Top French politicians, journalists, and intellectuals are warning that “woke” social science theories “entirely imported from the United States” regarding race, gender, and post-colonialism are a serious threat to France.
“Emboldened by these comments, prominent intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture,” The New York Times reported this week. “With its echoes of the American culture wars, the battle began inside French universities but is being played out increasingly in the media. Politicians have been weighing in more and more, especially following a turbulent year during which a series of events called into question tenets of French society.”
The Times’ report notes that some of Macron’s remarks were made in a speech that he gave late last year. The Times surmised Macron’s speech as warning that American “woke leftism” was an “existential” threat to France that “fuels secessionism,” “abets Islamism,” “gnaws at national unity,” and “attacks France’s intellectual and cultural heritage.”
Macron made the remarks in a speech about fighting against separatism where he warned that many topics that France used to excel in teaching from an academic standpoint “have been undermined and we have abandoned them.”
“And in so doing, we have left the intellectual debate to others, to those outside of the Republic by ideologizing it, sometimes yielding to other academic traditions,” Macron warned. “I am thinking of Anglo-Saxon traditions based on a different history, which is not ours. And when I see certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States, with their problems, which I respect and which exist, but which are just added to ours, I say to myself that it is reasonable to make this choice. And so we must, very clearly, re-invest, on a massive scale, in the field of social sciences, history, understanding of civilizations by creating posts, by stepping up dialogue, academic and scientific debate in order not to allow the knowledge, the understanding of Islam as a religion, of the civilization it underpins and its contribution to our country and our continent to become ideological and exclusively political debates.”
Jean-Michel Blanquer, Macron’s education minister, also weighed in on the matter during an interview late last year when asked about comments that he made about “Islamo-leftism” wreaking “havoc on the university.”
“No one has the right to cowardice anymore,” Blanquer said, according to a Google translation of his remarks. “There is a fight to be waged against an intellectual matrix coming from American universities and intersectional theses, which want to essentialize communities and identities, at the antipodes of our republican model which, for its part, postulates equality between human beings, independently of their characteristics of origin, sex, religion. It is the breeding ground for a fragmentation of our society and a vision of the world which converges with the interests of the Islamists.”
“This reality has plagued a significant part of the French social sciences in particular, I challenge anyone to tell me the opposite,” he continued. “Some do it consciously, others are useful idiots for this cause. But I don’t I never meant to say that all the universities and their presidents were accomplices: they are mostly its victims. This can also be seen in the media world, where a man like Edwy Plenel methodically deploys a strategy of conquering minds whose spring is collective self-hatred.”
Blanquer said that what needs to happen is a reversal “of these phenomena” and “the renewal of a republican consciousness, at the heart of French society and political life.”
Macron, whom many viewed as left-of-center, has started to surprise people as he has started to champion right-of-center points of view on matters related to culture and the fight against the far-left.
Last November, Macron slammed American mainstream media for “legitimizing” violence in response to the nation being rocked multiple times last year with Islamic terrorist attacks.
“When France was attacked five years ago, every nation in the world supported us,” Macron said, referring to the November 2015 Islamic terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of well over 100 people in Paris. “So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values — journalists who write in a country that is the heir to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution — when I see them legitimizing this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost.”
Over the summer, amid race riots that had broken out across the U.S., Macron showed backbone in declaring that his country would not engage in the “false rewriting of history” and the destruction of historical statues and monuments.