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the Sarkozy canard

Reader comment on item: Reflections on the Revolution in France*

Submitted by CJ (Canada), Nov 9, 2005 at 16:48

This is an excellent summation of the situation, marred only by a repetition of the inaccuracy that "Sarkozy called the rioters 'scum' ". In fact he used the term "racaille" which would be better translated as rabble or riff-raff, and is probably close to the current American idiom of gangbangers as applied to the Crips, Bloods, Latin KIngs, or Mara Salvatrucha.

Sarkozy used the term in a television interview with a woman from one of the affected "banlieues" who was complaining about the lack of police response. She used the term racaille in her complaint, and Sarkozy repeated it in his answer to her. The television news show that ran the story cut out the film of the woman and showed Sarkozy's words as a sound bite. You can find a detailed summary of this at the No Pasaran blog.

What's more, "racaille" is the term that France's suburban slum hoodlums use for themselves. They even wear T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with a verlan version of the word. Verlan is a kind of argot akin to Cockney rhyming slang, but where words are sounded backwards. The word "arabe" becomes "beur", now a common French epithet that is used by French Arabs themselves, and "racaille" becomes "kaira", which you see printed on the t-shirts. The American equivalent would be people who refer to themselves as gangstas.

Excuse me for going on about this at length, but this is an extremely important issue. Mr. Pipes's otherwise excellent work appears to have unwittingly picked up a piece of leftist disinformation.

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