Are the French patriotic enough ?

sarkoPresident Nickolas Sarkozy thinks they can do better (writes Golda on Newshour) and has called for a nationwide debate on French identity.

Over the next few months the government wants to hear people’s views on what it means to be French in the 21st century.

His critics accuse him of electioneering, of unpacking an issue that he first brought up while campaigning for the presidency in 2007.

napoleonBut polls show that this resonates with French voters: France is home to the largest muslim community in Europe and identity and integration are among the biggest challenges for this defiantly secular state.

 So does France need a debate on identity? And what is really at the heart of being French?

Newshour will be chewing this one over tomorrow.


23 Responses to “Are the French patriotic enough ?”

  1. 1 Robert
    October 30, 2009 at 23:31

    Political leaders calling for patriotism scare me. In the last few days a Labour politician has said if you don’t support Blair for EU president then you’re not British.No comment on policies, no comment on belief’s of Blair. Simply, Blair is British, if you’re not behind him you’re against us.

    It is a weapon in spin. A tool to be brought out if needed.

    Patriotism is about wanting the best of your country, not the best of the particular people leading that country. Sometimes the patriotic thing is to go against the grain.

  2. 2 Ronald Almeida
    October 30, 2009 at 23:51

    I hope not. For what’s the difference between patriotism and Naziism?

  3. 3 JanB
    October 31, 2009 at 02:04

    I live in the Netherlands and this whole thing seems really familiar: it’s not so much about patriotism as it is about realising that France, the Netherlands, or the West as a whole are just as interesting and valuable culturally (maybe even more so, because Western culture is so divers and adaptive) as exotic cultures from the orient. Even though Westerners aren’t used to seeing themselves as part of a culture (because here rationalism, science and bureaucracy are so much revered over things like religion, personal honor and language) they have immigrants among them who do cling on to exotic cultures and claim all kinds of benefits and legal exceptions because of their culture.
    This creates fears that exotic cultures are slowly ripping apart the carefully constructed well-ordered Western societies, turning them into medieval/Taliban-like states, some will call this xenophobic, or even racist (words that would not have existed if it wasn’t for Westerners who first started opposing these things), but it’s really not that different from the immigrants trying to force their children to stick to their culture, or Arab or African countries who enshrine religious values into their laws, all in all it’s quite human to try to protect one’s way of life.

    In the end what Sarkozy and other like him really want to say is: “our nation is a secular, liberal democracy because history has proven over and over such a system sh*ts on any other known system when it comes to human rights, economic prosperity, scientific progress and general order (crime, corruption, etc…), and while we have freedom of speech and religion, you’re not supposed to abuse them to undermine our system and if you can’t accept that you’re really not welcome here.”

  4. 4 James Ian
    October 31, 2009 at 08:52

    I like President Nickolas Sarkozy, he is the first Fench leader in years that I have liked and this is an example of why I like him. The french should clearify thier identity if they think it has been diluted immigration. Being patriotic is not a bad thing even more and more people seem to think so. What is it to be French, what is it to be American or any other nationality, I think it’s a wonderful question and one that deserves an answer.
    I think there is something sad about the graying of cultures around the world. One day I fear, you will not be able to tell one county from another.
    Viva La Difference!!!!

  5. 5 scmehta
    October 31, 2009 at 09:05

    Identity? Ask Canada, Switzerland and some other countries; What more do they want? As for patriotism, the French are as opportunistic as the others are around the world, and as patriotic as the others could/would be, in any national crises/calamity or whenever a united response to a common danger is warranted. Otherwise, the human beings are as they are or seem to be.

  6. 6 Jim Newman
    October 31, 2009 at 09:18

    Hello again
    Le petit Magyar is only a pretend frenchman. His real loyalty is to the anglo-saxon world – the USA above all. He was very peeved at Obama winning the presidential election.
    To me patriotism is a dangerous concept because it often expresses itself in the hatred of others. In my opinion the USA is a good example of this.
    In this respect ‘le petit Magyar’ is appealing to the the lowest and least noble of sentiments. This is in keeping with his election strategy when he attracted the fascist vote which would normally have gone to Le Pen.
    To end up on a general note nation, nationalism and patriotism are very recent concepts but in their short history they have done enormous damage.

  7. 7 Jens
    October 31, 2009 at 14:27

    Robert Almeida,

    This ia a cheap and unnecassary shot. i feel patriotic about the country I am living in. I am certainly not a rascist bigot. there is nothing wrong with national pride, why do you think people support their national team playing soccer etc, or have burgers on their national days etc. are all these folks nazis? please do not play the nazi card when ever possible. when you over use this card, it looses the true importance attached to it….

  8. 8 Joe Polly
    October 31, 2009 at 15:19

    Sarko is right to call for a debate. In fact every european country should have a debate on this subject. Anybody who stands on european soil whatever other identity they may claim is a european. If I go to Africa, I am an african if I go to Latin America , I am a Latin American etc etc. Yet, still I am also european. Whatever other faults he had and they are known, Napoleon always spoke of europeans not french, dutch etc. Its interesting too that Charlemagne is seen as an iconic figure in the EU hierarchy due to the fact that he was an eminently successful pan-european leader despite the fact that the times he ruled in were unsavoury in many ways.

