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Cher Président Macron; a letter
Cher Président Macron,
What I know about you is only from a distance – as a member of your cold neighbor, les Pays-Bas. And from the French press. Media that I follow from time to time, in my native language, to learn something about your and my country. Cher pays de mon enfance; although I was born and raised in the Netherlands, my roots lie in your regions and in North Africa, including Algeria. However, in North Africa before decolonization, that is.
Yes, my mother was born in Mascara. And the rest of the roots all come from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Before the family was displaced by violence, similar to what you have experienced in recent weeks. And as lost but combative pieds-noirs, the family got on the boat with two suitcases in hand, to arrive in Marseilles safely, and to rebuild their lives from scratch. Many of them subsequently lived in various cities in your country. But the trauma of decolonization remained in their existence.
As family friend and singer Enrico Macias put it: J’ai quitté mon pays. I left my country, never to be allowed to return safely. And yet, I have remained loyal to North Africa. Je suis resté fidèle. Et quand on lui fait du mal. C’est tout mon corps qui a mal. C’est tout mon cœur qui se tord elle est si belle. Je suis resté fidèle. J’ai tant rêvé de ce voyage. On m’a défendu le passage. Moi qui n’avais dans knife baggages. Qu’une mémoire et des images. It is funny how what I once never wanted to be associated with has suddenly become so completely explicable.
Although I grew up in Amsterdam, France was an active part of my life. And traces of my ancestors’ North African past were visible. As you can see, I’d like to make it personal. Because I believe that the world would be a much better place if more people dared to do that from time to time.
What I received in terms of heritage was not only positive; for example, the unparalleled arts. It was also negative – horrific even; for example, the primitive and barbaric, such as the various forms of physical and mental coercion, and harmful traditional practices that I have survived.
Matters that I have detached myself from with diligence, pride, self-respect and self-esteem, courage, perseverance, fear, pain, anger, and impotence through all the injustice. Transgenerational patterns that I broke through with my chin in the air and a great sense of – though typical Dutch, sober – superiority, and that I still break through every day.
Based on your choices in your private life, Président Macron, I suspect that you stand for similar emancipation, reason, freedom, and harmony. That you take your heritage of ‘liberté, égalité et fraternité‘ seriously. That you understand processes such as mine, as well as your country’s colonial past. A past that indicates to some extent how vital your society is.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is warning you about sanctions because of racism in your country. And your country is a real mess. Let’s be honest with each other: not just in the past few weeks, but for decades.
By the way, all the countries of my ancestors are in deep shit. Ukraine, where my father was born, now has to fight against Russia, where some family members still live. No further explanation is needed. One psychopath. One! And see what the result of that is. We – as in the world – all suffer from it.
I am mainly referring here to the practical consequences. But more and more people are also affected by the war on a sociopsychological and psychological-spiritual level due to a slumbering feeling of insecurity and discomfort. And desperation, of course. Because, again, this still appears to be possible today. We were so much beyond this, both legally and morally, weren’t we? We don’t have to explain anything to each other. It is clear.
Back to France and North Africa, to which I’d like to limit myself in this letter. Filled with disgust, anger, and fear, I have followed all forms of coercion, as I call it, in recent weeks. Fake news, lies, manipulations, and intimidation. Vandalism, arson, theft, violence, lynchings, and more terrorist acts, have caused more than a billion (!) euros in damage in our country.
A well-known Holocaust Memorial has also been destroyed in the meantime. F*cking hell. What comes next? Churches? Synagogues? Temples? Spiritual centers? Cemeteries? Education centers? Monuments? Hospitals?
And where are you? You should tap your fist immediately, and declare: keep your hands off the Holocaust Memorial! Especially if you want to put racism on the agenda. Then, you should align yourself with everything the Holocaust Memorial stands for.
Not to mention all the secondary consequences that you, Président Macron and co, now have to deal with, including a big financial gap because companies in hospitality, tourism, and a whole series of much more crucial and so-called tier 1 categories are closing again. After a period of turbulence and resistance around other issues, as you know. And, of course, after that horrible pandemic.
The behavior of the past few weeks should never, really never, occur in this day and age. Never, never, never. Under no circumstances. There is zero point zero justification for what your country has endured.
As I mentioned earlier, we – as in the world – are all affected. And don’t forget that the French have long been masters of strikes and peaceful protests. France has enough exemplary protests, even in pain that felt almost unbearable.
I am mainly referring here to the practical consequences. But more and more people are also affected by the situation on a sociopsychological and psychological-spiritual level due to a slumbering feeling of insecurity and discomfort. And desperation, of course. Because, again, this still appears to be possible today. We were so much beyond this, both legally and morally, weren’t we? We don’t have to explain anything to each other. It is clear.
Only, during the past few weeks, I have been baffled by the masses of violence-washing, of which even the right-minded among us are guilty. To be clear, we should not trivialize this, and put it away as a riot or escapade of the angry youth. Never, never, never. Under no circumstances. First, a run-up:
17-year-old Nahel drove on when he was stopped by the police, once again in a flashy car. An agent shot at him after he said he was going to. Whether his statement was a ploy to influence Nahel in his operation as an agent, or an announcement of his intention to act shady, will have to be determined in an official trial. As well as whether the shot can be classified as racism, and to what extent it was justified or not. That is what the law exists for.
