Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day, 2013

Proudly wear the poppy  that honors the fallen dead

[For a selection of posts of interest to our warfighters, click here.]

The poppy is the symbol of remembrance here, owing to the association commemorated in the poem (which schoolchildren everywhere used to memorize) "In Flanders Field, the poppies grow".   The original holiday, dating from 1919,  was called Armistice Day, and focussed on what was then called The Great War.

Only, it turns out, they don't, so much. Odd factoid (from Wiki):

Avant la Première Guerre mondiale, peu de coquelicots poussaient en Flandre. Durant les terribles bombardements de cette guerre, les terrains crayeux devinrent riches en poussières de chaux favorisant ainsi la venue des coquelicots. La guerre finie, la chaux fut rapidement absorbée et les coquelicots disparurent de nouveau.


Today in France, commemorative ceremonies were held, though under the curiously bland title of simply “11 novembre”:

François Hollande a présidé lundi matin à Paris les cérémonies du 11 novembre, qui lancent les commémorations du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale. Le 95e anniversaire de l'Armistice coïncide avec le début d'un cycle de commémorations qui connaîtront plusieurs temps forts jusqu'au 11 novembre 2014.

The 11-11-2014 centennial is naturally of more interest to France (and to Britain) than to the United States, since in 1914 we were sitting on the fence, and not directly threatened, not entering until 1917.   So, today was supposed to be a big day for President François Hollande, presiding over the festivities in Paris, and doubtless hoping for a boost to his dismal poll figures.   [Flash update: François Hollande a perdu encore trois points de popularité entre début octobre et début novembre, tombant à 21% d'avis favorables et marquant un nouveau record d'impopularité.]
But it didn’t go so well.  In France, the unpopular “ecotaxe” has unleashed a furious, Tea-Party-like response, only more violent;  it is the rough Gallic equivalent of the Obamacare brouhaha.  Protestors sporting bonnets rouges (red Phrygian caps, the new symbol of the protest), gave him the raspberry.   Now, in France that’s illegal, and several dozen were promptly arrested:

11 Novembre : Hollande hué, 73 manifestants interpellés

Plusieurs dizaines de personnes ont été arrêtées pour avoir hué et sifflé le président de la République sur les Champs-Élysées. Des appels à perturber les cérémonies commémoratives circulaient depuis dimanche sur Internet

[Yes, Virginia, you read that aright:  it is illegal in France to hoot-down the président;  a latter-day echo of the crime of lèse-majesté.   So if you would like to characterize the feckless dwarf who now inhabits, or rather disgraces, that office, as a

=>  bald-faced, two-faced (two bald faces in all)
slinking sniveling  parlour-bobo sub-adulterer,
who has been throning like a bloated toad
over the shameful decline of France <=

then you had best do it from a safe perch in America. -- Not that people who, mm, utter things  are in general safe here either;  but slanging France is one activity  we are allowed, and even encouraged, to do.
Note b.t.w. that I am not here slanging France, but its mortician.]

The police response was, however, decidedly less vigorous in a case from Saturday, in the southern city of Nice.   Here, a band of around twenty “youth” beat up a bakery-owner in front of her store, along with some citizens to attempted to come to her aid.  Eventually some police arrived, but, outnumbered, and essentially forbidden to use their weapons, sustained beatings themselves, sending five officers to the infirmary.  The whole battle raged for twenty minutes before finally being dispersed;  so far, there have only been two arrests (as against 73 for the peaceful though vociferous and disrespectful demonstrators); both the aggressors have already been released.

A reader notes the incongruity:

C'est ça la liberté d'expression à la sauce Hollande ? il est plus facile d'interpeller 70 personnes qui sifflent le président que d'arrêter 20 personnes qui se déchaînent pendant 20 minutes dans une boulangerie ce matin.
Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :


What the facts of the case may be, I have no idea;  details are difficult to glean from the often self-censoring French press.   But Nice has recently seen similar disturbing incidents of assault by youth-gangs, and the residents are perturbed that the police seem unwilling or unable to deal with the situation.   The events, moreover, have taken on a profile at the national level (rather like the Zimmerman-Martin case in the U.S.), since it fits into the increasingly strident narrative of Socialist government laxisme (i.e., “permissiveness” -- remember that conservative battle-cry from the ‘sixties?) in the face of rising provocationss  from Gypsies, most recently  in Saint-Ouen (v. the last section of our essay here) and, in this case, possibly North Africans.   That,  at any rate, is the assumption on the part of many readers, who have been told no more than that the perpetrators were “des jeunes”:  a phrase which, like “inner-city youth” in the United States, has become a code-word and euphemism for minority gangs.
The ubiquitous presence of those two groups has been generating a backlash among a sizable segment of the population, who field besieged in their own country.  The irony of having repelled a German attack in the Great War, only to be “occupied” now by unsavory interlopers, has not been lost on some commentors:

C'était bien la peine de se saigner pour faire la guerre de 14-18, et de s'engager dans la suivante... La guerre est maintenant partout, et ce n'est qu'un début.

Now, it is by no means certain that the agressors in this case were anything but français de souche:  for one thing, they were reported as alcoolisés, something forbidden to those who follow Islam.    Nor did the two who were nabbed have a previous police record.    But in the current climate, a significant segment of the French public, short of information, puts the darkest interpretation upon such reports.

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