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operative 11-23-2010 10:13 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 189649)

That was meant to be a response to Bjkeef. I only talk to myself on Tuesdays.

Ocean 11-23-2010 10:19 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189653)
That was meant to be a response to Bjkeef. I only talk to myself on Tuesdays.

I'll have to add this one to the DSM.

bjkeefe 11-23-2010 10:24 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189635)
Eg you said that you initially thought that you agreed with me on 80% of things, ...

No, I didn't. I once said that I thought you were reasonable 80% of the time. Big difference.

I know in your world the only way someone can be reasonable is to agree with you, but it doesn't work that way for me.

operative 11-23-2010 10:25 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 189658)
No, I didn't. I once said that I thought you were reasonable 80% of the time. Big difference.

Hmm...I thought you had at one point said that you figured that you agreed with me on 80% of things. But maybe not. Not a big deal either way.

Quote:

I know in your world the only way someone can be reasonable is to agree with you, but it doesn't work that way for me.
Actually my post was expressing the exact opposite. The only way one can be right is agreeing with me, but you can be plenty reasonable and disagree with me on many things.

operative 11-23-2010 10:26 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 189657)
I'll have to add this one to the DSM.

Glad you added the link--I spent valuable time trying to figure out what DMS was standing for. We're very angry about that.

bjkeefe 11-23-2010 10:28 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189660)
Hmm...I thought you had at one point said that you figured that you agreed with me on 80% of things. [...]

No. I added a link to my post to show you.

operative 11-23-2010 10:30 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 189662)
No. I added a link to my post to show you.

Ah, I sit corrected.

Ocean 11-23-2010 10:30 PM

Re: Exercises of Insanity (Adam Serwer & Michael Moynihan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189661)
We're very angry about that.

LOL!

Florian 11-24-2010 04:45 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 189593)
Huh.

You consider that a racist remark? I suggest you come to France and see how the Roma "make their living" and in what conditions they choose to live.

I personally find gypsies and the children they use to do their begging quite charming, but Rumanians should not think that they can offload their problems on other Europeans. Perhaps the Czechs will take them in....

Florian 11-24-2010 05:09 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 189516)
44 percent of American high school students in 2006 were studying a foreign language. This is the best statistic I've found. If 44 percent of American high school students 4 years ago were studying a foreign language, it's not possible that only 5 percent of Americans have ever studied a foreign language, particularly if the percentage of high schools offering foreign language classes has gone down (which I'm inclined to believe it has, although I have no facts on this subject).

ETA: An even better statistic:



This is from a national survey from the Center of Applied Linguistics taken in 2008. If 25% of all elementary schools teach foreign languages (and again, I think that's pathetically low), it would be awfully hard for only five percent of Americans to ever have studied a foreign language. I get that there's bad information out there, and everyone likes to believe stuff that confirms their biases, but you should have known that looked fishy before even typing it. Your ability to opine about America should be revoked forever.

You should read more carefully. Of those 44% studying a foreign language, 70% study Spanish. I have nothing against the study of Spanish, but I wonder how many of those are of Hispanic background anyway and already speak the language.

The decline in knowledge of foreign languages is obvious to anyone who compares the contemporary American academic and cultural élites with previous generations of Americans, who were often able to read other European languages without difficulty. But then there were far fewer college educated people anyway.

I have a US passport and American relatives. I taught at Harvard for a while. I have a fairly good idea of the linguistic competences of the "best and the brightest," and Harvard is moreover rather exceptional in having a language requirement. In comparison with Europe, where most people study at least English (and often another language) I think it is fairly uncontroversial to say that Americans are on the whole monoglots.

I don't agree with the numerous philistines who have expressed their opinion here that the only reason to learn a language is its practicality or commercial usefulness. From the point of view of history and modern culture, the three most important languages are English, French and German. These three languages have the richest literary, philosophical, and intellectual traditions. I think one can make a good argument for learning a language that is separate from whether or not it is useful. It is the same argument that used to be made for a "liberal education," that the study of a "langue de culture" expands the mind. After all, most people never spend much time in another country anyway, and for travel all you need is a few scraps of that ugly lingua franca, globishenglish

operative 11-24-2010 10:34 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189697)
You should read more carefully. Of those 44% studying a foreign language, 70% study Spanish. I have nothing against the study of Spanish, but I wonder how many of those are of Hispanic background anyway and already speak the language.

