The Foolish Face of Colonial France

Posted in Other | 06-Sep-06 | Author: Hichem Karoui

Hichem Karoui is WSN Editor France.

The French anti-racist movement called MRAP – mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples – has issued an outstanding protestation against “ Le Petit Robert” dictionary, which presented in its 2007 issue two definitions of the entries : “colonization” and “colonize” that are – the least to say – inaccurate.

In the entry “colonization”, Le Petit Robert reads : “valorisation and exploitation of countries that have become colonies”.

In the entry “colonize”, it reads : “to occupy a country in order to value and exploit its wealth”.

According to 5 September’s declaration of the MRAP, both entries are no less than an unacceptable justification and legitimation of the colonization. MRAP considers that “Le Petit Robert” took to its own account the spirit of February 23, 2005 law, which acknowledged a positive aspect to colonization.

In respect to « this glorification and rehabilitation of the colonization , MRAP demands merely the withdrawal of the dictionary”. It calls also for the constitution of a study committee whose mission will be to give accurate definitions of these words, “taking in consideration the real life experience, the pains and all the damages caused by this crime against humanity which is colonization”.

The MRAP proclamation draws our attention to the fact that this type of definitions is actually dangerous, because a dictionary is always a reference, particularly for the younger part of the populations, whose education we ought to be more cautious about , so that it does not get intoxicated with trivialities on colonization.

In fact, the “Petit Robert” definitions of colonization fall out of all scientific objectivity and intellectual integrity , to make of the provocation practiced by some right-wing, neo-fascist and racist group inside the French political class, an issue scientifically acceptable.

Those who introduced the February 23 legislation, know very well that they will never succeed in legitimating colonization, even if they used the best of their rhetoric skills and the top of their most fantasist imagination. For legitimacy is not just about issuing foolish legislations – Even Hitler could do so - . Legitimacy is actually about making the majority of people agree on the legislation. Hence the question : why, among all world States, there is only France to recognize a “positive aspect” to colonization?

The first and straight answer is likely : megalomania.

Yet, France cannot afford anymore such rabid masochistic behaviour, for while it is dwarfed everyday by Europe – not to speak of the USA – it ought to pay more attention to its multiracial- multiethnic growing population, the greatest part of which comes from former colonies. What is the point of alienating millions of people just for the sake of bragging about colonisation?

The mere fact of introducing such a legislation should be considered as a disaster for human intelligence, a denial of science and a guillotine scaffold for all France’s scientists and honest intellectuals. Indeed, it would have made the French free minds, who fought colonization, turn their faces to the ground in their graves, shamefully. Instead of this, we see the whole issue occurring in such a contemporary desert… as if the question is so trivial that most intellectuals just give up the idea of debating about it.

On the other hand, the countries called former colonies are not so “disarmed” or powerless that they are unable to react positively in respect to this moral aggression humiliating their martyrs many years after their death.

It is still within the reach of Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon and other African countries and former colonies that payed the blood tribute for getting delivered from France’s oppressive yoke, to make the latter acknowledge its own limits if it has grown unaware of them, and to make France come back to reason. For this, it is not necessary to make a clamour and organize broad media campaigns. These countries may just use their sovereign right to choose the second national language.

What if they retaliated this way ?

Why should French be the second language in the Maghreb Arab countries? English ought to replace it as a second national language…for at least, this is a language spoken by three quarters of the globe population. What is French comparatively? A language of a little village still living on the old delusions of a faded power. No offense : we say this with due respect to France’s great authors, intellectuals, artists, and scientists to whom we are indeed indebted, as is the whole mankind, for all the valued production they contributed to our progress.

Maybe then France would feel an obligation to respect other people, and come back to dealing seriously and reasonably with independent States, and put an end to this immoral manipulation of concepts affecting people’s life, conscience, dignity and identity.

However, the issue is not just about Arabs and Africans and other former colonized people expressing strongly their anger. This is an obligation for them. Anyway, where is the Arab League? And the African Union? Did they object anything to the idiotic rant of those French haunted by “the positive aspect” of colonization? And where are the governments as well? Where are the voices of the civil society? Nothing but a desert as if those people are not aware of the negative aspect of empowering new colonialists with a fake ideology : as France is no longer able to defend such delirium.

Yet, the French should pay attention to what is happening. For on the long run, the issue will still stand as an option among others : choosing the future. Would humiliated people choose the French future ( language, culture and all the rest) or range otherwise?