Audrey Pulvar, the deputy mayor of Paris, has prompted widespread fury online and throughout France for saying that White Frenchmen should be “silent” when people of color discuss racism.
Pulvar, the Socialist Party’s (PS) candidate for the presidency of the Île-de-France region, told French BFM TV on Saturday that she was not shocked to hear people of color who are a part of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF) hold special meetings where White Frenchmen are not welcome, Le Point reports.
The deputy mayor of the France’s capital city also suggested that White Frenchmen stay silent while Black people and other ethnic minorities discuss racism. Pulvar’s comments have reignited concerns that American “woke” culture poses a threat to the French state and its culture.
“People who suffer discrimination for the same reasons and in the same way feel the need to meet among themselves to discuss it,” Pulvar said.
Pulvar then suggested “if a White woman or White man” attempts to attend these “workshops” then they could be kept outside or be asked to “be silent, and to be a silent spectator.”
Following the BMF TV interview, Pulvar’s comments were swiftly rebuked by many of France’s top political figures, with many branding her statements as racist and diametrically opposed to French cultural values.
Valerie Pecresse, the president of the Regional Council of Île-de-France, was one of those politicians, saying: “I believe in the indivisibility of the Republic and the in the unity of the nation. In my region, no inhabitant should be discriminated against because of the color of their skin. There is no such thing as ‘acceptable racism! I will always be a bulwark against those who try to fracture our country.”
Je crois à l’indivisibilité de la République & à l’unité de la nation. Dans ma région, aucun habitant ne doit être discriminé pour la couleur de sa peau. Il n'y a pas de racisme "acceptable"! Je serai toujours un rempart face à ceux qui tentent de fracturer notre pays.
— Valérie Pécresse (@vpecresse) March 27, 2021
MEP Agnès Evren, the vice-president of the center-right Republicans, referred to Pulvar’s statement as “scandalous” and stated that her comments reveal the Left’s “moral decay” and “racist feelings” against “white-skinned Frenchmen”.
#AudreyPulvar illustre par une phrase raciste la haine des Français blancs de peau et la déliquescence morale de la gauche : « les blancs doivent se taire ». Imaginez l’inverse si on avait dit : « les noirs doivent se taire ». Scandaleux! Non au racisme ! pic.twitter.com/634TVf4mlC
— Agnes Evren (@AgnesEvren) March 28, 2021
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the right-wing populist Nationally Rally party went even further, demanding that Pulvar be prosecuted for “racial discrimination”.
“We must put an end to this racist escalation on the part of a section of the extreme left which is freed from all legal, moral, and republican rules,” Le Pen wrote.
“It is this left which flounders in Islamo-leftism and hatred of whites who aspires to preside over the first region of France?” the National Rally president asked the party’s spokesman, Jordan Bardella, who also happens to be a candidate for the presidency of the Île-de-France region.
Le parquet doit engager des poursuites pour provocation à la discrimination raciale contre Mme Pulvar.
Il faut mettre fin à cette escalade raciste de la part d’une partie de l’extrême gauche qui s’affranchit de toutes les règles légales, morales et républicaines. MLP https://t.co/l2c6Ty3XOD
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) March 27, 2021
Franck Riester, Emmanuel Macron’s French minister delegate for foreign trade and economic attractiveness, also lambasted Pulvar’s comments, saying: “It is not by excluding but by including that we will fight against racism. It is necessary to do exactly the opposite of what was said by Audrey Pulvar. These comments are serious, shocking, and contrary to the universalism that brings us together.”
Others — mainly left-wing journalists, political pundits, and politicians — have defended Pulvar’s controversial statements, claiming that they were not in fact racist.