Category Archives: Intolerance

I am unpatriotic whore, apparently.

The first time my “whoring” became apparent to me was 15 years ago when my parents invited a couple of friends over. The discussion at the table, at which I was expected to stay, somehow ended up on my speaking English on the Internet: have status in English on MSN chat for instance, taking active part in English-speaking forums about footballers I fancied and more broadly on my listening to practically only English.

The husband had objections and I can’t recall exactly how it came to that but I said: “Using English is also easier to communicate and look for things you need.” To which he replies “So you are prostituting yourself.” He had the idea that my speaking English on the Internet instead of sticking to French, and especially using English when French could be used (i.e. on MSN with some of my French friends) was like a prostitute who can’t be bothered to get a proper job to make a living. She instead opens her legs because she is certain to get the money and akin to her, I was willingly selling out my culture, myself, my identity to get what I want instead of sticking to my language, no matter whom I was interacting with, because it is easier that way. I should be working hard to establish myself as I am but instead I was sleeping with the boss to get there.

As I was mentioning this very conversation to a friend, she bounced back on my use of English, something I never used with her, but when she fathomed the scale of my willingness to learn it, speak it and use it, she simply asked “Why do you want to lose your mother tongue?” For her, actively learning and enjoying the speaking of another language to which I had no family ties whatsoever was an act of forsaking my own language. In her mind, I couldn’t have both. One was going to take over. It wasn’t about whoring myself to get it easy anymore but willingly rejecting my whole self for unfathomable reasons.

The questioning of my patriotism came with another former friend. “Former” because there are certain things I only take from foes, not friends. Again, we were on the subject of my listening to almost exclusively English-speaking music. She was going through my CD collections – no MP3 players at the time – and ruing the absence of French but for a couple of artists out of a 100 or so. She asked why and my answer prompted her to tell me I was “unpatriotic”. I was buying music, giving money to some strangers that are the very reason why French musicians struggle. I was part of the problem regarding the suffocation of anything native in the face of the American music industry. More, I was betraying my culture when I could be expanding it. I was serving the enemy.

I have been wondering why these people reacted as they did for the past 15 years. Not that it’s the first or only time I have been getting that kind of remarks but they usually come from people who call themselves “proud, real French”. The either country-side-living or poorly-educated or highly nationalistic person who, for various reasons, reject anything foreign on various degrees of violence and easily buy into the American invasion. All the while never going to a single French movie because they are “boring”…

I get that at work at the moment. For the first time, I am not in teaching languages but took a job at a supermarket because the next country I want to move to is very expensive so I need massive savings, and I am surrounded by people who don’t speak English. When I do, even and mostly to myself, most of them have this knee-jerk rejection of it. Fear of someone who knows more? Feeling of exclusion? Both I think.

However, those three people aforementioned belong to a type of population I know very well, due to my travelling and living abroad: the bi-nationals. The man is Franco-German, the former friend was Franco-Vietnamese and the other is French but both her parents are Argentinians who moved to France as teenagers.

Most bi-nationals I know embrace both their cultures, languages and the question of identity is one that resolved itself easily: I am a citizen of the world. I am a human being. Borders are irrelevant, languages are relevant in that they open doors and help you in life. If nationalities are two boxes on paper, they are endless opportunities in real life. A former colleague whose mother is Jamaican and father French, because born in Guadeloupe, was once asked the usual question: “What do you prefer most? Being French or Jamaican?” She replied that this type of questions was akin to asking: “Who’s your favourite, your dad or your mum?” This is irrelevant and ignorant.

A bi-national will appreciate and critique their culture equally but for very different reasons and the questions of identity, culture and belonging is a open pick & mix buffet. You take what you like in whichever side you wish. For instance, when talking about homosexuality, she said she was more French because France embraces same-sex marriage but when it comes to race issues, she was more Jamaican because, unlike in France, she was not “black” in Jamaica, just a normal person.

