Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Europe: A French philosopher on growing up anti-Semitic and the future of Europe

Via Mosaic Magazine - David Mikics writes @ The Tablet:

French writer Pascal Bruckner
Pascal Bruckner, the French writer and New Philosopher, on his new book, his family’s Nazi sympathies, the rise of hatred in Europe, and the crisis of radical Islam

“Your father is the only one who ever succeeded in taking advantage of the Jews. I don’t know how he did it.” So Pascal Bruckner’s father René said one day to his grandson. The father remained a fanatical follower of Hitler even 60 years after the Nazi downfall. The son went in the opposite direction, toward friendship with French Jewish intellectuals [...]. Bruckner’s first marriage was to a Jewish woman, his second to a Belgian of mixed Jewish and Tutsi ancestry. And so Bruckner’s father, his head still in the Fascist clouds, was treated to Jewish and mixed-race grandchildren.

These days Bruckner, the celebrated French intellectual, has been thinking about his father, the anti-Semite. The elder Bruckner died in 2012, and now Bruckner has published a book in France, Un bon fils (A Good Son) about their relationship.

“Anti-Semitism was his fuel; it’s what made him live and get up every morning. From the beginning of his adult life to the end, hatred of Jews was his reason for being,” Bruckner told me when I interviewed him this spring in Houston, Texas. “When I was a kid, the word ‘Jew’ was pronounced every day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Bruckner added. “As he was very violent and mean to my mother, I eventually started to identify with the people he hated.”  [...] The Third Reich was his dream, his utopia. Near the end of his life, in the hospital, he reported to his son that he had had the most marvelous dream: singing children lining the streets, flags whipping in the breeze, a procession of motorcars headed by a Mercedes convertible, and in it a man with a moustache waving to the jubilant crowd. It was the day that Hitler was named chancellor, when “everything was possible.”[...]

Bruckner now finds himself on the front lines of France’s battle with what can only be called Islamofascism. “I like to jog in the Place des Vosges,” Bruckner told me. “There you have a whole army of guards with machine guns. How long can we maintain this? The army will have to go back to its barracks, they are exhausted.” Two Muslim associations, Les Indigènes de la Republique and Les Indivisibles, are now suing Bruckner because he wrote that they had given psychological support to the Charlie Hebdo killers. (In an email to me, he described both groups as “pathologically anti-Semitic and fascist.”)  [...]
France, Bruckner said in our interview, has reached a crisis point because of radical Islam. “Teaching the Shoah is impossible in many schools; teaching about Voltaire or Madame Bovary is impossible,” he remarked. Muslim anti-Semitism is different from his father’s old-fashioned kind, Bruckner explains, though his father late in his life was happy to see that radical Islam had become a vehicle for Jew-hatred. Now, he remarks, Muslims protest when the Jews claim the position of victim, a position they themselves want. [...]
 What Bruckner for all his clear-eyed brilliance may not have reckoned on is that, with the hordes of desperate immigrants, Europe’s greatest challenge since World War II has arrived: will it be a closed or an open society? A continent so unsure of its identity, fearing its own decline, feeling threatened by masses of Muslim refugees and faced with Islamist terror, may be tragically ripe for a repetition in a minor key of the tribal faith that seduced Bruckner’s father. Now people like Bruckner (who is writing a book about Islam in Europe) have to rely on their clear-eyed intelligence to draw a line between national feeling and nationalism, to decide whether and how Europe can meet its Muslim other halfway. Bruckner knows that the continent’s great test is under way and that his father’s beliefs still cast a long and ominous shadow. Read more.

No comments :

Post a Comment