A Tale of Two World Cup Teams

Algeria’s World Cup soccer team is a strange thing. Most of the players weren’t actually born in Algeria, and many of them don’t speak Arabic. In fact, an astonishing 17 of the 23 players on the Algerian squad were born in France – children of Algerian immigrants, who chose to play for the country of their parents instead of the country of their birth.

France’s national team could use some help. Their team, which in 2006 advanced to the World Cup finals, imploded this summer in a spectacular manner. France failed to advance past the first round and did not win a single game; in total, France’s prestigious squad scored one goal. Without the leadership of Zinedine Zidane, another son of Algerian immigrants, French soccer has struggled.

France has also struggled, like many continental European countries, to integrate its large population of non-white and often Muslim immigrants. Unlike the United States, French citizenship does not come with birth; one most demonstrate “sufficient Frenchness” and pass an interview. In practice, this means that an individual who was born in France, speaks French, and has lived in France for his or her entire life may still be denied French citizenship. A person whose grandparents immigrated to France might still not be considered a French citizen.

This hurts France. Its restrictive immigration and citizenship laws have created a large, expanding underclass of impoverished non-citizens. Many live in violent suburbs – banlieues – surrounding wealthy Paris. Forcibly cut off from the French mainstream and victims of heavy discrimination, the grievances of these individuals have expressed themselves through urban riots characterized by car-burnings.

It is from the banlieues that most of Algeria’s football squad comes from. Their decision to play for Algeria, instead of France, constitutes a powerful symbol of France’s continuing problems with integrating its ethic minorities.

France, judging by its performance – or lack thereof – in this year’s World Cup, needs these people. It needs children of immigrants, people like the great footballer Zinedine Zidane. If Mr. Zidane had decided to play for Algeria instead of France, as many people in like him are now choosing to do, France probably – certainly – would not have won the 1998 World Cup, or gotten second place four years ago.

To be fair, Algeria also did badly in the World Cup; it went 0-1-2, and the squad failed to score a single goal. But perhaps, if a couple of French-born first and second generation immigrants had decided to play for France instead of Algeria – perhaps France might have done a bit better. Perhaps it might have scored more than one goal. Perhaps it might have won a game. Perhaps it might even have advanced to the second round.

There is also a lesson for America here. A number of conservatives want a stricter, harsher regime on American immigrants; some propose stripping citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants. They want, in other words, for the United States to become more like France.

Unless the United States wants to recreate France’s immigrant underclass, or experience a revival of the urban riots common during the 1960s and 1970s, these conservatives ought to carefully reconsider their stance. It would be a great loss, after all, if Alex Rodriguez or Mammy Ramirez decided to play for the Dominican Republic, instead of the United States.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

A Tale of Two World Cup Teams

Algeria’s World Cup soccer team is a strange thing. Most of the players weren’t actually born in Algeria, and many of them don’t speak Arabic. In fact, an astonishing 17 of the 23 players on the Algerian squad were born in France – children of Algerian immigrants, who chose to play for the country of their parents instead of the country of their birth.

France’s national team could use some help. Their team, which in 2006 advanced to the World Cup finals, imploded this summer in a spectacular manner. France failed to advance past the first round and did not win a single game; in total, France’s prestigious squad scored one goal. Without the leadership of Zinedine Zidane, another son of Algerian immigrants, French soccer has struggled.

France has also struggled, like many continental European countries, to integrate its large population of non-white and often Muslim immigrants. Unlike the United States, French citizenship does not come with birth; one most demonstrate “sufficient Frenchness” and pass an interview. In practice, this means that an individual who was born in France, speaks French, and has lived in France for his or her entire life may still be denied French citizenship. A person whose grandparents immigrated to France might still not be considered a French citizen.

This hurts France. Its restrictive immigration and citizenship laws have created a large, expanding underclass of impoverished non-citizens. Many live in violent suburbs – banlieues – surrounding wealthy Paris. Forcibly cut off from the French mainstream and victims of heavy discrimination, the grievances of these individuals have expressed themselves through urban riots characterized by car-burnings.

