France Insider/Paul Ben-Itzak

March 31, 2008

Hope of deliverance or, Pride in the name of love

Filed under: Uncategorized — franceblogger @ 10:04 am

Usually when French commentators discuss the politics, society, or international actions of my country I do a lot of grimacing, usually because I’m embarrassed or ashamed, but sometimes because the commentary is erroneous or even hypocritical. When this happens, it often concerns race, and throwing stones. (En française approximitif: Faut pas que ceux-ci qui habitent en maisons de verre jeté les pierres.) This morning, however, listening to the France Culture morning crew’s eloge to Barack Obama’s speech on race and the fundamental change of current it represents with specialist Pap Ndiaye, I felt shared pride as well as “They get it.” We’re changing — or at least we have the potential to change — and it’s being noted. Abroad. Because you see, the French are actually not inclined to dislike us — au contraire! They just need us to give them (to quote Earth Wind & Fire) reasons. And above all they need us to show some humility — a change from ‘we’re the best we know best we always do right you’re with us or you’re against us.’ As soon as they see us recognize a problem, admit that we have work to do, they are pulling for us. (En français, plus ou moin, ‘ils sont pret a nous soutien.’)

The link to Dr. King’s dream of an America that would move past the racial divide — Obama’s picking up a ball that had been shoved into a corner for 40 years — was also crystal clear to the French interlocutors. As was the fact that, as Mr. Ndiaye pointed out, “All the effort of Hilary Clinton has been to racialize the campaign, to make of Obama a Black candidate for the Blacks.”


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