Friday, 27 May 2011

The racists are among us

All news I hear of come to me through the different TV channels. I read an US weekly but this is more for in depth info world wide. If I am feeling they try to force-feed me some half truths or that I get only a lopsided picture I go to Google to find out.

So about ten days ago this stunning affair about the accusation of rape and sexual violence in a New York hotel against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK as he is called here) came to my knowledge. Via the French TV, sure, at the evening news.

I know the man, like most people who live in France. He might well have been the next French President and I said to my wife, some months before "could be I would vote for him, if I were French".

The very day of these accusations and the videos showing him handcuffed in front of the NY prison, people, important well-known people, were interviewed and asked to comment .

Here is what I heard:

- Jack Lang, former minister of culture on television TF2 : "This was a kind of lynching inspite of the fact that no one was dead".

- Jean-François Kahn, journalist, writer and politician on France-Culture: "what happened there was a stripping of a servant".

- Robert Badinter former minister of justice) on television TF2 during a lengthy interview where he talked endlessly about the plight of DSK but not a word about the victim. When asked about this he said : "Yes, the victim, sure, that's a problem".

Bernard-Henry Lévy, philosopher, writer, movie director, journalist etc. on his blog and on the DailyBeast website : "...what I know is that nothing in the world can justify a man being thus thrown to the dogs...".

Jean Daniel, writer and journalist: "The fate inflicted upon Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the American justice system makes me think that we don't belong to the same civilisation ".

All these words have two things in common: first the men commenting seem not to care very much about the victim and second they are all jewish. The first point has been amply commented by now and I suppose this was the last time you can hear or read this kind of thoughts over here. Next time they will be more prudent I guess. But point number 2: nothing. Not a word. They are all rushing to the defence of the party but the very fact is not mentioned.

Now something else but there is a relation.The number 1 sports activity here is soccer, football as we call it rightly and the French national team won the World Championship some years ago. Have a look at this photo of "Les Bleus", the blue ones as they are called affectionately in the media.

About 3 or 4 years ago there was an uproar about the national team. The President Georges Frêche of the Langedoc-Roussillon region (bordering the Mediterranean) said one word too much "... in this crew of 11 there are 9 blacks. It would be normal to have 3 or 4...."

This triggered a big scandal. His party stripped him of his membership and they tried everything to avoid his reelection as president. Now have a look. What did he do? Nothing more than state a fact.

To conclude, Shakespeare's Hamlet comes to my mind: "There is a method in the madness" and the other one "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

Friday, 6 May 2011

The pleasure of reading - second thoughts

Some time ago I wrote a post about books I like most. When writing this list I really did my best and tried to be objective.

These days I am reading a book I have already read about three or four times and there are others I have even read nearly ten times. But not one of those books and its authors are in my list.

So I think I owe them something.

The book I am reading right now - for about the third time I guess - is "Tuesday The Rabbi Saw Red" by Harry Kemelman. This is a thriller as it should be, a real page turner, but there is something more to it.

The whole plot is set in a Jewish community situated near Boston/USA and this rabbi is a male version of Agatha Cristie's "Miss Marple", well known to those who like the genre.

The author who looks a bit like Ian Fleming

wanted to write a book about Jewish life in the United States but his editor told him that such a subject would be unsalable. So he wrapped it all into a thriller/mystery story and had a huge success worldwide with his rabbi stories.

So while reading this you learn a lot about those American Jews and about their religion. Strange to say, most of those Jews depicted in this book (and in the other ones) are not very likeable at all. They are constantly quarreling among themselves, are self centered and do their very best to annoy our worthy rabbi and are constantly scheming to make him loose his job.

A very interesting part of the book are comparisons between the hebrew creed and christianity. Quite enlightening, at least for me who is very much interested in religions (though myself I have none).

A very endearing person is the Assistant District Attorney Bradford Ames (not a Jew) who belongs to a very old family in the town and considers he has a duty towards his fellow citizen. He is a kind of rebublican aristocrat made in USA. Then there is police chief Hugh Lanigan, a cop as a cop should be, intelligent, broad minded, friendly.

Reading what I wrote hereabove, I have to admit that I don't say much about the plot. But it is a page turner allright, you see the police and our rabbi chasing the different links that frequently become dead ends.

I am sure, this is a great book out of a great series though it will never make it to "world literature" and the author was certainly never eligible for the Nobel Price.

Last not least, if someone feels inclined to give it a try and read a book from Harry Kemelman just after having glanced through this post, I would like to hear how it goes.

Cheers to all of you.