Category Archives: Racism – Racisme

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.

The old, angry, white male is at it again.

So Beyoncé delivers yet another gob-smacking performance for the power, the beauty and the genuineness of which I have ran out of superlatives to describe. Guiliani, on the other hand, has not: “shame”. Why? Because he has saved more black lives than she did.

…What?… (And yes, I had to read the Daily Mail…)

Lemonade is about women resilience. Black women resilience from the heart of their home to the most outside world. The album is crystal clear about it. It tells the story of all black women who were, have been and will be comforted to being considered as the lowest citizen of the American society, from the white people in power to the deceiving males of the same blood. It’s about black women having to scrap a living on their own because their male peers are in prison or dead. It’s about their journey towards independence from the words of their father to the lessons they learnt through experiencing life and hurt on their own.

Lemonade puts the spotlight on the black American woman: the most neglected, disrespected, forgotten and overlooked person in the society and their struggle. The black man is not even the centre of the narrative, he’s such a trigger, a reason, a consequence but their feelings, their excuses, their reasons are irrelevant. The black woman is everything.

Lemonade does what it says on the tin: turning the sourness of countless lemons that hindered the path of your life into lemonade to keep yourself refreshed and strong. And her performance at the MTV VMA was exactly that. She sang the black women’s sadness, their anger, their desperation and eagerness at being simply respected. She screamed the raging lioness in each of them, one they have been taught to tame and keep quiet, as a warning to all men that women are not to be contained.

And somehow, out of all of that, out of all the clear lyrics she sang about betrayal, the obvious feminism, out of the Venus Cross at the end, Giuliani took one thing: she is questioning him and his tenure as a mayor of New York.

His whole intervention on Trump TV…Sorry, Fox News was to champion his own achievement as a mayor of NYC fifteen years ago. He has made New York a better place, he has revived Harlem…Okay but what does it have to do with Beyoncé performance? Well, at the beginning, she is surrounded by women in white halos who fall on the floor covered in red light. These women are the black people killed by the police. She even mentioned it later when she asked about funerals.

So not only had Guiliani not understood the performance at all, he also has no idea what Lemonade is about. He’s stuck on outrage-mode after her performance at the super bowl, the Black Panther outfits et al. Giuliani reminds me of those christian fundamentalist parents whose children killed themselves under the weight of beliefs that were more important to their parents than they were themselves. But then who went on to blame some rock bands for the death of their offspring, claiming you can hear the devil or some encouragement to kill yourself if you played the vinyl backwards…

Alike these parents who refuse to see the impact of their actions and would find any excuse to blame someone else while praising their own hard work, Giuliani sees Beyoncé as a problem because in his eyes when she questions the whole society and the terrible consequences of centuries of bad policies, she questions him personally. He cannot fathom that maybe she is touching issues bigger than him because there is nothing bigger than him. It’s all about him. So he feels it is necessary to defend himself when no one has attacked.

The problem is that he talks about it as if it was high time black people realised they owe more to someone like him (a proud supporter of Trump) as a former mayor of NYC than they do to a black singer from Houston but the two don’t compare.

Beyoncé is not an elected representative, she is an artist who decides to express herself, shows her understanding of the world and fights for causes through her art. It’s her job and she is being rewarded for that job exactly. She had not received some of Humanitarian Worker of the Year award for service to the nation so why is Giuliani opposing his record to her art?

She is being political.

Yes. Everything is, nowadays. It’s her choice to address societal issues that are eventually political, to choose a battle and let her music and art speak for it. Why just feminism? Because she’s a woman and talks from experience. Why just black people? Because she’s black and talks from experience. And she can do it, she can decide to pick some battles before others because she is an artist. No one has elected her and she doesn’t have the responsibility to represent and serve even the ones who disagree with her or voted against her during some elections.

Which is what Giuliani had to do as a mayor: be there for the ones who supported you but also be selfless enough to understand that you have a mission to serve everyone, even the 45-49% who voted against you. And maybe he’s absolutely right when he says he was a great mayor, maybe he did his job perfectly. He was knighted by the queen after all. So was Beckham…or Fred Goodwin…Maybe he did save more black lives than Beyoncé but as far as I know, no one is pretending otherwise.

She is? How?

She came with Eric Garner’s mother and he was killed in NYC. Yes, but he was killed in 2014 and Giuliani was a mayor until 2001 so nothing to do with him. The other mothers? Well, they were the ones of Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, Michael Brown killed in Saint-Louis and Oscar Grant III murdered in Oakland, California. So what has anything Beyoncé did that night got to do with Giuliani?

Nothing.

Beyoncé has decided enough was enough and let her art kick doors open so the US face a problem that’s been lingering and rotting its core since its birth: race. But she does it with a twist of feminism that makes the narrative even more complicated to fathom, I agree, although reading the lyrics and listening to her makes it frankly easy to grasp the message. It’s obvious that in her quest for change, she will encounter the usual when it comes to fighting sexism and racism: a cohort of angry white males who cannot understand a world that doesn’t revolve around them so they feel feminism and the mention of race is a personal attack. Which is exactly what Guiliani has proved.

