Saturday, April 13, 2013

Les Cagoules Blanches: That the KKK Inspired French Copycats Is Not Something You Often Hear About

…either in France or in America…

In its 75 Years Ago section, the International Herald Tribune (then the New York Herald) reprinted a summary of a 1937 report as follows:
1937 Police Investigate French Klan

 PARIS — The French police continued … to search the apartments of persons here and in the provinces who are suspected of membership in the Rightist terroristic society called “Les Cagoules Blanches” (White Hoods), but were unable to find evidence linking the group to any of a series of political crimes which have occurred recently. Investigators remained convinced that the society had had no connection with the bombings on September 11 of the two employers’ buildings in the Etoile district. Police are attempting to connect the French version of the Ku Klux Klan with at least four unsolved mysteries.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Marquis de Sade's “120 Days of Sodom”: It’s a Sadistic Story, and France Wants It

“The 120 Days of Sodom,” by the Marquis de Sade, is one of the most perverse works of 18th-century literature
writes Elaine Sciolino.
It tells the story of four rich “libertines” who lock themselves in a remote medieval castle with 46 victims (including eight boys and eight girls, ages 12 to 15). The men are assisted by four female brothel keepers who arouse their hosts by recounting their outlandish (and embellished) experiences.

The work describes orgies and acts of abuse — sexual and otherwise — including pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, torture, rape, murder, infanticide, bestiality, violent anal and oral sex acts and the use of urination and defecation to humiliate and punish. 

Sade called it “the most impure tale that has ever been told since our world began.” 

There is nothing erotic about it. 

Even Bruno Racine, director of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the National Library, calls it “depraved.” 

But that hasn’t stopped him from negotiating long and hard to buy Sade’s manuscript. He has convinced the Foreign and Culture Ministries of its importance. He has argued in front of the Commission of National Treasures to declare it provisionally a “national treasure” that needs to be preserved in the library. And he is ready to pay more than $5 million to get it. 
“The document is Sade’s most atrocious, extreme, radical work,” Mr. Racine said. “But we make no moral judgment about it.” A rambling, unfinished draft, “120 Days” has been praised and vilified. Simone de Beauvoir defended it as an important contribution to the dark side of humanity in her essay “Must We Burn Sade?”

 … Since taking over as director of the Bibliothèque Nationale in 2007, he has sought to have important manuscripts classified as “national treasures” in order to acquire them for the library.

 Among other purchases, he has bought Casanova’s memoirs with $9.6 million from an anonymous donor; the archives of the French philosopher Michel Foucault; and the archives of the French Marxist theorist, writer and filmmaker Guy Debord (preventing them from leaving the country and going to Yale). 

“I don’t know of any director of a world-class library today who is making the kind of brilliant strategic acquisitions that Bruno Racine is making at the Bibliothèque Nationale,” said Paul Le Clerc, the former head of the New York Public Library and the director of Columbia University’s programs in Europe. 

Now Mr. Racine is negotiating with Mr. Perrone and the heirs of Mr. Nordmann to buy the Sade manuscript and give each party a cut. The estimated sale price — more than $5 million — would be raised from private donors. 

Mr. Racine’s goal is to put the manuscript on display, along with other Sade works in the library’s collection, for the 200th anniversary of Sade’s death next year. 

“It is a unique, exceptional work, and a miracle that it survived,” he said. “It is part of our cultural heritage. Whether we like it or not, it belongs in the Bibliothèque Nationale.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Unlike the U.S., guns are tightly regulated in Europe, but the French gangs have armed themselves with weapons obtained on the black market"

Walid Marzouki and his girlfriend stopped their black Renault Twingo at a red light on the deserted Boulevard Casanova late one night in August. Another car pulled alongside. The driver opened his window, pulled out an automatic rifle and killed Mr. Marzouki, using more than 20 rounds.  
The next time a Frenchman — or anyone, for that matter, even (or especially) an American — 1) lectures you on the violence of America and/or 2) tells you how the European model of gun control is the way for the country to go and/or 3) insists that at least there are no assault weapons in civilized Europe, tell them to read Maïa de la Baume's New York Times article from September where the "magnitude of violence" in southeast France provoked calls fro the army to intervene.
Mr. Marzouki, 25, was a drug dealer from Marseille, the police said.

“I heard loud bursts of gunfire,” said Nina Lamraoui, 31, who lives in a building near the murder scene. “I was so terrified for my children that I told them it was a car accident.” 

Mr. Marzouki was a victim of one of the most violent waves of gang crime ever to hit this city on France’s southeast coast. In nine months, 20 people have been killed in Marseille and the surrounding area, according to the police. 

