by L. Alexander
I started my first drafts of this piece when it felt like no one was talking about the French elections and I was getting more and more concerned. Politics on this campus often feel myopic at best, which I’ve already aired my grievances over, but in this regard that seems to have changed to some degree. Unfortunately, the reason that’s changed is because Marine Le Pen is in the runoff election. As I’m writing, it’s May 6, 2017. The election is tomorrow.
Marine Le Pen is an anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-sanity candidate. She wants to disband NATO. She wants France to leave the EU. If she wins and if she succeeds in doing all of those things that she promised on the campaign trail, a many of my friends and family will be deported.
Geert Wilders was soundly defeated a few weeks ago during the Dutch elections. I have less hope for the French doing the same thing. Having lived in France for a good chunk of my young adult life, here is why:
1. White French people, to an astounding degree, think that they’re living in a post-racial society. Upon the election of Donald Trump there was constant chatter of the “racist Americans” while not reflecting on the way Le Pen was gaining in the polls. White French people are very ready to try justify or rationalize their prejudices by any means necessary. There is also no reflection on how several governmental buildings in Paris have pillars that are carved to depict brown people holding them up (I have photos. I’m being serious.) and the hush-hush nature of the history of the conflict that resulted in the independence of Algeria and Tunisia in recent French history, but I digress.
2. Unfortunately, anti-Muslim sentiment has only spiked after the 2015 Paris attacks, along with the misuse of laïcité by the general French public (AND authority figures, unfortunately) to justify their own prejudices towards Muslims. On a side note, people often say that laïcité is inherently xyz without seeing the discrepancies between the law and how other people interpret the law. The law itself of laïcité, I would argue, is fine, and its importance within the context of French history is important to be mindful of.
2.5 Immigration within France is a farce in its own right; there are camps of refugees within the city walls of Paris, the largest being the one at the metro station Stalingrad. There seems to be little to no effort to actually home them. The vulnerability of such a situation makes it very easy for conservative politicians to manipulate the images, making it seem like refugees are only clogging public transit and aren’t making any effort to better their predicaments.
3. The white French people I mentioned who never take the time to think about their own prejudice? They take a lot of those conservative notions and propaganda about Muslims, about refugees, about people of color, as objective fact. Marine Le Pen is doing well because people think she “tells the truth”, in essence she will make her way to becoming a global leader in the same way that put 45 in the Oval Office.
I hope and I pray that I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen— I don’t think I will be.