Guiliani has become a poster to the typical and what Fox News and Trump are begging for: a male blast from the past who will take any opportunity to bring the spotlight back on them to remind us that they are the main actors in the world and should be praised as such.

Le burkini: Messieurs, fermez-la!

Il y avait une blague au Royaume-Uni, au temps de Bush et Ben Laden. Un sondage avait révélé que l’Américain moyen voulait un leader pro-armes, anti-féministe et anti-gay, un leader qui soit véritablement religieux et qui soit prêt à se battre pour faire le monde à l’image de sa religion. On disait alors : « Voici votre homme » et on montrait une photo de Ben Laden. J’ai toujours beaucoup aimé cette blague parce qu’elle disait en substance que  l’Amerique de George W Bush n’était pas l’inverse de l’Al Quaida de Ben Laden mais son complétement. Comme le Yin et Yang se complètent, les puritains et autres fondamentalistes chrétiens vont de pair avec les fondamentalistes musulmans.

Aujourd’hui, la France voulant devenir l’inverse de Daesh et exposer des valeurs inverses à ceux des islamistes ne devient que le complétement de ces mêmes valeurs. Elle ne devient que le penchant occidental de cette mouvance.  Nous avons aujourd’hui des fondamentalistes islamistes contre des fondamentalistes républicains ou laïcistes. Pas laïcs, je précise. La plupart des figures qui crient « laïcité » au visage des musulmans sont eux-mêmes des catholiques pratiquants qui continuent à pousser pour que le Vatican retrouve une place centrale dans la vie du pays.

Dans les deux cas, aucun n’a compris les textes qu’ils utilisent comme fondement de leur pensée et de leurs actions. Dans les deux cas, ils détournent le pouvoir de l’Etat (qu’ils ont parfois créé de toutes pièces à ces mêmes fins) pour proclamer et s’assurer de la légalité de leurs actions qui donc « ne peuvent pas être critiquées ». Et dans les deux cas, les femmes sont les premières à souffrir.

Je ne suis pas là pour me prononcer sur le port du burkini en lui-même. Tout d’abord, je suis un homme et je ne suis pas concerné (on verra quand ils commenceront à mesurer les barbes) mais surtout  je n’ai en pas assez entendu des sources essentielles (les musulmanes qui le portent et celles qui ne le portent pas) pour pouvoir tirer des conclusions sures car informées. Personnellement, mon problème se situe une fois de plus dans le fait que les femmes sont prises entre deux feux qu’elles n’ont pas souhaités être tirés.

On est arrivés à une situation où, des hommes principalement, ont estimé que si une femme est sur une plage et qu’elle ne montre pas ses cheveux, son décolleté, ses cuisses, son dos, ses bras, ses jambes, c’est qu’il y a quelque chose qui ne va pas et qui s’apparente à du terrorisme. Ces pensées aussi ridicules que radicales ont été mises dans des décrets de lois applicables et appliqués par la police.

Quand j’étais petit, et même aujourd’hui, la France était la première à dénoncer ce genre d’abus par les pays arabes. Un des moments dont je me souviens le plus, c’est l’outrage mi-scandalisé mi-désobligeant dont la France a fait preuve quand le billet de 100 Francs, sur lequel figurait La Liberté guidant le peuple de Delacroix, fut interdit en Iran parce que l’allégorie a les seins nus. Cette poitrine allait à l’encontre les lois de décences de la République Islamique alors bien sûr, on trouvait ça « ridicule », « pathétique », « scandaleux », « misogyne », « digne d’un régime d’un autre temps dominé par des hommes polygames à longue barbe » et bien sûr, on a beaucoup réfléchit, écrit, reporté – et à juste raison – sur ce que ça signifiait pour les femmes iraniennes au quotidien, des femmes qu’on nous décrivaient comme étant démaquillées au papier de verre.

Aujourd’hui, au nom de la laïcité, je vois la même chose. Je vois des femmes innocentes qui vont sur la plage avec leurs enfants, pas forcément pour se baigner elle-même, et qui sont publiquement humiliées par la police du Pays des Lumières et qui doivent se déshabiller correctement pour une plage ou la quitter tout court, après une amende, bien sûr. Du moment qu’elles sont sur le trottoir, leur tenue est réglementaire mais la seconde où leur pied touche le sable, elles sont soumises à l’indécence laïciste et ce qu’elle porte est illégal. Pas (encore) au niveau de l’Etat même si le Premier Ministre se réjouit, mais au moins sur les plages extrêmement fréquentés et donc traditionnellement les plus conservatrices et xénophobes de France.

Le fait que la France ait des lois vestimentaires (au secours !) qui varient de la plage à la rue n’est pas nouveau : on n’a pas le droit de se balader torse nu, même avec un haut de bikini, dans les rues d’une ville ou un espace public. Un restaurant, un café, un hôtel aura le droit sans appel de vous mettre dehors. C’est une tenue réservée à la plage et éventuellement la Promenade car du moment que vous êtes dans la ville, vous entrez dans « le monde civilisé » et vous mettez un haut qui couvre au moins le buste.