The decline in knowledge of foreign languages is obvious to anyone who compares the contemporary American academic and cultural élites with previous generations of Americans, who were often able to read other European languages without difficulty. But then there were far fewer college educated people anyway.

I have a US passport and American relatives. I taught at Harvard for a while. I have a fairly good idea of the linguistic competences of the "best and the brightest," and Harvard is moreover rather exceptional in having a language requirement. In comparison with Europe, where most people study at least English (and often another language) I think it is fairly uncontroversial to say that Americans are on the whole monoglots.

I don't agree with the numerous philistines who have expressed their opinion here that the only reason to learn a language is its practicality or commercial usefulness. From the point of view of history and modern culture, the three most important languages are English, French and German. These three languages have the richest literary, philosophical, and intellectual traditions. I think one can make a good argument for learning a language that is separate from whether or not it is useful. It is the same argument that used to be made for a "liberal education," that the study of a "langue de culture" expands the mind. After all, most people never spend much time in another country anyway, and for travel all you need is a few scraps of that ugly lingua franca, globishenglish

If the US were individual states each speaking a different language, we'd all know Texasese, New Yorkese, and Floridaese. It's just a historical phenomena that the super clannish Europeans couldn't stop fighting, let alone band together, for thousands of years, and so developed a plethora of languages. You're ignoring the necessity of learning additional languages in France, as well as the multilingual status of several Euro countries (Switzerland) in favor of some silly argument about cultural supremacy. Your countries are the size of our states.

Florian 11-24-2010 11:13 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189704)
If the US were individual states each speaking a different language, we'd all know Texasese, New Yorkese, and Floridaese. It's just a historical phenomena that the super clannish Europeans couldn't stop fighting, let alone band together, for thousands of years, and so developed a plethora of languages. You're ignoring the necessity of learning additional languages in France, as well as the multilingual status of several Euro countries (Switzerland) in favor of some silly argument about cultural supremacy. Your countries are the size of our states.

From your previous posts, I doubt if you even knows what culture is, much less what cultural supremacy is. In any case, someone capable of writing such gibberish clearly never had a liberal education.

Go back to worshipping at the shrine of Sarah, proof positive of the cultural supremacy of the United States.

operative 11-24-2010 11:15 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189705)
From your previous posts, I doubt if you even knows what culture is, much less what cultural supremacy is. In any case, someone capable of writing such gibberish clearly never had a liberal education.

Go back to worshipping at the shrine of Sarah, proof positive of the cultural supremacy of the United States.

Totally the intellectual thought of someone who 'taught at Harvard.'

bjkeefe 11-24-2010 12:00 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189706)
Totally the intellectual thought of someone who 'taught at Harvard.'

I'd say he brought his perspective down low enough to capture you, yes.

operative 11-24-2010 12:04 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 189711)
I'd say he brought his perspective down low enough to capture you, yes.

If by capturing you mean causing me to doubt any claims Florian makes about his educational/professional accomplishments, then certainly.

And coming from someone who seems to be incapable of going 10 posts without slipping into sub-Limbaugh mode and resorting to juvenile name-calling, that really means a whole lot.

bjkeefe 11-24-2010 12:20 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189712)
... slipping into sub-Limbaugh mode ...

I see you have joined the WHB School of Lame Comeback Ignored Means ... Lame Comeback Should Be Repeated!!!1!

Florian 11-24-2010 12:20 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189712)
If by capturing you mean causing me to doubt any claims Florian makes about his educational/professional accomplishments, then certainly.

And coming from someone who seems to be incapable of going 10 posts without slipping into sub-Limbaugh mode and resorting to juvenile name-calling, that really means a whole lot.

BJ was only reminding you of what everyone already knows about you: that you are out of your league here, and prove it every time you open your mouth.

I make no unjustified claims about my professional accomplishments, which are quite modest. In comparison to your bumptious conceit and illiteracy, that is.

operative 11-24-2010 12:38 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189714)
BJ was only reminding you of what everyone already knows about you: that you are out of your league here, and prove it every time you open your mouth.

Keep telling yourself that.

Quote:

I make no unjustified claims about my professional accomplishments, which are quite modest.
Quite modest I am sure. Accomplishments, not so much. I still think that my initial estimate of you is correct (since I did guess that you grew up in America). Bachelor's degree from a pretty good university, and an incomplete effort at a doctorate from a decent, but not great, one. Divorced at least once, and probably chose to relocate to France following a messy romance with an American girl.

Quote:

In comparison to your bumptious conceit and illiteracy, that is.
Coming from the person who appears to seek to exude the cliched persona of the pompous Frenchman.

operative 11-24-2010 12:39 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 189713)
I see you have joined the WHB School of Lame Comeback Ignored Means ... Lame Comeback Should Be Repeated!!!1!

Sooner or later it will sink in. I hold out hopes for you BJ, that one day you will rise above the sub-Rush level, maybe to the Hannity/Maddow level: gleeful spin machine without as much of the juvenile name calling.

Florian 11-24-2010 12:52 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189718)
Keep telling yourself that..

What else can I tell myself about you? You seem to be an incorrigible idiot and prove it again and again?

Quote:

Quite modest I am sure. Accomplishments, not so much. I still think that my initial estimate of you is correct (since I did guess that you grew up in America). Bachelor's degree from a pretty good university, and an incomplete effort at a doctorate from a decent, but not great, one. .

Wrong on both counts, but in any case superior to your degrees, as evidenced by your contributions here.

I have never made any secret of my double nationality (and that my mother was French) or that I grew up in the US. So your divinatory instincts are no more impressive than anything else about you.

Quote:

Coming from the person who appears to seek to exude the cliched persona of the pompous Frenchman.
Rather a pompous Frenchman, than a bumptious country bumpkin like you.

operative 11-24-2010 01:01 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189725)
What else can I tell myself about you?

How many languages of non-European origin do you have any experience with? I think you're not so subtly racist, not in a Klan way but in the type of 'intellectual' racism that attempts to cloud racism with non explicitly racist language. Thus the condemnation of African American English as 'inferior', the defense of French colonialism as 'not all that bad at all' (because of course the dirty Africans should've been thankful to exposed to true civilization), etc.

I'm guessing that along with French and English you speak some German and Italian, but of course avoid Spanish since some of its European speakers have darker skin, and any Slavic language since Eastern Europeans aren't real Europeans.


Quote:


Wrong on both counts, but in any case superior to your degrees, as evidenced by your contributions here.
I have no expectation that you'll delve into specifics on your education, and I have no intentions of delving into mine (privacy is the word of the day). So there's not much that either of us will do in terms of substantiating our claims. I am, however, every bit as comfortable in my deduction that my education is at the very least equal to yours as you are that yours is superior to mine. And the difference is that I'm right.

Quote:

I have never made any secret of my double nationality (and that my mother was French) or that I grew up in the US. So your divinatory instincts are no more impressive than anything else about you.
I hadn't seen you reveal your 'double nationality' before I guessed it.

Florian 11-24-2010 01:05 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189728)
How many languages of non-European origin do you have any experience with? I think you're not so subtly racist, not in a Klan way but in the type of 'intellectual' racism that attempts to cloud racism with non explicitly racist language. Thus the condemnation of African American English as 'inferior', the defense of French colonialism as 'not all that bad at all' (because of course the dirty Africans should've been thankful to exposed to true civilization), etc.

I'm guessing that along with French and English you speak some German and Italian, but of course avoid Spanish since some of its European speakers have darker skin, and any Slavic language since Eastern Europeans aren't real Europeans.

I have no expectation that you'll delve into specifics on your education, and I have no intentions of delving into mine (privacy is the word of the day). So there's not much that either of us will do in terms of substantiating our claims. I am, however, every bit as comfortable in my deduction that my education is at the very least equal to yours as you are that yours is superior to mine. And the difference is that I'm right.

I hadn't seen you reveal your 'double nationality' before I guessed it.

Sorry, operative. I am not interested in carrying on a conversation with you on any subject. I have made up my mind about you. You belong to an inferior race.

operative 11-24-2010 01:09 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189729)
Sorry, operative. I am not interested in carrying on a conversation with you on any subject. I have made up my mind about you. You belong to an inferior race.

Uh oh now Florian thinks I'm black. Now he'll think that my home should be colonized.

Sorry, Florian, but I think the only inferior race that exists is the race of the pompous Frenchman--far beneath the pompous Spaniard, the pompous Brit, and the angry American.

Florian 11-24-2010 01:11 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189730)
Uh oh now Florian thinks I'm black. Now he'll think that my home should be colonized.

Sorry, Florian, but I think the only inferior race that exists is the race of the pompous Frenchman--far beneath the pompous Spaniard, the pompous Brit, and the angry American.

You are so obtuse that you cannot even understand irony.

operative 11-24-2010 01:13 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189731)
You are so obtuse that you cannot even understand irony.

Yeah, totally missed your blatant attempt at the art.

Florian 11-24-2010 01:29 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189733)
Yeah, totally missed your blatant attempt at the art.

If it was blatant, why did you miss it? Never mind.... Go back to worshipping at the shrine of Sarah. That is where you belong.

bjkeefe 11-24-2010 02:42 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by operative (Post 189720)
... the sub-Rush level ...

ibid.

operative 11-24-2010 03:52 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 189734)
If it was blatant, why did you miss it?

I did not miss it (not acknowledging is not the same as not understanding), though I'm guessing you missed my sarcasm.

Quote:

Never mind.... Go back to worshipping at the shrine of Sarah. That is where you belong.
Yes I totally love Sarah Palin and support her for president.

operative 11-24-2010 03:52 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 189740)

Yes and I'll continue until you change your posting style.

ledocs 11-24-2010 05:10 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

I have never met a true racist in France, although I have met a few racists in the United States.
You really must get out more.

But this France place really sounds great. Lots of culture, welfare state, no racists, I should think about moving there.

Florian 11-25-2010 05:16 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 189765)
You really must get out more.

But this France place really sounds great. Lots of culture, welfare state, no racists, I should think about moving there.

You should really get out of the sticks, la France profonde, or move back to the US.

ledocs 11-25-2010 07:23 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
There are too many racial problems and anti-Semitic incidents around Paris (I have a Sephardic friend who moved from a northern suburb to a southern suburb contiguous with Paris intra muros for this reason).

Ici, on est tranquille.

Florian 11-25-2010 07:27 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 189858)
There are too many racial problems and anti-Semitic incidents around Paris. Ici, je suis tranquille.

That's strange. I have heard nothing about them, but then you have such peculiar notions of race, that I am not surprised you are a bit paranoid. But I really think you would be better off in your native country.

ledocs 11-25-2010 08:31 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Florian, I will stop trading barbs here, since my own sense is that I am the marginally more mature person, between the two of us, and I prefer to retain some dignity.

On the serious side, though, this is the second time you have advised me to leave France in these forums, something I find both highly offensive and hurtful, since I have made a fleeting attempt to befriend you, my wife and I bought you dinner. My sense would be that you should make a more serious effort to know someone before you presume to give advice like that. It is also highly ironic that you adopt an absurdly chauvinistic stance in the context of telling people how wonderfully France treats its immigrants. "Love it or leave it," as it were. You, whose sense of irony is so highly developed!

This bit about advising me to leave France, though, really goes beyond the pale. If it is supposed to be a joke, it's not at all funny. If not, it is truly undignified, unwelcome, and uncivilized behavior.

Florian 11-25-2010 12:51 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 189860)
Florian, I will stop trading barbs here, since my own sense is that I am the marginally more mature person, between the two of us, and I prefer to retain some dignity.

On the serious side, though, this is the second time you have advised me to leave France in these forums, something I find both highly offensive and hurtful, since I have made a fleeting attempt to befriend you, my wife and I bought you dinner. My sense would be that you should make a more serious effort to know someone before you presume to give advice like that. It is also highly ironic that you adopt an absurdly chauvinistic stance in the context of telling people how wonderfully France treats its immigrants. "Love it or leave it," as it were. You, whose sense of irony is so highly developed!

This bit about advising me to leave France, though, really goes beyond the pale. If it is supposed to be a joke, it's not at all funny. If not, it is truly undignified, unwelcome, and uncivilized behavior.

Ledocs, I think you have a tendency to misinterpret everything. Sorry if my irony is too juvenile for you.

I couldn't care less whether you like France, and I certainly am not urging you to leave it. But it is true that I am tired of hearing Americans like you, who have never made the slightest effort to learn about France and its history and how its model of democracy may differ from the American model, pontificate about French "racism" and who knows what other faults of the French.

