A new kind of adoption in France:

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday defended a plan to require 10-year-olds to honor child victims of the Holocaust…. “We do not traumatize children by giving them the gift of the memory of the country.” The president wants each child in the last year of French primary school, at about 10 years old, to “adopt” the memory of one of the 11,000 Jewish children in France killed in the Holocaust, learning about the selected child’s background and fate.

Which will encourage religious belief.

Adding to the national fracas over the announcement, Mr. Sarkozy wrapped his plan in the cloak of religion, placing blame for the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”

Will it interfere with more usable or politically desirable forms of memory?

Some historians argued that the focus on victims could steer attention away from the Vichy government’s collaboration with the Nazis. Still others warned that the plan could backfire, creating resentment among France’s ethnic Arab and African populations if they felt their own histories were getting short shrift.

The plan has met some criticism:

“Every day the president throws out a new unhappy idea with no coherence,” said Pascal Bruckner, the philosopher…. “Let’s judge it for what it is: a crazy proposal of the president, not the word of the Gospel.”… “It is unimaginable, unbearable, tragic and above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust, told the Web site of the magazine L’Express.

And of course is the Americans’ fault. Although here is an example of the NYT quoting someone saying something different from what it says they’re saying:

Other analysts blamed the confessional approach of the United States for infecting Mr. Sarkozy’s thinking. “Listen, it’s in the air of the times,” said Régis Debray, the philosopher and author, on France Inter radio Friday. “There is a religious sentimentality, a pretty vague religiousness, let’s say, in the world of show business, in the world of business, that comes from America. It’s the neoconservative wave of the born-agains.”

But Debray is not blaming confessional culture, he’s blaming right-wing evangelicalism. Which is not the same thing.