C’est une loi qui m’a toujours procuré beaucoup de plaisir parce que les Britanniques ne comprennent pas. Les Londoniens, ou les habitants des Midlands ou du Black Country, oui, parce qu’ils sont loin de la mer et ne se baignent pas mais des gens de Brighton, Blackpool, Bristol, Bournemouth, Birkenhead (je voulais réviser mes B), ne comprennent pas. Shopping, course, resto, pub…il est normal pour eux de voir en été des hommes sont torse nus et des femmes avec un petit quelque chose qui cache leurs seins. A tel point que les supermarchés sont obligés d’afficher des règles vestimentaires parce que ça commence à faire mauvais genre. Surtout auprès des Européens et autres touristes qui affluent de plus en plus.

Ca m’amuse parce que je dois leur expliquer qu’il s’agit de se couvrir quand on est en société, de ne pas exposer les enfants au corps d’inconnus, de « décence » et je me retrouve à parler comme un ayatollah sur des codes vestimentaires qui sont des valeurs culturelles inexplicables. Néanmoins, personne n’est forcé de mettre un pull ou un blouson. Les choix sont multiples et un petit haut qui cache le nombril satisfera tout le monde.

Cette fois, il s’agit de forcer des femmes à se déshabiller après les avoir fait payer au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Je ne vois pas le rapport mais bon, je ne fais aussi pas dans le populisme de bas étage.

Alors comment sort-on de là-dedans ? Parlez aux femmes ! « Mon dieu, quelle horreur ! »  je sais, mais que ce soit ce qu’elles portent, comment elles parlent, qui elles fréquent et épousent, comment elles gèrent leur utérus, il est temps de parler aux femmes pour savoir quelles sont les motivations derrière ce qu’elles font. Forcément, ça prend du temps donc pas de gain politique immédiat dans un discours aussi trompeur que dystopiste. Mais surtout, la difficulté est d’enlever l’opinion de gens qui ne sont pas concerné et ça enlève tout d’abord les hommes en tant qu’acteurs principaux.

Je ne dis pas que si les femmes étaient les actrices principales du débat, il n’y aurait donc plus de burkini, je sais juste que dans le débat actuel, ce sont les hommes qui définissent les termes : les hommes islamistes qui appellent au port de la burka contre les hommes laïcistes qui appellent à l’interdiction du burkini (qui n’est même pas prôné par des hommes qui refuseraient volontiers aux femmes l’accès à tout loisir). Et au milieu ? Les femmes qui n’ont pas leur mot à dire doivent suivre les recommandations des uns ou des autres qui parlent et décident pour elles.

S’il y avait une véritable volonté de vivre ensemble, on aurait déjà mis les oreilles aux portes des endroits anodins et souvent ignorés où les femmes sont entre elles et peuvent parler librement. On aurait déjà découvert que tout n’est pas blanc ou noir, pour ou contre, victoire ou défaite, comme le monde forgé par les hommes laisse paraître.

Ecoutez, comme j’aime le faire, les femmes parler de leur quotidien, de la pression qu’elles ont d’être, d’agir, de vivre, de penser souvent de telle ou telle façon. Demandez-leur pourquoi elles font ces choses, et pas seulement aux femmes voilées mais aussi aux Becky with the good hair de tous les jours : celles qui disent détester se maquiller mais qui passent dix minutes sur leur eye-liner tous les matins. Mais faites-les parler d’elles-mêmes, pas de leurs consœurs. Ne laissez pas d’autre prendre leur parole, faites-leur la prendre elles-mêmes pour elles qu’on puisse vraiment savoir à quoi s’en tenir et faire évoluer les choses. C’est alors fascinant ce qu’on apprend.

Vous allez voir que du hijab au burkini, du maquillage au botox en passant par le fer à lisser les cheveux, des exégèses erronés des livres saints aux innombrables articles, reportages, pubs sur ‘Comment faire disparaître la cellulite avant l’été pour un corps parfait en bikini ?’, vous aurez de tout. Des femmes fortes et indépendantes qui le font (ou pas) parce qu’elles en ont envie, parce que ça rend leur vie plus simple ou plus sûres, plus agréables – ces femmes sont d’ailleurs généralement méprisées, ignorées ou ridiculisées. Des femmes plus soumises qui ont intériorisé les attentes religieuses et sociétales (par essence conflictuelles en France) et ne comprennent pas pourquoi elles sont victimes de contradictions dont elles ne sont pas responsables. Et puis, vous aurez la majorité des femmes qui font preuve d’une volonté de fer de continuer à vivre et survivre au jour le jour dans des sociétés dans lesquelles elles ne se reconnaissent pas. Ces femmes, vous allez voir, sont tiraillées entre le ras-le-bol d’être toujours victimes de l’autre et accusées de tout, de ne pas avoir de véritable voix, de devoir se contenter du moins pire, d’un côté, et de la bonne éducation qui les instruit de se taire et d’être polies, de l’autre.

Burkini ou pas, ce n’est pas ma question et je n’ai pas d’avis car je me fous de ce que pensent les hommes sur le sujet, ils ne le portent pas, et les femmes sont partagées. Je ne peux donc pas avoir d’avis informé.

