Last month, French President Sarkozy introduced the topic of “national identify” and made reference to the importance of being “French” if one was to be a member of the French society. He even ordered meetings all over the country at which people could discuss what it means to be French and should there be a national identity. Sarkozy emphasized yesterday that he will do “all in his power” to ensure Muslim citizens are treated as “citizens like any other” person. He believes there is need to have a national identity in a society which has people of mixed races in order to avoid tribalism.
A basic problem in a democracy is exactly who decides what is or is not “Frenchness.” Is this something that is defined legally and does it mean if I don’t display the qualities of what society deems to be “French” that I am punished or forced to leave the country? In a democracy, there is no such thing as an “American” or a “German.” A democracy allows individuals to define themselves in any way they desire. The issue is not how I define myself, but do I respect the laws of the nation or do I pursue legal means to make changes.
Actually, there are many roads to being an American or French person.