Poor Mika Brzezinski. Once again, she let Joe Scarborough cut her off in the process of refuting a half-baked argument. I wish she had at least a louder voice to compete with his bullish behavior.

This morning, it occurred in a debate (with Joe Walsh) over the image of America in the world. According to the men, the election of pro-American leaders proves that being associated with American values still holds currency with European voters.

(more…)

Simone Veil responded to Sarkozy’s plan to confide each French child with the memory of a victim of the Holocaust:

It’s unimaginable, unsustainable, dramatic and, above all, unjust. We cannot inflict this on little children of ten years! We cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. This memory is too heavy to carry. We, the deported, have had many difficulties, after the war, speaking of what we had seen, even with those close to us. And today still, we know to save our children. Moreover, many of our instructors teach this subject well [already].

How would a devoted Catholic or Muslim family react when we demand that their son or daughter to embody the memory of a little Jewish boy?

Once again, Sarkozy’s ability to innovate is getting the best of him. Turning children into monuments to victimhood not only seems a little odd, but perhaps a little Sci-Fi, as well. Of course, at the Holocaust Museum in DC and the Museum of Tolerance in LA, visitors (children included) are given small cards that are passports for one victim. Along the way, they can check on the fate of their victim, to see where they ended up, and ultimately, if they and their family survived. It’s an effective tool, but it cannot be judged except in terms of visiting the museums. It’s more likely that these memories would be trivialized if they become part of the mandatory curriculum.

However, I tend to disagree with Veil on a few issues. Ten might be a young age, but that is negotiable. The Jewishness of the victim, however, need not be an issue (ETA: Georges Bensoussan speaks very effectively to the contrary, that Sarkozy’s plan would exaggerate the already competitive politics to have various histories memorialized). As I’ve written before, older teaching methods aren’t as effective as they used to be. Children are more sophisticated, and the usual images not only don’t shock them, they don’t leave them with any impression of the horrors of the Holocaust. On the other hand, new immigrants have trouble identifying with the atrocious aspects of national history. It seems logical to make the subject more personal, especially by encouraging students to personalize the subject. Moreover, it could be applied to other areas of history, as well, like the French empire in Africa.

Veil, herself, seems to be a bit unfair. It was impossible for survivors to speak about the Holocaust until the 70s and 80s, but since then, there has been an explosion of talk. Indeed, they is great encouragement for victims to speak about their experiences. Yet now we see that the youngest victims are passing away. Is there perhaps a way to create an oral tradition?

[ETA] Another response, this from Henry Rousso (English translation by euro|topics):

This new initiative appears incongruous, suddenly thrown into the public sphere like other presidential announcements. Once again, media noise is disturbing the respect and silence due to History’s dead … Once again, only a morbid memory emerges form the past, only criminal history deserves to be commemorated with a bang. These days only utilitarian use is made of history, its complexity and its depth. The past has become a warehouse storing nationalistic political resources, into which anyone can dip and help themselves to whatever serves their immediate interests. It is worrying to see that, once again, the -bad- example has been set at the highest level ….

Er, uh, hasn’t it always been?

Enough of Spain: leaders in Madrid fear that the Catalonia example will encourage other Spanish states to claim autonomy for themselves, disaggregating the state. So far the government has had a wait and see approach, but several military leader has ‘hinted’ at military intervention (Jose Mena Aguado, Roberto Gonzalez Calderon.) A survey taken over the weekend (in dialect) showed that 54.5% of Catalonians think that Catalonia is a nation within Spain. 42.8% think that they are just as Spanish as they are Catalan, 24% think they are more Catalan, 15.2% think that they a just Catalan. Prevailing sentiment seems to be working againt strengthening ties with the center.

Royal-Sarkozy in the making: it appears that the upcoming French elections will be a battle between minister of interior Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, deputy in the French National Assembly. Royal appears to be significantly more popular than former PM Lionel Jospin, but at this early stage it is difficult to tell how successful she can be: outside the left, Jospin is significantly more popular than Royal, and Sarkozy’s popularity seems to be unshaken.

Perhaps something that is weighing down both Royal and Jospin: the significant increase in taxes in régions led by the socialist party (PS.) Blame is being put on 2003 reforms by Raffarin that took competencies away from the national government, but while PS-led Burgundy has seen a 64% increase, neighboring Alsace has seen only a 2.5% increase. The French press is having fewer problems with regionalism than the PS: the pattern of consolidation shows the formation of three distinct zones in the greater east, greater Brittany, and in the southeast, in which one or a few native news agencies dominate.

Sarkozy, prolific as usual, appeared in Berlin to sell a fix to the EU constitution, recommending removing key articles (double majority, stable presidency, singular ministry of foreign affair) and proposing. He also advocated a new center, adding Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain to the current “Franco-German engine.”

Despite resolving to send a force into DR Congo to oversee upcoming elections, no members of the European Union have contributed to the force. At the heart of the problem, “not one of the three nations [Britain, France, and Germany] capable of conducting such an operation has volunteered to take direct action.” France refuses because it has been engaged with Congolese problems since 2003, Britain because it is engaged elsewhere, and Germany because it will only participate in a multinatioal force (such as the delayed rapid response force.)

More and more, the French justice system is seeing the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi as a hate crime: he was attacked because he was a Jew, but was it because of the stereotype of the rich Jew, or an act of antisemitism. Prime suspect, gangster leader Youssouf Fofana, has quit the country. Some German authorities, including Bavaria’s Stoiber, are calling for a ban on a Turkish action film, Tal der Woelfe (Valley of the Wolves), that is set in Iraq, is blatantly anti-western and antisemitic, and as some opine, could only worsen relations between Europeans and Arabs, validating a hate-driven war of civilizations. (Armin Laschet, CDU-NRW) Over the weekend, Martin Jacques wrote and editorial in the Guardian that Europeans display a destructivec contempt for other cultures, manifested by reactions to the Danish cartoon controversy, and their Eurocentrism is becoming provincialism.

Interesting read: on the destruction of Tajikastan’s last synagogue.