„I went to the bird market / I bought birds / For you, my love
I went to the flower market, / I bought flowers, / For you, my love
I went to the scrap metal market, / And I bought chains, / Heavy chains, / For you, my love,
Then I went to the slave market, / And I looked for you, / But I did not find you, / My love.”
A few months ago, without realizing what was going to happen, a teacher from Toronto, Nadine Couvreau, gave students to study in a French course, Jacques Prevert’s poem “Pour toi, mon amour”. That evening, he received a phone call from the high school principal: on the local television channel, City News, one of his students denounced her, disguised (her face was hidden and her voice disfigured), accusing Poetry of racism.
“Some verses in this poem are totally inappropriate and show cultural indifference,” said the student, who declined to be identified “for fear of repercussions,” adding that there was no room for studying poetry. Not giving an opinion-E” is explanatory of the “defamatory nature” of poetry.
“We never had any discussion about Black History Month in class, nor did we even remember that it was Black History Month, and this poem touches on very sensitive topics about which we were not warned before we took it up. (…) There may be black students Others have experienced racial injustice directly, and this may offend them in a way that we can’t pinpoint. I just don’t think it’s something that should be mentioned or taught in class. We’re supposed to evolve when it comes to racism, but we seem to be falling backwards, because this is still taught. in the classroom. Whether or not poetry is an important part of the curriculum, this poetry is racially insensitive to all students of color worldwide.”
The first motive I read for the news (it appeared for the first time in the media on the website of the Canadian daily the duty), About the racist interpretation of Prevert’s poetry was amusing. It seemed to me that I was in front of the “Pearl” school – because the “sensitive” themes referred to by the upset student, the verses condemning racial motives are those at the end of the poem, more precisely the image of the “slave market” where the lover does not find his girlfriend – in fact, a metaphor Pretty for possessive love.
Using option theory, the student not only understood anything from the entire metaphor, but also took it. ad litteram in key modern Fashionable: the slave market is a racial motive! So, without thinking, he was acting like a pregnant robot searching for keywords in messages that would sound the alarm that a terrorist act was about to occur. Undressing his words with their poetic meaning, he displayed not only foolish judgment, but also a mentality befitting the fiercest of communist activists – he simply acted like such limited censors in the past, beating the masses: such a thing should not even be mentioned, let alone teaching at school.
But the amusement stopped abruptly by following the story. When contacted by City News, the Toronto District School Board’s reaction was worse than the student – for whom we can still find an excuse in ignorance.
Without trying to explain common sense—such as the fact that Prevert’s poetry does not contain anything racist in it—for example, officials immediately ordained themselves as teachers: “This poem is neither part of the high school curriculum nor of the Ministry of Education,” then rolled Lightly and cowardly under ignorance: “We encourage students and their families to speak to the principal so that we understand what happened.”
Things escalated, with the teacher suspended for several weeks and under investigation.
In a letter to the teacher and later published by writer and literary critic Daniel Gasiglia-Laster (specializing in the work of Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Jacques Prevert), the Canadian High School Disciplinary Board sent Nadine Couvreau the following:
“We just learned about it at the time.
– I encouraged the students to read the poem “Pour toi, mon amour” by Jacques Prevere.
– The poetry contains references to chains and slavery (“I went to a blacksmith and bought heavy chains for you, my love / Then I went to the slave market to look for you but could not find you, my love.”)
The language of poetry was the cause of the anger of some students who said they were shocked and insulted by the reference to slavery. Although you assert that this poem is not about African Americans and is a different type of slavery, the students conclude that the language used was discriminatory. In the absence of the necessary explanations and the fact that you did not provide the students with a context, your decision to include this poem in the French course was misplaced, insensitive and reckless.
Toronto Distrctict High School management is committed to providing a fair, safe, substantial and positive education and work environment without discrimination or harassment, where every individual is treated with dignity and respect. As noted above, your behavior did not live up to your employer’s expectations and reflected low regard for the emotional and educational well-being of the students you care about.
After carefully analyzing the consequences of your behavior on February 25, 2021, I have decided to attach this disciplinary letter to your file. Until April 21, you will have a meeting with the Principal or his/her designee to summarize the TDSB Policy on Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession.
“If other similar incidents are repeated, further disciplinary action will be followed, which may even lead to dismissal.”
I can only guess what ghosts this story generates in the souls of those who lived through the full communist period. A ridiculous watch and a mechanism that shatters any trace of reason and freedom, and equips the Procust bed – everyone who does not conform to strict and abnormal standards suffers.
“The fight against racism has become neo-communism,” Pascal Bruckner told Radio Sud late last year. No matter how harsh this statement is, the example above supports it. On the front lines, there is no longer a real desire to protect those who are discriminated against (who exist, but become forgotten victims), but especially to impose a toxic ideology, based, on the one hand, on ignorance. On the other hand, the desire for power. And how can you strengthen an illegitimate power if you do not depend on a low level of education, which systematically harms freedom of thought?
It is not only a matter of freedom of speech, but that the main objective, as in Orwell’s novel, is to transform a free man into an ideal slave by torturing, distorting, and corrupting thought. The perfect slave is one who worships his master. The ideal slave abandons his state of thinking with a stick, and thinks of ready-made slogans and slogans.
What happened in Toronto is just a small new example of functional illiteracy being pushed more and more by proponents of political correctness – who have not noticed that there is more politics left and less rightness. The enthusiasm for justice in the student who (unidentified) denounced his teacher for promoting racist poetry is due in part to systematic indoctrination based on a lack of education. But the support he receives and encourages him on this path does not come from ideology, but from the bondage of those who, by virtue of cowardice translated by the phrase “I do not want scandal,” betray their message as guides.
Instead of illustrating poetry-related riddles in a discussion in the higher classroom, the student chose to be “on the sidelines”—and as a reward for this behavior, the teacher responded.
Of course, there are still voices condemning the actions of the high school administration. But these are not taken into account less and more, in a world where dictatorial wind blades are condensing, heralding the beginning of a looming cultural dystopia.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons