Day: February 7, 2018

Identity Politics Hits a Brick Wall


Dave Weigel, the portly, nesting doll look-alike reporter for the Washington Post, is no fan of Mark Lilla, the Columbia University professor who issued a distress call to liberals about embracing identity politics following Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

Identity politics, Lilla argues in his new book The Once and Future Liberal, is a myopic tactic for regaining political ground. “As soon as you cast an issue exclusively in terms of identity you invite your adversary to do the same,” he explains. “Those who play one race card should be prepared to be trumped by another, as we saw subtly and not so subtly in the 2016 presidential election.”

The Spectator columnist Ed West made the same point in a piece published not long after Trump’s astonishing win. Trump, West observed, is “the triumph of identity politics,” a man who turned the Democrats’ emphasis on minority races upside down and cobbled together a winning coalition of whites, spanning from the well-to-do to the working class.

Licking their wounds and nursing their pride, Democrats woke up the morning after Election Day desperately searching for an answer as to why Trump outsmarted them at their own game. More than a year later, they have yet to devise a foolproof plan to resist the President, outside of rabid outrage over trivialities and vulva-shaped crochet hats.

Weigel, intrepid reporter that he is, thinks Democrats have figured out a way to fell Trump, or at least his Republican allies in this fall’s midterm elections. Following the President’s highly-praised State of the Union address, not one, not two, not three, but five Democrats gave rebuttals, each tripping over one another to deliver the most concise, “like”-friendly salvo that would, hopefully, be looped endlessly over social media. The party employed its usual cast of characters to give the team rebuttal: a Kennedy, a grandfatherly socialist, a Spanish speaker, an insipid third-party nobody, and a black woman who’s temperamentally incapable of not calling everything racist.

The messages were all the same. President Trump is simultaneously incompetent and masterfully devious; a hapless stooge and a cunning oligarch; a friend of benighted provincials and an ally of big business. Nothing of note stuck out in any speech other than Chapstick-laden lips of Bobby Kennedy’s grandkid.

One theme did stick out, however, according to Weigel. He notes the “debate about ‘identity politics’ that briefly distracted Democrats after 2016” has been “long forgotten.” In a tweet promoting the report, Weigel bolsters his conclusion, directly naming Lilla: “One takeaway: The battle over ‘identity politics’ has been settled, and Mark Lilla (remember him?) lost.”

Au contraire, Mr. Weigel, but to paraphrase Chesterton, ditching identity politics has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

The so-called squabble over identity politics that was supposed to swallow up the Democratic Party never actually happened. While a few introspective types like Lilla considered ditching the civically poisonous belief system, howling lonely in the cold night, the rest of the Democrat coalition kept right on chugging along, cutting and pasting political interests based on skin color, private parts, and troublesome legal status.

If there was any serious conversation among Hillary Clinton voters about the pitfalls of identity-centrism, it was vanquished when the first Women’s March crowded the streets of Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration. It lost further ground in the outrage following the administration’s first executive order limiting travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries.

By the time liberal precincts started removing monuments dedicated to Confederate Army generals last summer, it was more than obvious the liberal obsession with racial and sexual identity wasn’t withering. If anything, Trump’s rise made it a more potent weapon.

In attempting to malign Lilla’s admonition of identity politics, Weigel creates a straw man, only to knock it down. Lilla’s small but instructive monograph was dismissed too quickly by the media set to have any sort of impact on voters. It was a shame. His message of social solidarity over sowing division, of reaching out to rural whites over dismissing them in favor of urban centers, is still a compelling one.

Democrats, if they’ve any care left for politicking, will be kicking themselves soon enough for not heeding Lilla’s advice. Already, the tenuous strands holding together the identity-driven voting bloc are stretching beyond capacity.

Chelsea Manning, the soldier-cum-transgender activist, was vilified by his fellow leftists for associating with pro-Trump writers. Rose McGowan, the actress who helped out Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for being a lecherous abuser, was recently drawn into a shouting match with a transgender person over not doing enough to help trans women. A Snapchat video of a Hispanic girl calling black people “trash” who “need to die” recently went viral, eliciting a wave of backlash.

These small but significant outbursts portend a greater blowup for those motivated primarily by personal grievance. The identity politic coalition cobbled together by Democrats can’t last because, ultimately, identity is a selfish ideal. There’s nothing wrong with valuing the history and culture of people like you. But to maniacally focus on your own living traits, to put your superficial characteristics above thoughts of your own countrymen, destroys the potential for democratic governance.

