistique entend générer quelque chose , la violence politique détruit. la violence artistique peut heurter de ses cris la tradition des générations antérieures. Cela peut retourner violemment ce qui existait au préalable , mais en ce faisant, suit une longue tradition de régénération. Toujours, elle fait avancer le langage de l’art. La violence politique cherche à effacer. Son argument est d’effacer une idée offensante, une personne offensante, une pratique offensante ou une chose offensante. Les visions politiques simplistes sont offensées par le désordre de l’art. Dans ce contexte, l’art est vu comme obscène et doit être détruit. Anish Kapoor
 It is as if an unmade bed by Tracey Emin had been installed in this anniversary year at Runnymede with an angled phallus pointing in the presumed direction of Magna Carta’s mediating Archbishop, the thoughtful Stephen Langton, and ejaculating shaving foam every twenty minutes to symbolise pressure from each of the obstreperous barons. (…) I do not accept Kapoor’s argument that Le Nôtre’s master design was itself intrusive on the landscape and so he, Kapoor, is forcing us to recognise Le Nôtre’s art by being monumentally intrusive into Le Nôtre’s own creation. Unlike Le Nôtre, Kapoor is working within a master-design, flanked by classicising white statues of Artemis and the personified figure of Revelry. That design was brilliantly conceived as a unity by Le Nôtre. “VQ” is an execrable intruder, not a forcible wake-up call. Robin Lane Fox
Cette fois, l’Art dit contemporain, l’AC, celui qui est officiel et financier, est pris à son propre piège. Car l’artiste affirme refuser qu’on enlève ces graffitis qui font désormais partie de l’œuvre. Le ministère entend respecter la liberté de création de l’artiste. Voilà donc un artiste qui crée par vandalisme interposé, ce qui est courant dans l‘AC où tout peut devenir art, du moment qu’un artiste le proclame et qu’une autorité ratifie. Nombre de ses confrères, habiles au jeu de la provocation institutionnalisée, ont pris l’habitude de considérer que l’œuvre du vandale complète la leur. Kapoor, star de l’AC, est ici logique: ayant déclaré vouloir semer le chaos à Versailles, il a récolté deux tempêtes peinturlurées. Une agression bien gérée rapporte des dividendes: un acte de vandalisme brandi comme un trophée attire les médias, donc donne de la notoriété qui renforce la cote… Christine Sourgins

Attention: un vandalisme peut en cacher un autre !

A l’heure où, en une Europe submergée par une véritable invasion de migrants irréguliers criant Allah akbar …

Ou en un Etat dont on propose de financer l’annihilation, au nom du même Allah,  par l’un de ses voisins …

Il est désormais considéré raciste et malséant, pour le cobayes forcés que nous sommes, de s’inquiéter des conséquences de plus en plus désastreuses des expériences de sociologie à ciel ouvert de nos apprentis-sorciers de dirigeants …

Comment ne pas voir avec la sociologue Christine Sourgins et la critique d’art du Financial Times Robin Lane Fox …

Le véritable vandalisme d’un art contemporain …

Qui jouant les victimes et la carte de la provocation institutionnalisée pour faire accessoirement monter sa cote …

« Réveille non seulement les vieux démons pour le plaisir de les exhiber » …

Mais profane en fait, à travers le saccage certes temporaire des oeuvres d’un le Nôtre ou d’un Jules Hardouin-Mansart face à la salle du Serment du jeu de paume ou au Ministère de la Justice

(Imagine-t-on la réaction de nos amis anglais ou américains si un pénis géant venait à cracher son sperme sur Buckingham palace ou le Lincoln Memorial ? )

Le passé et les valeurs partagées de tout un peuple  ?

Kapoor à Versailles : le jackpot du scandale
Christine Sourgins
Le Figaro

11/09/2015

Christine Sourgins estime que les inscriptions qui ont défiguré l’installation d’Anish Kapoor à Versailles permettent de faire grimper la cote d’un artiste à qui le scandale bénéficie.
Christine Sourgins est historienne de l’art et médiéviste.

A nouveau la sculpture monumentale d’Anish Kapoor à Versailles «Dirty corner» a été vandalisée. Dans la nuit du 5 septembre, des inscriptions «à caractère antisémite» ont maculé cette trompe d’acier, s’en prenant aussi aux «tradis», tandis que les capitales de «Sacrifice Sanglant» exhibent le sigle SS de sinistre mémoire… Mais cette fois, l’Art dit contemporain, l’AC, celui qui est officiel et financier, est pris à son propre piège.

Car l’artiste affirme refuser qu’on enlève ces graffitis qui font désormais partie de l’œuvre. Le ministère entend respecter la liberté de création de l’artiste. Voilà donc un artiste qui crée par vandalisme interposé, ce qui est courant dans l‘AC où tout peut devenir art, du moment qu’un artiste le proclame et qu’une autorité ratifie. Nombre de ses confrères, habiles au jeu de la provocation institutionnalisée, ont pris l’habitude de considérer que l’œuvre du vandale complète la leur. Kapoor, star de l’AC, est ici logique: ayant déclaré vouloir semer le chaos à Versailles, il a récolté deux tempêtes peinturlurées. Une agression bien gérée rapporte des dividendes: un acte de vandalisme brandi comme un trophée attire les médias, donc donne de la notoriété qui renforce la cote…

Tout cela ne se déroule pas dans le parc d’un milliardaire capricieux et cynique: dans un espace privé on pourrait, à la rigueur, tolérer des entorses à la loi commune (et encore, la jurisprudence ne l’entend pas ainsi). Mais à Versailles, nous sommes dans un monument national, géré par des fonctionnaires au nom du peuple français, lui-même régi par des lois. Dont la loi Gayssot qui réprime fortement toute incitation à la haine raciale ou antisémite: il est donc inimaginable qu’un Etat de droit laisse à la vue de tous des inscriptions qu’il déclare infamantes. Et ce ne sont pas les «panneaux explicatifs», promis par le ministère, qui transmuteront, par la magie du nominalisme, l’offense en pédagogie.

Par conséquent, si on reconnait à l’artiste le droit de continuer à compléter son œuvre en y incorporant des propos punis par la loi, «Dirty corner» doit être immédiatement démontée car elle offense et les citoyens et la loi: elle doit quitter Versailles. Ou bien une palissade pourrait dissimuler le délit, et donc cacher l’œuvre de Kapoor qui s’en fait le support. On voit dans quelle pétaudière juridique se sont mis les organisateurs de ce supposé dialogue entre un certain art contemporain, l’AC, et le patrimoine.

Mais allons plus loin. Quand on nous dit que des actes de vandalismes prouvent qu’une œuvre est réussie car elle fait réagir et donne à penser. «Dirty corner» démontre le contraire: elle réveille les vieux démons pour le plaisir de les exhiber. L’AC sécrète des réactions idiotes, viscérales, chez certains détracteurs mais tout autant chez certains partisans: cet art contemporain-là hystérise la vie sociale. On peine à rapporter qu’un des admirateurs de Kapoor ait osé comparer des injures verbales avec le saccage de Palmyre! Rappelons que Kapoor a encore la tête sur les épaules, tandis que le malheureux archéologue qui défendait le patrimoine antique contre Daech l’a payé de sa vie. Ce genre de comparaison outrancière montre que l’AC est un incitateur à l’exaltation extrémiste. L’artiste lui-même, en déclarant «honte sur la France», sombre dans ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler l’amalgame, jugeant des millions de personnes d’après l’acte d’un seul ou d’une poignée. L’AC nous emporte vers un gouffre de bêtise, grondant comme le vortex que l’artiste a installé dans les jardins du Roi.

Finalement, une profanation fonctionne comme un bon plan média, Kapoor, vandalisé le 5 septembre, démarre une nouvelle exposition le 10 au couvent de la Tourette dans la cadre de la Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon. Lors de la Fiac 2014, le Plug de McCarthy avait été vandalisé place Vendôme et le brouhaha médiatique avait judicieusement lancé son exposition à la Monnaie…où McCarthy avait, lui aussi, transformé l’attaque en oeuvre.

Invectives et indignations sur-jouées serviraient-elles à cacher les vraies questions? Après le premier acte de vandalisme, l’Etat avait renforcé la surveillance. Il est bizarre qu’un vandale ait pu écrire autant d’inscriptions, car il y en a beaucoup, sans être inquiété dans un pays qui est en alerte rouge avec le plan vigipirate. Cela pose un sérieux problème de sécurité.

Autre question gênante, qu’un artiste désormais martyr de l’AC s’empressera de trouver indécente: celle des conditions de réalisation de l’exposition versaillaise qui semble avoir été ouverte sans autorisation. Kapoor a imposé d’amples travaux de terrassements: une plainte pour dégradation de monument historique a été déposée, une enquête préliminaire est en cours…Vraiment ce second acte de vandalisme tombe à pic. Comment demander des comptes à un malheureux artiste «agressé»? Il serait temps aussi que toutes ces expositions d’AC, dans lesquelles l’argent du contribuable est engagé puisqu’on touche à un monument national, soient accomplies en toute transparence financière…historiens de l’art et sociologues le réclament en vain depuis des années.

Voir aussi:

Le Nôtre’s masterpiece vs Anish Kapoor’s ‘Dirty Corner’
Robin Lane Fox

The Financial Times
July 10, 2015

The artist’s Versailles exhibition caps a bad year for the greatest of landscape gardeners

Ihereby found a Society for the Protection of André Le Nôtre. It has been an awful year for the greatest of landscape designers. He has just been slandered in film. An item crucial to one of his masterpieces is at risk of disfigurement by a car-park. Another has been inaccurately restored in “honour” of the tri-centenary of his death. His most famous vista is being wrecked by misplaced contemporary art. Le Nôtre’s great gardens include many V-words, words such as Versailles or Vaux le Vicomte. Not until this summer’s cultural patronage have they been disfigured by another, an intruder which politely, for reasons explained below, I will abbreviate as VQ.

First, the ordeal by film. In English cinemas it was entitled A Little Chaos, but in French, tellingly, Les Jardins du Roi. Maybe you would smile if you too were represented at the age of 40 when you were actually over 65 and then shown as seducing Kate Winslet at the height of her acting powers. You would, however, sue if you were at the summit of your talent, recently returned from Italy, about to design two brilliant royal bosquets at Versailles but were presented to millions of film-goers as if you needed the inspiration of a pushy young lady designer whose only achievement, a little back garden, intrigued you by resembling a yard in Los Angeles three hundred years after your death.

Patricia Dechin is the celebrated expert on Le Nôtre’s life. She confirms to me that female gardeners did indeed have important official roles in parts of Versailles’s garden, but Le Nôtre would never have delegated to them the right to design for the King. “A missed opportunity,” she magnanimously concludes, while observing that bits of the film were shot at Blenheim Park but not in its formal parterre garden. “Dommage,” she remarks, as the parterre at Blenheim was modelled on designs at Versailles.

At Sceaux, near Paris, the “anniversary restoration” of a Le Nôtre design in 2013 has been much publicised, but it is based on its architect’s reworking of an 18th-century melange and is not the master’s design at all. At Chantilly, the commune has just floated a plan of consummate philistinism, a parking-lot in the remains of Le Nôtre’s original reservoir, an integral part of the original water systems that enabled his beautiful landscape. Above all, consider, but this year, avoid, Versailles.

©Fabrice Seixas‘C-Curve’ (2007), by Anish Kapoor
I fear artworks by Sir Anish Kapoor will be in situ here until November. On the way up to the château, the former Tennis Court, the Jeu de Paume, is one of the holy spaces in all political experience. There, on June 20, 1789, more than six hundred French deputies of the “Third Estate” swore their oath that as a new National Assembly they would continue to reassemble “until the constitution of the Kingdom is established”. Like Magna Carta, this oath was a check on royal power. Like that Charter, its fame increased far beyond the participants’ aims. Push open the Tennis Court door in homage this year, however, and you will find a sort of gun which Kapoor has himself called “phallic”. It is shooting red wax across the floor to symbolise human blood and entrails. It is as if an unmade bed by Tracey Emin had been installed in this anniversary year at Runnymede with an angled phallus pointing in the presumed direction of Magna Carta’s mediating Archbishop, the thoughtful Stephen Langton, and ejaculating shaving foam every twenty minutes to symbolise pressure from each of the obstreperous barons.

The Tennis Court is not the garden. However, on the garden’s main terrace, blocking the view of the greatest royal façade in the world, Kapoor has installed “C-Curve”, a semicircular strip of shining mirror, one side of which makes spectators look as if they are upside down, the other as if they are taller. In my youth, we paid 6d to look into “fat” and “thin” mirrors, never on the terrace of Windsor Castle but at the merry old English circus. Seen from the garden, Kapoor’s gleaming “C-Curve” looks as if GCHQ has installed a dish to monitor rumours that the King’s former mistress, Mme de Pompadour, has been tweeting an Ottoman Turk.

©Fabrice Seixas/Kapoor Studio‘Descension’ (2014), by Anish Kapoor
On Versailles’s main axial view Kapoor is concerned not to detract but to jolt us by ugliness and incongruity so that we think and see differently. Until November 1, his now-infamous installation, “Dirty Corner” will be ruining the line and perspective of this sublime landscape. In an interview, Kapoor is reported as referring to this artwork as “vagina of the Queen”, or “VQ”. Perhaps queens’ v-words were differently shaped before the shock of 1792, but this monstrous metal trumpet is backed by a rusty-coloured drainpipe and flanked by huge heaps of earth and rocks and red plastic blocks to signify yet more entrails. Its fluted entry-point looks like the gramophone-trumpet by which that white dog used to sit in the adverts for old HMV. I doubt if un fox-terrier blanc ever sat by the French queen’s V with an ear cocked, even on a chilly night beneath the blankets while the King was busied elsewhere in Versailles. I do not accept Kapoor’s argument that Le Nôtre’s master design was itself intrusive on the landscape and so he, Kapoor, is forcing us to recognise Le Nôtre’s art by being monumentally intrusive into Le Nôtre’s own creation. Unlike Le Nôtre, Kapoor is working within a master-design, flanked by classicising white statues of Artemis and the personified figure of Revelry. That design was brilliantly conceived as a unity by Le Nôtre. “VQ” is an execrable intruder, not a forcible wake-up call.

Two days after my visit vandals threw paint all over the trumpet. I swear, with a Tennis-court oath, that I did not do it. Vandalism is not the right response to the rape of a defenceless genius. Beyond Kapoor’s dirty tunnel stretches Le Nôtre’s superb pond with a fountain of Apollo in his chariot. In the distance shines his formal sheet of water, but as never before this holy place is thunderously noisy. The rumpus is all Kapoor’s, with his “Descension”, an insolently placed pool of water, swirled around by power as if it is gurgling down a bath plug. The worst of the noise comes from the nearby generator that has to power it. Join my new society and you can ballot for the chance after November 1 to feed bits of the Queen’s V down the bath plug and block it into silence. Meanwhile, give Versailles a miss until 2016.

Read Jackie Wullschlager’s review of Anish Kapoor at Versailles at ft.com/kapoor

Voir également:

Anish Kapoor vandalisé à Versailles: sa «profession de foi»
Valérie Duponchelle
Le Figaro
19/06/2015
INFO LE FIGARO – Alors que l’artiste anglo-indien est venu aujourd’hui de Londres à Versailles pour constater les dégâts causés par les vandales sur son oeuvre Dirty Corner, il fait part au Figaro de son «Statement», une lettre ouverte et une réflexion sur l’art, ses polémiques et leur symbolique.

Anish Kapoor était aujourd’hui à Versailles, comme Le Figaro l’a annoncé hier en exclusivité sur son site. L’artiste anglo-indien dont l’oeuvre polémique Dirty Corner a été vandalisée, vraisemblablement très tôt mercredi matin, est venu constater lui-même les dégâts.

D’après les premières photos prises sur le vif, ces dégâts semblent importants et induisent une quantité non négligeable de peinture jaune qui a maculé une sculpture pourtant gigantesque. Comment est-elle entrée dans le Domaine royal? Sous quelle forme? Par quelles mains et par combien de personnes? L’enquête qui découlera de la plainte déposée par Catherine Pégard, présidente de l’établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles, devra établir ces faits.

L’artiste, qui nous avait répondu dès mercredi soir, dans un entretien spontané, mesuré quoique sous le choc de la nouvelle, a décidé d’écrire plus au calme ce que lui inspire ce fait français devenu un fait divers qui interroge le monde de l’art et fait le tour des capitales, du New York Times à The Guardian. Voici donc, en avant-première, ce «Statement» d’un artiste britannique passionné de politique, une expression sacro-sainte chère à l’art contemporain et à ses codes. Une profession de foi, en somme . La voici, in extenso:

«Les œuvres d’art sont parfois des catalyseurs pour de plus grands malaises de la société. Mon Dirty Corner de Versailles a subi ce destin. Il a été rabaissé dans la presse en «Vagin de la Reine» ou «Vagin sur le Gazon» et a, semble-il, offensé une frange de l’extrême droite française.

En art, ce que vous voyez n’est pas ce que pensez voir («What you see is not What you get», littéralement en anglais, NDLR). La ressemblance exacte de l’objet d’art nous trompe; Ceci n’est pas une pipe de René Magritte nous rappelle qu’une bonne œuvre d’art a quantité d’interprétations et pas une seule.

«Est-ce que moi, artiste, je peux transformer un vil acte de vandalisme politique en acte créatif, esthétique et public ? Ne serait-ce pas la meilleure vengeance ?»

Anish Kapoor
La voix malveillante de quelques-uns a trop dominé le débat et même attiré dans leur camp des gens de bonne volonté. Cela a résulté en un acte de vandalisme. J’hérite d’un débat personnel: comment dois-je réagir? Doit-on retirer la peinture qui a été jetée sur l’ensemble de l’œuvre? Ou doit-elle rester et devenir une part de l’œuvre? Est-ce que cette violence politique qui s’exprime à travers le vandalisme rend plus sale mon Dirty Corner (Coin sale, en anglais)? Est-ce que ce sale acte politique reflète les sales politiques d’exclusion, de marginalisation, d’élitisme, de racisme, d’islamophobie, etc …

La question que je me pose est la suivante: Est-ce que moi, artiste, je peux transformer un vil acte de vandalisme politique en acte créatif, esthétique et public? Ne serait-ce pas la meilleure vengeance?

En posant cette question, je suis conscient du pouvoir de l’art et de toutes les capacités qu’il offre. Dirty Corner est par certains aspects un acte de violence artistique. Il tente de mettre à nu la surface ordonnée du Versailles de Le Nôtre. Il engage un dialogue qui bouscule la géométrie rigide de Versailles. Il regarde sous le tapis de Le Nôtre, sous son Tapis Vert, et nous permet de voir ce qui y est d’inconfortable, de sexuel.

La violence politique n’est pas la même que la violence artistique. Ce vandalisme politique se sert d’un «matériel artistique» (la peinture) pour en faire une violence bien réelle. Cela aurait pu être une bombe ou une cagoule jetée sur la tête de quelqu’on kidnappe.

La violence artistique entend générer quelque chose , la violence politique détruit. la violence artistique peut heurter de ses cris la tradition des générations antérieures. Cela peut retourner violemment ce qui existait au préalable , mais en ce faisant, suit une longue tradition de régénération. Toujours, elle fait avancer le langage de l’art.

La violence politique cherche à effacer. Son argument est d’effacer une idée offensante, une personne offensante, une pratique offensante ou une chose offensante. Les visions politiques simplistes sont offensées par le désordre de l’art. Dans ce contexte, l’art est vu comme obscène et doit être détruit».

Anish Kapoor, 19 juin 2015

Voir encore:

Versailles : cinq choses à savoir sur Anish Kapoor
Valérie Duponchelle
Le Figaro

08/06/2015

Portrait en cinq indices de l’artiste star dont l’œuvre Dirty Corner a déclenché le scandale à Versailles en osant mettre au jour le souterrain de l’inconscient au cœur du domaine royal.
De notre envoyée spéciale à Londres

1. Un melting pot à lui tout seul

Anish Kapoor est né à Bombay (aujourd’hui Mumbaï) en 1954 d’un père hindou et d’une mère juive dont la famille a quitté Bagdad, en Irak, lorsqu’elle n’avait que quelques mois. Son grand-père maternel, cantor de la synagogue à Pune (Maharashtra), chantait la liturgie. Le jeune Anish a voyagé en Israël au début des années 1970 avec l’un de ses deux frères et fait l’expérience du kibboutz.

Après avoir commencé des études d’ingénieur, il s’est réorienté vers une vie d’artiste. Il a été recalé aux Beaux-Arts en Israël, d’où son départ pour Londres en 1973 où il a suivi les cours du Hornsey College of Art et de la Chelsea School of Art and Design. Sa rencontre avec l’artiste d’origine roumaine, Paul Neagu, a été déterminante. Il vit à Londres depuis lors et, parfait gentleman, parle d’une belle voix profonde avec un accent «upper class». En 2013, il a été anobli par SM la Reine et est devenu sir Anish Kapoor.

2. Un homme tenace que rien n’arrête

«Ce qui m’étonne quand je vais dans l’atelier d’Anish Kapoor, c’est qu’il y a presque toujours des oeuvres nouvelles, parfois extrêmement désarmantes et mauvaises, comme en 2008, ces petits tas infects de ciment qui me laissaient perplexe. Je lui disais: «c’est raté!». Il me répondait: «oui, ce n’est pas du tout réussi». Et ces petits tas informes sont devenus des sculptures incroyables, des concrétions qui avaient l’air extraites de la nature même. Anish Kapoor, c’est cela, chercher, chercher encore, jusqu’à ce que son idée prenne forme», nous raconte son grand ami Jean de Loisy, PDG du Palais de Tokyo, commissaire de sa rétrospective à la Royal Academy of Arts de Londres en 2009 et de son «Kapoor Monumenta» au Grand Palais en 2011. «Aujourd’hui, il est dans une phase intense de peinture d’une intensité bouleversante, presque charnelle. Au début, c’étaient juste des amas de pâtes rouges. Aujourd’hui, ce sont des toiles admirables, une expression nouvelle qui n’est pas de l’ordre de la peinture ou de la sculpture, mais vraiment de la chair».

3 – Un artiste à double face

Tout artiste, surtout s’il a une vision et l’envergure dévorante qui l’accompagne, est un personnage complexe. Anish Kapoor fait partie de ces Janus surprenants et, soudain, presque inquiétants. Il passe ainsi de la séduction millimétrée d’un disque concave scintillant comme une illusion… au plus organique, au plus souterrain, au plus chaotique des mondes. On le vérifie à Versailles! Son exposition commence par un C-Curve, 2007, un mur miroir posé sur la terrasse du château, et un Sky Mirror, 2013, campé sur le Parterre d’eau, qui reflètent l’architecture et les jardins, le ciel et la terre, les milliers de touristes et leurs selfies. Elle devient plus agressive avec son Dirty Cornerqui «écorche le Tapis Vert» par son savant gigantisme, avec son canon à cire Shooting in the Corner qui met le fracas des armes dans la Salle du Jeu de Paume, avec son Sectional Body Preparing for Monadic Singularity, 2015, dans le Bosquet de l’Etoile, labyrinthe vertical et petit frère cubique du Leviathan monumental au Grand Palais en 2011.

4 – Un infatigable conquistador

Anish Kapoor a représenté la Grande-Bretagne à la Biennale de Venise en 1990. Il a remporté le prestigieux Turner Prize en 1991. Son Cloud Gate monumental a marqué la ville de Chicago et son Leviathan au Grand Palais a décroché un succès record pour «Monumenta» en 2011 (500 000 visiteurs!). Le marché de l’art se l’arrache. Au dîner de gala dimanche soir à l’Orangerie de Versailles, quatre galeries pour le représenter et le revendiquer: Kamel Mennour, son allié français qui l’a soutenu, jour après jour pendant un montage digne des Travaux d’Hercule, mais aussi la galerie Continua qui va fêter ses 25 ans en septembre, la Lisson Gallery, référence de Londres, et la galerie Barbara Gladstone, référence de New York. «Anish dit toujours: «I want to go for it!», et il le fait, il ne recule jamais devant l’obstacle. Il est gai, courtois, drôle, séduisant, gourmet… et, soudain, terrible!», nous raconte Jean de Loisy. «J’aime son insistance et son sourire de coquin lorsqu’il a gagné». Les remerciements insistants qu’il a faits dans ses deux discours, lors de la conférence de presse puis lors du dîner de gala, tendent à faire croire que les équipes de Versailles, comme celles de son studio londonien ,ont éprouvé tous les scenario d’un ogre d’artiste. Le syndrome Picasso?

5 – Gloire aux héros de l’art

Outre l’artiste Paul Neagu, guide spirituel du jeune artiste (1938-2004) , Anish Kapoor réitère son admiration pour l’artiste américain de l’Expressionnisme abstrait, Barnett Newman (1905-1970), pour le grand visionnaire italien, Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), et pour le plasticien et théoricien américain du minimalisme, Donald Judd (1928-1994). La rencontre de ce passionné d’architecture et de philosophie avec la philologue, psychanalyste, féministe, et écrivaine française, Julia Kristeva, a débouché sur un entretien sans tabous dans le catalogue «Kapoor Versailles», petite bombe toujours à paraître. Une nouvelle polémique en vue?

Voir enfin:

Les réfugiés premières victimes du fiasco de notre politique d’immigration
Gilles William Goldnadel
Le Figaro

08/09/2015

FIGAROVOX/CHRONIQUE – Pour Gilles-William Goldnadel, l’échec de notre politique d’immigration et d’intégration explique que beaucoup de Français soient opposés à l’accueil de nouvelles populations.

Gilles-William Goldnadel est avocat et écrivain. Toutes les semaines, il décrypte l’actualité pour FigaroVox.

En principe, la gauche interdit formellement de réagir à chaud au plus dramatique des événements. C’est ainsi, qu’elle fustige ordinairement toute tentative de durcir les lois pénales à la défaveur d’un assassinat atroce. Elle hurle immédiatement à «l’instrumentalisation politicienne», au cynisme et au populisme primaire.

Mais la gauche, on le sait, piétine allègrement ses propres principes lorsque cela l’arrange.

Ainsi en a aura- t-il été de l’exploitation politique de la photographie du petit corps inerte et solitaire d’un malheureux petit kurde échoué sur une plage turque et dont la vue soulève le coeur et l’âme d’une pitié infinie.

Mais il y a peut-être pire que la bonne conscience suintante: l’exploitation à mauvais escient de la mauvaise conscience. Conscience: le «sursaut des consciences endormies» en Europe qu’imposerait la mort du petit Aylan. Une majorité de Français s’opposeraient à l’accueil sans frein des migrants venus de Syrie et d’ailleurs. Salauds de Français indifférents. Et pendant qu’on y est, salauds de polonais, de hongrois , de tchèques , de slovaques ,de canadiens et d’australiens.

Vive l’Allemagne! Vive l’Autriche! Mme Merkel, hier encore reine des boches, bourreau du peuple grec, héroïne de la nouvelle Europe antinazie.

Heureusement, des milliers de résistants et de justes se dressent, pour que plus jamais ça!

Les braves gens, qui pleurent sans pudeur sur le sort des Syriens. Pendant des décennies, la presse convenue n’estimait pas convenable de critiquer, sauf à être raciste ou islamophobe, la radicalité arabo – islamique.
Chiche. Et si une fois de plus, ceux qui donnent aujourd’hui, profitant de l’effet de sidération qui interdit la réflexion, une leçon de morale humaine n’étaient pas les premiers responsables en Europe du malheur des migrants et de l’impossibilité de leur apporter toute l’aide souhaitée?

Les braves gens, qui pleurent sans pudeur sur le sort des Syriens. Pendant des décennies, la presse convenue n’estimait pas convenable de critiquer, sauf à être raciste ou islamophobe, la radicalité arabo – islamique. Ni celle du nationalisme alaouite des Assad qui gazaient déjà sans problèmes les malheureux kurdes et qui bombardent à présent les quartiers rebelles à coups de barils de dynamite, ni celle plus récente d’un islamisme dont l’usage du mot même était jusqu’à peu tabou pour cause de préfixe amalgamant.

Depuis le début d’une guerre qui a fait près de 300 000 morts, aucune manifestation d’ampleur n’a été organisée en France en solidarité avec les populations qui souffrent en Syrie.

Le sort du peuple kurde, encore moins son destin national, n’a jamais intéressé qui que ce soit en France. Comment se fait-il qu’alors que des milliers de djihadistes français partent en Syrie, aucun jeune et généreux rebelle progressiste , aucun aventurier du macadam parisien, aucun juste de la 25e heure, n’ait seulement l’idée de former une brigade internationale qui irait combattre les premiers responsables de la mort du petit kurde, aux côtés des forces kurdes à Kobané ou ailleurs?

La réponse est facile: nos donneurs de leçons de morale se moquent comme d’une guigne du sort des Syriens en Syrie. La seule chose qui les intéresse, sans qu’ils s’en rendent compte eux-mêmes, c’est de pouvoir fustiger les Européens en Europe et les Français en France qui osent, les égoïstes, les rabougris, s’inquiéter que leur pays ne devienne dans une décennie une nouvelle Syrie.

Se préoccuper de son pays, de sa sécurité, de sa cohésion, de son identité (et oui, le mot-dit, le mot est dit) du sort de ses enfants, et de la possibilité d’accueil et d’intégration des populations étrangères n’est pas un signe particulier d’indifférence. Il vaut peut-être mieux que les élans du coeur irréfléchis, ou le suivisme conformiste sur fond de parallèle historique hystérique.
Et c’est là aussi, que nos donneurs de leçons feraient bien de méditer les conséquences des leçons que leur bêtise inouïe, leur arrogance insondable nous donnaient au détour des années 80.

Peine perdue, je sais, car leur mémoire sélective, n’enregistre jamais les malheurs qu’ils peuvent faire.

Mais une majorité de Français, s’en souvient, raison pourquoi, et en dépit de tous les matraquages médiatiques et idéologiques, on ne leur fera plus prendre des vessies pour des lanternes, ou l’immigration forcée pour une bénédiction.

Écrivons le nettement: les Français qui manifestent leur opposition à l’accueil sans limite ni réserve de nouvelles populations ne sont certainement pas plus racistes ou égoïstes que ceux, qui de manière extatique, voudraient les accueillir sans compter.

Se préoccuper de son pays, de sa sécurité, de sa cohésion, de son identité (et oui, le mot-dit, le mot est dit) du sort de ses enfants, et de la possibilité d’accueil et d’intégration des populations étrangères n’est pas un signe particulier d’indifférence. Il vaut peut-être mieux que les élans du coeur irréfléchis, ou le suivisme conformiste sur fond de parallèle historique hystérique.

Car les Français ont payé très cher pour apprendre et ne plus croire le discours des apprentis sorciers. Les déclarations extatiques sur l’immigration «chance pour la France» ou sur l’islam, forcément , toujours et encore «religion de paix». La manière dont on moqua les «fantasmes» de bouleversements démographiques pour expliquer un beau matin qu’il était trop tard pour regarder en arrière la France des clochers, puisque la France était devenue «multiculturelle».

Les premiers responsables de l’impossibilité d’accueillir tous ceux qui le mériteraient sont à rechercher chez ceux qui ont fait échouer une immigration bien tempérée et une intégration nécessaire.
Alors oui, les Français ne croient plus dans les paroles verbales de la gauche gauchisante. Ils savent qu’à côté de populations terriblement souffrantes-et à qui ils veulent apporter assistance-se trouvent d’autres populations qui aspirent à profiter d’une Europe aujourd’hui saturée et appauvrie.

Ils savent que tous les réfugiés ne sont pas des résistants anti-islamistes, et que certains même sont des djihadistes envoyés par l’État Islamique, comme ces quatre arrêtés il y a quelques jours à la frontière bulgare, et qui pourront peut-être aussi causer des morts à immortaliser sur papier glacé.

Ils savent-exactement comme les forceurs de clôtures- l’Europe faible, et ses frontières totalement battues en brèche, enfoncées, niées . Ils savent qu’en dépit ou à cause des quotas accordés (qui en eux-mêmes seraient supportables), les déboutés du droit d’asile, piétineront les frontières délibérément violées et outragées.

Ils savent, que les politiciens tétanisés et les fonctionnaires émasculés, n’exécutent plus ou presque les arrêtés d’expulsion qui s’imposent pourtant, précisément pour autoriser, valider et légitimer l’arrivée légale des bénéficiaires du droit au refuge.

Ainsi donc, les premiers responsables de l’impossibilité d’accueillir tous ceux qui le mériteraient sont à rechercher chez ceux qui ont fait échouer une immigration bien tempérée et une intégration nécessaire.

Ils l’ont fait échouer, parce qu’au fond d’eux-mêmes, même s’ils se refusent encore à le reconnaître, ils récusent la notion éculée à leurs yeux de nation, et obscène d’État-nation disposant de frontières, et de sa corollaire légale, le droit existentiel pour un peuple souverain de réguler souverainement les flux migratoires.

Les Français qui ont conscience de voir leurs droits foulées aux pieds, sont -ils sans conscience?

Un dernier mot: l’ONU, à l’efficacité bien connue , voudrait imposer à l’Europe l’accueil de 200 000 migrants. Curieusement, elle ne demande aucun effort aux pays arabes du golfe.

Depuis deux ans, et notamment dans ces colonnes, je m’épuise régulièrement, mais bien seul, a demander pour quelles raisons ces pays désertiques et richissimes n’accueillent pas chez eux des populations souffrantes avec lesquels les unissent des liens ethniques, linguistiques, religieux et culturels fraternels. Ils devraient être à d’autant plus enclins à le faire, que leur responsabilité dans la montée de l’islamisme est certainement plus grande que tout ce que les esprits les plus torturés en Europe pourraient reprocher aux occidentaux.

« Je veux que les gouvernements arabes, pas les pays européens, voient ce qui est arrivé à mes enfants et, en leur nom, qu’ils apportent leur aide »

Le père du petit Aylan Kurdi
Mais les malheureux réfugiés ne songent pas un seul instant à frais à frapper à une porte qu’ils savent de bois massif.

On ne voit d’ailleurs pas pourquoi royaumes et émirats se feraient violence, puisque les Européens eux-mêmes préfèrent se fustiger plutôt que de les inviter à l’hospitalité.

Et ceux qui ici osent en France le faire remarquer sont durement rappelés à l’ordre et aux convenances.

C’est ainsi qu’un prénommé Bruno-Roger, que je ne nommerai pas, petit journaliste mais grand dresseur de listes, m’a maudit sur un site, précisément parce que j’avais commis, à la télévision, ce crime de lèse-majesté envers ces potentats manquant d’humanité.

Me traitant d’«avocat réactionnaire» (sans doute pour me plaire) et même de «droitard»… Rien à faire, ce garçon écrit comme un gauchon.

Sur le fond, je me contenterai de citer quelqu’un que j’estime plus qualifié que lui. Le père du petit Aylan Kurdi: «je veux que les gouvernements arabes, pas les pays européens, voient ce qui est arrivé à mes enfants et, en leur nom, qu’ils apportent leur aide» (TF1, reportage de Laurent Hauben le 4 septembre 20h , le Figaro le 5 septembre page5)

Ce vœu d’un père éploré, devant la tombe de son petit , n’accablant pas les seuls occidentaux, n’était sans doute pas suffisamment pieux pour intéresser le reste de cette presse bien-pensante et consciencieuse qui ne pratique que la religion de mortifier les consciences européennes.

Voir par ailleurs:

Le clip de Francis Lalanne pour les réfugiés ou le naufrage du Charity-business
Christian Combaz
Le Figaro

16/09/2015

FIGAROVOX/HUMEUR – Christian Combaz voit dans le tollé suscité par le clip opportuniste de Francis Lalanne à propos de l’enfant syrien noyé, un symptôme de la dérive de l’art qui «colle à l’actu».

Christian Combaz est écrivain et essayiste, auteur des Gens de Campagnol (Flammarion). Son dernier livre, Les Ames douces, paraît ces jours-ci aux éditions Télémaque. Lire également ses chroniques sur son blog.

Les romans et le cinéma ont déjà tendance à «coller à l’actu» d’une façon qui rend leur propos poisseux de ces sentiments qu’on appelle vendeurs, mais le clip composé par le chanteur Lalanne sous le titre ultra-original «plus jamais ça» (on se demande pourquoi il n’a pas ajouté «Madame Michu») mérite d’être considéré comme le symptôme d’une décadence artistique liée à la tyrannie de l’information. Les amateurs de littérature se sont déjà aperçus depuis longtemps que l’art du roman devient de moins en moins abstrait, de moins en moins imaginaire, et qu’il inclut des éléments entiers de la réalité la plus immédiate pêchés à l’épuisette, voire au chalut, avec leur lot de drames récents, d’affaires connues, de commentaires tombés du journal télévisé comme chez Houellebecq. C’est du «sampling» affectif. L’auteur «mixe». Il s’agit de prolonger une émotion déjà éprouvée au lieu de la fabriquer de toutes pièces en utilisant les plus petites briques du grand Lego de la création.

Normalement la mission de l’artiste est justement de bâtir un palais inconnu à partir de presque rien, pas d’assembler la maison de Barbie, pas de commenter ce qu’a dit le journal, pas de colorier un album imprimé. Dans le cas qui nous occupe, l’auteur de la chanson plante son drapeau sur une construction déjà prête, fournie par les médias trois jours avant, et dont on a lieu de penser qu’elle a rendu le public réceptif au thème choisi. En termes de marketing on dit que c’est «chaud», ou «chaud-bouillant». Profiter de la noyade d’un enfant syrien, et de l’émotion qu’elle suscite, pour ajouter son filet de voix à la clameur générale, c’est à la fois facile et navrant. Il y a, dans cette hâte, dans cette tentation permanente du scoop émotionnel , quelque chose d’obscène au sens propre . C’est impudique, les intentions cachées dépassent de partout, on voit toutes les coutures, on imagine le producteur téléphonant «c’est bon ça, c’est porteur, mais il faut faire vite, tu vas te faire piquer le sujet». On a beau ménager la part de sincérité de l’artiste, sincérité reconnue même si elle est assez lourdaude, on se dit que le système quant à lui n’en a aucune et qu’il fait feu de tout bois. En tout cas la vigueur des commentaires que suscite ce détournement émotionnel témoigne que les gens n’ont plus aucune patience à l’égard des apitoiements sur ordonnance.


Mariage pour tous: A quand la légalisation de la polygamie ? (Time to legalize polygamy: Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism)

27 juin, 2015
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Tout ce qui n’est pas nouveau dans un temps d’innovation est pernicieux. Saint-Just
Voilà, Monseigneur, une fête toute napolitaine : nous dansons sur un volcan ! Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy (au roi des Deux-Siciles, 1830)
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus Christ. Paul (Galates 3: 28)
La loi naturelle n’est pas un système de valeurs possible parmi beaucoup d’autres. C’est la seule source de tous les jugements de valeur. Si on la rejette, on rejette toute valeur. Si on conserve une seule valeur, on la conserve tout entier. (. . .) La rébellion des nouvelles idéologies contre la loi naturelle est une rébellion des branches contre l’arbre : si les rebelles réussissaient, ils découvriraient qu’ils se sont détruits eux-mêmes. L’intelligence humaine n’a pas davantage le pouvoir d’inventer une nouvelle valeur qu’il n’en a d’imaginer une nouvelle couleur primaire ou de créer un nouveau soleil avec un nouveau firmament pour qu’il s’y déplace. (…) Tout nouveau pouvoir conquis par l’homme est aussi un pouvoir sur l’homme. Tout progrès le laisse à la fois plus faible et plus fort. Dans chaque victoire, il est à la fois le général qui triomphe et le prisonnier qui suit le char triomphal . (…) Le processus qui, si on ne l’arrête pas, abolira l’homme, va aussi vite dans les pays communistes que chez les démocrates et les fascistes. Les méthodes peuvent (au premier abord) différer dans leur brutalité. Mais il y a parmi nous plus d’un savant au regard inoffensif derrière son pince-nez, plus d’un dramaturge populaire, plus d’un philosophe amateur qui poursuivent en fin de compte les mêmes buts que les dirigeants de l’Allemagne nazie. Il s’agit toujours de discréditer totalement les valeurs traditionnelles et de donner à l’humanité une forme nouvelle conformément à la volonté (qui ne peut être qu’arbitraire) de quelques membres ″chanceux″ d’une génération ″chanceuse″ qui a appris comment s’y prendre. C.S. Lewis (L’abolition de l’homme, 1943)
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
Muhammad révéla à Médine des qualités insoupçonnées de dirigeant politique et de chef militaire. Il devait subvenir aux ressources de la nouvelle communauté (umma) que formaient les émigrés (muhadjirun) mekkois et les « auxiliaires » (ansar) médinois qui se joignaient à eux. Il recourut à la guerre privée, institution courante en Arabie où la notion d’État était inconnue. Muhammad envoya bientôt des petits groupes de ses partisans attaquer les caravanes mekkoises, punissant ainsi ses incrédules compatriotes et du même coup acquérant un riche butin. En mars 624, il remporta devant les puits de Badr une grande victoire sur une colonne mekkoise venue à la rescousse d’une caravane en danger. Cela parut à Muhammad une marque évidente de la faveur d’Allah. Elle l’encouragea sans doute à la rupture avec les juifs, qui se fit peu à peu. Le Prophète avait pensé trouver auprès d’eux un accueil sympathique, car sa doctrine monothéiste lui semblait très proche de la leur. La charte précisant les droits et devoirs de chacun à Médine, conclue au moment de son arrivée, accordait une place aux tribus juives dans la communauté médinoise. Les musulmans jeûnaient le jour de la fête juive de l’Expiation. Mais la plupart des juifs médinois ne se rallièrent pas. Ils critiquèrent au contraire les anachronismes du Coran, la façon dont il déformait les récits bibliques. Aussi Muhammad se détourna-t-il d’eux. Le jeûne fut fixé au mois de ramadan, le mois de la victoire de Badr, et l’on cessa de se tourner vers Jérusalem pour prier. Maxime Rodinson
Cela fait un an maintenant qu’est apparu au grand jour l’Etat islamique (EI). Et l’on ne peut que constater qu’il a lancé les « festivités » de cet anniversaire, malgré les bombardements qu’il subit. Tout cela accompagne le début du ramadan la semaine dernière. L’EI a appelé la quasi-totalité de ses sympathisants à fêter cette première année par tous les moyens et partout dans le monde. Selon moi, les attentats perpétrés à Saint-Quentin-Fallavier (Isère), à Sousse et à Koweït City s’inscrivent dans cette macabre célébration. C’est un terrible pied de nez adressé à la communauté internationale. Et ce n’est que le début.(…) Souvenons-nous : l’EI a commencé son offensive au début du ramadan 2014. Il a déclaré le califat le 30 juin 2014. Je pense donc que cela risque de culminer dans les semaines à venir. En outre, le mois de ramadan est considéré comme propice au jihad. Je crains donc que nous soyons face au lancement d’une campagne d’attentats. (…) on n’est pas assez conscients de la portée symbolique des dates et des lieux. Désormais, l’EI se considère comme un Etat, gère les territoires comme tel, avec un gouvernement, une administration et un agenda. Nous sommes bel et bien face à un Etat terroriste. Mathieu Guidère
Je m’ennuie follement dans la monogamie, même si mon désir et mon temps peuvent être reliés à quelqu’un et que je ne nie pas le caractère merveilleux du dévelopement d’une intimité. Je suis monogame de temps en temps mais je préfère la polygamie et la polyandrie. Carla Bruni
A 80 ans, le cuisinier livre l’un de ses secrets : depuis près de quatre décennies, il partage sa vie entre trois femmes, déjeunant chez l’une, prenant le thé chez l’autre, dînant avec la dernière. (…) Ses trois femmes, en restant à ses côtés en toute connaissance de cause, font la démonstration qu’elles l’acceptent comme il est, depuis presque quarante ans, à partager sa vie en trois, ses journées en trois. Déjeunant chez l’une, prenant le thé chez l’autre, dînant avec la dernière. Partant à la montagne avec l’une, au Japon avec la deuxième, restant au coin du feu avec la troisième. Elevant une fille avec la première. Un fils avec la deuxième. Confiant à la fille de la troisième la rédaction de ce livre testament. Libération
Avec la crise économique dans mon pays, peu d’hommes peuvent entretenir plusieurs épouses. En France, c’est différent, tous ces enfants sont une source de revenus. Oumar Dicko (ministre chargé des Maliens de l’extérieur)
Is it just wishful thinking to imagine the end of liberalism? Few things in politics are permanent. Conservatism and liberalism didn’t become the central division in our politics until the middle of the 20th century. Before that, American politics revolved around such issues as states’ rights, the wars, slavery, the tariff, and suffrage. Parties have come and gone in our history. You won’t find many Federalists, Whigs, or Populists lining up at the polls these days. Britain’s Liberal Party faded from power in the 1920s. The Canadian Liberal Party collapsed in 2011. Recently, within a decade of its maximum empire at home and abroad, a combined intellectual movement, political party, and form of government crumbled away, to be swept up and consigned to the dustbin of history. Communism, which in a very different way from American liberalism traced its roots to Hegel, Social Darwinism, and leadership by a vanguard group of intellectuals, vanished before our eyes, though not without an abortive coup or two. If Communism, armed with millions of troops and thousands of megatons of nuclear weapons, could collapse of its own dead weight and implausibility, why not American liberalism? The parallel is imperfect, of course, because liberalism and its vehicle, the Democratic Party, remain profoundly popular, resilient, and changeable. Elections matter to them. What’s more, the egalitarian impulse, centralized government (though not centralized administration), and the Democratic Party have deep roots in the American political tradition—and reflect permanent aspects of modern democracy itself, as Tocqueville testifies. Some elements of liberalism are inherent in American democracy, then, but the compound, the peculiar combination that is contemporary liberalism, is not. Compounded of the Hegelian philosophy of history, Social Darwinism, the living constitution, leadership, the cult of the State, the rule of administrative experts, entitlements and group rights, and moral creativity, modern liberalism is something new and distinctive, despite the presence in it, too, of certain American constants like the love of equality and democratic individualism. Under the pressure of ideas and events, that compound could come apart. Liberals’ confidence in being on the right, the winning side of history could crumble, perhaps has already begun to crumble. Trust in government, which really means in the State, is at all-time lows. A majority of Americans oppose a new entitlement program—in part because they want to keep the old programs unimpaired, but also because the economic and moral sustainability of the whole welfare state grows more and more doubtful. The goodwill and even the presumptive expertise of many government experts command less and less respect. Obama’s speeches no longer send the old thrill up the leg, and his leadership, whether for one or two terms, may yet help to discredit the respectability of following the Leader. The Democratic Party is unlikely to go poof, but it’s possible that modern liberalism will. A series of nasty political defeats and painful repudiations of its impossible dreams might do the trick. At the least, it will have to downsize its ambitions and get back in touch with political, moral, and fiscal reality. It will have to—all together now—turn back the clock. Much will depend, too, on what conservatives say and do in the coming years. Will they have the prudence and guile to elevate the fight to the level of constitutional principle, to expose the Tory credentials of their opponents? President Obama’s decision to double down aggressively on the reach and cost of big government just as the European model of social democracy is hitting the skids provides the perfect opportunity for conservatives to exploit. His course makes the problems of liberalism worse and more urgent, as though he is eager for a crisis. Sooner or later, the crisis will come. If the people remain attached to their government and laws and American statesmen do their part, the country may yet take the path leading up from liberalism. (October 15, 2012)
La limitation du mariage aux couples de sexe opposé a pu longtemps sembler naturel et juste, mais son incompatibilité avec la signification centrale du droit fondamental de se marier est désormais manifeste. Cour suprême américaine
Aucune union n’est plus profonde que le mariage, car le mariage incarne les plus hauts idéaux de l’amour, la fidélité, la dévotion, le sacrifice et la famille. En formant une union maritale, deux personnes deviennent quelque chose de plus grand que ce qu’elles étaient auparavant. Le mariage incarne un amour qui peut perdurer malgré la mort. Ce serait ne pas comprendre ces hommes et ces femmes que de dire qu’ils manquent de respect à l’idée du mariage. Leur plaidoyer consiste à dire que justement ils le respectent, le respectent si profondément qu’ils cherchent eux-mêmes s’accomplir grâce à lui. Ils demandent une dignité égale aux yeux de la loi. La Constitution leur donne ce droit. Cour suprême américaine
 Le destin des homosexuels n’est pas d’être condamnés à la solitude, exclus de l’une des plus anciennes institutions de la civilisation. Ils demandent à bénéficier de la même dignité aux yeux de la loi. La Constitution leur garantit ce droit. Juge Anthony Kennedy
C’est une victoire pour les alliés, les amis et les soutiens du mariage gay qui ont passé des années, voire des décennies, à travailler et prier pour que le changement intervienne. Et cette décision est une victoire pour l’Amérique. Barack Hussein Obama
Les faucons affirment (…) que le président Ahmadinejad a déclaré vouloir « rayer Israël de la carte ». Mais cet argument repose sur une mauvaise traduction de ses propos. La traduction juste est qu’Israël « devrait disparaître de la page du temps ». Cette expression (empruntée à un discours de l’ayatollah Khomeiny) n’est pas un appel à la destruction physique d’Israël. Bien que très choquant, son propos n’était pas un appel à lancer une attaque, encore moins une attaque nucléaire, contre Israël. Aucun État sensé ne peut partir en guerre sur la foi d’une mauvaise traduction.  John J. Mearsheimer et Stephen M. Walt

