These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 17, 2009.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Inside Sydney's terrorism trial - 10 months, 300 witnesses, 1 dozy bint reporter
In the wake of the reports of the convictions of the five terrorists in Australia, at the end of a long deliberation and a very long trial, Dumbledore's Army sent me this. A definite candidate for dozy bint of the week and an example of how jihad can be a family thing.
Philippa McDonald (aka Dozy Bint) writes for ABC News.
This was a case like no other. Not only was it the longest terrorism trial in Australian legal history, it was conducted under the tightest security and was almost derailed by one young woman.
Each morning, the prison van would arrive at the court in a convoy under police escort. A busy Parramatta street was closed for a few minutes (not unknown outside London's Central Criminal Court - the Old Bailey. And the court was specially built for this trial. ) while the prison van sped down a steep driveway flanked by Extreme High Security Corrective Services Officers wearing flak jackets and armed with semi-automatic weapons.
Inside, there was the usual baggage screening in the foyer, but up on Level Three it was a different story.
The jury selection was a logistical exercise in itself. A total of 5,000 potential jurors were called up, and in a week-long exercise they were whittled down to 15.
The empanelling of 15 jurors ensured the trial would not be jeopardised if one or more of the jurors had to stand down. In the final months, three jurors were excused from the trial, leaving 12 in the last weeks of the case.
If there had been more than 12 jurors left at the end of the judge's summing up, it would have been up to Justice Whealy's associate to draw a ballot of the final 12 who would deliver a verdict.
Imagine spending more than 10 months of your life listening and digesting all the evidence in the trial and not having a seat at the table deliberating the guilt or innocence of the five accused. Perhaps it would be a relief.
When I was asked to cover this trial for the ABC in 2008, I was struck by the fact the five accused had been in custody since late 2005 without trial, or three years in jail without then ever having been convicted of a crime. It's now almost four years.
It is a long time. In England we used to reckon that preparation of a murder trial would take a year, or a little less. A plot to mass murder on the scale envisaged here would take proportionally longer and I don't imagine that an Australian prison lacks human right amenities, or the prisoners lacked legal attention.
The pre-trial judgments included a raft of non-publication and suppression orders that would prove a minefield for any journalist charged with covering the trial.
Defying or being ignorant of these orders came with a real prospect of aborting one of the most expensive trials in New South Wales, not to mention contempt proceedings.
But it wasn't journalists that proved to be the worry. It was the revelation that a young woman who had been coming to court had been following the jurors to their cars and allegedly taking down detailed descriptions.
The defence called for the jury to be dismissed and the trial aborted.
The jurors were asked whether the young woman's surveillance would affect their deliberations. They said no and the judge gave the green light for the trial to continue.
The young woman was a relative of one of the accused. She told police she had acted entirely on her own.
The woman was not allowed to return to the trial and, funnily enough, I missed her friendly smile each morning as we both tried to get a good spot in the court to gauge the reactions of the five accused as they listened to the evidence.
I had been sitting next to her.
In an ideal reporter's world, I would have loved to have found out more about the five men on trial. My approaches to each of their lawyers were politely declined, however I was assured my request had been passed on to each of the men.
Not long afterwards, I was at the front of the court to request photographs of the men for the ABC's coverage of the verdict and I was met with big smiles from each of the accused as they waited in the dock to be taken down to the cells.
One of their sisters told me her brother came from a good family and that they felt under siege. She told me her family had a deep mistrust of the media and that she hoped the truth would prevail.
This dozy bint had been sitting next to a jury nobbler and all she has to say is "I missed her friendly smile" !!!
The Australian system is English Common law and is very similar to our system (as it was in my early career before EU interference) such that I have worked, albeit briefly, to several Australian lawyers and very down to earth, energetic and capable they were.
It is 25 years years since I was a Court Clerk in the Crown Court (the senior English criminal court) and standards have slipped a little but still the idea of an approach to the jury fills me with horror, so important is their safety and discretion.
This wasn't a minor slip by a doting sister; this was an attempt to Pervert the Course of Justice. Of course the defence wanted the trial aborted when her manipulations were exposed and good on the jurors for refusing to be intimidated.
Once sentencing has been carried out I hope the Australian authorities will consider action.
And I hope Miss McDonald's editor has a word with her. Perhaps criminal reporting is not her best field. She likes the feminine family angle, so maybe an expose of FMG for her next assignment?
