What Neologism Lies Ahead?

Arthur Goldhammer
12 January 2018

Word comes today that the gendarmerie is readying 30-40 squadrons for the purposing of removing the so-called zadistes (defenders of the zone à défendre, or ZAD) at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. This is likely to turn into a bloody mess, not because the gendarmes want it that way but because the situation does not lend itself to an easy resolution. The zadistes have been preparing for this assault for years and are “dug in,” while the police will be under pressure from the government to be quick about it in order to prevent reinforcements, including Black Bloc elements, from streaming in from across Europe in defense of “resistance.” I can imagine some new word emerging from the confrontation: dézadisation, perhaps. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a synonym for bérézina.

I will not venture to comment on the principle(s) at stake. This case has been argued back and forth for 50 years. I thought Hollande should have acted to clear the site when an apparent “final judgment” was issued giving the go-ahead to the airport, but now there has been a new report saying that region could be just as well served by expanding an existing airport. Nicolas Hulot has apparently suggested an airport with a circular runway: I wager he’s never landed a large jet.

Macron not being Hollande, I imagine he will seek to be decisive and definitive. I suspect he will favor going ahead with NDDL. I love the Norman landscape as much as anyone, but I think it will survive the new airport, and a majority of the region’s voters have approved. Due process has been observed, no doubt with the usual quota of inaccuracies and misrepresentations. But at some point this has to end in a country where the rule of law is respected. I thought Hollande should have made this clear. When I asked Ayrault (a champion of NDDL as everyone knows, long before he became PM) why his government backed off enforcement, he rolled his eyes and said that I should ask the president–as lucid a commentary on Hollande as chief executive as I have seen anywhere.

I hope things go well, but I’m not at all confident they will. The aftermath could haunt Macron for years to come.

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