Identity politics is a misnomer because it’s only effective at one thing: tearing a society apart. Politics is an art of persuasion and compromise. Linking it to identity is a sure way to tank cordiality, and, by extension, the democratic republic we call home.

Dave Weigel, the portly, nesting doll look-alike reporter for the Washington Post, is no fan of Mark Lilla, the Columbia University professor who issued a distress call to liberals about embracing identity politics following Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

Identity politics, Lilla argues in his new book The Once and Future Liberal, is a myopic tactic for regaining political ground. “As soon as you cast an issue exclusively in terms of identity you invite your adversary to do the same,” he explains. “Those who play one race card should be prepared to be trumped by another, as we saw subtly and not so subtly in the 2016 presidential election.”

The Spectator columnist Ed West made the same point in a piece published not long after Trump’s astonishing win. Trump, West observed, is “the triumph of identity politics,” a man who turned the Democrats’ emphasis on minority races upside down and cobbled together a winning coalition of whites, spanning from the well-to-do to the working class.

Licking their wounds and nursing their pride, Democrats woke up the morning after Election Day desperately searching for an answer as to why Trump outsmarted them at their own game. More than a year later, they have yet to devise a foolproof plan to resist the President, outside of rabid outrage over trivialities and vulva-shaped crochet hats.

Weigel, intrepid reporter that he is, thinks Democrats have figured out a way to fell Trump, or at least his Republican allies in this fall’s midterm elections. Following the President’s highly-praised State of the Union address, not one, not two, not three, but five Democrats gave rebuttals, each tripping over one another to deliver the most concise, “like”-friendly salvo that would, hopefully, be looped endlessly over social media. The party employed its usual cast of characters to give the team rebuttal: a Kennedy, a grandfatherly socialist, a Spanish speaker, an insipid third-party nobody, and a black woman who’s temperamentally incapable of not calling everything racist.

The messages were all the same. President Trump is simultaneously incompetent and masterfully devious; a hapless stooge and a cunning oligarch; a friend of benighted provincials and an ally of big business. Nothing of note stuck out in any speech other than Chapstick-laden lips of Bobby Kennedy’s grandkid.

One theme did stick out, however, according to Weigel. He notes the “debate about ‘identity politics’ that briefly distracted Democrats after 2016” has been “long forgotten.” In a tweet promoting the report, Weigel bolsters his conclusion, directly naming Lilla: “One takeaway: The battle over ‘identity politics’ has been settled, and Mark Lilla (remember him?) lost.”

Au contraire, Mr. Weigel, but to paraphrase Chesterton, ditching identity politics has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

The so-called squabble over identity politics that was supposed to swallow up the Democratic Party never actually happened. While a few introspective types like Lilla considered ditching the civically poisonous belief system, howling lonely in the cold night, the rest of the Democrat coalition kept right on chugging along, cutting and pasting political interests based on skin color, private parts, and troublesome legal status.

If there was any serious conversation among Hillary Clinton voters about the pitfalls of identity-centrism, it was vanquished when the first Women’s March crowded the streets of Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration. It lost further ground in the outrage following the administration’s first executive order limiting travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries.

By the time liberal precincts started removing monuments dedicated to Confederate Army generals last summer, it was more than obvious the liberal obsession with racial and sexual identity wasn’t withering. If anything, Trump’s rise made it a more potent weapon.

In attempting to malign Lilla’s admonition of identity politics, Weigel creates a straw man, only to knock it down. Lilla’s small but instructive monograph was dismissed too quickly by the media set to have any sort of impact on voters. It was a shame. His message of social solidarity over sowing division, of reaching out to rural whites over dismissing them in favor of urban centers, is still a compelling one.

Democrats, if they’ve any care left for politicking, will be kicking themselves soon enough for not heeding Lilla’s advice. Already, the tenuous strands holding together the identity-driven voting bloc are stretching beyond capacity.

Chelsea Manning, the soldier-cum-transgender activist, was vilified by his fellow leftists for associating with pro-Trump writers. Rose McGowan, the actress who helped out Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for being a lecherous abuser, was recently drawn into a shouting match with a transgender person over not doing enough to help trans women. A Snapchat video of a Hispanic girl calling black people “trash” who “need to die” recently went viral, eliciting a wave of backlash.

