“The Right to Difference”: Balkanizing France
Just as Jews in the U.S. have a leading role — in Hollywood and pop culture generally — in defining what is “American,” so have French Jews pushed to redefine Frenchness away from an ethnic or even an assimilationist definition, towards a Balkanized France in which Jews may live and operate as a separate group with no unified majority against them. They market this under the slogan “the right to difference,” which the LICRA has called its “philosophy.” As the LICRA’s DDV publication argued in 1978: “Any society which requires or pushes for assimilation is a racist society. Democratic secularism [laïcité] is the coexistence of all minorities in equality and fraternity. It is not the abolition of ethnic differences and specificities.”
The LICRA claims that requiring immigrants to conform to French norms is to impose self-hatred upon them. Effectively, the LICRA is arguing that not only must the French allow themselves to be colonized by others but that the new arrivals should impose their non-European cultures. In 1981, the LICRA’s DDV magazine claimed:
To block the fascist demand of assimilation and national homogeneity, we must practice difference and pluralism. … These are the only effective barriers against a return of Nazism and of its French avatar: Vichy.
And in the same publication in 1985: “To be anti-racist is not to demand the other to become oneself, it is to accept him as he is, to enrich oneself at his contact, to go towards him.” One buzzword used to glorify the resulting Balkanization is that of “interculturality.” Read more