Anti-awakening mission of the Minister of National Education – POLITICO

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PARIS – Welcome to the new war front line upon awakening.

During the launch of a government think tank last week, one of the speakers joked that France is now battling a new virus – a virus imported from the United States rather than China.

“Our country has become a target of the revival movement,” said Pierre Valentin, a expert at the new think tank The Laboratory of the Republic. “If there was a vaccine against the awakening virus, it would be French and the leaders of the movement know it.”

The Laboratory of the Republic is headed by the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and is responsible for fighting against what the Minister calls Wokeism imported from the United States – awakening being a US term that originally meant to be mindful of prejudice and racial discrimination, but is now used by the right as a catch-all insult to the political left and progressive causes.

“The [French] The Republic is completely against wokeism. Blanquer said in an interview with Le Monde. “In the United States, this ideology provoked a reaction and led to the rise of Donald Trump. He added: “France and its youth must escape this. “

Six months away from a presidential election, Blanquer boss Emmanuel Macron faces the possibility that one of his opponents is right-wing television specialist Eric Zemmour, whose provocations and attacks on political correctness drew comparisons with Trump.

The establishment of the think tank is the latest government initiative in the campaign against wokeism and in favor of France’s own brand of secularism. In September, the Ministry of Education launched a online and social media campaign promote secularism. Last year, a group of 100 academics published an open letter in Le Monde in support of Blanquer and criticizing theories “transferred from North American campuses”.

For much of the political establishment, the French brand of secularism – laicity – transcends race, gender and religion and is truly egalitarian. For its detractors, this same secularism promotes a white and Christian ideal that perpetuates discrimination against minorities.

A new mark of McCarthyism?

Blanquer inaugurated the think tank on Wednesday, recounting a gathering of legislators and academics in Paris that the new institute goes beyond partisan politics and is open to all those who want to “fortify the Republic”.

“We have always been on the defensive in the face of awakened theories,” said MP Aurore Bergé of Macron’s La République en Marche party, “instead, we want to promote our model.”

“We are getting red flags from academic staff telling us that funds are being funneled into a number of theories,” Bergé said. “There is the feeling here that [freedom of] thought is reduced to a vision which is not ours.

But the initiative sparked controversy.

“It’s McCarthyism,” said Rim-Sarah Alouane, from Toulouse Capitole University. “A minister is using a private entity to block discussions on these topics. He says “it is my responsibility and I will impose the vision of the State on these subjects”.

“They are trying to drain reactionary and conservative voters. And of course, voters who are drawn to Eric Zemmour, ”she said.

In France, the political world is increasingly torn over the question of whether French secularism is good on paper but in reality prevents minorities from seeking greater representation. France, for example, does not allow studies of ethnic statistics and has taken only tentative steps to introduce positive discrimination.

Emmanuel Anjembe, a black chief executive of an advertising company, said secularism in France is supposed to be blind to religion and color, but discrimination in the workplace shows it is failing.

“I recently hired a veiled graduate with a double degree from a business school, who broke down in tears because she had spent over a year trying to get an internship,” Anjembe said. “You can talk for hours about what secularism means, but this situation clearly shows that a person whose religion is apparent is systematically discriminated against in France.

Recent figures show France has one of the worst scores for workplace diversity among Western countries, with whites being 83% more likely than non-whites to get job interviews , according to The world.

But for Bergé, secularism helps to overcome discrimination and France – unlike the United States – does not promote a vision that reduces people to their community or ethnic group of origin.

“The fight against discrimination concerns everyone, not just people who are discriminated against,” she said. “The risk today in an increasingly divided society is that people will withdraw into their communities and that French citizens become captives of their real or supposed origins.”

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