Archives de Catégorie: My interesting life

Rock and a hard place

As the title says so eloquently…

a rock and a hard place

We’re in the same boat
On the same sea
And we’re sailing south
On the same breeze
Building dream churches with the silver spires
And our rogue children playing loaded dice […]

Give me the truth now
Don’t want no sham
I’d be hung drawn and quartered for a sheep just as well as a lamb
We’re stuck between a rock
And a hard place […]

Between a rock and a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place

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.

Map of Paris hand-drawn by (presumably) juvenile American A-hole

Update (25/08/2010):

Well, it wasn’t an American. In shocking truth, the artist is a Parisian guy! Thanks to reader sarah g for the info. This stuff is still kinda funny, though. Both funny and infuriating.

So I live in a neighborhood best described by « North African drug dealers ». In ALLCAPS, please. Huh? Other places of interest in the city are « Chinese food », « BBC », « Gays and Jews », « Palais de Tokyo » and « ex-intellectual privileged assholes ».

(Which is an obvious error, by the way: there’s nothing « ex- » about the privileged intellectual assholes in the area. But I digress.)

This is a from a map of Paris hand-drawn for a Slate reader by a friend, who, presumably, lives or had lived there:

Note the very prominent touristy landmarks, Anglo-American world-view (did he really confuse the Radio France building with the BBC??), and huge majority of disdainful, bigoted, judgmental or simply boorish descriptions. Only one regret: the artist didn’t sign his or her name. Maybe we can guess: « Ugly American »?

And isn’t it interesting that the Chinatown-like neighborhood is labeled « Chinese food » (and not something like « Triads »), when the North African one is all « Drug dealers », not « Food ». Show me your prejudices…

Oh, and they didn’t mention the tourists either! Lots of loud, obvious, oblivious tourists. No few of them are Americans. And don’t even get me started on the ex-pats!


/End rant. 😉

The map actually comes from a thought-provoking article by Julia Turner in Slate:

« It’s a guide to the neighborhoods of Paris, put in terms a young New Yorker can understand. Although the map is simplistic and juvenile, the effort to match Parisian arrondissements with demographically corresponding areas in Brooklyn is a conceptually interesting way to present information about an unfamiliar town. »

Conceptually, indeed. It may even be useful if you are a foreigner in the city and trying to score drugs, locate a gay bar, find a rabbi, or simply wanting to know where to go for above-average Chinese restaurants.

Now, I guess that a hand-drawn map of, say, New York or Los Angeles, made by a typical foul-mouthed Parisian smart-ass would also be… pretty interesting.