Posted on 10/17/2009 2:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Has anybody noticed how, in recent years, all the loons have become "swivel-eyed"? Loons used to be demented, like Madeleine Bunting. Ms Bunting's eyes do not swivel; on the contrary, they gaze in vacant wonder at Tariq Ramadan, Qaradawi, or other Muslim "scholar", who would shroud them in a burkha given half a chance.
These days, those branded swivel-eyed loons are generally conservative, with a small or capital C, and are usually opposed to the EU, Islamification and other horrors. In truth, those unfashionable views require a sharp, steady eye, although you are allowed to roll it in exasperation at the idiocy of your opponents.
Daniel Hannan, intelligent, articulate and consequently Eurosceptic MEP writes:
According to The Guardian’s Michael White, “Dan was on TV yesterday being swivel-eyed about a UK referendum on the Lisbon Treaty”. Swivel-eyed? As it happens, I have learned the trick of moving my eyeballs independently of each other, and occasionally perform it to amuse young children. What the old boy means, I think, is that it is intrinsically deranged to call for a popular vote on Europe
The Guardian Editorial (h/t Alan) carries another telling deployment of the term "swivel-eyed". We must, it argues, sympathise with "the other", this "other" being Muslims. Concession after concession must be given to Muslims even if Islam teaches - and only the truly swivel-eyed would say this - that non-Muslims are "the other". Why? Because they're poor, you see. But isn't their poverty self-inflicted? There I go again, eyes a-swivel:
The implementation of the Prevent strategy might make perfect sense from the perspective of a Whitehall desk. Properly mindful of the small but real band of would-be Islamist terrorists, bureaucrats feel obliged to do whatever it takes to reach into a community with which they have precious little connection. Officials may be dimly aware that British Muslims are poorer, sicker and less well-housed than their compatriots ...
May I hit pause for a moment, if that isn't a cliché? "Less well-housed"? Why the passive voice? I wasn't "housed" at all - I "housed" myself by working to pay for the roof over my head. So do most British taxpayers. Muslims, who receive welfare benefits in disproportionate numbers, are actually better housed in that they are housed - and supported in other ways - by the taxpayer. Swivel swivel, what drivel.
Officials may be dimly aware that British Muslims are poorer, sicker and less well-housed than their compatriots, but the pressing need to avoid blood on the streets in a repeat of 7/7 always seems rather more urgent than worrying about any of that. Our revelations today – concerning, among other things, the "deprogramming" of a nine-year-old boy and the bankrolling of community projects where staff agree to snoop – might thus be met in SW1 by a world-weary shrug of the shoulders. Surveillance, it will be said, is nasty but necessary, an essentially shady business which is never going to look attractive when thrust into the cold light of day.
Recall, however, that colonialism also once made perfect sense from the vantage point of Whitehall. Dividing, ruling and all the rest of it seemed the most effective way to rescue non-western minds from barbarism. It hardly needs saying that it would be incredibly dangerous if innocent Muslims were to come to believe that comparable tricks were now being deployed against them, whether through the recruitment of agents or overt spying operations. Yet when, as we report, the authorities are actively seeking information on sexual activities, this must surely be a risk. What use could such data have apart from blackmail? How is news of its collection to be explained, other than in terms of a desire to dominate?
The government is not made up of Islamophobes or swivel-eyed imperialists. The instructions to youth workers to pry, and the reporting of students concerned about Gaza, is the dirty water that results when the pure mountain spring of concern for public safety flows into the grimy town of real life. Distant, ignorant and understandably anxious about terror, the authorities make a panicked grab for information without stopping to think about whether the tactical advantage is outweighed by the strategic damage done by garnering it so sneakily. But that damage is likely to prove very important indeed. When, for instance, word gets out – as it inevitably will in the end – that a social project is providing surveillance, many of its users will walk away, undermining its ability to strengthen community ties and eroding its power to address poverty. Likewise, blundering attempts to identify potential jihadis by placing peaceable Muslims on an ideological spectrum – on the basis of daydreams about caliphates, enthusiasm for sharia law or hostility to Britain's foreign entanglements – not only requires unacceptable snooping but also emphasises the manifold differences that divide the Islamic and secular mainstreams.
Posted on 10/17/2009 7:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Algerian football team wins - Marseille goes up in flames.
One dreads to think what would have happened had Algeria lost the match which was a World Cup qualifier they won 3:1 against Rwanda. This is a report in Novopress France about the events of last weekend.
Football: l’Algerie gagne a Blida, Marseille s’enflamme
My French isn’t good enough to translate myself and I know from bitter experience how limited the Gogle translation programme is so I will take the translation from Gallia Watch.
