Didier Lemaire is a teacher of philosophy in the French city of Trappes. Mr. Lemaire responded to the beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty by writing an open letter to his fellow teachers decrying the Islamization of his school, his city, and the whole of France. As a result, he now has to have a police escort when traveling to and from school.
It’s worth noting that Didier Lemaire identifies himself as “center-left”. Secularism (laïcité) in France is a progressive institution. Therefore, Islamization — which attacks and undermines laïcité — should be widely denounced by the Left. Generally speaking, however, this isn’t the case. Mr. Lemaire is a courageous exception to that rule.
Below is the open letter from Didier Lemaire, as published by L’Obs:
On the eve of a new school year, grieving the death of Samuel Paty, Didier Lemaire, professor of philosophy at Trappes (Yvelines), calls for resistance in the face of the Islamist threat.
by Didier Lemaire
November 01, 2020
Didier Lemaire has been a professor of philosophy at Trappes for twenty years. As early as 2018, with Jean-Pierre Obin, Inspector of National Education and the author of a report on the attacks on secularism at school, he wrote a letter to the President of the Republic asking him to act urgently to protect his students from the ideological and social pressure exerted on them.
Today, he asks himself how teachers could compensate for the absence of a state strategy to defeat Islamism.
Dear fellow teachers,
A teacher, our colleague, died simply for teaching the principles that are the foundation of our republic and our history: freedom of thought and its corollary, freedom of expression.
Through him, these assassins targeted all the teachers who every day pass on this part of themselves that others have also passed on to them. This part which is the best part of ourselves because it makes us unique beings open to all other human beings.
Thought, freed from the fear of authority, ignorance, obscurantism, illusion and imprisonment in certainty, is indeed the most personal part of ourselves, because first of all it depends on us to build our judgment. In a society where we must think like others, without having the right to doubt and dialogue, no one can become himself.
But becoming a free individual is only possible under two conditions: a state based on the rule of law that prevents any community from confiscating the individual’s freedom by imposing a way of being and thinking, and a school that prepares every man to become a citizen by transmitting a humanistic, scientific, artistic and philosophical culture.
Yet the first of these conditions no longer exists in many neighborhoods. As a philosophy professor at Trappes for the past twenty years, I have witnessed the progression of an ever-stronger communitarian hold on consciences and bodies.
The year I arrived at the high school, the synagogue in Trappes was in flames and Jewish families were forced to leave. After the killings of 2015 and 2016, I became involved in preventive actions, notably through theater and meetings with historians and sociologists specializing in manipulation.
Noting that my efforts were coming up against forces beyond my control, in 2018, together with Jean-Pierre Obin I wrote to the President of the Republic to ask him to act urgently to protect our students from the ideological and social pressures exerted on them, pressures that were gradually cutting them off from the national community. Unfortunately, no effective action was taken to curb this phenomenon.
There are currently 400 S-file “radicalization” subjects in Trappes, who are freely roaming around, not counting the terrorism files. And our students live in a schizophrenic situation where the conflict of loyalties becomes unavoidable for them.
Exhausting the enemy
Today, it is the school and freedom that are under attack. Not only by one man, the murderer. The assassin is only the armed wing of a project carried out by thousands of ideologues who, like the Nazis in the past, maintain the sentiment of victimhood in order to incite hatred and prepare the way for action. These ideologues are by no means “separatists”: they do not simply want to remove populations from the national territory, they want to bring down the Republic and democracy and their heart, the school.
Their strategy was conjectured after 9/11 in Al-Souri’s book (whose outline was explained by political scientist Gilles Kepel, who has been living for years under judicial protection).
It consists, by multiplying acts of terror, “the thousand cuts”, of exhausting the enemy, too powerful for a frontal war. To do this, these ideologues use the quest for religious purity as the Nazis once used the quest for racial purity to present these killings as necessary and noble acts.
Membership in humanity then appears to be confined to the one “pure” group, the other to be eliminated. It is by exacerbating the feeling of humiliation among poorly-integrated populations and by making this religious purity sparkle that they push young losers, often delinquents and cut off from society, to hate France and the French people.
