21 000 MORTS !!!! (L’Europe prête au sacrifice de ses forces vives pour sauver… ses octogénaires !!)

20 mars, 2020

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Les justes lui répondront: Seigneur, quand t’avons-nous vu avoir faim, et t’avons-nous donné à manger; ou avoir soif, et t’avons-nous donné à boire? Quand t’avons-nous vu étranger, et t’avons-nous recueilli; ou nu, et t’avons-nous vêtu? Quand t’avons-nous vu malade, ou en prison, et sommes-nous allés vers toi? Et le roi leur répondra: Je vous le dis en vérité, toutes les fois que vous avez fait ces choses à l’un de ces plus petits de mes frères, c’est à moi que vous les avez faites. Jésus (Matthieu 25: 44-45)
Une civilisation est testée sur la manière dont elle traite ses membres les plus faibles. Pearl Buck
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’exigence chrétienne a produit une machine qui va fonctionner en dépit des hommes et de leurs désirs. Si aujourd’hui encore, après deux mille ans de christianisme, on reproche toujours, et à juste titre, à certains chrétiens de ne pas vivre selon les principes dont ils se réclament, c’est que le christianisme s’est universellement imposé, même parmi ceux qui se disent athées. Le système qui s’est enclenché il y a deux millénaires ne va pas s’arrêter, car les hommes s’en chargent eux-mêmes en dehors de toute adhésion au christianisme. Le tiers-monde non chrétien reproche aux pays riches d’être leur victime, car les Occidentaux ne suivent pas leurs propres principes. Chacun de par le vaste monde se réclame du système de valeurs chrétien, et, finalement, il n’y en a plus d’autres. Que signifient les droits de l’homme si ce n’est la défense de la victime innocente? Le christianisme, dans sa forme laïcisée, est devenu tellement dominant qu’on ne le voit plus en tant que tel. La vraie mondialisation, c’est le christianisme! René Girard
Je crois que le moment décisif en Occident est l’invention de l’hôpital. Les primitifs s’occupent de leurs propres morts. Ce qu’il y a de caractéristique dans l’hôpital c’est bien le fait de s’occuper de tout le monde. C’est l’hôtel-Dieu donc c’est la charité. Et c’est visiblement une invention du Moyen-Age. René Girard
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la « victime inconnue », comme on dirait aujourd’hui le « soldat inconnu ». Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
On a commencé avec la déconstruction du langage et on finit avec la déconstruction de l’être humain dans le laboratoire. (…) Elle est proposée par les mêmes qui d’un côté veulent prolonger la vie indéfiniment et nous disent de l’autre que le monde est surpeuplé. René Girard
L’idée d’une Chine naturellement pacifique et trônant, satisfaite, au milieu d’un pré carré qu’elle ne songe pas à arrondir est une fiction. L’idée impériale, dont le régime communiste s’est fait l’héritier, porte en elle une volonté hégémoniste. La politique de puissance exige de « sécuriser les abords ». Or les abords de la Chine comprennent plusieurs des grandes puissances économiques du monde d’aujourd’hui : la « protection » de ses abords par la Chine heurte de plein fouet la stabilité du monde. Et ce, d’autant qu’elle est taraudée de mille maux intérieurs qui sont autant d’incitations aux aventures extérieurs et à la mobilisation nationaliste. Que veut la République Populaire ? Rétablir la Chine comme empire du Milieu. (…) À cet avenir glorieux, à la vassalisation par la Chine, les Etats-Unis sont l’obstacle premier. La Chine ne veut pas de confrontation militaire, elle veut intimider et dissuader, et forcer les Etats-Unis à la reculade.  (…) Pékin a récupéré Hong-Kong – l’argent, la finance, les communications. L’étape suivante, c’est Taïwan – la technologie avancée, l’industrie, d’énormes réserves monétaires. Si Pékin parvient à imposer la réunification à ses propres conditions, si un « coup de Taïwan » réussissait, aujourd’hui, demain ou après-demain, tous les espoirs seraient permis à Pékin. Dès lors, la diaspora chinoise, riche et influente, devrait mettre tous ses œufs dans le même panier ; il n’y aurait plus de centre alternatif de puissance. La RPC contrôlerait désormais les ressources technologiques et financières de l’ensemble de la « Grande Chine ». Elle aurait atteint la masse critique nécessaire à son grand dessein asiatique. Militairement surclassés, dénués de contrepoids régionaux, les pays de l’ASEAN, Singapour et les autres, passeraient alors sous la coupe de la Chine, sans heurts, mais avec armes et bagages. Pékin pourrait s’attaquer à sa « chaîne de première défense insulaire » : le Japon, la Corée, les Philippines, l’Indonésie. La Corée ? Privée du parapluie américain, mais encore menacée par l’insane régime nord-coréen, elle ferait face à un choix dramatique : soit accepter l’affrontement avec le géant chinois, se doter d’armes nucléaires et de vecteurs balistiques, et d’une défense antimissiles performante, soit capituler, et payer tribut, tel un vassal, au grand voisin du sud. Elle pourrait théoriquement s’allier au Japon pour que les deux pays – dont les rapports ne sont jamais faciles – se réarment et se nucléarisent ensemble. Il est également possible – c’est le plan chinois – qu’ils se résolvent tous deux à capituler. Le Japon, géant techno-industriel, nain politico militaire, archipel vulnérable, serait confronté au même dilemme. L’Asie du Sud-Est, sans soutien américain ni contrepoids à la Chine en Asie du Nord, est désarmée. Tous montreraient la porte aux Etats-Unis, dont les bases militaires seraient fermées, en Corée et au Japon. Les Etats-Unis seraient renvoyés aux îles Mariannes, Marshall et à Midway – comme l’entendait le général Tojo, le chef des forces armées impériales du Japon et l’amiral Yamamoto, le stratège de l’attaque de Pearl Harbour en 1941. La Chine est-elle maîtresse de l’Asie ? Reste à neutraliser l’Inde, l’égale démographique, la rivale démocratique, anglophone, peu disposée à s’en laisser compter. Mais il faut la clouer sur sa frontière occidentale par l’éternel conflit avec le Pakistan islamiste et nucléaire. La Chine doit neutraliser l’Inde, ou l’attaquer, avant que ses progrès économiques et militaires ne lui confèrent une immunité stratégique. La Mongolie « extérieure » est récupérée, Pékin ne s’étant jamais accommodé de son indépendance ni de sa soumission à la Russie. Plus loin, le traité de Pékin de 1860, qui donna à la Russie les territoires de l’Extrême-Orient russe, pourra être effacé ou abrogé, la faiblesse russe allant s’aggravant. Au XXIe siècle, l’hégémonie asiatique, c’est le tremplin vers la domination mondiale. Harold Mackinder, le géopoliticien britannique, affirmait il y a un siècle que la domination du cœur de l’Eurasie, c’était la domination du monde. Les déplacements tectoniques intervenus dans l’économie et la politique mondiale font de l’Asie peuplée, riche et inventive, le pivot de la domination mondiale. Tel est le grand dessein chinois, à un horizon qui peut être placé entre 2025 et 2050. Pour qu’il réussisse, la condition nécessaire est l’élimination des Etats-Unis comme facteur stratégique majeur dans l’Asie-Pacifique. Objectera-t-on qu’il y a là une bonne dose d’irréalisme ? Le PNB du Japon de 1941 ne se montait guère qu’à 20 pour cent de celui des Etats-Unis. L’erreur de calcul est commune dans les affaires internationales, et fournit souvent la poudre dont sont faites les guerres. L’aptitude à se méprendre du tout au tout sur les rapports de force est caractéristique des dictatures. La Pax Sinica désirée par le nouvel hégémon bute sur bien d’autres obstacles. La course au nationalisme des dirigeants du régime est non seulement le produit atavique d’une tradition dont nous avons démonté les ressorts – « de même qu’il n’y a pas deux soleils dans le ciel, il ne peut y avoir qu’un empereur sur terre », dit le Livre des rites confucéen – elle est également le produit d’une fuite en avant provoquée par les multiples crises qui affligent la Chine. Le régime devrait résoudre la quadrature du cercle pour maîtriser ces crises : la perspective est improbable. L’échec probable rend possible l’ouverture d’un nouveau cycle de crise systémique. L’agressivité nationaliste du régime en serait aggravée. Jamais ses chefs n’ont été aussi isolés de la société, jamais la Chine n’a été aussi anomique qu’elle ne l’est devenue sous la férule de Jiang Zemin. L’absurde méga-projet de projet de barrage des Trois-Gorges sur le Yangzien en est l’éclatante démonstration : ce chantier pharaonique absorbe des investissements gigantesques au détriment de bien des projets plus réalistes, dans le but de résoudre en quelque sorte d’un seul coup la pénurie d’électricité nationale. Les études de faisabilité et d’impact environnemental ont été bâclées : nu ne sait ce qui adviendra de ce bricolage géant sur le géant fluvial de Chine du Sud. Les risques de catastrophe écologique sont considérables. Des millions de villageois ont été délogés. La corruption s’est emparée du projet, au point de menacer la stabilité et la solidité du barrage : le sable a remplacé le béton dans un certain nombre d’éléments du barrage. Une société moderne ne peut être gérée sur la base des choix arbitraires de quelques centaines de dirigeants reclus, opérant dans le secret et en toute souveraineté. Ce que les tenants, aujourd’hui déconfits, des « valeurs asiatiques », n’avaient pas compris, dans leurs plaidoyers pro domo en faveur d’un despotisme qu’ils prétendaient éclairé, c’est que les contre-pouvoirs, les contrepoids, que sont une opposition active, une presse libre et critique, des pouvoirs séparés selon les règles d’un Montesquieu, l’existence d’une société civile et de multitudes d’organisations associatives, font partie de la nécessaire diffusion du pouvoir qui peut ainsi intégrer les compétences, les intérêts et les opinions différentes. Mais, pour ce faire, il convient de renoncer au modèle chinois, c’est-à-dire au monolithisme intérieur. La renonciation au monolithisme extérieur n’est pas moins indispensable : la Chine doit participer à un monde dont elle n’a pas créé les règles, et ces règles sont étrangères à l’esprit même de sa politique multimillénaire. La Chine vit toujours sous la malédiction de sa propre culture politique. La figure que prendra le siècle dépendra largement du maintien de la Chine, ou de l’abandon par elle, de cette culture, et de sa malédiction. Laurent Murawiec (2000)
The immune system is a marvel of complexity and efficiency. It is designed to protect us from foreign invaders of all kinds, the most important of which are infectious agents, and from dangerous enemies that are generated within, like cancer. It is composed of a variety of defense strategies: it can generate chemicals to kill invaders; it can mobilize armies of cells to swallow them up; and it has an elaborate system whereby it can recognize thousands of substances that are foreign to our bodies and then neutralize them. For years it was thought by immunologists to be an autonomous system, though there were disconcerting stories about patients along the way that suggested that the mind might have something to do with the way it worked. For the most part these stories were discounted by the experts, but now there is concrete evidence that cannot be ignored that the brain is involved in the system. (…) there is a long history of awareness that the emotions have something to do with our susceptibility to or ability to fight off infection, but none of it is generally accepted by medical doctors and rarely applied in everyday practice. Frequent colds and genitourinary infections are among the most common but it is likely that psychological factors play a role in all infectious processes. As with cancer, it is the efficiency of the immune system to do its job of eradicating the infectious agent that is at issue. Stressful emotions can reduce that effectiveness and allow the infection to flourish but there is ample anecdotal evidence that people have the capacity to enhance immunologic efficiency by improving their emotional states. John E. Sarno (Healing back pain, 1991)
Overall, this Review suggests that the psychological impact of quarantine is wide-ranging, substantial, and can be long lasting. This is not to suggest that quarantine should not be used; the psychological effects of not using quarantine and allowing disease to spread might be worse. However, depriving people of their liberty for the wider public good is often contentious and needs to be handled carefully. If quarantine is essential, then our results suggest that officials should take every measure to ensure that this experience is as tolerable as possible for people. This can be achieved by: telling people what is happening and why, explaining how long it will continue, providing meaningful activities for them to do while in quarantine, providing clear communication, ensuring basic supplies (such as food, water, and medical supplies) are available, and reinforcing the sense of altruism that people should, rightly, be feeling. Health officials charged with implementing quarantine, who by definition are in employment and usually with reasonable job security, should also remember that not everyone is in the same situation. If the quarantine experience is negative, the results of this Review suggest there can be long-term consequences that affect not just the people quarantined but also the health-care system that administered the quarantine and the politicians and public health officials who mandated it. The Lancet
Freshly killed hens are much better than frozen meat in supermarkets, if you want to make perfect chicken soup. The flavor is richer. Ran
Traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization, embodying the wisdom of the nation and its people. Xi Jinping
What a tragedy that the 100,000 pangolins that are purged every year are sacrificed over the false belief that their scales can aid in blood circulation and cure rheumatism! Melissa Chen
Wet markets, like the one in Wuhan that was ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the globe, are common throughout Asia. The larger newly-industrialized cities in China play host to hundreds of such markets, providing fresh produce and meat but also functioning as social nuclei. Dubious food safety and hygiene standards aside, what made the Wuhan Seafood Market such a swarming petri dish for viral pathogens is the compendium of dead and live wildlife that were kept in close proximity, sometimes festering in their own fecal matter. Pictures and video clips circulated on Weibo and other social media platforms showed the range of animals on sale — wolf pups, rats, peacocks, raccoons, porcupines, snakes, crocodiles and foxes, all jammed side-by-side in flimsy cages awaiting their own slaughter, making it easy for zoonotic diseases to leap from species to species and from animals to humans. Scientists believe that the pangolin, an endangered Southeast Asian mammal that looks like the lovechild of a scaly anteater and an armadillo, was the intermediary that helped bridge the novel coronavirus’s jump from its original host, bats, to humans. To date, the virus has infected more than 200,000 and killed more than 8,000 people worldwide. The Chinese preference for wet markets and exotic wildlife has deep social, historical and cultural roots. Around 1960, Chairman Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward led to agricultural collapse and the starvation of tens of millions of people, a trauma that continues to make an indelible print on China’s collective psyche today. For one, it necessitated a scarcity mindset. Under starvation conditions, does it really matter what vessel of bodily flesh was delivering your next caloric intake? Why would you squander any body part? There’s an old Cantonese saying that goes, ‘anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible’. The myth that freshly killed animals taste superior is very pervasive, particularly among the older generation. ‘Freshly killed hens are much better than frozen meat in supermarkets, if you want to make perfect chicken soup,’ a 60-year-old woman named Ran told Bloomberg while shopping at a Chinese wet market. ‘The flavor is richer.’ Perhaps because home refrigeration only became widespread in China in the last few decades, Chinese folks with rural roots still associate freshness with how recently the meat was slaughtered. This is why sellers keep their animals alive and only butcher them before their customers’ eyes. As for what’s driving the demand for exotic wildlife, we need only look to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is very widely-adopted in China and among the Chinese diaspora. Its philosophical roots can be traced all the way back to the ancient text The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, written roughly 2,000 years ago. This is the source material that lays out the various therapeutic effects of specific wild animal parts and suggests that consuming exotic meats confers wealth and status upon its devotee. What a tragedy that the 100,000 pangolins that are purged every year are sacrificed over the false belief that their scales can aid in blood circulation and cure rheumatism! Meanwhile, Beijing continues to aggressively promote TCM both internationally and domestically, in a bid to project nationalistic pride and soft power. Late last year, the state-run China Daily news website reported Xi Jinping saying that ‘traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization, embodying the wisdom of the nation and its people’. Most recently, Chinese officials have also been touting the success of deploying TCM methods to treat over half of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Hubei province, an ironic move given that it was the very indulgence of magical belief in traditional remedies that most likely caused the coronavirus outbreak in the first place. To its credit, the Chinese government has since taken swift action to close down some 20,000 wildlife farms and punish over 2,000 people for wildlife crimes since COVID-19 broke out uncontrollably. They have also temporarily banned the wildlife trade until the epidemic is over, but not without carving out exceptions for wild animals for the purposes of TCM. Unless this loophole is closed, people can and will simply abuse the system and use TCM as an excuse to smuggle in more meat and partake in the trade. Meanwhile, several articles have decried the problematic ways in which Chinese eating and hygiene habits have been discussed in light of the outbreak, especially because they may lead to stereotyping Chinese people as a whole for being barbaric and uncivilized. These stereotypes, they fear, will only end up fueling xenophobia and racism. The temptation here is to avoid falling into the trap of cultural relativism. It’s perfectly appropriate to criticize China’s rampant consumption of exotic animals, lack of hygiene standards and otherwise risky behavior that puts people at risk for zoonotic infections. Until these entrenched behaviors based on cultural or magical beliefs are divorced from Chinese culture, wet wildlife markets will linger as time-bombs ready to set off the next pandemic, which in a globalized age is proving only too easy to do. We already know that more than 75 percent of emerging diseases originate in animals and that in the last century, at least 10 infectious diseases jumped from animals to people. China should be aghast at its role setting off the global domino effect at Wuhan Seafood Market in late 2019. After countless infections and death, the obliteration of trillions of dollars and the radical retooling of modern life as we know it, the least China could do is introduce higher food safety regulations, eradicate all wet markets and ban the wildlife trade, once and for all. Melissa Chen
As early as Dec 27, a Guangzhou-based genomics company had sequenced most of the virus from fluid samples from the lung of a 65-year old deliveryman who worked at the seafood market where many of the first cases emerged. The results showed an alarming similarity to the deadly Sars coronavirus that killed nearly 800 people between 2002 and 2003. Around that time, local doctors sent at least eight other patient samples from hospitals around Wuhan to multiple Chinese genomics companies, including industry heavyweight BGI, as they worked to determine what was behind a growing number of cases of unexplained respiratory disease. The results all pointed to a dangerous Sars-like virus. That was days before China notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Dec 31 about the emergence of an unidentified infectious disease, two weeks before it shared the virus’ genome sequence with the world, and crucially, more than three weeks before Chinese authorities confirmed publicly that the virus was spreading between people. Concerns about the new disease were initially kept within a small group of medical workers, researchers and officials. On Dec 30, Dr Li Wenliang was one of several in Wuhan who sounded the first alarms and released initial evidence online. Dr Li, who was punished for releasing the information, would perish from the disease five weeks later, after contracting it from a patient. On Jan 1, after several batches of genome sequence results had been returned to hospitals and submitted to health authorities, an employee of one genomics company received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and destroy all existing samples. (…) Then on Jan 3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC), the nation’s top health authority, ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them. The order, which Caixin has seen, did not specify any designated testing institutions. It was Jan 9 when the Chinese authorities finally announced that a novel coronavirus was behind Wuhan’s viral pneumonia outbreak. Even then, the transmissibility of the virus was downplayed, leaving the public unaware of the imminent danger. Finally, on Jan 20, Dr Zhong Nanshan, a leading authority on respiratory health who came to national attention in his role fighting Sars, confirmed in a TV interview that the disease was spreading from person-to-person. (…) On the evening of Dec 30, several doctors in Wuhan, including the late Dr Li Wenliang, privately shared CapitalBio’s results as a warning to friends and colleagues to take protective measures. Those messages then circulated widely online and sparked a public uproar demanding more information. Several people, including Dr Li and two other doctors who sent the messages that night, were later punished by the authorities for « spreading rumours ». Caixa Global (29.02. 2020)As early as Dec 27, a Guangzhou-based genomics company had sequenced most of the virus from fluid samples from the lung of a 65-year old deliveryman who worked at the seafood market where many of the first cases emerged. The results showed an alarming similarity to the deadly Sars coronavirus that killed nearly 800 people between 2002 and 2003. Around that time, local doctors sent at least eight other patient samples from hospitals around Wuhan to multiple Chinese genomics companies, including industry heavyweight BGI, as they worked to determine what was behind a growing number of cases of unexplained respiratory disease. The results all pointed to a dangerous Sars-like virus. That was days before China notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Dec 31 about the emergence of an unidentified infectious disease, two weeks before it shared the virus’ genome sequence with the world, and crucially, more than three weeks before Chinese authorities confirmed publicly that the virus was spreading between people. Concerns about the new disease were initially kept within a small group of medical workers, researchers and officials. On Dec 30, Dr Li Wenliang was one of several in Wuhan who sounded the first alarms and released initial evidence online. Dr Li, who was punished for releasing the information, would perish from the disease five weeks later, after contracting it from a patient. On Jan 1, after several batches of genome sequence results had been returned to hospitals and submitted to health authorities, an employee of one genomics company received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and destroy all existing samples. (…) Then on Jan 3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC), the nation’s top health authority, ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them. The order, which Caixin has seen, did not specify any designated testing institutions. It was Jan 9 when the Chinese authorities finally announced that a novel coronavirus was behind Wuhan’s viral pneumonia outbreak. Even then, the transmissibility of the virus was downplayed, leaving the public unaware of the imminent danger. Finally, on Jan 20, Dr Zhong Nanshan, a leading authority on respiratory health who came to national attention in his role fighting Sars, confirmed in a TV interview that the disease was spreading from person-to-person. (…) On the evening of Dec 30, several doctors in Wuhan, including the late Dr Li Wenliang, privately shared CapitalBio’s results as a warning to friends and colleagues to take protective measures. Those messages then circulated widely online and sparked a public uproar demanding more information. Several people, including Dr Li and two other doctors who sent the messages that night, were later punished by the authorities for « spreading rumours ». Caixa Global (29.02. 2020)As early as Dec 27, a Guangzhou-based genomics company had sequenced most of the virus from fluid samples from the lung of a 65-year old deliveryman who worked at the seafood market where many of the first cases emerged. The results showed an alarming similarity to the deadly Sars coronavirus that killed nearly 800 people between 2002 and 2003. Around that time, local doctors sent at least eight other patient samples from hospitals around Wuhan to multiple Chinese genomics companies, including industry heavyweight BGI, as they worked to determine what was behind a growing number of cases of unexplained respiratory disease. The results all pointed to a dangerous Sars-like virus. That was days before China notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Dec 31 about the emergence of an unidentified infectious disease, two weeks before it shared the virus’ genome sequence with the world, and crucially, more than three weeks before Chinese authorities confirmed publicly that the virus was spreading between people. Concerns about the new disease were initially kept within a small group of medical workers, researchers and officials. On Dec 30, Dr Li Wenliang was one of several in Wuhan who sounded the first alarms and released initial evidence online. Dr Li, who was punished for releasing the information, would perish from the disease five weeks later, after contracting it from a patient. On Jan 1, after several batches of genome sequence results had been returned to hospitals and submitted to health authorities, an employee of one genomics company received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and destroy all existing samples. (…) Then on Jan 3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC), the nation’s top health authority, ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them. The order, which Caixin has seen, did not specify any designated testing institutions. It was Jan 9 when the Chinese authorities finally announced that a novel coronavirus was behind Wuhan’s viral pneumonia outbreak. Even then, the transmissibility of the virus was downplayed, leaving the public unaware of the imminent danger. Finally, on Jan 20, Dr Zhong Nanshan, a leading authority on respiratory health who came to national attention in his role fighting Sars, confirmed in a TV interview that the disease was spreading from person-to-person. (…) On the evening of Dec 30, several doctors in Wuhan, including the late Dr Li Wenliang, privately shared CapitalBio’s results as a warning to friends and colleagues to take protective measures. Those messages then circulated widely online and sparked a public uproar demanding more information. Several people, including Dr Li and two other doctors who sent the messages that night, were later punished by the authorities for « spreading rumours ». Caixa Global (29.02. 2020)
Epidémie de grippe saisonnière: une surmortalité de 21.000 décès cet hiver. France Soir (01/03/2017)
En dépit d’une loi qui l’interdit, la Cour constitutionnelle a décrété mercredi que le suicide assisté peut être jugé licite en Italie si une série de conditions sont réunies, une décision qualifiée de « victoire » par les partisans de l’euthanasie. Dans une sentence très attendue, la haute cour a estimé que l’aide au suicide « n’est pas punissable » quand sont respectés « le consentement éclairé » de la personne, « les soins palliatifs », « la sédation profonde » ainsi qu’un contrôle (« vérification de ces conditions et des modalités d’exécution » du suicide assisté) effectué par les autorités de santé publique après « avis du comité éthique » local. La Cour a souligné que l’aide au suicide ne peut concerner que des patients « maintenus en vie par des traitements vitaux et atteints d’une pathologie irréversible, source de souffrances physiques et psychologiques jugées insupportables, mais pleinement en mesure de prendre des décisions libres et conscientes ». La Cour a aussi précisé que sa décision était prise « dans l’attente d’une intervention indispensable du législateur », demandant donc au parlement de modifier la législation en vigueur. En Italie, pays à forte tradition catholique, l’euthanasie est interdite et le code pénal punit « l’instigation ou l’aide au suicide » avec des peines comprises entre 5 ans et 12 ans de prison. Les juges constitutionnels étaient saisis du cas de Marco Cappato, un responsable du Parti radical (historiquement favorable à l’avortement et à l’euthanasie), qui avait conduit un célèbre DJ italien en Suisse en 2017 pour un suicide assisté. Fabiano Antoniani, dit DJ Fabo, grand voyageur, pilote de moto-cross et musicien, était resté tétraplégique et aveugle après un accident de la route en 2014. « A partir d’aujourd’hui nous sommes tous plus libres, y compris ceux qui ne sont pas d’accord » avec l’euthanasie, s’est félicité M. Cappato sur Facebook, évoquant une « victoire de la désobéissance civile ». « Pour moi aider DJ Fabo était un devoir, la Cour a établi que c’était son droit », a-t-il ajouté. Beppino Englaro, papa d’Eluana, plongée dans un état végétatif et qui fut entre 2008 et sa mort en 2009 un symbole de la lutte pour l’euthanasie, a salué en M. Cappato « un pionnier qui a ouvert la voie vers l’établissement d’un droit ». Le Point
En Italie, le patient « zéro » n’a pas pu être identifié. Seul le patient «un» est connu: un cadre de 38 ans, pris en charge au service des urgences de Codogno, en Lombardie et qui semble avoir été un amplificateur majeur de la diffusion initiale du nouveau coronavirus. On ignore toutefois comment cet homme a contracté l’infection, n’ayant pas voyagé lui-même dans une zone à risque, ni fréquenté des personnes déjà malades. Une hypothèse évoque une contamination à Munich, en Allemagne, auprès d’une personne en provenance de Shanghai. « Le virus est probablement arrivé d’un autre pays européen, donc pas directement de Chine. Puis il a circulé de façon souterraine de fin janvier au 21 février, explique le Pr Massimo Galli chef de service des maladies infectieuses de l’hôpital Luigi Sacco (Milan). Il s’est diffusé de façon très efficace dans la zone rouge, sans qu’aucune mesure de contrôle ne soit mise en place. » À ce stade, les premiè·res malades n’ont donc pas été diagnostiqué·es, leurs symptômes pouvant être assimilés à de simples grippes saisonnières. Ce n’est que dans la dernière semaine de février qu’une première alerte a pu être donnée, notamment grâce à Attilio Fontana, président de la Lombardie, qui a annoncé s’être mis de lui-même en quarantaine, un de ses collaborateurs ayant été infecté par le virus. Il a alors annoncé cette décision sur Facebook via une vidéo où on le voit en train de mettre un masque chirurgical. Plus de 300 personnes avaient alors déjà été testées positives en Lombardie. On devait également découvrir que l’Italie n’avait pas fait de véritable contrôle des retours d’Italien·nes en provenance de Chine en janvier. Le gouvernement avait certes interdits certains vols, mais des Italien·nes qui étaient en Chine sont rentré·es en Italie par des voies différentes, via d’autres pays –de même que des citoyen·nes chinois·es ont pu venir par ces mêmes voies en Italie. « Je crois que nous avons fait des erreurs, reconnaît Mateo Renzi. L’Italie était la première à décider d’arrêter les vols entre la Chine et l’Italie en janvier. Cette décision semblait une très bonne décision mais c’était seulement un bloc de vols directs. Mais beaucoup de Chinois ont décidé d’arriver en Italie avec d’autres vols. Aujourd’hui, il n’est pas nécessaire d’arrêter les vols directs. Ce qui est nécessaire, c’est d’arrêter les occasions de rendez-vous, les échanges. Aujourd’hui, c’est plus important de fermer les écoles que les vols directs. » Ce fut l’une des premières explications avancées par les spécialistes italien·nes pour expliquer la situation de leur pays: on y pratiquait beaucoup plus de tests de dépistage que dans les autres pays d’Europe. Ainsi, les patient·es présentant des symptômes mais ne nécessitant pas d’hospitalisation étaient d’emblée comptabilisé·es. (…) Les explications des spécialistes italien·nes peuvent sans aucun doute expliquer l’augmentation du nombre de cas détectés en Italie. Pour autant elles ne suffisent pas à expliquer l’important taux de mortalité du coronavirus observé dans le pays. Une analyse complète publiée le 17 février par le Centre chinois de contrôle et de prévention des maladies (CCDC) établit que le taux de létalité du Covid-19 augmente avec l’âge: 3,6% chez les 60-69 ans, 8% chez les 70-79 ans et 14,8% chez les plus de 80 ans. Or on sait que la population italienne est celle dont la moyenne d’âge est la plus élevée de l’Union européenne. Près d’un·e Italien·ne sur quatre (23%, contre 19,6% en France –données Eurostat) est âgé·e de plus de 65 ans. Et au niveau mondial, l’Italie occupe la deuxième place derrière le Japon. Est-ce suffisant pour expliquer le nombre important de cas et de décès observés dans le pays? Les avis des spécialistes, ici, divergent. (…) La situation ainsi créée met avant tout en lumière les difficultés massives rencontrées par un système sanitaire devant, en urgence, répondre à un afflux massif et brutal de malades. La leçon est d’autant plus importante que ce phénomène a concerné la Lombardie, l’une des régions les plus riches d’Europe et les mieux équipées, en infrastructures comme en compétences. « S’il y a autant de morts, c’est que nous n’avons pas réussi à les soigner, estime l’épidémiologiste italien Carlo La Vecchia. En Italie, les services sanitaires ne sont plus en mesure de fournir d’assistance respiratoire. Il n’y a pas assez d’appareils, mais surtout il n’y a pas assez de personnel en mesure de les utiliser. Nous manquons de structures adaptées. » (…) L’un des meilleurs systèmes de santé au monde, celui de la Lombardie, est à deux pas de l’effondrement», explique le Dr Pesenti dans une interview au quotidien milanais Il Corriere della Sera. (…) « C’est un cauchemar, confie le Dr Bassetti. Nous avons beaucoup de patients âgés avec des comorbidités, mais nous avons aussi beaucoup de patients plus jeunes, qui souffrent de pneumonies avec une insuffisance respiratoire», explique le médecin, ce qui requiert «une ventilation pendant une semaine ou deux ». (…) Il faut se rappeler que la pandémie de grippe de 1918 (très bien étudiée aux États-Unis) avait diffusée en trois vagues successives. La première (fin du printemps 1918) souvent appelée «annonciatrice» avait des caractéristiques qui ressemblent un peu à la dynamique observée actuellement avec le Covid-19. La deuxième (au début de l’automne 1918) fut la plus haute et la plus meurtrière. Quant à la troisième (hiver 1918-1919) elle fut plus haute que la première, mais inférieure à la deuxième. Un tel scénario est tout à fait envisageable désormais avec le Covid-19. Nous assisterions alors aujourd’hui à des soubresauts un peu erratiques qui ne seraient que le tout début d’un processus qui s’annoncerait prolongé mais long et entrecoupé de répits durant les périodes estivales, au moins dans les latitudes tempérées. Un élément plaide pour une telle «pause estivale»: c’est le calme relatif actuellement observé dans l’hémisphère sud. Cette hypothèse se verrait renforcée si nous devions observer, à l’approche de l’hiver austral (juin-septembre), une émergence marquée de l’activité virale en Australie, en Nouvelle-Zélande, en Afrique du Sud et en Amérique Latine. Slate
L’âge moyen des personnes décédées en Italie et testées positives au Covid-19 est de 79,5 ans et les hommes représentent 70% des morts, a annoncé l’Institut supérieur de la santé (ISS) qui publie régulièrement ses statistiques. Sur un échantillon de 2.003 morts, sur les 2.503 que le pays avait enregistrés mardi, 707 se trouvaient dans la tranche d’âge 70-79 ans, 852 dans la tranche d’âge 80-89 ans et 198 ont plus de 90 ans, selon un communiqué de l’ISS. « Dix-sept personnes positives au Covid-19 de moins de 50 ans sont mortes. En particulier, cinq de ces personnes avaient moins de 40 ans, toutes de sexe masculin, avec un âge compris entre 31 et 39 ans, avec de graves pathologies précédentes », précise l’ISS. Recensant une dizaine de pathologies les plus courantes relevées sur les personnes décédées, dont les plus fréquentes sont l’hypertension, le diabète ou la cardiopathie ischémique, l’ISS souligne que 48,5% des personnes décédées souffraient de 3 ou plus de ces pathologies et 25,6% de 2 pathologies. Seulement 0,8% des personnes, trois au total, n’avaient aucune pathologie, selon la même source. AFP
85 ans en France, contre 77 ans en Bulgarie : l’espérance de vie à la naissance des femmes connaît de grandes disparités en Europe. Le constat est identique en ce qui concerne les hommes. Les Françaises ont une espérance de vie de 85,3 ans à la naissance (données 2011), contre 77,8 ans pour les Bulgares. Chez les hommes, les Suédois et les Italiens peuvent espérer vivre un peu plus de 79 ans, contre aux alentours de 71 ans pour les Hongrois, Roumains et Bulgares. Au sein de l’Europe, les populations les mieux loties ont une longévité supérieure d’environ 9 ans à celles pour qui l’espérance de vie est la moins élevée. Les écarts sont aussi marqués entre hommes et femmes : les Français ont une espérance de vie à peine supérieure aux Roumaines. Mais les disparités entre les sexes ne sont pas équivalentes au sein de chaque pays : de près de 5 ans en Grèce et de 4 ans en Suède, on passe à 7 et 8,5 ans respectivement en France et en Pologne. Quelques changements apparaissent dans la hiérarchie des pays dès lors que l’on tient compte de l’espérance de vie en bonne santé. Cet indice mesure le nombre d’années qu’une personne peut potentiellement vivre sans subir de handicaps majeurs. Dans ce cas de figure, les écarts entre les femmes et les hommes se réduisent considérablement. L’espérance de vie en bonne santé est même supérieure pour les hommes en Suède (69,2 contre 68,7 années pour les femmes). Les Portugaises ont l’espérance de vie la plus faible, avec 57,2 années. Pour les hommes, ce sont les Autrichiens qui connaissent le niveau le plus bas (58 ans). Mais attention, il s’agit d’indicateurs subjectifs : ce sont les personnes interrogées qui indiquent être ou non en bonne santé. La perception d’être en « bonne » santé peut varier d’un pays à un autre. Inégalités
Si seulement il avait mentionné les caissières ! Vous n’imaginez pas comme on aurait été fières ! Caissière
Nous, les ouvriers, on nous dit : ‘Allez travailler !’ Alors que les cadres travaillent depuis chez eux. M. Leroy (élu CGT, Wattrelos)
La seule consigne que nous avons est de ne pas faire signer les clients sur nos téléphones. Pour le reste, c’est comme si de rien n’était : nous n’avons pas de mètre de sécurité car c’est impossible à appliquer, nous continuons le tri côte-à-côte. [Le gel hydroalcoolique] en tournée il est impossible de s’en servir toutes les demi-heures où dès que l’on touche une lettre ou un colis: Nous n’avons aucun gant ni masque, on nous dit que le masque n’est pas obligatoire. Les voitures sont partagées et non désinfectées, nous sommes ensemble 6 jours sur 7 sans protection, nous touchons les sonnettes, les portes… Nos chefs s’en fichent royalement, les syndicats nous disent que nous ne pouvons pas appliquer le droit de retrait car toutes les mesures de sécurité sont prises… Du gel hydroalcoolique  ! En vérité nous sommes juste résignés à attendre la maladie. Et pourtant, j’aime mon travail. Ils sont en train de nous dégoûter. Je suis tellement déçue. Factrice
« Quarantaine à deux vitesses : repos et loisirs pour les uns, précarité et risque sanitaire pour les autres. » « Le confinement, c’est pour les riches. » « On est 300 à bosser sur le site et les cadres sont en télétravail. Nous, qu’on se mette en danger, tout le monde s’en fout. » Les riches à l’abri, les pauvres au turbin ? Les aisés, en télétravail depuis leur maison secondaire du bord de mer, les précaires à l’usine ?  La formule est caricaturale, mais illustre ce sentiment diffus qui pointe, depuis quelques jours, chez certains travailleurs de terrain : deux salles, deux ambiances. Ou plutôt, deux poids, deux mesures. Car si Bruno Le Maire a appelé ce mardi, sur BFMTV, « tous les salariés des entreprises qui sont encore ouvertes, des activités qui sont indispensables au fonctionnement du pays, à se rendre sur leurs lieux de travail », pointe parfois, chez ceux qui sont mobilisés sur le terrain, l’impression d’être « envoyé au front », dans les usines, les bureaux, pour faire tourner la machine, et s’exposer, pendant que les autres, les confinés, préservent, au chaud et en télétravail, leur santé. Et tout ça pour très peu de reconnaissance. Ils sont caissiers, ouvriers, préparateur de commandes, logisticien, travaillent dans les transports, le commerce, ce sont les invisibles, ceux qui travaillent dans les tréfonds des usines, ceux qui ont les mains dans le cambouis. D’après le ministère du Travail, c’est un peu plus de quatre emplois sur dix qui peuvent être exercés à distance. Mais dans la conjoncture actuelle, les remarques fusent : « On ne peut pas aller voir la grand-mère, ni la famille, mais par contre, vous pouvez aller bosser. Et empilés les uns sur les autres », dit un salarié. Lâchés seuls en première ligne ? (…) Ce qui entretient encore plus particulièrement le sentiment d’injustice, c’est qu’on « laisse ouvrir des activités qui devraient être fermées », souligne Laurent Degousée.  « Le 14 mars, on a un arrêté qui indique la fermeture des commerces non utiles. Le 15, un autre arrêté liste les exceptions : les magasins de vapotage ont le droit d’être ouvert, la jardinerie, animalerie, la téléphonie mobile… On  se moque de qui ? » Qu’est-ce qui est utile, qu’est-ce qui ne l’est pas ? Pour certains salariés ou travailleurs, la réponse est toute trouvée : ils sont sacrifiés pour des besoins non-utiles. Les livreurs de plateformes se considèrent ainsi comme des « travailleurs sacrifiables pour du récréatif ».  LCI

Quel monde moderne rempli d’idées chrétiennes devenues folles ?

A l’heure où avec 372 morts en deux mois pour la France …

Contre 21 000 pour l’hiver d’il y a trois ans …

Et une moyenne d’âge des décès en Italie de 79,5 ans

Dont 99, 2% à une ou plusieurs comorbidités …

Pour la pire réplique sur le continent européen de l’épidémie chinoise, initialement cachée, du coronovirus …

Pour cause, dans l’une des régions les plus riches d’Italie, du manque d’isolement des premiers malades

Mais au moment aussi où la grogne monte, pendant que les riches se prélassent ou télétravaillent dans leurs gentilhommières, de toute une chair à canon de petits métiers

Comment ne pas voir …

Non seulement l’incroyable disproportion …

Mais la véritable hystérie collective …

En une Europe où, sur fond d’appel à la décroissance, certains se battent, y compris en Italie, pour la généralisation de l’euthanasie active ou passive …

D’un pays prêt, via le confinement prolongé forcé, au suicide économique et au sacrifice de la totalité de ses forces vives…

Pour sauver en un hiver un peu plus rigoureux que d’habitude …

Habitudes culinaires et médicinales si particulières de nos amis chinois obligent …

Ses octogénères ???

Epidémie de grippe saisonnière: une surmortalité de 21.000 décès cet hiver
France Soir
01/03/2017

« Cette hausse » de la mortalité, toutes causes confondues, « concerne quasi-exclusivement les personnes âgées de 65 ans ou plus », a précisé l’agence de santé publique. « La très grande majorité de ces décès sont liés à la grippe », directement ou indirectement, estimait la semaine dernière, lors d’un précédent bilan, Daniel Levy-Bruhl, responsable de l’unité infections respiratoires à l’agence sanitaire. La surmortalité s’élevait alors à 19.400, selon ce précédent bilan. Le nombre de cas de grippe n’a pas été particulièrement important cette année (1,9 million de consultations), mais ils ont été « quasiment exclusivement occasionnés par un virus de la famille H3N2, particulièrement dangereux pour les personnes les plus fragiles », a expliqué l’épidémiologiste. Cette caractéristique a provoqué un taux d’hospitalisation important, en particulier chez les personnes âgées, à l’origine d’un engorgement dans certains hôpitaux au cours des dernières semaines de 2016. En France métropolitaine, la semaine dernière, le taux d’incidence des cas de syndromes grippaux vus en consultation de médecine générale a été estimé à 52 cas pour 100.000 habitants, en dessous du seuil épidémique (150 cas pour 100.000 habitants)…

 Voir aussi:

Italie: l’âge moyen des décédés du virus est de 79,5 ans

L’âge moyen des personnes décédées en Italie et testées positives au Covid-19 est de 79,5 ans et les hommes représentent 70% des morts, a annoncé l’Institut supérieur de la santé (ISS) qui publie régulièrement ses statistiques. Sur un échantillon de 2.003 morts, sur les 2.503 que le pays avait enregistrés mardi, 707 se trouvaient dans la tranche d’âge 70-79 ans, 852 dans la tranche d’âge 80-89 ans et 198 ont plus de 90 ans, selon un communiqué de l’ISS. « Dix-sept personnes positives au Covid-19 de moins de 50 ans sont mortes. En particulier, cinq de ces personnes avaient moins de 40 ans, toutes de sexe masculin, avec un âge compris entre 31 et 39 ans, avec de graves pathologies précédentes », précise l’ISS. Recensant une dizaine de pathologies les plus courantes relevées sur les personnes décédées, dont les plus fréquentes sont l’hypertension, le diabète ou la cardiopathie ischémique, l’ISS souligne que 48,5% des personnes décédées souffraient de 3 ou plus de ces pathologies et 25,6% de 2 pathologies. Seulement 0,8% des personnes, trois au total, n’avaient aucune pathologie, selon la même source…

 Voir également:

Qui vit le plus longtemps en Europe ?

Données 25 août 2011

85 ans en France, contre 77 ans en Bulgarie : l’espérance de vie à la naissance des femmes connaît de grandes disparités en Europe. Le constat est identique en ce qui concerne les hommes.

Europe Conditions de vie

Les Françaises ont une espérance de vie de 85,3 ans à la naissance (données 2011), contre 77,8 ans pour les Bulgares. Chez les hommes, les Suédois et les Italiens peuvent espérer vivre un peu plus de 79 ans, contre aux alentours de 71 ans pour les Hongrois, Roumains et Bulgares. Au sein de l’Europe, les populations les mieux loties ont une longévité supérieure d’environ 9 ans à celles pour qui l’espérance de vie est la moins élevée. Les écarts sont aussi marqués entre hommes et femmes : les Français ont une espérance de vie à peine supérieure aux Roumaines. Mais les disparités entre les sexes ne sont pas équivalentes au sein de chaque pays : de près de 5 ans en Grèce et de 4 ans en Suède, on passe à 7 et 8,5 ans respectivement en France et en Pologne.

Espérance de vie à la naissance en Europe
Unité : années
Femmes Hommes Écart femmes/hommes
Pays-Bas 83,2 79,9 3,3
Royaume-Uni 82,8 79,2 3,6
Suède 84,1 80,4 3,7
Norvège 84,2 80,5 3,7
Irlande 83,4 79,6 3,8
Danemark 82,7 78,8 3,9
Italie 84,9 80,3 4,6
Belgique 83,4 78,7 4,7
Allemagne 83,1 78,3 4,8
Autriche 83,7 78,8 4,9
Grèce 83,7 78,5 5,2
Union européenne (28 pays) 83,3 77,9 5,4
Espagne 85,7 80,1 5,6
Finlande 84,4 78,7 5,7
Portugal 84,3 78,1 6,2
France 85,5 79,2 6,3
Hongrie 79,0 72,3 6,7
Pologne 81,6 73,5 8,1
Source : Eurostat – Données 2015 – © Observatoire des inégalités

Quelques changements apparaissent dans la hiérarchie des pays dès lors que l’on tient compte de l’espérance de vie en bonne santé. Cet indice mesure le nombre d’années qu’une personne peut potentiellement vivre sans subir de handicaps majeurs. Dans ce cas de figure, les écarts entre les femmes et les hommes se réduisent considérablement. L’espérance de vie en bonne santé est même supérieure pour les hommes en Suède (69,2 contre 68,7 années pour les femmes). Les Portugaises ont l’espérance de vie la plus faible, avec 57,2 années. Pour les hommes, ce sont les Autrichiens qui connaissent le niveau le plus bas (58 ans). Mais attention, il s’agit d’indicateurs subjectifs : ce sont les personnes interrogées qui indiquent être ou non en bonne santé. La perception d’être en « bonne » santé peut varier d’un pays à un autre.

Espérance de vie en bonne santé
Unité : années
Femmes Hommes
Suède 68,7 69,2
Royaume-Uni 66,3 65
Grèce 65,8 65,4
Bulgarie 65,5 61,9
Irlande 65 63,2
France 64,2 62,4
Belgique 63,8 63,2
Espagne 63,3 63,8
Pologne 62,6 58,4
Roumanie 62,6 60
Union européenne 62 60,9
Italie 61,2 62,4
Danemark 60,7 62,3
Pays-Bas 59,8 62,4
Autriche 59,5 58
Finlande 59,4 58,6
Hongrie 58 54,6
Allemagne 57,4 55,8
Portugal 57,2 59
Source : Eurostat – 2008

On sait en réalité assez mal expliquer ces écarts. L’espérance de vie tient à de très nombreux facteurs, où se mêlent l’accès aux soins, les conditions et la durée du travail, les modes de vie (consommation de tabac, d’alcool, etc.), etc. La qualité du système de soins ne joue que très partiellement, ce qui explique par exemple que l’espérance de vie des Polonaises soit proche de celle des Danoises, alors que leur système de santé n’est pas comparable.

Voir de plus:

Italie: la Cour constitutionnelle rend possible le suicide assisté

Le Point/AFP

Voir encore:

Les différentes législations et pratiques de l’euthanasie en Europe

Alors que des heurts ont opposé mardi 10 février des manifestants anti et pro-euthanasie en Italie après la mort d’Eluana, devenue le symbole de la lutte pour le droit de mourir, état des lieux des différentes pratiques de l’euthanasie.

L’Obs

En Europe, seuls les Pays-Bas et la Belgique ont légalisé l’euthanasie, la Suisse la tolère tandis qu’au Luxembourg le processus de légalisation est en cours.

– Les pays qui ont légalisé l’euthanasie

Le 1er avril 2002, les Pays-Bas deviennent le premier pays au monde à légaliser l’euthanasie: la loi exempte le médecin de poursuites judiciaires s’il respecte certains « critères de minutie ».
La Belgique suit en septembre 2002.
Le 18 décembre 2008, les députés luxembourgeois se sont prononcés en faveur de la légalisation de l’euthanasie, en cas de situation médicale « sans issue », mais l’interdisent pour les mineurs. La validation du texte, auquel s’oppose le grand-duc Henri, pourrait prendre du temps, une loi réduisant ses pouvoirs n’étant pas entrée en vigueur.

– Les pays qui interdisent l’euthanasie mais autorisent une forme d’aide à la mort

En Italie, l’euthanasie est interdite. Le droit de refuser des soins est reconnu par la Constitution.
En France, la Loi Leonetti du 22 avril 2005 a instauré un droit au « laisser mourir », sans permettre aux médecins de pratiquer l’euthanasie.
En Suisse, un médecin peut fournir à un malade condamné et désirant mourir une dose mortelle d’un médicament qu’il prendra lui-même.
En Grande-Bretagne, l’euthanasie est interdite. Depuis 2002, la justice autorise l’interruption des soins dans certains cas.
En Allemagne, l’euthanasie passive, comme le fait de débrancher une machine n’est pas illégale si le patient a donné son consentement. La situation est sensiblement la même en Autriche.
En Espagne, l’euthanasie n’est pas autorisée mais la loi reconnaît aux malades le droit de refuser d’être soignés. Le gouvernement, après avoir envisagé une légalisation du suicide assisté, a indiqué en janvier qu’il ne prévoyait pas de loi en la matière sous cette législature.
Au Portugal, l’euthanasie comme le suicide assisté sont considérés par le code pénal comme des homicides qualifiés. Selon le nouveau code déontologique des médecins, adopté en janvier, « l’utilisation de moyens extraordinaires pour maintenir la vie » peut être interrompue en cas de mort cérébrale ou à la demande du malade, mais en aucun cas l’hydratation ou l’alimentation même administrées artificiellement.
En Norvège, un médecin peut décider de ne pas traiter un patient agonisant à sa demande, ou, s’il ne peut communiquer, à celle de ses proches.
Au Danemark, depuis fin 1992, on peut faire un « testament médical » que les médecins doivent respecter. En Suède, une assistance médicale au suicide est possible.
En Hongrie, les malades incurables peuvent refuser leur traitement ainsi qu’en République tchèque.
En Slovaquie, si « l’euthanasie et le suicide assisté sont inacceptables », le personnel médical « atténue la douleur des malades incurables et des mourants (…) et respecte les souhaits du patient en accord avec la législation ».

– Les pays où l’euthanasie est strictement interdite et qui ne prévoient pas d’aide à la mort

L’euthanasie est interdite en Grèce, comme en Roumanie, où elle est passible d’une peine allant jusqu’à sept ans de prison.
La Bosnie, la Croatie et la Serbie considèrent l’euthanasie comme un homicide qu’ils punissent.
En Pologne, l’euthanasie est passible de 3 mois à 5 ans de prison, mais « dans des cas exceptionnels » le tribunal peut appliquer une atténuation extraordinaire de la peine, voire renoncer à l’infliger.

Voir aussi:

Les riches à la maison, les pauvres envoyés au front ? Le sentiment d’injustice monte chez les non-confinés

GUERRE DES MONDES ? – Avec les mesures de confinement, se dessinent deux réalités pour les travailleurs : ceux qui peuvent se préserver, en télétravail, et ceux qui sont sur le terrain. Avec parfois, le sentiment d’y risquer leur santé.

