John Oliver Speaks French To Convince France To Vote The Right Way. Promises To Stop Speaking French If They Do.
Ordinarily, I try not to draw comparisons between current events and historical ones. Not that I’m trying not to remember history lest I repeat it, but more so I agree with that thing that Mark Twain probably didn’t say: History never repeats itself but it rhymes.” We can’t possibly know everything that’s ever happened, meaning that our historical points of reference are already subject to a selection bias. Every wanna-be dictator is Hitler, never Sheldon Plankton. So I’m not yet ready to declare that Brexit, Trump, and the possible election of Marine Le Pen portend the inevitable WWIII. I’m 100 percent ready to declare though, that the election of Marine Le Pen would be goddamn awful.
So to hopefully cut off some of the responses at the pass, I need to say first: I do not think that the dissolution of the EU or end of the Euro zone will be a good thing. But I am going to argue that we need to stop arguing as if we know that the dissolution will be disastrous. For two reasons. First, because the prediction game is notoriously hard. We’d be arguing about what we predict would happen as a result of an event which hasn’t occurred yet. That’s a lot of moving parts. The second, and more important reason, is that the predictions undermine the currently present, very real damage that Le Pen could inflict on France.
Let’s imagine for a second that Le Pen is elected, and France decides to stay in the EU. Or that they do leave the EU, it collapses, but everything turns out just fine. Does that mean that Le Pen is no longer terrible for France, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the world? Of course not. Because having a far-right, racist and nationalistic president in charge of a world power is bad in the U.S., and will be bad in France. In the same vein, what if (fingers crossed) Trump manages to not get us embroiled in another years’ long conflict in the Middle East or with North Korea? What if he spends the majority of his presidency as he’s spent his first one hundred days, by being mostly ineffective? And we never see the roll back of women’s reproductive rights, Obamacare, drastic tax cuts for the wealthy, or the implementation of Russia as our (not the awesome kind) overlords? Would any of that make the election of a racist, misogynistic, joke of an incompetent, sexually assaulting xenophobe any better?
That’s also not to say that Trump or Le Pen’s elections would have only symbolic harm. This isn’t only about the dehumanization and degradation of the social value of women and people of color. Trump’s EOs have caused irreversible damage to the environment, to women in need of reproductive care in other countries, and to the families of deported undocumented citizens. Much in the same way I can only imagine Le Pen would do very real damage to France. But there’s no reason to predict that they will be the downfall of modern society. They’re already just really terrible human beings.
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