At the same time, they neutralize any awareness of the danger by playing on the bad conscience of the “progressives”, flirting with them under the guise of fighting against “racism”, “injustice” or “police violence”.
By saturating the public space with their emblems and practices, which are nevertheless signs of crimes against humanity, starting with the reduction of women to slavery, by infiltrating schools, universities, grandes écoles, the local and national political sphere, by spreading everywhere the double discourse and the injunction to “accept the other in his difference”, they paralyze any willingness to respond to these killings with anything other than words, candles and flowers.
This ideological war allows them to conquer legitimacy by perverting our ideals, by emptying them of their meaning. Some of them now occupy important positions, on the radio, in the cinema or even within the Government itself. They manage to pass themselves off as bulwarks against fanaticism while working in concert with ideologues who want to destroy our culture. Today we find them capable of influencing student unions, teachers, so-called secular parents’ associations and political parties that no longer hesitate to promote their anti-Semitism.
How to teach?
Hence, each time a massacre occurs, the state of stupefaction in public opinion. However, these killings obey a logic and a progression. They are rigorously carried out according to the same modus operandi: blind, dehumanized killing, entrenchment and final confrontation in order to die “as a martyr. Their progression proceeds by extension and intensification.
The first attacks targeted Jews, both adults and children. (They were preceded by about fifty attacks on synagogues from January 2000 to June 2001 that were not taken seriously, as here in Trappes). In the same year, the army was also targeted. Then it was other representatives of the state, police officers, and representatives of culture and other religions, French youth, and henceforth, any French person anywhere in the country. The attack on the school was a foreseeable objective because it had been declared since at least 2015.
We are at the beginning of a war of terror that will spread and amplify because a large part of our fellow citizens prefer not to see that it is our heritage that is threatened. Recognizing it would mean having to defend it with courage.
Samuel Paty had that courage. No doubt because he cherished our heritage. But he was not protected by the institution that underestimated the threat, faithful to the evasive conduct of our political representatives and the majority of our citizens.
And today we can only ask ourselves about the future of our profession. How can we teach languages, arts, sciences and general culture to children who are subjected, from a very early age, to the phenomenal social pressure of these ideologues? Should we continue to act as if our students were not themselves subject to this pressure?
How much longer will we be able to exercise our profession of transmission if the State does not fulfil its mission? Can we teachers compensate for the lack of strategy of our representatives to overcome this deadly scourge?
|00:00||Hello, Didier Lemaire. Hello, Patrick Roger.|
|00:03||You have been a teacher for 20 years in Trappes. You warn|
|00:06||regularly of the rise of an Islamist radicalism.|
|00:09||You wrote after the death of|
|00:12||Samuel Paty; today you are threatened.|
|00:15||Are you afraid, and will you give up?|
|00:18||I’m not afraid, nor do I feel like throwing in the towel,|
|00:22||because I am a teacher,|
|00:25||passionate about my job; I really like teaching philosophy.|
|00:28||I love teaching in Trappes, but I think I am being forced|
|00:31||to throw in the towel, because after this letter|
|00:34||in the “Obs” [French broadsheet],|
|00:37||slanderous remarks, threats|
|00:40||have circulated in the city of Trappes,|
|00:43||and so now I am no longer safe.|
|00:46||Yes, after your words following the death of Samuel Paty. Yes that’s it.|
|00:49||And what type of threats…|
|00:52||is it with your students, with their parents, with other people…|
|00:55||With my students… no, on the other hand, after the end of the holidays|
|00:58||my students asked me why I had written a text|
|01:01||“against” them. I tried to explain to them that I had written|
|01:04||a text “for” them, but I wanted to keep|
|01:07||my pedagogical freedom, and thus|