« Quarantaine à deux vitesses : repos et loisirs pour les uns, précarité et risque sanitaire pour les autres. » « Le confinement, c’est pour les riches. » « On est 300 à bosser sur le site et les cadres sont en télétravail. Nous, qu’on se mette en danger, tout le monde s’en fout. » Les riches à l’abri, les pauvres au turbin ? Les aisés, en télétravail depuis leur maison secondaire du bord de mer, les précaires à l’usine ?  La formule est caricaturale, mais illustre ce sentiment diffus qui pointe, depuis quelques jours, chez certains travailleurs de terrain : deux salles, deux ambiances. Ou plutôt, deux poids, deux mesures.Car si Bruno Le Maire a appelé ce mardi, sur BFMTV, « tous les salariés des entreprises qui sont encore ouvertes, des activités qui sont indispensables au fonctionnement du pays, à se rendre sur leurs lieux de travail », pointe parfois, chez ceux qui sont mobilisés sur le terrain, l’impression d’être « envoyé au front », dans les usines, les bureaux, pour faire tourner la machine, et s’exposer, pendant que les autres, les confinés, préservent, au chaud et en télétravail, leur santé. Et tout ça pour très peu de reconnaissance.
Ils sont caissiers, ouvriers, préparateur de commandes, logisticien, travaillent dans les transports, le commerce, ce sont les invisibles, ceux qui travaillent dans les tréfonds des usines, ceux qui ont les mains dans le cambouis. D’après le ministère du Travail, c’est un peu plus de quatre emplois sur dix qui peuvent être exercés à distance. Mais dans la conjoncture actuelle, les remarques fusent : « On ne peut pas aller voir la grand-mère, ni la famille, mais par contre, vous pouvez aller bosser. Et empilés les uns sur les autres », dit un salarié. Lâchés seuls en première ligne ? L’incompréhension monte. Le sentiment d’injustice aussi. Tout ça prépare la colère, car ils se sentent en danger.A la RATP, c’est un salarié affecté au Poste de manœuvre local, qui dit : « Nous sommes déjà 7 et j’ai déjà croisé plus de 15 collègues ! Je ne suis pas en train de dire que je refuse de travailler, je souhaite et j’exige des précautions pour nous protéger. » A La Poste, c’est une employée qui travaille sur un site logistique, mêlant facteurs, colis et courriers, qui raconte l’inquiétude, et même la frayeur, qui s’insinue, peu à peu. « Un agent a signalé que son enfant avait 40 de fièvre et une toux, et que lui-même commençait à tousser. Il a demandé au chef de se mettre lui-même en quarantaine, il n’a pas voulu », nous confie-t-elle. « Donc, nous avons un cas possiblement porteur du virus avec nous. Un autre agent, dont la femme est suspectée de coronavirus, a été mis en quarantaine, mais personne au bureau n’est au courant, à part quelques-uns. Dans un bureau voisin, ils ont laissé partir une factrice avec de la fièvre en tournée. »
En vérité nous sommes juste résignés à attendre la maladie– Une factrice
La Poste se veut rassurante : « Nous nous adaptons un peu tous les jours », indique-t-on à LCI, en insistant sur l’attention portée aux règles d’hygiène : « Seuls 1600 bureaux sont ouverts sur 7700 en France, nous faisons tourner les équipes avec certaines qui restent chez elles, pour ne pas exposer tout le monde. Et pour les 80% de facteurs qui continuent les tournées le matin, tout est fait pour qu’ils aient le moins de contacts possible: on ne fait plus signer sur les smartphones, on va se laver les mains chez les buralistes. Mais notre rôle est aussi de rassurer la population, il est hyper important. »Depuis le terrain, la factrice tique : « La seule consigne que nous avons est de ne pas faire signer les clients sur nos téléphones, raconte-t-elle. « Pour le reste, c’est comme si de rien n’était : nous n’avons pas de mètre de sécurité car c’est impossible à appliquer, nous continuons le tri côte-à-côte. » Elle a bien reçu des gels hydroalcoolique, la semaine dernière, « mais en tournée il est impossible de s’en servir toutes les demi-heures où dès que l’on touche une lettre ou un colis » : « Nous n’avons aucun gant ni masque, on nous dit que le masque n’est pas obligatoire. Les voitures sont partagées et non désinfectées, nous sommes ensemble 6 jours sur 7 sans protection, nous touchons les sonnettes, les portes…  » Elle est désabusée : « Nos chefs s’en fichent royalement, les syndicats nous disent que nous ne pouvons pas appliquer le droit de retrait car toutes les mesures de sécurité sont prises… Du gel hydroalcoolique  ! » Elle en rit jaune, vert, bleu, elle en grince : « En vérité nous sommes juste résignés à attendre la maladie », reprend-elle. « Et pourtant, j’aime mon travail. Ils sont en train de nous dégoûter. Je suis tellement déçue. »
C’est une dinguerie ce qu’il se passe. Les salariés vont bosser la boule au ventre– Laurent Degousée, de Sud Commerce
Reste ce sentiment d’être envoyé au casse-pipe que perçoivent bien les syndicats, qui relaient depuis quelques jours ces inquiétudes. Que des commerces doivent ouvrir ? Aucun problème, c’est une évidence, pour Laurent Degousée, co-délégué de la fédération Sud-Commerces. « Je ne remets évidemment pas en cause le fait que, de Franprix à Carrefour, il faut que ce soit ouvert », explique le syndicaliste à LCI. « Mais les salariés travaillent dans des situation indigentes, malgré des mesures de protection extrêmement simples à mettre en œuvre. » « C’est une situation d’incurie, avec impréparation complète du côté des employeurs et du gouvernement », pointe-t-il. « En première ligne, on a le service public et les soignants, mais aussi 700.000 salariés de la distribution alimentaire. Et c’est une dinguerie ce qu’il se passe. Les salariés vont bosser la boule au ventre. »Le syndicaliste raconte pèle-mêle les témoignages qu’il n’arrête plus de recevoir : « Cela va des gens qui n’ont pas de gants, à ceux qui en ont, mais des gants pour le pain qui se déchirent au bout de dix minutes, à ceux qui n’ont pas de masques, parce qu’on leur dit que c’est anxiogène. Ce sont encore des salariés qui doivent s’acheter eux-mêmes le gel hydroalcoolique. Et ceux qui, quand ils en ont, ils ne disposent pas de temps de pause pour se laver les mains. » Il pointe aussi le non-respect des distances de sécurité, le fait qu’il n’y ait pas toujours d’agents de sécurité – alors que certains magasins ont vécu des incidents parfois violents… Ce sont, aussi des vitres de protection boutiquées avec du plastique et des films alimentaires… « Mais avant de vouloir fabriquer des vitres en plexiglas, donnez donc d’abord des gants ! » martèle-t-il.
Ce qui entretient encore plus particulièrement le sentiment d’injustice, c’est qu’on « laisse ouvrir des activités qui devraient être fermées », souligne Laurent Degousée.  « Le 14 mars, on a un arrêté qui indique la fermeture des commerces non utiles. Le 15, un autre arrêté liste les exceptions : les magasins de vapotage ont le droit d’être ouvert, la jardinerie, animalerie, la téléphonie mobile… On  se moque de qui ? » Qu’est-ce qui est utile, qu’est-ce qui ne l’est pas ? Pour certains salariés ou travailleurs, la réponse est toute trouvée : ils sont sacrifiés pour des besoins non-utiles. Les livreurs de plateformes se considèrent ainsi comme des « travailleurs sacrifiables pour du récréatif ».

La colère des salariés de terrain

Certains sites de production font face à une grogne des équipes, depuis quelques jours. Comme La Redoute, à Wattrelos dans le Nord où, explique 20 minutes Lille, 20 salariés ont débrayé mardi matin ; ou encore Amazon, particulièrement dans le collimateur des syndicats. Laurent Degousée y va à la sulfateuse pour « dénoncer l’attitude criminelle de la direction » : « La seule chose qu’ils ont, dans les entrepôts, ce sont des gants. Les mêmes qu’en temps normal, contre les coupures. Le respect de la distance minimale de sécurité, le fait de pouvoir se laver les mains, il n’y a rien. La seule mesure forte, c’est, à la cantine, de laisser un siège à côté de soi ! »De son côté, Amazon assure que la sécurité des personnels est « la priorité absolue », et souhaite aussi « pouvoir continuer à livrer les clients les plus touchés, dont beaucoup n’ont aucun autre moyen d’obtenir des produits essentiels. » Et rappelle les mesures prises : nettoyage de tous les installations, désinfection des postes au début et à la fin des shifts, l’aménagement des lieux de travail pour garder une « distance sociale », la mise en place de « pauses échelonnées » pour réduire le nombre de personnes dans les espaces de restauration.Pas suffisant pour la CFDT Amazon electrics : « Pour la direction, tout va bien, il faut travailler, quelques lingettes par-ci par-là, un peu de gel hydroalcoolique. Mais nous sommes des centaines de personnes à nous croiser chaque jour sur ces sites logistiques. » Et dénonce au passage des petits coups de pression : « Amazon en est à proposer des augmentations de salaire temporaires, jusqu’au 30 avril, pour faire venir les salariés. Les services RH Amazon menacent également les salariés faisant usage de leur droit de retrait. » Or, les syndicats appellent ainsi à ce droit de retrait : « L’activité d’Amazon n’est pas essentielle à la nation, les godemichets et DVD attendront quelques semaines pour être livrés », indiquait la CFDT dans un communiqué. D’autant que l’inquiétude sourd : « Plusieurs salariés Amazon sont désormais confinés chez eux car malades et suspectés de coronavirus », indique la CFDT.

Et le droit de retrait ?

Ce droit de retrait, souvent invoqué par les syndicats, reste délicat dans la pratique. Il est en effet prévu par le Code du travail, et permet à tout salarié de quitter son poste s’il s’estime soumis à un « danger grave et imminent », et que son employeur ne le protège pas. La porte-parole du gouvernement Sibeth Ndiaye, puis la ministre du travail Muriel Pénicaud, ont redit début mars que ce droit de retrait ne pouvait pas être invoqué dans le cas de l’épidémie en cours, si l’employeur a mis en place les précautions de sécurité sur le lieu de travail. Solliciter son droit de retrait dans ces conditions, c’est donc s’exposer sur le moment à une perte de salaire. Qui pourrait être invalidée par les Prud’hommes, mais dans de long mois. Ce qui rend beaucoup de salariés frileux, comme le raconte cet employé de la RATP : « J’ai milité auprès de mes collègues pour un droit de retrait afin de réclamer des mesures adéquates aux instructions données et également pour avoir des réponses aux questions qu’on se pose. Ils sont tous d’accord avec moi mais personne n’est prêt à exercer son droit ! »Dans certaines usines, le rapport de force se fait en faveur des ouvriers. Est-ce un effet de l’exemple italien, où des usines de tous secteurs se sont mises en grève la semaine dernière pour obtenir des règles de sécurité strictes et des protocoles de sécurité ? Quoi qu’il en soit, le constructeur automobile PSA a annoncé lundi qu’il fermait ses usines en Europe. Renault a stoppé l’usine de Douai dans la foulée. Chez Amazon, la mobilisation est lancée : selon les syndicats, environ 200 salariés du site de Douai (Nord) ont fait valoir mardi leur droit de retrait. Mercredi, ce sont 50% des CDI qui ont fait la même démarche ou étaient en débrayage à Montélimar (Drôme). En attendant, la CFDT prêche dorénavant pour une sorte grève du zèle… par l’hygiène, en appliquant les consignes à la lettre : 1 mètre entre chaque salarié, du gel hydroalcoolique à chaque changement de chariot, s’hydrater toutes les 15 minutes, et donc prévenir son manager qu’on va aux toilettes, nettoyer ses outils dès qu’ils changent… « Amazon veut qu’on vienne bosser, faisons-le sans penser productivité. »
Voir également:

Coronavirus : dans toute la France, les caissières en première ligne

Raphaëlle Rérolle , Marie-Béatrice Baudet , Béatrice Gurrey et Annick Cojean

Le Monde

22 mars 2020

Enquête La plupart des « hôtesses de caisse » n’ont pas cessé le travail depuis le début de l’épidémie, obligées de rester fidèles au poste, malgré la peur d’être exposées au virus.

Ces gants-là, ça ne vaut rien. Assise derrière la caisse, elle regarde sa main comme un objet étrange, dans un bref moment d’accalmie. Ces doigts en plastique transparent, beaucoup trop larges, la légère transpiration à l’intérieur… Elle l’agite comme une marionnette et on entend le froissement du plastique. Un peu plus tard, elle accepte de donner son numéro de téléphone pour raconter, à l’abri des oreilles indiscrètes, sa vie de caissière pendant l’épidémie.

Maintenant on dit « hôtesse de caisse », mais il faudrait, en temps de guerre contre le coronavirus, parler de bons petits soldats, voire de chair à canon, tant elles ont subi – ce sont des femmes à 90 % – l’assaut d’une clientèle devenue folle, juste avant le confinement, décrété mardi 17 mars à midi.

Elles sont de moins en moins nombreuses depuis dix ans dans les super et les hypermarchés, avec l’apparition des caisses automatiques. Une baisse d’environ 10 %, soit un bataillon de 150 000 équivalents temps plein, selon la Fédération du commerce et de la distribution. Mais il est chaque jour au front depuis que tous les commerces « non indispensables » ont fermé. On ne peut plus dire « l’intendance suivra ». Elle précède tout.

Bénédicte, le prénom qu’elle a choisi pour ne pas être reconnue, a 30 ans et travaille en Normandie pour une chaîne de supermarchés de hard discount. « Ce sont des gants de boulangerie, on s’en sert pour mettre les viennoiseries en rayon, question d’hygiène. On se protège comme on peut mais ce n’est pas pratique pour rendre la monnaie. » La jeune femme travaille là depuis plusieurs années, payée au smic avec un contrat de 30 heures : « C’était ça ou rien. Quand il y a un rush on fait un avenant au contrat. »

Du jamais vu

Pour un rush, c’en était un, du jamais vu. Une heure et demie de queue devant le magasin, dès que les rumeurs de confinement ont commencé à courir, vendredi. Lundi, ce fut bien pire. « J’avais l’impression qu’on n’allait pas s’en sortir. Forcément, la contamination on y pense. On est en communication avec les microbes », dit cette mère de deux jeunes enfants.

Ses journées durent dix heures. Après le paiement, les clients sont à touche-touche avec elle car les caisses n’ont pas de rebord, à dessein : « Faut que ça soit du tac au tac, que ça dégage vite. On doit passer 3 000 articles à l’heure, c’est l’objectif fixé. » Quand il y a moins de monde, Bénédicte fait le ménage ou de la mise en rayon. Pour la semaine du 23 mars, on leur a promis un bouclier de Plexiglas. Mais toujours pas de masques.

Article réservé à nos abonnés Lire aussi « Nous, les ouvriers, on nous dit : “Allez travailler !” alors que les cadres travaillent depuis chez eux »

Des masques, il n’en manque pas dans cet hypermarché d’Ille-et-Vilaine. Au rayon frais, charcuterie et fromage, les deux vendeuses articulent haut et fort pour être comprises des clients. Jeudi, la circulation des chariots est plutôt fluide dans les allées, où des hommes, masqués eux aussi, réapprovisionnent les rayons.

Aux caisses, en revanche, le visage de Manon se montre à découvert. « J’ai essayé le masque mais ça me gêne, ça m’oppresse. Je n’en ai jamais porté, je n’ai pas l’habitude, c’est pas comme les soignants », explique la jeune femme, en apparence guère affolée.

Au sol, des lignes bleues marquent l’espacement obligatoire entre chaque chariot, « 1 mètre », répète une voix au micro. Nathalie, qui officie à la caisse prioritaire pour femmes enceintes et handicapées, apprécie cette précaution mais a renoncé au masque : « J’ai essayé, mais très vite je ne vois plus rien, tellement j’ai de buée sur mes lunettes. »

Petit salaire et horaires de fou

Ce sont les invisibles, les discrètes, les modestes. Les fragiles, souvent. Celles qui se perdent dans le décor, confondues avec la caisse qui semble faire le seul travail incontestable : compter. Celles à qui l’on ne reconnaît aucune expertise – et pourtant. « Les hôtesses de caisse, on passe pour des nulles, tranche Déborath, 38 ans. Mais s’il fallait que les clients prennent notre place, ils ne tiendraient pas cinq minutes. »

Elle travaille dans un hypermarché du Var, très saisonnier, la première ville est à 5 km. Elle aime bien rire, Déborath, mais il était temps qu’un peu de reconnaissance arrive, enfin, avec le virus : « Pour une fois, la roue tourne. Ils ont besoin de nous pour manger. C’est con hein, mais un merci et un bravo, c’est la première fois et ça fait du bien. » Elle raconte le petit salaire, les horaires de fou, les gens qui les prennent pour des idiotes « alors qu’il faut gérer les clients, les problèmes de prix, les conflits entre personnes ».

Déborath, caissière : « On aurait dit qu’on allait tous mourir. Les gens se battaient pour des produits d’entretien et du papier toilette »

Le jour de la grande ruée l’a mise en colère : « C’était genre fin du monde. On aurait dit qu’on allait tous mourir. Les gens se battaient pour des produits d’entretien et du papier toilette. S’il y en avait un de contaminé, on le sera tous. » Les trois agents de sécurité étaient débordés, les clients se servaient sur les palettes : « J’étais du soir, on est partis à 21 heures au lieu de 20 h 30. Il a fallu ramasser la cinquantaine de chariots abandonnés dans le magasin. » Puis tout remettre en rayon, sauf le frais et le surgelé, partis à la poubelle. Combien de manipulations ? Cela fait quelques jours maintenant, et cela semble une éternité : « On était très en colère contre l’humain ce jour-là. » Déborath se demande encore comment des clients ont pu faire, qui 650 euros de courses, qui 900 euros : « D’où ils les sortent ? »

« Ce que j’ai ressenti, c’est de la peur, de l’angoisse, du stress, malgré toutes les précautions prises ici », dit-elle. Peur de contaminer sa mère de 70 ans, avec laquelle elle vit. Angoisse de voir resurgir une crise de polyarthrite, dont elle-même est atteinte. Stress de journées qui ne ressembleront plus à celles d’avant. Que faire aujourd’hui de ces deux heures de pause qui lui permettaient d’aller à la plage ou d’aller se balader dans le centre commercial ?

C’est un sujet de discussion avec le directeur du magasin, qui s’est montré exemplaire, assure la trentenaire : « Ça va être un moment compliqué à vivre ensemble et il n’a pas envie qu’on tombe malade. Sa femme travaille dans la santé. » Une entrée au lieu de trois habituellement, un système de barrières, des intérimaires embauchés, travail nocturne pour les manutentionnaires, « qui ont énormément apprécié, parce qu’ils ne sont plus en présence des gens », gants obligatoires, gel hydroalcoolique à disposition et conseils d’hygiène. Aux caisses, elles ne sont plus qu’une sur deux et les clients ne passent plus devant elles. Ils récupèrent leur marchandise au bout du comptoir, en passant par-derrière.

« Malade ou pas ? On se croirait dans un film mais ce n’est pas un film »

« L’ambiance est bizarre. Un client qui porte un masque, on se pose la question à chaque fois. Malade ou pas ? On se croirait dans un film mais ce n’est pas un film. » Cette atmosphère irréelle, presque de science-fiction, tient aussi aux confinements individuels improvisés dans les magasins, telles ces caissières de Chamalières (Puy-de-Dôme) entourées d’un habillage en cellophane, comme une sorte de cloche, ou les vitres de protection en Plexiglas, apparues ici ou là.

Ce n’est pas le cas partout. Aucun masque, aucune explication, aucune réunion, par exemple, dans ce grand magasin de proximité parisien. Une chaîne pourtant « branchée » qui s’est adaptée à son public de bobos. Une de ces femmes-troncs remarque, sans perdre son sourire, qu’on ne les a pas averties non plus du changement d’horaire, survenu du jour au lendemain pour avancer la fermeture du magasin, habituellement nocturne. Aucune instruction sur l’hygiène et les comportements à observer avec la clientèle. Les gants jetables que l’on a mis à leur disposition se trouent à la première occasion.

« La trouille au ventre »

Le directeur, lui, est parti en vacances et la chef du secteur caisses aussi. « Nous sommes livrées à nous-mêmes. Et j’ai la trouille au ventre, conclut une brune dynamique. On sait que la maladie circule parmi nos clients et qu’on finira par l’avoir. Comment faire autrement ? Ils sont proches de nous, on sent souvent leur souffle… »

Un client de ce quartier cossu lui a confié l’autre jour que sa fille, restée à la maison, avait le Covid-19. Il attendait peut-être du réconfort, mais il lui parlait à moins de 1 mètre, sans penser un instant qu’il la mettait en danger. Elle, elle l’avait bien en tête. « J’étais glacée d’angoisse mais je n’ai rien montré. C’est la règle. Et quand ils sont agressifs on serre les dents. Sinon, nous serions dans notre tort. »

Un droit de retrait ? Bien sûr que non ! Elles ont trop peur de perdre leur job, ces femmes, ces mères de famille, parfois célibataires ou divorcées. « Avec un loyer qui prend plus de la moitié de mon salaire net, 1 200 euros, je n’ai aucune marge de manœuvre », explique l’une d’elles.

Seules quelques mamans de très jeunes enfants ont demandé à ne pas venir pendant quelques jours. Une autre hôtesse nuance : « Ce n’est pas qu’une histoire d’argent. Les caissières ont aussi une conscience professionnelle ! On est là en temps de crise. On assure un service public. On ne flanche pas. »

« Si seulement Macron avait mentionné les caissières ! Vous n’imaginez pas comme on aurait été fières ! »

Elles ont noté – et approuvé – l’hommage appuyé du président de la République, Emmanuel Macron, aux personnels soignants, l’autre soir, à la télévision. Mais elles auraient aimé un mot, rien qu’un mot, pour les « obscurs », les « petites mains », les « chevilles ouvrières », qui contribuent à l’effort pour que le pays continue à manger, à boire, à vivre. « Si seulement il avait mentionné les caissières ! Vous n’imaginez pas comme on aurait été fières ! »

Dans ce magasin bio de Haute-Loire, situé dans une ville de 6 800 habitants, Maxime, le gérant, a reçu, lui, une avalanche d’instructions de sa chaîne, réactualisées plusieurs fois par jour, comme le lavage des mains tous les quarts d’heure. « Nous ne portons pas de gants, c’est un faux ami qui donne une impression de sécurité alors qu’on peut avoir les mains sales », détaille-t-il. Deux gros bidons de gel hydroalcoolique, fabriqué par une entreprise locale, attendent les clients à l’entrée. « Je ne suis pas angoissé du tout, assure Thomas, un caissier de 32 ans. Ce n’est pas dans ma nature et nos clients sont respectueux. »

Le port du masque peut être inconfortable quand on n’y est pas habitué, certains n’en portent donc pas. Ici à Issy-les-Moulineaux (Hauts-de-Seine), le 18 mars. LUCAS BARIOULET POUR LE MONDE

Mercredi 18 mars, Maxime, dépité de s’être vu refuser des masques à la pharmacie, s’est approvisionné en visières transparentes, celles dont on se sert pour éviter les projections dans les opérations de tronçonnage. Au petit supermarché voisin, les caissières portent toutes ces masques tant convoités et réservés aux soignants. « Ce sont des réserves de la dernière épidémie de grippe. Mais on en a peu, alors on les garde toute la journée », précise l’une d’elles. Il ne faut pourtant pas les conserver plus de quatre heures pour s’assurer de leur efficacité…

« Quand on voit des gens venir acheter une bouteille de bière toutes les deux heures, une par une, on se dit qu’ils n’ont rien compris »

Dans une moyenne surface du même département, les caissières s’ennuient un peu derrière leur vitre de Plexiglas, maintenant que l’heure du reflux a sonné. Se sentent-elles rassurées dans ce magasin dépeuplé ? « Bah, quand on voit des gens venir acheter une bouteille de bière toutes les deux heures, une par une, on se dit qu’ils n’ont rien compris », se désole Sylvie.

Au moins, se sentent-elles un peu mieux protégées que leurs collègues, à 15 km de là. De vagues morceaux de carton, de moins d’un mètre de côté, taillés dans de vieux emballages, ont été placés devant les caisses. « C’est tout ce que le gérant a trouvé pour nous protéger », déplore Monique.

La foule s’est évanouie et un aspirateur vrombit. Les caissières montent la garde derrière leur illusoire bouclier de carton. Angoissées mais étonnamment stoïques, quand des clients, âgés pour la plupart, passent leur tête sur les côtés pour mieux les entendre. Comme si le carton n’existait pas. Comme si l’épidémie n’existait pas. Comme si de rien n’était.

Voir enfin:

« Nous, les ouvriers, on nous dit : ‘Allez travailler !’ alors que les cadres travaillent depuis chez eux »

Alors que l’épidémie de coronavirus prend de l’ampleur, le gouvernement surveille de près le climat social, notamment dans le secteur de la grande distribution alimentaire où de nombreux salariés hésitent à se rendre au travail.

Audrey Tonnelier, Bertrand Bissuel, Juliette Garnier, Cécile Prudhomme, Perrine Mouterde, Eric Béziat, Véronique Chocron et Jordan Pouille

Le Monde

19 mars 2020 

Face à la pandémie liée au coronavirus, la colère gronde chez les salariés maintenus en poste, faute de pouvoir télétravailler. Et la peur tétanise de nombreux employés des secteurs jugés « essentiels ». PSA a fermé tous ses sites de production européens. Renault a suspendu la production de ses douze usines en France. Les manufactures Chanel sont à l’arrêt. « Alors, pourquoi pas nous ? », s’agace un manutentionnaire, Jean-Christophe Leroy, élu CGT de La Redoute. A Wattrelos (Nord), une trentaine des 50 salariés de l’entreprise de vente à distance ont alerté la société, mardi 17 mars, lors d’un débrayage au sein de ce site qui expédie ses colis. Malgré la réduction des effectifs, la fermeture des vestiaires pour éviter la promiscuité et la distribution de gants, « il est aberrant de nous faire travailler pour expédier des tee-shirts », juge M. Leroy.

Le président délégué du Medef s’alarme déjà d’un « changement d’attitude brutal » des salariés, depuis l’adoption de mesures de confinement mardi. Car « de nombreux salariés ont demandé à ce que leurs employeurs prennent des mesures d’activité partielle sans quoi ils exerceraient un droit de retrait », a déclaré Patrick Martin mercredi, à l’Agence France-Presse (AFP), se disant « très préoccupé » par la situation.

Conditions de sécurité insuffisantes

Chez Amazon, la fronde menace. Alors que le site de vente en ligne connaît un regain d’activité depuis la fermeture des magasins non alimentaires, samedi 14 mars, « les consignes contre le coronavirus ne sont pas respectées », assure Gaël Begot, élu CGT au sein de l’entrepôt du groupe américain, situé à Lauwin-Planque (Nord). Depuis mardi, des salariés Amazon s’y mobilisent contre les conditions de sécurité jugées insuffisantes et mal appliquées. Deux autres sites, à Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire) et Montélimar (Drôme), sont aussi concernés, souligne Julien Vincent, délégué général CFDT Amazon. Plus d’une centaine d’employés ont exercé leur droit de retrait, estimant que le coronavirus les met en danger sur leur lieu de travail, selon la CFDT. SUD-Solidaires à Saran et la CGT à Lauwin-Planque l’envisagent aussi.

A Strasbourg, dans l’usine Punch Powerglide (ex-General Motors), qui fabrique des boîtes de vitesse, les élus du personnel ont croisé le fer avant d’obtenir le chômage partiel. « Deux de nos collègues, infectés, ont été hospitalisés », rapport Julien Laurent (CFDT). D’après lui, des « mesures de confinement de la fonderie » ont été réclamées par les salariés, car un ouvrier de cette unité est tombé malade. En vain. « Révoltés » par l’attitude de leur employeur et inquiets pour la santé du personnel, les élus du comité social et économique de l’entreprise ont exigé l’arrêt de l’activité, mardi. Toujours en vain. Mercredi matin, aux aurores, « tous les gens sont sortis et ont fait jouer leur droit de retrait », raconte M. Laurent. Leur initiative a alors porté ses fruits : Punch Powerglide va passer en chômage partiel durant quatre semaines.

Chez Valeo, la CFDT espère obtenir « la fermeture provisoire des sites de production », confie un élu, Ivan Estlimbaum, selon lequel dans toutes les usines de l’équipementier auto les distances de sécurité sur les chaînes d’assemblage ne sont pas respectées. Et les gants et gels hydroalcooliques manquent.

Ces équipements font aussi défaut dans les agences bancaires qui, elles, resteront ouvertes au public. Les banques ayant le statut d’opérateur d’importance vitale (OIV), leurs activités sont considérées comme indispensables pour la population qui doit conserver l’accès à son argent. « Compte tenu du statut OIV, les salariés qui se sentent en danger sur leur lieu de travail ne peuvent pas exercer leur droit de retrait », souligne Frédéric Guyonnet, le président national du syndicat SNB-CFE-CGC, pour qui l’angoisse est palpable.

Gants, masques, gel hydroalcoolique

Or, partout, gants, masques et bidons de gel hydroalcoolique font défaut. Et ce manque d’équipements alimente un fort sentiment d’injustice. Y a-t-il deux poids deux mesures dans une même entreprise ?, s’interrogent les ouvriers. « Nous, les ouvriers, on nous dit : Allez travailler !”, s’agace M. Leroy, élu CGT à Wattrelos, alors que les cadres travaillent depuis chez eux. »

« La protection des travailleurs en activité [est] un gros point noir », a résumé Laurent Berger, le secrétaire général de la CFDT, sur France Inter, mercredi 18 mars. « Il y a des insuffisances », a-t-il relevé, plaidant pour que ceux qui poursuivent leurs activités soient équipés « de manière rapide. »

A défaut, l’exercice du droit de retrait – il est ouvert à tout salarié si la situation de travail présente un danger grave et imminent – pourrait vite prendre de l’ampleur, y compris au sein d’entreprises dites essentielles. Parce que La Poste a pris des mesures « insuffisantes pour protéger leur santé », selon le syndicat SUD-PTT, des préposés y ont eu recours dans des bureaux de poste de Loire-Atlantique, mais aussi à Grenoble. Des agents de la SNCF l’ont aussi exercé, reconnaît la société.

Face à ce phénomène, le gouvernement table sur l’instauration de l’état d’urgence sanitaire pour maintenir l’activité dans les entreprises « de secteurs particulièrement nécessaires à la sécurité de la nation ou à la continuité de la vie économique et sociale », selon le texte du projet de loi discuté, mercredi 18 mars après-midi, en conseil des ministres. Objectif : éviter un arrêt complet de l’économie tricolore, alors que la France s’impose des mesures de confinement pour lutter contre l’épidémie due au coronavirus.

Quelques heures avant la discussion du projet, Bruno Le Maire, ministre de l’économie, avait invité « tous les salariés des entreprises encore ouvertes et des activités indispensables au bon fonctionnement du pays nettoyage, traitement des eaux, industrie agroalimentaire, grande distribution à se rendre sur leur lieu de travail ».

Jeudi 19 mars, c’est Elisabeth Borne, ministre de la transition écologique et solidaire, qui a publié une lettre ouverte aux agents et salariés de l’énergie, des transports, de l’eau et des déchets, dans laquelle elle loue leur « rôle fondamental pour la vie de la nation ».

Cette reconnaissance sera-t-elle suffisante, alors que les salariés du secteur de traitement des déchets commencent aussi à se mobiliser ? En Seine-Saint-Denis, chez Otus, filiale de Veolia, certains camions-poubelles sont restés au garage, mercredi 18 mars. Dix-huit éboueurs ont exercé leur droit de retrait, rapporte Abdelkader Dif, représentant du personnel CGT. En cause, entre autres : un nombre insuffisant de flacons de gel hydroalcoolique. « Quatorze pour 130 salariés. Nous travaillons par équipes de trois, ça ne fait même pas un gel par équipe ! »

« On ne veut pas y laisser notre peau »

Des employés de la Blanchisserie blésoise, près de Blois, envisagent eux aussi d’avoir recours à ce droit, assure Eric Gondy, secrétaire général Force ouvrière du Loir-et-Cher. Dans ce site industriel où, de jour comme de nuit, 180 opérateurs lavent le linge d’hôpitaux franciliens, « nous avons du gel, des gants, mais pas de masques », déplore l’un d’entre eux en évoquant « les chariots de draps souillés, parfois gorgés de sang et d’excréments » qui y sont triés. « Or si le linge sort parfaitement propre, les chariots de transport ne sont pas décontaminés comme il le faudrait et cela représente un risque pour les opérateurs. On sait tous qu’il faut continuer de traiter le linge pour ne pas paralyser les hôpitaux, mais on ne veut pas y laisser notre peau », explique ce dernier.

Qu’en sera-t-il dans les secteurs de la grande distribution, de ses fournisseurs et de ses transporteurs ? Le président de l’Association nationale des industries alimentaires (ANIA), Richard Girardot, a mis en garde mercredi contre d’éventuelles difficultés logistiques de nature à perturber le fonctionnement des magasins. Le gouvernement y surveille de près le climat social. « Il n’y a pas de problème d’approvisionnement aujourd’hui (…), mais il commence à y avoir une tension dans un certain nombre de supermarchés, de commerces, en matière de salariés », a reconnu le ministre des finances, Bruno Le Maire, à l’issue du conseil des ministres, mercredi soir.

Le gouvernement multiplie les gestes d’encouragement aux caissières, employés et manutentionnaires qui travaillent dans les grandes surfaces. Mercredi, le ministre de l’agriculture, Didier Guillaume, et M. Le Maire ont diffusé dans la matinée un message « d’encouragement et de reconnaissance » aux salariés du secteur, saluant leur « sens des responsabilités » qui permet « d’assurer aux Français qu’ils pourront se nourrir sainement et sans privation ». « Nous comptons sur vous », ont fait valoir les deux ministres en promettant qu’« en retour, l’Etat sera à [leurs] côtés pour traverser cette période difficile ».

En première ligne

Car, partout en France, en magasin, à l’entrée, derrière la caisse, en réserve ou lors des livraisons, les employés des supermarchés sont en première ligne. La foule se presse en magasins depuis plusieurs jours, accroissant les risques de propagation du virus. « Les employés sont très angoissés, mais ils viennent quand même », rapporte Laurence Gilardo, déléguée syndicale FO du Groupe Casino. Lundi 16 mars, Carrefour avait enregistré moins de 10 % d’absentéisme dans ses effectifs. Ont-ils toujours le choix ? « Certains magasins Leclerc mettent la pression sur les salariés pour qu’ils ne se mettent pas en arrêt pour s’occuper de leurs enfants », a dénoncé le secrétaire général de la CFDT, Laurent Berger.

Dans le secteur du transport, ce taux d’absentéisme ne cesse de croître. « Nous sommes un peu plus inquiets qu’hier [mardi] », déclare Alexis Degouy, délégué général de l’Union des entreprises transport et logistique de France. Est-ce aussi un effet collatéral de l’indemnisation élargie du chômage partiel ? A l’en croire, « c’est une très bonne mesure pour les salariés, mais elle fonctionne aussi comme une incitation à rester à la maison ».


Journée internationale de commémoration des victimes de l’Holocauste/75e: Détacher le judaïsme d’Israël, c’est en faire un cadavre sans vie dépourvu d’âme (After the Holocaust, any argument that Jews can survive as a religion without a state is profoundly ridiculous)

