by WorldTribune Staff, June 21, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron said he will not allow rioters to destroy statues or “rewrite” France’s history.
“We will be inflexible when it comes to tackling racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, and new strong decisions will be made to reinforce the egality of chances,” Macron said, according to a translation provided by TIME. “But this noble fight is perverted when it turns into communitarianism, into a false rewriting of history.”
Macron has come under increased pressure to remove statues and revisit other works of art that honor French historical figures involved in slavery and France’s colonial history.
“This is unacceptable when it is picked up by separatists. I tell you very clearly tonight my dear fellow citizens, the Republic will not erase any trace or name from its history,” Macron said. “It will not forget any of its deeds or take down any statue. What we need to do is to look all together with lucidity on all of our history and all our memory. Our relation to Africa in particular so we can build a present and a possible future from one to the other side of Mediterranean.”
This movement to tear down any references to colonial history has swept other European countries, including the UK, where authorities have had to take measures to protect some of the nation’s monuments, including a statue of Winston Churchill.
“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet. “It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors. Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial.”
“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations,” Johnson continued. “They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come.”
“But it is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence. The attacks on the police and indiscriminate acts of violence which we have witnessed over the last week are intolerable and they are abhorrent,” Johnson concluded.
— TIME (@TIME) June 14, 2020