Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
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Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
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A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out www.alysasalzberg.com.

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Editor’s Pick
APRIL 26, 2012 1:40PM

Jay-Z, Kanye West, and the French Presidential Campaign

Rate: 27 Flag
 
 
 
“So,” the boyfriend said, when the results were announced last Sunday night, “are you going to write about the first round of the elections on your blog?”

I told him I wouldn’t.  For one thing, politics really isn’t a subject that interests me.  For another, the results of the premier tour – the first round of the French Presidential elections, which narrows down the number of candidates to two – weren’t particularly exciting.  Current president Nicolas Sarkozy will be going against Socialist Party candidate François Hollande.  
 
posters
Sarkozy (l) and Hollande (r) 's campaign posters. (image source
 
 
Nothing unexpected, though some did point out that Sarkozy earned the lowest percentage of votes of any French president running for reelection since 1968.

The extreme Right Front National party candidate Marine Le Pen came in third place, with 20% of votes – but sadly, this doesn’t shock me, either.  For years now, France has been having a hard time dealing with keeping its identity as the world becomes more global.  

Now, if the extreme Left party Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste’s Philippe Poutou had been voted as one of the two candidates, I would have been surprised and delighted enough to have written about that.  While the other presidential hopefuls always appeared professional and polished, Poutou dressed and carried himself like a schlub.  The boyfriend said this was to cater to voters who would see him as “one of the people” – but that still doesn’t explain his almost bemused attitude at being involved in the elections.  And I really feel like, if you’re running for President of the fifth largest economic power in the world, you could at least get that feathery hair under control.  But alas, Philippe Poutou was one of the candidates with the lowest number of votes – and in post-election interviews, he didn’t even look like he minded very much.
 
poutou 
Philippe Poutou, looking as put-together as I've ever seen him.
 

So French politics moved along as usual, with Right-leaning Sarkozy and Left-leaning Hollande preparing for the final round of voting, which will take place on May 6.  And then, something kind of cool happened.

In recent days, news outlets like The Daily What and Slate.com have reported that François Hollande has chosen a very unusual song for his campaign: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N----- in Paris”.

The choice was a surprise to everyone.  Most French people either don’t know what the “’n’ word” means or don’t realize how offensive it can be, so that wasn’t what caused a stir.  Rather, it was François Hollande, this dorky-looking middle-aged white guy (not that Sarkozy is any cooler) choosing a contemporary hip-hop song by two rappers respected even in France.

It turns out that the phrase “campaign song” is a little deceptive: While some people – like me – now had this delightful image of Hollande strolling onto stage with a  perfectly mastered gangsta swagger, “N----- in Paris” blaring over the loudspeakers, it turns out the song was only used in a single campaign video – and, as this informative article from Le Nouvel Observateur reveals, the video was put together by an independent organization that only showed it to Hollande’s camp when it had reached 100,000 views on YouTube.

 
 
 
 
 
Okay, so Hollande may still be a dorky un-hip politician, but you have to give him some (street) cred(it), because he didn’t disassociate himself from the clip.

The video, which I've included above, or which you can click here to watch, shows Hollande campaigning in the banlieues – troubled suburban areas that are the rough equivalent of inner cities in America. One thing French viewers found incredibly clever is that we see and hear several references to the town of Creil, often synchronised with the song's line  “That shit cray” – “Cray” being how the town’s name is pronounced.  ….Of course, I don’t think those people have noticed yet that the word “shit” is being used in the same sentence….

Like them, though, I really enjoyed the video.  I’d seen images of Hollande visiting banlieues on the news, and I didn’t feel any particular kind of rapport or solidarity coming from either side.  After all, Hollande’s tour of the banlieues is as much about sucking up to a region as a visit to a small rural town or a factory would be.  His tour did have a message, though; as the notoriously power-tripping Minister of the Interior who frequently led raids on project housing before he became President, Nicolas Sarkozy is generally reviled in the banlieue.  In addition, by pandering to extreme Right voters, some people might think Sarkozy doesn’t have lower-class and minority populations’ best interests at heart.  I do think François Hollande would look out for – or at least basically respect – these people far more than Sarkozy does, but still.  We all know that politicians are a world away from the disenfranchised.