27 janvier, 2020
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Vous qui aimez l’Éternel, haïssez le mal! Psaume 97: 10
Celui qui est sans foyer n’est pas une personne. Le Talmud
Vers l’Orient compliqué, je volais avec des idées simples. Je savais que, au milieu de facteurs enchevêtrés, une partie essentielle s’y jouait. Il fallait donc en être. Charles de Gaulle (avril 1941)
99% des migrants non européens s’intègrent parfaitement à la nation française (…) l’islam n’est pas une menace pour la France, il est une composante depuis le VIIIe siècle. (…) ce qui se cache aujourd’hui derrière le « souverainisme » désigne en fait la même xénophobie, la même fermeture, la même absence de confiance en soi que les idéologies anti-italienne, antipolonaise, antiarménienne, et antisémites des siècles passés. Jacques Attali
Le souverainisme n’est que le nouveau nom de l’antisémitisme. Jacques Attali
Ecoutez-les : ils se lamentent cette semaine sur la montée de l’antisémitisme ; mais ils s’arrangent pour ne pas désigner les coupables. Ainsi font les faux-culs de l’antiracisme. Leur silence vaut camouflage. Ce qu’ils cherchent à taire est, il est vrai, le résultat de leur idéologie. Car ils savent, ces prétendues belles âmes, que la haine du juif a muté avec leur consentement tacite. Elle n’est plus tant dans la vieille extrême droite nostalgique de fantômes vichyssois qu’au cœur de la nouvelle société arabo-musulmane issue de l’immigration. Un rapport de l’Ifop confirme ces jours-ci qu’un Français juif sur trois se sent menacé au quotidien. 84% des juifs âgés entre 18 et 24 ans disent avoir été victimes d’actes antisémites. Ce mercredi, Emmanuel Macron entame en Israël un court séjour à l’occasion du 75e anniversaire de la libération d’Auschwitz. Mais les nazis d’aujourd’hui n’ont plus rien à voir avec ceux d’hier. Certes, certains attentats commis à l’étranger contre des musulmans par des suprémacistes blancs – notamment ceux de Christchurch (Nouvelle Zélande) le 15 mars 2019 – permettent aux faussaires d’alerter sur le danger d’une renaissance de l’extrême droite. En France, Jacques Attali est de ces intellectuels qui s’emploient à brouiller les réalités. C’est lui qui a déclaré, le 3 octobre 2019 : « 99% des migrants non européens s’intègrent parfaitement à la nation française (…) l’islam n’est pas une menace pour la France, il est une composante depuis le VIIIe siècle ». Dans un tweet du 4 octobre, il a aussi assuré : « Le souverainisme n’est que le nouveau nom de l’antisémitisme ». Mais ceux qui n’osent nommer les ennemis des Juifs avalisent une ignominie. Ils sont les traîtres. Oui, les Français juifs ont été trahis par la République capitularde. Ils ont été trahis par ceux qui avaient pour mission de protéger la nation de cette authentique « lèpre qui monte » qu’est l’antisémitisme. Or, quand Macron emploie cette expression, c’est pour dénoncer les peuples qui se réveillent. Le président porte une lourde responsabilité dans l’occultation des sources. Dans mon essai – Les Traîtres – je rappelle les procédés ignobles qui furent ceux du chef de l’Etat quand il laissa croire, à l’instar de Bernard-Henri Lévy, que l’antisémitisme était porté par les Gilets jaunes et plus généralement par les populistes. Je reprends ici quelques lignes de mon livre : « Quand Macron rend hommage à Simone Veil devant le Panthéon, en juillet 2018, il évoque « les vents mauvais qui à nouveau se lèvent ». Mais il ne vise pas là, comme on pourrait s’y attendre vu les circonstances, la judéophobie islamique qui massacre des innocents en France et ailleurs. Non, il vise les populistes, les eurosceptiques, tous ceux qui ne le suivent pas. Pour la Macronie et ses désinformateurs agréés, l’antisémitisme est, forcément, au centre du mouvement des Gilets jaunes. Le chercheur Jean-Yves Camus a beau objecter : « Le mouvement des Gilets jaunes en tant que tel n’est pas antisémite », le bourrage de crâne élyséen ne changera rien à son réquisitoire hystérique. Voici dont un chef d’Etat qui accuse une partie de son peuple d’être porteur d’une maladie de l’esprit qui touche, en réalité, ceux qui se sont soumis à l’islam le plus rétrograde mais que Macron, en revanche, choisit d’épargner. ». Comment respecter un pouvoir qui démissionne, toute honte bue ? Ivan Rioufol
La participation de Donald Trump [à la ‘Marche pour la vie’] est entièrement opportuniste. Il ne me semble pas qu’il ait des convictions morales solides. Il a découvert que les chrétiens conservateurs évangéliques le soutiennent, ils sont eux-mêmes pro-vie donc finalement il leur donne ce qu’ils veulent. Il est peut-être hypocrite à propos du droit à l’avortement, mais ce qu’il faut retenir, c’est qu’il a nommé des juges pro-vie à la Cour Suprême. Et je préfère avoir un président hypocrite qui reste constant dans sa politique sur l’avortement, qu’un président qui soit sincèrement pro-vie mais qui ne soit pas suffisamment engagé pour cette cause… George W. Bush était fermement engagé pour la vie également. Il ne faut pas oublier que les alliés de Trump comme ses ennemis adorent les exagérations pour parler de lui… Et encore une fois, l’essentiel est dans ce qu’il fait et non pas dans la sincérité de ses actions. (…) l’avortement n’est pas une nouvelle fracture, c’est une ligne de clivage depuis les années 1980 lors de la première campagne électorale de Ronald Reagan. Le fait que l’avortement demeure une fracture depuis toutes ces années est particulièrement intéressant: le pays a beaucoup évolué, même au sujet de la libération sexuelle. Un rapport de 2003 publié dans The Atlantic par Thomas B. Edsall intitulé «Blue Movie» montre de manière éloquente comment les questions de sexualité, incluant l’avortement, permettent de prédire avec précision le parti pour lequel les personnes interrogées vont voter. Depuis, les États-Unis sont devenus plus libéraux sur ces questions. La pornographie s’est répandue et est devenue largement accessible. Le mariage homosexuel a gagné un soutien majoritaire à une vitesse fulgurante et particulièrement auprès des jeunes. Après l’arrêt Obergefell qui déclare le droit constitutionnel du mariage homosexuel, pour les chrétiens la question des droits des homosexuels n’est plus centrée sur l’homosexualité elle-même mais sur la confrontation entre les droits LGBT et la liberté de conscience des croyants. Tous les vieux combats culturels concernant les questions de sexualité ont été perdus par la droite… à l’exception de l’avortement. Étrangement, l’opinion publique à propos de l’avortement n’a pas véritablement évolué depuis 1973. La plupart des Américains sont favorables à l’avortement, qui est légalisé, mais en y appliquant des restrictions. Alors qu’en 1973 l’arrêt Roe v. Wade prévoit un avortement sans restrictions. Ce qui est particulièrement intéressant, c’est que même si les «millennials» sont bien plus libres sur les questions de sexualité que les générations précédentes, et malgré le fait qu’ils sont la génération la plus laïque de l’histoire des États-Unis, l’opposition à un avortement sans restriction demeure forte parmi eux. Je ne suis pas certain d’avoir la clef d’explication de ce phénomène mais je pense que la technologie est un élément de compréhension. Les avancées des échographies ont permis aux gens de véritablement voir pour la première fois ce qui se passe dans l’utérus et de prendre conscience qu’ils n’y voient pas qu’un morceau de chair mais un être humain en train de se développer. Les miracles de la médecine actuelle qui sauve la vie de bébés nés grands prématurés sont plus parlants pour cette génération que les sermons des prêtres. (…) La probabilité de la réélection de Donald Trump dépend de sa capacité à rallier sa base et à convaincre les conservateurs qui rechignent à voter démocrate, mais qui n’avaient pas voté pour lui en 2016 à cause de doutes profonds sur sa personne. Trump n’a pas été aussi mauvais que ce que je craignais. Pour autant je ne crois pas qu’il a été un bon président. Néanmoins, je vais sûrement voter pour lui en 2020, et ce pour une bonne raison: le parti démocrate est extrêmement hostile envers les conservateurs religieux et sociétaux mais aussi envers nos libertés fondamentales. Leur combat pour la théorie du genre et l’extension maximale des droits de la communauté LGBT sont les principaux piliers du programme démocrate. Les activistes progressistes ont désigné les chrétiens conservateurs comme leur principal ennemi. Sur ces questions et sur la protection de la liberté d’expression, on ne peut pas leur faire confiance. Ils sont devenus les ennemis de la liberté. Il est clair que le nombre d’Américains qui est d’accord avec les traditionalistes sur ces questions diminue. Je crois que dans les mois et les décennies à venir, les juges fédéraux conservateurs que Trump a nommés seront les seuls à offrir une véritable sauvegarde de la liberté religieuse aux États-Unis. Les Républicains au Congrès et à la Maison Blanche n’ont pas vraiment agi en faveur du renforcement de la liberté religieuse contre les revendications des droits LGBT. Ils sont terrifiés à l’idée de passer pour bigots. Malheureusement, beaucoup de chrétiens américains ont eu des faux espoirs avec le Grand Old Party, en pensant qu’il suffisait de voter républicain pour gagner sur ces questions. En réalité, dans tous les domaines, académiques, médicaux, juridiques, dans les entreprises, les droits LGBT et l’idéologie du genre sont triomphants. Voter républicain est le seul moyen de ralentir cette «Blitzkrieg» progressiste et peut être à travers des biais juridiques y mettre fin dans le futur. Ce n’est pas grand-chose, mais c’est tout ce que nous pouvons faire pour le moment sur le front politique. (…) Il est vrai que Trump a la présidence, les Républicains tiennent la majorité au Congrès et pour ces deux raisons les Républicains nomment un certain nombre de juges fédéraux. C’est un élément important mais ce n’est pas suffisant face au pouvoir culturel immense que les progressistes détiennent de leur côté. Ils contrôlent les plus grands médias d’information et de divertissement, ils contrôlent les écoles et les universités, la médecine et le droit et aussi de manière assez improbable, les grandes entreprises. L’émergence d’un «woke capitalism», un capitalisme progressiste, est un des faits politiques les plus significatifs de la décennie. La majorité des conservateurs n’a pas conscience de leur puissance ni de la manière dont ils se sont clairement positionnés contre le conservatisme social. Ils sont encore attachés à l’ère reaganienne et à illusion que le monde des affaires est conservateur. Quand Ronald Reagan a été élu président en 1980, il a ouvert une nouvelle ère dans la politique américaine, dominée par la droite, plus précisément par les néolibéraux de la droite. Cette ère s’est achevée avec Obama et Trump, mais l’avenir n’est pas écrit. Si on avait dit à un électeur conservateur au moment de l’investiture de Reagan que 30 ans plus tard le christianisme serait déclinant en Amérique, que le mariage homosexuel et l’adoption seraient légaux, que la pornographie violente serait uniformément répandue et accessible à tous y compris aux enfants grâce aux smartphones, que les médecins seraient autorisés à retirer des poitrines féminines à des jeunes filles pour devenir des hommes transgenres, je pense que cet électeur ne croirait pas une seconde qu’un pays qui autorise cela puisse être véritablement conservateur. Et pourtant c’est la réalité de l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui. Si nous sommes un pays conservateur, pourquoi n’avons-nous pas eu un mouvement comme celui de la Manif pour tous, qui pourtant en France, au pays de la laïcité, a conduit des centaines de milliers de personnes dans les rues de Paris pour manifester? J’ai le sentiment que nous sommes plus un pays houllebecquien, même si les conservateurs ne veulent pas l’admettre. Les chrétiens traditionnels, catholiques, protestants, orthodoxes, ont perdu la guerre culturelle. Nous devons nous préparer à une longue période d’occupation et de résistance. C’est ce que j’appelle choisir l’option bénédictine. Même si mon livre s’est bien vendu aux États-Unis, proportionnellement il a eu plus de succès en Europe. En France, en Italie, en Espagne et dans d’autres pays européens mes lecteurs sont des catholiques de moins de 40 ans. Lorsque vous êtes aussi jeune et que vous allez encore à la messe, vous n’avez pas à être convaincu de la vérité du diagnostic que je porte sur le malaise culturel actuel. De même, vous n’avez pas besoin d’être convaincu de l’impuissance de l’église post-soixante-huitarde dans cette crise. En Amérique, les chrétiens n’ont pas encore vu pleinement cette vérité. Cela nous attend dans cette nouvelle décennie. Ce sera un choc douloureux mais nous ne serons pas en mesure de constituer une vraie résistance tant que nous n’accepterons pas cette réalité. Après Trump, le déluge. Rod Dreher
Le voyage de milliers de réfugiés juifs, en 1947, sur le vieux navire « Exodus » en direction de la Palestine. Otto Preminger retrace la naissance de l’État d’Israël dans une fresque majestueuse portée par Paul Newman et Eva Marie Saint. En 1947, des réfugiés juifs européens en partance pour la Palestine mandataire sont refoulés par les autorités britanniques et placés dans des camps d’internement sur l’île de Chypre. Alors que les Nations unies s’apprêtent à se prononcer sur le plan de partage de la Palestine, Ari ben Canaan, un agent de la Haganah, une organisation paramilitaire sioniste, se fait passer pour un officier anglais et embarque des centaines de réfugiés sur un vieux navire rebaptisé Exodus. Lorsque le subterfuge est découvert, Canaan menace de faire sauter le bateau et obtient ainsi du général Sutherland la levée du blocus britannique. L’infirmière américaine Kitty Fremont, qui s’est prise d’affection pour Karen, une jeune passagère à la recherche de son père biologique, fait partie du voyage vers Haïfa. Tandis que Kitty se rapproche d’Ari, sa protégée s’éprend de Dov, un rescapé d’Auschwitz qui, une fois à terre, s’engage dans les rangs de l’Irgoun, une organisation clandestine aux méthodes violentes… Fondée sur le best-seller de Leon Uris, dont Otto Preminger a confié l’adaptation – créditée – à Dalton Trumbo, scénariste inscrit sur la liste noire d’Hollywood, cette fresque de plus de trois heures entrelace destins individuels et grande histoire, amours contrariées et soubresauts politiques avec une fluidité époustouflante, dénuée de tout effet démonstratif. Si elle s’autorise quelques libertés avec les faits et dédaigne le point de vue des Arabes, cette épopée, tournée dans des décors naturels à Chypre et en Israël, dépeint avec finesse le traumatisme des rescapés de l’Holocauste – personnifié par Dov, interprété par Sal Mineo, dans une bouleversante séquence d’interrogatoire. Elle met aussi l’accent sur la confusion des autorités britanniques, les dissensions entre factions sionistes, les germes du conflit israélo-palestinien… Rythmé par la partition exaltée d’Ernest Gold et magnifiquement interprété par Paul Newman et Eva Maria Saint, l’un des chefs-d’œuvre d’Otto Preminger. Arte
Dans la réalité, le navire fut intercepté en 1947 au large de Haïfa par les autorités britanniques, et ses passagers furent tout d’abord transférés à Port-de-Bouc en France, puis redéployés dans des camps de déportés en Allemagne. Ce n’est qu’en 1948, après l’établissement de l’État d’Israël, qu’une première partie des réfugiés de l’Exodus parvint en Palestine. L’attentat de l’hôtel King David eut lieu avant l’affaire de l’Exodus, en juillet 1946, et non en juillet 1947 comme montré dans le film. Il causa notamment la fin du « Mouvement de la révolte hébraïque », réunion de la Haganah, de l’Irgoun, et du Lehi : la Haganah quitta ce mouvement après l’attentat, en protestation contre cette action. De même, l’attaque de la prison d’Acre eut lieu en mai 1947, toujours avant l’affaire de l’Exodus, et fut montée entièrement par l’Irgoun. La tentative de prise de Safed est montrée comme une attaque arabe alors que la ville a été prise par les forces juives en mai 1947 et sa population arabe expulsée. La principale critique de l’historien Larry Portis est que ce film ne présente qu’un côté du conflit, en nous montrant comment quelques rares membres de la Haganah, peu armés mais courageux et unis, parviennent à empêcher l’attaque d’un kibboutz par des Arabes fanatisés et encadrés par d’anciens soldats du Troisième Reich, alors que les Britanniques refusent d’intervenir. Les Arabes ne tueront que deux personnes autour du camp : l’innocente et très blonde Karen, tuée dans la nuit, et le mukhtar du village arabe voisin, Taha, ami d’enfance d’Ari Ben Canaan. Le village arabe est d’ailleurs mystérieusement abandonné, ce qui permet aux jeunes sionistes de se lancer à la défense de Safed dont on entend l’attaque dans le lointain. Wikipedia
Not only were both film and novel tremendous commercial successes, but they were conceived of as the two axes of a single, mutually reinforcing project.* The idea for the book was suggested to Leon Uris by Dore Schary, a top executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The motivation behind the project is described by Kathleen Christison. « The idea for the book » she says, « began with a prominent public-relations consultant who in the early 1950s decided that the United States was too apathetic about Israel’s struggle for survival and recognition. » Uris received a contract from Doubleday and went to Israel and Cyprus where he carried out extensive research. The book was published in September, 1958. It was first re-printed in October the following year. By 1964, it had gone through 30 re-printings. This success was undoubtedly helped by the film’s release in 1960, but not entirely, as Uris’s novel was a book-of-the-month club selection in September, 1959 (which perhaps explains the first re-printing). The film was to be made by MGM. But when the time came, the studio hesitated. The project was perhaps too political for the big producers. At this moment Otto Preminger bought the screen rights from MGM. He then produced and directed the film, featuring an all-star cast including Paul Newman, Eva Marie-Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Sal Mineo, Peter Lawford and other box-office draws of the moment. The film also benefited from a lavish production in “superpanavision 70” after having been filmed on location. The music was composed by Ernest Gold, for which he received an Academy Award for the best music score of 1960. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo. In spite of its length—three and a half hours—the film was a tremendous popular and critical success. It is noteworthy that the release of “Exodus” the film in 1960 indicates that its production began upon Exodus the book’s publication. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose a degree of coordination, in keeping with the origins of the project. In short, it was a major operation which brilliantly succeeded. It has been estimated that in excess of 20 million people have read the novel, and that hundreds of millions have seen the film. Not only was this success a financial bonanza, but its political impact has been equally considerable. There can be little doubt that “Exodus” the film has been one of the most important influences on US perceptions and understanding of the hostilities between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people. It is thusly illuminating to return to the message communicated by this film, in attempting to gage its role in ideological formation. “Exodus” is the story of the Exodus 1947, a ship purchased in the United States and used to transport 4,500 Jewish refugees to Palestine. In reality, the novel and film take great liberties with the original story. Intercepted by the British authorities in the port of Haïfa, the real-life refugees were taken to the French port of Sête, where they were held, becoming the object of intense Zionist agitation and propaganda. Eventually they were transported to Germany and held temporarily in transit camps. Although this incident was used by Uris as the point of departure for his novel, the book is a work of fiction. Not only were the characters invented, but the events did not correspond to reality except in the most general way. In Uris’s narrative, an intercepted ship (not named “Exodus”) is intercepted on the high sea and taken to Cyprus where the passengers are put in camps. Representatives of the Haganah, the secret Jewish army in Palestine, arrive secretly in Cyprus in order to care for, educate and mobilize the refugees. The agent-in-chief is Ari Ben Canaan, played by Paul Newman. Ben Canaan is the son of Barak Ben Canaan, prominent leader of the Yishuv, the Jewish, Zionist community in Palestine. Tricking the British with great intelligence and audacity, Ari Ben Canaan arranges for the arrival of a ship purchased in the United States, on which he places 600 Jewish refugee children—orphans from the Nazi extermination camps and elsewhere. Once the children are on the ship, Ben Canaan names the ship the “Exodus”, and runs up the Zionist flag. He then informs the British authorities that, if the ship is not allowed to depart for Palestine, it will be blown up with all aboard. Before having organized this potential suicide bombing (of himself, the Haganah agents and the 600 children), Ben Canaan has met Kitty Fremont, an American nurse who has become fond of the children and, it must be said, of Ari Ben Canaan. This love interest is carefully intertwined with the major theme: the inexorable need and will of the Jewish people to occupy the soil of Palestine. As it might be expected, the British give in. After some discussion between a clearly anti-semitic officer and those more troubled by the plight of the refugees, the ship is allowed to depart for Palestine. It arrives just before the vote of the United Nations Organization recommending the partition of Palestine between the Jewish and non-Jewish populations. As the partition is refused by the Palestinians and the neighbouring Arab states, war breaks out and the characters all join the ultimately successful effort against what are described as over-whelming odds. Even Kitty and Major Sutherland, the British officer who tipped the balance in favour of releasing the “Exodus,” join the fight. Sutherland’s participation, representing the defection of a British imperialist to the zionist cause, if particularly symbolic. Why did Sutherland jeopardize his position and reputation, and then resign from the army? His humanitarian was forged by the fact that he had seen the Nazi extermination camps when Germany was liberated and, more troubling, his mother was Jewish, although converted to the Church of England. Sutherland has a belated identity crisis which led him, too, to establish himself in the naitive Israel. The other major characters is the film similarly represent the “return” of Jewish people to their “promised land.” For example, Karen, the young girl who Kitty would like to adopt and take to the United States, is a German Jew who was saved by placement in a Danish family during the war. Karen will elect to stay with her people, in spite of her affection for Kitty. Karen is also attached to Dov Landau, a fellow refugee, 17 year-old survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and death camps. Once in Palestine, Dov joins a Zionist terrorist organization (based on the Irgun) and, in the book and film (but not, of course, in reality), places a bomb in the wing of King David Hotel housing the British Command, causing considerable loss of life. The role of human agency, leadership and the nature of decision-making, are a dimension of “Exodus” that is particularly revealing of the propagandistic intent of the film. Most noteworthy is the fact that all the major characters are presented as exceptional people, and all are Jewish, with the exception of Kitty. However, it is not as individuals that the protagonists of the film are important, but rather as representatives of the Jewish people. In this respect, in its effort to portray Jewishness as a special human condition distinguishing Jews and Jewish culture from others, that “Exodus” is most didactic. Ari Ben Canaan is clearly a superior being, but he merely represents the Jewish people. They are, collectively, just as strong, resourceful and determined as Ari. This positive image is highlighted by the portrayal of other ethnic groupings present in the film. The British, for example, are seen, at best, as divided and, at their worst, as degenerate products of national decay and imperialistic racism. The most striking contrast to the collective solidarity, intellectual brilliance, and awesome courage of the Jews is, with the “Arabs.” In spite of their greater numbers, the culture and character of the Arabs show them to be clearly inferior. Ari, who is a “sabra”—a Jewish person born in Palestine—and, as a consequence, understands the Arab character, knows that they are no match for determined Jews. “You turn 400 Arabs loose,” he says, and “they will run in 400 different directions.” This assessment of the motional and intellectual self-possession of the Arabs was made prior to the spectacular jail break at Acre prison. The very indiscipline of the Arabs would cover the escape of the determined Zionists. The Arab leaders are equally incapable of effective action, as they are essentially self-interested and uncaring about their own people. In the end, it is this lack of tolerance and human sympathy in the non Jews that most distinguishes Jews and Arabs. In Exodus the novel, Arabs are constantly, explicitly, and exclusively, described as lazy and shiftless, dirty and deceitful. They have become dependant upon the Jews, and hate them for it. In “Exodus” the film, however, this characterization is not nearly as insisted upon, at least not in the dialogue. Still, way they are portrayed on the screen inspires fear and distrust. (…) What is absent from Preminger’s film—the moral misery, the existential despair, the doubts and confusion of the survivors of the Judeocide—is focused upon in Gitaï’s film. Conversely, what is absent from Gitaï’s film—the expression of Zionist ideals, aspirations and dogma, the glorifications of one ethnic group at the expense of others—is the very point of Preminger’s. This thematic inversion is particularly evident in reference to two aspect of the films: firstly, in the use of names and, secondly, in the dramatic monologues or soliloquies which end both films. In “Exodus”, the use of names for symbolic purposes is immediately evident. “Exodus” refers to the biblical return of the Jews from slavery to the Holy Land—their god-given territory, a sacred site. This sacred site is necessary to Jewish religious observance and identity. Only here, it is explained in “Exodus,” can Jews be safe. Only here, it is asserted, can they throw-off invidious self-perceptions, imposed by antisemitism and assimilation pressures, and become the strong, self-reliant and confident people they really are. This vision of Jewish identity propagated by Zionism is implicitly challenged in Kedma. Again, the title of the film is symbolically significant. “Kedma” means the “East” or “Orient”, or “going towards the East.” The people on the Kedma—Jewish refugees from Europe, speaking European languages and Yiddish—were arriving in another cultural world an alien one, in the East. The result would be more existential disorientation and another ethnically conflictual environment. The difference in perspective manifest in the two films is found also in the names given to the protagonists. In Kedma, an example is given of the abrupt Hebrewization of names as the passengers arrived in the new land, thus highlighting the cultural transformation central to the Zionist project. In “Exodus,” there is much explicit discussion of this aspect of Zionism, and some of the names given to central characters reveal the heavy-handedness of its message. It is, of course, a well-established convention to give evocative names to the protagonists of a literary or cinematographic work. Where would be, for example, Jack London’s The Iron Hell, without his hero, Ernest Everhard? The answer is that the novel might be more impressive without such readily apparent propagandistic trappings. And the same is true for Exodus. Leon Uris’s chief protagonist is Ari Ben Canaan, Hebrew for “Lion, son of Canaan.” This role model for Jewish people everywhere is thusly the direct heir of the ancient Canaanites, precursors of the Jewish community in the land of Palestine. This historical legacy and patrimony established, Paul Newman had only to play the strong fighter—ferocious, hard and wily—with his blond mane cut short, in the military style. The object of Ari’s affections, however ambivalent they may be, is Kitty Fremont, played by Eva Marie Saint. Not only does the pairing of the earnest and ever-hard Ari, the “Lion,” and the compliant but faithful “Kitty” imply a classic gender relationship, but the coupling of this prickly Sabra and the cuddly American symbolizes the special relationship between the United States and native state of Israel that has come to be called the “fifty-first state” of the union. The other major character, played by the baby-faced Sal Mineo, is “Dov Landau,” the 17-year-old survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz. This name evokes the dove of peace and the infancy indirectly evoked by the term “landau” (baby carriage?). The irony is that the angelic Dov, alights on Palestinian soil with the fury of a maddened bird of prey. He is the consummate terrorist—angry and bloodthirsty. Dov’s conversion to Zionism as a collective project, as opposed to a vehicle for his personal vengeance, comes at the end of the story when peace has been (temporarily) achieved through unrelenting combat. Dov then leaves Israel for MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where he will perfect the engineering skills learned building bombs in Warsaw and in Palestine. Peace means refining the technical capacity for the new nation’s defence. In the meantime, Dov’s fiancee, the soft and sweet Karen, has been cruelly murdered by the Arabs. « Exodus » and « Kedma » differ most notably in the latter’s avoidance of the kind of crude propaganda that Leon Uris and Otto Preminger so heavily developed. Rather than forcing his viewers to accept a vision of the birth of Israel founded upon characters, distortions and omissions from historical reality, Amos Gitaï chose to simply place characters that we see briefly in a specific situation which is the real focus of the film. Whereas Preminger symbolized the destiny of a people in the story of strong characters, Gitaï illustrated the tragedy of an historical conjuncture in which the historical actors were largely incidental. We see this aspect of Gitaï’s thematic inversion of Preminger’s film in the soliloquies delivered in both films. At the very end of “Exodus,” Ari Ben Canaan delivers a speech at Karen’s graveside, in which he justifies the Zionist project as the just and prophetic return of a people forced to err in a hostile world for 2000 years. The resistance encountered to this project, he explains, is only the result of evil, self-interested individuals (such as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) who are afraid of losing their privileges once the Arabs learn that Jewish settlement is in their interest. Ari concludes: “I swear that the day will come when Arab and Jew will live in Peace together.” The film then ends with a military convey receding into the distance, towards a new battle in the just cause. In Kedma, there are two soliloquies, delivered not by strong and self-composed leaders, but by distraught, frightened people, caught in a web woven by the apprentice sorcerers in the background—the real architects of the situations in which destinies are sealed and lives are broken. The first speech is made by a middle-aged Polish Jew. Appalled by the new cycle of suffering he witnessed upon arrival in Palestine, he shouts that suffering, guilt and martyrdom have become essential to the Jewish character. Without it, he cries, the Jewish people “cannot exist.” This is their tragedy. The second expression of despair is made by an aged Palestinian peasant, pushed off his land, fleeing the combat. Disregarding the danger, he says: “we will stay here in spite of you. Like a wall, and we will fill the streets with demonstrations, generation after generation.” How to reconcile the Holocaust (the fascist judeocide) and the Nakba (the Palestinian « disaster » of the Zionist ethnic cleansing)? Gitaï’s « Kedma » places the contemporary dilemma within its historical and existential context. Preminger’s “Exodus” did everything not to provide movie-goers with the elements necessary to informed understanding. This is the difference between, on the one hand, demagogy and propaganda and, on the other hand, a call to reason and justice. Representations of leadership in « Exodus » were carefully contrived to create support, in the United States and elsewhere for the State of Israel. It is for this reason that the machinations and tractations of the world leaders who created the situation are conspicuously absent from the story. In « Kedma, » on the contrary, the absence of leaders and any characterization of leadership is designed to have an entirely different effect: namely the evocation of the hatred and human suffering caused when people are instrumental in the service of political and ideological projects. Larry Portis
‘En parler jamais, y penser toujours !’… A l’inverse du «communautarisme», politiquement impensé en France, mais quotidiennement évoqué («communautés» gay, juive, musulmane, arménienne, etc.), la pensée commune française est infectée par la pensée communautaire. Considérée comme étant d’origine anglo-saxonne, cette pensée a pourtant façonné (et miné) la société coloniale en Afrique du Nord. Ce n’était pas «classe contre classe» dans l’égalité citoyenne comme en métropole, mais religion contre religion, dans l’inégalité statutaire et juridique (« citoyens français», «Européens», «israélites», «sujets français musulmans», «indigènes»)… Des millions de Français et d’étrangers habitant aujourd’hui en France ont vécu dans cette pratique politique quotidienne, inconsciemment transmise à leurs enfants. Que l’héritage du communautarisme colonial provienne du refoulé politique français, qu’il ait été fécondé par la pensée politique musulmane (statut des dhimmis ou «protégés»), ou par le communautarisme institutionnel ottoman, a aujourd’hui peu d’importance. Ce qui importe en revanche, c’est qu’au Maghreb, depuis 1945, le communautarisme a conduit à son terme naturel, une épuration ethnique soft, c’est-à-dire au départ concomitant (Algérie) ou successif (Tunisie, Maroc) des «communautés» française, européenne et israélite. Les deux premières ont quitté le Maghreb dans le cadre de la légitime lutte d’indépendance ; la dernière a été délégitimée par son identité extra-musulmane. Les guerres du Proche-Orient ne sont pas étrangères au phénomène (au moins au Maroc et en Tunisie) : elles ont produit une insécurité de basse intensité qui, en trente ans, a vidé le Maghreb de ses communautés juives bimillénaires. Le résultat est connu. Alors que l’Afrique du Sud a préservé son miracle multiethnique, et est aujourd’hui le géant économique de l’Afrique, le Maghreb s’est économiquement réduit comme peau de chagrin. Son PIB n’excède pas celui des Bouches-du-Rhône (90 milliards d’euros), département nourri et irrigué par l’apport des migrants de toute la Méditerranée (« israélites», pieds-noirs, musulmans nord-africains, arméniens…). La violence antisémite qui frappe aujourd’hui en France est moralement et politiquement insupportable. Elle est d’autant plus dramatique que les jeunes beurs qui la mettent en oeuvre rejouent (inconsciemment ?) des scènes qui ont vidé l’Afrique du Nord de ses communautés… Le gouvernement israélien prend acte de cet état de fait, mais Israël n’a-t-il pas justement été créé pour cela ? La perspective d’un départ programmé des juifs de France, ne serait-ce que d’une importante minorité d’entre eux, serait l’échec le plus retentissant de la République française depuis Vichy. Mais cette violence est aussi économiquement et intellectuellement catastrophique. Faut-il rappeler que la nation américaine, la plus riche du monde, est aussi la plus brassée ? Le Proche-Orient, entré il y a plus d’un demi-siècle dans un processus de purification ethnico-religieuse, s’abîme dans les crises et la récession économique, au fur et à mesure que le quittent ses minorités : Européens, juifs d’Europe, Arméniens, juifs arabes, et maintenant chrétiens d’Orient. Intellectuellement, il est plus insupportable encore, qu’en dehors des plus hautes autorités de l’Etat français, il revienne aux intellectuels juifs de France de lancer des signaux d’alarme. Le principe de la démocratie confie à des médiateurs ou représentants (du peuple) la défense de tous les citoyens. Confier la défense d’une «communauté» agressée à ses propres médiateurs est une régression. Il est vrai que traditionnellement, les israélites d’Europe ont été interdits d’activités productives et cantonnés aux services et activités d’échange. L’émancipation des juifs de France au XIXe siècle, puis les traumatismes du XXe siècle, alliés aux fantastiques progrès de l’école, ont accompagné la «montée en gamme» de cette population. Les intellectuels d’origine juive (ou de judaïsme revendiqué) animent aujourd’hui largement le débat public national (au grand dam de Tariq Ramadan), et il va sans dire que leur départ vers les Etats-Unis ou Israël serait une perte incalculable. La France généreuse accueille 80 % de migrants avec un niveau d’études infrasecondaire (quand plus de 80 % des migrants aux Etats-Unis sont diplômés du supérieur), peut-elle de surcroît se permettre de se vider d’une partie croissante de ses forces vives intellectuelles ? Pierre Vermeren
Il y a un syndrome de Jérusalem des dirigeants français. Le syndrome en question, bien connu des psychiatres, projette le visiteur dans un univers mystico-fantasmatique où il se sent illico investi d’une mission sacrée. Certes, ni Jacques Chirac en 1996, ni Emmanuel Macron, aujourd’hui, ne se sont pris pour le Messie. Pourtant, leur passage, dans des contextes bien différents, se sera déroulé avec les mêmes réflexes, suscitant la même vague d’émotion. Au terme d’une longue balade, le 22 janvier, dans la vieille ville, après force accolades et mots profonds – « en ce petit lieu, tant de jaillissements… »- le président, euphorique, s’est rendu à l’Eglise Sainte-Anne. Edifiée par les Croisés, puis transformée en mosquée par Saladin, elle fut offerte à la France en 1856 par les Ottomans de la Sublime Porte, alors maitres de la Palestine, pour services rendus contre l’Empire russe pendant la guerre de Crimée. Et là, divine surprise pour les témoins palestiniens qui n’apprécient guère de voir reconnue par près de 40 chefs d’Etat la centralité d’Israël dans la mémoire du génocide ! Emmanuel Macron, endossant sans le savoir tout en le sachant les habits du Jacques Chirac de 1996, s’est engueulé – ce mot trivial est cependant le seul qui convienne – avec les gardes de la sécurité israélienne. Ces derniers étaient sur les dents depuis des jours. Il y avait de quoi. Recevoir les grands de ce monde dans une capitale sous haute tension n’est pas une mince affaire. La veille, le quotidien palestinien Al Hayat al Jedida, organe officiel de l’Autorité palestinienne, avait publié sans complexe l’édito d’un certain Yahya Rabah qui écrivait mot pour mot, à propos de ce Forum sur le génocide : « Un coup de feu perturbera la cérémonie et un cadavre annulera l’événement ». Le Shin Bet, le renseignement intérieur, prend tout au sérieux et, quoiqu’on puisse en dire sur les réseaux sociaux marqués du sceau de la haine d’Israël, sans la vigilance du Shin Bet, les citoyens de l’Etat hébreu et ses visiteurs auraient du souci à se faire. L’Eglise Sainte-Anne est bel et bien domaine français mais en matière d’anti-terrorisme, les Israéliens sont au parfum. Les agents pénètrent donc dans les lieux, ce qui est à la fois illégitime et compréhensible. Voire « souhaitable » nous confie une source française anonyme, consciente des dangers de la ville sainte et habituée au professionnalisme des collègues israéliens. C’est alors qu’Emmanuel Macron voit rouge. Jérusalem baignait, cette après-midi là, dans une lumière de Golgotha. Les cieux déversaient les eaux du déluge sur la terre promise. Le protocole français, fine mouche, avait prévu 200 parapluies. Il y eut une éclaircie. Macron vit se profiler dans les nuées la silhouette de Chirac et entendit à travers l’orage l’impayable apostrophe, en english dans le texte, de son prédécesseur en 1996. Les hommes du Shin Bet, à l’époque, redoutaient comme aujourd’hui l’incident mortel et s’interposaient entre le « Rais » gaulois et la foule palestinienne. Ce fut alors que tonna l’immortel : « You want me to back to my plane ?????? ». Saisi par l’éternel syndrome de Jérusalem, Macron à son tour gronda : « I don’t like what you did in front of me », « Je n’aime pas ce que vous avez fait devant moi ! » et ordonna qu’on vire illico de Sainte-Anne, territoire français, les agents de l’Etat hébreu, ces étrangers, ces provocateurs. L’affaire fit la Une de la presse israélienne, palestinienne et, forcément, française. Comme de bien entendu, on loua d’un côté la merveilleuse colère du frenchie face à ces gros bras israéliens tandis qu’on s’étonna, de l’autre, d’une telle similitude avec l’affaire Chirac. En réalité, nous sommes en mesure de prouver que le président a été saisi de ce fameux syndrome qui fait les saints, les martyrs et les bonnes consciences. C’était en effet diablement compliqué, en même temps que l’on honorait Israël en acceptant pour la première fois d’y commémorer le génocide (l’historienne Annette Wievorka a écrit là-dessus une fort belle tribune dans les colonnes du Monde), très compliqué d’assurer les Palestiniens de l’historique empathie tricolore à leur égard. Le Macron version Forum de la Shoah pourfend l’antisémitisme, ce qui, du reste, ne rassure pas un instant les Français juifs, en dehors des représentants peu représentatifs des institutions communautaires, mais le Macron version Eglise Sainte-Anne entonne le grand air de la résistance à l’occupation. Bien joué. Enfin, dernier aspect du syndrome de Jérusalem des dirigeants français : le retour du refoulé de la fille ainée de l’Eglise. Il n’a jamais été admis et ne sera sans doute jamais admis au tréfonds des consciences que les juifs aient pu défier le temps, l’oubli et la mort, pour retrouver la Jérusalem biblique et en arpenter les rues en êtres libres et souverains. Que musulmans et chrétiens palestiniens y vivent avec eux dans la même dignité constitue l’espérance naturelle des hommes de paix. Cette espérance, un jour, finira par être comblée. Mais la paix, justement, ne pourra se négocier et s’accomplir qu’en abandonnant les préjugés tenaces, la vision des Israéliens comme venus d’ailleurs et non comme fils fidèles de cette ville. En oubliant ce très politique et très démago syndrome de Jérusalem. Martine Gozlan
Mon identité relationnelle séduisait une foule de gauche qui me considérait comme un rabbin en phase avec les temps modernes, quelqu’un qui rendait la religion accessible et pertinente. Ma défense d’Israël plaisait à un public opposé de conservateurs qui considéraient Israël comme injustement diffamé par la gauche. Les chrétiens évangéliques affluaient vers le message d’Israël en tant que phare de la liberté et bastion des droits de l’homme. Cependant, plus je défendais Israël, en particulier par le biais d’annonces dans les médias, plus mes amis et admirateurs libéraux commençaient à me déserter. Comment mon message universel d’une famille humaine pouvait-il s’intégrer à ma défense passionnée d’un État-nation juif? Comment ma croyance en l’égalité de toute l’humanité pouvait-elle coexister avec ce qu’ils considéraient comme le déplacement des Palestiniens par Israël? L’accord nucléaire du président Barack Obama avec l’Iran de l’époque a mis ce conflit en exergue. Les libéraux se sont réjouis de son élection et de sa politique. Ceux qui l’aimaient et le soutenaient étaient les mêmes personnes qui étaient d’accord avec mes réflexions sur le judaïsme, soutenaient mes campagnes anti-génocide dans des endroits tels que le Rwanda et approuvaient ma poursuite de l’éducation sur l’Holocauste. Alors, comment pouvais-je m’opposer si fermement à Obama sur l’Iran? N’avais-je pas compris que ce leader éclairé faisait la paix? Le dédain que les gens ressentaient pour mon opposition féroce à la politique iranienne d’Obama était pour eux une déception non pas de mes vues politiques, mais de ma foi. Le judaïsme n’est-il pas une religion de paix? Comment pouvions-nous haïr les mollahs iraniens? J’ai soudain ressenti le choc de deux identités. Mon identité juive et rabbinique me disait de suivre Ésaïe, de battre des épées en socs de charrue, remplissant le monde d’amour et d’harmonie. Mais en regardant la menace existentielle qui pèse sur Israël, je ne sentais plus que les paroles d’Isaïe étaient immédiatement pertinentes; les paroles du roi David dans les Psaumes semblaient plus appropriées: «Ceux qui aiment Dieu détestent le mal. Alors que nous publiions plus d’annonces – y compris avec Elie Wiesel – contre l’accord avec l’Iran, soulignant l’abomination de donner au premier parrain du terrorisme au monde 150 milliards de dollars d’actifs non gelés – en grande partie en espèces – je me sentais perdre ma base libérale autrefois fidèle. « Peut-être que Shmuley nous avait trompés et était un fondamentaliste extrémiste depuis le début. »  (…) Le judaïsme a permis au peuple juif d’être la première et seule nation à survivre par la croyance plutôt que par les frontières, avec des rabbins plutôt que des combattants, et la Bible et les prophètes plutôt qu’une économie et des marchés. Mais Theodor Herzl est arrivé et a gâché la fête. Quel genre d’existence était-ce, a-t-il demandé, alors qu’il examinait l’humiliation sans fin des Juifs européens – même ceux qui, comme Alfred Dreyfus, avaient pensé qu’ils pourraient s’assimiler et être accepté des non juifs ? C’est une vie misérable, pensait Herzl. Nous n’avons aucune dignité. Nous avons besoin d’un État-nation. Un foyer juif. Un endroit où les Juifs peuvent vivre avec la prospérité et la sécurité fournies par leur propre armée. Les rabbins ont crié à la faute. Est-ce à dire qu’Israël remplacerait le judaïsme? En effet, nombre des premiers sionistes étaient farouchement laïcs. Ce n’est pas difficile de comprendre pourquoi. Ils pensaient que le judaïsme avec sa dépendance ultime en Dieu plutôt que les efforts de l’individu freinait le peuple juif. Herzl prédisait un État juif avant 50 ans. Il s’était trompé de cinq ans. Cependant, ces cinq années critiques sont arrivées avec un événement: l’Holocauste. Si Israël avait respecté sa prédiction, 6 millions de vies juives auraient pu être épargnées. La politique nazie était l’émigration juive avant son anéantissement. C’est juste qu’aucun pays – y compris les États-Unis – ne voulait les accepter. Ils ont donc été tués à raison de 10 000 par jour. En fait, ce qu’Herzl avait fait, c’est de révéler la profonde erreur de Zakkai. Oui, le judaïsme a permis au peuple juif de survivre – jusqu’à ce qu’il soit gazé et transformé en cendres dans les crématoires d’Auschwitz, Majdanek, Bergen-Belsen et Dachau. Après l’Holocauste, tout argument selon lequel les Juifs peuvent survivre en tant que religion sans État est profondément ridicule, c’est pourquoi le Neturei Karta, en plus d’être un embarras pour le judaïsme alors qu’il traîne avec des tueurs tels que l’ancien président iranien Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, est également profondément ignorant. Le monde n’est pas habitué à voir les Juifs se défendre et préférerait que nous soyons le peuple du livre plutôt que le peuple des Uzi. Je suis rabbin. Je veux que le peuple juif soit une lumière pour les nations. Je crois que le judaïsme a des enseignements rédempteurs à partager avec le monde sur la famille, la sexualité, le mariage, la dignité humaine, la mise en perspective de l’accumulation de richesses, l’égalité des femmes, le respect de tous les enfants de Dieu, la haine du mal et la lutte contre les violations des droits de l’homme. (…) Mais alors que le monde se tournait vers Israël, j’ai ressenti l’appel de mon peuple. Comment pourrais-je ne pas défendre l’État juif, où deux de mes enfants ont servi dans l’armée et où mon peuple réalisait l’ancien rêve de retourner en Israël et à Sion? Je me suis lancé dans les guerres d’Israël via des débats publics sur le campus, des débats publics sur CNN, Fox et MSNBC et des campagnes publicitaires mondiales qui ont défendu l’État juif. Cette décision a entraîné la perte d’une grande partie de mon public de gauche. Comment une personne éclairée comme moi pouvait  parler des droits de l’homme et du sauvetage des relations personnelles et ne pas me soucier des Palestiniens, mes critiques, qui étaient aussi les critiques d’Israël. Comment pouvais-je justifier l’agression d’Israël? Ma réponse selon laquelle Israël est le grand espoir arabe est tombée sur une sourde oreille. Je crois que l’épanouissement d’une démocratie au Moyen-Orient avec tous les droits pour tous ses citoyens arabes et musulmans ferait mentir les dictateurs arabes qui prétendent que des choses comme la liberté de la presse sont impossibles au Moyen-Orient. Il y avait un parti pris contre Israël qui semblait difficile à surmonter. (…) Alors que le monde se retournait contre Israël et que l’antisémitisme se développait à travers le monde, être un combattant pour Israël signifiait souvent perdre l’opportunité d’être une lumière pour les nations. Le monde dans son ensemble n’allait pas écouter quelqu’un l’accuser d’antisémitisme. Le monde n’allait pas voir quelqu’un qui défendait Israël – qu’il diffamait comme un occupant de l’apartheid – comme une lumière morale et spirituelle. Comme mon fils Mendy me l’a dit, c’est presque comme si les nations du monde étaient si brutales envers nous qu’elles ont complètement réorienté notre mission nationale de la propagation de la parole de Dieu à la survie de base. Et après qu’ils nous aient forcés à survivre, ils nous ont reproché de riposter et ont dit que ceux qui se battent n’ont pas le droit de prêcher un message spirituel d’unité universelle et de guérison cosmique. L’élection du président Donald Trump a amplifié ce fossé. Ces Juifs reconnaissants à Trump d’avoir déplacé l’ambassade américaine en Israël à Jérusalem; le retrait de l’accord nucléaire iranien catastrophique; l’arrêt de la diffamation d’Israël aux Nations Unies; l’arrêt du financement de l’Autorité palestinienne tant qu’elle utilise cet argent  pour récompenser l’assassinat de Juifs; et la reconnaissance des hauteurs du Golan, sont traités comme indignes d’un rabbin.  (…) Nous ne devons pas renoncer à expliquer que la spiritualité juive et sa réussite à soutenir le peuple juif sont intimement liées à Israël. Oui, le monde n’est pas habitué à voir les Juifs se défendre et préférerait que nous soyons le peuple du livre plutôt que le peuple des uzis. Un cynique pourrait dire que le monde ne déteste pas tant les Juifs que les Juifs qui détiennent le pouvoir et se défendent pour eux-mêmes. Prenez Hollywood, par exemple. Presque tous les mois, l’industrie sort un excellent film sur la tragédie de l’Holocauste – mais elle n’a produit aucun film positif sur Israël depuis que Paul Newman a joué dans «Exodus». Des juifs avec des étoiles jaunes de David sur eux mourant et étant gazés touchent les scénaristes, réalisateurs et producteurs hollywoodiens. Les Juifs qui se battent dans les chars Merkava sur les hauteurs du Golan, ou les commandos israéliens qui prennent d’assaut les avant-postes terroristes à Gaza pour s’assurer qu’ils ne seront plus jamais abattus, est considéré non pas aussi héroïque mais oppressant pour les voisins d’Israël. D’un autre côté, avoir des guerriers israéliens a considérablement amélioré le judaïsme. Avoir une maison pour laquelle nous sommes prêts à nous battre et à nous défendre dans les relations publiques mondiales a donné au peuple juif une dignité que nous ne possédions pas auparavant lorsque nous étions une nation pitoyable. Les évangéliques chrétiens affluent désormais non seulement pour soutenir l’État juif, mais aussi pour en apprendre davantage sur la judéité de Jésus. (…) Sans Israël, le peuple juif – et la religion juive par extension – n’aurait pas l’impact qu’il a sur les chrétiens évangéliques. De même, sans Israël, il n’y aurait pas une véritable renaissance du judaïsme – non seulement avec les centaines de yeshivots et de séminaires qui ont ouvert, mais avec les communautés juives du monde entier qui ont renforcé leurs liens avec leur foi en raison de l’inspiration d’Israël. Pour le moment, nous ne gagnerons pas nécessairement les mondialistes alors que nous nous battons pour Israël. Ils nous puniront pour notre défense de nous-mêmes. Mais je crois qu’avec le temps, cela va changer. Il y aura un retour de bâton contre le libéralisme faux et frauduleux d’aujourd’hui qui diabolisait Israël alors qu’il fêtait l’Iran, la Turquie et la Chine. Quant au prix que nous paierons jusque-là, je pense qu’il en vaut vraiment la peine. Israël en vaut la peine. La patrie juive en vaut la peine. L’État juif en vaut la peine. Non seulement parce que sans Israel, il n’y aurait pas de sanctuaire pour les Juifs à l’ère de la persécution mondiale, mais parce que, comme le dit le Talmud, ‘Celui qui est sans foyer n’est pas une personne.’ Même pour les Juifs qui vivent dans la diaspora, c’est Israël qui donne à notre identité juive sa dignité. C’est Israël qui donne un sens à notre observance juive. Et c’est Israël qui donne à chaque homme, femme et enfant juif la plus grande fierté. Quel sens auraient nos prières quotidiennes sans la supplication de la présence divine retournant à Jérusalem? Comment pouvons-nous chercher à être connectés aux enseignements d’Abraham sans comprendre qu’ils proviennent d’un lieu et d’un temps particuliers en Israël? Détacher le judaïsme d’Israël, c’est faire de notre religion un cadavre sans vie dépourvu d’âme. Tant que le monde ne verra pas la vertu d’Israël – un événement rendu beaucoup plus difficile par l’antisémitisme mondialement ancré – mon avis est que nous ne pouvons pas abandonner la bataille pour joindre les deux. Nous ne devons pas renoncer à expliquer que la spiritualité juive et sa réussite à soutenir le peuple juif sont intimement liées à Israël. Rabbin Shmuley Boteach
My relationships identity appealed to a liberal crowd that saw me as a rabbi in tune with modern times, someone who made religion accessible and relevant. My defense of Israel appealed to an opposite audience of conservatives that saw Israel as being unfairly maligned by the left. Evangelical Christians flocked to the message of Israel as a beacon of freedom and bastion of human rights. However, the more I stood up for Israel, especially through ads in the media, the more my liberal friends and admirers began to desert me. How did my universal message of one human family mesh with my passionate defense of a Jewish nation state? How did my belief in the equality of all humankind coexist with what they saw was Israel’s displacement of the Palestinians? Then-President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran brought this conflict into stark relief. Liberals delighted in his election and his policies. Those who loved him and supported him were the same people who agreed with my thoughts on Judaism, supported my anti-genocide campaigns in places such as Rwanda, and agreed with my furtherance of Holocaust education. So how could I so strongly oppose Obama on Iran? Did I not understand this enlightened leader was making peace? The disdain people felt for my ferocious opposition to Obama’s Iran policy was a disappointment not in my politics, but my faith. Is Judaism not a religion of peace? How could we hate the Iranian mullahs? I suddenly felt the clash of two identities. My Jewish, rabbinical identity told me to follow Isaiah, beating swords into plowshares, filling the world with love and harmony. But in looking at the existential threat facing Israel, I did not feel the words of Isaiah were immediately relevant; the words of King David in Psalms seemed more appropriate: “Those who love God hate evil.” As we took out more ads — including with Elie Wiesel — against the Iran deal, pointing out the abomination of giving the world’s foremost sponsor of terror $150 billion in unfrozen assets — much of it in cash — I felt myself losing my once-stalwart liberal base. “Perhaps Shmuley had bamboozled us and was an extremist fundamentalist all along.” (…) Judaism ensured the Jewish people would be the first and only nation to survive by belief rather than borders, with rabbis rather than fighters, and the Bible and Prophets rather than an economy and markets. But along came Theodor Herzl and spoiled the party. What kind of existence is this, he asked, as he surveyed the never-ending humiliation of European Jewry — even those who, like Alfred Dreyfus, had thought they might assimilate into non-Jewish acceptance? This is a wretched life, Herzl thought. We have no dignity. We need a nation state. A Jewish home. A place where Jews can live with prosperity and security provided by their own army. The rabbis cried foul. Does this mean Israel would replace Judaism? Indeed, many early Zionists were fiercely secular. It’s not hard to understand why. They felt Judaism with its ultimate reliance on God rather than the efforts of the individual was holding back the Jewish people. Herzl predicted a Jewish state within 50 years. He was off by about five. However, those critical five came with an event: the Holocaust. If Israel had met his prediction, 6 million Jewish lives might have been spared. The Nazi policy was Jewish emigration before it was annihilation. It’s just that no country — including the United States — would take them in. So they were killed at a rate of about 10,000 per day. In effect, what Herzl did was expose Zakkai’s decision as profoundly incorrect. Yes, Judaism allowed the Jewish people to survive — until they were gassed and turned into ash in the crematoria of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau. After the Holocaust, any argument that Jews can survive as a religion without a state is profoundly ridiculous, which is why the Neturei Karta, aside from being an embarrassment to Judaism as they hang out with killers such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also are profoundly ignorant. The world is not accustomed to seeing Jews stand up for themselves and would prefer us being the people of the book rather than the people of the Uzi. I am a rabbi. I want the Jewish people to be a light unto the nations. I believe Judaism has redemptive teachings to share with the world on family, sexuality, marriage, human dignity, putting the accumulation of wealth in perspective, equality of women, respect for all of God’s children, hatred of evil and fighting human rights abuses. (…) But as the world turned on Israel, I felt the call of my people. How could I not stand up for the Jewish state, where two of my children served in the army and where my people were fulfilling the ancient dream of returning to Israel and Zion? I threw myself into the Israel wars via public debates on campus, public debates on CNN, Fox and MSNBC and global advertising campaigns that defended the Jewish state. With that decision came the loss of much of my liberal audience. How could I, an enlightened person who spoke about human rights and rescuing relationships, not care about the Palestinians, my critics, who were also Israel’s critics. How could I justify Israel’s aggression? My response that Israel is the great Arab hope was met with deaf ears. I believe the flourishing of a democracy in the Middle East with full rights for all its Arab and Muslim citizens would give lie to Arab dictators who claim that things such as press freedom are impossible in the Middle East. There was a bias against Israel that seemed hard to surmount. (…) As the world turned against Israel and as anti-Semitism sprang up around the world, being a fighter for Israel often meant forfeiting the opportunity to be a light unto the nations. The world at large was not going to listen to someone accusing it of anti-Semitism. The world was not going to see someone who defended Israel — which it vilified as an apartheid occupier — as a moral and spiritual light. As my son Mendy told me, it’s almost as if the nations of the world were so brutal toward us that they completely reoriented our national mission from spreading the word of God to basic survival. And after they forced us into survival mode, they faulted us for fighting back and said those who fight have no right to preach a spiritual message of universal oneness and cosmic healing. The election of President Donald Trump has magnified this divide. Those Jews thankful to Trump for moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; withdrawing from the catastrophic Iran nuclear deal; stopping the vilification of Israel at the United Nations; ceasing the funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it channels that money in a pay-for-slay policy for killing Jews; and recognizing the Golan Heights, are treated as unworthy of the mantle of Jewish teacher. If you show the Jewish virtue of hakarat hatov, basic gratitude, toward a president who has strengthened and legitimized Israel immeasurably, especially at the United Nations, you are promoting darkness to the nations rather than serving as a light. (…) We must not give up on explaining that Jewish spirituality and its success in sustaining the Jewish people is intimately connected with Israel. Yes, the world is not accustomed to seeing Jews stand up for themselves and would prefer us being the people of the book rather than the people of the Uzi. A cynic might say the world does not so much hate Jews as hate Jews who have power and stick up for themselves. Take Hollywood, for example. Nearly every month, the industry releases an excellent movie about the tragedy of the Holocaust — yet it has not produced one positive movie about Israel since Paul Newman starred in “Exodus.” Jews with yellow Stars of David on them dying and being gassed moves and touches Hollywood writers, directors and producers. Jews battling in Merkava tanks on the Golan Heights, or Israeli commandos storming terrorist outposts in Gaza to ensure they never again are slaughtered, is seen not so much as heroic but as oppressive to Israel’s neighbors. On the other hand, having Israel warriors has greatly enhanced Judaism. Having a home for which we are prepared to fight and stand up for ourselves in global PR has given the Jewish people a dignity we previously did not possess when we were a pitied nation. Christian evangelicals now flock not only to support the Jewish state but to learn about the Jewishness of Jesus. (…) Were it not for Israel, the Jewish people — and the Jewish religion by extension — would not have the impact it is having on evangelical Christians. Likewise, were it not for Israel, there would not be a true renaissance of Judaism — not only with the hundreds of yeshivot and seminaries that have opened but with Jewish communities the world over that have strengthened their bonds to their faith because of Israel’s inspiration. (…) Right now, we may not necessarily win over the globalists as we fight for Israel. They will punish us for standing up for ourselves. But I believe that in time, this will change. There will be a backlash against the false and fraudulent liberalism of today that would demonize Israel even as it fetes Iran, Turkey and China. As for the price we pay until then, I feel it absolutely is worth it. Israel is worth it. The Jewish homeland is worth it. The Jewish state is worth it. Not only because without Israe there would be no sanctuary for Jews in an age of global persecution, but because as the Talmud says, “He who is without a home is not a person.” Even for Jews who live in the Diaspora, it is Israel that gives our Jewish identity dignity. It is Israel that gives our Jewish observance meaning. And it is Israel that gives every Jewish man, woman and child the greatest pride. What meaning would our daily prayers have without the supplication of the divine presence returning to Jerusalem? How do we seek to be connected to the teachings of Abraham without understanding that they stemmed from a particular place and time in Israel? To detach Judaism from Israel is to make our religion a lifeless corpse bereft of soul. Until such time as the world comes to see Israel’s virtue — an event made much harder by globally ingrained anti-Semitism — my advice is that we cannot give up the battle on joining the two. We must not give up on explaining that Jewish spirituality and its success in sustaining the Jewish people is intimately connected with Israel. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Cachez cet Israël que je ne saurai voir !

En ce 75e anniversaire de la libération d’Auschwitz …

Au lendemain d’un forum où l’on honorait Israël en acceptant pour la première fois d’y commémorer le génocide …

Qui vit à nouveau syndrome de Jérusalem oblige …

Selon l’heureuse formule de Martine Gozlan du magazine Marianne …

Un président français « entonner à nouveau,  pour rassurer les Palestiniens de l’historique empathie tricolore à leur égard, le grand air de la résistance à l’occupation » …

Mais aussi de la rafraichissante rediffusion sur Arte

Avec ses distorsions historiques, ses Arabes fanatisés et encadrés par d’anciens soldats du Troisième Reich et ses Britanniques refusant d’intervenir …

D’un Exodus avec toute la force et la passion bien vivantes de l’idéal sioniste  …

Et à l’heure où comme le rappelait Pierre Vermeren il y a déjà 16 ans …

Une France généreuse qui accueille 80 % de migrants au niveau d’études infrasecondaire contre plus de 80 % de diplômés du supérieur aux Etats-Unis …

Est en train de payer le prix à nouveau, après les pays arabes avant elle et sur fond de cécité redoublée, de la fuite de ses élites juives …

Pendant que le meilleur défenseur qu’ait connu tant le peuple juif qu’iranien ou même chrétien depuis Reagan …

Se voir moquer comme le premier idiot du village venu …

Comment ne pas voir avec le rabbin américain Shmuley Boteach …

Qu’ « après l’Holocauste, tout argument selon lequel les Juifs peuvent survivre en tant que religion sans État est profondément ridicule » …

Et que « détacher le judaïsme d’Israël, c’est faire d’en faire un cadavre sans vie dépourvu d’âme « ?

The Clash Over Support for Israel
Have the Jews paid a price for defending Israel?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Jewish Journal
Jan 22, 2020

I am a lover and supporter of Israel. I dedicate much of my life and waking hours to defending, supporting and promoting Israel. I say this not to brag or take credit, but to be crystal clear that in asking whether Israel has helped or hurt Judaism, I am not querying whether the state of Israel should exist or whether it has been a blessing to the Jewish people.

Israel is the greatest modern miracle of the Jewish nation. Its existence has saved countless lives. It is the sole democracy in the Middle East and is a global bastion of human rights. Had Israel existed in 1940, 6 million Jews may not have died, and the Holocaust might not have occurred. Israel is the pride and joy of the Jewish people. Those who do not agree with this statement likely are ignorant of Jewish history and blind to Jewish purpose.

But what is the price Judaism has paid for the state of Israel? Is it possible for the Jewish people to remain a light for other nations as they engage in daily struggles to protect and promote their nation state as it is assailed from all sides?

I joined the Chabad movement as a boy, attending summer camp and meeting the Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, when I was about 10 years old. The Rebbe’s universal message of globally spreading Judaism appealed to me. By 14, I had switched to a full-time, live-in Chabad yeshiva in Los Angeles. By 19, I was the Rebbe’s student emissary in Sydney, and by 22, along with my wife, Debbie, his full-time rabbinical emissary at Oxford University.

I reveled in making Judaism a light unto the nations. Why should Christianity and Islam, daughter religions of Judaism, make all the impact, with Judaism getting no credit? Where was the Jewish message for non-Jews about passionate marriages, kosher sex, raising inspired children and creating close-knit communities? Why was Judaism a spiritual backwater that appealed only to Jews?

My intention was not to proselytize non-Jews to Judaism. To the contrary, I wanted everyone to find purpose in their own identities and backgrounds. I wanted everyone to — as my friend Marianne Williamson once said — “honor their own incarnation.” But I also wanted universal Jewish values to influence them.

To that extent, I diverged from the traditional Hillel and Chabad campus model of focusing almost exclusively on Jews, and created a student organization that had thousands of non-Jews. Within two years of its creation, the Oxford L’Chaim Society had grown to become the second largest in Oxford’s history.

At that time, the late 1980s, I was keenly aware my beloved Israel was under attack. I was astonished by how much hatred the Jewish state engendered. I dedicated myself and our organization to Israel’s defense. In 11 years, we hosted six men who had or would serve as Israel’s prime ministers: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin. This was in addition to hundreds of other pro-Israel speakers and debaters.

The more I stood up for Israel, especially through ads in the media, the more my liberal friends and admirers began to desert me.

We trained students to be Israel’s spokespeople at important forums such as the Oxford Union. Some of our student leaders and participants went on to be top political officials, including Ambassador Ron Dermer, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who was one of Israel’s greatest champions before turning on Israel with his support for the Iran nuclear agreement and his vote against the Taylor Force act in Senate committee.

While I continued to defend Israel, I published books on sex, relationships and marriage. I was wearing two hats: Hebrew warrior and relationship guru. The two peacefully coexisted — until about a decade ago, when they began to sharply diverge.

My relationships identity appealed to a liberal crowd that saw me as a rabbi in tune with modern times, someone who made religion accessible and relevant. My defense of Israel appealed to an opposite audience of conservatives that saw Israel as being unfairly maligned by the left. Evangelical Christians flocked to the message of Israel as a beacon of freedom and bastion of human rights.

However, the more I stood up for Israel, especially through ads in the media, the more my liberal friends and admirers began to desert me. How did my universal message of one human family mesh with my passionate defense of a Jewish nation state? How did my belief in the equality of all humankind coexist with what they saw was Israel’s displacement of the Palestinians?

Then-President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran brought this conflict into stark relief. Liberals delighted in his election and his policies. Those who loved him and supported him were the same people who agreed with my thoughts on Judaism, supported my anti-genocide campaigns in places such as Rwanda, and agreed with my furtherance of Holocaust education.

So how could I so strongly oppose Obama on Iran? Did I not understand this enlightened leader was making peace? The disdain people felt for my ferocious opposition to Obama’s Iran policy was a disappointment not in my politics, but my faith. Is Judaism not a religion of peace? How could we hate the Iranian mullahs?

After the Holocaust, any argument that Jews can survive as a religion without a state is profoundly ridiculous.

I suddenly felt the clash of two identities. My Jewish, rabbinical identity told me to follow Isaiah, beating swords into plowshares, filling the world with love and harmony. But in looking at the existential threat facing Israel, I did not feel the words of Isaiah were immediately relevant; the words of King David in Psalms seemed more appropriate: “Those who love God hate evil.”

As we took out more ads — including with Elie Wiesel — against the Iran deal, pointing out the abomination of giving the world’s foremost sponsor of terror $150 billion in unfrozen assets — much of it in cash — I felt myself losing my once-stalwart liberal base. “Perhaps Shmuley had bamboozled us and was an extremist fundamentalist all along.”

But the clash here was not about Shmuley-the-relationship-counselor versus Shmuley-the-Hebrew-warrior; it was a clash of Shmuley the rabbi, representing the universalist goals of Judaism, with Shmuley the Israel fighter, representing the existential survival needs of the Jewish nation-state.

As many saw it, it was a conflict between Jewish universalism and Hebrew parochialism; Judaism as a religion for all people versus Israel as a state for only Jewish people.

It was at this point I recalled the story of Roman Emperor Vespasian and the greatest rabbi of the last years of the Second Temple, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai.

The gist of the story is this: It’s 2,000 years ago and the Romans have surrounded Jerusalem. They are about to invade, annihilate the population and destroy the Holy Temple. The Jewish rebels fighting the Romans have made it a capital offense for anyone — including the greatest rabbis — to leave Jerusalem, for fear traitors will seek terms with the Romans or betray the Jewish cause.

Zakkai decides the Jewish cause is lost. The Romans will destroy everything. He fakes his death and is taken out of Jerusalem in a coffin, as bodies cannot be buried in the holy city. He is granted an audience with Vespasian, who is then a general, and greets him with the words, “Hail, Caesar.” Vespasian says the rabbi deserves death for giving him the imperial salutation when he is only a commanding general. Just then, a messenger comes in from Rome and says, “Hail, Caesar. The Roman emperor in the capital city has been deposed. You have been proclaimed the new emperor by your troops.”

Vespasian looks at Zakkai and is impressed, thinking the man is some kind of prophet. Vespasian agrees to grant the rabbi three wishes, the most important of which is Zakkai’s request that even if Jerusalem is destroyed, Vespasian will allow the rabbis and teachers to go to the city of Yavneh and establish a yeshiva there for the continuity of Judaism, the religion, unmolested by Rome.

But wait. What about the Temple? What about Israel? What about Jerusalem? What about the Jewish nation state? Clearly, Zakkai made a decision. Israel was lost, but Judaism would remain. The Jewish people would live on not through borders, an army and a capital, but through Jewish mitzvot and Torah observance. The people would survive through rabbis rather than soldiers, through scripture rather than a state, through the minute strictures of the halachah rather than the borders of a country.

From that fork in the road where Zakkai could have asked Vespasian to spare the country instead of sparing the Torah and teachers comes our present dilemma. For 2,000 years, Zakkai’s gamble — for which he was strongly criticized by fellow Talmudists — more or less worked. The Jewish people survived in exile through their Judaism.

