Monday, June 4, 2012

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira: the new lightning rod for rightists

Among the 17 women in the 34-member cabinet of French Premier
Jean-Marc Ayrault, 60-year-old Justice Minister Christiane Taubira
leaps out at you as very special.


As a divorcee, Taubira had raised 5 kids as a single mom while
pursuing a demanding dual academic and political career.


A former professor of economics, Taubira is a published author who has
penned 5 books, including the best-seller "L'Esclavage raconté à ma
fille" [Slavery explained to my daughter].


Taubira has been representing French Guiana in France's National
Assembly since 1993 up to her appointment as Justice Minister on May
17.


But prior to being an MP, Taubira had a stint in the European
Parliament where she was a Rapporteur of a committee dealing with
cooperation with African countries.


In 2002, Taubira was a presidential candidate.


A 2001 French law bearing her name (Loi-Taubira) holds that the
Atlantic slave trade and slavery are crimes against humanity.


But until the win of the presidency by socialist François Mitterrand
in 1981, Taubira was an independantist pasionaria, fighting for the
independence of the French South American territory of Guiana.


At Taubira's appointment, rightists screamed that it was a "casting
error in Hollandie."


(Just as there was "Sarkoland" or "Sarkozie," Hollandie is what the
French are now calling the "universe" of President François Hollande.)


In anticipation of the legislative elections to be held on June 10
(1st round) and June 17 (2nd round), both former President Sarkozy's
center-right party UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire) and Marine
Le Pen's far-right FN (Front National) now showcase Taubira's
appointment as emblematic of the derelict character of the new
administration.


While Marine Le Pen focuses on the independantist past of Taubira,
UMP's de facto leader Jean-François Copé castigates her "laxity"
towards criminals.


(One of the first major decisions Taubira is intent on taking is to
scrap criminal courts for minors introduced in 2011 by UMP-controlled
National Assembly and to reinstate juvenile courts.)


But those tactics don't fool anyone. It seems Taubira is simply a
target for being black.


At a campaign meeting held in a conference center in Paris on June 1,
Marine Le Pen told hundreds of her supporters that Hollande's choice
of Taubira--an independantist--was erratic, "nonsensical" and
"mind-boggling."


If this kind of vicious attacks against Taubira from the far-right is
understandable, those coming from the center-right are astonishing,
and smack of desperation as polls show that Hollande might slightly
tighten his grip on power with the aggregate win of the left in the
upcoming legislative election.


In 2007, Taubira turned down an offer by Nicolas Sarkozy to be a
minister in his first so-called "consensus government" that featured
some emblematic members of the left--such as Bernard Kouchner.


Besides, tough from the left, Taubira is a maverick who isn't even a
member of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and who, some in the entourage of
Holland fear, could turn out before long to be a thorn in the side of
the new president.


Maybe the closest that the racism underlying the vicious attacks
against Taubira came to the fore was when she announced she'd
reintroduce the bill recently scrapped by the Constitutional Council
on sexual harrassment.


Reacting to that decision, Eric Zemmour, a controversial radio and TV
commentator, said:


"Christiane Taubira has chosen her boogeymen. The youths of the
suburbs are in the good camp. White men are in the wrong one."

***

PHOTO CREDITS: Le Télégramme

1 comment:

Vincent Harris said...

Eric Zemmour was fired last week by RTL, allegedly for this quoted comment.