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For French scholar, hope survives terror

March 1, 2021 | zelepmlo | No Comments

first_imgIt was with tragic timeliness that Professor Patrick Weil discussed “After the Paris Attacks: What Is the Future for French Society?” on Wednesday at Harvard Law School.The French sociologist, historian, and legal scholar, who is currently a visiting professor at Yale Law School, had been invited several months ago to speak on the roots and repercussions of the shootings at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket in Paris in January. After the city was again torn by terrorist violence on Friday, his topic was even more current.Weil began his lecture, which was co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program, Islamic Legal Studies Program, and Harvard European Law Association, by flashing back to the earlier attack — and the community response. The huge march, by some estimates 4 million, that coalesced in the days following the shooting demonstrated unity in the face of tragedy. But not everyone felt included, and Weil noted dismissive comments from members of both the Jewish and Muslim communities, some of whom felt marginalized and isolated by the show of supposed national solidarity.That reaction, he went on to say, offers both an explanation and a possible response to the question of how France — and by extension, the world — can move forward after yet another round of terrorism.“Some French think, ‘I don’t recognize my country,’” said Weil. “And some feel, ‘I am French on paper, but I am not recognized as such.’” In such fragmentation, he said, are the roots of discontent and violence.But how to promote a sense of le vivre ensemble — living together — that will help disparate communities feel engaged as what Weil called “part of a common society”? The answer, he said, lies in understanding history. He said many communities of contemporary France need to hear their stories incorporated into the national narrative.Modern France, Weil said, is built on four principles: equality under the law; the memory of the French Revolution, and thus the idea that people can change the law; a shared language and culture; and the concept of läicité, which roughly translates as the separation of church and state. But what unites the country — any country — is a sense of history: a shared story.Weil described how a French man from Marseilles could travel to Dunkirk and still know he is in France.“Why does he feel at home?” Weil asked. “The language. He can communicate with the people in the café and the restaurant. He can talk about politics. Why doesn’t he feel at home when he meets somebody who he might think is coming from Algeria? He has never been told the role of Algeria … in French history.”For Weil, a crucial part of this history is his country’s extensive colonization, particularly of North Africa. Calling the 130-year involvement in Algeria France’s “collective trauma,” Weil said, “Algeria is central because it was a racist colonization. Whatever point you take it, we come back to Algeria.”From the original inhabitants of the colony who were mistreated and impoverished, to the Algerian soldiers who sided with the French and were then abandoned, to the French settlers — the pied noir — who felt equally abandoned by their country, the history of Algeria is an unhappy one. Weil said that history also fed anti-Semitism among Muslims who compared their treatment with that afforded Jewish refugees, specifically after World War II.In order to move on, the scholar said, there must be more open discussion about these events. For France to get beyond its racism and the backlash of hate, he said, conflicts and injustices of the past must be more fully understood.History is “a progress of values, of principles,” he pointed out. “We went from slavery to abolishing slavery. We went from colonization to decolonization.”He also made a case for gaining a sense of history through the personal: “People have to find themselves through their parents and their grandparents, and through the country in which they live.”Only by accepting the many facets of its citizens’ diverse experiences, Weil said, will France be able to come together as a multicultural country, respectful of each of its four principles. But that, he stressed, can happen.“What I remember after January, in the days following, we felt — I felt — the need to call people,” Weil said, noting how he reached out to friends and students, including devout Muslims.“We needed to talk, to check that we were on the same path — that we were still friends,” he said. “We were able to talk about the situation as friends and compatriots. Across all the country, we had people meeting in their homes. I can see that happening again. People need to talk, and that’s a sign of a strong of a strong citizenry that wants to continue.”last_img read more