But put those images to hip-hop music, throw in some dynamic editing, and suddenly, damn, François Hollande seems hardcore.  Voting looks cool and purposeful, the carte électorale (voter registration card) as hip to brandish as the middle finger.  Even without the song, the video has its rebellious moments, like when a Muslim woman says “François President, inch’ Allah, inch’ Allah” (“François for President, God willing, God wiling”) – the Muslim population being a huge source of controversy here in France.

The Nouvel Observateur article suggests that the people who seem most enthusiastic about this video, though, are Americans. And it’s easy to understand why, since we’d view the music choice as shocking, cool, or unique.  

I think this may be the first time many Americans will see François Hollande. Sarkozy has his ex-supermodel wife to make him stand out; maybe now people will think Hollande is down with the hip-hop world – or maybe that he’s just ridiculous.  Who knows?  But there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as the saying goes.

Still, some French people have pointed out one negative aspect about the video that seems as obvious to them as the shocking mix of the “’n’ word” and political campaigning does to us: By portraying himself – or, rather, allowing himself to be portrayed – as strongly affiliated with these minorities, Hollande risks alienating potential Right-leaning voters, who might have chosen him because they’re disappointed with Sarkozy. In the video, Hollande tells an audience, “And though some are richer than you, you’re more numerous than they are!”  But 20% of votes cast for the Front National, as well as other percentages for more moderate candidates, might suggest otherwise.

By endorsing what is quite possibly the coolest campaign video ever, Hollande might have made a serious misstep.  
 
As an immigrant who has seen laws get more and more restrictive and unfair for people like myself, I’m worried; I want Hollande to win, in the hope that, even if he doesn’t change any of these laws and policies, he’ll at least stop them from getting any worse.  Whatever happens, though, I respect Hollande for not shying away from the video. I think we can say that in this Presidential race, he’s the hippest candidate by far.  For whatever that’s worth. 
 

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Sometimes they get it right - out of sheer luck, probably. An entertaining post, Alysa.
That's a very interesting political video to be sure! It's kind of bizarre with the lyrics and all. Have you see "B*tches in Bookshops"? It's a kind of hilarious play on the the Jay-Z/Kanye West song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQiEJk-o5WA
yeah, i had heard about a big election coming up in France,
and now thanks to my gal on the spot reporter
with as much, or perhaps more, disdain for politics
than even i,
i know all i need to...

uh, "maybe that he’s just ridiculous. ...." yeah, just maybe.

Poutou looks like my mental prejudicial image of the
French Intellectual Twit. In other words, the French Intellectual.
Sarkozy has a most interesting shape to his head,
i gotta give him that, and for a guy who's getting laid
by a supermodel, even if she is an "ex" supermodel,
he oughta be more cool and groovy.
I like the looks of Mr. Street Cred,
and suggest that he get some contact lenses,
shave his head like 87 percent of the white males in the USA
have done, and do something even more ridiculous,
like, ah, taking a Dylan tune as an alternate campaign song,
and even invite the old song & dance man to play a concert for him...
dylan is like, what, a knight over there?
i suggest: "it's alright ma ( i'm only bleeding)"
For someone who isn't much interested in politics, Alysa, you presented an amusing and informative post on France's shenanigans.
What Matt said, Alysa. Rated.
Oh, Alysa, you will have no trouble fitting in back in the US. This all sounds so familiar. The strangest campaign song choice I remember here is Reagan choosing Springsteen's "Born in the USA," an anti-Vietnam War song dripping with anger and a sense of betrayal. It was weird watching Republicans discoing to it. R
This is interesting.

Amazing the N-Word can more or less slide by in France.
That 6-letter word has such strong negative power here.

"AhmShallah" - I hear that so much around here (mostly from Iranians) it amazes me hearing that phrase would shock anyone in France. There must be people in France who rarely talk to muslims.

Otherwise, I am amazed anyone can draw intelligible narrative from the wied crazyness of French politics.
I hate to sound shallow, BUT, what I've always loved about French politicians is how damned suave and debonair they look, even the lefties. They're suave and debonair in a lefty sort of way. Do tell, do they have the French equivalent of rednecky drawls like a lot of our presidential candidates? Please keep the fantasy alive. :)
Also, isn't "le changement c'est maintenent" a blatant rip off of "change we can believe in?"
Sarah – You make a good point – Hollande was lucky that he had this group working for him!

