France has never been too big on freedom of political expression.
Lévy Faces Trial January 28th, in Paris, for “Crimes Against the Intellect”
By Tariq Ali in CounterPunch
On January 28, activists belonging to the PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République) are organizing a trial of Bernard-Henri Lévy in the old PCF/CGT stronghold of Saint Denis. Norman Finkelstein and myself are the only non-French who are giving evidence against BHL. The trial will commence at 6.30pm at the Bourse du Travail de St-Denis. 9-11 rue Génin, Saint Denis. Metro 13 – Porte de Paris.
More of my views on Bernard-Henri Lévy may be found below, but first, the Indictment:
“Order for the indictment of Bernard-Henri Lévy before the Assize Court, and for his arrest:
We have determined that whereas investigation has established the following facts concerning the accused:
– His unrelenting promotion of imperialism and Zionism,
– His intellectual fakery, symptom of philosophical nullity amid the accumulation of capital and power,
– His leveling of false accusations and calumnies against Iran,
– His warmongering and advocacy of “humanitarian imperialism,”
– His aiding in the creation and promotion of SOS Racisme to smother autonomous immigration movements,
– His dissemination of false news likely to sow social and eligious discord between Christians and Muslims.
For these reasons, we rule that there is sufficient evidence against Bernard-Henri Lévy that he committed such acts, punishable under the Criminal Code, in regard to Articles 175, 176, 181, 183 and 184. We order the indictment of Bernard-Henri Lévy, to be lodged at the Court of Assizes of the department of Seine- Saint-Denis to be tried according to law.”
Executed in Chambers, December 18, 2010.”
I’ve always regarded BHL as a comic figure. On the two occasions — in Berlin and New York– that I’ve shared a platform to debate him he reminded me of a puffed up peacock in heat (hence, I thought, the permanently unbuttoned shirt). In France, however, more than a few citizens find him more sinister than comic. He is the Republic’s most visible and most vain mediatic intellectual. A veritable Tintin no less. Ready for adventures whenever he’s needed to strike a pose. Kabul falls to NATO. Off goes Tintin and returns to inform us that in order to help the Afghans he has launched a new magazine in Kabul. Its name? Nouvelle Kabul. Of course. How could it be anything else. This was in 2002, but every Afghan I’ve asked swears on the Koran that no such magazine exists, not even in Kabul’s fortified green zone. Was it pure fantasy? Possible. The dividing line between reality and non-reality is never clear when Tintin is involved. I got a strong whiff of this when I reviewed his appalling book on the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl that was largely fantastical. I wrote at the time:
“He has written a strange hybrid of a book about his adventures in Pakistan, a country whose language he doesn’t speak and whose people he seems to hate, despite the last-page invocation of a ‘gentle Islam’, firmly placed in the medieval period and counterposed to the ‘madmen of Peshawar’… Half fiction, a quarter speculation, one-eighth film script (with BHL as himself?) and one-eighth regurgitated newspaper articles, this book gives narcissism a bad name. Is there anything of value in it? I searched in vain, hoping that his ‘diplomatic connections’ might have helped out with some previously unknown facts. Nothing. Given the absence of real content, style becomes all; and it is pure pastiche. At times, ‘my dear Sartre’ is invoked for no apparent reason, except to make it clear that Lévy is the only true heir. At another point, he is reminded of his old tutor at the Ecole Normale:
‘Latent homosexuality. Or, if not, perhaps no sexuality at all, pleasure is a sin, the purpose of relations with a woman is to procreate. Omar [Pearl’s assassin] . . . has probably never slept with a woman . . . he is a 29-year-old virgin. Is this the key to the psychology of Omar? . . . Asexuality, and the will to purity that goes with it, as possible sources of the moral standards of the religion of fundamentalist crime? . . . But I remember, I cannot help but remember, a great French philosopher, Louis Althusser, still a virgin at 30 and who . . . No. Out of bounds, precisely. Because truly blasphemous. And too flattering to Omar.’”
There is nobody quite like him in the States or elsewhere in Europe. Hitchens, in healthier times, could have come close to this status had he been provided a regular column in the NYT and a book show on one of the networks. CH would have had many an advantage, since unlike BHL he can both write and read, though ill-health, sadly, has meant a confused imagination such as detecting a ‘moral core’ in Tony Blair and flattering Ben Ali, the toppled despot of Tunis.
His dominant media position makes BHL a powerful enemy of the Left, of the kids in the banlieues, of anyone who dares question Israel’s moral superiority to everyone else, but especially its victims. He supports most of US policies abroad. Unsurprisingly he arouses a great deal of anger, hatred and contempt.
On January 28, activists belonging to the PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République) are organizing a mock trial in the old PCF/CGT stronghold of Saint Denis. Norman Finkelstein and myself are the only non-French who are giving evidence against BHL. It should be good fun. Nobody is quite sure whether Tintin will be in Paris or entertaining the King in his huge villa in Morocco … he should beware the Maghreb now. The times they are a-changing.
Tariq Ali’s latest book “The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad’ was published by Verso last fall.