Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Death of France's "Multiculturalism" by Nidra Poller

The Death of France's "Multiculturalism" by Nidra Poller

By Nidra Poller | March 30, 2005

October 2000, Place de la République in Paris: the first of what would become an endless series of ambiguous pro-Palestinian demonstrations welcomed the snake of anti-Semitism into its heart. “Death to the Jews” rang out loud and clear that day as policemen stood by, journalists watched with apparent indifference, and the mass of demonstrators thronged and thrust as demonstrators do.

8 March 2005, Place de la République: a thousand young toughs pierced the heart of a student demonstration and unleashed their rage…not against the police but against the “privileged classes” in their own age group—the protesting lycée students. Operating in gangs of ten and twenty, the casseurs (smashers) in brand-name sweat suits swept through the march like pirate ships, zeroed in on their prey, attacked from behind. They threw kids to the ground, gratuitously beating and kicking them, snatching handbags, ipods, wallets, and cell phones. Riot police looking like robots with their thick leather padding stood by as the predators cut through the crowd wielding knives, clubs, and tear gas bombs.

In the space of a few hours the hallowed tradition of student protest imploded. But trouble had been brewing since January when the lycée students started organizing to oppose la loi Fillon, an umpteenth educational reform project proposed by the current Minister of Education, François Fillon. The previous minister was brought down by similar protests against a different sort of reform. This is the way the system goes, educational reform followed by protest and so on and so forth, while no one is offering any project that could address the acute crisis that is shaking the very foundations of the French educational system. And, precisely, the lycée--which is the equivalent of high school


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