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