De Gaulle confronts Islam

Ross Douthat’s recent New York Times columns on French politics here (April 29) and here (May 3) are both not only good, but also full of interesting reading in the links accessible online. Referring to the French presidential candidate who is predicted to lose the election being held today, Douthat asserts in the first of these two columns:

[T]he politician that Le Pen has obviously strained to imitate is not her father or Marshal Pétain, but Charles de Gaulle — the de Gaulle who fiercely opposed European political integration, who granted Algeria its independence in part because he doubted France could absorb millions of Muslim immigrants, whose “France First” worldview consistently gave other Western leaders fits.

Douthat embeds a link to a March 1959 quote from de Gaulle addressing Algerian independence that I had never seen before (pointed out to me by my friend Bruce Sanborn), given in French and translated by Daniel Pipes as follows:

It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But [it is good] on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are still primarily a European people of the white race, Greek and Latin culture, and the Christian religion.

Don’t tell me stories! Muslims, have you gone to see them? Have you watched them with their turbans and jellabiyas? You can see that they are not French! Those who advocate integration have the brain of a hummingbird. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake the bottle. After a second, they will separate again.

Arabs are Arabs, the French are French. Do you think the French body politic can absorb ten million Muslims, who tomorrow will be twenty million, after tomorrow forty? If we integrated, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered French, would you prevent them to settle in France, where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-The-Two-Churches but Colombey-The-Two-Mosques.

We are all familiar with Winston Churchill’s observations on “the curses of Mohammedanism” in The River War, but de Gaulle’s observations are not so well known, if also equally in need of context and explication to be understood fully.


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