The celebrations in Marseilles soon turned into riots: store fronts smashed, bus stops smashed, trash cans set on fire . . .
Seven persons were taken into custody for “damage, insults, rebellion, and causing injuries to authorised police”. Six policemen were injured.
The Mayor of Orange, which is not many miles away, is Jacques Bompard, a man closely connected to Philippe de Villiers, who now heads a splinter group called Ligue du Sud (Southern league). He is not happy and he has made a statement, also reported on by Novopress.
Algeria's victory in the qualifying match for the next World Cup has once again allowed us to measure the grave consequences of immigration in our region. All the local papers have similar stories this morning about the demonstrations and violent eruptions that occurred during the night. In Marseilles, according to La Provence, it was a "human tidal wave" of 3000 Algerians who "flooded the Old Port". In Nice and Toulon, similar crowds blocked traffic and attacked passers-by, often without the police intervening for fear of stirring up more violence. In Marseilles, confronted with incidents of such magnitude, the riot police finally succeeded in rushing the troublemakers.
The Ligue du Sud demands a ban on such gatherings, that are completely predictable, and that provide, on the pretext of sports, a certain segment of the population with an opportunity to show its disdain for the laws of France and its hatred of her inhabitants. We would like to remind the foreigners living on our soil that there is a very simple way to fully express their exacerbated nationalism: they have only to return to their homeland.
The rioting and damage goes a lot further than any English football hooliganism of recent years (and what I personally remember of the trouble at its peak) yet the EDL are still sneered at by some as 'soccer hooligans'
Algeria are now joint top of group 3 heading for SA2010 with a final match against Egypt in November - God help the French then!
Posted on 10/17/2009 7:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 October 2009
The Futile Pursuit Of Taste And Style By Hoi Polloi
A. A. Gill, whom Mary devoted a post to here at NER, is, in my opinion, a rather silly and mediocre little man who manages to exhibit the full range of post-Colonial prejudices without even belonging to the class of people who might be said to have some small, but irrelevant, right to do so. I suspect, but it’s only my own personal suspicion I hope you all understand, that Gill is some sort of journalistic social-climber and inept name-dropper, a mere monkey of amusement deployed, perhaps employed, by The Times, in a futile effort to amuse, and to goad with slight and meaningless pin-pricks, Society into some inchoate feeling of guilt-laden inferiority.
This slight man, possessor of some very minor intellect and a complete inability to dictate to his amanuenses any coherent thought whatsoever (as I, personally, see it), has dominated, unjustifiably in my opinion, the ongoing critique of English food and English restaurants for far too long. His petty vindictiveness against the Isle of Man reveals, for me, all too plainly the real source of his discontent. In as much as that Isle is England writ small then Gill’s own ridiculous pretensions and tastes were highlighted in all their bravura stupidities by his forays into that blessed bastion. His posing pretensions were cast, by the sturdy Manxmen alone, into stark relief and for that he could not, and he never has, forgiven them.
The mere son of some television producer and actress, Gill’s first review, in The Sunday Times of 22 January 2006, of Ciappelli's restaurant in Douglas on the Isle of Man also included a critique of that Isle of which he said that:
[the Isle of Man had] managed to slip through a crack in the space-time continuum...fallen off the back of the history lorry to lie amnesiac in the road to progress...its main industry is money (laundering, pressing, altering and mending)...everyone you actually see is Benny from Crossroads or Benny in drag...The weather’s foul, the food’s medieval, it’s covered in suicidal motorists and folk who believe in fairies.
That review demonstrates, quite clearly in my opinion, the falsity and the pretensions which characterise the works of A. A. Gill. He is a self-publicist, in my opinion, who has no interest in, and little understanding of, the food which he purportedly encounters and eats, preferring, instead, to use his dining experiences, assuming that such experiences exist I suppose, to make unwholesome and unhelpful comments about race and identity under the pretext of being a food and restaurant critic.
One must also consider that Gill once described the Welsh as "loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls". Well, yes, I can see where he was coming from (for I, too, have had a deeply unpleasant experience of Welsh so-called hospitality) but no gentleman would have actually uttered that thought and no gentleman would have dreamed of allowing such a private thought to escape into the media and offend the vast bulk of Welsh people whom I daresay, on no evidence at all, are perfectly friendly people.
