…En dan was er op woensdag 21 oktober 2020 nog een belangrijke ander speech. Hoe anders, als je deze vergelijkt met de speech van onze koning. President Macron sprak ter nagedachtenis van de onthoofde leraar Samuel Paty. Oprecht, vanuit pathos, ethos en logos. Alles viel op z’n plaats. Prachtig, ontroerend, recht uit het hart. Ook voor gelezen, maar woorden, intonatie en lichaamstaal vielen hier wel samen. Macron’s stem klonk koud en kill bij alles waar hij niet over wilde spreken, de terrorist. Maar werd zacht, vol compassie, medeleven, emotie waar ie het wel over wilde hebben, het slachtoffer en zijn nabestaanden.
(Here is the translation of his speech)
This evening, I will not use words to evoke the fight against political and radical Islamism that leads to terrorism. I have used words before. I have named the wrongs. We have decided on actions, we have solidified them, and we will see them through.
This evening, I will not speak of the procession of terrorists, their accomplices, or of the cowards who committed and made possible this attack. I will not speak of those who delivered his name to barbarians, they do not deserve it. They no longer have names.
This evening, I will not speak more about the indispensable unity that all French people feel. It is precious and requires all responsible to express themselves with fairness and to act with according to demands.
This evening, I want to talk about your son, I want to speak about your brother, your uncle, of the person you loved, your father. This evening, I want to speak about your colleague, your teacher, fallen because he made the choice to teach, assassinated because he decided to teach his students to become citizens. To learn their responsibilities and fulfill them. To learn their freedoms so that they could use them.
This evening, I want to speak to you about Samuel Paty.
Samuel Paty loved books and knowledge, more than anything. His apartment was a library. His favourite gifts were books, to learn more. He loved books for transferring the passion of knowledge and the taste of freedom to his students and his loved ones.
After studying history in Lyon and envisaging becoming a researcher, he took the path traced by you, his parents, to become teacher and headteacher of a school in Moulins. He became a “researcher in education” as he liked to call himself, by becoming a teacher.
There is no better place than the Sorbonne, a place of universal knowledge for eight centuries, the place of humanism, for the nation to pay him this homage.
Samuel Paty loved teaching passionately, and he did it well in many collèges and lycées including the college in Conflans-Saint-Honorine.
We all have anchored in our hearts, in our memories, the memory of a teacher who changed the path of our existence. You know, the teacher that taught us to read, to count, to believe in ourselves. The teacher that didn’t just pass on knowledge, but opened a pathway for us with a book, a look, their respect.
Samuel Paty was one of those teachers that you don’t forget.
One of those passionate enough to spend evenings learning the histories of religions to better understand his students and their beliefs. One of those humble enough to question himself, as he did for his class on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, which he had been preparing since July last summer in Moulins by your side. Doubts that he shared out of a demanding nature and sensitivity.
Samuel Paty incarnated the teacher that Jaures dreamed of in his letter to teachers, which has just been read: “Firmness unified with tenderness.” Someone who showed the grand scale of his thinking, taught with respect, and showed what civilisation is.
Someone who was tasked with “making republicans”.
The words of Ferdinand Buisson echo: “To make a republican,” he wrote, “you must take a human being as small and as humble as they are… and give them the idea that they must think for themselves, that they don’t owe faith or obedience to anyone, that it is up to them to search for the truth and not receive it from a master, a director or a boss, whoever they are.”
“Making republicans” was Samuel Paty’s fight.
And if that fight, today, seems titanic, notably when violence, intimidation and sometimes resignation takes over, it is more essential, more timely than ever.
Here in France, we love our nation, her geography, her landscapes and her history, her culture and her transformations, her spirit and her heart. And we want to teach that to all our children.
Here in France we love the project, that is simultaneously grounded and universal, that the Republic bears. Its order and its promise.
Every day starts anew. So, yes, in every school, every collège, every lycée, we will give back to our teachers the power to “make republicans”. Space and the authority will return to them.
We will train them, consider them as we must, support them, protect them as much as we must. In school and outside school, the pressure, the abuse of ignorance and obedience that some want to establish have no place here.
“I want my life and death to serve towards something”, he said one day. Like a premonition.
So, why was Samuel killed? Why?
On Friday evening I first thought it was a random madness, an exceptional absurdity: Another victim of free terrorism. After all, he was not a principal target for Islamists, all he did was teach. He was no enemy of the religion they served, he had read the Koran, he respected his students whatever their faith, he was interested in Muslim civilisation.
On the contrary, Samuel Paty was killed precisely because of that. Because he represented the Republic that rules each day in the classroom, the freedom that is transmitted and perpetuated in schools.
Samuel Paty was killed because Islamists want our future, and they know that with quiet heroes such as him they can never have it.
They divide the ‘loyal’ from the ‘non-believers’. Samuel Paty knew only citizens.
They feed off of ignorance. They cultivate hate of others. He wanted, always, to see the face and discover the riches of difference.
Samuel Paty was the victim of a macabre conspiracy of idiocy, of lies, of jumbled ideas, of hate of others, hate of who we are, deeply and existentially.
“On Friday, Samuel Paty became the face of the Republic, of our will to break terrorists, reduce Islamists, and live as free citizens in our country. The face of our determination to understand, learn, continue to teach, be free – because we will continue, teacher.
We will defend the freedom that you taught so well, and we will uphold secularism. We will not renounce caricatures, drawings, even if others move backwards. We will offer all the opportunity that the Republic must to our young people, without discriminating against anyone.
We will continue, teacher.
With all the teachers and professors in France, we will teach history – the glories and the tribulations. We will discover literature, music, all the oeuvres of the soul and spirit. We will love, with all our strength, debate, reasonable argument, friendly discussion.
Like you, we will cultivate tolerance. Like you, we will seek to understand, without giving up, and to understand those who want to distance themselves from us even more. We will teach humour, distance. We will remember that our freedoms will only hold when hate and violence end, by respecting each other.
We will continue, teacher. And throughout their lives, hundreds of children that you have taught will use the critical spirit that you gave them. Maybe some of them will become teachers themselves. And they will make young citizens.
In turn, they will love the Republic. They will understand our nation, our values, our Europe, in a chain that does not end.
We will continue, yes, the fight for freedom and for reason of which you are now the face, because we owe it to you, because we owe it to ourselves, because in France, teacher, the Enlightenment will never go out.
Long live the Republic.
Long live France.”