Friday, October 17, 2008
As an American, there are some times when you just have to hang your head in shame at the stands that our leaders take and the issues that consume them. Sometimes it's big things (like the war in Iraq) and other times it's the excessive amount of attention that gets paid to issues like flag burning. The latest controversy burning here in France, however, makes me realize that we're not alone in the world in our fixation on symbols. Earlier this week, there was a friendly soccer match at the Stade de France between France and Tunisia, friendly in the sense, I believe, that it did not count in the standings for the World Cup qualification or anything else. There was a big Tunisian crowd in the stands, many of them now living in France, and many of these folks chose to hiss and boo when the French players were announced as well as during the playing of the Marseillaise, the French national anthem. President Sarkozy blew a gasket, as he is wont to do, announcing that if this happens again, the match will be cancelled. Now his minister of sports is making the rounds of the talk shows and newspapers to get the message out. The underlying issue of the alienation of immigrant youth remains untouched to say nothing of what will happen when 50,000 spectators are suddenly told to leave the stadium. But then it's not the first time that Sarkozy has spoken first and thought later. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this one.