I say “more or less” because survival came at the price of humiliation, expulsion, persecution, constant attack and finally, annihilation in the Holocaust. Yet for all those immeasurable and unspeakable horrors, Judaism and the Jewish people survived, even as millions did not.

Judaism ensured the Jewish people would be the first and only nation to survive by belief rather than borders, with rabbis rather than fighters, and the Bible and Prophets rather than an economy and markets.

But along came Theodor Herzl and spoiled the party. What kind of existence is this, he asked, as he surveyed the never-ending humiliation of European Jewry — even those who, like Alfred Dreyfus, had thought they might assimilate into non-Jewish acceptance? This is a wretched life, Herzl thought. We have no dignity. We need a nation state. A Jewish home. A place where Jews can live with prosperity and security provided by their own army.

The rabbis cried foul. Does this mean Israel would replace Judaism? Indeed, many early Zionists were fiercely secular. It’s not hard to understand why. They felt Judaism with its ultimate reliance on God rather than the efforts of the individual was holding back the Jewish people.

Herzl predicted a Jewish state within 50 years. He was off by about five. However, those critical five came with an event: the Holocaust. If Israel had met his prediction, 6 million Jewish lives might have been spared. The Nazi policy was Jewish emigration before it was annihilation. It’s just that no country — including the United States — would take them in. So they were killed at a rate of about 10,000 per day.

In effect, what Herzl did was expose Zakkai’s decision as profoundly incorrect. Yes, Judaism allowed the Jewish people to survive — until they were gassed and turned into ash in the crematoria of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau.

After the Holocaust, any argument that Jews can survive as a religion without a state is profoundly ridiculous, which is why the Neturei Karta, aside from being an embarrassment to Judaism as they hang out with killers such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also are profoundly ignorant.

The world is not accustomed to seeing Jews stand up for themselves and would prefer us being the people of the book rather than the people of the Uzi.

I am a rabbi. I want the Jewish people to be a light unto the nations. I believe Judaism has redemptive teachings to share with the world on family, sexuality, marriage, human dignity, putting the accumulation of wealth in perspective, equality of women, respect for all of God’s children, hatred of evil and fighting human rights abuses.

As a religion, we can and should impart those values. No one gave us the opportunity to do so when authorities shoved us into ghettos, resulting in poverty-level existence. However, the emancipation of European Jewry provided that opportunity. Judaism finally might be heard.

Jewish luminaries such as philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86) began the process, even as they compromised some of the core of Judaism in an effort to make it more palatable. The creation of the United States gave Jews full rights and acceptance, and for the first time in 2,000 years, there arose the possibility that rabbis and Jewish thinkers might go public via TV, radio and later, the internet, as well as publish books that profoundly impact hundreds of millions of non-Jews.

Modern media and a new, open, liberal mindset allowed Judaism — for the first time in history — to become a light unto the nations, without having to influence the world through the medium of Christianity or Islam.

I firmly jumped on this bandwagon, using Jewish wisdom to counsel non-Jewish families on a national TV show. I sought to rescue faltering marriages, restore lost intimacy and passion from monogamous relationships, and help parents inspire their children with values.

But as the world turned on Israel, I felt the call of my people. How could I not stand up for the Jewish state, where two of my children served in the army and where my people were fulfilling the ancient dream of returning to Israel and Zion?

I threw myself into the Israel wars via public debates on campus, public debates on CNN, Fox and MSNBC and global advertising campaigns that defended the Jewish state.

With that decision came the loss of much of my liberal audience. How could I, an enlightened person who spoke about human rights and rescuing relationships, not care about the Palestinians, my critics, who were also Israel’s critics. How could I justify Israel’s aggression?

My response that Israel is the great Arab hope was met with deaf ears. I believe the flourishing of a democracy in the Middle East with full rights for all its Arab and Muslim citizens would give lie to Arab dictators who claim that things such as press freedom are impossible in the Middle East. There was a bias against Israel that seemed hard to surmount.

The quandary I faced took me back two millennia to Zakkai, sitting before Vespasian. Would I be silent on Israel so I could remain a rabbi to the gentiles? Would I allow Israel to suffer while I spoke on television about kosher sex? Would I allow my closest friend and former student president Cory Booker to betray Israel and the United States by voting to give the killer mullahs in Tehran $150 billion so Booker’s many admirers would continue to see me as the enlightened Chassidic rabbi who mentored him? Would I be silent to remain popular among the Hollywood set while Israelis were blown up on buses and in cafes?

No, I would not. I would not remain silent, regardless of personal cost.

But this wasn’t primarily about me and the price I personally paid. It was about a choice. As the world turned against Israel and as anti-Semitism sprang up around the world, being a fighter for Israel often meant forfeiting the opportunity to be a light unto the nations. The world at large was not going to listen to someone accusing it of anti-Semitism. The world was not going to see someone who defended Israel — which it vilified as an apartheid occupier — as a moral and spiritual light.

As my son Mendy told me, it’s almost as if the nations of the world were so brutal toward us that they completely reoriented our national mission from spreading the word of God to basic survival. And after they forced us into survival mode, they faulted us for fighting back and said those who fight have no right to preach a spiritual message of universal oneness and cosmic healing.

The election of President Donald Trump has magnified this divide. Those Jews thankful to Trump for moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; withdrawing from the catastrophic Iran nuclear deal; stopping the vilification of Israel at the United Nations; ceasing the funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it channels that money in a pay-for-slay policy for killing Jews; and recognizing the Golan Heights, are treated as unworthy of the mantle of Jewish teacher. If you show the Jewish virtue of hakarat hatov, basic gratitude, toward a president who has strengthened and legitimized Israel immeasurably, especially at the United Nations, you are promoting darkness to the nations rather than serving as a light.

There now is an undeniable conflict between being an Israel warrior and serving as an exponent of Judaism, such that the more one engages in the former, the less effective he or she is in the latter. And one is forced to choose?

To detach Judaism from Israel is to make our religion a lifeless corpse bereft of soul.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Hillel and Chabad on campus. They care deeply about Israel. Still, they pay, at best, lip service to the battle against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses without mounting any serious and coordinated national campaign to combat it. Why? Their local directors will say — in their minds, with good cause — that if they stand for Israel or fight openly against Israel Apartheid Week, then students won’t come for chicken soup on Friday night. Hillel directors and Chabad rabbis feel they are forced to choose between advocating for Israel and losing more liberal-minded Jewish students, or forfeiting the fight for Israel and getting Jewish students to come to Torah classes or lectures on the Holocaust.

I cannot tell you how many college campus activists have expressed to me privately that Israel now is so toxic a subject on campuses that mixing it with their Jewish activities would cause them to lose more than half their participants.

To these Chabad rabbis and Hillel directors, I responded, “But, wait. If you’re going to cut out Israel from your programs — with the exception for some meaningless tokenism like having a falafel party on Yom HaAtzmaut — then you’ve cut out the heart of Judaism. Israel is central to everything Judaism stands for. What’s next? If God is offensive to atheists and makes you look backward and unscientific for your beliefs, do you drop Him as well? If mikveh is misunderstood by women as a belief that their menses make then unclean, do we cut out that, too? Or the Sabbath, if people believe it’s a day of idleness for people who are lazy and don’t want to work, will the Sabbath also be stripped out of Judaism?”

To this, one of Hillel’s most generous benefactors told me, “Look. I would never say this in public, but the battle for Israel on campus is lost. We should have woken up two decades ago. But we didn’t. And now, if we prioritize fighting for Israel, we cannot be impactful with teaching Judaism.”

So what can we do? Is Israel an unqualified blessing, or has its creation come at the expense of Jewish globalism? Has the creation of a nation-state in our ancient homeland in the Middle East compromised the universal impact we Jews were meant to make as a religion? Has Israel made us parochial rather than global? Myopic rather than universal? Limited rather than expansive? Controversial rather than popular?

Has Israel and the battle we must wage for Israel undermined the Jewish people’s capacity to use Jewish spirituality to influence the nations? The answer is yes and no.

We must not give up on explaining that Jewish spirituality and its success in sustaining the Jewish people is intimately connected with Israel.

Yes, the world is not accustomed to seeing Jews stand up for themselves and would prefer us being the people of the book rather than the people of the Uzi. A cynic might say the world does not so much hate Jews as hate Jews who have power and stick up for themselves. Take Hollywood, for example. Nearly every month, the industry releases an excellent movie about the tragedy of the Holocaust — yet it has not produced one positive movie about Israel since Paul Newman starred in “Exodus.” Jews with yellow Stars of David on them dying and being gassed moves and touches Hollywood writers, directors and producers. Jews battling in Merkava tanks on the Golan Heights, or Israeli commandos storming terrorist outposts in Gaza to ensure they never again are slaughtered, is seen not so much as heroic but as oppressive to Israel’s neighbors.

On the other hand, having Israel warriors has greatly enhanced Judaism. Having a home for which we are prepared to fight and stand up for ourselves in global PR has given the Jewish people a dignity we previously did not possess when we were a pitied nation.

Christian evangelicals now flock not only to support the Jewish state but to learn about the Jewishness of Jesus. In my book “Kosher Jesus,” I argue, based on Christian scripture and the New Testament, that Jesus was a Jewish patriot who fought for the freedom of Israel against the Roman oppressors and was put to death by Roman proconsul Pontius Pilate for his defiance.

Were it not for Israel, the Jewish people — and the Jewish religion by extension — would not have the impact it is having on evangelical Christians. Likewise, were it not for Israel, there would not be a true renaissance of Judaism — not only with the hundreds of yeshivot and seminaries that have opened but with Jewish communities the world over that have strengthened their bonds to their faith because of Israel’s inspiration.

But for those who are more liberally minded and are true globalists, yes, standing up for Israel has somewhat impaired our ability to influence them with Jewish values. For example, the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, may be the ultimate statement of globalist influence. When I was last there three years ago, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was treated as a global celebrity, feted by world leaders, even as Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke two hours after him, couldn’t fill half the room because attendees were boycotting his appearance.

Right now, we may not necessarily win over the globalists as we fight for Israel. They will punish us for standing up for ourselves. But I believe that in time, this will change. There will be a backlash against the false and fraudulent liberalism of today that would demonize Israel even as it fetes Iran, Turkey and China.

As for the price we pay until then, I feel it absolutely is worth it. Israel is worth it. The Jewish homeland is worth it. The Jewish state is worth it. Not only because without Israe there would be no sanctuary for Jews in an age of global persecution, but because as the Talmud says, “He who is without a home is not a person.” Even for Jews who live in the Diaspora, it is Israel that gives our Jewish identity dignity. It is Israel that gives our Jewish observance meaning. And it is Israel that gives every Jewish man, woman and child the greatest pride.

What meaning would our daily prayers have without the supplication of the divine presence returning to Jerusalem? How do we seek to be connected to the teachings of Abraham without understanding that they stemmed from a particular place and time in Israel? To detach Judaism from Israel is to make our religion a lifeless corpse bereft of soul.

Until such time as the world comes to see Israel’s virtue — an event made much harder by globally ingrained anti-Semitism — my advice is that we cannot give up the battle on joining the two. We must not give up on explaining that Jewish spirituality and its success in sustaining the Jewish people is intimately connected with Israel.

We Jews create strong families because we understand bonds that stretch across time and space, like our connection to Israel. We understand holiness because of the holy land of Israel. We understand ecstasy and longing because every year, we read of Moses’ ecstatic longing to enter Israel. We understand the need to keep one’s word and fulfill one’s promises — because after 2,000 years of exile, God kept his promise and returned us to the glorious, beautiful and majestic land of Israel, even as we continue to wait for the long-promised complete redemption of our people with the Messiah, when Israel and all the nations of the Earth will live in peace, men will beat their swords into plowshares, and no man will ever again teach his son the art of war.

May it happen now.


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of 33 books, including “Judaism for Everyone,” “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life,” “Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery” and “Lust for Love,” co-authored with actress and activist Pamela Anderson. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley. 

Voir aussi:

Colère de Macron : le syndrome de Jérusalem des présidents français
Martine Gozlan
Marianne
23/01/2020

Rédactrice en chef
Travaille sur les questions et les pays d’Islam et couvre le conflit israélo-palestinien. A publié de nombreux livres sur l’islamisme, entre autres Pour comprendre l’intégrisme islamiste (Albin Michel 2002), Le sexe d’Allah ( Grasset 2004), Le désir d’islam (Grasset 2005), Sunnites-Chiites, pourquoi ils s’entretuent (Le Seuil 2008), L’imposture turque (Grasset 2011), ainsi qu’un récit sur l’Etat hébreu Israël contre Israël (L’Archipel, 2012) et une biographie Hannah Szenes l’étoile foudroyée (l’Archipel 2014).

En marge du sommet international sur la mémoire de la Shoah et l’antisémitisme qui réunit une quarantaine de chefs d’Etat en Israël, le président français a eu une vive altercation ce 22 janvier, comme Jacques Chirac en 1996, avec la sécurité israélienne, cette fois à la basilique Sainte-Anne, domaine français au cœur de la vieille ville.

Il y a un syndrome de Jérusalem des dirigeants français. Le syndrome en question, bien connu des psychiatres, projette le visiteur dans un univers mystico-fantasmatique où il se sent illico investi d’une mission sacrée. Certes, ni Jacques Chirac en 1996, ni Emmanuel Macron, aujourd’hui, ne se sont pris pour le Messie. Pourtant, leur passage, dans des contextes bien différents, se sera déroulé avec les mêmes réflexes, suscitant la même vague d’émotion. Au terme d’une longue balade, le 22 janvier, dans la vieille ville, après force accolades et mots profonds – « en ce petit lieu, tant de jaillissements… »- le président, euphorique, s’est rendu à l’Eglise Sainte-Anne. Edifiée par les Croisés, puis transformée en mosquée par Saladin, elle fut offerte à la France en 1856 par les Ottomans de la Sublime Porte, alors maitres de la Palestine, pour services rendus contre l’Empire russe pendant la guerre de Crimée. Et là, divine surprise pour les témoins palestiniens qui n’apprécient guère de voir reconnue par près de 40 chefs d’Etat la centralité d’Israël dans la mémoire du génocide ! Emmanuel Macron, endossant sans le savoir tout en le sachant les habits du Jacques Chirac de 1996, s’est engueulé – ce mot trivial est cependant le seul qui convienne – avec les gardes de la sécurité israélienne. Ces derniers étaient sur les dents depuis des jours. Il y avait de quoi.

Recevoir les grands de ce monde dans une capitale sous haute tension n’est pas une mince affaire. La veille, le quotidien palestinien Al Hayat al Jedida, organe officiel de l’Autorité palestinienne, avait publié sans complexe l’édito d’un certain Yahya Rabah qui écrivait mot pour mot, à propos de ce Forum sur le génocide : « Un coup de feu perturbera la cérémonie et un cadavre annulera l’événement ». Le Shin Bet, le renseignement intérieur, prend tout au sérieux et, quoiqu’on puisse en dire sur les réseaux sociaux marqués du sceau de la haine d’Israël, sans la vigilance du Shin Bet, les citoyens de l’Etat hébreu et ses visiteurs auraient du souci à se faire. L’Eglise Sainte-Anne est bel et bien domaine français mais en matière d’anti-terrorisme, les Israéliens sont au parfum. Les agents pénètrent donc dans les lieux, ce qui est à la fois illégitime et compréhensible. Voire « souhaitable » nous confie une source française anonyme, consciente des dangers de la ville sainte et habituée au professionnalisme des collègues israéliens.

La colère du Frenchie

C’est alors qu’Emmanuel Macron voit rouge. Jérusalem baignait, cette après-midi là, dans une lumière de Golgotha. Les cieux déversaient les eaux du déluge sur la terre promise. Le protocole français, fine mouche, avait prévu 200 parapluies. Il y eut une éclaircie. Macron vit se profiler dans les nuées la silhouette de Chirac et entendit à travers l’orage l’impayable apostrophe, en english dans le texte, de son prédécesseur en 1996. Les hommes du Shin Bet, à l’époque, redoutaient comme aujourd’hui l’incident mortel et s’interposaient entre le « Rais » gaulois et la foule palestinienne. Ce fut alors que tonna l’immortel : « You want me to back to my plane ?????? ». Saisi par l’éternel syndrome de Jérusalem, Macron à son tour gronda : « I don’t like what you did in front of me », « Je n’aime pas ce que vous avez fait devant moi ! » et ordonna qu’on vire illico de Sainte-Anne, territoire français, les agents de l’Etat hébreu, ces étrangers, ces provocateurs.

L’affaire fit la Une de la presse israélienne, palestinienne et, forcément, française. Comme de bien entendu, on loua d’un côté la merveilleuse colère du frenchie face à ces gros bras israéliens tandis qu’on s’étonna, de l’autre, d’une telle similitude avec l’affaire Chirac. En réalité, nous sommes en mesure de prouver que le président a été saisi de ce fameux syndrome qui fait les saints, les martyrs et les bonnes consciences. C’était en effet diablement compliqué, en même temps que l’on honorait Israël en acceptant pour la première fois d’y commémorer le génocide (l’historienne Annette Wievorka a écrit là-dessus une fort belle tribune dans les colonnes du Monde), très compliqué d’assurer les Palestiniens de l’historique empathie tricolore à leur égard. Le Macron version Forum de la Shoah pourfend l’antisémitisme, ce qui, du reste, ne rassure pas un instant les Français juifs, en dehors des représentants peu représentatifs des institutions communautaires, mais le Macron version Eglise Sainte-Anne entonne le grand air de la résistance à l’occupation. Bien joué.

Enfin, dernier aspect du syndrome de Jérusalem des dirigeants français : le retour du refoulé de la fille ainée de l’Eglise. Il n’a jamais été admis et ne sera sans doute jamais admis au tréfonds des consciences que les juifs aient pu défier le temps, l’oubli et la mort, pour retrouver la Jérusalem biblique et en arpenter les rues en êtres libres et souverains. Que musulmans et chrétiens palestiniens y vivent avec eux dans la même dignité constitue l’espérance naturelle des hommes de paix. Cette espérance, un jour, finira par être comblée. Mais la paix, justement, ne pourra se négocier et s’accomplir qu’en abandonnant les préjugés tenaces, la vision des Israéliens comme venus d’ailleurs et non comme fils fidèles de cette ville. En oubliant ce très politique et très démago syndrome de Jérusalem.

Voir également:

Le coût du communautarisme
Pressions et violences contre les juifs peuvent amputer une nation d’une de ses forces vives.
Pierre Vermeren
Libération
13 juillet 2004

«En parler jamais, y penser toujours !»… A l’inverse du «communautarisme», politiquement impensé en France, mais quotidiennement évoqué («communautés» gay, juive, musulmane, arménienne, etc.), la pensée commune française est infectée par la pensée communautaire. Considérée comme étant d’origine anglo-saxonne, cette pensée a pourtant façonné (et miné) la société coloniale en Afrique du Nord. Ce n’était pas «classe contre classe» dans l’égalité citoyenne comme en métropole, mais religion contre religion, dans l’inégalité statutaire et juridique (« citoyens français», «Européens», «israélites», «sujets français musulmans», «indigènes»)… Des millions de Français et d’étrangers habitant aujourd’hui en France ont vécu dans cette pratique politique quotidienne, inconsciemment transmise à leurs enfants. Que l’héritage du communautarisme colonial provienne du refoulé politique français, qu’il ait été fécondé par la pensée politique musulmane (statut des dhimmis ou «protégés»), ou par le communautarisme institutionnel ottoman, a aujourd’hui peu d’importance.

Ce qui importe en revanche, c’est qu’au Maghreb, depuis 1945, le communautarisme a conduit à son terme naturel, une épuration ethnique soft, c’est-à-dire au départ concomitant (Algérie) ou successif (Tunisie, Maroc) des «communautés» française, européenne et israélite. Les deux premières ont quitté le Maghreb dans le cadre de la légitime lutte d’indépendance ; la dernière a été délégitimée par son identité extra-musulmane. Les guerres du Proche-Orient ne sont pas étrangères au phénomène (au moins au Maroc et en Tunisie) : elles ont produit une insécurité de basse intensité qui, en trente ans, a vidé le Maghreb de ses communautés juives bimillénaires.

Le résultat est connu. Alors que l’Afrique du Sud a préservé son miracle multiethnique, et est aujourd’hui le géant économique de l’Afrique, le Maghreb s’est économiquement réduit comme peau de chagrin. Son PIB n’excède pas celui des Bouches-du-Rhône (90 milliards d’euros), département nourri et irrigué par l’apport des migrants de toute la Méditerranée (« israélites», pieds-noirs, musulmans nord-africains, arméniens…).

La violence antisémite qui frappe aujourd’hui en France est moralement et politiquement insupportable. Elle est d’autant plus dramatique que les jeunes beurs qui la mettent en oeuvre rejouent (inconsciemment ?) des scènes qui ont vidé l’Afrique du Nord de ses communautés… Le gouvernement israélien prend acte de cet état de fait, mais Israël n’a-t-il pas justement été créé pour cela ? La perspective d’un départ programmé des juifs de France, ne serait-ce que d’une importante minorité d’entre eux, serait l’échec le plus retentissant de la République française depuis Vichy.

Mais cette violence est aussi économiquement et intellectuellement catastrophique. Faut-il rappeler que la nation américaine, la plus riche du monde, est aussi la plus brassée ? Le Proche-Orient, entré il y a plus d’un demi-siècle dans un processus de purification ethnico-religieuse, s’abîme dans les crises et la récession économique, au fur et à mesure que le quittent ses minorités : Européens, juifs d’Europe, Arméniens, juifs arabes, et maintenant chrétiens d’Orient. Intellectuellement, il est plus insupportable encore, qu’en dehors des plus hautes autorités de l’Etat français, il revienne aux intellectuels juifs de France de lancer des signaux d’alarme. Le principe de la démocratie confie à des médiateurs ou représentants (du peuple) la défense de tous les citoyens. Confier la défense d’une «communauté» agressée à ses propres médiateurs est une régression.

Il est vrai que traditionnellement, les israélites d’Europe ont été interdits d’activités productives et cantonnés aux services et activités d’échange. L’émancipation des juifs de France au XIXe siècle, puis les traumatismes du XXe siècle, alliés aux fantastiques progrès de l’école, ont accompagné la «montée en gamme» de cette population. Les intellectuels d’origine juive (ou de judaïsme revendiqué) animent aujourd’hui largement le débat public national (au grand dam de Tariq Ramadan), et il va sans dire que leur départ vers les Etats-Unis ou Israël serait une perte incalculable. La France généreuse accueille 80 % de migrants avec un niveau d’études infrasecondaire (quand plus de 80 % des migrants aux Etats-Unis sont diplômés du supérieur), peut-elle de surcroît se permettre de se vider d’une partie croissante de ses forces vives intellectuelles ?

Voir encore:

Absent Leaders: Heroes and Villains in Otto Preminger’s “Exodus” and Amos Gitaï’s Kedma

Larry Portis

Events in the Middle East have become more and more difficult to ignor. They are unquestionably vital, not only to our interests, but to our ideals. For this reason our understanding of the history of the region, and our vision of it, should be a major preoccupation. The problem is that, given the centrality of the region in contemporary geo-political relations, it is difficult to distinguish between historical facts and the ideological distortions of them. This is why a backward look at the film “Exodus” is both timely and important. Produced and directed by Otto Preminger, « Exodus » was released in 1960, and had enormous success. In evaluating this success, we are helped by the release in 2002 of another film, « Kedma », directed by Amos Gitaï. These two films treat the same subject—the clandestine arrival of Jewish refugees in Palestine in 1947 in the midst of armed conflict. This was the eve of the partition of Palestine, proposed by the United Nations Organization but rejected by the non Jewish (or, rather, non-zionist) population and states of the entire eastern mediterranean region. Following the British announcement of their withdrawal from the protectorate established in 1920 by the mandate system of the treaty of Verseille, the stage was set for a defining event of the short, brutal twentieth century : the creation of the state of Israel and the population transfers and ethnic conflicts that accompanied it. Comparison of the two films, both in terms of their genesis as artistic creations and as political statements, elucidates aspects of a complex process of ideological formation. Seen terms of representations of leadership, the two films are extremely different. “Exodus” is a glorification of a certain type of leadership, at a certain level of decision-making. It works only at the level of strategic and tactical zionist command within Palestine immediately before, during and after the war for the creation of the state of Israel. The film is discrete relative to a higher level (higher in terms of power relations)—that of international diplomacy. Although decisions of the British military administration are implicitly criticized in the film, such criticism is not allowed to call into question Britain itself as an actor on the international stage. When either the British or the United-Statesians (and the French and Italians) are referred to, it is always as individuals, not representatives of overall national sentiments. Representations of leadership, and this includes tacit representations of the absence of leadership and/or the absence of leaders, are important in the films both in relation to their narrative content and to the ideological or perceptual effects intended by their directors. In Kedma, representations of leadership are only implicit. Amos Gitaï was concerned to present an historical situation by depicting a single incident, the origins of which are not explained directly and, in the course of which, individuals are shown to be subordinate to developments over which they have no real control. The incident in question is the illegal arrival of a ship, “Kedma,” on the coast of Palestine. There is an important qualification to make before any attempt to compare these films. The problem is that a discussion of the narrative content of Preminger’s film “Exodus” would not be legitimate without speaking of Exodus the novel, written by Leon Uris. Not only were both film and novel tremendous commercial successes, but they were conceived of as the two axes of a single, mutually reinforcing project.* The idea for the book was suggested to Leon Uris by Dore Schary, a top executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The motivation behind the project is described by Kathleen Christison. « The idea for the book » she says, « began with a prominent public-relations consultant who in the early 1950s decided that the United States was too apathetic about Israel’s struggle for survival and recognition. » Uris received a contract from Doubleday and went to Israel and Cyprus where he carried out extensive research. The book was published in September, 1958. It was first re-printed in October the following year. By 1964, it had gone through 30 re-printings. This success was undoubtedly helped by the film’s release in 1960, but not entirely, as Uris’s novel was a book-of-the-month club selection in September, 1959 (which perhaps explains the first re-printing). The film was to be made by MGM. But when the time came, the studio hesitated. The project was perhaps too political for the big producers. At this moment Otto Preminger bought the screen rights from MGM. He then produced and directed the film, featuring an all-star cast including Paul Newman, Eva Marie-Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Sal Mineo, Peter Lawford and other box-office draws of the moment. The film also benefited from a lavish production in “superpanavision 70” after having been filmed on location. The music was composed by Ernest Gold, for which he received an Academy Award for the best music score of 1960. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo. In spite of its length—three and a half hours—the film was a tremendous popular and critical success. It is noteworthy that the release of “Exodus” the film in 1960 indicates that its production began upon Exodus the book’s publication. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose a degree of coordination, in keeping with the origins of the project. In short, it was a major operation which brilliantly succeeded. It has been estimated that in excess of 20 million people have read the novel, and that hundreds of millions have seen the film. Not only was this success a financial bonanza, but its political impact.

has been equally considerable. There can be little doubt that “Exodus” the film has been one of the most important influences on US perceptions and understanding of the hostilities between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people. It is thusly illuminating to return to the message communicated by this film, in attempting to gage its role in ideological formation. “Exodus” is the story of the Exodus 1947, a ship purchased in the United States and used to transport 4,500 Jewish refugees to Palestine. In reality, the novel and film take great liberties with the original story. Intercepted by the British authorities in the port of Haïfa, the real-life refugees were taken to the French port of Sête, where they were held, becoming the object of intense Zionist agitation and propaganda. Eventually they were transported to Germany and held temporarily in transit camps. Although this incident was used by Uris as the point of departure for his novel, the book is a work of fiction. Not only were the characters invented, but the events did not correspond to reality except in the most general way. In Uris’s narrative, an intercepted ship (not named “Exodus”) is intercepted on the high sea and taken to Cyprus where the passengers are put in camps. Representatives of the Haganah, the secret Jewish army in Palestine, arrive secretly in Cyprus in order to care for, educate and mobilize the refugees. The agent-in-chief is Ari Ben Canaan, played by Paul Newman. Ben Canaan is the son of Barak Ben Canaan, prominent leader of the Yishuv, the Jewish, Zionist community in Palestine. Tricking the British with great intelligence and audacity, Ari Ben Canaan arranges for the arrival of a ship purchased in the United States, on which he places 600 Jewish refugee children—orphans from the Nazi extermination camps and elsewhere. Once the children are on the ship, Ben Canaan names the ship the “Exodus”, and runs up the Zionist flag. He then informs the British authorities that, if the ship is not allowed to depart for Palestine, it will be blown up with all aboard. Before having organized this potential suicide bombing (of himself, the Haganah agents and the 600 children), Ben Canaan has met Kitty Fremont, an American nurse who has become fond of the children and, it must be said, of Ari Ben Canaan. This love interest is carefully intertwined with the major theme: the inexorable need and will of the Jewish people to occupy the soil of Palestine. As it might be expected, the British give in. After some discussion between a clearly anti-semitic officer and those more troubled by the plight of the refugees, the ship is allowed to depart for Palestine. It arrives just before the vote of the United Nations Organization recommending the partition of Palestine between the Jewish and non-Jewish populations. As the partition is refused by the Palestinians and the neighbouring Arab states, war breaks out and the characters all join the ultimately successful effort

against what are described as over-whelming odds. Even Kitty and Major Sutherland, the British officer who tipped the balance in favour of releasing the “Exodus,” join the fight. Sutherland’s participation, representing the defection of a British imperialist to the zionist cause, if particularly symbolic. Why did Sutherland jeopardize his position and reputation, and then resign from the army? His humanitarian was forged by the fact that he had seen the Nazi extermination camps when Germany was liberated and, more troubling, his mother was Jewish, although converted to the Church of England. Sutherland has a belated identity crisis which led him, too, to establish himself in the naitive Israel. The other major characters is the film similarly represent the “return” of Jewish people to their “promised land.” For example, Karen, the young girl who Kitty would like to adopt and take to the United States, is a German Jew who was saved by placement in a Danish family during the war. Karen will elect to stay with her people, in spite of her affection for Kitty. Karen is also attached to Dov Landau, a fellow refugee, 17 year-old survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and death camps. Once in Palestine, Dov joins a Zionist terrorist organization (based on the Irgun) and, in the book and film (but not, of course, in reality), places a bomb in the wing of King David Hotel housing the British Command, causing considerable loss of life. The role of human agency, leadership and the nature of decision-making, are a dimension of “Exodus” that is particularly revealing of the propagandistic intent of the film. Most noteworthy is the fact that all the major characters are presented as exceptional people, and all are Jewish, with the exception of Kitty. However, it is not as individuals that the protagonists of the film are important, but rather as representatives of the Jewish people. In this respect, in its effort to portray Jewishness as a special human condition distinguishing Jews and Jewish culture from others, that “Exodus” is most didactic. Ari Ben Canaan is clearly a superior being, but he merely represents the Jewish people. They are, collectively, just as strong, resourceful and determined as Ari. This positive image is highlighted by the portrayal of other ethnic groupings present in the film. The British, for example, are seen, at best, as divided and, at their worst, as degenerate products of national decay and imperialistic racism. The most striking contrast to the collective solidarity, intellectual brilliance, and awesome courage of the Jews is, with the “Arabs.” In spite of their greater numbers, the culture and character of the Arabs show them to be clearly inferior. Ari, who is a “sabra”—a Jewish person born in Palestine—and, as a consequence, understands the Arab character, knows that they are no match for determined Jews. “You turn 400 Arabs loose,” he says, and “they will run in 400 different directions.” This assessment of the emotional and intellectual self-possession of the Arabs was made prior to the spectacular jail break at Acre prison. The very indiscipline of the Arabs would cover the escape of the determined Zionists. The Arab leaders are equally incapable of effective action, as they are essentially self-interested and uncaring about their own people. In the end, it is this lack of tolerance and human sympathy in the non Jews that most distinguishes Jews and Arabs. In Exodus the novel, Arabs are constantly, explicitly, and exclusively, described as lazy and shiftless, dirty and deceitful. They have become dependant upon the Jews, and hate them for it. In “Exodus” the film, however, this characterization is not nearly as insisted upon, at least not in the dialogue. Still, way they are portrayed on the screen inspires fear and distrust. The contrast between the ethnic stereotyping exhibited in “Exodus” and the portrayal of characters in Amos Gitaï’s Kedma could not be greater. In Kedma, there is no discussion of strategy or tactics, and thusly no invidious reflections upon one ethnic group’s capacity in relation to another’s. People simply find themselves in situations, and attempt to survive. This is how the survivors of the Judeocide perpetrated by the German government describe their experiences during the voyage, before the Kedma arrives. This is how all the characters—European Jews and Palestinians—react once the ship has disembarked its passengers. In Kedma, there are no leaders visible. Their existence can only be supposed. Their plans, strategies and justifications are unexplained. They remain in the background as part of a larger tragedy produced by forces over which “ordinary” people seemingly have little or no control. Gitaï’s film expresses a lack of confidence in leadership and, in this way, Kedma can be understood as a reading (and viewing) of « Exodus. » There is, in fact, a remarkable parallel development of the two films. What is absent from Preminger’s film—the moral misery, the existential despair, the doubts and confusion of the survivors of the Judeocide—is focused upon in Gitaï’s film. Conversely, what is absent from Gitaï’s film—the expression of Zionist ideals, aspirations and dogma, the glorifications of one ethnic group at the expense of others—is the very point of Preminger’s. This thematic inversion is particularly evident in reference to two aspect of the films: firstly, in the use of names and, secondly, in the dramatic monologues or soliloquies which end both films. In “Exodus”, the use of names for symbolic purposes is immediately evident. “Exodus” refers to the biblical return of the Jews from slavery to the Holy Land—their god-given territory, a sacred site. This sacred site is necessary to Jewish religious observance and identity. Only here, it is explained in “Exodus,” can Jews be safe. Only here, it is asserted, can they throw-off invidious self-perceptions, imposed by anti-semitism and assimilation pressures, and become the strong, self-reliant and confident people they really are. This vision of Jewish identity propagated by Zionism is implicitly challenged in Kedma. Again, the title of the film is symbolically significant. “Kedma” means the “East” or “Orient”, or “going towards the East.” The people on the Kedma—Jewish refugees from Europe, speaking European languages and Yiddish—were arriving in another cultural world an alien one, in the East. The result would be more existential disorientation and another ethnically conflictual environment. The difference in perspective manifest in the two films is found also in the names given to the protagonists. In Kedma, an example is given of the abrupt Hebrewization of names as the passengers arrived in the new land, thus highlighting the cultural transformation central to the Zionist project. In “Exodus,” there is much explicit discussion of this aspect of Zionism, and some of the names given to central characters reveal the heavy-handedness of its message. It is, of course, a well-established convention to give evocative names to the protagonists of a literary or cinematographic work. Where would be, for example, Jack London’s The Iron Hell, without his hero, Ernest Everhard? The answer is that the novel might be more impressive without such readily apparent propagandistic trappings. And the same is true for Exodus. Leon Uris’s chief protagonist is Ari Ben Canaan, Hebrew for “Lion, son of Canaan.” This role model for Jewish people everywhere is thusly the direct heir of the ancient Canaanites, precursors of the Jewish community in the land of Palestine. This historical legacy and patrimony established, Paul Newman had only to play the strong fighter—ferocious, hard and wily—with his blond mane cut short, in the military style. The object of Ari’s affections, however ambivalent they may be, is Kitty Fremont, played by Eva Marie Saint. Not only does the pairing of the earnest and ever-hard Ari, the “Lion,” and the compliant but faithful “Kitty” imply a classic gender relationship, but the coupling of this prickly Sabra and the cuddly American symbolizes the special relationship between the United States and native state of Israel that has come to be called the “fifty-first state” of the union. The other major character, played by the baby-faced Sal Mineo, is “Dov Landau,” the 17-year-old survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz. This name evokes the dove of peace and the infancy indirectly evoked by the term “landau” (baby carriage?). The irony is that the angelic Dov, alights on Palestinian soil with the fury of a maddened bird of prey. He is the consummate terrorist—angry and bloodthirsty. Dov’s conversion to Zionism as a collective project, as opposed to a vehicle for his personal vengeance, comes at the end of the story when peace has been (temporarily) achieved through unrelenting combat. Dov then leaves Israel for MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where he will perfect the engineering skills learned building bombs in Warsaw and in Palestine. Peace means refining the technical capacity for the new nation’s defence. In the meantime, Dov’s fiancee, the soft and sweet Karen, has been cruelly murdered by the Arabs. « Exodus » and « Kedma » differ most notably in the latter’s avoidance of the kind of crude propaganda that Leon Uris and Otto Preminger so heavily developed. Rather than forcing his viewers to accept a vision of the birth of Israel founded upon characters, distortions and omissions from historical reality, Amos Gitaï chose to simply place characters that we see briefly in a specific situation which is the real focus of the film. Whereas Preminger symbolized the destiny of a people in the story of strong characters, Gitaï illustrated the tragedy of an historical conjuncture in which the historical actors were largely incidental. We see this aspect of Gitaï’s thematic inversion of Preminger’s film in the soliloquies delivered in both films. At the very end of “Exodus,” Ari Ben Canaan delivers a speech at Karen’s graveside, in which he justifies the Zionist project as the just and prophetic return of a people forced to err in a hostile world for 2000 years. The resistance encountered to this project, he explains, is only the result of evil, self-interested individuals (such as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) who are afraid of losing their privileges once the Arabs learn that Jewish settlement is in their interest. Ari concludes: “I swear that the day will come when Arab and Jew will live in Peace together.” The film then ends with a military convey receding into the distance, towards a new battle in the just cause. In Kedma, there are two soliloquies, delivered not by strong and self-composed leaders, but by distraught, frightened people, caught in a web woven by the apprentice sorcerers in the background—the real architects of the situations in which destinies are sealed and lives are broken. The first speech is made by a middle-aged Polish Jew. Appalled by the new cycle of suffering he witnessed upon arrival in Palestine, he shouts that suffering, guilt and martyrdom have become essential to the Jewish character. Without it, he cries, the Jewish people “cannot exist.” This is their tragedy. The second expression of despair is made by an aged Palestinian peasant, pushed off his land, fleeing the combat. Disregarding the danger, he says: “we will stay here in spite of you. Like a wall, and we will fill the streets with demonstrations, generation after generation.” How to reconcile the Holocaust (the fascist judeocide) and the Nakba (the Palestinian « disaster » of the Zionist ethnic cleansing)? Gitaï’s « Kedma » places the contemporary dilemma within its historical and existential context. Preminger’s “Exodus” did everything not to provide movie-goers with the elements necessary to informed understanding. This is the difference between, on the one hand, demagogy and propaganda and, on the other hand, a call to reason and justice. Representations of leadership in « Exodus » were carefully contrived to create support, in the United States and elsewhere for the State of Israel. It is for this reason that the machinations and tractations of the world leaders who created the situation are conspicuously absent from the story. In « Kedma, » on the contrary, the absence of leaders and any characterization of leadership is designed to have an entirely different effect: namely the evocation of the hatred and human suffering caused when people are instrumental in the service of political and ideological projects.

Voir enfin:

La thèse mortifère de l’envahissement de la France

Il faut à tout prix dénoncer les discours délirants, d’Eric Zemmour, de William Goldnadel, ou même, dans de trop nombreuses de ses déclarations, d’Alain Finkielkraut, écrit Jacques Attali. Tant les discours hostiles aux musulmans en France sont mortifères.

Jacques Attali
Les Echos
3 oct. 2019

Quand on parle de « souverainisme », beaucoup de gens veulent croire qu’on ne parle, en Europe, que d’une maîtrise des importations et d’un refus des disciplines communautaires. En réalité, dans la plupart des cas, ceux qui en font l’apologie parlent en fait ainsi à mots couverts d’un refus des migrants, et plus largement, d’un refus des musulmans.

Rien ne serait pourtant plus terrible, en particulier dans la société française, que de laisser dénoncer impunément la présence musulmane, et de transformer une (légale) critique de l’islam en un (illégale) racisme antiafricain (et en particulier antiarabe).

L’islam n’est pas une menace

D’abord, les discours ainsi tenus sont faux. Il n’y a aucun envahissement de la France ni de l’Europe par l’Islam ou par l’Afrique. Les migrants non européens en France ne représentent pas, en solde net annuel, 450.000 personnes, comme le prétendent les extrêmes, mais moins de 185.000 personnes (et encore, en tenant compte des naturalisations, qui en représentent la moitié), soit moins d’un demi pour cent de la population française.

99 % d’entre eux s’intègrent parfaitement dans la nation française ; ils font des études, fondent des familles, parlent en français à leurs enfants, créent des entreprises, deviennent professeurs ou médecins. Les mères musulmanes et africaines ne sont pas de moins bonnes mères que les autres françaises ou résidentes en France. Et les musulmans ne sont pas beaucoup plus pratiquants que ne le sont aujourd’hui les fidèles des autres monothéismes.

L’islam n’est pas une menace pour la France ; il en est une composante depuis le VIIIe siècle. C’est même par lui, et par les philosophes juifs, que la pensée grecque est arrivée en France au tournant du premier millénaire. Et jamais le monde ne s’est mieux porté que quand judaïsme, chrétienté et Islam travaillaient ensemble à faire triompher la raison sur l’obscurantisme.

Bien sûr, on doit tout faire pour faciliter l’intégration des migrants, favoriser la réussite de leurs enfants ; et s’opposer à toutes les tentatives religieuses, d’où qu’elles viennent, pour imposer une conception du monde, ou un mode de vie, contraires aux règles de la laïcité, non respectueuses des droits des femmes ou, plus généralement, violant les lois de la République. Ce n’est pas le cas en France de la quasi-totalité des gens de foi, quelle que soit leur foi. Et en particulier ce n’est pas le cas des musulmans.

Discours hostiles

Ces discours hostiles aux musulmans de France sont mortifères. En particulier quand ils viennent de Juifs, qui devraient ne pas oublier que l’antisémitisme vise à la fois les uns et les autres. Il faut donc à tout prix dénoncer les discours délirants d’Eric Zemmour, de William Goldnadel, ou même, dans de trop nombreuses de ses déclarations, d’Alain Finkielkraut ; et de tant d’autres.

En particulier, il est triste de voir des descendants de Juifs d’Algérie oublier le rôle magnifique que les musulmans algériens ont joué pour soutenir et protéger leurs parents, aux temps horribles de l’antisémitisme triomphant en métropole, et plus encore en Algérie, sous Vichy, sous Giraud, et même sous de Gaulle.

Il ne serait pas de l’intérêt de la communauté juive française que les musulmans de France en viennent à penser que leurs concitoyens juifs se joignent à ceux qui veulent les chasser du pays, alors que les deux communautés sont encore considérées par d’autres Français comme des nouveaux venus indésirables. Ce serait aussi faire le jeu de ce qui aimerait importer en Europe le tragique conflit du Moyen-Orient.

Ne pas oublier le passé

La France ne se résume pas à un passé, souvent insupportable, ni à une histoire, souvent critiquable. La France n’est pas à prendre en bloc, à vénérer en tant que telle. Elle doit savoir critiquer son propre rôle dans l’esclavage, dans le colonialisme, dans la xénophobie, dans l’antisémitisme, dans la collaboration, dans la destruction de la nature. Elle ne doit pas céder à ces fantasmes de « grand remplacement », et elle doit se souvenir qu’elle porte le nom d’un peuple envahisseur, et qu’elle est, depuis son origine, le lieu privilégié d’installation d’innombrables peuples, dont chaque Français, d’où qu’il vienne, est l’héritier.

Elle ne doit pas oublier non plus que ce qui se cache aujourd’hui derrière le « souverainisme » désigne en fait la même xénophobie, la même fermeture, la même absence de confiance en soi que les idéologies anti-italienne, antipolonaise, antiarménienne, et antisémites des siècles passés.

La France est un devenir dont le passé ne peut être pris en bloc, mais doit être soigneusement trié, selon des critères que, justement, la République française a contribué à construire.

La France n’est grande que quand elle est ouverte, accueillante, sûre d’elle-même. Quand elle se construit, siècle après siècle en confiance, dans le brassage et l’intégration d’idées et de familles nouvelles, venues enrichir la communauté nationale. Quand elle permet de donner à la mondialisation la dimension qui lui manque tant, celle de la démocratie, de la justice sociale, et de la défense des libertés, contre toutes les dictatures.

Voir par ailleurs:

Rod Dreher: « Les Américains sont-ils redevenus conservateurs? »

FIGAROVOX/ENTRETIEN – Donald Trump participe ce vendredi à la «Marche pour la vie» de Washington, et la Cour suprême des États-Unis est redevenue majoritairement conservatrice sous son mandat. L’essayiste américain Rod Dreher nuance pourtant ce basculement politique.
Paul Sugy
Le Figaro
24 janvier 2020

Rod Dreher est un journaliste et écrivain américain, éditorialiste à l’American Conservative. Il a publié Comment être chrétien dans un monde qui ne l’est plus: le pari bénédictin (Artège, 2017).


FIGAROVOX. – Donald Trump assiste ce vendredi à la «Marche pour la vie» à Washington. C’est la première fois qu’un président américain y participe. Pourtant il y a quelques années, il se déclarait «pro-choix»…

Rod DREHER. – La participation de Donald Trump est entièrement opportuniste. Il ne me semble pas qu’il ait des convictions morales solides. Il a découvert que les chrétiens conservateurs évangéliques le soutiennent, ils sont eux-mêmes pro-vie donc finalement il leur donne ce qu’ils veulent. Il est peut-être hypocrite à propos du droit à l’avortement, mais ce qu’il faut retenir, c’est qu’il a nommé des juges pro-vie à la Cour Suprême. Et je préfère avoir un président hypocrite qui reste constant dans sa politique sur l’avortement, qu’un président qui soit sincèrement pro-vie mais qui ne soit pas suffisamment engagé pour cette cause…

Est-il réellement «le président le plus pro-vie de l’histoire» comme l’a expliqué Russel T. Vought au Daily Wire?

Je ne connais pas la réponse à cette question. Il se peut qu’il le soit, mais George W. Bush était fermement engagé pour la vie également. Il ne faut pas oublier que les alliés de Trump comme ses ennemis adorent les exagérations pour parler de lui… Et encore une fois, l’essentiel est dans ce qu’il fait et non pas dans la sincérité de ses actions.

Le droit à l’avortement est-il une nouvelle ligne de fracture pour la politique américaine?

Non, l’avortement n’est pas une nouvelle fracture, c’est une ligne de clivage depuis les années 1980 lors de la première campagne électorale de Ronald Reagan. Le fait que l’avortement demeure une fracture depuis toutes ces années est particulièrement intéressant: le pays a beaucoup évolué, même au sujet de la libération sexuelle.

Tous les vieux combats culturels concernant les questions de sexualité ont été perdus par la droite… à l’exception de l’avortement.

Un rapport de 2003 publié dans The Atlantic par Thomas B. Edsall intitulé «Blue Movie» montre de manière éloquente comment les questions de sexualité, incluant l’avortement, permettent de prédire avec précision le parti pour lequel les personnes interrogées vont voter. Depuis, les États-Unis sont devenus plus libéraux sur ces questions. La pornographie s’est répandue et est devenue largement accessible. Le mariage homosexuel a gagné un soutien majoritaire à une vitesse fulgurante et particulièrement auprès des jeunes. Après l’arrêt Obergefell qui déclare le droit constitutionnel du mariage homosexuel, pour les chrétiens la question des droits des homosexuels n’est plus centrée sur l’homosexualité elle-même mais sur la confrontation entre les droits LGBT et la liberté de conscience des croyants. Tous les vieux combats culturels concernant les questions de sexualité ont été perdus par la droite… à l’exception de l’avortement. Étrangement, l’opinion publique à propos de l’avortement n’a pas véritablement évolué depuis 1973. La plupart des Américains sont favorables à l’avortement, qui est légalisé, mais en y appliquant des restrictions. Alors qu’en 1973 l’arrêt Roe v. Wade prévoit un avortement sans restrictions.

Les miracles de la médecine actuelle qui sauve la vie de bébés nés grands prématurés sont plus parlants pour cette génération que les sermons des prêtres.

Ce qui est particulièrement intéressant, c’est que même si les «millennials» sont bien plus libres sur les questions de sexualité que les générations précédentes, et malgré le fait qu’ils sont la génération la plus laïque de l’histoire des États-Unis, l’opposition à un avortement sans restriction demeure forte parmi eux. Je ne suis pas certain d’avoir la clef d’explication de ce phénomène mais je pense que la technologie est un élément de compréhension. Les avancées des échographies ont permis aux gens de véritablement voir pour la première fois ce qu’il se passe dans l’utérus et de prendre conscience qu’ils n’y voient pas qu’un morceau de chair mais un être humain en train de se développer. Les miracles de la médecine actuelle qui sauve la vie de bébés nés grands prématurés sont plus parlants pour cette génération que les sermons des prêtres.

Dans la campagne pour sa réélection, Donald Trump va-t-il tenter de rallier un électorat profondément conservateur?

Oui évidemment, il n’a plus grand monde à convaincre. La probabilité de la réélection de Donald Trump dépend de sa capacité à rallier sa base et à convaincre les conservateurs qui rechignent à voter démocrate, mais qui n’avaient pas voté pour lui en 2016 à cause de doutes profonds sur sa personne.

Les activistes progressistes ont désigné les chrétiens conservateurs comme leur principal ennemi.

Trump n’a pas été aussi mauvais que ce que je craignais. Pour autant je ne crois pas qu’il a été un bon président. Néanmoins, je vais sûrement voter pour lui en 2020, et ce pour une bonne raison: le parti démocrate est extrêmement hostile envers les conservateurs religieux et sociétaux mais aussi envers nos libertés fondamentales. Leur combat pour la théorie du genre et l’extension maximale des droits de la communauté LGBT sont les principaux piliers du programme démocrate. Les activistes progressistes ont désigné les chrétiens conservateurs comme leur principal ennemi. Sur ces questions et sur la protection de la liberté d’expression, on ne peut pas leur faire confiance. Ils sont devenus les ennemis de la liberté.

Il est clair que le nombre d’Américains qui est d’accord avec les traditionalistes sur ces questions diminue. Je crois que dans les mois et les décennies à venir, les juges fédéraux conservateurs que Trump a nommés seront les seuls à offrir une véritable sauvegarde de la liberté religieuse aux États-Unis. Les Républicains au Congrès et à la Maison Blanche n’ont pas vraiment agi en faveur du renforcement de la liberté religieuse contre les revendications des droits LGBT. Ils sont terrifiés à l’idée de passer pour bigots. Malheureusement, beaucoup de chrétiens américains ont eu des faux espoirs avec le Grand Old Party, en pensant qu’il suffisait de voter républicain pour gagner sur ces questions. En réalité, dans tous les domaines, académiques, médicaux, juridiques, dans les entreprises, les droits LGBT et l’idéologie du genre sont triomphants. Voter républicain est le seul moyen de ralentir cette «Blitzkrieg» progressiste et peut être à travers des biais juridiques y mettre fin dans le futur. Ce n’est pas grand-chose, mais c’est tout ce que nous pouvons faire pour le moment sur le front politique.

À en croire les journaux français, les États-Unis vivent en ce moment un crépuscule du progressisme… Est-ce aussi votre sentiment?

