PARIS — Protesters took to the streets here Saturday, calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron — and, in Trump’s imagination at least, wildly cheering the American president. No one else seems to have heard the chants of “We want Trump!” that the president seems to have learned about from an earlier tweet by right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk:
The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2018
There are riots in socialist France because of radical leftist fuel taxes
Media barely mentioning this
America is booming, Europe is burning
They want to cover up the middle class rebellion against cultural Marxism
“We want Trump” being chanted through the streets of Paris
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) December 4, 2018
Trump’s claims about the situation in France have little connection to what’s actually going on in the French capital, and Kirk seems to have gotten his information from a viral video that was actually shot at another right-wing protest — in London.
Granted, for the fourth weekend in a row, tens of thousands of protesters clad in yellow car emergency vests swarmed the streets of Paris — where the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and department stores were closed and designer boutiques were boarded up, many metro stations were shut down and major arteries were closed off by police in riot gear.
But nobody was talking about the U.S. leader, and there was nary a MAGA hat to be seen. In their explanations of why they’d turned out to protest — some traveling five hours or more by bus from far corners of the country — most protesters talked about taxes, the cost of living and their dislike of Macron, whose name was a constant refrain: “Macron, where are you?” called some from a makeshift platform not far from the Arc de Triomphe. “We will screw you! Resign!”
There were no cheers for Trump, nor did anybody say they were against the Paris Agreement — or even mention it, for that matter — although the increase in gasoline tax that was to take effect on Jan. 1 had been promoted by Macron as a way to lessen dependence on fossil fuels. And that proposed gas tax was indeed what first prompted the “yellow vest” demonstrations across France, starting on Nov. 17. But last week, the Macron government announced it had scrapped the gas tax increase. Yet the protests continued, although the violence of a week earlier was better contained.
The reason for the demonstrations appears to have morphed into a call for Macron’s resignation, as well as a decrease in the cost of gasoline and other necessities. But to say the demonstrations are against the Paris Agreement is a stretch, and to say the protesters were calling for Trump is a lie.
But at least it seems to have softened Trump’s attitude toward France, which he now claims to love — an improvement from his earlier disdain for the country and its capital, based on the ruminations of his never identified, possibly imaginary friend “Jim,” who supposedly stopped going there because it was overrun with immigrants.
Even so, Trump should bear in mind that when Parisian mobs chant, “We want X,” it isn’t always good news for “X.” Just ask Louis XVI.
Melissa Rossi, a writer based in Barcelona, is the author of the geopolitical book series “What Every American Should Know.” (Plume/Penguin).
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