Yes, this is a politics blog, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily have to focus on politics of the American kind, even is as fraught a season as this one.
So let us now repair to the controversy of the chocolate croissant, or as it is known in France, pain au chocolat.
Jean Francois Copé, the mayor of Meaux, is vying for the presidency of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the right-wing coalition formerly headed by Nicolas Sarkozy and ousted in the recent elections. That would make him the right’s candidate in the next elections. (Meaux is on the outskirts of Paris.)
He is also Jewish, although he calls himself "non-practising," according to Wikipedia, and says he above all represents secular authority and calls his community the "national community."
He published his manifesto last month and stirred controversy by describing what he said was an "anti-white racism."
Last Friday, his first official day of campaigning for the party presidency, he denounced "thugs" who "snatch chocolate croissants" from children because it is Ramadan:
There are neighborhoods where I can understand the frustration of some of our compatriots, fathers and mothers returning home from work in the evening and finding out that their son had his chocolate croissant snatched from him as he left school by thugs who explained that one does not eat during Ramadan.
The same day, he "doubled down" (in American political parlance) and Tweeted:
"There are neighborhoods where children cannot eat their chocolate croissants because it is ramadan." (Draguignan is the Cote d"Azur town where he launched his campaign.)
The immediacy of Copé’s declared frustration is odd: Ramadan took place this year in July and August, when school was out.
More significantly, it has brought out into the open an ideological split in the UMP, with Francois Baron, the former finance minister, making headlines by calling such anecdotes "toxic" and "dangerous."
Until now, apparently, the party’s moderate wing was hesitant to take up this gantlet — Francois Fillon, the former prime minister who is also running for the UMP presidency was notably equivocal when pressed on whether "anti-white racism" was a real problem.
Less significantly — but entertainingly — #painauchocolat has become a Twitter hashtag.
The best I’ve seen so far plays not only on the National Front, the party led by generations of Le Pens which is pressing the UMP from the right, but on Copé’s own heritage — his mother is an Algerian Sephardic Jew. So he’s not quite "white."
From Tweeter Diego-San:
J’ai trouvé un nouveau surnom pour @jf_cope : Le Pen au chocolat. #PainAuChocolat
"I’ve found a new surmame for @jf-cope: Le Pen au Chocolat."
CORRECTION: In a moment of culinary insanity, I was THINKING chocolate croissant yet TYPING chocolate eclair.