Nevertheless, not all bi-nationals are like that, as shown by the people who called me a prostitute who was unpatriotically forsaking my whole heritage for something I had no reason to embrace. They belong to the bi-nationals for whom the question of identity has been a black or white issue and they were faced with choosing sides for a variety of reasons so it took me to know them to try and understand their apparent rejection of anything but France and French, although they should be the expression of multiculturalism.

The husband, for instance, was born from a German father and a French mother. First, as a child whose father is the foreigner, he spoke little German. It’s something I noticed amongst all my friends, either parents or children in multicultural families: if the mother is the foreigner, the child will more likely be bilingual and open to both his heritages. Fathers tend to speak their native language less for reasons I still need to explore. So he grew up speaking just a bit of both languages and when his father left his mother, the conflict of love became one of cultures. In the rejection of his father, it’s also Germany and everything that comes with it he forsook. Hence the name-calling: for him, my tending to another culture is abhorrent, a betrayal to France who “gave birth to and nurture me”. He chose France and French because, in his mind, they are family and one cannot belong to two families. I was indeed just a whore, trying to please some stranger culture by overly speaking its language because I had concluded that the English family was more profitable.

The former friend has both Vietnamese parents, she spoke, ate, drank, sang, read, danced Vietnamese culture but this was the privacy of her home. Outside, casual racism based on her looking Asian, and therefore being “Chinese” – because, of course, all Asians are Chinese – led her to work extra hard to integrate to France and become she could never look “it”, she would forever act and sound it. She therefore ended up internalising extreme ideas as to what makes a good French person and a bad one. I was the bad one, she was the good one because I embraced English culture when I should have done what she has always been told to do and eventually did: solely embrace French culture and eventually leave the rest behind. I remember her saying she was fighting with her parents because she would not marry a man from Southeast Asia, and she refused to carry on with learning Vietnamese. She was the product of our idea of assimilation of immigrants centered on the concept of leaving your roots behind altogether in order to become someone else, someone new, someone fitting for the role, someone who would not think twice if the day of confrontation with your ancestry would come. You would defend France because you have become French through steps I was overlooking. Maybe because I had the privilege of being French by ancestry…

The second one was the same somehow, except she only took in the words, not the outrageous nationalism needed to compensate others’ racism based on her looks because her family is of Spanish descent. The parents spoke perfect French after 30 years in France. they had jobs, they owned a house, she was a high-achiever at school. If the name was Spanish, they were nothing but fully integrated into the French society. The perfect immigrants, some would say. “You would not know they are not French”

If the parents spoke Spanish to each other, they spoke French to their daughters. If she enjoyed her Argentinian heritage through music and dancing, she however had this idea of having to make a choice between two options. I think it comes again from the idea of opportunities in life. Being as French as possible had probably been carved into her head by her parents so to ensure she had the best chances but it also meant she couldn’t possibly understand that my love of English was not making me any less French than I am, I was just expanding my horizon as wide as her had always been on the international scale.

I have now become very wary of these types of bi-nationals who, for reasons usually not fully understood by them, are overly patriotic and judgmental when it comes to embracing more than one culture. French politics is a perfect example with people like Sarkozy (Hungary) and Manuel Valls (Spain) who were sometimes as damning of social, cultural diversity and foreigners as the far-right can be. For me, this is one of the far-right’s and racism’s greatest victory: to have made some immigrants and their children willingly reject their own culture, reject multiculturalism as fake and treason to the soil you live on, point out variety as source of a problem instead of a solution.

Advertisements

Casual racism: Anne-Marie Morris

The N bomb was dropped once again, this by a Conservative MP in the UK, Anne-Marie Morris and there are two things I want to address.

First, she apologised for the “offence caused.” The problem is not the offence caused, it’s the casual racism. Apologising for the offence puts the spotlight on the offended as if what they took out of it her using the N-word was not how it was intended in the first place. She is a politician, and not a novice, she was taking part in a debate about Brexit so she knows about the power of words and that word is not ‘offensive’, it is plainly and simply racist.

