First reaction to the man’s latest stunt: how stupid can you get?
Except the man is anything but stupid. Prior to swerving to the right-wing chambers in his soul, he founded Reporters Without Borders. He knew well then what attracts media attention and what doesn’t. As Mayor of Béziers, he knows exactly which pot he’s stirring when he goes on TV to say kebabs don’t belong to France’s judeo-christian tradition. Henceforth he will deny the right to open a single other kebab shop in the heart of the town. The very same town in which one Simon de Montfort once spurred on his troops by saying: “Kill them all, God will recognize his own”. This cleared the heart of Béziers of those Judeo-Christians whose traditions Simon abhorred.
Robert Ménard uses TV cameras and billboards as his main tools of governance. “Refugees not welcome here,” he tells a family of Syrians while the cameras roll. “This town’s police has a new best friend”, the posters announce under a photo of a gun bigger-than life and death combined. No hanging out your clothes to dry on window sills. No more kebab shops. And so on.
The true audience to these provocations aren’t the ones who ironize. The true audience shows up in La Nébuleuse – that loose conglomeration of disillusioned, disappointed, disgruntled and distempered ones who grab on to these idiotic statements as the true expressions of their own fears. There’s a huge potential for downright stupidity in humans. Asking Robert Ménard what’s so judeo-christian about Thai restaurants, or reminding him potatoes and tomatoes came from the pagan shores of the Incas can provide an amusing moment. La Nébuleuse isn’t that easy to swing over to more joyful and life-affirming issues. In fact, it reacts with predictable venom at anyone who pokes fun at Robert Ménard.
Further, La Nébuleuse is no easier to deal with in writing than it is when you encounter one of its denizens in a shop, at the market or behind the smiling mask of your neighbor, two houses down.
Voilà. One of those facts of life, reminders of which crop up with maddening regularity. I stop to smell or photograph the flowers anyway? Yep. And read on? That too. The Pequod has sailed and the reader of Melville’s Moby-Dick has now been introduced to the first mate, Starbuck for whom courage was part of the tool-kit – except at those moments when the irrational gripped his soul.
And write on ? Also, as best I can on any given day.