While walking near the Sorbonne a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a flyer on the sidewalk that announced an imminent revolution in France, a “Revolution of Life!” that will bring “Justice, Peace, and Life.”
Intrigued, I took a closer look and immediately felt a chill on seeing a text that astutely mobilizes people’s fear of ridicule to upset us and make us want to retaliate.
“Ces minorités se moquent de nous!” it declares. “Those minorities are making a mockery of us!”
Now, this could connote ridicule—those minorities are making fun of us–or it could connote indifference—those minorities could give a fig about us; such is the ambiguity of the verb se moquer de. But anger is clearly the goal of this flyer, as one realizes in the rest of the text: “Those minorities consider us incapable of rebellion [… ] That is the ultimate insult.”
Who are “those minorities”?
- Arabs, North Africans, Southeast Asians and other “people of color” who now live and work in France
- Members of the government, teachers, intellectuals, and journalists
- Hedge fund managers, loan sharks, and the other unscrupulous kingpins of today’s financial universe
- Professors employed at the Sorbonne, notorious for their parsimony in judging students’ work at its rightful value
p.s. The entire flyer will be posted in the answers to this quiz series, “From Prairial to Pop Culture: The French Revolution in 2015,” on July 14, 2015.