I know some perfectly delightful French people — charming, kind, and intelligent. Indeed, I know many. But there is something about collecting French people in one place that seems to bring out a darker side in them. Many years ago, at a local park used by a French elementary school, several of the children didn't even bother to conspire — they just spontaneously pushed my toddler off the top of the play structure as their French school mistresses watched with a sort of passive disdain. Moving away from the small fry, we've been seeing collective French ickiness in their fawning approach to Arafat's death, in their initial casual response to Ilan Halimi's horrific murder, and in the insane student riots over policies intended to provide them with future employment. Now, we get yet another insight into the darker corners of the French collective soul:
A street in a Paris suburb has been named in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer.
"In France, they see him as a towering figure," said Suzanne Ross, co-chair of the Free Mumia Coalition of New York City, who was part of an April 29 ceremony to dedicate the Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal in the city of St. Denis.
Ross said the street is in the town's Human Rights district, which includes Nelson Mandela Stadium.
Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and member of the Black Panther party, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of 25-year-old Daniel Faulkner. He has maintained his innocence. His writings and taped speeches have made him a cause celebre among Hollywood activists, foreign politicians and some death-penalty opponents who believe he was the victim of a racist justice system.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed to consider three counts of Abu-Jamal's appeal, allegations that there was racial bias in jury selection, that the prosecutor gave an improper summation and that a judge in a previous appeal was biased.
Faulkner's widow, Maureen, called the street dedication "disgusting" and urged Philadelphia residents planning a visit to Paris this summer to cancel their trips. In 2001, the Paris City Council made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen.
"This is so unnerving for me to get this news," Faulkner said from Los Angeles, where she lives. "It's insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia that they are naming a street after a murderer."
Daniel Faulkner has been honored by a memorial plaque installed at the scene of the shooting at 13th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia.
I was going to ask, rhetorically, how can a nation that prides itself on its intellectualism and sophistication rejoice in such barbaric acts? I realized, though, that the answer probably lies in the question. That same intellectualism and sophistication has drawn the French inexorably away from morality and humanity. Many in that society have intellectually analyzed themselves right out of human decency.
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin