Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King: Peace, justice and equity prevail in Re-Election of France’s Macron
Billions of people around the world are watching as yet another war unfolds in front of our eyes. Innocent Ukrainian lives are being lost in a war that, like most wars, should have never been waged. Meanwhile, in the presidential election in France, a candidate who has promoted radical, dangerous policies lost to the more common sense incumbent.
Many of the positions held by Marine Le Pen were of grave concern to not only French citizens and migrants but American citizens as well, particularly people of color. We believe that harmful rhetoric must be checked no matter who it is coming from and no matter where the person may be in the world. It is our duty to expose the truth behind candidates who do not, in our opinion, meet the moment. And make no mistake, we are at a pivotal moment in history. Democracy is under attack across the globe.
In America, we have all too often learned and re-learned firsthand the damaging impact of electing officials that lead with hatred and division. We as members of the global community must learn from our mistakes, which is why we are relieved that a candidate as troubling as Marine Le Pen was not successful.
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front party was well-known not for his eagerness to help french citizens but for his racist and anti-Semitic remarks. He stoked fear in the minds of those who did not look just like him or believe what he believed. This is all too familiar within American politics, or even worse, the politics of Vladimir Putin in Russia. We’ve seen how hateful and dangerous ideologies can tear parts of the world apart, even our own nation. Lives can be lost and irreparable harm to Democracy is done when we give these politicians who thrive on fear a megaphone. When Marine Le Pen rose through the ranks of her father’s party she did remove him from the party, but it is clear that the sentiments that he instilled in her still linger.
Although for vastly different reasons, we can empathize with Le Pen’s task of filling the large shoes of one’s father and it is certainly true that the sins of one’s father are not the sins of their own. She is not at fault for her father’s hateful rhetoric in the same way that we cannot claim to have influenced the Civil Rights Movement as Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King did. But this is where the similarities end. Dr. and Mrs. King built bridges among individuals who, at many times, could not see eye-to-eye. By contrast, Marine Le Pen continued in her father’s footsteps, although to a lesser degree, by picking winners and losers in society and punishing those whose views did not align with her own.
Le Pen’s platform clearly displays that her views are her father’s views repackaged for the masses. Her nativist and conservative goals include putting an end to “uncontrolled immigration,” lessening immigrant access to homes or aid, ending family reunification, “eradicating Islamist ideology” — including banning the use of headscarves and much more.
Her victory would have further fractured the bonds needed to ensure peace and security in France and around the world. Unsurprisingly, a Le Pen victory would have been welcomed by the likes of Vladimir Putin and others who feed the flames of division. Her defeat quickly fed the flames of Democracy for the entire world to see.
Martin Luther King Jr. wonderfully said, “This is a time of moral reckoning in our nation. We must choose to stand on the side of light and love” and he maintained that we should lay down violence and lawlessness and hold up love, wisdom, and compassion toward one another. We call on the people of all nations to do just that.
On behalf of the millions of people across the globe who felt threatened by what a Marine Le Pen victory would mean for Democracy, we say thank you to the majority of voters in France for not allowing this movement of hate to advance any further. The people of France turned their backs on divisiveness and hatred. The people of France chose love, wisdom and compassion for one another.
We stand firmly with the people of France and congratulate them for choosing a brighter future. The world is watching and we know that “hate is too great a burden to bear.” This moment in history demanded vigilance and you delivered. It is imperative that we elevate Dr. King’s vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all people, and Emmanuel Macron’s re-election pointed toward the path that we all strive for.