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Chirac raciste

by MarekNYC Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:37:31 AM EST

I found a 1991 quote from Chirac via a Crooked Timber thread. Very ugly. M. le President doesn't seem to like those dirty smelly darkies.


 Notre problème, ce n'est pas les étrangers, c'est qu'il y a overdose. C'est peut-être vrai qu'il n'y a pas plus d'étrangers qu'avant la guerre, mais ce n'est pas les mêmes et ça fait une différence. Il est certain que d'avoir des Espagnols, des Polonais et des Portugais travaillant chez nous, ça pose moins de problèmes que d'avoir des musulmans et des Noirs. Comment voulez-vous que le travailleur français qui travaille avec sa femme et qui ensemble gagnent environ 15 000 FF et qui voit sur le palier à côté de son HLM entassée, une famille avec un père de famille, trois ou quatre épouses et une vingtaine de gosses et qui gagne 50 000 FF de prestation sociale sans naturellement travailler. Si vous ajoutez à cela le bruit et l'odeur, eh bien le travailleur français sur le palier, il devient fou. Et ce n'est pas être raciste que de dire cela. Nous n'avons plus les moyens d'honorer le regroupement familial et il faut enfin ouvrir le débat qui s'impose dans notre pays qui est un vrai débat moral pour savoir s'il est naturel que les étrangers puissent bénéficier au même titre que les Français d'une solidarité nationale à laquelle ils ne participent pas puisqu'ils ne payent pas d'impôts. [...] Le premier racisme n'existe pas entre les français d'origine et les immigrés, mais entre les Arabes et les Noirs. »

Our problem is not that there are foreigners, but that we're OD'ing on them. It may be true that there are no more foreigners [in France] than before the war, but they're not the same foreigners, and that makes a difference.  It's obvious that having people from Spain, Poland, or Portugal working in our country creates fewer problems than having Muslims and Blacks. Think of the French worker with a working wife who between them earn 15,000 FF and sees a family next door in his housing project with a father, three or four wives and a couple dozen kids and who earns 50,000 FF in welfare payments, and who of course doesn't have a job. And if you add to that the noise and the smell, well, that French worker next door, he just goes nuts. We no longer have the means to honour the commitment to family reunion [i.e. that legal immigrants can bring family members to France] and we have to finally start the discussion which is necessary in our country and which is a genuine moral debate about whether it is normal that foreigners should be able to benefit from the same national solidarity [i.e. social services and payments]as the French, a national solidarity in which they do not participate since they don't pay taxes.       [...] The real racism is not between the French of French descent and the immigrants, but between Blacks and Arabs.
Orleans, June 19 1991

Jackques Chirac Wikiquote

Quick unproofed translation so please excuse the syntax and any typos but I think it is basically accurate.

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Yes, it's the famous (or rather, infamous) "odeurs" quote. Let me assure you that this quote is not forgotten in France and comes out regularly.

It taints Chirac's otherwise admirable record of not compromising with the Front National, one of the few things I will give him credit for.

As a note, it came out at a time when the country was debating exactly the same thing as today - what to do with the banlieues. The problems were the exact same as today (possibly worse as this was just after the terrible period in the 80s with massive layoffs in thebig old industries like steel, coal, heavy manufacturing which put a big number of immigrant workers on the unemployment rolls), and the political debate not much different.

It's just one more argument to say that Sarkozy is Chirac redux, 15-20 years later.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:55:36 AM EST
Has Chirac ever recanted or apologized for this statement??

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 05:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure someone will know the answer to this, butr my impression is that Chirac is a clever populist, turning in the wind, so he probably abadoned that view during the 1998 World Cup victory at the latest (when Le Pen had to eat his hat after that bunch of immigrants and darkos were feted in all France, and Chirac himself tried to steal some of Zizou & Co's shine.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 08:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey Dodo, nice to find you here then (I followed your way into eurotrib.com, this place looks nice!).

Chirac is a master politician, who indeed always tries to face the direction in which the wind is blowing to avoid getting his hair messed up.

Like Jérôme says, his infamous "bruit et l'odeur" quote is indeed encountered everywhere, from a line in Asterix and Cleopatra (the movie), to a song by a popular music group from here in Toulouse, Zebda, whose chorus is "le bruit et l'odeur, le bruit du marteau-piqueur".