Frankly, in the course of this whole exchange, I came to the conclusion that you are not even familiar with the basic terms of the debate as it has been going on among French historians, sociologists and anthropologists for some time. If you would like me to provide you with a reading list, I shall be happy to do so.

nikkibong 11-28-2010 09:13 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fluffy Foo Foo (Post 189056)

What I said was that if you're Senegalese (or better African), you're Senegalese (or better African) and can't ever be French. To be French is to be white and well, French. France does have an ethnic, racial make up. You can bullshit around this with tropes about language and culture, but the former is what it is. This also has nothing to do with whatever different European countries do with regards to citizenship standards and ethnicity. Africans, Arabs, and Asians don't come from Europe... it's just a fact.

actually, no, lyle, that's utter bullshit. i've spent pretty extensive time in france (including a lot in universities) and have found that my cohort of french people (twenty-somethings) is a) the most ethnically diverse in gallic history and b) one of the most racially tolerant groups i've encountered. there are plenty of young french people who happen to be of arab or african or jewish decent. racial background is simply not an issue for most people in my age group.

of course, you may want to argue with my personal experience.

if that's so, i offer a two-word rebuttal: nicolas sarkozy.

ledocs 11-30-2010 01:03 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Quote:

Ledocs, I think you have a tendency to misinterpret everything. Sorry if my irony is too juvenile for you.

I couldn't care less whether you like France, and I certainly am not urging you to leave it.
But you had just said as follows:

Quote:

...but then you [sc. ledocs] have such peculiar notions of race, that I am not surprised you are a bit paranoid. But I really think you would be better off in your native country.
So how can you possibly say that you were not advising me to leave the country? That's utter crap. You pulled this same shit when I dared to say that it was more difficult to start a business in France than it is in the US, a fact that would be conceded by nearly anyone who is not insane. That, too, was sufficient to trigger the advice to return to the homeland. I'm sure you know a great deal about France, its history and culture, and that's great. But you don't know everything, I know that you don't know everything, because you did not know, for example, that American country music is quite popular in France, and even if you did know everything, we are talking about matters of principle, so I don't need to know all the details.

Quote:

But it is true that I am tired of hearing Americans like you, who have never made the slightest effort to learn about France and its history and how its model of democracy may differ from the American model, pontificate about French "racism" and who knows what other faults of the French.
I have not come within a galaxy of pontificating. What planet are you on? I've said that there are large nonwhite populations in France that are not as well assimilated as one might wish. That's pontificating?

I don't think it's very credible that there are no true racists in France, especially since I have myself met some Frenchmen who I can be pretty sure were true racists. I met them in Senegal. Like I say, you don't seem to get around much. That's pontificating? You might as well say that there are no real anti-Semites in France and never were. Is Theodor Zeldin not credible on that point, as regards anti-Semitism in late 19th century France?

You can talk all you want to about democratic models and history, but riots are riots, and ghettos are ghettos, and huge minority youth unemployment is what is (though of course we can't have statistics by ethnicity). You don't know what effort I have or have not made to learn about France and its history, you could not possibly know this, so you've got no business talking to me in that way. I have certainly made an effort to learn French. I hope to learn a lot more. That's one of the main reasons we moved here.

Quote:

Frankly, in the course of this whole exchange, I came to the conclusion that you are not even familiar with the basic terms of the debate as it has been going on among French historians, sociologists and anthropologists for some time. If you would like me to provide you with a reading list, I shall be happy to do so.
I am familiar enough with the general situation to know that there are Republican principles demanding that race or ethnicity be ignored, that there nevertheless seem to be serious racial or ethnic problems, and that there is some movement towards modifying the law which prevents the state from collecting statistics based upon ethnicity. So you've got a bibliography, but you have yet to respond to me on this point.

On the question of whether there is ethnic discrimination in France, I had posted this a while ago:

http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpo...1&postcount=93

I have begun the little recent memoir by Azouz Begag, whom I had seen on TV several times but whose name I did not remember. He seems to think that discrimination is a major problem.

Are only French historians, sociologists, and anthropologists qualified to discuss race and ethnicity in contemporary France, in your opinion? Attentive readers will not have failed to notice that you greatly admire Tocqueville as an analyst of America (as do most people, Garry Wills notwithstanding), but I'm just wondering if there is an asymmetry here that we should know about.

