“You criticize protest but don’t offer any alternative”
by Nidra Poller
I love debate, and I am pleased with the debate provoked by my article “Semi-righteous indignation snuffs out the Olympic flame”. The last comment I picked up on May 5th — You criticize protest but don’t offer any alternative — is a good place to begin this follow-up article, hand-crafted for Gates of Vienna.
First, let me explain that my reference to those who condemn President Sarkozy for sending troops to Afghanistan while pressuring him to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is not a distillation of varied and sundry examples, it is an indirect résumé of a serious debate between reputable intellectuals (“Ripostes,” moderated by Serge Moatti) broadcast on the serious Channel 5. In the first half hour they pronounced Afghanistan a lost cause and pushed for accommodation with the Taliban; in the second half hour they rallied to the Tibetan cause… reduced to a symbolic gesture at the Olympics. Not everyone on the panel agreed, but no one seemed to notice the contradiction between their disinterest in Afghan civil rights, replaced by a passion for Tibetan civil rights.
There are countless strategies for influencing public opinion and government decisions: self-immolation, humanocide bombing, property destruction, attacking police and international institutions; academic, political, humanitarian, and other cultural and intellectual activities; think tanks, financial operations, philosophical treatises and… waving banners and protest marching. My alternative to protest marching is, obviously, writing.
It is certainly fair play to criticize my writing. And there’s no reason why I can’t criticize protest marching. Especially when I have lived in France, world capital of protest, for over 35 years. Excuse me for boasting, but my articles on the so-called peace marches of 2003 are probably the only accurate descriptions of that jihad movement dressed in dove’s clothing.
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I also criticized Women’s Liberation (way back in the Sixties) when closet lesbians were messing with relations between men and women. And again, in subsequent phases, when ideology was pushing women into a form of libertarian sex slavery disguised as freedom. I refused the ridiculous notions about femininity being imposed by wicked society, I disagreed when women were led to believe they could use men as fertilizers and then go their merry way as blissfully single mothers. I defended maternity when Women’s Lib was trashing it.
Of course I fell for some of the balderdash and I profited from some of the liberation. It doesn’t mean that Women’s Lib was the best way to do it. Better, finer, more profound thinking might have brought better results.
Anyway, we’re always picking up the pieces of our bright ideas and our stupid ideas. By the time I’d moved to France the buzz was: un enfant si je veux quand je veux [a child if I want it when I want it]. Great ideas, yes? So what do we have today? Homosexual couples adopting children, women in their fifties suddenly realizing they want children, medically assisted conception replacing the old-fashioned mistakes that brought so many of us into this world, and Western societies falling below demographic replacement levels.
Wait a minute… before I ignite another controversy over these female problems, let me get back to Tibet.
Am I heartless if I do not fight for Tibetan autonomy? No! I don’t know enough about China, including Tibet, to have an educated opinion on the matter. But I know enough to understand that I am not an essential element in that puzzle. I don’t have to prove my bona fides by wringing my hands over Tibet when the media snap their fingers; I don’t have to disgrace myself by thinking that a bit of protest is all it takes to bring China into line. There is no merit to pretending that economic, military, and geopolitical realities do not outweigh a few weeks of Olympic flame protest. It is dishonest to drape the Olympics in noble garb as if they were the locus of Ethics.
And I do not have to bow down to the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other heroes of their persuasion. There is so much irony in the current French devotion to the Tibetan cause. Here in the land of Holy Secularism, where Christians and Jews are often ridiculed for their retrograde religious practices, battalions of Tibetan monks with prayer wheels are suddenly graced with revolutionary virtues.
This month a new cause célèbre has hit the streets: residence permits for regularly employed illegal workers. What made them suddenly come forward to demand real permits to replace the counterfeit ones they used to get hired? They do the dirty work in restaurants, hotels, and construction. They pay taxes and social security charges. A well-oiled system, we are told. As many as seven men declare their income under the name of one authentic resident. Hard to believe, but no reliable information is available.
The pressure is on the Sarkozy government to accept the fait accompli. These decent hard-working people are here, why should they have to live in the shadows? Immigration reform was high on the platform of this democratically elected government, but the champions of the illegals want to reverse that policy. Why? Because they know better. Deporting illegals is one step up from Nazism.
In a recent press conference, the president asked why employers were exploiting illegals from Sénégal, Mali, etc. when the unemployment rate for legal immigrants is 22%.
Who cares more about human rights? The president or the protesters?
In the latest turn of events, the illegals are occupying offices of the Communist-backed CGT labor union, claiming the union was exploiting their distress for its own purposes.
And if you or I say that, above and beyond the CGT and the professional protestors, other forces are exploiting these distressed immigrants…