Saturday, July 23, 2016

France: What do we do with the Muslim cheap labor we brought from our colonies?

In post-war France, the economy was booming, households had cars, went to the supermarche for their groceries, unwinded in "salut-la-compagnie" type bistros, students liked to smoke Gauloise and be on the left, family campings and "departs de vacances" with he appropriate traffic jams were all the rage, and visiting grandmother in the village was something to look forward to. Sure, there were a few bumps as things progressed, notably, the 68 manifestations - which, ironically, brought back a stronger De Gaulle which it was trying to oust - but on the whole, it was full speed ahead.
But nations with booming economies need to be fed, the cafes needed waiters, the mechanics needed assistants to get errands, the soil needed farmers or day-laborers, the housewives needed "coiffeuses" and "femmes de menage", the children needed "nounous" and the list goes on. Small jobs, paid by day or by the hour, temporary ones to help the middle class remain in its keeping up with the Joneses bubble.
To quote the tagline from Mathieu Kassovitz's "La Haine" (the hate) movie: Jusqu'ici tout va bien (up till now all is well).
Except, of course, this is a direct implication that, from this point on - as they say in casinos - "rien ne va plus" (nothing is accepted further on).
To keep their economy afloat, laborers - mostly Muslim, uneducated - were "imported" from (some at the time not former) colonies. Algeria, Tunis, the Maghreb in general, even Lebanon - but Lebanese going to France were mostly Christian and educated so they were more like 16eme arrondissement kind of gentrified people as opposed to HLM-dwelling sub-entities.
Naturally, the workers started bringing in their families bit by it, wives (some wearing headscarves or other religious ornaments) with little or no education and different values and lifestyles than the ones they were expected to cater for in the city for the households they became "femme de menage" for.
These people were exotic entities, add ons to the general scheme of things.
Sure, "madame" would give Aicha old clothes or those her own children outgrew, they would bring her "un petit quelque chose" from their travels. But underneath it all, despite (or because of) hits such as "Djemila des Lilas" by Jean Luc Lahaye, "Les Musulmanes" by Michel Sardou or "Le P'tit Beur" (beur being the slang appellation of people coming from the Maghreb region) by Rachid making the crossover success (the Jean-Jacques Goldman penned hit for Cheb Khaled "Aicha" came much much later and does not count in the same social context), it was still the talk about exotic entities, from a different land, with a mindset of their own, still seen from a colonialist eye - with exceptions such as top lawyer Gisele Halimi or multi-awarded actress Isabelle Adjani being celebrated for being non-threatening exceptions as opposed to rules.
You might find it shocking but a friend of mine, a French with Algerian roots, now a very famous jewelry designer, was taught at school not long ago that she should have "vocational training" with being hairdresser as the utmost she can hope for in getting.
And then - with the economy worsening - cracks in the edifice started to show. Front National (ultra right wing French party) head Jean-Marie le pen made it to the second round of the presidential ballots in 2002, merely four years after the French national team won the Mondial football tournament (which France hosted) to exhilarated chants of "black, blanc, beur" (black, white, Maghreb-originated) instead of the "bleu, blanc, rouge" (blue, white, red - the colors of the French flag) as the usual national chant.
Of course, the culmination of the ever-growing split was Nicolas Sarkozi (then internal affairs minister and later president of the French republic) called the rioters in 2005 (mostly Maghrebin-descendent from the "banlieues") "racaille" (scum - basically).
No need to tell you what world we live in today, and how France - or Europe at large - is having an identity crisis. But let me remind you, it all started when cheap labor was imported from French colonies so that "papa's garagiste" would have a teaboy and maman would have a "lessiveuse".

No comments:

Post a Comment