Réaffirmer la fierté d’être français

Eric Besson, France’s Minister of Immigration, said in an interview yesterday that he wants French people to be  proud of their country and their nationality. He wants young people to sing La Marseillaise at least once per year and he wants adults to take civic instruction classes. He’s going to conduct a two month national debate on what it means to be French today and will present his findings in January. This is part of Sarkozy’s plan to bring back “La Douce France” and to increase patriotism and nationalism because he also believes that the French are not patriotic enough.

Sarkozy always seems to bring up these questions of national identity before elections though, so some people think it’s just a ploy to get more votes for the conservative UMP party from the Front National (racist/anti-immigration party) supporters.  La Douce France usually refers to the early part of the 20th century when the majority of French people lived in the countryside, and before France had a large immigrant population (especially of Muslims) and before globalization added English words to the French language. But modern France is nothing like that.  Three times as many people live in cities than in the countryside in the 21st century. There are more than 5 million Muslims (more than any other Western European country). And French has definitely borrowed a lot of English words. How many “French” words end in -ing nowadays?

I see nothing wrong with patriotism as long as its sincere and it’s not a disguise for racism or intolerance. You can love your country and be proud of your nationality and/or government. I don’t necessarily like when people take it to the extreme though and plaster their houses or cars or clothes with flags. And I especially do not like when people define nationalities based on their racist ideals (i.e. all Americans must be white Christians who speak English as a native language).

But I also see nothing wrong with a lack of a patriotism. It’s fine to not love your country, especially the one to which you belong by birth, because you never had a choice regarding your nationality. Just because you were born in a certain place doesn’t mean you have to love it. If I had had a choice, I would have loved to have been born with two nationalities. But I wasn’t. And now I’m working towards gaining French citizenship by naturalization, but does that make me any less patriotic concerning France? I have equal feelings for the US and France (though I suppose it leans a little more toward France at the moment because of health care…) and I really can’t picture myself ever choosing one over the other.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing more French flags flown (especially on July 14) and hearing La Marseillaise at more than just football matches. I’m just afraid that the UMP is starting this “debate” for ulterior motives because they’ve been getting harsher on immigration (evacuating Calais and sending war refugees back to Afghanistan) and Muslim garments (the burka “runs counter to national values”).  Or perhaps I’m just letting my personal feelings for Sarkozy and his huge ego and Besson and his selfish crassness cloud my judgment.  Nevertheless, I am a liberal through and through and slightly for socialism in certain cases, which is not a bad thing even if American conservatives compare it to Nazi Germany (because they really are that stupid. Talking about you, Glenn Beck.)

Luckily Besson doesn’t have power to change rules on gaining nationality through naturalization, or I might really have to sing La Marseillaise to a fonctionnaire to prove my worth. That’s Brice Hortefeux’s job (Minister of Interior) and considering that he’s just as loyal to Sarkozy – he’s even godfather to one of his sons – and just as prone to making possibly racist remarks against immigrants, I’m a little worried. Or perhaps I’m just annoyed with Western politicians in general because they’re all rich white guys with questionable values and morals?

Anyway…

♫  Allons enfants de la Patrie ! Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie, l’étendard sanglant est levé,
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !
Aux armes, citoyens, formez vos bataillons, marchons, marchons !
Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons !

(Just practicing!)

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  • http://www.iwonderasiwander.wordpress.com/ Missbliss

    Great post! Very thought provoking…and good timing, especially with the Marwa al Sherbini trial that’s happening in Dresden at the moment.

  • http://www.iwonderasiwander.wordpress.com Missbliss

    Great post! Very thought provoking…and good timing, especially with the Marwa al Sherbini trial that’s happening in Dresden at the moment.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Patriotism should come from the people of the country and what they do, not flags or songs or other empty symbols.

    Besson is an insult to France, our current government is an insult to France.
    If they represent France, then I’m more than ashamed to be French.
    .-= David´s last blog ..Il y a des Francophones par ici??? =-.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Patriotism should come from the people of the country and what they do, not flags or songs or other empty symbols.

