Thursday, April 29, 2004

Fascinating News with an Original Slant

Regularly, I get invitations for a trial subscription to various newspapers and magazines. Being of a curious nature (and liking freebies), I usually accept. So I sent off for La Vie before I left on my trip to the American Southwest, and when I returned, there were three or four copies of the Christian News Weekly in my mail. It looks like a fascinating magazine.

An article in issue 3059 (April 15) is entitled "Irak, apocalypse now", and next to a color picture of a marine placing a dead comrade in a truck in Ramdi on April 6, it shows Nick Ut's famous black-and-white 1972 photo of half a dozen Vietnamese kids, one of them naked (Kim Phuc), running straight towards the photographer, away from a napalm attack near the Trang Bang road.

Problem is, either the art director didn't consult with the authors (Christian Troubé and Thomas Cantaloube), or else he, all three, or the entire editorial team were just paying homage to the adage that one must always up the ante where Uncle Sam is concerned. Indeed, although the article says the Bush administration is on the defensive, a sentence in the article does away with the Vietnam comparison. "Basically, the Repubicans are probably right. From the number of soldiers killed (close to 650 in Iraq versus 58,000 in Vietnam) to the conflict's ideological justifications through the American reconstruction efforts, few elements are comparable."

A book review in issue 3058 opens with this sentence: "Whether or not one remembers Bush's famous address to the Congress ["We are the best"], it is difficult not to agree concerning the arrogance and the sentiment of all-powerfulness which pervades the American political discourse." Thus, Élisabeth Lequeret echoes her colleagues and fellow citizens across the French Republic, who never bother, it seems, to mention arrogance and the sentiment of all-powerfullness that pervades in the discourse that says: we are more humanistic, more generous, more solidaires, more generous than anyone else. At least, in America, this type of sentiment brings condemnation. In France and all other societies where it is heard, it brings unanimity.

The April 8 issue also carried a story about "base racism". It's very sad. It seems that an "anti-racism champion" has been "sidelined": The head of the MRAP (Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples) calls himself a "victim of the 'exclusion' which he has always fought against", Corinne Chabaud writes. It sounds like a very moving story. Imagine: A communist party conseiller régional for the Île-de-France, Mouloud Aounit has not been chosen as one of the region's four vice-presidents, his socialist party ally (and boss) having "sidelined him".

"The oldest son [51] of a Kabyle immigrant thinks he is the victim of base racism. Isn't he a bit vocal in his defence of Arafat and the Palestinians? Hasn't he been vocal in his opposition to a law on the [Muslim] veil? Last Fall, he was aggressed after a debate organized by a Jewish organisation." But not to worry. It's "a humiliation that does not lessen his determination to fight against rejection of one's fellow man" (le rejet de l'autre). What a relief.

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