Marianne: Your investigation, published eighteen years ago (The lost territories of the Republic), reissued over the course of two decades, still arouses the same denigration as the attacks multiply. Has this omerta led to terror?
Georges Bensoussan: Very early on, we came up against a double silence. First, that of the Ministry of National Education, which had refused to answer our questions on the reporting of incidents in the school environment. There, for once we could speak of an omerta in these circles close to the PS of the time. Secondly, and here I will qualify your statement, when the book came out in October 2002, it was not "acclaimed by readers" quite simply because it had no media coverage except for a few journalists (including Natacha Polony by the way) and Alain Finkielkraut who immediately defended the work and was the only one to give me the floor on France Culture.
This silence began to burst when the Élysée school cell became aware of the book and repeatedly invited us to work with it, just as it had a colleague and myself audition us, at the end of 2003, by the Stasi commission which was to lead to the law on “religious symbols” in schools. Finally when Jacques Chirac himself used the expression "lost territories of the Republic", silence was no longer possible.
It was then that the denigration began in part of the press (audio, video, written), coming from a moralizing good-thinking, of a deeply bourgeois spirit and which seems to me responsible, in part, for our disaster. here. The killings at Charlie Hebdo, at the Hyper Cacher, the massacres of the Bataclan and of Nice hardly dented its power. It continues to dominate a large part of this "mainstream" media scene where the main thing is to speak not to say. Denigration goes through this major accusation that is worth your social death: racism. And its corollary which makes you a henchman of the far right and the RN. With the reminder in passing of the "darkest hours of our history", which has the merit of setting you up on the hour as a "resister" of an imaginary war, a mythical Spanish War, and an anti-colonialist fight never ended. In short, to live through interposed fantasies, great political hours in which you were not involved because you were born "too late"...
After the wave of astonishment induced by this drama, the emotion will subside after forceful speeches and bulging chests...until the next catastrophe. Why ? Because this lamentation after the fact, however legitimate it may be, is terribly ineffective. We are not here in the analysis which says and names.
Did the teachers, according to your contacts, report to their superiors the threats they were subjected to? Or not ? How did their loneliness get worse? What is the bundle of complicities?
To understand how the teachers found themselves in a certain solitude, it is necessary to know the pyramidal functioning of the National Education where, generally, the bonus and the promotion go first to the lukewarm, to those who, by dint of wanting to "qualify the words" end up losing sight of him.
Yes, many teachers had reported the incidents. But by dint of not being followed, or even of being considered sometimes as the primary responsible for the conflictual situation that they denounced, in short of having "provoked" students who were already "victims of so much discrimination" (otherwise said, to be "clumsy teachers", which amounts to reducing a political problem to a question of pedagogical know-how), many have ended up keeping quiet. It is also true that a headteacher, concerned about his career, has no interest in reporting a multiplication of incidents. The operation of National Education itself is in question as it feeds conformism. Courageous teachers, they are legion, are disarmed. The fight being too unequal, they end up giving up. They then lock themselves up sometimes in resentment and even more in a solitude frequently nourished in this environment by the reign of a doxa synonymous with the flattest of conformisms.
In the same way as the police, social workers and hospital medical staff, teachers, for thirty years, have found themselves on the front line to face the situation of part of the immigration which has brought with it, which is natural, another vision of the world, another intellectual software, hence other values (which can also be lost to the next generation as in any immigration). However, some of these values and practices are antithetical to our society based on the Western intellectual revolution of the XNUMXth century (the subject) and the Enlightenment.
With our old intellectual software, we were not equipped to face this new world generated by the contemporary demographic explosion. As a college student in the early sixties, I learned in geography class that we were 3 billion human beings on the globe; today, 7,5 billion. An upheaval of which the expansion of Islam is one of the manifestations, a new religion on the European scene, and in particular French since France welcomes nearly 25% of Muslims in Europe.
Coming from the left, you dreamed of a fraternal, rational, emancipated society. Have we definitely lost it? How to fight, death in the face?
