A black television host in France was insulted recently on a live program by a writer renowned for his racism and outrageous statements. The author in question, Eric Zemmour, contended that the host's name, Hapsatou Sy, was an insult to France. He said the host has an Arabic name and not a more traditional French name inspired by, say, one of the Christian saints.
In other words, the provocative author underlined that French citizens of black and/or Muslim-origin will never be considered fully French. It is obvious he is racist, perhaps also a monarchist. It appears he has forgotten that since the French Revolution, one of the main principles of the country is equality for all citizens, not matter their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
The author's racism and discriminatory remarks will certainly be investigated; however, no matter what the judicial process finds, the scene was quite sad. Besides, the insulted female host tried to prove that she had every right to claim equality by saying that many people of African descent have fought and died for France. One wonders whether one needs to have relatives who have died for the country to enjoy basic human rights. We know no matter what the law says, a black or a Muslim is still not seen as 100 percent French by the country's society. This is not about the law, but about social perceptions and everyday life.
How meaningful is to die for another country? It is true that many Africans have died for France, but their motherlands were colonized, and many of these people did not have a choice. Some French are now saying to these people, "We included you in our national community but don't presume that we will see you as equal to us." That's why there are people still trying to decide what kind of name people of African or Muslim descent should pick for their children. The "white man" will always determine whether or not a name is acceptable.
This incident parallels another from last week. During a press conference on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump thanked "the Kurds" by saying, "Kurds have died for us; we will never forget it." It is not true to say that Kurds have died only for the sake of the U.S., because Syrian Kurds have fought for many reasons – by the way, what Trump meant by Kurds is not Kurdish civilians, but a bunch of PKK-linked non-state groups. Even if they, from time to time, fought alongside U.S. troops, we know they have also killed American allies. Nonetheless, even if we accept that "Kurds" have indeed died for the U.S., a huge problem still remains.
Even if they died for the U.S., these Kurds would never be considered worthy of true American status. The French example is clear. Let's imagine these Kurdish people decided to one day immigrate to the U.S. and become U.S. citizens; some people would always come forward and say they could never be real Americans with names like Mehmet, Berdan or Dicle. They may also say, "Have you ever heard of an American president with one of these names? They are not one of us."
By his declaration, Trump has, in fact, confessed how the U.S. is using other nations, while these very people are considered second-class according to their skin color, religion or mother tongue. White supremacists will always believe that people with different skin colors and religions should never be treated as equals. They can use them, but they will never respect them.
Some people, for different reasons, may fight for France, the U.S. or for other foreign countries. They must not forget what happened to the black TV host in France. This may happen to their grandchildren, too, and they will be the ones blamed for that.