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“I Am Ashamed of This Government”: The Response of French Comic Wilfrid Lupano to the Minister of Culture

Minister Minister,

To my great surprise, you sent me a letter last week to inform me that you have awarded me the rank of Knight of Arts and Letters.

I thank you for this delicate attention, but I am afraid I must refuse this “honour”.

Already, spontaneously, I have never been very excited by medals. Pierre Desproges said “decorations are the libido of the old”. I like to think that I’m not there yet. There are, however, more pleasant distinctions than others, and this has the disadvantage, Mr. Minister, of being delivered by a political representative.

Now, how can I accept the slightest distinction from a government which, in every respect, makes me ashamed?

Because yes, it is indeed shame.

I am ashamed of what your government is doing to public services, in the name of the dogmatic refusal to charge big business and big money the taxes they should pay. “There is no magic money” your leader constantly says. There is however legal money that Mr. Macron refuses to collect so as to not displease those who financed his campaign.

I am ashamed when I hear Mr. Castaner indignant that we can attack a hospital, as he did recently, when it is your government that is doing the most harm to health services, not three Yellow Vests seeking shelter in the wrong place.

I am ashamed of this government that, by abolishing the solidarity tax on wealth, has halved the resources of the associations that take care of the weakest, the poorest, the left behind, in place of the state.

I am ashamed when your government refuses to welcome Aquarius and its 160 refugees who ask for help, and even more ashamed when Mr. Castaner, again accuses NGOs trying to save lives of being “accomplices” of the smugglers.

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I am ashamed when I see the police “escort” the activists of Génération Identitaire after their publicity stunt at the Briançon pass to “protect” them against activists favourable to the reception of refugees. Some of the latter were also arrested, while all members of Génération Identitaire went home to celebrate their publicity stunt.

I am ashamed of your unworthy policy of welcoming migrants, especially isolated minors. The government to which you belong has accelerated the rate of expulsions and voted to extend the detention period to 90 days for foreigners in an irregular situation. Prison, therefore, for people who have committed no crime, men, women, children, newborns. Meanwhile, prefects who have been convicted several times of non-compliance with the right to asylum are kept in office.

For sordid electoral calculations, the government to which you belong tramples on all the philosophical and moral principles that are at the base of the constitution and the history of this country, and misses the meaning of History. Be certain that History will remember it.

I am ashamed of this government’s inability to take into account the ecological emergency, which should be the only thing that really concerns you. Apart from announcement effects, nothing in the measures taken in the last two years is up to the challenges of our time. Neither on the exit of fossil energies, nor on the development of bio, renewable energies, or animal conditions. Your government remains the loyal after-sales service of lobbies, agribusiness, laboratories, arms dealers…

I am ashamed, Minister, of this poorly elected government (the worst of the history of the Fifth Republic), which is now held only by its ultra-violent police.

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I am ashamed to see, for months, everywhere in France, eyes being lost, hands being blown off, or faces come under the blows of the police, from Notre Dame des Landes to the Champs-Elysees, Toulouse, Biarritz, Nantes. The whole world is alarmed by the security excesses of your government and the misuse of weapons of war in policing, but you think everything is fine.

I think of Maxime Peugeot, 21, and his hand blown off by a grenade in a field of Notre Dame des Landes. What could so threaten the security of France, in this cow field of the Breton farmland, so that we can make use of such violence? 2500 gendarmes, a multi-million dollar war operation to destroy thirty wooden huts (“there is no magic money” …) and to carry out a dozen expulsions … I think Lola Villabriga, 19, disfigured in Biarritz by a LBD shot that nothing justifies and who now lives with steel plates in her jaw, while it was her first demonstration. I quote two names, but you surely know that they are hundreds today. Follow the work of David Dufresne if you are interested in the subject.

As you can see, we have little in common, politically. And in a world where cultural distinctions would be handed over by the cultural milieu itself, without political intervention, I would have accepted it with honour and pleasure. But there is no political gesture that is not so symbolic, and I already know that if one day I reach the advanced age when one takes his foot to exhibit his charms, I would have very little pleasure in remembering that this one was given to me by a representative of a government whose fall and disgrace I would so ardently desired.

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Let’s have a good day despite everything,

Wilfrid Lupano

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