There was kind of a quirky “Amish” story that emerged last week in France. Not being a French speaker, I have mainly heard of it secondhand from French readers of this site, who have kindly kept me informed.
I wanted to share a brief guest post from Romain Speisser on the topic with you today, who you might recall last month shared a history of the Amish in Salm. In a nutshell, French president Emmanuel Macron made a comment referencing the Amish which caused a minor uproar.
Last week I was also contacted by a journalist from Le Point magazine, which is one of France’s larger newsweeklies. She did an article on the topic, and while it’s behind a paywall, I can share one of my quotes from the piece:
L’absence d’éducation poussée ou de connexion Internet ne les empêche pas de prospérer. « Les amish ne sont pas antitechnologie, ils sont sélectifs. Avant d’adopter une nouveauté, ils l’évaluent de manière réfléchie en examinant l’impact sur la communauté, la famille, et décident si ses bénéfices dépassent ses coûts », explique Erik Wesner, auteur du blog Amish America.
I didn’t realize I could speak French so well. Google Translate tells me I said:
The lack of extensive education or internet connection does not prevent them from thriving. “The Amish are not anti-technology, they are selective. Before adopting a novelty, they consider it thoughtfully by examining the impact on the community, the family, and decide if its benefits outweigh its costs, ”says Erik Wesner, author of the Amish America blog.
Yes you’re right, I’m just using this as an excuse to share my words in French (not a chance that comes around often). I don’t know, something about that language makes my common English statements look that much more cultured and sophisticated 😉
Joking aside, now I’ll let the guy who really knows what is going on, Romain, explain what happened last week and why “Amish” was such a hot topic in the French media. Take it away, Romain.
The scene took place Monday evening during a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron, as he spoke to French Tech entrepreneurs about the installation of 5G across France.
Undoubtedly encouraged by the presidential elections of April 2022, and faced with the rise of environmental parties in France, which demand a moratorium on 5G, our president launched a punchline towards them by saying “I hear a lot of voices who rise to explain to us that we should take up the complexity of contemporary problems by returning to the oil lamp! I do not believe that the Amish model makes it possible to solve the challenges of contemporary ecology. ”
The local Mennonites, who are the descendants of the “heftlers” left here, do not talk about it, because national politics is not a subject they even broach among themselves.
Apart from Alsace and Lorraine, where a large part of the inhabitants know that the Amish movement was born in this region and that it existed until the beginning of the last century, the rest of France ignores all the Amish.
At the most, they think they know that in America there are people who still live like in the novel “The Little House on the Prairie,” and this is because they watched the film Witness, but nothing more.
French environmentalists and 5G opponents who have been called Amish, have taken the president’s comment by throwing the #jesuisamish (I’m Amish) or made the joke Je suis l’ami(sh) de mes amish (I am the friend of my Amish).
Finally, this presidential attempt to snip his opponents, I hope, will make the French want to know more about the Amish, or even introduce them to the French who do not know them.
Without realizing it, I guess, the environmentalists acted in an Amish way, forgiving the president’s words and taking them on the good side of things rather than the bad.