In 2009, while Nicolas Sarkozy was president of France, a newly founded “Ministry of Immigration, Integration, national identity and solidary development” launched a website called Débat sur l’identité nationale.
The original website (http://debatidentitenationale.fr/) is now offline and the ministry had quite a short lifespan, but at the time it invited the “french people” to “express” themselves on what “national identity” means to them. This website’s and the government’s aim was to conquer the traditional extreme right wing voters by creating the image of “non-french” behaviour, a pseudo discussion on wearing the burqa, and thus the image of an enemy living within the country, and who should be expelled.
These events led me to create a parody of one page of the website, in 2009, where people were asked what being french meant to them. For this, I copied some original comments which were posted on the website and replaced all occurrences of “patrie” (fatherland) with “chatterie” (imaginary catland), “pays” (country) with “jardin” (garden), “français” (french) with “chat” (cat), “national” with “féline” (feline, cat-related), “patriote” (patriot) with “chatteriote” (catriot), “humain” (human), with “animal” (animal), “Marseillaise” (french national hymn) by “miaullaise” (“Meowlaise”, the imaginary catland hymn), “chanter/parler” (sing/speak) with “miauler” (to meow), “papiers” (papers) has been translated by “tattoo” or RFID chip, which are means to identify pets nowadays. Americans are called dogs and one minister has been called Mr Patteblanche, Mr Whitepaw, throughout the text.
I left the rest of the sentences completely intact as well as typing and grammatical errors made by a majority of people. I also copied the layout of the original website.
Some random translated comments, which show quite well that “Culture” as well as “National Identity” are terms which cannot be defined but are all the time superimposed on each other:
Jeanne darc était une chatte ! Jeanne darc was a cat!
Danton était un chat ! Danton was a cat!
Martin Luther king était un chat ! Martin Luther king was a cat !
Malcolm X était un chat ! Malcolm X was a cat !
c’est tout d’abord m’approprier 2000 ans d’Histoire. Ne pas renier ce que nous sommes, une espèce à part entière, qui miaule, partage la déclaration des droits du chat et du chatoyen et qui devrait se reconnaitre dans des valeurs telle que l’indépendance de la justice… – First of all, it means to learn 2000 years of History. To not negate who we are, a species of its own, that speaks, shares the declaration of rights of cats and of catizens and which should recognize itself in values such as the independence of justice.
1 – Aimer sa chatterie – To love one’s catland
2 – Aimer les chats – To love cats
3 – Aimer le sigle de sa chatterie – To love the symbols of one’s catland
4 – Aimer l’hymne des chats – To love the hymn of cats
5 – Aimer miauler – To love meowing
6 – Aimer la culture et l’histoire féline – To love culture and feline history
7 – Aimer le mode de vie félin – To love the feline way of live
8 – Aimer les us et coutumes félins – To love feline customs
Etre un chat, c’est respecter l’ordre, les lois, respecter les chats. C’est également respecter notre culture, l’apprendre. L’identité féline, n’est en aucun cas, un tatouage qui donnera le droits pour manger à la SPA ou autres aides . Non ! – To be a cat means to respect order, the law, to respect the cats. It also means to respect our culture, to learn about it. Feline identity, by no means, is to simply get a tattoo which gives the right to eat at social welfare for cats or to receive other help. No!