Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Ilona Carlson And Tom DeLay
Après leur succès du 4 avril, les syndicats se réunissent mercredi 5 avril pour fixer une ligne commune pour les futures négociations sur le CPE.
Man is the matter of the cosmos, contemplating itself.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
---Carl Gustav Jung
I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time---just one, one, one. So you begin. I began---I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand.... The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin---one, one, one.
I feel as if I'm in a unique position this morning. Essentially I'm trying to get all the information I can on 2 stories of concern, strangely related. Of major interest to me is what's going on in France. Our daughter is completing her high school freshman year in Pau, a short distance west of Toulouse. She is a bit young to be doing this, but she is in the care of a family that is there under the auspices of Ohio University. Now in her 3rd week, and 2nd week of classes, she has made adjustments very well and seems (on the telephone) to be having a wonderful time.
I talked with her last evening (her time), and again yesterday she and her friend found most of their classes were not in session, as the teachers were participating in demonstrations downtown. Despite US State Department warnings http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_2743.html , which I made sure they knew about, they went to the rallies both this week and last. Ilona says the "parades" have been happy, peaceful and impressive. She told me yesterday's march appeared larger than last Tuesday's, when the unions claimed 40,000 people participated in Pau...which number is half the population.
Here's a little background to this kind of situation that I learned. High school particularly is conducted rather like college here in the States. In fact, that's even the name they use for it there. Students have a schedule of classes and they show up for those...but otherwise they don't have homerooms or study halls and all that. If you don't have a class, you can go home or downtown or to a library or whatever you want. Classes are held most days from 8:30 until almost 5:00, with a lunch break of about an hour and a half. Wednesday is a half day. There are no substitute teachers in France, so if the teacher isn't there you leave.
There is a long and honored history of civic participation of French educators. It is to be expected if there is some kind of question being put to the government in public demonstration, the teachers will be there. Last Monday it even was announced at the school that probably there would be no classes the next day. This time there was no announcement, and it was up to the discretion of the teacher whether any class would occur or not. Ilona went to math and the teacher was there, so they had class.
At the demonstrations themselves, the young people are seeing a range of political expression and a quality of participation they've only heard about. Despite the kind of news coverage some media sources think satisifies the market, the reality Ilona sees is that diversity of opinion is understood and welcome. She remarked yesterday all she has to compare this with is unfavorable, namely the heckling she endured from the sidelines at a John Kerry rally. As far as I'm concerned, as an American social studies teacher for some years, I couldn't ask for a more wonderful education in representative government for this young lady.
Please notice that in these weeks of demonstrations---and the negotiations that follow each one---the government slowly and methodically is accommodating to the will of the people. Yes, a referendum eventually may be held on this issue, and indeed on the continued operation of this government entirely. These political figures are held in account by the outcry of the population. This is understood and accepted as how things are done in France. There are "hooligans" who appear AFTER the rallies and overturn cars and things...just as there are in the States. Over here, this is the kind of thing that grabs headlines...if any.
The other story I'm watching...and indeed it's hard to avoid it...is the cheerful resignation of Tom DeLay. He sees it as an important opportunity for career change. The Hammer will be working in the private sector entirely now for the continued success of the Republican Party. After all, to whom can Jack Abramoff's clients turn these days?
Progressives really are dancing with glee this morning, and some brilliant writing is happening. Most stirring to me was William Rivers Pitt's essay, entitled He's Gone, for TruthOut yesterday afternoon http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040406A.shtml . Teachers should read it aloud to their classes. Neverthless DeLay is leaving on his own, still calling his shots. No one has forced him, not even outraged public opinion, to do anything at all, except sit for his photograph at the indictment. I remember a Bill Moyers' NOW feature on DeLay in June of 2004, which exposed the man's funding chicanery. Moyers showed us Abramoff's casino deals in November of the same year. http://www.pbs.org/now/archive_politics.html I saw no news items elsewhere following up these stories.
And my unique position this morning is I'm looking at a republican form of government in operation in 2 different countries. In one, a people rise up to question a bill that calls into question the issue of just cause for dismissal from a job. In the other, my own, the people sit, apparently docile and mute, as issue after critical issue is paraded before them. Are Americans just too stunned or bloated to react to anything...except a sale or a new TV show? Here's a report about the Ohio Secretary of State's investment in Diebold voting machine stock. The man, having shaken off demands for legitimate recount of 2004 Presidential election results, is running for Governor. http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002648.htm#comments Here's a report from students who spent Spring Break still trying to clear Katrina debris in New Orleans. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040406R.shtml Where's the United States I studied about in my social studies classes?