Macron rips ‘fear and anger’ in speech to Congress

Greg Nash

French President Emmanuel Macron warned U.S. lawmakers about closing the United States off to the politics of “fear and anger” during a speech to a joint sessions of Congress on Wednesday.

The French leader, who is concluding a state visit to Washington hosted by President Trump, said that stoking fears is not a way to “construct” anything, and can only divide people.


“Both in the United States and in Europe, we are living in a time of fear,” Macron said. “You can play with fear and anger for a time, but they do not construct anything. Anger only freezes and weakens us.”

“Closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse, but inflame, the fears of our citizens,” he adds.

The remarks are notable given the debates over immigration that have characterized the first 1 1/2 years of the Trump presidency.

As Macron spoke to Congress, the Supreme Court was hearing arguments across the street about the latest version of the Trump travel ban, which restricts visitors from a number of Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. 

Macron also struck a decidedly different note from Trump on the issues of trade and climate change during the speech, which followed two days in which Trump rolled out the red carpet for the French leader.

Macron was feted at a state dinner on Tuesday night, and was welcomed to the White House on Tuesday morning with a separate ceremony. On Monday, Trump and Macron visited Mount Vernon together to commemorate French support for the United States in the Revolutionary War.

On trade, Macron struck back at the tariffs that Trump has imposed on steel and aluminum imports. 

“A commercial war is not consistent with our mission, with our history, with our current commitments for global security,” Macron told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“At the end of the day it will destroy jobs, increase prices and the middle class will have to pay for it.”

On climate change, Macron has repeatedly sought to get Trump to return to the Paris climate agreement. He predicted the U.S. would eventually come back to the pact.

“I’m sure, one day, the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement. And I’m sure we can work together to fulfill with you the ambitions of the global compact on the environment,” Macron told the House and Senate, eliciting some cheers from within the House chamber.

“I believe in building a better future for our children, which requires offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years,” he said.

With unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, plunging biodiversity and increasing ocean pollution, “we are killing our planet,” Macron remarked.

“Let us face it: There is no Planet B.”

Macron arrived in the United States hoping to press Trump away from abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal. In his message to Congress, Macron said France was committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. But he also urged the United States to stay in the international agreement.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Iran nuclear deal but during a joint press conference with Macron on Tuesday did not commit to exiting it next month when a crucial deadline hits on May 12.

Macron also urged the United States to make an effort to stop what he descirbed as the “ever-growing virus of ‘fake news'” which he said was particularly a problem in America.

“Without reason, without truce, there’s no real democracy,” he said. “Because democracy is about true choices and rational decisions. The corruption of information is an attempt to corrode the very spirit of our democracies.”

The French leader closed the speech by highlighting the importance of his country’s relationship with the United States.

“This is a time of determination and courage. What we cherish is at stake. What we love is in danger,” he said. “We have no choice but to prevail, and together we shall prevail. Long live the friendship between France and the United States.”

Timothy Cama, Juliegrace Brufke and Joe Concha contributed. 

Tags Congress Donald Trump France French government Iran deal state dinner
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