Condescending article in NYT about France and immigration

We should expect nothing else, of course. It is written by an immigrant himself, one “Justin E. H. Smith is professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris 7, Denis Diderot“. It opens:

It is difficult to go more than a day in France without hearing someone express the conviction that the greatest problem in the country is its ethnic minorities, that the presence of immigrants compromises the identity of France itself. This conviction is typically expressed without any acknowledgment of the country’s historical responsibility as a colonial power for the presence of former colonial subjects in metropolitan France, nor with any willingness to recognize that France will be ethnically diverse from here on out, and that it’s the responsibility of the French as much as of the immigrants to make this work.

Wait a minute, here. So Europe is full of immigrants as a “payback“ for colonialism? I’ve never heard of that happening to other imperial powers. Should residents of the former Ottoman Empire have a right to live in Turkey? No, I didn’t think so. Idiot.

Secondly, the French must “recognize that France will be ethnically diverse from here on out“, even though they were not consulted on this project to start with it. Insufferable twit.

Finally, it the “responsibility of the French as much as of the immigrants to make this work“, even though most of them neither wanted this immigration in the first place. Elite buffoon.

It goes on and on:

I became a philosopher, like many others, in large part because I imagined that doing so would enable me to rise above the murky swamp of local attachment, of ethnic and provincial loyalty, and to embrace the world as a whole, to be a true cosmopolitan. Yet history shows that many philosophers only grow more attached to their national or ethnic identity as a result of their philosophical education.

This second tendency seems particularly widespread in Europe today, and most of all in France. Many Americans imagine that French philosophy is dominated by mysterians like the late Jacques Derrida, who famously beguiled innocent followers with koan-like proclamations. But a far more dangerous sub-species of French philosopher is the “public intellectual,” whose proclamations, via the French mass media, are perfectly comprehensible, indeed not just simple but downright simplistic, and often completely irresponsible.

Take, for example, the self-styled philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who in his recent popular book “L’identité malheureuse” (“The Unhappy Identity”), proclaims, in effect, that immigration is destroying French cultural identity. He bemoans the “métissage” of France, a term one often sees in the slogans of the far right, which translates roughly as “mongrelization.” The author, whose father was a Polish immigrant and a survivor of Auschwitz, and who has made much throughout his career of what he calls “the duty of memory,” claims to be defending the values of the “français de souche” — the real French. In this way, he is stoking the rising xenophobia in France, a trend that has been exacerbated here, as elsewhere in Europe, by recent economic uncertainty.

He certainly has a high opinion of himself, rising “above the murky swamp of local attachment, of ethnic and provincial loyalty, and to embrace the world as a whole.” But not everyone seems to be up to your high-flown standards.

Europe has enjoyed constant traffic — human, financial, material, and cultural — with the extra-European world since the end of the Renaissance, yet within a few centuries of the great global expansion at the end of the 15th century a myth would set in throughout Europe, that European nations are entirely constituted from within, that their cultures grow up from the soil and belong to a fixed parcel of land as if from time immemorial. It is this conception of the constitution of a nation that has led to the fundamental split that still distinguishes European immigration policies from those of the United States.

In fact, Mr. Smith, the recent immigration to Europe is unprecedented and most people don’t like it.

All people have throughout human history tried to keep their families and close kin alive and with luck, produced a new generation. Inviting people of a very alien religion to your patch of land who refuse to assimilate is unheard of.

You fancy that the old rules are over because of modern technology, largely. I would not be so sure if I were you.

The article has over 700 comments, but the few protestors are being called names by others. He has a blog, here, and is apparently originally an American.

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