Realists should celebrate gay marriage. Today’s Supreme Court ruling will help create a better, stronger America.
Stephen M. Walt
Do you want to fight the Islamic State and the forces of Islamic extremist terrorism? I’ll tell you the best way to send a message to those masked gunmen in Iraq and Syria and to everyone else who gains power by sowing violence and fear. Just keep posting that second set of images. Post them on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and in comments all over the Internet. Send them to your friends and your family. Send them to your pen pal in France and your old roommate in Tunisia. Send them to strangers. Yes, it’s sappy. But this has always been the dream of America:(…) And I still have faith that this dream is the one that will prevail, in the end. That’s the lesson of history: Brutality and fear can keep people down for only so long. The Nazis learned this; the Soviets learned it; the Ku Klux Klan learned it; Pol Pot learned it; the Rwandan génocidaires learned it. One of these days, the Islamic State and al Qaeda will learn it too. I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but for once there’s a Twitter hashtag worth quoting, though it took my 13-year-old daughter to point it out to me: #LoveWins. Tweet it. Shout it. Sing it. Rosa Brooks
Major U.S. defense contractors stand to earn a windfall if President Barack Obama’s administration secures a nuclear deal with Iran that sends jittery, oil-rich Persian Gulf countries seeking advanced new weapons. But the contractors likely will also do just fine if the negotiations unexpectedly collapse. Fueling the coming spending is a controversial provision in the framework agreement, struck in April between Tehran and world powers, that largely left Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities untouched in the ongoing negotiations. The move angered White House critics on Capitol Hill and in parts of Europe. More urgently, it left Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) particularly uneasy because they are well within range of Iran’s increasingly advanced ballistic missiles. That means deal or no deal, the Gulf countries — already some of the world’s biggest weapons buyers — will be opening their wallets even wider in the years ahead. American defense contractors have long recognized the lucrative opportunity in the region, and they are counting on increased weapons sales to the Middle East to counteract a U.S. market that has slowed due to the relative flattening of the domestic defense budget. Paul McLeary
The whites didn’t want to come out against Obama since he endorsed it so strongly and they didn’t want to be called bigots — and the blacks didn’t want to say they were betraying a black man. (…) I absolutely would not do a gay marriage. (…) I think of our children. What it’s going to do to our children. What kind of world are they going to grow up in? I’ve said for two years that we’re going to have to have civil disobedience. They were very cunning in the way they did it. (…) The homosexual community has not shown all of what it’s going to do. They have a game plan that, now that the Supreme Court has ruled, will take this country down a very immoral path. (…) I knew that he was going to do it the second term. His deal was, ‘Get me elected the first time, and I’ll come out for same-sex marriage in my second term.’ He deceived the American people, because the black community would not have backed him had he come out the first time for same-sex marriage. Some people just didn’t want to speak against Obama.  (…) It’s going to be much harder, because we’re going to have to go from state to state. It’s going to be hard to do, but it can be done. Remember, blacks worked for 300 years for civil rights in the courts. Three-hundred long years. It’s not something that we’re going to win overnight. There is no quick fix, but I think now the church will rise up. All the Christian churches in the United States that believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, they need to rise up. (…) We’re asking people to rise up and be ready to go to jail. Why go to jail? To let it be known that we will not bow down, we will not give up, whatever the costs. It’s the new civil rights movement, because they are taking away our rights. They are taking away the Christian’s rights. This is just a start. We have nothing against homosexuals, but when you start talking about marriage, and then indoctrinating children, where are we going? Where is this society headed? Rev. Bill Owens (Coalition of African-American Pastors)
This morning’s ruling rejects not only thousands of years of time-honored marriage but also the rule of law in the United States. In states across the nation, voters acted through the democratic process to protect marriage and the family. Yet, courts around the country chose to disregard the will of the people in favor of political correctness and social experimentation. And we witnessed firsthand the consequences, as individuals were repeatedly targeted by the government for not actively supporting homosexual marriage. Sadly, our nation’s highest Court, which should be a symbol of justice, has chosen instead to be a tool of tyranny, elevating judicial will above the will of the people. There is no doubt that this morning’s ruling will imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists. AFA President Tim Wildmon
Nationwide, according to the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, just over 3.3 million individuals voted for same-sex marriage in three states—Maine, Maryland and Washington State—compared to more than 41 million who voted for marriage protection amendments or bans on same-sex marriage in 31 states—a ratio of more than 12 to 1. American Family Association
We should just start calling this law SCOTUScare. Anton Scalia
The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. (…) Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed. Samuel Alito
[T]his Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise “neither force nor will but merely judgment.” (…) Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not. The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition. Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept. The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial “caution” and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insight” into the “nature of injustice.” As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are? (…) Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer. (…) The premises supporting th[e] concept of [natural] marriage are so fundamental that they rarely require articulation. The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman. When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the mother and father stay together rather than going their separate ways. Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond. (…) The Constitution itself says nothing about marriage, and the Framers thereby entrusted the States with “[t]he whole subject of the domestic relations of husband and wife. (…) This Court’s precedents have repeatedly described marriage in ways that are consistent only with its traditional meaning. (…) Stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss, the majority’s argument is that the Due Process Clause gives same-sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society. If I were a legislator, I would certainly consider that view as a matter of social policy. But as a judge, I find the majority’s position indefensible as a matter of constitutional law. (…) The truth is that today’s decision rests on nothing more than the majority’s own conviction that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because they want to, and that “it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.” Whatever force that belief may have as a matter of moral philosophy, it has no more basis in the Constitution than did the naked policy preferences adopted in Lochner. (…) Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. (…) When asked about a plural marital union at oral argument, petitioners asserted that a State “doesn’t have such an institution.” But that is exactly the point: the States at issue here do not have an institution of same-sex marriage, either. (…) Nowhere is the majority’s extravagant conception of judicial supremacy more evident than in its description—and dismissal—of the public debate regarding same-sex marriage. Yes, the majority concedes, on one side are thousands of years of human history in every society known to have populated the planet. But on the other side, there has been “extensive litigation,” “many thoughtful District Court decisions,” “countless studies, papers, books, and other popular and scholarly writings,” and “more than 100” amicus briefs in these cases alone. What would be the point of allowing the democratic process to go on? It is high time for the Court to decide the meaning of marriage, based on five lawyers’ “better informed understanding” of “a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.” The answer is surely there in one of those amicus briefs or studies. Those who founded our country would not recognize the majority’s conception of the judicial role. They after all risked their lives and fortunes for the precious right to govern themselves. They would never have imagined yielding that right on a question of social policy to unaccountable and unelected judges. And they certainly would not have been satisfied by a system empowering judges to override policy judgments so long as they do so after “a quite extensive discussion. (…) Those who founded our country would not recognize the majority’s conception of the judicial role … They would never have imagined yielding that right on a question of social policy to unaccountable and unelected judges. (…) If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it. Chief Justice Roberts
The most striking aspect of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, was its deep emotion. This was no mere legal opinion. Indeed, the law and Constitution had little to do with it. (To Justice Kennedy, the most persuasive legal precedents were his own prior opinions protecting gay rights.) This was a statement of belief, written with the passion of a preacher, meant to inspire. Consider the already much-quoted closing: As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. Or this: “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” This isn’t constitutional law, it’s theology — a secular theology of self-actualization — crafted in such a way that its adherents will no doubt ask, “What decent person can disagree?” This is about love, and the law can’t fight love. Justice Kennedy’s opinion was nine parts romantic poetry and one part legal analysis (if that). And that’s what makes it so dangerous for religious liberty and free speech. Practitioners of constitutional law know that there is no such thing as an “absolute” right to free speech or religious freedom in any context — virtually all cases involve balancing the asserted right against the asserted state interest, with “compelling” state interests typically trumping even the strongest assertions of First Amendment rights. And what is more compelling than this ode to love? (…) This is the era of sexual liberty — the marriage of hedonism to meaning — and the establishment of a new civic religion. The black-robed priesthood has spoken. Will the church bow before their new masters? David French
Most dispiriting, and least convincing, are those arguments that simply reconstitute the slippery slope arguments that have been used for so long against same sex marriage. “If we allow group marriage,” the thinking seems to go, “why wouldn’t marriage with animals or children come next?” The difference is, of course, consent. In recent years, a progressive and enlightened movement has worked to insist that consent is the measure of all things in sexual and romantic practice: as long as all involved in any particular sexual or romantic relationship are consenting adults, everything is permissible; if any individual does not give free and informed consent, no sexual or romantic engagement can be condoned. This bedrock principle of mutually-informed consent explains exactly why we must permit polygamy and must oppose bestiality and child marriage. Animals are incapable of voicing consent; children are incapable of understanding what it means to consent. In contrast, consenting adults who all knowingly and willfully decide to enter into a joint marriage contract, free of coercion, should be permitted to do so, according to basic principles of personal liberty. The preeminence of the principle of consent is a just and pragmatic way to approach adult relationships in a world of multivariate and complex human desires. Progressives have always flattered themselves that time is on their side, that their preferences are in keeping with the arc of history. In the fight for marriage equality, this claim has been made again and again. Many have challenged our politicians and our people to ask themselves whether they can imagine a future in which opposition to marriage equality is seen as a principled stance. I think it’s time to turn the question back on them: given what you know about the advancement of human rights, are you sure your opposition to group marriage won’t sound as anachronistic as opposition to gay marriage sounds to you now? And since we have insisted that there is no legitimate way to oppose gay marriage and respect gay love, how can you oppose group marriage and respect group love?   I suspect that many progressives would recognize, when pushed in this way, that the case against polygamy is incredibly flimsy, almost entirely lacking in rational basis and animated by purely irrational fears and prejudice. What we’re left with is an unsatisfying patchwork of unconvincing arguments and bad ideas, ones embraced for short-term convenience at long-term cost. We must insist that rights cannot be dismissed out of short-term interests of logistics and political pragmatism. The course then, is clear: to look beyond political convenience and conservative intransigence, and begin to make the case for extending legal marriage rights to more loving and committed adults. It’s time. Fredrik deBoer

Attention: un drapeau peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain du triple attentat sous drapeau djihadiste qui entre la France, le Koweit et la Tunisie et en l’honneur de la première victoire musulmane du Ramadan et du premier anniversaire de l’Etat islamique, fera  une soixantaine de victimes …

Et à l’heure où après le véritable putsch juridique de la Cour suprême américaine, et de la Maison Blanche à l’Empire State Building, des chutes du Niagara aux frontons des mairies de San Francisco, Tel Aviv ou Paris ou des porte de Brandebourg, château de Disney World au pont de Minneapolis …

Entre les logos et les slogans les plus vides et les plus démagogiques (LoveWins/l’amour triomphe) de nos médias ou des entreprises de l’informatique et de l’Internet comme de nos prétendues lumières, d’Obama à Hillary Clinton et de Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift ou Justin Timberlake, de la politique et du monde du spectacle …

Pendant qu’après l’abandon de l’Irak et bientôt de l’Afghanistan et l’autorisation de l’arme nucléaire accordée à un pays qui ne prône rien de moins que  la Solution finale  …

Et sans parler de l’irrédentisme russe ou de l’aventurisme chinois

Nos marchands de canons se frottent les mains et nos nouveaux croisés de « l’amour » prônent, pour contrer la barbarie islamiste et au nom s’il vous plait du « réalisme », le nouveau Grand mensonge   …

Le drapeau homo flotte désormais sur la quasi-totalité du Monde dit libre …

Comment ne pas repenser au mot fameux du comte de Salvandry au roi des Deux-Siciles à la veille de la Révolution de Juillet …

Et ne pas voir avec le juge de la Cour suprême John Roberts et  une tribune de l’hebdomadaire américain Foreign Policy

La logique et prochaine étape de l’ubérisation sociétale que nous vivons …

A savoir la légalisation de la polygamie ?

Politics
It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy
Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.
Fredrik Deboer
June 26, 2015

Welcome to the exciting new world of the slippery slope. With the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling this Friday legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states, social liberalism has achieved one of its central goals. A right seemingly unthinkable two decades ago has now been broadly applied to a whole new class of citizens. Following on the rejection of interracial marriage bans in the 20th Century, the Supreme Court decision clearly shows that marriage should be a broadly applicable right—one that forces the government to recognize, as Friday’s decision said, a private couple’s “love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

The question presents itself: Where does the next advance come? The answer is going to make nearly everyone uncomfortable: Now that we’ve defined that love and devotion and family isn’t driven by gender alone, why should it be limited to just two individuals? The most natural advance next for marriage lies in legalized polygamy—yet many of the same people who pressed for marriage equality for gay couples oppose it.

This is not an abstract issue. In Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissenting opinion, he remarks, “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” As is often the case with critics of polygamy, he neglects to mention why this is a fate to be feared. Polygamy today stands as a taboo just as strong as same-sex marriage was several decades ago—it’s effectively only discussed as outdated jokes about Utah and Mormons, who banned the practice over 120 years ago.

Yet the moral reasoning behind society’s rejection of polygamy remains just as uncomfortable and legally weak as same-sex marriage opposition was until recently.

That’s one reason why progressives who reject the case for legal polygamy often don’t really appear to have their hearts in it. They seem uncomfortable voicing their objections, clearly unused to being in the position of rejecting the appeals of those who would codify non-traditional relationships in law. They are, without exception, accepting of the right of consenting adults to engage in whatever sexual and romantic relationships they choose, but oppose the formal, legal recognition of those relationships. They’re trapped, I suspect, in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage.

In doing so, they do real harm to real people. Marriage is not just a formal codification of informal relationships. It’s also a defensive system designed to protect the interests of people whose material, economic and emotional security depends on the marriage in question. If my liberal friends recognize the legitimacy of free people who choose to form romantic partnerships with multiple partners, how can they deny them the right to the legal protections marriage affords?

Polyamory is a fact. People are living in group relationships today. The question is not whether they will continue on in those relationships. The question is whether we will grant to them the same basic recognition we grant to other adults: that love makes marriage, and that the right to marry is exactly that, a right.

Why the opposition, from those who have no interest in preserving “traditional marriage” or forbidding polyamorous relationships? I think the answer has to do with political momentum, with a kind of ad hoc-rejection of polygamy as necessary political concession. And in time, I think it will change.

The marriage equality movement has been both the best and worst thing that could happen for legally sanctioned polygamy. The best, because that movement has required a sustained and effective assault on “traditional marriage” arguments that reflected no particular point of view other than that marriage should stay the same because it’s always been the same. In particular, the notion that procreation and child-rearing are the natural justification for marriage has been dealt a terminal injury. We don’t, after all, ban marriage for those who can’t conceive, or annul marriages that don’t result in children, or make couples pinkie swear that they’ll have kids not too long after they get married. We have insisted instead that the institution exists to enshrine in law a special kind of long-term commitment, and to extend certain essential logistical and legal benefits to those who make that commitment. And rightly so.

But the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy, and for a particularly unsatisfying reason: short-term political need. Many conservative opponents of marriage equality have made the slippery slope argument, insisting that same-sex marriages would lead inevitably to further redefinition of what marriage is and means. See, for example, Rick Santorum’s infamous “man on dog” comments, in which he equated the desire of two adult men or women to be married with bestiality. Polygamy has frequently been a part of these slippery slope arguments. Typical of such arguments, the reasons why marriage between more than two partners would be destructive were taken as a given. Many proponents of marriage equality, I’m sorry to say, went along with this evidence-free indictment of polygamous matrimony. They choose to side-step the issue by insisting that gay marriage wouldn’t lead to polygamy. That legally sanctioned polygamy was a fate worth fearing went without saying.

To be clear: our lack of legal recognition of group marriages is not the fault of the marriage equality movement. Rather, it’s that the tactics of that movement have made getting to serious discussions of legalized polygamy harder. I say that while recognizing the unprecedented and necessary success of those tactics. I understand the political pragmatism in wanting to hold the line—to not be perceived to be slipping down the slope. To advocate for polygamy during the marriage equality fight may have seemed to confirm the socially conservative narrative, that gay marriage augured a wholesale collapse in traditional values. But times have changed; while work remains to be done, the immediate danger to marriage equality has passed. In 2005, a denial of the right to group marriage stemming from political pragmatism made at least some sense. In 2015, after this ruling, it no longer does.

While important legal and practical questions remain unresolved, with the Supreme Court’s ruling and broad public support, marriage equality is here to stay. Soon, it will be time to turn the attention of social liberalism to the next horizon. Given that many of us have argued, to great effect, that deference to tradition is not a legitimate reason to restrict marriage rights to groups that want them, the next step seems clear. We should turn our efforts towards the legal recognition of marriages between more than two partners. It’s time to legalize polygamy.

***

Conventional arguments against polygamy fall apart with even a little examination. Appeals to traditional marriage, and the notion that child rearing is the only legitimate justification of legal marriage, have now, I hope, been exposed and discarded by all progressive people. What’s left is a series of jerry-rigged arguments that reflect no coherent moral vision of what marriage is for, and which frequently function as criticisms of traditional marriage as well.

Many argue that polygamous marriages are typically sites of abuse, inequality in power and coercion. Some refer to sociological research showing a host of ills that are associated with polygamous family structures. These claims are both true and beside the point. Yes, it’s true that many polygamous marriages come from patriarchal systems, typically employing a “hub and spokes” model where one husband has several wives who are not married to each other. These marriages are often of the husband-as-boss variety, and we have good reason to suspect that such models have higher rates of abuse, both physical and emotional, and coercion. But this is a classic case of blaming a social problem on its trappings rather than on its actual origins.

After all, traditional marriages often foster abuse. Traditional marriages are frequently patriarchal. Traditional marriages often feature ugly gender and power dynamics. Indeed, many would argue that marriage’s origins stem from a desire to formalize patriarchal structures within the family in the first place. We’ve pursued marriage equality at the same time as we’ve pursued more equitable, more feminist heterosexual marriages, out of a conviction that the franchise is worth improving, worth saving. If we’re going to ban marriages because some are sites of sexism and abuse, then we’d have to start with the old fashioned one-husband-and-one-wife model. If polygamy tends to be found within religious traditions that seem alien or regressive to the rest of us, that is a function of the very illegality that should be done away with. Legalize group marriage and you will find its connection with abuse disappears.

Another common argument, and another unsatisfying one, is logistical. In this telling, polygamous marriages would strain the infrastructure of our legal systems of marriage, as they are not designed to handle marriage between more than two people. In particular, the claim is frequently made that the division of property upon divorce or death would be too complicated for polygamous marriages. I find this argument eerily reminiscent of similar efforts to dismiss same-sex marriage on practical grounds. (The forms say husband and wife! What do you want us to do, print new forms?) Logistics, it should go without saying, are insufficient reason to deny human beings human rights.

If current legal structures and precedents aren’t conducive to group marriage, then they will be built in time. The comparison to traditional marriage is again instructive. We have, after all, many decades of case law and legal organization dedicated to marriage, and yet divorce and family courts feature some of the most bitterly contested cases imaginable. Complication and dispute are byproducts of human relationships and human commitment. We could, as a civil society, create a legal expectation that those engaging in a group marriage create binding documents and contracts that clearly delineate questions of inheritance, alimony, and the like. Prenups are already a thing.

Most dispiriting, and least convincing, are those arguments that simply reconstitute the slippery slope arguments that have been used for so long against same sex marriage. “If we allow group marriage,” the thinking seems to go, “why wouldn’t marriage with animals or children come next?” The difference is, of course, consent. In recent years, a progressive and enlightened movement has worked to insist that consent is the measure of all things in sexual and romantic practice: as long as all involved in any particular sexual or romantic relationship are consenting adults, everything is permissible; if any individual does not give free and informed consent, no sexual or romantic engagement can be condoned.

This bedrock principle of mutually-informed consent explains exactly why we must permit polygamy and must oppose bestiality and child marriage. Animals are incapable of voicing consent; children are incapable of understanding what it means to consent. In contrast, consenting adults who all knowingly and willfully decide to enter into a joint marriage contract, free of coercion, should be permitted to do so, according to basic principles of personal liberty. The preeminence of the principle of consent is a just and pragmatic way to approach adult relationships in a world of multivariate and complex human desires.

Progressives have always flattered themselves that time is on their side, that their preferences are in keeping with the arc of history. In the fight for marriage equality, this claim has been made again and again. Many have challenged our politicians and our people to ask themselves whether they can imagine a future in which opposition to marriage equality is seen as a principled stance. I think it’s time to turn the question back on them: given what you know about the advancement of human rights, are you sure your opposition to group marriage won’t sound as anachronistic as opposition to gay marriage sounds to you now? And since we have insisted that there is no legitimate way to oppose gay marriage and respect gay love, how can you oppose group marriage and respect group love?

I suspect that many progressives would recognize, when pushed in this way, that the case against polygamy is incredibly flimsy, almost entirely lacking in rational basis and animated by purely irrational fears and prejudice. What we’re left with is an unsatisfying patchwork of unconvincing arguments and bad ideas, ones embraced for short-term convenience at long-term cost. We must insist that rights cannot be dismissed out of short-term interests of logistics and political pragmatism. The course then, is clear: to look beyond political convenience and conservative intransigence, and begin to make the case for extending legal marriage rights to more loving and committed adults. It’s time.

Fredrik deBoer is a writer and academic. He lives in Indiana.

Voir aussi:

Voice
Why Realists Should Celebrate Gay Marriage
Today’s Supreme Court ruling will help create a better, stronger America.
Stephen M. Walt
Foreign policy
June 26, 2015

Regular readers know I am often critical of the U.S. government because I believe pointing to flaws that could be corrected is part of my job. But it is also important to highlight those moments when my country does the right thing, and today’s SCOTUS decision on gay marriage is one of them.

For starters, the decision is consistent with the defining feature of American democracy: its emphasis on individual freedom and personal choice. As the court made clear, if consenting adults are not free to fall in love with whomever they are drawn to and to express that love openly in the institution of marriage, then they are being denied the full rights that other citizens enjoy and they are not in fact truly free. Today’s decision eliminated this obvious contradiction between our ideals and our practices, and it should be celebrated for that reason alone.

Second, along with U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to permit gay Americans to serve openly in the armed forces, the decision is a blow in favor of fairness and efficiency. Prejudice and bigotry are bad in and of themselves, but they also impede the optimal use of human resources. When gay people could not serve openly in the military, our country was denied the talents that these patriotic individuals could have brought to important national security tasks. Similarly, when gay Americans could not marry or live together openly without fearing persecution, and when companies discriminated against gay employees, it meant that our society could not reap the full benefits of their unfettered participation. Whenever we remove another plank of prejudice, we help the best people rise as far as their abilities can take them, and all of us benefit as a result.

Today’s decision is also a tribute to the power of America’s oft maligned democratic institutions and the ability of reasoned discourse to triumph over ancient stigmas. Gay marriage did not come about by accident or just because two gay people decided to file a lawsuit a few years ago. It came about because courageous writers like Andrew Sullivan wrote powerfully in its favor, because an array of people — both gay and straight — organized to carry these arguments forward, and because more and more gay people came out and the straight world learned to relish their friendship and see them as equals. Once these things happened, the contradiction between our values and our laws — and the obvious injustice of the latter — was increasingly apparent. The American political system does not change direction quickly or easily, but it is open to reasoned discourse and responsive to changing sentiments. Even a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives could not fail to see that the ground had shifted, and today’s decision reflects that welcome reality.

Finally, establishing gay marriage as a fundamental right removes one of the practices that has separated the United States from many of its democratic partners (the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, England, Wales, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, Luxembourg, Scotland, and Finland). It will increase pressure on some other countries to follow suit, especially within Western Europe. At the same time, it is likely to broaden the gulf between states where homosexuality is becoming a nonissue and those where it is still persecuted and even same-sex unions are illegal. For gay people around the world, the struggle is far from over.

The struggle for human rights of different kinds is long and slow. But today, the arc of history bent.

 Voir également:

Voice
Can Gay Marriage Defeat the Islamic State?
A few — admittedly sappy — thoughts on the power of #LoveWins.
Rosa Brooks
Foreign Policy
June 26, 2015

I was thinking about two sets of images this morning: one from an Islamic State-controlled city in Iraq, the other from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

The first set of images, from early June, shows masked gunmen surrounding a crowd of people, mostly men. Some of the faces in the crowd show fear or hatred; others are studiously blank. But all eyes are fixed on the rooftop of a nearby building, where a blindfolded man is dangling upside down, his ankle held tightly by another masked man. Next image: The blindfolded man’s body plummets headfirst toward the pavement below. Final image: a crumpled, bloody heap on the ground, surrounded by a sea of faces. Headline and caption, from Fox News: “ISIS conducts more executions of men for being gay.… On June 3, 2015, Islamic State (ISIS) operatives in Iraq’s Ninveh province published photos of a public execution in Mosul of three men convicted of acts of homosexuality. The three men were blindfolded and dropped head first from the roof of a tall building in front of a large crowd of spectators, including children.”

The second set of images shows another crowd, thousands of miles away from the first. This crowd is full of men and women, all ages and all races, and they’re waving American flags and rainbow-colored flags. This crowd isn’t flanked by gunmen; no one looks frightened or enraged. This crowd is laughing and embracing; a few people are weeping, their faces lit with relief and joy. Caption from the Washington Post: “Gay rights supporters celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington after justices ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry, no matter where they live.”

I know which crowd I’d rather be in.

Do you want to fight the Islamic State and the forces of Islamic extremist terrorism? I’ll tell you the best way to send a message to those masked gunmen in Iraq and Syria and to everyone else who gains power by sowing violence and fear. Just keep posting that second set of images. Post them on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and in comments all over the Internet. Send them to your friends and your family. Send them to your pen pal in France and your old roommate in Tunisia. Send them to strangers.

Yes, it’s sappy. But this has always been the dream of America: a dream of freedom, of a land where no one would force their religious beliefs on anyone else. A land where all people would have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A land where we could seek change peacefully and trust our laws and institutions to respond to our deepest hopes.

The fulfillment of that dream has always been just a little bit beyond our reach, and we can approach it only through ceaseless struggle against the forces of darkness and reaction. This country has seen its share of hate-filled crowds. It has seen its share of whippings, lynchings, and beatings.

But it’s a dream that has brought untold millions of immigrants to our shores over the years, fleeing religious persecution and war and repression and a thousand different brands of hatred. It’s a dream that helped make the United States emulated and admired around the world. And it’s a dream that isn’t dead, as the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage reminds us.

Yes, America still has gunmen who shoot up churches and schools and bombers intent on turning crowds of smiling athletes and spectators into bloody bodies. We still have plenty of bigots and bullies. But we also still have that dream.

And I still have faith that this dream is the one that will prevail, in the end. That’s the lesson of history: Brutality and fear can keep people down for only so long. The Nazis learned this; the Soviets learned it; the Ku Klux Klan learned it; Pol Pot learned it; the Rwandan génocidaires learned it.

One of these days, the Islamic State and al Qaeda will learn it too.

I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but for once there’s a Twitter hashtag worth quoting, though it took my 13-year-old daughter to point it out to me: #LoveWins.

Tweet it. Shout it.

Sing it.

Voir encore:

The Supreme Court Ratifies a New Civic Religion That Is Incompatible with Christianity
David French
National Review
June 26, 2015

The most striking aspect of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, was its deep emotion. This was no mere legal opinion. Indeed, the law and Constitution had little to do with it. (To Justice Kennedy, the most persuasive legal precedents were his own prior opinions protecting gay rights.) This was a statement of belief, written with the passion of a preacher, meant to inspire. Consider the already much-quoted closing: As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. Or this: “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” This isn’t constitutional law, it’s theology — a secular theology of self-actualization — crafted in such a way that its adherents will no doubt ask, “What decent person can disagree?” This is about love, and the law can’t fight love. Justice Kennedy’s opinion was nine parts romantic poetry and one part legal analysis (if that). And that’s what makes it so dangerous for religious liberty and free speech. Practitioners of constitutional law know that there is no such thing as an “absolute” right to free speech or religious freedom in any context — virtually all cases involve balancing the asserted right against the asserted state interest, with “compelling” state interests typically trumping even the strongest assertions of First Amendment rights. And what is more compelling than this ode to love? RELATED: Supreme Court Forces States to Perform Gay Marriage, 5-4

The challenge for orthodox religious believers is now abundantly clear: For years, they’ve been standing against “history,” “equality,” and — yes — love itself. Now, all of that rhetoric has been constitutionalized, embedded in the secular scripture of our land. To be sure, Justice Kennedy did at least nod in the direction of the orthodox, declaring: Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. But this rhetoric, as he knows, is legally meaningless in the face of the potent combination of emotion and legal doctrines that have long deemphasized religious freedom. Justice Kennedy’s rhetoric will slide neatly into existing balancing tests, leaving defenders of religious liberty grasping for persuasive rhetoric to counter the irresistible tide of the new, civic religion. More marriage The Supreme Court Has Legalized Same-Sex Marriage: Now What? Sweeping Aside Madison’s Handiwork Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court For many believers, this new era will present a unique challenge. Christians often strive to be seen as the “nicest” or “most loving” people in their communities. Especially among Evangelicals, there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate. Christians who’ve not suffered for their faith often romanticize persecution. They imagine themselves willing to lose their jobs, their liberty, or even their lives for standing up for the Gospel. Yet when the moment comes, at least here in the United States, they often find that they simply can’t abide being called “hateful.” It creates a desperate, panicked response. “No, you don’t understand. I’m not like those people — the religious right.” Thus, at the end of the day, a church that descends from apostles who withstood beatings finds itself unable to withstand tweetings. Social scorn is worse than the lash. This is the era of sexual liberty — the marriage of hedonism to meaning — and the establishment of a new civic religion. The black-robed priesthood has spoken. Will the church bow before their new masters?

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.

Voir encore:

Report
Iran’s Missiles Are a Windfall for U.S. Defense Contractors
Nuclear deal or not, Tehran is keeping its ballistic missiles. And American firms are betting on a buyer’s market in the Persian Gulf.
Paul McLeary
Foreign Policy
June 26, 2015

Major U.S. defense contractors stand to earn a windfall if President Barack Obama’s administration secures a nuclear deal with Iran that sends jittery, oil-rich Persian Gulf countries seeking advanced new weapons. But the contractors likely will also do just fine if the negotiations unexpectedly collapse.

Fueling the coming spending is a controversial provision in the framework agreement, struck in April between Tehran and world powers, that largely left Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities untouched in the ongoing negotiations. The move angered White House critics on Capitol Hill and in parts of Europe. More urgently, it left Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) particularly uneasy because they are well within range of Iran’s increasingly advanced ballistic missiles.

That means deal or no deal, the Gulf countries — already some of the world’s biggest weapons buyers — will be opening their wallets even wider in the years ahead.

American defense contractors have long recognized the lucrative opportunity in the region, and they are counting on increased weapons sales to the Middle East to counteract a U.S. market that has slowed due to the relative flattening of the domestic defense budget.

At defense giant Lockheed Martin, Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson wants the company to boost its foreign sales to about 20 percent of the firm’s revenues by the end of 2015, up from 17 percent currently. Most of that growth is expected to come from its sales of missile defense systems. The company already sells about $8 billion in missiles and fire controls annually, with close to half going to America’s allies in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

“With the regional instability that’s going on [in the Mideast], we’ve seen a fairly large appetite for a layered air-defense capability,” said Joe Garland, vice president of international business development at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
“With the regional instability that’s going on [in the Mideast], we’ve seen a fairly large appetite for a layered air-defense capability,” said Joe Garland, vice president of international business development at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

In an attempt to deepen ties in the region, Lockheed in December set up what it has dubbed the Center for Innovation and Security Solutions in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Garland described it as an effort to collaborate with the UAE on “what type of systems they want to develop for their security,” while exploring new ideas for working with allies in the region.

It is not the number of deals that drives up profits, but the huge cost of fielding just a few systems. Over the past several years, the UAE has signed $1.9 billion in deals to buy two of Lockheed’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile systems. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, also are reportedly working to acquire the mobile, truck-mounted firing system, as well as an associated radar made by Raytheon.

Last year, an estimated 10 percent of Raytheon’s $23 billion in global sales went to the Middle East. The company has sold billions of dollars’ worth of Patriot missile systems to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE, along with multiple big-dollar follow-on contracts for maintenance work and a constant stream of upgrades. The company booked a $2 billion sale of Patriots to Saudi Arabia this year.

The Saudi military joined a select club of countries that have deployed the Patriot missile in combat, knocking down a Scud missile fired over the border by Houthi rebels in Yemen this spring.

Raytheon officials declined to comment for this story. But in April, CEO Thomas Kennedy said international business amounted to 28 percent of the company’s revenues for the first quarter of 2015.

Those numbers should go up in coming years, regardless of the outcome of the Iran negotiations.

“The Saudis and Emiratis don’t trust the deal, no matter what the deal is,” Grant Rogan, CEO of Blenheim Capital and a military sales expert, told Foreign Policy.
“The Saudis and Emiratis don’t trust the deal, no matter what the deal is,” Grant Rogan, CEO of Blenheim Capital and a military sales expert, told Foreign Policy. He predicted more sales of Patriot missiles and advanced radar systems “happening in Saudi substantially faster if there’s no deal — or if it’s a deal that doesn’t defang Iran.”

The expected surge won’t make a huge difference on the ground right away, since missile defense systems take years to contract and produce. But as they wait for the expected deals to go through, the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have started to talk about pooling their missile defense and surveillance assets into a shared network to gain a clearer picture of what is flying through the region’s airspace.

But it is very much a work in progress.

“The problem there has been a political one,” said Thomas Karako, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Following a May summit of GCC leaders in Washington, the Gulf nations issued a hopeful joint statement for progress on the network they described as a regionwide early-warning system — ostensibly as a safeguard against Iran.

Yet real questions remain over the Gulf states’ ability to overcome deeply entrenched political issues that have previously kept them from sharing intelligence. There’s also the issue of long-term technological investment. Building a networked radar and missile system is not merely about putting interceptors in the desert and pointing them toward the sky. “It’s about stitching those assets together and stitching the networks together,” Karako said.

Currently, there is no regionwide shared system to ensure that incoming attacks or other errant airspace objects aren’t missed. And that raises the overall threat for the Gulf nations.

Lockheed has “talked to a number of these GCC countries about how we can help them tie together” missile defense assets, Garland said. “It’s not there yet.”

While talk of selling more missile defense systems to the Middle East may seem a relatively easy way to blunt the Iranian missile threat, Washington should be cautious about how it balances its priorities.

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy for the Arms Control Association, said focusing too much on Tehran’s missiles ignores the true range of threats posed by Iran.

“To the extent that the U.S. [is] considering increasing arms sales, it should be focused on things like cyber and greater coordination on countering cyberthreats, which we know Iran is capable of,” Reif said.

But anti-ballistic missile systems are, to some degree, easier to sell to Gulf allies than other military weapons. The Defense Department has so far ruled out selling F-35 fighter jets, for example, since that would rile Israel and upset the qualitative military edge that Washington, by law, affords its staunchest ally in the region.

The growing distrust among some Gulf allies of Washington’s tentative agreement with Iran also risks changing the nature of some U.S. relationships in the region. Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen and airstrikes by both Riyadh and the UAE against jihadis in Libya are two examples of attacks launched without either Washington’s support or prior knowledge.

But the relationship will likely fray only so much, no matter the outcome of the eleventh-hour talks in Vienna between world powers and Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies have suggested turning to France and even Russia for future arms, but the American defense industry, as well as Washington’s economic clout, still matters.

Following the May summit, GCC Assistant Secretary-General Abdel Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg told reporters the meeting “exceeded the expectations of most of us” in that it reasserted Washington’s commitment to Gulf security and containing Iran.

Obama assured Gulf states that a nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t reflect a “pivot” toward Tehran, Aluwaisheg said.

Obama “succeeded very well in putting those questions to rest,” he said.

At the same time, the Gulf is not about to let its guard down. Because Iran already fields a ballistic missile capability that has largely been left outside the nuclear negotiation process, any deal — or lack of a deal — still leaves a serious threat in place.

“Missile defense will continue to grow in the region, regardless,” Rogan said.

Voir de plus:

Over the rainbow
Mariage gay : déferlante de drapeaux arc-en-ciel dans le monde
Delphine Cuny | Rédactrice en chef adjointe
Rue 89
27/06/2015

Politiques et entreprises se sont emparé des symboles du mouvement LGBT au lendemain de la légalisation du mariage gay aux USA et à la veille de plusieurs Gay Prides. Entre joie sincère et récupération.
Au lendemain de la légalisation du mariage homosexuel aux Etats-Unis, le drapeau arc-en-ciel, emblème du mouvement LGBT, a inondé les « timelines » sur Twitter et s’est invité sur de nombreux monuments de grandes capitales, où avait aussi lieu la Marche des fiertés (Gay Pride), à Paris notamment.

Le fronton de l’Hôtel de Ville avait hissé haut les fameuses couleurs, comme l’a tweeté la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo, reprenant le hashtag #LoveWins (l’amour triomphe) qui a fait florès sur la Toile. L’ambassadrice des Etats-Unis en France, Jane Hartley, était d’ailleurs ce samedi au côté d’Anne Hidalgo dans la Marche des fiertés à Paris.

La Maison Blanche, bien sûr, avait prévu un éclairage de nuit spécial, tout comme l’Empire State Building à New York, l’hôtel de ville de San Francisco, le pont de Minneapolis, mais aussi la porte de Brandebourg à Berlin ou la mairie de Tel Aviv, comme le rapporte le site d’architecture Arch Daily.

On a vu aussi quelques monuments ou lieux plus inattendus, comme par exemple, le château de Cendrillon à Disney World (Floride) ou même les chutes du Niagara. Mais pas la Tour Eiffel.

Les politiques, à l’image de Hillary Clinton, qui a repeint sa photo de profil sur Twitter aux couleurs arc-en-ciel, ont été les plus prompts à surfer sur la vague #LoveWins mais pas les seuls. Quelques célébrités comme Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift ou Justin Timberlake, se sont aussi associées à cette journée historique.

Taylor Swift s’autocite dans sa chanson ‘Welcome to New York’ : ‘Et tu veux qui tu veux, garçons et garçons et filles et filles’
De nombreux médias ont aussi modifié leur logo pour l’occasion, comme les sites spécialisés en high tech comme The Verge, Mashable ou The Next Web, le site de la Bible de Hollywood, Variety. Mais pas les grands journaux comme le New York Times ou le Washington Post, restés plus sobres, même s’ils ont largement couvert l’événement et joué un rôle dans l’évolution des mentalités.

Ce sont surtout les marques qui se sont emparées du hashtag et du drapeau, en particulier les entreprises de la Silicon Valley, où le mouvement est en pointe : Twitter elle-même, Yahoo ou YouTube (Google) et bien sûr Apple, par la voix de Tim Cook, son directeur général, qui avait fait son coming-out et milité contre la discrimination.

‘Les Etats-Unis ont fait un pas dans la bonne direction aujourd’hui. #Fierd’Aimer’
On pourra citer aussi Uber, dont on parle tant en ce moment, qui publie un Gif montrant vraisemblablement des salariés ‘réjouis’ et ‘fiers’.
De grandes entreprises américaines comme Visa, la compagnie aérienne Delta, la chaîne de supermarchés Target, les bonbons Skittles ont également surfé sur la décision, relève USA Today. Les céréales Kellogg’s n’ont pas hésité se faire un coup de pub, en mettant en avant ses bonnes notes en matière de diversité, quitte à être accusé de faire de la récup. D’autres marques comme la chaîne de restos mexicains Chipotle, qui emballe un burrito d’alu arc-en-ciel, se sont risquées aux jeux de mots de plus ou moins bon goût.

Como Estas (comment ça va) devient Homo Estas chez Chipotle
Au total, Twitter a recensé plus de 10 millions de tweets en six heures sur la légalisation du mariage des couples de même sexe, dont plus de 2,6 millions avec la mention #LoveWins. Un record de 35 000 messages par minute a été atteint dans la nuit (peu avant minuit heure de New York).
A titre de comparaison, en novembre 2014, lors des émeutes à Ferguson, la décision de relaxer le policier ayant tué le jeune noir Michael Brown avait déclenché une tempête de 3,5 millions de tweets en 24 heures. En janvier dernier, il y avait eu 2,1 millions de tweets #JeSuisCharlie dans les six heures suivant l’attaque de l’hebdomadaire satirique.

Voir encore:

Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism
Charles R. Kesler, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation
October 15, 2012

Abstract: Liberalism as we know it today in America is on the verge of exhaustion. Facing a fiscal crisis that it has precipitated and no longer sure of its purpose, liberalism will either go out of business or be forced to reinvent itself as something quite different from what it has been. In this careful analysis of Barack Obama’s political thought, Charles R. Kesler shows that the President, though intent on reinvigorating the liberal faith, nonetheless fails to understand its fatal contradictions—a shortsightedness that may prove to be liberalism’s undoing. This essay is adapted from Kesler’s new book, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism.

Barack Obama had the distinction of being the most liberal member of the United States Senate when he ran for President in 2008. The title had been conferred by National Journal, an inside-the-Beltway watchdog that annually assigns Senators (and Congressmen) an ideological rank based on their votes on economic, social, and foreign policy issues.

Since then, we have learned a lot more about his political leanings as a young man, which were fashionably leftist, broadly in keeping with the climate of opinion on the campuses where he found himself—Occidental College, Columbia University, Harvard Law School.

As a senior at Columbia, he attended the 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference, sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America. Though a meeting of democratic socialists and, yes, community organizers, the conference as well as his long-running friendships with radicals of various sorts would have drawn more sustained attention if the Cold War were still raging. But it was not, and Obama pleaded youthful indiscretion and drift; and of course his campaign did its best to keep the details from coming out.

He still had to answer, in some measure, for his ties to William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, but the issue with, say, the good reverend concerned his sermons about race and Middle East politics, not his penchant for visiting and honoring Fidel Castro, not to mention the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.[1] Partly by avoiding the worst of the old anti-Communist gauntlet, Obama became the most left-wing liberal to be elected to national executive office since Henry Wallace.

Still, the President is not a self-proclaimed socialist—nor, like Wallace, a self-deceived fellow traveler or worse. Obama never went so far, so openly—whether out of inertia, political calculation, or good sense—and therefore never had to make a public apostasy. As a result, we know less about his evolving views than we might like, though probably more than he would like.

He calls himself a progressive or liberal, and we should take him at his word, at least until we encounter a fatal contradiction. That’s only reasonable and fair; and it avoids the desperate shortcut, gratifying as it may be, of unmasking him as—take your pick—a Third-World daddy’s boy, Alinskyist agitator, deep-cover Muslim, or undocumented alien. Conservatives, of all people, should know to beware instant gratification, especially when it comes wrapped in a conspiracy theory. In any case, hypocrisy, as Rochefoucauld wrote, is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, and Obama seems to think it would be a virtuous thing to have been a lifelong liberal, even if he wasn’t.

And so the question arises: What does it mean anymore to be a liberal? To answer it, we must first retrace the history of liberalism over the course of the past century.

The Four Waves of Liberalism
The 20th century was, as the late Tom Silver used to say, “the liberal century.” Conservatism was a late arrival, debuting as a self-conscious intellectual movement only in the 1950s and lacking significant political success until the 1980s. By contrast, the liberal storm was already gathering in the 1880s and broke upon the land in the new century’s second decade. It had made deep, decisive changes in American politics long before conservatism as we know it came on the scene.

It didn’t, however, win these victories all at once. Modern liberalism spread across the country in three powerful waves, interrupted by wars and by rather haphazard reactions to its excesses. Each wave of liberalism featured a different aspect of it—call them, for short, political liberalism, economic liberalism, and cultural liberalism—and each deposited on our shores a distinctive type of politics—the politics of progress, the politics of entitlements, and the politics of meaning.

These terms are conceptual rather than, strictly speaking, historical. They help to organize our thinking more so than our record-keeping, inasmuch as elements of all three were mixed up in each stage. Although it wasn’t inevitable that one wave should follow the next, a certain logic connected the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the Great Society. Each attempted to transform America, as their names suggest, and the second and third waves worked out themes implicit in the first. But the special flavor of each period owed much to the issues and forces involved, the legacy of previous reform, the character of the political leaders, and the disagreements within and between the generations of reformers. The third wave, centered on the Sixties, showed just how fratricidal liberalism could become.

The first and most disorienting wave was political liberalism, which began as a critique of the Constitution and the morality underlying it. That morality, Woodrow Wilson charged, the natural rights doctrine of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, was based on an outmoded account of human nature, an atomistic and egoistic view that needed to be corrected by a more well-rounded or social view, made plausible by the recent discovery that human nature was necessarily progressive or perfectible. So-called natural rights were actually historical or prescriptive, evolving with the times toward a final and rational truth. The 18th century Constitution, based on the 18th century notion of a fixed human nature with static rights, had in turn to be transcended by a modern or living constitution based on the evolutionary view. Drawing on a curious and unstable mixture of Social Darwinism, German idealism, and English historicism, Wilson outlined the new State that liberals would ever after be building, the goal of which would be nothing less than man’s complete spiritual fulfillment.

The second wave explicitly adopted the name of liberalism, laying aside the old banner of Progressivism. It championed liberality or generosity in the form of a new doctrine of socioeconomic rights and tried to connect the new rights to the old, the Second Bill of Rights (as FDR called it) to the First. Instead of rights springing from the individual, the New Deal reconceived individualism as springing from a new kind of rights created by the State. The new entitlement-style rights posed as personal rights, even though they effectually attached to groups; but due to the slight family resemblance, they allowed Roosevelt to present himself and the New Deal as the loyal servants and successors of the American Revolution, of the old social compact suitably updated.

Liberalism’s third wave, cultural or lifestyle liberalism, hit in the 1960s. It was only when this wave crashed around them that the radical character of liberalism became clear to the American people; only then that conservatism became, at least temporarily, a majority movement, insofar as it stood for America against its cultured despisers and reformers. The Great Society agreed with the New Deal that government had to provide for Americans’ necessities in order that they may live in freedom, but it denied that freedom from want and freedom from fear (along with freedom of speech and worship) were any longer sufficient for all-around human liberation. Freedom required not merely living comfortably but also creatively, a demand that the New Left took several steps further than poor Lyndon Johnson was willing or able to go.

In the Sixties, the “peculiar” character of the radicalism bound up with contemporary liberalism began to tear it apart as its constituent elements began to clash. When social morality collided with personal liberation, and the State’s authority clashed with the people’s rights, and the assumptions of rational progress were denied by protestors who preferred to make history by following their authentic selves rather than admire history as it came to an end—then liberalism began to unravel. For conflicting reasons, liberals lost faith that they were on the right side of history and that the State could ever provide the conditions for complete self-development or spiritual fulfillment.

Obama inherited that frayed liberalism. Against long odds, he’s tried to reunite its dissonant parts and restore its political élan. He brought America to the verge of a fourth wave of political and social transformation, something that neither Democrats nor Republicans thought possible. But as the latest embodiment of the visionary prophet-statesmen he hasn’t been able to sustain the deep connection to the American people that his election in 2008 seemed to promise and that his desire to restore liberalism as the country’s dominant public philosophy required. Perhaps after the debacle of the Great Society, three decades in the political shadow of Ronald Reagan, and the current protracted economic doldrums, Americans have grown suspicious of the liberal vision of the future as a kind of Brigadoon—a land of wonders that voters glimpse every four years but that quickly fades into the mists, and from which no one has ever returned.

Unlike any of his liberal predecessors, Obama’s tortuous doubts about American exceptionalism lead to a sense of his estrangement from his own country, a disability not relieved by his profession, in Berlin, that he is a citizen of the world as well. He seems to lack both the citizen’s pride and the immigrant’s gratitude.

Tempting as it might be to write off the President, it would be a big mistake. Whatever else he may accomplish, his staggering victory on health care reform has earned him a future place on the Mount Rushmore of liberalism, alongside those other supreme hero-statesmen of the creed, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Assuming that his signature achievement is not unceremoniously repealed and replaced, Obama will almost certainly become one of the Democratic immortals, the giants who built and expanded the modern liberal state.

The New Progressivism of Barack Obama
Obama is neither an old-fashioned Progressive nor a radical postmodernist. Part of what makes him interesting is how he handles the conflicting strains of his own thought. As a decent man, he believes in justice and identifies with the civil rights movement’s insistence that Jim Crow was manifestly wrong and the cause of black equality manifestly right. As a self-described progressive, he believes in change; that is, he believes that change is almost always synonymous with improvement, that history has a direction and destination, that it’s crucial to be on the right side of history, not the wrong, and that it’s the leader’s job to discern which is the right side and to lead his people to that promised land of social equality and social justice.

Yet he’s skeptical of the simple-minded progressive equation of history with the inevitable triumph of justice; he fears that the foreknowledge of success or the optimistic certitude of victory would detract from the honor of standing up against Jim Crow, for example. It would also create a free-rider problem: Why risk opposing segregation if its fall is inevitable? He shares the civil rights movement’s sense that you have to make history, not just wait for it to make you. Yet if men can make history and history makes morality, then don’t human beings create their own morality?

As the product of a very liberal education, alas, Obama never discovered that this quandary could be resolved by returning from history to nature as the unchanging ground of our changing experience, as the foundation of morality and politics. Returning, say, to Lincoln’s and the Founders’ own understanding of themselves, reconsidering their argument for the Declaration’s principles, never occurred to him as a serious possibility. The progressivist assumptions, though decadent, were still too strong. He thought the only way was forward.

In his capacity as a political leader, Obama’s favorite formulation is that he seeks to “shape” history. But shaping history leaves ambiguous just how much freedom or influence human beings actually have—whether we shape history decisively or only marginally. As he declared in Iowa in 2010 after his health care victory: “Our future is what we make it. Our future is what we make it.”

That’s the deeper meaning of his slogan, “Yes, we can,” which he elsewhere called “a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.” In itself, the phrase sounds like a reply to “No, you can’t.” But was the nay-sayer denying us permission to do something or doubting our ability to do it? If the former, “Yes, we can” is an assertion of moral right or autonomy; if the latter, it’s an assertion of power or competence. For Obama, in Progressive fashion, the two appear to go together. Obama says, “Yes, we can” to slaves, abolitionists, immigrants, western pioneers, suffragettes, the space program, healing this nation, and repairing the world—and that’s in one speech.[2]

In a strange way, “Yes, we can” takes the place in his thought that “all men are created equal” held in Lincoln’s thought. Insofar as it is America’s national creed, it affirms that America is what we make it at any given time: America stands for the ability to change, openness to change, the willingness to constantly remake ourselves—but apparently for no particular purpose. Jon Stewart, the comedian, caught the dilemma perfectly when, joshing the President over his equivocations on the Ground Zero mosque, he said Obama’s slogan, as amended, now read: “Yes, we can…. But…should we?”

The country’s saving principle, then, is openness to change. “The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed,” Obama said in 2007 when announcing his presidential candidacy. In short, ours is the kind of country that always says, “Yes, we can” to the principle of “Yes, we can.” We affirm our right to change by always changing; we shape history by reshaping ourselves.

For all his openness to change, there is one to which Obama consistently answers, “No, we can’t.” Any change that would move the country backward, in his view, is anathema. “What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when…” is a phrase that begins many a sentence in his repertory. When dealing with conservatives, his confidence in history’s purpose and beneficence is miraculously raised to almost Wilsonian levels. He may not be exactly sure where history is going, but somehow he knows it’s not going there. A certain impatience and irritability creep into his voice. If people reject his vision, he can’t be a leader—and that makes it personal. His tone turns petulant, and he begins to issue orders to follow him.

