Abdellah Taïa, writer and director, has just published "Celui qui est digne d’être aimé" (The one who is worthy of being loved) with Editions Seuil. In this forum, he expresses his anxiety about a West that is losing its mind.
It's unreal. It's tragic. Sometimes it's strangely funny. And it is, again, the sure assertion of a West that is losing its mind and that, decidedly, no longer wants to fight for the cause of life. It refuses the other. It banishes the other. It wants to deport him. It returns him back to the hell of which it is largely responsible for. Let us not be mistaken: it's not at this moment only Donald Trump who dislikes Muslims and wants to build walls upon walls. It's not just this crazy American guy pushing us towards collective suicide.
The word "danger" has become commonplace. It falls well short of describing the terrifying reality of our world. We have entered an area that is pure science fiction, well beyond what George Orwell imagined and predicted. An area where truth no longer counts. Where words do not weigh anything. We are indeed living through the era of the triumph of the "alternative fact".
Worse than that: we are in a reality show. Its name: The Apprentice. Its leader and president: Donald Trump. Its producers: Hollywood. Its audience (consenting or not): all of us on earth who can no longer bear to watch this farce, this completely uninhibited return of hatred and racism, in the West.
At the last Golden Globes, Meryl Streep made a speech which made a lasting impression. Her speech was touching, necessary, and true. Unfortunately, it was also very "United Colors of Benetton". She cited among others an actress of Ethiopian origin, another of Indian origin, and some black American actors, to illustrate the open-mindedness of Hollywood and America.
Muslims as targets
I love Meryl Streep, I admire her talent, but she was not incredibly thorough in her criticism of the political and media system. She celebrated the positive role of Hollywood and forgot to mention that it is Hollywood itself that produced the reality television series The Apprentice, which even won several awards (including Emmys and Golden Globes). It was Hollywood (with its famous Entertainment mission) which, for fifteen years, made Donald Trump credible, gave him the time, and space, to make his voice heard, and made us all, like the Americans, obsessed with bogus information. Fascinated more and more by the emptiness of Kim Kardashian and her friends, lead towards a virtual reality where all our nightmares reappear without being able to do anything to destroy them.
No, it's not only Donald Trump who chose Muslims as a target. This is the situation in Europe, too. In France. It's already been this way for several years. Moreover, the hero of "The Apprentice" gives the impression of having been inspired by what has been going on in Europe for a long time. He applies the ideas of the extreme right parties. And he takes them even further. Too far.
The horror of the Grand Canal
But to be honest, we must say that it's not only him to blame. He’s not the only one who's guilty. We have entered the reign of insensitivity. We are now the "heartless". And I already hear some protest against this expression.
Last week, I saw this frightening video, that summarises all the horror that we live in now. In Venice, a young refugee is drowning in the Grand Canal. Not far from him, a water bus filled with at least 100 tourists. They did nothing to save him. They witnessed the spectacle of his death as we witnessed before, in Roman times, the spectacle of gladiators. It's exciting to see people get killed. We enjoy it. It makes the people happy. Long live humanity! It's reached that point.
Muslims are attacked by Donald Trump. "Muslim ban". And this obviously brings back to memory other images, other tragedies that people today give the impression of having forgotten. The Jews. The denouncements. The trains. The camps. The abjection. At the heart of Western civilization. Europe. It's reached that point. We have authorised the return of hate. We did nothing to stop this evil before it undermined society and become a "serious" political agenda heard morning and evening in the media. It has become commonplace.
Muslims are attacked, Islam is attacked, and this is normal. I am not saying here that all is well in Islam and among Muslims. That is not the issue here, however. As a Muslim and a homosexual, I know very well that Muslims in Muslim countries must evolve, self-criticize, get out of the submission imposed on them by their political leaders. But those here, these French of Muslim origin, they continue to be stigmatised. To be told they are not worthy of being treated like other French people. They are constantly being confused with Islamist terrorists, jihadists.
Polemics and discrimination
When a terrorist attack occurs in the West, they are asked to apologise. Immediately. It brings them to an inferior status, a colonial one. We invent such strange polemics to lock them up and discriminate them more. It scares them. And they begin to be afraid. So they do not really speak. They are at home in France and they are told that this is not true. Where to live then? Saudi Arabia and its atrocious Wahhabism? In the country of Uncle Donald Trump, "The Land of Freedom"?
Donald Trump is only a symptom of a larger Western evil. Of course, we must resist, protest vigorously as the Americans do at this time. But this should not distract us from this essential thing: to challenge ourselves. Here in Europe, the US and elsewhere. May the left parties conduct some serious self-criticism. And may they assume their responsibility in this disaster. May they tell us why they abandoned the poor, the people at the "bottom" of society. Why they have become frozen, distanced from genuine social issues. Why they abandoned the ideals of the left. Why they no longer accept criticism in a straight forward manner. It's painful to watch the news every day. We can no longer see the horizon. There is no hope. There is no longer any political figure able to raise up with determination to help stir us out of our modern nightmares in this post-colonial world. A man (or woman) who imposes a just voice without dividing, without giving the impression that they are speaking to a particular segment of the population. Somebody to take us out of this torpor. This depression. This death drive. These deadly storms. The speech of those who can't wait for the "clash of civilizations" to kick off. A man who protects minorities, goes with them in their necessary path to obtain their rights, but without forgetting the others, the popular classes who are also suffering and are constantly being made invisible.
Donald Trump does not like Muslims. But, as it is necessary to specify again and again, he does not like too many other people either. It's the West that has created this political monster. And the traps he keeps presenting us with existed long before he was elected president of the United States.
In L'Ile aux Mimosas, the magnificent Barbara sang these words: “Il y a si peu de peu de temps entre vivre et mourir, qu’il faudrait bien pourtant s’arrêter de courir.” (There is so little time between living and dying, that we might as well stop running). People today give the impression of being unable to stop running, their "drunk life" carries them away from each other. They enjoy seeing the other, who is myself, being humiliated, next to them, on TV, in airports, behind borders and walls. In the streets of Paris. People today do not want to live any more. Barbara and poetry suddenly seem so fictitious. They never existed.