November 14, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | The Election From a French Perspective

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To the Editor:

There is a dreadful atmosphere here. One of my professors said he hasn’t seen the student body this disheartened since 9/11. Though I am sure that when Obama got elected in 2008, the same ambiance prevailed on university campuses in Texas. This is democracy and we need to accept it, live with it. We reap what we sow, after all. The elites of the east and west coast have their share of responsibilities in the current division of the country. Fundamentally, 25 percent of Americans that start high school do not graduate, and 43 percent of students who start college will not graduate in six years. The lack of education too often plays a major role in explaining the rise to power of populist and fascist figures.

Here, the privileged are furious and swear they are going to leave the country, whereas minorities are scared and feel more marginalized than ever. A good friend of mine left for the city this weekend to meet with the comrades, and is uncertain about coming back next semester. While some protest, others organize, all feeding off of hatred for Trump supporters (and going as far as blaming third party and abstained voters), claiming they don’t represent America. But, I ask myself, don’t they capture America’s heartland at its deepest? Racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia are not new threats to the country. In fact, these forms of discrimination have been prevailing in our modern society, only now they will explicitly form part of the political agenda. The elites have lived in a bubble for way too long, and this latter was doomed to explode.

Maybe this is a long overdue wake up call. After all, Trump got elected president of the country that sends its wheat surplus as food aid to third world countries only to prevent the wheat prices to drop internally. Trump got elected president of the country that names itself world promoter of peace and democracy, but finances and arms rebel groups in strategic locations to purposefully generate instability and take control of the region’s resources. Trump got elected president of the country that allows civilians to carry guns, when the proper use of guns by police officers hasn’t even been established yet. According to ONE, this is the country that wastes about 141 trillion calories worth of food every day, which adds up to about $165 billion per year, the equivalent of 4 times the amount of food Africa imports each year. What Trump preaches, from this perspective, is not unrepresentative of the realities of this country.

I fear for France in May 2017, and every other election to come. I fear for our Earth that simply cannot wait four more years. I fear for the vulnerable whose security has been once again severely compromised. But above all, I fear for humankind who does not seem to be able to learn from the past, dangerously getting closer to an apocalypse, or a flood, such as depicted in William Etty’s painting The World Before the Flood.

Similarly to what I shared with you after the Charlie’s attacks, I maintain that hatred and violence only contribute to the difficulty of our times. Rather, we have to continue to learn and educate. We need to reconnect with mother-nature. We must reconsider the way we spend our days, reinvent the way we as a society consume. Let us rely on each other, help and support one another, and spread love all around us. It is up to our generation to change the system we strongly disagree with. Together, we have the power to shape the world we want to live in. We shall peacefully unite, organize, impact. There comes a time where each of us has to choose between what is easy and what is right. This time is now.

Claire Hourticq ’17

  • bob young

    You’ve certainly laid out a very strong case for obama being the worst president in American history.

  • Milo

    I think it is interesting that you say Trump got elected to the country that is the “world promoter of peace and democracy, but finances and arms rebel groups in strategic locations to purposefully generate instability.” Or that Trump got “elected president of the country that sends its wheat surplus as food aid to third world countries only to prevent the wheat prices to drop internally.” It’s almost as if you are painting the connection between the two, like Trump is somehow inextricably related to these issues. Is this not Obama’s America also? Replacing “Trump” with “Obama,” and stating “President” as opposed to “got elected” would have even greater validity. Or is Obama not associated with these issues because of that phony Nobel Peace Prize he won? Obama is more responsible for the the conditions in the United States, yet you make no mention of his role. Not only did the vacuum he left in the Middle East spawn one of the most violent, destructive, radical groups on the planet, but he lied to the American people about the ransom he paid to one of our greatest enemies. The United States’ sputtering economy, failing healthcare system, racial and class divisiveness, and increasing inequality can all be linked back to him. Yet somehow Trump is related to the current issues in our country.

    In terms of France, the people there are already paying for the disastrous decisions made by their Liberal government. Charlie Hebdo. The Paris attacks. The Nice attack. Dangerous men have entered their country and caused catastrophic harm, all because liberal policies such as open borders and extreme tolerance have enabled them to do so. I do not understand why you say you fear for France in May of 2017. You fear political changes, yet you are blind to the blood that has been shed in your own country. I fear for France now. I fear for Europe now. And I fear for you now. Because clearly you do not see where the real danger is, and who is responsible for it.

    • Claire Hourticq

      I did not mention Obama because I do not associate these issues with his presidency, but rather with the interventionist foreign policy that the US have been perpetuating since World War II. I apologize; I should have been clearer. I agree with you that Obama did little concerning those intervening policies, as well as the environmental crisis, perhaps because he was restricted by the House throughout the majority of his term. I am guessing we could also agree on the fact that Clinton probably would have done less. And, despite my skepticism, I do truly hope that Trump’s isolationism helps resolve conflicts abroad, although I fear it will jeopardize the values of inclusivity inland in the process. But my article was not about who will be the best president, but rather I wished to point out the elite’s failure to recognize the existing inequalities. Perhaps you, my friend, have missed my point.

      When I say that I fear for France in May 2017, it is because Le Pen’s nationalist party is gaining popularity, just like the Alternative for Germany party and the United Kingdom Independence Party. I fear for the new wave of fascism taking a worldwide amplitude. And just so you know, the terrorist attacks in France are not caused by “dangerous men who have entered the country”, but instead by French and European citizens whose hatred is a result of government policies which have failed to be inclusive and have marginalized large trunks of the population. Every western state has its share of responsibilities when it comes to the racial and class divisiveness of its population, each to its own degree, though.

      Thanks for your comment, mate. Have a nice day!

  • I don’t usually respond online, but…

    My, how broad a brush with which this author paints.

    Has she even been to the heartland of America? Does she have classmates at Cornell from the heartland? I wonder if they would agree that racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia describe the heartland “at its deepest.”

  • borris batanov

    “A French Perspective.” What is that? The French capitulated to the Nazis in 20 days and then collaborated with them to eradicate Jewish babies ( And nothing’s changed: Le Penn speaks for at least 20%. Why would anybody, other than effete, rudderless, intellectual cowards, care about the French?