French President Emmanuel Macron will not allow anyone to rewrite France’s history to fight racism and inequality. He will not tolerate the destruction of statues and monuments.
It is the first time the French President spoke since George Floyd’s death set off riots in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.
Macron praised the police and said he will be “uncompromising in the face of racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination,” but declared he won’t take down statues of controversial colonial-era figures as has happened in the U.S. and other countries over the past few weeks.
“We will be inflexible when it comes to tackling racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination, and new strong decisions will be made to reinforce the egality of chances,” Macron said, according to a video posted Monday by TIME. “But this noble fight is perverted when it turns into communitarianism, into a false rewriting of history.”
“This is unacceptable when it is picked up by separatists. I tell you very clearly tonight my dear fellow citizens, the Republic will not erase any trace or name from its history,” Macron added. “It will not forget any of its deeds or take down any statue. What we need to do is to look all together with lucidity on all of our history and all our memory. Our relation to Africa in particular so we can build a present and a possible future from one to the other side of the Mediterranean.”
He has been under a great deal of pressure, according to Politico.
He is standing strong. Some of our feckless Governors and mayors are not.
— TIME (@TIME) June 14, 2020
Leaders in countries like the U.K. and Belgium have taken measures to protect monuments as well.
“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a recent tweet. “It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors. Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial.”
“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations,” he added. “They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come.”
It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors. Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial. 2/8
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) June 12, 2020