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PRINT May 1997

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Radical Noir

EARLY LAST MARCH, in the thick of the protest movement against the draconian immigration law proposed by France’s Minister of the Interior Jean-Louis Debré, the residents of a working-class Paris neighborhood not far from the Bastille came together for an emergency meeting called by Gérard, the owner of the local bistrot. Gérard was furious. After fifty-four years in France, his Spanish-born wife, Maria, had suddenly been asked to produce a certificate of naturalization in order to renew her ID card. And a call from the local police station had just informed him that his Romanian cook, Vlad, was no longer considered a “desirable” alien. One after another, the neighbors voiced their indignation about the current climate of immigrant-bashing. After hours of heated discussion, the one person who had remained silent, a gawky bistrot regular nicknamed “Le Poulpe” (the Octopus) in honor of his

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