Pipers in Brittany unite against American white supremacists
Hundreds of traditional musicians from Brittany’s top pipe bands, known as Bagadoù, convened on the town of Brest for the region’s most prestigious championships on Sunday.
They were joined by thousands of fans in showing their support for Yannick Martin, a 24-year old virtuoso of the bombard, a double reed instrument from the oboe family, who has twice been crowned Brittany’s champion player.
Mr Martin has been the target of a hate campaign by a Houston-based white supremacist website called Breiz Atao (Brittany Forever), the name of a Breton nationalist journal that supported Nazism in the second world war…
Mr Martin, born in Columbia but adopted and raised by a Breton family, has filed for charges of “racial discrimination”. His brother, adopted and raised by a different family is also a top pipe player. Both play in one of the region’s most acclaimed bands, Kemper, which competed in Brest yesterday.
Before the competition, Mr Martin said: “I’ve been judged by the colour of my skin by people who are totally out of touch with today’s Brittany. I feel entirely Breton and my response will be to continue to play.”
Sunday, around 2,000 players and fans wore the double ribbon sporting the Breton colours “gwen ha du” (black and white) in a poignant protest at the racist slur…
The Breton Democratic Union (UDB), the main autonomist and regionalist party in Brittany, denounced the attack. “The defence of the Breton cause has very unfortunately been hijacked by a minority of frustrated individuals with scandalous views about our Breton citizens of foreign origin. To be Breton has nothing to do with blood or the colour of your skin, it’s not a question of a Breton ‘race’ but of a Breton people rich in its diversity,” said the UDB.
One of the great “gifts” of American politics to Planet Earth since World War 2 has been the politics of racism.
Europeans, Brits, North Africans witnessed the Jim Crow policies of the American military – there to liberate Europe from Hitler’s fascism while ordering local communities to observe the policies of segregation brought along by occupation forces.
As Europeans watched the civil rights battles of the 50′s into the 70′s on television, they also learned all the racial slurs adopted by their emigres to American society. All the N-word stereotypes entered European languages courtesy of “letters to home”.
Now, we see the new expansion of bigotry that accompanies this decade’s populism offered to cultures outside the United States as the way to behave, to follow this American example of musical “purity”.