France, we need to have a talk about your behavior.
I know that the rest of the countries do tend to pick on you, France. All those jokes about your military might, the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” meme, making fun of your half-command economy, your language having maybe five letters in it that are supposed to be pronounced… Sure, in public, you laugh along with the rest of us, but deep down we know that they hurt. They’re nasty, cruel jokes and they make you feel bad. And so you lash out, you find some minority without a government to defend them and you pick on them because it makes you feel tough:
President Nicolas Sarkozy, citing concerns about crime, began the crackdown this month on Roma and other itinerant groups known as Gypsies and travellers which has seen police rounding up foreign Roma and tearing down illegal camps. Forty-eight per cent of French people support the government’s campaign, an opinion poll showed on Friday.
Sure, some other Gypsies may have attacked a police station. And even Kristallnacht had a justification when a Jew shot a German ambassador, but you should have remembered that collective punishment was wrong from that time seventy years ago when those German kids did it to you. But not only did you expel thousands of unrelated people from your country for no valid reason, but you threatened them bodily on their way out the door:
“The police told us we could choose between leaving now, on our own accord, or be expelled by force later,” said one young Roma man, who declined to be identified. “So we agreed to leave.”
Well France, you know what you did is wrong. You know that’s not what good states and countries do. So just sit there and think about what you’ve done, because when the European Union gets home then you’ll really be in trouble:
The crackdown has sparked fierce criticism at home and abroad, with French former prime minister Dominique de Villepin saying Sarkozy’s policies had left a “stain of shame” on the French flag and were a “national indignity.”
A United Nations panel this month warned of mounting racism and xenophobia in France, citing the Roma evictions, and the European Union is reviewing whether the crackdown is legal. The Vatican has also criticised it. Human rights body Amnesty International joined the international condemnation on Friday, saying Sarkozy risked fuelling stigmatisation of the minority group.