Friday, October 28, 2005

The Ministry of Truth Cadre of the Academy has spoken

In a fight between doom-peddling academics who usually look for fault in the prism of hating their own culture, and self-righteous revisionist, I hope that both are made fools of.

Historians upset as France burnishes its colonial past:

«PARIS -- France, grappling for decades with its colonial past, has passed a law to put an upbeat spin on the era, making it mandatory to enshrine in textbooks the country's "positive role" in its far-flung colonies.

But the law is stirring anger among historians and passions in such former colonies as Algeria, which gained independence in a brutal conflict. Critics accuse France of trying to gild an inglorious colonial past with an "official history." At issue is language in the law stipulating that "school programs recognize in particular the positive character of the French overseas presence, notably in North Africa."

The measure is one article in a law recognizing the "national contribution" of French citizens who lived in the colonies before independence. It is aimed, above all, at recognizing the French who lived in Algeria and were forced to flee, and Algerians who fought on the side of France. »
An opponent of the law tries to persuade lawmakers with the penchance for nationalism rather than an obligation to accuracy:
«"Morally, the law is shameful," said University of Paris history professor Claude Liauzu, who was behind the petition, "and it discredits France overseas."

Not until 1999 did Paris call the Algerian conflict a "war." Throughout the fighting, and for decades afterward, France had referred to operations there only to "maintain order."

The newspaper Liberation last week published drawings from "France Overseas," an illustrated colonial atlas of 1931 that showed "before" and "after" drawings -- one a sketch of Africans cooking and eating another human being, the second a schoolhouse on a well-manicured street with a French flag flying overhead.»
Actually little seems to have changed, except that the Africans of their past are now "Etats Unien" in their minds at present. It's summed up in what a French colleague of mine said: "you can't call that malbouffe! That word's only for American food."

to RV

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