|01:10||did not want to follow up on the explanation of the text|
|01:13||concerning this letter. In this establishment|
|01:16||there are some colleagues, supervisors, who had not understood this text, either,|
|01:19||and who thought that|
|01:22||I had stigmatised a population, that I was racist,|
|01:25||that my words may have been hateful,|
|01:28||and then in the city itself, on social networks,|
|01:34||the letter had been circulating a lot,|
|01:37||and many accusations had been levelled against me.|
|01:40||And are you hateful, racist?|
|01:43||Or are you being used politically?|
|01:46||[Do you] militate for one side or the other?|
|01:49||I am deeply Republican, democrat|
|01:52||and I do not wish at all to be used by any|
|01:55||political party. However, I am|
|01:58||of a — let’s say — centre-left sensibility,|
|02:01||and I have recently joined|
|02:04||the party Republican Solidarity.|
|02:07||This is a very recent commitment.|
|02:10||And what do|
|02:13||you denounce in|
|02:16||the national education establishment today,|
|02:19||Didier Lemaire? Today there are attacks|
|02:22||on secularism that are not simply individual acts, but really repeated acts of pressure.|
|02:27||Repeated, collective, for example,|
|02:30||at the start of the year in a class,|
|02:33||all the girls in the class who|
|02:36||refuse a school outing on the pretext|
|02:39||that they will be filmed without their veil,|
|02:42||so it is this transformation, finally, inside the school itself,|
|02:50||on our pedagogical freedom,|
|02:53||and which creates indeed a permanent tension|
|02:56||for the teachers. But you exchange with these students because|
|02:59||because you have been a teacher of philosophy for 20 years in this school.|
|03:02||What has really changed? Only two years ago, my students could express,|
|03:07||for example, a criticism of secularism,|
|03:10||tell me that secularism was directed against Muslims. I could have a discussion with them,|
|03:15||including about the veil.|
|03:18||Students thought about it, often even changing their position|
|03:24||Today what I observe is a lot of silence,|
|03:27||many “words left unsaid”,|
|03:30||and a difficulty to even have a connection|
|03:33||with certain students — not all students; we are not there yet.|
|03:36||All Muslim students are not like this, Didier Lemaire.|
|03:39||No, not at all …|
|03:42||but the Muslim students who, I would say, practice|
|03:45||their religion in a moderate way and as spirituality,|
|03:48||today they are in a minority in Trappes,|
|03:51||and are under very strong pressure|
|03:54||from the Salafists, including in the classrooms.|
|03:57||I have a student, for example, who refuses|
|04:00||to cover up because she considers that the veil|
|04:03||is in no way a religious sign — incidentally, in the Koran|
|04:06||there is no obligation to wear|
|04:09||this veil, and it’s very difficult for her today|
|04:14||to… er… the looks from her comrades,|
|04:17||the constant remarks|
|04:20||make it… for this young girl…|
|04:23||…being a Muslima moderate is becoming difficult.|
|04:26||And moreover I can state that|
|04:29||the Maghreb atheists and the moderate Muslims are in the process of|
|04:32||of leaving the city. Yes, that’s the city of Trappes. —What answer do you get from|
|04:38||the National Education when you alert them to what you see?|
|04:41||I alerted the President of the Republic two years ago|
|04:44||about the situation inside the school.|
|04:49||What I find is that|
|04:52||attacks on secularism, whether|
|04:55||individual or collective, do not give rise to|
|04:58||any sign, let’s say,|
|05:01||no serious manifestation,|
|05:04||no reminder of the law. And that is extremely|
|05:07||problematic, because in the end every time|
|05:10||it’s individual negotiation that is treated individually|
|05:13||as a psychological problem between|
|05:16||the student and the teacher, when it really is a|
|05:19||pressure and a threat that weighs heavily on our teaching.|
|05:22||Yes, Didier Lemaire I imagine that you have exchanges with your colleagues,|
|05:25||since you’ve been in this establishment for 20 years.|
|05:28||What are they saying to you? All of them do not agree with you,|
|05:31||do not see things the way you do?|
|05:34||Some see things the way I do, but most, I would say,|
|05:37||have a… how should I put it…|
|05:40||How can I explain it to you? Have a way…|
|05:43||an attitude not to see,|
|05:46||or not to consider these things…|
