Today, the French Parliament voted a new law on immigration control, integration and asylum. This is the law that features, among other things, DNA testing as a legal means to verify the genetic integrity of prospective immigrant families (the New York Times gets it right in this recent editorial). But that’s probably peanuts compared to the enormous emphasis on national identity. Or, more precisely, on an idea of national identity that is odd and probably disgusting:

“French identity is both the heritage of our history and the future of our national community. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic states that “France is an indivisible republic, non-confessional, democratic and social. It warrants equity in the face of law without any distinction on origin, race or religion”. This notion, in permanent transformation, contributes to the maintenance of our national equilibrium. Our identity is an answer to both globalization and communitarism. Linking immigration, integration and identity is nothing to be ashamed of. Hiding our identity to those wishing to settle in France is the same as refusing the values that have forged our history and accepting the idea that immigration should be motivated by material considerations only. The promotion of our identity does not reveal any hostility against immigrants. It does not hinder diversity. It gives foreigners a guideline for republican values that they should respect. National identity is not a concept. It is rather a compass for the French and for those who want to become such. This identity in transmitted among all through French language, a language that is to be promoted in particular through the alliances françaises already present in 133 countries, but that will be considerably developed and dynamized.” (from “Immigration: Brice Hortefeux s’explique”, Le Figaro, June 1 2007, also available at the website of the Ministry of Immigration and National Identity)

Observe for instance the use of deictics (our identity, their identity), which is perhaps disgusting. Well, not disgusting for everybody. Not for them, sure. For us.



  1. 1 Some of Them « Test Society

    […] 4th, 2007 A follow-up on Them or Us: the text of the law on immigration control, integration and asylum (the one about genetic […]

  2. 2 Our Emigrants « Test Society

    […] 17, 2007 This is also about the use of deictics (like in Them or Us) . And about quotation marks. The Institut Montaigne, a French think tank, announces a conference […]

  3. 3 DNA as a Rattle « Test Society

    […] immigration control, integration and asylum that was just passed after a few amendments (see also Them or Us and Some of Them). At the center of a heated debate on the law was a controversial measure: testing […]

  4. 4 On Deictics « Test Society

    […] provides here (in today’s edition of El País) an extremely interesting lesson in political deictics (”them”, “us”, “them or us”). His cartoon clarifies Mariano […]

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