Emmanuel Macron is a weird guy, but he has actually tried to do the right thing in a lot of cases. This is one of those cases.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Sunday to stand firm against racism but also praised police and insisted that France wouldn’t take down statues of controversial, colonial-era figures.
It was the first time Macron has spoken on the issues since George Floyd’s death in the United States unleashed protests around the world, including several in France, where demonstrators have expressed anger at racial injustice and police brutality, particularly toward minorities from France’s former colonies in Africa.
Unusually for a French leader, Macron acknowledged that someone’s “address, name, color of skin” can reduce their chances at succeeding in French society, and called for a fight to ensure that everyone can “find their place” regardless of ethnic origin or religion. He promised to be “uncompromising in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination”.
Yes, of course – gotta throw the Jews in there.
However, he insisted that France will not take down statues of controversial, colonial-era figures as has happened in some other countries in recent weeks.
Amid calls for taking down statues tied to France’s slave trade or colonial wrongs, Macron said “the republic will not erase any trace, or any name, from its history … it will not take down any statue”.
“We should look at all of our history together” including relations with Africa, with a goal of “truth” instead of “denying who we are”, Macron said.
Macron also said that the fight against racism became distorted when it became exploited by what he described as “separatists”.
“It is necessary to unite around Republican patriotism. We are a nation where everyone—whatever their origin and religion—can find their place,” he said.
France had the second biggest colonial empire, in terms of total numbers of subjects (rather than landmass, which would give the runner-up position to the Spanish; you’d also have to rule out Russia, which is not typically considered a colonial empire, but which would easily beat out both France and Spain if it were).
The French are also big statue people.
So I’m quite sure they have a lot of statues of people who are called “racists.”
They also have quite a few Jews in their country, so I very much doubt that Macron is going to be able to keep control over this situation. The French people are more respectful of history, and more capable of being reasonable about these sorts of things than a lot of Western Europeans, but it doesn’t really matter. France has a huge black and Arab population, and those statues are coming down.
It just is the most absolutely savage thing on earth, what these people are doing. It is really worse than the Taliban. At least the Taliban had the reasoning that the statues they destroyed were “idols” and thus had a religious and metaphysical reason to destroy them. That is so much less savage than simply saying, “man we hate you whitey! We gon tear your shit up, faggot!”
Do you know that Russia still has statues of Lenin, Marx, Stalin, etc.? And in fact, I don’t support destroying those. Maybe if they’re in the center of town, and you have something important you want to replace them with, I can imagine moving them. But tearing them down is just an attempt to destroy history and there is no reality in which that is a good thing to do. Russia was communist, just like Americans did have slavery and did fight a civil war. The statues are there to memorialize that history much more than they are to celebrate any individual or institution.
If the blacks and their allies were not primitive savages on a mission to simply wreck civilization, they would view these statues as a reminder of how much better things are for them now.
Of course, even that wouldn’t be right, because things are not better for them now. There was no crack cocaine under slavery. No poverty. No out of wedlock births. No shootouts.
If someone believes black lives matter, it wouldn’t be out of order for them to call for a return to slavery, as that is when black lives were actually valued. Now they are disposable, and it’s not rare that nearly 100 people die in shootouts in a weekend in Chicago.