It is from the banlieues that most of Algeria’s football squad comes from. Their decision to play for Algeria, instead of France, constitutes a powerful symbol of France’s continuing problems with integrating its ethic minorities.

France, judging by its performance – or lack thereof – in this year’s World Cup, needs these people. It needs children of immigrants, people like the great footballer Zinedine Zidane. If Mr. Zidane had decided to play for Algeria instead of France, as many people in like him are now choosing to do, France probably – certainly – would not have won the 1998 World Cup, or gotten second place four years ago.

To be fair, Algeria also did badly in the World Cup; it went 0-1-2, and the squad failed to score a single goal. But perhaps, if a couple of French-born first and second generation immigrants had decided to play for France instead of Algeria – perhaps France might have done a bit better. Perhaps it might have scored more than one goal. Perhaps it might have won a game. Perhaps it might even have advanced to the second round.

There is also a lesson for America here. A number of conservatives want a stricter, harsher regime on American immigrants; some propose stripping citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants. They want, in other words, for the United States to become more like France.

Unless the United States wants to recreate France’s immigrant underclass, or experience a revival of the urban riots common during the 1960s and 1970s, these conservatives ought to carefully reconsider their stance. It would be a great loss, after all, if Alex Rodriguez or Mammy Ramirez decided to play for the Dominican Republic, instead of the United States.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Sites of Conscience revive history and value of immigration

(From Restore Fairness blog.)  Arizona’s new immigration law has triggered intense debates, but these debates aren’t restricted to the U.S. alone.  It’s a moment to look back and learn from the lessons from history. The Immigration Sites of Conscience, a network of 14 immigration history museums across the United States and Europe, are seeking to do exactly that.

 

 

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Indifference Wins In France; A Same but Different Election in Colombia

Vive La Indifference!
French voters, 52 percent of them anyway, went to the polls in a first round of regional elections. Indifference was the biggest winner. The abstention rate for the ballot is a record low for a French regional election. Beyond that, the election saw a drubbing of President Nicolas Sarkozy's right of centre UMP (Union for a Popular Movement). Not surprising given that unemployment is at a 10-year-high and the rampant cronyism that pervades the Sarkozy Administration.

Results released by the French Interior Ministry with about 80 percent of the votes counted showed the Socialists and their allies, who already control 20 of the 22 regions of mainland France, winning about 29 percent of the vote. Mr. Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement had 26 percent to 27 percent. The French Green party and a likely ally of the Socialists, Europe Ecologie, did very well pulling in 11.6 percent, while the right-wing party of Jean Marie Le Pen National Front (FN) scored an impressive comeback with 11.7 percent of the vote after being written off for dead. Indeed, the FN nearly tripled its voting percentage over its 2007 results helped by the low turnout. Another minor party, the Democratic Movement, was trailing badly with 4.3 percent of the vote, behind the far-left Trotskyite party.

The election was for 1,880 seats on regional governments in mainland France and in overseas regions from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. It will have little bearing on President's Sarkozy ability to govern as it does not affect the National Assembly. Still for the French President, this was a stinging rebuke bound to be compounded in next week's second round round-offs.

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Communism in Italy

This is the third part of a series on Communism in Western Europe; this section focuses on Italy in particular. The previous parts can be found here.

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The Italian Communist Party (PCI) formed in 1921, as a break-away faction of the socialist party. In many respects, its early years were similar to those of the PCF. Like the French Communists, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) fared poorly in national elections, winning less than five percent of the popular vote. Its time to grow, moreover, was cut short by Benito Mussolini's dictatorship; he outlawed the party in 1926.

In another parallel to their French colleagues, the Italian Communists (PCI) fought fiercely against the Nazis during WWII and won major acclaim for their efforts. After the war, the PCI took part in the new government, playing a major role in writing the new Italian constitution. As in France, however, America's Marshall Plan curbed their influence; to gain access to U.S. aid, the Italian government kicked out the Communists. They would never again hold power in Italy.

Here the paths of the French and Italian Communists diverge. In France the Communist story is one of steady decline, until the PCF no longer constituted a viable political force. In Italy the story is different.

More below.

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