116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Not Le Pen's France

Jean Marie Le Pen, is, as we all know, a total idiot. In the midst of the fairly remarkable success of the French team, our favorite xenophobe has refrained his mantra, saying that the squad doesn't accurately reflect French society. Poor Monsieur Le Pen, the only man in France who won't be celebrating when France's dark-hued heroes carry off the Jules Rimet trophy on Sunday. I'll leave it to the more eloquent Lilian Thuram to say the rest:

"What can I say about Monsieur Le Pen? Clearly, he is unaware that there are Frenchmen who are black, Frenchmen who are white, Frenchmen who are brown. I think that reflects particularly badly on a man who has aspirations to be president of France but yet clearly doesn't know anything about French history or society.
"That's pretty serious. He's the type of person who'd turn on the television and see the American basketball team and wonder: 'Hold on, there are black people playing for America? What's going on?'
"When we take to the field, we do so as Frenchmen. All of us. When people were celebrating our win, they were celebrating us as Frenchmen, not black men or white men. It doesn't matter if we're black or not, because we're French. I've just got one thing to say to Jean Marie Le Pen. The French team are all very, very proud to be French. If he's got a problem with us, that's down to him but we are proud to represent this country. So Vive la France, but the true France. Not the France that he wants."

Is there a lesson in all of this? Well, as much as the World Cup is a forum for the shared commonalty of mankind, it also provides a forum by which the ugliest of our jealousy and strife can manifest itself. Fortunately for all of us, we have Thuram, with his beautiful words, or Thierry Henry, with his anti-racism campaign, or Zinedine Zidane, a role model to working-class immigrants, wherever they may find themselves. The French, long the supposed antithesis to American culture, have through their soccer team, achieved a universal ideal: the right to stand for oneself against those who try to destroy others based upon their differences. They defeated Spain, whose coach once famously called Henry a "black piece of $#!+," and whose fans greeted them at this very World Cup with monkey chants. Now, they continue to fight the bigots at home, who would use their very success to rally the ignorant and hateful. It is for this reason that we here on 116th Street will be supporting Les Bleus in their quest to take their second World Cup title. They inspire both on the field and off, and show us that even here in America, we can choose to see a full picture of our society, and not what the closed-minded might idealize.


Blogger Laurie said...

Black, blanc, beur. Allez les Bleus! Good post.

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:53 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home