These small but significant outbursts portend a greater blowup for those motivated primarily by personal grievance. The identity politic coalition cobbled together by Democrats can’t last because, ultimately, identity is a selfish ideal. There’s nothing wrong with valuing the history and culture of people like you. But to maniacally focus on your own living traits, to put your superficial characteristics above thoughts of your own countrymen, destroys the potential for democratic governance.

Identity politics is a misnomer because it’s only effective at one thing: tearing a society apart. Politics is an art of persuasion and compromise. Linking it to identity is a sure way to tank cordiality, and, by extension, the democratic republic we call home.



Source link

Seven Reasons to Beware the Southern Poverty Law Center


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says its primary mission is to fight hatred, teach tolerance, and seek justice. These are noble goals for most Americans, but this is not a noble organization. It is the exact opposite. Given the SPLC’s power and influence over the media and members of Congress, this once highly-regarded civil rights organization deserves fresh scrutiny. Here are seven reasons why the SPLC fails to serve the public interest:

The SPLC ignores basic standards of scientific research in selecting and classifying hate groups and extremists. 

The SPLC’s definition of “hate” is vague. It defines a hate group as one with “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” SPLC President Richard Cohen testified in December 2017 that its assessment of hate is based on opinion, not objective criteria. (See minutes 43-48 of his testimony.)

George Yancy, a University of North Texas sociologist, documented the SPLC’s subjective nature in a 2014 study, “Watching the Watchers.” Yancy said the group’s methodology seemed more geared to mobilizing liberals than cataloguing hate groups.

The SPLC uses guilt by association to engage in ad hominem attacks against individuals.

Hannah Scherlacher, a Campus Reform worker, found her name listed in the SPLC’s “Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities” after the conservative Family Research Council interviewed her. Surprisingly, Scherlacher’s interview had nothing to do with LGBT issues. In 2009, soon after I criticized the SPLC for having mission creep, it labeled me “an apologist for white supremacy.”

Carol Swain, PhD

I committed the crime of endorsing a film produced by a man the SPLC considers a racist. 

The SPLC ignores threats posed by leftist, anti-American groups such as ANTIFA, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite the growing threat of jihadist violence, the SPLC has been reluctant to add Islamic groups with terrorist ties to its list of extremists. It also ignored how, in 2004, the FBI found plans for a “grand jihad” in America within the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Yet, the SPLC has applied the hate label to Muslim critics of Islam, such as Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Both are listed in its Field Guide to Muslim Extremists.

The SPLC attacks and smears mainstream public service organizations, including churches, ministries, and various pro-family entities.

Targeted organizations include the American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, Act for America, the Center for Immigration Studies, Center for Security Policy, D. James Kennedy Ministries, Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, and the Traditional Values Coalition. These groups are lumped together by the SPLC with the Aryan Nations, KKK, and neo-Nazis. Preposterous.

Note: labelling an organization as a hate group hurts its fundraising and hinders access to credit card-processing vendors, search engine rankings, and ministry partners.

The SPLC bashes conservatives while pushing a liberal agenda that empowers and supports leftists, communists, and anarchists.

The SPLC regularly bashes President Trump, blaming him for the growth of white nationalism. Their analysis fails to acknowledge that the rise of white nationalism predates the election of Trump by more than two decades. Much of what the president says or does is framed as an attack on civil rights.

Curiously, after violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, the SPLC republished a map detailing the location of more than 1,500 Confederate monuments and symbols. Consider the map a field guide for anarchists.

The SPLC’s labeling of groups and individuals has inspired acts of violence against its targets.

The SPLC is the common thread in two violent hate crimes against conservatives. After the SPLC listed the Family Research Council (FRC) on its hate map, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered FRC headquarters in August 2012 intending to commit mass murder. He was subdued by a security guard who was shot in the process. Likewise, James T. Hodgkinson, who in 2017 shot House Majority Whip Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.), was an SPLC social media fan.

The SPLC is an irresponsible public charity.

The SPLC has violated the public trust. Nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations are expected to operate in a nonpartisan manner with the public interest at heart. The SPLC, however, is a radical activist group dedicated to suppressing political dissent.

