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Holiday debates on immigration with French 'papys boomers'.

2023-08-22
Time to read: 7 min
Every year, like many of us, I spend the summer holidays with my family. It's a time for endless political discussions. As someone who enjoys adversarial debate, I must admit that I'm often provocative. I particularly enjoy sparking discussions on immigration with my elders, as our opinions differ so widely on this issue.


The 'daddy boomers' with whom I have these exchanges, professors and senior civil servants, readers of Badiou, Chomsky and Piketty, tend to lean left (the most right-wing being Macronist). They are fairly faithful representatives of their generation, which influences the outcome of elections because of its preponderance in the population and its low abstention rate. Without all these people born during the baby boom period, Macron would not have won the presidential elections. They see themselves as the generation that liberated morals and women, eradicated outdated taboos, abolished racism and homophobia, and established a fairer distribution of wealth. For subsequent generations, that generation was the equivalent of a cloud of locusts devastating everything in their path. For young people on the left, the boomers consumed without limit, unreasonably, endangering thereby our planet. And for those on the right, they squandered the material and spiritual heritage of thousand-year-old France. It is true that they indebted the country for several generations in order to grant themselves social benefits and comfortable pensions out of all proportion to what they had produced. With their "revolution" of May 1968 and its "liberation of morals", they deconstructed an entire society that is now in tatters, fragmented, fractured and undermined by divisions. Their only achievement was to enjoy life, their lives to be precise. They took hedonism to its extreme. In this respect, Emmanuel Macron, who constantly talks about rebuilding everything, without ever having built anything in his life apart from his own career, is their perfect herald. They tried to deconstruct everything that had contributed to Europe's greatness and wealth. They censored freedom of expression in the name of political correctness, subjected democracy to the dictates of technocrats in high courts, relegated the nation to the status of a fascist concept and reduced Christianity to the status of an unhealthy antique.

As for my 'grandad boomers', it's worth mentioning in their defence that they are charming, well-educated and generous individuals. They are, as you can imagine, immigration enthusiasts, seeing these new arrivals as 'chances for France', an honour for our country to welcome these unfortunate people, and a necessity to have workers to fill the jobs that the French 'no longer want to do', while compensating for the falling birth rate to safeguard our pension system. These arguments are so hackneyed that it's almost hard to ridicule them, pointing out, for example, that one in two immigrants does not work, and that immigration harms the least qualified workers by exerting downward pressure on wages. In France, immigrants only compete with low-skilled French workers and are exploited by managers, who profit from the cheap labour of immigrant cleaners, Uber drivers, waiters, dishwashers and so on. Without immigration, salaries for low-skilled jobs would have risen, and the gap between the lowest and highest salaries would not be so wide. What's more, how can we believe that the future of our system and the perpetuation of our way of life will be assured by millions of Africans, who are not only poorly qualified, but also totally disorientated and even disgusted by our customs and values? Many migrants to France come from our former colonies, where hatred of France is often taught or used for political ends. When they arrive in France, they are welcomed by neo-Marxist NGOs who indoctrinate them by claiming that the French state is racist. Their children, at school and on French television, learn not to love France, but blame it for oppressing their country of origin. What's more, the new arrivals often come from countries with very different customs, and are subjected to the full force of militant Islamism. Violence in the Western countries that welcomed the migrants with open arms has exploded, especially when compared to Eastern EU countries, such as Poland. When you talk to people on the ground, whether police officers, lawyers or educators, they all say that people of non-African origin are in the minority in prisons. The response to these counter-arguments is invariably the same: accusing people in this way is racism. What the vast majority of people aspire to is to live in peace and to work. In time, they will assimilate and become good secular French citizens. It is worth noting that this speech is very reminiscent of the speeches made by the French left at the end of the 19th century. One of their most eminent representatives, Jules Ferry, declared on the subject of colonisation: "This is the humanitarian and civilising side of the question (...) The superior races have a right, because they have a duty. (...) They have the duty to civilise the inferior races". We find ourselves in the same mental schema, all the more so because with mass immigration we are depriving Africa of its lifeblood, its most daring and enterprising young people who, ill-adapted here, end up at best as pizza delivery boys, whereas if they had stayed at home, they could have become entrepreneurs or political leaders. I don't know why, but it's very difficult to get people to accept that the aim of demonstrating the link between immigration and insecurity is not to stigmatise populations, but simply to raise awareness of the result of the clash of civilisations underway in France. However, everyone will admit that if all the young people in Brittany decided to go and live in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, en masse and illegally, that would cause problems. It's sad to say, and even 15 years ago I didn't believe it, but multicultural societies lead to multiconflict societies.

For the last ten years or so, the debate has gone round in circles in this way, with everyone remaining firmly anchored to their own vision of the world. Every year, I would reopen the discussion, hoping that the harsh reality of what was happening in France would bring them back to their senses. But nothing happened. Just before the riots and looting in July, we again had this endless debate. Following these events, the cognitive dissonance between their beliefs and reality was visibly apparent. Our exchanges were much more tense and marked by moments of silence. Among them are the maximalists, for whom we are not doing enough about immigration. It doesn't matter if you tell them that we could at least agree that immigration should be put on hold until the problems are solved. They remain adamant: we need to do more, that's it, it's the only solution. Then there are those who say they are surprised by the current situation (without any real conviction) and who don't deny the problems, but who refuse to "side with Marine Le Pen's ideas". I point out to them that this is not an argument, but a conditioned reflex, dictated solely by political correctness. The conversation ends in a long silence.

As a group, no one has expressed any opposition to immigration. Individually, however, some people will "confess" after the riots that they might well vote for someone who would put a stop to immigration - but not for Marine Le Pen. Others will even say that they plan to vote for Marine Le Pen or anyone else who will restore order. Until recently, the majority of French people refused to question mass immigration. As soon as the slightest argument was put forward to denounce its harmful effects, the response was: "You can't say that". Progress has been made, and the next step may be for the Left to recognise that the face of France has changed radically, and for the Right to understand that with this profound demographic change, it can only hope to win and avoid disaster by allying itself with the Muslim electorate. In the United States, it took time for the Republicans to reach out to Hispanics, who voted massively for the Democrats despite being predominantly conservative, and in favour of immigration restrictions. The next turning point for the French right, if it wants to win, will be to turn to Muslims, who are mostly conservative but vote for the radical left-wing "woke" pro-IVG parties, etc. It will be a sort of revenge for the French right. It will be a kind of revenge on history.

 

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