Sally – I had not seen “B*tches in Bookshops”. Thank you so much for the link – I was cracking up – especially when I saw The Strand, one of my favorite NY bookstores!

James – That would be so cool to have Dylan do a song here. But maybe too expected from the hippie Socialists (not that they’re all that close to their roots, though…)? Still, wow, I would totally watch THAT campaign video!

Matt – Thank you so much!

Erica – Thank you, as well. I never know what people will think when I post something political or topical (besides, like, pop culture topical). Thank you for reading and for the reassurance.

Gerald – I forgot about “Born in the USA” for Reagan’s campaign – I remember hearing about that somewhere. Talk about misinterpreting something! At least the French have the excuse of a language barrier….

steve – Many people hear “inch’ Allah” here quite regularly; it’s just that many of those people don’t look favorably upon the Muslim population. There’s a real culture war here, because the children and grandchildren of immigrants from places like North Africa often feel disrespected and disregarded by the French government, which sometimes leads to rioting, violence, crime, etc. That then stands out to conservative native French people, and so the vicious cycle begins. That’s one of the reasons – probably the main reason – why Marine Le Pen and the Front National had such a high percentage of voters.

Deborah – Well, we do not have the same taste! The only French politicians I find remotely attractive are Bertrand Delanoe (for his rebel side) and Olivier Besancenot (who is adorable and charming). Sarkozy maybe in a sort of cruelly fascinating way…I feel like if I slept with him, I’d feel filthy and hate myself afterwards…. As for your question, there aren’t any Presidential candidates with hick accents, so your fantasies remain unsullied! As for your other question, "le changement c'est maintenent" isn’t a rip-off of “Change we can believe in”; the former literally means “Change is now” …At least he doesn’t ask us to believe him : - )
I wish I could vote for Poutou. We haven't had a viable, genuine leftist candidate in the USA during my lifetime.
jesus gawd woman!
"I feel like if I slept with him, I’d feel filthy and hate myself afterwards…"

hm.
here in the usa we got new threats from bearded muslims
taking away our security, they say. a "master bomber" is
on the loose. somewhere.

i hope to christ it is texas.

now we find that bin laden's wives are deported.
shit, deport em to antarctica.


uh... dylan: it's alright ma.

"Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying"



i guess our secret service likes whores.
gotta go back to pinkertons.
they f-ed up w/lincoln, but ah well.
forgive and forget?
Love what I learn here! r.
I know what you mean about Sarkozy. I was referring more to the way they dress and carry themselves, I guess. ... I prefer the scruffier type myself. As for the "change is now" v. "change you can believe in," the language may not be exactly the same, but isn't the overall effect the same? I know it's not a literal translation, but it seems to be an Obama-like, populist effort.
The campaign poster picture certainly seems worlds away from the video. Who knew that campaigns can be fun in other countries too? Interesting post. I'll be paying a little more attention now.
So cool to hear your perspective!! I love that "most French people either don’t know what the “’n’ word” means or don’t realize how offensive it can be" - here as well!! It is amazingly strange, still.
Politics as usual. Spin the image. You captured this well, Alysa!
I know it creates cognitive dissonance, but I think a fair-minded person would admit that Sarkozy is less of a dork than Hollande.

As for the song, it's a little like the old Al Franken routine where he makes fun of chicanos, or the New Yorker cartoon making a joke about hyphenated subcults like "African-Americans," or Sarah Silverman using the n-word over and over again. I can't be racist, is the message, because I'm a liberal.

Typo: "have have"

r
Well at least the Kanye West endorsement will ensure the white middle-class vote!
:)
Alysa & Steve:

You might as well be talking about every country because anti-immigrant behavior is not unique to France. And in every country there will be politicians that pander to the anti-immigrant vote. But don’t be too quick to give Sarkozy or Hollande humanitarian awards; they are also anti-immigrant just not as hard-core as Le Pen. The ugly truth of all anti-immigrant behavior is that it’s popular amongst conservatives and liberals. Why else would the French public support the anti-Burqa law?
I don't see how Sarkozy can be written off when you can expect Le Pen's supporters who vote in the second round to go for him. As for Hollande, where is his ex, Ségolène Royal, when we need her?
Eva – I agree, Poutou would be refreshing in the US…but still, I wish he didn’t look so darn scrappy!