Second, she said it was said “unintentionally” and to me that speaks volume. The N-word is so deeply embedded in her everyday vocabulary that it pops up like an expletive when you hurt yourself. Of course, you can have these moments when for whatever reasons, you say something really bad but then you react at once: apologise, try to make it right, show shame…It happens.

However, Anne-Maria Morris didn’t even realise she said it. She used the N-word and only after people pointed it out, did she acknowledge it. That’s how deeply normal that use of the N-word is to her – or how ill-conceived her pride is in refusing to be human and grovel on the spot. This is casual racism at its worst – or best, depending whence you look. It’s normal, it’s something that you do so often, you don’t even pay attention to it anymore. Like men calling every woman who disagree with them “Slut!” only to appear contrite if told so.

Now there are calls for her to step down, for the Tories to take actions. As an individual, I want people like that to eventually be educated out of such language so yes, I want her remove but politicians are here to represent their constituents so that’s for them to decide whether her casual racism is akin to theirs or if she has betrayed what they believe in.

Just sayin’ – You pervs!

A young teenage girl, let’s say she’s 12 or 13, is walking past you during a hot day wearing short shorts. You then hurry to tell the people with whom you are how inappropriate it is for her to wear something “so revealing” when she is “that young”. You can “almost see her arse.”

Now, let me be clear, man or woman: akin to people who think women who breastfeed should hide, the problem is not with her but with you and only you. For you sadly belong to those people who cannot help but see sex everywhere. In the bare breast of a mother as well as in the thighs of a 12 year-old girl.

Solution? Spent less time shaming young girls because you see them as nothing but sexual lumps of flesh who should cover themselves more in the name of decency. “I wouldn’t let my daughter wear this!” All the while shaming Muslim women for wearing too much. And work on yourself. What you will find is not going to be appealing but deal with it!

So I went on the Internet today and I found this…

ScreenHunter_005.jpg

I am not the one to put out mistakes but two words…That’s all they had to write in their title. Unless, my repulsive, liberal feminism is preventing me from understanding some kind of third-level meaning only accessible to proud sexists.

Freedom of speech is not a jail-free card.

Let’s get straight to the point and let me say that not every opinion that pops into your head is worth being expressed as it popped and freedom of speech is never some kind of wildcard for these thoughts to be worth anything.

Sure, it’s easy to just splash out everything that comes to our mind willy-nilly under the umbrella that we live in democracies and it’s therefore our right to do so. We can all do it because we are all humans, we all have our moods and all feel strongly about this and that.

For argument’s sake, I can take to Twitter and troll every religious stranger I find and call them names until the letters disappear from my keyboard because I am gay and therefore unfairly oppressed by every single religious authority in the world. My freedom of speech entitles me to retaliate, no matter how violently I strike even people who are innocent, didn’t say anything and never asked for trouble. I can also use every opportunity to scream and shout that Trump is an old twat with the face and the hair of a kangaroo’s scrotum, with policies and moral standing to match because he represents everything I disagree with and, again, my country’s constitution entitles me to express my opinion, whichever.

On more trivial matters, it’s also my right to go on every Youtube channel I follow and spew brutal hatred everytime a Youtuber I watch makes a video that displeases me in any way – even small.

In other words, it’s my right to play by the alt-right rules of self-entitlement and encourage my peers to do what I do and harass everyone I feel to be inferior because different from me or in disagreement with me, to purposely look for things I know to hate and spam the dislike buttons before filling the comment sections with the cheapest, most homophobic, sexist, racist and xenophobic “opinions” – or insults as we commonly call them.

But I don’t, even when I experience red urge of hatred, like everyone does. I just don’t do it. And it’s not because I live in a yoghurt commercial where everything is bright and fabulous but because I have been taught, I have learnt and have understood where the line is between thinking something and expressing it and how to cross that line in an adult, respectable and respectful way. I have understood that when it’s perfectly okay to have these thought, when it’s your freedom to express your opinions, there is a way to do it that requires some extra work, yes.