However, let us face the one uncomfortable fact about the tasteless, vulgar, social climbing and savage, in my opinion, A. A. Gill: he is not an Englishman, by his own admission, nor does he have the slightest comprehension, not even a smidgeon of understanding, about what it means to be an English man or woman, as far as I can see. In his own words (here at The Times, The Sunday Times, actually), published on the 30th.October, 2005:
I hate England
Although I live here among them and have done for virtually all my life, although I sound like them, I’ve never been one. Never thought of myself as one. After more than 50 years of rubbing up against the English I still resist assimilation. I don’t stick out, but neither do I fit in. My heart doesn’t syncopate to Land of Hope and Glory. I don’t want three lions on my chest or the cross of St George on my windscreen.
The truth is – and perhaps this is a little unworthy, a bit shameful – I find England and the English embarrassing. Fundamentally toe-curlingly embarrassing. And even though I look like one, sound like one, can imitate the social/mating behaviour of one, I’m not one. I always bridle with irritation when taken for an Englishman...
In that article (please follow the link given above and read it all) Gill singularly fails to understand us English. He attributes to us the possession of an emotion, existential race anger, which we just do not have, an emotion which we cannot comprehend. English people are extremely simple (or maybe we’re not) and we believe that we are what we seem to be but Gill analyses us from some foreign perspective and attributes motives to us which I, for one, cannot recognise. He overcomplicates us in exactly the same way that he overcomplicates his reactions to the food that he tastes – well, consumes indiscriminately in any event for taste, in his case, cannot be said to enter into it, in my opinion. His palate, if you can stomach my opinion for just a few more sentences, is the palate of a peasant forever seeking the vile strength of some new herb or flavouring in some overdose; forever seeking the novel and never content with the excellent – not that he can ever, as far as I am concerned, recognise the excellent, for his palate – politically, morally and gastronomically – is forever tainted by his prejudices and his wilful, juvenile hatreds.
He, Gill, analyses us as a foreigner does. He eats in our restaurants as a foreigner would. He scribes our taste, and our tastes, into the record as any old foreigner does. He is simply a tourist and he understands us only in as much as some “if this is Tuesday then we must be in England” coach tourist does. In other words, not at all!
The shame of it is that he is proud of his shallowness and his lack of integration and understanding. If he is our friend, and I deeply doubt it, then we certainly need no enemies. In his own words, and they condemn him:
The English are addicted ... to the sound of themselves laughing. Laughter is often the only public emotion they feel comfortable with, and the English laugh differently from other people. Listen to them. It’s harsher and louder. It’s not a personal expression, but a public affirmation. It’s a caw of belonging...
What rot, what drivel and what shallow judgement; what hatred of the country which gives him his living! That Gill could write such drivel is completely indicative of his utter lack of comprehension about all things English. He does not penetrate to our soul, he merely penetrates to his soul’s idea of Englishness and his soul is some shrivelled, blackened, small thing of hatred upon which the six letters – Calais – would be crowded out by the bilious messages of hate previously inscribed thereupon by his own sense of inadequacy and those who sat upon his face before I got there, as far as I am concerned.
He has, as far as I can see, an inedequacy born from the fact that he is not, nor can he ever be, an English gentleman, nor an English gentle man. But I thank God that he can never be an Englishman (nor an English gentleman) – what true born English man, or woman, would want A. A. Gill as a countryman?
Not me, that’s for sure!
Gill once described us English as an "ugly race" and a "lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd”.
Tell me, should I like and admire this idiot scribe? Should I subscribe to some prevailing, self-abnegating norm promulgated by the scribbling ‘fourth estate’ who support that view and subscribe to the stupid, vapid and narrow-minded viewpoint of A. A. Gill?
I hope that you all agree.
Now, here’s the serious bit. It’s people like A. A. Gill who are destroying our societies. It’s people like him, in all walks of life, who are undermining and destroying our quintessential Englishness (and, also, what it means to be Scottish or Welsh or Irish within our Union). Gill is, simply put, the enemy within – we laugh at him (who couldn’t for he is naught but an unfailing clown) but, and but, he spreads a unique and quiet, almost silent, dissent. He is, in my opinion, the quiet traitor of our culture. One who seeks, perhaps unwittingly, the destruction of Britain and of all things that are British.
I would willingly see the back of A. A. Gill. He is, for me, the ultimate in nasty – quite apart from the fact that he has absolutely no idea about fine dining and that his palate, if he can be said to have one, which I doubt, is jaundiced, sub-standard and tainted by his own political nastiness.
Just see his review of ‘Tugga’ a couple or three of years ago for a complete demonstration of just how nasty and vile and vicious he can be (see here at The Times).