The main target of his scoldings is, of course, the House Republicans, who tend to obstruct his measures. But in a larger sense, Obama displays the Progressive impatience with politics itself. It’s not merely the separation of powers, checks and balances, and other constitutional devices that often stalemate change to which liberals object. It’s human nature in its present state, still so inclined to praise God rather than man, to venerate the past, and to be guided by a healthy self-love.

Eventually, man will be worthy of liberalism, assuming it has its way with him and conditions him to love the State as the bee loves the hive. In the meantime, it’s a constant struggle to bear with this unreconstructed individualist who would rather govern his potty little self (in Chesterton’s great phrase) according to his own lights than be well governed by experts for his own (purported) good.

Obama, like most liberal thinkers, dreams of overcoming man’s stubbornly political nature in two ways, by assimilating politics either to the family or to the military. He began his 2011 State of the Union address by invoking the first theme: “We are part of the American family,” and together as one we’re going to “win the future”—a slogan with deeply Social Darwinist roots, by the way.

After the future business didn’t pan out so well in numerous scrapes with the House GOP, his frustration took a different direction a year later. In his 2012 State of the Union, after celebrating Osama bin Laden’s killing and the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq, the President focused on the “courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces”:

At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together…. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.
Yes, if politics were rigidly hierarchical, if we had to follow orders from above without question, and if living together as a free people were as unequivocal and straightforward an affair as pumping bullets into bin Laden, then we could accomplish a lot more—or a lot less, depending on how highly you value democratic self-government as an accomplishment. And the truth is that the leadership paradigm values freedom and self-rule much less than it does getting things done, attacking social problems, and making sure that liberal programs survive the struggle for existence on Capitol Hill.

Leadership is a term from the military side of politics, and one of the reasons the Founders resisted it was their determination to preserve republican politics as a civilian forum, as the activity of a free people ruling itself. A standing army might be necessary for that people’s defense, but citizens had no business longing to exchange political debate and deliberation for military solidarity and discipline.

On his better days, President Obama knows that, but this wasn’t one of them. He went on: “When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight.” Nor does it matter, by the way, whether you think the war is just or unjust, prudent or imprudent.

It might seem that liberals have come a long way from the protest days of the 1960s when many of them lustily denounced the American war machine; but in fact, they’re still compensating or overcompensating for their contempt of the U.S. military back then. At the same time, they are returning to an older Progressive tradition, highly visible in the New Deal, of trying vainly to make politics the moral equivalent of war. In any event, no one has to put on a uniform to be an equal citizen with equal rights under our Constitution.

Progressivism Without Progress?
To make possible a governing liberal majority, Obama has to rehabilitate liberalism’s reputation, to separate it as much as possible from the radical politics of the Sixties and the burden of defending big government.

President Clinton began this renewal in the 1990s. In some ways, Obama continues and sharpens Clinton’s efforts, wringing all the benefits he can out of the appearance of post-partisanship while making few sacrifices of substance. He far outshines Clinton, however, in telling the story of America in a way that reinforces a resurgent liberalism. More than any other Democratic President since FDR, Obama has an impressive interpretation of American history that culminates in him and that reworks and counters Reagan’s view of our history as the working out of American exceptionalism (including divine favor), individualism, limited government, free-market economics, and time-tested morals.

As a writer, Obama’s strength is telling stories, and his account of America is a kind of story, mixing social, intellectual, and political history. It begins with the Founding—with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He tries to construct a new consensus view of the country that acknowledges and then contextualizes traditional views in a way meant to be reassuring but that points to very untraditional conclusions. For instance, in The Audacity of Hope, in a chapter titled “Values,” he quotes the Declaration’s famous sentence on self-evident truths and then comments:

Those simple words are our starting point as Americans; they describe not only the foundations of our government but the substance of our common creed. Not every American may be able to recite them; few, if asked, could trace the genesis of the Declaration of Independence to its roots in eighteenth-century liberal and republican thought. But the essential idea behind the Declaration—that we are born into this world free, all of us; that each of us arrives with a bundle of rights that can’t be taken away by any person or any state without just cause; that through our own agency we can, and must, make of our lives what we will—is one that every American understands.[3]
It sounds almost Lincolnian until one notices that the rights in this bundle are not said to be natural, exactly, nor true and certainly not self-evident; they are an outgrowth of 18th century political thought, too recondite for most Americans to know or remember. Abraham Lincoln, when explaining the Declaration, traced its central idea to God and nature, not to 18th century ideologies. He called for “all honor to Jefferson” for introducing “into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.” When Jefferson was asked about the document’s source and purpose, he looked to common sense as well as to a much older and richer philosophical tradition.[4]

A commonsense argument harmonious with the political principles of Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and Sidney and proceeding from an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, could hardly be a simple distillation of 18th century ideologies—unless, of course, Jefferson and Lincoln didn’t know what they were talking about. If they spoke for their age without knowing so, if they were men of their times but didn’t realize it, then like their 21st century countrymen, they too would have been ignorant of their 18th century wellsprings, but precisely because they were living in or at least not long after the 18th century!

Returning to Obama’s American story, we see that it blends two themes: individualism (symbolized in the Declaration) and “unity” (symbolized in the Constitution’s commitment to “a more perfect Union”). The latter phrase, plucked from the Preamble, has long been a favorite of liberals from Wilson to Bill Clinton. For Obama, unity means being your brother’s and sister’s keeper; it means coming together “as one American family.” “If fate causes us to stumble or fall, our larger American family will be there to lift us up,” he explains.

In real life, he hasn’t exactly been there to lift up his aunt in Boston or his hut-dwelling half brother in Kenya, but then families in real life often disappoint. Even so, the family’s failings only leave more work for the State. Membership in it confers or protects our “dignity,” Obama argues, in the sense of guaranteeing “a basic standard of living” and effectively sharing “life’s risks and rewards for the benefit of each and the good of all.” And no one can enjoy “dignity and respect” without a society that guarantees both “social justice” and “economic justice.”

These ramify widely, demanding, in Obama’s words, that “if you work in America you should not be poor”; that a college education should be every child’s “birthright”; and that every American should have broadband access. Lately, he’s feeling even more generous. The “basic American promise,” he said in his 2012 State of the Union address, was and should be again that “if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.”[5]

That sounds more like winning life’s lottery than a promise that anyone could justly demand be fulfilled. Notice how craftily, however, Obama shifts his examples of social duty from picking up the fallen to sending someone else’s kids to college. How easily liberal magicians transform needs into desires and desires into rights. They do it right before our eyes and never explain the secret of the trick. Still, it’s revealing that he doesn’t go whole hog, turning such socioeconomic goods explicitly into rights and cataloging them for our wonderment. Chastened by the right-wing and middle-class backlash against welfare rights, he follows Bill Clinton in silently recasting, say, the right to go to college on someone else’s money as an “investment” in “opportunity.” As Obama presents it:

…opportunity is yours if you’re willing to reach for it and work for it. It’s the idea that while there are few guarantees in life, you should be able to count on a job that pays the bills; health care for when you need it; a pension for when you retire; an education for your children that will allow them to fulfill their God-given potential.
Actually, there are quite a few “guarantees” in a life lived in Obama’s America. Even as he’s wary of rights talk after the Sixties’ implosion, he also denies any fondness for “big government.” Newfangled rights would imply a big government to provide them. He’s not in favor of that; he supports “active government.” These aren’t blank-check rights because the recipient has some reciprocal responsibilities—filling out the enrollment forms, showing up at class, making passing grades, and the like. But the obligations are usually minimal, and besides, don’t responsibilities and rights usually keep a house together? So these are rights of a sort, and Obama said so explicitly a month before the 2008 election in a CNN debate with John McCain. Asked whether health care was a privilege, a responsibility, or a right, he replied, “Well, I think it should be a right for every American.”[6] But he had avoided saying so up to that point.

Obama leaves the relationship between individualism and “a more perfect union” up in the air, to be settled pragmatically. Every society has a similar tension between “autonomy and solidarity,” he writes, and “it has been one of the blessings of America that the circumstances of our nation’s birth allowed us to negotiate these tensions better than most.” The circumstances, not the principles, of our nation were key, because the wide-open continent allowed individuals to head west and form new communities to their liking whenever they wanted to.

But the continent filled up; big corporations gradually took over from the family farm, just as Wilson and FDR had explained generations before; and soon our “values” were in a more serious conflict that required a bigger government to help reconcile. Unfortunately, that government proved enduringly unpopular with conservatives, who refused to adjust to the new times; and so finding the proper balance between the individual and the community continues to stoke our increasingly polarized and polarizing political debates.

Though he hails the Constitution as a mechanism of “deliberative democracy,” Obama doesn’t mean by that a back-and-forth on public policy conducted by the executive and legislative branches with input from the people. Deliberation of that kind, endorsed by The Federalist and consistent with natural rights, would seek means to the ends of constitutional government. That’s too narrow for Obama, who seeks deliberation about the ends, or at least about what our rights will be and what the Constitution should mean in the age that is dawning. He wants to turn all of the Constitution’s mechanisms—separation of powers, federalism, checks and balances—into ways of forcing a “conversation” about our identity. In such a conversation, “all citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality, persuading others of their point of view, and building shifting alliances of consent.”[7]

Required? An external reality? And who judges whether the resulting conversation meets the requirements of democracy or not? Obama deplores the bile in our contemporary politics, and it must puzzle him that he causes so much of it. But he’s asking for it. As Bill Buckley used to say, liberals always talk about their tolerance and eagerness to engage with other views, but they’re always surprised to find that there are other views.

Obama expects 21st century people to have, roughly speaking, 21st century views, as he does. What then of Jefferson and his 18th century compeers? Obama soon makes clear that despite their fine words, Jefferson and the other Founders were less than faithful to the liberal and republican inferences of the principles they proclaimed. Like a good law school professor, in The Audacity of Hope, Obama lines up evidence and argument on both sides before concluding that, in fact, the Founders probably did not understand their principles as natural and universal, despite their language, but rather as confined to the white race. The Declaration of Independence “may have been,” he says, a transformative moment in world history, a great breakthrough for freedom, but “that spirit of liberty didn’t extend, in the minds of the Founders, to the slaves who worked their fields, made their beds, and nursed their children.” As a result, the Constitution “provided no protection to those outside the constitutional circle,” to those who were not “deemed members of America’s political community”: “the Native American whose treaties proved worthless before the court of the conqueror, or the black man Dred Scott, who would walk into the Supreme Court a free man and leave a slave.”

Obama doesn’t argue, as Lincoln did, that the Supreme Court majority was in error, that Dred Scott was wrongly and unjustly returned to slavery, and that Chief Justice Roger Taney’s dictum—that, in the Founders’ view, the black man had no rights that the white man was bound to respect—was a profound solecism. On the contrary, Obama accepts Dred Scott as rightly decided according to the standards of the time. He agrees, in effect, with Taney’s reading of the Declaration and the Constitution, and with Stephen Douglas’s as well. Despite his admiration for Lincoln, Obama sides with Lincoln’s opponents in their interpretation of Jefferson and the Declaration as pro-slavery.[8] Obama regards the original intention of both the Declaration and the Constitution to be racist and even pro-slavery, but he refrains from making the point explicit.

His understanding of the past thus pays lip service to such things as self-evident truths, original intent, and first principles but quickly changes the subject to values, visions, dreams, ideals, myths, and narratives. This is a postmodern “move.” We can’t know or share truth, postmodernists assert, because there is no truth “out there,” but we can share stories and thus construct a community of shared meaning. It’s these ideas that mark his furthest departure from old-fashioned liberalism.

More and less radical, more and less nihilist—Obama comes in on the “less” side, but then a little bit of nihilism goes a long way. “Implicit…in the very idea of ordered liberty,” he writes in The Audacity of Hope, is “a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or ‘ism,’ any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad.” There is no absolute truth—and that’s the absolute truth, he argues. Such feeble, self-contradictory reasoning is at the heart of Obama’s very private and yet very public struggle with himself to determine whether there is anything anywhere that can truly be known, or even that is rational to have faith in. Anyone who believes, really believes, in absolute truth, he asserts, is a fanatic or in imminent danger of becoming a fanatic; absolute truth is the mother of extremism everywhere.

Although it’s certainly a good thing that America avoided religious and political tyranny, no previous President has ever credited this achievement to the Founders’ rejection of absolute truth, previously known as “truth.” Is the idea that human freedom is right, slavery wrong, thus to be rejected lest we embrace an “absolute truth”? What becomes of the “universal truths” Obama himself celebrates on occasion? Surely the problem is not with the degree of belief, but with the falseness of the causes for which the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, and the jihad stood. A fervent belief in religious liberty is not equivalent to a fervent belief in religious tyranny any more than a passionate belief in democracy is equivalent to a passionate longing for dictatorship.

In The Audacity of Hope, within two pages of his criticism of the Founders for allegedly excluding black Americans from constitutional protection as equal human beings and citizens, he warns against all such sweeping truth claims and indeed praises the Founders for being “suspicious of abstraction.” On every major question in America’s early history, he writes, “theory yielded to fact and necessity…. It may be the vision of the Founders that inspires us, but it was their realism, their practicality and flexibility and curiosity, that ensured the Union’s survival.”[9] Obama cannot decide whether to blame the Founders as racists or to celebrate them as relativists; to assail them for not applying their truths absolutely to blacks and Indians along with whites or to praise them for compromising their too absolute principles for the sake of something concrete.

His attempt to resolve this contradiction carries him into still deeper and murkier waters. Obama turns for inspiration to the abolitionists, drawing no distinction between a superb publicist and reasoner like Frederick Douglass and a butcher like John Brown, who was happy “to spill blood and not just words on behalf of his visions.” Both were “absolutists,” which, by Obama’s definition, means they were “unreasonable” but willing to fight for “a new order.” He goes on to confess he has a soft spot for “those possessed of similar certainty today”—for example, the “antiabortion activist” or the “animal rights activist” who’s willing to break the law. He seems to suffer from certainty envy. He respects passionate, even fanatic commitment as such. Though he may “disagree with their views,” he admits that “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty—for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.” Not true, necessarily, but absolute. It’s hard to know what he means exactly. That the “truths” are fit for the times, are destined to win out and forge a “new order”? That they are willed absolutely, not pragmatically or contingently? Even his rejection of absolute truth is now uncertain.

So, finally, in his perplexity, he turns again to Lincoln. Like “no man before or since,” Lincoln “understood both the deliberative function of our democracy and the limits of such deliberation.” His presidency combined firm convictions with practicality or expediency. Obama seems never to have heard of prudence, the way a statesman (and a reasonable and decent person) moves from universal principles to particular conclusions in particular circumstances. The 16th President, he ventures, was humble and self-aware, “maintaining within himself the balance between two contradictory ideas,” that we are all imperfect and thus must reach for “common understandings” and that at times “we must act nonetheless, as if we are certain, protected from error only by providence.”

For a man like Lincoln, there is no such thing, he says in effect, as acting with moral certainty, only acting “as if we are certain,” God help us. Unlike John Brown, Lincoln was an absolutist who realized the limitations of absolutism yet still brought forth a new order. “Lincoln, and those buried at Gettysburg,” Obama concludes, “remind us that we should pursue our own absolute truths only if we acknowledge that there may be a terrible price to pay.”[10] Our own absolute truths? Those words ought to send a shudder down Americans’ constitutional spine, assuming we still have one.

The Liberal Crisis
Liberals like crises, and one shouldn’t spoil them by handing them another on a silver salver. The kind of crisis that is approaching, however, is probably not their favorite kind—an emergency that presents an opportunity to enlarge government—but one that will find liberalism at a crossroads, a turning point. Liberalism can’t go on as it is, not for very long. It faces difficulties both philosophical and fiscal that will compel it either to go out of business or to become something quite different from what it has been.

For most of the past century, liberalism was happy to use relativism as an argument against conservatism. Those self-evident truths that the old American constitutional order rested on were neither logically self-evident nor true, Woodrow Wilson and his followers argued, but merely rationalizations for an immature, subjective form of right that enshrined selfishness as national morality. What was truly evident was the relativity of all past views of morality, each a reflection of its society’s stage of development. But there was a final stage of development when true morality would be actualized and its inevitability made abundantly clear—that is, self-evident.

Disillusionment came when the purported end or near end of history coincided not with idealism justified and realized, but with what many liberals in the 1960s, especially the young, despaired of as the infinite immorality of poverty, racial injustice, Vietnam, the System, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Relativism rounded on liberalism. Having promised so much, liberalism was peculiarly vulnerable to the charge that the complete spiritual fulfillment it once promised was neither complete nor fulfilling.

As Obama’s grappling shows, intelligent and morally sensitive liberals may try to suppress or internalize the problem of relativism, but it cannot be forgotten or ignored. Despite his investment in deliberative democracy, communitarianism, and pragmatic decision making, he’s willing to throw it all aside at the moment of decision because it doesn’t satisfy his love of justice, or rather his love of a certain kind of courage or resolute action. “The blood of slaves reminds us that our pragmatism can sometimes be moral cowardice,” he writes.[11] In a moment like that, a great man must follow his own absolute truth, and the rest of us are left hoping it is Lincoln and not John Brown, much less Jefferson Davis, whose will is triumphant. The great man doesn’t anticipate or follow or approximate history’s course; he creates it, wills it according to his own absolute will, not absolute knowledge.

When combined with liberalism’s lust for strong leaders, this openness to Nietzschean creativity looms dangerously over the liberal future. If we are lucky, if liberalism is lucky, no one will ever apply for the position of liberal “superhero,” in Michael Tomasky’s term, and the role will remain vacant. But as Lincoln asked in the Lyceum speech, “Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us?”

And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs. Distinction will be his paramount object; and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.
More worrisome even than the danger of a superman able to promise that everything desirable will soon be possible is a people unattached to its constitution and laws; and for that, liberalism has much to answer.

In one crucial respect, our situation would seem more perilous than the future danger Lincoln sketched insofar as the very definitions of political “good” and “harm” are now uncertain. Avant-garde liberalism used to be about progress; now it’s about nothingness. You call that progress? Perhaps, paradoxically, that’s why Obama prefers to be called a progressive rather than a liberal. It’s better to believe in something than in nothing, even if the something, Progress, is not as believable as it used to be. His residual progressivism helps insure him against his instinctual postmodernism. Still, liberalism is in a bad way when it has lost confidence in its own truth, and it’s an odd sort of “progress” to go back to a name it surrendered 80 years ago.

Adding to liberal self-doubt is that liberalism’s monopoly on the social sciences, long since broken, has been supplanted by a multiple-front argument with conservative scholars in economics, political science, and other fields. In the beginning, Progressivism commanded all the social sciences because it had invented or imported them all. Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson could be confident in the inevitability of progress, despite temporary setbacks, because the social sciences backed them up. An expertise in administering progress existed, and experts in public administration, Keynesian economics, national planning, urban affairs, modernization theory, development studies, and a half-dozen other specialties beavered away at bringing the future to life.

What a difference a half-century makes. The vogue for national planning disappeared under the pressure of ideas and events. Friedrich Hayek demonstrated why socialist economic planning, lacking free-market pricing information, could not succeed. In a side-by-side experiment, West Germany far outpaced East Germany in economic development, and all the people escaping across the Wall traveled from east to west, leaving their workers’ paradise behind. Keynesianism flunked the test of the 1970s stagflation. The Reagan boom, with its repeated tax cuts, flew in the face of the orthodoxy at the Harvard Department of Economics but was cheered by the Chicago School. Milton Friedman’s advice to Chile proved far sounder than Jeffrey Sachs’s to Russia. Monetarism, rational choice economics, supply-side, “government failure,” “regulatory capture,” “incentive effects”—the intellectual discoveries were predominantly on the Right. Conservative and libertarian think tanks multiplied, carrying the new insights directly into the fray.

The scholarly counterattack proceeded in political science and the law, too. Rational choice and “law and economics” changed the agenda to some degree. Both politics and the law became increasingly “originalist” in bearing, enriched by a new appreciation for 18th century sources and the original intent of the Founders and the Framers of the Constitution. Above all, the Progressives’ attempt to replace political philosophy with social science foundered.

After World War II, an unanticipated and at first unheralded revival of political philosophy began, associated above all with Leo Strauss, questioning historicism and nihilism in the name of a broadly Socratic understanding of nature and natural right. New studies of the tradition yielded some very untraditional results. Though there were left-wing as well as right-wing aspects to this revival, the latter proved more influential and liberating. The unquestionability of both progress and relativism died quietly in classrooms around the country. Economics is an instrumental science, studying means not ends, and so much of the successes of free-market economics could be swallowed pragmatically by liberalism’s maw. The developments in political philosophy challenged the ends of Progressivism, proving far more damaging to it.

In sheer numbers, the academy remained safely, overwhelmingly in the hands of the Left, whose members in fact grew more radical, with some notable exceptions, in these years. But they gradually lost the unchallenged intellectual ascendancy, though not the prestige, they once had enjoyed.

Thanks to this intellectual rebirth, the case against Progressivism and in favor of the Constitution is stronger and deeper than it has ever been. Progressivism has never been in a fair fight, an equal fight, until now, because its political opponents had largely been educated in the same ideas, had lost touch, like Antaeus, with the ground of the Constitution in natural right, and so tended to offer only Progressivism Lite as an alternative.

The sheer superficiality of Progressive scholarship is now evident. Progressives could never take the ideas of the Declaration and Constitution seriously for many of the same reasons that Obama cannot ultimately take them seriously. Wilson never demonstrated that the Constitution was inadequate to the problems of his age—he asserted it, or rather assumed it. His references to The Federalist are shallow and general, never betraying a close familiarity with any paper or papers, and willfully ignorant of the separation of powers as an instrument to energize and hone, not merely limit, the national government. Though he thought of himself as picking up where Hamilton, Webster, and Lincoln had left off, Wilson never investigated where they left off and why. Neither he nor his main contemporaries asked how far The Federalist’s or Lincoln’s reading of national powers and duties might take them, because they assumed it would not take them very far, that it reflected the political forces of its age and had to be superseded by new doctrines for a new age. They weren’t interested in Lincoln’s reasons, only in his results. Not right but historical might was the Progressives’ true focus.

Today liberalism looks increasingly, well, elderly. Hard of hearing, irascible, enamored of past glories, forgetful of mistakes and promises, prone to repeat the same stories over and over—it isn’t the youthful voice of tomorrow it once imagined itself to be. Only a rhetorician of Obama’s youth and artfulness could breathe life into the old tropes again.

Even he can’t repeat the performance in 2012. With a track record to defend, he will have to speak more prose and less poetry. With a century-old track record, liberalism will find it harder than ever to paint itself as the disinterested champion of the public good. Long ago, it became an Establishment, one of the estates of the realm, with its court-party of notoriously self-interested constituencies: the public employee unions, the trial lawyers, the feminists, the environmentalists, and the corporations aching to be public utilities paying private-sector salaries. Not visions of the future, but visions of plunder come to mind. This is one side of what Walter Russell Mead means when he criticizes the “blue state social model” as outmoded and heavy-handed.[12]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is about as sleek and innovative as the several phone books’ worth of paper it takes up in printed form. Can one imagine Steve Jobs’s reaction if he had been tasked with reading, much less implementing, the PPACA? It is exhibit A in the case for the intellectual obsolescence of liberalism.

Finally, we come to the fiscal embarrassments confronting contemporary liberals. Again, Obamacare is wonderfully emblematic. President Obama’s solution to the problem of two health care entitlement programs quickly going bankrupt—Medicare and Medicaid—is to add a third? Perhaps it is a stratagem. More likely it is simply the reflexive liberal solution to any social problem: Spend more.

From Karl Marx to John Rawls, if you’ll excuse the juxtaposition, left-wing critics of capitalism have often paid it the supreme compliment of presuming it so productive an economic system that it has overcome permanently the problem of scarcity in human life. Capitalism has generated a “plenty.” It has distributional problems, which produce intolerable social and economic instability; but eliminate or control those inconveniences and it could produce wealth enough not only to provide for every man’s necessities, but also to lift him into the realm of freedom. To some liberals, that premise implied that socioeconomic rights could be paid for without severe damage to the economy and without oppressive taxation, at least of the majority.

Obama is the first liberal to suggest that even capitalism cannot pay for all the benefits promised by the American welfare state, particularly regarding health care. Granted, his solution is counterintuitive in the extreme, which makes one wonder if he is sincere. To the extent that liberalism is the welfare state, and the welfare state is entitlement spending, and entitlements are mostly spent effecting the right to health care, the insolvency of the health care entitlement programs is rightly regarded as a major part of the economic and moral crisis of liberalism. “Simply put,” Yuval Levin writes, “we cannot afford to preserve our welfare state in anything like its present form.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2025, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the interest on the federal debt will consume all—all—federal revenues, leaving defense and all other expenditures to be paid for by borrowing; and the debt will be approaching twice the country’s annual GDP.[13]

Conclusion
If something can’t go on forever, Herbert Stein noted sagely, it won’t. It would be possible to increase federal revenues by raising taxes, but the kind of money that’s needed could only be raised by taxing the middle class (defined, let us say, as all those families making less than $250,000 a year) very heavily. Like every other Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale, who made the mistake of confessing to the American people that he was going to raise their taxes, Obama swore not to do that.

If the bankruptcy of the entitlement programs were handled just the right way, with world-class cynicism and opportunism, in an emergency demanding quick, painful action lest Grandma descend into an irreversible diabetic coma, then liberalism might succeed in maneuvering America into a Scandinavia-style überwelfare state, fueled by massive and regressive taxes cheerfully accepted by the citizenry. But odds are we stand instead at the twilight of the liberal welfare state. As it sinks, a new, more conservative system will likely rise that will feature some combination of more means-testing of benefits, a switch from defined-benefit to defined-contribution programs, greater devolution of authority to the states and localities, a new budget process that will force welfare expenditures to compete with other national priorities, and the redefinition of the welfare function away from fulfilling socioeconomic “rights” and toward charitably taking care of the truly needy as best the community can afford when private efforts have failed or proved inadequate.

Currently, the welfare state operates almost independently alongside the general government. Taken together, these reforms will work to reintegrate the welfare state into the government, curtailing its state-within-a-state status and, even more important, integrating it back into the constitutional system that stands on natural rights and consent.

Is it just wishful thinking to imagine the end of liberalism? Few things in politics are permanent. Conservatism and liberalism didn’t become the central division in our politics until the middle of the 20th century. Before that, American politics revolved around such issues as states’ rights, the wars, slavery, the tariff, and suffrage. Parties have come and gone in our history. You won’t find many Federalists, Whigs, or Populists lining up at the polls these days. Britain’s Liberal Party faded from power in the 1920s. The Canadian Liberal Party collapsed in 2011.

Recently, within a decade of its maximum empire at home and abroad, a combined intellectual movement, political party, and form of government crumbled away, to be swept up and consigned to the dustbin of history. Communism, which in a very different way from American liberalism traced its roots to Hegel, Social Darwinism, and leadership by a vanguard group of intellectuals, vanished before our eyes, though not without an abortive coup or two. If Communism, armed with millions of troops and thousands of megatons of nuclear weapons, could collapse of its own dead weight and implausibility, why not American liberalism?

The parallel is imperfect, of course, because liberalism and its vehicle, the Democratic Party, remain profoundly popular, resilient, and changeable. Elections matter to them. What’s more, the egalitarian impulse, centralized government (though not centralized administration), and the Democratic Party have deep roots in the American political tradition—and reflect permanent aspects of modern democracy itself, as Tocqueville testifies.

Some elements of liberalism are inherent in American democracy, then, but the compound, the peculiar combination that is contemporary liberalism, is not. Compounded of the Hegelian philosophy of history, Social Darwinism, the living constitution, leadership, the cult of the State, the rule of administrative experts, entitlements and group rights, and moral creativity, modern liberalism is something new and distinctive, despite the presence in it, too, of certain American constants like the love of equality and democratic individualism.

Under the pressure of ideas and events, that compound could come apart. Liberals’ confidence in being on the right, the winning side of history could crumble, perhaps has already begun to crumble. Trust in government, which really means in the State, is at all-time lows. A majority of Americans oppose a new entitlement program—in part because they want to keep the old programs unimpaired, but also because the economic and moral sustainability of the whole welfare state grows more and more doubtful. The goodwill and even the presumptive expertise of many government experts command less and less respect. Obama’s speeches no longer send the old thrill up the leg, and his leadership, whether for one or two terms, may yet help to discredit the respectability of following the Leader.

The Democratic Party is unlikely to go poof, but it’s possible that modern liberalism will. A series of nasty political defeats and painful repudiations of its impossible dreams might do the trick. At the least, it will have to downsize its ambitions and get back in touch with political, moral, and fiscal reality. It will have to—all together now—turn back the clock. Much will depend, too, on what conservatives say and do in the coming years. Will they have the prudence and guile to elevate the fight to the level of constitutional principle, to expose the Tory credentials of their opponents?

President Obama’s decision to double down aggressively on the reach and cost of big government just as the European model of social democracy is hitting the skids provides the perfect opportunity for conservatives to exploit. His course makes the problems of liberalism worse and more urgent, as though he is eager for a crisis. Sooner or later, the crisis will come. If the people remain attached to their government and laws and American statesmen do their part, the country may yet take the path leading up from liberalism.

—Charles R. Kesler, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, and professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism (Broadside Books, 2012), from which this essay was adapted.
Hide References

[1]Stanley Kurtz, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010), pp. 1–11, 21–60, 71–77, 86.
[2]See Barack Obama, Remarks Following the Iowa Caucuses, January 3, 2008, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=76232&st=&st1=#axzz1lvulJr36.
[3]Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006), p. 53.
[4]Abraham Lincoln, Letter to H. L. Pierce and Others, April 6, 1859, in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), vol. 3, p. 376; Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825, and Letter to Roger Weightman, June 24, 1826, in Thomas Jefferson: Writings, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York: Library of America, 1984), pp. 1501, 1517. For a commentary, see Harry V. Jaffa, A New Birth of Freedom (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), ch. 2.
[5]Barack Obama, “A Hope to Fulfill,” Remarks of Senator Barack Obama at the National Press Club, April 26, 2005, http://obamaspeeches.com/014-National-Press-Club-Speech.htm; Remarks Following the Wisconsin Primary, February 19, 2008, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=76558&st=&st1=#axzz1lvulJr36; Remarks in St. Paul, Minnesota, Claiming the Democratic Presidential Nomination Following the Montana and South Dakota Primaries, June 3, 2008, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=77409&st=&st1=#axzz1lvulJr36; Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union, January 24, 2012, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index/index.php?pid=99000#axzz1lvulJr36; and James T. Kloppenberg, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition (Princeton, N.J.; Princeton University Press, 2011), pp. 89–110, 139–40.
[6]Barack Obama, Comments at Presidential Debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 7, 2008, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=84482&st=&st1=#axzz1lvulJr36.
[7]Obama, The Audacity of Hope, pp. 55, 92.
[8]Ibid., p. 95.
[9]Ibid., pp. 93–96. Obama echoes, and radicalizes, Woodrow Wilson’s distinction between the Founders as time-bound theorists and as competent statesmen.
[10]Ibid., pp. 97–98.
[11]Ibid., p. 98.
[12]See, for example, Walter Russell Mead, “Beyond the Blue Part One: The Crisis of the American Dream,” American Interest, January 29, 2012, http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/01/29/beyond-blue-part-one-the-crisis-of-the-american-dream/.
[13]Yuval Levin, “Beyond the Welfare State,” National Affairs, Spring 2011, pp. 21–38, 30, 32.

Voir également:

He was the change

James Piereson

The Criterion

A review of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles R. Kesler

Four years ago, in the excited aftermath of the 2008 election, Barack Obama was widely viewed as a liberal messiah who would engineer a new era of liberal reform and cement a Democratic majority for decades to come. He would prove to be, as many pundits predicted, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or perhaps even an Abraham Lincoln, for our time. They were not alone in saying this: Obama himself said much the same thing.

These forecasts seemed grandiose at the time; today, after four years of an Obama presidency, they look positively silly. In contrast to 2008, 2012 Obama looks less like a transformational president and more like a typically embattled politician trying to survive a tight contest for reelection. Even some of his strongest supporters are now “defining Obama down” as just another Democratic “pol” making compromises and paying off constituencies in order to keep his coalition together. Extravagant hopes have given way to a scramble for survival. Few continue to believe that Obama will establish the foundations for a new era of liberal governance. Some are beginning to point toward a more surprising turn of events: Far from bringing about a renewal of liberalism, Obama is actually presiding over its disintegration and collapse.

This is the thesis of Charles R. Kesler’s fascinating and insightful new book, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism.1 Mr. Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and editor of The Claremont Review, is a well-known conservative scholar and authority on the history of liberal thought. Professor Kesler presents a critical yet nuanced portrayal of Obama and his rise to power. From his perspective as scholar and theorist, Kesler sees Obama as a conventional liberal or, better yet, as a progressive, and not as a socialist or anti-American subversive (as some of the President’s critics would have it). Viewed through a wide historical lens, Obama appears as the most recent—and perhaps the last—of a line of liberal presidents beginning with Woodrow Wilson a century ago and running through FDR to Lyndon Johnson and beyond to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. A signal virtue of this book is that it shows how the Obama presidency fits into the evolution of modern liberalism from its origins in the Progressive movement more than a century ago.1

The great political battles in the United States during the nineteenth century were never ideological contests in the modern sense but rather controversies fought over the meaning of the Constitution and the intentions of the founding fathers. Political contests over expansion, the Bank of the United States, slavery, secession, and the regulation of commerce were fought out along constitutional lines. The politicians and statesmen of that era were not divided into liberal and conservative camps; those terms had little meaning in nineteenth-century America. Abraham Lincoln was not thought of as a “liberal,” nor were slave owners derided as “conservatives.” Both sides of that controversy appealed to the Constitution or to the Declaration of Independence to defend their positions.

The Progressives introduced an ideological element into American politics by detaching their arguments from the Constitution and grounding them instead in claims about progress and historical development. Progressives (they were not yet called “liberals”) asserted that the Constitution, with its complex framework designed to limit government, was out of date in the modern age of science, industrialism, and large trusts and corporations. Constitutionalists looked backwards to the founding fathers; Progressives looked forward to a vast future of never-ending progress and change. The founding fathers and their nineteenth-century successors anchored popular government in a philosophy of natural rights; Progressives looked to different foundations in history and development. Progressives could not get rid of the Constitution, but they could reinterpret it to allow for more federal action to regulate the trusts, resolve industrial disputes, and engineer progress. Thus was born the idea of a “living Constitution,” an open-ended and flexible document readily adapted to changing conditions.

The Progressives were proponents of scientific government, not necessarily of popular or representative government. They disdained legislative bodies with their vote-trading and petty disputes over constituent interests; thus, they looked to the presidency rather than to the Congress for national leadership in the direction of reform and progress. The president spoke for the people or the nation, Congress spoke for special interests. Progressives wanted to delegate power to administrative bodies, commissions, and bureaus staffed by disinterested experts who could apply up-to-date knowledge to solve new problems. The Interstate Commerce Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Reserve Board were Progressive initiatives. The Progressives dreamed of a time when political contests among rival interests would give way to impartial administration by experts and judges trained by and recruited from the best colleges and universities in the land. Academic institutions, as Mr. Kesler points out, would go on to play a major role in the evolution of liberalism.

Professor Kesler identifies Woodrow Wilson as the chief architect of this vision in American politics, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for progressivism and then beginning to put them in place during his term as president. As a research scholar and university president, Wilson brought some of the abstract qualities of a college professor to the study of politics. He wrote an influential study of the US Congress without visiting the US Capitol. While he admired the founding fathers, he criticized them for leaving behind a constitutional structure that was disorderly and inefficient, and encouraged conflict rather than cooperation. Thus he claimed that the separation of powers in the Constitution was a mischievous invention designed to limit the powers of government and to prevent cooperation among the branches (which was partly true). Wilson wanted to bring the branches closer together through presidential leadership and responsible party government. He favored a parliamentary system like that in place in Great Britain in which the executive and legislative branches are unified under the control of a single party and led by the Prime Minister.

Most fundamentally of all, Wilson claimed that the vision of the founding fathers did not lead to progress but to endless division and factional infighting. The Constitution was a Newtonian machine designed to balance conflicting forces when what was now required was a Darwinian instrument flexible enough to evolve in response to changes in its environment. It was not necessary to change the Constitution itself in order to bring about such a fundamental change; it was only necessary for Americans to think about it in a new way. After all, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison led a revolution and wrote the Constitution in response to the challenges of their time: Why should not Americans in the twentieth century do the same? Thus Wilson and his associates in the Progressive movement looked to an intellectual revolution as the means by which Americans would liberate themselves from the constricted and obsolete doctrines of the founding fathers, and in the process free themselves from the limits the founders placed upon government.

Given his vast ambitions, Wilson could not hope to implement much of this agenda in eight short years in office. Yet he established the foundations for an influential and long-running movement based upon progress and change as a way of life, presidential leadership and executive power, trust in experts, and disdain for traditional constitutional forms. Mr. Kesler does not spend much time on Wilson’s path-breaking approach to international diplomacy, his role in the Paris Peace Conference, and his aborted personal campaign “to make the world safe for democracy.” Yet these may be understood as logical extensions from his broader philosophy that traditional forms of governance had reached a dead end and that new ones had to be built through inspired leadership.

It was FDR who began to use the term “liberalism” in place of “progressivism” in order to distinguish the New Deal from the Progressive Party that flamed out in the 1920s and, in contrast to the progressives, to associate his program with the founding ideals of the nation. It was also Roosevelt who hijacked the term from the classical liberals in order to associate it with reform and the welfare state in opposition to free markets and limited government. FDR, as Professor Kesler suggests in an illuminating chapter in the book, kept the language and rhetoric of the founders while not so subtly changing their meaning and purposes. This has also been true of the liberal presidents who have succeeded him.

The Republican victories during the 1920s demonstrated to Roosevelt just how fleeting and transient Wilson’s victories turned out to be. “Think of the great liberal achievements of Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom,” he said in one of his radio addresses during the 1930s, “and how quickly they were liquidated under President Harding.” Roosevelt formulated programs (like Social Security and the Wagner Act) that had popular followings but were also grounded in the language of rights and liberty such that no one could claim that they were “un-American.” FDR paid homage to Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, but also said that the basic rights outlined in that document were subject to redefinition in light of changes in the social order. Jefferson wrote about natural rights and liberty while FDR spoke of positive rights as a foundation for security. In his Second Bill of Rights, FDR outlined a vast agenda of such positive rights, including a right to adequate medical care, to a good education, to a decent home, to a “remunerative” job, and to adequate protection from “the fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.” The pursuit and perfection of these rights provided modern liberalism—and the Democratic Party—with an almost unlimited agenda of reform.

Among FDR’s successors, no one tried harder to emulate him and more miserably failed to do so than Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson began his political career in the 1930s as a New Deal functionary and then as a young member of the House of Representatives. “FDR was my hero; he was like a father to me,” Johnson told a reporter during his White House years. Johnson mastered the art of using public patronage to build political support. “He wanted to out-Roosevelt Roosevelt,” according to one of his aides. “We’re in favor of a lot of things and against mighty few,” he said during his 1964 campaign, thereby giving voters a taste of things to come.

Johnson, as Professor Kesler explains, sought to complete the agenda of quantitative liberalism by passing federal health insurance programs for the aged (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid), and expanded welfare and food stamp programs to assist the underprivileged. Yet, given the insatiable spirit of modern liberalism, Johnson was not content to rest there. In his Great Society speech, he proclaimed a new agenda of qualitative liberalism through which government would elevate the spirit and quality of life of the American people. The Great Society, he said, “is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for humanity.” Johnson launched a “war on poverty” and a campaign to end urban decay, passed civil rights bills, funded the arts and education, and gave the federal government license to enter into every area of American life.

Yet, by a cruel irony, Johnson’s high hopes and grand expectations soon turned into disappointment and tragedy as the country was torn apart by crime, riots in nearly every major urban center, and violent protests against the war in Vietnam. His vast expansion of domestic expenditures turned loose an ugly stampede for federal dollars that only incited demands for more. Far from being an era of spiritual fulfillment, the 1960s was one of anger, alienation, and escape through drugs and violence. Mr. Kesler writes that the enduring legacy of the 1960s is “the strange combination, still very much with us, of a more ambitious state and a less trusted government than ever before.” The more patronage the government handed out, the less satisfied its beneficiaries became.

If the New Deal stands out as the great triumph of modern liberalism, then the Great Society represents its signal tragedy and failure. This was the period, as Mr. Kesler writes, when “the radicalism that was latent all along in liberalism broke free of its faith in progress, science, and the democratic process itself.” Johnson’s failures arose from overreaching ambitions and the delusion that all human problems, even those of the spirit, must find solutions in politics and government programs. Yet, as the author argues, this kind of over-reaching is endemic to modern liberalism. It was already present, for example, in Wilson’s claims about progress and change and also in FDR’s unlimited agenda of positive rights. Liberalism both lives and dies off promises it cannot fulfill.

Barack Obama is the latest liberal president to attempt to harmonize grand hopes with the messy realities of programmatic reform. In this sense, he is a worthy heir to the legacy of Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, all of whom addressed the same challenge. Yet of the three, only one of them may be said to have ended his presidency on a positive note. Obama hopes to join FDR/span> as one of the successful presidents of the liberal era, but Mr. Kesler doubts his prospects for success.

Like FDR, who distinguished the New Deal from the New Freedom, Obama tried to make his break from the rancorous politics of the 1960s. He celebrates the flag, observes patriotic holidays, and praises the military. He is a solid family man. He even extolls the founding fathers, up to a point. In his view, the founders made a good start in laying down some noble principles, even if they did not live up to them and perhaps did not really believe them.

Obama was also aware that many of the bold initiatives of the 1960s were eventually discredited and, for the most part, rejected by the American people. No liberal today could possibly run for office citing the model of the Great Society. Without an ambitious programmatic agenda on which to run, Obama had little choice but to organize his campaign around “hope and change.” Few asked what exactly that might mean. One answer was that Obama himself, as a biracial and multicultural candidate, son of a Kenyan father and middle-class American mother, personified the change he and others were seeking. It was proof that America could overcome its racially scarred past. “I am the change,” as he has suggested on more than one occasion.

Here, then, according to Mr. Kesler, is one terminus of the liberal project. Where can it go beyond Barack Obama and the personal politics of hope and change? Another end point is fiscal and budgetary. With Obama’s signature health care legislation, an ambitious stimulus package, a series of trillion dollar plus deficits, and the impending retirement of the baby boomers, there is no more money left to fund further liberal projects. There is not even enough money left to fund those already in place. Will Obama’s presidency mark the end of the politics of public spending and thus the end of a movement that came into its own a full century ago with the election of Woodrow Wilson? That is a distinct possibility, and one brought into clear focus in this most illuminating and gracefully argued book.

1 I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles R. Kesler; Broadside Books, 276 pages. $25.00.

Voir encore:

« Les attentats sont la macabre célébration du premier anniversaire de l’Etat islamique »
Mathieu Guidère, spécialiste du terrorisme islamiste, craint que les attaques perpétrées vendredi en Isère, à Sousse (Tunisie) et à Koweït City ne soient le début d’une vague d’attentats lancée par l’organisation jihadiste.
Propos recueillis par Hervé Brusin
Francetvinfo
27/06/2015

Un homme a tiré à la kalachnikov sur une plage de Sousse, tuant 38 personnes, vendredi 26 juin. Trois mois après le massacre du musée du Bardo, la Tunisie plonge à nouveau dans le cauchemar terroriste. Mathieu Guidère, spécialiste de géopolitique et du terrorisme islamiste, est justement originaire de ce pays. Pour francetv info, il analyse l’attentat commis à Sousse et le rapproche des autres attaques perpétrées en France et au Koweït le même jour.

Francetv info : Que vous inspire cette série d’attaques en France, en Tunisie et au Koweït ?

Mathieu Guidère : Cela fait un an maintenant qu’est apparu au grand jour l’Etat islamique (EI). Et l’on ne peut que constater qu’il a lancé les « festivités » de cet anniversaire, malgré les bombardements qu’il subit. Tout cela accompagne le début du ramadan la semaine dernière. L’EI a appelé la quasi-totalité de ses sympathisants à fêter cette première année par tous les moyens et partout dans le monde. Selon moi, les attentats perpétrés à Saint-Quentin-Fallavier (Isère), à Sousse et à Koweït City s’inscrivent dans cette macabre célébration. C’est un terrible pied de nez adressé à la communauté internationale. Et ce n’est que le début.

Pourquoi cela ?

Souvenons-nous : l’EI a commencé son offensive au début du ramadan 2014. Il a déclaré le califat le 30 juin 2014. Je pense donc que cela risque de culminer dans les semaines à venir. En outre, le mois de ramadan est considéré comme propice au jihad. Je crains donc que nous soyons face au lancement d’une campagne d’attentats.

En Tunisie spécifiquement, y a-t-il une continuité entre l’attentat du musée du Bardo en mars et la tuerie de Sousse ?

Absolument. A Sousse, l’action a été conduite par un groupe qui a fait allégeance à l’EI. Et il a clairement décidé de détruire le tourisme tunisien. Il l’a lui-même affirmé en déclarant : vous accueillez trop d’étrangers, la Tunisie n’est pas une terre pour héberger des étrangers, qui de surcroît bombardent nos frères en Syrie et en Irak. D’où la décision qui a été prise de s’attaquer systématiquement aux infrastructures du tourisme tunisien et donc, dans un premier temps, au musée du Bardo. Ce groupe s’intitule « les soldats du califat en Tunisie ».

Comment prévenir la vague d’attentats dont vous parlez ?

Par une prévention active, concrète. En Tunisie, par exemple, il faut installer des caméras de vidéosurveillance, pratiquer des contrôles d’accès aux lieux publics. En France, il faut sécuriser les lieux par ce même genre de dispositifs. En revanche, je suis très réticent sur la présence de soldats en faction devant les lieux sensibles. Ils peuvent à leur tour devenir des cibles.

Les pouvoirs publics sont-ils conscients des risques qui, selon vous, nous guettent ?

Je ne le crois pas. Le fait de bombarder l’EI et de le dire publiquement peut pousser des individus à commettre des attentats en France. Mais surtout, on n’est pas assez conscients de la portée symbolique des dates et des lieux. Désormais, l’EI se considère comme un Etat, gère les territoires comme tel, avec un gouvernement, une administration et un agenda. Nous sommes bel et bien face à un Etat terroriste.

Voir enfin:

La Chine construit des îles artificielles pour revendiquer des zones maritimes
Julien Licourt
Le Figaro
10/02/2015

La République populaire entend asseoir son influence sur des ilôts inhabités mais stratégiques de la mer de Chine.
Une île artificielle en forme de porte-avion. La Chine est en train d’agglomérer des milliers de tonnes de terre sur un récif corallien afin de le transformer en piste d’atterrissage. L’objectif: asseoir sa domination sur une zone stratégique très disputée, la mer de Chine.

Jusqu’à présent, la majeure partie de l’île de Fiery Cross, ou Yongshu, en Chinois, se trouvait sous l’eau, à l’exception de quelques rochers et d’une surface de béton artificielle, servant à héberger une petite garnison de soldats. Des images satellites, analysées par des experts anglo-saxons de l’IHS, ont montré que depuis quelques mois, des navires chinois draguaient les fonds environnants. Les images ont également montré que ces derniers rassemblent les sédiments sur la barrière de corail, afin de faire émerger des eaux une piste de 3000 mètres de long sur 300 mètres, au plus, de large. Un port, à l’est de l’île, serait également en train d’être créé par les dragues chinoises. Il serait suffisamment grand pour «accueillir des pétroliers ou de grands navires de guerre», selon les experts de l’IHS.

Yongshu est située dans l’archipel des Spratleys, un territoire en plein milieu de la mer de Chine dont les récifs confettis, d’une superficie totale de 5 km2, sont répartis sur une zone de 410.000 km2. Quelques bouts de terre disputés entre le Brunei, la Malaisie, les Philippines, Taïwan et la Chine, dernière puissance à ne pas disposer de piste d’atterrissage dans les environs.

Une zone très stratégique
Dans un rapport, le ministère de la Défense français rappelle que les prétentions de Pékin sont fondées sur des arguments historiques: «La Chine prétend que des pêcheurs chinois fréquentent la mer de Chine du Sud depuis des époques aussi reculées que la période des Trois Royaumes (220-265).» Selon le rapport, il faut en réalité attendre les années 1980 pour qu’elle s’intéresse réellement à ces îles perdues. En 1987, la Chine en occupe 7. Cinq ans plus tard, elle revendique la totalité de l’archipel.

Si la Chine s’y intéresse autant, ce n’est pas en souvenir de quelques pêcheurs ancestraux. Cette zone, inconnue du grand public, est d’un intérêt géostratégique majeur. Elle est le point de passage entre l’Océan indien et l’Océan pacifique et permet la communication de l’Europe et de l’Asie orientale. Près d’un tiers du trafic maritime commercial du monde y passe, 90% de celui de la Chine. La Corée du Sud, le Japon et Taïwan y font transiter plus de la moitié de leurs ressources énergétiques. Si les éventuelles réserves de pétrole semblent pour le moment limitées, celles de gaz semblent au contraire très importantes: la zone pourrait comporter 13% des réserves mondiales, selon le rapport du ministère de la Défense.

Le précédent des Paracels
Outre l’évidente menace que représente la militarisation chinoise, la création de cette nouvelle terre vient asseoir la revendication de souveraineté chinoise: au regard du droit international, l’attribution d’une zone économique exclusive est déterminée par la possession d’un territoire côtier.

La Chine reproduit ici une tactique déjà éprouvée un peu plus au nord, dans l’archipel inhabité des Paracels, situé en face du Vietnam, qui revendique également ces territoires. Pékin y a créé une piste et un port. Dans les années 1970, un bref engagement entre la Chine et le Sud-Vietnam avait coûté la vie à 70 marins et envoyé par le fond trois navires vietnamiens. Seulement, après cet épisode, la présence chinoise avait été confortée dans l’archipel. En mai 2014, la Chine se servait de cette base territoriale pour justifier l’installation d’une plate-forme pétrolière dans les eaux des Paracels, entraînant une importante crise diplomatique avec le Vietnam.