It's also become a common pun/joke among so many French people. For example, when a friend of mine tells me that I wrote a very vivid description of something, I generally reply "et encore je n'ai pas rajouté le bruit et l'odeur", which means "well imagine if I also added the noise, and the smell ..."

ps: Chirac when he was a young communist ...

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 02:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello, Alex in Toulouse, from afew near Toulouse.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 02:19:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello afew!
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chirac? Apologise?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 11:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for quoting this in full, Marek. I reminded Jacques Chirac of it just the other evening when he was making a statement about the current disturbances.

He didn't hear me, though -- he was hiding behind a TV screen...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 09:42:27 AM EST
Actually, what's even worse is that he campaigned in 1995 over the "fracture sociale", i.e. precisely what has triggered this week's events.

He made the right diagnosis then (it actually came from the always insightful Emmanuel Todd), but he did NOTHING about it when actually in power.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 12:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be true that there are no more foreigners [in France] than before the war, but they're not the same foreigners, and that makes a difference.  It's obvious that having people from Spain, Poland, or Portugal working in our country creates fewer problems than having Muslims and Blacks.
I thought the Spanish and Portuguese workers emigrated to France (and Belgium, and Germany) in the 1950's and 1960's... What war is he talking about? Unless, of course, he's talking about WWII and the Spanish, Portuguese and Poles he refers to are refugees (not workers) running away from Salazar, the Spanish Civil war and the Nazi invasion of Poland.

And the comment about the smelly, noisy man with 4 wives and 12 kids and making 4 times a workman's salary on benefits is priceless. The French version of the "welfare Queen in a cadillac".

My mother took part (with students from her school) in some youth literary event in Paris when Chirac was major. She said at the welcoming reception he shook her hand on three different occasions as he went around the room. He obviously was not paying any attention to who he was meeting. Typical politician.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:17:54 PM EST
Many of the Spanish emigrated by crossing the Pyrénéees on foot in winter, fleeing persecution by the National army armed by the Nazis, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, in 1939. The Toulouse phone book is full of people with Spanish names, many of whom have parents or grand-parents who fought Franco.

Life was very hard for the 450,000 that suddenly came to France. They didn't know the language, they were initially kept in refugee camps in very poor conditions ... "L'Espagnol" or "sale Espagnol" was a common way to describe these people in rural France, because they were seen to be poor, dirty, and even communists!

Many of them eagerly, within the blink of an eye, joined the résistance when the Nazis invaded France the following year. They were ready to die again, this time for their host country, but still for the same ideal. However after the war they earned little or no recognition for their enormous help in the résistance. Prejudice was still strong.

The first generation that was born in France decided to stubbornly fight this prejudice by studying and working hard. That generation is seen by many experts as the most successful generation of immigrants ever. That generation saw more lawyers, doctors, etc than any other generation of any type of immigrants.

My hat off to the great Spanish people of France.

Also for the same reason, and this goes without saying, my hat off to the great Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisan, Senegales etc people of France, who fought the Nazis, who first worked our coal mines, and now must become our doctors and lawyers.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:08:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So it was disingenuous for Chirac to refer to these people as workers as they were indeed refugees.

I saw an exhibition about the Republican exile three years ago. It was heartbreaking how France treated the flleing Republicans. As they had their rifles confiscated they admonished the French "you'll need to give me back that rifle soon enough".

I have heard that the first US tank to enter liberated Paris was manned by Spaniards.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 04:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, had the rifles not been confiscated, France would have had the ready help of a large army of Spanish résistance fighters, willing to die to fight off the Nazis. Instead, these folk joined the résistance without guns!

It's a possibility, I mean. However, there is also the possibility that had they had their rifles in 1940, they would have engaged the Nazis as a a group, i.e. as soldiers, and not as guerrilla/résistance fighters ... in which case they would have been crushed by the Nazi leviathan.

About Spanish immigrants, there has been immigration in the 50s and 60s too, some worker, some refugees, but still overall more refugees than workers (I need to check up on figures for this, but I can distinctly remember this from my glorious study days).

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 05:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, Alex, could you post a diary1 on the gender difference in banlieu inhabitant integration? That's one thing I haven't seen covered here. (Tho', due to lack of time, I have not read most posts on the French 'riots' lately.)