The doxa has taken up the notion of "political Islam" in chorus, whereas Islam, taken in the literal sense, remains primarily a legal and political code (even if there is, in a minority, a non-political Islam, and even if Islam knew many attempts at reform). Whereas Islam is a praxis that encompasses the believer's life from dawn to dusk and from cradle to grave. However, we apply the same word, religion, to Christianity and Islam, forgetting the analysis of Marcel Gauchet (Le Disenchantment of the world, 1985) on Christianity, this “ religion of coming out of religion when Islam, Gauchet tells us, is the last comer of monotheisms and thinks of itself as the closure of monotheistic invention "(Le Monde, November 21, 2015).
This is why we must continue to question specialists in Arab civilization and Islam, like in her time the associate professor of Arabic Anne-Marie Delcambre who wrote in Islam of prohibitions (Desclée de Brouwer, 2003): “ Fundamentalism is not the disease of Islam. He is the whole of Islam. It is the literal, global and total reading of its founding texts. »
In France, this process of communautarisation, of which Islamism is a radical form, resulted in the Bataclan as in other scenes of horror until that of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16, 2020. However, this process of Islamization has been censored and concealed. The very expression smelled of sulphur. Synonymous with those famous "slippages" that ruin a career.
This is why the responsibility of the media-cultural doxa is immense here, starting with these media which generally open only to a cultural and social inter-self characteristic of bourgeois endogamy. I will give you a recent example of this deadly silence which prevents hearing of the present situation and feeds reactions of bewilderment when what happened in Conflans occurs. the work History of French Islamization 1979–2019, published by Éditions de l'Artilleur in 2019, was buried by silence with a few exceptions (Franz-Olivier Giesbert among others). In some Parisian bookstores, for example, this book, like all those elsewhere from this publishing house belonging to the “fachosphere” in the eyes of our new “resistants”, is almost “unavailable”.
This censorship of cultural life, this narrowing of public debate, this legalization of the confrontation of ideas, this criminalization of disagreements, finally the cowardly shyness in naming the adversary have led to this simple Manichaeism of good feelings which to many takes the place of reflection: good/bad, fair/unfair, good/bad, etc.
“The strange defeat” wrote Marc Bloch in 1941 when he tried to analyze its underpinnings. The same could be said today: how did we get here? In addition to the Islamist circles that we have not been able to block since the 1990s, which has allowed the current influence of Islamism in this part of the youth of Muslim origin for whom "the sharia is superior to the laws of the Republic " ? Who let fear invade public opinion as soon as these questions are broached?
I give you a personal memory relating to this totalitarianism of well-meaning which works to silence. In 2015, I was summoned before the National Center for Letters, which granted a small grant to the review for which I was responsible at the Shoah Memorial. Some intellectuals, who obviously remained anonymous, were moved by the words I used on the back cover of an issue of the magazine that, with Yves Ternon and Claire Mouradian, we had dedicated to the centenary of the Armenian genocide. I had indeed spoken of a “conquering Islam”. These two words had made the Knights of Good jump. Worthy "children of Vichy" as René Char said in 1962 of the enemies of Camus, these heroes were quick to denounce me to the CNL. Hence the summons.
After the assassinations perpetrated at Charlie Hebdo, despite the four million "Je suis Charlie" of January 11, 2015, no one dared to reproduce the cartoons, except Charlie Hebdo itself at the opening of the trial in September last. Charb's piece from his text on "Islamophobia crooks" has been deprogrammed many times, and I pass on the prohibitions of speaking of such and such, on the canceled conferences and the censored plays. The Islamists, whose aim is not only to separate from us but to destroy our cultural universe, are served by the weight of numbers combined with the cowardice of some as well as the stupidity of a certain “cultural leftism”.
On the other hand, by selfish economic calculation, in forty years and from its chic and protected districts of Paris, the business bourgeoisie has helped to constitute this mass of maneuver of a low-cost foreign proletariat which has drawn wages down and plunged into social and cultural disarray the French working classes.