Certaines en rêvent pour pouvoir aller se baigner sans être reluquées et se faire siffler par les hommes, ou ne plus avoir honte de leurs seins qui « ne sont pas fermes » ou de leur « cellulite dégoûtante ». Certaines ne vont juste plus à la plage pour les raisons précédentes donc la question ne se pose pas. Certaines se foutent des gros moches et alcoolisés qui osent les siffler mais elles sont religieuses donc elles le mettent mais pourquoi ? Je n’ai pas eu de réponse à ça. D’autres ont bien compris que le Coran ne mentionne rien de tel donc elles ne le mettraient pas mais elles comprennent que des femmes veuillent le mettre. D’autres savent faire preuve d’empathie et n’ont pas vraiment d’avis, ça ne les dérange pas, elles veulent juste qu’on laisse les femmes tranquilles. D’autres ne savent pas se mettre à la place de l’inconnu et ne raisonnent qu’en fonction de leurs valeurs et sont hostiles. Toutes aimeraient que ce soit un choix. Toutes. Sans exception. Même les conservatrices. On arrive à leur faire dire que ce serait bien que les femmes aient le choix dans leur religion ou la société.

Pour moi, la honte est que la France reste une société dans laquelle les femmes n’ont toujours pas le choix et ce sont toujours celles qui prennent les coups entre les hommes qui font ces choix.

Ring my bell? Please, do!

There is an old trend that seems to flourish lately and it says that one can only ring its own bell. Chris Thompson, a YouTuber, is one of the best-spoken advocates for gay rights I have ever listened to: clear, straight to the point, genuine, asking the right questions, righteous but not sanctimonious. Yet some gay people seem to have a problem with him defending their rights, going to gay prides, campaigning for equality: he’s not gay.

He basically doesn’t belong to the community as such so their argument is that he’s taking the speech time and the space of someone who is truly gay, who can speak first-hand about the realities of what it means to be gay and actually bring water to the mill instead of a half-glass of lukewarm water. Chris Thompson is straight so he should shut it and let the gays speak for themselves.

Firstly, he says it himself, his advocating and expressing himself doesn’t shush the others into darkness. He’s not taking anyone’s space. It’s 2016 and the age of virtual reality with infinite space to share, not 1850 with a couple of newspapers columns to fight for. If anyone has anything to say, say it. Open a YouTube channel, it’s free, a blog on WordPress or anything and just say what you want to say but don’t blame others for taking your space when you don’t even create it.

Secondly, we need him. We need straight people to also speak for us because they know exactly what to do to convince them: be themselves – tolerant and happy. Having straight people to defend us doesn’t make us any weaker, or more dependent on them. The truth is that we are a minority so we do, somehow, depend on them. As of today, we depend on the people from the majority to also speak for us because there is safety and results in numbers. To call for the community to be the only one to be allowed to speak and defend itself is not going to get us anywhere.

Minorities and everyone who suffer discrimination in any form cannot afford to curl up in an armoured and restricted community that will be the only voice out there. We need people who, because of their gender, sexuality, skin colour, religious beliefs belong unwillingly to what is considered as the dominant group because they will be the first ones to be taken seriously by the said group and they will be role-models their peers will follow.

The first reaction we have in the face of someone else getting what we have is a feeling of self-defence so it’s dangerous to force the precept that we should only fight for our own privilege. It creates division and infighting when so much can be done by their free electrons to unite us under a common goal and make others understand that the fight for equality doesn’t deprive them of anything.

All these men – like me – who everyday explain to other men that women’s rights are not a personal threat to every living male. All these straight people I met at the gay pride who show the world everyday that gay rights are not a personal attack of straight people’s freedom. All these white people who campaign against racism. All these people who campaign for animal rights because they have no voice. History moves forward and our societies improve because people see beyond their own privilege, why stop them?

Where would the women of France be without the man who used his position of power to weather the storms of his sexist peers as he managed to convince them that contraception had nothing to with men but everything to do with women’s freedom to have control over their own body?

In South Africa, it took a white man to stop the Apartheid. Why? Because white people had the power but it doesn’t make Nelson Mandela and his life work irrelevant. De Klerk was a selfless force for good who saw beyond his own privilege and that’s what Mandela needed, what every black person in South Africa needed. People like him is what we all need.

Don’t let anyone restrict you to your own parish. You needn’t be a woman to fight for women’s rights, you needn’t be gay to fight for gay rights, you needn’t be fat to fight against body-shaming, you needn’t be discriminated to fight against discrimination.

If you want to help ring the bells of someone who, you know, is being ignored or discriminated, do it. If, for whatever reasons, the society has put you in a position of power and you want to use it to help others, do it.

Use your position to do good, we need all the help we can get.

Extrême-droite: La laisser parler ou la faire taire?

Publié le 29 janvier 2016

Nous discutions de ce qu’il faut faire avec les gens et les partis politiques d’extrême-droite. Faut-il les laisser parler ou les faire taire ?

La première solution met en danger l’intégrité de catégories entières de population et peut amener à des incitations flagrantes à toutes sortes de haine raciale. La République est « une et indivisible », le discours de l’extrême-droite est clairement antirépublicain et pro-communautariste avant même et de par toutes considérations racistes et xénophobes. C’est donc un danger. Ses mots sont un danger.

