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Pap Ndiyae on France5, 2017. Screenshot from YouTube

Le Pen and Zemmour attack the new education minister

In the wake of the announcement of the new government in France, the main figures of the opposition have expressed their utter displeasure, fake and real.

Published: May 23, 2022, 10:53 am

    If it is customary to say that a second mandate never starts with a state of grace, it is even less the case for a new government… especially three weeks before the first round of legislative elections. On Friday 20 May, barely an hour after the announcement of the new government by Alexis Kohler, Secretary General of the Elysée, the new ministers were greeted by a salvo of criticism from the opposition.

    It was Islamo-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who disingenuously complained about the government not being far-left enough, providing a smokescreen for President Macron’s already very far-left choices.

    Listing a large part of the new government, the leader of La France insoumise announced his gripes. Jean-Luc Mélenchon pointed the finger at “the main figures of social abuse and ecological irresponsibility” and mocked a “gray and dull” government, composed “without audacity”. But he made sure to praise the new Minister of Education Pap Ndiaye.

    Pap Ndiaye is the main target for criticism

    The former socialist senator Mélenchon was pleased with the departure of Jean-Michel Blanquer and Frédérique Vidal, “the two crusaders in the fight against Islamo-leftism”, but he welcomed the appointment of Pap Ndiaye to the Ministry of National Education, flattering “a great intellectual”, while regretting that the latter had “compromised” by joining Emmanuel Macron.

    Islamo-leftism in French universities has been a highly controversial issue in public debate. In 2020, Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer, told Europe 1 that “what is called Islamo-leftism is wreaking havoc. It wreaks havoc at the university, it wreaks havoc when the UNEF [National Union of Students of France] gives in to this type of thing, it wreaks havoc when in the ranks of La France insoumise, you have people who are of this current and appear as such. These people promote an ideology which then, from time to time, leads to the worst”.

    In 2021 in response the then Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal, Ndiaye insisted that “the term Islamo-leftism does not designate any reality at the university” after Vidal said there should be an investigation into this nefarious current of thought.

    Mélenchon’s willingness to side with Macron during the second round of the presidential election, guaranteed the president’s second term and sank Marine Le Pen’s chances of becoming the leader of the country.

    Le Pen and Zemmour

    The virulently anti-white Ndiaye has particularly caught the attention of Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.

    “The appointment of Pap Ndiaye, an assertive indigenist, to the National Education is the latest stone in the deconstruction of our country, its values and its future,” wrote Marine Le Pen on Twitter, calling on the French to elect a maximum number of RN deputies “to protect our youth from the worst ideologies.

    Jordan Bardella echoed this call, expressing alarm at “an extremely worrying signal being sent to French pupils within the national education system, which is already undermined by communitarianism”. The term “communitarianism” is often used in France to describe communities which do not wish to be integrated into French culture, in this case non-whites.

    Finally, Eric Zemmour was even more laconic: “Emmanuel Macron had said that we had to deconstruct French history. Pap Ndiaye will do it.”

    From a more general point of view, Marine Le Pen also denounced the reappointment of “all those who have greatly failed”, evoking a reshuffle that “symbolizes the incompetence and arrogance of Emmanuel Macron”.

    Pap Ndiaye will thus be the new Minister of National Education. This is the first time he has entered the government and his appointment was certainly unexpected.

    He replaces Jean-Michel Blanquer. The black historian, specialising in minorities and the social history of blacks in the United States, is the author of La Condition noire (published by Gallimard, 2009).

    On his return to France from the US, he obtained a position as a lecturer at the EHESS where his work focused more on the black question, the discourses and practices of “racial discrimination” in France and America. He is one of the pioneers in France in dealing with the complex issue of the population of African descent living in France and in the diaspora, which is called Black studies in the United States.

    Notably through his book, he had hoped to “lay the foundations [of this] new field of study”.

    Introducing ‘diversity’ in France

    In 2003, alongside other intellectuals such as Patrick Lozès and Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, he participated in the creation of an association to further “diversity”, known as the Cercle d’action pour la promotion et la diversité en France (Capdiv). Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch testified: “We did not want to appear as communalists, but to deal with the discrimination suffered by black people. Pap was very involved.”

    In 2005, the Representative Council of Black Associations in France (Cran), chaired by Patrick Lozès, was created and Pap Ndiaye chaired the “scientific council”.

    He set out arguments in favor of the use of ethnic statistics in France, for “scientific and political reasons”, in order to identify racial discrimination. According to Le Monde in 2009, Ndiaye “wanted to fuel the debate on French- style affirmative action”.

    Ndiaye was critical of the removal in 2018 of the word “race” from Article 1 of the Constitution, considering that this risks weakening the fight against racism. He offered an explanation for his viewpoint in an interview with Le Monde in 2019: “Even if it is obvious that ‘race’ does not exist from a biological point of view, it is clear that it has not disappeared in mentalities: it has survived as an imaginary category historically constructed, with powerful social effects. Even if the intention is laudable, abolishing ‘race’ in the social sciences or the Constitution will not eliminate discrimination based on it.”

    Ndiaye is also one of the co-authors of the report condemning the lack of ethnic diversity at the Paris Opera. The Paris Opera has taken the unprecedented decision to review its recruitment criteria to encourage the entry of more non-white artists, and has announced the future appointment of a “diversity officer”. This followed from the report submitted at the initiative of its director, on this subject, FranceInter reported at the time.

    For the first time, the institution had launched a mission on the racial issue, at a time when employees were calling for the abolition of certain practices within the three-hundred-year-old establishment, with a manifesto entitled De la question raciale à l’Opéra national de Paris.

    The instigators were Constance Rivière, the Secretary General of the human right association Défenseure des droits, and Ndiaye, reported France Culture.

    The new Minister of National Education took part in a “non-mixed” meeting (forbidden to whites) with indigenous leaders Maboula Soumahoro and François Vergès. According to him, “anti-white racism” is part of the “vocabulary of the extreme right” and it is important for him to “deconstruct” this vocabulary.

    He is adamant that “there is indeed a structural racism in France” and has praised the BLM activist Assa Traoré: “Her speech is unifying. I hear a speech of convergence rather than a speech of division. A speech that calls for equality”.

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