Hugh Fitzgerald’s classic essayÂ Douce France, which is always worth revisiting:
Imagine that you are a cosseted member of the French elite. One child is doing the khÃ¢gne, aiming for rue d’Ulm. Another is now a politechnicien. You are very comfortable, working for the state. You and your spouse are journalists, or writers, or one of that vast tribe of people conducting “recherches” and life is comfortable, good, the way it should be. Yes, you do notice more and more Muslims about you as you walk, no longer in the banlieues, but in the center of Paris, or Toulouse, or Lyon. And you remember how uneasy you felt, four years ago, when you happened to be walking on the CannebiÃ¨re in Marseille. You decided, then and there, that you would not return.
And you have friends who live in the south. And they tell you that the beurs – some call them maghrÃ©bins — make life hell for everyone. They attack French children on the way to school. They vandalize cars. They threaten, and do more than threaten, anyone who is still foolish enough to walk out wearing a kippah or a cross. Whole areas of cities in the south, as in the north, and east, and west, have become off-limits to non-Muslims. In the schools, the teachers have lost authority. They cannot even cover the subjects of World War II, the Resistance, and the murders of the Jews as the state prescribes; they fear, with reason, the violent reaction of the Muslim students.
And as the schools become more and more dangerous for non-Muslim students and teachers, with more time and resources devoted to discipline rather than to learning, French parents and would-be parents are now silently factoring into their childbearing plans the present value of the future cost of what, they see, will now have to be added: private school tuition. And that means, of course, that those French people will plan on smaller families. And they will also be factoring in the growing cost, paid by them, those French taxpayers, for the whole expanding edifice of security, the guards in the schools, the guards at the train stations and mÃ©tro stations and airports and at government buildings everywhere, the costs of keeping the gravestones from being vandalized, the costs of protecting the synagogues and the churches, the costs for all those tapped phones and agents in mosques, and subsidies to lawyers and judges to hear charges and try cases against Muslims, and the costs of monitoring da’wa in the prisons (more than 50% Muslim).
But the Muslims are indifferent to expenses incurred by the French state. France is part of the world; the world belongs to Allah, and to his Believers. That doctrine has remained immutable for 1400 years. Imam Bouziane, the one they keep trying to deport, had 16 children by two wives, all living on the French state: a representative Muslim man. Over time, the difference between average family size of Muslims and non-Muslims steadily increases. And, over time, the education system continues to disintegrate. Right now, perhaps, you cannot see it. Your children go to the best schools, followed by the best lycÃ©es. You vacation in Normandy, or Brittany, or the Ile de RÃ©. And you do not take the metro often enough, or walk in the right districts, or work in the right factories or offices, to understand what tens of millions of your fellow Frenchmen now have to endure. You, for the moment, are still immune, still willfully unaware. You have spent the last few decades learning about the Muslim world from Eric Rouleau, and his epigones (after they silenced Peroncel-Hugoz, the one journalist who reported the truth) in Le Monde. You are deeply-versed in the constantly reported-upon, endlessly dilated-upon, perfidy of the mighty empire of Israel. You know what we have all had dinned into us: that the Arab Muslims are reasonable people, with clearly-justified grievances, grievances so reasonable and so limited in scope, that justice demands they be satisfied. Everyone agrees on the “solution.” It is called a “two-state solution” and of course it is a “solution” for otherwise, of course, it would not have been called a “solution.”
And everything looks the way it always has looked: the linden trees, the river, the bridges, the rÃ©verbÃ¨res, the Ã©talage in the neighborhood boulangerie. Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance. At the end of the school day, chic mothers still congregate in little towns, or small cities, outside the school – this or that Ecole Jules Ferry — waiting to pick up their children. Here come the littlest ones, from Maternelle, running up now — just look at how small they are. And here are the CE1 group, with those huge cartables on their tiny backs. Run, run, run, to Mommy. Oop-la. And then the years of study, study, study marked by ever-larger cahiers — “cahier” and “cartable” are the words that identify French DNA better than Piaf or gauloises, isn’t that true? And now we will read the books, and study the subjects, set down so completely and precisely by the Ministry of Education. And now we are up to the final year, preparing for the Bac, with copies of blue-backed BALISES, guides to Les ChÃ¢timents and La Peau de Chagrin. And just look at the results listed in the newspaper: Claire-Alix has a mention trÃ¨s bien. Fantastic. Everything is fine, everything will always stay the same, whole countries cannot change. It’s not possible.
