Commentary Magazine


Hands Off My DNA

The Saintly Brigades of France have found their cause célèbre: DNA tests for immigrants who want to be reunited with their families. The Opposition—ranging from the Centrist François Bayrou to the Socialist Ségolène Royal to the hard leftist Olivier Besançenot—fumbled every opportunity to grasp a Big Issue during last year’s presidential campaign and the first six months of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential term. Now they have it! A moral issue of gigantic proportions: the UMP-dominated legislature is about to pass an immigration law that would allow immigrants lacking reliable documents to prove filiation by way of DNA tests and expedite reunification with their minor children.

Brushing aside practical considerations—eleven European countries are already using the tests as recommended in a 2003 EU directive—the Brigades are playing on the symbolic value of DNA to raise immigrants to the pinnacle of victimhood. The Brigades’ reasoning goes something like this: since the Nazis classified Jews by genetic quotients from 10 to 100 percent, touching an immigrant’s DNA is equivalent to sending him/her to Auschwitz.

Charlie Hebdo, the pornographic satirical weekly that earned hero’s stripes for publishing the Muhammad cartoons, is at the forefront of the anti-DNA campaign. Editorial director Philippe Val, who defended the freedom to insult the prophet of Islam, is now defending immigrants against the ill-concealed genocidal intentions of the Sarkozy government. (Sarkozy is, himself, a first generation immigrant on his father’s side, and second generation on his mother’s side.) A petition launched by Charlie Hebdo has garnered 200,000-plus signatories, including high profile figures from the Right alongside Sarkozy’s bitterly disappointed rival, Dominique de Villepin.

Since Sarkozy began to deliver on his promise to make French immigration policy more selective, pro-immigration forces have exploited the vocabulary of Vichy collaboration. Meanwhile, commando associations intervene to prevent deportation of illegals; instigate in your face operations like parachuting tents, filled with aggressive mal logés [ill-housed], into a side street at the stock exchange; and accuse the government of pushing illegals to acts of desperation. Drawing on the vocabulary of the 1930’s and 1940’s, pro-immigration forces accuse the government of organizing “rafles [sweeps],” the word used to describe mass roundups of French Jews. Citizens and policemen are urged to resist, and reminded in no uncertain terms that this time they will not be able to say they didn’t know.

French media, thrilled with this juicy bone of contention, have extended a friendly microphone to virulent critics of the bill, which is misleadingly identified as “DNA testing for immigrants.” The height of frenzy was reached when PM François Fillon publicly criticized the undue attention focused on one detail of a broad immigration bill. “Detail”? How dare he use the word “detail”?!? He knows perfectly well that Jean-Marie Le Pen (leader of the near-defunct Front National) said the concentration camps were a “detail” of World War II.

This trivial brouhaha is monopolizing public debate, while a French court raises serious doubts about the veracity of the al-Dura “news report,” produced and broadcast by state-owned French television in September 2000. The al-Dura blood libel doesn’t interest the Saintly Brigades and their cheerleading media, who have transferred the symbols of the Shoah to immigrants. Ironically, it is often immigrants to France who perpetuate the culture of violence against Jews. There is no DNA testing to screen for that!