James – The question of hooking up with Sarkozy tortures me, because I find something magnetic about him…I’m fascinated by this vulnerability I sense beneath his exterior. And yet, this is a man who constantly tries to curry favor with the Front National, a party that hates many different kinds of people, including immigrants and, to perhaps a slightly lesser (or more secretive) extent, Jews. And I fall into both of those groups! I like the Dylan lyrics, and prostitutes seem to be around people in power all the time. They’re just doing their job!

Jonathan – Thank you.

Deborah – I still don’t see it about the attractiveness, but… As for the slogan, I don’t feel like it’s exactly the same, because Hollande’s seems to imply that change is guaranteed, and Obama’s seems like it’s guaranteed and you can believe it – maybe not only the change itself but also in a moral way? Or maybe I’m just digging too deep…. It would be interesting to see if anyone in France has written about the slogan choice. If I find out something about it, I’ll let you know.

jlsathre – I’m glad you liked this. As I wrote, I find politics generally incredibly boring, but then a thing like this comes along. It definitely makes paying attention seem worth it.

Brazen Princess – How interesting that in Africa people don’t have the same reaction to the “n” word as we do in the States – I don’t know why, but I figured they’d find it offensive. Thank you for this intriguing piece of knowledge.

Linnn – Thank you so much! I was so nervous writing about something I’m not a huge fan of, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Con – Sigh…I kind of have to admit you’re right – Hollande really does look dorkier than Sarkozy. Though Sarkozy carries himself dorkier, with all these much-mimicked jerky movements and shrugging. Hollande is considered an excellent public speaker, and he generally walks and moves normally. As for the racism being okay for liberals thing, I don’t know that that kind of thought went into this; as I wrote, I don’t think most French people even really understand the “n” word as being a bad thing. It’s just something they hear in rap songs now and then…. Thanks also for the typo warning – I will look for that and change it.

Icyhighs – Haha! Definitely : - )

Johnny – I never intended to imply that Hollande was sincere about his support to minorities. As an ardent Socialist I do believe he respects basic human rights more than Sarkozy, but that’s about it. Believe me, I cannot be an immigrant in this country and not experience the utter lack of consideration shown to foreigners here – and, you’re right, in many other countries as well. As for the burqa ban, the reason most French people support it is because one of the principles of the French Republic is secularism. It’s not only considered inappropriate to wear a burqa in public; you will also get strange looks if you wear, say, a huge crucifix or Star of David around your neck. For the French, religion is a private matter. Add to that the fact that the burqa is also considered a security risk, in these days when terrorism is constantly on everyone’s minds; you can’t identify a criminal if they’re completely covered up. I don’t support the burqa ban myself, and that is one of the ways I’ve come to find out how different I am from the French, coming from a country where it’s okay to show your religious beliefs wherever you might be.

Steve – Definitely, which is why this video may have been a misstep. As for Ségolène Royal, she is still a member of the Socialist Party and has reconciled with Hollande; as his good friend, she will probably get a ministry position if he’s elected. However, I think she’s sort of been in the background because many people are annoyed by her. Unfortunately for her, she comes off as really fake.
I had no idea that this was going on!!
Fascinating..... thanks for this :)
Ms. Stim and I have been to Creil. We even confused a train ticket seller when we asked for "deux billets a 'Cree-ill' s'il vous plait."

Let Hollande piss off the Front National. Its supporters wouldn't vote for him anyway. When Sarkozy's oversized ego gets kicked out of office, can we still get occasional photos of Carla? Don't know why we have to suffer because of Nick's asinine politics.
Let’s agree to disagree that “socialists are more concerned about basic human rights”. Regarding Burqas, the comment was meant as only an example of French intolerance towards immigrants, if you would like more examples, I will be happy to provide them. Furthermore, Americans (and others for that matter) are equally worried about terrorism and also don’t like it when people outwardly display their religion. However, in America, Burqas are not banned.
Pensive Person – Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed this!