Mais le bâillonnement est une atteinte à l’un des principes fondamentaux de la démocratie qui est la liberté d’expression et je pense qu’on a le droit de tout dire. C’est un droit qu’on ne peut pas nous enlever même si la question se pose et doit être débattue « des limites ». Et « la liberté des uns s’arrête où commence celle des autres » n’est aujourd’hui qu’un poncif éculé qui n’arrange rien.

Je pense que la question n’est pas « blanc ou noir », « tout ou rien » comme nous l’avons fait depuis 20 ans quand il s’agit de l’extrême-droite.

Pour ma génération née dans les années 1980, le FN était quelque chose dont on entendait beaucoup parler quand on était petits puis qui a disparu pendant plus de 10 ans. On en parlait simplement comme une bande de vieux réactionnaires, racistes, violents fidèles à un parti criminel, fondé par un criminel négationniste et qui lisait Hitler comme les Américains lisent la Bible.

Le parti s’était divisé et il était facile pour les médias de l’ignorer, ça rendait la tâche plus facile. Questionner le FN est un exercice difficile et nous verrons pourquoi alors que questionner les Socialistes et la droite sont tous ces noms a toujours été simple : les mêmes questions, les mêmes « pièges », la même langue de bois et basta.

Les seuls pour qui le FN était une préoccupation constante étaient mes amis noirs, arabes, musulmans ou/et d’origine étrangère pour qui le racisme quotidien rappelait la présence d’un véritable parti, une organisation « démocratique » qui représente et encourage les maux dont ils souffrent.

Puis arrive 2002 et la présidentielle où on se rend compte que beaucoup de « jeunes », jusqu’à des Juifs, ont voté FN parce que, fatigués, lassés, déçus par les mêmes histoires de la droite et la gauche, ils n’avaient qu’entre-entendu, aperçu le FN et ses promesses de mieux pour « eux » fondées sur le rejet et la privation pour l’ « autre ».

Soudain, les gens qui votaient FN n’étaient pas que des gens racistes qui manquaient d’éducation et/ou d’ouverture mais des gens qui n’avaient entendu que la propagande à la « Robin des Bois ». La presse n’avait pas fait son travail d’investigation, de questionnement, on a déclaré. Les journaux, les chaines de télé n’avaient analysé la politique FN de phrases assassines, d’amalgames et des raccourcis populistes. On n’a pas écouté ces gens, on les a éloignés en s’imaginant que si on ne les regardait pas, ils finiraient bien par disparaitre.

La même chose est entrain d’arriver aux USA en ce moment même avec Trump.

Donc depuis 2002, on fait l’inverse. Face à eux qui se disaient – et se disent – persécutés pour leurs intolérances, on a pris peur et on les a laissés parler. C’est devenu le mantra mais aussi le centre d’un débat : faut-il ou non les laisser parler ? Ces racistes, ces xénophobes, ces intolérants, ces chrétiens fondamentalistes, ces anti-touts…

La réponse est oui et non. Il ne faut pas les laisser parler parce que laisser parler quelqu’un c’est le laisser définir les termes du débat, ce que fait le Front National depuis le début de la présidence de Sarkozy. Il ne faut pas « laisser parler le Front National », il faut le faire parler. Il ne faut pas simplement laisser dire ce qu’ils veulent mais rebondir dessus, les pousser plus loin dans leur pensée pour y trouver les failles qui apparaissent généralement très vite.

Les sorties de Marine Le Pen sur sa soi-disante « persécution par les média » quand on la questionne trop montre l’efficacité de cette méthode mais encore trop souvent, je vois les journalistes, les responsables, les éducateurs s’arrêter là en se disant que les gens verront bien d’eux-mêmes ce que ça prouve. Prouve quoi ? Verront quoi ? Et quand ? Quand elle aura été cinq ans au pouvoir ?

C’est le travail de journaliste que de définir les termes du débat quand ils questionnent et pas simplement de se contenter de répéter ce que les invités disent ou d’attendre que quelqu’un d’autre le fasse. Ce sont les écoles de journalisme qu’il faut réformer ainsi que les organes de presse pour qu’ils poussent les politiciens dans leur retranchement et pas simplement avec des questions sensationnalistes à  la « Il est vrai que vous êtes en désaccord avec votre Premier Ministre ? ».

La solution, c’est le travail sérieux de journalistes qui, en 2002 ont mis Jean-Marie Le Pen devant son programme d’expulsion des étrangers et l’impossibilité de la mise en œuvre d’une telle mesure. Il en est sorti qu’il comptait alors mettre les étrangers récalcitrants dans des camps de triage pour les renvoyer chez eux dans des trains fermés. La France qui avait voté pour lui a soudain vu clairement l’ombre de Vichy et du IIIe Reich.