Actually, A. A. Gill, and what a pretentious by-line that is, leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Really, he is, well for me, quite a nasty person!
Honestly, I don’t think that we need this nasty, little person. Restaurants will stand or fail without him and his crazy, crazed palate. He doesn’t add to civilisation – quite the reverse! He is, for me, the very epitome of anti-civilisation: the ultimate in nastiness, the end of fine dining and the end of dining in fine style.
It’s way and beyond time that we sent, metaphorically speaking of course, A. A. Gill home to dine with his maker – barbecue anyone?
Recently, I dined at the Craggan Mill in Grantown on Spey in the Highlands of Scotland and here’s my review of that experience as published elsewhere:
Dine there – soon – and give this brave enterprise your support. The Chef’s only a moderate genius but I have never been so well fed in the wilds of Scotland before. There was a delicacy about the menu that I simply cannot describe. It delighted in all things Scottish but it was, is, completely accessible for any European. Go there, soon! The lamb – fresh killed. The ‘amuse bouches’ were superb – the desserts were delightful (the kisses of paradise). Dine there or miss out on one of the great Scottish country eating experiences of our time. Rural Scotland at its finest. Almost everything was locally sourced and in season. What more can one want or desire? Finally, a moderately good restaurant with a half decent chef who knows his stuff exists in the Highlands and this is it. And no, I do not mean to damn with faint praise. The food was more than edible, much more than merely edible – it was good! Maybe not – in my opinion – London or Paris or Milan or Venice or Madrid good, but good and wholesome nonetheless. It spoke to me of a Chef who, at the very least, knows what locally sourced food is about and knows how to prepare it without destroying its genuine local flavours. I, and my entire party, enjoyed our meal. The four of us got away from a good evening having spent slightly less than three hundred pounds all in – drinks before, dinner, drinks with dinner and drinks after. And the wine list is not too bad, either – not excellent, just not too bad. It was, all told, the sort of country dining experience that one would expect in a major tourist area – good and palatable with moments of excellence.
If I’ve any quibble about the Craggan Mill I would have to say that the service is just a tad too slow – but at least I, and my party, was treated with a great deal more respect than we encountered at the Bunchrew House Hotel. I asked that the Chinon be served iced – Chinon being the only red wine that can support that condition – but it was served to us hot. Yes, hot! Some idiot who thought that he, or she, knew better and who obviously wished to teach us a lesson had heated our bottle and had the bare faced temerity to serve it to us at roughly the temperature that one would serve mulled wine.
The food was indifferent and cold by the time it reached us and the service was sullen and unwilling. I choose not to remember the contents of that horrible meal – the congealed fat on a cold plate and the complete lack of vegetables; the surly staff; the hot wine; the tough and almost inedible meat; the soup-like consistency of the ‘pommes de terre puree’; the dessert – I can’t even remember what it was – that so disappointed. Ah yes, I remember – it was supposed to be some sort of ‘creme brulee’. ‘Creme’ certainly, ‘brulee’ never; I didn’t need to break the crust with the back of my spoon I just needed to glance at it in a severe fashion!
Frankly, it was the most vile meal that I have ever eaten in the Highlands and I have never felt more unwelcome as a guest than I did that evening at the Bunchrew House Hotel – don’t go there! It’s a nasty dining experience that will put you off restaurants forever – and it cost us almost five hundred pounds.
Go to the Craggan Mill instead. It’s honest and you’ll get what you pay for – good and unpretentious food served with country flair and county distinction. But it will be served in a leisurely fashion – but then you’re probably going to be on holiday anyway, so does that matter?
That’s what eating out is all about – not a trace of political comment about it. Just good food in a good setting, and that, of course, is precisely what Gill doesn’t understand. For him food is politics. Grow up Gill! Drop the pretentious double ‘A’ as well. It doesn’t impress quite as much as you think it does! In fact it’s just risible.
Posted on 10/17/2009 7:20 AM by John M. Joyce
Saturday, 17 October 2009
A Nobel Idea?