The magnitude of violence, which the police say is committed mostly by drug dealers using combat weapons, has pushed the new Socialist government to lay out an ambitious plan to help this city of 800,000, described by Interior Minister Manuel Valls as “in great distress.” 

The government was also pushed to act after Samia Ghali, a Socialist who represents the impoverished and troubled 15th and 16th Arrondissements here, called for the army to intervene. Her request, which many viewed as exaggerated, has nevertheless drawn news media attention to the city’s struggle with gang leaders. 

The killing of Mr. Marzouki has not been solved, the police said. But they blamed the drug trade for the recent killings, specifically dealers from the “Quartiers Nord,” the predominantly immigrant districts of northern Marseille. Top dealers can easily make 100,000 euros a month (about $131,000), the police said, relying on violence and murder to intimidate others or defend their territory. Unlike the United States, guns are tightly regulated in Europe, but the gangs have armed themselves with weapons obtained on the black market

“We are confronted by inhuman situations,” said Jean-Louis Martini, the local spokesman of Synergie Officiers, one of the major police unions in France. “It becomes terrifying, because it has no limits.”
Marseille, one of France’s poorest cities, has long been a haven for gangs, which first surfaced to control prostitution. It was home to a major heroin ring known as “The French Connection,” the basis for the 1971 film. And like many port cities, it has been identified with smuggling and political corruption. 

Today, experts and police officers say that the number of crimes, mostly related to marijuana trafficking, has not increased significantly. But the crimes have become much more violent in the past year. Police officers and residents are particularly worried about the increasing use of automatic and semiautomatic rifles, especially the Kalashnikov. Knockoff versions are made in many eastern European countries and China, and cost about $1,300. 

They were introduced in France after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and became more available recently after the chaos that followed the uprising in Libya. The police said about 300 Kalashnikovs have been intercepted in Marseille [in the first 9 to 10 months of 2012].

 … For Ms. Ghali, the northern districts she serves have been abandoned by the state and left to the authority of gangs and to dealers who “are able to shoot the friend they ate and slept with the previous night.” The economic distress in Europe has reinforced the phenomenon. “Before we had temporary work,” she said in an interview. “Now there is more unemployment and no temporary jobs.”

Marseille was not hit hard by the 2005 riots that inflamed the Paris suburbs. But some people believe that its embrace of multiculturalism and strong local identity no longer protect it from social unrest
“We got overwhelmed by the expansion of this new delinquency,” said Mr. Martini, the police official.

 … “Walid was a good guy, a nice guy” said Inés, 20, a nurse who went to school with Mr. Marzouki. “We are used to murders here — it is ‘mektoub,’ ” the Arabic word for fate. 

But her fatalism is not shared by others in the northern districts who have been terrorized by the violence. “It’s a city of crazy people,” said a man who works near the spot where Mr. Marzouki was killed, who spoke on condition he not be identified. “If a 16-year-old kid can use a Kalashnikov, it means that he never experienced a childhood, and his parents never cuddled him.” 

Mr. Marzouki’s parents may not have cuddled him. But placed on that light pole on the Boulevard Casanova are flowers and a note, written in what appears to be red lipstick, saying: “Walid, we’ll love you forever.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Turning France around involves “reversing the trajectory of a country which refuses to make sacrifices”

Jacques Julliard, a left-wing political commentator who has written a history of the French Left, makes a [harsh] point about his compatriots. Turning France around, he has said, involves “reversing the trajectory of a country which has accepted no longer being in the front rank, which has consented to its own humbling, and which refuses to make sacrifices.” 
Thus writes John Vinocur in his International Herald Tribune column.
Julliard hardly considers [François Hollande] the cause, but describes [the president] as not “sufficiently prophetic or adventurous” to engineer the turnabout. 

Of course, this is not just a matter of 10 months of limited response by the left. 

Ten years ago, Nicolas Baverez, a conservative economist and essayist, wrote that the entire French leadership class “cultivates status quo and rigidity” resulting in protectionism, narrow definition of French interests, and a disinclination to transfer significant sovereignty to the European Union. 

… With Hollande in charge, this leaves the French with what the French historian and novelist Max Gallo described to me as the mind-set of a “retiree of independent means.” And what Alain Minc, an economist who served as a close adviser to Sarkozy, calls a “fragile country without a compass. In its own way, it is sicker than Italy because of the inefficient French productive apparatus.” 

What to do? With a major demonstration of authority, Hollande could start pushing the French by calling on the full institutional powers of the presidency in the manner of François Mitterrand’s historic course reversal when he turned away from Socialist economics in 1983. 

