Calgary Herald

Macron warns woke culture may fracture France

- HENRY SAMUEL

PARIS • Emmanuel Macron warned against the dangers of U.s.-style woke culture in France Thursday, saying that debate in the country was becoming increasing­ly “racialized.”

The French president said that creeping racial and identity politics risked “fracturing” the foundation­s of French society.

“I see that our society is becoming progressiv­ely racialized,” Macron told Elle magazine.

In particular, he took aim at “intersecti­onality,” a notion popular in American academia that examines discrimina­tion and poverty through the lens of social and political identities, such as race and gender.

“The logic of intersecti­onality fractures everything,” said Macron.

“I stand for universali­sm. I don't agree with a fight that reduces everyone to their identity or their particular­ity. Social difficulti­es are not only explained by gender and the colour of your skin, but also by social inequaliti­es.”

The centrist 43-year-old, who is expected to run for re-election next spring, added that he could think of young white men in his hometown of Amiens or nearby Saint-quentin in northern France “who also have immense difficulti­es, for different reasons, in finding a job.”

Compiling racial statistics is illegal in France, which is scarred by wartime ethnic profiling and is officially colour-blind. To many scholars on race, however, this is part of a long history of denial over discrimina­tion.

Inspired by Black Lives Matter, France has seen a string of protests over the past year denouncing racism, notably where it has been linked to cases of police brutality, and the legacy of the country's colonial past.

Critics, however, have warned against importing “woke culture” from the “Anglo-saxon” world, arguing that an obsession with race and the past traps minorities and women into seeing themselves as victims of oppression and discrimina­tion.

Elisabeth Moreno, a black junior minister for gender equality and diversity in Macron's government, recently criticized the threat of “cancel culture” and censorship in the name of political correctnes­s.

“The `woke' culture is something very dangerous, and we shouldn't bring it to France,” she told Bloomberg.

“Everyone should fight discrimina­tion. You can't ask someone not to speak about a topic because the person doesn't feel legitimate. It makes no sense.” She added that she refused to be seen as successful because of her gender or race, but for her accomplish­ments.

She said: “French universali­sm means that we want to recognize people per se, not because they are women or LGBT+ or because they have a different ethnicity or whatever.”

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