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Friday, 14 July 2006

Anti-Algerian stuff in the media

Anti-Algerian bias has been in the news recently, what with the world cup scandal. In case you don't follow football, what happened is this: during the world cup final, the captain of the French team, Zidane, headbutted Materazzi, an Italian player, during overtime and got thrown out of the match. Allegations have come up that Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore." Zidane's mother is an Algerian immigrant to France who was sick in the hospital at the time of the match. Italy went on to win the match in penalty shootouts. Zidane has never missed a penalty kick and so some suspect that France might have won had he stayed in the match.

Allegations that Italy won through racism must be going down very poorly at home, right? Well, not exactly. According to the NYT:

Swastikas spray painted in Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto sullied Italy’s joy after its World Cup victory on Sunday, as did racial comments made by a former government minister about the French team.

The former minister in question is Roberto Calderoli, the guy who was forced to resign after appearing publicly wearing a T-shit with one of the Mohammed cartoons on it.

After the Cup victory he said that the Italians had vanquished a French team that was comprised of “Negroes, communists and Moslems.” Italian soccer is no stranger to extremist politics. Italian football matches are often used as a platform for far-right fans to express racist sentiments.

Well, at the very least, in the enlightened and noble United states, anti-Algerian sentiments are, well, foreign, right? Let's ask the San Francisco Chronicle.

No one should ever take Zidane for a peaceful man. The son of Algerian immigrants, he comes from the hard streets of Marseilles, a truly rough-and-tumble background.

He's not peaceful because . . . he's the son of Algerian immigrants? Oh, and he's from Marseilles.

In other news, I read a web comic called Shooting War. The comic is kind of fucked, but it takes place in the Not Too Distant Future (one of my favorite time periods), in Iraq. and then I read this panel. The plot at this point is that the main characters have just been attacked by insurgents carrying forged Iranian passports. The female character notes that the ring leader looks as if he is North African and is wearing a T shirt from the banlieues of Paris. I won't quote all the dialog for you (it's in the image I linked to and you can't cut and paste from images), but I will pull it apart for your benefit.

She did not live in the northern suburbs when she was a university student. Teachers live in the burbs. Students live in the left bank. It's important for students to be near university life and they get something called the CAF from the government to pay their living expenses. All students get this, foreign or not. This system is extremely unlikely to change in the near future.

This travel agency thing she speaks of does not exist. There are French soldiers in Afghanistan. Given the timing of the comic, she would be in university now. Would the French happily send extremists off to kill their own troops? No they would not. Happiness about extremism does not exist.

Burning precious Pugeots! Oooh, somebody read a newspaper in November! But not very carefully, because only like 5 cars were burned in Paris, the rest were in the burbs. The cars burned in Paris were around the Place de la Republique. One may have been on my street. That's an immigrant neighborhood. They weren't burning cars out in the 16th. Also, the word "Peugeot" sounds effeminate, right? Because all French men are pansies, not like us tough Americans who go fight imperialist wars in Iraq. Maybe the writer couldn't think of any other French car brands. Maybe, in the future, there are no more Renaults.

Pissed off suburban youth are angry about economic issues, not religious issues. It may be the case that in the future, that changes. But right now, they're angry about job discrimination more than anything else. France has an extremely secular society. These kids are French. They were born in France. They went to French schools. Even the "native" French see them as French. The kind of changes this future envisions might happen, but I don't see it as likely. Especially not a toleration for terrorist travel agencies.

This poorly-written dialog, of course, comes from the same place as the stuff Materazzi allegedly said to Zidane. This stereotyping about Algerian terrorists is everywhere in the media. If you kept hearing that over and over again, this hate speech, it becomes like a physical attack. Zidane told reporters he would rather take a blow to the face than hear what Materazzi said to him. Hate speech is violent. "Sticks and stones" is bullshit, and everybody knows it. This has got to stop.

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