Voir par ailleurs:

Memo to Supreme Court: State Marriage Laws Are Constitutional
Gene Schaerr and Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation
March 10, 2015

Abstract
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. The only way one can establish the unconstitutionality of man–woman marriage laws is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless, adult-centric institution and then declare that the Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way. In other words, one needs to establish that the vision of marriage our law has long applied is wrong and that the Constitution requires a different vision. There is, however, no basis in the Constitution for reaching that conclusion. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father, and states have constitutional authority to make marriage policy based on these truths.
Over the past year, four federal circuit courts—the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits—have ruled that the states and their people lack the ability under the federal Constitution to define marriage as it has always been defined: as the legal union of a man and a woman.[1] In their breathtaking sweep, those four rulings are reminiscent of the U.S. Supreme Court’s now-discredited decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford,[2] which likewise limited the people’s right to decide an issue of fundamental importance: whether their representatives in Congress had the constitutional authority to abolish slavery in the federal territories.[3]

Last fall, the Supreme Court allowed those four circuit decisions to go into effect, thereby overriding the votes of tens of millions of citizens in many parts of the nation. Fortunately, however, the Court has now agreed to revisit the issue in the context of a decision issued by the Sixth Circuit, which reaffirmed the right of a state’s people to choose the traditional man–woman definition of marriage.

The overarching question before the Supreme Court in the four cases that were consolidated before the Sixth Circuit and for purposes of review by the Supreme Court—Obergefell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear—is not whether an exclusively male–female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the U.S. Constitution.[4] In other words, the question is not whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, but only whether it is required by the U.S. Constitution.

To resolve that overarching question, the Supreme Court has directed the parties in those cases to address two precise questions:

Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?
Those suing to overturn the marriage laws in the four states covered by the Sixth Circuit (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee) thus have to prove that the man–woman marriage policy that has existed in the United States throughout our entire history is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

The only way someone could succeed in such an argument is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless institution based only on the emotional needs of adults and then declare that the U.S. Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way. Equal protection alone is not enough. To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely.

The U.S. Constitution, however, is silent on what marriage is and what policy goals the states should design it to serve, and there are good policy arguments on both sides. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the U.S. Constitution any more than the Justices in Dred Scott should have written into the Constitution their own policy preferences in support of slavery.

That, of course, is not to suggest that same-sex marriage is itself comparable to slavery. The point is simply that, as in Dred Scott, this is a debate about whether citizens or judges will decide an important and sensitive policy issue—in this case, the very nature of civil marriage.

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Original Meaning
A legal challenge to these state marriage laws cannot appeal successfully to the text or original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. The text, invoking American citizens’ “privileges or immunities,” the “equal protection of the laws,” and the “due process of law,” nowhere mentions marriage. Back in the 1860s, could anyone who drafted that amendment or any of the citizens who voted to ratify it have reasonably thought that it could be used to invalidate state marriage laws defining marriage as a man–woman union?

Imagine, for example, how President Lincoln—an accomplished lawyer and an ardent opponent of Dred Scott—would have reacted if the amendment had been introduced before his death and someone had suggested that it might one day be interpreted to require states to recognize same-sex marriages. He would have viewed that suggestion as preposterous. There has never been any general right, he would have said, to marry anyone you claim to love, so a state’s rejection of that claimed “right” could not possibly be a denial of due process.

Lincoln would also have noted the similarities between Dred Scott and a decision imposing same-sex marriage. As distinguished law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen has elegantly argued, “in the structure and logic of the legal arguments made for judicial imposition of an across-the-board national rule requiring every state to accept the institutions [of slavery and the redefinition of marriage], the two situations appear remarkably similar.”[5]

Moreover, unlike miscegenation laws, the man–woman definition of marriage does not offend the Amendment’s equal-protection guarantee because it allows any otherwise qualified man and woman to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation or other circumstances. The fact that the institution of marriage, rightly understood, may be more attractive to some of a state’s citizens than others does not mean that a state violates the Fourteenth Amendment simply by refusing to redefine the institution to make it more attractive to more romantic partnerships.

Indeed, as the Sixth Circuit pointed out, all sides agree that the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment does not require the redefinition of marriage: “Nobody…argues that the people who adopted the 14th Amendment understood it to require the States to change the definition of marriage.”[6] The Sixth Circuit continued: “From the founding of the republic to 2003, every state defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, meaning that the 14th Amendment permits, though it does not require, states to define marriage in that way.”[7]

The opinion closes by noting that “not a single U.S. Supreme Court Justice in American history has written an opinion maintaining that the traditional definition of marriage violates the 14th Amendment.”[8]

United States v. Windsor
Nor can a challenge reasonably appeal to the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, which was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and applied the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections in striking down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Whether it was right or wrong as to DOMA, Windsor strongly supports the authority of states to define marriage: Every single time that Windsor talks about the harm of DOMA, it mentions that the state had chosen to recognize the bond that the federal government was excluding. Every single time, Justice Kennedy expressly said it was Congress’s deviation from the default of deference to state definitions that drove his opinion.

Kennedy’s opinion for the Court hinged on the reality that “[t]he significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the Nation’s beginning.”[9] “The definition of marriage,” Windsor explained, is “the foundation of the State’s broader authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations with respect to the ‘[p]rotection of offspring, property interests, and the enforcement of marital responsibilities.’”[10]

United States District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez recently highlighted this feature of Windsor:

The Windsor opinion did not create a fundamental right to same gender marriage nor did it establish that state opposite-gender marriage regulations are amenable to federal constitutional challenges. If anything, Windsor stands for the opposite proposition: it reaffirms the States’ authority over marriage, buttressing Baker’s conclusion that marriage is simply not a federal question.[11]
Windsor also taught that federal power may not “put a thumb on the scales and influence a state’s decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws.”[12] Yet since that time, the federal government—through federal judges—has repeatedly put its thumb on the scales to influence a state’s decision about its own marriage laws—all the while claiming that Windsor required them to do so.

Judge Pérez-Giménez bemoaned this reality, noting that “[i]t takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance—this Court does not venture an answer here—to interpret Windsor’s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.”[13]

Fundamental Right Under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause
Just as neither the actual text nor the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor the Windsor decision, requires the redefinition of state marriage laws, nothing in the Supreme Court’s Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence requires states to abandon the male–female definition of marriage. Consider first the Court’s “fundamental rights” doctrine under the Due Process Clause, where, if the Court finds a law infringing upon a fundamental right, the law is subject to “strict scrutiny,” meaning that the government must provide a compelling interest in having the law and the law must be narrowly designed to promote that interest. Not surprisingly, laws almost always fail strict scrutiny.

Glucksberg. As the Supreme Court held in Glucksberg in rejecting a fundamental right to assisted suicide, fundamental rights must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” such that “neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed.”[14]

Clearly, a right to marry someone of the same sex does not fit this description. As the Supreme Court explained in Windsor, including same-sex couples in marriage is “a new perspective, a new insight.”[15] Same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition; thus—whatever its policy merits—it cannot be a fundamental right under the Due Process Clause. Windsor correctly observed that “until recent years…marriage between a man and a woman no doubt had been thought of by most people as essential to the very definition of that term and to its role and function throughout the history of civilization.”[16]

Whenever the Supreme Court has recognized marriage as a fundamental right, it has always been marriage understood as the union of a man and woman, and the rationale for the fundamental right has emphasized the procreative and social ordering aspects of male–female marriage. None of the cases that mention a fundamental right to marry deviate from this understanding, including decisions that struck down laws limiting marriage based on failure to pay child support,[17] incarceration,[18] and race.[19] Those decisions took for granted the historic, common law, and statutory understanding of marriage as a male–female union having something to do with family life. Thus, a challenge to state male–female marriage laws cannot appeal successfully to the fundamental-rights doctrine under Glucksberg.

Loving. Comparisons to interracial marriage fare no better.[20] As Fourth Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer explained in his dissent in Bostic v. Schaefer, in Loving v. Virginia, where the Supreme Court found laws that prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional, the couple was “asserting a right to enter into a traditional marriage of the type that has always been recognized since the beginning of the Nation—a union between one man and one woman.”[21] He concluded:

Loving simply held that race, which is completely unrelated to the institution of marriage, could not be the basis of marital restrictions. To stretch Loving’s holding to say that the right to marry is not limited by gender…is to ignore the inextricable, biological link between marriage and procreation that the Supreme Court has always recognized.[22]
In Loving, the Supreme Court defined marriage as one of the “‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”[23] Professor John Eastman of Chapman Law School has helpfully explained why the Supreme Court did so:

Marriage is “fundamental to our very existence” only because it is rooted in the biological complementarity of the sexes, the formal recognition of the unique union through which children are produced—a point emphasized by the fact that the Supreme Court cited a case dealing with the right to procreate for its holding that marriage was a fundamental right.[24]
Thus, a challenge to state male–female marriage laws cannot properly rely upon Loving.

Limiting Principle? To be sure, the Supreme Court has ruled that entering into and having the government recognize a marriage—understood as a union of husband and wife—is a fundamental right, but if this right is redefined to be understood simply as the committed, care-giving relationship of one’s choice, where does the logic lead? Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked this of Ted Olson, the lawyer for the same-sex couples, during oral argument in California’s Proposition 8 case, and he had no answer. If marriage is a fundamental right understood as consenting adult love, Justice Sotomayor asked, “what State restrictions could ever exist,” for example, “with respect to the number of people…that could get married?”[25]

The Sixth Circuit saw Justice Sotomayor’s logic. With respect to those who would redefine marriage, the court observed that:

Their definition does too little because it fails to account for plural marriages, where there is no reason to think that three or four adults, whether gay, bisexual, or straight, lack the capacity to share love, affection, and commitment, or for that matter lack the capacity to be capable (and more plentiful) parents to boot.[26]
The Sixth Circuit concluded that “if it is constitutionally irrational to stand by the man–woman definition of marriage, it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage. Plaintiffs have no answer to the point.”[27] Just so. And for that reason too, a challenge to state male–female marriage laws cannot properly invoke the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause
Equal protection jurisprudence likewise does not require the redefinition of marriage.

Animus. Although a couple of Supreme Court decisions have relied upon the concept of “animus” in invalidating on equal-protection grounds state laws that impinged upon the interests of gays and lesbians,[28] anyone with passing familiarity with the history of marriage knows that the institution did not arise because of animus toward gays and lesbians. Ancient thinkers as well as the political society in Greece and Rome, without being influenced by Judeo–Christian teaching, affirmed that marriage is a male–female union even as they embraced same-sex sexual relations.[29]

Even in Windsor, Justice Kennedy did not claim that the man–woman definition of marriage was fueled by animus. Rather, as noted, he held that the federal government’s refusal to recognize state-sanctioned same-sex marriages was based on animus. One need not agree with Justice Kennedy on DOMA to see that the holding in Windsor does not undermine state marriage laws.

The Sixth Circuit acknowledged that same-sex couples have experienced unjust discrimination but noted that marriage laws are not part of that phenomenon:

But we also cannot deny that the institution of marriage arose independently of this record of discrimination. The traditional definition of marriage goes back thousands of years and spans almost every society in history. By contrast, “American laws targeting same-sex couples did not develop until the last third of the 20th century.” (citing Lawrence).[30]
While Lawrence struck down laws that prohibited sex between persons of the same gender, it did not—and does not—require the redefinition of marriage. Laws that banned homosexual sodomy are radically different from laws that define marriage as the union of husband and wife. The Supreme Court found that the former infringed a privacy and liberty right, while the latter specify which unions will be eligible for public recognition and benefits. A right to liberty or privacy is a right to be left alone by the government, not a right to have the government recognize or subsidize the relationship of one’s choice.

Protected Class. Other advocates of same-sex marriage, including the Ninth Circuit,[31] have argued that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples infringes the rights of a protected class: namely, gays and lesbians. But the Supreme Court, including in Windsor, has never held sexual orientation to be a suspect class and thus has not applied “heightened scrutiny” to laws implicating their interests.[32] In contrast, the Court has held that race is a suspect class and gender a quasi-suspect class (which invokes heightened scrutiny but not quite strict scrutiny).[33]

Even if the Supreme Court did find sexual orientation to be a suspect class, as liberal scholars like Andrew Koppelman have recognized, marriage laws do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation anyway. They have a disparate impact on gays, but that is not the Court’s test. The reason Koppelman believes—correctly—that they do not discriminate based on orientation is that they simply do not require checking someone’s orientation at all in determining whether that person will receive the benefits of civil marriage.[34] Thus, under man–woman marriage laws, a gay man may marry a lesbian woman, while two heterosexual men cannot receive a marriage certificate from the state.

Nevertheless, if one were to argue that sexual orientation should be a protected class under equal protection jurisprudence, one would have to establish that sexual orientation creates a “class…[which] exhibit[s] obvious, immutable, or distinguishing characteristics that define them as a discrete group.”[35] Gays and lesbians do not satisfy that requirement.

The American Psychological Association (APA) describes sexual orientation as a “range of behaviors and attractions” and reports that “[r]esearch over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex.”[36] The APA also reports that “there is no consensus among scientists” on why particular orientations develop and that, despite extensive research, scientists cannot conclude whether sexual orientation is determined by “genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, [or] cultural influences.”[37]

The APA, in short, says that no one can agree on the causes or even the definition of homosexuality, so it is not a readily identifiable group. These APA findings fatally undermine the idea that sexual orientation describes a “discrete group” for suspect-class purposes.

This point is confirmed by Dr. Paul McHugh, former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital and former chairman of the psychiatry department at Hopkins medical school, and legal scholar Gerard Bradley:

“Sexual orientation” should not be recognized as a newly protected characteristic of individuals under federal law.… In contrast with other characteristics, it is neither discrete nor immutable. There is no scientific consensus on how to define sexual orientation, and the various definitions proposed by experts produce substantially different groups of people.
Nor is there any convincing evidence that sexual orientation is biologically determined; rather, research tends to show that for some persons and perhaps for a great many, “sexual orientation” is plastic and fluid; that is, it changes over time. What we do know with certainty about sexual orientation is that it is affective and behavioral—a matter of desire and/or behavior.[38]
In a February 2015 interview, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admitted as much. While asserting incorrectly that it would not be a major adjustment for the American public to accept same-sex marriage, she correctly observed that:

[Americans have] looked around, and we discovered it’s our next door neighbor, we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend. Or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said, “This is who I am,” and the rest of us recognized that they are one of us, that there—there was a familiarity with people that didn’t exist in the beginning when the race problem was on the burner, because we lived in segregated communities and it was truly a we/they kind of thing. But not so, I think, of the gay-rights movement.[39]
A better argument why gays and lesbians are not discrete and insular minorities—not easily identifiable or clustered together apart from the rest of society—could not be offered.

Furthermore, to be a protected class under equal protection jurisprudence, a group must be “politically powerless in the sense that they have no ability to attract the attention of the lawmakers.”[40] Yet, as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out during oral arguments in Windsor, “political figures are falling over themselves” to support gay marriage.[41] Indeed, support for same-sex marriage and for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) non-discrimination laws has been embraced by the President of the United States and the Democratic Party—the largest political party in the nation.[42]

In short, it is hard to say that gays and lesbians are politically powerless. It is therefore impossible for the Court to find that they are a suspect class.

Rational Basis: Social Function. One could also argue, as the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits have held, that there is simply no rational basis for man–woman marriage laws, meaning either that there is no legitimate purpose in such laws or that the laws are not rationally related to a legitimate purpose.[43] This argument fails completely as it ignores the universal historical record witnessing to the rational basis of man–woman marriage laws based on the social function that marriage plays.

From a policy perspective, marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union may produce. When a baby is born, there is always a mother nearby: That is a fact of biology. The policy question is whether a father will be close by and, if so, for how long. Marriage, rightly understood, increases the odds that a man will be committed to both the children that he helps to create and to the woman with whom he does so.[44] The man–woman definition of marriage reinforces the idea—the social norm—that a man should be so committed.

The man–woman definition, moreover, is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father. Even President Barack Obama admits that children deserve a mother and a father:

We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.[45]
In short, fathers matter, and marriage helps to connect fathers to mothers and children. But you do not have to think this marriage policy is ideal to think it constitutionally permissible. Unless gays and lesbians are a suspect class, for an equal protection challenge to succeed, this simple analysis of the social function of marriage would have to be proved not just misguided, but positively irrational. Universal human experience, however, confirms the rationality of that policy.

Compelling Interest and Narrowly Tailored: Constitutional at Any Level of Scrutiny. Even if one (implausibly) granted that sexual orientation was a suspect class and that marriage laws thus had to be held to heightened scrutiny, man–woman marriage would still be constitutional. A strong marriage culture is a compelling interest because it affects virtually every other state interest, and defining marriage as the permanent and exclusive union of a husband and wife is a narrowly tailored means of allowing it to fulfill its social function.

As noted, there is no dispute that marriage plays a fundamental role in society by encouraging men and women to commit permanently and exclusively to each other and to take responsibility for their children. As the Sixth Circuit concluded, “[b]y creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States create[] an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring.”[46]

In addition to financial incentives, as ample social science confirms, this combination of state-sanctioned status and benefits also reinforces certain child-centered norms or expectations that form part of the social institution of marriage. Those norms—such as the value of gender-diverse parenting and of biological connections between children and the adults who raise them—independently encourage man–woman couples “to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring.” Given the importance of those norms to the welfare of the children of such couples, the state has a compelling interest in reinforcing and maintaining them.

Most of those norms, moreover, arise from and/or depend upon the man–woman understanding that has long been viewed as central to the social institution of marriage.[47] For example, because only man–woman couples (as a class) have the ability to provide dual biological connections to the children they raise together, the state’s decision—implemented by the man–woman definition—to limit marital status and benefits to such couples reminds society of the value of those biological connections. It thereby gently encourages man–woman couples to rear their biological children together, and it does so without denigrating other arrangements—such as adoption or assisted reproductive technologies—that such couples might choose when, for whatever reason, they are unable to have biological children of their own.

Like other social norms traditionally associated with the man–woman definition of marriage, the biological connection norm will be diluted or destroyed if the man–woman definition (and associated social understanding) is abandoned in favor of a definition that allows marriage between “any two otherwise qualified persons”—which is what same-sex marriage requires. And just as those norms benefit the state and society, their dilution or destruction can be expected to harm the interests of the state and its citizens.

For example, over time, as fewer heterosexual parents embrace the biological connection norm, more of their children will be raised without a mother or a father. After all, it will be very difficult for the law to send a message that fathers and mothers are essential if it has redefined marriage to make fathers or mothers optional, and that in turn will mean more children of heterosexuals raised in poverty, doing poorly in school, experiencing psychological or emotional problems, having abortions, and committing crimes—all at significant cost to the state.

In short, law affects culture. Culture affects beliefs. Beliefs affect actions. The law teaches, and it will shape not just a handful of marriages, but the public understanding of what marriage is. Consider the impact of no-fault divorce laws, which are widely acknowledged to have disserved, on balance, the interests of the very children they were supposedly designed to help. By providing easy exits from marriage and its responsibilities, no-fault divorce helped to change the perception of marriage from a permanent institution designed for the needs of children to a temporary one designed for the desires of adults. Thus, not only was it technically much easier to leave one’s spouse, but it was psychologically much easier as well, and the percentage of children growing up with just one parent in the home skyrocketed, with all of the attendant negative consequences.

This analysis also explains why a state’s decision to retain the man–woman definition of marriage should not be seen as demeaning to gay and lesbian citizens or their children and why it satisfies any form of heightened scrutiny. In the early 2000s, in the face of state judicial decisions seeking to impose same-sex marriage under state law, the definitional choice a state faced was a binary one: Either preserve the man–woman definition and the benefits it provides to the children (and the state) or replace it with an “any two qualified persons” definition and risk losing those benefits.

There is no middle ground. A state’s choice to preserve the man–woman definition is thus narrowly tailored—indeed, it is perfectly tailored—to the state’s interests in preserving those benefits and in avoiding the enormous societal risks that accompany a genderless-marriage regime. Under a proper means–ends analysis, therefore, a state’s choice to preserve the man–woman definition passes muster under any constitutional standard.[48]

Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages from Out of State
If the points made above succeed—on the rational basis of state marriage laws defining marriage as the union of husband and wife and the reasonableness of thinking that redefining marriage will undermine the public policy purpose of such marriage laws—then a state should not be required to recognize other state marriage laws that would undermine its own public policy.

This conclusion follows from Article IV of the Constitution, which requires that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”[49] This clause enabled the sovereign states to come together to form one union without everything having to be relitigated when parties moved to a new state,[50] but the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not require a state to recognize the policies of another state when doing so would undermine that state’s own public policy. Full Faith and Credit “does not compel a state to substitute the statutes of other states for its own statutes dealing with a subject matter concerning which it is competent to legislate.”[51]

Windsor points out that “[m]arriage laws vary in some respects from State to State,” such as “the required minimum age” and “the permissible degree of consanguinity.”[52] If a state has good policy reasons for promoting marriage as the union of a man and a woman, then it does not have to accept out-of-state marriages that undermine its own policy preferences.[53] A state may apply its own marriage laws in preference to an out-of-state policy that it judges would undermine its own policy, because “as a sovereign [it] has a rightful and legitimate concern in the marital status of persons domiciled within its borders.”[54]

Moreover, given that the Full Faith and Credit Clause deals specifically with the recognition of official acts in other states, there is no sound basis for invoking the Fourteenth Amendment as a stand-alone basis for requiring a state to recognize a marriage performed in another state.

Conclusion
At the end of the day, there simply is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. Part of the design of federalism is that experimentation can take place in the states: As the Sixth Circuit noted, “federalism…permits laboratories of experimentation—accent on the plural—allowing one State to innovate one way, another State another, and a third State to assess the trial and error over time.”[55]

To a make a plausible case to the contrary, as we have seen, one cannot reasonably appeal to the authority of Windsor, to the text or original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, to the fundamental rights protected by the Due Process Clause, or to Loving v. Virginia. So, too, one cannot properly appeal to the Equal Protection Clause or to animus or Lawrence. Nor can one say that gays and lesbians are politically powerless, so one cannot claim they are a suspect class. Nor can one say that male–female marriage laws lack a rational basis or that they do not serve a compelling state interest in a narrowly tailored way.

The only way one can establish the unconstitutionality of man–woman marriage laws is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless, adult-centric institution and then declare that the Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in that way. In other words, one needs to establish that the vision of marriage our law has long applied is just wrong and that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely.

There is, however, no basis in the Constitution for reaching that conclusion any more than there was a basis in the Constitution for concluding—as Dred Scott did—that the people of the United States lacked the power to abolish slavery in their territories. Accordingly, any decision requiring states to redefine marriage is as much a usurpation of the people’s authority as Dred Scott was.

—Gene Schaerr is a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who specializes in constitutional and appellate litigation. He has previously served as Associate Counsel to the President and as law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and has handled dozens of cases (including six he personally argued) before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, co-author of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, is William E. Simon Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center, of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation.
Hide References

[1] Bostic v. Schaefer, 760 F.3d 352 (4th Cir. 2014); Baskin v. Bogan, 766 F.3d 648 (7th Cir. 2014); Latta v. Otter, 771 F.3d 456 (9th Cir. 2014); Kitchen v. Herbert, 755 F.3d 1193 (10th Cir. 2014); Bishop v. Smith, 760 F.3d 1070 (10th Cir. 2014).

[2] 60 U.S. 393 (1857).

[3] For more on the legal parallel, see Michael Stokes Paulsen, Abraham Lincoln and Same-Sex Marriage, Public Discourse (Feb. 20, 2015), http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/02/14443/.

[4] DeBoer v. Snyder, 772 F.3d 388 (6th Cir. 2014), cert. granted, 83 U.S.L.W. 3315 (U.S. Jan. 16, 2015) (No. 14-571); see also Obergefell v. Hodges (No. 14-556); Tanco v. Haslam (No. 14-562); Bourke v. Beshear (No. 14-574).

[5] Paulsen, supra note 3.

[6] DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 403.

[7] Id. at 404.

[8] Id. at 416.

[9] United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 2692 (2013).

[10] Id. at 2691 (quoting Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287, 298 (1942)).

[11] Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla (D.P.R.) (D.P.R. Oct. 21, 2014) (No. 14-1253), 2014 WL 5361987. See also Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972) (summarily dismissing “for want of a substantial federal question” an appeal that argued that Minnesota’s man–woman only marriage laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment).

[12] Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2693 (citations omitted).

[13] Conde-Vidal, 2014 WL 5361987 at 8*.

[14] Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997). Besides the right to marry (with marriage always understood as a union of husband and wife), examples of fundamental rights the Court has found are the right to procreate, the right to have sexual autonomy, the right to buy and use birth control and abortion, the right to travel freely among the states, the right to raise one’s children as one sees fit, the right to vote, and the right to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment (speech, religion, and association).

[15] Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2689.

[16] Id.

[17] Zablocki v. Redhall, 434 U.S. 374, 385–87 (1987).

[18] Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 95–98 (1987).

[19] Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 11 (1967).

[20] For an extended analysis, see Ryan T. Anderson, Marriage, Reason, and Religious Liberty: Much Ado About Sex, Nothing to Do with Race, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2894 (Apr. 4, 2014), available at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/04/marriage-reason-and-religious-liberty-much-ado-about-sex-nothing-to-do-with-race.

[21] Bostic, 760 F.3d at 390 (Niemeyer, J., dissenting).

[22] Id. at 392.

[23] Loving, 388 U.S. at 18.

[24] John Eastman, The Constitutionality of Traditional Marriage, Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum No. 90 (Jan. 25, 2013), available at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/01/the-constitutionality-of-traditional-marriage.

[25] Transcript of Oral Argument at 46:25, 47:1–3, Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct. 2652 (2013) (No. 12-144) (2010).

[26] DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 407.

[27] Id.

[28] See, e.g., Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003); Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).

[29] John Finnis, The Collected Essays of John Finnis: Volume III: Human Rights and Common Good 340 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011).

[30] DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 413.

[31] Latta, 771 F.3d at 468.

[32] But see SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories, 740 F.3d 471 (9th Cir. 2014) (holding that sexual orientation was a suspect class triggering heightened scrutiny).

[33] The heightened scrutiny of gender classifications is often called “intermediate scrutiny” because it falls between the lower rational basis review and the higher strict scrutiny review.

[34] Andrew Koppelman, Response: Sexual Disorientation, 100 Geo. L.J. 1083, 1087 (2012).

[35] Bowen v. Gilliard, 483 U.S. 587, 603 (1987) (quoting Massachusetts B. of Retirement v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 313–14 (1976)) (emphasis added).

[36] Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality American Psychological Association (2008), http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.aspx?item=4.

[37] Id.

[38] Paul McHugh & Gerard Bradley, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Employment Law, Public Discourse (July 25, 2013), http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/07/10636/.

[39] Interview by Greg Stohr and Matthew Winkler, Ginsburg: Doubt Gay Marriage Won’t Be Widely Accepted, Bloomberg (Feb. 12, 2015), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-02-12/ginsburg-doubt-gay-marriage-won-t-be-widely-accepted.

[40] City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 445 (1985).

[41] Transcript of Oral Argument at 108:13–14, Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013) (No. 12-307).

[42] Election Trends by Group: Party Affiliation, Gallup, available at http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx.

[43] When courts find animus against a group, then laws fail rational basis review, though it is a more searching standard of review and so is often referred to as “rational basis with bite.”

[44] Ryan T. Anderson, “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2775 (Mar. 11, 2013), available at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/marriage-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-the-consequences-of-redefining-it.

[45] President Barack Obama, Father’s Day Remarks, N.Y. Times, July 15, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/us/politics/15text-obama.html?pagewanted=print.

[46] DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 405.

[47] See Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2718.

[48] See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 982 (2003) (holding that affirmative action programs satisfied strict scrutiny and that the courts were required to defer to legislative facts found by decision-makers).

[49] U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1.

[50] See Erin O’Hara O’Connor, Full Faith and Credit Clause, in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution (2d ed.), available at http://www.heritage.org/constitution#!/articles/4/essays/121/full-faith-and-credit-clause.

[51] Baker v. Gen. Motors Corp., 522 U.S. 222, 232–33 (1998) (quotes omitted).

[52] Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2691–92.

[53] The Supreme Court has required “a significant contact or significant aggregation of contacts, creating state interests, such that choice of its law is neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair.” Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Hyatt, 538 U.S. 488, 494–95 (2003) (quotes omitted).

[54] Williams, 317 U.S. at 298.

[55] DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 406.

Voir de plus:

Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It
Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation
March 11, 2013

Abstract
Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.
At the heart of the current debates about same-sex marriage are three crucial questions: What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what would be the consequences of redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementarity?

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father. Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes. This is why 41 states, with good reason, affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing.

Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else.

In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. This reduces marriage to a system to approve emotional bonds or distribute legal privileges.

Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is the culmination of this revisionism, and it would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and would deny, as a matter of policy, the ideal that a child needs both a mom and a dad. Decades of social science, including the latest studies using large samples and robust research methods, show that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and expand welfare programs. Redefining marriage would legislate a new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.

Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage. It rejects the anthropological truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage to abandon the norm of male–female sexual complementarity would also make other essential characteristics—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. Marriage cannot do the work that society needs it to do if these norms are further weakened.

Redefining marriage is also a direct and demonstrable threat to religious freedom because it marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This is already evident in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., among other locations.

Concern for the common good requires protecting and strengthening the marriage culture by promoting the truth about marriage.

What Is Marriage?
Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.

At its most basic level, marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union produces. When a baby is born, there is always a mother nearby: That is a fact of reproductive biology. The question is whether a father will be involved in the life of that child and, if so, for how long. Marriage increases the odds that a man will be committed to both the children that he helps create and to the woman with whom he does so.

Marriage connects people and goods that otherwise tend to fragment. It helps to connect sex with love, men with women, sex with babies, and babies with moms and dads.[1] Social, cultural, and legal signals and pressures can support or detract from the role of marriage in this regard.

Maggie Gallagher captures this insight with a pithy phrase: “[S]ex makes babies, society needs babies, and children need mothers and fathers.”[2] Connecting sex, babies, and moms and dads is the social function of marriage and helps explain why the government rightly recognizes and addresses this aspect of our social lives. Gallagher develops this idea:

The critical public or “civil” task of marriage is to regulate sexual relationships between men and women in order to reduce the likelihood that children (and their mothers, and society) will face the burdens of fatherlessness, and increase the likelihood that there will be a next generation that will be raised by their mothers and fathers in one family, where both parents are committed to each other and to their children.[3]
Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father.

Marriage is a uniquely comprehensive union. It involves a union of hearts and minds, but also—and distinctively—a bodily union made possible by sexual complementarity. As the act by which a husband and wife make marital love also makes new life, so marriage itself is inherently extended and enriched by family life and calls for all-encompassing commitment that is permanent and exclusive. In short, marriage unites a man and a woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life.[4]

Just as the complementarity of a man and a woman is important for the type of union they can form, so too is it important for how they raise children. There is no such thing as “parenting.” There is mothering, and there is fathering, and children do best with both. While men and women are each capable of providing their children with a good upbringing, there are, on average, differences in the ways that mothers and fathers interact with their children and the functional roles that they play.

Dads play particularly important roles in the formation of both their sons and their daughters. As Rutgers University sociologist David Popenoe explains, “The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.”[5] Popenoe concludes:

We should disavow the notion that “mommies can make good daddies,” just as we should disavow the popular notion…that “daddies can make good mommies.”… The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.[6]
Marriage as the union of man and woman is true across cultures, religions, and time. The government recognizes but does not create marriage.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. The government does not create marriage. Marriage is a natural institution that predates government. Society as a whole, not merely any given set of spouses, benefits from marriage. This is because marriage helps to channel procreative love into a stable institution that provides for the orderly bearing and rearing of the next generation.

This understanding of marriage as the union of man and woman is shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by both common and civil law and by ancient Greek and Roman law. Far from having been intended to exclude same-sex relationships, marriage as the union of husband and wife arose in many places, over several centuries, in which same-sex marriage was nowhere on the radar. Indeed, it arose in cultures that had no concept of sexual orientation and in some that fully accepted homoeroticism and even took it for granted.[7]

As with other public policy issues, religious voices on marriage should be welcomed in the public square. Yet one need not appeal to distinctively religious arguments to understand why marriage—as a natural institution—is the union of man and woman.

Marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view of marriage that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs.

In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view of marriage that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. This view reduces marriage primarily to emotional bonds or legal privileges. Redefining marriage represents the culmination of this revisionism and would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds.

However, if marriage were just intense emotional regard, marital norms would make no sense as a principled matter. There is no reason of principle that requires an emotional union to be permanent. Or limited to two persons. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive (as opposed to “open”). Or inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands. Couples might live out these norms where temperament or taste motivated them, but there would be no reason of principle for them to do so and no basis for the law to encourage them to do so.

In other words, if sexual complementarity is optional for marriage, present only where preferred, then almost every other norm that sets marriage apart is optional. Although some supporters of same-sex marriage would disagree, this point can be established by reason and, as documented below, is increasingly confirmed by the rhetoric and arguments used in the campaign to redefine marriage and by the policies that many of its leaders increasingly embrace.

Why Marriage Matters for Policy
Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does.

Virtually every political community has regulated male–female sexual relationships. This is not because government cares about romance as such. Government recognizes male–female sexual relationships because these alone produce new human beings. For highly dependent infants, there is no path to physical, moral, and cultural maturity—no path to personal responsibility—without a long and delicate process of ongoing care and supervision to which mothers and fathers bring unique gifts. Unless children mature, they never will become healthy, upright, productive members of society. Marriage exists to make men and women responsible to each other and to any children that they might have.

Marriage is thus a personal relationship that serves a public purpose in a political community. As the late sociologist James Q. Wilson wrote, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.”[8]

Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Marital breakdown weakens civil society and limited government.

Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Government recognition of marriage protects children by incentivizing men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children.

Social science confirms the importance of marriage for children. According to the best available sociological evidence, children fare best on virtually every examined indicator when reared by their wedded biological parents. Studies that control for other factors, including poverty and even genetics, suggest that children reared in intact homes do best on educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and delinquency and incarceration.[9]

A study published by the left-leaning research institution Child Trends concluded:

[I]t is not simply the presence of two parents…but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.[10]
[R]esearch clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes.… There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.[11]
According to another study, “[t]he advantage of marriage appears to exist primarily when the child is the biological offspring of both parents.”[12] Recent literature reviews conducted by the Brookings Institution, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the Institute for American Values corroborate the importance of intact households for children.[13]

These statistics have penetrated American life to such a great extent that even President Barack Obama refers to them as well known:

We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.[14]
Fathers matter, and marriage helps to connect fathers to mothers and children.

Social science claiming to show that there are “no differences” in outcomes for children raised in same-sex households does not change this reality. In fact, the most recent, sophisticated studies suggest that prior research is inadequate to support the assertion that it makes “no difference” whether a child was raised by same-sex parents.[15] A survey of 59 of the most prominent studies often cited for this claim shows that they drew primarily from small convenience samples that are not appropriate for generalizations to the whole population.[16]

Meanwhile, recent studies using rigorous methods and robust samples confirm that children do better when raised by a married mother and father. These include the New Family Structures Study by Professor Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas–Austin [17] and a report based on Census data recently released in the highly respected journal Demography.[18]

Still, the social science on same-sex parenting is a matter of significant ongoing debate, and it should not dictate choices about marriage. Recent studies using robust methods suggest that there is a lot more to learn about how changing family forms affects children and that social science evidence offers an insufficient basis for redefining marriage.

Marital breakdown costs taxpayers.

Marriage benefits everyone because separating childbearing and childrearing from marriage burdens innocent bystanders: not just children, but the whole community. Often, the community must step in to provide (more or less directly) for their well-being and upbringing. Thus, by encouraging the marriage norms of monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence, the state is strengthening civil society and reducing its own role.

By recognizing marriage, the government supports economic well-being. The benefits of marriage led Professor W. Bradford Wilcox to summarize a study he led as part of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project in this way: “The core message…is that the wealth of nations depends in no small part on the health of the family.”[19] The same study suggests that marriage and fertility trends “play an underappreciated and important role in fostering long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the health of large sectors of the modern economy.”[20]

Given its economic benefits, it is no surprise that the decline of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. For example, a recent Heritage Foundation report by Robert Rector points out: “Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 82 percent.”[21]

The erosion of marriage harms not only the immediate victims, but also society as a whole. A Brookings Institution study found that $229 billion in welfare expenditures between 1970 and 1996 can be attributed to the breakdown of the marriage culture and the resulting exacerbation of social ills: teen pregnancy, poverty, crime, drug abuse, and health problems.[1] A 2008 study found that divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers $112 billion each year,[23] and Utah State University scholar David Schramm has estimated that divorce alone costs local, state, and federal-level government $33 billion each year.[24]

Civil recognition of the marriage union of a man and a woman serves the ends of limited government more effectively, less intrusively, and at less cost than does picking up the pieces from a shattered marriage culture.

Government can treat people equally—and leave them free to live and love as they choose—without redefining marriage.

While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing. Adults are free to make choices about their relationships without redefining marriage and do not need government sanction or license to do so.

Government is not in the business of affirming our love. Rather, it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose. Contrary to what some say, there is no ban on same-sex marriage. Nothing about it is illegal. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex may choose to live together, choose to join a religious community that blesses their relationship, and choose a workplace offering joint benefits. There is nothing illegal about this.

What is at issue is whether the government will recognize such relationships as marriages—and then force every citizen, house of worship, and business to do so as well. At issue is whether policy will coerce and compel others to recognize and affirm same-sex relationships as marriages. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else.

Appeals to “marriage equality” are good sloganeering, but they exhibit sloppy reasoning. Every law makes distinctions. Equality before the law protects citizens from arbitrary distinctions, from laws that treat them differently for no good reason. To know whether a law makes the right distinctions—whether the lines it draws are justified—one has to know the public purpose of the law and the nature of the good being advanced or protected.

If the law recognized same-sex couples as spouses, would some argue that it fails to respect the equality of citizens in multiple-partner relationships? Are those inclined to such relationships being treated unjustly when their consensual romantic bonds go unrecognized, their children thereby “stigmatized” and their tax filings unprivileged?

This is not hypothetical. In 2009, Newsweek reported that there were over 500,000 polyamorous households in America.[25] Prominent scholars and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) activists have called for “marriage equality” for multipartner relationships since at least 2006.[26]

If sexual complementarity is eliminated as an essential characteristic of marriage, then no principle limits civil marriage to monogamous couples.

Supporters of redefinition use the following analogy: Laws defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman are unjust—fail to treat people equally—exactly like laws that prevented interracial marriage. Yet such appeals beg the question of what is essential to marriage. They assume exactly what is in dispute: that gender is as irrelevant as race in state recognition of marriage. However, race has nothing to with marriage, and racist laws kept the races apart. Marriage has everything to do with men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and children, and that is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Marriage must be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. The color of two people’s skin has nothing to do with what kind of marital bond they have. However, the sexual difference between a man and a woman is central to what marriage is. Men and women regardless of their race can unite in marriage, and children regardless of their race need moms and dads. To acknowledge such facts requires an understanding of what, at an essential level, makes a marriage.

We reap the civil society benefits of marriage only if policy gets marriage right.

The state has an interest in marriage and marital norms because they serve the public good by protecting child well-being, civil society, and limited government. Marriage laws work by embodying and promoting a true vision of marriage, which makes sense of those norms as a coherent whole. There is nothing magical about the word “marriage.” It is not just the legal title of marriage that encourages adherence to marital norms.

What does the work are the social reality of marriage and the intelligibility of its norms. These help to channel behavior. Law affects culture. Culture affects beliefs. Beliefs affect actions. The law teaches, and it will shape not just a handful of marriages, but the public understanding of what marriage is.

Government promotes marriage to make men and women responsible to each other and to any children they might have. Promoting marital norms serves these same ends. The norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity encourage childbearing within a context that makes it most likely that children will be raised by their mother and father. These norms also help to ensure shared responsibility and commitment between spouses, provide sufficient attention from both a mother and a father to their children, and avoid the sexual and kinship jealousy that might otherwise be present.

The norm of permanency ensures that children will at least be cared for by their mother and father until they reach maturity. It also provides kinship structure for interaction across generations as elderly parents are cared for by their adult children and as grandparents help to care for their grandchildren without the complications of fragmented stepfamilies.

If the law taught a falsehood about marriage, it would make it harder for people to live out the norms of marriage because marital norms make no sense, as matters of principle, if marriage is just intense emotional feeling. No reason of principle requires an emotional union to be permanent or limited to two persons, much less sexually exclusive. Nor should it be inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands. This does not mean that a couple could not decide to live out these norms where temperament or taste so motivated them, just that there is no reason of principle to demand that they do so. Legally enshrining this alternate view of marriage would undermine the norms whose link to the common good is the basis for state recognition of marriage in the first place.

Insofar as society weakens the rational foundation for marriage norms, fewer people would live them out, and fewer people would reap the benefits of the marriage institution. This would affect not only spouses, but also the well-being of their children. The concern is not so much that a handful of gay or lesbian couples would be raising children, but that it would be very difficult for the law to send a message that fathers matter when it has redefined marriage to make fathers optional.

This highlights the link between the central questions in this debate: What is marriage, and why does the state promote it? It is not that the state should not achieve its basic purpose while obscuring what marriage is. Rather, it cannot. Only when policy gets the nature of marriage right can a political community reap the civil society benefits of recognizing it.

Finally, support for marriage between a man and a woman is no excuse for animus against those with same-sex attractions or for ignoring the needs of individuals who, for whatever reason, may never marry. They are no less worthy than others of concern and respect. Yet this same diligent concern for the common good requires protecting and strengthening the marriage culture by promoting the truth about marriage.

The Consequences of Redefining Marriage
Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and deny the importance of mothers and fathers.

Redefining marriage would further disconnect childbearing from marriage. That would hurt children, especially the most vulnerable. It would deny as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father. Traditional marriage laws reinforce the idea that a married mother and father is the most appropriate environment for rearing children, as the best available social science suggests.

Recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages would legally abolish that ideal. It would deny the significance of both mothering and fathering to children: that boys and girls tend to benefit from fathers and mothers in different ways. Indeed, the law, public schools, and media would teach that mothers and fathers are fully interchangeable and that thinking otherwise is bigoted.

Redefining marriage would diminish the social pressures and incentives for husbands to remain with their wives and biological children and for men and women to marry before having children. Yet the resulting arrangements—parenting by single parents, divorced parents, remarried parents, cohabiting couples, and fragmented families of any kind—are demonstrably worse for children.[27] Redefining marriage would destabilize marriage in ways that are known to hurt children.

Leading LGBT advocates admit that redefining marriage changes its meaning. E. J. Graff celebrates the fact that redefining marriage would change the “institution’s message” so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.” Enacting same-sex marriage, she argues, “does more than just fit; it announces that marriage has changed shape.”[28] Andrew Sullivan says that marriage has become “primarily a way in which two adults affirm their emotional commitment to one another.”[29]

Government exists to create the conditions under which individuals and freely formed communities can thrive. The most important free community—the one on which all others depend—is the marriage-based family. The conditions for its thriving include the accommodations and pressures that marriage law provides for couples to stay together. Redefining marriage would further erode marital norms, thrusting government further into leading roles for which it is poorly suited: parent and discipliner to the orphaned; provider to the neglected; and arbiter of disputes over custody, paternity, and visitation. As the family weakened, welfare programs and correctional bureaucracies would grow.

Redefining marriage would put into the law the new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.

Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage. It rejects the truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father.

Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is not ultimately about expanding the pool of people who are eligible to marry. Redefining marriage is about cementing a new idea of marriage in the law—an idea whose baleful effects conservatives have fought for years. The idea that romantic-emotional union is all that makes a marriage cannot explain or support the stabilizing norms that make marriage fitting for family life. It can only undermine those norms.

Indeed, that undermining already has begun. Disastrous policies such as “no-fault” divorce were also motivated by the idea that a marriage is made by romantic attachment and satisfaction—and comes undone when these fade. Same-sex marriage would require a more formal and final redefinition of marriage as simple romantic companionship, obliterating the meaning that the marriage movement had sought to restore to the institution.

Redefining marriage would weaken monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—the norms through which marriage benefits society.

Government needs to get marriage policy right because it shapes the norms associated with this most fundamental relationship. Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male–female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics of marriage—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional.[30] Weakening marital norms and severing the connection of marriage with responsible procreation are the admitted goals of many prominent advocates of redefining marriage.

The Norm of Monogamy. New York University Professor Judith Stacey has expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek…small group marriages.”[31] In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners.[32]University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires using legal recognition to “denormalize[] heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and “rectif[y] past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.” She supports “minimal marriage,” in which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties, the type of relationship involved, and which rights and responsibilities to exchange with each.”[33]

In 2009, Newsweek reported that the United States already had over 500,000 polyamorous households.[34] The author concluded:

[P]erhaps the practice is more natural than we think: a response to the challenges of monogamous relationships, whose shortcomings…are clear. Everyone in a relationship wrestles at some point with an eternal question: can one person really satisfy every need? Polyamorists think the answer is obvious—and that it’s only a matter of time before the monogamous world sees there’s more than one way to live and love.[35]
A 2012 article in New York Magazine introduced Americans to “throuple,” a new term akin to a “couple,” but with three people whose “throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship. Except that there are three of them.”[36]

The Norm of Exclusivity. Andrew Sullivan, who has extolled the “spirituality” of “anonymous sex,” also thinks that the “openness” of same-sex unions could enhance the bonds of husbands and wives:Same-sex unions often incorporate the virtues of friendship more effectively than traditional marriages; and at times, among gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds.… [T]here is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.… [S]omething of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.[37]
“Openness” and “flexibility” are Sullivan’s euphemisms for sexual infidelity. Similarly, in a New York Times Magazine profile, gay activist Dan Savage encourages spouses to adopt “a more flexible attitude” about allowing each other to seek sex outside their marriage. The New York Times recently reported on a study finding that exclusivity was not the norm among gay partners: “‘With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,’ said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, ‘but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.’”[38]

A piece in The Advocate candidly admits where the logic of redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships leads:

Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of “traditional marriage,” and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been “No, it won’t.” But what if—for once—the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing?[39]
We often protest when homophobes insist that same sex marriage will change marriage for straight people too. But in some ways, they’re right.[40]
Some advocates of redefining marriage embrace the goal of weakening the institution of marriage in these very terms. “[Former President George W.] Bush is correct,” says Victoria Brownworth, “when he states that allowing same-sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage…. It most certainly will do so, and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.”[41] Professor Ellen Willis celebrates the fact that “conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart.”[42]

Michelangelo Signorile urges same-sex couples to “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.”[43] Same-sex couples should “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake…is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”[44]

It is no surprise that there is already evidence of this occurring. A federal judge in Utah allowed a legal challenge to anti-bigamy laws.[45] A bill that would allow a child to have three legal parents passed both houses of the California state legislature in 2012 before it was vetoed by the governor, who claimed he wanted “to take more time to consider all of the implications of this change.”[46] The impetus for the bill was a lesbian same-sex relationship in which one partner was impregnated by a man. The child possessed a biological mother and father, but the law recognized the biological mother and her same-sex spouse, a “presumed mother,” as the child’s parents.[47]

Those who believe in monogamy and exclusivity—and the benefits that these bring to orderly procreation and child well-being—should take note.

Redefining marriage threatens religious liberty.

Redefining marriage marginalizes those with traditional views and leads to the erosion of religious liberty. The law and culture will seek to eradicate such views through economic, social, and legal pressure. If marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—a union of a man and woman ordered to procreation and family life—would be seen increasingly as a malicious prejudice to be driven to the margins of culture. The consequences for religious believers are becoming apparent.

The administrative state may require those who contract with the government, receive governmental monies, or work directly for the state to embrace and promote same-sex marriage even if it violates their religious beliefs. Nondiscrimination law may make even private actors with no legal or financial ties to the government—including businesses and religious organizations—liable to civil suits for refusing to treat same-sex relationships as marriages. Finally, private actors in a culture that is now hostile to traditional views of marriage may discipline, fire, or deny professional certification to those who express support for traditional marriage.

In fact, much of this is already occurring. Heritage Foundation Visiting Fellow Thomas Messner has documented multiple instances in which redefining marriage has already become a nightmare for religious liberty.[48] If marriage is redefined to include same-sex relationships, then those who continue to believe the truth about marriage—that it is by nature a union of a man and a woman—would face three different types of threats to their liberty: the administrative state, nondiscrimination law, and private actors in a culture that is now hostile to traditional views.[49]

After Massachusetts redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to discontinue its adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples against its principles.[50] Massachusetts public schools began teaching grade-school students about same-sex marriage, defending their decision because they are “committed to teaching about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.” A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that parents have no right to exempt their children from these classes.[51]

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” Doctors in California were successfully sued for declining to perform an artificial insemination on a woman in a same-sex relationship. Owners of a bed and breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law. A Georgia counselor was fired after she referred someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor.[52] In fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.”[53]

The Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois, explains how a bill, which was offered in that state’s 2013 legislative session, to redefine marriage while claiming to protect religious liberty was unable to offer meaningful protections:

[It] would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex “weddings.” It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally “married” to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so “married” from senior leadership positions…. This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois.[54]
In fact, the lack of religious liberty protection seems to be a feature of such bills:

There is no possible way—none whatsoever—for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an “unfair” view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry—which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment.[55]
Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum, an appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, argues that the push to redefine marriage trumps religious liberty concerns:

[F]or all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed and breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making that decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.[56]
Indeed, for many supporters of redefining marriage, such infringements on religious liberty are not flaws but virtues of the movement.

The Future of Marriage
Long before the debate about same-sex marriage, there was a debate about marriage. It launched a “marriage movement” to explain why marriage was good both for the men and women who were faithful to its responsibilities and for the children they reared. Over the past decade, a new question emerged: What does society have to lose by redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementarity?

Many citizens are increasingly tempted to think that marriage is simply an intense emotional union, whatever sort of interpersonal relationship consenting adults, whether two or 10 in number, want it to be—sexual or platonic, sexually exclusive or open, temporary or permanent. This leaves marriage with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality. It is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be.

Yet if marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, how will society protect the needs of children—the prime victim of our non-marital sexual culture—without government growing more intrusive and more expensive?