C’est faux, mais je peux comprendre que cela semble apparaître de cette manière pour quelqu’un qui ne s’intéresse qu’au pouvoir politique. Il est vrai que Trump a la présidence, les Républicains tiennent la majorité au Congrès et pour ces deux raisons les Républicains nomment un certain nombre de juges fédéraux.

L’émergence d’un « woke capitalism  », un capitalisme progressiste, est un des faits politiques les plus significatifs de la décennie.

C’est un élément important mais ce n’est pas suffisant face au pouvoir culturel immense que les progressistes détiennent de leur côté. Ils contrôlent les plus grands médias d’information et de divertissement, ils contrôlent les écoles et les universités, la médecine et le droit et aussi de manière assez improbable, les grandes entreprises. L’émergence d’un «woke capitalism», un capitalisme progressiste, est un des faits politiques les plus significatifs de la décennie. La majorité des conservateurs n’a pas conscience de leur puissance ni de la manière dont ils se sont clairement positionnés contre le conservatisme social. Ils sont encore attachés à l’ère reaganienne et à illusion que le monde des affaires est conservateur.

Quand Ronald Reagan a été élu président en 1980, il a ouvert une nouvelle ère dans la politique américaine, dominée par la droite, plus précisément par les néolibéraux de la droite. Cette ère s’est achevée avec Obama et Trump, mais l’avenir n’est pas écrit. Si on avait dit à un électeur conservateur au moment de l’investiture de Reagan que 30 ans plus tard le christianisme serait déclinant en Amérique, que le mariage homosexuel et l’adoption seraient légaux, que la pornographie violente serait uniformément répandue et accessible à tous y compris aux enfants grâce aux smartphones, que les médecins seraient autorisés à retirer des poitrines féminines à des jeunes filles pour devenir des hommes transgenres, je pense que cet électeur ne croirait pas une seconde qu’un pays qui autorise cela puisse être véritablement conservateur. Et pourtant c’est la réalité de l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui.

Les chrétiens traditionnels, catholiques, protestants, orthodoxes, ont perdu la guerre culturelle.

Si nous sommes un pays conservateur, pourquoi n’avons-nous pas eu un mouvement comme celui de la Manif pour tous, qui pourtant en France, au pays de la laïcité, a conduit des centaines de milliers de personnes dans les rues de Paris pour manifester? J’ai le sentiment que nous sommes plus un pays houllebecquien, même si les conservateurs ne veulent pas l’admettre. Les chrétiens traditionnels, catholiques, protestants, orthodoxes, ont perdu la guerre culturelle. Nous devons nous préparer à une longue période d’occupation et de résistance. C’est ce que j’appelle choisir l’option bénédictine. Même si mon livre s’est bien vendu aux États-Unis, proportionnellement il a eu plus de succès en Europe. En France, en Italie, en Espagne et dans d’autres pays européens mes lecteurs sont des catholiques de moins de 40 ans. Lorsque vous êtes aussi jeune et que vous allez encore à la messe, vous n’avez pas à être convaincu de la vérité du diagnostic que je porte sur le malaise culturel actuel. De même, vous n’avez pas besoin d’être convaincu de l’impuissance de l’église post-soixante-huitarde dans cette crise. En Amérique, les chrétiens n’ont pas encore vu pleinement cette vérité. Cela nous attend dans cette nouvelle décennie. Ce sera un choc douloureux mais nous ne serons pas en mesure de constituer une vraie résistance tant que nous n’accepterons pas cette réalité. Après Trump, le déluge.


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

8 décembre, 2019

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

Attention: une instrumentalisation peut en cacher une autre !

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

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

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

Comment ne pas voir …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voir aussi:

Is Trump the Real Target of a Netflix Series?

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

Seth Barron
City journal

June 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voir également:

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

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

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

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

‘Things Have Gotten a Lot Rougher’

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

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

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

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

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

Racial Epithets, But Victims Mixed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unusual in Intensity

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

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

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

Attacks Thought Underreported

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

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

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

Slight Improvement Seen

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

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

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

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

Voir de plus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reynolds wrote them up and let them go home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This account was committed to written statements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voir encore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairstein concluded her article:

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

Voir par ailleurs:

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

Camille Vignes
Ecran large
15 juin 2019

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

« CENTRAL PARK FIVE »

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

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

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

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

DÉCOUPE CHIRURGICALE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WISE DECISION

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

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

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

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

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

QUAND FICTION ET RÉALITÉ S’EMMÊLENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Résumé

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

Voir encore:

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

 Constance Jamet

Le Figaro

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

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

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

Procès ubuesque

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

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

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

Voir enfin:

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

Quillette
November 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Historiquement correct: C’est au nom de valeurs chrétiennes que nous critiquons l’Inquisition (When it turns out that one of Western history’s supposedly most frightening and bloody chapters not only spilled very little blood but was a major force in support of moderation and justice)

2 décembre, 2019
 Colportés par eux-mêmes au Moyen Âge, ces clichés sur les membres du clergé avaient pour but de pousser à la réforme de l’Église