C’est aussi le travail d’un Guillaume Meurice qu’il faut faire. Un travail drôle et sarcastique où il va vers ces gens de tous les jours qui clament fièrement leur soutien au FN, et expose en quelques questions directes, calmes et posées la simplicité affligeante d’une pensée qu’ils n’ont jamais véritablement formulée et qui n’est qu’un amalgame mal fini de déclarations à l’emporte-pièce, de chiffres inventés, de rumeurs, d’ « informations » sur « Fassebouque » et de citations à moitié lues.

Mais la presse n’est pas la seule. Christiane Taubira a raison quand elle dit que c’est aussi 30 ans d’échec de l’éducation à gauche comme à droite si les gens se désintéressent parce que c’est aussi et d’abord le travail de l’éducation nationale d’apprendre aux gens à s’intéresser au débat en leur apprenant comment débattre. Quand j’étais au collège et lycée, seuls les cours de philo en Terminales permettaient le débat et pour quelques mois seulement quand on a 17/18 ans. Les cours d’éducation civique étaient d’interminables heures d’explication sur le fonctionnement du parlement. Tant d’heures gâchées qui auraient permis un apprentissage sur la discussion, la différence d’opinion, l’expression orale, la patience d’écouter et de réfléchir sur la société.

Des décennies d’apathie qui ont créé une société qui considère que trois phrases complexes les unes derrière les autres est un monologue barbant. Alors bien sûr que ceux qui manient les déclarations choquantes font la une et convainquent des électeurs qui trouvent que tout est « chiant ».

La France n’est pas raciste mais le racisme se banalise car on continue à refuser de le questionner en profondeur alors que les failles de la haine et de l’ignorance sont tellement faciles à exposer. Mais on les laisse dominer le débat. On donne une tribune libre aux voix intolérantes en se disant que les gens sauront faire la différence tout en précisant bien que l’extrême-droite travaille dur pour adoucir son image donc que les gens ne savent plus forcément voir ce qu’il y a derrière. Mais qui travaille pour véritablement prendre le temps d’extraire ce qu’il y a derrière ?

On continue aussi à refuser de considérer ses sources : pourquoi les ouvriers et étudiants qui étaient sur les barricades en 1968 demandant un monde plus juste, plus ouvert, plus libre sont aujourd’hui les porteurs de l’Etat sécuritaire et des partis antirépublicains ? Il faut regarder ça et pas seulement en faisant d’innombrables radiotrottoirs et en paraphrasant ce qu’ils disent. Ce n’est pas du journalisme d’investigation, ni de la recherche, ni une base pour des solutions. Tout comme les livres d’Eric Zemmour ne sont pas une étude de la France mais du sensationnalisme qui donne aux gens déjà convaincus ce qu’ils veulent entendre et renforce leurs certitudes qu’ils ne sont donc pas seuls.

 

L’extrême-droite, il ne faut pas la laisser parler mais la faire parler, la mettre dos au mur, face à ses incohérences, ses contradictions, ses amalgames et ne pas reculer devant la fureur prétendue du chef de bande de cour de récré qui, prit en flagrant délit, hausse la voix, se fait menaçant et s’érige en victime d’un système. Il ne s’agit pas que de lui donner un temps de parole mais de s’arroger un temps de réponse et de questions qui gênent. Autant de fois que nécessaire.

Ses électeurs, il faut les faire parler, les questionner pour qu’eux-mêmes soient forcés de véritablement penser à ce qu’ils croient. La politique moderne est comme la religion : beaucoup répètent les exégèses et suivent les prophètes auto-proclamés sans vraiment savoir et c’est en questionnant les fondements de la croyance qu’on peut vraiment agir et contrer.

Nous avons bien réussi avec la religion et sa place jadis incontestée et implacable dans la société. Il faut maintenant pousser les racistes et ceux qui ne le sont pas mais votent néanmoins pour eux à se regarder et à se poser les mêmes questions sur leurs visions du monde, de la France, de la société.

The long read: Brexit – After thoughts

Overall.

It’s a “I want to divorce!” not just thrown in the face of the European Union, about whom it is difficult to say how much the people do care, but also, and most importantly for them, from the UK to the UK itself. So of course, there are the usual steps of copying: surprise, anger, denial, inner fighting and inner questioning. However, when there could be a way to find peace and solutions, all I see is bitterness and even greater divide.

The Remainers.

They are the divorcee but the ones I blamed the most. They did not fight enough: arrogance? hubris? taking results granted? “Even a simpleton would see it’s bad to leave”, one said to me. They are the ones who thought they had the upper-hand on all aspects of the marriage, felt threatened towards the end but as they never thought they’d have to try and convince anyone, it was too late. They failed and never managed to convince its disgruntled other half to go along with what they think is the best for both.

Of course they are sore losers. Who wouldn’t? They genuinely believe that their vision is the way forward, not just for themselves but for everyone: old and young, poor and rich, natives and migrants, here or there, alive or to be born.

So, yes, they are sore and hurting. As a European in heart and mind, I understand it goes far beyond saying “yes” or “no” to some what kind of food we want to import or tax rates. It’s about their future falling apart. For them everything is gone by now. Hopes and dreams they never bothered to communicate have been replaced by fear their leaders played on. It backfired, they are the ones to be dreading and angry, not the opposite side.

What I don’t understand is the violence with which they are now attacking the Brexiters who are all dismissed as daft peasants whose racism and xenophobia equal their inability to see what’s good for them. They are good for nothing, they know nothing. Just check..everywhere! “Old”, “without a degree”, “poor”, “illiterate”, “easily fooled”, “intolerant”…

Who are you to talk about tolerance when you are happy to dismiss the choice of a majority and/or demand to be heard again because you have convinced yourself that only you know better?

For me, London encompasses what Remainers are sadly becoming. They could change their old ways of disdain for others whilst contemplating their own achievements and start to listen so they could find empathy and try to find solutions. They could stop looking down on whoever thinks differently and insult everyone who has different views because this is actually part of what lead the second city of the country to vote “Leave”.

The Remainers could try to accept and rebuild under their own terms, if they are so powerful and clever. No, instead, they are dismissing the choice of 52% of voters because it’s not their own, they are wishing the worse on them all the while pushing for a referendum that, this time, will be binding because they are convinced the results will satisfy them, they are pushing their beloved self-appointed beacon of civilisation (London) to part ways with the rest of that “stupid, outdated, backward-looking, good-for-nothing and racist’ country. Not a good way to rebuild and be strong as one.

I might be the harshest on them because I expect better from my peers. And I also know they will manage to get the better out of this situation because they do have the intellectual, economic and political means so instead of punishing the other half, be a better person and try to mend your ways.

 

The Brexiters

The divorcer. They want out, they are fed up, they want their country back, whatever that means.

It’s difficult to picture a Brexiter because I know many and none of them are the same person and I can’t help but feeling that they are going to be the worst affected by this decision and I do have pity for them before anger.

They are the  xenophobes, the ones who unforgivably blame their own failure on foreigners, but they are also foreigners themselves. I know people from outside the EU who say they voted “Leave” because it’s not changing anything as far as they are concerned, but also because they have grown fed up of being told they were stealing British jobs. “Make the continentals go and see if those lazy Brits will actually accept to do their job…That should shake the rust off their racist back!”

The first ones believed Nigel Farage, the seconds bought happily to the Tory rhetoric of skiver vs strivers. They watch Benefit Street populated by lazy white people living the good life on benefits while they are working 15hrs/day to barely make a living and be able to diligently pay their taxes.

I am fascinated by Brexiters as I am trying to understand the scale of their wilful self-harm. A self-harm that comes with a smile and cheer. Why? For months, I have read and watched a lot about them, I have listened to them a lot and there is complete blindness and simplistic thinking in desperation.

There is foolishness too and a gob-smacking amount of narrow-mindness, especially within the older generation, the same who voted “IN” in 1970s and who refuses see the world for what it really is. I am not talking about accepting neo-capitalism and its jungle-like fight for survival for they are the first to champion these views. I am talking about this bovine refusal to leave a time that is not anymore.

When you hear them chanting “Great Britain will be great again”, you see the colonial past behind it where England was dominating everything: if not the world, at least the British Isles. They want to go back to a time before Brussels came in and forced London, not only to cough up the cash, but mostly to consider the other nations of the UK and devote them some power.

Today, they are happy. England is still at the wheel. Scotland said IN, they said OUT…It’s OUT then. Brilliant, we are still in control and will forever be now. Everybody’s happy.

But beyond the nostalgia of the ones who love to rewrite history they never bothered to learn because they “lived it”, there is the desperation of the ones who believed what they were told, did everything they were told to do and got nothing in return. Because they had nothing and still have nothing, they firstly did not buy to the Cassandras in the Remain Camp predicting economic Armageddon. For them, it’s a reality, not an oracle. Nothing has been, is and will be going to be better for them, nor their children and that’s they cannot see that the UK is what it is because of its own politicians, not because of Europe.

Yes, I do feel pity for these ones because they were, once again, used and abused by the ones fighting for power.

 

The politicians.

In a nutshell, when you play with fire you are going to get burnt.

First, Tories and Labour, forty years of blaming the EU for every single of your own unpopular policy is not going to be wiped out within two months of lukewarm campaigning. We like to say that people don’t listen to politicians anymore, it’s true. Most Brexiters think Farage and Johnson are as corrupted and deceiving as the leaders of the Remain camp. But in the long term, words do sink in. The 2010 and 2015 Tory victories were won on scaremongering about immigration, “EU diktats” and making Britain great again. Labour has found nothing better to do than join in or remain silent in fear of losing the votes.

The Brexiters did nothing except believe the endless Brussels bashing and finger-pointing London has been doing since the day it entered. Just look at the opinion of Europe since 1973 and it’s constantly going down, governments after governments. I think the only thing we can admire the Liberal Democrats for is to have always proudly advertised their pro-Europeans stance.

The Labour? Well, it should be ashamed to have let the Tories take control of the debate on the EU they actually endorse. Yes, their reputation is in tatters after they left their own voters behind, became aloof and ignoring of what people wanted (the No to the war in Iraq) but they went the easy way. They could have regained dignity breaking away with Blair and his murderous and corrupted cronies. Only Labour can be the link between the elite and the working class today, through unions mostly, so they could have educated their voters on the benefits of the EU everytime the Tories went on the attack since the 1970s. However, they made the mistake of leaving it to people to figure out the Conservatives were lying and when the damage was done, they became scared of alienating their few voters left further so they just joined the half-baked and outlandish scaremongering of the Tories. No hopes, just fears. That’s not what the Left should be selling.