Some will say I am censoring myself, that my leftist political correctness has left my dry and unable to have relevant opinions, that I am fake because I never really speak my mind but always coat it in sugar to offend anyone. No, I do speak my mind but I do reflect upon it and how to convey a useful message that keeps the essence of what I think without imposing myself on others through a series of word punches.

I could spam comment sections with anger, resentment, spite and petty hatred every time when aggravated but I have learnt to reflect and ask myself: What’s the point? What is violence in words going to bring to the debate expect even more anger and division? Are people really going to change their way because I have plainly attacked them? Have I ever changed my way under the weight of insults or have I instead become ever more determined to eventually be my true self because of these attacks?

I have learnt that nothing good ever comes out of speaking your mind as it is when it is solely negativity. I will go further and say that I have grown convinced that there is nothing in our society that actually justifies plainly cheap and purposely hurtful thoughts to be put into actual written or spoken words.

I know the answer to such remark: “Censorship! It’s my freedom of speech!” No, it is not. It’s just you trying to coat your complete lack of empathy and civility in yet another blanket of outrage and self-victimhood. How far will your anger lead you?

Vomiting everything your brain produces for everyone to see, read and hear is not freedom of speech. Doing so is called being childish and having missed the point of school as a place where you should have learnt there is a difference between personal life and social life. Your personal life is your family and friends where you are indeed not only entitled to an opinion but where you can decide the degree to which you want to express it. Your peers will then judge you for that in a way that will be on par with how you expressed yourself.

What is important to understand is that social life rhymes with social peace. It means that there are rules that need to be followed, while being positively challenged, all in a constructive way where you don’t deliberately antagonise everyone, rather work towards us evolving into even better beings as a whole. If you actually think we are better human beings without gay marriage and you want me to listen and respect your opinion, don’t bark it, don’t result to insulting me to justify my being treated like a second-class citizen. If you do, don’t blame me for not being heard.

Explain yourself, show your reasoning behind your opinion/passion and we’ll talk, we’ll debate in an attempt to build something. And quoting a book is not an explanation. It’s yet another blanket on top of freedom called religion. We are both sophisticated human beings that went to school, you should be able to express yourself in your own way without resulting to point blank out-of-context misquotes.

The need for a civilised conversation is not censorship or muzzling of anyone, it stems from the fact that unlike your family and friends who can cut you off and refuse to acknowledge you if they think you are toxic, society as a whole cannot ignore you. On the opposite, a democracy has the mission to include you so it teaches all of us that we have to live with you, interact with you, respect your despite our differences.

The social rules of speech are not here to censor you but to push you to evaluate and reformulate your raw thoughts in order to express it in a way that will bring something to the debate rather than a plain insult because you feel strongly about such and such topic.

It is true that in a world where freedom of speech justifies and forgives everything, even the most racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic insults thrown in air in a tantrum, that vision I just talked about is not the current trend, although it is important to point out that it is actually the most used. Not everyone spills hatred like an oil company spills oil. Companies, institutions that fire people for being openly, proudly, dangerously and threatenly racist are under attack for supposedly bridling freedom of speech with political correctness and I support them.

My way is depicted as “leftist”, “soft”, “ineffective”, “fake” and the reason why we it don’t and won’t win elections anymore, because it’s political correctness v freedom of speech. But I believe it goes together and if political correctness means acting like a grown-up and be articulate and mindful of one’s words for the sake of everyone, I am happy to be leftist, soft and political correct and so should everyone.

Taking to the streets for the future

Trump was elected and his targets are taking to the streets and, as well the usual bastards who are just here to break and create mayhem, I see something else the protesters have to deal with: the Trump electorate who are attacking them. They compare the situation to Obama’s (re-)election forgetting something crucial but they are happy to compare the two so let’s do just that.

