Everybody knows the fight was fixed, 20

5 10 2015

I’m not generally a fan of violence nor specifically a fan of assault.

However.

I cannot dredge up even the smallest bit of concern at the sight of an Air France executive chased over a fence by workers:

Kenzo Tribouillard , AFP/Getty

These workers are fighting for their jobs. They’re literally doing to the executives what the executives would—metaphorically—do to them.

I have no illusions that labor violence in the US would not be met by even greater police violence, nor that the citizenry would support the workers. Whatever our paeans to ‘plain-spoken hard-working salt-of-the-earth heartland’ types, what we Americans really respect is money.

If you have to work to get it, okay, fine, but if you’re out there doing what someone else can do (cheaper), shut up and get back to work.

There’s an incident recalled in Adam Gopnik’s essay “Trouble at the Tower” in which a tourist (British? American?) was prevented (roughly?) from getting off at the wrong platform by the elevator operator. She complained, he was fired, the rest of the tower workers went on strike until he was restored to his position.

Naturally, sympathy in France gathered quickly around the wronged operator and his striking friends, while sympathy in the Anglo-American side gathered around the roughed-up lady. . . [S]he was just trying to have a good time, we think. But he was only doing his job, they think.

Gopnik elaborates upon and, honestly, overplays the disjuncture between the customer/producer mentalities (just as I overplay the respect for money/work disjuncture), but I think he does get at something about cultural defaults: the French sympathy tends toward the worker, while the American does not.

In France, the storming of the offices of the jobs-cutting executives (or the blockade of roads by tractors) is not a horror, but a tactic. In the US, workers respond to cut jobs by reapplying for the same position at a lower wage.

And if corporations kill workers? Oh, well.

(Is it worth noting that the one of the few corporate executives who’s going to jail for killing people is doing so for killing customers, not workers? I think so, yes.)

There are plenty of us (in both countries) who would set the switch differently, but we’re straining against custom. What they (we) take as right we (they) can scarcely imagine here.

So to see what is possible—that fighting back is possible—well, if I’m not exactly thrilled by the assault, there is a certain grim satisfaction in that man’s ripped shirt.

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Pat-pat, good dog

26 01 2010

So as not merely to pick on the religious folk:

France Should Ban Muslim Face Veils – Panel

From today’s NY Times:

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s National Assembly should pass a resolution denouncing full Muslim face veils and then vote the strictest law possible to ban women from wearing them, a parliamentary commission proposed on Tuesday.

Presenting conclusions after six months of hearings, the panel also suggested barring foreign women from obtaining French visas or citizenship if they insisted on veiling their faces.

But it could not agree whether to opt for an absolute ban on the veils, known here as burqas or niqabs, or one restricted to public buildings because some members thought a total ban would be unconstitutional.

“The full veil represents in an extraordinary way everything that France spontaneously rejects,” National Assembly President Bernard Accoyer said as the commission delivered its report.

“It’s a symbol of the subjugation of women and the banner of extremist fundamentalism.”

Okay, so let’s look at those commission members: Andre Guerin, communist deputy, headed the commission; Eric Raoult, conservative deputy, was vice chair. Socialist members of the commission, protesting the entanglement of this issue with a debate on national identity, boycotted the final vote.

Jean-Francois Cope, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s  conservative Union for a Popular Movement party, has introduced a bill banning full covering (i.e., the burka and the niqab) in public; it’s been signed by 180 members of the 315-member body.

Supporters of a ban say civil servants need a law to allow them to turn away fully veiled women who cannot be identified when they seek municipal services such as medical care, child support or public transport. (NY Times)

Now, I haven’t been able to find out who exactly sat on this commission, but does anyone else notice who is championing efforts to restrict the movement of liberate the estimated 1900 Muslim women who cover themselves fully?

I assume they’ll get right on regulating the bodies of men legislation to ban facial hair from men.

In the name of freedom. Of course.