  1. Move your mouse over the upper bar, in the middle, "Alex in Toulouse's page", choose "Write a new diary entry..." from the menu appearing. You'll see not one but two fields for editing - it's good to put only the first paragraph or an intro into the first, and all the rest into the second.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:03:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo, actually this is timely question. The topic has come to my mind twice in the last 24 hours, as follows:

  • this morning, I heard on radio that 65% of boys and 85% of girls get their Baccalauréat in France nowadays. I had no idea that the gap was so big;

  • yesterday, we were discussing the banlieues with colleagues, and we were noting that the girls from theses cités had much less trouble integrating into French life than the boys. In our area in central Paris, the "cité girls" are everywhere, as workers, shop attendants and pedestrians,... but the cité boys are much less visible - mostly delivery guys, some workers, and that's it.

The problem really is young males rather than the young altogether.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:13:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, I forgot to indicate to others that that's what Alex previously told me about in some detail on another blog.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a combination of racism and sexism.

Young women are perceived/socialized as vulnerable/helpless, whicle young men are perceived/socialized as dangerous/independent.

Young brown women are perceived as even more vulnerable than young white women, and young brown men are perceived as as even more dangerous than white men. This makes it easier for young brown females to get a job than for young brown males.

A lot of low-paying jobs are in the service sector. Women are overwhelmingly more likely to seek those jobs than men.

As for school success, boys are rowdier and brown teenagers will be inclined to drop out as they become aware of how stacked the deck is against them. The Independent had an interview with people from the area where one person was killed, and a North-African parent said that his son's teacher discouraged him from trying to study for the exit examinations because of future discrimination.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:57:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Et voila, I just posted a diary entry as asked!
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, definitely not refugees after 1939. Guest workers. At least that's what I remember from Africa. (Remember, L'Afrique commence aux Pyrénées).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hehe, that's the problem with everything that I remember from my glorious study days: all fog and no fact!

I was under the mistaken impression that Franco did cause political emigration, but after checking up you're completely right, emigration after 1939 was almost completely workers and not refugees.

by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Nov 11th, 2005 at 04:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was a kid living in Toulouse back in the early 70s, my folks sent me to a summer camp in the Pyrenées where many of the counsellors were from Spain. I remember they taught us anti-Franco campfire songs; I kind of understood they had left Spain for political reasons.

Then again, they may have picked up the anti-Franquist tradition from their own parents...

And yes, plenty of people of Spanish origin in Toulouse; when I was in primary school, one my best buddies was named Emilio.

by Bernard on Fri Nov 11th, 2005 at 05:04:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's been a lot of immigration until at least the 70s from Spain in Portugal - in fact, the time it stopped is certainly around their entry into the EU (suggesting that making Turkey join the EU is the best way to stop immigration from there...).

I have strong anectodal evidence of Spanish immigration - and integration - my very own concierge is Spanish; her two kids are now in University (in Spain, after going to school here in Paris); some old friends of my wife are the daughter of Spanish laborers in Switzerland and went to univiersity in London and are now working in good jobs in Switzerland.

INSEE shows that Portugal is still the first country of origin of immigrants in France today, before Algeria and Morocco.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 06:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, there is also the possibility that had they had their rifles in 1940, they would have engaged the Nazis as a a group, i.e. as soldiers, and not as guerrilla/résistance fighters ... in which case they would have been crushed by the Nazi leviathan.
I was under the impression that the French Army was not crushed but mostly just outflanked as the Germans invaded France through Belgium and the Ardennes. I suppose there was no way the Spanish soldies would have been allowed to keep their guns unless they had been invited to join the French army, which in Early 1939 would have been preposterous. I bet many of them would have preferred to join the Legion Étrangère than to be in a refugee camp, though. The Spanish Republicans would have ended up either in a concentration camp or in the Free French Forces, which is where they ended up anyway.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 11th, 2005 at 05:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Marek for this blast from the past.
We, in France, had almost forgotten the famous "smell" speech.
In that case, Chirac was more of an opportunist than a racist (trying to take the wind off Le Pen's sails), but hey, opportunism and Chirac have always come together very nicely.
by Bernard on Wed Nov 9th, 2005 at 04:56:41 PM EST
Damn, I'm such an ignorant American. I had no idea!
by deano (deanoist at gmail dot com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 12:11:32 AM EST
.. is better summed up in this link.
It will be quickly off so.. go and see while you can

Chirac is on the left in this case

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:03:52 PM EST
Hey, that's a fascio in the middle!

Gotta love Máximo.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:09:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but he kept the liberte.....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 03:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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