It would require a bold, exemplary act with universal symbolism, like officially abolishing the 35-hour workweek. It would require practical measures like lower taxes, and much greater flexibility in the French labor market. Moreover, it would take Mitterrand’s willingness to face down strikes and political turmoil, and demand vast political courage of Hollande. 

Could it happen? Take this as an answer: When Hollande was asked on television last week about future levels of public spending, he replied, “We’re going to make savings in 2013 so that there won’t be any more effort required by the French.”

Monday, April 08, 2013

Rest in Peace, Iron Lady

From many sources and with many links, E-Nough has an in-depth obituary to Margaret Thatcher.

To quote Damian,
If nothing else be sure to watch the embedded video to the end. It's quite amazing.

"We Declare Ouselves the Apostles" of Saint Hugo Chávez, "the Christ of the Poor"

In this Holy Week, vendors gathered around churches Venezuelan sell candles, holy virgins, and religious images in the likeness of Hugo Chávez
writes Marie Delcas in Le Monde (most of her article is pretty neutral, except for the positive-souding sentence, "some priests are more understanding" of the effort to beatify el Commandante — "Sur le terrain, certains prêtres se montrent plus compréhensifs" — suggesting that the leaders of the church are clueless and intolerant of an event that turns out to be pretty banal).
It shows the former president as a saint, bathed in heavenly light. "Hugo Chavez, Christ of the poor," reads one of them. In Caracas, in the 23 de Enero neighborhood where the remains of the head of state who died on March 5 is lying, a modest altar was inaugurated Thursday, March 28, in honor of "Saint Hugo Chávez."
Needless to say, the dignitaries of the Catholic Church are galled by the cult. Especially as the acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro has no qualms about playing the saint card. "We declare ourselves to be the apostles of Hugo Chávez, the apostles of the cause of el Commandante," Maduro declared on March 18. Polls expect the heir of the "eternal leader of the Bolivarian revolution" to win the March 14 [the April 14] election. The opposition accuses Maduro of exploiting the memory of Hugo Chávez, deifying him to hide its own shortcomings.

This polling day turns out to be an important day in the Chávez calendar. Ousted by a coup on 11 April 2002, Hugo Chávez returned a hero on Sunday 14 early in the morning. For Nicolas Maduro, April 14 will be "the Sunday of Resurrection, the Sunday of popular victory, the Sunday of Christ the Redeemer of the poor in Latin America."
Referring to "the faith which we must not get away from," Cardinal Jorge Urosa Saviño, the Archbishop of Caracas, saw fit, on the occasion of the Holy Wednesday homily, to remind his listeners that "the Catholic religion is not guided by a human being, but by Jesus. No government and no man, no matter how beloved, can be equalled to Jesus Christ." Along with a reminder: "The religious aspect of life must be different from  the socio-political aspect of life."
On the ground, some priests are more understanding. On the public TVT channel, Father Numa Molina, of Caracas's San Francisco parish, insisted that "President Hugo Chávez was a prophet who made his voice heard in favor of the forgotten and the excluded of the world."
At loggerheads with the Catholic hierarchy, Hugo Chávez never concealed his admiration for Christ, a "great revolutionary" and the "first socialist in history." His disease made ​​him even more of a believer. "Give me your crown, Christ, give it to me that I bleed, give me your cross, give me a hundred crosses, but give me life," he implored publicly exactly one year ago.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

5 Gay Marriage Myths: "It is those who oppose same-sex marriage who are the true champions of liberty"

The main part of yesterday's post linking Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage turns out to have been based mainly on Robin Phillips's Five Gay Marriage Myths. Read the whole thing or various excerpts below:

Myth #1: Marriage is fundamentally a voluntary union of persons in a committed relationship

… how we think about homosexuality has been enormously influenced by pairing homosexuality with words that already had a positive semantic range, such as gay. In David Kupelian book The Marketing of Evil, he showed that these and many other language shifts did not just happen, but arose out of a deliberate strategy for changing the way Westerners perceive certain key issues. 
The same thing is now occurring in the debate over same-sex marriage. Almost without anyone taking notice, our society has begun to talk about marriage as a voluntary union of persons in a committed relationship, rather than a union of a man and a woman. Never before has marriage been spoken about in this way and the implications are profound. Because of how the brain works, this shift in how we talk about marriage has been attendant to a shift in how we think about marriage. Unconsciously we begin wondering: if marriage is really the union of persons in a committed and loving relationship, why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to participate in this institution?

