Liberalism As Leapfrogging Loyalties

I want to come back to this new New York Times op-ed about how the guy in Toulouse, France who massacred those Jewish children was, when you stop and think about it, a victim of French nationalism. It`s by:

Karl E. Meyer, a former member of the New York Times editorial board, is a co-author of “Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds.”

It`s such a perfect illustration of how the defining aspect of 21st Century liberalism (or leftism or whatever you want to call it) is “leapfrogging loyalties.” 

The default human tendency is toward concentric loyalties. If you look at people in Szechuan or Paraguay or Burkina Faso, you`ll notice that they tend to feel the most duties and allegiance toward people whom they consider most like themselves, moderate amounts toward people moderately close to them, and so forth onward and outward.

But the Western liberal is noteworthy for feeling loyalty toward his inner circle, however defined, then ostentatiously leapfrogging over a whole bunch of people who are kind of like him but whom he despises, in order to embrace The Other. 

Who Gets to Be French? 

By KARL E. MEYER 

Published: April 11, 2012 

THE French language is justly renowned for its clarity and precision. Yet on a seemingly simple matter its speakers stumble into a fog — who or what can be defined as French? The question arose afresh in the wake of the Toulouse killings. No one doubted that the perpetrator was 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, a native son of Algerian descent. But was Mr. Merah French? 

Impossible, declared four members of Parliament belonging to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party. In a joint statement, they insisted that Mr. Merah “had nothing French about him but his identity papers.” 

Nonsense, retorted the left-wing journal Libération: “Merah is certainly a monster, but he was a French monster.” A childhood friend of Mr. Merah provided a poignant elaboration: “Our passports may say that we are French, but we don’t feel French because we were never accepted here. No one can excuse what he did, but he is a product of French society, of the feeling that he had no hope and nothing to lose. It was not Al Qaeda that created Mohammed Merah. It was France.” 

These opposing approaches to what it means to be French — one rooted in an uncompromising ideal of assimilation, the other grounded in the messy realities of multiculturalism — struck a chord with me. While researching a book on the politics of diversity with my wife, Shareen Blair Brysac, I encountered not only the exclusionary attitude prevailing in metropolitan Paris, but also the more tolerant worldview epitomized by the port city of Marseille — a worldview that the rest of France would be well served to embrace. … 

Can and should the Marseillais spirit of civilized tolerance spread northward? My wife and I were reminded that it was a throng of volunteers singing a melody as they marched to Paris from already polyglot Marseille who gave France its national anthem, “La Marseillaise.”

In other words, Meyer is embracing Mohammed Merah, an anti-Semitic mass murderer, as a handy club with which to beat the majority of the French for their insensitivity to Mr. Merah. Granted, even by the standards of anti-Semitic terrorists, Merah seems like nasty, dismal company, but he appeals to Meyer and to the editors of the New York Times because he`s The Other. He`s not like all those terrible people whom Meyer and the editors strive to be seen as better than, so that makes him useful

And, granted, French secular nationalism is the one of the main achievements of the signature event of the Left, the French Revolution, while Mr. Merah would appear to be, by objective standards, a would-be rightwing thug (who just got born in the wrong country), but who cares about all that stuff? Merah is a member of a designated victim group, so let`s use him to bash the average French person for not being as down with diversity as we are!