Giving Peace a Chance is easy - you just need to do nothing. Sometimes you can do nothing and get a Nobel Prize for it. Charles Moore has a better idea:
When Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Taleban said that he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for War. They are wrong — the President has not prosecuted any successful wars so far. But it strikes me that a Nobel Prize for War is a good idea. Since wars do sometimes have to be fought, it is extraordinarily important to fight them well, and to honour those who do so. Once upon a time, this was well understood in Britain. A grateful nation voted huge sums of money to Marlborough, Wellington and even Lord Haig to reward their victories. Nobel should do the equivalent. Moshe Dayan could have got the prize for the Six Day War and Margaret Thatcher for the Falklands. Nor should only generals and political leaders be honoured. Scientists who invent the right weapons and businessmen who make them should get a look-in. Perhaps Tommy Sopwith, or the leaders of the Manhattan Project, or the codebreakers at Bletchley Park should have won the prize. One man certainly deserving of a Nobel Prize for War was Alfred Nobel himself. He invented dynamite.
No Churchill? This is Charles Moore, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that Churchill goes without saying.
Posted on 10/17/2009 8:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 17 October 2009
EU Lisbon Treaty to become law within weeks after Czech president concedes defeat
It will still end in tears. From The Telegraph
The controversial Lisbon Treaty is set to become law within weeks after the Czech Republic's eurosceptic president conceded his attempt to challenge it was futile.
Vaclav Klaus, the only European Union leader who has still not signed the document, said he could not wait for a British general election next year which could lead to a Tory government and a possible referendum to bury the Treaty.
Mr Klaus said: "The train carrying the treaty is going so fast and it's so far that it can't be stopped or returned, no matter how much some of us would want that."
His remarks devastated Conservative MPs and eurosceptic campaigners who have been clinging to the hope that he might be able to go on delaying ratification of the Treaty until the election next year.
Mr Klaus, who angered EU partners when he further delayed the ratification process by asking for an opt-out on the treaty earlier this month, said he still did not see the document as a good thing for "freedom in Europe."
But in an interview with the "Lidove noviny" newspaper in the Czech Republic, he said: "I cannot and will not wait for British elections, unless they hold them in the next few days or weeks."
He will, however, have to wait for the verdict of the Czech Constitutional Court on the treaty's compliance with the Czech constitution, which is expected on 27 October.
The Treaty, which brings in closer EU co-operation and streamlines governance in the 27-nation bloc, must be ratified by all EU members to take effect. Ireland voted to ratify the Treaty earlier this month, despite having said No in a previous referendum.
Mr Cameron has repeatedly said that even if the Treaty is ratified he "won't let matters rest there". But he has so far refused to spell out what this would entail, and whether he would still offer a referendum on Lisbon or stage a different attempt to repatriate powers from Brussels.
Posted on 10/17/2009 10:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Le Nez De Cléopâtre
This famous remark by Pascal is the basis for what we now call counterfactual history. And counterfactual history is not only for the historians, or teachers, or students. It is the basis for a song, Le nez de Cléopâtre, sung by Ray Ventura and his orchestra, back in 1938, a song I put up here last August.
The recent riots in Marseilles, Toulon, and elsewhere in southern France, by Muslim Arabs, wishing to take advantage of whatever flimsy excuse offered itself -- and the win of Algeria over Senegal at Blida constituted such a flimsy excuse -- to engage in a show of force and aggression, with the usual vandalism of cars and smash-and-grab operations with shop-windows, put me in mind of a line in that song.
Here, once again, is the song.
Prompted by the impulse that Pascal's famous counterfactual produces -- "Le nez de Cléopâtre : s'il eût été plus court, toute la face de la terre aurait changé" -- the singers suggest others: if Romeo had not met Juliet, if all roads hadn't led to Rome, if La Gioconde had not smiled, if Francois Premier had bought himself a bicycle, If someone could understand the verses of Paul Valery, and so on. I don't know what the reference to Francois Premier and the "bicyclette" is all about, but there is another line I don't understand, and it occurs at 1.03, when the singing waiter appears at the left of the screen and moves across it. His second line is: "Si les musulmanes n'avaient plus l'accent de Toulon."
What might that mean? I conclude that in France, in 1938, the Arabs of North Africa one was likely to encounter, all sounded as if they came from Toulon. This might well be, One assumes that many of the French who settled in North Africa came from the south, and carried with them their local accents. Toulon, a major port, the port from which ships left for, and came back from, Africa, might have had an outsize effect on the character of French in North Africa. And, too, the few Arabs or maghrebins who were then in France might have settled, in numbers, mainly in Toulon and Marseilles.
Listen to that song again. I wonder if that line would be sung quite so cheerfully today.
Posted on 10/17/2009 12:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 October 2009
A Musical Interlude: Un Oiseau Chante (Giselle Pascal)
Posted on 10/17/2009 12:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Gaubatz on Radio Jihad
Posted on 10/17/2009 5:31 PM by Rebecca Bynum