Classic western values like free speech and tolerance need all the defenders they can find these days. Kudos to French President Emmanuel Macron for volunteering for the mission. It’s not an easy task, but an important one. Mr Macron is right to conclude that this is vital for France’s future – and we would add that it is vital for America.
Mr Macron and his government ministers have been fighting illiberal and divisive philosophies that they say came from American universities for the past few months. Mr. Macron in October condemned the influence of “certain social science theories that were wholly imported from the United States”.
Specifically, he means the habit of viewing most affairs in a racist way – a key principle of “wakefulness” – and his government wants educational institutions to avoid this. This week, the Minister for Higher Education, Frédérique Vidal, promised an investigation into scientists “who want to see, break and divide everything through the prism”.
This is part of a broader drive to reassert French values after many years of Islamist terrorist attacks. Mr Macron is also pushing for new crackdown on religious extremism, and his law to that end was passed this week by a chamber of the National Assembly.
Mr Macron’s political and philosophical insight is to combine the fight against violent extremism from outside France and the defense of democratic values within France. His October speech, detailing his new plan to fight Islamism, contained a warning that a focus on “post-colonial or anti-colonial” discourse is a form of “self-hatred” France that allows Islamism to flourish. Officials like Ms. Vidal also warn against “Islamic leftists”.