Image may contain: one or more people, people walking, text and outdoor

Image result for Spanish flu map

La grippe de 1918, dite « grippe espagnole » est due à une souche (H1N1) particulièrement virulente et contagieuse de grippe qui s’est répandue en pandémie de 1918 à 19192. Bien qu’ayant pour origine probable la Chine pour le « virus père » et les États-Unis pour sa mutation génétique, elle prit le nom de « grippe espagnole » car l’Espagne — non impliquée dans la Première Guerre mondiale — fut le seul pays à publier librement les informations relatives à cette épidémie. Wikipedia
Tu te souviendras que tu as été esclave au pays d’Égypte, et que l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’en a fait sortir à main forte et à bras étendu: c’est pourquoi l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’a ordonné d’observer le jour du repos. Deutéronome 5: 15
Le Christ, qui est la Vérité elle-même, qui n’a jamais failli et ne faillira jamais, a dit aux prédicateurs de la foi qu’il choisit pour cet office « Allez enseigner toutes les nations ». Il a dit toutes, sans exception, car toutes sont capables de recevoir les doctrines de la foi.L’Ennemi du genre humain, qui s’oppose à toutes les bonnes actions en vue de mener les hommes à leur perte, voyant et enviant cela, inventa un moyen nouveau par lequel il pourrait entraver la prédication de la parole de Dieu pour le salut des peuples: Il inspira ses auxiliaires qui, pour lui plaire, n’ont pas h ésité à publier à l’étranger que les Indiens de l’Occident et du Sud, et d’autres peuples dont Nous avons eu récemment connaissance, devraient être traités comme des bêtes de somme créées pour nous servir, prétendant qu’ils sont incapables de recevoir la Foi Catholique. Nous qui, bien qu’indigne de cet honneur, exerçons sur terre le pouvoir de Notre-Seigneur et cherchons de toutes nos forces à ramener les brebis placées au-dehors de son troupeau dans le bercail dont nous avons la charge, considérons quoi qu’il en soit, que les Indiens sont véritablement des hommes et qu’ils sont non seulement capables de comprendre la Foi Catholique, mais que, selon nos informations, ils sont très désireux de la recevoir. Souhaitant fournir à ces maux les remèdes appropriés, Nous définissons et déclarons par cette lettre apostolique, ou par toute traduction qui puisse en être signée par un notaire public et scellée du sceau de tout dignitaire ecclésiastique, à laquelle le même crédit sera donné qu’à l’original, que quoi qu’il puisse avoir été dit ou être dit de contraire, les dits Indiens et tous les autres peuples qui peuvent être plus tard découverts par les Chrétiens, ne peuvent en aucun cas être privés de leur liberté ou de la possession de leurs biens, même s’ils demeurent en dehors de la foi de Jésus-Christ ; et qu’ils peuvent et devraient, librement et légitimement, jouir de la liberté et de la possession de leurs biens, et qu’ils ne devraient en aucun cas être réduits en esclavage ; si cela arrivait malgré tout, cet esclavage serait considéré nul et non avenu. Pape Paul III (bulle Sublimis Deus, 1537)
Pour tous les Indiens vivant dans les provinces du Paraguay, du Brésil, et de la rivière de la Plata, ainsi que dans toutes les autres provinces et endroits de l’Inde occidentale et méridionales, et à tous les individus laïques ou clercs, de tout grade et sexe […] Interdisant strictement l’asservissement, l’achat, la vente, l’échange ou le don des Indiens, de leurs femmes, de leurs enfants, de les priver de leurs biens, de les reloger ailleurs, de les priver de leur liberté et de les garder comme esclaves. Pape Urbain VIII (Bulle Commissum Nobis, 1639)
S’il est permis de capturer par la force et la duperie des noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne? Réponse : non. S’il est autorisé d’acheter, de vendre ou de faire des contrats en tout respect des noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont pas porté préjudice à personne et n’ont rien fait et qui ont été faits captifs par la force de la duperie Réponse : non Si les propriétaires de Noirs et autres natifs qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne et ont été capturés par la force ou la ruse, doivent les remettre en liberté ? Réponse: Oui Si les ravisseurs, les acheteurs et les propriétaires de Noirs ou autres indigènes qui n’ont porté préjudice à personne et qui ont été capturés par la force ou la duperie n’ont pas le droit de leur demander de payer compensation? Réponse : Oui. Congrégation du Saint Office (Sainte Inquisition Romaine, pontificat d’Innocent XI, 1686)
Tous les esclaves qui seront dans nos îles seront baptisés et instruits dans la religion catholique, apostolique et romaine. (…) Enjoignons à tous nos sujets, de quelque qualité et condition qu’ils soient, d’observer les jours de dimanches et de fêtes, qui sont gardés par nos sujets de la religion Catholique, Apostolique et Romaine. Leur défendons de travailler ni de faire travailler leurs esclaves auxdits jours depuis l’heure de minuit jusqu’à l’autre minuit à la culture de la terre, à la manufacture des sucres et à tous autres ouvrages, à peine d’amende et de punition arbitraire contre les maîtres et confiscation tant des sucres que des esclaves qui seront surpris par nos officiers dans le travail. (…) Les hommes libres qui auront eu un ou plusieurs enfants de leur concubinage avec des esclaves, ensemble les maîtres qui les auront soufferts, seront chacun condamnés en une amende de 2000 livres de sucre, et, s’ils sont les maîtres de l’esclave de laquelle ils auront eu lesdits enfants, voulons, outre l’amende, qu’ils soient privés de l’esclave et des enfants et qu’elle et eux soient adjugés à l’hôpital, sans jamais pouvoir être affranchis. N’entendons toutefois le présent article avoir lieu lorsque l’homme libre qui n’était point marié à une autre personne durant son concubinage avec son esclave, épousera dans les formes observées par l’Eglise ladite esclave, qui sera affranchie par ce moyen et les enfants rendus libres et légitimes. Les solennités prescrites par l’Ordonnance de Blois et par la Déclaration de 1639 pour les mariages seront observées tant à l’égard des personnes libres que des esclaves, sans néanmoins que le consentement du père et de la mère de l’esclave y soit nécessaire, mais celui du maître seulement. Défendons très expressément aux curés de procéder aux mariages des esclaves, s’ils ne font apparoir du consentement de leurs maîtres. Défendons aussi aux maîtres d’user d’aucunes contraintes sur leurs esclaves pour les marier contre leur gré. (…) Les maîtres seront tenus de faire enterrer en terre sainte, dans les cimetières destinés à cet effet, leurs esclaves baptisés. Et, à l’égard de ceux qui mourront sans avoir reçu le baptême, ils seront enterrés la nuit dans quelque champ voisin du lieu où ils seront décédés. (…) Seront tenus les maîtres de faire fournir, par chacune semaine, à leurs esclaves âgés de dix ans et au-dessus, pour leur nourriture, deux pots et demi, mesure de Paris, de farine de manioc, ou trois cassaves pesant chacune 2 livres et demie au moins, ou choses équivalentes, avec 2 livres de boeuf salé, ou 3 livres de poisson, ou autres choses à proportion : et aux enfants, depuis qu’ils sont sevrés jusqu’à l’âge de dix ans, la moitié des vivres ci-dessus. (…) Seront tenus les maîtres de fournir à chaque esclave, par chacun an, deux habits de toile ou quatre aunes de toile, au gré des maîtres. Les esclaves qui ne seront point nourris, vêtus et entretenus par leurs maîtres, selon que nous l’avons ordonné par ces présentes, pourront en donner avis à notre procureur général et mettre leurs mémoires entre ses mains, sur lesquels et même d’office, si les avis viennent d’ailleurs, les maîtres seront poursuivis à sa requête et sans frais ; ce que nous voulons être observé pour les crimes et traitements barbares et inhumains des maîtres envers leurs esclaves. Les esclaves infirmes par vieillesse, maladie ou autrement, soit que la maladie soit incurable ou non, seront nourris et entretenus par leurs maîtres, et, en cas qu’ils eussent abandonnés, lesdits esclaves seront adjugés à l’hôpital, auquel les maîtres seront condamnés de payer 6 sols par chacun jour, pour la nourriture et l’entretien de chacun esclave. (…) Pourront seulement les maîtres, lorsqu’ils croiront que leurs esclaves l’auront mérité, les faire enchaîner et les faire battre de verges ou cordes. Leur défendons de leur donner la torture, ni de leur faire aucune mutilation de membres, à peine de confiscation des esclaves et d’être procédé contre les maîtres extraordinairement. Enjoignons à nos officiers de poursuivre criminellement les maîtres ou les commandeurs qui auront tué un esclave étant sous leur puissance ou sous leur direction et de punir le meurtre selon l’atrocité des circonstances ; et, en cas qu’il y ait lieu à l’absolution, permettons à nos officiers de renvoyer tant les maîtres que les commandeurs absous, sans qu’ils aient besoin d’obtenir de nous des lettres de grâce. (..) Ne pourront être saisis et vendus séparément le mari, la femme et leurs enfants impubères, s’ils sont tous sous la puissance d’un même maître ; déclarons nulles les saisies et ventes séparées qui en sont faites , ce que nous voulons avoir lieu dans les aliénations volontaires, sur peine, contre ceux qui feront les aliénations, d’être privés de celui ou de ceux qu’ils auront gardés, qui seront adjugés aux acquéreurs, sans qu’ils soient tenus de faire aucun supplément de prix. Code noir (articles 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 22, 25, 26, 27, 42, 43 et 47)
Nous montons sur nos grands chevaux mais souvenons-nous que pendant les croisades et l’Inquisition, des actes terribles ont été commis au nom du Christ. Dans notre pays, nous avons eu l’esclavage, trop souvent justifié par le Christ. Barack Hussein Obama
Citez-moi une seule civilisation dont le mythe fondateur n’est pas à sa gloire ? Les Antillais sont nés dans l’esclavage. Cette date, c’est notre combat pour sortir de la honte et de la victimisation. Serge Romana
Nous condamnons l’Inquisition au nom de valeurs chrétiennes. Nous ne pouvons pas la condamner au nom du Mahâbhârata, qui est constitué d’une série de meurtres alternés, à peu près dans le style de l’Iliade ! René Girard
On apprend aux enfants qu’on a cessé de chasser les sorcières parce que la science s’est imposée aux hommes. Alors que c’est le contraire: la science s’est imposée aux hommes parce que, pour des raisons morales, religieuses, on a cessé de chasser les sorcières. (…) La sorcellerie n’existe pas (…) on ne passe pour sorcier qu’en vertu d’un système d’accusation. René Girard
Il y avait vraiment des gens qui s’agitaient devant des courts-bouillons de grenouilles et de scorpions, mais nous savons que leurs manigances n’empêcheraient pas les avions de voler (…) C’est bien pourquoi, même lorsqu’elles étaient condamnées, même lorsqu’elles étaient techniquement coupables, les sorcières étaient des boucs émissaires. René Girard
Il semble en effet inconcevable qu’on puisse être jaloux du bien. Et cependant… Vous connaissez cette histoire de monarchie sacrée au Soudan : renversant les anciennes façons, le nouveau roi et son épouse avaient instauré le régime le plus raisonnable qu’il soit possible d’imaginer, et produisant le plus de bien commun. Une telle envie en était résultée que les voisins s’étaient réunis pour le détruire… Sans aucunement idéaliser notre propre histoire, c’est peut-être la fable du destin de l’Occident… (…) C’est justement ce qui justifie « la repentance », que certains catholiques ont bien tort de reprocher au pape. Certes, les non-chrétiens, qui oublient régulièrement de se repentir, n’ont pas moins de choses à se reprocher (souvent, bien davantage : quand je pense que l’on continue à monter en épingle les abus de l’Inquisition, après ce que l’incroyance a fait au XXe siècle !) Mais grâce à la Révélation, les chrétiens auraient dû avancer, et faire avancer le monde plus vite. Nous avons « les paroles de la vie éternelle ». Or, c’est toujours le petit nombre qui a compris, et vécu de l’esprit du Christ. Seulement, aujourd’hui, je ne vois pas d’autre lieu que l’Église pour faire barrière à cette terrible désagrégation de tout, qu’on appelle parfois l’apocalypse. Est-ce pour cela que cette Église devient comme un ultime bouc émissaire, et qu’on emploie tant d’efforts pour discréditer ou empêcher sa parole, alors qu’elle n’a plus de pouvoir que spirituel ? Et parfois de son sein même… On a l’impression d’une force diabolique d’auto-destruction. René Girard
La paix véritable, globale et durable viendra le jour où les voisins d’Israël reconnaîtront que le peuple juif se trouve sur cette terre de droit, et non de facto. (…) Tout lie Israël à cette région: la géographie, l’histoire, la culture mais aussi la religion et la langue. La religion juive est la référence théologique première et le fondement même de l’islam et de la chrétienté orientale. L’hébreu et l’arabe sont aussi proches que le sont en Europe deux langues d’origine latine. L’apport de la civilisation hébraïque sur les peuples de cette région est indéniable. Prétendre que ce pays est occidental équivaut à délégitimer son existence; le salut d’Israël ne peut venir de son déracinement. Le Moyen-Orient est le seul « club » régional auquel l’Etat hébreu est susceptible d’adhérer. Soutenir cette adhésion revient à se rapprocher des éléments les plus modérés parmi son voisinage arabe, et en premier lieu: des minorités. Rejeter cette option, c’est s’isoler et disparaître. Israël n’a pas le choix. Masri Feki
Souvenons-nous que les tribus d’Arabie étaient chrétiennes. Les meilleurs poètes et écrivains étaient chrétiens, tout comme nombre de guerriers et de philosophes (…) Ce sont eux qui portaient la bannière du panarabisme. La première université palestinienne a été créée par des chrétiens. Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar (Al-Ayyam)
La persévérance du gouvernement français à racheter ces esclaves et à protéger notre marine marchande n’eut d’égale que la mauvaise foi des Algériens dans l’exécution des traités. On en fut réduit, après Pontchartrain, à une politique de conciliation vraiment humiliante ; en 1830, il restait encore 122 esclaves, en majeure partie français, dans les bagnes d’Alger. Il fallait en finir. La présence de ce nid de pirates, à trois jours de Marseille, était une honte pour l’Europe et un reproche pour notre gouvernement. Une dernière insulte faite à notre consul par le dey Baba-Hussein, amena la rupture et décida Charles X à tirer le glaive justicier de la France. On sait le reste : la prise d’Alger le 5 juillet 1830. Aujourd’hui l’odjak des corsaires redoutables a fait place à une grande ville de commerce et de plaisance. A la place des bagnes et des marchés aux esclaves s’élèvent des hôtels somptueux et de florissantes écoles et facultés. Et sur la kasbah, cette bastille des Barberousse, flotte le drapeau tricolore, symbole de liberté, de progrès et de justice. Gaston Bonet-Maury (1907)
L’arrivée des navigateurs européens a été providentielle pour le commerce des Etats riverains du golfe de Guinée, trop éloignés du Sahara pour qu’ils y écoulent leur surplus d’esclaves. Les Etats exportateurs d’esclaves de la côte atlantique de l’Afrique noire considéraient ce trafic comme leur commerce naturel. (…) Dès le haut Moyen Age, le monde musulman est devenu le grand importateur d’esclaves. Dans les premiers siècles de l’islam, de nombreux Blancs d’Asie et d’Europe sont déportés en terre musulmane. En particulier, des Slaves (d’où les termes «esclave», «ex-slave») … Il semble qu’au total, entre le milieu du VIIe siècle et la fin du XIXe siècle, les traites musulmanes aient déporté un nombre de Noirs nettement supérieur à la traite européenne. (…) A la différence de l’islam, le christianisme n’a pas entériné l’esclavage. Mais, comme il ne comportait aucune règle d’organisation sociale, il ne l’a pas non plus interdit. Pourtant, l’idée d’une égalité de tous les hommes en Dieu dont était porteur le christianisme a joué contre l’esclavage, qui disparaît de France avant l’an mil. Cependant, il ressurgit au XVIIe siècle aux Antilles françaises, bien que la législation royale y prescrive l’emploi d’une main-d’oeuvre libre venue de France. L’importation des premiers esclaves noirs, achetés à des Hollandais, se fait illégalement. (…) Le mouvement part d’Angleterre, le pays qui a déporté au XVIIIe siècle le plus de Noirs vers l’Amérique. La force du mouvement abolitionniste anglais repose principalement sur la prédication des pasteurs évangélistes. Il en résulte une interdiction de la traite par l’Angleterre (1806) et les autres puissances occidentales (France, 1817), puis une abolition de l’esclavage lui-même dans les colonies anglaises (1833) et françaises (1848). Décidée par l’Europe, la suppression de la traite atlantique est imposée par elle aux Etats pourvoyeurs d’esclaves de l’Afrique occidentale. (…) Cependant, rien de pareil n’a eu lieu dans le monde musulman. L’esclavage étant prévu par l’islam, il eût été impie de le remettre en cause. Aussi, l’autre grande forme de la traite vers l’Afrique du Nord et le Moyen-Orient continua de plus belle au XIXe siècle, qui correspondit à son apogée. Et, parallèlement, des Européens continuaient d’être razziés en Méditerranée et réduits en esclavage à Alger, Oran, Tunis ou Salé (Rabat). D’où l’expédition de 1830 à Alger. Finalement, ce fut la colonisation qui mit presque entièrement fin à la traite musulmane. Jean-Louis Harouel 
Plus de 11 000 femmes nigérianes ont été secourues en Méditerranée l’année dernière, selon l’Office pour les migrations internationales (OMI). 80% d’entre elles faisaient l’objet d’un trafic à des fins d’exploitation sexuelle. “Il y a maintenant des filles qui n’ont que 13, 14 ou 15 ans”, m’a dit un agent anti-trafic de l’OMI. “L’Italie n’est qu’un point d’entrée. De la, elles sont dispatchées et vendues à des mères maquerelles partout en Europe.” Ben Taub
En 2015, le risque de mourir en Méditerranée (0, 37%) était inférieur au risque en France d’une personne de plus de 45 ans de subir un AVC (0, 4$%); en 2016, 363 000 migrants ont traversé la Mare nostrum (…) et 4 576 s’y sont noyés ou ont disparu, soit 1, 3% ou le double du risque de décéder apres une intervention chirurgicale – toutes catégories confondues – dans un pays industrialisé, ou encore le double du risque de mourir d’une anesthésie générale au sud du Sahara. En 2017, entre janvier et fin aout, 126 000 migrants ont traversé la Méditerranée et 2 428 ont été portés disparus, soit 1, 92%, ce qui est légèrement inférieur à la mortalité post-opératoire en chirurgie cardiaque en Europe de l’ouest (2%). Même si le risque est heureusement limité, on se demande évidemment pourquoi il ne cesse d’augmenter alors que les yeux du monde sont braqués sur la Méditerranée et que les secours devraient se perfectionner. La réponse: l’humanitaire est trop bon ! En effet, les bateaux de secours se rapprochent de plus en plus des eaux territoriales libyennes et, s’il y a danger de naufrage, n’hésitent plus à y entrer pour sauver les migrants. Si bien que les trafiquants embarquent un nombre croissant de migrants sur des embarcations toujours plus précaires (notamment des canots pneumatiques longs de 9 mètres, fabriqués en Chine, sur lesquels se serrent 130 personnes). (…) Les trafiquants emmènent donc les migrants à la limite des eaux territoriales, avant de repartir avec le moteur hors-bord dans un autre bateau en laissant les leurs clients dériver. A charge pour les humanitaires … Ceux-ci font bien, voire très bien leur travail, au risque de voir les migrants de moins en moins regardants sur la navigabilité des embarcations choisies par les trafiquants. Au cours des premiers six mois de 2017, quelque 93 000 migrants ont été secourus et transportés vers l’Italie, soit presque les trois quarts du total ayant embarqué pour la traversée pendant cette période. Stephen Smith
[La loi sur l’égalité réelle] revient tout simplement à détricoter la loi Taubira de 2001. Cette loi prend déjà en compte la souffrance des esclaves, honore leur lutte pour l’émancipation et redonne ainsi une place aux ultra-marins dans la République française. Le mouvement initié par Serge Romana milite pour instaurer le 23 mai en mémoire des victimes… Cela revient à dire qu’il y a d’un côté les abolitionnistes et de l’autre les victimes. (…) Prenez les faits : d’un côté, vous modifiez l’intitulé du 10 mai en expliquant qu’il s’agira désormais de « commémoration de la traite de l’esclavage et des abolitionnistes ». D’un autre côté, vous ajoutez le 23 mai, une journée en hommage « aux victimes de l’esclavage colonial ». Traduisez : les abolitionnistes sont presque tous blancs et les esclaves déportés depuis l’Afrique majoritairement noirs. La réalité, c’est que nous sommes en train de racialiser la France et d’entériner une vision racialiste du pays, à un moment où il faudrait tenir un discours d’unité et de cohérence. Si cette loi passe en l’état, nous allons adopter un texte qui définit des communautés – jusqu’alors non reconnues par les lois de la République – et qui entérine une fracture. Ce n’est qu’un symbole, certes, mais c’est très grave. C’est le signe qu’une racialisation subreptice est en train de s’installer au cœur de la société française. (…) Tout simplement parce que cette date ne fait pas consensus et n’a pas de sens collectif. Serge Romana propose le 23 mai en référence à une marche – qu’il n’a pas organisée, contrairement à ce qu’il dit – qui a rassemblé à Paris plusieurs dizaines de milliers de personnes. En vérité, Serge Romana fait de cette affaire une crispation personnelle et refuse le jeu démocratique. Sa date n’est pas choisie ? Il démissionne et œuvre en sous-main pour déstabiliser le 10 mai. L’amendement qu’il avait réussi à faire passer au Sénat est retiré du projet ? Il se met en grève de la faim et s’installe dans une tente devant le Sénat… Un sénateur que personne n’attendait sur ce sujet est arrivé, par simple déduction, à la même conclusion que nous : on ne doit pas instaurer deux dates. La célébration des victimes ne peut pas être une identité porteuse. (…)  Les décisions prises démocratiquement doivent être honorées. C’est une date qui fait consensus. Ce n’est pas celle que j’aurais choisie, mais il faut l’accepter. La commémoration est imparfaite : elle devrait être beaucoup plus ouverte au public, beaucoup plus suivie par des médias nationaux, ce devrait être un moment plus important de la vie politique française… (…) Nous sommes au-delà de l’affrontement, nous assistons à une réécriture de l’histoire par la mémoire. Le discours historique est dévoyé par le dolorisme, c’est une démarche perverse. Au sein de la population ultra-marine qui vit dans des conditions souvent précaires, ce discours rencontre un certain écho. Ce n’est pourtant qu’une manipulation de la souffrance. (…) Les indépendantistes se sont recyclés dans les questions identitaires, tout simplement parce qu’ils ont échoué. Jamais ils n’ont obtenu ce qu’ils voulaient, alors aujourd’hui, la mémoire autour de l’esclavage leur permet de construire une autonomie culturelle. L’identité devient la revendication. Et la mémoire de l’esclavage est dévoyée dans une entreprise politique. Myriam Cottias
Sous les arches de l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, à deux pas des grilles du Sénat, se joue une drôle de pièce. Tout le monde attend le personnage principal, Serge Romana, président de l’association CM98 (Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998). Ce généticien d’une soixantaine d’années est, ce lundi 16 janvier, en grève de la faim depuis quatre jours. Il entend protester contre l’initiative du sénateur de la Guadeloupe Desplan (PS) qui a supprimé un article du projet de loi sur l’égalité réelle en outre-mer, examiné à partir de ce mardi par le Sénat. Le texte ainsi biffé prévoyait que « la République française institue la journée du 10 mai comme journée nationale de commémoration de la traite, de l’esclavage et de leur abolition et celle du 23 mai comme journée nationale en hommage aux victimes de l’esclavage colonial ». Une nouvelle date donc – celle du 23 mai – fera peut-être son apparition dans le calendrier républicain pour commémorer l’abolition de l’esclavage. Mais pourquoi ? « Ce n’est pas l’abolition que nous souhaitions honorer, mais la mémoire de nos parents victimes de l’esclavage », expliquent les militants rassemblés autour de la tente de Serge Romana, qui se définit lui-même comme « entrepreneur mémoriel ». L’affaire de la double date agite les historiens et les politiques des départements d’outre-mer. Mais le débat mériterait d’être posé en place publique, tant cette proposition bouleverse les symboles. « Cela revient à instaurer une date pour les Blancs et une date pour les Noirs », explique posément l’universitaire spécialiste de l’esclavage Myriam Cottias, farouche opposante à ce projet de « surenchère mémorielle  » (lire notre interview) ». Pour le sénateur Desplan, responsable de cette ablation législative vécue comme un outrage par Romana, « trop de commémorations banalisent la commémoration ». Et celui-ci d’ajouter : « Introduire la notion de victime sous-entend aussi celle de bourreau. Je préfère que l’on célèbre les combattants. Et puis cette formule, victimes de l’esclavage colonial… que fait-on alors des victimes de l’esclavage non colonial ? Faisons preuve de bon sens, on ne peut pas se réconcilier en racialisant le débat. Et quand bien même on retiendrait l’idée d’une seconde date, celle du 23 mai n’a pas grand sens. » Fermez le ban. Alors, pourquoi cet acharnement sur le 23 mai ? « En 1998, l’État a fêté en grande pompe les 150 ans de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Malgré des colloques au Sénat, malgré une exposition à l’Assemblée nationale, une manifestation a rassemblé 40 0000 manifestants qui souhaitaient honorer la mémoire de leurs ancêtres esclaves », se souvient Serge Romana avec des trémolos dans la voix. La date correspond donc à un rassemblement parisien commémoratif. Le 23 mai, c’est son combat, son horizon, une obsession dont il ne se sépare jamais. Emmitouflé dans son manteau, bonnet enfoncé jusqu’aux oreilles, l’homme reçoit sous sa tente, assis sur un tabouret, téléphone portable à la main. Il fait montre d’une insatiable envie de convaincre. D’éduquer aussi : « Ne dites pas métropole, cela voudrait dire qu’il y a encore des colonies ! » s’agace-t-il. Il souhaite, dit-il en martelant, « inverser le stigmate de l’esclave, grâce aux commémorations ». Pour cet ancien adhérent d’associations nationalistes guadeloupéennes, la question est aujourd’hui, selon ses termes, « identitaire ». La mémoire des descendants des esclaves serait-elle bafouée par la simple commémoration du jour où la loi Taubira a fait de l’esclavage un crime contre l’humanité ? « Non, bien entendu », explique Françoise, militante venue soutenir le patron de son association, « nous célébrons aussi le 10 mai ». Simplement, pour elle comme pour les militants qui l’entourent, tous préféreraient ajouter une date bien à eux, un petit lopin de mémoire qu’ils cultiveraient sous la protection bienveillante de la République compatissante. Mais, d’ailleurs, le 23 mai n’existe-t-il pas déjà dans les calendriers de l’État ? Un texte signé par François Fillon le 29 avril 2008 s’est penché sur la question. Le Premier ministre du président Sarkozy a alors parafé une circulaire « relative aux commémorations de la traite négrière, de l’esclavage et de leurs abolitions », cadrant les commémorations nationales du 10 mai. Il y précisait en outre, que « de nombreuses associations originaires d’outre-mer organisent le 23 mai une journée commémorative en souvenir de la souffrance des esclaves. Cette date […] sera, pour les associations regroupant les Français d’outre-mer de l’Hexagone, celle de la commémoration du passé douloureux de leurs aïeux qui ne doit pas être oublié. » Serge Romana réclame que cette circulaire soit sanctuarisée par la loi. Lorsqu’il était enfant, raconte-t-il, ses parents ne parlaient jamais de l’esclavage. « Citez-moi une seule civilisation dont le mythe fondateur n’est pas à sa gloire ? Les Antillais sont nés dans l’esclavage. Cette date, c’est notre combat pour sortir de la honte et de la victimisation. » Ce mardi 17 janvier au soir, Serge Romana quittera sa tente pour rejoindre un hôtel proche. Il ne sera de retour sur place qu’à 8 heures du matin, mercredi. « Je ne peux pas faire la grève de la faim et celle du sommeil en même temps. » Il est aussi périlleux de démultiplier les dates que les combats. Le Point
Entre juin 2017 et juin 2019, période couverte par ce document sur les chrétiens opprimés pour leur foi, «la violence islamiste a fortement baissé en Irak et en Syrie». Mais cette amélioration conjoncturelle pèse peu face à la tendance lourde à l’œuvre dans ces pays: l’exode des populations chrétiennes a atteint un seuil critique, voire irréversible. À l’été 2019, ils étaient «bien en dessous des 150.000» en Irak, peut-être même «en dessous des 120.000», contre 1,5 million avant l’intervention américaine de 2003. «En l’espace d’une génération, la population chrétienne d’Irak a diminué de plus de 90%», note le rapport. Même phénomène en Syrie: mi-2017, les chrétiens étaient estimés à moins de 500.000, contre 1,5 million avant le début du conflit en 2011. Pour décrire cet exode massif qui a atteint son apogée entre 2017 et 2018, l’AED n’hésite pas à utiliser le terme de «génocide». L’Égypte, qui compte 10 millions de chrétiens essentiellement coptes, fait preuve d’une meilleure capacité de résilience. Malgré des attaques djihadistes extrêmement violentes – en novembre 2018, une embuscade contre trois bus de pèlerins chrétiens a fait sept morts et 19 blessés —, la fréquence de ces attentats est en baisse notable. En réalité, ce sont les chrétiens d’Afrique et d’Asie qui sont particulièrement visés par les persécutions. «La violence, et notamment la violence islamiste, est en mouvement ; elle se déplace du Moyen-Orient vers l’Afrique et l’Asie», explique le nouveau directeur France de l’AED, Benoît de Blanpré. Passé par plusieurs associations – les Enfants du Mékong, les Apprentis d’Auteuil et le centre Port-Royal -, le successeur de Marc Fromager connaît bien l’Asie du Sud-Est où il a vécu plus de 10 ans ; et c’est précisément dans cette région que «la situation s’est le plus dégradée», note-t-il. Les chrétiens sont confrontés à la violence islamiste, mais aussi au nationalisme agressif de certains États ou au régime totalitaire de la Corée du Nord, détaille Benoît de Blanpré. Le rapport s’attarde sur les Philippines, où se conjuguent la menace islamiste et l’autoritarisme de son président Rodrigo Duterte. En janvier 2019, vingt personnes ont été tuées et des dizaines d’autres blessées dans un double attentat revendiqué par l’État islamique contre la cathédrale Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel à Jolo, dans le sud du pays. Un mois plus tôt, le 5 décembre, le président philippin appelait à «tuer les évêques», «ce ramassis d’imbéciles qui ne sert à rien». Le nationalisme agressif touche aussi le Pakistan, où le cas d’Asia Bibi a soulevé une vague d’indignation internationale, et l’Inde, déstabilisée par les nationalistes hindous. Dans ce dernier pays, plus de mille attaques contre les chrétiens ont été recensées entre début 2017 et fin mars 2019, et plus de 100 églises ont dû fermer leurs portes en 2018 selon l’AED. «Les militants de l’hindutva ont accusé les chrétiens d’acte de prosélytisme en violation des lois anti-conversion, en vigueur dans six États», note le rapport. Encore moins médiatisées, les violences djihadistes en Afrique contre les chrétiens restent pourtant «à des niveaux critiques». Des attaques islamistes ont endeuillé les communautés chrétiennes burkinabées et nigériennes. Mais c’est le Nigeria qui compte le plus grand nombre de chrétiens tués (3731 en 2018). Dans ce pays où opère Boko Haram, «il existe clairement un ordre du jour pour islamiser toutes les zones majoritairement chrétiennes», selon Mgr Wilfred Anagbe, évêque de Makurdi situé dans la ceinture centrale du pays. Dans ce contexte, l’AED estime que la communauté internationale «manifeste un intérêt certain» pour les populations touchées. «Mais les réactions sont encore trop lentes et trop faibles pour avoir un réel impact», regrette Benoît de Blanpré qui conclut: «La liberté religieuse est un droit fondamental à faire respecter.» Le Figaro
Hitler’s Pope cannot be understood except as a series of very low blows against the modern Catholic Church, and specifically the papacy of John Paul II. Philip Jenkins
The anti-papal polemics of ex-seminarians like Garry Wills and John Cornwell … of ex-priests like James Carroll, and or other lapsed or angry liberal Catholics exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today. David G. Dalin
Many readers of The New York Times no doubt believe that Pope Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope. John Cornwell’s bestselling book told them that, and it’s been reaffirmed by Garry Wills, Daniel Goldhagen and other writers since. It’s been said so often in fact that most well-read Church bashers know it for a certainty. The only trouble is: It isn’t true. Not only does it contradict the words of Holocaust survivors, the founders of Israel, and the contemporary record of The New York Times, but even Cornwell, the originator of the moniker “Hitler’s Pope,” has recanted it saying that he was wrong to have ascribed evil motives to Pius and now found it “impossible to judge” the wartime Pope. But there’s something else that has been ignored nearly altogether. Precisely at the moment when Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in Rome (and throughout Europe) were saving thousands of Jewish lives, Hitler had a cleric broadcasting from Berlin who called for the extermination of the Jews. He was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the viciously anti-Semitic grand mufti of Jerusalem, who resided in Berlin as a welcome guest and ally of the Nazis throughout the years of the Holocaust. As I point out in my book, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, the outrageous calumny directed against Pope Pius XII has not only besmirched the reputation of a man who did more than any other religious leader to save Jewish lives, it has deflected attention from the horrible truth of Hajj Amin al-Husseini— who continues to be a revered figure in the Muslim world. It is possible to trace modern Islamic anti-Semitism back along a number of different historical and intellectual threads, but no matter which one you choose, they all seem to pass, at one point or another, through the hands of Hajj Amin al-Husseini —Hitler’s mufti. In late March 1933, al-Husseini contacted the German consul general in Jerusalem and requested German help in eliminating Jewish settlements in Palestine — offering, in exchange, a pan-Islamic jihad in alliance with Germany against Jews around the world. It was not until 1938, in the aftermath of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s infamous capitulation to Hitler at Munich, that al-Husseini’s overtures to Nazi Germany were officially reciprocated. But by then the influence of Nazi ideology had already grown significantly throughout the Arab Middle East. Several of the Arab political parties founded during the 1930s were modeled after the Nazi party, including the Syrian Popular Party and the Young Egypt Society, which were explicitly anti-Semitic in their ideology and programs. The leader of Syria’s Socialist Nationalist Party, Anton Sa’ada, imagined himself an Arab Hitler and placed a swastika on his party’s banner. Though he was the grand mufti of Jerusalem, al-Husseini moved his base of operations (and pro-Nazi propaganda) to Lebanon in 1938, to Iraq in 1939 (where he helped establish the strongly pro-German Rashid Ali al-Gaylani as prime minister), and then to Berlin in 1941. Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that al-Husseini “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.” At Auschwitz, al-Husseini reportedly “admonished the guards running the gas chambers to work more diligently.” After the defeat of the Axis powers, al-Husseini escaped indictment as a war criminal at Nuremberg by fleeing to Egypt, where he received political asylum and where he met the young Yasser Arafat, his distant cousin, who became a devoted protégé — to the point that the Palestinian Liberation Organization recruited former Nazis as terrorist instructors. Up until the time of his death, Arafat continued to pay homage to the mufti as his hero and mentor. This unholy legacy continues. Hajj Amin al-Husseini has inspired two generations of radical Islamic leaders to carry on Hitler’s war against the Jews, which is why today, as was true 60 years ago it is not the Catholic Church that is the great threat to the survival of the Jewish people, it is Islamofascism. Rabbi David G. Dalin
When Pius XII died in 1958, there were tributes from virtually every Jewish group around the world. Ronald J. Rychlak
John Cornwell’s new book, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, turns out to be a deeply flawed attack on Pope John Paul II. That’s right, the final chapter is actually an attack on the current plaintiff. Cornwell is disturbed by John Paul’s « conservative » positions on celibate clergy, women priests, artificial contraception, and abortion. He is especially concerned about the Pope’s opposition to direct political activity by the clergy. Cornwell apparently decided that the easiest way to attack the Pope of today was to go after Pius XII. If he can prove that Pius was flawed, then he establishes that popes can be wrong. If that is the case, then he can argue that John Paul II is wrong about the whole catalogue of teachings that tend to upset many modern Catholics. Cornwell’s thesis is that Eugenio Pacelli–Pope Pius XII–was driven by the desire to concentrate the authority of the Church under a strong, central papacy. Cornwell argues that as Pacelli worked toward that end, he created a situation that was easy for Hitler to exploit. Cornwell denies that Pacelli was a « monster. » In fact, he recognizes that Pacelli « hated » Hitler. His theory, deeply flawed though it may be, is that Hitler exploited Pacelli’s efforts to expand Roman influence. Unfortunately,   many reviews, like those in the New York Post and the London Sunday Times, missed that point. They simply reported that « Pius XII helped Adolf Hitler gain power, » as if the two worked together. That is certainly not Cornwell’s point. Some of the mistakes reported in the press are obvious to anyone who read Cornwell’s book. For instance, The Indianapolis News reported that Pius knew of Hitler’s plan for the Final Solution « in 1939 when he first became involved with the German leader. » First of all, the Nazis did not decide on the course of extermination until 1942. Perhaps more telling, this statement is at odds with two things in the book: 1) Cornwell argues that Hitler and the future Pope Pius XII first « became involved » in the early 1930s, and 2) Cornwell expressly notes that Pius XII’s first reliable information concerning extermination of the Jews came in the spring of 1942, not 1939. Similarly, the New York Post reported in a couple of different editions that « Pacelli… met with Hitler several times. » This is not true. The two men never met, and Cornwell does not claim that they did. The most common error by made reviewers was that of accepting Cornwell’s assertions without checking out the facts. On some of these points, the reviewer’s oversight might be forgiven. For instance, Viking Press has marketed this book as having been written by a practicing Catholic who started out to defend Pius XII. One is always reluctant to say what another person’s beliefs are, so reviewers could be forgiven had they simply remained silent about that issue. Instead, the vast majority took delight in calling Cornwell a good, practicing Catholic. Having decided to report on Cornwell’s religious beliefs, the reviewers might have noted that his earlier books were marketed as having been written by a « lapsed Catholic for more than 20 years » and that reviewers said he wrote « with that astringent, cool, jaundiced view of the Vatican that only ex-Catholics familiar with Rome seem to have mastered. » They might also have reported that during the time he was researching this book he described himself as an « agnostic Catholic. » Finally, it might have been worth noting that in a 1993 book he declared that human beings are « morally, psychologically and materially better off without a belief in God. » Instead, they presented only that side of the story that Cornwell and his publisher wanted the public to hear. The Vatican had not yet spoken, so a reviewer might be excused for not knowing that Cornwell lied about being the first person to see certain « secret » files and about the number of hours that he spent researching at the Vatican. When, however, he claimed that a certain letter was a « time bomb » lying in the Vatican archives since 1919, a careful reviewer might have mentioned that it had been fully reprinted and discussed in Germany and the Holy See: Pacelli’s Nunciature between the Great War and the Weimar Republic, by Emma Fattorini (1992). That letter at issue reports on the occupation of the royal palace in Munich by a group of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Pacelli was the nuncio in Munich and a noted opponent of the Bolsheviks. The revolutionaries sprayed his house with gunfire, assaulted him in his car, and invaded his home. The description of the scene in the palace (which was actually written by one of Pacelli’s assistants, not him) included derogatory comments about the Bolsheviks and noted that many of them were Jewish. Cornwell couples the anti-revolutionary statements with the references to Jews and concludes that it reflects « stereotypical anti-Semitic contempt. » That is a logical jump unwarranted by the facts. Even worse, however, is the report in USA Today that Pacelli described Jews (not a specific group of revolutionaries) « as physically and morally repulsive, worthy of suspicion and contempt. » Again, it is a case of the press being particularly anxious to report the worst about the Catholic Church. Cornwell claims that he received special assistance from the Vatican due to earlier writings which were favorable to the Vatican. Many reviewers gleefully reported this and his asserted « moral shock » at what he found in the archives. A simple call to the Vatican would have revealed that he received no special treatment. If the reviewer were suspicious about taking the word of Vatican officials, a quick consultation of Cornwell’s earlier works (or easily-available reviews thereof) would have revealed that he has never been friendly to the Holy See. (…) Cornwell misses the important point that is so well explained in George Weigel’s new biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope. John Paul’s political impact came about precisely because he did not primarily seek to be political, or to think or speak politically. The pontiff’s contribution to the downfall of Soviet Communism was that he launched an authentic and deep challenge to the lies that made Communistic rule possible. He fought Communism in the same way that Pius XII fought Nazism: not by name-calling but by challenging the intellectual foundation on which it was based. John Paul has recognized the parallels between his efforts and those of Pius XII, perhaps better than anyone else. He, of course, did not have a horrible war to contend with, nor was he threatened with the possibility of Vatican City being invaded, but given those differences, the approach each Pope took was similar. As John Paul has explained: « Anyone who does not limit himself to cheap polemics knows very well what Pius XII thought of the Nazi regime and how much he did to help countless people persecuted by the regime. » The most disappointing thing is that the modern press seems unable to recognize cheap polemics, at least when it comes to the Catholic Church. Ronald J. Rychlak
The first cause for suspicion is on the cover of Cornwell’s book. The dust jacket of the British edition shows Nuncio Pacelli leaving a reception given for German President Hindenburg in 1927. The photograph, a favorite of those who seek to portray Pius XII in an unfavorable light, shows the nuncio dressed in formal diplomatic regalia (which could easily be confused with papal garments), as he exits a building. On each side of him stand soldiers of the Weimar republic. In front of him stands a chauffeur saluting and holding open the square-looking door, typical of automobiles from the 1920s. Those who do not recognize the differences in uniform details could easily confuse the Weimar soldiers with Nazi soldiers because of their distinctive helmets associated with Nazi-era German soldiers. Use of this photograph, especially when coupled with a provocative title such as “Hitler’s Pope,” gives the impression that Pope Pius XII is seen leaving a meeting with Hitler. Making matters even worse is the caption from inside the dust jacket on early British editions of the book. This caption says that the photograph is from March 1939. By this time, Hitler was Chancellor of Germany, and this was the month Pacelli was made Pope. A fair-minded person reading the caption could easily conclude that Cardinal Pacelli paid a visit to Hitler immediately prior to being elected Pope. The American version of Hitler’s Pope never had the wrong date, but–given that the date might have been an honest error–it is far more revealing about the intentional mis-information that went into the marketing of this book. The U.S. edition uses the same photograph as the British edition, but it is cropped to eliminate two important points of reference: The soldier nearest the camera and the square door of the automobile. Both of those images provide clues to the true date of this photo (1927), and despite his claims in Brill’s Content, Cornwell did not want that known. The photo also has been significantly darkened, giving it a more sinister feel. Even more telling is the intentional blurring of the background. Looking at this cover, Nuncio Pacelli is in focus, but the soldier to his left and the chauffeur are both badly blurred. They are so badly blurred that it is impossible even for a well-trained observer to recognize that the soldier wears a Weimar uniform rather than a Nazi uniform. The chauffeur, due to the blurring and cropping that eliminates the car door, takes on the appearance of a saluting SS officer. Even a civilian in the background could seem to be a military (Nazi) official. Since none of the images on the British edition are blurred, and since Nuncio Pacelli’s face is in focus on the U.S. cover, but the other images are blurred, the only logical conclusion is that the photo was intentionally altered to support Cornwell’s thesis. Ronald J. Rychlak
La sorcière existe-t-elle ? Est-elle bénéfique ou dangereuse, faut-il voir en elle l’héroïque témoignage d’une autre forme d’intelligence, réprimée par les détenteurs du pouvoir, ou une pauvre idiote, une marginale, une vieille folle manipulée ? Quiconque s’est confronté aux textes reconnaîtra ces questions, auxquelles s’impose la nécessité de ne pas répondre trop précipitamment – sauf à simplifier les phénomènes et les textes du passé jusqu’à les rendre inintelligibles, à les enfermer dans une altérité opaque. S’il est impossible d’adhérer au système de croyance à la sorcellerie, comme au système qui guide sa répression, il est nécessaire de tenter de leur restituer une intelligibilité, de comprendre du moins ce qui les a rendus possibles, à quelles questions ou à quelles angoisses ils ont pu apparaître comme des réponses. Ou on ne verra jamais dans cette histoire que des imbéciles féroces s’acharnant à brûler des imbéciles crédules (pour reprendre des mots de Voltaire) ; et on s’étonnera de l’acharnement répressif d’un humaniste comme Bodin (dont Michel Porret analyse ici la réfutation de Jean Wier), avec sa Démonomanie des sorciers, « un des livres les plus attristants de cette époque », écrivait en 1948 Lucien Febvre, dans un article dont le titre formulait nettement le problème qui se pose aux historiens : Sorcellerie, sottise ou révolution mentale ? [10] Et on ne comprendra pas non plus la fascination qu’exercent encore aujourd’hui la sorcellerie, en particulier dans ses versions sataniques, et sa répression. Dans cet effort pour comprendre ce qui révolte (Febvre parlait d’horreur et de dégoût), – mais qui souvent fascine –, on a le choix entre une approche externe, résolument rationaliste et matérialiste, qui verra par exemple dans la sorcière le produit de la misère et de l’oppression subie par le peuple des campagnes, et dans sa répression la volonté d’asseoir de nouveaux pouvoirs (qu’ils soient locaux ou centraux, ecclésiastiques ou laïques), voire de sordides règlements de comptes entre voisins. Et une approche plus empathique, qui cherchera à tenir compte des systèmes de croyance et de représentation du monde, et à penser le sens du recours à la sorcellerie (se défendre contre des forces et des maux angoissants et inexplicables, contre lesquels il n’apparaît pas d’autre remède ; soigner, transmettre des traditions, conserver un lien avec les forces de la nature), voire ce qui fonde le sens de la répression pour les persécuteurs (défendre le Bien, et l’ordre concret et symbolique d’un monde menacé, restaurer ou imposer une hiérarchie nécessaire). L’une et l’autre attitude pourront mettre l’accent sur le collectif, les affrontements et rapports de force sur l’horizon desquels intervient la sorcellerie (guerres de religion, centralisation…), ou plutôt sur l’individuel, en cherchant dans la sorcière (ou le sorcier) le produit d’une histoire singulière et de conflits psychiques. Dans les études concrètes, ces positions ne sont d’ailleurs pas aussi exclusives les unes des autres qu’elles peuvent apparaître en théorie. Le grand livre de Michelet a fait beaucoup à la fois pour la réintégration de la sorcière et de la sorcellerie dans une histoire commune, démarche que l’on peut par certains côtés considérer comme héritière des Lumières, rationaliste, et pré-ethnologique, mais il a fait plus encore pour l’édification d’un mythe – et combien durable ! – qui exalte dans la sorcière le Féminin, le Populaire, le lien à la Nature, les puissances de la vie et de la création persécutées par les pouvoirs mortifères de l’Église. De la défense de la sorcière contre les préjugés et une répression intolérante et cruelle à une réhabilitation qui la constitue en héroïne, – porteuse d’ailleurs de valeurs et de causes variables selon les auteurs et les moments historiques – , il n’y a qu’un pas, souvent franchi. Christine Planté
In ‘The Spanish Inquistion: A Historical Revision, » (…) Kamen (…) reaffirms his contention that an all-powerful, torture-mad Inquisition is largely a 19th-century myth. In its place he portrays a poor, understaffed institution whose scattered tribunals had only a limited reach and whose methods were more humane than those of most secular courts. Death by fire, he asserts, was the exception, not the rule. He further argues that, beyond a few well-publicized autos de fe staged in 1559, the Inquisition was not the principal reason the Reformation did not take hold in Spain. Kamen believes the failure of Lutheran ideas in Spain had less to do with the Inquisition than with the populace’s indifference to Protestantism. As for the Inquisition’s much-vaunted role as Big Brother and its responsibility for intellectual decline, Kamen rejects this hypothesis out of hand, arguing that it was ineffective as a censor and that it failed even to prevent the importation of items listed on its own Index of Prohibited Books. The Inquisition, more interested in religion than science, did little to prevent the circulation of works by Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler. Kamen also dismisses the notion that the Inquisition enjoyed widespread popular support. People grudgingly accepted it, he avers, as an institution they employed to torment their enemies. Similarly, the monarchy, despite complaints that the Inquisitors regularly interfered with the administration of royal justice, supported it as a useful means of getting political opponents out of the way, as it did in 1590 when Philip II turned to this tribunal and its tradition of secret proceedings to silence Lucrecia de Leon, a prophetess in Madrid who had criticized the King and his policies. More controversial is Kamen’s interpretation of its handling of converted Jews, especially during the 1480’s, when, as a  »crisis instrument » created especially to deal with apostasy among conversos, the Inquisition was, by Kamen’s own admission, out of control.  »There is, » he writes,  »no systematic evidence that conversos as a group were secret Jews, » although the evidence for that assertion is ambiguous. Nor does he believe these conversos were persecuted solely out of racial enmity. He admits conversos suffered from a rising tide of anti-Semitism during the 1480’s that eventually led to the expulsion of Spain’s much diminished Jewish community in 1492. The conversos’ troubles, he asserts, were partly self-inflicted: the result of claims to be a  »nation » apart, neither Christian nor Jewish, a reluctance to assimilate (a similar attitude, he claims, contributed to the expulsion of the remnants of Spain’s Muslims in 1609), and also from personal enmities among the converso community, a situation that led to thousands of unwarranted denunciations and trials. Despite this fury, Kamen believes that most conversos escaped unharmed and led a  »relatively undisturbed » life by the close of the 16th century. Richard L. Kagan
Rodney Stark, universitaire américain, explore depuis de nombreuses années les relations entre le christianisme et l’essor de la civilisation occidentale. Dans ce nouvel ouvrage, il examine les préjugés anticatholiques selon lesquels le christianisme aurait été un obstacle au développement de cette civilisation occidentale, de la raison, de la science et des droits de l’homme. Stark montre, à l’aide des plus récentes recherches historiques, que c’est le contraire qui est vrai : la raison fondamentale pour laquelle ces caractéristiques se sont développées précisément en Occident tient au rôle que le christianisme a joué dans notre civilisation. Un renversement de perspective particulièrement stimulant. On lit souvent que l’Inquisition fut l’un des chapitres les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale ; que Pie XII, dit « le pape d’Hitler », était antisémite ; que l’obscurantisme a freiné la science jusqu’à l’arrivée des Lumières ; et que les croisades furent le premier exemple de l’avidité occidentale. Ces affirmations sont pourtant sans fondements historiques. Dans cet ouvrage, l’éminent professeur de sociologie des religions Rodney Stark démontre que certaines idées fermement établies – surtout lorsque l’Église entre en scène – sont en réalité des mythes. Il s’attaque aux légendes noires de l’histoire de l’Église et explique de quelles façons elles se sont substituées à la réalité des faits. Un livre passionnant, écrit « non pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Editeur
The historical view that Stark sets out in Bearing False Witness is that a line of “distinguished bigots”, stretching from Gibbon to the present day, have created a common culture in which widely held assumptions about the Catholic Church are based on “extreme exaggerations, false accusations and patent frauds”. Stark insists that he is not a whitewasher and that he is “simply reporting the prevailing view among qualified experts”. He also reminds his readers that he is not a Catholic. Though never an atheist, he was for some time primarily a “cultural Christian” or, as he has described it elsewhere, “an admirer but not a believer”. And now? “I have not been an agnostic for years. I wrote myself to faith.” The process of writing himself to faith includes books such as The Triumph of Christianity, which records “how the Jesus Movement became the world’s largest religion”; The Victory of Reason, explaining how Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western success; and God’s Battalions, an incisive defence of the Crusades. As a fledgling historian in the 1960s, though, Stark was still wedded to notions of the baneful role of the Church in history. In his first year of graduate school at Berkeley, he was asked to prepare a brief of research he had been doing on anti-Semitism to be distributed to bishops attending the Second Vatican Council. According to Cardinal Augustin Bea, this summary was influential in the production of Nostra Aetate, the Council’s statement on the Jews. (…) But over the years, as he carried out more work on ancient and medieval history, he became aware of “the extent to which the Catholic Church had stood as a consistent barrier against anti-Semitic violence”. A long analysis of all known outbursts of anti-Semitic violence in both Europe and the Islamic world from 500 to 1600 forced him to reconsider the entire link between Christianity and anti-Semitism. This was to become the theme of the first chapter of Bearing False Witness. Turning to the current state of the Catholic Church, Stark is typically unequivocal. Shame among Catholics about scandals involving paedophile priests is (in America at least) “limited to a few intellectuals. Otherwise there should have been substantial declines in membership or in Mass attendance. And that hasn’t happened. There has been no decline in membership or mass attendance in the United States. “The commitment of ordinary Catholics seems unaffected. In Latin America, rates of mass attendance have doubled and redoubled during the past 25 years. Catholic membership in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa is very far above that even claimed by the Catholic Almanac and continues to grow rapidly.” But what about Europe? “Europe is a lot more religious than it is said to be or even than it appears to be. I have written a lot about this, most recently in The Triumph of Faith.” Stark has suggested in other interviews that the lack of attendance at church in Europe is down to “ineffective churches rather than lack of faith, since religious belief remains high all across the continent”. This is typically trenchant stuff from someone who has spent decades understanding the past and present of Christianity. So what then does Prof Stark see as the future for the Catholic Church? “Continued strength.” The Age of Reason began in the 2nd century AD. How about that for a claim? Rodney Stark is not a man to equivocate. In his judgment, the Catholic Church has been routinely traduced by “distinguished bigots” – historians who have twisted or ignored the evidence and polluted popular understanding. Hence Stark’s determination to put back by a millennium-and-a-half the dating of the Age of Reason, which really began, he argues, with certain Church Fathers and their decision to conduct theology; that is, formal reasoning about God. Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine: they all insisted on the power of reason and its place in God’s plan. St Augustine went into raptures about the “sagacity” with which “the movements and connections of the stars have been discovered”. Man’s rational nature was an “unspeakable boon” conferred on us by God. Hence also Stark’s fury about the term “Dark Ages”. It is remarkable how politicians and journalists wanting to convey disgust these days, whether for the actions of ISIS or for rules about wearing high heels at work, are liable to call such a thing “medieval” or “a return to the Dark Ages”. And this darkness was, of course, the doing of the Catholic Church. Edward Gibbon said so. So did Voltaire. Daniel Boorstin, librarian of the United States Congress, wrote that the Church “built a grand barrier against the progress of knowledge”. Rubbish, says Stark. The Dark Ages are nothing but a hoax invented by intellectuals to glorify themselves and vilify the Church. The period from 300 to 1300 was, in fact, one of the great innovative eras of mankind. Technology was developed and put into use on a scale no civilisation had previously known: water mills, the three-field system, the horse collar, selective plant breeding, chimneys and much more. These things transformed productivity, increased the population, and widened horizons all over supposedly benighted Europe. But high-minded men of letters saw fit not to notice such things. What else? Human dissection for scientific purposes began in medieval universities and without serious objections from the Church. Stark reels off clergymen-scientists who preceded Copernicus and who, among other things, fought and won the battle for empiricism in science. There was moral progress too. The irony of ISIS comparisons, given that group’s recourse to abduction and enslavement, is that most of Europe had waved goodbye to slavery by 1300. Though not cited by Stark, Hugh Thomas, the great modern historian of the Atlantic slave trade, attributed the later resurgence of slavery to the memory of antiquity: “If Athens had slaves to build the Parthenon, and Rome to maintain the aqueducts, why should modern Europeans hesitate to have slaves to build its new world in America?” As for the treatment by some historians of the Church’s record on slavery, Stark accuses them of lying in plain sight. And so, in Bearing False Witness, Rodney Stark takes aim at one “myth” after another about Catholicism. The Spanish Inquisition? A “pack of lies”, originally spread by English and Dutch propagandists. The Inquisition “made little use of the stake, seldom tortured anyone and maintained unusually decent prisons”.  The Crusades? Stark begins by saying, in effect, “the others started it”, and goes from there. He is particularly hot in attacking the idea that the Crusaders were driven by dreams of land and loot. Stark’s style is brusque and clear. He is like a man carefully setting up skittles before firing down bowling balls of fact and argument to send them scattering (though in a couple of cases he is, in reality, rebalancing rather than overturning the debate). All of which means that Bearing False Witness is stirring, compelling, often convincing stuff. Some bits are especially fascinating, as when Stark makes the case for monasteries as the first true capitalist firms. (…) And, of course, the greatest obstacle nowadays to perceiving the Catholic Church as a force for good is not the myth of the suppressed Gospels, or the myth of the Protestant work ethic, or whatever else. It is the anything but mythical abuse scandals. (…) One thing Stark is not, therefore, is a Catholic: “I did not write this book in defence of the Church,” he states, looking possible critics straight in the eye. “I wrote it in defence of history.” Michael Dugan
Le problème n’était pas que le leadership fut silencieux. C’était que presque personne ne l’a écouté.  Quelques auteurs catholiques prétendent que ce ne fut pas avant les années 1890 que l’Église Catholique Romaine condamna l’esclavage. Un prêtre britannique a prétendu que cela n’a pas eu lieu avant 1965. Un Non-sens! Dès le septième siècle, Sainte-Bathilde (l’épouse du Roi Clovis II) devint célèbre pour sa campagne afin de faire cesser le commerce des esclaves afin de les libérer tous; en 851 Saint-Anskar débuta ses efforts pour faire stopper le commerce d’esclaves effectué par les Vikings. Que l’Église baptisa volontairement les esclaves démontre qu’ils furent  considérés comme ayant une âme, et très tôt, Rois et Évêques, incluant William le Conquérant (1027-1087) Saint-Wulfstan (1009-1095) et Saint-Anselme (1033-1109) interdirent l’esclavage des Chrétiens. Puisqu’en faisant exception des petits hameaux, Juifs et Vikings au nord, tout le monde était au moins nominalement un Chrétien,  l’esclavage était effectivement supprimé en Europe médiévale, excepté aux frontières méridionales et orientales avec l’Islam où des deux côtés on asservissait les prisonniers de l’autre. Toutefois, même cette pratique a épisodiquement fait l’objet de condamnation: au dixième siècle, les évêques de Venise ont proclamé une expiation publique pour la participation passée dans le commerce d’esclaves des Maures et ont cherché à empêcher tout Vénitien de participer à l’esclavage. Puis, au treizième siècle, Saint-Thomas d’Aquin conclut que l’esclavage était un péché. Ainsi, une série de papes supportèrent sa position en 1435, année où culminèrent trois déclarations majeures contre l’esclavage par le Pape Paul III en 1537. Il est significatif qu’au jour d’Aquin, l’esclavage était déjà une chose du passé ou des contrées éloignées. En conséquence, il  porta peu d’attention au sujet intrinsèque, prêtant plutôt d’attention au servage, qu’il tint également pour répugnant. Cependant, dans son analyse globale de la moralité dans les rapports humains, Aquin considérait l’esclavage comme étant en opposition à la loi naturelle, concluant que toutes les «créatures raisonnables» ont un droit à la justice. Par conséquent, il ne trouva aucune base naturelle pour prétendre à esclavage de personnes plutôt que d’autres, « de ce fait enlevant toute espèce de justification possible pour l’esclavage basée sur la race ou la religion.» La raison, et non pas la coercition, est la base, morale de l’autorité, parce qu’aucun «homme n’est par sa nature assujetti  à un autre.» Sur cette question, Aquin a distingué deux formes de  «sujétion» à l’autorité, l’une juste et l’autre injuste. La première existe lorsque les dirigeants travaillent pour l’avantage et le bénéfice de leurs sujets. La forme injuste de soumission « est celle de l’esclavage, dans lequel l’autorité contrôle le sujet pour ses propres avantages.» Se fondant sur l’immense autorité donnée à Aquin par l’Église, la position officielle était donc que l’esclavage était un péché. Il est vrai que quelques papes n’ont pas observé l’obligation morale d’opposition à l’esclavage. En 1488, le pape Innocent  VIII accepta un cadeau de cent esclaves Maures fait par le Roi Ferdinand d’Aragon, donnant certains d’entre eux à ses cardinaux. Naturellement, Innocent était un cas à part puisqu’il en est venu à commettre dans sa vie des actions parfaitement immorales. Cependant, la laxité ne doit pas être confondue avec la doctrine.  Ainsi. tandis qu’Innocent engendra beaucoup d’enfants, il n’a en aucun temps changé la doctrine officielle de l’Église comme quoi le clergé devait être célibataire. De la même manière, son acceptation d’un cadeau d’esclaves ne devrait pas être confondue avec des enseignements officiels de l’Église sur l’esclavage, enseignements qui ne changèrent pas. Ceux-ci ont été énoncés fréquemment et explicitement lorsqu’il devenait pertinent de le faire. Lors des années 1430, les Espagnols colonisèrent les îles Canaries et commencèrent à asservir la population indigène. Il n’était pas question de servage mais d’un véritable esclavage de sorte que des Chrétiens et les Maures pratiquèrent longtemps  sur les captifs en Espagne. Quand la rumeur de ces actions atteignit le Pape Eugène IV (1431 à 1447), il publia une Bulles, «Sicut Dudum». Le pape n’y a pas mâché ses mots. Sous la menace de l’excommunication, il donna quinze jours à partir de la réception de sa Bulle pour « restaurer à leur liberté au plus tôt toute personne de l’un ou l’autre sexe qui était par le passé, des résidants de les dites îles Canaries. . . Ces personnes doivent être totalement et perpétuellement libres et doivent être laissées libres sans exaction ou demande de quelques sommes d’argent que ce soit. Le Pape Pie II (1458 à 1464) et le Pape Sixte IV (1471 à 1484) ont poursuivi cette action par des Bulles additionnelles condamnant l’esclavage des insulaires dans les îles Canaries, qui, malheureusement, a quand même continué… Ce que cet épisode démontre est la fragilité de l’autorité papale de l’époque, et non pas une indifférence de l’Église au péché de l’esclavage. Avec le succès des invasions espagnoles et portugaises du Nouveau Monde, l’esclavage des indigènes et l’importation des Africains s’en sont suivis, et quelques esclavagistes ont eu comme raisonnement que cela n’était pas en violation de la moralité chrétienne, prétendant que ces derniers n’étaient pas « des créatures raisonnables» ayant droit à la liberté mais étaient plutôt des espèces d’animaux, et que donc légitimement sujets à l’exploitation humaine. Ce subterfuge théologique par les esclavagistes-commerçants fut astucieusement employé par Normand F. Cantor pour accuser le Catholicisme alors qu’il dit  : « l’Église a accepté l’esclavage… au seizième siècle en Espagne, les chrétiens discouraient au sujet de savoir si les esclaves noirs avaient une âme ou étaient des créations animales du Seigneur.» Cantor ne donna aucune indication comme quoi Rome à plusieurs reprises dénonça l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde comme motif d’excommunication. Et pourtant  c’est précisément ce que fit le Pape Paul III (de 1534 à 1549) sur cette question. Bien que membre d’une famille ecclésiastique Romaine, et quelquefois libertin dans ses premières années (il a été fait cardinal à vingt-cinq ans mais n’a pas accepté l’ordination jusqu’à ce qu’il ait eu cinquante ans). Paul se transforma et devint un  pape efficace et pieux qui a pleinement reconnu la signification morale du Protestantisme et lança la Contre-Réforme. Sa Bulle magnifique contre l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde (aussi bien que les Bulles semblables par d’autres papes) furent d’une façon ou d’une autre «oubliées» des archives historiques jusque très récemment. (…) Dans une seconde Bulle sur l’esclavage, Paul  appliqua la sanction de l’excommunication à quiconque sans regard pour : « sa dignité,  son état, sa condition, ou sa fonction… qui de quelque façon que ce soit prétend réduire les dits Indiens à l’esclavage ou de les dépouiller de leurs biens.»  Mais rien ne s’est produit. Bientôt, en plus de l’exploitation brutale des Indiens, les bateaux esclavagistes Espagnols et Portugais ont commencé à naviguer entre l’Afrique et le Nouveau Monde. Et comme les missionnaires Catholiques d’outre-mer avaient éveillé Rome afin qu’elle condamne l’esclavage des Indiens, des appels semblables ont été envoyés au sujet des esclaves noirs importés. Le 22 Avril 1639, le pape Urbain VIII (1623 à 1644), sur demande des Jésuites du Paraguay, publia une Bulle  « Commissum Nobis»  réaffirmant la loi de «notre prédécesseur Paul III» pour ceux qui réduisent d’autres à l’esclavage puisqu’étant ainsi sujets à l’excommunication. Par la suite, la Congrégation du Saint Office (l’Inquisition Romaine) a même abordé la question. Le 20 Mars 1686. (…) Le problème ne fut pas que l’Église ne condamna pas l’esclavage; ce fut que peu entendirent et que la plupart d’entre eux refusèrent d’écouter. À cette époque, les papes avaient peu ou à peu près pas d’influence sur les Espagnols et les Portugais puisqu’à ce moment-là, l’Espagne même régnait sur la majeure partie de l’Italie; en 1527, sous la conduite de Charles V, les espagnols ont même saccagé Rome. Si le pape avait si peu d’influences en Espagne ou au Portugal, il en avait à peu près aucune dans le Nouveau Monde et les nouvelles colonies, excepté indirectement par le travail des ordres religieux. En fait, il était illégal même d’éditer les décrets papaux « dans les possessions coloniales espagnoles sans le consentement royal,»  et le roi s’arrogeait le droit de désigner également tous les évêques. Néanmoins, la Bulle d’Urbain VIII fut lue en public par les Jésuites à Rio de Janeiro, avec comme résultat qu’ils furent attaqués à l’université locale des Jésuites avec pour compte qu’un certain nombre de prêtres furent blessés. Dans Santos, une foule a piétiné un Jésuite vicaire-général quand il a essayé de publier la Bulle, et les Jésuites ont été expulsés de Sao Paulo lorsque la rumeur se répandit de leur action pour faire connaître la Bulle contre l’esclavage. Ainsi, la connaissance des Bulles anti-esclavagistes et des décrets postérieurs de l’Inquisition contre l’esclavage ont été généralement limités au clergé, particulièrement aux ordres religieux, ce qui de ce fait a limité leur impact public. Naturellement, les Espagnols et les Portugais n’étaient pas les seuls esclavagistes du Nouveau Monde. Et même si  les Bulles papales furent publiées partout, elles n’eurent aucune force morale chez les Anglais et les Hollandais. Ainsi, il doit être noté que l’introduction de l’esclavage au Nouveau Monde n’a fait l’objet d’aucune dénonciation de personnalités hollandaises ou protestantes anglaises. Cependant, bien que les Bulles papales contre l’esclavage aient été rejetées dans le Nouveau Monde, les vues anti-esclavagistes de l’Église ont eu un effet significatif de modération dans les Amériques Catholiques par les moyens du  « Code Noir » et du « Código Negro Español ». Dans les deux cas, l’Église a inspiré leur formulation et leur renforcement, démontrant de ce fait son opposition fondamentale à l’esclavage et cela en essayant d’assurer « les droits des esclaves et son bien-être matériel,» et en imposant des «obligations aux propriétaires d’esclaves, limitant ainsi leur contrôle sur ces derniers.» Comme Eugene Genovese l’a mentionné : « le Catholicisme a fait une différence profonde dans les vies des esclaves. [ En ] donnant aux sociétés esclavagistes américaines brésiliennes et espagnoles une éthique. . .  celui d’une véritable législation spirituelle.» La prédominance d’anti-religieux, et particulièrement d’anti-Catholique, polarisée principalement dans la relation de l’histoire sur l’esclavage est bien démontrée par la «rubrique» sur  «Le Code Noir dans la Colombia Encyclopedia de 1975»  sous le mot Louisiane nous lisons : « [ Le code Noir adopté en 1724 pourvoit au contrôle rigide de la vie des [ esclaves ] et à la protection des blancs. Des dispositions complémentaires ont établi le Catholicisme comme religion officielle.» Et c’est fait ! Pas la plus légère reconnaissance des nombreux articles conçus pour protéger les esclaves. Il ne s’agissait pas d’une proclamation d’émancipation c’est un fait, mais le «Code des Barbades» n’en était pas un non plus. Comme exemple additionnel de la polarisation biaisée  antireligieuse chez les historiens contemporains, considérez que dans son article sur le Code Noir, Robin Blackburn a écrit « la politique officielle feinte l’encouragement des mariages d’esclaves dans les colonies françaises,» seulement à la fin de sa phrase il admet que cela avait des résultats « limités» mais  des résultats non négligeables. Il cite alors un document de la Martinique rapportant que la moitié des esclaves d’âge à se marier l’était. Puisque la distribution de l’état matrimonial des esclaves est précisée, ceci équivaut en fait au taux de mariage en France à ce moment-là, et il semblerait que selon lui, le soutien au mariage « soit feint.» Également remarquable est le fait que tant d’historiens distingués sur l’esclavage ont à peine mentionné l’existence du Code Noir et ont ignoré le Código Negro Español  si complètement qu’il n’apparaît même pas dans les index de leurs travaux. Mais si beaucoup d’historiens n’ont prêté que peu ou pas d’attention à ces codes, l’Église inspira ces codes, non plus que pratiquement personne a même mentionné le Code des Barbades (sous aucun nom), excepté les quelques historiens se spécialisant dans des lois sur l’esclavage, et quelques auteurs qui ont écrit spécifiquement au sujet de l’histoire de l’esclavage à la Barbade, bien que le code ait été observé dans toutes les Indes Occidentales Britanniques. Je pense que le code des Barbades aurait suscité une attention considérable s’il avait été produit par des Catholiques plutôt que par des Protestants…  Mais peut-être que la plus importante omission à noter dans les écrits sur l’esclavage dans le Nouvel Monde, et particulièrement de l’esclavage et des mauvais traitements faits à des populations indigènes, concerne la République Jésuite du Paraguay. Pendant plus de 150 années (1609-1768), les Jésuites ont administré un secteur de plus de deux fois la taille de la France, localisé au sud du Brésil et à l’ouest du territoire cédé au Portugal par le Traité de Tordesillas(1494).  Là, un petit groupe de Jésuites espagnols ( probablement jamais plus considérable que deux cents) fonda, protégea, éduqua , et conseilla une civilisation remarquable d’environ une trentaine de «réductions,» ou communautés, formée exclusivement  d’Indiens Guarani. Non seulement les arts et l’industrie se sont-ils épanouis dans la république des Jésuites (villes avec des rues pavées et des bâtiments, des orchestres symphoniques impressionnants, des imprimeries), mais encore une véritable tentative fut faite d’un gouvernement représentatif. Leur but en fondant cette république, est expliqué par le Jésuite supérieur Antonio Ruiz de Montoya en 1609, il s’agissait de christianiser et «civiliser» les Indiens de sorte qu’ils puissent être des sujets libres de la couronne, égaux aux Espagnols, et d’ainsi  : « amener la paix entre les Espagnols et les Indiens, une tâche si difficile que, depuis la découverte des Indes Occidentales il y a plus de cent ans, cela n’a toujours pas été possible.» La république s’est épanouie, mais plutôt que de devenir un fondement pour l’égalité et la paix, son existence a offensé beaucoup de fonctionnaires et de planteurs coloniaux, et provoqua des tentatives d’expropriation. Néanmoins, les Jésuites sont parvenus à devancer et contrecarrer ces tentatives pendant plusieurs générations. Mais ensuite, les choses ont commencé à se dégrader. La première étape dans la chute de la république est venue en 1750 quand les Portugais et les Espagnols ont signé un nouveau traité, redivisant l’Amérique du Sud le long des frontières naturelles. Comme résultat, sept des réductions sont tombées sous la juridiction portugaise. Il leur fut ordonné de passer le pouvoir aux autorités civiles, les Jésuites résistèrent et firent appel aux Couronnes Portugaises et Espagnoles pour conserver les réductions libres. Mais leurs adversaires étaient trop forts et sans scrupule, faisant circuler des fausses rumeurs de  conspiration des Jésuites contre les deux Couronnes. Ainsi en 1754, des troupes espagnoles furent envoyées contre les sept réductions de l’Ouest, alors que les Portugais avançaient à l’Est. Les deux forces européennes ont été défaites par les Indiens, qui étaient tout à fait bien entraînées dans la tactique militaire et possédaient des mousquets et des canons. Bien que les Jésuites n’eurent aucune participation dans les batailles, ils ont été blâmés comme traîtres et comme conséquence à cette lutte contre l’esclavage, ils furent expulsés du Portugal et de tous les territoires portugais en 1758. Bientôt, des accusations supplémentaires de complots durent portés contre le Jésuites en Espagne alors que tous les membres de l’ordre furent arrêtés au début de 1667 et expulsés dans les états pontificaux. En juillet, les autorités coloniales étaient prêtes à expulser les Jésuites d’Amérique latine, et le rassemblement  de ces derniers débuta à Buenos Aires et à Cordoue. Mais ce ne fut pas avant l’année suivante que les troupes espagnoles  s’emparèrent des vingt-trois «réductions» restantes et se saisirent des Jésuites demeurant, sur quoi les pères (même très malades et vieux) ont été attachés à des mules et transportés à travers les montagnes par mauvais temps, beaucoup sont décédés. Ainsi, étaient les Jésuites expulsés de l’hémisphère occidental. Bientôt, leur république tomba en ruine et fut pillée par les autorités civiles. Découragés par les mauvais traitements et la perte des «Pères Robe Noire» (les jésuites), les survivants Guaraní s’enfuirent, la plupart dans les villes. Ainsi, périt une brillante civilisation… Bien sûr, parmi les quelques historiens à traiter de la république des Jésuites, certains vocifèrent contre le colonialisme et le Catholicisme, condamnent les Jésuites «fanatiques» pour l’imposition de la religion et de la civilisation aux Indiens païens, et dénoncent des efforts des Jésuites pour soutenir une république comme un cruel paternalisme et une exploitation. Mais même si l’on devait accepter la version la plus extrémiste de ces assertions, on est confronté aux efforts sincères et efficaces des Jésuites pour protéger les Indiens contre les planteurs et les autorités coloniales qui ont souhaité les ramener à l’esclavage ou de les supprimer entièrement. D’avoir réussi à ériger avec les indiens, une civilisation indienne avancée dans ce contexte historique est un exploit tout à  fait extraordinaire. D’ailleurs, nos historiens parlent au moins de cet événement historique important, alors que la plupart des autres historiens l’ont tout simplement ignoré. J’ai pu trouver seulement deux livres sur le sujet en langue anglaise écrits depuis les trente dernières années, l’un d’entre eux traduit du Portugais et tous deux maintenant indisponibles. D’autant plus que j’ai pu découvrir, une seule reconnaissance du sujet dans l’encyclopédie Britannica  autre que cette simple phrase sous le mot : « Paraguay, histoire de » : « Pendant la majeure partie de l’ère coloniale, le Paraguay a été connu principalement comme une énorme mission de Jésuites de 30 reducciones.» Il n’est même pas dit ce que sont les  «reducciones». Quant aux travaux principaux sur l’esclavage dans le Nouveau Monde, qui tous ont des choses amères (et souvent anti-Catholiques) à dire au sujet de l’esclavage et de l’abus des Indiens en Amérique latine: ils conservent un silence absolu sur la république des Indiens du Paraguay. En revanche, une attention considérable a été prêtée par des historiens au fait que pas tout le clergé catholique, incluant  les Jésuites, ont accepté que l’esclavage fut un péché. En effet, parfois au milieu des sociétés esclavagistes elles-mêmes, des membres du clergé  ont eu des esclaves pendant le dix-huitième et tôt durant le dix-neuvième siècle. Les Jésuites dans le Maryland furent  propriétaires d’esclaves. Le reste du clergé était très confus au sujet de cette question. Par exemple, Dominicain Bartolome de Las Casas (1474-1566) a fait une campagne amère et tout à fait réussie contre l’esclavage des Indiens, pendant laquelle il a proposé que des esclaves soient apportés d’Afrique pour les remplacer. Plus tard, il est venu à regretter vivement cette proposition et a exprimé un doute de savoir si Dieu le pardonnerait pour ce péché terrible. Il faut également reconnaître que l’Église, habituellement, n’a pas confronté les gouvernements de front et n’a pas essayé par la  force de faire cesser l’esclavage. Reconnaissant que les papes avaient menacé d’excommunication, mais dans la pratique, l’Église a travaillé à essayer d’améliorer les conditions de vie des esclaves autant que possible. Ainsi, l’église était persistante dans son affirmation que l’esclavage était seulement un état de service, et que ceux qui furent asservis, étaient entièrement humains et pleinement égaux aux yeux de Dieu. Pendant que l’éminent  Cardinal italien Hyacinthe Gerdil (1718-1802) disait que : « l’esclavage ne peut pas être compris comme conférant à un seul homme le même pouvoir qu’un homme a sur son bétail. . . L’esclavage ne supprime pas l’égalité naturelle des hommes… [ et est ] sujet à la condition que le maître prenne le soin qui est dû à son esclave et le traite avec humanité.»Comme déjà mentionné, c’était dans cet esprit que le premier article du « Código Negro Español» exigeait de tous les maîtres d’avoir leurs esclaves baptisés et spécifiait de sérieuses sanctions  pour les maîtres qui n’ont pas permis à leurs esclaves d’assister à la messe ou de célébrer les jours de célébrations. En revanche, l’Église d’Angleterre ne reconnaissait pas les esclaves comme des « êtres humains baptisables.» Ces deux vues ont eu un effet profond, non seulement sur ceux impliqués dans l’esclavage, mais sur des attitudes envers les ex-esclaves et l’affranchissement des esclaves. Ce qui est clair est que l’affirmation commune comme quoi l’Église Catholique a généralement favorisé l’esclavage, n’est pas vraie. En effet, comme il sera vu, quand les Quakers américains initièrent le mouvement abolitionniste, ils  trouvèrent des âmes soeurs non seulement chez d’autres Protestants mais également parmi les Catholiques Romains. Si le monothéisme possédait un potentiel certain de provoquer des doctrines anti-esclavagistes comme cela est avancé par certains, il faut également se demander pourquoi l’Islam ne s’est-il donc pas retourné contre l’esclavage ? En effet, pourquoi l’esclavage persiste-t-il dans certaines régions  islamiques, alors qu’il vient tout récemment de cesser dans d’autres nations musulmanes en réponse à une pression intense de l’ouest (chrétien)? Pour répondre à cette question, nous devons reconnaître que les théologiens travaillent dans des limites intellectuelles définies, non pas simplement en conclusion de fondements culturels particuliers. Par exemple, il serait tout à fait impossible pour les théologiens juifs, chrétiens, ou islamiques de déduire que Dieu n’a aucun intérêt dans le comportement sexuel humain. Les textes révélés ne permettront simplement pas une telle conclusion. Ni les théologiens chrétiens ne pourraient déduire que Jésus a favorisé la polygamie, du moins sans une révélation additionnelle. Le problème fondamental auquel font face les théologiens musulmans vis-à-vis de la moralité de l’esclavage est que Mahomet a acheté, vendu, capturé, et possédé des esclaves. Comme Moïse, le Prophète a conseillé que des esclaves soient bien traités : « Et que ceux qui n’ont pas de quoi se marier, cherchent à rester chastes jusqu’à ce qu’Allah les enrichisse par Sa grâce. Ceux de vos esclaves qui cherchent un contrat d’affranchissement, concluez ce contrat avec eux si vous reconnaissez du bien en eux; et donnez-leur des biens d’Allah qu’Il vous a accordés. Et dans votre recherche des profits passagers de la vie présente, ne contraignez pas vos femmes esclaves à la prostitution, si elles veulent rester chastes. Si on les y contraint, Allah leur accorde après qu’elles aient été contraintes, Son pardon et Sa miséricorde.», également il est possible de gagner la rémission si l’on a tué un compagnon croyant par erreur en libérant un esclave : «Il n’appartient pas à un croyant de tuer un autre croyant, si ce n’est par erreur. Quiconque tue par erreur un croyant, qu’il affranchisse alors un esclave croyant et remette à sa famille le prix du sang, à moins que celle-ci n’y renonce par charité. Mais si [le tué] appartenait à un peuple ennemi à vous et qu’il soit croyant, qu’on affranchisse alors un esclave croyant. S’il appartenait à un peuple auquel vous êtes liés par un pacte, qu’on verse alors à sa famille le prix du sang et qu’on affranchisse un esclave croyant. Celui qui n’en trouve pas les moyens, qu’il jeûne deux mois d’affilée pour être pardonné par Allah. Allah est Omniscient et Sage.»(4,92). Comme ce fut le cas des règles juives au sujet de l’esclavage, les critiques de Mahomet ainsi que l’exemple ont probablement atténué bien souvent les conditions de vie des esclaves dans l’Islam contrastant avec le monde Romain ou Grec. Cependant, la moralité fondamentale sur le fondement de l’esclavage ne fut pas remise en cause. Tandis que les théologiens chrétiens furent capables de remettre en cause l’acceptation biblique de l’esclavage, ils n’auraient pas pu probablement le faire si Jésus avait possédé des esclaves. Le fait que Mahomet posséda des esclaves fait que pour les  théologiens musulmans, il est impossible en manœuvrant intellectuellement de surmonter ce problème, et cela même s’ils désiraient le faire. Rodney Stark
Des croisades impérialistes. Une Inquisition sanguinaire. Une Église misogyne. Qui plus est, obscurantiste. Antimoderne. Une papauté avide de pouvoirs. Un Vatican richissime. Un Pie XII antisémite, etc. Ainsi présentée, l’histoire de l’Église catholique peut apparaître comme une succession de scandales, une litanie obsédante égrenée sur fond de l’air du temps glacial. Un faux procès qui lui serait intenté et entacherait, à la longue, sa réputation ? C’est justement pour répondre à ces supposées accusations et passer ces clichés au crible de l’analyse historique que trois livres, dont deux traductions de l’allemand et de l’anglais (États-Unis), sont sortis comme un tir groupé. Que faut-il penser de cette démarche ? Que révèle cette polémique de notre époque et de son rapport au christianisme ? Jean Sévillia, journaliste au Figaro, qui s’attache depuis des décennies à traquer dans ses livres les « contrevérités » historiques ou idéologiques, a réuni dans l’Église en procès la réponse des historiens (Tallandier) 15 historiens – parmi lesquels Martin Aurell, Jean-Christian Petitfils, Olivier Chaline, Christophe Dickès ou François Huguenin – pour répondre avec une volonté de nuance et de pondération à ce réquisitoire contre l’Église. Le maître d’oeuvre classifie ces poncifs : si l’« anachronisme » qui consiste à juger le passé avec ses propres critères est la mère de toutes les erreurs, il faut compter aussi avec le « manichéisme », qui fait fi de la complexité, le « mensonge par omission », qui ne présente qu’un pan de vérité, ou bien la fameuse « indignation sélective ». Rodney Stark, un universitaire américain, ferraille lui aussi contre les « préjugés anticatholiques » dans Faux témoignages. Pour en finir avec les préjugés anticatholiques (Salvator). Ce protestant revendiqué affirme n’avoir « pas écrit ce livre pour défendre l’Église, mais pour défendre l’Histoire ». Pour lui, les aspects négatifs de son histoire ne justifient pas les « exagérations extrêmes, les fausses accusations et les fraudes évidentes ». Il répond de la même façon à une liste à la Prévert d’assertions discutables. Creusant pareillement la métaphore judiciaire, Manfred Lütz se veut lui aussi l’avocat d’un « christianisme en procès ». Dans un ouvrage (le Christianisme en procès. Lumière sur 2000 ans d’histoire et de controverses, Éditions Emmanuel) qui s’est vendu à 100.000 exemplaires outre-Rhin, il a vulgarisé les travaux d’un historien, le professeur Arnold Angenendt. Il part de l’idée que les connaissances universitaires existent déjà et qu’il suffit de les diffuser au grand public. Pour lui, ces fake news qui circulent sur le christianisme sont tout sauf anodines : elles l’ont « totalement discrédité et ébranlé jusqu’aux entrailles ». Ce sentiment qu’on ferait un mauvais procès à l’Église et aux chrétiens n’est pas nouveau : il existe même depuis les débuts du christianisme ! Plus récemment, en 2001, l’historien René Rémond, figure respectée de l’Université française, qui se qualifiait lui-même de « catholique d’ouverture », s’était ému dans un livre au large écho (le Christianisme en accusation, DDB) de la constatation d’une « culture du mépris » (moqueries, sarcasmes, condescendance…) à l’égard du catholicisme d’une nature différente du vieil anticléricalisme d’antan. Le regretté « sage de la République » avait remis le couvert en 2005 dans un second ouvrage (le Nouvel Antichristianisme, DDB). En ce début du siècle, il visait notamment un Michel Onfray qui, depuis, a tourné son talent de polémiste vers d’autres combats. En presque 20 ans, que s’est-il donc passé ? Denis Pelletier, directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études, vient de publier une synthèse historique (les Catholiques en France de 1789 à nos jours, Albin Michel) qui aide à comprendre ces glissements et ces évolutions. Par rapport à une époque où, selon l’expression de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, on stigmatisait la « ringardise catholique », il nous confie avoir constaté un « regain d’intérêt » pour cette religion qui, de nouveau, « intéresse et intrigue, émeut et scandalise ». Plusieurs événements ont favorisé ce changement de perception. D’abord, le retour visible des catholiques en politique (plutôt la frange conservatrice) avec la Manif pour tous en 2012-2013 ; ensuite, les attentats islamistes avec l’émoi provoqué par l’assassinat du père Hamel, prêtre de la paroisse de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, le 26 juillet 2016 ; enfin, la crise des migrants avec la mobilisation de réseaux catholiques « qu’on pensait avoir disparu du paysage ». Mais, précise l’universitaire, cet engagement de minorités et cet intérêt grandissant ne doivent pas masquer une « méconnaissance » massive de la majorité à l’égard d’un catholicisme qui, selon lui, serait presque entièrement sorti de la culture ambiante. Ce vide de la connaissance se creusant sans cesse pourrait expliquer la perméabilité de l’opinion à toutes sortes d’idées approximatives qui traînent sur le christianisme. D’autant plus que, selon Denis Pelletier, l’opinion se montre ambivalente. D’un côté, beaucoup de non-pratiquants (mais pas seulement eux) restent attachés à un catholicisme « patrimonial », comme en témoigne l’intense émotion soulevée par l’incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris ; d’un autre côté, l’opinion fait preuve d’exigence à l’égard de l’Église, jusqu’à se montrer d’autant plus sévère lorsque surviennent des scandales comme ceux des prêtres pédophiles. En France, l’anticléricalisme, toujours prêt à se réveiller, côtoierait de façon indéfectible et paradoxale l’attachement au catholicisme. Loin d’être nés du hasard, les préjugés d’aujourd’hui héritent en partie de conflits passés, parfois ravivés. Comme la Révolution française, si dramatique dans sa dimension religieuse, qui a structuré la France contemporaine. Ou comme les guerres de Religion, qui ont opposé catholiques et protestants. Par exemple, lorsque l’Espagne apparut comme la principale puissance catholique, la Grande-Bretagne et les Pays-Bas décrivirent dans leur propagande les Espagnols comme des barbares fanatiques et assoiffés de sang. Avec l’image très noire qui nous est parvenue de l’Inquisition espagnole, il est resté des traces sensibles de cette ancienne confrontation. C’est la raison pour laquelle on nourrit des préjugés souvent avec bonne foi. Le protestant Rodney Stark reconnaît ainsi avoir découvert avec « stupéfaction » que l’Inquisition, selon lui, avait contenu en Espagne et en Italie la « fureur meurtrière » des bûchers de sorcières qui embrasèrent toute l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles. (…) Cette vulgate anticléricale, selon ce professeur à la Sorbonne [Dumézil] , nous l’avons héritée de Voltaire et des Lumières. Ce qui est moins connu, précise-t-il, c’est qu’au Moyen Âge les stéréotypes du « mauvais clerc » (glouton, salace, avide, sodomite…) ont été colportés par les clercs eux-mêmes dans le but moral de réformer le clergé. Mais avec les polémiques apparues au moment de la Réforme protestante, ces caricatures à usage interne se sont retournées contre l’Église elle-même. Ainsi, les clercs eux-mêmes ont créé l’anticléricalisme, créature incontrôlable qui leur a échappé. Longtemps, l’institution, pour ses adversaires, se montra coriace et, forte de ses bataillons de prêtres et de laïcs, prête à se défendre. Le « grand effondrement » de ces dernières décennies dans un pays comme la France l’a laissée dans un état de faiblesse pouvant expliquer à son égard une virulence d’autant plus intrépide qu’en face la capacité de réplique avait fléchi. Cependant, depuis le traumatisme des attentats islamistes, révélateur, peut-être, sur le moment, d’un désarroi existentiel, on observe dans la sphère publique une atténuation dans le sarcasme, qui avait pu frôler, en certaines circonstances, l’ignominieux. L’Église, si elle l’a jamais été, n’est plus une forteresse. Les chrétiens sont à découvert. Cette vulnérabilité explique pourquoi ces auteurs qui dénoncent les poncifs refusent de substituer une légende dorée à une légende noire – approche d’une autre époque. Dans l’intention en tout cas, ils réfutent l’idée d’entrer dans une démarche apologétique, souhaitent rétablir les faits, rien que les faits. Même si l’on peut discuter leur vision des événements, ils n’ont pas la tentation de construire une histoire parallèle. Ces historiens n’exonèrent pas, le cas échéant, les prélats de leurs responsabilités. Ce qui apparaît en filigrane, dans leur lecture de l’histoire de l’Église, c’est un permanent combat intérieur, révélateur aussi de notre temps. Pour preuve : le livre dirigé par Jean Sévillia se clôt sur un texte de Bernard Lecomte qui montre la résistance opposée par la curie romaine à la volonté de Joseph Ratzinger, comme préfet de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis comme pape Benoît XVI, de lutter vraiment – c’est-à-dire en refusant d’enterrer les affaires – contre la pédophilie dans l’Église. (…)  En Occident, on croit connaître le christianisme alors qu’il est peut-être le plus méconnu. Il ne bénéficie pas – ou assez peu – de l’attrait de l’exotisme qui porte de nos jours les religions ou sagesses orientales. Mais ce qui compte pour les historiens de toute obédience, n’est-ce pas de porter un simple témoignage au nom de l’honnêteté intellectuelle, sans souci d’efficacité immédiate ? Par ailleurs, répondre aux idées fausses est une chose nécessaire, mais rendre compte de tout ce qui a pu être accompli de bien et de beau depuis deux millénaires, malgré les horreurs de chaque époque, en est une autre, non moins vitale. Il ne faudrait pas l’oublier. Jean-Marc Bastière
A propos de la féodalité et du Moyen Âge, l’auteur a beau jeu de rappeler qu’elle ne mérite pas les clichés méprisants du XVIIIe siècle. Les médiévistes contemporains, de Régine Pernoud à Jacques Le Goff en passant par Jacques Heers, ont fait litière de ces préjugés et montré comment, sous l’égide du clergé catholique, les peuples de l’Occident ont jeté les bases de la démocratie, de la laïcité, de l’émancipation des femmes etc. À propos des croisades, Jean Sévillia signale qu’elles furent avant tout une manifestation de foi populaire et une réaction de défense des Européens dans une époque très critique de leur Histoire. Les excès et les massacres qu’on peut leur attribuer ne sortent hélas pas de l’ordinaire de l’époque (et sont plutôt moins choquants que les horreurs du début du XXe siècle). Pire que le Goulag ( *), l’ Inquisition ! Contre l’imagerie traditionnelle colportée par les protestants anglais et les philosophes français qui fait de l’Inquisition espagnole l’horreur absolue, on rappelle que ses victimes se comptent au nombre de quelques milliers en l’espace de trois siècles. Venons-en au XVIIIe siècle français. «Voilà un aspect des Lumières qui est aujourd’hui soigneusement caché : le racisme», dit fort justement l’auteur de Historiquement correct. Voltaire, le grand Voltaire, écrit dans Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des moeurs : «Il n’est permis qu’à un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les nègres, les albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Amériques ne soient des races entièrement différentes». En écrivant cela, le pourfendeur du clergé prend le contrepied de l’enseignement religieux qui, depuis Saint Paul, n’a de cesse de souligner l’unicité de la condition humaine. Malheureusement, aux XIXe et XXe siècles, le triste enseignement de Voltaire sera mieux suivi que celui de Saint Paul. Faut-il insister ? Le Siècle des Lumières fut aussi le grand siècle de la traite atlantique et les «philosophes» ne furent pas les derniers à placer leurs économies dans le trafic d’esclaves. Jean Sévillia a beau jeu de rappeler les crimes commis pendant la Révolution française, sous la Terreur, au nom de la Liberté, mais curieusement ne s’appesantit pas sur Napoléon Bonaparte, dont les actions ont peu de rapport avec la légende. De même, il ne manque pas de rappeler les exactions des Communards de 1871 mais néglige la responsabilité d’ Adolphe Thiers dans cette tragédie.Plus près de nous, Historiquement correct témoigne de la grande confusion idéologique qui a conduit en France les républicains de gauche à se faire les apologues de la colonisation à la fin du XIXe siècle et à défendre la présence française en Algérie après la seconde guerre mondiale. De la même façon, peut-on ignorer la contribution de plusieurs dirigeants socialistes ou communistes au gouvernement du maréchal Pétain (Doriot, Déat, Laval, Belin…), tandis que des officiers catholiques et parfois monarchistes s’engageaient dès les débuts de l’occupation allemande dans la Résistance (d’Estienne d’Orves, Leclerc de Hauteclocque, de Gaulle…) ? Et quel est l’extrémiste qui confie les lignes suivantes à son journal intime, en juillet 1940 ? «J’espère que l’Allemand vaincra ; car il ne faut pas que le général de Gaulle l’emporte chez nous. Il est remarquable que la guerre revient à une guerre juive, c’est-à-dire à une guerre qui aura des milliards et aussi des Judas Macchabées. » C’est le philosophe Alain, radical et pacifiste, grande conscience de la IIIe République. André Larané
The Name of the Rose, wrote a particularly influential manual. There is no reason to believe that Gui was anything like his fictional portrayal. By the 14th century, the Inquisition represented the best legal practices available. Inquisition officials were university-trained specialists in law and theology. The procedures were similar to those used in secular inquisitions (we call them « inquests » today, but it’s the same word). The power of kings rose dramatically in the late Middle Ages. (…) As in other areas of ecclesiastical control, secular authorities in the late Middle Ages began to take over the Inquisition, removing it from papal oversight. In France, for example, royal officials assisted by legal scholars at the University of Paris assumed control of the French Inquisition. Kings justified this on the belief that they knew better than the faraway pope how best to deal with heresy in their own kingdoms. These dynamics would help to form the Spanish Inquisition — but there were others as well. Spain was in many ways quite different from the rest of Europe. Conquered by Muslim jihad in the eighth century, the Iberian peninsula had been a place of near constant warfare. Because borders between Muslim and Christian kingdoms shifted rapidly over the centuries, it was in most rulers’ interest to practice a fair degree of tolerance for other religions. The ability of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together, called convivencia by the Spanish, was a rarity in the Middle Ages. Indeed, Spain was the most diverse and tolerant place in medieval Europe. England expelled all of its Jews in 1290. France did the same in 1306. Yet in Spain Jews thrived at every level of society. But it was perhaps inevitable that the waves of anti-Semitism that swept across medieval Europe would eventually find their way into Spain. Envy, greed, and gullibility led to rising tensions between Christians and Jews in the 14th century. During the summer of 1391, urban mobs in Barcelona and other towns poured into Jewish quarters, rounded up Jews, and gave them a choice of baptism or death. Most took baptism. The king of Aragon, who had done his best to stop the attacks, later reminded his subjects of well-established Church doctrine on the matter of forced baptisms — they don’t count. He decreed that any Jews who accepted baptism to avoid death could return to their religion. But most of these new converts, or conversos, decided to remain Catholic. There were many reasons for this. Some believed that apostasy made them unfit to be Jewish. Others worried that returning to Judaism would leave them vulnerable to future attacks. Still others saw their baptism as a way to avoid the increasing number of restrictions and taxes imposed on Jews. As time passed, the conversos settled into their new religion, becoming just as pious as other Catholics. Their children were baptized at birth and raised as Catholics. But they remained in a cultural netherworld. Although Christian, most conversos still spoke, dressed, and ate like Jews. Many continued to live in Jewish quarters so as to be near family members. The presence of conversos had the effect of Christianizing Spanish Judaism. This in turn led to a steady stream of voluntary conversions to Catholicism. In 1414 a debate was held in Tortosa between Christian and Jewish leaders. Pope Benedict XIII himself attended. On the Christian side was the papal physician, Jeronimo de Santa Fe, who had recently converted from Judaism. The debate brought about a wave of new voluntary conversions. In Aragon alone, 3,000 Jews received baptism. All of this caused a good deal of tension between those who remained Jewish and those who became Catholic. Spanish rabbis after 1391 had considered conversos to be Jews, since they had been forced into baptism. Yet by 1414, rabbis repeatedly stressed that conversos were indeed true Christians, since they had voluntarily left Judaism. By the mid-15th century, a whole new converso culture was flowering in Spain — Jewish in ethnicity and culture, but Catholic in religion. Conversos, whether new converts themselves or the descendants of converts, took enormous pride in that culture. Some even asserted that they were better than the « Old Christians, » since as Jews they were related by blood to Christ Himself. When the converso bishop of Burgos, Alonso de Cartagena, prayed the Hail Mary, he would say with pride, « Holy Mary, Mother of God and my blood relative, pray for us sinners . . . » The expansion of converso wealth and power in Spain led to a backlash, particularly among aristocratic and middle-class Old Christians. They resented the arrogance of the conversos and envied their successes. Several tracts were written demonstrating that virtually every noble bloodline in Spain had been infiltrated by conversos. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories abounded. The conversos, it was said, were part of an elaborate Jewish plot to take over the Spanish nobility and the Catholic Church, destroying both from within. The conversos, according to this logic, were not sincere Christians but secret Jews. Modern scholarship has definitively shown that, like most conspiracy theories, this one was pure imagination. The vast majority of conversos were good Catholics who simply took pride in their Jewish heritage. Surprisingly, many modern authors — indeed, many Jewish authors — have embraced these anti-Semitic fantasies. It is common today to hear that the conversos really were secret Jews, struggling to keep their faith hidden under the tyranny of Catholicism. Even the American Heritage Dictionary describes « converso » as « a Spanish or Portuguese Jew who converted outwardly to Christianity in the late Middle Ages so as to avoid persecution or expulsion, though often continuing to practice Judaism in secret. » This is simply false. But the constant drumbeat of accusations convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the matter of secret Jews should at least be investigated. Responding to their request, Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull on November 1, 1478, allowing the crown to form an inquisitorial tribunal consisting of two or three priests over the age of 40. As was now the custom, the monarchs would have complete authority over the inquisitors and the inquisition. Ferdinand, who had many Jews and conversos in his court, was not at first overly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Two years elapsed before he finally appointed two men. Thus began the Spanish Inquisition. King Ferdinand seems to have believed that the inquiry would turn up little. He was wrong. A tinderbox of resentment and hatred exploded across Spain as the enemies of conversos — both Christian and Jewish — came out of the woodwork to denounce them. Score-settling and opportunism were the primary motivators. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of accusations overwhelmed the inquisitors. They asked for and received more assistants, but the larger the Inquisition became, the more accusations it received. At last even Ferdinand was convinced that the problem of secret Jews was real. In this early stage of the Spanish Inquisition, Old Christians and Jews used the tribunals as a weapon against their converso enemies. Since the Inquisition’s sole purpose was to investigate conversos, the Old Christians had nothing to fear from it. Their fidelity to the Catholic faith was not under investigation (although it was far from pure). As for the Jews, they were immune to the Inquisition. Remember, the purpose of an inquisition was to find and correct the lost sheep of Christ’s flock. It had no jurisdiction over other flocks. Those who get their history from Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I will perhaps be surprised to learn that all of those Jews enduring various tortures in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition are nothing more than a product of Brooks’s fertile imagination. Spain’s Jews had nothing to fear from the Spanish Inquisition. In the early, rapidly expanding years, there was plenty of abuse and confusion. Most accused conversos were acquitted, but not all. Well-publicized burnings — often because of blatantly false testimony — justifiably frightened other conversos. Those with enemies often fled town before they could be denounced. Everywhere they looked, the inquisitors found more accusers. As the Inquisition expanded into Aragon, the hysteria levels reached new heights. Pope Sixtus IV attempted to put a stop to it. On April 18, 1482, (…) Sixtus ordered the bishops to take a direct role in all future tribunals. They were to ensure that the Church’s well-established norms of justice were respected. The accused were to have legal counsel and the right to appeal their case to Rome. In the Middle Ages, the pope’s commands would have been obeyed. But those days were gone. King Ferdinand was outraged (…) That was the end of the papacy’s role in the Spanish Inquisition. It would henceforth be an arm of the Spanish monarchy, separate from ecclesiastical authority. It is odd, then, that the Spanish Inquisition is so often today described as one of the Catholic Church’s great sins. The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with it. In 1483 Ferdinand appointed Tomas de Torquemada as inquistor-general for most of Spain. It was Torquemada’s job to establish rules of evidence and procedure for the Inquisition as well as to set up branches in major cities. Sixtus confirmed the appointment, hoping that it would bring some order to the situation. Unfortunately, the problem only snowballed. This was a direct result of the methods employed by the early Spanish Inquisition, which strayed significantly from Church standards. When the inquisitors arrived in a particular area, they would announce an Edict of Grace. This was a 30-day period in which secret Jews could voluntarily come forward, confess their sin, and do penance. This was also a time for others with information about Christians practicing Judaism in secret to make it known to the tribunal. Those found guilty after the 30 days elapsed could be burned at the stake. For conversos, then, the arrival of the Inquisition certainly focused the mind. They generally had plenty of enemies, any one of whom might decide to bear false witness. Or perhaps their cultural practices were sufficient for condemnation? Who knew? Most converses, therefore, either fled or lined up to confess. Those who did neither risked an inquiry in which any kind of hearsay or evidence, no matter how old or suspicious, was acceptable. Opposition in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to the Spanish Inquisition only increased. Many churchmen pointed out that it was contrary to all accepted practices for heretics to be burned without instruction in the Faith. If the conversos were guilty at all, it was merely of ignorance, not willful heresy. Numerous clergy at the highest levels complained to Ferdinand. Opposition to the Spanish Inquisition also continued in Rome. Sixtus’s successor, Innocent VIII, wrote twice to the king asking for greater compassion, mercy, and leniency for the conversos — but to no avail. As the Spanish Inquisition picked up steam, those involved became increasingly convinced that Spain’s Jews were actively seducing the conversos back into their old faith. It was a silly idea, no more real than the previous conspiracy theories. But Ferdinand and Isabella were influenced by it. Both of the monarchs had Jewish friends and confidants, but they also felt that their duty to their Christian subjects impelled them to remove the danger. Beginning in 1482, they expelled Jews from specific areas where the trouble seemed greatest. Over the next decade, though, they were under increasing pressure to remove the perceived threat. The Spanish Inquisition, it was argued, could never succeed in bringing the conversos back into the fold while the Jews undermined its work. Finally, on March 31, 1492, the monarchs issued an edict expelling all Jews from Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella expected that their edict would result in the conversion of most of the remaining Jews in their kingdom. They were largely correct. Many Jews in high positions, including those in the royal court, accepted baptism immediately. In 1492 the Jewish population of Spain numbered about 80,000. About half were baptized and thereby kept their property and livelihoods. The rest departed, but many of them eventually returned to Spain, where they received baptism and had their property restored. As far as the Spanish Inquisition was concerned, the expulsion of the Jews meant that the caseload of conversos was now much greater. The first 15 years of the Spanish Inquisition, under the direction of Torquemada, were the deadliest. Approximately 2,000 conversos were put to the flames. By 1500, however, the hysteria had calmed. Torquemada’s successor, the cardinal archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, worked hard to reform the Inquisition, removing bad apples and reforming procedures. Each tribunal was given two Dominican inquisitors, a legal adviser, a constable, a prosecutor, and a large number of assistants. With the exception of the two Dominicans, all of these were royal lay officials. The Spanish Inquisition was largely funded by confiscations, but these were not frequent or great. Indeed, even at its peak the Inquisition was always just making ends meet. After the reforms, the Spanish Inquisition had very few critics. Staffed by well-educated legal professionals, it was one of the most efficient and compassionate judicial bodies in Europe. No major court in Europe executed fewer people than the Spanish Inquisition. This was a time, after all, when damaging shrubs in a public garden in London carried the death penalty. Across Europe, executions were everyday events. But not so with the Spanish Inquisition. In its 350-year lifespan only about 4,000 people were put to the stake. Compare that with the witch-hunts that raged across the rest of Catholic and Protestant Europe, in which 60,000 people, mostly women, were roasted. Spain was spared this hysteria precisely because the Spanish Inquisition stopped it at the border. When the first accusations of witchcraft surfaced in northern Spain, the Inquisition sent its people to investigate. These trained legal scholars found no believable evidence for witches’ Sabbaths, black magic, or baby roasting. It was also noted that those confessing to witchcraft had a curious inability to fly through keyholes. While Europeans were throwing women onto bonfires with abandon, the Spanish Inquisition slammed the door shut on this insanity. (For the record, the Roman Inquisition also kept the witch craze from infecting Italy.) What about the dark dungeons and torture chambers? The Spanish Inquisition had jails, of course. But they were neither especially dark nor dungeon-like. Indeed, as far as prisons go, they were widely considered to be the best in Europe. There were even instances of criminals in Spain purposely blaspheming so as to be transferred to the Inquisition’s prisons. Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time. The inescapable conclusion is that, by the standards of its time, the Spanish Inquisition was positively enlightened. That was the assessment of most Europeans until 1530. It was then that the Spanish Inquisition turned its attention away from the conversos and toward the new Protestant Reformation. The people of Spain and their monarchs were determined that Protestantism would not infiltrate their country as it had Germany and France. The Inquisition’s methods did not change. Executions and torture remained rare. But its new target would forever change its image. By the mid-16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. King Philip II saw himself and his countrymen as faithful defenders of the Catholic Church. Less wealthy and less powerful were Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England. But they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous « Black Legend » of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today.  (…) Because it was both professional and efficient, the Spanish Inquisition kept very good records. Vast archives are filled with them. These documents were kept secret, so there was no reason for scribes to do anything but accurately record every action of the Inquisition. They are a goldmine for modern historians who have plunged greedily into them. Thus far, the fruits of that research have made one thing abundantly clear — the myth of the Spanish Inquisition has nothing at all to do with the real thing. Thomas F. Madden
When the sins of the Catholic Church are recited (as they so often are) the Inquisition figures prominently. People with no interest in European history know full well that it was led by brutal and fanatical churchmen who tortured, maimed, and killed those who dared question the authority of the Church. The word “Inquisition” is part of our modern vocabulary, describing both an institution and a period of time. Having one of your hearings referred to as an “Inquisition” is not a compliment for most senators. But in recent years the Inquisition has been subject to greater investigation. In preparation for the Jubilee in 2000, Pope John Paul II wanted to find out just what happened during the time of the Inquisition’s (the institution’s) existence. In 1998 the Vatican opened the archives of the Holy Office (the modern successor to the Inquisition) to a team of 30 scholars from around the world. Now at last the scholars have made their report, an 800-page tome that was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. Its most startling conclusion is that the Inquisition was not so bad after all. Torture was rare and only about 1 percent of those brought before the Spanish Inquisition were actually executed. (…) The amazed gasps and cynical sneers that have greeted this report are just further evidence of the lamentable gulf that exists between professional historians and the general public. The truth is that, although this report makes use of previously unavailable material, it merely echoes what numerous scholars have previously learned from other European archives. Among the best recent books on the subject are Edward Peters’s Inquisition (1988) and Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition (1997), but there are others. Simply put, historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. (…) The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training–something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge. The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was born out of a need to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community. As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule. During the 13th century the Inquisition became much more formalized in its methods and practices. Highly trained Dominicans answerable to the Pope took over the institution, creating courts that represented the best legal practices in Europe. As royal authority grew during the 14th century and beyond, control over the Inquisition slipped out of papal hands and into those of kings. Instead of one Inquisition there were now many. Despite the prospect of abuse, monarchs like those in Spain and France generally did their best to make certain that their inquisitions remained both efficient and merciful. During the 16th century, when the witch craze swept Europe, it was those areas with the best-developed inquisitions that stopped the hysteria in its tracks. In Spain and Italy, trained inquisitors investigated charges of witches’ sabbaths and baby roasting and found them to be baseless. Elsewhere, particularly in Germany, secular or religious courts burned witches by the thousands. Compared to other medieval secular courts, the Inquisition was positively enlightened. Why then are people in general and the press in particular so surprised to discover that the Inquisition did not barbecue people by the millions? First of all, when most people think of the Inquisition today what they are really thinking of is the Spanish Inquisition. No, not even that is correct. They are thinking of the myth of the Spanish Inquisition. Amazingly, before 1530 the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. There are actually records of convicts in Spain purposely blaspheming so that they could be transferred to the prisons of the Spanish Inquisition. After 1530, however, the Spanish Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth. By the mid 16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England, may not have been as militarily mighty, but they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. (…) In time, Spain’s empire would fade away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church. Thomas F. Madden

