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La Chapelle: Defending women or attacking the poor?

Posted: August 12th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | 2 Comments »

From Paris Sous Tension #10  released in late July 2017 and distributed in the streets

It’s easy to just look out for yourself. It’s easy to want to push hardship out of sight when you don’t feel affected by it, when the system favours you. It’s easy to find excuses not to be in solidarity in these democracies that have found ways to dress themselves up, “liberty, equality, fraternity” (1), and relegate cruelty to a darker past or to far-away lands, to cover your eyes and not see what’s going on outside your door. It’s easy to be contemptuous of those who struggle to survive, at least for those whose money allows them so much. But it’s also easy to brag about your success, your cash, your social position that’s held up as a model, as a way to conceal your own existential and emotional misery, the disappointment in the face of our childhood dreams of freedom and self-fulfillment, this frustration that all the money in the world couldn’t take away. And yet, there are those who feel no shame in pushing these plain truths aside with their arrogance.

Last May, a series of articlesin the newspaper Le Parisien (2) took up the disgusting campaign waged by some politicians and citizens in the La Chapelle-Pajol neighbourhood between the 10th and 18th districts of Paris. On May 19th, a so-called “Women’s march against Obscurantism (3)” organized by the right-wing Republicans party in the lead up to the legislative elections had at its head Babette de Rozières (the local candidatea) and Valérie Pécresse (the party’s president in the Paris-area). This event took the shape of a small rally at the La Chapelle metro, with as many journalists as “demonstrators” to elaborate (for the media) their ideas about how it feels in the neighbourhood’s streets. The rally was pushed back by a counter-demonstration until these celebrities had to take refuge in the lobby of a building. In practice, these politicians from the Republicans party were taking advantage of the sexism in the area (the harassment of women by many men either alone or in groups) and deliberately exaggerating it to denounce without distinction “street vendors, dealers, migrants, and traffickers” as being clearly responsible… Easy scapegoats for these partisan reactionaries of the dominant order, of police occupation, of empty, sterile streets (also known as public order), of gentrification and the attacks on the poor that come with it. Easy scapegoats too because these are often people who spend lots of time in the streets, whether by choice or from necessity, rather than just spending all their time commuting, working, or sleeping as they would like us all to do. At last, they concluded that the 18th district is a “lawless zone” (as though the law prevents sexism…) and called for more cops, more ID checks, arrests, ticketing, and targetting of undesireables (undocumented and homeless people). Read the rest of this entry »