As of 2016, the SPLC had $319 million in net assets with $69 million parked in offshore accounts. Despite its name, the SPLC does not fight poverty. Its salaries are bloated, and only a fraction of its annual contributions are used to support its programs. Writing for Philanthropy Roundtable, a nonprofit group informing the public on philanthropic activity and groups, executive director Karl Zinsmeister wrote:

The SPLC is a cash-collecting machine. In 2015 it vacuumed up $50 million in contributions and foundation grants, a tidy addition to its $334 million holdings of cash and securities and its headquarters worth $34 million. They’ve never spent more than 31 percent of the money they were bringing in on programs, and sometimes they spent as little as 18 percent. Most nonprofits spend about 75 percent on programs.

SPLC headquarters, Montgomery AL

A strong case can be made to strip the SPLC of its nonprofit, tax-exempt status.

Congress and the media need to take a fresh look at the SPLC. It no longer serves the public interest.

Carol Swain is a former associate professor of politics at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and former professor of both political science and law at Vanderbilt University. She holds a master of studies in law from Yale University and a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says its primary mission is to fight hatred, teach tolerance, and seek justice. These are noble goals for most Americans, but this is not a noble organization. It is the exact opposite. Given the SPLC’s power and influence over the media and members of Congress, this once highly-regarded civil rights organization deserves fresh scrutiny. Here are seven reasons why the SPLC fails to serve the public interest:

The SPLC ignores basic standards of scientific research in selecting and classifying hate groups and extremists. 

The SPLC’s definition of “hate” is vague. It defines a hate group as one with “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” SPLC President Richard Cohen testified in December 2017 that its assessment of hate is based on opinion, not objective criteria. (See minutes 43-48 of his testimony.)

George Yancy, a University of North Texas sociologist, documented the SPLC’s subjective nature in a 2014 study, “Watching the Watchers.” Yancy said the group’s methodology seemed more geared to mobilizing liberals than cataloguing hate groups.

The SPLC uses guilt by association to engage in ad hominem attacks against individuals.

Hannah Scherlacher, a Campus Reform worker, found her name listed in the SPLC’s “Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities” after the conservative Family Research Council interviewed her. Surprisingly, Scherlacher’s interview had nothing to do with LGBT issues. In 2009, soon after I criticized the SPLC for having mission creep, it labeled me “an apologist for white supremacy.”

Carol Swain, PhD

I committed the crime of endorsing a film produced by a man the SPLC considers a racist. 

The SPLC ignores threats posed by leftist, anti-American groups such as ANTIFA, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite the growing threat of jihadist violence, the SPLC has been reluctant to add Islamic groups with terrorist ties to its list of extremists. It also ignored how, in 2004, the FBI found plans for a “grand jihad” in America within the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Yet, the SPLC has applied the hate label to Muslim critics of Islam, such as Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Both are listed in its Field Guide to Muslim Extremists.

The SPLC attacks and smears mainstream public service organizations, including churches, ministries, and various pro-family entities.

Targeted organizations include the American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, Act for America, the Center for Immigration Studies, Center for Security Policy, D. James Kennedy Ministries, Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, and the Traditional Values Coalition. These groups are lumped together by the SPLC with the Aryan Nations, KKK, and neo-Nazis. Preposterous.

Note: labelling an organization as a hate group hurts its fundraising and hinders access to credit card-processing vendors, search engine rankings, and ministry partners.

The SPLC bashes conservatives while pushing a liberal agenda that empowers and supports leftists, communists, and anarchists.

The SPLC regularly bashes President Trump, blaming him for the growth of white nationalism. Their analysis fails to acknowledge that the rise of white nationalism predates the election of Trump by more than two decades. Much of what the president says or does is framed as an attack on civil rights.

Curiously, after violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, the SPLC republished a map detailing the location of more than 1,500 Confederate monuments and symbols. Consider the map a field guide for anarchists.

The SPLC’s labeling of groups and individuals has inspired acts of violence against its targets.

The SPLC is the common thread in two violent hate crimes against conservatives. After the SPLC listed the Family Research Council (FRC) on its hate map, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered FRC headquarters in August 2012 intending to commit mass murder. He was subdued by a security guard who was shot in the process. Likewise, James T. Hodgkinson, who in 2017 shot House Majority Whip Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.), was an SPLC social media fan.

The SPLC is an irresponsible public charity.

The SPLC has violated the public trust. Nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations are expected to operate in a nonpartisan manner with the public interest at heart. The SPLC, however, is a radical activist group dedicated to suppressing political dissent.