Stim – To tell you the truth, I think the song has done a great service for those of us (myself included) who wouldn’t have known how to pronounce “Creil”. There are no hard and fast rules for pronouncing town names in French – even some native French people don’t know the exact pronunciation of random small villages and such. Bravo to you and Ms. Stim for trying. By the way, what was Creil like?

Johnny – Believe me, I’m with you! There are few, if any, politicians I trust to look out for the little guy. No need to give me more examples of how French people don’t always treat foreigners and immigrants right – I regularly blog about my problems as an immigrant here. Though I must point out that 99.9% of people I’ve met here are kind and very accepting of me. France is just like anywhere else in this way: there will always be tolerant, accepting portions of the population, and portions of the population who feel very much otherwise. As for the burqa ban, I know that doesn’t exist in America, which is exactly why I pointed out in my comment that my being against such a ban is one of the ways I’ve learned how different I am from native French people. Again, although there are certainly some people against the burqa for reasons of hatred or prejudice, most French people just don’t like the idea of flaunting one’s religion. They take secularism VERY seriously here; when I was teaching in a French elementary school, I innocently asked the kids to raise their hands if they celebrated Christmas, then to raise their hands if they celebrated Hanukkah. The kids’ regular teacher hurried over to me and told me that wasn’t an appropriate question in a French public school.
well i dunno alysa...re. their secularism...
i am reading Chris Hitchens' devastating, absolutely mind altering,
diatribe against religion, "God is not Great", and i am rather
anti religious presently. A ban of burkas is a bit preposterous,
but then again ALOT of religious stuff is beyond the pale
preposterous. Yet I still find myself believing in some damn
Higher Power. Probably a Trickster God.

The little guy is kept divided from his fellow little guys
of all religious, ethnic, racial persuasions by
diabolical political skill, we all know that...
the 99 percent is more like 99 one percents in a pile than
a true viable organism or engine of change.
and so it goes...
Fascinating. Have Jay-Z or Kanye commented on the video, I wonder?I loved that K'naan asked Mitt Romney not to use Wavin' Flag. Thanks for another great piece, Alysa!
Alyza:

I see what’s going on here. You are infatuated with the French and I seem them as intolerant xenophobes (just like Americans). You allow them to get away with an outwardly racist law and then justify it by saying “They take secularism VERY seriously”. You claim that 99.9% of the people you meet are accepting but then forget the election and the pandering of the anti-immigrant vote. Oh and by the way, there is good reason Jewish kids don’t raise their hand in class when asked if they celebrate Hanukkah. Or did you conveniently forget about France’s anti-Semitic background?

Allow me to be crystal clear on why I commented on your blog. Although Le Pen lost, it’s safe to say the French (all countries actually) hate immigrants. Based on your comment on April 26, 6:23pm to Steve, it appeared you agreed, but since then, your tone has changed.
Johnny – One of the reasons I am afraid to post about politics is that it tends to attract commentators who just want to argue. I am not here to argue with you! I wrote this post because of a rap song, not because of my political views or to indoctrinate people in some way. I will say that your assumption that I “love the French” is true – this is my home and the man I love is indeed French – but also false, because there are many characteristics about the French that I don’t like at all. If you read my blog regularly, you would know this, so please don’t make assumptions based on one thing I posted that was, again, inspired by a rap song and not by me getting on a soapbox and trying to encourage others to love the French. As for your thinking that I have for one second forgotten France’s murky and complex relations with Jewish people, that is one of the most offensive things I have ever been accused of! In case my last name didn’t get your attention, I am not only half-Jewish, but the proud descendant of a Holocaust survivor. Anti-Semitism may still exist here, as it does, sadly, in most places I know of, but I have never personally encountered it. In fact, when I was introduced to my native French, Christian in-laws, they welcomed me with open arms, and even celebrate Hanukkah with us when we visit for the holidays. In terms of this, as well as the other things you've shared as fact about the French - I can't say that you don't know them, since perhaps you have lived here or have intimately experienced this culture and this country in another way. But I find that hard to believe. Until you live in a place for a long time and deal with people from all walks of life here, please refrain from making assumptions and for assuming the worst.