So, a battle definitely lost?
Yes, if we don't take the liberty of changing the law, especially those that feed the courts and prohibit speech in the name of a misguided fight against “racism”. Let's be clear: racism in all its forms must be fought, especially when it calls for segregation and violence. On the other hand, the systematic judicialization of the confrontation of ideas, as is often the case today, ruins the democratic spirit of the debate. Yes, the battle is lost if certain public institutions are not reformed. If we do not impose a real pluralism of ideas and intellectuals in the media financed by public money. Finally, there is no battle definitively lost unless one renounces putting oneself in danger. The choir of mourners mobilized after the beheading of this unfortunate history teacher is uneasy. On the one hand, because lamentation is a discourse of the vanquished. On the other hand, and above all, because as Bossuet expressed it magnificently in this sermon of 1662: " God laughs at men who deplore the effects of evils whose causes they cherish. »
Only the lack of courage signs a lost battle. Naming the adversary is the first step in the fight to be undertaken even if I fear that in France, like other historical situations, cowardice remains the dominant party. This is how since the Hyper Cacher massacre, anti-Semitism has been widely condemned without ever naming the anti-Semites. I remember this beautiful investigation from the newspaper Le Monde in November 2017 which devoted two fascinating pages to "the anti-Semitism of the cities". But at the end of this reading, we still knew nothing about the attackers. Because it was not necessary to “feed the extreme right”, “creeping fascism”, contribute to “nauseant ideas” and “stigmatize Muslims”.
The number one ingredient in combat is courage. Let him run out, and you will be able to multiply martial declarations, indignant condemnations, and speeches as beautiful as the ancient (“the Republic will not admit”, “barbarism will not pass”, “touching a Jew (variant: to a teacher, to a policeman, etc…), it is touching France”), defeat in open country remains the promised horizon at the end of the road.
As long as the law has not been modified, as long as the judicial machine relies on liberticidal laws that were once supposed to protect us and which dialectically, today, subject us to the victim-essentialism of the "indigenous" which reduces the individual at birth and skin color, we will not be able to defend ourselves. As long as the public debate in France will take place in the shadow of the 17th correctional chamber (because that is what some parents threatened the beheaded teacher a few days later), we can say that the Islamists have won.
But attacking Islamism without questioning poorly integrated immigration (and not immigration per se) is a form of arrogance. When in some categories of the population, by lack of integration (sidelining, manifestations of racism), frustration and social resentment have become encysted, and with them the feeling of failure and humiliation, the "re-Islamization works like a newfound pride. With often, unfortunately, the resurgence, but more violent, of a widespread cultural anti-Semitism.
In 1981, the PCF had warned against the social and cultural consequences for all workers, French and immigrants, of immigration favored by employers. Reviled for "racism", he was overwhelmed by the diatribes of seasoned moralists, specialists in "tolerance" and who do not generally share the same living situations (what about the rate of social housing in Seine-Saint-Denis, in the XNUMXth and the XNUMXth arrondissement of Paris?).
Men are not economic or biological abstractions, white sheets, they are beings of speech and culture who move with their world and their imagination. However, there comes a time when, through the effect of numbers, this imagination and its values come into contradiction with ours. This is the clash of cultures that Hugues Lagrange was talking about ten years ago. Immediately vilified by the doxa of “cultural leftism”. Like Paul Yonnet shortly before him. And so many others condemned to silence both by this anti-racism misguided as a terrorist tool, as also by this famous "duty of memory" which, from a "sacred cause", has become what Pierre Nora recently called (Le Débat, May 2020) “a routine”.
These are some of the elements of the breeding ground of the past drama and the dramas to come. Let's make Bossuet's word a rule of conduct: we can no longer defend certain laws, certain judicial practices, media censorship on public money, or an immigration that nourishes extremism through the disarray and the real difficulties of integration. religious lived as a refuge, a revenge and a compensation for the misfortune and disappointments of exile.