'Anti-white racism': The talk of the town
“Anti-white racism is growing in our cities.” It’s a statement that the French have heard several times over the past few years, during TV and radio interviews; debates; perhaps from their bigoted neighbour. But never before has it been heard publicly by a politician who isn’t affiliated with the far-right National Front (FN) party.
So when Jean-François Copé, secretary general of France’s (supposedly) centre-right UMP party, came out with the disquieting assertion on Wednesday, the reaction was one of disbelief. Admittedly, Copé, was trying to get attention. He's runnig for UMP party president, with elections just two months away. He’s also about to publish a new book, extracts of which had been sent to conservative daily Le Figaro for some favourable airing...
“There are certain districts in our towns, where individuals – some of which hold French nationality – despise French people who qualify as Gallic, under the pretext that they don’t share the same religion, don’t have the same skin colour, or the same origins.”
Entitled “Manifeste pour une droite decomplexée” (loosely translatable as 'manifesto for a unabashed rightwing'), the book looks like a self-help manuscript meant to aid closet right-wingers with “coming out”. Copé’s message is one of reassurance – while “non-French” people have been painted as victims of racism for all this time, it’s the truly Gallic, truly white, truly Catholic people who are actually suffering.
Copé feeds insecurities by calling “anti-white racism” a “taboo” that nobody dares talk about. He pledges to break the taboo in order to stop the silence that “aggravates the trauma” of the white victims. But who are these white victims?
Well... Considering that Copé chooses to reside in one of the whitest, richest areas of central Paris despite his function as mayor of the multicultural constituency of Meaux, then I guess it’s hard for him to keep up with what’s going on in the impoverished neighbourhoods that he talks so confidently about. Even he admits that “the phenomenon is almost impossible to imagine from Paris”.
That's not to say that racial tensions - of all kinds - don't exist in these districts. Quite the contrary! Something else we know for sure, is that people from the suburbs of Paris and Marseille – including Meaux – whether they are black, white, 'truly French', bullies or bullied, are some of the poorest in the country. Perhaps Mr Copé could think of a way to address that issue before he sets about stirring up even more racial hatred in neighbourhoods that suffer enough tension already.
Unfortunately, 'anti-white racism' is an issue that sells better among Copé's target audience. In an attempt to match his increasingly fanatical talk, another candidate hoping to become party president failed to dismiss his rival’s chat as a publicity stunt on Wednesday, instead backing him up. Asked by journalists what he thought of Copé’s claims, François Fillon said that he was “not shocked at all”.
As for the FN, secretary general Steeve Briois told reporters that Copé had been “forced to adopt FN principles” in the hope of tempting his own party's supporters to switch camps. “This proves that [UMP candidates] will do anything to win the presidency.”
Well, at least the FN are making sense for once.
UMP party members will vote for a new president on November 18 and 25.
This blog post was updated on Sept. 27 to include Copé's status as mayor of Meaux.