Laissez-nous Faire

Back in the good old days, when men were men, women were women, and transgendered hermaphrodites were transgendered hermaphrodites, There was a King of France named Louis XIV. Louis’s Minister of Finance was Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Colbert had lots of good ideas for helping everybody in France. Once Colbert brought together a group of French businessmen and asked them what he could do to help them out. Their response was “Laissez-nous faire”, or “Leave us alone.

I think that it is possible that, despite all of our modern scientific knowledge and technology, the people who lived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were wiser than we are. Those French businessmen, at any rate, had a clearer idea of what was best for their long-term interests. Nowadays businessmen, when asked a similar question, would not hesitate to demand subsidies, tax breaks, regulations to keep competitors out of the market, and crony capitalism. It I were to name the greatest problem with Capitalism, it would be the Capitalists. To put it simply, too many businessmen don’t really want a free enterprise system. People generally assume that Big Government and Big businesses are opposed to one another, but the truth is, that all too often they are on the same side.

If you think about it, even in Louis XIV’s time, excessive government regulation of the economy really didn’t work so well. This was a time when the fastest mode of transportation was the horse. The industrial revolution had hardly begun. If men like Colbert would have been better advised to leave things alone back then, how much more so should his successors leave things alone in our infinitely more complicated world of today.

Colbert in 1682.


Plus Ca Change

It really is depressing to consider how things never seem to really change, despite all of the changes the world has been through over the past century. It never seems to be the good things that stay the same. Rather it seems that the worst in human nature is the most resistant to positive change no matter how hard we try. A case in point is this article in the Jerusalem Post by Aaron D. Rubinger concerning the resurgence of European antisemitism.

Over the course of 2 months, I visited Jewish communities in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium and the UK and interviewed dozens of Jewish leaders as well as “laymen” – both Jews and non-Jews. While attempting to determine the seriousness of contemporary European Anti-Semitism, I experienced what I would term “déjà Jew” – the peculiar sense that we, the members of Jewish people, are reliving an experience from the past; that we have somehow time-traveled and are now re-experiencing  occurrences that are all too familiar.

From the mid-1930s to early 1940s, Jews who recognized that they were no longer safe in Europe anxiously sought refuge abroad. Sylvain Zenouda, the co-founder and current vice president of the Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l”Antisèmitism—an organization which monitors and documents anti-Semitism in France—told me that educated young Jews in France with the financial means to do so have either fled the country or are making plans to flee. Again?

80 years ago, our people were being verbally abused and brutally assaulted in public places. And now it seems to be happening all over again. Viviane Teitelbaum, a minister in the Brussels Regional Parliament, related an incident that occurred this past November involving a 13-year old Jewish girl in Brussels. The girl was brutally assaulted at her school, resulting in her hospitalization for multiple injuries including a concussion. The attackers were not members of the Third Reich’s SS, but a group of female Muslim students at the same school. The ringleader pronounced her to be a “filthy Jew!” Apparently, in the weeks prior to the attack, the girl’s father had approached the authorities and the school with complaints that there had been threats made by fellow classmates against his daughter.  Upon hearing that his concerns were simply brushed aside, I immediately thought of Yogi Berra’s famous gaff: “This is like déjà vu all over again!”

2 generations ago, some Jews sought to protect themselves by masquerading as Aryans. In an interview conducted in November, a Parisian mother related how the fear of being physically attacked by Muslim extremist thugs means that it is “not rare at all today” for French Jewish students to attempt to pass themselves off as Muslim – with some even going as far as to fast on Ramadan. One case in point was a Jewish girl of North African descent who for years was successful in this deception, until finally she was “exposed” when Muslim girls caught her eating matzah in the bathroom during Pesah. After her classmates beat her viciously, they invited their male Muslim friends to their school to participate in a gang rape.

Now, I know that most, if not all, of the attacks on Jews in Europe are by the growing numbers of Muslim immigrants. But, I also know perfectly well that if the authorities in France and elsewhere were seriously interested in stopping such incidents, they would be stopped. But that would take courage and it is a lot easier to look the other way.


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