In current France, part of the European Union, no one, absolutely no one, should be allowed to act as their own judge with such extremist behavior. Never, never, never. Under no circumstances. There is zero point zero justification for that. In fact, when that happens, as has been the case in recent weeks, it is a morally sufficient reason to no longer provide any basis for the justifiable ‘racism’ card.
Ah, Président Marcon. It is heartbreaking. The UN kicks France while it is already lying dead on the ground. And you come up with the statement that young people are influenced by violence coming from the film and gamingindustries. What?!? For real?!? Is that how you are going to frame it all?
Isn’t it time to do something more than act as the beau gosse at yet another elite party with the stars? And go on fun, international trips in diva style to shake the umpteenth hand of world leaders under the supervision of cameras? To not get your head stuck in the sand? I think that it is time for a list of reflective questions. And for telling it like it is. For a reality check. So that the cycle of coercion is broken on all sides of the spectrum.
The violence of recent weeks has a name. It is called honor-related crimes; a reality that you do know of. This can be proven, among other things, by the billions that you, Président Macron and co, have pumped into all those deprived and creepy banlieues to address issues, including racism.
Not every banlieue is problematic, and not every inhabitant of such a problematic banlieue belongs to the problem cases that I refer to. But I can confirm those banlieues where average Western women cannot even walk normally on the streets during the day, on the back of a one-time visit to my family. One bad experience like that in a deprived, creepy banlieue in Paris was already too much for me.
(Parts of) banlieues that I prefer to call sources of fire. Where the hatred of France and everything that comes close to structure, authority, civilization, elegance, equality, and gentleness has sometimes been a fact for decades by compulsive and power-hungry anti-Westerners. Now, we see the result of that. Of which people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali are also talking about.
Sources of fire where their own rules apply. Where religion and family systems determine how generations of human lives are able to unfold. Where the various harmful traditional practices still occur daily, being the rule rather than the exception.
No, Président Macron and co, what we all witness worldwide is nothing but an expression of honor crimes. Naming matters, exactly (!) as they are, is the basis for moving forward.
At the same time, Président Macron, racism and marginalization are, of course, not an écran de fumée, thus a smokescreen. Extremism has been on all sides of the spectrum for years. And hate, of course, certainly does not include everyone who now protests and makes him- or herself heard.
Everything remains to be seen. But from what I see, Nahel’s death could have been prevented. C’était juste un enfant pourri. Nahel was just a rotten kid. No sweetheart. But a child. Look at him, for heaven’s sake! Ready for a parenting camp and psychiatric help. For some tough love.
Thus, of course, I understand how many must feel and what all of this must stir up, also in the context of the great drag on a vital society by the colonization of North Africa. And which group Nahel comes from does not matter to me; how heartbreaking do I find it. After all, children belong to all of us. Every child has a place in my heart.
But if, as a diversionary tactic, you claim that the film and gamingindustries are the culprits, Président Marcon, we are really getting nowhere. Besides, if that were the case, the entire world would have been transformed into a massive fire by now.
And again, no form of racism justifies what we have seen in recent weeks, including a billion euros in damage. Moreover, driving out hatred with hatred has literally never paid off in history. Go and investigate. Why would that suddenly be different now?
I’d like to take it a step further with a series of questions. Forgive me for that. At least, I’d like to activate the train of thought by making us uncomfortable.
Do we really want to claim that everything from the past few weeks is just a cry of desperation because of racism? Racism which can indeed be the subject of a decent discourse?
For Nahel’s sympathizers: do you seriously want to turn Nahel into an icon? A boy with visible problems in the family system of origin and unacceptable behavior towards everything and everyone?
With an absent father who himself ended up in prison as a criminal and was kept away by a mother with, it seems, at least questionable features? A father who will now rectify Nahel’s name, when suddenly there is something to be gained? Too little, too late?
Or do you want to continue to push forward the countless real heroes that you have as examples? In addition, I can well imagine how, fortunately, so many of you do not recognize yourselves in this individual case, and lead very different lives. Let’s be honest. Naming matters, exactly (!) as they are is the basis for moving forward together.
Président Marcon and co, while I believe in the good intentions of the efforts of recent years, such as the billions of euros made available to improve the problem areas, I think that we can all conclude that it is not good enough. That it does not matter what it takes anymore, as long as this kind of behavior is prevented at all times.
From family psychiatrists and buddiesto parenting camps. And from economic sub-ecosystems and dialogues to shelters. I don’t care how, but get your shit together. Counter extremism on all fronts, and work on both inclusiveness and rock-solid codes of conduct. Again, break that cycle of violence on all sides of the spectrum. If not, the warning on sanctions that France should receive is that it can leave the European Union. As we say: allez, dégage.
Because Président Marcon, we both know that the personal in the sources of fire is exemplary of the general. And that if you don’t get things in order according to minimal standards, the collective across borders will become contaminated. Humanity may sooner or later be lost, not only for individuals, but for all of us.
I hope that it does not come to that. J’espère, j’espère, j’espère, oh oui, j’espère. C’est mon caractère, hmm.
J’espere. As Marc Lavoine sings. Keeping my mouth shut never worked out well. That is my character.
So, let me close selfishly instead of critically and idealistically, Président Macron. I also hope that you sort it out, so that France will not become yet another country that I will never visit again. Another country that succumbs to tyrants. France where a part of me can always come home.
Love from an involved freethinker from Amsterdam,
The Dutch version of this article was published by De Dagelijkse Standaard.