Emmanuel Macron: France Will Not Engage In ‘False Rewriting Of History,’ No Statues Are Coming Down

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that his country would combat racism and bigotry but would not let violent rioters destroy statues or “rewrite” France’s history.

“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 translation provided 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 continued. “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 Mediterranean.”

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As reported by Politico, Macron has come under increased pressure over the last two weeks to “bring down statues and revisit other works of art that honor French historical figures involved in slavery and France’s colonial history amid protests against police brutality and racism.” This radical movement to tear down any references to colonial history has swept other European countries, including Belgium and the U.K., where authorities have had to take measures to protect some of the nations’ monuments.

“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,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a 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,” Johnson continued. “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.”

“But it is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence. The attacks on the police and indiscriminate acts of violence which we have witnessed over the last week are intolerable and they are abhorrent,” Johnson concluded.

 

 

In the U.S., rioters have looted, destroyed statues, burned buildings to the ground, and attacked law enforcement officers in response to the police-involved death of George Floyd.

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