|05:49||important, so they put them on|
|05:52||a secondary plan: “They are young girls…”|
|05:55||“These are signs of revolt…”|
|05:58||“It’s not so bad in the end…” and they close their eyes.|
|06:01||Yes, it’s true. It’s adolescence; one is a little lost… so one can understand them.|
|06:05||Is there also a fear? —A fear among the teachers? Yes.|
|06:09||Yes, this is certain.|
|06:12||I can give you some very specific examples: Some weeks ago|
|06:15||two teachers in France, one in Pau|
|06:18||and one in Nimes, who have been threatened with death by parents|
|06:21||of students. Regarding the school|
|06:24||in Nice, the École Jean Moulin, an elementary|
|06:27||school. So, an S-File [“Fiche-S”, for Islamism]|
|06:30||who had already been|
|06:33||prosecuted for acts of violence,|
|06:36||said to the school principal:|
|06:39||“I will make you a worse case than Samuel Paty.”|
|06:42||The [other] teachers did not go to the hearing|
|06:45||to testify; they were afraid to.|
|06:48||What would you wish from|
|06:51||the Authorities — from the Government,|
|06:54||the President of the Republic? You said that you had sent him|
|06:57||a letter, from National Education,|
|07:00||and also from the teaching staff in general?|
|07:03||Let me start with the Teaching Body. I think that|
|07:06||it is time that they get up and stop|
|07:09||keeping silent, that they show a little more courage,|
|07:12||because when we see that today|
|07:15||one out of every two teachers self-censors in class,|
|07:18||it’s really serious, because it means|
|07:21||we cannot do our job, which truly consists|
|07:24||of letting the personality of the students flourish, their singularity,|
|07:27||and also teach them|
|07:30||the use of reason, usage which allows us|
|07:33||to have dialogue, to debate, to have different points of view.|
|07:36||So, if the school can no longer fulfil this mission,|
|07:39||what is its purpose?|
|07:42||And the authorities? —About the authorities:|
|07:45||from them I would demand urgent measures,|
|07:48||really urgently to protect the school, and very specific measures. I think there are things to do,|
|07:53||very simple things, which could already|
|07:56||relieve the pressure. So the first thing to do in my opinion:|
|07:59||There must be in each rectorship|
|08:02||a cell that gathers|
|08:05||territorial information, one chargé de mission,|
|08:08||rectorate of security,|
|08:11||in order to allow leaders of the establishment|
|08:14||to be informed that in their school some students are likely to have|
|08:19||S-File parents. There are 30,000 S-Files|
|08:24||in France. It’s not about taking all these|
|08:27||S-files, I think that it is a measure of protection, of prevention,|
|08:32||for S-Files for Islamism|
|08:35||and dangerous people. I think that steps should be taken|
|08:38||to remove them, and to not school their children.|
|08:43||Not school their children? So what can we do|
|08:46||with those children? They have the right to…|
|08:49||we are in a Republic, and they have the right to an education. —Yes, here I think that the question|
|08:54||of parental authority is posed.|
|08:57||Meaning… so I will… er… I will approach it from a different side: One attack|
|09:02||on secularism in a school|
|09:05||should be worth the displacement of a student,|
|09:09||and if there is recidivism, loss of parental authority.|
|09:14||Why? Because it is a measure that protects the child|
|09:17||from the Islamist pressure,|
|09:20||that is to say, that the Republic comes to protect the freedom of conscience, concretely,|
|09:25||and it hinders the parent from exercising violence|
|09:28||at the same time against the child and the school institution.|
|09:31||These are three very simple measures that would have, I think, an immediate effect.|
|09:35||Didier Lemaire, you go to school under police escort.|
|09:39||What is your future? Are you staying in|
|09:42||National Education, or not?|
|09:45||I think the more I expose myself, the more my security|
|09:48||is at stake. So it seems really very difficult to me.|
|09:51||I am really leaving with regret,|
|09:54||because I would like to finish my year|
|09:57||well protected, but it seems to me that even this will perhaps|
|10:00||be difficult, in view of|
|10:06||I note that the Republic has failed in Trappes,|
|10:09||and we have to admit this today.|
|10:12||Thank you, Didier Lemaire, for your testimony|
|10:18||this morning on Sud Radio.