As of 2016, the SPLC had $319 million in net assets with $69 million parked in offshore accounts. Despite its name, the SPLC does not fight poverty. Its salaries are bloated, and only a fraction of its annual contributions are used to support its programs. Writing for Philanthropy Roundtable, a nonprofit group informing the public on philanthropic activity and groups, executive director Karl Zinsmeister wrote:

The SPLC is a cash-collecting machine. In 2015 it vacuumed up $50 million in contributions and foundation grants, a tidy addition to its $334 million holdings of cash and securities and its headquarters worth $34 million. They’ve never spent more than 31 percent of the money they were bringing in on programs, and sometimes they spent as little as 18 percent. Most nonprofits spend about 75 percent on programs.

SPLC headquarters, Montgomery AL

A strong case can be made to strip the SPLC of its nonprofit, tax-exempt status.

Congress and the media need to take a fresh look at the SPLC. It no longer serves the public interest.

Carol Swain is a former associate professor of politics at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and former professor of both political science and law at Vanderbilt University. She holds a master of studies in law from Yale University and a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



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Will a Franco-British Agreement be a Little Late this Year?


Speak low if you speak camaraderie. Diplomatic gifts date back to the ancient world, and have symbolized friendship, peace, appreciation, or anticipation by the donor. Sometimes the gifts have been unusual, even bizarre. In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette gave John Adams an alligator. Iran gave Russian President Vladimir Putin two Persian leopards. In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron gave President Barack Obama a ping-pong table made in China.

The Bulgarian president gave President Bush a book titled The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush. Secretary of State John Kerry gave Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov two large potatoes from Idaho. Occasionally a gift has unfortunate consequences. The electoral defeat of Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981 was at least partly attributable to his acceptance of a large gift of diamonds from Jean-Bedel, Bokassa I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Central African Republic.

The most recent and intriguing diplomatic gesture has come from French President Emmanuel Macron, the young, highly energetic, ambitious, self-confident leader interested in the “refoundation of Europe,” and in a prominent role for France. politically and economically, including investment destination. Macron is more prone to engage in grand gestures and the exercise of charm rather than quiet diplomacy. At this point it is uncertain whether British Prime Minister Theresa May has succumbed or resisted that charm, but Macron’s gesture to UK is captivating.

President Macron on January 18, 2018, agreed to loan Britain, probably in 2022, the Bayeux Tapestry, though at the end it may be too fragile to move. A remarkable achievement of the art of the Norman Renaissance, the work, 70 meters long and 50 cm high, is embroidered, not woven, and therefore not technically a tapestry, though always referred to as such. It relates the story of the years 1064-1066, of the events up to and including the Norman conquest of England and the battle of Hastings.

The tapestry has never left France in 950 years, even during World War II, when Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler tried, and failed, to take it to Berlin. It provides a simplified view of a complex political and military struggle from the death of Edward the Confessor who became king of England in 1042 and following events until the Norman Conquest. There are a small number of leading characters. King Edward had no children and thus there was no automatic and accepted successor. After his funeral, Edward’s brother-in-law, the ambitious Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, was selected to become king. He was immediately confronted by a challenge for the throne by Harald Kardrada the Viking king of Norway who invaded with 10,000 men and was defeated and killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge.

However, William, illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy, who became a duke at age seven, claimed that Edward, whose mother was the great aunt of William, had promised him the throne. William invaded, the only person since Julius Caesar, veni, vidi, vici, to successfully invade Britain, and the last to do so. His army fought and defeated that of Harold on October 14, 1066 at the battle of Hastings. Thousands on both sides were killed, including Harold, and William, the Conqueror, took the throne. The Bayeux tapesty, which in fact was made in England, not in Bayeux, is the story of and implicitly the justification of the Norman Conquest.

Three interesting questions arise. Are the two countries making a new tapestry together or is Macron’s decision to loan Bayeux a symbolic article for France, a political statement, with its message of the defeat of the Anglo-Saxon Harold by the French William? Harold’s death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England. Is Macron hinting that Britain, in the throes of Brexit, cannot evade European rules?

A second question is how or if Britain will reciprocate in this diplomatic game with a gesture. Some options may be considered. Perhaps the most appropriate is loaning Paris the Rosetta Stone, the black granodiorite dating from an Egyptian decree issued in 196 B.C. taken from the French in Egypt in 1801, and now a main tourist attraction in the British Museum in London. The Stone was discovered by French soldiers and engineers during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt, captured by British troops who defeated the French in Egypt in 1801 and transported to the BM.

