Saturday, August 21, 2004


The World

For whatever reasons, I've been buying, and indeed reading, Le Monde fairly regularly of late. I have thus been meaning to blog something from it since 1) there might be interesting articles, 2) readers might enjoy a non-Anglophone perspective, 3) nothing could more clearly demonstrate/puff up my sophisitication and intelligence.*

Norm rather beat me to the punch on this story (that's "the punch", not "a pulp", an important distinction, I feel), but an article from last Monday's Olympics section can serve as fodder for the second post of my Olympics Reports on Countries Bombed/Liberated by the Americans series. (Out of laziness and fear that more fluent French speakers will correct my fairly casual effort at translation, I haven't looked for the article online. The following is only an extract).

"There's only five of them, but they're there....The [Afghan] delegation isn't very numerous: it consists of three men and, above all, of two women. Friba Razayee will compete in the judo trial in the 70 kg category; Robina Muqim Yaar will line out from the beginning of the 100 metres series.

They are 17 years old. Their faces will be seen, and they will be, perhaps, a little overwhelmed. What is happening in Athens isn't nothing, since they are the first two Afghan women to represent their country at the Olympic Games. "This event is for us full of joy and exaltation" gushes Haidar Shoukria, adviser on sports and physical education in Afghanistan's ministry of higher education. "Symbolically, it is all the more important that it happens here, in Greece, cradle of Olympism and democracy. Because sport is one of the values that helps peoples to escape fundamentalism [integrisme]."

"This is also the success of an initiative taken in the most difficult of moments" explains again the president of Negar, an organisation for the defence of [the rights of] Afghan women, created following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in September 1996.

The idea of one day seeing women parading under the Afghan flag in the Olympic Games might have seemed Utopian at the time. Yet it has guided these women, with conviction, even during the darkest hours of the Afghan night. "This is the proof that in struggling, you can succeed", Haidar Shoukria today rejoices to herself.

During the summer of 2003 Utopia started to become possible. The Afghan committee first of all retook its place at the heart of the great international Olympic family in the month of June. In August, on the occasion of the World Athletics Championships in Paris, it was, for the first time in a competition of this stature, a mixed delegation which flew the Afghan flag.


Over the course of the Games, the gender-mix [la mixite] is gaining ground. In Barcelona 1992, 35 nations didn't filed a single woman in the events. There were still 26 in Atlanta four years later, and only eight in Sydney. In Athens there shouldn't be more than four."

*I rather relished the act of reading a French translation of a Noam Chomsky book recently (Le Profit Avant L'Homme - presumably "Profit Over People" in the English version). This is not much different, for good and for bad, from reading Chomsky in English, but I quite enjoyed the sensation of becoming a caricature straight out of the fevered imagination of some anti-intellectual foaming-at-the-mouth Fox News reactionary demagogue.**

**As soon as I had typed the words "anti-intellectual foaming-at-the-mouth Fox News reactionary demagogue" I just had to Google them. This brought me to here: a rather funny story about working for a Christian fundamentalist (exploitation and religion similtaneously? Oh the humanity...), which has the following paragraph as its prelude:

"It is still astonishing to me that a jowly church-breathed authoritarian --who you'd never want to get too close to because of his God Fearing Man-Stank -- like John Ashcroft exists ouside of a Pacific Northwest militia compound in the first place. But to have that same, what I like to be believe, unlikely man also be the Attorney General of the United States is just super-duper astonishing. I consider the sterotype of which General Ashcroft fits to a T to be the most ignorant, unlikable and discomfiting personality type another human can possibly have."

The same blog then brought me, rather appropriately, to this piece of Bush-Cheney campaign antiFrenchism (for want of a better, or indeed real, word). In conclusion: the owld internet is great, is it not?

"I quite enjoyed the sensation of becoming a caricature straight out of the fevered imagination of some anti-intellectual foaming-at-the-mouth Fox News reactionary demagogue."

Dude! I'm so jealous. I hope you remembered to wear your beret.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?