  9. 9 vintner
    October 31, 2009 at 18:14

    The French need no greater patriotism than to love their country and to demand it act in a moral and humane manner. I hope they continue to question every assumption, every act, and every state pronouncement, because few circumstances pose greater ethical risk than does allegiance to one’s country. Organized patriotism with its martial music, pledges, and vows of unquestioning service has too often drowned out the voice of conscience. Machiavelli was wrong. The state’s obligation to act morally is no less than that of any citizen.

  10. 10 Bert
    November 1, 2009 at 00:16

    Nothing wrong with Sarkozy wanting people to ask themselves these questions. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to avoid western ideals trampled on, with attempts to reintroduce medieval values into one’s own country.

    My personal belief is that the cultures of western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, are becoming so similar that I wouldn’t worry so much about “French,” or other specific country, so much anymore. It’s western culture in general that deserves to be preserved and to grow.

  11. 11 anu_d
    November 1, 2009 at 09:38

    I like the idea od debating the subject and defnition of nationalism.
    There will be rough moments but over-all it will bring the nation together

  12. 12 NSC London
    November 1, 2009 at 14:51

    Bert said: “My personal belief is that the cultures of western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, are becoming so similar that I wouldn’t worry so much about “French,” or other specific country, so much anymore. It’s western culture in general that deserves to be preserved and to grow.”

    Exactly! I couldn’t agree more. Read Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations” and found it eerily prescient.

  13. 13 John in Salem
    November 1, 2009 at 18:24

    It’s not a bad idea to occasionally ask people to think about who they are as a society and what principles that society is founded on, but it should always be accompanied with an explicit rejection of the nationalism that that introspection can lead to. A leader needs to be mindful that people can get those concepts confused.

  14. 14 patti in cape coral
    November 2, 2009 at 12:35

    You would have to define patriotism before you can determine if anyone is patriotic enough. I don’t know about the French. I like where I am and I am comfortable here, but I reject the kind of blind patriotism where people don’t admit the truth about their country or leaders, even to themselves. As stated above, I don’t think anything would be lost by a discussion about what patriotism or nationalism means to people in France, or anywhere.

  15. 15 Ibrahim in UK
    November 2, 2009 at 13:34

    I think there are 2 types of patriotism:
    1. Loyalty to a flag
    2. Loyalty to the values that the flag represents.

    It is healthy to examine what these values are, how far away the country is from acting on these values and how to reconcile the gap.

  16. 16 T
    November 2, 2009 at 14:54

    The French are well known for protesting when necessary (unlike the States). So in that sense I’d say yes.

  17. November 2, 2009 at 16:33

    Nationalism is a disease,totaly exclusive.Patriotism is a different entity,but not far away from nationalism.If you are not one those and live in that particular country you can be looked on with extreme suspicion,even though you may be loyal to it,which is the word I prefer to the others.Both nationalism and patriotism have served us very well in ages past,but in todays world they are hardly progressive.The French, will always be the French,they do not need to keep reminding us,we know who you are.

  18. 18 Dennis Junior
    November 2, 2009 at 16:40

    I think that the French are patriotic enough…

    =Dennis Junior=

  19. 19 Tom D Ford
    November 2, 2009 at 16:56

    “Are the French patriotic enough ?”

    Instead of promoting more patriarchy, how about reframing the question and asking:

    “Are the French Matriotic enough ?”

    Is that a word, “Matriotic”? “Matriotism”? Well they are words now, if only because I just created them.

    How about making steps towards equalizing the nation to being more of a “Motherland” and “Fatherland”? Equally Patriotic and Matriotic.

    Or even better, a “HumanityLand”? Or a a “Family of ManKind land”?

    I advocate for the middle ground, for moderation that includes the best of both, the center and rejects the extremes.

  20. 20 Tom K in Mpls
    November 2, 2009 at 17:11

    France has no identity. Or at the very least it is highly flexible. Muslim influence may be strong now. But remember that it was Communism that was in vogue from the early ’30s until the late ’80s. Just after the end of the USSR. Hey, they are the ones that gave us Vietnam ( and yes I know the US was the one dumb enough to take it ).

    Well France is a world power, so guess they rate some mention, but I hope you let this topic die soon.

  21. 21 Elias
    November 2, 2009 at 17:39

    It means nothing more than what they have in their pockets.

  22. 22 N.J.
    November 2, 2009 at 19:44

    When I hear the word “patriotism” I cringe. It is usually the prelude to some big mess. The U.S. heard this word used by everyone in every place for the last eight years, and it really has not turned out well

  23. 23 NSC London
    November 2, 2009 at 23:13

    There’s a pretty massive difference between the Bush Admin bandying about “patriotism” and actual, genuine patriotism.

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