Saturday 10 December 2016

Not an offensive form of intolerance -- a scary one

Will the Irish have the balls to handle the issue in the way that the Frenchhave done, asks Cathal MacCarthy

Published 31/01/2010 | 05:00

You've got to hand it to the French (and if you don't they'll handle it themselves anyway, eh Thierry?) They seem to have a bracing disposition to cut through the bullmerde around some of the more fraught questions about national identity and what constitutes acceptable public display of fealty and devotion.

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The kind of angst-ridden, self-flagellation around minority sensitivities that is, for instance, the British starting position on these questions, has never been a la mode in la belle France.

There's an intriguing paradox here: the British famously disdain high-falutin' theories and abstractions and yet find themselves unable to come forward with a single, coherent idea of what it is to be British, while the French, who followed Descartes up his own fundament 350 years ago and have only emerged occasionally since, seem to have an almost insultingly straightforward concept of what it is to be French.

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