The main question is, what policy will Macron take in relations with UK, both bilaterally and in the ongoing Brexit negotiations with the EU? He recognizes that the UK is a vital partner on security and defense, cyber and digital issues, and that France and UK provide about half of EU defense spending. Britain has provided three military helicopters to support France in its confrontation with Islamists in the Sahel region of Africa and Mali. France has committed troops to the UK-led NATO force, Enhanced Forward Presence, the multinational Battlegroup, in Estonia, set up after the Russian annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine.

The first step is to obtain agreement on border controls at Calais, the processing of migrants trying to enter the UK, and the so-called “refugee jungle” outside Calais. The UK has agreed to pay, in addition to the £100 million it already pays, an additional $62 million to reinforce security, fences, CCTV cameras, detection technology. The bilateral Le Touquet agreement of 2003 allowed the UK and France to post border officials in the other country to monitor immigration and passports. In effect, it put part of the UK border in France. However, if and when UK leaves the EU, the border will be Dover, not Calais. Moreover, the UK will have to contribute to the cost of tighter border controls on the Channel crossing even after it leaves the EU.

Macron has been eager to obtain agreement on this issue of illegal migration, mostly from Eritrea, Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan, on the French-UK border, including the issue of nonaccompanied minors. He has argued that UK should be more active in tackling the issue. His basic point is that it is not the fault of France that migrants are coming; the problem is that UK firms are too ready to employ illegal migrants.

As a result of the Sandhurst treaty of January 18, 2018, the processing of immigrants trying to come into the UK is expected to quicken. France wants to avoid repetition of the 2016 situation when migrants were living outside Calais.

Most important is French policy on Brexit. Macron has made clear that if Britain leaves the single market of the EU, British firms will have less access to export than they have now. He sees the choice for UK: between a relationship with EU, similar to the one that Norway has with the EU, not a member of EU but associated with it for trade issues, and a Canadian-style one, maintaining ties with European countries. Theresa May counters that though UK will not be a full member of the single market, it is in the interests of both sides to agree on a deal on goods and services. The City of London will continue to be a major global financial center, and that is an advantage not only for the UK but also for Europe and the global financial system.

Macron insists that if UK wants access to the single market, including the financial market, it must contribute to the EU budget and also acknowledge European legal jurisdiction, the European Court of Justice. Otherwise, UK may have trade access, but this is not full access to the single market or to financial services.

The outcome of the Brexit negotiations is unpredictable, but the Entente Cordiale is still alive. This was evident at the bilateral meeting at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in January 2018 when the French flag was raised over the site and “La Marseillaise” was played. Theresa May might not have said it to the French president, but she may thought, “play it again, Emmanuel.”

Speak low if you speak camaraderie. Diplomatic gifts date back to the ancient world, and have symbolized friendship, peace, appreciation, or anticipation by the donor. Sometimes the gifts have been unusual, even bizarre. In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette gave John Adams an alligator. Iran gave Russian President Vladimir Putin two Persian leopards. In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron gave President Barack Obama a ping-pong table made in China.

The Bulgarian president gave President Bush a book titled The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush. Secretary of State John Kerry gave Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov two large potatoes from Idaho. Occasionally a gift has unfortunate consequences. The electoral defeat of Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981 was at least partly attributable to his acceptance of a large gift of diamonds from Jean-Bedel, Bokassa I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Central African Republic.

The most recent and intriguing diplomatic gesture has come from French President Emmanuel Macron, the young, highly energetic, ambitious, self-confident leader interested in the “refoundation of Europe,” and in a prominent role for France. politically and economically, including investment destination. Macron is more prone to engage in grand gestures and the exercise of charm rather than quiet diplomacy. At this point it is uncertain whether British Prime Minister Theresa May has succumbed or resisted that charm, but Macron’s gesture to UK is captivating.

President Macron on January 18, 2018, agreed to loan Britain, probably in 2022, the Bayeux Tapestry, though at the end it may be too fragile to move. A remarkable achievement of the art of the Norman Renaissance, the work, 70 meters long and 50 cm high, is embroidered, not woven, and therefore not technically a tapestry, though always referred to as such. It relates the story of the years 1064-1066, of the events up to and including the Norman conquest of England and the battle of Hastings.

