The state of comedy in France...
(Tim) Several years ago, I was talking with Doug Wilson about race relations and Doug said he feared racism was about to return, with a vengeance. At the time, I wasn't as inclined to pessimism as he was, but now I'm not so sure.
A recent New Yorker article on black French comedian, Dieudonné ("Letter from Paris: Laugh Riots" 11/19/07), recounts what Dieudonné referred to during several 2002 interviews as his "conversion." Since then, Dieudonné’s routines have had a virulent anti-Semitism at their center. Now Dieudonné considers Judaism to be "a scam. It's one of the worst because it's the first."
Some speculate that Dieudonné’s strategy is to ride the crest of a wave of racism taking western Europe, particularly France. According to the article's author, Tom Reiss...
Pierre-Andre Taguieff, a French specialist on racism, told me that Dieudonné in some ways reminds him of Celiné, who, in 1937, "sensed something in the air, coming partly from abroad, from Germany and other parts of Europe, and partly from France--a feeling that anti-Semitism was becoming a strong cause, with a broad resonance, across the political spectrum. I think Dieudonné sensed a similar thing in 2001 to 2002, after the second intifada. I think our Dieudonné has quite a keen intuition for the movements of public opinion, and he immediately sought to instrumentalize this creeping anti-Semitism in public opinion by bringing it into his sketches, as a popular provocation, as a means of connecting with people on a visceral level...
Reiss quotes "philosopher and memoirist of Jewish identity," Alain Finkielkraut:
Dieudonné is the spokesman, the godfather, the icon of a new kind of anti-Semitism. It is an explicitly anti-racist anti-Semitism, which inverts traditional anti-Semitism by asserting that the Nazis today are in fact the Jews. The idiom of anti-Semitism is no longer racism; it is now anti-racism. Dieudonné’s followers say that they don't hate Jews, they hate Jewish racism. They say that Israel is like Nazism, like apartheid.
Jewish writer and Frenchman Bernard-Henri Levy comments on Dieudonné’s innovative form of anti-Semitism:
In France, being an anti-Semite in the old way does not work. You will not raise a mass movement by saying the Jews killed Christ--nobody cares. Accuse them of having invented Christ, like Voltaire did in the eighteenth century, still nobody cares. As far as being a special race, nobody believes that anymore. But anti-racist anti-Semitism--saying that for the sake of the blacks, for the sake of the Arabs, we must make the Jews shut up--this works. If the Jews practiced 'memorial pornography'--thus exaggerating their own suffering--they became responsible for why the world didn't care enough about the history of slavery and the suffering of blacks.
If Jews pose a threat to the unity of the modern nation-state, Christians will be perceived to present an infinitely greater one. Mark my words: Dieudonné isn't stopping with his anti-racist anti-Semitism. Gospel exclusivity is on its heels. Dieudonné "attacks all religious superstition" in his comedy routines, and he's adding shows to his tour.