Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bling-Bling History

He first trotted out the notion of a Maison de l’Histoire a few years ago while concocting a ministry for immigration and national identity. The president described both undertakings as responses to the country’s dwindling morale. His culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, chimed in, promising that the history museum would illuminate France’s “soul,” whatever that meant. Henri Guaino, the president’s speechwriter on matters of national identity and an important player in proposing the museum, went further, envisioning the Maison as a solution to the nation’s “identity crisis.”

Sarkozy’s History Museum Plan in Paris Stirs Controversy - NYTimes.com

I had a very interesting conversation with my dear friend Jacques about the French identity recently. What triggered the conversation was the way France dealt with hijab by prohibiting it to preserve the French identity. I clarified to Jacques my disagreement to this approach of preserving national identity by enforcing a single identity. I explained my admiration of the US model of multiculturalism.

Jacques explained to me where this approach has come from. Since the French society has been historically factious, there has been much emphasis on unity and centralization. It seems Sarkozy is now jumping on the national identity crisis wagon! (despite his multicultural background!) I wonder if his motivation is real or political..

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