"Adopting" immigrant families in Marseilles

"Adopting" immigrant families in Marseilles

WOID XV-20. Passy Comitatus

In France there's no such thing as a good cop. Some might say there's no such thing as a good cop anywhere, that's the nature of the beast. But French attitudes are less conflicted in that regard than American ones because it's understood everywhere that cops are representatives of Order but it's understood in France that there are two forms of Order: one, that of the prevailing Government, two, that of that shadowy, dreamlike organization known among nineteenth-century French workers as La Sociale. La Sociale was the Government of the People as it was meant to be; and when the two governments (the visible one and the real one), come into conflict, then you have to take sides.

After Friday in France, sides will be taken. July 1st is the deadline set by French Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy to initiate the expulsion from France of undocumented children, and for many French people it feels like a case of deja vu because many French high schools have plaques up front in memory of the Jewish boys and girls who were dragged out of the classrooms and sent to their deaths. And no doubt the French were no Danes but the stories they like to tell about the German Occupation are revealing: how Jeanne pretended a Jewish child was her own, how Pierre refused to go along with the roundup organized by French cops.

The news in France (at least the left-wing news) have been full of similar stories: how various city halls have organized "parrainages," "godfatherings" or sponsorships in which French families pledge to support and protect undocumented families - in Marseilles alone some four hundred families were adopted; how one undocumented student had to be sent back by boat after his "godparents" prevented the plane from taking off. The journal Liberation has adopted a young student. One group, Education sans frontieres, has set up a site with a petition pledging non-violent extra-legal resistance, and it's worth visiting not simply for the 70,000 signatures but for the personal statements:

 http://www.educationsansfrontieres.org/article.php3? Id_article=320

Meanwhile, long lines have formed in front of police stations, with parents and children desperate to file for papers. In one case, in Paris 17, the lines were broken up by the Sarkozy's cops, and the tensions may well increase once the deadline expires.

One of the great ironies of the French right is how, unlike the old Gaullists, it picks up every ideological crumb the American right-wing throws at it. Whether the responses of the French left also find an echo in America remains to be seen.


- Hoipolloi Cassidy
reprinted from WOID: a journal of visual language