France Announces Stronger Fight Against Racism and Anti-Semitism

Serious government money and reasonably comprehensive approach:

Deadly attacks on Jews by Muslim extremists in January and a sharp spike in anti-Muslim acts since then have prompted the French government to elevate the fight against racism into “a great national cause,” leading government officials said on Friday.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced a detailed plan that dedicates 100 million euros, or $108 million, over the next three years to programs and policies that combat “racism and anti-Semitism,” including a nationwide awareness campaign, harsher punishments for racist acts and increased monitoring of online hate speech. “Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners and homophobia are increasing in an intolerable manner in our country,” Mr. Valls said after visiting a high school in Créteil, a suburb of Paris that has large Jewish and Muslim populations.

“French Jews should no longer be afraid of being Jewish, and French Muslims should no longer be ashamed of being Muslims,” he said.

…Jewish organizations welcomed the effort, as did Muslim groups, whose leaders said they had been consulted on a recent official report on racist acts against Jews, Muslims and other populations.

The report, published last week by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, a government watchdog, found that from 2013 to 2014, the number of anti-Semitic acts had risen to 851 from 423, and that there were more aggressive acts targeting Muslims in January of this year than there were during all of 2014.

Many of the recent attacks have been violent. Places of worship have been damaged and vandalized. Muslim women who wear a hijab, or head scarf, have been physically attacked, including a veiled pregnant woman who was recently beaten in Toulouse.

…While the title of the government’s plan did not include the term “Islamophobia,” which is how French Muslims describe acts against them, Muslim leaders said they were gratified that the government did speak specifically about the need to fight anti-Muslim sentiments and actions in France.

“The president of the republic, François Hollande, has used the word ‘Islamophobia,’ he has recognized Islamophobia,” said Abdallah Zekri, the director of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia at the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

However, Mr. Zekri said he noticed that Mr. Valls had avoided using the word in the past. “Many people do not want to hear the word ‘Islamophobia’; they want to hear the word ‘anti-Muslim,’ ” he said.

Mr. Valls’s presentation of the plan did not mention racism targeting people who are black or Roma, but all racist behavior would be covered by the new measures.

The Canadian government largely ended broad anti-racism messaging and programming around 2008 (Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism or CAPAR) in favour of a narrower focus on antisemitism. CAPAR itself was a hodge-podge of initiatives, with minimal funding, and apart from Statistics Canada police reported hate crimes reporting, its end was no great loss.

But the lack of broader anti-racism and discrimination messaging, and the linkages between antisemitism and other forms of prejudice is an opportunity missed.

While the French have gotten so many things wrong in the citizenship, integration and multiculturalism policies and programs, this one they appear to have right.

France Announces Stronger Fight Against Racism and Anti-Semitism – NYTimes.com.

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Libre opinion – Le racisme masqué | Le Devoir

A nuanced opinion piece on the questions related to more rigid or more flexible approaches to laicisme by Marie Darrieussecq, including the difficulties in communication with women wearing the niqab (full face covering), and the links to racism and fear of the “other”:

Je précise que je suis aussi peu pour le port du voile ou du foulard que pour l’exposition de femmes nues dans tous les kiosques à journaux de France et de Navarre (ou du Québec). Pourtant, si je suis contre le voile intégral — cet effacement du corps féminin du domaine public comme un objet sale ou « trop » attractif —, je suis beaucoup plus mesurée sur le foulard. Car ce que masque ce débat obsessionnel en France, c’est surtout un racisme vivace. Frantz Fanon repérait dès les années 50 comment l’idéologie raciste isole des éléments coutumiers chez l’autre pour les ridiculiser ou les monter en objets de menaces, en phobies. Mettre en exergue sans aucune nuance le port du voile — ou l’abattage halal —, c’est non seulement réduire les Arabes de France à un rite religieux, mais c’est une des stratégies pérennes du racisme.

Dans le contexte colonial, il s’agissait en effet, pour mieux asservir la culture de l’autre, d’en garder des bouts folklorisés, comme un rappel constant de ce qu’étaient les colonisés et dont les civilisateurs allaient les « sauver ». La même logique continue aujourd’hui : les anciens colonisés menacent, selon le fantasme, de nous envahir. Pour faire consister cette peur irrationnelle, on isole quelques éléments chez l’autre pour discréditer globalement le « barbare » en lui : regardez comment il voile son cheptel de femmes, comment il abat sa viande ! Et c’est bien pratique aussi de laisser croire que la menace sur les femmes vient surtout de l’extérieur…

Libre opinion – Le racisme masqué | Le Devoir.

Book Excerpt: Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias in Inside Policy

My excerpt, from the Anecdote or Evidence chapter, of my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, in The MacDonald-Laurier Institute‘s bimonthly publication, Inside Policy. Direct link to November issue (pdf, see page 30 for excerpt below):

Inside Policy November 2013

Jackson Doughart: Canada’s scary intolerance obsession

A good discussion on freedom of speech and intolerance by Jackson Doughart. While I would not go quite as far as he does in his arguments, excessive political correctness is  harmful to society. So enjoy your Halloween.

Doughart comes up with his own variation of Godwin’s Law:

Perhaps we need a construction of our own to fight back against the commonplace manifestation of the intolerance obsession. The industry of manufactured offense, after all, has produced a replete share of inanities, including the recent campaign to remove the imagery of Hallowe’en in schools because of its purported intolerance. This is a silly non-issue, but one which shows how the tolerance doctrine has become the universal solvent into which all public arguments are dipped. And as the case of Professor Somerville shows, the use of the bigotry label as a means of censoring disagreement is far from unimportant or ineffectual.

Enter what we might call Doughart’s Law, or the “reductio ad bigotrum”, which declares any person who accuses her political opponent of bigotry or intolerance as the loser of a debate. Once a person has been caught, the argument is over. Just imagine how much more congenial and effective public discourse would be if empty accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on, were off limits.

Jackson Doughart: Canada’s scary intolerance obsession | National Post.

Multiculturalism isn’t an excuse to import traditions that smack of bigotry

On some of the tensions within the Chinese-Canadian communities, between mainland and Hong Kong origin, between earlier and recent arrivals. Habacon gets multiculturalism right, and the kind of discussions that increasingly take place within families.

Including tensions and discrimination between ethnic communities, not just between the mainstream and ethnic communities, as part of the new multiculturalism priorities in 2010, was overdue.

Multiculturalism isn’t an excuse to import traditions that smack of bigotry.

Hate and Bias Crime Data « CrimeDime

Hate and Bias Crime Data « CrimeDime.

Mark Carney apologizes over $100 bill controversy – Business – CBC News

Mark Carney apologizes over $100 bill controversy – Business – CBC News.

In Canada, ‘non-ethnic’ is still the norm – The Globe and Mail

In Canada, ‘non-ethnic’ is still the norm – The Globe and Mail.

CCNC Press Release – Call for Political and Community Leadership in Recent Assaults against Asian Canadians

Asian Canadians at Lake Simcoe

via CCNC Press Release – Call for Political and Community Leadership in Recent Assaults against Asian Canadians.

Statement – Minister Kenney issues statement recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Funny language – ‘unjust racial discrimination’ begging the question, what is ‘just’ racial discrimination.

Statement – Minister Kenney issues statement recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.