Thursday, October 16, 2008

Enfants de la Patrie ?

I see that the French National Anthem has been dissed yet again by young Frenchmen of Tunisian heritage at a home soccer international - despite the singer (Grace Jones' little sister in a hoodie) being as street and multiculti as one could wish for.

It follows the dissing of the French National Anthem by young Frenchmen of Moroccan heritage at a home soccer international.

Not to mention the dissing of the French National Anthem by young Frenchmen of Algerian heritage at a home soccer international - such patriots that they invaded the pitch and stopped the game when France went 4-1 up.

There seems to be a problem here. Any native Froggie saying "these guys aren't Frenchmen" would be rightfully denounced by one and all as a hideous racist. Trouble is, the guys whistling the anthem would agree with him.

I don't know. It's not as if the French football team doesn't reflect the faces you see on the streets of Paris (if not of Sourdeval). After the 1998 World Cup they were hailed by the usual suspects as the fair face of multicultural France.

Reading the comments there seem to be a fair few people saying 'you deserve it for massacring x thousand people in 19nn'. I don't know much about France's colonial wars, except that the Algerian one was exceedingly dirty and unpleasant, apparently including torturing to death and dumping in the Seine (plenty of torturing to death on the Algerian side, too). Nonetheless, if there was so much resentment, maybe it was unwise of previous French governments to move so many resentful chaps across the tideless ditch.

Except that ... these aren't (mostly) the chaps who moved. They're the children and grandchildren. The chaps who moved were generally OK. But the interaction of unease, welfare, an increasing cultural vacuum (though not on our scale) and post-colonial guilt have bred people who hate and despise the country they live in.

Sarkozy responded angrily, saying that games would be stopped at once if it happened again. But they're already having second thoughts, having perhaps considered what would happen if they released 50,000 peace-loving and disappointed soccer fans onto the Paris streets without having first got the CRS into position.

Making threats that you can't back up generally doesn't intimidate, but emboldens an opponent.

So what, you may say. Why should we care about what happens in a far-away country of which we know little ?

Because their problems are ours. There's a terrible symmetry between the children and grandchildren of immigrants to France, much more radicalised, violent and discontented than their grandparents, and those to the UK. One can never be sure, but if there were national anthems at cricket matches is it not likely we'd see the same thing at England v Pakistan ?