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A Wind of Madness Blows Over Franco-American Relations

Donald Trump has shocked France. The American president laments the disappearance of an eternal Paris, while U.S. immigration officers detain French researchers at the border.

It all started when Donald Trump declared that Americans should not visit France. The Potus said his (probably non-existent) friend, “Jim,” had told him he would no longer be visiting the French capital because “Paris wasn’t Paris anymore.” The message is little more than common prejudice. The perfect Paris dreamed up by Jim (A.K.A. Donald) is supposedly filled with “born-and-bred” French people — a favorite term used by the Front National to avoid saying “white” — all sporting berets, moustaches and baguettes. This timeless Paris is a well-rooted ideal held by Americans who know little or nothing about France. Woody Allen represents this Paris in his films, but freely admits he never strays out of the 8th and 16th arrondissements. This fantasy city is also the subject of works by “writers” such as Pamela Druckerman (Bringing up Bébé) and Mireille Guiliano (French Women Don’t Get Fat). Apparently, these authors have never set foot in the north or the east of the capital, whose neighborhoods are now as cosmopolitan as New York.

I remember watching Laurent Cantet’s film The Class in Manhattan. The movie tells the true story of a philosophy teacher in a Parisian high school in the 20th arrondissement. A large number of his students come from Africa, and have difficulty speaking French and mastering the vocabulary of Descartes. Americans in the audience asked me if the film was really set in Paris. Upon hearing that it indeed was, they exclaimed: “So Paris is just like the Bronx!” Perhaps Jim was in the theater that evening. Paris has become a globalized, cosmopolitan city, which makes it even livelier and less traditional. It’s safe to say that Jim — just like Donald and certain French people — don’t like immigrants of color ruining their little fantasy.

These anecdotes take a more serious turn with the misfortune of Henry Rousso. The French historian and Holocaust expert is renowned in our two countries, and was invited to a conference at Texas A&M University. But on his way to the event, he was detained at Houston airport on February 22. Immigration officers revented him from entering the country for ten hours, on the pretext that Henry only had a tourist visa, despite coming to talk at a conference. In this case, they claimed, he should have had a work visa. This argument has no legal grounding, and if it were true it would prevent any academic dialogue and university conferences between France and America. The president of the university and a team of lawyers had to intervene to obtain Henry’s freedom. The immigration department put the mistake down to the “inexperience” of one of their officers.

It was Henry’s birthplace, in Cairo, which set off his interrogation. “How could he be both French and born in Cairo?” And this is not an isolated case. The vice-president of the pharmaceutical laboratory Novartis was recently detained at Kennedy Airport, where he had to explain why he was French but born in Algeria. Donald and Jim should understand that you can be French and born elsewhere. You can even be black or Arabic. But perhaps Donald and Jim prefer “alternative facts” to the truth.

  • The Stupidity of this article is in perfect keeping with the “politicallyy correct” knee jerk response of the libtard left in France as in the USA. Yes, inore the great increase in crime and the horrible acts of terrorism in Paris, and France…and Europe and the world, committed by your well integrated muslims. …I know I a great about, Paris, France and Europe as I lived, study, worked there for five years and knew a Paris that was clean, safe, and secure, which it is very from being that today…Why? …AHHH! because of MASS IMMIGRATION AND NO INTEGRATION…. which is resulting in an escalating civil war between the native white French and those who have come there to invade and destroy it..as they are doing and will do…

    • What native White French are you talking about? France has always been a land of immigration and it’ll be hard to find French people without any foreign origin or mixed blood. Same goes for Americans… the difference is there actually are native Americans in the US and how well are they integrated in the society you built? But that’s another story.

    • There is no civil war in Paris. Check the statistics of how many people get killed in France by terrorist attacks and how many in the USA by gun shot. Terrorism increase is worldwide thanks to Mr Bush policy in Irak which was the beginning.

  • IT IS OBVIOUS THAT Mr TRUMP THE “SO CALLED ” PRESIDENT OF THE USA
    HAS NOT MADE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN BUT HE TOOK BY HIMSELF “THE UGLY AMERICAN ” OUT OF HIS GRAVE …. WHAT A PITY!!!!
    MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA SHE NEEDS IT…

  • We in America are getting fed up with the anti Trump messages. Paris and Brussels and Istanbul are places Americans will not travel because of terrorist attacks so your article is completely wrong. And when people travel they should have the correct visas, so we in America do not appreciate you putting down our laws

    • Ah yes, we are all just trembling with fear at the idea of even leaving our own homes here in America! Nice to know that Donald has made you feel scared to step outside your own front door, Nina, since that’s precisely what his bombastic, fact-averse rhetoric wants you feel. As long as you’re afraid, he’s in control and can convince you of anything (including imprisoning and victimizing innocent people) in the name of your “safety.” I was in Paris in October, by myself, and felt perfectly safe; I’m planning another trip to France for this year. That you’re allowing conservative, right-wing fearmongering to control you is a real shame. You’re missing out on a lot.

  • As a Parisian who lived for many years in the States (long before Trump heureusement) I think Sorman ‘s viewpoint is quite accurate, and that mister Trump’s image of Paris is just grotestque! If you are fed up to see anti Trump messages, just get another president!

  • Il faut savoir, pour comprendre les mots de Trump a propos de Paris, que M. Henry Rousso a dit, selon les reportages que j’ai lus en anglais, que “Les Etas Unis ne sont plus les memes U.S.A”

  • When US government workers travel to France to attend or speak at a conference, they are required to have a Visa. Non US government workers traveling to France to attend or speak at a conference usually don’t get a Visa, but they should if their primary purpose is work not leisure.

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