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. Marriage benefits everyone because separating the bearing and rearing of children from marriage burdens innocent bystanders: not just children, but the whole community. Without healthy marriages, the community often must step in to provide (more or less directly) for their well-being and upbringing. Thus, by encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role.

Government recognizes traditional marriage because it benefits society in a way that no other relationship or institution does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children.

Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else.

The future of this country depends on the future of marriage, and the future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.

Some might appeal to historical inevitability as a reason to avoid answering the question of what marriage is—as if it were an already moot question. However, changes in public opinion are driven by human choice, not by blind historical forces. The question is not what will happen, but what we should do.

—Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.
Hide References

[1] John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher, Debating Same-Sex Marriage (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 94.

[2] Ibid., p. 116.

[3] Ibid., p. 96.

[4] Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter Books, 2012).

[5] David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 146.

[6] Ibid., p. 197. See also W. Bradford Wilcox, “Reconcilable Differences: What Social Sciences Show About the Complementarity of the Sexes & Parenting,” Touchstone, November 2005, p. 36.

[7] Girgis et al., What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

[8] James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem (New York: HapperCollins Publishers, 2002), p. 41.

[9] For the relevant studies, see Witherspoon Institute, “Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles,” August 2008, pp. 9–19, http://www.winst.org/family_marriage_and_democracy/WI_Marriage.pdf (accessed March 4, 2013). “Marriage and the Public Good,” signed by some 70 scholars, corroborates the philosophical case for marriage with extensive evidence from the social sciences about the welfare of children and adults.

[10] Kristin Anderson Moore, Susan M. Jekielek, and Carol Emig, “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do About It?” Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1, http://www.childtrends.org/files/MarriageRB602.pdf (accessed March 4, 2013) (original emphasis).

[11] Ibid., p. 6.

[12] Wendy D. Manning and Kathleen A. Lamb, “Adolescent Well-Being in Cohabiting, Married, and Single-Parent Families,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 65, No. 4 (November 2003), pp. 876 and 890.

[13] See Sara McLanahan, Elisabeth Donahue, and Ron Haskins, “Introducing the Issue,” Marriage and Child Wellbeing, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall 2005), http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=37&articleid=103 (accessed March 4, 2013); Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy Policy Brief, May 2003, http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications_states/files/0086.pdf (accessed March 4, 2013); and W. Bradford Wilcox et al., Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, 2nd ed. (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005), p. 6, http://americanvalues.org/pdfs/why_marriage_matters2.pdf (accessed March 4, 2013).

[14] Barack Obama, “Obama’s Speech on Fatherhood,” Apostolic Church of God, Chicago, June 15, 2008, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/obamas_speech_on_fatherhood.html (accessed March 4, 2013).

[15] See Jason Richwine and Jennifer A. Marshall, “The Regnerus Study: Social Science and New Family Structures Met with Intolerance,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2726, October 2, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/10/the-regnerus-study-social-science-on-new-family-structures-met-with-intolerance.

[16] Loren Marks, “Same-Sex Parenting and Children’s Outcomes: A Closer Examination of the American Psychological Association’s Brief on Lesbian and Gay Parenting,” Social Science Research, Vol. 41, No. 4 (July 2012), http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000580 (accessed March 4, 2013).

[17] See Children from Different Families, http://www.familystructurestudies.com/ (accessed March 4, 2013).

[18] Douglas W. Allen, Catherine Pakaluk, and Joseph Price, “Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress Through School: A Comment on Rosenfeld,” Demography, November 2012.

[19] Social Trends Institute, “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do with the Economy?” 2011, http://sustaindemographicdividend.org/articles/the-sustainable-demographic (accessed March 4, 2013).

[20] H. Brevy Cannon, “New Report: Falling Birth, Marriage Rates Linked to Global Economic Slowdown,” UVA Today, October 3, 2011, http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=16244 (accessed March 4, 2013).

[21] Robert Rector, “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 117, September 5, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/marriage-americas-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty.

[22] Isabel V. Sawhill, “Families at Risk,” in Henry J. Aaron and Robert D. Reischauer, eds., Setting National Priorities: The 2000 Election and Beyond (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 1999), pp. 97 and 108. See also Witherspoon Institute, “Marriage and the Public Good,” p. 15.

[23] Institute for American Values et al., “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and for All Fifty States,” 2008, http://www.americanvalues.org/pdfs/COFF.pdf (accessed March 6, 2013).

[24] David G. Schramm, “Preliminary Estimates of the Economic Consequences of Divorce,” Utah State University, 2003.

[25] Jessica Bennett, “Only You. And You. And You,” Newsweek, July 28, 2009, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/07/28/only-you-and-you-and-you.html (accessed March 6, 2013).

[26] Ryan T. Anderson, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” The Weekly Standard, August 17, 2008, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/591cxhia.asp (accessed March 6, 2013).

[27] For the relevant studies, see Witherspoon Institute, “Marriage and the Public Good.” See also Moore et al., “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective,” p. 1; Manning and Lamb, “Adolescent Well-Being in Cohabiting, Married, and Single-Parent Families”; McLanahan et al., “Introducing the Issue”; Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?”; and Wilcox et al., Why Marriage Matters, p. 6.

[28] E. J. Graff, “Retying the Knot,” in Andrew Sullivan, ed., Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con: A Reader (New York: Vintage Books, 1997), pp. 134, 136, and 137.

[29] Andrew Sullivan, “Introduction,” in Sullivan, ed., Same-Sex Marriage, pp. xvii and xix.

[30] See Girgis et al., What Is Marriage?

[31] See Maggie Gallagher, “(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution: A Reply to Andrew Koppelman,” University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2004), p. 62, http://ir.stthomas.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1047&context=ustlj (accessed March 6, 2013).

[32] BeyondMarriage.org, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships,” July 26, 2006, http://beyondmarriage.org/full_statement.html (accessed March 6, 2013).

[33] Elizabeth Brake, “Minimal Marriage: What Political Liberalism Implies for Marriage Law,” Ethics, Vol. 120, No. 2 (January 2010), pp. 302, 303, 323, and 336.

[34] Bennett, “Only You.”

[35] Ibid.

[36] Molly Young, “He & He & He,” New York Magazine, July 29, 2012, http://nymag.com/news/features/sex/2012/benny-morecock-throuple/ (accessed March 6, 2013).

[37] Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), pp. 202–203.

[38] Scott James, “Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret,” The New York Times, January 28, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html (accessed March 6, 2013).

[39] Ari Karpel, “Monogamish,” The Advocate, July 7, 2011, http://www.advocate.com/Print_Issue/Features/Monogamish/ (accessed March 6, 2013).

[40] Ari Karpel, “Features: Monogamish,” The Advocate, July 7, 2011, http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/features?page=7 (accessed March 7, 2013).

[41] Victoria A. Brownworth, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Is Marriage Right for Queers?” in Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, eds., I Do/I Don’t: Queers on Marriage (San Francisco: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2004), pp. 53 and 58–59.

[42] Ellen Willis, “Can Marriage Be Saved? A Forum,” The Nation, July 5, 2004, p. 16, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-118670288.html (accessed March 6, 2013).

[43] Michelangelo Signorile, “Bridal Wave,” Out, December 1993/January 1994, pp. 68 and 161.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Julia Zebley, “Utah Polygamy Law Challenged in Federal Lawsuit,” Jurist, July 13, 2011, http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/07/utah-polygamy-law-challenged-in-federal-lawsuit.php (accessed March 6, 2013).

[46] Jim Sanders, “Jerry Brown Vetoes Bill Allowing More Than Two Parents,” The Sacramento Bee, September 30, 2012, http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/09/jerry-brown-vetoes-bill-allowing-more-than-two-parents.html (accessed March 6, 2013).

[47] For more on this, see Jennifer Roback Morse, “Why California’s Three-Parent Law Was Inevitable,” Witherspoon Institute Public Discourse, September 10, 2012, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/09/6197 (accessed March 6, 2013).

[48] Thomas M. Messner, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2201, October 30, 2008, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/10/same-sex-marriage-and-the-threat-to-religious-liberty; “Same-Sex Marriage and Threats to Religious Freedom: How Nondiscrimination Laws Factor In,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2589, July 29, 2011, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/same-sex-marriage-and-threats-to-religious-freedom-how-nondiscrimination-laws-factor-in; and “From Culture Wars to Conscience Wars: Emerging Threats to Conscience,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2532, April 13, 2011, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/from-culture-wars-to-conscience-wars-emerging-threats-to-conscience.

[49] For more on this, see Messner, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty.”

[50] Maggie Gallagher, “Banned in Boston,” The Weekly Standard, May 5, 2006, p. 20, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/191kgwgh.asp (accessed March 6, 2013).

[51] For example, see Parker v. Hurley, 514 F.3d 87 (1st Cir. 2008).

[52] Walden v. Centers for Disease Control, Case No. 1:08-cv-02278-JEC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, March 18, 2010, http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WaldenSJorder.pdf (accessed March 6, 2013).

[53] Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “Same-Sex Marriage and State Anti-Discrimination Laws,” Issue Brief, January 2009, p. 2, http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Same-Sex-Marriage-and-State-Anti-Discrimination-Laws-with-Appendices.pdf (accessed March 7, 2013). See also Messner, “Same-Sex Marriage and Threats to Religious Freedom,” p. 4.

[54] Thomas John Paprocki, letter to priests, deacons, and pastoral facilitators in the Diocese of Springfield, January 3, 2013, http://www.dio.org/blog/item/326-bishop-paprockis-letter-on-same-sex-marriage.html#sthash.CPXLw6Gt.dpbs (accessed March 6, 2013).

[55] Ibid.

[56] Chai R. Feldblum, “Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion,” Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Fall 2006), p. 119, http://www.brooklaw.edu/~/media/PDF/LawJournals/BLR_PDF/blr_v72i.ashx (accessed March 6, 2013).


Idées chrétiennes devenues folles: Nous avions un chef du Monde libre transmusulman et nous ne le savions pas ! (We had a transMuslim US president and we didn’t know it !)

21 juin, 2015
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Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus Christ. Paul (Galates 3: 28)
La loi naturelle n’est pas un système de valeurs possible parmi beaucoup d’autres. C’est la seule source de tous les jugements de valeur. Si on la rejette, on rejette toute valeur. Si on conserve une seule valeur, on la conserve tout entier. (. . .) La rébellion des nouvelles idéologies contre la loi naturelle est une rébellion des branches contre l’arbre : si les rebelles réussissaient, ils découvriraient qu’ils se sont détruits eux-mêmes. L’intelligence humaine n’a pas davantage le pouvoir d’inventer une nouvelle valeur qu’il n’en a d’imaginer une nouvelle couleur primaire ou de créer un nouveau soleil avec un nouveau firmament pour qu’il s’y déplace. (…) Tout nouveau pouvoir conquis par l’homme est aussi un pouvoir sur l’homme. Tout progrès le laisse à la fois plus faible et plus fort. Dans chaque victoire, il est à la fois le général qui triomphe et le prisonnier qui suit le char triomphal . (…) Le processus qui, si on ne l’arrête pas, abolira l’homme, va aussi vite dans les pays communistes que chez les démocrates et les fascistes. Les méthodes peuvent (au premier abord) différer dans leur brutalité. Mais il y a parmi nous plus d’un savant au regard inoffensif derrière son pince-nez, plus d’un dramaturge populaire, plus d’un philosophe amateur qui poursuivent en fin de compte les mêmes buts que les dirigeants de l’Allemagne nazie. Il s’agit toujours de discréditer totalement les valeurs traditionnelles et de donner à l’humanité une forme nouvelle conformément à la volonté (qui ne peut être qu’arbitraire) de quelques membres ″chanceux″ d’une génération ″chanceuse″ qui a appris comment s’y prendre. C.S. Lewis (L’abolition de l’homme, 1943)
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
L’organisateur doit se faire schizophrène, politiquement parlant, afin de ne pas se laisser prendre totalement au jeu. (…) Seule une personne organisée peut à la fois se diviser et rester unifiée. (…) La trame de toutes ces qualités souhaitées chez un organisateur est un ego très fort, très solide. L’ego est la certitude absolue qu’a l’organisateur de pouvoir faire ce qu’il pense devoir faire et de réussir dans la tâche qu’il a entreprise. Un organisateur doit accepter sans crainte, ni anxiété, que les chances ne soient jamais de son bord. Le moi de l’organizer est plus fort et plus monumental que le moi du leader. Le leader est poussé par un désir pour le pouvoir, tandis que l’organizer est poussé par un désir de créer. L’organizer essaie dans un sens profond d’atteindre le plus haut niveau qu’un homme puisse atteindre—créer, être ‘grand créateur,’ jouer à être Dieu. Saul Alinsky
L’Amérique est toujours le tueur numéro 1 dans le monde. . . Nous sommes profondément impliqués dans l’importation de la drogue, l’exportation d’armes et la formation de tueurs professionnels. . . Nous avons bombardé le Cambodge, l’Irak et le Nicaragua, tuant les femmes et les enfants tout en essayant de monter l’opinion publique contre Castro et Khaddafi. . . Nous avons mis Mandela en prison et soutenu la ségrégation pendant 27 ans. Nous croyons en la suprématie blanche et l’infériorité noire et y croyons davantage qu’en Dieu. … Nous avons soutenu le sionisme sans scrupule tout en ignorant les Palestiniens et stigmatisé quiconque le dénonçait comme anti-sémite. . . Nous ne nous inquiétons en rien de la vie humaine si la fin justifie les moyens. . . Nous avons lancé le virus du SIDA. . . Nous ne pouvons maintenir notre niveau de vie qu’en nous assurant que les personnes du tiers monde vivent dans la pauvreté la plus abjecte. Rev. Jeremiah Wright ( janvier 2006)
Je n’ai jamais été musulman. (…) à part mon nom et le fait d’avoir vécu dans une population musulmane pendant quatre ans étant enfant [Indonésie, 1967-1971], je n’ai que très peu de lien avec la religion islamique. Barack Hussein Obama (février 2008)
Mon père était originaire du Kenya, et beaucoup de gens dans son village étaient musulmans. Il ne pratiquait pas l’islam. La vérité est qu’il n’était pas très religieux. Il a rencontré ma mère. Ma mère était une chrétienne originaire du Kansas, et ils se marièrent puis divorcèrent. Je fus élevé par ma mère. Aussi j’ai toujours été chrétien. Le seul lien que j’ai eu avec l’islam est que mon grand-père du côté de mon père venait de ce pays. Mais je n’ai jamais pratiqué l’islam. Pendant un certain temps, j’ai vécu en Indonésie parce que ma mère enseignait là-bas. Et c’est un pays musulman. Et je suis allé à l’école. Mais je ne pratiquais pas. Mais je crois que cela m’a permis de comprendre comment pensaient ces gens, qui partagent en partie ma façon de voir, et cela revient à dire que nous pouvons instaurer de meilleurs rapports avec le Moyen-Orient ; cela contribuerait à nous rendre plus assurés si nous pouvons comprendre comment ils pensent sur certains sujets. Barack Hussein Obama (Oskaloosa, Iowa, décembre 2007)
Les Etats-Unis et le monde occidental doivent apprendre à mieux connaître l’islam. D’ailleurs, si l’on compte le nombre d’Américains musulmans, on voit que les Etats-Unis sont l’un des plus grands pays musulmans de la planète. Barack Hussein Obama (entretien pour Canal +, le 2 juin 2009)
Salamm aleïkoum (…) Comme le dit le Saint Coran, « Crains Dieu et dis toujours la vérité ». (…) Cette conviction s’enracine en partie dans mon vécu. Je suis chrétien, mais mon père était issu d’une famille kényane qui compte des générations de musulmans. Enfant, j’ai passé plusieurs années en Indonésie où j’ai entendu l’appel à la prière (azan) à l’aube et au crépuscule. Jeune homme, j’ai travaillé dans des quartiers de Chicago où j’ai côtoyé beaucoup de gens qui trouvaient la dignité et la paix dans leur foi musulmane. Féru d’histoire, je sais aussi la dette que la civilisation doit à l’islam. C’est l’islam – dans des lieux tels qu’Al-Azhar –, qui a brandi le flambeau du savoir pendant de nombreux siècles et ouvert la voie à la Renaissance et au Siècle des Lumières en Europe. C’est de l’innovation au sein des communautés musulmanes – c’est de l’innovation au sein des communautés musulmanes que nous viennent l’algèbre, le compas et les outils de navigation, notre maîtrise de l’écriture et de l’imprimerie, notre compréhension des mécanismes de propagation des maladies et des moyens de les guérir. La culture islamique nous a donné la majesté des arcs et l’élan des flèches de pierre vers le ciel, l’immortalité de la poésie et l’inspiration de la musique, l’élégance de la calligraphie et la sérénité des lieux de contemplation. Et tout au long de l’histoire, l’islam a donné la preuve, en mots et en actes, des possibilités de la tolérance religieuse et de l’égalité raciale. Je sais aussi que l’islam a de tout temps fait partie de l’histoire de l’Amérique. C’est le Maroc qui fut le premier pays à reconnaître mon pays. En signant le traité de Tripoli en 1796, notre deuxième président, John Adams, nota ceci : « Les États-Unis n’ont aucun caractère hostile aux lois, à la religion ou la tranquillité des musulmans. » Depuis notre fondation, les musulmans américains enrichissent les États-Unis. Ils ont combattu dans nos guerres, servi le gouvernement, pris la défense des droits civils, créé des entreprises, enseigné dans nos universités, brillé dans le domaine des sports, remporté des prix Nobel, construit notre plus haut immeuble et allumé le flambeau olympique. Et, récemment, le premier Américain musulman qui a été élu au Congrès a fait le serment de défendre notre Constitution sur le Coran que l’un de nos Pères fondateurs, Thomas Jefferson, conservait dans sa bibliothèque personnelle. J’ai donc connu l’islam sur trois continents avant de venir dans la région où il a été révélé pour la première fois. Cette expérience guide ma conviction que le partenariat entre l’Amérique et l’islam doit se fonder sur ce qu’est l’islam, et non sur ce qu’il n’est pas, et j’estime qu’il est de mon devoir de président des États-Unis de combattre les stéréotypes négatifs de l’islam où qu’ils se manifestent. (…) bien qu’un Américain d’origine africaine et ayant pour nom Barack Hussein Obama ait pu être élu président a fait couler beaucoup d’encre. (…) En outre, la liberté en Amérique est indissociable de celle de pratiquer sa religion. C’est pour cette raison que chaque État de notre union compte au moins une mosquée et qu’on en dénombre plus de mille deux cents sur notre territoire. C’est pour cette raison que le gouvernement des États-Unis a recours aux tribunaux pour protéger le droit des femmes et des filles à porter le hijab et pour punir ceux qui leur contesteraient ce droit.  (…) Le Saint Coran nous enseigne que quiconque tue un innocent tue l’humanité tout entière, et que quiconque sauve quelqu’un, sauve l’humanité tout entière. La foi enracinée de plus d’un milliard d’habitants de la planète est tellement plus vaste que la haine étroite de quelques-uns. Quand il s’agit de combattre l’extrémisme violent, l’islam ne fait pas partie du problème – il constitue une partie importante de la marche vers la paix. (…) La liberté de religion joue un rôle crucial pour permettre aux gens de vivre en harmonie. Nous devons toujours examiner les façons dont nous la protégeons. Aux États-Unis, par exemple, les musulmans ont plus de mal à s’acquitter de l’obligation religieuse de la zakat étant donné les règles relatives aux dons de bienfaisance. C’est pour cette raison que je suis résolu à oeuvrer avec les musulmans américains pour leur permettre de s’acquitter de la zakat. De même, il importe que les pays occidentaux évitent d’empêcher les musulmans de pratiquer leur religion comme ils le souhaitent, par exemple, en dictant ce qu’une musulmane devrait porter. En un mot, nous ne pouvons pas déguiser l’hostilité envers la religion sous couvert de libéralisme. (…) La sixième question – la sixième question dont je veux parler porte sur les droits des femmes. (Applaudissements) Je sais – je sais, et vous pouvez le voir d’après ce public – que cette question suscite un sain débat. Je rejette l’opinion de certains selon laquelle une femme qui choisit de se couvrir la tête est d’une façon ou d’une autre moins égale, mais j’ai la conviction qu’une femme que l’on prive d’éducation est privée d’égalité. Et ce n’est pas une coïncidence si les pays dans lesquels les femmes reçoivent une bonne éducation connaissent bien plus probablement la prospérité. Je tiens à préciser une chose : les questions relatives à l’égalité des femmes ne sont absolument pas un sujet qui concerne uniquement l’Islam. En Turquie, au Pakistan, au Bangladesh et en Indonésie, nous avons vu des pays à majorité musulmane élire une femme à leur tête, tandis que la lutte pour l’égalité des femmes continue dans beaucoup d’aspects de la vie américaine, et dans les pays du monde entier. Je suis convaincu que nos filles peuvent offrir une contribution à la société tout aussi importante que nos fils et que notre prospérité commune sera favorisée si nous utilisons les talents de toute l’humanité, hommes et femmes. Je ne crois pas que les femmes doivent faire les mêmes choix que les hommes pour assurer leur égalité, et je respecte celles qui choisissent de suivre un rôle traditionnel. Mais cela devrait être leur choix. Barack Hussein Obama (université du Caire, 2009)
L’avenir ne doit pas appartenir à ceux qui calomnient le prophète de l’Islam. Barack Obama (ONU, New York, 26.09.12)
Quand je pense à ce garçon, je pense à mes propres enfants. Si j’avais un fils, il ressemblerait à Trayvon. Barack Hussein Obama (2012)
Quand je regarde toutes ces jeunes filles, c’est moi que je vois. Michelle Obama
Je crois qu’il voulait faire quelque chose de spectaculaire comme Trayvon Martin, il voulait relancer la guerre raciale. Joey Meek (camarade de classe de Ryann Roof)
J’ai besoin de féminisme car j’ai l’intention d’épouser quelqu’un de riche, et ça ne pourra pas se faire si ma femme et moi ne gagnons que 75 centimes pour chaque dollar gagné par un homme. Caitlyn Cannon
Je suis transracialiste. Rachel Dolezal
Le transracialisme participe de l’ordre racial. Il consiste à revendiquer une autre identité que celle à laquelle on est racialement affiliée. Sauf qu’il y a bien une hiérarchie entre ces races. Être dans une logique transracialiste, c’est chercher à échapper à l’ensemble des discriminations insupportables qui sont associées à l’identité qui nous est imposée. Cela peut se faire de manière physique (se décolorer la peau par exemple), sociale, ou comportementale.(…) Être Noir, c’est une construction culturelle. On ne se pense Noir et ne devient Noir que lors de certaines interactions. Ce n’est pas une identité génétique ça, c’est quelque chose qui s’inscrit dans les rapports sociaux. C’est pourquoi il est souvent courant que des enfants adoptés, qui ont la peau noire, et élevés par des parents blancs, se considèrent comme Blancs. Et ils ont raison, ce qui compte c’est le lien affectif qui va déterminer leur manière de s’identifier. Sauf qu’aux Etats-Unis, ces personnes sont vites rattrapées par la réalité des rapports sociaux racialisés. Et elles sont obligées de devenir noires à un moment ou à un autre. (…) C’est un cas que l’on n’avait jamais vu auparavant. Ici, la jeune femme blanche, veut être noire. Jusqu’ici, les schémas transracialistes se posaient dans le sens d’une personne de couleur noire qui désirait devenir blanche. Rachel Dolezal a été élevée dans une famille blanche avec des frères adoptés à la peau noire. On peut donc penser qu’elle a voulu ressembler à ce schéma familial. (…) Justement, elle a fini par occuper une position de pouvoir dans une organisation importante qui défend les droits des gens de couleur aux Etats-Unis (l’Association nationale pour la promotion des gens de couleur, NAACP, Ndlr.). Et malgré son histoire familiale, elle ne peut pas annuler l’asymétrie profonde dans laquelle se joue les enjeux du transracialisme. En plus, elle donne des arguments assez flous. On ne comprend pas bien pourquoi elle a fait ça si ce n’est qu’elle est dans une identification très forte à une certaine cause politique. Mais il faut comprendre que l’on n’a pas besoin d’être noire pour défendre la cause de ces personnes qui peuvent être victimes de racisme.(…) En France, on est convaincu que la race n’existe pas. Nous sommes pourtant dans des rapports sociaux racialisés. Malgré ça, personne ne peut penser ces rapports en terme racialiste. Et aux Etats-Unis, les identités racialisées sont reconnues comme telles. On parle de “races”, de “relations raciales”, et de problèmes liés aux “identités raciales”. On en parle aussi parce que ces difficultés conduisent à des assassinats et à des bavures policières contre les noirs. Margot Rousseau
Rachel Dolezal peut-elle prétendre être Noire sans avoir fait l’expérience socio-historique en lien avec les inégalités systémiques et historiquement ancrées dans le vécu des membres de la communauté afro-américaine ? Une femme noire expérimente très jeune une double oppression de race et de genre laquelle s’inscrit dans un processus de développement psychologique, moral, intellectuel et socio-économique. (…) Force est de reconnaître que même si la volonté peut être présente, il est impossible de devenir une femme noire alors que l’on est dans la vingtaine. Aussi, Dolezal est blanche au sens de son identité biologique et par le fait qu’elle a grandi, dans une famille WASP sans être en mesure de faire, dès son plus jeune âge, les mêmes expériences que les autres femmes noires de sa génération. En ce sens, Dolezal n’a pu ressentir certains des enjeux qui concourent à vouloir aspirer à cette sororité si fondamentale dans la constitution de l’identité culturelle, politique et économique si chère aux militantes afro-américaines. Cependant, que la professeure Dolezal puisse se sentir plus noire que blanche ne saurait en soi être un problème, pas plus que son mensonge n’est un crime. La difficulté réside plutôt dans ce à que quoi il a contribué c’est-à-dire à la construction d’une carrière universitaire et militante au cœur même des bastions généralement réservés aux Noirs. En tant que Professeure d’Études africaines et membres du NAACP, Dolezal est au fait de ces débats. Elle sait que dans les mouvements de luttes pour le droit des minorités culturelles ou de genre, les postes les plus avancés sont généralement réservés aux personnes qui en sont issues. C’est pourquoi comme l’a écrit un éditorialiste du Washington Post :  » Qu’une personne blanche dirige une section de la NAACP ne pose pas de problème non plus. (…) Mais qu’une personne blanche prétende être noire et dirige une section de la NAACP, c’est très problématique ». (…) Au-delà de la question identitaire, la présidence par Rachel Dolezal d’une section locale du NAACP pose donc plus fondamentalement la question de l’usurpation d’une position d’autorité et celle d’une possible récupération de la lutte par le groupe dominant. Par son mensonge, Dolezal a-t-elle contribué, bien malgré elle, au maintien de la domination blanche dans un des bastions du militantisme noir ? Comme le soulignent ses propres parents, n’aurait-elle pas été plus utile à la cause, qu’elle prétendait défendre, si elle avait milité sous couvert de sa véritable identité biologique ? Ces interrogations seront encore longtemps débattues. Agnès Berthelot Raffard
De Conchita Wurst à Laverne Cox, 2014 semble en effet bien partie pour être l’année des transgenres. “Il y a un déplacement très net des figures trans de leur lieu traditionnel l’underground, à une culture plus mainstream, note le docteur en sociologie et spécialiste de la transidentité Arnaud Alessandrin. Que ce soit dans la fiction américaine, le rap ou la mode, avec des mannequins comme Andrej Pejic ou Lea T, on remarque que de nouvelles personnalités trans apparaissent chaque mois et replacent leurs enjeux dans l’espace public.” Pour expliquer cette émergence médiatique, la plupart des observateurs évoquent la convergence de plusieurs phénomènes, au premier rang desquels l’influence exercée par les mouvements sociaux protransgenres. “Depuis quelques années, il y a eu dans toutes les grandes villes américaines une augmentation du nombre d’actions menées en faveur des trans, avec l’apparition de nouvelles formes de militantisme, explique Reina Gossett, codirectrice de l’association new-yorkaise Sylvia Rivera Law Project, qui vient en aide aux trans victimes de violences. Les médias ne pouvaient pas rester hermétiques à cette pression sociale, ils ont fini par entendre nos revendications. » Un autre facteur pourrait justifier cette nouvelle vague de visibilité trans : internet. “Avant, les transidentités se vivaient de manière confidentielle ou alors en groupe restreint, rappelle Aren Z. Aizura. L’usage des réseaux sociaux a complètement modifié le rapport des trans à leur identité ; il a permis le partage d’expériences et ainsi la banalisation de la parole, notamment chez les plus jeunes.” Ts Madison peut en témoigner. Cette transgenre male to female, actrice porno à son propre compte, s’est fait connaître début 2014 sur le réseau social Vine en publiant des vidéos de six secondes dans lesquelles elle s’affichait nue, dansant ou courant dans son jardin la bite à l’air. Devenues virales en quelques jours, les vidéos ont été parodiées et partagées par des flots d’internautes de tous âges, contribuant selon Ts Madison à “promouvoir la tolérance envers les trans”. “Internet permet de lever tous les complexes, de se montrer sans crainte, nous confie-t-elle depuis sa villa d’Atlanta. Depuis que j’ai publié mes vidéos, des gamines m’envoient des messages pour me remercier, d’autres m’interrogent sur ma transition, sur la chirurgie. Elles parlent librement. Il y a eu bien sûr des tas d’insultes, des trucs haineux, mais la plupart des gens comprennent le message. Ils ont compris ce qu’il y a de révolutionnaire à être une femme et à agiter sa bite devant une caméra.” (…) Surtout, ils se sont échappés des débats médicaux et sexuels auxquels ils ont longtemps été réduits. “Les trans ne veulent plus entendre parler de sexualité, ils se sont complètement désolidarisés de ces sujets, assure Arnaud Alessandrin. Lorsque Conchita prend la parole à l’Eurovision, elle ne pose que la question du droit : ai-je le droit d’être intégrée à une société sans être assimilée à tous ses codes ? Ai-je le droit à une vie normale sans pour autant me conformer à toutes ses normes binaires ?” Quand on interroge Ts Madison, jamais la question du sexe ne revient vraiment dans la discussion : elle dit qu’elle est simplement une femme avec une bite (elle en a même commercialisé un T-shirt : “She’s got a dick”) et n’aspire qu’à avoir les mêmes droits fondamentaux que les autres. “Les débats se sont recentrés sur des thématiques d’ordre politique ou social, résume Maxime Foerster. C’est d’ailleurs tout le sens du sous-titre de la couverture de Time, qui dit que les transgenres sont ‘la nouvelle frontière des droits civiques américains’. Maintenant que l’homosexualité est quasiment soluble dans la société hétéronormée et bourgeoise, on commence à se poser la question du droit pour les trans.” Dans la réalité, pourtant, ces questions de droits semblent loin d’être résolues. Car si les transgenres ont accédé à la visibilité, notamment aux Etats-Unis, ils tardent encore à faire leur apparition dans les agendas politiques. (…) C’est là le paradoxe de cette récente exposition médiatique, qu’Arnaud Alessandrin résume ainsi : “Une certaine frange de la transidentité, liée à la scène et aux artistes, commence à être visible. Mais le trans reste invisible dans l’espace politique. Et rien ne dit que l’arrivée de figures transgenres populaires permettra d’aller vers plus d’acceptation.” Les Inrocks
A (…) tenet of socially constructed racism and sexism is “white privilege,” which usually translates into “white male privilege,” given that women such as Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are rarely accused of being multimillionaire white elite females who won a leg up by virtue of their skin color. But if whiteness ipso facto earns one advantages over the non-white, why in the world do some elite whites choose to reconstruct their identities as non-white? Would Elizabeth Warren really have become a Harvard law professor had she not, during her long years of academic ascent, identified herself (at least privately, on universities’ pedigree forms) as a Native American? Ward Churchill, with his beads and Indian get-up, won a university career that otherwise might have been scuttled by his mediocrity, his pathological untruths, and his aberrant behavior. Why would the current head of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash., a white middle-class woman named Rachel Dolezal, go to the trouble of faking a genealogy, using skin cosmetics and hair styling, and constructing false racist enemies to ensure that she was accepted as a victimized black woman? The obvious inference is that Ms. Dolezal assumed that being a liberal black woman brought with it career opportunities in activist groups and academia otherwise beyond her reach as a middle-class white female of so-so talent. Critics will object that we are really arguing in class terms as well as racial terms: Privileged whites play on society’s innate prejudices against darker-skinned minorities by positioning themselves as light-skinned, elite people of color. (…) Suffice it to say that in our increasingly intermarried, assimilated, and integrated culture, it is often hard to ascertain someone’s exact race or ethnicity. That confusion allows identity to be massaged and reinvented. That said, it is also generally felt among elites that feigning minority status earns career advantages that outweigh the downside of being identified as non-white in the popular culture. That was certainly my impression as a professor for over 20 years in the California State University system watching dozens of upper-class Latin Americans — largely white male Argentinians, Chileans, and Brazilians — and Spaniards flock to American academia, add accents to their names, trill their R’s, and feign ethnic solidarity with their students who were of Oaxacan and Native American backgrounds. Poor George Zimmerman. His last name stereotyped him as some sort of Germanic gun nut. But had he just ethnicized his maternal half-Afro Peruvian identity and reemerged as Jorgé Mesa, Zimmerman would have largely escaped charges of racism. He should have taken a cue from Barack Obama, who sometime in his late teens at Occidental College discovered that the exotic nomenclature of Barack Obama radiated a minority edge, in a way that the name of his alter ego, Barry Soetoro, apparently never quite had. If, in America’s racist past, majority culture once jealously protected its white privilege by one-drop-of-blood racial distinctions, postmodern America has now come full circle and done the same in reverse — because the construction of minority identity, in all its varying degrees, is easily possible and, in ironic fashion, now brings with it particular elite career advantages. (…) The CEOs in the industries of sexism and classism are for the most part wealthy and privileged — and their targets are usually of the middle class. When Michelle Obama labors to remind her young African-American audiences of all the stares and second looks she imagines she still receives as First Lady, she is reconstructing a racial identity to balance the enormous privilege she enjoys as a jumbo-jet-setting grandee who junkets to the world’s toniest resorts with regularity. The 2016 version of Hillary Clinton is, at least for a few months, a feminist populist, and has become so merely by mouthing a few banal talking points. Apparently the downside for Hillary of being a woman is not trumped by the facts of being a multimillionaire insider and former secretary of state, wife to a multimillionaire ex-president, mother of a multimillionaire, and mother-in-law to a multimillionaire hedge-fund director. Hillary can become a perpetual constructed victim, denied the good life that is enjoyed by a white male bus driver in Bakersfield making $40,000 a year. (…) sexism and racism are abstractions of the liberal elite that rarely translate into praxis. Barack Obama could have done symbolic wonders for the public schools by taking his kids out of Sidwell Friends and putting them into the D.C. school system. Elizabeth Warren could have cemented her feminist populist fides by vowing to stop flipping houses. Feminist Bill Clinton could have renounced all affairs with female subordinates. Eric Holder could have vowed never to use government jets to take his kids to horse races. In solidarity with co-eds struggling with student loans, Hillary Clinton could have promised to limit her university speaking fees to a thousand dollars per minute rather than the ten thousand dollars for each 60 seconds of chatting that she actually gets, and she might have prefaced her public attacks on hedge funds by dressing down her son-in-law. Surely the lords of Silicon Valley might have promised to keep their kids in the public schools, and funded scholarships to allow minorities to flood Sacred Heart and the Menlo School. Victor Davis Hanson
Reading Oren’s new memoir Ally, it’s clear that Israel has been on her own since the day Obama took office (…) For the last six and a half years the president of the United States has treated the home of the Jewish people more like a rogue nation standing in the way of peace than a longtime democratic ally. Now the alliance is “in tatters.” (…) “The Obama administration was problematic because of its worldview: Unprecedented support for the Palestinians,” he told Israeli journalist David Horovitz, another centrist, this week. Obama and his lieutenants, including Hillary Clinton, have often behaved as if the Palestinians don’t exist – Palestinian actions, corruption, incitement, campaigns of de-legitimization and terrorism are overlooked, excused, accommodated. Oren tells the story of what happened when Vice President Joe Biden asked Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to “look him in the eye and promise that he could make peace with Israel.” Abbas looked away. The White House did nothing. It was Israel that had to agree to a settlement freeze before the latest doomed attempt at peace negotiations; Israel that had to apologize for possible “mistakes” against the Gaza flotilla; Israel that had to close Ben Gurion airport; Israel that faced a “reevaluation” of her diplomatic status after Bibi’s reelection. Obama addresses the bulk of his lectures on good governance and democracy and humanitarianism not to the gang that runs the West Bank, nor to the terrorists who rule Gaza, but to Israel. During last year’s Gaza war, the State Department was “appalled” by civilian casualties inflated and trumpeted by Hamas propagandists. Oren points out that in the past the president had used the word “appalling” to describe the atrocities of Moammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi and the IDF – two peas in a pod, according to this White House. (…) America, he says, provided a “Diplomatic Iron Dome” that shielded Israel from anti-Semites in Europe, at the U.N., and abroad whose goal is to delegitimize the Jewish State and undermine her economically. This rhetorical missile shield is slowly being retracted. The administration threatens not to veto anti-Israel U.N. initiatives, Europe is aligning with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, and anti-Israel activism festers on U.S. campuses. Obama’s unending criticism of Israel, and background quotes calling Israel’s prime minister a “chicken-shit” and a “coward,” provide an opening for radicals to go even further. (…)  Fixated on striking a deal, Obama is preparing to concede the longstanding demand that Iran disclose its past nuclear-weapons research, is ignoring the issue of Iranian missile development, and is standing idle as Iran props up Assad, arms Hezbollah with rockets, and promotes sectarianism in Iraq. Israel is hemmed in – by Iranian proxies and Sunni militants on its borders, by the threat of a third intifada on the West Bank, by global nongovernmental organizations, by a condescending, flippant, and bullying U.S. president whose default emotional state is pique. Matthew Continetti
In addition to its academic and international affairs origins, Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. These were described in depth in his candid memoir, Dreams from My Father , published 13 years before his election as president. Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia. I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists. Yet, tragically perhaps, Obama — and his outreach to the Muslim world — would not be accepted. With the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the vision of a United States at peace with the Muslim Middle East was supplanted by a patchwork of policies — military intervention in Libya, aerial bombing in Iraq, indifference to Syria, and entanglement with Egypt. Drone strikes, many of them personally approved by the president, killed hundreds of terrorists, but also untold numbers of civilians. Indeed, the killing of a Muslim — Osama bin Laden — rather than reconciling with one, remains one of Obama’s most memorable achievements. Diplomatically, too, Obama’s outreach to Muslims was largely rebuffed. During his term in office, support for America among the peoples of the Middle East — and especially among Turks and Palestinians — reached an all-time nadir . Back in 2007, President Bush succeeded in convening Israeli and Arab leaders, together with the representatives of some 40 states, at the Annapolis peace conference. In May 2015, Obama had difficulty convincing several Arab leaders to attend a Camp David summit on the Iranian issue. The president who pledged to bring Arabs and Israelis together ultimately did so not through peace, but out of their common anxiety over his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and his determination to reach a nuclear accord with Iran. Only Iran, in fact, still holds out the promise of sustaining Obama’s initial hopes for a fresh start with Muslims. “[I]f we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion,” he told the New Yorker, “you could see an equilibrium developing between [it and] Sunni … Gulf states.” The assumption that a nuclear deal with Iran will render it “a very successful regional power” capable of healing, rather than inflaming, historic schisms remained central to Obama’s thinking. That assumption was scarcely shared by Sunni Muslims, many of whom watched with deep concern at what they perceived as an emerging U.S.-Iranian alliance. Six years after offering to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” President Obama has seen that hand repeatedly shunned by Muslims. His speeches no longer recall his Muslim family members, and only his detractors now mention his middle name. And yet, to a remarkable extent, his policies remain unchanged. He still argues forcibly for the right of Muslim women to wear — rather than refuse to wear — the veil and insists on calling “violent extremists” those who kill in Islam’s name. “All of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam,” he declared in February, using an acronym for the Islamic State. The term “Muslim world” is still part of his vocabulary. Historians will likely look back at Obama’s policy toward Islam with a combination of curiosity and incredulousness. While some may credit the president for his good intentions, others might fault him for being naïve and detached from a complex and increasingly lethal reality. For the Middle East continues to fracture and pose multiple threats to America and its allies. Even if he succeeds in concluding a nuclear deal with Iran, the expansion of the Islamic State and other jihadi movements will underscore the failure of Obama’s outreach to Muslims. The need to engage them — militarily, culturally, philanthropically, and even theologically — will meanwhile mount. The president’s successor, whether Democrat or Republican, will have to grapple with that reality from the moment she or he enters the White House. The first decision should be to recognize that those who kill in Islam’s name are not mere violent extremists but fanatics driven by a specific religion’s zeal. And their victims are anything but random. Michael Oren

Après le mariage, le genre, l’utérus et la race, l’orientation musulmane pour tous !

Rappel incessant de ses racines familiales et de son enfance passée dans des pays musulmans, amitiés de 20 ans entre le révérend Jeremiah Wright et l’universitaire palestino-américain Edward Saïd avec les pires dénonciateurs de l’Amérique, hommages appuyés aux apports de la culture musulmane, appels répétés à la coopération avec le Monde dit musulman, soutien fidèle aux frères musulmans égyptiens, refus farouche de prononcer même l’origine religieuse de ceux qui appellent au djihad contre son propre pays, volonté d’accord à tout prix avec les premiers commanditaires du terrorisme mondial pour leur quête de l’arme nucléaire, absences remarquées à la Marche parisienne du 11 janvier comme au 70e anniversaire de la libération d’Auschwitz, critique systématique de la politique comme des dirigeants israéliens, évocation permanente des péchés contre l’islam de son prédécesseur et de son propre pays, défense du voile islamique, dénonciation de tous ceux qui insultent l’islam, hyper-discrétion dans sa politique d’élimination ciblée des djihadistes …

En ces temps étranges …

Où, après en avoir bien attisé les flammes, le pompier-pyromane de la Maison Blanche qui, entre un 9 trous de golf et une élimination ciblée par drone et après 20 ans de sermons du révérend Jeremiah Wright, se prenait pour le père de Trayvon Martin dénonce un véritable acte de terrorisme  racial

Et où, après avoir soutenu avec le succès que l’on sait la cause des écolières nigérianes enlevées par Boko Haram, la femme du dudit premier président postracial vient elle aussi défendre, entre tasse de thé princière et shopping jet-set, la cause des jeunes filles voilées

Où,  pour lancer la nouvelle émission de télé-réalité d’un ancien champion olympique transgenre, nos médias nous présente la transidentité comme la « dernière frontière des droits civiques »  …

Où la citation « géniale » d’une lycéenne lesbienne affichant son rêve de faire un mariage riche mais bien sûr de même sexe lui vaut l’admiration des internautes …

Pendant que nos ambassades servent à la propagande de la cause homosexuelle et qu’après l’histoire (ou les noms d’oiseaux: neuf mois de prison ferme, excusez du peu, pour avoir comparé une ministre à un primate !), c’est désormais l’origine de la vie qui se décide dans les prétoires ou au vote majoritaire

Comment ne pas voir …

Avec l’aveu forcé la semaine dernière …

De cette transracialiste professeur d’études afro-américaines et présidente de la NAACP de l’état de Washington …

Qui, par hyper-identification à la cause, s’était littéralement inventée une origine noire, agressions racistes comprises, pendant 20 ans …

Une nouvelle illustration de ce « monde moderne rempli d’idées chrétiennes devenues folles » prophétisé par Chesterton dès le début du siècle dernier ?

Mais surtout comment ne pas comprendre enfin …

Avec la magistrale démonstration de l’ancien ambassadeur israélien aux Etats-Unis Michael Oren …

La jusqu’ici déroutante politique étrangère du premier président américain… transmusulman ?

How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World’ And got it stomped on. Israel’s former ambassador to the United States on the president’s naiveté as peacemaker, blinders to terrorism, and alienation of allies. Michael Oren Foreign policy June 19, 2015

Days after jihadi gunmen slaughtered 11 staffers of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a policeman on January 7, hundreds of thousands of French people marched in solidarity against Islamic radicalism. Forty-four world leaders joined them, but not President Barack Obama. Neither did his attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, or Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, both of whom were in Paris that day. Other terrorists went on to murder four French Jews in a kosher market that they deliberately targeted. Yet Obama described the killers as “vicious zealots who … randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli.”

Pressed about the absence of a high-ranking American official at the Paris march, the White House responded by convening a long-delayed convention on “countering violent extremism.” And when reminded that one of the gunmen boasted that he intended to kill Jews, presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that the victims died “not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

Obama’s boycotting of the memorial in Paris, like his refusal to acknowledge the identity of the perpetrators, the victims, or even the location of the market massacre, provides a broad window into his thinking on Islam and the Middle East. Simply put: The president could not participate in a protest against Muslim radicals whose motivations he sees as a distortion, rather than a radical interpretation, of Islam. And if there are no terrorists spurred by Islam, there can be no purposely selected Jewish shop or intended Jewish victims, only a deli and randomly present folks.

Understanding Obama’s worldview was crucial to my job as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Right after entering office in June 2009, I devoted months to studying the new president, poring over his speeches, interviews, press releases, and memoirs, and meeting with many of his friends and supporters. The purpose of this self-taught course — Obama 101, I called it — was to get to the point where the president could no longer surprise me. And over the next four years I rarely was, especially on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues.

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama declared in his first inaugural address. The underlying assumption was that America’s previous relations with Muslims were characterized by dissention and contempt. More significant, though, was the president’s use of the term “Muslim world,” a rough translation of the Arabic ummah. A concept developed by classical Islam, ummah refers to a community of believers that transcends borders, cultures, and nationalities. Obama not only believed that such a community existed but that he could address and accommodate it.

The novelty of this approach was surpassed only by Obama’s claim that he, personally, represented the bridge between this Muslim world and the West. Throughout the presidential campaign, he repeatedly referred to his Muslim family members, his earlier ties to Indonesia and the Muslim villages of Kenya, and his Arabic first and middle names. Surveys taken shortly after his election indicated that nearly a quarter of Americans thought their president was a Muslim.

This did not deter him from actively pursuing his bridging role. Reconciling with the Muslim world was the theme of the president’s first television interview — with Dubai’s Al Arabiya — and his first speech abroad. “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam,” he told the Turkish Parliament in April 2009. “America’s relationship with the Muslim community … cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism.… We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith.” But the fullest exposition of Obama’s attitude toward Islam, and his personal role in assuaging its adherents, came three months later in Cairo.

Billed by the White House as “President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World,” the speech was delivered to a hall of carefully selected Egyptian students. But the message was not aimed at them or even at the people of Egypt, but rather at all Muslims. “America and Islam are not exclusive,” the president determined. “[They] share … common principles — principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.”

With multiple quotes from the Quran — each enthusiastically applauded — the president praised Islam’s accomplishments and listed colonialism, the Cold War, and modernity among the reasons for friction between Muslims and the West.

With multiple quotes from the Quran — each enthusiastically applauded — the president praised Islam’s accomplishments and listed colonialism, the Cold War, and modernity among the reasons for friction between Muslims and the West. “Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims,” he explained, in the only reference to the religious motivation of most terrorists. And he again cited his personal ties with Islam which, he said, “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.”

These pronouncements presaged what was, in fact, a profound recasting of U.S. policy. While reiterating America’s support for Israel’s security, Obama stridently criticized its settlement policy in the West Bank and endorsed the Palestinian claim to statehood. He also recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, upheld the principle of nonproliferation, and rejected former President George W. Bush’s policy of promoting American-style democracy in the Middle East. “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons,” he said. “No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” In essence, Obama offered a new deal in which the United States would respect popularly chosen Muslim leaders who were authentically rooted in their traditions and willing to engage with the West.

The Cairo speech was revolutionary. In the past, Western leaders had addressed the followers of Islam — Napoleon in invading Egypt in 1798 and Kaiser Wilhelm II while visiting Damascus a century later — but never before had an American president. Indeed, no president had ever spoken to adherents of a world faith, whether Catholics or Buddhists, and in a city they traditionally venerated. More significantly, the Cairo speech, twice as long as his inaugural address, served as the foundational document of Obama’s policy toward Muslims.

Whenever Israeli leaders were perplexed by the administration’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Syria — severed by Bush after the assassination of Lebanese president Rafik Hariri — or its early outreach to Libya and Iran, I would always refer them to that text. When policymakers back home failed to understand why Obama stood by Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who imprisoned journalists and backed Islamic radicals, or Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and briefly its president, I would invariably say: “Go back to the speech.” Erdogan and Morsi were both devout Muslims, democratically elected, and accepting of Obama’s outstretched hand. So, too, was Hassan Rouhani, who became Obama’s partner in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear dispute.

How did the president arrive at his unique approach to Islam? The question became central to my research for Obama 101. One answer lies in the universities in which he studied and taught — Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago — and where such ideas were long popular. Many of them could be traced to Orientalism, Edward Said’s scathing critique of Middle East studies, and subsequent articles in which he insisted that all scholars of the region be “genuinely engaged and sympathetic … to the Islamic world.” Published in 1978, Orientalism became the single most influential book in American humanities. As a visiting lecturer in the United States starting in the 1980s, I saw how Said’s work influenced not only Middle East studies but became a mainstay of syllabi for courses ranging from French colonial literature to Italian-African history. The notion that Islam was a uniform, universal entity with which the West must peacefully engage became widespread on American campuses and eventually penetrated the policymaking community. One of the primary texts in my Obama 101 course was the 2008 monograph, “Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy,” written by foreign-relations experts, many of whom would soon hold senior positions in the new administration. While striving to place its relations with the Middle East on a new basis, the authors advised, America must seek “improved relations with more moderate elements of political Islam” and adapt “a narrative of pride in the achievements of Islam.”

In addition to its academic and international affairs origins, Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. These were described in depth in his candid memoir, Dreams from My Father, published 13 years before his election as president. Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia. I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.

Yet, tragically perhaps, Obama — and his outreach to the Muslim world — would not be accepted. With the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the vision of a United States at peace with the Muslim Middle East was supplanted by a patchwork of policies — military intervention in Libya, aerial bombing in Iraq, indifference to Syria, and entanglement with Egypt. Drone strikes, many of them personally approved by the president, killed hundreds of terrorists, but also untold numbers of civilians. Indeed, the killing of a Muslim — Osama bin Laden — rather than reconciling with one, remains one of Obama’s most memorable achievements.

