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On French Polls and Hostage-taking


The report from Reuters Drudge is pushing this morning tells only part of the story about the modern mind of France.

Reuters used a CSA poll conducted for Le Parisien. It was reported yesterday in Le Monde, alongside a photograph of an unpressed HR exec being released from forced overtime at a Caterpillar factory. The  alarming number in the CSA poll: 45 percent say taking a corporate executive hostage is an acceptable way to express a labor grievance.

Not only is this a reversal of the American way of dealing with complaints against execs — what are windows for? — it’s also a level of depravity unknown in modern corporate life, since until now most people would have been filled with revulsion at the prospect of spending 24 hours locked in an office with a guy from HR.

But another poll, conducted by Ifop for Paris Match and reported both by Le Monde and in l’Express, produces an even more worrying figure: Only seven percent of French people polled are willing to “firmly condemn” the practice of hostage-taking.

Now the new vogue in kidnapping-as-free-speech has spread from places where people work to places where “work” is an interesting subject for casual classroom conversation: Le Figaro this morning is reporting that the presidents of universities in Grenoble and Orleans have been taken hostage.

This follows the reports of “riots” interfering with the Strasbourg visit of the Obamas last week. There’s probably an explanation for this escalation of violent left-wing strategies. Despite press reports, the recent set of “national” strikes in France emptied government offices, since that’s where most people spend business hours. But because people with real jobs mostly went to them, the country didn’t exactly grind to a halt. The strikes did little. But taking a hostage requires a fairly low turnout, so maybe getting ugly is just another way of demonstrating a loss of faith?

Which brings me to another poll, one conducted by Sofres just in time for Easter and reported on Europe 1. It shows that 40 percent of the French now believe there’s “nothing after death.” France is nominally Catholic, of course, but it’s Catholic sort of the same way Kathleen Sebelius is “Catholic” or the University of Michigan has a “basketball team.”

Maybe that’s why, according to this poll, more French Catholics hope for reincarnation than believe in resurrection. The thought must be that if you could just get a do-over, you’d get it right the second time around. That could be a French error, since most Americans must know that kind of thinking’s much more wishful than hoping death leads to a better life. In Michigan heaven, you beat the Tarheels. With reincarnation, a recycled Michigan State plays a recycled North Carolina again and again and again. That’s also called “hell.”


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