Florian 11-30-2010 09:16 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
Ledocs writes...

I have made clear what I think the concept "racism" means.* As far as I am concerned it is not useful as an analytic tool in talking about contemporary France, or even the US---where, however, there still exist genuine racists, people who believe in the "inequality of races" (to use the title of Gobineau's essay), usually on pseudo-scientific, biological grounds. They sometimes even post here. There was a period (1970s-1980s) in France when just about every form of social discrimination was denounced as racism, but that period of excess is now happily past. The accusation of racism is all the easier to make as it is generally unverifiable, and will always be vehemently denied by those most suspect of harboring racist prejudices. If you want to persist in calling "invidious social discriminations" racism, fine, but, as I pointed out, that would mean calling snobs racists. Some invidious social discriminations are perfectly justified. Most people make them all the time---even those who are most likely to consider themselves to be the victims of “racism.”

Politically and legally, the only relevant consideration is whether invidious social discriminations result in injustice. How do you prove that a particular individual is the victim of (an) injustice? By the fact that he runs riot in the streets? Because he says so? Are inequality of income and inequality of social status evidence of injustice? Even if they were (and I reject the idea that they are), how would you prove that they result from racism without circularity? You may think that the answers to these questions are obvious; I do not. The reason the French Fifth Republic collects no statistics on the "racial" and "ethnic" identity of its citizens is the same as the reason it collects no statistics on their religious affiliations. These "facts" are not considered relevant to citizenship, to the freedom and equality of all citizens before the law.

The fact that you find nothing problematic in "ethnic" and "racial" classifications simply reflects your American background. Personally, I have no idea what most Americans mean when they talk about their ethnicity or ethnic identity--as if there were some invisible, ineffable essence that clings to them from the country of their parents (or grandparents, great-grandparents etc) independent of their cultural identity as Americans. As for the category of race, it has no place outside biology or physical anthropology.

As for your ad hominem remarks, they are beneath contempt.

*If you want to read something useful on the history of race thinking and racism, may I suggest Lévi-Strauss (Race et histoire, Race et culture) or Pierre-André Taguieff, La force du préjugé, Essai sur le racisme et ses doubles.

ledocs 11-30-2010 06:10 PM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
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The fact that you find nothing problematic in "ethnic" and "racial" classifications simply reflects your American background.
But this is a blatant misrepresentation. I just said (a few days ago, http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpo...&postcount=216) that I concede that "race" is a troublesome concept. I put the word “race” in quotes.

You asked me, in apparent defiance, to define "the race problem" as I understand it, and I did so. I tried to point out to you that you had yourself defined "race" as a physical concept but then clearly used "racist" to apply to cultural discrimination in the case of the ancient Jews and of Judaism generally. I am reasonably confident that you could have talked yourself out of that one, or could have appeared to have done so, at least to yourself, but you did not even acknowledge the possible inconsistency, and you made no attempt to explain it.

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Politically and legally, the only relevant consideration is whether invidious social discriminations result in injustice. How do you prove that a particular individual is the victim of (an) injustice? By the fact that he runs riot in the streets?
No.

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Because he says so?
No.

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Are inequality of income and inequality of social status evidence of injustice?
They might well be. I did not mean to say that they must be.

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Even if they were (and I reject the idea that they are), how would you prove that they result from racism without circularity? You may think that the answers to these questions are obvious; I do not.
I cannot tell here if you mean to assert that income inequality (and I clearly did not mean literal equality of income among groups) and social status cannot be evidence of injustice, or only that they are not necessarily so. But you may be saying that because it is impossible to demonstrate that large disparities of income among social groups result from invidious discrimination, or unjust discrimination, that it follows that there is no such causal link. Which raises two questions:

(1) Is it impossible to demonstrate that large disparities…? I am not entirely clear about the kind of circularity you have in mind. Do you mean that, for example, and speaking loosely, it is impossible to know if invidious and unjust discrimination led to rioting or if rioting led to attitudes that look like invidious and unjust discrimination but are really a rational response to people behaving badly and who have failed to assimilate through no fault of the majority population?

(2) Does it follow from the fact that something is impossible to demonstrate that it cannot be true?

