Bernard Chazelle posted a fascinating article explaining the role of egalite in the French psyche and in France’s social problems. From January but eternally timely. A select quote:
French racism is widespread and a major cause of the current crisis. More xenophobic than chromophobic, however, it keeps a healthy distance from the kind of “white race” paranoia that would lead 16 states in the US to ban interracial marriage as recently as 1967. As Harvard sociologist Michèle Lamont writes, “This [fieldwork] suggests a form of racism that is surprising to many Americans; it does not center on skin color per se” . French racism is the fear of the Other who won’t be us; American racism is the fear of the Other who will. This singularity partly explains French skepticism toward multiculturalism. This mouthful of a word is widely construed in France as a segregationist device for turning a society of citizens into a menagerie of caged exotica. It stands accused of promoting a “theme park” approach to cosmopolitanism, whereby adding multi to cultural is the quickest way to transition from Homer’s Odyssey to Hoboken’s Annual Moussaka Parade.
I also like the part where he describes Mark Steyn as ‘reliably batty.’