Here’s the thing. France is the land of human rights. Not to mention Equality. It is therefore illegal here to gather data on the basis of a person’s race or ethnicity. How, then, without statistics to enable analysis, does she address the very real problem of discrimination in her society? This very sensible question has only recently been taken seriously here. Why? Because Sarkozy, in thrall to the Anglo-Saxon social model, has set up a new commission, headed by a businessman of Algerian origin called Yazid Sabeg, in order to measure and promote ‘diversity’. The English-speaking world is busy applauding on the sidelines while most French intellectuals on both left and right band together in fierce opposition. What are these guardians of the republican model afraid of?
1) The Past: the last time the citizens of this nation were invited to provide information on the basis of their racial origins was under Vichy’s ruthlessly efficient anti-Semitic regime.
2) The Present: if France gives in to this initiative and starts openly gathering data on her ethnic minorities, she will have to face the reality of how truly elitist and non-egalitarian her society actually is. (There is basically no black middle class in this country.)
3) The Future: If France allows herself to debunk the myth of equality by acknowledging the day to day reality of her immigrant populations she will have to do something about it, maybe even start considering such terrifying proposals as affirmative action. Should this happen, it will only be a matter of time before her highly elitist National Education system and with it, all the vestiges of her aristocratic traditions that have survived so well since her revolution, crumble and die.
I’m not too worried, though. Sarkozy’s measures so far are only posturing. France has plenty of data about her immigrant communities. To get around the law she simply asks, Where were you born, where were your parents born, and your grandparents? She already has all the stats on her first, second and third immigrant generations. She simply doesn’t want to wash her dirty laundry in public. Is that too much to ask?