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Archive for April 6th, 2012

Mélenchon: far-left nationalist?

To the barricades, citizens: Jean Luc Mélenchon is on the rise, claiming the authentic voice of the old French Revolution in upcoming elections.

But the French presidential candidate is something new: a far-left nationalist who can whip up a crowd. He shakes his fists, waves the red flag, calls for a “civic insurrection” among citizens, scorns elites, hates capitalism – and has suddenly become the No. 3 candidate in this somewhat fractious and tortured election season […]

But a new and serious dynamic in the race is now playing out on the vast French left, which includes about half of voters. Behind the Mélenchon phenomenon is a sizable bloc of urban working class and middle class voters, uncommitted, worried about jobs, housing, and pensions, and less fixated on the identity politics of Mr. Sarkozy and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Mr. Mélenchon’s rhetoric also shows that in France, “red meat” issues of social justice on the left continue to persist.

“Mélenchon has been able to federate the hard left, the Trotskyites, the communist party, a lot of smaller parties, unions, public service workers…. Greens and ecologists,” says Arun Kapil, a political scientist at Catholic University in Paris. “And with [Socialist candidate François] Hollande leading an uninspiring campaign, there’s been a snowball effect around [Mélenchon.]”

Some moderate leftists whisper that he is “scary,” as he has defended the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is avowedly anti-European Union.

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Controversial Black city councilman Marion Barry recently denounced the presence of exploitative Asian businesses in his Washington, DC ward:

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.” 

His reasonable call for Black economic self-sufficiency was immediately met with hysterical attacks from neocon pundits, including this piece by Michelle Malkin: 

But Barry’s not alone. His incendiary rhetoric echoes other liberal black leaders who have long made a sport of scapegoating Asian immigrant entrepreneurs across the country. Just this February, Jeffery Muhammad, the veteran Nation of Islam leader in Dallas, lashed out at Asian-American business owners for being “just the latest in a long line of people who have come to this country — like Jews, Italians, Indians and now Asians — who have sucked the blood of and exploited the black community.”

Just a fringe sentiment, you say?

Rapper Ice Cube, now a mainstream actor and comedian, penned “Black Korea” to demonize Korean store owners in South Central Los Angeles:

So they watch every damn move that I make
They hope I don’t pull out a gat and try to rob
they funky little store, but b***h, I got a job
…So don’t follow me, up and down your market
Or your little chop suey ass’ll be a target
of the nationwide boycott

And Al Sharpton, now a prominent MSNBC host, was caught on tape stoking hatred against Chinese-owned chicken restaurants and Korean grocers…

[the pictures featured in this Green Star article were originally posted on Barry’s Twitter account from various locations within his community] 

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Viva French Regionalism!

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets all over France this weekend to defend the country’s minority languages. These have been spoken in different regions of France for centuries, but are slowly dying off. With the first round of the French presidential election just three weeks away, speakers of endangered tongues are trying to get candidates to take their concerns seriously […]
Protesters argue that the state discriminates against regional languages by not allowing their use in any official documents. In contrast with many of its European neighbours, France has a highly centralised administration, with standard French as its sole working language. This dates back to the French revolution and the emergence of Jacobinism, a doctrine that shaped the nation’s policies around political, cultural and linguistic unity.
Three presidential candidates – François Hollande (Socialist party), François Bayrou (a centrist), and Eva Joly (Green party) – have already come out in favour of recognising regional languages. The latter two even took part in one of the protests in Toulouse on Saturday. Only one candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (far left), has taken a clear position against these languages being recognised, saying that he was “proud to be a Jacobin, and to speak only French and Spanish, the language of my grandparents.” [Mélenchon is being shortsighted here; regionalism could be an important component of his décroissance or “degrowth” philosophy. -ed.]

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