A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BRIEF NOTE] Plus ça change

Radio Polonia reports the interesting news that that, in parts of France like the département of Nord where the million or so French of Polish origin are concentrated, French of Polish origin play a prominent role in the organization of the far-right Front national.

The French National Front party has a firm stance against immigrants and a solid “Frenchmen first”-policy. But in some regions, for instance in the Nord department bordering Belgium, one third of the members are of Polish origin. When asked about this state of affairs by the Polish press, National Front senior ideologist Bruno Gollnisch saw nothing strange in this. He said the Polish immigrants, who arrived in the 1940 or earlier, were hard-working and loyal to their new homeland. Dominique Slabolepszy, a National Front representative from the Nord-Pays de Calais-region and son of a Polish immigrant, said to the Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita that he joined the Front 20 years ago. His family had been supporters of President Charles De Gaulle’s party, but he believed that its ideas had been betrayed by its subsequent leaders, such as Jacques Chirac, the current president of France.

The Radio Polonia report goes on to suggest that the insecurity prevailing throughout French society is responsible for this mildly amusing result. My sense of amusement is only heightened by the fact that, as as Janine Ponty noted in 1998, in the 1920s and 1930s Polish immigrants were widely identified as unassimilable proletarians, of foreign Slavic origin and with an antiquated Roman Catholicism, and subjected to mass deportations. Juan Cole touches upon this in a Novmeber 2005 essay on the French riots, pointing out the very strong parallels between the Poles (and other métèques) then and the Maghrebins now, as I did two years ago in “France, its Muslims, and the Future”. Tony McNeill’s indispensable lectures on French immigration provide further background on the highly politicized context and representation of immigration in France for the past century and a half.

I wonder if, in a half-century or two, the Front national or its descendants will claim members of Maghrebin descent. “Yes, our parents and grandparents had problems, but those were transitory. These Congolese and Central Americans, now, know nothing of our culture and history! They’re taking over …”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 5, 2006 at 10:48 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , , ,

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