Tribune. Christophe Dettinger, a former professional boxer, is currently in detention on remand for beating law enforcement officials during act VIII of the yellow vests movement. At the time of going to the police, Dettinger broadcast a video in which he explains his action in response, according to him and many testimonies, to abuses of violence exerted by the police on demonstrators .
1st February, the newspaper point reports from journalists Emmanuel Macron: "The boxer, the video he made before he surrendered, he was briefed by a far left lawyer. It shows ! The guy, he does not have the words of a gypsy. He does not have the words of a gypsy boxer. "
We are obviously unable to position ourselves on the charge against Christophe Dettinger. However, as researchers, it seems important to us to take stock of what is going on in this case. In the remarks of the Head of State seems to express a class contempt against a man who, by his former profession but especially his supposed ethnic origin (which Macron knows absolutely nothing) and his popular affiliation, is supposed to embody brutal and subordinate masculinity.
Here is then played another violence (symbolic certainly but very effective), that of racism cumulated with class domination, when the head of state denigrates Christophe Dettinger the possibility of a public speech, both authentic and constructed . Yet, leaders are the biggest users of the strategic discourses built by others, their collaborators. And the use of these "elements of language", as they say, does not shock anyone in their environment! This is how Christophe Dettinger should be presented as an uneducated brute, that he does not have the right to build and to put his own words that have gone straight to the heart of many yellow vests and their sympathizers.
But let's not be blind to the low maneuvers of discredit. Assignment to subordinate positions (from cultural, social or class backgrounds) judged by the elite as "unsurpassed" undoubtedly has a political purpose. If the word of Christophe Dettinger is thus stigmatized and downgraded, it is because it is detected from the "crossing" or the decompartmentalization of which authors like Frantz Fanon have underlined the subversive scope. It is therefore to freedom of expression that the President attacks by bringing back the author of a public speech to his supposed minor position (that of the gypsy).
Read also :The tribune of Jacques Debot, Gypsy writer: Is this how the gypsies speak to us?
The video is for yellow vests
On what language register is the President when he designates "the type", through "The words of a gypsy" ? In the name of what republican principle is it granted the right to activate such membership – not proven by the author during his public address – to argue facts qualified as 'Violent' ? Christophe Dettinger himself has explicitly placed himself in the register of public speech and not community or private. It would be up to him to answer (or not!) About his cultural identity. Admittedly, Dettinger is a Yenish surname, a historically nomadic and European community. But he defines himself as a French citizen and addresses himself in this video to "French people" and not to the community of "gypsies". He defines himself primarily as an activist and addresses the yellow vests, calling them both to continue the struggle, and appeasement, enjoining his fellow soldiers not to give in to violence.
Is not this the issue? Touch the movement by the discredit of one of those who have symbolically become an icon of these mobilizations? Not only by trying to belittle this figure, but also by a blow against his lawyer, pointing at a sentence as being "Far left", another way to deprive this figure of yellow vests of an autonomous popular speech (which would be necessarily manipulated by the extremes)? Is not the stake also to divert the public's gaze at the moment when voices are raised against the unprecedented violence exerted by the police, on the orders of the State, against the movement ?
If, on the one hand, Christophe Dettinger admits his wrong in boxing out of the ring to help a woman extricate himself from police violence, on the other, President Macron continues his strategy of "little sentences" Which he thinks he can profit by a populist staging, ignoring the recent convictions of local elected officials who have exceeded the rules of freedom of expression in the exercise of their political functions.
It is obvious that our president no longer talks about Christophe Dettinger but clearly activates a racism expressed at the highest summit of the state and this is what we think it is important to denounce. So, if that is the goal, why does Emmanuel Macron particularly target the way of "talking" about "gypsies"? Languages, regional accents or slangs have always been the preferred targets of the ruling classes to discredit popular forms of expression, especially when they are subversive. Now, the words of the Romance languages used by travelers are also words that circulate outside the community. They participate in the inventiveness of slang, which is nothing but a tool of resistance in contexts of oppression and diffuse domination.
It is to this language that Mr. Macron attacks, thinking perhaps able to steal some ingredients of the popular revolt while reactivating an anti-Gypsyism inscribed in the French institutional history (and which travelers gradually reach to s' franking (1)). But the maneuver seems doomed to failure because yellow vests had, since January 16, called publicly, during a rally in Clermont-Ferrand, to show their support for the Gypsy and gypsy communities of France. The video which counts today more than 125 000 views on the Facebook page "The infos of Travelers", has since circulated on social networks.
This event for Travelers, who have suffered too much slanderous speech and acts of denial of their French citizenship, reinforces their massive presence in the movement of yellow vests from its premises. This visible mobilization of travelers within a national social movement is a strong sign of the potential of citizen union and, more broadly, of popular protest capabilities. Travelers are also, by their way of life that exposes them to various forms of repression, sentinels of democracy.
Complaint for racial insult
Indeed, contrary to what implies the "little sentence" of the President, associative activists of the world of the trip are very invested against the discriminations and for the defense of their way of life. We also pay tribute to Nicolas Lorier, who died on February 4, who fought all his life to defend the cause of the gypsies and, more broadly, the Travelers, and contribute to fair fighting, since its beginnings in the resistance, whose father had been deported and murdered in Dachau as Zigeuner.
Christophe Dettinger will file a complaint for "Racial insult", said his lawyer. Let us hope that justice will be done on this point, despite the immunity that Emmanuel Macron has today. We believe that it is not futile to take into account the words spoken by the Head of State, as such responsible for ensuring compliance with the Constitution. The many reactions they have provoked call for an answer, at the risk otherwise of being able to evoke a "state racism". Meanwhile, the movement of yellow vests continues and state violence is increasingly denounced by international bodies.
(1) Act No. 2017-86 of 27 January 2017 on equality and citizenship, which repeals the discriminatory elements of the status of Travelers originally provided for by Law No. 69-3 of 3 January 1969 relating to the exercise of itinerant activities and the regime applicable to people moving in France homeless or fixed residence.
Claire Cossée and Gaëlla Loiseau sociologists