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Friday, March 14, 2003
Say wha?
This morning, Glenn Reynolds referred us to this article, in which Le Monde's London correspondent attacks the British for siding with the United States. Glenn noted the tone of the article, in which the reporter wrote as if he were speaking for the French government, but the part which struck me was this:
Let's be clear: Mr Chirac does not endorse Baghdad, and he finds Saddam's regime as despicable as do Bush and Blair. But he fears the American hawks will ignite Muslim fundamentalism worldwide. The fear of domestic conflagration and terrorism are also ever-present: there are 6 million French Muslims to take into account.

Mr Chirac is viscerally opposed to the idea of a clash of civilisations. Bush's core support, on the other hand, comes from evangelical Protestantism, with its two faces of intolerance and lack of cultural understanding.
Is it my imagination, or is the author of this piece suggesting that France can't join in liberating Iraq because Muslim residents of France are disloyal? Because it seems to me that this is either a huge slander against ten percent of the French population, or a major indictment of French immigration policy. It wouldn't be shocking if French Muslims had a different view of Middle East policy than other French citizens -- but the article doesn't make the argument that French Muslims would disagree with French cooperation with the U.S. Rather, the article suggests that they're potential terrorists.

And then he has the nerve to pretend that he disagrees with the idea of a clash of civilizations? He's not disagreeing with it; he's endorsing it -- in extreme, almost racial, form. "Bush's core support" views Middle Eastern culture as a threat, but this reporter (and impliedly Chirac himself) views Muslims qua Muslims as a threat. And that's supposed to demonstrate tolerance and cultural understanding on his part?

Great minds think alike: I note that Eugene Volokh had the same reaction I did.

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