October 07, 2002
CLAIRE BERLINSKI WRITES FROM PARIS THAT I'M WRONG:
The French media don't seem to me to be ignoring the fact that the assailant was a Moslem. It's been mentioned fairly prominently (and indeed with some exuberance) in every news account I've read. Anyway, this guy seems to be a complete nutball, more John Hinckley or Daniel White than Mohammed Atta. According to Le Monde, (link), the cops had at least 15 files on him, half concerning drugs, the others, theft. He's been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. He lives with his parents; he's evidently spent time in prison. So at first blush, the fact that he's a Moslem appears to be irrelevant. However, the article continues -- his is just my own crude translation -- "At the foot of his building, about twenty young adults described their neighbor's personality ... Daniel remembered above all that this childless bachelor "didn't much like homosexuals," and that "he made this clear to everyone he hung out with." On that matter, opinions among the group were unanimous. "He was a bit like us," continued Abdel. "We're all homophobic here, because it's not natural," or because "it's against Islam," adds Samir, for whom "gay Moslems, they don't exist."
So perhaps the assailant's ethnic and cultural background is worth a bit of reflection after all.
In any event, DelanoŽ is recovering nicely, and I'm pleased to report that the rest of the city loves having an openly gay mayor. Ever since he came into office, the whole city has just been so festive. Readers may recall that he turned the Seine into a scene from beach blanket Babylon, complete with cute little cafe tables under parasols and a special beach for dogs. What other mayor would encourage the whole city to forget about work and party all night long?Free croissants for everyone who makes it to sunrise! (I'm not kidding.) City-wide scavenger hunts! Outdoor movies on a huge screen by Notre Dame, free to everyone! More rollerblading along the freeways by the Seine! Sound-and-light shows at Montmartre! Trapeze artists in City Hall! The ancien rťgime was more security conscious, to be sure, but having DelanoŽ in office is like having sex without a condom: It's not so safe, but it's a hell of a lot more fun.
Interesting. The English language reports that I saw focused on the drug and mental illness angles, but didn't even mention that he was a Muslim. As for the fun-loving character of the Delanoe mayoralty, well, I'm glad Claire's enjoying it.