09 April 2007

Bad trip

Until a couple of days ago, I thought that if there was one single reason why I wouldn't vote for Nicolas Sarkozy (the right wing candidate) at the next presidential elections, it would be because of his total lack of concern for the fight against AIDS.
But now, I have one that tops even that. In a recent interview given to Michel Onfray in Philosophie Magazine, he linked pedophilia and genes. A pedophile would thus be determined at his birth. This theory is directly in connection with 19th century discourses of "born-criminals" that would lead to eugenists theories, later justifying concepts such as the "purity of race", notably in national-socialism. I'm not even sure Sarkozy realizes this connection and that probably what's worse about this. For the 1st time, I think he's not trying to act demagogic by saying whatever people want to hear. This time, he expresses what he truly believes in and that's the scariest thing of all.
He added as well that suicidal teenagers must have also predispositions in their genes: "Il y a mille deux cents ou mille trois cents jeunes qui se suicident en France chaque année, ce n'est pas parce que leurs parents s'en sont mal occupés ! Mais parce que, génétiquement, ils avaient une fragilité, une douleur préalable. " In English: "There are 1200 or 1300 young people that kill themselves in France every year, it's not because their parents didn't take good care of them! But because, genetically, they had a frailty, a prior pain".
Seriously, this guy scares me so much. He has no scientific knowledge whatsoever. How can he be toping the polls for the election? With his other recent positions on linking "national identity and immigration" in a possible ministry was he elected president, on stating the "positiveness" of colonisation, on diminishing the role of acts of repentance regarding past misdeeds of the French state (for instance during the Vichy regime), Sarkozy has proven his incompetence, his anxiety-factor in the society and his denial of what's been achieved before him.
But it's not against him that I'm going to vote for Ségolène Royal, it's because she represents everything he's not. A clear, bright, generous and open-minded leader.
I'm worried that the scenario of 2002 will repeat itself. Some studies tend to acknowledge the risk of having Sarkozy facing LePen (the extreme-right wing candidate) in the second round. This time, I won't go and vote for the right wing. I'm not sure what I'd do. I'd be demonstrating and then what? The void? France cut in 2? Strikes everywhere? Upraisals? Nothing?
Act-Up Paris, an organization fighting against AIDS, is known for their radical, sometimes violent posters. For a sec here I thought this one was a bit over the top. The second after, I knew they were right. This poster was out on the streets few days before the publication of Sarkozy's disturbing thoughts on the "immense part of the innate". The latter makes it even more appropriate. In substance it says: "Nicolas Sarkozy, 2007 - 2012 [the presidential term], We [HIV-positive] won't survive it [because of his unequal and discriminatory health politics]. Neither will you".

If you understand french, a radio interview by Bernard-Henri Lévy on France Inter given this evening is very much worth your ears. He comments Sarkozy's last outings but also a general impression of reactionary tendencies in France nowadays (see for instance the former French prime minister Raymond Barre's high praise of Maurice Papon, found guilty of crimes against humanity for his service during the Vichy regime).

-- Joëlle

Ignorance, self-imposed wisdom and garbage-bin knowledge is, as you say, downright scary when intellectual discourse and trust should be the determining factors for choosing a country's leadership. A naked emperor belongs in allegories, not in a parade for presidential elections. Delving too deeply into politics tonigth would completely ruin a bad day, but your post gave me some strange comfort in realising similarities between France and South Africa in this regard. Our ideological past fortunately made people shut their mouths about genes and society, unfortunately AIDS/ HIV have not escaped the wisdom of fools. In 2000, South African president Thabo Mbeki questioned the link between HIV and AIDS, calling it a "uniquely African catastrophe". [ more on this can be read here and here ]. Heading his presidential task force against AIDS was, then deputy president, Jacob Zuma who was accused of rape last year. When asked during the trial if he wasn't scared of AIDS, he answered no, he showered afterwards. Not a good track record for the government, worsened by our health minister, Manto's advice to prescribe remedies such as garlic and olive oil to AIDS sufferers. Who will be next president? Mbeki still needs to announce his successor, in the other camp is none other than aforementioned Jacob Zuma himself. We don't have good poster designers, but Zapiro, one of the sharpest cartoonists, make sure that being scared shitless doesn't mean that you cannot do it with a smile. Despite an approx. R15 million rand lawsuit from Zuma on his head, Zapiro continues to hold nothing sacred, and Zuma is still being drawn with a shower on his head.

Zapiro on AIDS drugs

Zapiro and Zuma's shower (during a corruption trial, but that's another comment...)
Actually, he doesn't have science all wrong-- you do. Prevailing scientific beliefs at this point are that actions are a result of BOTH genes and environment. Why does one abused person become a pedophile when another does not? It may have to do with genes. At least have an intellectual conversation about something rather than an ignorant bashing. He did NOT say that everything is due to genes, but that there was more than "one factor" in actions that are taken, and that is a valid scientific point that can be discussed and tested. In fact, by him saying that pedophilia may be a genetic problem as well as social, it is possible for science to actually cure this "pathology" as he calls it. Get a clue and go back to science class.
It's not a question of science. It's about a political leader being irresponsible about his beliefs and his vision of humanity that is at stake. Free-will is the basis of democracy. Determinism is of another age. I would say rather here that it shows a lack of historical knowledge.
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