But it is changing, coming apart, quietly, slowly — let’s not look too closely, we mustn’t pay too much attention — the streets, the schools, the hospitals, the ability to speak the truth about things, about life as it is lived, la vita vissuta as they like to say in a neighboring country. Dominique de Villepin always knew there was nothing to worry about; he was born, after all, in SalÃ©, next to Rabat, even spent a few years of his infancy there; of course he knows his Arabs, his Muslims. And surely Eric Rouleau, who for decades in Le Monde was the resident expert on the Middle East (he was so knowledgeable that he never had to so much as mention the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna), surely he knew everything, didn’t he? And those French translations of Edward Said that denounced with such passion the Islamophobia, and those vicious cliches with which the blind and rotting West has always caricatured the Arab Muslim world. Oh, we have been so terrible to the Arabs, we colonialists, we French, we Westerners. And then there is the never-ending outrage of Israel, that running colonial sore. Of course, they have every right, those Muslims, to come here to France. We went to their countries once, now they come to ours. And they have every right to hate us, don’t they?
So now we have decided not to understand, and to cut all ties of sympathy to, Israel — and how did we ever have any sympathy for it in the first place, the way some of our parents did back in 1948 or 1956 or 1967? How could they not have seen what the “Palestinian people” had to endure? Hanan, Yasser, Said, Saeb, Aziz, Walid, Rashid, Mohammed — you have won our hearts and minds. Take us, do with us what you will.
No one will mention what is happening or what kinds of things we must begin to think about doing to save ourselves. No one of any decency. And whatever Le Pen and Megret say, we must say the opposite (except, of course, when they show their hostility to “the Jews”). Do not say those things, do not think them. Free thought is all very well in theory, but really — consider the consequences. Don’t dare to think outside that box brimming with idÃ©es reÃ§ues. DÃ©fense de penser au dehors du box.
No, everything will be all right as you stroll down the Avenue Paule-Anne. Those Muslims will never be a match for us. Why, just look at those legionnaires marching Ã pas lent down the Champs-ElysÃ©es, think of that string of desert victories. Inside our heads, it is 1930 and over here is the Exposition coloniale. You remember, tu t’en souviens, that painting by le Douanier Rousseau, don’t you, with the burnoosed Arab standing next to the black Senegalese? I have it right, don’t I? France will always be France. Nothing will ever change.
At a certain point, and despite everything that causes you not to see what is staring you in the face, you realize that something has gone irreparably wrong with your country, and you, and your children, are in danger of losing that country, down to every village and house, qui m’est une province et beaucoup davantage. And you do not know what to do, or how to explain this feeling to others, or in whom to confide your secret fears, or what can be done. It is so confusing, and so upsetting. You cannot vote for Le Pen. You cannot endorse “cowboy” Bush or those ridiculous Americans. You have no place to go.
And then you learn what Jacques Chirac — who now has a Muslim grandchild himself — and Dominique de Villepin, do not wish you to learn. For if you did, you might be very angry. You discover that 1 out of every 3 babies born in France today is a Muslim baby. And that means, in 20 years, one of every three 20-year-olds in France will be a Muslim twenty-year-old. And that means, twenty years after that, at present rates of reproduction, France will have a majority Muslim population. Where shall we hide the statues from Marly-le-roi? And the Venus de Milo? And what about all those paintings of animated life — all those portraits in the Louvre, and the Grand Palais, and the MusÃ©e Guimet down there in linden-lined Aix, and everywhere else in art-filled artful France, mÃ¨re des arts, des armes, et des loix — that are absolutely forbidden according to the immutable strictures of the Qur’an. Should they be sent for safekeeping to those Americans across the seas? By then most of the Jews in France will have left, gone across the oceans for their own safekeeping, to Israel or to English-speaking Canada (they were worried about the Muslim population of Quebec, you see, which had been allowed to grow under the Province of Quebec’s policy of encouraging francophone immigrants, preferring North Africans to potential immigrants from Italy, Greece, Spain), and above all, to America. What luck those Americans have had. No more bequests to France by the likes of the Rothschilds, or Nissim Camondo. No more Donations from another Pierre LÃ©vy. Enjoy the Kufic calligraphy; some find it endlessly fascinating.
For the moment, you allow yourself to believe that something will come up. Most likely, all those Muslims will simply convert. I mean, they do that, don’t they, quite easily I’m told. Of course, why didn’t I think of it, that is exactly what will happen. The situation is always saved in time. Just like during the war. Nothing to worry about. Nothing.
“I would like to say one thing, in what is my conception of the Republic, security is the responsibility of the State, I am against militias, I am against the private ownership of firearms, and I’m trying to make you think about that. If you are assaulted by an armed burglar, he’ll use his weapon more effectively than you anyway so you’re risking your life. If the criminal is not armed and you are and you shoot, your life will be ruined, because killing someone over a theft is not in line with the republican values that are mine. The private ownership of firearms is dangerous. I understand your exasperation for having been burglarized two times, I understand the fear that your wife and daughter may have but the answer is in the efficiency of the police and the efficiency of the judiciary process, the answer is not in having guns at home.”
Remember: Sarkozy is what they consider “right wing” in France.