Diplomatically, too, Obama’s outreach to Muslims was largely rebuffed. During his term in office, support for America among the peoples of the Middle East — and especially among Turks and Palestinians — reached an all-time nadir. Back in 2007, President Bush succeeded in convening Israeli and Arab leaders, together with the representatives of some 40 states, at the Annapolis peace conference. In May 2015, Obama had difficulty convincing several Arab leaders to attend a Camp David summit on the Iranian issue. The president who pledged to bring Arabs and Israelis together ultimately did so not through peace, but out of their common anxiety over his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and his determination to reach a nuclear accord with Iran.

Only Iran, in fact, still holds out the promise of sustaining Obama’s initial hopes for a fresh start with Muslims. “[I]f we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion,” he told the New Yorker, “you could see an equilibrium developing between [it and] Sunni … Gulf states.” The assumption that a nuclear deal with Iran will render it “a very successful regional power” capable of healing, rather than inflaming, historic schisms remained central to Obama’s thinking. That assumption was scarcely shared by Sunni Muslims, many of whom watched with deep concern at what they perceived as an emerging U.S.-Iranian alliance.

Six years after offering to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” President Obama has seen that hand repeatedly shunned by Muslims. His speeches no longer recall his Muslim family members, and only his detractors now mention his middle name. And yet, to a remarkable extent, his policies remain unchanged. He still argues forcibly for the right of Muslim women to wear — rather than refuse to wear — the veil and insists on calling “violent extremists” those who kill in Islam’s name. “All of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam,” he declared in February, using an acronym for the Islamic State. The term “Muslim world” is still part of his vocabulary.

Historians will likely look back at Obama’s policy toward Islam with a combination of curiosity and incredulousness. While some may credit the president for his good intentions, others might fault him for being naïve and detached from a complex and increasingly lethal reality. For the Middle East continues to fracture and pose multiple threats to America and its allies. Even if he succeeds in concluding a nuclear deal with Iran, the expansion of the Islamic State and other jihadi movements will underscore the failure of Obama’s outreach to Muslims. The need to engage them — militarily, culturally, philanthropically, and even theologically — will meanwhile mount. The president’s successor, whether Democrat or Republican, will have to grapple with that reality from the moment she or he enters the White House. The first decision should be to recognize that those who kill in Islam’s name are not mere violent extremists but fanatics driven by a specific religion’s zeal. And their victims are anything but random.

Voir aussi:

If Race and Gender Are Social Constructs, Why Not Sexual Orientation?

Maggie Gallagher

National Review

June 19, 2015

By some mysterious providence, three things happened in the past few weeks: Rachel Dolezal was outed as a white woman. Bruce Jenner was lauded as a white woman. And in a New Jersey consumer-fraud case against JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), the Southern Poverty Law Center has spent millions to deprive any future New Jerseyans of the basic right even to try to change their sexual orientation.

“I felt very isolated with my identity virtually my entire life, that nobody really got it and that I really didn’t have the personal agency to express it,” Dolezal told NBC. “I kind of imagined that maybe at some point [I’d have to] own it publicly and discuss this kind of complexity.”

Nick Adams, a spokesman for GLAAD, went so far as to say that Bruce Jenner never really existed: The world “can now see what Caitlyn Jenner has always known, that she is — and always has been — a woman.”

“This case is about exposing the lie that LGBT people are mentally ill and that they need to be cured,” said David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. “Groups like JONAH should not be allowed to use bogus therapy, based on junk science, to scam LGBT people and their families out of thousands of dollars.”

Together they lay down the new moral rules: Apparently, you can change your racial identity, but if you do, you are lying. You can dress up as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair, and everyone must believe that you are in fact female. But when it comes to sexual orientation, even the attempt to change your identity or behavior must be viewed as an imposition against the laws of nature, if not nature’s God.

It is ironic, of course, because of these three things, science tells us clearly: race in America is a social construct with a biological basis. Most African Americans are biracial, and it is the old Southern patriarch’s desire to enslave his own children that led to the idea that, say, President Obama is black not white (or, rather, both black and white, being his mother’s child as much as his father’s).

Gender is a real biological category found in every human culture, around which society constructs a great deal.

As for sexual orientation? Even the expert witnesses hired by the Southern Poverty Law Center concede that the origin of sexual desire is a mystery, and that being gay or lesbian (as an identity) is, in fact, a choice.

Here is Chuck LiMandri, founder of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, cross-examining SPLC’s expert witness Lee Beckstead a few days ago:

LiMandri: Would you agree, Doctor, that sexual-orientation identity is a socially constructed label?

Beckstead: The identity is?

LiMandri. Yes.

Beckstead: Definitely.

LiMandri: So whether you call yourself gay or straight, that is a social construct?

Beckstead: It’s how you think about your attractions and how you feel about them and which membership, which groups you feel affinity towards.

Non-heterosexuals experience a variety of identity changes, sometimes toward homosexuality and sometimes away from it. Religious people, Dr. Beckstead agrees, have a right to seek therapeutic help to live their lives according to their religious values. He has even had clients of his go to an LDS-affiliated group similar to JONAH without warning them it was harmful snake oil. He estimates that 30 to 40 percent of his clients, despite same-sex attraction, choose to live as Mormons, whether that is in marriages to the opposite sex or living a celibate life. Surely this is not impossible.

I do not know if JONAH’s success rate in helping religious believers with same-sex attraction lead lives that accord with their religious identity is as high as Beckstead’s. From the transcripts, it appears that the judge in this case forbade anyone to present evidence of efficacy rates. He seems to have mistaken the idea that homosexuality is a “mental illness” with the idea that scientific evidence shows some people can change. Sexual-orientation-change therapy need not be premised on the idea that being gay is a mental disorder at all.

As Dr. Beckstead, the SPLC’s own expert, agreed this week in the courtroom:

LiMandri: When you stated in your article, Doctor: “Findings from the current model also confirm those from Yarhouse and Tan, who investigated the experiences of highly religious individuals who either identified with or disidentified from an LGB identity. As Yarhouse and Tan concluded, the most important aspect for same-sex-attracted, religious individual may not be whether that person pursues a particular path of identity synthesis but whether that person’s identity development process is congruent with her or his valuative framework.” In other words, if I understand it, what is important is whether they can bring their sexual identity into conformity with their religious values?

Beckstead: Congruence is very important for mental health.

Each of the plaintiffs in this case was recruited by the SPLC as part of a campaign to shut down choices for people across the country.

Does truth matter anymore? Each of these plaintiffs signed a consent form acknowledging that many consider sexual-orientation-change efforts controversial and that gay-affirmative therapy is available. They initialed the part where they were told no results could be guaranteed. Dr. Arthur Goldberg, after many years of working with Orthodox Jewish men and others who wish to marry women and live according to religious values, guestimates that only one-third achieve their stated goals completely. The weekend retreats incorporate some bizarre elements, but nothing stranger than the Esalen Institute and other hippie happenings in the 1970s did. If clients were paying money for a nude drum circle to release their chakra energy, nobody would be suing them. It is the attempt to live a Torah-observant or Biblical life that is intolerable to the SPLC and must be shut down.

As Dr. Nicholas Cummings, one of the expert witnesses who is not permitted by the judge to testify, wrote in USA Today:

Gays and lesbians have the right to be affirmed in their homosexuality. That’s why, as a member of the APA Council of Representatives in 1975, I sponsored the resolution by which the APA stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and, in 1976, the resolution, which passed the council unanimously, that gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against in the workplace.

But contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality. Attempting to characterize all sexual reorientation therapy as “unethical” violates patient choice and gives an outside party a veto over patients’ goals for their own treatment. A political agenda shouldn’t prevent gays and lesbians who desire to change from making their own decisions.

Whatever the situation at an individual clinic, accusing professionals from across the country who provide treatment for fully informed persons seeking to change their sexual orientation of perpetrating a fraud serves only to stigmatize the professional and shame the patient.

Our strange new public morality has to have a place for more than one kind of sexual minority group. Americans who believe it is wrong to have sex outside marriage between a man and a woman have rights, too. —

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and chairman of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. She blogs at MaggieGallagher.com.

Voir aussi:

Comment la révolution transgenre s’est mise en marche Les Inrocks

21/09/2014

A l’Eurovision, dans les médias mainstream, sur internet, et même au Vatican, les transgenres sont au cœur de l’actualité en 2014. Raisons et limites de cette récente visibilité.

Le 10 mai 2014, soir de finale. Dans le complexe industriel de la B&W Hallerne à Copenhague, où se tient la 59e édition du concours de l’Eurovision, le futur gagnant s’apprête à monter sur scène. A moins que ce ne soit une gagnante. Voix de diva, cheveux longs, boucles d’oreille, faux cils, robe pailletée et barbe de trois jours : la candidate qui s’époumone sur Rise Like a Phoenix brouille les frontières du genre et envoie un signal de modernité au cœur du télé-crochet le plus ringard du monde. Elle s’appelle Conchita Wurst et va être sacrée, cette nuit, de la plus haute distinction de l’Eurovision, après des années d’insuccès, de petites galères et de chant dans les cabarets de Vienne.

Né il y a vingt-cinq ans sous le nom de Thomas Neuwirth, ce travesti hyperglamour, homosexuel et militant du cross dressing, a été choisi pour représenter l’Autriche au prix de nombreuses polémiques alimentées par les mouvements d’extrême droite et par certains membres de la communauté LGBT où son côté show-off ne fait pas l’unanimité. Le soir de sa victoire, celle qui est devenue entretemps l’égérie de Jean Paul Gaultier, pour qui elle a défilé lors de la dernière fashion week, aura fait taire momentanément les débats en dédiant son prix “à tous ceux qui croient à un avenir qui se construira grâce à la paix et à la liberté”, ajoutant que “l’Eurovision est un projet qui célèbre la tolérance, l’acceptation et l’amour”.

Quelques jours plus tard, de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, un événement similaire allait bouleverser une autre vieille institution médiatique. Dans son édition du 9 juin, Time offrait sa couverture pour la première fois de son histoire à une personnalité transgenre, Laverne Cox. L’actrice trentenaire, révélée par son rôle dans la série de Netflix, Orange Is the New Black, qui raconte le quotidien d’une prison pour femmes, s’affiche en robe de gala à la une de l’hebdomadaire, accompagnée d’un titre à vocation de manifeste: “The transgender tipping point” (“Le point de bascule pour les transgenres”). Sur sa page Facebook, la comédienne commente cette opération médiatique : “Je réalise que tout cela dépasse largement mon propre cas et que nous entrons dans une phase de changement dans l’histoire de notre nation, où il n’est plus acceptable pour les trans de vivre stigmatisés, ridiculisés, criminalisés et méconnus.” Là encore, la couverture de Time a provoqué son lot de polémiques, s’attirant les foudres des commentateurs de la droite dure américaine, mais qu’importe : “La révolution transgenre est en marche”, nous assure Aren Z. Aizura, l’une des figures montantes des recherches sur les théories du genre et corédacteur en chef de la revue The Transgender Studies Reader 2.

“Il y a une prise de conscience dans les médias à propos de la question trans, qui accède enfin à une nouvelle visibilité, annonce-t-il.

Un nouveau sujet mainstream

De Conchita Wurst à Laverne Cox, 2014 semble en effet bien partie pour être l’année des transgenres. “Il y a un déplacement très net des figures trans de leur lieu traditionnel l’underground, à une culture plus mainstream, note le docteur en sociologie et spécialiste de la transidentité Arnaud Alessandrin. Que ce soit dans la fiction américaine, le rap ou la mode, avec des mannequins comme Andrej Pejic ou Lea T, on remarque que de nouvelles personnalités trans apparaissent chaque mois et replacent leurs enjeux dans l’espace public.” Pour expliquer cette émergence médiatique, la plupart des observateurs évoquent la convergence de plusieurs phénomènes, au premier rang desquels l’influence exercée par les mouvements sociaux protransgenres. “Depuis quelques années, il y a eu dans toutes les grandes villes américaines une augmentation du nombre d’actions menées en faveur des trans, avec l’apparition de nouvelles formes de militantisme, explique Reina Gossett, codirectrice de l’association new-yorkaise Sylvia Rivera Law Project, qui vient en aide aux trans victimes de violences. Les médias ne pouvaient pas rester hermétiques à cette pression sociale, ils ont fini par entendre nos revendications.”

Un autre facteur pourrait justifier cette nouvelle vague de visibilité trans : internet. “Avant, les transidentités se vivaient de manière confidentielle ou alors en groupe restreint, rappelle Aren Z. Aizura. L’usage des réseaux sociaux a complètement modifié le rapport des trans à leur identité ; il a permis le partage d’expériences et ainsi la banalisation de la parole, notamment chez les plus jeunes.” Ts Madison peut en témoigner. Cette transgenre male to female, actrice porno à son propre compte, s’est fait connaître début 2014 sur le réseau social Vine en publiant des vidéos de six secondes dans lesquelles elle s’affichait nue, dansant ou courant dans son jardin la bite à l’air. Devenues virales en quelques jours, les vidéos ont été parodiées et partagées par des flots d’internautes de tous âges, contribuant selon Ts Madison à “promouvoir la tolérance envers les trans”.

“Internet permet de lever tous les complexes, de se montrer sans crainte, nous confie-t-elle depuis sa villa d’Atlanta. Depuis que j’ai publié mes vidéos, des gamines m’envoient des messages pour me remercier, d’autres m’interrogent sur ma transition, sur la chirurgie. Elles parlent librement. Il y a eu bien sûr des tas d’insultes, des trucs haineux, mais la plupart des gens comprennent le message. Ils ont compris ce qu’il y a de révolutionnaire à être une femme et à agiter sa bite devant une caméra.”

A l’Eurovision, dans les médias mainstream ou sur le net, les transgenres s’affichent partout depuis quelque temps, et parfois là où on les attend le moins. En avril 2013, un site américain spécialisé dans les news sur le téléchargement, TorrentFreak, avait analysé les fichiers informatiques du Vatican et les résultats furent assez surprenants : on y découvrait que l’Etat de la papauté téléchargeait en boucle des pornos transgenres, avec une préférence pour les films de l’actrice Tiffany Starr, un male to female habitué au X hardcore. “Au départ, j’ai été choquée d’apprendre ça. Il y a quand même une injustice dans le fait que des opposants déclarés aux trans délirent secrètement sur vous”, raconte-t-elle, qui préfère aujourd’hui voir dans cette révélation le premier signe possible d’un changement de mentalité. “Dévoiler les fantasmes est un bon point de départ pour lutter contre les discriminations”, ajoute-t-elle, avant de lancer un clin d’œil : “J’ai d’ailleurs reçu beaucoup de messages de soutien de la part de catholiques.”

L’empowerment des trans

Pour la plupart des observateurs, ce n’est pas tant cette nouvelle visibilité qui compte, mais plutôt les changements de discours sur les transgenres. Avec l’émergence de personnalités comme Laverne Cox apparaissent aussi de nouvelles manières de parler de transidentité, plus libérées et réalistes. “Le vrai point déterminant est qu’il y a un changement de storytelling dans les médias, où on a modifié nos perceptions de la question trans, confirme Vincent Paolo Villano, directeur de la communication de l’une des plus puissantes associations LGBT américaines, le National Center for Transgender Equality. Il y a encore quelques années, les seuls transgenres que vous pouviez voir dans les médias étaient des malades, des victimes de violences, des prostitués. On commence enfin à sortir de ce prisme négatif grâce à des personnes comme Laverne Cox, qui sont des femmes plus indépendantes, qui ont du pouvoir.”

Dédramatisée, la figure des transgenres serait aussi en voie de normalisation dans les médias selon Maxime Foerster, auteur d’une Histoire des transsexuels en France :

“Il y a surtout, dans les pays anglo-saxons, de nouveaux modèles de représentation qui émergent, et qui sont moins dans le domaine de l’exotisme, explique-t-il. Des transgenres femmes d’affaires apparaissent par exemple, des femmes fortunées, qui n’ont rien à voir avec les vieux clichés de chanteuses de cabaret ou de muses d’artistes. Il est encore trop tôt pour en juger, mais il semble que les trans maîtrisent de plus en plus leur image.”

Surtout, ils se sont échappés des débats médicaux et sexuels auxquels ils ont longtemps été réduits. “Les trans ne veulent plus entendre parler de sexualité, ils se sont complètement désolidarisés de ces sujets, assure Arnaud Alessandrin. Lorsque Conchita prend la parole à l’Eurovision, elle ne pose que la question du droit : ai-je le droit d’être intégrée à une société sans être assimilée à tous ses codes ? Ai-je le droit à une vie normale sans pour autant me conformer à toutes ses normes binaires ?” Quand on interroge Ts Madison, jamais la question du sexe ne revient vraiment dans la discussion : elle dit qu’elle est simplement une femme avec une bite (elle en a même commercialisé un T-shirt : “She’s got a dick”) et n’aspire qu’à avoir les mêmes droits fondamentaux que les autres. “Les débats se sont recentrés sur des thématiques d’ordre politique ou social, résume Maxime Foerster. C’est d’ailleurs tout le sens du sous-titre de la couverture de Time, qui dit que les transgenres sont ‘la nouvelle frontière des droits civiques américains’. Maintenant que l’homosexualité est quasiment soluble dans la société hétéronormée et bourgeoise, on commence à se poser la question du droit pour les trans.”

Visibles mais ignorés ?

Dans la réalité, pourtant, ces questions de droits semblent loin d’être résolues. Car si les transgenres ont accédé à la visibilité, notamment aux Etats-Unis, ils tardent encore à faire leur apparition dans les agendas politiques. Depuis son bureau de Brooklyn, Reina Gossett a du mal à s’enthousiasmer pleinement pour ce nouvel engouement des médias.

“Bien sûr que la couverture de Time est un événement important pour nous, mais elle rend encore plus insupportable l’inaction politique, dit-elle. Les transgenres continuent de souffrir de discriminations et je ne suis pas sûre qu’une couverture puisse y changer quelque chose. Par exemple, dans plusieurs Etats américains, on se bat pour faire annuler des décrets qui empêchent les transgenres d’accéder à certains soins médicaux, mais ça personne n’en parle. Personne ne parle du chômage qui affecte les trans, ni de la situation vécue par les trans de couleur, victimes de violences raciales. Les médias négligent leur réalité quotidienne.” C’est là le paradoxe de cette récente exposition médiatique, qu’Arnaud Alessandrin résume ainsi :

“Une certaine frange de la transidentité, liée à la scène et aux artistes, commence à être visible. Mais le trans reste invisible dans l’espace politique. Et rien ne dit que l’arrivée de figures transgenres populaires permettra d’aller vers plus d’acceptation.”

En transition depuis une vingtaine d’années, Ts Madison a tout connu de la réalité trans : le rejet de sa famille, les mauvaises hormones achetées au marché noir, la discrimination à l’embauche, la violence physique. Elle assure mieux vivre aujourd’hui aux Etats-Unis que dans les années 90 et sait à qui elle le doit : “Dans chaque génération de transgenres, il y a eu des pionnières, des femmes écoutées qui ont rendu la vie un peu plus acceptable aux suivantes. Tant mieux si les médias se cherchent une nouvelle femme pour occuper ce rôle.” Dans un grand rire, elle nous dira qu’elle s’y verrait bien, elle, en pionnière trans.

Voir encore:

Une lycéenne lesbienne a choisi une citation géniale qui lui vaut les honneurs du web Rédaction du HuffPost 28/05/2015

FÉMINISME – En choisissant sa citation pour le « yearbook » de son lycée, cette jeune Californienne ne s’attendait probablement pas à provoquer autant d’admiration de la part des internautes. Et pourtant, ces quelques petits mots ont déclenché une pluie de réactions positives.

Caitlyn Cannon, 17 ans, a en effet écrit dans le livre: « J’ai besoin de féminisme car j’ai l’intention d’épouser quelqu’un de riche, et ça ne pourra pas se faire si ma femme et moi ne gagnons que 75 centimes pour chaque dollar gagné par un homme ».

L’une de ses amies proches, l’utilisatrice @casualnosebleed sur Twitter, a photographié la publication dans le yearbook et a posté l’image le 26 mai. En trois jours, elle a été retweetée 5500 fois et ajoutée 8500 fois en favoris.

« C’est honnêtement la seule chose qui compte pour moi en ce moment » Récemment diplômée du lycée Oak Hills en Californie, Caitlyn affirme avoir trouvé sur Tumblr cette citation qu’elle a ensuite modifiée, car elle était écrite du point de vue d’un homme. « J’en avais assez de toujours voir les mêmes vieilles citations inspirées de livres, de films et d’auteurs populaires. Je voulais attirer l’attention sur un problème auquel les femmes doivent faire face », explique-t-elle à nos confrères du Huff Post américain.

Les internautes ont entendu son message et lui ont adressé leur soutien: « Approuvé! La meilleure citation jamais écrite dans le yearbook d’un lycée »

« Je n’ai jamais rien vu d’aussi génial de ma vie. Cette fille déchire vraiment tout » Sur son propre compte Twitter, l’étudiante montre à quel point elle est fière d’être ce qu’elle est, en se définissant comme « féministe » et « vraiment gay ».

« Peu importe le nombre de fois où on s’en plaint et où on tente de le minimiser, le féminisme continuera toujours d’exister tant que les femmes n’auront pas le droit aux mêmes opportunités que les hommes », a également déclaré Caitlyn à Cosmopolitan.

Aux Etats-Unis, le yearbook est une sorte de trombinoscope de fin d’année qui présente une photo de chacun des élèves, accompagnée d’une citation s’ils le souhaitent. Cette tradition américaine a pour but de commémorer les événements qui ont marqué l’année scolaire, et permet de se souvenir de ses camarades de classe bien des années plus tard. Ceux de Caitlyn risquent de se rappeler de l’audace de la jeune femme pour longtemps…

 Voir encore:

Rachel Dolezal, activiste, a menti pendant 20 ans sur ses origines

20 ans de supercherie. L’activiste blanche américaine Rachel Dolezal s’est faite passer pour une métisse pendant des années. Ses parents ont décidé de rendre son imposture publique et de rétablir la vérité.

Margot Rousseau

L’Internaute

16/06/15

Rachel Dolezal, qui ne s’était pas exprimée depuis l’annonce de ses parents, a été interviewée par la chaîne Today News. Lors de cette interview réalisée par Matt Lauer, elle explique qu’elle savait qu’un jour, elle aurait à s’expliquer sur la complexité de son identité. Lorsque le journaliste lui montre la photo d’elle plus jeune, lorsqu’elle avait les cheveux blonds, elle explique qu’à cette époque, elle ne se considérait pas comme une afro-américaine, mais qu’aujourd’hui et depuis longtemps, elle s’identifie comme tel. Elle explique que son identification en tant que femme afro-américaine a été solidifiée par l’arrivée de son frère adoptif Izaiah Dolezal. Pour ce qui est de sa couleur de peau plus métissée que lorsqu’elle était jeune et blonde, elle la justifie en disant qu’elle s’expose souvent en soleil. En conclusion, Rachel Dolezal s’identifie comme une afro-américaine et ne regrette pas son mensonge, qu’elle ne le considère pas comme tel. Elle admet cependant que ce n’était pas correct de se décrire comme elle l’a fait, mais que ce n’était ni faux, ni vrai, mais « complexe ».

Rachel Dolezal est professeur d’études africaines-américaines à l’Eastern Washington University et présidente de l’association nationale pour la promotion des personnes de couleur à Spokane (Etat de Washington, Etats-Unis). Depuis 20 ans, elle se faisait passer pour une métisse. La semaine dernière, ses parents ont décidé de révéler son identité. Selon eux, son implication au sein de la communauté afro-américaine n’est pas liée à ce désir de modifier et de falsifier ses origines. Rachel aurait coupé les ponts avec sa famille depuis plusieurs années. Ils attribuent cette décision au fait qu’eux soient blancs. A plusieurs reprises, leur fille leur avait demandé de ne plus se promener dans Spokane en raison de leur couleur de peau.

Rachel Dolezal s’est donc inventée une autre vie et s’est identifiée à la cause afro-américaine. Elle s’est créée un autre père d’origine africaine, tantôt présenté comme « absent », tantôt incarné par un inconnu lors de réunions professionnelles. Elle se définissait comme « noire, blanche et amérindienne » mais selon ses parents, Rachel serait « caucasienne avec des origines tchèques, suédoises et allemandes ».

Pour appuyer leur propos, ils ont montré des photos d’enfance : Rachel y apparaît blonde aux yeux bleus. Une vérité qui tranche avec l’histoire qu’elle s’était inventée : elle expliquait être née dans un tipi, sa famille chassant avec un arc et des flèches. Elle prétendait également avoir vécu en Afrique du Sud.

Rachel souhaitait intégrer la communtauté « afro-américaine » et elle mettait régulièrement en avant « sa » couleur de peau sur les réseaux sociaux. Sur Facebook, par exemple, elle expliquait son ressenti en tant que Noire sur le film « 12 Years a Slave ». Elle a également posté une photo d’elle avec une coupe afro, prétenduement naturelle.

Rachel dénonçait les violences faites aux Noirs d’une façon plutôt étrange. Elle se disait victime d’agressions racistes, neuf au total, la dernière datant de février. A l’occasion de cette « agression », elle s’est exprimée dans les médias. Finalement, lors d’une interview, elle s’était presque trahie, en refusant de répondre à la question « Etes-vous afro-américaine ? »

Rachel Dolezal : peut-on parler de “transracialisme” ? Les Inrocks

17/06/2015

« Je suis transracialiste » s’est justifiée Rachel Dolezal, cette militante américaine blanche qui a fait croire à tout le monde qu’elle était noire. Qu’entend-t-on par ce phénomène de recherche d’une autre identité raciale ? Analyse de Nacira Guérif-Souilamas, sociologue spécialiste des questions raciales et des pratiques identitaires et professeur à Paris 8.

Qu’est-ce que le transracialisme évoquée par Rachel Dolezal ?

Nacira Guérif-Souliamas – Le transracialisme participe de l’ordre racial. Il consiste à revendiquer une autre identité que celle à laquelle on est racialement affiliée. Sauf qu’il y a bien une hiérarchie entre ces races. Être dans une logique transracialiste, c’est chercher à échapper à l’ensemble des discriminations insupportables qui sont associées à l’identité qui nous est imposée. Cela peut se faire de manière physique (se décolorer la peau par exemple), sociale, ou comportementale.

Est-ce qu’il y a des profils de personnes susceptibles de se revendiquer de cette logique ?

Être Noir, c’est une construction culturelle. On ne se pense Noir et ne devient Noir que lors de certaines interactions. Ce n’est pas une identité génétique ça, c’est quelque chose qui s’inscrit dans les rapports sociaux.

C’est pourquoi il est souvent courant que des enfants adoptés, qui ont la peau noire, et élevés par des parents blancs, se considèrent comme Blancs. Et ils ont raison, ce qui compte c’est le lien affectif qui va déterminer leur manière de s’identifier. Sauf qu’aux Etats-Unis, ces personnes sont vites rattrapées par la réalité des rapports sociaux racialisés. Et elles sont obligées de devenir noires à un moment ou à un autre.

Comment expliquer alors le cas de Rachel Dolezal qui s’est déclarée transracialiste ?

C’est un cas que l’on n’avait jamais vu auparavant. Ici, la jeune femme blanche, veut être noire. Jusqu’ici, les schémas transracialistes se posaient dans le sens d’une personne de couleur noire qui désirait devenir blanche.

Rachel Dolezal a été élevée dans une famille blanche avec des frères adoptés à la peau noire. On peut donc penser qu’elle a voulu ressembler à ce schéma familial.

Pourquoi sa supercherie a-t-elle suscité autant de critiques ?

Justement, elle a fini par occuper une position de pouvoir dans une organisation importante qui défend les droits des gens de couleur aux Etats-Unis (l’Association nationale pour la promotion des gens de couleur, NAACP, Ndlr.). Et malgré son histoire familiale, elle ne peut pas annuler l’asymétrie profonde dans laquelle se joue les enjeux du transracialisme.

En plus, elle donne des arguments assez flous. On ne comprend pas bien pourquoi elle a fait ça si ce n’est qu’elle est dans une identification très forte à une certaine cause politique. Mais il faut comprendre que l’on n’a pas besoin d’être noire pour défendre la cause de ces personnes qui peuvent être victimes de racisme.

Pourquoi est-ce que la notion de transracialisme n’existe-t-elle pas en France ?

En France, on est convaincu que la race n’existe pas. Nous sommes pourtant dans des rapports sociaux racialisés. Malgré ça, personne ne peut penser ces rapports en terme racialiste. Et aux Etats-Unis, les identités racialisées sont reconnues comme telles. On parle de “races”, de “relations raciales”, et de problèmes liés aux “identités raciales”. On en parle aussi parce que ces difficultés conduisent à des assassinats et à des bavures policières contre les noirs.

Propos recueillis par Fanny Marlier

Voir également:

Rachel Dolezal, transracialisme ou imposture? Agnès Berthelot Raffard

Chercheuse en philosophie politique et citoyenne engagée

Huffington Post

17/06/2015

Présidente d’une section locale de l’Association nationale pour la promotion des gens de couleur (NAACP) et professeure d’Études africaines à l’Université de l’Eastern Washington, Rachel Dolezal a menti sur ses origines en prétendant être afro-descendante par son père. Suscitant perplexité et controverses, son histoire est, toutefois, fascinante. En effet, si nous en ignorons les motivations morales, ce mensonge confronte notre a priori sur l’identité raciale jusqu’à remettre à l’avant-plan certaines de ses implications pratiques notamment son lien avec le militantisme.

Même s’il est d’usage de considérer la race (1) et le genre, comme des constructions sociales, le mensonge de la professeure Dolezal nous rappelle que loin d’être figée ou sclérosée, l’identité raciale est, au contraire, d’une grande labilité. Jusqu’à une date récente, l’« être au monde » de Rachel Dolezal était celui d’une femme noire ayant eu recours à une forme de « transracialisme ». Si la société connaît – sans hélas toujours la reconnaître socialement – l’existence des transgenres, le «transracialisme» reste quant à lui inhabituel pour ne pas dire inexistant (2), notamment dans le cas d’un individu blanc et éduqué par des parents blancs c’est-à-dire par les membres d’un groupe disposant de privilèges socialement avérés. Il est, en effet, assez rare qu’un tel individu puisse se définir publiquement comme étant afro-descendant jusqu’à accéder à une position privilégiée dans des domaines réservés aux membres de cette communauté.

À supposer que le « transracialisme » existe, il est douteux que le cas Dolezal s’y réfère. D’abord, parce que Dolezal ne se trouvait pas dans une indifférenciation raciale ou culturelle comme le sont parfois, les enfants d’une culture différente de celle de leurs parents adoptifs. Ensuite, parce qu’en admettant que le « transracialisme » soit envisageable pour ceux qui considèrent ne pas appartenir à leur culture raciale d’origine, encore faudrait-il que le fait d’avoir eu recours à un processus de modifications physionomiques volontaires suffise pour correspondre à celle psychiquement projetée. Une telle assignation resterait, toutefois, réductrice. On le sait, comme pour le genre, l’appartenance ethnoculturelle ne se réduit pas aux enjeux du corps et de l’apparence physique. Enfin, le cas Dolezal rappelle une question plus fondamentale trop vaste et complexe pour être traitée dans ce texte : celle de la signification d’un « être Noir » et de ce que cela recoupe du point de vue social et historique.

L’appartenance raciale permet l’accès à un ensemble de privilèges ou en bloque les possibilités. Rachel Dolezal peut-elle prétendre être Noire sans avoir fait l’expérience socio-historique en lien avec les inégalités systémiques et historiquement ancrées dans le vécu des membres de la communauté afro-américaine ? Une femme noire expérimente très jeune une double oppression de race et de genre laquelle s’inscrit dans un processus de développement psychologique, moral, intellectuel et socio-économique. C’est-ce que souligne, le titre d’un des ouvrages fondateurs du Black Feminism : « Toutes les femmes sont blanches, tous les Noirs sont des hommes, mais nous sommes quelques-unes à être courageuses » (3). Dans les États-Unis d’aujourd’hui, la race et le genre affectent encore les opportunités sociales et le regard porté sur l’individu. Aussi, que l’on soit indulgent ou non à l’égard de son mensonge, Rachel Dolezal n’est pas et ne sera jamais une de ces « courageuses ». Force est de reconnaître que même si la volonté peut être présente, il est impossible de devenir une femme noire alors que l’on est dans la vingtaine. Aussi, Dolezal est blanche au sens de son identité biologique et par le fait qu’elle a grandi, dans une famille WASP sans être en mesure de faire, dès son plus jeune âge, les mêmes expériences que les autres femmes noires de sa génération. En ce sens, Dolezal n’a pu ressentir certains des enjeux qui concourent à vouloir aspirer à cette sororité si fondamentale dans la constitution de l’identité culturelle, politique et économique si chère aux militantes afro-américaines (4).

Cependant, que la professeure Dolezal puisse se sentir plus noire que blanche ne saurait en soi être un problème, pas plus que son mensonge n’est un crime. La difficulté réside plutôt dans ce à que quoi il a contribué c’est-à-dire à la construction d’une carrière universitaire et militante au cœur même des bastions généralement réservés aux Noirs. En tant que Professeure d’Études africaines et membres du NAACP, Dolezal est au fait de ces débats. Elle sait que dans les mouvements de luttes pour le droit des minorités culturelles ou de genre, les postes les plus avancés sont généralement réservés aux personnes qui en sont issues. C’est pourquoi comme l’a écrit un éditorialiste du Washington Post :  » Qu’une personne blanche dirige une section de la NAACP ne pose pas de problème non plus. (…) Mais qu’une personne blanche prétende être noire et dirige une section de la NAACP, c’est très problématique ».

Depuis la fondation du NAACP, en 1909, la représentation n’a pas toujours été descriptive. Des Afro-Américains n’ont pas toujours été à la tête des sections locales. Cependant, les mouvements de lutte pour les droits civiques se sont forgés sur le refus d’une représentation substantive. Et, s’il est évident que les Blancs ont le droit de défendre la cause noire comme les hommes peuvent défendre celle des femmes, il y a bien des raisons de réclamer le recours systématiquement à une représentation descriptive plutôt que substantive dans les organisations de luttes pour le droit de ces groupes historiquement dominés. Toutes ces réclamations ne sont pas que symboliques. Ce type de représentation reste un puissant levier contre les effets de marginalisation dans les processus décisionnels et garantit que les décisions puissent refléter l’expérience et les besoins réels des personnes principalement concernées.

Au-delà de la question identitaire, la présidence par Rachel Dolezal d’une section locale du NAACP pose donc plus fondamentalement la question de l’usurpation d’une position d’autorité et celle d’une possible récupération de la lutte par le groupe dominant. Par son mensonge, Dolezal a-t-elle contribué, bien malgré elle, au maintien de la domination blanche dans un des bastions du militantisme noir ? Comme le soulignent ses propres parents, n’aurait-elle pas été plus utile à la cause, qu’elle prétendait défendre, si elle avait milité sous couvert de sa véritable identité biologique ? Ces interrogations seront encore longtemps débattues.

(1) Bien que préférant les termes de culture ou d’origine, je choisis dans ce texte d’utiliser celui de race bien que je le juge négativement connoté. (2) Pour une analogie entre transracialisme et transgenderisme, voir les travaux de la philosophe Cressida Heyes. (3) Gloria HULL, Patricia BELL SCOTT, Barbara SMITH (1982), All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Mem but some of Us are Brave : Black Women Studies, Old Westbury, New York, Feminist Press. (4) Michèle WALLACE (1975), « Une féministe Noire en quête de sororité. » in Black Feminism, anthologie du féminisme africain américain, 1975-2000, (dir. E.Dorlin), Paris, L’harmattan, p.45-57, 2008.

Voir enfin:

Former Israeli Ambassador’s Memoir Condemns Obama’s Foreign Policy Matthew Continetti

National Review

June 20, 2015

By the summer of 2013, President Obama had convinced several key Israelis that he wasn’t bluffing about using force against the Iranian nuclear program. Then he failed to enforce his red line against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad—and the Israelis realized they’d been snookered. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, recalls the shock inside his government. “Everyone went quiet,” he said in a recent interview. “An eerie quiet. Everyone understood that that was not an option, that we’re on our own.” Reading Oren’s new memoir Ally, it’s clear that Israel has been on her own since the day Obama took office. Oren provides an inside account of relations between the administration of Barack Obama and the government of Bibi Netanyahu, and his thesis is overwhelming, authoritative, and damning: For the last six and a half years the president of the United States has treated the home of the Jewish people more like a rogue nation standing in the way of peace than a longtime democratic ally. Now the alliance is “in tatters.”

Oren is not a conservative looking to make a political issue of support for Israel. Indeed, by Washington Free Beacon standards, he’s something of a squish. The author of a classic history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East and a sometime professor at Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, Oren served for five years as a contributor to The New Republic, has contributed toThe New York Review of Books, and supports what he calls a “two-state situation” focused on institution-building and economic aid to the West Bank. He’s a member of the Knesset, but not of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He joined the comparatively dovish Kulanu Party last December.

Oren’s credentials and relationships make him hard to dismiss. “The Obama administration was problematic because of its worldview: Unprecedented support for the Palestinians,” he told Israeli journalist David Horovitz, another centrist, this week. Obama and his lieutenants, including Hillary Clinton, have often behaved as if the Palestinians don’t exist – Palestinian actions, corruption, incitement, campaigns of de-legitimization and terrorism are overlooked, excused, accommodated. Oren tells the story of what happened when Vice President Joe Biden asked Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to “look him in the eye and promise that he could make peace with Israel.” Abbas looked away. The White House did nothing.

It was Israel that had to agree to a settlement freeze before the latest doomed attempt at peace negotiations; Israel that had to apologize for possible “mistakes” against the Gaza flotilla; Israel that had to close Ben Gurion airport; Israel that faced a “reevaluation” of her diplomatic status after Bibi’s reelection. Obama addresses the bulk of his lectures on good governance and democracy and humanitarianism not to the gang that runs the West Bank, nor to the terrorists who rule Gaza, but to Israel. During last year’s Gaza war, the State Department was “appalled” by civilian casualties inflated and trumpeted by Hamas propagandists. Oren points out that in the past the president had used the word “appalling” to describe the atrocities of Moammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi and the IDF – two peas in a pod, according to this White House.

What Obama wanted was to create diplomatic space between America and Israel while maintaining our military alliance. Oren says military-to-military relations are strong, but the diplomatic fissure has degraded Israel’s security. America, he says, provided a “Diplomatic Iron Dome” that shielded Israel from anti-Semites in Europe, at the U.N., and abroad whose goal is to delegitimize the Jewish State and undermine her economically.

This rhetorical missile shield is slowly being retracted. The administration threatens not to veto anti-Israel U.N. initiatives, Europe is aligning with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, and anti-Israel activism festers on U.S. campuses. Obama’s unending criticism of Israel, and background quotes calling Israel’s prime minister a “chicken-shit” and a “coward,” provide an opening for radicals to go even further.

The diplomatic rupture endangers Israel in another way. It preceded Obama’s quest for détente with Iran, Israel’s greatest enemy and most pressing threat. Oren was outraged in 2013 when he learned that the administration had been conducting secret negotiations with the mullahs. Now, with the United States about to clear the way for Iranian nukes and flood the Iranian economy with cash, Israel is all the more at risk.

“Obama says Iran is not North Korea,” Oren said, “and Bibi says Iran’s worse than 50 North Koreas. It all comes down to that.” Fixated on striking a deal, Obama is preparing to concede the longstanding demand that Iran disclose its past nuclear-weapons research, is ignoring the issue of Iranian missile development, and is standing idle as Iran props up Assad, arms Hezbollah with rockets, and promotes sectarianism in Iraq. Israel is hemmed in – by Iranian proxies and Sunni militants on its borders, by the threat of a third intifada on the West Bank, by global nongovernmental organizations, by a condescending, flippant, and bullying U.S. president whose default emotional state is pique.

As if to make Oren’s case for him, the Obama administration responded to the publication of Ally with neither silence nor a reiteration of American policy toward Israel but with vituperation, demanding that both Kulanu Party chairman Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Netanyahu apologize for criticisms Oren had made. Kahlon sheepishly distanced himself from Oren, and Netanyahu won’t comment publicly, but the episode illustrates precisely the model of U.S.-Israeli relations outlined in this book: A “family” argument where the criticism runs in only one direction. On the one hand, when the supreme leader of Iran calls John Kerry a liar and details plans to destroy Israel, the Obama administration brushes it off. On the other, when a former ambassador writes a memoir based on a diary he kept while in office, the administration loses its mind.

The alliance has faltered to such a degree that Oren is morose. He wonders whether Israel is in the same precarious position it was in 1967, before the Six Day War, or in 1948, when it came close to never being born. Neither option is comforting. David Horovitz asked him, “Are people going to look back in a few years’ time and say, ‘This is what they were talking about in Israel as Iran closed in on the bomb and they were wiped out?’” Oren’s response: “It’s happened before in history, hasn’t it?”

It has. And it may happen again. But whatever happens, thanks to Michael Oren, history will know that an inexperienced and ideologically motivated president drove a lethal wedge between the United States of America and the young, tiny, besieged Jewish State.

Voir enfin:

Sexism and Racism Are Leftism In our time, sexism and racism have become the province of the rich. Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

June 16, 2015

Discrimination by sex and by race are ancient innate pathologies and transcend particular cultures. But the American idea of sexismand racism in the 21st century — unfailing, endemic, and institutional discrimination by a majority-white-male-privileged culture against both women and so-called non-white minorities — has largely become a leftist construct.

We can see how these two relativist -isms work in a variety of ways.

One, the frequent charge of racism and sexism is predicated not so much on one’s gender and race as on one’s gender, race, and politics. Certainly, few on the left worried much about the slurs against Sarah Palin during and after her vice-presidential run. America’s overclass in the media and leftist politics constructed a sexist portrait of a clueless white-trash mom in Wasilla, Alaska, mindlessly having lots of kids after barely graduating from the University of Idaho. Even Bill Maher’s and David Letterman’s liberal armor would not have withstood leftist thrusts had, mutatis mutandis, the former called Hillary Clinton a c–t or the latter disparaged Ms. Clinton as “slutty flight attendant” and joked that, when a teen, Chelsea Clinton had had sexual relations with a Yankee baseball player in the dugout. Ironically it was the by-her-own-bootstraps lower-middle-class Palin who braved the frontier, no-prisoners, male world to become governor of Alaska; in real terms, she is the true feminist. In contrast, according to doctrinaire feminism, Hillary Clinton does not measure up. She has largely clung, in mousy fashion, to her two-timing husband, excused his serial and manipulative philandering with young women of less clout and power, traded on his political nomenclature, and piggy-backed on his career.

Leftism assumes that racist and sexist speech by liberals constitutes good people’s lapses of judgment and tact. The Black Caucus rarely if ever comes to the defense of Justice Clarence Thomas when, periodically, liberal commentators suggest that he was and is unqualified, and is largely a token black conservative. No one suggests that the New York Times is on an anti-Latino crusade against Marco Rubio in trying to fashion a story of recklessness from the paltry evidence of his receiving one traffic ticket every four years. Had candidate Mitt Romney suggested, as did Senators Joe Biden and Harry Reid, that Senator Barack Obama was a “clean” and “light-skinned” black man without “a Negro dialect,” he would have been considered little more than a Clive Bundy buffoon and would have had to drop out of the Republican primary.

It appears that leftism assumes that racist and sexist speech by liberals constitutes good people’s lapses of judgment and tact — not, as in the case of conservatives, valuable windows into the dark hearts of bigots. In other words, the idea of sexism and racism is not absolute, but relative and mostly socially massaged and constructed by politics. Had President Bill Clinton declared during the O. J. trial that if he had had a second daughter she would have resembled Nicole Simpson, the media and popular culture would have excused such a sick Obamism as a quirky slip — in a way that it would not have if a Bob Dole had uttered the same banality and thereby supposedly revealed his poorly suppressed racist proclivities.

A second tenet of socially constructed racism and sexism is “white privilege,” which usually translates into “white male privilege,” given that women such as Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are rarely accused of being multimillionaire white elite females who won a leg up by virtue of their skin color. But if whiteness ipso facto earns one advantages over the non-white, why in the world do some elite whites choose to reconstruct their identities as non-white? Would Elizabeth Warren really have become a Harvard law professor had she not, during her long years of academic ascent, identified herself (at least privately, on universities’ pedigree forms) as a Native American? Ward Churchill, with his beads and Indian get-up, won a university career that otherwise might have been scuttled by his mediocrity, his pathological untruths, and his aberrant behavior. Why would the current head of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash., a white middle-class woman named Rachel Dolezal, go to the trouble of faking a genealogy, using skin cosmetics and hair styling, and constructing false racist enemies to ensure that she was accepted as a victimized black woman?

Ms. Dolezal assumed that being a liberal black woman brought with it career opportunities in activist groups and academia otherwise beyond her reach. The obvious inference is that Ms. Dolezal assumed that being a liberal black woman brought with it career opportunities in activist groups and academia otherwise beyond her reach as a middle-class white female of so-so talent. Critics will object that we are really arguing in class terms as well as racial terms: Privileged whites play on society’s innate prejudices against darker-skinned minorities by positioning themselves as light-skinned, elite people of color. That is a Pandora’s box that is better left unopened — given that Harry Reid and Joe Biden have already unknowingly pried open the lid on these matters in ways that would transcend Barack Obama and equally apply, for example, to Eric Holder or Valerie Jarrett.

Suffice it to say that in our increasingly intermarried, assimilated, and integrated culture, it is often hard to ascertain someone’s exact race or ethnicity. That confusion allows identity to be massaged and reinvented. That said, it is also generally felt among elites that feigning minority status earns career advantages that outweigh the downside of being identified as non-white in the popular culture. That was certainly my impression as a professor for over 20 years in the California State University system watching dozens of upper-class Latin Americans — largely white male Argentinians, Chileans, and Brazilians — and Spaniards flock to American academia, add accents to their names, trill their R’s, and feign ethnic solidarity with their students who were of Oaxacan and Native American backgrounds.

Poor George Zimmerman. His last name stereotyped him as some sort of Germanic gun nut. But had he just ethnicized his maternal half-Afro Peruvian identity and reemerged as Jorgé Mesa, Zimmerman would have largely escaped charges of racism. He should have taken a cue from Barack Obama, who sometime in his late teens at Occidental College discovered that the exotic nomenclature of Barack Obama radiated a minority edge, in a way that the name of his alter ego, Barry Soetoro, apparently never quite had. If, in America’s racist past, majority culture once jealously protected its white privilege by one-drop-of-blood racial distinctions, postmodern America has now come full circle and done the same in reverse — because the construction of minority identity, in all its varying degrees, is easily possible and, in ironic fashion, now brings with it particular elite career advantages.

Third, when we look at questions of class, we see again that racism and sexism are largely leftist constructs and not empirical terms describing millions of Americans who are supposedly denied opportunity by the white establishment because of their gender or race. The CEOs in the industries of sexism and classism are for the most part wealthy and privileged — and their targets are usually of the middle class. When Michelle Obama labors to remind her young African-American audiences of all the stares and second looks she imagines she still receives as First Lady, she is reconstructing a racial identity to balance the enormous privilege she enjoys as a jumbo-jet-setting grandee who junkets to the world’s toniest resorts with regularity. The 2016 version of Hillary Clinton is, at least for a few months, a feminist populist, and has become so merely by mouthing a few banal talking points. Apparently the downside for Hillary of being a woman is not trumped by the facts of being a multimillionaire insider and former secretary of state, wife to a multimillionaire ex-president, mother of a multimillionaire, and mother-in-law to a multimillionaire hedge-fund director. Hillary can become a perpetual constructed victim, denied the good life that is enjoyed by a white male bus driver in Bakersfield making $40,000 a year.

Given the construction of race and gender, the children of Eric Holder and Barack Obama will be eligible for affirmative-action consideration out of reach for an 18-year-old white male in Provo, Utah. As a general rule, when advising classics majors who wished to apply to Ph.D. programs, I assumed that a white male needed a near-perfect GRE score and GPAs, to avoid being rejected out of hand as a middle-class so-so white man from Fresno State. (I reminded them that the “system” assumed their white privilege had given them advantages from preschool onward that the Ivy League and the University of California system now had to adjust for.) For my minority classics students, on the other hand, admission was rarely a problem, despite the fact that many were of a higher social class than their mostly rejected white counterparts.

Fourth, sexism and racism are abstractions of the liberal elite that rarely translate into praxis. Barack Obama could have done symbolic wonders for the public schools by taking his kids out of Sidwell Friends and putting them into the D.C. school system. Elizabeth Warren could have cemented her feminist populist fides by vowing to stop flipping houses. Feminist Bill Clinton could have renounced all affairs with female subordinates. Eric Holder could have vowed never to use government jets to take his kids to horse races. In solidarity with co-eds struggling with student loans, Hillary Clinton could have promised to limit her university speaking fees to a thousand dollars per minute rather than the ten thousand dollars for each 60 seconds of chatting that she actually gets, and she might have prefaced her public attacks on hedge funds by dressing down her son-in-law. Surely the lords of Silicon Valley might have promised to keep their kids in the public schools, and funded scholarships to allow minorities to flood Sacred Heart and the Menlo School.

Charges of racism and sexism have little to do with demonstrable racial and sexual prejudice on the part of a white-male establishment. They are relative, not absolute, phenomena, and more often constructed by political beliefs and careerist concerns than observed independently. Such concepts are often entirely divorced from class reality, and often have more to do with illiberal privilege than with actual exclusion.

Voir enfin:

Dounia Malki
Marie-Claire

Pour la première fois en Europe, un homme transgenre a accouché d’un bébé. Ce dernier est né le 18 mars dernier, mais sa naissance vient tout juste d’être officialisée.

Un homme transgenre a donné naissance à un petit garçon, à Berlin. Il est le premier à accoucher d’un bébé en Europe. L’homme transgenre dont l’identité n’est pas connue, est en réalité né femme. Ce dernier avait décidé de conserver ses organes reproducteurs féminins et d’accoucher à domicile afin de ne pas être répertorié comme étant la « mère » du bébé, un fait légalement obligatoire en Allemagne.