Political arguments are pointless; no matter what you or I believe, we’re just peons in the end and it will make little difference. I prefer to use my time more pleasantly, and I suggest you do the same.
And of course Sarkozy comes off as...Sarkozy. And, as you suggest, maybe campaigns today are all in the edit. You may dislike the troll action you get with political pieces, but I find your insight formidable!
Alyza:

If you don’t want to continue this argument there is a quick and easy solution, stop responding to me. Until then, I will continue to out you for the hypocrite that you are. Take the statement “I innocently asked the kids to raise their hands if they celebrated Christmas, then to raise their hands if they celebrated Hanukkah. The kids’ regular teacher hurried over to me and told me that wasn’t an appropriate question in a French public school.” And couple that with the statement that you haven’t “forgotten France’s murky and complex relations with Jewish people”.

Look, I’m happy you’ve had a positive experience in France and I sincerely hope it continues. Just keep in mind, the French have an ugly relationship with their immigrant population (see riots this past summer, the election, the burqa law, etc.). On a side note, I agree, political discourse can be very unpleasant. The only reason I engage in it is because complacency is not in my nature and the world would be a better place if more people agreed with people like me.

On the subject of immigration, both conservatives and liberals are on the wrong side of the debate. I no longer have any idea which side of the debate you are on.
Johnny - I'm glad you replied because it lets me add something I wanted to say from reading the last of your messages: please stop saying you can give me examples, or addressing me as if I don't live in France! I live here. I read the paper. I watch or hear about the news. I interact with French people. I read French books and periodicals, watch French television, listen to French music, and so on. I deal with the immigration office and have had horrific experiences there, and have seen the same thing happen for others (and have even blogged about it). I work for a French company. I have French friends, a French companion, French in-laws - even a French cat (born in the forest near Nantes). You don't need to give me examples. You don't impress me. You just sound full of yourself and patronizing.

No country is unequivocally kind to immigrants. No politician - whether liberal, conservative, or something else - is completely honest or looking out for everyone else. I thought I made my opinion on this very clear in my post.

As for Anti-Semitism, as I wrote, I'm all too aware it's rife in many places. I even personally experienced a small degree of it growing up in a very conservative area. That disgusts me, but there is nothing much I can do, except educate those around me who might show signs of it. So far, I have been lucky enough never to have encountered such odious people here in France, but of course they exist. I only have to turn on the TV and see Marine Le Pen grinning her fake grin to know that. That doesn't mean I'm going to let them ruin my happiness at living in a city I love. That's how they win, my friend.

You seem to have a lot of passion for argument, and a lot of anger against injustice. Why not channel that into something productive and positive - instead of trolling here, why not spend your time volunteering or otherwise trying to do something to change the ugliness in this world?

The one thing I do agree with in what you wrote, is that you will not stop responding to me, until I stop responding to you. This is, thus, my last response. But this is also MY blog, which means I will give myself the last word. And so, your next reply will be deleted.

You seem to hate everyone and everything. I hope that's not the case, and if it is, I hope you'll find something or someone to make you happy.

Peace,

Alysa (not Alyza)
James – It’s not that the French deny the existence of God or a higher power – they strive for an ideal world, where no religion is privileged over another, and where everyone is treated the same. An admirable, but unfortunately (as in the case with the burqa situation) not always easy to deal with. I haven’t read much of Hitchens’ work, except his brilliant, moving pieces in Vanity Fair when he knew he was probably going to die. A brilliant mind, but I hope you won’t follow his path –your brilliant mind seems to be ultimately turned and attuned towards the spiritual. It would be strange to think of you without that spiritual side. Blake beats Hitchens any day, I think.

Jennifer – That’s a really good question! I heard the song was used without their permission or apparent knowledge and I was hoping I’d hear something about their reactions to it, but I haven’t so far. Maybe as the video gets more popular (if it does) they’ll get wind of it? And I hadn’t heard that about K'naan – right on to them for standing up for themselves, and not just being flattered.