As same-sex marriage was discussed in the public discourse of various English-speaking countries (first Canada, then Britain, and now America), it was almost universally taken for granted not simply that marriage ought to refer to the union of persons, but that the essence of marriage always has been the union of persons. As a result, less and less people, even among the Christian community, understand marriage to be intrinsically and inviolably heterosexual.

Myth #2: Gay marriage legislation would remove the ban on same-sex couples getting marriage

The issue of same-sex marriage is often framed in terms of a choice between either preventing or allowing gay people to get married. When the issue is framed in these terms, that is usually a good indication that the person has fallen victim to another key myth. The reality is that legislation to introduce gay marriage would not remove a ban on same-sex couples getting married because no such ban exists. There is no more of a ban on same-sex couples getting married then there is a ban on two-wheeled unicycles or square triangles. The very nature of what marriage is necessarily excludes same-sex unions.

Now government could always change the definition of marriage. However, as I pointed out in my earlier article, ‘Apples, Oranges and Gay Marriage‘, few people on the other side of the debate are upfront that this is what they are pushing for. Instead they will almost always frame the question in terms of giving same-sex couples access to an existing institution. The reality—which Douglas Farrow drew attention to in his book Divorcing Marriage—is that a ban on same-sex couples getting married only exists if you first start out by assuming that marriage is a union of persons rather than a union between a man and a woman. But to assume this is already to presuppose the conclusion of one side of the debate, which is why most arguments for same-sex marriage are ultimately circular.

There is more going on here than merely a lapse in logic. By framing the issue in terms of a supposed “ban” on same-sex marriage, the media has followed the gay-rights lobby in subtly altering the categories in which the debate is taking place. This is analogous to the way the media altered the terms of the abortion debate by deliberately framing the issue in terms of ‘choice.’

Myth #3: Gay marriage is the most tolerant option

 … The problem with this argument from liberty is not simply that it is false, although it is. The problem is that it is the exact opposite of the truth, as I have already suggested in my article ‘Will the Real Enemies of Liberty Please Stand Up! It is those who oppose same-sex marriage who are the true champions of liberty. Indeed, if gay “marriage” is ever legalized, it is likely to result in unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech and even thought. This was a point that S. T. Karnick drew attention to back in 2008. The Director of research for The Heartland Institute pointed out that,
The issue, it’s important to remember, is not whether society will allow homosexuals to ‘marry.’ They may already do so, in any church or other sanctioning body that is willing to perform the ceremony. There are, in fact, many organizations willing to do so … Such institutions either explicitly allow the consecration or blessing of same-sex ‘marriages’ or look the other way when individual congregations perform such ceremonies.
No laws prevent these churches from conducting marriage ceremonies—and nearly all Americans would agree that it is right for the government to stay out of a church’s decision on the issue. Further, any couple of any kind may stand before a gathering of well-wishers and pledge their union to each other, and the law will do nothing to prevent them. Same-sex couples, or any other combination of people, animals, and inanimate objects, can and do ‘marry’ in this way. What the law in most states currently does not do, however, is force third parties—individuals, businesses, institutions, and so on—to recognize these ‘marriages’ and treat them as if they were exactly the same as traditional marriages. Nor does it forbid anyone to do so.
An insurance company, for example, is free to treat a same-sex couple (or an unmarried two-sex couple) the same way it treats married couples, or not. A church can choose to bless same-sex unions, or not. An employer can choose to recognize same-sex couples as “married,” or not. As Richard Thompson Ford noted in Slate, ‘In 1992 only one Fortune 500 company offered employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners; today hundreds do.’
In short, individuals, organizations, and institutions in most states are currently free to treat same-sex unions as marriages, or not. This, of course, is the truly liberal and tolerant position. It means letting the people concerned make up their own minds about how to treat these relationships. But this freedom is precisely what the advocates of same-sex ‘marriage’ want to destroy; they want to use the government’s power to force everyone to recognize same-sex unions as marriages whether they want to or not.
The effects of such coercion have already been felt in some places. Adoption agencies, for example, like any other organization, ought to be able to choose whether to give children to same-sex couples, or not. But in Massachusetts, where same-sex ‘marriage’ has been declared legal, these agencies have been forced to accept applications from same-sex couples or go out of business.
What’s at issue here is not whether people can declare themselves married and find other people to agree with them and treat them as such. No, what’s in contention is whether the government should force everyone to recognize such ‘marriages.’ Far from being a liberating thing, the forced recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ is a governmental intrusion of monumental proportions.

Myth #4: Gay marriage will bring greater equality

Throughout this year there have been near-daily reports of prominent folks coming out for marriage “equality.” The basic idea is simple: if heterosexual couples can get married, isn’t it simple fairness that homosexual couples can also get married?