La naissance du petit garçon qui a eu lieu le 18 mars dernier, vient tout juste d’être officialisée. Sur son acte de naissance, aucune mère n’est mentionnée, seul le nom de son père qui lui a donné naissance est inscrit. « La personne en question ne voulait pas apparaître en tant que mère, mais comme père sur le certificat de naissance, et cette demande a été honorée », a déclaré un porte-parole des Affaires Intérieures de l’Administration du Sénat de Berlin à 7 sur 7.

Bien que l’homme transgenre ait demandé à ce que le sexe de son enfant ne soit pas dévoilé, les autorités allemandes ont révélé qu’il s’agissait d’un petit garçon. Par ailleurs, ces dernières envisagent de surveiller de très près cet enfant. En effet, en raison de sa conception particulière, elles craignent qu’il ne développe des problèmes psychologiques dans le futur.

S’il s’agit du premier cas d’homme transgenre donnant naissance à un enfant en Europe, ce n’est pas le cas dans le monde. Aux Etats-Unis, Thomas Beatie, également né femme, a déjà donné naissance à trois enfants. Légalement considéré comme un homme, il était marié depuis dix ans à une femme stérile. Suite à une insémination artificielle, Thomas Beatie, qui avait conservé ses organes sexuels féminins internes comme externes, a pu accoucher par voie naturelle d’un premier enfant en 2008. Il donnera ensuite naissance à deux autres bébés.


Bavures policières: Attention, un racisme peut en cacher un autre ! (Police brutality: When all else fails, blame racism !)

6 juin, 2015
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Six-year-old Jake D. Robel dragged to death by carjacker Kim L. Davis (Missouri, 2000)
https://i2.wp.com/thereelnetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NATIONWIDE-BLACK-DEATHS.jpgCaesar Goddson, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice, Edward M. Nero, Garrett E. Miller et Alicia D. White (Baltimore, May 2015)Il faut toujours dire ce que l’on voit. Surtout, il faut toujours, ce qui est plus difficile, voir ce que l’on voit. Charles Péguy
Savez-vous que les Noirs sont 10 pour cent de la population de Saint-Louis et sont responsables de 58% de ses crimes? Nous avons à faire face à cela. Et nous devons faire quelque chose au sujet de nos normes morales. Nous savons qu’il y a beaucoup de mauvaises choses dans le monde blanc, mais il y a aussi beaucoup de mauvaises choses dans le monde noir. Nous ne pouvons pas continuer à blâmer l’homme blanc. Il y a des choses que nous devons faire pour nous-mêmes. Martin Luther King (St Louis, 1961)
Je ne sais pas -n’ayant pas été là et ne connaissant pas tous les faits- quel rôle la race a pu jouer là-dedans, mais je pense qu’il est juste de dire, en premier lieu, que chacun d’entre nous serait assez en colère» (si cela lui arrivait). En second lieu, que la police de Cambridge a agi de façon stupide en arrêtant quelqu’un dès lors qu’il y avait déjà des preuves qu’il était dans sa propre maison. Barack Obama (2009)
Je ne peux qu’imaginer ce qu’endurent ses parents. Et quand je pense à ce garçon, je pense à mes propres enfants. Si j’avais un fils, il ressemblerait à Trayvon. Obama
Vous savez, quand Trayvon Martin a été tué, j’avais dit qu’il aurait pu être mon fils. Une autre manière de formuler les choses, c’est de dire que Trayvon Martin, ç’aurait pu être moi, il y a 35 ans. (…) Dans ce pays, il y a très peu d’hommes Américains d’origine africaine qui n’ont pas fait l’expérience d’être suivis quand ils faisaient des courses dans un grand magasin. Je l’ai été moi aussi. Il y a très peu d’Américains d’origine africaine qui n’ont pas fait l’expérience de prendre l’ascenseur et de voir une femme serrer son porte-monnaie nerveusement et retenir sa respiration jusqu’à ce qu’elle puisse sortir. Cela arrive souvent. Obama (2013)
When they described their own personal experiences of having been stopped for no reason, or having generated suspicion because they were in a community that supposedly they didn’t belong, my mind went back to what it was like for me when I was 17, 18, 20. And as I told them, not only do I hear the pain and frustration of being subjected to that kind of constant suspicion, but part of the reason I got into politics was to figure out how can I bridge some of those gaps in understanding so that the larger country understands this is not just a black problem or a brown problem. This is an American problem. Obama (2013)
We’re going to provide more to folks who are doing the right thing and we’re going to be investigating folks who are not doing the right thing. I think that becomes an important part of the leverage that we can exert. (…) But a combination of bad training, in some cases; a combination in some cases of departments that really are not trying to root out biases, or tolerate sloppy police work; a combination in some cases of folks just not knowing any better, and in a lot of cases, subconscious fear of folks who look different — all of this contributes to a national problem that’s going to require a national solution. Obama
There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President. Obama (2014)
J’espère qu’une femme hispanique avisée et forte d’une expérience riche prendrait, plus souvent que l’inverse, une meilleure décision qu’un juge blanc. Sonia Sotomayor (2001)
How do we turn pain into power? How do we go from a moment to a movement that curries favor? (…) The blood of the innocent has power.  Jesse Jackson
When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia—which was inappropriate, certainly that…to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people. (…) To compare that kind of courage, that kind of action, and to say that the Black Panther incident wrong though it might be somehow is greater in magnitude or is of greater concern to us, historically, I think just flies in the face of history and the facts. Eric Holder (Attorney-General, 2008)
Nous avons également donné de l’espace à ceux qui voulaient détruire.  Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (maire de Baltimore)
But what about all the other young black murder victims? Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them? Where is the march against the drug dealers who prey on young black people? Where is the march against bad schools, with their 50% dropout rate for black teenaged boys? Those failed schools are certainly guilty of creating the shameful 40% unemployment rate for black teens? How about marching against the cable television shows constantly offering minstrel-show images of black youth as rappers and comedians who don’t value education, dismiss the importance of marriage, and celebrate killing people, drug money and jailhouse fashion—the pants falling down because the jail guard has taken away the belt, the shoes untied because the warden removed the shoe laces, and accessories such as the drug dealer’s pit bull. (…) There is no fashion, no thug attitude that should be an invitation to murder. But these are the real murderous forces surrounding the Martin death—and yet they never stir protests. The race-baiters argue this case deserves special attention because it fits the mold of white-on-black violence that fills the history books. Some have drawn a comparison to the murder of Emmett Till, a black boy who was killed in 1955 by white racists for whistling at a white woman. (…) While civil rights leaders have raised their voices to speak out against this one tragedy, few if any will do the same about the larger tragedy of daily carnage that is black-on-black crime in America. (…) Almost one half of the nation’s murder victims that year were black and a majority of them were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation’s murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, according to the same report. (…) The killing of any child is a tragedy. But where are the protests regarding the larger problems facing black America? Juan Williams
The absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites. … Trayvon’s sad fate clearly sent a quiver of perverse happiness all across America’s civil rights establishment, and throughout the mainstream media as well. His death was vindication of the ‘poetic truth’ that these establishments live by. Shelby Steele
Would Trayvon be alive today had he been walking home—Skittles and ice tea in hand—wearing a polo shirt with an alligator logo? Possibly. And does this make the ugly point that dark skin late at night needs to have its menace softened by some show of Waspy Americana? Possibly. (…) Before the 1960s the black American identity (though no one ever used the word) was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the ’60s—in a society guilty for its long abuse of us—we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake. It has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. Shelby Steele
It’s often said that those who are unduly bothered by gays are latent homosexuals. Isn’t it possible that people obsessed with racism are themselves racist? Treating blacks like special-needs children, liberals bury them in ludicrously gushy praise.  (…) This isn’t a story about black people—it’s a story about the Left’s agenda to patronize blacks and lie to everyone else. Ann Coulter
For decades, the Left has been putting on a play with themselves as heroes in an ongoing civil rights move­ment—which they were mostly absent from at the time. Long after pervasive racial discrimination ended, they kept pretending America was being run by the Klan and that liberals were black America’s only protectors. It took the O. J. Simpson verdict—the race-based acquittal of a spectacularly guilty black celebrity as blacks across America erupted in cheers—to shut down the white guilt bank. But now, fewer than two decades later, our “pos­tracial” president has returned us to the pre-OJ era of nonstop racial posturing. A half-black, half-white Democrat, not descended from American slaves, has brought racial unrest back with a whoop. The Obama candidacy allowed liberals to engage in self-righteousness about race and get a hard-core Leftie in the White House at the same time. In 2008, we were told the only way for the nation to move past race was to elect him as president. And 53 percent of voters fell for it. Now, Ann Coulter fearlessly explains the real his­tory of race relations in this country, including how white liberals twist that history to spring the guilty, accuse the innocent, and engender racial hatreds, all in order to win politically. You’ll learn, for instance, how a U.S. congressman and a New York mayor con­spired to protect cop killers who ambushed four police officers in the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s mosque, the entire Democratic elite, up to the Carter White House, coddled a black cult in San Francisco as hun­dreds of the cult members marched to their deaths in Guyana, New York City became a maelstrom of racial hatred, with black neighborhoods abandoned to crimi­nals who were ferociously defended by a press that assessed guilt on the basis of race, preposterous hoax hate crimes were always believed, never questioned. And when they turned out to be frauds the stories would simply disappear from the news, liberals quickly switched the focus of civil rights laws from the heirs of slavery and Jim Crow to white feminists, illegal immigrants, and gays, subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz was surprisingly popular in black neighborhoods, despite hysterical denunciations of him by the New York Times, liberals slander Republicans by endlessly repeating a bizarro-world history in which Democrats defended black America and Republicans appealed to segregationists. The truth has always been exactly the opposite. Going where few authors would dare, Coulter explores the racial demagoguery that has mugged America since the early seventies. She shines the light of truth on cases ranging from Tawana Brawley, Lemrick Nelson, and Howard Beach, NY, to the LA riots and the Duke lacrosse scandal. And she shows how the 2012 Obama campaign is going to inspire the greatest racial guilt mongering of all time. Présentation de « Mugged » (Ann Coulter)
« More whites are killed by the police than blacks primarily because whites outnumber blacks in the general population by more than five to one, » Forst said. The country is about 63 percent white and 12 percent black. (…) A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the death rate due to legal intervention was more than three times higher for blacks than for whites in the period from 1988 to 1997. (…) Candace McCoy is a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. McCoy said blacks might be more likely to have a violent encounter with police because they are convicted of felonies at a higher rate than whites. Felonies include everything from violent crimes like murder and rape, to property crimes like burglary and embezzlement, to drug trafficking and gun offenses. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2004, state courts had over 1 million felony convictions. Of those, 59 percent were committed by whites and 38 percent by blacks. But when you factor in the population of whites and blacks, the felony rates stand at 330 per 100,000 for whites and 1,178 per 100,000 for blacks. That’s more than a three-fold difference. McCoy noted that this has more to do with income than race. The felony rates for poor whites are similar to those of poor blacks. « Felony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA, » McCoy said. « It is the most difficult and searing problem in this whole mess. » PunditFact
It seems to me that the biggest challenge will involve changing America’s police culture. In Britain, and across Europe, police officers also spend a lot of time dealing with mental illness, drug use and the rest of it. But the number of deaths in custody per year across Britain is rarely more than handful. The annual number of people shot and killed by police has, in recent years, typically been zero. Some of this cannot be replicated: Britain is a small country with extremely tight gun-control laws and, as a result, extremely little gun crime. But some of it I think is the result of a better police culture. Since the early 1990s, when the Metropolitan Police in London was accused of being institutionally racist in an official inquiry, police services in Britain have become much more community-oriented. Problems remain, but cops increasingly do think of themselves as performing a social service. Not all of America’s 18,000 police forces suffer from the same problems, and there are certainly good examples of reform. Still, America’s police forces are largely made up of people who think of themselves as “a thin blue line (wand) ” against the bad guys. Only when that mentality changes will policing really be able to move past these scandals. The Economist
The reality of the job (…) is far less glamorous. (…) As crime has fallen across America since the 1990s, policing has shifted more towards social work than the drama seen on TV. Police culture, however, has not caught up. The gap may help to explain why American police are so embattled. (…) No one knows how many people die in contact with America’s roughly 18,000 law-enforcement agencies. The FBI publishes reports, but police forces are not required to submit data. The incomplete FBI figures show that at least 461 people died in “justifiable homicides” in 2013, an increase of 33% since 2005. Other sources suggest the true number could be as high as twice that. In Britain, by contrast, police shot and killed precisely no one in 2013. American police resort to violence more partly because they meet it more. (…) Twenty-six police officers were killed with guns in the line of duty in 2013, far more than in any other rich country. Yet fewer police officers are killed now than in the past, and the number who are shot is less than the number who die in traffic accidents. Over time, suggests Mr Bueermann, a justified alertness to danger may have warped into a belief that the swift use of force is the only thing keeping cops safe. (…) force is often used to subdue low-level offenders (…), not just dangerous people. And it is unclear that armed policing is the best way to deal with all problems. At least half of all Americans shot and killed by police each year are mentally ill, says a report from the Treatment Advocacy Centre and the National Sheriffs’ Association. Police officers also spend time dealing with drug addicts, domestic disputes and, increasingly, the enforcement of civil penalties against people who have not paid motoring fines or child support. Such people are not muggers or rapists, yet cops often treat everyone as a threat. What is the solution? Many cops are pessimistic: they feel they are scapegoated for social problems (…) But improvements are being made. Sue Rahr, the director of Washington state’s police academy, says that cops need to be taught how to talk to people again. “When you approach a situation like RoboCop, you’re going to create hostility that wasn’t there before”. Since 2012, the state’s training has emphasised that people can be persuaded to obey commands, not just forced to. Military-style drills have been ditched. (…) Sadly, as the Gainesville video shows, not every police force is catching on. And as Ms Rahr admits, if you try to recruit cops by telling them they are social workers, fewer may apply. At least part of the glamour of the job is the promise that you get the chance to use violence against bad people in a way that ordinary civilians never can, except in video games. The Economist
Six policiers de Baltimore, poursuivis pour la mort d’un jeune Noir en avril, ce qui avait provoqué des émeutes dans cette ville de l’est des Etats-Unis, ont été formellement inculpés, a annoncé jeudi la procureure du Maryland Marilyn Mosby. Le 1er mai, celle-ci avait annoncé, à la surprise générale, des poursuites pénales contre six policiers pour la mort de Freddie Gray le 19 avril, cinq jours après son arrestation musclée. Un grand jury a retenu presque tous les chefs d’accusation contre les policiers, trois Blancs et trois Noirs : Caesar Goddson, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice, Edward M. Nero, Garrett E. Miller et Alicia D. White. Tous sont poursuivis pour meurtre, homicide involontaire, faute professionnelle, et le chef de mise en danger de la vie d’autrui a été ajouté, a précisé la procureure lors d’une conférence de presse. En revanche, les chefs de voie de fait et séquestration ont été retirés, détaille le «Baltimore Sun». Seul Caesar Goodson, un homme de 45 ans, entré dans la police de Baltimore en 1999, est poursuivi, en plus, pour meurtre résultant d’une action dangereuse pour autrui et sans se soucier de la vie humaine, ainsi que pour homicide involontaire, et défaut d’assistance. Paris Match
Après une nuit de heurts entre la population noire de Baltimore et les forces de police, la mort de Freddie Gray, jeune Noir de 25 ans, des suites de son arrestation le 12 avril dernier, continue de faire débat. En cause, sa blessure mortelle à la moelle épinière, causée par une fracture des vertèbres cervicales. Là où la police reconnaissait d’abord des négligences, l’hypothèse de violences volontaires – voire d’une pratique courante, les « rough rides » – est désormais évoquée. Une pratique particulièrement dangereuse qui consiste à placer les suspects à l’arrière des fourgons sans les attacher et à volontairement conduire de façon brutale. (…) Mais le Baltimore Sun, dans son édition du jeudi 23 avril, a mis en lumière un élément jusque-là ignoré par le reste de la presse : les « rough rides », qu’on pourrait littéralement traduire par « balades brutales ». L’article, titré « Freddie Gray n’est pas le premier à sortir d’un fourgon de la police de Baltimore avec de sérieuses blessures », décrit ce qui pourrait être une pratique plus ou moins courante des forces de police de la ville de la côte Est. Elle consiste à conduire volontairement de façon brutale le fourgon de police alors que l’interpellé est menotté et non attaché à l’arrière pour le « blesser ou le faire souffrir », comme le décrivait un ancien policier de Baltimore interrogé lors d’un procès en 2010. Le quotidien local cite plusieurs exemples, dont celui d’une libraire de 27 ans, qui poursuit aujourd’hui la ville pour des faits de ce type qu’elle aurait subis en 2012. « Ils s’arrêtaient violemment pour que je sois projetée contre le mur et ils prenaient des virages très larges, très vite. J’étais terrifiée. Vous vous sentez comme de la marchandise, vous ne vous sentez plus humain », explique Christine Abbott, qui a depuis été interrogée par CNN. Elle raconte comment elle a été jetée au sol lors d’une intervention à son domicile avant d’être « poussée dans le fourgon » menottée et avec sa robe déchirée, le tout pour une simple intervention pour tapage nocturne lors d’une soirée organisée chez elle. Et la pratique n’est ni nouvelle ni cantonnée à Baltimore. En octobre dernier, Fox News racontait l’histoire d’un Irlandais, James McKenna, de visite à Philadelphie en 2001, et victime à l’époque de ce qui s’appelle là-bas une « nickel ride ». Le nom fait référence aux montagnes russes (« ride ») qui coûtait 5 cents (soit un nickel, nom donné à la pièce de 5 cents) il y a plus de trente ans. En se heurtant très violemment la tête dans le fourgon après un « freinage brutal » des policiers, McKenna s’est notamment brisé trois vertèbres. L’Irlandais s’en est sorti sans infirmité permanente mais avec des plaques métalliques sur le front et dans le dos. Il a choisi d’attaquer la ville de Philadelphie et a obtenu le versement 490 000 dollars. Sept ans plus tôt, Gino Thompson devenait lui paralysé des membres inférieurs à vie après la même mésaventure aux mains de la police de Philadelphie en avril 1994 : un freinage brutal après de violentes accélérations à l’arrière d’un fourgon. Sa blessure ? Une lésion de la moelle épinière, tout comme Freddie Gray à Baltimore il y a deux semaines. Dans son cas, la ville avait concédé un paiement de 600 000 dollars pour mettre fin aux poursuites. Idem pour Calvin Saunders, qui a touché 1,2 million de dollars après avoir été lourdement blessé dans les mêmes circonstances en 1997, toujours à Philadelphie. Des blessures courantes à la moelle épinière donc, causées par la configuration des fourgons (des bancs particulièrement durs et étroits, sans ceinture de sécurité), la position de l’interpellé (mains menottées dans le dos) ainsi que par la conduite volontairement brutale des agents, détaillait en 2001 le Philadelphia Inquirer. Arrêt sur images
Le Parisien révélait la semaine dernière une affaire qui n’est pas sans rappeler la mort de Freddie Gray : dans la nuit du 5 au 6 mars à Paris, un Noir de 33 ans, Amadou Koumé, est mort « après son interpellation musclée ». Un décès « dans une enceinte de police [qui] n’avait jusqu’ici jamais été ébruité » et dont les circonstances ne sont encore que partiellement connues. « Selon les premiers éléments de l’enquête, Amadou a été interpellé le 6mars à 0h05 à proximité du secteur de la gare du Nord alors qu’il tenait des propos incohérents. «Quand les policiers ont voulu le menotter, il s’est débattu. Ils ont dû procéder à une manœuvre d’étranglement pour lui passer les menottes. A l’arrivée au commissariat à 0h25, ils se sont rendu compte qu’il était amorphe. Le Samu a tenté de le ranimer, en vain.» Le décès d’Amadou a été officiellement constaté à 2h30. » détaile simplement le quotidien.Une enquête a été ouverte par l’IGPN pour « homicide involontaire » et une plainte contre X déposée par la famille pour « violences volontaires ayant entraîné la mort sans intention de la donner et abstention de porter assistance à une personne en péril ».  Surtout, certains sites militants soulignent qu’Amadou Koumé a été victime d’une « manœuvre d’étranglement », au moment de l’interpellation, qui aurait entrainé sa mort. Comme pour le cas de Freddie Gray, cette mort met donc en lumière une pratique souvent méconnue : l’immobilisation par étranglement des suspects jugés dangereux ou agités. Une pratique dénoncée par La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme ou Amnesty International, qui depuis quinze ans demandent son interdiction, comme c’est déjà le cas en Suisse et en Belgique. Arrêt sur images
Recently an 18-year-old University of South Alabama student, Gil Collar, was shot and killed by a campus police officer. At the time of the shooting, the student was under the influence of LSD and exhibiting erratic behavior around the campus police station. (…) Jere Beasley, attorney for the Collar family, said about the shooting, “I can tell you without reservation nothing we saw in the videotape justified the use of deadly force in this case.” Sound familiar? The point is that while we may never know if deadly force was justified – where is Al Sharpton on this one? This was a black cop shooting an unarmed white teenager. Why aren’t predominantly white neighborhoods being set on fire right now? Why aren’t whites looting, rioting and flipping over cars? This incident, which eerily parallels in many ways that of the Mike Brown shooting, clearly and unequivocally shows that race-baiters like Sharpton, Holder and even Obama himself know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to pushing racial tensions over the edge. Conservative tribune
They’re focusing on race, this was never that. Lori Myles (Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman)

Attention: un racisme peut en cacher un autre !

Henry Louis Gates, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Baltimore

A l’heure où avec les violentes émeutes raciales de Baltimore du mois dernier, les Etats-Unis voire la France semblent pouvoir rebasculer à n’importe quel moment dans les étés longs et chauds des années 60 …

Et où, à grands coups de photos de victimes (de couleur comme il se doit), de bilans macabres et de « longues histoires de brutalités policières », nos médias comme nos responsables politiques multiplient les stigmatisations contre le « racisme »

Alors qu’après le triomphal référendum du « mariage pour tous » irlandais, nos médias se bousculent pour lancer la nouvelle émission de télé-réalité d’un ancien champion olympique transgenre …

Et que du côté d’Hollywood une comédie sur une femme frustrée de ne pas avoir les traits physiques de son « improbable héritage » multiracial se voit contrainte de s’excuser pour l’insupportable blancheur de son actrice …

Comment ne pas voir …

Avec l’exemple étrangement oublié de cet étudiant blanc abattu tout nu et donc parfaitement désarmé il y a trois ans par un policier noir de l’université d’Alabama …

Outre le fait, souvent oublié, qu’une bonne partie des policiers en question, dont la moitié des six inculpés pour la mort de Freddie Gray à Baltimore, sont noirs …

Et au-delà du problème spécifique du surarmement de la population et d’une communauté noire qui avec seulement 12% de la population concentre 27% de la pauvreté, 67% d’enfants nés de mères célibataires et est impliquée dans plus de la moitié des meurtres dont à peine 10% sont inter-raciaux …

L’évident problème d’équipement et de formation (notamment les techniques d’intimidation telles que les « rough rides » ou « transferts intentionnellement mouvementés » qui causèrent la mort de Freddie Gray), toutes ethnies confondues, comme le rappelait récemment The Economist, pour des forces de police de plus en plus vouées, loin de la violence célébrée à longueur de films et de séries télévisées, à jouer les assistantes sociales face à une délinquance de plus en réduite à des infractions du code de la route ou des affaires familiales par une part toujours plus grande de déficients mentaux ?

Mais surtout avec l’Administration d’un premier président postracial qui, après 20 ans de Jeremiah Wright, devait ramener l’harmonie raciale dans son pays mais n’a pas cessé en fait d’en attiser les flammes …

Le racisme à peine masqué de nos habituels chasseurs d’ambulances ?

Ferguson shooting, Gil Collar case radically different according to Mobile officials, race not a factor
Cassie Fambro
AL.com news
December 02, 201

MOBILE, Alabama– When the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department read the recent Washington Times’ article likening the 2012 shooting death of USA student Gilbert « Gil » Collar to the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, they took issue with the comparison.

Collar, 18, was shot and killed on USA’s campus by officer Trevis Austin while naked and on what was later determined to be a synthetic drug.

The incident quickly divided the USA community but not anywhere to the extent that the shooting death of Brown divided the nation.

According to local officials, the two cases were handled radically differently, and the fundamentals were dissimilar.

« Communication was the key to it, » Sheriff Sam Cochran told AL.com.

Less than 12 hours after Collar was killed, USA held a press conference and issued a statement on the incident that had transpired.

« In any crisis situation, the University’s overarching communication philosophy is to be as open and transparent as possible with our University community and the public, » interim public relations director Bob Lowry said.

In addition to the press conference, then-PR-director Keith Ayers sent a mass email to students and staff about the incident.

News of the incident traveled internationally, with The Daily Mail, CNN, The Huffington Post and other major media reporting on the story.

A week later, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran invited members of the media and even student media from the university to watch the surveillance tape of the shooting.

« In the Gil Collar case, the community was very concerned… they were asking if they should send their kids there, » said Cochran.

In response, the sheriff said he decided to take another step.

« We put out more information, we called the news media and we showed the video from the eyes of the officer, » he said.

Members of the media watched the tape twice and were able to report on what they saw. « I think the communication calmed people down, » Cochran said.

He believes that didn’t happen in Ferguson.

« For two months, police and the DA never put out information, » he said. « They didn’t say the officer was in a struggle. »

Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Myles said that a strong relationship with the media is central to eliminating speculation.

« The media is going to publish information directly from the source, » said Myles.

She said that Ferguson would have benefited from at holding press conferences letting the media know what information they could from the beginning.

Myles added that one key element in the Ferguson case was absent.

« They’re focusing on race, this was never that, » she said of the USA shooting.

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said that overall, the Collar case was handled « more effectively » than Ferguson.

« We have an excellent relationship with law enforcement and the media in Mobile, » said Rich. « We felt that it was very important to make the media aware of what was going on and that didn’t allow for rampant speculation. »

Cochran said that by showing the video to the media, both sides of the story were told.

« Shootings are not as they appear on TV, » said Cochran. « They’re trained to shoot to stop. »

Rich also said that the Collar case has stuck with her.

« It was an extremely difficult case, » said Rich. « When I spoke with Gil’s mom and told her the results of the grand jury, it was one of the hardest days of my career as a district attorney, » she said.

The case is now used as an example when Rich speaks in Mobile County Schools to deter kids from trying drugs.

Voir aussi:

Unarmed White Teen Gunned Down by Black Cop… Where’s the Outrage?

Conservative tribune

Recently an 18-year-old University of South Alabama student, Gil Collar, was shot and killed by a campus police officer.

At the time of the shooting, the student was under the influence of LSD and exhibiting erratic behavior around the campus police station.

A two-minute video of the incident was played for the media by the Mobile County sheriff’s department.

A security camera mounted on the campus police station at the university and recorded most of the entire incident including the shooting. (H/T ReadyChimp)

Collar was seen acting “aggressively” in the short video, first walking up to the campus police station, pounding on the window and then walking away from it. He then walked back up to the station and again retreated.

At that point, black police officer Trevis Austin stepped outside from the station with his gun drawn and pointed at Collar, who reportedly had his “arms outstretched and palms open,” according to Austin.

The two then moved around the building, with Collar kneeling at one point and then standing back up and walking toward the officer. The officer had his firearm trained on the white student as he approached the officer.

They both moved into the yard and though the camera shot from that angle was partially blocked, it showed Collar dropping to the ground after having been shot once in the chest.

The entire incident played out within thirty seconds after Austin came out of the building.

Jere Beasley, attorney for the Collar family, said about the shooting, “I can tell you without reservation nothing we saw in the videotape justified the use of deadly force in this case.”

Sound familiar? The point is that while we may never know if deadly force was justified – where is Al Sharpton on this one?

This was a black cop shooting an unarmed white teenager. Why aren’t predominantly white neighborhoods being set on fire right now? Why aren’t whites looting, rioting and flipping over cars?

This incident, which eerily parallels in many ways that of the Mike Brown shooting, clearly and unequivocally shows that race-baiters like Sharpton, Holder and even Obama himself know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to pushing racial tensions over the edge.

Voir également:

Surveillance video shows naked Alabama student ‘high on LSD’ moments before he was shot dead as he chased campus police officer 
Video shows Gil Collar, 18, with his arms outstretched and palms open towards officer who shot him

Collar shot once in the chest on Saturday by security guard at University of South Alabama
Family and friends gathered at Wetumpka High School to pay respects in late night vigil yesterday

Authorities claim Collar took LSD at music festival and stripped off his clothes before assaulting two people in their vehicles
Footage shows ‘he knocked on campus police HQ and chased after officer’
Officer, named as Trevis Austin, did not have his baton or pepper spray
Sheriff: ‘Even if he did have these, he might have had to shoot him anyway’

Daily Mail Reporter

12 October 2012

Video of the fatal shooting of a naked Alabama college student shows him with his arms outstretched and his palms open seconds before a campus police officer fired.

The Mobile County Sheriff’s Department played the approximately two-minute security video for media Thursday. It was taken by a surveillance camera outside the University of South Alabama police station, where 18-year-old Gil Collar was fatally shot early Saturday morning. The video has no sound.

Police said Collar, 18, had taken the drug LSD and was acting aggressively, but an attorney for Collar’s family said the video shows his actions didn’t justify the shooting. Authorities declined to release a copy of the video.

On the tape, Collar walks slowly toward a campus police station door once and then walks away. Seconds later, he walks back to the station and pounds violently on a glass window.

He then walks away from the police station again before an officer, Trevis Austin, comes out with his gun drawn and pointed at the naked student. Collar approaches Austin with his arms outstretched and palms open toward Austin.

They move around the porch, with Collar kneeling at one point, then getting to his feet and again walking toward Austin. The officer keeps backing away from Collar, his gun pointed at the student, as Collar approaches.

The two move into the yard, where the view of the camera is partially blocked by the porch columns and lighting. Less than 30 seconds after Austin came out of the building, the video shows Collar falling after having been shot.

The former high school wrestler was struck once in the chest.

The police dispatcher can be seen opening the station’s front door in response to the sound of gunfire. A second officer arrives just as Collar is being shot. Collar gets up twice and the officers pursue him.

Sheriff Sam Cochran said two officers handcuffed Collar to subdue him after he was shot, but that could not be clearly seen on the video. A second backup officer arrived just as the two-minute video ended.

‘In my opinion it was proper to come out with the gun,’ Cochran said.

He said numerous police officers have been killed with their own weapons and that it is important for an officer to make sure a suspect isn’t able to take control of a weapon. Collar did not touch Austin, but Austin got as close as five feet to the pointed gun before Austin fired.

The 18-year-old allegedly took LSD at an outdoor music festival before assaulting two people in vehicles and trying to bite a woman’s arm.

The University of South Alabama freshman then went to the campus police headquarters, where he was allegedly shot by Austin.
Around 500 people gathered Tuesday night at Wetumpka High School, where Collar graduated from earlier this year, to hold a vigil in his memory.

The crowd included students, wrestling teammates and people of all ages from the community.

His parents also attended the memorial where speaker after speaker remembered Collar as a young man with a great sense of humor and a great love of life.Meanwhile Austin, who has been an officer for four years, is on leave while investigators look into the death.

He had come outside the police headquarters when he heard Collar banging on its door, Cochran said.

Surveillance footage showed Collar naked and covered in sweat as he chased the officer for more than 50 feet, Fox News reported.

When the student got within five feet of the officer, Austin, who was not armed with pepper spray or a baton, as is required of campus officers, shot once and struck him in the chest.

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said at a news conference: ‘Had the officer had a Taser or some other less lethal instrument I don’t know if that officer would have had an opportunity to shoulder his pistol and to use something else because the events were evolving so rapidly and he was approaching so close.’

He added that he had been extremely concerned when first hearing about the shooting, but understood why the officer had chosen to open fire after watching the video.

The authorities will not be releasing the footage publicly, he added.

Investigators are now looking into who gave Collar the LSD and could charged them with murder. Cochran revealed that people at the concert with the teenager had told them about his drug use.

LSD, which is also known as acid, can cause anxiety, paranoia, psychotic behavior and an inability to recognise danger, effects which typically last for around 12 hours.

The revelations come after Collar’s mother, Bonnie Smith Collar, said the surveillance video shows that her son never came into physical contact with the officer.

Acquaintances had said that Collar appeared to be intoxicated as he took his clothes off, ran through the streets, screamed obscenities and claimed he was on a ‘spiritual quest’ before he was killed.

ANXIETY, PANIC AND PSYCHOTIC BEHAVIOUR: THE DANGERS OF LSD

LSD, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug also known as acid. It is usually added to absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, divided into small squares and taken orally.

The effects of LSD are unpredictable and depend on the amount taken, the user’s personality and mood, and the surroundings in which the drug is used.

It can cause anxiety, panic, paranoia, psychotic behavior and an inability to recognize danger. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations.

Physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.

The effects of LSD last for hours, typically clearly after 12 hours.
‘Whatever caused the incident was something that made him act not in his normal personality,’ she said.

Mrs Collar said she had no idea why her son would be acting erratically as described and that the slight yet strong boy had never posed a threat before.

‘The first thing on my mind is, freshman kids do stupid things,’ she said. ‘Campus police should be equipped to handle activity like that without having to use lethal force.’

The attorney for the student’s family, Jere Beasley, said earlier Thursday that the shooting was not justified.

‘I can tell you without reservation nothing we saw in the videotape justified the use of deadly force in this case,’ he said.

Beasley said his chief investigator and one of his lawyers, a former police officer, were shown the tape Wednesday by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department.

The video shows the five-foot-seven, 140-pound student never got closer to the officer than four feet and didn’t try to grab his weapon, Beasley contended. The lawyer said the video also shows the officer didn’t wait for backup to arrive before coming out of the station.

‘I have seen nothing to indicate to me that you ought to go out there with a raised gun against a guy who’s buck naked, unarmed and in distress,’ he said.

Beasley said the officer was not carrying a baton or pepper spray, even though university officials have said officers typically carry both in addition to a gun.

Forensic scientists have not completed a toxicology report on drug use, he added.

‘The fact that he came to the police station indicates that he was not necessarily looking for trouble. In fact, I think he was looking for help,’ Beasley said.

Collar’s parents, Reed and Bonnie Collar, accompanied Beasley to the news conference, but did not comment. They sat in chairs, holding hands, bowing their heads and nodding occasionally.

Probe: Austin, an officer for four years, has been placed on leave while an investigation continues

Beasley said they have been praying for the officer, but hold the university accountable for training its officers properly.

Beasley said his law firm will complete its investigation before the family makes a decision about whether to sue the university, but the family’s ultimate goal is to make sure policies are in place to prevent the same thing from happening to another student.

Cochran said that investigators are working to determine who supplied Collar with the LSD and that that person could be arrested in connection with his death.

Collar grew up in the rural outskirts of Wetumpka, about 20 miles north of Montgomery. Brandon Ross, a sophomore at Jacksonville State University, said Collar moved to the neighborhood as an eight-year-old.

‘I was the first person he met on the bus, and we’ve been friends ever since,’ he said. ‘He was the kid everybody liked.’

‘It’s completely opposite of the way he was,’ said South Alabama student Chandler Wescovich of Long Beach, Miss., who became friends with Collar during his short time on campus.

Others agreed the actions were out of character for the normally quiet and reserved Collar, whom friends described as a popular and good-looking high school wrestler.

Collar wasn’t known as a troublemaker and had only two minor scrapes with the law, according to court records: a speeding ticket and a citation for being a minor in possession of three cigarettes in March. He paid a $25 fine for the tobacco possession.

He was also so good-looking that his teammates didn’t like standing next to him in team photos.

‘The girls thought he was the best thing they had ever seen, and they may have been right,’ Glass said.

On the Facebook page for the Vanguard, the school’s student newspaper, Collar’s friends and classmates expressed confusion that the officer felt the need to use deadly force on the young man.
‘Gil went to my high school’ wrote Melissa Mims, who said she was a good friend of Collar’s sister Elisabeth and the rest of his family.
‘Gil was the kind of guy who could put a smile on anyone’s face, he never had any enemies and a lot of students and younger kids looked up to him. He really was a great guy and had very many friends.’

Friend Lucas Self described Collar as an easy going person, small enough deadly force should not have been required.

‘Gil made a mistake but it is still an officers duty to resolve a situation as peacefully as he can’ Self wrote. ‘I think this situation was handled wrong by the officer but they aren’t going to let any one believe that.’

Collar’s funeral is scheduled for 4pm Saturday at Mulder Memorial United Methodist Church in his hometown of Wetumpka.

Voir encore:

Mort de Freddie Gray

Les six policiers inculpés

M.D

Le six policiers poursuivis pour la mort du jeune Freddie Gray, le mois dernier à Baltimore (Maryland), ont été formellement inculpés, a annoncé la procureure Marilyn Mosby. Ils comparaîtront de nouveau le 2 juillet, date à laquelle ils choisiront de plaider coupable ou non coupable.

Six policiers de Baltimore, poursuivis pour la mort d’un jeune Noir en avril, ce qui avait provoqué des émeutes dans cette ville de l’est des Etats-Unis, ont été formellement inculpés, a annoncé jeudi la procureure du Maryland Marilyn Mosby. Le 1er mai, celle-ci avait annoncé, à la surprise générale, des poursuites pénales contre six policiers pour la mort de Freddie Gray le 19 avril, cinq jours après son arrestation musclée.

Un grand jury a retenu presque tous les chefs d’accusation contre les policiers, trois Blancs et trois Noirs : Caesar Goddson, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice, Edward M. Nero, Garrett E. Miller et Alicia D. White. Tous sont poursuivis pour meurtre, homicide involontaire, faute professionnelle, et le chef de mise en danger de la vie d’autrui a été ajouté, a précisé la procureure lors d’une conférence de presse. En revanche, les chefs de voie de fait et séquestration ont été retirés, détaille le «Baltimore Sun». Seul Caesar Goodson, un homme de 45 ans, entré dans la police de Baltimore en 1999, est poursuivi, en plus, pour meurtre résultant d’une action dangereuse pour autrui et sans se soucier de la vie humaine, ainsi que pour homicide involontaire, et défaut d’assistance.

Prochaine comparution le 2 juillet

«Maintenant que le grand jury a aussi trouvé une cause probable d’inculper les policiers susmentionnés sur la base des éléments présentés, ces policiers, qui sont présumés innocents jusqu’à ce que leur culpabilité soit prouvée, sont assignés à comparaître le 2 juillet», a ajouté Marilyn Mosby. Ils décideront alors de plaider coupable ou non coupable.

Le jeune homme de 25 ans est décédé des suites d’une blessure aux vertèbres cervicales lors de son transport sans ceinture, pieds et mains liés à plat ventre dans un fourgon de police. Les motifs de son interpellation sont encore obscurs : d’après le récit des policiers, il se serait simplement mis à courir à la vue de policiers, qui l’ont trouvé en possession d’un couteau. Mais d’après Marilyn Mosby, la possession de couteau n’est pas illégale dans l’Etat, aussi l’arrestation était en elle-même illégale. La police de Baltimore a reconnu fin avril avoir commis des erreurs. Le suspect aurait notamment dû recevoir une assistance médicale aussitôt après son arrestation, et non trois quart d’heures après, comme cela a été le cas –à son arrivée au poste de police, inconscient. Au moment de son décès, 80% de sa colonne vertébrale était sectionnée à la hauteur des cervicales, selon les avocats de la famille.

Depuis les révoltes de Ferguson en août dernier et de New York en décembre suite à des faits comparables (la mort des jeunes Afro-Américains Michael Brown et de Eric Garner tués par les forces de l’ordre), c’est la première fois que des policiers se retrouvent sur le banc des accusés.

Voir de plus:

Young Boy Dies In Carjacking

CBS

February 23, 2000

A six-year-old child was dragged for about four miles when his mother’s car was carjacked Tuesday, reports CBS affiliate KCTV.

Motorists watched in horror as the stolen vehicle sped down a highway, dragging to death the little boy who was entangled in a seat belt outside one of the doors.

Six-year-old Jake D. Robel of Blue Springs died Tuesday before the driver of the Chevrolet Blazer could be stopped by pursuing motorists. Witnesses said the chase reached speeds of 80 mph.

« Witnesses stated that they heard the juvenile victim screaming for his mother to help him, » Detective Michael Skaggs said in a statement Wednesday.

« He came flying around us and we saw the kid hanging out the side of the car bouncing, » said Fred Byam, who chased the Blazer. « I was honking my horn and flashing my lights. »

Kim L. Davis, 34, of Kansas City, Mo., was charged Wednesday morning with second-degree murder, robbery, child abuse and kidnapping.

Police said Davis took the vehicle when Jake’s mother left it running while she went inside a sandwich shop. The man tried to shove the boy out of the car, and « probably thought he’d gotten the kid out, because then he took off, » Sgt. Gregg Wilkinson said.

Mother Christy Robel opened the back door to try to get her son out, the police statement said. At that point, the driver looked over his shoulder and in the rear of the vehicle.

« As he was fleeing the area, the victim was trapped against the vehicle by the seat belt as the rear door had closed, making it impossible for him to get away from the vehicle, » Skaggs said in the statement.

Prosecutor Robert Beaird would not comment Wednesday about whether the man knew the child was being dragged. Asked if the murder charge might be upgraded to a first-degree charge, he said the case would be reviewed for the grand jury to determine if the evidence rises to that level.

Beaird fought back tears when he told about talking to the child’s family just before his news conference. « It’s pretty hard to talk to the family, » he said, stopping to regain control.

Sharon Irwin watched as the suspect drove off in the stolen car.

« I turned my head and seen something dragging along the righthand side of the car, » she said. « People was honking and hollering at him to stop and he just kept going. »

The chase finally was stopped when motorists in two trucks and a car surrounded the 1991 Blazer at a stoplight.

The man got out of the stolen vehicle, saw the boy’s body and mumbled « something like `I didn’t do that,' » said Brad Byam, one of two brothers who pursued the Blazer in their truck.

Witnesses said the motorists wrestled the man to the ground and waited for police to arrive; they also tied the man’s legs with a rope.

« He was going to leave; he was going to run off, » said John Rodgers. « They sat on him and held him until police got there. There was a woman trying to beat hi, and they held her off until police arrived. »

Beaird said the people who stopped the vehicle are seen as heroes. « They saw something that had to be stopped and they stopped it, » he said.

An 11-year-old boy from one of the pursuing vehicles later took a blanket and placed it over the victim, whose clothes had been mostly torn off.

Wednesday, a four-foot cross with flowers and a stuffed baby lamb stood at the corner where the chase ended.

Voir de plus:

Baltimore : la presse (re) découvre les « balades » mortelles de la police

Et en France ? Etranglement policier à Paris révélé tardivement

Vincent Coquaz

Arrêt sur images

28/04/2015

Négligences policières ou violences volontaires ? Après une nuit de heurts entre la population noire de Baltimore et les forces de police, la mort de Freddie Gray, jeune Noir de 25 ans, des suites de son arrestation le 12 avril dernier, continue de faire débat. En cause, sa blessure mortelle à la moelle épinière, causée par une fracture des vertèbres cervicales. Là où la police reconnaissait d’abord des négligences, l’hypothèse de violences volontaires – voire d’une pratique courante, les « rough rides » – est désormais évoquée. Une pratique particulièrement dangereuse qui consiste à placer les suspects à l’arrière des fourgons sans les attacher et à volontairement conduire de façon brutale.

« La police a pu ne pas respecter la règle sur les ceintures de sécurité« , titrait Fox News le 23 avril dernier, à propos de la mort de Freddie Gray. Ce jeune Noir de Baltimore a été victime d’une fracture des vertèbres cervicales à la suite de son arrestation le 12 avril dernier, pour possession d’un couteau à cran d’arrêt, après une poursuite à pied. Dans le coma pendant une semaine, il est mort de ses blessures le 19 avril. Il était âgé de 25 ans.

Dès lors, la plupart des questions sur sa mort se focalisent sur le trajet dans le fourgon de police qui a suivi son arrestation, puisqu’il a été hospitalisé immédiatement après, alors qu’il ne pouvait plus « parler ni respirer » selon la police. Les différents communiqués de la police de Baltimore semblaient en effet admettre plusieurs négligences à propos du transport de Freddie Gray. Dans un premier temps, la police a indiqué avoir « enfreint » les règles sur la ceinture de sécurité à l’arrière du fourgon, puis admis qu’elle « n’avait pas d’excuse » pour n’avoir pas prodigué des soins à Gray à temps.

Mais le Baltimore Sun, dans son édition du jeudi 23 avril, a mis en lumière un élément jusque-là ignoré par le reste de la presse : les « rough rides », qu’on pourrait littéralement traduire par « balades brutales« . L’article, titré « Freddie Gray n’est pas le premier à sortir d’un fourgon de la police de Baltimore avec de sérieuses blessures« , décrit ce qui pourrait être une pratique plus ou moins courante des forces de police de la ville de la côte Est. Elle consiste à conduire volontairement de façon brutale le fourgon de police alors que l’interpellé est menotté et non attaché à l’arrière pour le « blesser ou le faire souffrir« , comme le décrivait un ancien policier de Baltimore interrogé lors d’un procès en 2010.

Le quotidien local cite plusieurs exemples, dont celui d’une libraire de 27 ans, qui poursuit aujourd’hui la ville pour des faits de ce type qu’elle aurait subis en 2012. « Ils s’arrêtaient violemment pour que je sois projetée contre le mur et ils prenaient des virages très larges, très vite. J’étais terrifiée. Vous vous sentez comme de la marchandise, vous ne vous sentez plus humain« , explique Christine Abbott, qui a depuis été interrogée par CNN. Elle raconte comment elle a été jetée au sol lors d’une intervention à son domicile avant d’être « poussée dans le fourgon » menottée et avec sa robe déchirée, le tout pour une simple intervention pour tapage nocturne lors d’une soirée organisée chez elle.

Les « nickel rides » de la police de Philadelphie

Et la pratique n’est ni nouvelle ni cantonnée à Baltimore. En octobre dernier, Fox News racontait l’histoire d’un Irlandais, James McKenna, de visite à Philadelphie en 2001, et victime à l’époque de ce qui s’appelle là-bas une « nickel ride« . Le nom fait référence aux montagnes russes (« ride ») qui coûtait 5 cents (soit un nickel, nom donné à la pièce de 5 cents) il y a plus de trente ans. En se heurtant très violemment la tête dans le fourgon après un « freinage brutal » des policiers, McKenna s’est notamment brisé trois vertèbres. L’Irlandais s’en est sorti sans infirmité permanente mais avec des plaques métalliques sur le front et dans le dos. Il a choisi d’attaquer la ville de Philadelphie et a obtenu le versement 490 000 dollars.

 

Sept ans plus tôt, Gino Thompson devenait lui paralysé des membres inférieurs à vie après la même mésaventure aux mains de la police de Philadelphie en avril 1994 : un freinage brutal après de violentes accélérations à l’arrière d’un fourgon. Sa blessure ? Une lésion de la moelle épinière, tout comme Freddie Gray à Baltimore il y a deux semaines. Dans son cas, la ville avait concédé un paiement de 600 000 dollars pour mettre fin aux poursuites. Idem pour Calvin Saunders, qui a touché 1,2 million de dollars après avoir été lourdement blessé dans les mêmes circonstances en 1997, toujours à Philadelphie.

Des blessures courantes à la moelle épinière donc, causées par la configuration des fourgons (des bancs particulièrement durs et étroits, sans ceinture de sécurité), la position de l’interpellé (mains menottées dans le dos) ainsi que par la conduite volontairement brutale des agents, détaillait en 2001 le Philadelphia Inquirer.

Face à la multiplication des exemples repris depuis quelques jours par la presse, comme sur Buzzfeed par exemple qui note que le premier procès remonte à 1985, le mot-clé #RoughRide est désormais utilisé pour dénoncer cette pratique sur Twitter :

De nombreux tweets dénoncent la pratique du « Rough Ride » et décrivent par exemple l’intérieur des fourgons de police

Freddie Gray était-il blessé avant de rentrer dans le fourgon ?

Problème : certains utilisateurs de Twitter s’inquiètent de cette nouvelle attention portée aux « rough rides« , qui cacherait selon eux les véritables raisons de la mort du jeune homme. « Tout ça détourne l’attention de ce qui est arrivé à Fred avant qu’il soit mis dans le fourgon« , estime ainsi un Twittos du nom de Michael Seif. Dans les réponses à son tweet, plusieurs soulignent en effet que les vidéos de l’arrestation suggèrent que Gray n’était déjà plus capable de marcher avant même d’entrer dans le véhicule de police, et que le trajet aurait pu « seulement » aggraver son état.

Sur les différentes vidéos de l’arrestation, on peut en effet entendre Gray hurler, vraisemblablement de douleur. Surtout, plusieurs témoins de la scène indiquent que Gray était incapable de marcher. « Ses jambes ! Regardez sa jambe, elle a l’air cassée ! Vous le traînez comme ça alors que sa jambe est cassée » crie une passante qui filme la scène. Sur une autre vidéo, un témoin lance « pas étonnant qu’il ne puisse plus utiliser ses jambes, vu comme vous avez utilisé vos Taser« .

Un autre témoin de la scène décrit par ailleurs Freddie Gray comme « plié comme un origami » lorsqu’il était maintenu au sol par les policiers. Il précise d’ailleurs qu’un des policiers « avait son genou sur la nuque » de Gray, précisément à l’endroit de sa blessure mortelle.

Et en France ?

Le Parisien révélait la semaine dernière une affaire qui n’est pas sans rappeler la mort de Freddie Gray : dans la nuit du 5 au 6 mars à Paris, un Noir de 33 ans, Amadou Koumé, est mort « après son interpellation musclée« . Un décès « dans une enceinte de police [qui] n’avait jusqu’ici jamais été ébruité » et dont les circonstances ne sont encore que partiellement connues. « Selon les premiers éléments de l’enquête, Amadou a été interpellé le 6mars à 0h05 à proximité du secteur de la gare du Nord alors qu’il tenait des propos incohérents. «Quand les policiers ont voulu le menotter, il s’est débattu. Ils ont dû procéder à une manœuvre d’étranglement pour lui passer les menottes. A l’arrivée au commissariat à 0h25, ils se sont rendu compte qu’il était amorphe. Le Samu a tenté de le ranimer, en vain.» Le décès d’Amadou a été officiellement constaté à 2h30. » détaile simplement le quotidien.
Une enquête a été ouverte par l’IGPN pour « homicide involontaire » et une plainte contre X déposée par la famille pour « violences volontaires ayant entraîné la mort sans intention de la donner et abstention de porter assistance à une personne en péril« .

