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Wednesday, May 22
The Indiana Daily Student


France’s identity crisis

French politics is where it’s at, my friends. Forget “E! News” and “US Weekly”.

It seems that every day there is another scandal, some high-ranking political figure has had the skeletons in his or her closet exposed once more and the media is all a clamor.

What high-ranking politician admits to sleeping with underage male prostitutes? (Culture minister Frederic Mitterand)

Which government official falsified bank documents to get back at his bitter rival? (Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin)

And what former president is facing trial against charges of corruption, breach of trust and misuse of public funds? (Jacques Chirac)

Recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to shake things up, making news with his announcement of the creation of a new ministry of immigration and national identity.

Not the news you were expecting? Me neither. But it seems that was exactly the point. Look closer – things aren’t always what they seem, especially when it comes to politics.

During Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign, he brought attention to the issue of defining what it means to be French today. The issue has been brought to the forefront once more as congress prepares to debate the issue during the next three months.

As globalization is an increasingly popular trend in modern times, the diversity this brings can be an asset in many ways. However, it can also threaten a nation’s distinctive identity.

France is having a bit of an identity crisis, or so they say, and politicians are trying to sort out what is at the core of France nationalism.

However, beneath the veneer of this seemingly patriotic initiative, it seems that the heart of the issue is more about personal agendas than nationalistic preservation.

As the 2010 presidential campaign draws closer, Sarkozy is attempting to steer attention away from recent scandals and focus on what is good for the country – or is he?  

Even members of Sarkozy’s own party have criticized his efforts, saying that this effort to protect national identity is really about the president securing right-wing supporters.

Other critics maintain that the debate of France’s identity is a ploy to distract the public from the more gruesome stories that have been frequenting the news in France.
Recently, Sarkozy has been involved in several dealings that have weakened his public support.  

And so the debate is heating up. What does it mean to be French today? How does a country with so many immigrants maintain its culture without being xenophobic? It is certainly a worthwhile point to consider, but it seems as though politics are getting in the way once more.  

When Britney Spears had an identity crisis, she shaved her head. When France has an identity crisis, Sarkozy tries to leverage the situation for his own political gain, and the issue at hand is becoming diluted.  

I propose that French politics take a page from Ms. Spears’ book. What I mean is, let’s get back to the basics. Instead of getting caught up in power plays and clashing egos, maybe France would be better off with a fresh start and with leaders whose intentions are to help France, rather than help themselves.

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