Some Paris residents have a message for President Trump: ‘Non!’
PARIS – Charlotte DeLeon is enjoying a beer with friends at a small bar near the Denfert-Rochereau Metro, but this is not a particularly happy hour for her and other Paris residents.
After all, Donald Trump is in town.
“Of course, all the French hate him,” the 22-year-old business school student told a visitor, outlining a list of complaints that ran from Trump’s attitude toward migrants to his comments about women.
One of her friends, Thomas Rouault, 22, disputed the part about all the French.
“No, no, no!” Rouault said – not that he particularly likes Trump. But he said he and others in France “like what he is doing in the United States” in terms of jobs and economic growth.
Still, let’s face it: The French are never going to be particularly fond of the U.S. president.
A little too brash, a little too cocky, a little too critical of Europe in general, Trump received a cold welcome this week from Parisians who don’t like his views on immigration and climate change, and aren’t crazy about his boisterous style, either.
Some critics in Paris found vivid ways to express their displeasure with Trump’s latest visit.
Before Sunday’s World War I commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe, a topless woman ran toward Trump’s motorcade before being caught by police. The nude woman had something written on her body; it appeared to say, “Fake peacemakers.”
The French version of the “Never Trump” movement organized a demonstration on the Place de la Republique. A blimp of “Baby Trump,” swathed in a diaper, hovered overhead.
The protests did seem more muted this year, compared to the president’s visit in 2017.
Some Paris residents noted that Trump was more a focus last year because he was a special guest of French President Emmanuel Macron at the annual Bastille Day parade.
This time around, Trump was among more than 60 world leaders attending events marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Paris has paid more attention to the solemn war memorial than to the aggressive American president.
Some Parisians acknowledged that Democratic presidents like Barack Obama tend to be more popular with them than Republican ones because of their left-leaning politics. They also said there’s something about Trump – the avatar of an “America First” foreign policy who has clashed with Macron and threatened to pull support from the NATO military alliance – that really drives the French up a wall.
At an outdoor table at Cafe de Paris, not far from the Arc de Triomphe, 25-year-old Alice Marty criticized Trump for claiming that a caravan of migrants from Central America, fleeing their home countries to escape poverty, violence and corruption, planned “an invasion” of the United States.
“I just don’t like him,” said Marty, who grew up in Paris but now lives in Berlin. “I think he’s really rude … with regard to women, disrespectful … Racist, maybe.”
According to a recent Odoxa poll for Le Figaro newspaper, 65 percent of the French public disapproved of Trump – though that is a better number than the 81 percent disapproval rating Trump pulled in the same poll last year.
On the other hand, only 10 percent of the French said they had a positive image of Trump; another 25 percent had no opinion.
Trump has said he doesn’t care about ratings with residents of other countries. After all, he works for the people of the United States.
From bars to cafes to art galleries, citizens from Paris and beyond offered a variety of reasons for disliking the American president.
“I’m a woman,” said Myriam Favre, 57, a doctor from Grenoble who was in town to visit her son.
Standing in line outside the Musée Jacquemart-André, waiting to see an exhibit featuring the light-and-shadow Italian master Caravaggio, Favre said Trump “doesn’t respect us” and “talks about women” in offensive ways.
Others in town cited Trump’s views on climate change, trade tariffs and his apparent willingness to risk military force.
A French magazine cover says Trump is waging “war with us.” A Sunday newspaper, on the centennial of Armistice Day, featured a story on “why Trump threatens us.”
Citizens who spoke only French found non-verbal ways to express their displeasure.
When shown the magazine cover featuring Trump, some respondents scrunched their face in distaste. A few gave a thumbs down. Others found a short understandable word to offer an appraisal of Trump: “Non!”
Pierre Marty, 61, a communications consultant from Paris and the father of Alice Marty, said he finds the president to be “a non-educated man,” but added that “I don’t know the guy” and added come compliments.
Many people in France admire Trump’s past success in the business world and current success with the American economy, Marty said. He also noted that Trump isn’t the only one who holds his policy views, particularly in the United States.
After all, Marty said, Trump managed to get himself elected president while others didn’t.
Still, he added: “Why did the United States elect a man like Trump?
Back in the Denfert-Rochereau neighborhood on this rainy weekend, patrons of the Le Moderne Saint Jacques discussed the various ways in which they disliked Trump.
Pauline Garcia, 24, said her father is from Mexico and her mother is from France.
“That’s why I disagree with Trump, especially on immigration stuff,” she said.
Yannis Hamitouche, 25, agreed, saying Trump was “just too much.”
“He’s so extravagant,” he said, referring at one point to Trump’s idea for border security. “A wall? Really?”
Then there are “the attacks, the gestures,” and the claiming of things like “fake news,” Hamitouche said.
“You don’t see Emmanuel Macron do that,” he said.
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