Attention: une chasse aux sorcières peut en cacher une autre !

En cette nouvelle journée internationale pour l’abolition de l’esclavage

Et face aux quelque 40 million de nouveaux esclaves …

Derrière la surenchère et l’emballement mémoriel

L’indifférence, voire la complicité, politiquement correct oblige …

D’un Monde judéo-chrétien qui y a hélas eu sa part …

Mais – qui le rappelle encore ? – , est à l’origine de son abolition

Et à l’heure où, djihad oblige et dans la même indifférence, l’épuration du judéo-christianisme hors de son propre berceau se poursuit …

Retour, après les croisades, à notre petite remise des pendules à l’heure …

Avec la traduction française du dernier ouvrage du sociologue des religions américain Rodney Stark …

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

Comme avec le livre du journaliste du Figaro Jean Sévilla …

Sur les préjugés antichrétiens en général et anticatholiques en particulier …

Et notamment, entre autodafés (à peine 10 exécutions par an pour un total de 2 300 sur 220 ans soit moins de 2% des accusés, et bien moins, sans compter les foules déchainées, que les autorités séculières qui les mettaient à exécution) et incinérations de sorcières (une petite poignée sur quelque 60 000),  la légende noire d’une Inquisition espagnole

Et l’un des chapitres soi-disant les plus terribles et sanglants de l’histoire occidentale …

Qui si l’on en croit les dernières recherches …

A non seulement versé très peu de sang …

Mais au nom même des valeurs à partir desquelles on la critique …

A été une force majeure en faveur de la modération et de la justice …

Et dont la prétendue férocité  …

N’avait en fait à l’instar de la Grande grippe de 1918 200 ans après …

D’espagnole que le nom !

The Real Inquisition

Investigating the popular myth.When the sins of the Catholic Church are recited (as they so often are) the Inquisition figures prominently. People with no interest in European history know full well that it was led by brutal and fanatical churchmen who tortured, maimed, and killed those who dared question the authority of the Church. The word “Inquisition” is part of our modern vocabulary, describing both an institution and a period of time. Having one of your hearings referred to as an “Inquisition” is not a compliment for most senators.

But in recent years the Inquisition has been subject to greater investigation. In preparation for the Jubilee in 2000, Pope John Paul II wanted to find out just what happened during the time of the Inquisition’s (the institution’s) existence. In 1998 the Vatican opened the archives of the Holy Office (the modern successor to the Inquisition) to a team of 30 scholars from around the world. Now at last the scholars have made their report, an 800-page tome that was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. Its most startling conclusion is that the Inquisition was not so bad after all. Torture was rare and only about 1 percent of those brought before the Spanish Inquisition were actually executed. As one headline read “Vatican Downsizes Inquisition.”

The amazed gasps and cynical sneers that have greeted this report are just further evidence of the lamentable gulf that exists between professional historians and the general public. The truth is that, although this report makes use of previously unavailable material, it merely echoes what numerous scholars have previously learned from other European archives. Among the best recent books on the subject are Edward Peters’s Inquisition (1988) and Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition (1997), but there are others. Simply put, historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. So what is the truth?

To understand the Inquisition we have to remember that the Middle Ages were, well, medieval. We should not expect people in the past to view the world and their place in it the way we do today. (You try living through the Black Death and see how it changes your attitude.) For people who lived during those times, religion was not something one did just at church. It was science, philosophy, politics, identity, and hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community.

The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training–something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge.

The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was born out of a need to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges. From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

As this new report confirms, most people accused of heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

During the 13th century the Inquisition became much more formalized in its methods and practices. Highly trained Dominicans answerable to the Pope took over the institution, creating courts that represented the best legal practices in Europe. As royal authority grew during the 14th century and beyond, control over the Inquisition slipped out of papal hands and into those of kings. Instead of one Inquisition there were now many. Despite the prospect of abuse, monarchs like those in Spain and France generally did their best to make certain that their inquisitions remained both efficient and merciful. During the 16th century, when the witch craze swept Europe, it was those areas with the best-developed inquisitions that stopped the hysteria in its tracks. In Spain and Italy, trained inquisitors investigated charges of witches’ sabbaths and baby roasting and found them to be baseless. Elsewhere, particularly in Germany, secular or religious courts burned witches by the thousands.

Compared to other medieval secular courts, the Inquisition was positively enlightened. Why then are people in general and the press in particular so surprised to discover that the Inquisition did not barbecue people by the millions? First of all, when most people think of the Inquisition today what they are really thinking of is the Spanish Inquisition. No, not even that is correct. They are thinking of the myth of the Spanish Inquisition. Amazingly, before 1530 the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. There are actually records of convicts in Spain purposely blaspheming so that they could be transferred to the prisons of the Spanish Inquisition. After 1530, however, the Spanish Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth.

By the mid 16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England, may not have been as militarily mighty, but they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil.

Protestant propaganda that took aim at the Spanish Inquisition drew liberally from the Black Legend. But it had other sources as well. From the beginning of the Reformation, Protestants had difficulty explaining the 15-century gap between Christ’s institution of His Church and the founding of the Protestant churches. Catholics naturally pointed out this problem, accusing Protestants of having created a new church separate from that of Christ. Protestants countered that their church was the one created by Christ, but that it had been forced underground by the Catholic Church. Thus, just as the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians, so its successor, the Roman Catholic Church, continued to persecute them throughout the Middle Ages. Inconveniently, there were no Protestants in the Middle Ages, yet Protestant authors found them there anyway in the guise of various medieval heretics. In this light, the medieval Inquisition was nothing more than an attempt to crush the hidden, true church. The Spanish Inquisition, still active and extremely efficient at keeping Protestants out of Spain, was for Protestant writers merely the latest version of this persecution. Mix liberally with the Black Legend and you have everything you need to produce tract after tract about the hideous and cruel Spanish Inquisition. And so they did.

In time, Spain’s empire would fade away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church.

Now a bit more of the real Inquisition has come back into view. The question remains, will anyone take notice?

Thomas F. Madden is professor and chair of the department of history at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author most recently of Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice and editor of the forthcoming Crusades: The Illustrated History.

Voir aussi:

The Truth about the Spanish Inquisition

Thomas F. Madden

Catholic culture

Description

An accurate portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition by a contemporary American historian, this treatment demolishes the Black Legend by providing both the historical context and the historical evidence required to make a balanced judgment. Political, cultural, religious and judicial aspects of the Inquisition are all addressed. The roles of both the Holy See and the Spanish Crown are described. The author is chairman of the Department of History at Saint Louis University.

October 2003

The scene is a plain-looking room with a door to the left. A pleasant young man, pestered by tedious and irrelevant questions, exclaims in a frustrated tone, « I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition. » Suddenly the door bursts open to reveal Cardinal Ximinez flanked by Cardinal Fang and Cardinal Biggles. « Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! » Ximinez shouts. « Our chief weapon is surprise . . . surprise and fear . . . fear and surprise . . . Our two weapons are fear and surprise . . . and ruthless efficiency . . . Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency . . . and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope . . . Our four . . . no . . . Amongst our weapons . . . amongst our weaponry — are such elements as fear, surprise . . . I’ll come in again. »

Anyone not living under a rock for the past 30 years will likely recognize this famous scene from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In these sketches three scarlet-clad, inept inquisitors torture their victims with such instruments as pillows and comfy chairs. The whole thing is funny because the audience knows full well that the Spanish Inquisition was neither inept nor comfortable, but ruthless, intolerant, and deadly. One need not have read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum to have heard of the dark dungeons, sadistic churchmen, and excruciating tortures of the Spanish Inquisition. The rack, the iron maiden, the bonfires on which the Catholic Church dumped its enemies by the millions: These are all familiar icons of the Spanish Inquisition set firmly into our culture.

This image of the Spanish Inquisition is a useful one for those who have little love for the Catholic Church. Anyone wishing to beat the Church about the head and shoulders will not tarry long before grabbing two favorite clubs: the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. I have dealt with the Crusades in a previous issue of CRISIS (see « The Real History of the Crusades, » April 2002). Now on to the other club.

In order to understand the Spanish Inquisition, which began in the late 15th century, we must look briefly at its predecessor, the medieval Inquisition. Before we do, though, it’s worth pointing out that the medieval world was not the modern world. For medieval people, religion was not something one just did at church. It was their science, their philosophy, their politics, their identity, and their hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community. Medieval Europeans were not alone in this view. It was shared by numerous cultures around the world. The modern practice of universal religious toleration is itself quite new and uniquely Western.

Secular and ecclesiastical leaders in medieval Europe approached heresy in different ways. Roman law equated heresy with treason. Why? Because kingship was God-given, thus making heresy an inherent challenge to royal authority. Heretics divided people, causing unrest and rebellion. No Christian doubted that God would punish a community that allowed heresy to take root and spread. Kings and commoners, therefore, had good reason to find and destroy heretics wherever they found them — and they did so with gusto.

One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong. In truth, the Inquisition brought order, justice, and compassion to combat rampant secular and popular persecutions of heretics. When the people of a village rounded up a suspected heretic and brought him before the local lord, how was he to be judged? How could an illiterate layman determine if the accused’s beliefs were heretical or not? And how were witnesses to be heard and examined?

The medieval Inquisition began in 1184 when Pope Lucius III sent a list of heresies to Europe’s bishops and commanded them to take an active role in determining whether those accused of heresy were, in fact, guilty. Rather than relying on secular courts, local lords, or just mobs, bishops were to see to it that accused heretics in their dioceses were examined by knowledgeable churchmen using Roman laws of evidence. In other words, they were to « inquire » — thus, the term « inquisition. »

From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep that had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring those sheep back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

Most people accused of heresy by the medieval Inquisition were either acquitted or their sentence suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed. If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely departed out of hostility to the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to the secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Church did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

As the power of medieval popes grew, so too did the extent and sophistication of the Inquisition. The introduction of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the early 13th century provided the papacy with a corps of dedicated religious willing to devote their lives to the salvation of the world. Because their order had been created to debate with heretics and preach the Catholic faith, the Dominicans became especially active in the Inquisition. Following the most progressive law codes of the day, the Church in the 13th century formed inquisitorial tribunals answerable to Rome rather than local bishops. To ensure fairness and uniformity, manuals were written for inquisitorial officials. Bernard Gui, best known today as the fanatical and evil inquisitor in The Name of the Rose, wrote a particularly influential manual. There is no reason to believe that Gui was anything like his fictional portrayal.

By the 14th century, the Inquisition represented the best legal practices available. Inquisition officials were university-trained specialists in law and theology. The procedures were similar to those used in secular inquisitions (we call them « inquests » today, but it’s the same word).

The power of kings rose dramatically in the late Middle Ages. Secular rulers strongly supported the Inquisition because they saw it as an efficient way to ensure the religious health of their kingdoms. If anything, kings faulted the Inquisition for being too lenient on heretics. As in other areas of ecclesiastical control, secular authorities in the late Middle Ages began to take over the Inquisition, removing it from papal oversight. In France, for example, royal officials assisted by legal scholars at the University of Paris assumed control of the French Inquisition. Kings justified this on the belief that they knew better than the faraway pope how best to deal with heresy in their own kingdoms.

These dynamics would help to form the Spanish Inquisition — but there were others as well. Spain was in many ways quite different from the rest of Europe. Conquered by Muslim jihad in the eighth century, the Iberian peninsula had been a place of near constant warfare. Because borders between Muslim and Christian kingdoms shifted rapidly over the centuries, it was in most rulers’ interest to practice a fair degree of tolerance for other religions. The ability of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together, called convivencia by the Spanish, was a rarity in the Middle Ages. Indeed, Spain was the most diverse and tolerant place in medieval Europe. England expelled all of its Jews in 1290. France did the same in 1306. Yet in Spain Jews thrived at every level of society.

But it was perhaps inevitable that the waves of anti-Semitism that swept across medieval Europe would eventually find their way into Spain. Envy, greed, and gullibility led to rising tensions between Christians and Jews in the 14th century. During the summer of 1391, urban mobs in Barcelona and other towns poured into Jewish quarters, rounded up Jews, and gave them a choice of baptism or death. Most took baptism. The king of Aragon, who had done his best to stop the attacks, later reminded his subjects of well-established Church doctrine on the matter of forced baptisms — they don’t count. He decreed that any Jews who accepted baptism to avoid death could return to their religion.

But most of these new converts, or conversos, decided to remain Catholic. There were many reasons for this. Some believed that apostasy made them unfit to be Jewish. Others worried that returning to Judaism would leave them vulnerable to future attacks. Still others saw their baptism as a way to avoid the increasing number of restrictions and taxes imposed on Jews. As time passed, the conversos settled into their new religion, becoming just as pious as other Catholics. Their children were baptized at birth and raised as Catholics. But they remained in a cultural netherworld. Although Christian, most conversos still spoke, dressed, and ate like Jews. Many continued to live in Jewish quarters so as to be near family members. The presence of conversos had the effect of Christianizing Spanish Judaism. This in turn led to a steady stream of voluntary conversions to Catholicism.

In 1414 a debate was held in Tortosa between Christian and Jewish leaders. Pope Benedict XIII himself attended. On the Christian side was the papal physician, Jeronimo de Santa Fe, who had recently converted from Judaism. The debate brought about a wave of new voluntary conversions. In Aragon alone, 3,000 Jews received baptism. All of this caused a good deal of tension between those who remained Jewish and those who became Catholic. Spanish rabbis after 1391 had considered conversos to be Jews, since they had been forced into baptism. Yet by 1414, rabbis repeatedly stressed that conversos were indeed true Christians, since they had voluntarily left Judaism.

By the mid-15th century, a whole new converso culture was flowering in Spain — Jewish in ethnicity and culture, but Catholic in religion. Conversos, whether new converts themselves or the descendants of converts, took enormous pride in that culture. Some even asserted that they were better than the « Old Christians, » since as Jews they were related by blood to Christ Himself. When the converso bishop of Burgos, Alonso de Cartagena, prayed the Hail Mary, he would say with pride, « Holy Mary, Mother of God and my blood relative, pray for us sinners . . . »

The expansion of converso wealth and power in Spain led to a backlash, particularly among aristocratic and middle-class Old Christians. They resented the arrogance of the conversos and envied their successes. Several tracts were written demonstrating that virtually every noble bloodline in Spain had been infiltrated by conversos. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories abounded. The conversos, it was said, were part of an elaborate Jewish plot to take over the Spanish nobility and the Catholic Church, destroying both from within. The conversos, according to this logic, were not sincere Christians but secret Jews.

Modern scholarship has definitively shown that, like most conspiracy theories, this one was pure imagination. The vast majority of conversos were good Catholics who simply took pride in their Jewish heritage. Surprisingly, many modern authors — indeed, many Jewish authors — have embraced these anti-Semitic fantasies. It is common today to hear that the conversos really were secret Jews, struggling to keep their faith hidden under the tyranny of Catholicism. Even the American Heritage Dictionary describes « converso » as « a Spanish or Portuguese Jew who converted outwardly to Christianity in the late Middle Ages so as to avoid persecution or expulsion, though often continuing to practice Judaism in secret. » This is simply false.

But the constant drumbeat of accusations convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the matter of secret Jews should at least be investigated. Responding to their request, Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull on November 1, 1478, allowing the crown to form an inquisitorial tribunal consisting of two or three priests over the age of 40. As was now the custom, the monarchs would have complete authority over the inquisitors and the inquisition. Ferdinand, who had many Jews and con-versos in his court, was not at first overly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Two years elapsed before he finally appointed two men. Thus began the Spanish Inquisition.

King Ferdinand seems to have believed that the inquiry would turn up little. He was wrong. A tinderbox of resentment and hatred exploded across Spain as the enemies of conversos — both Christian and Jewish — came out of the woodwork to denounce them. Score-settling and opportunism were the primary motivators. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of accusations overwhelmed the inquisitors. They asked for and received more assistants, but the larger the Inquisition became, the more accusations it received. At last even Ferdinand was convinced that the problem of secret Jews was real.

In this early stage of the Spanish Inquisition, Old Christians and Jews used the tribunals as a weapon against their converso enemies. Since the Inquisition’s sole purpose was to investigate conversos, the Old Christians had nothing to fear from it. Their fidelity to the Catholic faith was not under investigation (although it was far from pure). As for the Jews, they were immune to the Inquisition. Remember, the purpose of an inquisition was to find and correct the lost sheep of Christ’s flock. It had no jurisdiction over other flocks. Those who get their history from Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I will perhaps be surprised to learn that all of those Jews enduring various tortures in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition are nothing more than a product of Brooks’s fertile imagination. Spain’s Jews had nothing to fear from the Spanish Inquisition.

In the early, rapidly expanding years, there was plenty of abuse and confusion. Most accused conversos were acquitted, but not all. Well-publicized burnings — often because of blatantly false testimony — justifiably frightened other conversos. Those with enemies often fled town before they could be denounced. Everywhere they looked, the inquisitors found more accusers. As the Inquisition expanded into Aragon, the hysteria levels reached new heights. Pope Sixtus IV attempted to put a stop to it. On April 18, 1482, he wrote to the bishops of Spain:

In Aragon, Valencia, Mallorca, and Catalonia the Inquisition has for some time been moved not by zeal for the faith and the salvation of souls but by lust for wealth. Many true and faithful Christians, on the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves, and other lower and even less proper persons, have without any legitimate proof been thrust into secular prisons, tortured and condemned as relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and property and handed over to the secular arm to be executed, to the peril of souls, setting a pernicious example, and causing disgust to many.

Sixtus ordered the bishops to take a direct role in all future tribunals. They were to ensure that the Church’s well-established norms of justice were respected. The accused were to have legal counsel and the right to appeal their case to Rome.

In the Middle Ages, the pope’s commands would have been obeyed. But those days were gone. King Ferdinand was outraged when he heard of the letter. He wrote to Sixtus, openly suggesting that the pope had been bribed with converso gold.

Things have been told me, Holy Father, which, if true, would seem to merit the greatest astonishment . . . To these rumors, however, we have given no credence because they seem to be things which would in no way have been conceded by Your Holiness who has a duty to the Inquisition. But if by chance concessions have been made through the persistent and cunning persuasion of the conversos, I intend never to let them take effect. Take care therefore not to let the matter go further, and to revoke any concessions and entrust us with the care of this question.

That was the end of the papacy’s role in the Spanish Inquisition. It would henceforth be an arm of the Spanish monarchy, separate from ecclesiastical authority. It is odd, then, that the Spanish Inquisition is so often today described as one of the Catholic Church’s great sins. The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with it.

In 1483 Ferdinand appointed Tomas de Torquemada as inquistor-general for most of Spain. It was Torquemada’s job to establish rules of evidence and procedure for the Inquisition as well as to set up branches in major cities. Sixtus confirmed the appointment, hoping that it would bring some order to the situation.

Unfortunately, the problem only snowballed. This was a direct result of the methods employed by the early Spanish Inquisition, which strayed significantly from Church standards. When the inquisitors arrived in a particular area, they would announce an Edict of Grace. This was a 30-day period in which secret Jews could voluntarily come forward, confess their sin, and do penance. This was also a time for others with information about Christians practicing Judaism in secret to make it known to the tribunal. Those found guilty after the 30 days elapsed could be burned at the stake.

For conversos, then, the arrival of the Inquisition certainly focused the mind. They generally had plenty of enemies, any one of whom might decide to bear false witness. Or perhaps their cultural practices were sufficient for condemnation? Who knew? Most converses, therefore, either fled or lined up to confess. Those who did neither risked an inquiry in which any kind of hearsay or evidence, no matter how old or suspicious, was acceptable.

Opposition in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to the Spanish Inquisition only increased. Many churchmen pointed out that it was contrary to all accepted practices for heretics to be burned without instruction in the Faith. If the conversos were guilty at all, it was merely of ignorance, not willful heresy. Numerous clergy at the highest levels complained to Ferdinand. Opposition to the Spanish Inquisition also continued in Rome. Sixtus’s successor, Innocent VIII, wrote twice to the king asking for greater compassion, mercy, and leniency for the conversos — but to no avail.

As the Spanish Inquisition picked up steam, those involved became increasingly convinced that Spain’s Jews were actively seducing the conversos back into their old faith. It was a silly idea, no more real than the previous conspiracy theories. But Ferdinand and Isabella were influenced by it. Both of the monarchs had Jewish friends and confidants, but they also felt that their duty to their Christian subjects impelled them to remove the danger. Beginning in 1482, they expelled Jews from specific areas where the trouble seemed greatest. Over the next decade, though, they were under increasing pressure to remove the perceived threat. The Spanish Inquisition, it was argued, could never succeed in bringing the conversos back into the fold while the Jews undermined its work. Finally, on March 31, 1492, the monarchs issued an edict expelling all Jews from Spain.

Ferdinand and Isabella expected that their edict would result in the conversion of most of the remaining Jews in their kingdom. They were largely correct. Many Jews in high positions, including those in the royal court, accepted baptism immediately. In 1492 the Jewish population of Spain numbered about 80,000. About half were baptized and thereby kept their property and livelihoods. The rest departed, but many of them eventually returned to Spain, where they received baptism and had their property restored. As far as the Spanish Inquisition was concerned, the expulsion of the Jews meant that the caseload of conversos was now much greater.

The first 15 years of the Spanish Inquisition, under the direction of Torquemada, were the deadliest. Approximately 2,000 conversos were put to the flames. By 1500, however, the hysteria had calmed. Torquemada’s successor, the cardinal archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, worked hard to reform the Inquisition, removing bad apples and reforming procedures. Each tribunal was given two Dominican inquisitors, a legal adviser, a constable, a prosecutor, and a large number of assistants. With the exception of the two Dominicans, all of these were royal lay officials. The Spanish Inquisition was largely funded by confiscations, but these were not frequent or great. Indeed, even at its peak the Inquisition was always just making ends meet.

After the reforms, the Spanish Inquisition had very few critics. Staffed by well-educated legal professionals, it was one of the most efficient and compassionate judicial bodies in Europe. No major court in Europe executed fewer people than the Spanish Inquisition. This was a time, after all, when damaging shrubs in a public garden in London carried the death penalty. Across Europe, executions were everyday events. But not so with the Spanish Inquisition. In its 350-year lifespan only about 4,000 people were put to the stake. Compare that with the witch-hunts that raged across the rest of Catholic and Protestant Europe, in which 60,000 people, mostly women, were roasted. Spain was spared this hysteria precisely because the Spanish Inquisition stopped it at the border. When the first accusations of witchcraft surfaced in northern Spain, the Inquisition sent its people to investigate. These trained legal scholars found no believable evidence for witches’ Sabbaths, black magic, or baby roasting. It was also noted that those confessing to witchcraft had a curious inability to fly through keyholes. While Europeans were throwing women onto bonfires with abandon, the Spanish Inquisition slammed the door shut on this insanity. (For the record, the Roman Inquisition also kept the witch craze from infecting Italy.)

What about the dark dungeons and torture chambers? The Spanish Inquisition had jails, of course. But they were neither especially dark nor dungeon-like. Indeed, as far as prisons go, they were widely considered to be the best in Europe. There were even instances of criminals in Spain purposely blaspheming so as to be transferred to the Inquisition’s prisons. Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time.

The inescapable conclusion is that, by the standards of its time, the Spanish Inquisition was positively enlightened. That was the assessment of most Europeans until 1530. It was then that the Spanish Inquisition turned its attention away from the conversos and toward the new Protestant Reformation. The people of Spain and their monarchs were determined that Protestantism would not infiltrate their country as it had Germany and France. The Inquisition’s methods did not change. Executions and torture remained rare. But its new target would forever change its image.

By the mid-16th century, Spain was the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. King Philip II saw himself and his countrymen as faithful defenders of the Catholic Church. Less wealthy and less powerful were Europe’s Protestant areas, including the Netherlands, northern Germany, and England. But they did have a potent new weapon: the printing press. Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous « Black Legend » of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today. Quick: Think of a good conquistador.

Protestant propaganda that took aim at the Spanish Inquisition drew liberally from the Black Legend. But it had other sources as well. From the beginning of the Reformation, Protestants had difficulty explaining the 15-century gap between Christ’s institution of His Church and the founding of the Protestant churches. Catholics naturally pointed out this problem, accusing Protestants of having created a new church separate from that of Christ. Protestants countered that their church was the one created by Christ but that it had been forced underground by the Catholic Church. Thus, just as the Roman Empire had persecuted Christians, so its successor, the Roman Catholic Church, continued to persecute them throughout the Middle Ages. Inconveniently, there were no Protestants in the Middle Ages, yet Protestant authors found them anyway in the guise of various medieval heresies. (They were underground, after all.) In this light, the medieval Inquisition was nothing more than an attempt to crush the hidden, true church. The Spanish Inquisition, still active and extremely efficient at keeping Protestants out of Spain, was for Protestant writers merely the latest version of this persecution. Mix liberally with the Black Legend, and you have everything you need to produce tract after tract about the hideous and cruel Spanish Inquisition. And so they did.

The Spanish people loved their Inquisition. That is why it lasted for so long. It stood guard against error and heresy, protecting the faith of Spain and ensuring the favor of God. But the world was changing. In time, Spain’s empire faded away. Wealth and power shifted to the north, in particular to France and England. By the late 17th century, new ideas of religious tolerance were bubbling across the coffeehouses and salons of Europe. Inquisitions, both Catholic and Protestant, withered. The Spanish stubbornly held on to theirs, and for that, they were ridiculed. French philosophes like Voltaire saw in Spain a model of the Middle Ages: weak, barbaric, superstitious. The Spanish Inquisition, already established as a bloodthirsty tool of religious persecution, was derided by Enlightenment thinkers as a brutal weapon of intolerance and ignorance. A new, fictional Spanish Inquisition had been constructed, designed by the enemies of Spain and the Catholic Church.

Because it was both professional and efficient, the Spanish Inquisition kept very good records. Vast archives are filled with them. These documents were kept secret, so there was no reason for scribes to do anything but accurately record every action of the Inquisition. They are a goldmine for modern historians who have plunged greedily into them. Thus far, the fruits of that research have made one thing abundantly clear — the myth of the Spanish Inquisition has nothing at all to do with the real thing.

Thomas F. Madden is associate professor and chairman of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including most recently A Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

Voir également:

Historiquement correct

Pour en finir avec le passé unique

Nous avons lu : Historiquement correct, Pour en finir avec le passé unique (Perrin, mars 2003, 452 pages, 21,50 euros), par Jean Sévillia, rédacteur en chef adjoint au Figaro Magazine.

André Larané
Hérodote
2018-11-27

Historiquement correct (Perrin) est un pamphlet dédié aux hommes politiques qui traitent de l’Histoire à tort et à travers.

L’auteur, Jean Sévillia, ne cache pas son aversion pour la gauche. Il a la dent dure contre les politiciens qui conjuguent leur ignorance de l’Histoire et leur parti-pris idéologique.

Faut-il des noms ? Ils sont connus de tous les lecteurs de la presse française et l’auteur de Historiquement correct ne se fait pas faute de les rappeler, citations à l’appui.

En journaliste plus qu’en historien, il montre comment on peut déformer l’Histoire pour la mettre à son service ou cacher des vérités troublantes.

Il rappelle le racisme de Voltaire, les crimes commis contre les Vendéens, l’idéologie colonialiste des dirigeants de la IIIe République, la contribution des leaders de gauche au régime de Vichy.

Historiquement correct comporte 18 chapitres qui chacun se rapporte à une phase de l’Histoire. Cela va de la féodalité à la guerre d’Algérie en passant par les Croisades, l’Inquisition espagnole, la Terreur, la Commune, la Résistance et la Collaboration… Autant de sujets polémiques sur lesquels se déchirent les néophytes et les idéologues mais sur lesquels s’accordent la plupart des historiens, attentifs aux faits et aux sources de première main.

Ainsi, à propos de la féodalité et du Moyen Âge, l’auteur a beau jeu de rappeler qu’elle ne mérite pas les clichés méprisants du XVIIIe siècle. Les médiévistes contemporains, de Régine Pernoud à Jacques Le Goff en passant par Jacques Heers, ont fait litière de ces préjugés et montré comment, sous l’égide du clergé catholique, les peuples de l’Occident ont jeté les bases de la démocratie, de la laïcité, de l’émancipation des femmes etc.

À propos des croisades, Jean Sévillia signale qu’elles furent avant tout une manifestation de foi populaire et une réaction de défense des Européens dans une époque très critique de leur Histoire. Les excès et les massacres qu’on peut leur attribuer ne sortent hélas pas de l’ordinaire de l’époque (et sont plutôt moins choquants que les horreurs du début du XXe siècle).

Pire que le Goulag ( *), l’ Inquisition ! Contre l’imagerie traditionnelle colportée par les protestants anglais et les philosophes français qui fait de l’Inquisition espagnole l’horreur absolue, on rappelle que ses victimes se comptent au nombre de quelques milliers en l’espace de trois siècles.

Venons-en au XVIIIe siècle français. «Voilà un aspect des Lumières qui est aujourd’hui soigneusement caché : le racisme», dit fort justement l’auteur de Historiquement correct. Voltaire, le grand Voltaire, écrit dans Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des moeurs : «Il n’est permis qu’à un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les nègres, les albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Amériques ne soient des races entièrement différents».

En écrivant cela, le pourfendeur du clergé prend le contrepied de l’enseignement religieux qui, depuis Saint Paul, n’a de cesse de souligner l’unicité de la condition humaine. Malheureusement, aux XIXe et XXe siècles, le triste enseignement de Voltaire sera mieux suivi que celui de Saint Paul. Faut-il insister ? Le Siècle des Lumières fut aussi le grand siècle de la traite atlantique et les «philosophes» ne furent pas les derniers à placer leurs économies dans le trafic d’esclaves.

Jean Sévillia a beau jeu de rappeler les crimes commis pendant la Révolution française, sous la Terreur, au nom de la Liberté, mais curieusement ne s’appesantit pas sur Napoléon Bonaparte, dont les actions ont peu de rapport avec la légende. De même, il ne manque pas de rappeler les exactions des Communards de 1871 mais néglige la responsabilité d’ Adolphe Thiers dans cette tragédie.

Plus près de nous, Historiquement correct témoigne de la grande confusion idéologique qui a conduit en France les républicains de gauche à se faire les apologues de la colonisation à la fin du XIXe siècle et à défendre la présence française en Algérie après la seconde guerre mondiale.

De la même façon, peut-on ignorer la contribution de plusieurs dirigeants socialistes ou communistes au gouvernement du maréchal Pétain (Doriot, Déat, Laval, Belin…), tandis que des officiers catholiques et parfois monarchistes s’engageaient dès les débuts de l’occupation allemande dans la Résistance (d’Estienne d’Orves, Leclerc de Hauteclocque, de Gaulle…) ?

Et quel est l’extrémiste qui confie les lignes suivantes à son journal intime, en juillet 1940 ? «J’espère que l’Allemand vaincra ; car il ne faut pas que le général de Gaulle l’emporte chez nous. Il est remarquable que la guerre revient à une guerre juive, c’est-à-dire à une guerre qui aura des milliards et aussi des Judas Macchabées. » C’est le philosophe Alain, radical et pacifiste, grande conscience de la IIIe République… (pages 367-368).

Discussions en perspective

Le ton de l’essai est vif. Les thèmes abordés sont aussi passionnants les uns que les autres et bien documentés. De quoi nourrir de passionnants débats entre amis. Mais ne prenons pas au pied de la lettre toutes les analyses de Historiquement correct.

Jean Sévillia se montre trop indulgent pour certains personnages (Thiers, Bonaparte…) et lui-même ne se gêne pas pour occulter des faits qui heurtent ses convictions. L’Histoire n’est ni à droite ni à gauche. Elle est tissée de compromis imposés par les circonstances.

Voir aussi:

Esclavage : « La célébration des victimes ne peut pas être une identité porteuse »

Le choix d’une date pour honorer la mémoire des victimes de l’esclavage et son abolition divise. Explication de texte avec l’historienne Myriam Cottias.

Propos recueillis par Clément Pétreault

Le Point

Pius, born in 1876 as Eugenio Pacelli, reigned as head of the Catholic Church from 1939 until his death in 1958. During the war, the Vatican remained neutral, as required by the treaty with German ally Benito Mussolini that guaranteed church sovereignty over a small sliver of the city of Rome. But the Vatican sympathized with the Allied powers, said William Doino Jr., a Catholic researcher and writer living in western Connecticut and a contributing editor to Inside the Vatican, an international monthly Roman Catholic publication.

Voir par ailleurs:

Lester LITTLE Religious poverty and the profit economy in medieval Europe Londres Paul Elek 1978 xi- 267p

Le thème de la pauvreté volontaire domine histoire de la spiritualité en Occident du xie au xiiie siècle. Il surgit en écho aux profondes transformations de l’économie et de la société: renaissance urbaine, essor des échanges et de l’économie monétaire, renforcement des inégalités sociales. Ces transformations déterminent une crise profonde de l’éthique traditionnelle et de la spiritualité: le vieux monachisme bénédictin se replie sur lui-même et les ermites fuient au désert Au contraire, chanoines réformés, groupes de pieux laïcs et bientôt religieux mendiants relèvent le défi de la ville mais les Pauvres du Christ refusent la propriété individuelle, prônent le travail manuel, se gardent du contact avec l’argent. Leur idéal contredit l’éthique de la ville dont pourtant ils sont nés: aussi ses tenants les plus rigoristes ne tardent-ils pas être éliminés tels les vaudois ou les spirituels franciscains condamnés pour hérésie. Au contraire, ceux qui s’adaptent, dominicains pour qui la pauvreté n’est pas une fin en soi mais un moyen, franciscains conventuels qui usent de biens fictivement possédés par un ami laïc en viennent paradoxalement à forger une éthique justifiant la ville, le commerce de l’argent et l’accumulation des richesses; ils définissent même pour les riches et les puissants une véritable idéologie urbaine.

Bien des aspects de cette évolution ont été depuis une vingtaine années étudiés de manière remarquable notamment par le Chenu, John Baldwin, Le Goff ou Little lui-même qui propose mainte nant et au bon moment une synthèse cohérente de tous ces résultats. La force de son étude tient abord à son immense érudition, elle tient ensuite au propos même de l’auteur qui est d’étudier en même temps l’évolution économique et sociale, une économie de troc, une économie de profit ou encore selon Marc Bloch du premier au deuxième âge féodal et celle de la spiritualité. Sa préoccupation majeure est d’analyser le rapport entre comportements et pensée (il n’use pas du terme mentalités) et société mais sans faire la théorie de ce rapport. De fait, l’empirisme lui réussit mieux que la théorie, sa comparaison finale du système intégré des relations entre guerriers et moines au premier âge féodal et entre marchands et frères des ordres mendiants dans la ville du xme siècle va bien au-delà de ses réflexions préliminaires et elle est moins convaincante sur les niveaux (levels strata) dont serait constituée la vie sociale. Notons aussi des pages lumineuses sur l’attitude traditionnelle de rejet, voire de dégoût à l’égard de la monnaie, comparée aux excréments (34) ou sur les débuts de l’antisémitisme présenté comme un exutoire aux doutes et la à mauvaise conscience des chrétiens au moment où eux-mêmes commencent se mêler du commerce de l »argent (54). En revanche, il me semble que l’étude de l’idéologie définie par les Mendiants aurait pu être poussée plus loin par l’analyse du contenu de leurs sermons: non seulement les religieux valorisent l’image de la ville qui remplace le monastère comme préfiguration terrestre du paradis) et justifient par leur utilité sociale les profits des riches mais ils prêchent la résignation aux pauvres réels. Les Mendiants ont digéré la ville certes mais parce que la ville ou plutôt sa classe dirigeante se les était d’abord ralliés.

Jean-Claude SCHMITT


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

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

C’est la faute aux Scott, imbécile !

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

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

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

Et tant d’autres de leurs devanciers

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

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

Petite remise des pendules à l’heure ….

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

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

Sur les préjugés antichrétiens en général et anticatholiques en particulier …

Et notamment comme le rappelle Paul F. Crawford …

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

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

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

Et leurs innombrables fans que nous sommes …

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

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

La Croix

07/11/2019

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

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

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

De l’anticléricalisme au mépris

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

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

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

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

Des préjugés hérités du passé

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

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

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

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

L’Église n’est plus une forteresse

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

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

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

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

Voir aussi:

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

Salon beige

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

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

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

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

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

Voir également:

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

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

The Catholic world report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related CWR articles:

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

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

Voir de même:

An agnostic demolishes anti-Catholic myths

Michael Duggan

Bearing False Witness
by Rodney Stark
Templeton Press, £19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voir de plus:

Lies, myths and patent frauds

Michael Duggan
Catholic Herald

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

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

Professor Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, in the 1930s and 1940s. He was, in his own words, “an American Protestant with intellectual pretensions”.

Every October 12 – Columbus Day – he would look on at “throngs of Knights of Columbus members, accompanied by priests, marching in celebration of the arrival of the ‘Great Navigator’ in the New World”. The young Stark found the spectacle absurd. He knew that Columbus had acted in the teeth of unyielding opposition from Roman Catholic prelates who cited biblical proof that the world was flat. Any attempt to reach Asia by sailing west would mean ships falling off the edge of the world, they said.

Years later he found out that the whole story was a lie. Stark recounts all of this – and explains the real story of the opposition to Columbus – in the introduction to his latest book Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (reviewed in the Catholic Herald on June 3).

So how did he get his first direct experience of Catholicism? “I was about 16 when I first attended a Catholic service. I went with a girl I was dating. I found nothing remarkable about it.” Stark was raised as a Lutheran and was used to “highly liturgical services. So I did not find Catholic ritual strange. We stood when Catholics knelt.” He adds: “I don’t know that this had any influence on my historical views.”

The historical view that Stark sets out in Bearing False Witness is that a line of “distinguished bigots”, stretching from Gibbon to the present day, have created a common culture in which widely held assumptions about the Catholic Church are based on “extreme exaggerations, false accusations and patent frauds”.

Stark insists that he is not a whitewasher and that he is “simply reporting the prevailing view among qualified experts”. He also reminds his readers that he is not a Catholic. Though never an atheist, he was for some time primarily a “cultural Christian” or, as he has described it elsewhere, “an admirer but not a believer”. And now? “I have not been an agnostic for years. I wrote myself to faith.”

The process of writing himself to faith includes books such as The Triumph of Christianity, which records “how the Jesus Movement became the world’s largest religion”; The Victory of Reason, explaining how Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western success; and God’s Battalions, an incisive defence of the Crusades.

As a fledgling historian in the 1960s, though, Stark was still wedded to notions of the baneful role of the Church in history. In his first year of graduate school at Berkeley, he was asked to prepare a brief of research he had been doing on anti-Semitism to be distributed to bishops attending the Second Vatican Council. According to Cardinal Augustin Bea, this summary was influential in the production of Nostra Aetate, the Council’s statement on the Jews.

Stark glowed with pride. But over the years, as he carried out more work on ancient and medieval history, he became aware of “the extent to which the Catholic Church had stood as a consistent barrier against anti-Semitic violence”. A long analysis of all known outbursts of anti-Semitic violence in both Europe and the Islamic world from 500 to 1600 forced him to reconsider the entire link between Christianity and anti-Semitism. This was to become the theme of the first chapter of Bearing False Witness.

