Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Roma, The Turks and a bit of French History

... France has sometimes exhibited a virulent strain of anti-semitism. The anti-Jewish policy of the French wartime government headed by Marshall Pétain has been excused as unavoidable given that the country was under German occupation. But the French decrees were in some respects stricter than the Nazi, particularly in assessing Jewish ancestry. As Pétain's private secretary, Du Moulin de Labarthète affirms in his memoires: "This legislation was, if I dare say, spontaneous, purely native" .

Freemasons and Protestants also played the role of the "other" at least until the end of the Second World War. Freemasons were thought by many Catholics to want to destroy family values and to deny religion. Maurice Barres, a right wing polemicist said that Jews and Protestants were incarnations of cosmopolitanism, and therefore rootless parasites. They loved universal rights such as the right to life, to freedom, to own property "because it masked their foreignness."

One of the most striking actions against the "other" in French history was the public degradation in 1895 at the Ecole Militaire in Paris of Captain Dreyfus, the Jewish officer who was wrongly convicted of spying for Germany on charges cooked up by the Army High Command. At a formal ceremony, the poor Captain was stripped of his buttons, braids, epaulettes and red trouser stripes and his sword was broken before he was led away in rags to begin a long prison to complete Independent article 

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