Like Meghan Tonjes said, Obama was not perfect – no president ever was and none of them ever had a smooth ride. He made mistakes, some of them that undoubtedly endangered the economic security of people, via his support to some trans-border treaties for example. But one cannot deny that Obama was a uniting force and therefore provided a feeling of safety for the people of America as a whole. During his campaigns and presidency, when addressing the country, he addressed the country, all of it, not some part of it, pitting people against one another which is exactly what Trump did.

So when people say:
“-When Obama was reelected, we did not make a fuss. We shut up and sucked it up!”

I reply: Damn right you did!

And by the way, No! You did not shut up and got on with it. You kept going on about questioning his Americanness, from his policies to his very birth, you kept associating him with Bin Ladin because their name were close and even after he personally gave the order to gave him killed, you carried on with your usual spewing of conspiracies about him being an ally to Islamists. I don’t call that “shutting up” and “sucking it up”, I call it constant defamation in order to undermine someone just because you disagree with him and you don’t like him. Beyond disagreement or dislike, why these constant attacks?

Because that’s all you had. Obama never gave you ground to feel your freedom of being yourself, of existing, of living in the US was endangered. Maybe you felt that your freedom of carrying a gun was in danger but he never targeted you as a person. When he was elected, you didn’t feel your future, the ones of your family and friends was at stake.

Had Obama campaigned with declarations the likes of “When I am elected, no matter what institutions say, every person I personally consider a racist, I’ll have them fired, put in prison, deport and make sure they never set foot on the American soil again!”, I would have understood you taking to the streets to show your anger because that would have been a direct threat to some of you, and not just your passions, but your very existence as Americans.

You did not take to the streets because Obama was uniting, he went above all types of differences to reach you, appeal to you, talk to you whoever you were whereas Trump is divisive: he doesn’t look at America as one big ensemble constantly moving and reinventing itself but rather a monolithic heterosexual WASP block-like majority who has to reluctantly make room for change by putting up with and giving up privileges to minorities. I am not saying that his whole message but that’s most of it.

His campaign was to change how America is perceived by chopping through it with an axe, extracting the heterosexual, able WASPs and appeal to them by pitting them against every single other type of people: African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, non-Christian religions, and even men v women.

To show the damage it does, I will direct to what Clinton said about you when she made the unforgivable mistake of, once, playing into that rhetoric by targeting Trump’s voters saying that “half of them were deplorable”. All of you Trump supporters went up in arms and lashed out. She made the mistake of once being divisive and a lot of people voted for Trump as a result.

That’s why people are in the streets today. To show  the rest of the world that there is more to America than Trump, his ilks and his rhetoric. To show that he doesn’t represent every American but also because they are genuinely scared for their future as they were targeted, not for their opinions or what they did as a living or who they voted for, but for who they are: the colour of their skin, who their heart has feelings for, the birthplace of their parents or even their own. Trump made it openly and proudly clear that all these aspects of identity no one can change, including heterosexual WASPs, were a problem.

If I take the LGBT community, the anguish goes beyond the fear of the resurgence, normalisation and possible formalisation of bullying, it goes to the heart of the family they have built after we had evolved into better, more tolerant human beings – or so we thought – and so I still hope.

Will their marriage of love remain legal or will they have to live underground again?

Will the children they have adopted, they love, nurture and to whom they are giving a chance to finally be happy remain with loving parents or will the family be woken up on January 1st by the sound of social services kicking their way into their home to the snatch the kids away forever because from now on, family can only be defined by blood affiliation and in a heterosexual marriage?

Lacking empathy, lacking the crucial ability of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can mock the LGBTQ community for asking such questions but you cannot stop the fear and the anguish we have because we don’t know what the future holds. And it goes well beyond having a job or owning your own house or gun.

Maybe not the same questions, but the same feelings are running through the Black, Asian and Latino communities. What does the future hold for them? And that’s a question you never had to ask yourself as a consequence of Obama’s being elected. That’s why you did not take to the streets and we are. Looking down on us will not make it go away or will it make you feel better about yourself.