Speaking of fears, Cameron eventually paid the price by wanting to ride the ones of the voters for political gain. I talked about it earlier but something did not add up during this frankly daft campaign. Europe went from the source of all evil in 2014 to the best thing that has ever happened to the UK in mid-2016. I know he was trying to straddle every Tory fences and have it both ways. We talked about him maybe being a political genius in managing such a feat. No, he became yet another victim of his own making by lighting the fire under a slow-cooker with no pressure valve called “Populism.”

Farage’s and Johnson’s reputations precede them but Cameron is now going to be the one who triggered the end of the United Kingdom and serves him right.

 

The media.

Two words: excruciatingly appalling. I am not talking about tabloids, they think publishing pictures of Xabi Alonso’s half-naked toddling daughters playing on the beach is in the public interest just because their faces are pixelated.

I am talking about the newspapers. Even the Guardian, my favourite. The analysis has been fantastic since the Leave vote but where were they before? Even the most serious newspapers threw proper journalistic investigation to the wind and became an open platform for both side’s dismal scaremongering. I got so fed up with the Guardian’s daily “Armageddon is coming with Leave” that I almost wrote to them to ask them if their columnists had been locked in the basement so no one could actually analyse what was behind the terrible forecasts they were made.

We had a couple of good analysis on how ridiculous it was for the Remain camp to bring in the big guns (Chiefs of IMF, Bank of England, NATO, EU…) to pile up the fear of voting Leave on the poor neighbourhoods of Northern England for the people, even Remainers, distrust these unelected elites and aloof institutions in the first place.

In the face of abysmally poor political debate, I was expecting the serious press to be there to inform us, to guide us and I truly believe the outcome of the vote would have been different had they done their job properly of informing and educating the adults. Instead, they set themselves as nothing but a relay for one or the other side.

The EU.

We’ll be fine. We’ll kick out the UK asap with harsh negotiations to ensure no one else is tempted to leave and regroup as 27. Notwithstanding, there is now only hope that the elite reflects (for more than 2 weeks before the holidays!) and understands that populism is nothing to be dismissed or used for political gain. It is a time bomb waiting to explode. People who are afraid are not all racists or xenophobes, people who hate are not all bad in essence and deserve to be ignored, people who rebel are not all a threat and the majority’s silence does not mean it agrees with you.

We say France is next. I would not be surprised. All above is exactly what is happening with a man who think his winning the majority of votes in 2012 gives him the right to discard his promises, betray his supporters, disregard his own people’s opinions, force laws through the parliament without debate and without even consulting his own rebelling party, and drag everyone who dares fight in the dirt, when not hitting them directly.

This Leave vote is first and foremost a shout to the aloof, down-looking, self-righteous and dismissing elite so it is time people are listened to – which does not mean we have to agree with them. But we need to take time to know them, to educate and stop rushing through for our own greatness (every country wants its EU presidency to remembered) and in the name of “superseding considerations people would not understand”. We will understand, just explain. Yes, it takes time but it will eventually prevent such vote that brings down 40 years of hard work.

 

The UK

Right now, there is healing to be done in the UK. They will never amount to anything if they can’t manage to find a way to be one again. I don’t hold on too many hopes, though.

Firstly because I am convinced Scotland and Northern Ireland are going to break away. When the Tories were elected in 2015, I said it would open a fascinating time as a historian for Scotland and NI would not put up with London’s overbearing unique voice anymore, not with Brussels acting as a shield. Putting up with Tory governments and ministers they have no elected is one thing, being forced out of the EU they want to keep because it made them the proud nations they are today is another and one they will never accept.

Now there is England and Wales plagued by infighting, anger, denial and hatred. Remainers want a new referendum. How can they be so sure people would vote like they want? Why would the second one be more biding than the first one which was an electoral promise kept and planned months in advance by the democratically elected Prime Minister? What if the result is indeed different? What would stop the Brexiters from launching another petition signed by millions for a third one? When will it stop ?

There is talk of forcing the Stay through the Parliament but Cameron was clear on that : the people has spoken. What best way is there to push people towards the extremes by, yet again, having Westminster ignoring the voice of the masses and doing whatever it likes because the outcomes is displeasing them?

Cameron has jumped the boat he stirred into the rocks, the Tories are already tearing each other to piece to get a new leader by October. The Lib Dems are dead silent. The Labour is in disarray as it is its voters in its heartlands that helped the Eurosceptic get what they always wanted. This vote was also a punishment on Tony Blair and his New Labour for it has embraced overbearing London and chummed up with the financial elite to the detriment of the working class. How can they reconnect now?

The Remain campaign said the country would sink if they left. Today, England and Wales need to prove all the forecasts wrong by being strong and united to get make the most of a bad situation. Instead, they are as weak and divided as ever, creating the perfect conditions for the planned Armageddon to happen.