Surtout, certains sites militants soulignent qu’Amadou Koumé a été victime d’une « manœuvre d’étranglement« , au moment de l’interpellation, qui aurait entrainé sa mort. Comme pour le cas de Freddie Gray, cette mort met donc en lumière une pratique souvent méconnue : l’immobilisation par étranglement des suspects jugés dangereux ou agités. Une pratique dénoncée par La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme ou Amnesty International, qui depuis quinze ans demandent son interdiction, comme c’est déjà le cas en Suisse et en Belgique.

 Voir encore:

Cécile Bourgneuf

Libération

31 mai 2015

Selon une enquête du «Washington Post», au moins 385 personnes ont été abattues depuis le début de l’année par les forces de l’ordre. Les deux tiers des victimes non armées sont noires ou hispaniques.

Rapports de police, interviews, articles des journaux locaux… Le Washington Post a publié ce week-end une vaste enquête sur les fusillades qui ont éclaté aux Etats Unis en 2015 entre la police et les citoyens. Conclusion : la police américaine a tué au moins 385 personnes depuis le mois de janvier soit, en moyenne, plus de deux personnes par jour.

Ce chiffre est bien plus élevé que celui fourni par les données fédérales officielles puisque les 18 000 agences de police d’Etats ou locales ne sont pas tenues de publier les statistiques sur ce type d’homicides. «Ces homicides sont largement sous évalués», affirme au journal Jim Bueermann, ancien chef de police aujourd’hui à la tête d’une ONG qui cherche à améliorer l’application des lois. «Nous ne réduirons pas le nombre d’homicides par la police si nous ne commençons pas par collecter correctement ces informations.»

C’est donc ce qu’a fait le Washington Post en épluchant tous les détails concernant les victimes, âgées de 16 à 83 ans, abattues par la police : étaient-elles armées ou non ? Dans quelles circonstances sont-elles décédées et quelles sont leurs origines ?

Noirs, pauvres et malades mentaux, bien plus victimes des tirs de policiers

Conclusion : selon le journal, la moitié des victimes de tirs policiers en 2015 sont des Blancs et l’autre moitié est issue des diverses minorités du pays. Parmi les victimes non armées abattues par la police, les deux tiers sont des Noirs ou des Hispaniques. La plupart des victimes sont pauvres, souvent connues des services de police pour des faits mineurs et souffrent souvent de problèmes psychologiques. Dans la moitié des cas, la police est intervenue pour répondre à un appel d’urgence : un SDF instable, un jeune qui tente de se suicider ou un ami menacé de violences. Près d’un quart des personnes tuées souffraient d’une maladie mentale.

Le Post raconte par exemple qu’une mère a un jour appelé la police en Floride parce que son fils, schizophrène, voulait rester dehors en caleçon en plein hiver. Il agitait un manche à balai quand les forces de l’ordre sont arrivées. Après avoir tenté de l’étourdir au moyen d’un taser, la police lui a tiré dessus. Ces homicides sont donc souvent le fruit d’altercations au départ mineures entre la police et des citoyens, explique le Washington Post.

Dans 16% des cas, les victimes n’étaient pas armées

Dans 16% des cas, les victimes ne sont pas armées ou portent un faux pistolet. Souvent, elles sont en train de fuir les forces de l’ordre quand elles sont abattues. Pourtant, un policier n’est autorisé à faire usage de son arme que lorsque sa vie, ou celle d’autrui, est en danger, souligne le Post. Or, sur les 385 cas mortels relevés par le journal, trois seulement ont donné lieu à des poursuites contre le policier auteur des tirs. Le Washington Post avait déjà révélé, dans une enquête réalisée en avril dernier, qu’en dix ans, seuls 54 policiers américains avaient été poursuivis pour homicide dans l’exercice de leur fonction, pour des milliers de morts.

Lorsque l’affaire passe en justice, il y a, dans la plupart des cas, un témoignage à charge, un tir dans le dos, une suspicion de maquillage d’une bavure ou une vidéo de l’incident. Comme c’est le cas de Michael Slager qui a abattu en avril dernier un homme noir en lui tirant dans le dos. Ces vidéos choc jouent de plus en plus un rôle crucial dans les affaires de violences policières. Malgré tout, Michael Slager ne sera peut-être jamais condamné puisque sur les 54 policiers poursuivis en dix ans, seuls onze agents ont été condamnés, révèle le Washington Post. Bien souvent, l’enquête de police conclut à la légitime défense.

Le Washington Post publie cette enquête au moment où le pays est secoué par un débat très vif sur le niveau des violences policières, notamment à l’encontre des communautés noire et latino. Des émeutes urbaines avaient éclaté après la mort en août 2014 de Michael Brown, un Noir de 18 ans, sous les balles de la police, à Ferguson, dans le Missouri.

Une affaire de bavure policière qui a marqué le pays. Depuis, la Maison Blanche a récemment rendu son rapport pour réformer les pratiques de la police. Elle préconise notamment de rapprocher les forces de l’ordre des minorités ou d’équiper les policiers de caméra embarquées. Et cela dans un contexte encore très tendu puisque d’autres manifestations ont éclaté dans le pays après la mort d’un jeune Noir interpellé par la police à Baltimore.

Selon le Post, le gouvernement fédéral devrait déjà systématiquement «analyser les tirs de la police». Aujourd’hui, le FBI ne recueille les données des personnes tuées par la police que sur la base du volontariat. Les départements de police ne sont pas obligés de les mettre à jour. «Nous voulons faire notre possible pour ne pas ôter la vie de quelqu’un, même dans les pires circonstances», explique le chef de la police d’Oklahoma City au Washington Post, tout en ajoutant que «certaines fusillades sont inévitables». Mais la police de cette ville a déjà tué quatre personnes depuis le début de l’année, dont un homme de 83 ans.

 Voir de plus:

Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide
Kimberly Kindy, and reported by Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins, Steven Rich, Keith L. Alexander and Wesley Lowery

The Washington Post

May 30 2015

A rosary is draped over a portrait of 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez. The teen, who was killed by Denver police officers in January as she and friends allegedly tried to run them down in a stolen car, is among eight people younger than 18 who have been fatally shot by police this year. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

In an alley in Denver, police gunned down a 17-year-old girl joyriding in a stolen car. In the backwoods of North Carolina, police opened fire on a gun-wielding moonshiner. And in a high-rise apartment in Birmingham, Ala., police shot an elderly man after his son asked them to make sure he was okay. Douglas Harris, 77, answered the door with a gun.

The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

A national debate is raging about police use of deadly force, especially against minorities. To understand why and how often these shootings occur, The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty. The Post looked exclusively at shootings, not killings by other means, such as stun guns and deaths in police custody.

Using interviews, police reports, local news accounts and other sources, The Post tracked more than a dozen details about each killing through Friday, including the victim’s race, whether the person was armed and the circumstances that led to the fatal encounter. The result is an unprecedented examination of these shootings, many of which began as minor incidents and suddenly escalated into violence.

Among The Post’s findings:

●About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.

●The vast majority of victims — more than 80 percent — were armed with potentially lethal objects, primarily guns, but also knives, machetes, revving vehicles and, in one case, a nail gun.

●Forty-nine people had no weapon, while the guns wielded by 13 others turned out to be toys. In all, 16 percent were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.

●The dead ranged in age from 16 to 83. Eight were children younger than 18, including Jessie Hernandez, 17, who was shot three times by Denver police officers as she and a carload of friends allegedly tried to run them down.

The Post analysis also sheds light on the situations that most commonly gave rise to fatal shootings. About half of the time, police were responding to people seeking help with domestic disturbances and other complex social situations: A homeless person behaving erratically. A boyfriend threatening violence. A son trying to kill himself.

Ninety-two victims — nearly a quarter of those killed — were identified by police or family members as mentally ill.

In Miami Gardens, Fla., Catherine Daniels called 911 when she couldn’t persuade her son, Lavall Hall, a 25-year-old black man, to come in out of the cold early one morning in February. A diagnosed schizophrenic who stood 5-foot-4 and weighed barely 120 pounds, Hall was wearing boxer shorts and an undershirt and waving a broomstick when police arrived. They tried to stun him with a Taser gun and then shot him.
Fatal police shooting in Miami Gardens, Fla.(1:38)
Dashboard camera video of a Miami Gardens Police Department officer-involved shooting on Feb. 15, 2015. Editor’s note: This video contains explicit language. (Miami Gardens Police Department via Goldberg & Rosen)

The other half of shootings involved non-domestic crimes, such as robberies, or the routine duties that occupy patrol officers, such as serving warrants.

Nicholas T. Thomas, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in March when police in Smyrna, Ga., tried to serve him with a warrant for failing to pay $170 in felony probation fees. Thomas fled the Goodyear tire shop where he worked as a mechanic, and police shot into his car.

Although race was a dividing line, those who died by police gunfire often had much in common. Most were poor and had a history of run-ins with law enforcement over mostly small-time crimes, sometimes because they were emotionally troubled.

Both things were true of Daniel Elrod, a 39-year-old white man. Elrod had been arrested at least 16 times over the past 15 years; he was taken into protective custody twice last year because Omaha police feared he might hurt himself.

On the day he died in February, Elrod robbed a Family Dollar store. Police said he ran when officers arrived, jumping on top of a BMW in the parking lot and yelling, “Shoot me, shoot me.” Elrod, who was unarmed, was shot three times as he made a “mid-air leap” to clear a barbed-wire fence, according to police records.

Dozens of other people also died while fleeing from police, The Post analysis shows, including a significant proportion — 20 percent — of those who were unarmed. Running is such a provocative act that police experts say there is a name for the injury officers inflict on suspects afterward: a “foot tax.”

Police are authorized to use deadly force only when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. So far, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime — less than 1 percent.

The low rate mirrors the findings of a Post investigation in April that found that of thousands of fatal police shootings over the past decade, only 54 had produced criminal ­charges. Typically, those cases involved layers of damning evidence challenging the officer’s account. Of the cases resolved, most officers were cleared or acquitted.

In all three 2015 cases in which charges were filed, videos emerged showing the officers shooting a suspect during or after a foot chase:

●In South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder in the death of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, who ran after a traffic stop. Slager’s attorney declined to comment.

●In Oklahoma, reserve deputy Robert Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter 10 days after he killed Eric Harris, a 44-year-old black man. Bates’s attorney, Clark Brewster, characterized the shooting as a “legitimate accident,” noting that Bates mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of his Taser.
Fatal police shooting in Tulsa(1:13)
Body camera video of a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy involved in a shooting on April 2, 2015. Editor’s note: This video contains explicit language. (Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office via Tulsa World)

●And in Pennsylvania, officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with criminal homicide six weeks after she shot and killed David Kassick, a 59-year-old white man, who refused to pull over for a traffic stop. Her attorney did not return calls for comment.

In many other cases, police agencies have determined that the shootings were justified. But many law enforcement leaders are calling for greater scrutiny.

After nearly a year of protests against police brutality and with a White House task force report calling for reforms, a dozen current and former police chiefs and other criminal justice officials said police must begin to accept responsibility for the carnage. They argue that a large number of the killings examined by The Post could be blamed on poor policing.

“We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable. Most are preventable,” said Ronald L. Davis, a former police chief who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Police “need to stop chasing down suspects, hopping fences and landing on top of someone with a gun,” Davis said. “When they do that, they have no choice but to shoot.”

As a start, criminologists say the federal government should systematically analyze police shootings. Currently, the FBI struggles to gather the most basic data. Reporting is voluntary, and since 2011, less than 3 percent of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies have reported fatal shootings by their officers to the FBI. As a result, FBI records over the past decade show only about 400 police shootings a year — an average of 1.1 deaths per day.

According to The Post’s analysis, the daily death toll so far for 2015 is close to 2.6. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year.

“We have to understand the phenomena behind these fatal encounters,” Bueermann said. “There is a compelling social need for this, but a lack of political will to make it happen.”

For the vast majority of departments, a fatal shooting is a rare event. Only 306 agencies have recorded one so far this year, and most had only one, the Post analysis shows.

However, 19 state and local departments were involved in at least three fatal shootings. Los Angeles police lead the nation with eight. The latest occurred May 5, when Brendon Glenn, a 29-year-old homeless black man, was shot after an altercation outside a Venice bar.

Oklahoma City police have killed four people, including an 83-year-old white man wielding a machete.

“We want to do the most we can to keep from taking someone’s life, even under the worst circumstances,” said Oklahoma City Police Chief William Citty. “There are just going to be some shootings that are unavoidable.”

In Bakersfield, Calif., all three of the department’s killings occurred in a span of 10 days in March. The most recent involved Adrian Hernandez, a 22-year-old Hispanic man accused of raping his roommate, dousing her with flammable liquid and setting fire to their home.

After a manhunt, police cornered Hernandez, who jumped out of his car holding a BB gun. Police opened fire, and some Bakersfield residents say they are glad the officers did.
Fatal police shooting in Bakersfield, Calif.(0:30)
Bystander video of a Bakersfield Police Department officer-involved shooting on March 27, 2015. (NEWSTALK 1180 KERN)

“I’m relieved he can’t come back here, to be honest with you,” said Brian Haver, who lives next door to the house Hernandez torched. “If he came out holding a gun, what were they supposed to do?”

Although law enforcement officials say many shootings are preventable, that is not always true. In dozens of cases, officers rushed into volatile situations and saved lives. Examples of police heroism abound.

In Tempe, Ariz., police rescued a 25-year-old woman who had been stabbed and tied up and was screaming for help. Her boyfriend, Matthew Metz, a 26-year-old white man, also stabbed an officer before he was shot and killed, according to police records.

In San Antonio, a patrol officer heard gunshots and rushed to the parking lot of Dad’s Karaoke bar to find a man shooting into the crowd. Richard Castilleja, a 29-year-old Latino, had hit two men and was still unloading his weapon when he was shot and killed, according to police records.

And in Los Angeles County, a Hawthorne police officer working overtime was credited with saving the life of a 12-year-old boy after a frantic woman in a gray Mercedes pulled alongside the officer and said three men in a white Cadillac were following her and her son.

Seconds later, the Cadillac roared up. Robert Washington, a 37-year-old black man, jumped out and began shooting into the woman’s car.

“He had two revolvers and started shooting both of them with no words spoken. He shot and killed the mom, and then he started shooting at the kid,” said Eddie Aguirre, a Los Angeles County homicide detective investigating the case.

“The deputy got out of his patrol car and started shooting,” Aguirre said. “He saved the boy’s life.”

Hummelstown, Pa., Police officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with criminal homicide. Investigators say Mearkle had incapacitated David Kassick with a stun gun. (Associated Press)
Kassick was on the ground when Mearkle shot him twice in the back. She told investigators she thought he was reaching into his jacket for a gun. (Associated Press)

In about half the shootings, police were responding to non-domestic criminal situations, with robberies and traffic infractions ranking among the most common ­offenses. Nearly half of blacks and other minorities were killed under such circumstances. So were about a third of whites.

In North Carolina, a police officer searching for clues in a hit-and-run case approached a green and white mobile home owned by Lester Brown, a 58-year-old white man. On the front porch, the officer spotted an illegal liquor still. He called for backup, and drug agents soon arrived with a search warrant.
View Graphic
People shot to death by police and how they were allegedly armed

Officers knocked on the door and asked Brown to secure his dog. Instead, Brown dashed upstairs and grabbed a Soviet SKS rifle, according to police reports.

Neighbor Joe Guffey Jr. told a local TV reporter that he was sitting at home with his dogs when the shooting started: “Pow, pow, pow, pow.” Brown was hit seven times and pronounced dead at the scene.

While Brown allegedly stood his ground, many others involved in criminal activity chose to flee when confronted by police. Kassick, for example, attracted Mearkle’s attention because he had expired vehicle inspection stickers. On the day he died, Kassick was on felony probation for drunken driving and had drugs in his system, police and autopsy reports show.

After failing to pull over, Kassick drove to his sister’s house in Hummelstown, Pa., jumped out of the car and ran. Mearkle repeatedly struck Kassick with a stun gun and then shot him twice in the back while he was face-down in the snow.

Jimmy Ray Robinson, a.k.a. the “Honey Bun Bandit,” allegedly robbed five convenience stores in Central Texas, grabbing some of the sticky pastries along the way. Robinson, a 51-year-old black man, fled when he spotted Waco police officers staking out his home.

Robinson sped off in reverse in a green Ford Explorer. It got stuck in the mud, and four Waco officers opened fire.

“They think they can outrun the officers. They don’t realize how dangerous it is,” said Samuel Lee Reid, executive director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which investigates police shootings and recently launched a “Don’t Run” campaign. “The panic sets in,” and “all they can think is that they don’t want to get caught and go back to jail.”

Officers from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation take measurements and scour the scene for evidence after Shane Watkins, who had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was fatally shot by police in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala. (Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily)

The most troubling ­cases began with a cry for help.

About half the shootings occurred after family members, neighbors or strangers sought help from police because someone was suicidal, behaving erratically or threatening violence.

Take Shane Watkins, a 39-year-old white man, who died in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala.

Watkins had never been violent, and family members were not afraid for their safety when they called Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies in March. But Watkins, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was off his medication. Days earlier, he had declared himself the “god of the fifth element” and demanded whiskey and beer so he could “cleanse the earth with it,” said his sister, Yvonne Cote.

Then he started threatening to shoot himself and his dog, Slayer. His mother called Cote, who called 911. Cote got back on the phone with her mother, who watched Watkins walk onto the driveway holding a box cutter to his chest. A patrol car pulled up, and Cote heard her mother yell: “Don’t shoot! He doesn’t have a gun!”

“Then I heard the gunshots,” Cote said.

Lawrence County sheriff’s officials declined to comment and have refused to release documents related to the case.

“There are so many unanswered questions,” she said. “All he had was a box cutter. Wasn’t there some other way for them to handle this?”

Catherine Daniels called police for the same reason. “I wanted to get my son help,” she said. Instead, officers Peter Ehrlich and Eddo Trimino fired their stun guns after Hall hit them with the metal end of the broomstick, according to investigative documents.

“Please don’t hurt my child,” Daniels pleaded, in a scene captured by a camera mounted on the dash of one of the patrol cars.

“Get on the f—ing ground or you’re dead!” Trimino shouted. Then he fired five shots.

Police spokesman Mike Wright declined to comment on the case. Daniels said no one from the city has contacted her. “I haven’t received anything. No apology, nothing.”

But hours after her son was killed, Daniels said, officers investigating the shooting dropped off a six-pack of Coca-Cola.

“I regret calling them,” Daniels said. “They took my son’s life.”

Ted Mellnik, John Muyskens and Amy Brittain contributed to this report.

As part of an ongoing examination of police accountability, The Washington Post has attempted to track every fatal shooting by law enforcement nationwide since January, as well as the number of officers who were fatally shot in the line of duty.

The Post compiled the data using news reports, police records, open sources on the Internet and other original reporting. Several organizations, including Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters, have been collecting information about people who die during encounters with police.

The Post documented only those incidents in which a police officer, while on duty, shot and killed a civilian. Cases in which officers were shot to death were also tabulated.

To comprehensively examine the issue, a database was compiled with information about each incident, including the deceased’s age, race, gender, location and general circumstances. The Post also noted whether police reported that the person was armed and, if so, with what type of weapon.

The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal police shootings, but the data the two federal agencies gather is incomplete. The Post analyzed a decade of FBI and CDC records as part of the study.

To examine racial and economic patterns, The Post identified the location of every fatal shooting and compared it with the composition of the surrounding census tract.

The data, which will be collected through the end of the year, will be made public at a future date.

Information from The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.

Voir de même:

Emeutes à Baltimore: un an de bavures policières contre les Noirs
Maxime Bourdier

Le HuffPost avec AFP

28/04/2015

INTERNATIONAL – Un air de déjà-vu aux Etats-Unis. Les autorités du Maryland ont annoncé lundi soir, le 27 avril, le déploiement massif de la garde nationale et imposé un couvre-feu nocturne pour ramener le calme à Baltimore, théâtre de violences et de pillages qui ont éclaté après les obsèques de Freddie Gray, un jeune Noir décédé le 19 avril après son interpellation musclée par la police.

L’état d’urgence a été décrété. Les violences, circonscrites dans un quartier du nord-ouest de la ville, ont fait 15 blessés parmi les policiers, dont deux ont dû être hospitalisés, et mené à 27 arrestations. Ce contexte tendu rappelle celui qu’a connu Ferguson (Missouri) en 2014 après la mort de Michael Brown, jeune Noir sans arme abattu de plusieurs coups de feu par Darren Wilson. Ce policier blanc avait ensuite bénéficié d’un non-lieu, déclenchant de nouvelles violences.

Au-delà de Ferguson, la mort de Freddie Gray intervient après une série de bavures qui ont ravivé les tensions entre la communauté noire et les forces de l’ordre aux Etats-Unis. Le pays a été confronté à des manifestations rassemblant des milliers de personnes, après la mort de plusieurs Afro-américains non armés tués par des policiers blancs. Dans plusieurs cas, la justice a décidé de ne pas les poursuivre. Retour sur les affaires qui ont fait scandale depuis un an.

Pas d’inculpation contre Christopher Manney
Le policier de Milwaukee Christopher Manney, depuis licencié, a abattu le 30 avril 2014 Dontre Hamilton, 31 ans, après avoir été appelé par des employés d’un café gênés par cet homme qui dormait dans un parc voisin. Les deux hommes en étaient venus aux mains au moment de l’interpellation, jusqu’à ce que le policier use de son arme et tue cet homme noir de 14 balles, ce qui avait provoqué des manifestations.

Le 22 novembre, la justice a alors décidé de ne pas poursuivre Christopher Manney. Le policier a fait usage de son arme car il était en état de légitime défense par conséquent il n’y a pas lieu de l’inculper pour crime », a conclu le procureur, déclenchant de nouvelles manifestations.

Le cas Eric Garner
Eric Garner, 43 ans, est décédé lors d’une interpellation musclée le 17 juillet 2014. Ce père de six enfants soupçonné de vente illégale de cigarettes, avait été plaqué au sol par plusieurs policiers blancs, après avoir refusé d’être arrêté.

Dans la vidéo amateur montrant son interpellation, on voit un policier, Daniel Pantaleo, le prendre par le cou pour le jeter à terre, une pratique pourtant interdite au sein de la police new-yorkaise. « Je ne peux pas respirer », se plaint à plusieurs reprises Garner, obèse et asthmatique, avant de perdre connaissance. Il avait été déclaré mort peu après, et le médecin légiste avait conclu à un homicide.

Dix jours après Ferguson, un grand jury à New York a décidé le 3 décembre de ne pas inculper le policier, contribuant à relancer des manifestations qui semblaient marquer le pas. « I can’t breathe » (« Je ne peux pas respirer ») est devenu un des slogans de ces manifestants en hommage à Eric Garner.

L’affaire Michael Brown
Un grand jury a décidé le 24 novembre de ne pas inculper le policier blanc Darren Wilson, responsable de la mort début août de Michael Brown. Le policier avait tiré douze fois contre le jeune Noir de 18 ans qui n’était pas armé. Une vingtaine de minutes avant cette confrontation, Michael Brown avait été filmé dans une supérette en train de voler une boîte de cigarillos.

Le corps du jeune homme avait été laissé à la vue des passants pendant plusieurs heures, en plein soleil, ajoutant à la colère des manifestants qui y ont vu un signe de plus du mépris des forces de l’ordre pour la population noire.

Le drame de Ferguson, puis la décision du grand jury, ont provoqué plusieurs manifestations et des émeutes dans cette banlieue de St Louis (Missouri) , où la majorité des édiles, y compris la police, est blanche alors que la majorité de la population est noire. De violentes échauffourées et des pillages ont éclaté après la décision.

La mort « par accident » d’Akai Gurley
Un homme noir de 28 ans « totalement innocent » a été tué par accident par un policier blanc dans un immeuble HLM à New York, a annoncé le 21 novembre le chef de la police Bill Bratton.

C’est une « tragédie très regrettable », a-t-il ajouté lors d’une conférence de presse, précisant que l’arme du policier semblait s’être déchargée « par accident », alors qu’il patrouillait dans cet immeuble HLM du quartier de Brooklyn peu avant minuit jeudi soir, avec un collègue.

La victime, identifiée comme Akai Gurley, « est totalement innocente et n’était engagée dans aucune sorte d’activité criminelle », a reconnu le commissaire. Le jeune homme n’était pas armé. Il a été atteint d’une balle en pleine poitrine. Le policier a été inculpé début février 2015 d’homicide involontaire

Un enfant tué alors qu’il jouait avec une arme factice
A Cleveland, Tamir Rice, garçon noir de 12 ans, a été tué le 22 novembre dernier par un policier alors qu’il manipulait une arme factice dans une aire de jeux. Une vidéo accablante montre que le policier tire sur lui quelques secondes seulement après être sorti de sa voiture.

Après les coups de feu, les policiers ont réalisé que « l’arme en possession du suspect de 12 ans était une réplique de pistolet de type ‘airsoft’ (à billes) ressemblant à un pistolet semi-automatique, avec l’indicateur de sécurité orange enlevé », a dit la police.

L’Ohio avait été le théâtre d’un incident similaire en août 2014, quand des policiers répondant à un appel d’urgence avaient abattu un Noir, John Crawford, dans un supermarché alors qu’il transportait un pistolet jouet, vendu sur place.

La mort de Rumain Brisbon à Phoenix
Un policier blanc a tué un homme noir sans arme en Arizona début décembre. La police de Phoenix a indiqué jeudi 5 décembre dans un communiqué qu’un homme de 34 ans, Rumain Brisbon, avait été interpellé alors qu’il était soupçonné de vendre de la drogue.

D’après le rapport de police, il a tenté de s’échapper et a refusé d’obéir « à plusieurs ordres » du policier blanc âgé de 30 ans, dont le nom n’a pas été révélé, mais qui avait sept ans d’expérience, est-il précisé.

Le policier a « cru sentir la crosse d’un revolver » dans la poche du suspect et « a tiré deux fois dans le torse de Brisbon ». La poche de l’homme contenait en réalité une boîte de pilules.

Tony Terrell Robinson tué par balles à Madison
Le 6 mars 2015, Tony Terrell Robinson, jeune métis de 19 ans, a été tué à Madison (Wisconsin) par un policier blanc. L’affaire, à la veille de la commémoration du 50e anniversaire de la marche pour les droits civiques des Noirs à Selma (Alabama), a suscité des manifestations alors que le ministère de la Justice venait de publier un rapport accablant pour la police de Ferguson.

Trois jours plus tard, le chef de la police de Madison Michael Koval a présenté les condoléances de la police après ce décès et appelé les manifestants à attendre les résultats de l’enquête ouverte par la ville. Il a indiqué qu’apparemment le jeune homme n’avait pas utilisé d’arme et qu’il était mort après avoir reçu plusieurs balles.

Selon lui, un policier s’était rendu vendredi soir au domicile de Tony Robinson soupçonné d’avoir perturbé la circulation routière et « battu quelqu’un ». Entendant du bruit à l’intérieur de l’appartement, le policier a forcé l’entrée du domicile avant d’être agressé par Tony Robinson. « Le sujet a agressé (le) policier ….qui a dégainé son pistolet et tiré », a précisé le chef de la police.

Anthony Hill, abattu alors qu’il souffrait de troubles mentaux
Le 9 mars, Anthony Hill, un Noir de 27 ans souffrant de troubles mentaux, a été abattu de deux balles par un policier blanc près d’Atlanta. Il était nu dans la rue et se comportait de façon étrange, précise Reuters. Selon la police, il aurait couru vers un policier, n’obéissant pas à l’ordre de rester immobile qui lui avait été lancé. D’après certains témoins, il avait pourtant les mains en l’air au moment où le policier lui a tiré dessus.

Les autorités ont lancé une enquête pour comprendre pourquoi un policier avait pu abattre cet ancien soldat de l’US Air Force, qui ne portait pas d’arme. La famille d’Anthony Hill a décidé de lancé sa propre enquête. Elle affirme que cet homme « sensible » ne s’était jamais comporté de cette façon auparavant et qu’il avait sans doute été pris d’un coup de folie.

Des manifestations se sont là aussi déroulées près des lieux du drame, afin de rendre hommage à Anthony Hill et une nouvelle fois de dénoncer les violences policières aux Etats-Unis.

Walter Scott abattu de plusieurs balles dans le dos
Le 7 avril, Walter Scott, un homme noir non armé, a été abattu de huit balles dans le dos par un policier blanc à North Charleston, en Caroline du Sud, alors qu’il courait après s’être fait arrêter lors d’un banal contrôle routier. On peut le voir sur une vidéo diffusée par le New York Times et envoyée par un témoin.

Sur la vidéo, on voit ensuite le policier marcher calmement jusqu’à l’homme âgé de 50 ans, lui enjoignant de mettre les mains dans le dos avant de lui passer les menottes. L’homme est mort quelques instants après. Le policier a été arrêté et inculpé de meurtre. Il risque la peine de mort ou la prison à vie s’il était reconnu coupable.

La famille de la victime a salué à maintes reprises le « héros » et l’ange » qui a pris ces images sans lesquelles elle est persuadée qu’il n’y aurait « pas eu de justice ». Le policier avait dans un premier temps justifié son geste par le fait qu’il s’était senti menacé par la victime qui, selon lui, tentait de saisir son pistolet électrique, une version totalement démentie par les images filmées par un passant sur son téléphone portable.

Voir aussi:

Fact-checking claims about race after Ferguson shooting
Jon Greenberg, Linda Qiu, Katie Sanders, Derek Tsang

PunditFact

Aug. 27, 2014

The shooting of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer has led to a broader discussion of race in America. PunditFact has recently fact-checked several claims centering on race.

No. 1 cause of death for young black men

Fox pundit Juan Williams recently expounded upon a column he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in which he described « thuggish behavior » as creating a culture of violence in African-American communities.

« The violent behavior of young black men and the police response have become a window on racial fears, » Williams wrote. On Fox News Sunday Williams said, « On the black side of this equation, I think there’s fear of intimidation, harassment being legitimized by the fact that there is a high rate of crime, especially among young black men.

« No. 1 cause of death, young black men 15 to 34 — murder, » Williams said. « Who’s committing the murder? Not police. Other black men. »

We decided to check Williams’ claim that the leading cause of death for African-American males 15-34 is murder.

That’s True.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide was indeed the No. 1 killer of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 in 2011, the most recent year with statistics available. Accidents were the second leading cause of death.

Compared to other ethnicities, the numbers really stand out. Forty percent of African-American males 15-34 who died were murdered, according to the CDC, compared to just 3.8 percent of white males who died. Overall, 14 percent of all men 15-34 who died in 2011 were murdered.

As the laws of aging go, younger men are less prone to fall victim to natural causes of death, so they are more likely to die of unnatural causes. And the racial disparity between those causes has partially to do with the likelihood of getting into car-related accidents, said James Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University.

« Suburban whites drive more than urban blacks, and putting in more miles on highways —  that’s important because not a lot of people are going to get killed in fender benders in neighborhood streets, » Fox said. « There are relatively few auto-accidents in black urban areas. »

Beyond driving habits, the criminal homicide rate among young black males is significantly higher than other groups. This, experts agreed, has to do with poverty and geography.

The difference in social structures, access to jobs, educational opportunities, and many other factors between impoverished black neighborhoods and others is often a matter of life and death, according to Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

« The (homicide) numbers highlight the condition in minority areas, where a lot of violence occurs and the whole way of life is further intensified because police surveillance is always trying to track down people, » he said. « People have heightened survival instincts, will do anything to survive, and they’ll seek retribution for anything … because  they don’t trust law enforcement. »

Unarmed black killed ‘every 28 hours’

On CNN, conservative African-American radio host Larry Elder and liberal African-American professor and author Marc Lamont Hill debated the state of race relations in the country.

« How often does it happen that an unarmed black is shot by a cop? » Elder asked in the Aug. 20, 2014, interview.

« Every 28 hours, » Hill said. « Every 28 hours, Larry. Larry, every 28 hours. According to the MXGM study, a black person is killed by law enforcement, vigilantes or security … »

Elder cut in, but Hill revisited his point later in the interview, saying, « But if this study bears out, and it does, that every 28 hours an unarmed black person is killed, then that also is a problem. »

Hill has his figures wrong. That claim rates False.

Hill is referencing a 2013 report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement called « Every 28 Hours, » which examined killings of African-Americans in 2012 by law enforcement, security guards and « vigilantes » who claimed self-defense.

The report is not an academic, unbiased representation of these deaths. It was put together by one volunteer researcher and details 313 deaths based on news clips and police reports. It arrives at one death « every 28 hours » by dividing the number of hours in a year, 8,760, by the number of deaths, 313.

But the report doesn’t say what Hill offered on CNN, that an « unarmed black person is killed » every 28 hours.

In fact, less than half of the people who were killed were unarmed, according to MXGM. PunditFact found 136 were labeled as unarmed after reviewing the compiled profiles.

The 28-hour calculation factored in all 313 deaths, which included people who were armed, « allegedly » armed and unarmed.

Also, not all of the « unarmed » people are analogous to Brown’s case or were killed by police.

Included in the unarmed tally, for instance, is Trayvon Martin, the Miami Gardens teen who was killed by a neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman. In other cases, whether someone was really « unarmed » may depend on your definition. In nine cases, police said they shot at suspects because they were charging at them from behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Another case to make the list is Rudy Eugene, the Miami man who attacked a homeless man and gnawed his face before police shot him to death.

We also found several « unarmed » deaths that were due to accidents, many car crashes as officers sped to a scene. In another example, one woman was killed at her birthday party, hosted by an off-duty police officer, when she hugged the officer from behind and somehow set off his gun.

More whites are victims of police shootings

The turmoil in Ferguson has spurred many assertions that blacks are unfairly victimized by police. Conservative talk show host Michael Medved aimed to turn that argument on its head.

In a post-show summary on his website, Medved cast police as the protectors of African-Americans. Medved said that blacks are much more likely to be killed by another black person than they are by a cop.

« When it comes to keeping black youths from violent death, police aren’t the problem – in fact, they’re a crucial part of any solution, » Medved said.

As for the charge that police target blacks, Medved said the opposite is true.

« More whites than blacks are victims of deadly police shootings, » he said.

That’s technically correct, but only because there are many more whites in the United States than blacks. So Medved’s claim rates Half True.

In a country that is about 63 percent white and 12 percent black, the probability that an African-American will die in a confrontation with police is much higher than for whites.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps data on fatal injuries from 1999 to 2011 and one category is homicides by legal intervention. The term « legal intervention » covers any situation when a person dies at the hands of anyone authorized to use deadly force in the line of duty.

Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks. In that respect, Medved is correct.

However, Brian Forst, a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University, said this difference is predictable.

« More whites are killed by the police than blacks primarily because whites outnumber blacks in the general population by more than five to one, » Forst said.

Rather than comparing the raw numbers, you can look at the likelihood that a person will die due to « legal intervention » in the same way you might look at the chance a person will die in a car accident or a disease like lung cancer. When you do that, the numbers flip.

A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the death rate due to legal intervention was more than three times higher for blacks than for whites in the period from 1988 to 1997.

Ferguson’s black unemployment rate

Fox pundit Lou Dobbs  criticized President Barack Obama for not going firsthand to Ferguson to calm tensions after the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American by a white police officer.

Obama, Dobbs claimed, bears responsibility for the economic issues that have contributed to the tensions in Ferguson. « Black unemployment is three times that of white unemployment, » Dobbs said on Aug. 19’s America’s Newsroom. « The community itself has a 13 percent unemployment rate, more than double that of the national average. The household net worth in that community is $10,000, a third less than the national average. »

« These are the results of policies on the part of the state government, the local community, and the president of the United States, » Dobbs said, arguing that President Obama should assure residents that « there will be honest and forthright dealing » with « no ambiguity about the conclusions. »

Obama needs to see, Dobbs said, « what happens when you don’t push job creation, you don’t push prosperity for all Americans. »

Dobbs’ claim that Obama is behind the disparity in unemployment rates is False.

First and foremost, Dobbs’ numbers are off. The most recent and best available statistics say the black unemployment rate is 1.9 times higher than the white unemployment rate in Ferguson (16 percent to 8.5 percent).

Second, that has little to do with Obama. Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping data in 1954, African-Americans have been nationwide are more likely to be unemployed than whites.

***

« More whites than blacks are victims of deadly police shootings. »
— Michael Medved on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 in a Web post from the « Michael Medved Show »
Talk show host: Police kill more whites than blacks
Jon Greenberg

Pundit Fact

August 21st, 2014

The turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., has spurred many assertions that blacks are unfairly victimized by police. Conservative talk show host Michael Medved aimed to turn that argument on its head.

In a post-show summary on his website this week, Medved cast police as the protectors of African-Americans. Medved said that blacks are much more likely to be killed by another black person than they are by a cop.

« When it comes to keeping black youths from violent death, police aren’t the problem – in fact, they’re a crucial part of any solution, » Medved said.

As for the charge that police target blacks, Medved said the opposite is true.

« More whites than blacks are victims of deadly police shootings, » he said.

We asked Medved’s producers for the source of that claim and did not hear back before we published. Thanks to the good work by the team at fivethirtyeight.com, we know that there is no precise accounting of how many people the police kill. An unknown number of deaths go unreported because the coroner failed to note it or police departments categorize deaths in different ways, or some other data glitch got in the way.

However, even the incomplete figures gathered by the government tell us that Medved could be partially correct and still ignore a huge piece of the picture. Yes, more whites than blacks die as a result of an encounter with police, but whites also represent a much bigger chunk of the total population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps data on fatal injuries from 1999 to 2011 and one category is homicides by legal intervention. The term « legal intervention » covers any situation when a person dies at the hands of anyone authorized to use deadly force in the line of duty.

Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks. In that respect, Medved is correct.

However, Brian Forst, a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University, said this difference is predictable.

« More whites are killed by the police than blacks primarily because whites outnumber blacks in the general population by more than five to one, » Forst said. The country is about 63 percent white and 12 percent black.

Rather than comparing the raw numbers, you can look at the likelihood that a person will die due to « legal intervention » in the same way you might look at the chance a person will die in a car accident or a disease like lung cancer. When you do that, the numbers flip.

A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the death rate due to legal intervention was more than three times higher for blacks than for whites in the period from 1988 to 1997.

That is not the final story though. There are different theories as to why the black rate is so much higher.

Candace McCoy is a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. McCoy said blacks might be more likely to have a violent encounter with police because they are convicted of felonies at a higher rate than whites. Felonies include everything from violent crimes like murder and rape, to property crimes like burglary and embezzlement, to drug trafficking and gun offenses.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2004, state courts had over 1 million felony convictions. Of those, 59 percent were committed by whites and 38 percent by blacks. But when you factor in the population of whites and blacks, the felony rates stand at 330 per 100,000 for whites and 1,178 per 100,000 for blacks. That’s more than a three-fold difference.

McCoy noted that this has more to do with income than race. The felony rates for poor whites are similar to those of poor blacks.

« Felony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA, » McCoy said. « It is the most difficult and searing problem in this whole mess. »

On his website, Medved tried to link police killings with whether someone resisted arrest. « If you defer and don’t try to challenge a police officer, he may insult you but he won’t kill you, » Medved said.

But criminologist Lorie Fridell at the University of South Florida told PunditFact that the research on this point is mixed. Some studies that factor in the level of resistance show that race doesn’t matter, and some show that it does.

Our ruling

Medved said that police kill more whites than blacks. In absolute terms, that is accurate. However, the statement ignores that there are more than five times more whites than blacks in America. When comparing death rates, blacks are about three times more likely than whites to die in a confrontation with police.

Medved’s statement leaves out significant information that would change someone’s understanding of the topic. We rate his claim Half True.

Update: The number of deaths due to legal intervention were changed after we initially published this report to include only firearms deaths, which lowered the overall totals. The rating remains the same.

Voir encore:

Aux Etats-Unis, la longue histoire des brutalités policières
Charlotte Recoquillon et Marianne Boyer

Les Décodeurs

Le Monde

21.08.2014

Le 19 avril, dans la ville américaine de Baltimore (Maryland), le drame s’est répété : Freddie Gray, un homme noir de 25 ans, est mort des suites d’une fracture des vertèbres verticales une semaine après son arrestation musclée par trois policiers pour possession d’un couteau. Après plusieurs soirs de rassemblements populaires, la police de Baltimore a reconnu vendredi 24 avril que le jeune homme aurait dû recevoir une assistance médicale aussitôt après son arrestation. Une vidéo filmée par un passant le montre immobilisé au sol, hurlant de douleur après avoir été immobilisé par les trois agents. Sa moelle épinière a été sectionnée à 80 % au niveau du cou, selon l’avocat de sa famille.

Cette nouvelle affaire intervient dans un contexte particulièrement tendu, qui a vu en quelques mois se multiplier les cas d’hommes noirs tués par des policiers blancs dans des situations souvent troubles. La mort de Michael Brown, abattu par un policier à Ferguson (Missouri) avait suscité en août de violentes confrontations entre les manifestants et les forces de l’ordre, tout comme la décision du grand jury de ne pas poursuivre le policier auteur des tirs.

Trois éléments sont utiles pour comprendre l’indignation et l’émotion suscitées par ces évènements. D’une part, loin d’être isolé, ces drames s’ajoutent à une longue liste de violences policières. D’autre part, on assiste depuis une vingtaine d’années à une militarisation de plus en plus importante des policiers poussée par une puissante industrie de la défense. Enfin, tout cela a lieu dans une Amérique qui peine à éradiquer un racisme systémique et où les préjugés sont tenaces.

Une longue histoire de brutalités policières
La liste est longue. La mémoire collective se souvient évidemment de l’affaire Rodney King, cet homme noir passé à tabac en 1991 par des policiers dont l’acquittement avait déclenché de violentes émeutes. Lui n’en est pas mort. Mais, pour de nombreux autres Noirs aux Etats-Unis, innocents, non armés, l’usage excessif de la force tue.

2015
Walter Scott, Noir, 50 ans, North Charleston, Caroline du sud

Après un banal contrôle routier pour un feu cassé, il est abattu de cinq balles par un policier qui le poursuivait dans un jardin public. La légitime défense invoquée par l’agent, Michael Slager, a rapidement été remise en question par la révélation d’une vidéo filmée par un témoin : à aucun moment on ne le voit menacé par Walter Scott.
2014
Eric Garner, Noir, 43 ans, Staten Island, New York

Soupçonné de vente illégale de cigarettes, il est victime d’une arrestation musclée sur le terminal portuaire de Staten Island. Non armé, l’homme, en surpoids et asthmatique, se plaint de ne pouvoir respirer à plusieurs reprises. Etranglé par les policiers, il perd connaissance sur le bitume et meurt quelques instants après son arrivée à l’hôpital.
2014
Tamir Rice, Noir, 12 ans, Cleveland, Ohio

Le jeune garçon joue dans la rue avec un pistolet factice, qu’il s’amuse à pointer sur les passants, quand un témoin prévient la police. Peu après, deux agents descendent d’une voiture et l’un d’eux, Timothy Loehman, abat Tamir Rice alors qu’il semble vouloir prendre quelque chose à sa ceinture.
2013
Jonathan Ferrell, Noir, 24 ans, Charlotte, Caroline du Nord

Blessé dans un accident de voiture et ensanglanté, il sonne chez une dame pour demander de l’aide. Elle prend peur et appelle la police. L’agent Randall Kerrick lui tire dessus douze fois, dix balles l’atteignent. Il n’était pas armé.
2012
Ramarley Graham, Noir, 18 ans, New York

Suspecté de détenir de la marijuana, poursuivi jusqu’à l’appartement de sa grand-mère où les policiers pénètrent sans mandat et l’abattent d’une balle dans la poitrine devant son petit frère de 6 ans. Il n’était pas armé.
2008
Tarika Wilson, Noire, 26 ans, Lima, Ohio

A la recherche de son compagnon, une unité spéciale (SWAT) pénètre dans la maison de Tarika Wilson où elle est abattue. Son fils de 15 mois, qu’elle tenait dans les bras, est blessé. Elle n’était pas armée.
Aux quelques centaines d’homicides commis par des policiers chaque année, 497 rien qu’en 2009 selon les estimations de l’American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), il faut opposer le fait que, très souvent, quel que soit le degré d’excès d’usage de la force, les responsables sont acquittés. Quand ils ont été mis en examen.

2013
Andy Lopez, 13 ans, Hispanique, Santa Rosa, Californie

L’adolescent a été surpris dans une allée avec une arme en plastique. L’officier Gelhaus a tiré huit balles en l’espace de six secondes, dont sept ont atteint Andy Lopez. Aucune charge n’a été retenue.
2006
Sean Bell, Noir, 23 ans, New York

Au petit matin de son mariage, Sean Bell et deux amis sortent d’un club. Leur voiture, poursuivie par la police, est à l’arrêt lorsque les officiers déchargent cinquante balles. Quatre balles tuent Sean Bell. Ses amis survivent à dix-neuf et trois balles respectivement. Trois des cinq policiers ont été jugés pour homicide et mise en danger. Ils ont été reconnus non coupables.
1999
Amadou Diallo, Noir, 23 ans, New York

Confondu avec un violeur recherché, Amadou Diallo est abattu devant chez lui par quatre policiers en civil alors qu’il leur tendait ses papiers d’identité pour s’identifier. Il est touché par dix-neuf des quarante-et-une balles tirées. Les quatre policiers sont acquittés.
Parfois, sous la pression de l’opinion publique ou d’un contexte politique particulier, les policiers sont condamnés. La lourdeur des peines est variable.

2009
Oscar Grant, 22 ans, Noir, Oakland, Californie

Arrêté avec plusieurs autres personnes sur le quai de la station Fruitvale, Oscar Grant était menotté et à plat ventre quand l’officier Mehserle lui a tiré dessus, dans le dos, expliquant plus tard qu’il a confondu son arme et son Taser. La scène a été filmée par de nombreux témoins. Mehserle a été reconnu coupable d’homicide involontaire et condamné à deux ans de prison.
2006
Kathryn Johnston, 92 ans, Noire, Atlanta, Géorgie

Probablement sur de fausses informations, une unité spéciale de police envahit la maison de Kathryn Johnston à la recherche de drogue. Effrayée, elle tire un coup de feu avec un vieux pistolet, ne blessant personne. Les policiers répliquent en déchargeant trente-neuf balles, dont six atteignent la vieille dame. Mourante, elle est menottée à son lit. Les policiers tentent plus tard de maquiller la scène, cachent de la drogue chez elle et demandent à un informateur un faux témoignage. Trois officiers ont été condamnés à dix, six et cinq ans de prison pour différents chefs d’accusation : homicide volontaire, faux témoignage, parjure.
1997
Abner Louima, 30 ans, Noir, New York

Après une bagarre entre deux femmes, dans laquelle lui et plusieurs hommes interviennent, la police arrive. Elle arrête Abner Louima sur la fausse accusation d’un coup porté à l’officier Volpe. Dans la voiture, les policiers le frappent avec leurs poings et leurs radios. Au commissariat, les violences se poursuivent, jusqu’au viol lors duquel Abner Louima a les mains menottées dans le dos. Il est resté hospitalisé deux mois. Justin Volpe a été condamné à trente ans de prison pour avoir enfreint les droits civiques de Louima, pour obstruction à la justice et faux témoignage. Charles Schwarz a été condamné à quinze ans de prison pour avoir aidé Volpe lors du viol.

La militarisation de la police et l’usage excessif de la force
4,3 milliards de dollars transférés par le ministère de la défense à la police, en équipements militaires et paramilitaires, entre 1990 et 2012, selon le rapport de l’ACLU sur la militarisation de la police
Que plus de 500 agences de police aient reçu un véhicule blindé au cours de l’année 2011-2012 pose question sur la nécessité de tels équipements conçus pour des zones de combats militaires, mais aussi sur les intérêts commerciaux et financiers de cette politique. Ainsi Lockheed Martin, fabricant d’armes, recevrait chaque année 29 milliards de dollars du Pentagone, selon William Hartung, expert en sécurité, et emploie près de 130 000 personnes. On peut aussi citer l’entreprise ATK, principal fournisseur de munitions de petit calibre, dont le chiffre d’affaires atteint 2,9 milliards de dollars et qui est basée dans le Missouri.

Depuis les années 1980, les unités spéciales d’intervention (SWAT), équivalent du GIGN en France, se sont développées à un point tel que Peter Kraska, professeur à l’université Eastern Kentucky estime que plus de 80 % des villes de plus de 25 000 habitants en possèdent une. Il estime aussi que ces unités, créées pour gérer des situations à haut risque telles que les prises d’otages, sont désormais déployées plus de 50 000 fois par an (contre 3 000 en 1980). Lourdement armées et dotées d’un véritable arsenal militaire, ces unités sont en fait largement utilisées dans le cadre d’opérations de faible intensité, comme l’exécution de mandats de perquisition. L’effet de terreur produit lors de leurs interventions touche de façon disproportionnée les minorités, au premier rang desquelles, les Noirs.
Une équipe du SWAT inspecte des maisons à la recherche d’une bombe, après les attentats du marathon de Boston, en avril 2013. AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary.

Pourtant, comme le montre l’exemple de Ferguson, le suréquipement accroît les violences et les risques, tant pour les policiers que pour les citoyens, en encourageant les policiers à adopter des comportements de militaires chargés de combattre un ennemi intérieur, au lieu de protéger et de servir la population. Par ailleurs, casqués et méconnaissables, les policiers sont déshumanisés et s’exposent à des réactions plus hostiles.
Un policier du département de police du comté de Saint-Louis pointe son arme en direction d’un groupe de manifestants, le 13 août 2013 à Ferguson. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson.
La question raciale en toile de fond
Les préjugés et stéréotypes raciaux permettent de comprendre comment un policier armé peut se sentir menacé par un adolescent innocent et non armé, en l’occurrence Michael Brown, au point de lui tirer dessus à six reprises, dont deux dans la tête. Un certain nombre de stigmates associés à la figure du délinquant structurent le travail des policiers. Ainsi, en 2008, les conducteurs noirs avaient trois fois plus