Dear Mister Trump
Today after the terrible bombings that happened in Belgium, you were interviewed by a Fox anchor and said, among other stupid things :
“Look at Brussels. Look at Paris. Look at so many cities that were great cities. Paris is almost, almost as bad. Paris is no longer the beautiful city of lights. Paris has got a lot of problems. All you have to do is speak to the people that live there.”
Dear Mister Trump, I’m French and I happen to live in Paris. I wasn’t born here, but I have been living in the French capital city for the last 24 years, so I am de facto a Parisian. This is how it works here; you just get to fall in love with the city and it happens. (Yes, even if you are a Muslim).
I also happen to be a translator for Slate, so I get to read and write a lot of stuff about you these days—amazing as it may seem, French people know who you are, and many have a hard time actually believing you are real. But hey, we also have our racist, sexist, shameless share of politicians here.
So as a Parisian, as a French woman (yes, blood regularly comes out of my wherever !!!), I’d like to tell you how it REALLY is, around here.
Paris is no longer the beautiful city of lights, you say. It is, though. Do you know why? Because something prevents French people from doing exactly what you plan for your own country: excluding people because of what they believe in, waterboarding prisoners, spitting on women, preventing freedom of speech, letting people walk around with deadly weapons in their pockets... And do you know what these things are? They are the lights of our capital city, so bright that they shine all over the country.
Oh yes, here too some of us are tempted by your methods. Some Europeans are, shame on them, giving in and trying to build walls in order to prevent refugees to come in. So far, and let us hope it will last, because it is a battle still raging, the lights hold on strong and bright.
You say “Paris has a lot of problems. All you have to do is to speak to the people who live here.” Right. Come and speak to me, to my neighbours, my friends, my kids, their teachers, my hairdresser, the boulanger.
Do you know the kind of problems we have? Well the self-service bike stations are typically empty just when you need one. Shit happens, especially under your feet just when you go on a date. The café-croissant en terrasse is more and more expensive. The bar downstairs is too noisy on Saturday night. The Seine is still too disgusting to swim in. The museums are closed on Tuesday (or is it Monday?). In Pigalle, the sex-shops look like huge department stores for Japanese tourists. And don’t get me started on all the real estates agencies opening in every corner of my neighbourhood.
Yes, you got it: I’m making fun of you here. Of course we have our problems. Unemployment, poverty, dog shit (I’m serious there), terrorists, racism, homophobia, expensive rents. Who doesn’t? Who on earth could seriously believe there is such a place as a city with no problems? Do you live in the Kingdom of Caring? Or do you take the people you talk to for fools, by any chance?
So please, Mister Trump, stop using our predicament to serve your own means. You have more than enough in the US I think, and quite a lot of voters are already eager to believe your shaky arguments about what goes wrong at home. Brussels is bleeding and mourning and hurting right now, just as Paris was last year. Respect us. My country, my city, are not voting arguments that you can use to make a point.
You see, using the dark shadow of terror and waving a wounded country around in order to win a few more votes would not happen here, in Paris. Too many lights, I suppose.