Thursday, June 5, 2008

An American In Paris

French journalist and former editor of Le Monde Jean-Marie Colombani is doing the national TV shows to promote his new book Un Américain à Paris, a portrait of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. When asked about the title of his book, Colombani alludes to the belief in Franco-French elite circles that Sarkozy is nothing more than a Hungarian emigrant on this way to America, who happens to have stopped in France for a while.

That Sarkozy is found of America, its dynamism, and capacity for change, is not news; yet he is so in a healthy, critical way. That he revels in the spotlight is not news either; he is part of a new, younger generation of politicians who have completely integrated multimedia communication. That he lacks manners and etiquette, and is bloated with vanity, makes for great media gossip and videos on YouTube. That one may disagree with his political agenda is just a reflection of democracy; at least he gets things moving.

What is more disturbing is the raw, irrational hatred he inspires in people, who are often at odds to explain exactly why, or justify it with hard facts. The increasing allusions to his not-quite-100% Frenchness is reminiscent of a darker side of French society, and darker times in the country's history. Something to be ashamed of, especially in a globalized, multicultural world.
photo Reuters