On June 13, 2020, thousands of French citizens joined a BLM protest in front of the Eiffel Tower. Before it was over, the protest had morphed to a riot. But this is not the first sign of Wokeness in France. Woke ideology permeated French universities for years, before infecting French bureaucracies and spilling out into the streets.
Jonathan Miller, in his article “France Wakes Up To Woke,” explains how this happens: “Wokeness has subsequently torn through French campuses. In time, as students graduate, it will march through schools, government, corporations and social institutions, just as it has in America and Britain.”
The French are finally awakening to Wokeness. France has always proudly remained at a distance from Anglo-American culture, often in disdain. Nevertheless, today the French are succumbing to a new “Made in America” phenomenon: Wokeness.
The French are so intersectionally woke that some have said—tongue in cheek, perhaps—white lesbians march separately from black lesbians in women’s demonstrations.
The French ideal is unity without diversity. The French are simply French, not identified in any national registry by national or ethnic origin, culture or religion. Guy Sorman, editor-at-large of France-Amérique, explains the roots of this French ideal.
The only publicly accepted religion, which in theory is not a religion, is laïcité, a sort of atheism of the Republic; it is in the name of this laïcité and a theoretically colorblind idea of citizenship that all public religious expression, such as the Islamic veil, is prohibited in schools. If religiosity is expressed too visibly, if one identifies too much with one’s ethnic community, one is soon suspected of moving towards the “American model.”
The face of France has changed
Historically, the French have been white Christians. But black immigrants from French-speaking Africa, and Muslim refugees from North Africa and the Middle East have changed the face of France. The nation is struggling to integrate racial, religious and ethnic communities.
As Sorman states, immigration is “moving France towards the American model” and its principle of unity and diversity as expressed in our great national motto, E pluribus unum, “out of many one.” This concept celebrates the uniqueness of each individual as well as the cultural and racial diversity of a nation of immigrants. The myriad of human beings in the world are united by one blood. There is only one human race, filled with a wonderful diversity of individuals and cultures.
The French motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) idealizes unity without diversity. Sorman summarizes the dilemma this poses in modern France with its immigrant influx. He points out that the French must come to terms with the fact that “… laïcité, to a large extent, has always been a myth. In the past, supposedly secular France has been anti-Christian, anti-Semite, hostile to immigrants, and is now anti-Muslim.”
Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory are exposing laïcité for the myth that it is.
The French minister of education, Frédérique Vidal, identifies the goal of wokeness in France as “looking at everything through the prism of their will to divide.” He’s right: the will to divide is the goal of CRT and BLM.
The principle of Critical Race Theory and the actions of Black Lives Matter are born out of allegiance to diversity without unity, the polar opposite of the French laïcité, unity without diversity. CRT and BLM divide people into smaller and smaller intersectional communitarian or tribal groups.
From France to America and back
Furthermore, the result of this ideology is the complete shutdown of any discussion or debate. French historian Édouard Husson says: “Whether you call it woke culture, cancel culture, Islamo-leftism or something else, complete intolerance is imposed on public debate, the media and above all, on academia.” There is one approved narrative. Everyone must toe the party line, shut up, or be erased. This is happening in the US and England as well. But the French, who have always loved vigorous debate, are now feeling the pinch and many are fighting back against Wokeness.
The irony is that the seeds of Critical Race Theory originated in France in the 1950s and 60s and were later planted in the United States and Britain where they germinated and are now blowing back to France in a global storm. Jonathan Miller writes,
[T]here’s nothing to suggest that the French can be quarantined from the Wokeness parasite taking over the Anglophone academy from Ann Arbor and Oxford to Delhi, Melbourne and beyond. It could be said that this potpourri of grievance-oriented American obsessions is a just reward for France having exported existentialism, feminism and structuralism to American campuses in the Fifties and Sixties, where the revered thought of Deleuze, Lacan, Foucault and Derrida mutated into barely recognizable thought-variants ultimately including political correctness, which in turn mutated into the hyper-infectious Woke strain, before returning to France, only to mutate again to the circumstances and the times.
No neutral ground: you will choose!
Wokeness is returning to France, where it was conceived, in a militant destructive format. For more on this read Jonathan Miller’s entire article, “France Wakes Up To Woke.”
France, the United States and indeed nations all over the world are faced with a choice of principles:
- Critical Race Theory – diversity without unity – a return to tribalism,
- French Laïcité – unity without diversity – a strict uniformity, or
- American E pluribus unum – out of many, one – unity and diversity.
The model for E pluribus unum is the Kingdom of God. Revelation 7:9 celebrates this great diversity of peoples and nations united in one kingdom: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
Which principle will be the North Star for your nation? What will you choose?
- Darrow Miller