The idea that gay marriage will bring greater equality is a total myth. The reason it is a myth is because it is not true, and the reason it is not true is because it is based on a meaningless idea and only meaningful statements can have a truth value.

Myth #5: Gay marriage will not undermine the traditional family

The Republicans who now support gay marriage have been keen to emphasize that it is consistent with “family values” and that it will strengthen rather than undermine the institution of marriage. Senator Rob Portman reflected this idea when he came out for gay marriage.

 … It is, in fact, a myth that gay marriage will not undermine the traditional family. The reason this is a myth is because, once again, it is the exact opposite of the truth.

By making marriage simply the formalization of an intimate relationship between two adults, same-sex marriage does two things. First, it undermines the organic connection between marriage and child-bearing; second, it undermines the centrality of sex in marriage, including sexual faithfulness. Both of these things have profound ramifications for how we understand the relationship between the family and the state, ultimately undermining the integrity of the traditional family and, consequently, “family values.”

 … You see, once our understanding of “union” in marriage is reduced to “a loving relationship between two committed adults”, then what two people do with their bodies becomes extrinsic rather than intrinsic to that union.

 … a person might have a “committed and loving relationship” with any number of other persons without it being marriage. Because of this, the only way that a committed and loving relationship can be upgraded into marriage is if the state steps in and declares that relationship to be a marriage, in much the same way as the state might declare something to be a corporation or some other legal entity. By contrast, traditional marriages have and could exist without the state’s recognition because it is fundamentally a pre-political institution. Marriage is pre-political in the sense that it has intrinsic goods attached to it, not least of which is the assurance of patrimony and thus the integrity of inheritance. Such goods do not exist by the state’s fiat even though the state may recognize, regulate or protect them.

 …  the philosophy behind same-sex marriage is one which makes both marriage and family entirely the construct, and therefore the province, of positive law. … Unlike heterosexual marriage, which has an existential fixity that can be recognized within a state of nature, gay marriage is meaningless without the mechanisms of government to legitimize it.

  … my basic point is very simple: without the intervention of government, there is no a priori existential state of affairs that marks certain types of same-sex relationships out as being marriage within a state of nature. Unlike heterosexual marriage, which exists in nature and is then recognized by the state, homosexual marriage is an abstract legal entity with no natural or existential existence. … at the centre [of traditional marriage] there is a recognizable reality that is pre-legal, and the hard cases arise by virtue of how far removed we are from the centre.

 … All this has enormous implications for how we understand the relationship between the family and the state, to return to my point that gay marriage undermines the traditional family. By rearranging the very nature of what it means to be married, gay marriage raises the question of whether family and marriage can be considered pre-political institutions on the basis of natural and biological realities and intrinsic goods. This is because such natural and biological realities are being expunged from the essence of what we are now told marriage is and always has been, namely the union of persons through a committed and loving relationship.

 … we can realize the logical consequence of same-sex marriage and say that the only thing left to determine what actually makes something a complete marriage or a legitimate family is the law itself. But have we really considered the implications of saying that traditional marriages and families are entirely the construct of the state?

There is no escaping from this problem. If homosexuals and heterosexuals are really “equal” before the law, then logically heterosexual marriage must collapse into being little more than a legal construct as well. Indeed, marriage and family become mere adjuncts of the state after the removal of the de facto conditions that make the traditional family a pre-political institution in the first place. No longer is family something that, in the words of Douglas Farrow, “precedes and exceeds the state.” No longer is the family a hedge against the totalitarian aspirations of the state because no longer is the family prior to the state.

  … Most people are not aware of how gay marriage will undermine the traditional family because it does so in ways that are subtle and ubiquitous.  However, once gay marriage is introduced into a nation, it undermines the integrity of every family and every marriage in the nation. It does this by rearranging the family’s relationship to the state. The state which legalizes gay marriage is a state that has assumed the god-like power to declare which collections of individuals constitute a ‘family.’ But by this assumption government declares that both marriage and family are little more than legal constructs at best, and gifts from the state at worst. In the former case, marriage and family lose their objective fixity; in the latter case, we become the wards of the state.
Related: To Understand Liberal Issues Like Gay Marriage Correctly, It Is Vital to Get the Basic Premises Right
— a post which quoted a prominent constitutional theorist from the 1830s (Joseph Story: "Marriage is … in its origin a contract of natural law … It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic") as well as a prominent constitutional theorist from today (Harry Jaffa: "…it is human families or their representatives, rather than "abstract" human individuals, who found or institute political communities" and "Only as one understands the priority of the partnership of male and female in the generation, nurture, and education of the young can one understand the relationship of individuality to community in the political order").