French President Emmanuel Macron is in the middle of a social media firestorm - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14822712
Before you start reading, have a guess what the accusation is.

Vox wrote:
French President Emmanuel Macron is in the middle of a social media firestorm

Macron stumbles for the first time.

France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, just learned a painful political lesson: In the age of social media, making casual references to the “civilizational” problems of Africa and the demographic challenges of African women having “seven or eight” children is going to blow up in your face.

Here's what happened. During a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, a journalist from the Ivory Coast asked Macron why there was no Marshall Plan for Africa, a reference to the massive amount of economic aid the US poured into destroyed European countries following the Second World War.

Macron responded with a three-and-a-half-minute soliloquy. He meandered on about the “civilizational” problems that Africa faces, and the differences between a postwar reconstruction project like the Marshall Plan and modern-day aid programs designed to address a variety of problems in a variety of countries.

Macron’s use of the word “civilizational” probably would have been enough to get him into hot water; it certainly sounds like a casually racist assessment that Europe’s “civilization” is different from, and perhaps better than, Africa’s.

But what came next triggered a social media firestorm that represented the first clear stumble by the new French leader. More than halfway through the answer, Macron said that one key challenge facing Africa is places where women still have “seven or eight children,” a birthrate he called continuously destabilizing.

A clip of the response, spliced to make it look like it was almost one run-on sentence, has triggered a bit of a Twitter storm.





The clip, as it’s being shared says, “The challenge of Africa, it is totally different, it is much deeper, it is civilizational, today. What are the problems in Africa? Failed states, the complex democratic transitions, demographic transitions, which is one of the main challenges facing Africa.”

And then it soon fades nearly seamlessly into the words “a successful demographic transition when countries still have seven to eight children per woman — you can decide to spend billions of euros, you will not stabilize anything.”

What the hell does that mean? Much of the internet has decided it means Macron is blaming almost all African problems on high birthrates, and on women — in other words, that African women are the problem of Africa. That sounds very, very bad.

But is that what he really said?

The problem with the above clip is, well, that’s it’s a clip. It’s a spliced-together 28 seconds out of 3.5 minutes.

Macron’s full response is somewhat obnoxious and ham-handed, but it’s actually not as obnoxious and ham-handed as it originally sounded. The full video seems to make him sound much more like an International Monetary Fund or World Bank wonk: in other words, out of touch, philosophical, and a bit like a latter-day colonialist.

But in it, he is not quite the racist he is in clip one. It might seem like hair splitting, but here, then, is clip two:



His response here is much longer, and more long-winded. It was transcribed almost in full on the site Media Guinee:

"The challenge of Africa, it is totally different, it is much deeper, it is civilizational, today. What are the problems in Africa? Failed states, complex democratic transitions, demographic transition, which is one of the main challenges facing Africa, it is then the roads of multiple trafficking which also require answers in terms of security and regional coordination, trafficking drugs, arms trafficking, human trafficking, trafficking in cultural property and violent fundamentalism, Islamist terrorism, all this today mixed up, creates difficulties in Africa. At the same time, we have countries that are tremendously successful, with an extraordinary growth rate that makes people say that Africa is a land of opportunity."

Again, what does “civilizational” have to do with economic problems? Regardless of his intent, that was clearly a poor word choice, at best, by Macron. At worst it’s a racist one.

But Macron skids on past that; he waxes philosophical; he seems to like to hear himself speak. Eventually, minutes later, he wanders into the clause about women and children that certainly sounds misogynist and racist — but especially sounds that way when taken without all the other clauses attached.


Coming from the West’s great hope for the future, it’s a disappointing, careless response. But it's too soon to say it was anything more than a stumble.

In today's world, this should probably not be news worthy anymore. We are at a point where it's more interesting to know who isn't racist.
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Not really news IMO, the media always cherry picks which bits bits of speeches they actually report and which are ignored in order to generate the most controversy. Controversy means papers sold, links clicked and advertising revenue collected. Did you think journalists turn up to see politicians speak so they could accurately report on what they said? :?: When has any journalist is history ever tried something like that? It is certainly an interesting idea but not one based in the reality in which we live.
Last edited by Decky on 12 Jul 2017 04:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Eh? Since when has civilizational been a racist term? Macron is correct. Africa does have corruption problems, failed states, problems with democratic transition etc. Aid is sent to Africa continuously for countries willing to change and it is a pointless execise to give regimes who are unwilling to execute change money without reform. It is obvious that today the west and Africa are totally different civilisations. He didn't state one was better than the other. Just that one has more problems. And this is a fact. Not racism. How can your reform anything with your head in the sand? As for birth rates. Editing didn't help. You can make any comment seem offensive if edited incorrectly. However having eight children does create economic problems. You need to feed, cloth and look after these children and this costs money. And if you are poor, perhaps a wise choice is to have a family size that you can look after. And this is true to say about the west as well as Africa. He didn't state people shouldn't have eight children, just that it creates economic problems. And this is both true and obvious. Not racist. So Decky is correct. This is a non-story.
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He also said recently that he wouldn't speak to reporters because his thought process was too complex for them. Even Trump hasn't put it quite like that :lol:

He is acting as if he either 1. has no political experience whatsoever or 2. has no reason to take the voters seriously. Maybe both?
#14822948
I find the whole Macron phenomenon utterly bizarre. People got way too excited about the guy, given that his entire campaign was basically "I am not Marine Le Pen" and "I will radically change everything to how it is now, but cooler".

The OP wrote:he seems to like to hear himself speak

Emmanuel Macron in eight words, ladies and gentlemen. :lol:
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Heisenberg wrote:I find the whole Macron phenomenon utterly bizarre. People got way too excited about the guy, given that his entire campaign was basically "I am not Marine Le Pen" and "I will radically change everything to how it is now, but cooler".


Well done, and you can apply that directly to Trump's win:

"I am not Hillary Clinton" and "I will Make America Great Again!"
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"The challenge of Africa, it is totally different, it is much deeper, it is civilizational, today. What are the problems in Africa? Failed states, complex democratic transitions, demographic transition, which is one of the main challenges facing Africa, it is then the roads of multiple trafficking which also require answers in terms of security and regional coordination, trafficking drugs, arms trafficking, human trafficking, trafficking in cultural property and violent fundamentalism, Islamist terrorism, all this today mixed up, creates difficulties in Africa. At the same time, we have countries that are tremendously successful, with an extraordinary growth rate that makes people say that Africa is a land of opportunity."


It's generally a good answer except for the one word: civilizational. He elaborated on what he means by a civilizational challenge Africa faces today and he also complimented some successful African economies such as Kenya. As the presidential candidate, who visited Algiers, Macron called colonization "a crime against humanity" and he's not evoking Kipling with that statement.
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anna wrote:Well done, and you can apply that directly to Trump's win:

I do hope you aren't mistaking me for a Trumpanzee. ;)

But I agree with you. The US election was uniquely awful, because it consisted of two candidates whose appeal was limited to "I'm not the other one". :lol:
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Heisenberg wrote:I do hope you aren't mistaking me for a Trumpanzee. ;)


I honestly don't know, but the comparison would still stand regardless. :)

But I agree with you. The US election was uniquely awful, because it consisted of two candidates whose appeal was limited to "I'm not the other one". :lol:


Right - and perhaps significantly influenced Macron's win, since the French had time enough to watch what we did to ourselves over here...
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Oh, I don't doubt that. My issue, as I said in my first post, is with the near-religious frenzy people managed to work themselves up into, over a self-declared "centrist". And now, the very same people are appalled that he has very similar opinions to other French centrists vis a vis Africa. :?:
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The voters believed that media-peddled shit that Macron was an "outsider" who didn't belong to "the system," and would shake up things in their favour, which just goes to show that people are too stupid to vote, and that democracy is, like communism, a nice idea that totally fails to take into account human nature.
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The French president saying Africans should stop multiplying like rabbits ignites a social media backlash from people who are pro-choice themselves most likely by the way. :roll:

The guy turns out to be cooler than expected. 8)

His willingness to offend the PC brigade is indeed a fine thing. However, his thinking is itself rather moralistic, and puts the causal cart before the horse. European nations aren't prosperous societies because we have fewer children; we have fewer children because we live in prosperous societies. A century or two back, Europeans were popping out the babies like there was no tomorrow. This was a perfectly rational thing to do - most children would be earning a wage by the age of six or seven, and the more children you had the better your chance of being housed and fed in your old age when you could no longer work down a mine or in a mill. And given the rate of infant mortality at the time, only a fool would have only one or two children - it made sense to pop out as many as you could, in the hopes that at least some would survive to adulthood. This ceased to be rational by the early to mid 20th century, with the rise of the welfare state and increasing prosperity of European and North American societies. So people stopped doing it. Notice the direction of cause and effect here. Europeans didn't suddenly become 'virtuous' for no apparent reason in the early 20th century, any more than they had been 'irresponsible' for the previous two millennia. They were behaving rationally in response to their social environment. When that social environment changed, their behaviour changed. Macron is essentially demanding that African people change their behaviour (which is perfectly rational behaviour given their social and economic environment) without there being a preceding and corresponding change in their social environment. In other words, he is calling on them to behave irrationally. This is an obvious example of bourgeois moralism, detached from any objective reality, which is just as risible as the 'political correctness' of the middle-class liberals whose feathers he has ruffled by saying this.

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