The tapestry has never left France in 950 years, even during World War II, when Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler tried, and failed, to take it to Berlin. It provides a simplified view of a complex political and military struggle from the death of Edward the Confessor who became king of England in 1042 and following events until the Norman Conquest. There are a small number of leading characters. King Edward had no children and thus there was no automatic and accepted successor. After his funeral, Edward’s brother-in-law, the ambitious Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, was selected to become king. He was immediately confronted by a challenge for the throne by Harald Kardrada the Viking king of Norway who invaded with 10,000 men and was defeated and killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge.

However, William, illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy, who became a duke at age seven, claimed that Edward, whose mother was the great aunt of William, had promised him the throne. William invaded, the only person since Julius Caesar, veni, vidi, vici, to successfully invade Britain, and the last to do so. His army fought and defeated that of Harold on October 14, 1066 at the battle of Hastings. Thousands on both sides were killed, including Harold, and William, the Conqueror, took the throne. The Bayeux tapesty, which in fact was made in England, not in Bayeux, is the story of and implicitly the justification of the Norman Conquest.

Three interesting questions arise. Are the two countries making a new tapestry together or is Macron’s decision to loan Bayeux a symbolic article for France, a political statement, with its message of the defeat of the Anglo-Saxon Harold by the French William? Harold’s death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England. Is Macron hinting that Britain, in the throes of Brexit, cannot evade European rules?

A second question is how or if Britain will reciprocate in this diplomatic game with a gesture. Some options may be considered. Perhaps the most appropriate is loaning Paris the Rosetta Stone, the black granodiorite dating from an Egyptian decree issued in 196 B.C. taken from the French in Egypt in 1801, and now a main tourist attraction in the British Museum in London. The Stone was discovered by French soldiers and engineers during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt, captured by British troops who defeated the French in Egypt in 1801 and transported to the BM.

The main question is, what policy will Macron take in relations with UK, both bilaterally and in the ongoing Brexit negotiations with the EU? He recognizes that the UK is a vital partner on security and defense, cyber and digital issues, and that France and UK provide about half of EU defense spending. Britain has provided three military helicopters to support France in its confrontation with Islamists in the Sahel region of Africa and Mali. France has committed troops to the UK-led NATO force, Enhanced Forward Presence, the multinational Battlegroup, in Estonia, set up after the Russian annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine.

The first step is to obtain agreement on border controls at Calais, the processing of migrants trying to enter the UK, and the so-called “refugee jungle” outside Calais. The UK has agreed to pay, in addition to the £100 million it already pays, an additional $62 million to reinforce security, fences, CCTV cameras, detection technology. The bilateral Le Touquet agreement of 2003 allowed the UK and France to post border officials in the other country to monitor immigration and passports. In effect, it put part of the UK border in France. However, if and when UK leaves the EU, the border will be Dover, not Calais. Moreover, the UK will have to contribute to the cost of tighter border controls on the Channel crossing even after it leaves the EU.

Macron has been eager to obtain agreement on this issue of illegal migration, mostly from Eritrea, Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan, on the French-UK border, including the issue of nonaccompanied minors. He has argued that UK should be more active in tackling the issue. His basic point is that it is not the fault of France that migrants are coming; the problem is that UK firms are too ready to employ illegal migrants.

As a result of the Sandhurst treaty of January 18, 2018, the processing of immigrants trying to come into the UK is expected to quicken. France wants to avoid repetition of the 2016 situation when migrants were living outside Calais.

Most important is French policy on Brexit. Macron has made clear that if Britain leaves the single market of the EU, British firms will have less access to export than they have now. He sees the choice for UK: between a relationship with EU, similar to the one that Norway has with the EU, not a member of EU but associated with it for trade issues, and a Canadian-style one, maintaining ties with European countries. Theresa May counters that though UK will not be a full member of the single market, it is in the interests of both sides to agree on a deal on goods and services. The City of London will continue to be a major global financial center, and that is an advantage not only for the UK but also for Europe and the global financial system.

Macron insists that if UK wants access to the single market, including the financial market, it must contribute to the EU budget and also acknowledge European legal jurisdiction, the European Court of Justice. Otherwise, UK may have trade access, but this is not full access to the single market or to financial services.

The outcome of the Brexit negotiations is unpredictable, but the Entente Cordiale is still alive. This was evident at the bilateral meeting at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in January 2018 when the French flag was raised over the site and “La Marseillaise” was played. Theresa May might not have said it to the French president, but she may thought, “play it again, Emmanuel.”



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