Emigrants, sons or grandsons of emigrants, let’s not be the useful idiots of the extremes. Speak up! Now!

After blacks and Jews, will emigrants be the scapegoats of our so-called liberal and right-thinking societies? Nothing new under the sun, you might ask! For this theme has been around for as long as mankind has been on the move, in other words, since the dawn of time, but for the last thirty years or so, it’s been getting tougher; ever since the emigrant had the misfortune to have the dark complexion of a North African worker, or the black skin of a sub-Saharan African laborer. The result of the legislative elections in the Netherlands is a sad illustration of this. The rise of the far right, as in the 1930s, is a recipe for fascism and mafias, with war an inevitable outcome! Fear will have changed sides, encouraged by the ignorance and indifference of the right-wingers. And in the end, someone will have to pay their weight in flesh and blood to calm the ardor of the madmen who will then be in charge. But this time, surprise! It will no longer be the anonymous members of minorities whose sacrifice we will be moved to discover, but our very humanity that is in danger of disappearing. This is where the danger lies.
The mechanisms of resentment and rivalry that lead to this predicted disaster have long been known. Freud opened the way by explaining how desire works; René Girard added to this understanding the spiral of mimetic rivalry that leads to conflict and the sacrifice of the scapegoat. Culture and education are the only way to guard against this. And that means knowing our own family history. Many of us will be surprised to discover how closely this history is linked to immigration. Who doesn’t have a father, mother or grandfather who didn’t come from somewhere else? A good quarter of French society has foreign origins. “France is diversity”, as the historian Fernand Braudel once said. The same is true of our contemporary societies as a whole. Forgetting this history condemns us to death. So what’s to be done? Those who are in a position to speak out, to bear witness to their experiences as sons or grandsons of migrants, must speak out. And now. All the time. All the time. I’m not unaware of the toxic influence of social networks, which the craziest among us seize upon to impose their delusions. I’m not fooled by these hijackings and I’m aware that this exhortation will have little echo. But we have to start somewhere, or start again. As the son and grandson of emigrants, having lived in three different countries myself, I cannot accept the appalling silence in which we are condemned by the manipulations of a few. So today I urge all those who can to do so. Speak out now. Afterwards, it will be too late.