Steve – Merci for your support!
Oh, this is wonderful. Thanks for writing about it!
@ JohnnyFever

My guess is that you don't know what side Alysa is on because you don't even know where the battle lines are.

Your statements that "I see them [the French] as intolerant xenophobes (just like Americans)" and "the French (all countries actually) hate immigrants" are facilely cynical. They're the remarks of somebody too lazy to do research, but at the same time unwilling to accept uncertainty; of somebody who draws simplistic conclusions from superficial impressions and then convinces himself that he knows everything there is to know on the subject.
You overlook the difference between France and America, and between countries in general, in everything from government policy toward immigrants to the opinions and beliefs of the general populace measured in surveys; you overlook the fact that xenophobia manifests itself in the different ways and to different extents in different places.

Your statement that "Oh and by the way, there is good reason Jewish kids don’t raise their hand in class when asked if they celebrate Hanukkah. Or did you conveniently forget about France’s anti-Semitic background?" is complacent, libelous, and cowardly. Complacent and libelous because it implies that anti-Semitism is less of a problem in America than in France. Cowardly because you didn't say it explicitly.

And your statement that Americans "also don’t like it when people outwardly display their religion" - as if there were no difference between how public displays of religion (including Christianity) are regarded in America and France today - is simply stupid.

As for your remarks "Let’s agree to disagree that 'socialists are more concerned about basic human rights'" and "On the subject of immigration, both conservatives and liberals are on the wrong side of the debate" - so, libertarian, then?

Gee, a libertarian who asserts simplistic ideas with the conviction of a cult initiate. I'm utterly shocked. Okay, off to get the disinfectant.
It's an interesting video and song choice to be sure. I think there' some merit in Hollande's making an appearance in the banlieues. At least he would seem to be disassociating himself from the extreme anti-immigrant stance of the far right.

I hadn't been paying attention to the French election, so I'm glad you brought the topic to my mind.
I think it's interesting that American music surfaces in France yet again. If you go to FNAC right now to pick out music, 8 of the top ten albums will probably be non French. What does that say? There's a broader topic here.

Good read!
huh...easily confused here...thought this was bout a song....goin back to my comic books....
Graham – Thank you for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed this. Thank you also for your other comment. I wish I could have articulated myself with half the intelligence you did here.

ManhattanWhiteGirl – Thanks for reading, and no worries about not keeping up with the election – it hasn’t been very exciting…except for this!

nilesite – You are absolutely right about most of the bestselling albums in France being by English-speaking artists! It is a complex issue. In some ways I think it’s because of the musical history of the different countries – America invented jazz and hip-hop, and the UK brought us pop and punk, among other big movements (rock being something I guess both contributed to), whereas France’s native music just didn’t catch on in such a big way, though there have been a few breakthrough artists/songs over the years, of course. There are French artists who create a huge variety of music in all sorts of musical genres, but many of them just seem to be copying their Anglophone counterparts, not particularly innovating. There are some notable exceptions, of course, including artists who keep “la chanson française” (traditional French music) alive and evolving. You’re right – it’s a very interesting topic indeed.

Steel Breeze – Dude, it WAS about a song, with a bit of politics thrown in like vegetables.
Cool! Hollande! Hell yes! Thanks for keeping us posted!
corrupt both of them !! they will only worry about lining there pockets with french tax payers money !!!marie le pen could of made france great again !! this generation of people have no fight in them there forfathers would be cringing at these brain dead sheeple!!

Wow, seems like France has the same oligarchy as the United States. We're all stuck with having to elect nothing more than puppets. Both Sarkozy and Hollande are puppets of the New World order.

Hollande is no real Socialist, if he was he wouldnt be prepared to involve France in the Elite plans for war against Syria. If he was Socialist he would promote peaceful diplomatic resolution to the 'Syrian uprising' (Syrian invasion). Looking for Cheapest Auto Insurance In Florida?
Will - Sadly, just about all politicians are corrupt, regardless of their political party. At least some of them don't openly profess to hate foreigners, immigrants, people of other religions, and (albeit subtly), Jews! Marine LePen and her disgusting Front National party do this and more! Your support of them says worse things about your character than the spammer link at the end of your comment.