Hughes: Bielema undeserving of fans’ ire

September 16, 2020 | nvxeoqvi | No Comments

first_imgShortly after the Wisconsin football team lost its second consecutive Rose Bowl – this time to Oregon in a 45-38 blur of offensive prowess – one thing racked my patience more than anything else.It wasn’t that, for the second year in a row, I had driven more than 2,000 miles to ultimately watch the players of some other team sandwich a rose between their teeth and dance in a storm of confetti not cardinal and white.Instead, what upset me so much was the fans who took to the social networking feeds to blame head coach Bret Bielema for the loss and proclaim a desire for him to be fired.Despite the fact Bielema currently has the nation’s fourth-best winning percentage (.759 and, by the way, he’s .688 in the Big Ten) and despite the fact that he brought two more Big Ten title banners to Madison all on his own, there is at least a faction of Badger fans that does not like Bielema and does not appreciate his accomplishments.Unfortunately, that makes it all the easier to (undeservedly) assign blame on him when the team loses games such as the Rose Bowl.For the wolves who surrounded Bielema in the game’s after-hours: Back off. Bielema made a mistake in that game, yes, but the loss wasn’t entirely his fault. Not by a long shot. And the very notion of him being fired right now is entirely foolhardy.So first, let’s put to rest one inflammatory misconception first – that the Rose Bowl was lost thanks to Bielema.Bielema put a course of events into motion early in the third quarter that resulted in Wisconsin being charged its second timeout of the half – still with just over 25 minutes of football to be played. It was one of those moments where, unanimously, every onlooker said to him or herself “that could come back to haunt them later.”And it most certainly did. Wisconsin’s comeback effort ended on the Oregon 25-yard line as time expired. The Badgers never had a chance to shoot for the endzone. A timeout would’ve helped.People can chew Bielema out for that all they want; they are more than welcome to. But don’t act like it was the game’s deal breaker.Two timeouts in the first five minutes of the second half is a big mistake, but I’d argue that allowing an obnoxious 621 yards of offense and a devastatingly late fumble by wide receiver Jared Abbrederis were bigger.Oregon’s offense ran unrestrained all game. The Ducks were just unambiguously better and made Badger defenders look overwhelmed. They made mistake after mistake and couldn’t keep up.You can’t coach speed. If you want to get on Bielema for not recruiting more speed, that’s fine. But right now we’re talking about one specific game, so I think in that regard it’s splitting hairs.And Abbrederis, who otherwise had a superb game (four catches, 119 yards, one touchdown, 201 kickoff yards), made one of the biggest mental mistakes of UW’s season. With four minutes remaining, Abbrederis hauled in a pass that would have situated Wisconsin inside the Oregon 30-yard line.After securing the ball, Abbrederis turned upfield. The sideline rested two yards to his left, and he had four Duck defenders closing in from literally all other directions. He was cornered and had little hope of gaining a substantial addition of yards.Down seven points with four minutes remaining, ball security is the priority and you elect to go out of bounds in that situation. Instead, Abbrederis unnecessarily rammed into the first defender that greeted him, and the ball jostled loose.Then a Duck dived on it like it was bread in the water.You can encapsulate the Badgers’ loss by including all three of those mishaps – Bielema’s timeout, the ruinous defense and Abbrederis’ fumble. Singling one out is unfair and doesn’t quite tell the whole story.On to Bielema’s job security.Losing the big one two years a row has made at least a part of Badger Nation forget that Bielema brought together an exceptional coaching staff and group of players that won two consecutive Big Ten titles. They don’t understand that he’s the architect behind UW’s recent success (need I say again the winning percentage and conference titles?).Critics have again found fertilizer for the assertion that Bielema cannot win a big game, though that argument, used against many a sports figure, is just fallacious to begin with and an inaccurate one in the case of Bielema.Bielema has dethroned a No. 1-ranked opponent, blasted away Nebraska in its first Big Ten game and won the inaugural conference title game. But fans want a Rose Bowl victory.It can obviously still be achieved.Oregon coach Chip Kelly supposedly couldn’t win a BCS big game after he lost a Rose Bowl and then a national championship game. But then he won this year’s Rose Bowl.John Elway apparently would never win a Super Bowl after he whiffed his first two chances to do so. But he ultimately retired with two rings.Certain coaching decisions made by Bielema have gone under the microscope, like the timeouts he used in the first meeting against Michigan State that only aided the Spartans’ efforts to send off a last-second Hail Mary.But what Bielema has proven over his tenure at Wisconsin is that he’s willing to be aggressive in going for the win, something I admire greatly in a football coach. Rather than act conservatively in crunch time and make decisions geared more toward keeping post-game controversy at bay, Bielema goes for the win.You can call it reckless, but it has its benefits like Brad Nortman’s fake punt versus Iowa.Perhaps it was just the heat of the moment for these salty fans. After all, nobody enjoys losing the Rose Bowl. But Bielema has some serious credentials that warrant job security. Talk of him being fired is foolish. Anyone who thinks he bears 100 percent responsibility for the loss probably just has issues with his coaching style, even though his style has proven to be fruitful.In the media room after the Rose Bowl, I watched Bielema hold back tears as he offered a public apology to Badger fans, while calling them the “best fans in the world.”And then he quite rightly said: “I’m not going to apologize for a group that [won] the division title, won a Big Ten title and earned a chance to come out here and play a quality football team and unfortunately came up a little bit short.”Neither should any of the fans.Elliot is a senior majoring in journalism. You can tweet your thoughts of Bielema @elliothughes12.last_img read more