Turning to the current state of the Catholic Church, Stark is typically unequivocal. Shame among Catholics about scandals involving paedophile priests is (in America at least) “limited to a few intellectuals. Otherwise there should have been substantial declines in membership or in Mass attendance. And that hasn’t happened. There has been no decline in membership or mass attendance in the United States.

“The commitment of ordinary Catholics seems unaffected. In Latin America, rates of mass attendance have doubled and redoubled during the past 25 years. Catholic membership in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa is very far above that even claimed by the Catholic Almanac and continues to grow rapidly.”

But what about Europe? “Europe is a lot more religious than it is said to be or even than it appears to be. I have written a lot about this, most recently in The Triumph of Faith.” Stark has suggested in other interviews that the lack of attendance at church in Europe is down to “ineffective churches rather than lack of faith, since religious belief remains high all across the continent”.

This is typically trenchant stuff from someone who has spent decades understanding the past and present of Christianity. So what then does Prof Stark see as the future for the Catholic Church? “Continued strength.”

Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History

by Rodney Stark.
Templeton Press, 2016.
Hardcover, 280 pages, $28.

Rodney Stark, while doing research into the history of religion, discovered that the popular history of Catholicism is rife with errors, errors that have been repeatedly exposed as such by serious historians. However, the people who read pop history do not typically read serious historians, and so only a work of pop history can correct the errors in other works of pop history. Thus this book.

Each of the book’s ten chapters addresses a subject concerning which the Catholic Church has been held to have behaved badly. Each chapter begins with a number of examples of writers condemning the Church for some fault, which is useful in showing that Stark is not going after straw men. Nor does he claim that the Church, or those that claim to act in the Church’s name, are uniformly blameless. Rather, his debunk of the more extreme claims has a historiographical purpose: to show that the accusations against theChurch are themselves driven by an anti-Catholic animus rather than scholarly research or factual accuracy.

Stark, a professor of history at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University, first takes up the topic of Jews and the Catholic Church. Stark notes that while Christians sometimes attacked or killed Jews between 500 and 1400, the Church hierarchy consistently defended the Jews. For instance, during the First Crusade, some crusaders decided that, before they went all the way to the Middle East to fight “God’s enemies,” they should “take care” of those enemies who were living next door in Europe (i.e. Jews). And so a certain Emich of Leiningen set out to kill Jews in the Rhineland. Their first stop was Speyer, but:

The bishop of Speyer took the local Jews under his protection, and Emich’s forces could only lay their hands on a dozen Jews who had somehow failed to heed the bishop’s alarm. All twelve were killed. Then Emich led his forces to Worms. Here, too, the bishop took the local Jews into his palace for protection. But this time Emich would have none of that, and his forces broke down the bishop’s gate and killed about five hundred Jews. The same pattern was repeated the following week Mainz. Just as before, the bishop attempted to shield the Jews, but he was attacked and forced to flee for his life.

In the Second Crusade, St. Bernard of Clairvaux rode to the Rhine Valley—apparently the worst place in Medieval Europe to be a Jew—and, as told by a Jewish chronicler Ephraim, said, “Anyone who attacks a Jew and tries to kill him is as though he attacks Jesus himself.”

During the Black Death, rumors arose that Jews were poisoning wells and causing the plague deaths. But, “Pope Clement VI, who directed the clergy to protect the Jews, denounced all claims about poisoned wells, and ordered that those who spread the rumor, as well as anyone who harmed Jews, be excommunicated.” In short, attacks on Jews in the Middle Ages almost always arose from “the mob,” and were resisted by the Church hierarchy.

And so through today. Stark goes on to thoroughly debunk the idea that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope,” citing the hundreds of thousands of Jews saved by the Church during World War II, some of them sheltered from Nazis in the Vatican itself. In fact, in the years after the war, a number of prominent Jews, such as Golda Meir, praised Pius for his efforts.

Stark is somewhat less objective when it comes to the so-called “lost gospels.” These gospels are, to a great extent, “Gnostic” in character. The trait that characterizes gnosticism, in general, is that it is neither works nor faith that bring salvation, but knowledge. More specifically, it is usually secret knowledge, available only to spiritual adepts, that saves. And even more specifically, that knowledge is often held to be the knowledge that the physical world is a prison, trapping the adept in his or her body and blocking the adept from realizing the soul’s true nature, as a resident of a better, divine realm. Gnostic texts often set out an elaborate metaphysics of this imprisonment, involving multiple levels of divine beings. In particular, one divine being, the demiurge, had fallen from the Pleroma, the divine realm, essentially gone mad, and created a prison—the physical world—in which he could entrap other spiritual beings and garner their worship. Gnostics often identified this crazed divinity with … Jehovah, the Hebrew God.

This may seem mad or it may seem insightful, but Stark adopts an odd way to describe these beliefs: “[For Gnostics] God is the epitome of evil and the gleeful cause of human suffering.” But no gnostic would likely say that about “God” with a capital G: they always seemed to hold that the god who created the physical world was a distinctly lesser divine being, and that “God,” the ultimate divinity, is good and uniting with him is the true goal of Gnostic practice.

Over the nextfew pages, Stark demonstrates that he understands this quite well, and yet he (or perhaps an editor) continues to call the gnostic demiurge “God” with a capital G. It is as though someone took the fact that orthodox Christians believe that there is a fallen divine being, namely Satan, who epitomizes evil, and claimed that therefore Christians believe that God is evil! Gnostic beliefs seem nutty to Stark, and that is understandable: they have so seemed to many others, including the Church fathers. But the way these beliefs are presented is arguably misleading.

Stark’s next chapter debunks the notion that there were massive “forced conversions” to Christianity in late antiquity. His own work (The Rise of Christianity and The Triumph of Christianity) has shown that the main factors prompting conversions were social and doctrinal: “socially, Christianity generated an intense congregational life” and “doctrinally, in contrast to paganism’s belief in limited, unreliable, and often immoral gods, Christianity presented an image of God as moral, concerned, dependable, and omnipotent.” He demonstrates that the Christian emperors continued to employ large numbers of pagans as consuls and prefects. He quotes the Code of Justinian, from as late as the sixth century, declaring: “We especially command those persons who are truly Christians, or who are said to be so, that they should not abuse the authority of religion and dare to lay violent hands on Jews and pagans, who are living quietly and attempting nothing disorderly or contrary to law.” Of course, this means that there were Christians doing these things, but their acts were not official policy.

In another chapter, Stark shows how the belief in a “Dark Age” is essentially dead among serious historians. He quotes Warren Hollister: “To my mind, anyone who believes that the era that witnessed the building of the Chartres Cathedral and the invention of parliament and the university was ‘dark’ must be mentally retarded.…” And he demonstrates that, contrary to the myth promoted by “Enlightenment” thinkers, almost all of the major figures in the scientific revolution were religious, many of them very devout. Isaac Newton, for instance, devoted more time to biblical scholarship than to science or mathematics. The idea of a “Dark Age” was a piece of Enlightenment propaganda.

Stark relates how recent historical research has revealed the Crusades as largely a response to Muslim aggression in the Middle East. Most of the crusaders were motivated by a religious belief that they were on a mission from God, not by a desire to grab wealth from the Muslims. In fact, crusading was expensive and the Crusader states established in the Middle East had to be constantly subsidized by a flow of silver from Europe. The crusaders certainly committed what wetoday would regard as atrocities, but they were the standard for war at that time, and similar acts were committed by Muslim armies.

Stark next turns his attention to the Spanish Inquisition, today a symbol of oppression and persecution. But as Stark makes clear, by the standards of the day, the Spanish Inquisition was actually fairly innocuous. Torture, for instance, was a standard way of getting confessions at the time, and while the Inquisition employed it, it did so within strict guidelines secular courts often lacked. In fact, the Inquisition’s reputation was so much better than that of the secular courts that defendants would try to get their trials moved to an Inquisition venue.

Stark spends some time blowing apart the myth that having faith means rejecting reason. He quotes various Catholic thinkers, such as Quintus Tertullian: “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which he has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” Or, from Clement of Alexandria, we have: “Do not think we say these things [Christian doctrines] are only to be received by faith, but also that they are to be asserted by reason. For indeed it is not safe to commit these things to bare faith without reason, since assuredly truth cannot be without reason.”

The idea that faith is the opposite of reason is a fairly recent idea, and would have stunned most Christians from the time of Christ through the Middle Ages. It is based on a (willful?) misunderstanding of what was meant by “faith.” So, for instance, when Bertrand Russell writes, “We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence,” we should recognize this as another piece of propaganda and not a reasoned philosophical position. In fact, “faith,” properly understood, is every bit as necessary to science as it is to Christianity. We might see Michael Polanyi on this point, or consider this passage:

“I’ve found that a big difference between new coders and experienced coders is faith: faith that things are going wrong for a logical and discoverable reason, faith that problems are fixable, faith that there is a way to accomplish the goal. The path from ‘not working’ to ‘working’ might not be obvious, but with patience you can usually find it.” (Emphasis mine.)

Indeed, this is something I continually have to convey to my own computer science students: they must first believe that our whole enterprise is rational, and will make sense given time, before they will be able to commit to making the effort necessary to overcome all the obstacles to understanding they will face along the way. (Believe that they may know?) In any case, as Alfred North Whitehead has noted, science did not develop in Christian civilization by accident: the faith that creation is fundamentally reasonable was the basis for the whole scientific enterprise.

Stark runs into some problems when he attempts to address more technical aspects of the history of science. For instance, he writes, “To make his system work, Copernicus had to postulate that there were loops in the orbits of the heavenly bodies … However, these loops lacked any observational support; had they existed, a heavenly body should have been observed looping.” What are we to make of this? Copernicus introduced epicycles (Stark’s “loops”) precisely to get his system to fit with the observational data! The “observational support” was that, with the loops, Copernicus could predict where planets would appear reasonably well, but without them he could not. Stark writes that “a heavenly body should have been observed looping,” when in fact, for Copernicus, that is exactly what we are observing all the time.

Thanks to Kepler’s discovery of elliptical orbits, we now have a simpler system for explaining these apparent loops, but the point is that Copernicus introduced epicycles as the only way he could envision to explain the actual observations.

Furthermore, Stark seems to think that “loops” had to be introduced into the planets’ circular orbits to get the orbital period correct: “it would not do for the earth to circle the sun in only three hundred days.” But one can always change the diameter or speed of a circular orbit in one’s model and thus get the orbital period correct. The real problem with positing circular orbits instead of the actual elliptical ones has to do with the relationship of different segments of a planet’s orbit, as can be seen with a visual aid:

In the portions of a planet’s orbit where the ellipse is flatter than a circle, the planet will appear to move too fast for it to have a circular orbit. And in the portion of its elliptical orbit where the ellipse is more curved than a circle, the planet will appear to move too slowly.

So the problem is not that circular orbits show planets having years of too short (or too long) a duration—that problem could be trivially corrected. Instead, the problem is that if we mistakenly assume circular orbits, we are left with having to introduce “loops” to explain why some portions of a planet’s orbit proceed faster than other portions.

Stark next addresses the history of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis slavery. He notes that while slavery was hardly questioned in antiquity, the Catholic Church gradually eliminated it in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. When Aquinas condemned slavery as “contrary to natural law,” this soon became the official Church position. Recent controversies concerning Catholic colleges like Georgetown, which did own and sell slaves, make this a pertinent point, as well as the fact that slavery continues across wide parts of the non-Christian world.

Some Church officials, even some popes, continued to own slaves. (But some popes also engaged in fornication and had children out of wedlock, despite official Church opposition to sex outside of marriage: this shows that popes do not always follow Church doctrine, not that Church doctrine permits fornication.) And the Spanish and Portuguese imperialists often continued to enslave people, despite Church opposition. But when Spain colonized the Canary Islands in the early 1400s and started enslaving the islanders, the action prompted Pope Eugene IV to declare that “these people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without exaction or reception of any money.”

In the 1500s, Pope Paul II asserted that “the same Indians and all other peoples—even though they be outside the faith … should not be deprived of their liberty or their other possessions … and are not to be reduced to slavery.…” The Inquisition took up the matter in the 1600s, and asked:

Whether it is permitted to buy, sell, or make contracts in their respect Blacks and other natives who have harmed no one and have been made captives by force or deceit?

And it declared, “Answer: no.”

In fact, the papacy denounced slavery in 1462, 1537, 1639, 1741, 1815, and 1839.

Stark’s second-to-last chapter shows that the supposed close link between the Church and authoritarianism is actually rather flimsy; for instance, while the Church supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War, it did so because the Republicans were busily murdering Catholic clergy. Stark’s final chapter denies the link between the rise of capitalism and the Protestant Reformation, arguing that all of the necessary ingredients were already present in Scholastic economics, the large-scale enterprises run by monasteries, and the entrepreneurial Italian city-states.

Stark’s overall thesis, that popular history is frequently anti-Catholic in ways that serious historians today recognize as without factual basis, is certainly correct. And he is correct in suggesting that rectifying this bias is important: far too often, the Catholic argument against, say, abortion “rights” is dismissed with a “well, what does one expect from such a pro-slavery, anti-science, anti-Semitic, authoritarian institution?” But the importance of the project makes it unfortunate that Stark has been sloppy in his research in several sections of this work.


Gene Callahan is a Lecturer in Computer Science and Economics at St. Joseph’s College and a Research Fellow at the Collingwood and British Idealism Centre at Cardiff University, Wales. He is the author of Economics for Real People and Oakeshott on Rome and America.

Voir aussi:

A Baptist Scholar Debunks Anti-Catholic Historical Hogwash

In snappy prose, Bearing False Witness looks at the West’s Christian roots.It’s not exactly beach reading, but for those of a certain mind, Rodney Stark’s Bearing False Witness could prove a page turner. The subtitle — academics invariably include subtitles — makes plain that this is no potboiler: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. And true to academic form the book includes more than 20 pages of footnotes and citations. Stark, however, has written a wise and rollicking work of intellectual history that should be read by Catholics, non-Catholics, and, really, anyone who wants to comment on the Catholic Church’s proper place in some 2,000 years of history.

Stark is coordinator of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist University, and the author of several books: The Rise of Christianity; For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery; and One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism. In short, he’s a distinguished scholar with impeccable academic credentials, and he is working at the top of his game in Bearing False Witness. Of equal importance, he’s not a Roman Catholic. This is no polemic or tract. Stark’s overriding interest is the historical evidence and the most up-to-date scholarship, and he marshals that evidence and scholarship with a great and subdued power.

It all makes for a snappy and instructive read, because the professor actually writes in English, not academic jargon. He never minces words. He’ll tell you what’s historical hogwash and why, and who promoted anti-Catholic history — and who is promoting it today.

It also says something about Bearing False Witness that Stark does not spare himself scrutiny. Right from the start of the book, from the first chapter on “The Sins of Anti-Semitism,” he lets readers know when his past views were out sync with the historical record. He covers it all. In addition to the alleged anti-Semitism early on up to Pope Pius XII’s fabled complicity with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, he gives us chapters on the Crusaders and the Inquisition and the Dark Ages.

That is, the so-called Dark Ages, for Stark is at his best in showing how an era or age came by its name and how the vast historical evidence belies the easy — or intentionally hostile — handle. Enter the Dark Ages, which is said to have “fallen” over Europe following the fifth-century collapse of Rome and lasted to at least 1300, a benighted millennium hostile to progress and knowledge, thanks to orthodox Christendom. Even the most educated will be forgiven for accepting this view, which writers from Petrarch to Voltaire, Rousseau to Gibbon advanced for their own purposes. Yet, as Stark points out, “serious scholars” have known for decades that this organizing scheme for Western history is a “complete fraud” and, as Warren Hollister wrote, “an indestructible fossil of self-congratulatory Renaissance humanism.”

The Romans may have called the conquering Goths “barbarians,” but their chieftain (Alaric) had been a Roman commander, and many of the soldiers had served in the Roman army. It’s also the case that the “barbarian North” had been under the rule of Rome. While intellectuals have not been able to appreciate the technological, commercial, and moral progress that took place in the small communities of medieval Europe, that doesn’t mean the advances did not take place. On the contrary, revolutions in agriculture, weaponry, nonhuman power (water and wind power), transportation, manufacturing, education (the first universities in Paris and Bologna), and morals (the fall of slavery) occurred. Scholars have concluded that the flowering of science that followed during the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century was “an evolution, not a revolution.” As Stark writes: “Just as Copernicus simply took the next implicit step in the cosmology of his day, so too the flowering of science in that era was the culmination of the gradual progress that had been made over previous centuries.”

All this progress didn’t happen in spite of the Catholic Church or get started only in the fourth century or the 17th century. According to Stark, the rise of the West began late in the second century because of an “extraordinary faith in reason and progress” that originated in Christianity, which held that human reason could unlock God’s creation.

Bearing False Witness deserves a wide audience. It’s full of spunk and verve, wisdom and scholarship.

Voir également:

Catherine Pepinster sees points scored off historical sceptics

Catherine Pepinster

Churchtimes

16 June 2017

Bearing False Witness: Debunking centuries of anti-Catholic history

Rodney Stark

SPCK £14.99

(978-1-911096-62-7)

Church Times

UNTIL a visit to Louisiana a couple of years ago, I had always assumed that slaves were completely brutalised. But, on a tour of a New Orleans 19th-century home, I discovered that the lady of the house had worked closely alongside her slaves in the kitchen. Then I found out that slaves were forbidden to learn to read, and so their mistress had to read them the recipes. It might have not have been violent, but it was a deeply disturbing form of enslavement. Later, a friend told how the nuns at one of Louisiana’s most exclusive Roman Catholic convent schools, who had schooled the daughters of elite white families at that time, had also secretly taught the slave girls who accompanied them to read.

In reading Rodney Stark’s account of anti-Catholic history — a volume that debunks hundreds of years of prejudice, myth, and false allegations — I could set these stories in context. I now know that RC Louisiana’s treatment of slaves was rather different from the rest of North America’s; for it came under France’s Code Noir, influenced by papal teaching that insisted that Africans and Indians should be afforded the same dignity as anyone else.

Stark, an American sociologist as well as popular historian, guides the reader through some of the most controversial accusations that the Catholic Church has faced: its treatment of Jews, its hostility to learning during the so-called Dark Ages, its part in the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. With each chapter comes a useful list of historians who have explored the issue in more detail and are Stark’s key sources.

Protestants, as well as Voltaire and other Enlightenment intellectuals, are identified as the accusers-in-chief, claiming that the Roman Church suppressed truth and destroyed lives. The Crusades? Voltaire and others say they were caused by Catholic bigotry and cruelty; contemporary historians say that they were a response to Christians’ being robbed and enslaved by Muslims. The Dark Ages? Again, Voltaire and co., and also Bertrand Russell, say it was a time of barbarism and the stifling of learning thanks to the Catholic Church. Not so, says Stark, citing more historians: it was the age of building great cathedrals, developing universities and beautiful prose.

As an apologist, Stark seems on shakier ground over his defence of church treatment of Jews and of Galileo. After all, Pope John Paul II saw fit to apologise for the grievous harm that the Church did to them.

This is a story of a Church more sinned against than sinning. But Stark’s most significant conclusion is that papal authority has never been as strong as both its detractors and its most devoted adherents believe. Popes might denounce slavery and torture, but some powerful Roman Catholic monarchs ignored their teaching and carried out atrocities.

The story today is rather different. The RC Church still has its detractors, but in this ecumenical age, they tend to be ardent secularists rather than other Christians. The heirs of Voltaire, one might say.

Catherine Pepinster, a former editor of The Tablet, is UK Development Officer of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the author of a forthcoming book on the British and the papacy.

Voir de même:

Inventing the Crusades
Thomas F. Madden
First things
June 2009

The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam 
by Jonathan Riley-Smith
columbia university press, 136 pages, $24.50

Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: “Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, in the First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees.

“I can tell you that that story is still being told today in the Middle East, and we are still paying for it,” he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as “Crusaders.” Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the “Crusaders and Jews.” He later preached that “for the first time the Crusaders have managed to achieve their historic ambitions and dreams against our Islamic umma, gaining control over Islamic holy places and Holy Sanctuaries. . . . Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars and a beginning of the receding of their Zionist–Crusader tide against us.”

Most people in the West do not believe that they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Catholics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as the Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both “nothing and everything,” a place filled with religion that “drives men mad.”

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn’t stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, “How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?” I always answered: “They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.”

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven’t they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn’t it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas.

That answer is now contained in a book, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, written by the most distinguished historian of the Crusades, the Cambridge University scholar Jonathan Riley-Smith. A transcription of the Bampton Lectures he delivered in October 2007 at Columbia University, it is a thin book, brimming with insights, approachable by anyone interested in the subject.

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.”

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians.

So we continue to write our scholarly books and articles, learning more and more about the Crusades but scarcely able to be heard. And when we are heard, we are dismissed as daft. I once asked Riley-Smith if he believed popular perceptions of the Crusades would ever be changed by modern scholarship. “I’ve just about given up hope,” he answered. In his new book he notes that in the last thirty years historians have begun to reject “the long-held belief that it [the Crusade movement] was defined solely by its theaters of operation in the Levant and its hostility toward Islam—with the consequence that in their eyes the Muslims move slightly off center stage—and many of them have begun to face up to the ideas and motivation of the Crusaders. The more they do so the more they find themselves contra mundum or, at least, contra mundum Christianum.”

One of the most profound misconceptions about the Crusades is that they represented a perversion of a religion whose founder preached meekness, love of enemies, and nonresistance. Riley-Smith reminds his reader that on the matter of violence Christ was not as clear as pacifists like to think. He praised the faith of the Roman centurion but did not condemn his profession. At the Last Supper he told his disciples, “Let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors.

St. Paul said of secular authorities, “He does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Several centuries later, St. Augustine articulated a Christian approach to just war, one in which legitimate authorities could use violence to halt or avert a greater evil. It must be a defensive war, in reaction to an act of aggression. For Christians, therefore, violence was ethically neutral, since it could be employed either for evil or against it. As Riley-Smith notes, the concept that violence is intrinsically evil belongs solely to the modern world. It is not Christian.

All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187.

In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

But the Crusades were not just wars. They were holy wars, and that is what made them different from what came before. They were made holy not by their target but by the Crusaders’ sacrifice. The Crusade was a pilgrimage and thereby an act of penance. When Urban II called the First Crusade in 1095, he created a model that would be followed for centuries. Crusaders who undertook that burden with right intention and after confessing their sins would receive a plenary indulgence. The indulgence was a recognition that they undertook these sacrifices for Christ, who was crucified again in the tribulations of his people.

And the sacrifices were extraordinary. As Riley-Smith writes in this book and his earlier The First ­Crusaders, the cost of crusading was staggering. Without financial assistance, only the wealthy could afford to embark on a Crusade. Many noble families impoverished themselves by crusading.

Historians have long known that the image of the Crusader as an adventurer seeking his fortune is exactly backward. The vast majority of Crusaders returned home as soon as they had fulfilled their vow. What little booty they could acquire was more than spent on the journey itself. One is hard pressed to name a single returning Crusader who broke even, let alone made a profit on the journey. And those who returned were the lucky ones. As Riley-Smith explains, recent studies show that around one-third of knights and nobility died on crusade. The death rates for lower classes were even higher.

One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character. It was the indulgence that led thousands of men to take on a burden that would certainly cost them dearly. The secular nobility of medieval Europe was a warrior aristocracy. They made their living by the sword. We know from their wills and charters that they were deeply aware of their own sinfulness and anxious over the state of their souls. A Crusade provided a way for them to serve God and to do penance for their sins. It allowed them to use their weapons as a means of their salvation rather than of their damnation.

Of course it was difficult, but that is what penance is supposed to be. As Urban and later Crusade preachers reminded them, Christ Himself had said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As one Crusade preacher wrote, “Those who take the cross deny, that is to say renounce, themselves by exposing themselves to mortal danger, leaving behind their loved ones, using up their goods, carrying their cross, so that afterward they may be carried to heaven by the cross.” The Crusader sewed a cloth cross to his garment to signify his penitential burden and his hope.

Take away penitence and the Crusades cannot be explained. Yet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Protestants and then Enlightenment thinkers rejected the idea of temporal penalties due to sin—along with indulgences, purgatory, and the papacy. How then did they explain the Crusades? Why else would thousands of men march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory, if not for something precious? The first explanation was that they were fooled by the Antichrist: The Catholic Church had convinced the simple that their salvation lay in fighting its battles. Later, with the advent of liberalism, critics assumed that the Crusaders must have had economic motives. They were seeking wealth and simply used religion as a cover for their worldly desires.

In the nineteenth century, the memory of the Crusades became hopelessly entangled with contemporary European imperialism. Riley-Smith tells the fascinating story of Archbishop Charles-Martial Allemand-Lavigerie of Algiers, the founder of the missionary orders of the White Fathers and White Sisters, who worked diligently to establish a new military order resembling the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller of the Middle Ages. His new order was to be sent to Africa, where it would protect missionaries, fight against the slave trade, and support the progress of French civilization in the continent.

Drawing on money from antislavery societies, Lavigerie purchased lands on the edge of the Saharan Desert to use as a mother house for a new order, L’Institut Religieux et Militaire des Frères Armés du Sahara. The order attracted hundreds of men from all social classes, and in 1891 the first brothers received their white habits emblazoned with red crosses. The dust cover of Riley-Smith’s book is itself a wonderful picture of these brothers at their African home. With palm trees behind them, they look proudly into the camera, each wearing a cross and some holding rifles.

The Institut des Fréres Armés lasted scarcely more than a year before it was scrapped and its founder died, but other attempts to found a military order were made in the nineteenth century, even in Protestant England. All wove together the contrasting threads of Romanticism, imperialism, and the medieval Crusades.

President Clinton is not alone in thinking that the Muslim world is still brooding over the crimes of the Crusaders. It is commonly thought—even by Muslims—that the effects and memory of that trauma have been with the Islamic world since it was first inflicted in the eleventh century. As Riley-Smith explains, however, the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage. Carole Hillenbrand first uncovered this fact in her groundbreaking book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize that the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory.

In Europe, however, the Crusades were a well-remembered formative episode. Europeans, who had bound the Crusades to imperialism, brought the story to the Middle East during the nineteenth century and reintroduced it to the Muslims. Stripping the Crusades of their original purpose, they portrayed the Crusades as Europe’s first colonial venture—the first attempt of the West to bring civilization to the backward Muslim East.

Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe’s assault on Islam—an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.

Arab nationalists made good use of the new story of the Crusades during their struggles for independence. Their enemies, the Islamists, then took over the same tool. Osama bin Laden is only the most recent Islamist to adopt this useful myth to characterize the actions of the West as a continual Crusade against Islam.

That is the Crusades’ only connection with modern Islamist terrorism. And yet, so ingrained is this notion that the Crusades began the modern European assault on Islam that many moderate Muslims still believe it. Riley-Smith recounts : “I recently refused to take part in a television series, produced by an intelligent and well-educated Egyptian woman, for whom a continuing Western crusade was an article of faith. Having less to do with historical reality than with reactions to imperialism, the nationalist and Islamist interpretations of crusade history help many people, moderates as well as extremists, to place the exploitation they believe they have suffered in a historical context and to satisfy their feelings of both superiority and humiliation.”

In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality. Crusade historians sometimes try to yell across it but usually just talk to each other, while the leading churchmen, the scholars in other fields, and the general public hold to a caricature of the Crusades created by a pox of modern ideologies. If that chasm is ever to be bridged, it will be with well-written and powerful books such as this.

Thomas F. Madden is chair of the department of history at Saint Louis University. He is author of The New Concise History of the Crusades and, most recently, Empires of Trust: How Rome Built—and America Is Building—a New World.

Four Myths about the Crusades

This article first appeared in the print Spring 2011 edition of the Intercollegiate Review.


In 2001, former president Bill Clinton delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he discussed the West’s response to the recent terrorist attacks of September 11. The speech contained a short but significant reference to the crusades. Mr. Clinton observed that “when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they . . . proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount.” He cited the “contemporaneous descriptions of the event” as describing “soldiers walking on the Temple Mount . . . with blood running up to their knees.” This story, Mr. Clinton said emphatically, was “still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.”

This view of the crusades is not unusual. It pervades textbooks as well as popular literature. One otherwise generally reliable Western civilization textbook claims that “the Crusades fused three characteristic medieval impulses: piety, pugnacity, and greed. All three were essential.”1 The film Kingdom of Heaven (2005) depicts crusaders as boorish bigots, the best of whom were torn between remorse for their excesses and lust to continue them. Even the historical supplements for role-playing games—drawing on supposedly more reliable sources—contain statements such as “The soldiers of the First Crusade appeared basically without warning, storming into the Holy Land with the avowed—literally—task of slaughtering unbelievers”;2 “The Crusades were an early sort of imperialism”;3 and “Confrontation with Islam gave birth to a period of religious fanaticism that spawned the terrible Inquisition and the religious wars that ravaged Europe during the Elizabethan era.”4 The most famous semipopular historian of the crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, ended his three volumes of magnificent prose with the judgment that the crusades were “nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.”5

The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

The surviving central secular authority in the Christian world at this time was the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Having lost so much territory in the seventh and eighth centuries to sudden amputation by the Muslims, the Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack on Egypt, the first time since 645 that they had dared to come so far south. Between the 940s and the 970s, the Byzantines made great progress in recovering lost territories. Emperor John Tzimiskes retook much of Syria and part of Palestine, getting as far as Nazareth, but his armies became overextended and he had to end his campaigns by 975 without managing to retake Jerusalem itself. Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed, and the Byzantines barely managed to retain Aleppo and Antioch.

The struggle continued unabated into the eleventh century. In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. He was soon deposed, and by 1038 the Byzantines had negotiated the right to try to rebuild the structure, but other events were also making life difficult for Christians in the area, especially the displacement of Arab Muslim rulers by Seljuk Turks, who from 1055 on began to take control in the Middle East. This destabilized the territory and introduced new rulers (the Turks) who were not familiar even with the patchwork modus vivendi that had existed between most Arab Muslim rulers and their Christian subjects. Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine: notable armed pilgrimages occurred in 1064–65 and 1087–91.

In the western and central Mediterranean, the balance of power was tipping toward the Christians and away from the Muslims. In 1034, the Pisans sacked a Muslim base in North Africa, finally extending their counterattacks across the Mediterranean. They also mounted counterattacks against Sicily in 1062–63. In 1087, a large-scale allied Italian force sacked Mahdia, in present-day Tunisia, in a campaign jointly sponsored by Pope Victor III and the countess of Tuscany. Clearly the Italian Christians were gaining the upper hand.

But while Christian power in the western and central Mediterranean was growing, it was in trouble in the east. The rise of the Muslim Turks had shifted the weight of military power against the Byzantines, who lost considerable ground again in the 1060s. Attempting to head off further incursions in far-eastern Asia Minor in 1071, the Byzantines suffered a devastating defeat at Turkish hands in the battle of Manzikert. As a result of the battle, the Christians lost control of almost all of Asia Minor, with its agricultural resources and military recruiting grounds, and a Muslim sultan set up a capital in Nicaea, site of the creation of the Nicene Creed in a.d. 325 and a scant 125 miles from Constantinople.

Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. In the early 1070s, the pope was Gregory VII, and he immediately began plans to lead an expedition to the Byzantines’ aid. He became enmeshed in conflict with the German emperors, however (what historians call “the Investiture Controversy”), and was ultimately unable to offer meaningful help. Still, the Byzantines persisted in their appeals, and finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade. Whether a crusade was what either Urban or the Byzantines had in mind is a matter of some controversy. But the seamless progression of events which lead to that crusade is not.

Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive. The crusades were simply one tool in the defensive options exercised by Christians.

To put the question in perspective, one need only consider how many times Christian forces have attacked either Mecca or Medina. The answer, of course, is never.7

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Again, not true. One version of Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont in 1095 urging French warriors to embark on what would become known as the First Crusade does note that they might “make spoil of [the enemy’s] treasures,”8 but this was no more than an observation on the usual way of financing war in ancient and medieval society. And Fulcher of Chartres did write in the early twelfth century that those who had been poor in the West had become rich in the East as a result of their efforts on the First Crusade, obviously suggesting that others might do likewise.9 But Fulcher’s statement has to be read in its context, which was a chronic and eventually fatal shortage of manpower for the defense of the crusader states. Fulcher was not being entirely deceitful when he pointed out that one might become rich as a result of crusading. But he was not being entirely straightforward either, because for most participants, crusading was ruinously expensive.

As Fred Cazel has noted, “Few crusaders had sufficient cash both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade.”10 From the very beginning, financial considerations played a major role in crusade planning. The early crusaders sold off so many of their possessions to finance their expeditions that they caused widespread inflation. Although later crusaders took this into account and began saving money long before they set out, the expense was still nearly prohibitive. Despite the fact that money did not yet play a major role in western European economies in the eleventh century, there was “a heavy and persistent flow of money” from west to east as a result of the crusades, and the financial demands of crusading caused “profound economic and monetary changes in both western Europe and the Levant.”11

One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown.

The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther. Even by the thirteenth century, most crusade planners assumed that it would be impossible to attract enough volunteers to make a crusade possible, and crusading became the province of kings and popes, losing its original popular character. When the Hospitaller Master Fulk of Villaret wrote a crusade memo to Pope Clement V in about 1305, he noted that “it would be a good idea if the lord pope took steps enabling him to assemble a great treasure, without which such a passage [crusade] would be impossible.”12 A few years later, Marino Sanudo estimated that it would cost five million florins over two years to effect the conquest of Egypt. Although he did not say so, and may not have realized it, the sums necessary simply made the goal impossible to achieve. By this time, most responsible officials in the West had come to the same conclusion, which explains why fewer and fewer crusades were launched from the fourteenth century on.

In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations.13

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

This has been a very popular argument, at least from Voltaire on. It seems credible and even compelling to modern people, steeped as they are in materialist worldviews. And certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—beneath the obvious differences of technology and material culture, medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings.

However, like the first two myths, this statement is generally untrue, and demonstrably so. For one thing, the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example.14 The statement of the thirteenth-century crusader Robert of Crésèques, that he had “come from across the sea in order to die for God in the Holy Land”15—which was quickly followed by his death in battle against overwhelming odds—may have been unusual in its force and swift fulfillment, but it was not an atypical attitude. It is hard to imagine a more conclusive way of proving one’s dedication to a cause than sacrificing one’s life for it, and very large numbers of crusaders did just that.

But this assertion is also revealed to be false when we consider the way in which the crusades were preached. Crusaders were not drafted. Participation was voluntary, and participants had to be persuaded to go. The primary means of persuasion was the crusade sermon, and one might expect to find these sermons representing crusading as profoundly appealing.

This is, generally speaking, not the case. In fact, the opposite is true: crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death. That this was the reality of crusading was well known anyway. As Jonathan Riley-Smith has noted, crusade preachers “had to persuade their listeners to commit themselves to enterprises that would disrupt their lives, possibly impoverish and even kill or maim them, and inconvenience their families, the support of which they would . . . need if they were to fulfill their promises.”16

So why did the preaching work? It worked because crusading was appealing precisely because it was a known and significant hardship, and because undertaking a crusade with the right motives was understood as an acceptable penance for sin. Far from being a materialistic enterprise, crusading was impractical in worldly terms, but valuable for one’s soul. There is no space here to explore the doctrine of penance as it developed in the late antique and medieval worlds, but suffice it to say that the willing acceptance of difficulty and suffering was viewed as a useful way to purify one’s soul (and still is, in Catholic doctrine today). Crusading was the near-supreme example of such difficult suffering, and so was an ideal and very thorough-going penance.

Related to the concept of penance is the concept of crusading as an act of selfless love, of “laying down one’s life for one’s friends.”17 From the very beginning, Christian charity was advanced as a reason for crusading, and this did not change throughout the period. Jonathan Riley-Smith discussed this aspect of crusading in a seminal article well-known to crusade historians but inadequately recognized in the wider scholarly world, let alone by the general public. “For Christians . . . sacred violence,” noted Riley-Smith,

cannot be proposed on any grounds save that of love, . . . [and] in an age dominated by the theology of merit this explains why participation in crusades was believed to be meritorious, why the expeditions were seen as penitential acts that could gain indulgences, and why death in battle was regarded as martyrdom. . . . As manifestations of Christian love, the crusades were as much the products of the renewed spirituality of the central Middle Ages, with its concern for living the vita apostolica and expressing Christian ideals in active works of charity, as were the new hospitals, the pastoral work of the Augustinians and Premonstratensians and the service of the friars. The charity of St. Francis may now appeal to us more than that of the crusaders, but both sprang from the same roots.18

As difficult as it may be for modern people to believe, the evidence strongly suggests that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins, and put their lives at the service of their “neighbors,” understood in the Christian sense.

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Part of the answer to this myth may be found above, under Myth #1. Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. But there is a more complicated answer here, as well.

Up until quite recently, Muslims remembered the crusades as an instance in which they had beaten back a puny western Christian attack. An illuminating vignette is found in one of Lawrence of Arabia’s letters, describing a confrontation during post–World War I negotiations between the Frenchman Stéphen Pichon and Faisal al-Hashemi (later Faisal I of Iraq). Pichon presented a case for French interest in Syria going back to the crusades, which Faisal dismissed with a cutting remark: “But, pardon me, which of us won the crusades?”19

This was generally representative of the Muslim attitude toward the crusades before about World War I—that is, when Muslims bothered to remember them at all, which was not often. Most of the Arabic-language historical writing on the crusades before the mid-nineteenth century was produced by Arab Christians, not Muslims, and most of that was positive.20 There was no Arabic word for “crusades” until that period, either, and even then the coiners of the term were, again, Arab Christians. It had not seemed important to Muslims to distinguish the crusades from other conflicts between Christianity and Islam.21

Nor had there been an immediate reaction to the crusades among Muslims. As Carole Hillenbrand has noted, “The Muslim response to the coming of the Crusades was initially one of apathy, compromise and preoccupation with internal problems.”22 By the 1130s, a Muslim counter-crusade did begin, under the leadership of the ferocious Zengi of Mosul. But it had taken some decades for the Muslim world to become concerned about Jerusalem, which is usually held in higher esteem by Muslims when it is not held by them than when it is. Action against the crusaders was often subsequently pursued as a means of uniting the Muslim world behind various aspiring conquerors, until 1291, when the Christians were expelled from the Syrian mainland. And—surprisingly to Westerners—it was not Saladin who was revered by Muslims as the great anti-Christian leader. That place of honor usually went to the more bloodthirsty, and more successful, Zengi and Baibars, or to the more public-spirited Nur al-Din.

The first Muslim crusade history did not appear until 1899. By that time, the Muslim world was rediscovering the crusades—but it was rediscovering them with a twist learned from Westerners. In the modern period, there were two main European schools of thought about the crusades. One school, epitomized by people like Voltaire, Gibbon, and Sir Walter Scott, and in the twentieth century Sir Steven Runciman, saw the crusaders as crude, greedy, aggressive barbarians who attacked civilized, peace-loving Muslims to improve their own lot. The other school, more romantic and epitomized by lesser-known figures such as the French writer Joseph-François Michaud, saw the crusades as a glorious episode in a long-standing struggle in which Christian chivalry had driven back Muslim hordes. In addition, Western imperialists began to view the crusaders as predecessors, adapting their activities in a secularized way that the original crusaders would not have recognized or found very congenial.

At the same time, nationalism began to take root in the Muslim world. Arab nationalists borrowed the idea of a long-standing European campaign against them from the former European school of thought—missing the fact that this was a serious mischaracterization of the crusades—and using this distorted understanding as a way to generate support for their own agendas. This remained the case until the mid-twentieth century, when, in Riley-Smith’s words, “a renewed and militant Pan-Islamism” applied the more narrow goals of the Arab nationalists to a worldwide revival of what was then called Islamic fundamentalism and is now sometimes referred to, a bit clumsily, as jihadism.23 This led rather seamlessly to the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, offering a view of the crusades so bizarre as to allow bin Laden to consider all Jews to be crusaders and the crusades to be a permanent and continuous feature of the West’s response to Islam.

Bin Laden’s conception of history is a feverish fantasy. He is no more accurate in his view about the crusades than he is about the supposed perfect Islamic unity which he thinks Islam enjoyed before the baleful influence of Christianity intruded. But the irony is that he, and those millions of Muslims who accept his message, received that message originally from their perceived enemies: the West.

So it was not the crusades that taught Islam to attack and hate Christians. Far from it. Those activities had preceded the crusades by a very long time, and stretch back to the inception of Islam. Rather, it was the West which taught Islam to hate the crusades. The irony is rich.

Back to the Present

Let us return to President Clinton’s Georgetown speech. How much of his reference to the First Crusade was accurate?

It is true that many Muslims who had surrendered and taken refuge under the banners of several of the crusader lords—an act which should have granted them quarter—were massacred by out-of-control troops. This was apparently an act of indiscipline, and the crusader lords in question are generally reported as having been extremely angry about it, since they knew it reflected badly on them.24 To imply—or plainly state—that this was an act desired by the entire crusader force, or that it was integral to crusading, is misleading at best. In any case, John France has put it well: “This notorious event should not be exaggerated. . . . However horrible the massacre . . . it was not far beyond what common practice of the day meted out to any place which resisted.”25 And given space, one could append a long and bloody list, stretching back to the seventh century, of similar actions where Muslims were the aggressors and Christians the victims. Such a list would not, however, have served Mr. Clinton’s purposes.

Mr. Clinton was probably using Raymond of Aguilers when he referred to “blood running up to [the] knees” of crusaders.26 But the physics of such a claim are impossible, as should be apparent. Raymond was plainly both bragging and also invoking the imagery of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation.27 He was not offering a factual account, and probably did not intend the statement to be taken as such.

As for whether or not we are “still paying for it,” see Myth #4, above. This is the most serious misstatement of the whole passage. What we are paying for is not the First Crusade, but western distortions of the crusades in the nineteenth century which were taught to, and taken up by, an insufficiently critical Muslim world.

The problems with Mr. Clinton’s remarks indicate the pitfalls that await those who would attempt to explicate ancient or medieval texts without adequate historical awareness, and they illustrate very well what happens when one sets out to pick through the historical record for bits—distorted or merely selectively presented—which support one’s current political agenda. This sort of abuse of history has been distressingly familiar where the crusades are concerned.

But nothing is served by distorting the past for our own purposes. Or rather: a great many things may be served . . . but not the truth. Distortions and misrepresentations of the crusades will not help us understand the challenge posed to the West by a militant and resurgent Islam, and failure to understand that challenge could prove deadly. Indeed, it already has. It may take a very long time to set the record straight about the crusades. It is long past time to begin the task.

Notes

  1. Warren Hollister, J. Sears McGee, and Gale Stokes, The West Transformed: A History of Western Civilization, vol. 1 (New York: Cengage/Wadsworth, 2000), 311.
  2. R. Scott Peoples, Crusade of Kings (Rockville, MD: Wildside, 2009), 7.
  3. Ibid.
  4. The Crusades: Campaign Sourcebook, ed. Allen Varney (Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994), 2.
  5. Sir Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades: Vol. III, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954), 480.
  6. Francesco Gabrieli, The Arabs: A Compact History, trans. Salvator Attanasio (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1963), 47.
  7. Reynald of Châtillon’s abortive expedition into the Red Sea, in 1182–83, cannot be counted, as it was plainly a geopolitical move designed to threaten Saladin’s claim to be the protector of all Islam, and just as plainly had no hope of reaching either city.
  8. “The Version of Baldric of Dol,” in The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other source materials, 2nd ed., ed. Edward Peters (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 32.
  9. Ibid., 220–21.
  10. Fred Cazel, “Financing the Crusades,” in A History of the Crusades, ed. Kenneth Setton, vol. 6 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 117.
  11. John Porteous, “Crusade Coinage with Greek or Latin Inscriptions,” in A History of the Crusades, 354.
  12. “A memorandum by Fulk of Villaret, master of the Hospitallers, on the crusade to regain the Holy Land, c. 1305,” in Documents on the Later Crusades, 1274–1580, ed. and trans. Norman Housley (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 42.
  13. Norman Housley, “Costing the Crusade: Budgeting for Crusading Activity in the Fourteenth Century,” in The Experience of Crusading, ed. Marcus Bull and Norman Housley, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 59.
  14. John France, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 142. Not all historians agree; Jonathan Riley-Smith thinks it was probably lower, though he does not indicate just how much lower. See Riley-Smith, “Casualties and Knights on the First Crusade,” Crusades 1 (2002), 17–19, suggesting casualties of perhaps 34 percent, higher than those of the Wehrmacht in World War II, which were themselves very high at about 30 percent. By comparison, American losses in World War II in the three major service branches ranged between about 1.5 percent and 3.66 percent.
  15. The ‘Templar of Tyre’: Part III of the ‘Deeds of the Cypriots,’ trans. Paul F. Crawford (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003), §351, 54.
  16. Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 36.
  17. John 15:13.
  18. Jonathan Riley-Smith, “Crusading as an Act of Love,” History 65 (1980), 191–92.
  19. Letter from T. E. Lawrence to Robert Graves, 28 June 1927, in Robert Graves and B. H. Liddell-Hart, T. E. Lawrence to His Biographers (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1938), 52, note.
  20. Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, 71.
  21. Jonathan Riley-Smith, “Islam and the Crusades in History,” Crusades 2 (2003), 161.
  22. Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, (New York: Routledge, 2000), 20.
  23. Riley-Smith, Crusading, Christianity, and Islam, 73.
  24. There is some disagreement in the primary sources on the question of who was responsible for the deaths of these refugees; the crusaders knew that a large Egyptian army was on its way to attack them, and there does seem to have been a military decision a day or two later that they simply could not risk leaving potential enemies alive. On the question of the massacre, see Benjamin Kedar, “The Jerusalem Massacre of July 1099 in the Western Historiography of the Crusades,” Crusades 3 (2004), 15–75.
  25. France, Victory in the East, 355–56.
  26. Raymond of Aguilers, in August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-witnesses and Participants (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1921), 262.
  27. Revelation 14:20.

Le pape François et la Chanson de Roland

Le Pape François compare la Chanson de Roland au djihadisme et la juge « inacceptable » en raison de sa célébration de la Reconquista

BREIZATAO – ETREBROADEL (19/11/2019) Lors d’une audience accordée à l’Institut pour le Dialogue Interreligieux d’Argentine, l’actuel Pape Jorge Bergoglio s’en est violemment pris aux chevaliers de Charlemagne qui ont prêté main forte aux Espagnols pour stopper l’assaut islamique contre l’Europe chrétienne.

Presse du Vatican (source) :

Dans le monde précaire d’aujourd’hui, le dialogue entre les religions n’est pas un signe de faiblesse. Elle trouve sa propre raison d’être dans le dialogue de Dieu avec l’humanité. Il s’agit de changer les attitudes historiques. Une scène de la Chanson de Roland me vient à l’esprit comme un symbole, quand les chrétiens battent les musulmans et les mettent tous en ligne devant les fonts baptismaux, et un avec une épée. Et les musulmans devaient choisir entre le baptême ou l’épée. C’est ce que les chrétiens ont fait. C’était une mentalité que nous ne pouvons plus accepter, ni comprendre, ni faire fonctionner. Prenons soin des groupes fondamentalistes, chacun a le sien. En Argentine, il y a un petit coin fondamentaliste. Et essayons avec la fraternité d’aller de l’avant. Le fondamentalisme est un fléau et toutes les religions ont une sorte de cousin germain fondamentaliste, qui est regroupé.

La Chanson de Roland n’est pas le reportage détaillé d’un journaliste mais un poème épique rédigé au 11ème siècle et qui traite, 3 siècles après les faits, de l’histoire de Roland de Ronceveaux, un guerrier franc parti combattre l’envahisseur musulman en Espagne aux côtés de Charlemagne.

Il s’agissait alors de ralentir l’invasion islamique qui menaçait la Chrétienté d’Occident et la France.

Dans ce contexte, on ne peut qu’être stupéfait par la dénonciation bergoglienne des « conversions forcées » de mahométans par les Francs partis porter secours aux Espagnols, les seuls véritablement obligés de se convertir à l’époque.

L’intention de l’occupant du Vatican est particulièrement perverse et vise à établir un parallèle surréel entre la campagne de Charlemagne et les massacres de masse perpétrés par les musulmans contre les Chrétiens au 21ème siècle.

Les victimes chrétiennes, selon Bergoglio, deviennent les coupables, dans l’Espagne du 8ème siècle tout comme dans l’Europe et l’Orient du 21ème siècle.

Cette nouvelle provocation du chef de l’Eglise Catholique s’ajoute à une longue série de propos incendiaires en faveur l’immigration de masse et de l’islam en Europe. Déclarations qui l’ont très largement marginalisé, y compris au sein des derniers pans de la population qui se dit catholique et pratiquante.

Caricature du curé gauchiste octogénaire, Bergoglio ne choque plus tant qu’il ne lasse une Europe déjà saturée de sermons iréniques sur l’islam alors que le terrorisme musulman prend toujours plus d’ampleur.

Pour rester sur une note positive, on écoutera ou réécoutera la Chanson de Roland qui, n’en déplaise au Pape de l’islam, exalte l’esprit de résistance face à l’invasion du fanatisme islamique.

A Kinder, Gentler Inquisition
A new revisionist study of the Spanish tribunal asserts that it wasn’t as bad as previously thought. Read the First Chapter

Richard L. Kagan

April 19, 1998

THE SPANISH INQUISITION
A Historical Revision.
By Henry Kamen.
Illustrated. 369 pp. New Haven:
Yale University Press. $35.

At the start of this century Henry Charles Lea, a Philadelphia businessman turned historian, published his monumental  »History of the Inquisition in Spain. » The Spanish Inquisition had been studied before, primarily by Protestant scholars for whom it had become the archsymbol of religious intolerance and ecclesiastical power. William H. Prescott, the great Boston historian, likened it to an  »eye that never slumbered, » a malevolent Argus assisted by legions of spies on the lookout for deviance. His disciple, J. L. Motley, thought similarly, and so did Lea, although the Philadelphian was determined to document the Inquisition’s methods and modes of operation. Lea described it as  »an engine of immense power, constantly applied for the furtherance of obscurantism, the repression of thought, the exclusion of foreign ideas and the obstruction of progress. » For him the Inquisition also exemplified  »theocratic absolutism » at its worst, a power that had so weakened Spain that it was helpless in the face of Yankee might to defend what little remained of its vast overseas empire during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Starting in the 1920’s, Jewish scholars took up where Lea left off. Although the Inquisition was created exclusively for the purpose of dealing with the problem of Judaizing among Spain’s large population of conversos (Jews converted to Christianity), for centuries it had been associated primarily with the persecution of Protestants. Nineteenth-century historians, including the Spanish scholar Amador de los Rios, helped changed this perception. So too did Yitzhak Baer’s  »History of the Jews in Christian Spain, » Cecil Roth’s  »History of the Marranos » and, after World War II, the work of Haim Beinart, an Israeli scholar, who for the first time published trial transcripts of cases involving conversos.

Throughout it all, the Inquisition remained the Spanish antecedent of the K.G.B. Among the first books to challenge this view was  »The Spanish Inquisition » (1965), a pioneering study in which Henry Kamen, a young British graduate student, argued that the Inquisition was not nearly as cruel or as powerful as commonly believed, let alone an institution capable of precipitating Spain’s decline. That book, though controversial, was partly responsible for a surge of quantitative studies