    Besson is an insult to France, our current government is an insult to France.
    If they represent France, then I’m more than ashamed to be French.
    .-= David´s last blog ..Il y a des Francophones par ici??? =-.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    Patriotism should come from the people of the country and what they do, not flags or songs or other empty symbols.

    Besson is an insult to France, our current government is an insult to France.
    If they represent France, then I’m more than ashamed to be French.
    .-= David´s last blog ..Il y a des Francophones par ici??? =-.

  • http://bisoufrancaise.blogspot.com/ Brandi

    Thanks for posting the words to the Marseille, makes me smile. I think in the USA, patriotism is measured in weird ways (like if you watch Fox News and are ultra-conservative) But I still think that in France there are lots of “regional” patriotism… Provencal, Sud Ouest…
    .-= Brandi´s last blog ..A Heath Care Comparison =-.

  • http://bisoufrancaise.blogspot.com/ Brandi

    Thanks for posting the words to the Marseille, makes me smile. I think in the USA, patriotism is measured in weird ways (like if you watch Fox News and are ultra-conservative) But I still think that in France there are lots of “regional” patriotism… Provencal, Sud Ouest…
    .-= Brandi´s last blog ..A Heath Care Comparison =-.

  • http://bisoufrancaise.blogspot.com/ Brandi

    Thanks for posting the words to the Marseille, makes me smile. I think in the USA, patriotism is measured in weird ways (like if you watch Fox News and are ultra-conservative) But I still think that in France there are lots of “regional” patriotism… Provencal, Sud Ouest…
    .-= Brandi´s last blog ..A Heath Care Comparison =-.

  • Mark

    David is right. You don’t love French cuisine because it is French. Rather, you love France because of the glory of la bonne cuisine (and the health care system, etc.).

    No government deserves to be loved, no matter how popular or seemingly benevolent. But loving the people (especially the artists, lovers, and thinkers!), the mountains, the food, the social fabric of life — these are worth our time and energy. Patriots always get this wrong.

  • http://marpasco@yahoo.com Mark

    David is right. You don’t love French cuisine because it is French. Rather, you love France because of the glory of la bonne cuisine (and the health care system, etc.).

    No government deserves to be loved, no matter how popular or seemingly benevolent. But loving the people (especially the artists, lovers, and thinkers!), the mountains, the food, the social fabric of life — these are worth our time and energy. Patriots always get this wrong.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com/ Linda

    I can’t sing that anthem yet-it seems very violent to me when I read the words. I’m great at humming it as it’s a very catchy tune.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Driving (Me Crazy) 2 =-.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com/ Linda

    I can’t sing that anthem yet-it seems very violent to me when I read the words. I’m great at humming it as it’s a very catchy tune.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Driving (Me Crazy) 2 =-.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda

    I can’t sing that anthem yet-it seems very violent to me when I read the words. I’m great at humming it as it’s a very catchy tune.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Driving (Me Crazy) 2 =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    I’m not a patriotic person. At least, I wasn’t as a French. Only in Canada I learned to like the flag and national anthem, because here they are not associated with extreme-right political parties.

    Debating identity is interesting. But too often it leads to racism and increased intolerance… French don’t see to realize that there are relatively few immigrants in France, most “foreigners” have been there for a while (unlike in Canada where people are “fresh off the plane”).
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..The End of Fall =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    I’m not a patriotic person. At least, I wasn’t as a French. Only in Canada I learned to like the flag and national anthem, because here they are not associated with extreme-right political parties.

    Debating identity is interesting. But too often it leads to racism and increased intolerance… French don’t see to realize that there are relatively few immigrants in France, most “foreigners” have been there for a while (unlike in Canada where people are “fresh off the plane”).
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..The End of Fall =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    I’m not a patriotic person. At least, I wasn’t as a French. Only in Canada I learned to like the flag and national anthem, because here they are not associated with extreme-right political parties.

    Debating identity is interesting. But too often it leads to racism and increased intolerance… French don’t see to realize that there are relatively few immigrants in France, most “foreigners” have been there for a while (unlike in Canada where people are “fresh off the plane”).
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..The End of Fall =-.

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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