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Islamo-Leftism (Part 9)



[Editor’s note: The following is a translation by Ibn Warraq and Robert Kerr of Michel Onfray’s L’Art d’Etre Francais (The Art of Being French, Bouquins, 2021), published here for the first time. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here. Part 4 is here. Part 5 is here. Part 6 is here. Part 7 is here. Part 8 is here.]

Thirdly: verbigerate. This flippancy regarding history has its equivalent in the semantic flippancy of Edwy Plenel who juggles, without much concern for their true meaning, words such as “racism”, “xenophobia” or “Islamophobia” and then uses them to reinforce Godwin’ observation.

Edwy Plenel speaks of “anti-Muslim racism” (p. 51). But racism is discrimination against a race. Since when do “Muslims” constitute a race? The magical thinking of political correctness imagines that deleting the word “race” is enough to abolish the thing, that the abolition of a signifier leads at the same time to the disappearance of its signified. On the other hand, the same magical thinking that no longer wants to hear about race sees nothing wrong with so-called anti-racist thinking: if races do not exist, then neither does racism (which is discrimination on the basis of race), and how can one be anti-racist, that is, fight against the discrimination of races if they do not exist?

Muslims are not of any particular color. At least, to put it differently, they are of all colors – of all races, as we used to say in the days of Jean-Jaurès and Jules Ferry, or François Mitterrand during colonial times… They are white in Europe, yellow in China, black in Africa, mixed race everywhere on the planet, but also black in Europe, yellow in Africa or black in China…

The same is true of xenophobia – which etymologically speaking refers to a hatred of foreigners. But how can a Frenchman who manifests an incompatibility of temperament towards the religion of a Muslim, Frenchman like him, show such hatred? There are eight million Muslims in France, a very large number of whom are French: to oppose their religion is not to show hatred of a foreigner, it is merely making a value judgement about a world view – in this case religious and theocratic. How is this criminal?

The same goes for Islamophobia, a word that Edwy Plenel tells us is not of Iranian origin, nor contemporary with the power of the aya­tollahs, as is often stated, “whereas it was invented in France, in 1910” (p. 93). We would have liked more information: at what exact date, with what etymology, under whose pen, in what document, with what particular meaning, in what uses which should have been specified with quotes from authors? For the etymology of the root “phobia” indicates here a fear of Islam – not a hatred. Fear of something is not necessarily accompanied by hatred of that thing. Nor does the hatred of that thing necessarily go hand in hand with the fear of it.

This use of these three words to castigate the interlocutor allows for a variation on the Godwin observation: If one recalls that the Qur’an contains verses that are homophobic, misogynistic, phallocratic, warmongering, anti-Semitic, as I have mentioned above, and they really are there, and that their political use intimidates anyone who defends the Values of the Republic, i.e. liberty, equality, fraternity, secularism, feminism, because he or she feels that these values are endangered; if such is tantamount to being guilty of hatred towards all the Muslims on the planet, then in effect no dialogue is possible.

Whence the fourth stage: exaggeration. By way of example with this thesis: “The ­imperative of assimilation is a euphemism of evanescence” (p. 106). When he wants to, the author shows that he knows how to use words with more finesse than is the case with racism, xenophobia or islamophobia. For with the word “evanescence” he shows his true colors. Indeed, the evanescence may be that of the letter e in Perec’s work[23]; but, of course, this was to be expected, it is rather an allusion to the disappearance of the six million Jews in the gas chambers … Then follows a verbose reiteration: “A way of wishing that the Muslims of France, however they might define themselves, may no longer be Muslims. Don’t say it, don’t, don’t express it, don’t assume it. And this is how the sorcerer’s apprentices who, more often than not, govern us give birth to monsters. For who can fail to see, in this acceptance of intolerance, the advance of a deafening call for Muslims to be no more, even worse. That they rid us of themselves or that we rid ourselves of them. That the varied humanity encompassed in common parlance by the words Muslim, Arab or Maghrebi should henceforth be left out of the picture” (p. 106). Here we see that Plenel may not always essentialize; but it also shows that underlying this discourse is the suggestion of a project of extermination – the word would have been too big, but this elephant is still in the room… And Plenel goes from “the negation of a minority” to the negation “possibly [sic] of its existence” (p. 106)! So there it is…


[23] La Disparition (lit. “The Disappearance”), is a 300-page French novel, written in 1969 by Georges Perec, entirely without using the letter e.




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