I think you are attributing to me, on the grounds that I am an American, views that I may not hold. For instance, I granted that “the race problem” is a two-way street, that the minority group has to make a sincere and concerted effort to assimilate. You could add that the minority has to be capable of assimilating, if you like, or of being able to compete succesfully, given a level playing field. If we leave aside the question of terminology, which I know you don’t want to do, but if we do, I am not saying and have never said that France’s situation as regards the assimilation of minorities was worse than that of the US. Both countries seem to me to have serious problems. Like wonderment, I would not know how to quantify such things, especially given the lack of French statistics, and I’m not sure it would be useful.

My general approach to the assimilation problem, given that it is a two-way street, is to think that invidious discrimination is part of the problem, but not the whole problem. If we put the question in the American context and in the context of bhtv, I am closer to Loury than to McWhorter on this point. Dieter has said explicitly that he does not deny that racism exists in Europe. I am less sure about where you stand on that, at least with respect to France. But I guess, based upon what you have said, that you are inclined to put the onus of failure to assimilate, insofar as the failure is admitted, upon the immigrant groups, not upon the majority population, and to think that the role of individious discrimination resulting in unjust treatment of the immigrant groups is minor and is not subject to demonstration in any case.

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As for your ad hominem remarks, they are beneath contempt.
What ad hominem remarks? You mean the fact that, if I say something about France with which you disagree, or which you find ill informed (and which may well be ill-informed, and is certainly considerably less than fully informed, heaven forfend), I am advised by you to leave the country, and that I subsequently take this advice amiss? You mean that I attempt to draw attention more than once to the fact that there have recently been, and probably still are, moves afoot to revise the legal prohibition against the French state collecting statistics based upon “ethnicity,” and that you have nothing to say about this?

For some ineffable reason, one which is perhaps connected to an ancient Greek word for actor, this accusation of yours does not sting in the least. It is quite amusing, in fact. I wish I could say that I was surprised that you were able to type it.

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* If you want to read something useful on the history of race thinking and racism, may I suggest Lévi-Strauss (Race et histoire, Race et culture) or Pierre-André Taguieff, La force du préjugé, Essai sur le racisme et ses doubles.
Thank you for the recommendations. I am confident that these should figure among the top 5,000 books that I would like to have read and have not. I will try to get to them, and I do mean that. But suppose I don’t read them. Suppose I decide that I would rather read Montaigne, Rabelais, and Rousseau among French authors, as I also have not done, or reread Kant and Plato among other authors, for example, or that I really need to read Proust and Tadié’s book on Proust, that I have to make difficult decisions about how to allocate my remaining years?

Perhaps you could take the time over the next year to summarize for us the case these books make for the ideas that “race” is not a concept that is applicable to the ethnic immigrant minorities in France, and that “ethnie” does not work either, and so on. We all understand that you have important work to do in putting vulgar Americans in their place and in insulting the ignorant and unwashed generally. These are sisyphean tasks, as I can well understand.

We are not friends, but if we were, I would offer this friendly advice: try to tone down the rhetoric and be more sensitive to the feelings of others. You are not Nietzsche. If you were, you would not be participating in this forum. I take most of what you say quite seriously, but your rhetorical techniques often seem counter-productive, if your intent is really to persuade.

On a more conciliatory note, I want to say that I am genuinely impressed by your polymathy, combined as it is with theoretical interests. The praise emanating from pygmies can be insulting to giants, although it usually is not, in my experience.

Did you hear the episode of “Répliques” devoted to Levi-Strauss (Feb. 2010)? I could record it and send you the file as an .mp3, if you’re interested.

Florian 12-01-2010 07:35 AM

Re: The discourse about supposedly worse "race relations" in europe is abdurd on its face
 
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Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 190437)
You asked me, in apparent defiance, to define "the race problem" as I understand it, and I did so. I tried to point out to you that you had yourself defined "race" as a physical concept but then clearly used "racist" to apply to cultural discrimination in the case of the ancient Jews and of Judaism generally. I am reasonably confident that you could have talked yourself out of that one, or could have appeared to have done so, at least to yourself, but you did not even acknowledge the possible inconsistency, and you made no attempt to explain it. .

The race concept, as distinguished from racism, has only one legitimate use in the 21st century: when it is used in biology or physical anthropology to classify human beings according to their physical characteristics. Racism, on the other hand, is the supposedly scientific belief that races are unequal in their aptitudes, but the concept is often used, as you well know, to talk about "social discrimination" against individuals. Why is this? Obviously, because if you think that races are unequal, you will think that individual members of certain races are also unequal (inferior or superior) and thus "discriminate" against..... or for them. Needless to say, I do not think that there is any scientific justification for racism in this sense.

