An open letter to Vivianne Reding and the European Commission

Dear Ms Reding,

First, please accept my apologies as a French citizen who is appalled by the disgraceful response of president Sarkozy to your criticisms. Insulting, beyond your person, your whole country, is beyond the pale. Indeed, this heinous way of putting the blame on a country for something a person said just shows that your contention that the French government was acting out of racism and xenophobia was spot on.

There are many of us who didn’t vote for that man in 2007, or who became disillusioned afterward. We don’t like this policy against Roma and other nomads, and protest it as loud as we can. You must have heard of the demonstrations on September 4th, when French defenders of human rights joined with migrants and ethnic minorities to say that we didn’t condone Sarkozy’s policies, at any price?

Alas, our own government has taken the habit of not listening to what the people say. Three days after the already impressive demonstration of the 4th, two million more French people took to the streets to say « No! » to the economic policies of Sarkozy and his clique, and especially to defend our pensions against the new drafted laws. What happened? Well, our deputies didn’t even get time enough to explain why they disagreed with the government! Their talking time was cut short, on the flimsiest of excuses.

Now, we are not only ashamed of our government, but we applaud when other countries recognize that this state of affairs is disgraceful, contrary to our Constitution as well as to basic human rights, and that our poor Republic has gone well into the domain of Banana Republics.

So I’m asking you, and Mr. Barroso as well: please don’t give in an inch today. The UN, the Vatican, even Washinton officials have chimed in to condemn Sarkozy’s crackdown on Roma, and beyond that, on all migrants, ethnic minorities and even French nationals of foreign origins. I’m one such, my grandfather was an immigrant who didn’t talk a word of French when he arrived in our country. So I feel personnally insulted by this presidency’s priorities, in addition to appalled at the human rights violations.

To be fair, I must tell you that your decision to speak in English, Tuesday, didn’t go well [fr] with many who are themselves opponents to Sarkozy. You may have had in mind to make your speech more readily quotable by the international press, and why not. But as you may know, the French are quite irrationnally proud of themselves and their culture, even, shall I say, jingoistic about it (we even gave to the English language the word chauvinism, which means the same thing), and some people think that as you are yourself francophone, you should have used our language to criticize us. I won’t enter into that debate, as I think we French don’t have much ground today to criticize the political and cultural options of others.

But I do hope our friends in Brussels, in that « common home » of European democracies, can rein in Sarkozy’s undemocratic policy.

Yours sincerely,

Irène Delse.

P.S. Most humble apologies to Ms Angela Merkel and to the people of Romania, too. The audacity of Sarkozy claiming that she « supported » him on Roma, when they didn’t talk about that (20 Minutes [fr]), is already shocking. Add to it the rude and hysterical tweet (PC INpact [fr])of yesterday from @francediplo (supposedly pirated, but how can we know), and the national disgrace is complete.

7 réponses à “An open letter to Vivianne Reding and the European Commission

  1. Dear Irène,

    I fully approve of this open letter, which mostly expresses my feelings towards the current political turmoil that is shaking our country. And I will NOT be represented either by that loud, ridiculous (as pictured by Le Monde ), egotistic crook that pretends to speak for me (« j’ai dit franchement ce que la France pensait »).

    All this crap about the Roma, along with the more recent fearmongering about potential terrorist attacks, is just a silly tactic to divert our attention from the blatant failure of 8 years of right-wing policies, particularly the last 3 years under Sarkozy’s presidency.

    Bonne journée à vous,


  2. (Irène: Spam + hors sujet = supprimé. Non mais, quoi.)

  3. Chère Irène
    We are NOT francophone in Luxembourg, we speak a german dialect called luxemburgish, for your information, we learn french at school … you speak about chauvinism, here it is … for the rest, completely agree …

    • @ Carol: Did you read my post? I never said Ms Reding was francophone because she’s from Luxemburg, only that she knew French well enough, according to the article by Jean Quatremer I was alluding to. It’s the meaning of « francophone », after all. If you are looking for chauvinism, sorry, you will have to look harder.

  4. Chauvinist. I’m quite sure that the meaning of the word « chauvinist » is different than its original counterpart in French. A chauvinist is more or less what we French call « machiste ». .. When an American journalist writes that the French are chauvinist, we generally agree without knowing that he means something completely different. This is a good example of a « faux ami », and I would be very interested to learn why it is so.

    • @ Olivier: I’m quite sure that the meaning of the word «chauvinist» is different than its original counterpart in French. A chauvinist is more or less what we French call «machiste».

      Yes and no. What corresponds in English to the French word «machiste» is the phrase «male chauvinist». Check in any online dictionary, you’ll see that the English word «chauvinist» can have two definitions:
      1) Excessive patriotism, jingoism (original sense);
      2) by extension, male chauvinism or sexism toward women (most recent sense).


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