Christiane Taubira leaves work for the last time on her bike (of course)
Source: France 2

So Christiane Taubira has finally resigned as “Keeper of the Seals” (Garde des Sceaux aka Minister of Justice), riding off into the sunset on her bike. There have been rumours about it for a while since she was the last leftist remaining in the cabinet, a succession of others having left since the arrival of François Hollande’s ‘pragmatic’ Prime Minister Manuel Valls and former investment banker, now Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron.

So what was the issue that finally went too far? As in Australia, the French government plan to allow French citizenship to be removed from people with (at least notional) dual citizenship convicted of certain crimes (including, but not restricted to, terrorism). The whole idea of the droit du sol (jus solis) vs. droit du sang (jus sanguinis), citizenship based on where you’re born rather than your parents’ citizenship, is an important part of leftist conceptions of the republic, so the idea that citizenship, the central mechanism of qualifying for all that liberté, égalité and fraternité, should be conditional is offensive to many including Taubira. The French have done it before, of course, in 1915 and in the 1940s. With Jews.

Taubira will be most remembered for her lively and passionate defence of the gay marriage legislation and her many literary allusions and quotes, such as the following extract from Damas’ novel-length poem Black Label. Damas was one of the founders of the 1930s Négritude anti-assimilation, anti-colonialist movement which sought a provocative re-appropriation of terms like nègre (not as offensive as nigger, but certainly…ahem…a ‘coloured’ term).

Nous, les gueux
nous les peu
nous les chiens
nous les riens
nous les maigres
nous les Nègres
qu’attendons-nous pour faire les fous
pisser un coup
sur cette vie stupide et bête
qui nous est faite.

extract from Black Label (1956) by Léon-Gontran Damas

We the villains
we the littl’uns
we the slurs
we the curs
we the beggars
we the niggers*
what are we waiting for to muck up
to take a piss
on this stupid, idiotic life
that we’re given.

* translation by Kathleen Gyssels & Christine Pagnoull