But racism, or racial mythology, is much older than modern "scientific" racism. Why is this? Because the concept of race is much older than the modern concept of race. In the 18th century "race" could refer to a class of human beings--French nobles for example spoke of their race as descending from the original Frankish conquerors of Gaul (and therefore superior to the common people who were descendants of the Gauls). In the 19th century "race" could refer to nations and peoples, more or less the equivalent of the German "Volk". It was common to talk about the French race or the English race or the German race and draw certain conclusions about their differences---often absurd conclusions. (To add to the confusion Darwin uses the word race to refer to species).

Anthropologists (or "ethnologues" in French) like Lévi-Strauss have often pointed out that primitive cultures are "racist" or "ethnocentric" in this looser sense of the word race in that they believe in their innate superiority. Needless to say this is nothing but mythology, but it is very widespread. So I do not see a "possible inconsistency" in what I said about the ancient Jews. If I may quote myself:

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I did not say that the ancient Hebrews founded their belief in their superiority on biology. I said that like all primitive peoples (see the reference to Lévi-Strauss) they were ethnocentric, and interpreted their cultural differences (religious beliefs, customs etc) as if they were natural, racial differences(the same could be said of the ancient Greeks). The ancient Hebrews didn't have the slightest notion of modern biology or genetics, but like all primitive cultures Judaism (=the religious beliefs of ancient Jews) was racist in thinking that the Jews were utterly different from all other peoples (tribes, nations, ethne)..

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I cannot tell here if you mean to assert that income inequality (and I clearly did not mean literal equality of income among groups) and social status cannot be evidence of injustice, or only that they are not necessarily so. But you may be saying that because it is impossible to demonstrate that large disparities of income among social groups result from invidious discrimination, or unjust discrimination, that it follows that there is no such causal link. Which raises two questions:.
I stated my opinion: that income inequality and unequal social status are not unjust. Whether they are caused by invidious social discrimination (=racism in your terminology) is another question. But no, I really don't see how one could show that inequality of income and/or social status is the result of "racism" in the case of any particular individual. And since the law is not concerned with classes of people but only with individuals, I fail to see what difference it would make if social scientists were able to demonstrate (but they never will be able to demonstrate) that racism is the cause of inequality, however you want to define it.


Quote:

My general approach to the assimilation problem, given that it is a two-way street, is to think that invidious discrimination is part of the problem, but not the whole problem. If we put the question in the American context and in the context of bhtv, I am closer to Loury than to McWhorter on this point. Dieter has said explicitly that he does not deny that racism exists in Europe. I am less sure about where you stand on that, at least with respect to France. But I guess, based upon what you have said, that you are inclined to put the onus of failure to assimilate, insofar as the failure is admitted, upon the immigrant groups, not upon the majority population, and to think that the role of individious discrimination resulting in unjust treatment of the immigrant groups is minor and is not subject to demonstration in any case. .
There is a certain amount of anecdotal evidence that "les enfants de l'immigration," i.e. mainly "les beurs", are recalcitrant to assimilation, unlike previous immigrants (the Italians, Portuguese, Spanish etc. who began immigrating to France in the late 19th century) or the sephardic Jews and "les pieds noirs" who came from Algeria.

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We are not friends, but if we were, I would offer this friendly advice: try to tone down the rhetoric and be more sensitive to the feelings of others. You are not Nietzsche. If you were, you would not be participating in this forum. I take most of what you say quite seriously, but your rhetorical techniques often seem counter-productive, if your intent is really to persuade.

On a more conciliatory note, I want to say that I am genuinely impressed by your polymathy, combined as it is with theoretical interests. The praise emanating from pygmies can be insulting to giants, although it usually is not, in my experience. .
Thanks for your éloge sans complaisance. I consider myself neither an Ubermensch nor a giant, but I will try to heed your advice. In the case of certain imbeciles in this forum, however, I reserve the right to be obnoxious.

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Did you hear the episode of “Répliques” devoted to Levi-Strauss (Feb. 2010)? I could record it and send you the file as an .mp3, if you’re interested.
Thanks, but I already listened to it.


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