“Le Monde” and “New York Times” argue about censorship – who wins the fight?
Two left-liberal newspapers, open, tolerant and cosmopolitan. But you can also do it differently. France is blind to its racism and “unable to adapt to a changed world”, writes the “New York Times” to the address of the country “which used to be a great power”. “Le Monde” counters that the US is hindering freedom of speech and is being “destroyed” by political correctness and the cancel culture. The NYT no longer produces cartoons; and after the brutal murder of the French history teacher Samuel Paty, the headline was: “ The French police shoot and kill a man after a fatal knife attack in the street.”
When the French government announced a crackdown on jihadists, the Financial Times insinuated that President Macron was dividing his country with a “declaration of war on Islamic separatism”.
The Washington Post and the New York Times claimed that Paris was marginalizing the Muslim community as a whole with its headscarf ban, thereby indirectly promoting the popularity of Salafist mosques in the banlieue. Macron then called the NYT media editor personally and scolded him for legitimizing the violence against cartoonists and teachers.
A week ago, the New York Times fired another broadside across the Atlantic. In the title of a long article, your Paris correspondent Norimitsu Onishi asks blatantly ironic: “Do American ideas threaten French cohesion?” His thesis: the American debates on racism, MeToo or gender exposed the “French unity of thought”, which does not allow any cultural differences or deviations from the norm.
French unified thinking vs. American culture canceling
The NYT correspondent argues that US society lives from cultural diversity and respect for ethnic, sexual or other minorities; France, on the other hand, does not even allow “racial” statistics and thus turns a blind eye to its social realities. This attitude is rooted in France in a “long history of the negation of racism, the colonial past and the slave trade”.
The American newspaper ignored “dozens of examples of censorship in the US, plus galloping self-censorship and the appalling narrowing of the choice of words for academics and cultural workers.” As evidence, “Le Monde” cites a survey according to which 65 percent of the French see the cancel culture as a danger to democracy. Encouraged by this, the prestigious Paris newspaper comes to the conclusion: “Fortunately, France is not yet America.”
Such a national grid is astonishing on the part of an emphatically liberal paper. It would not take much to understand that the French “pensée unique” (unified thinking) can have similar consequences as the American culture cancellation. In Lille, northern France, the by no means reactionary ex-President François Hollande was prevented from appearing at the university because he did not represent enough social positions.
Image: EPA / EPA
In Bordeaux, the faculty canceled a conference with the philosopher Sylviane Agacinski after the wife of the former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin raised ethical concerns about the approval of artificial insemination for lesbian and other women.
Self-censorship is easier than self-criticism
The withdrawals may have been influenced by American debates. But they have French authors and something else very French, as the conservative political philosopher Frédéric Mas notes:
The Sorbonne had to cancel a cycle on the subject of «radicalization» because the Algerian critic of Islamism Mohamed Sifaoui – accusing his opponent of Islamophobia – was supposed to take part.
Behind this rejection were undoubtedly more internal French motives than American influence. But self-censorship is easier than self-criticism. With the “New York Times” holding up the mirror to the French and “Le Monde”, conversely, the Americans, the two editorial offices prefer to follow Jean-Paul Sartre’s bon mot: Hell is the other.
Would you like to support watson and journalism?
(You will be redirected to complete the payment)
Hijab & amp; Co. – Wraps from headscarves to burqas
Concealment ban? A Swiss couple is talking here who really knows what they’re talking about
You might also be interested in:
Subscribe to our newsletter