There have been two versions circulating in the media of two short videos, in accented but very clear English, in which French President Emmanuel Macron invited some Americans to come and live in France. One, popular in right wing media, alleges that he has invited all disaffected Americans. Some, unable to separate their news section from their editorial page, even refer to Macron as a “climate change alarmist” or “leftist President,” which I’m sure would leave any real French leftist either laughing or crying. The other is that this applies only to those working in the environmental industry.
To resolve the question, I listened to the videos themselves, which are available. Here is a verbatim transcript of the section following his announcement that he disagreed with the American decision to leave the COP21 Agreement and had told this to Mr. Trump directly, from his speech on June 1:
“Tonight, I wish to tell the United States, France believes in you, the world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation. I know your history, our common history. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the President of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland, I call on them, come and work here, with us, to work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight.” After more comments on France’s, and the world’s, commitment to the ongoing struggle against climate change, he then concludes with, “Make our planet great again.”
Interestingly, there is an earlier video by M. Macron from February, which caught much less attention at the time, in which he also invites American climate scientists, saying:
“This is a message for American researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers working on climate change. Come and work with us. I invite you to come to France and join European and French researchers to work on climate change here, because here you are welcome. I do know how your new President now has decided to jeopardize your projects, your initiatives, has been extremely skeptical about climate change. I have no doubt about climate change and about how committed we have to be regarding this issue. So I have two messages: The very first one, for the French and European researchers, we will preserve our budgets, we will reinforce our investments, our public and private investments, in order to do more and accelerate our initiative, in order to deliver in line with COP21. And second, a message for you guys. Please, come to France, you are welcome, it’s your nation, we like innovation, we want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables and new technologies. France is your nation. Thanks.”
This earlier video, and not the June 1 one, is often linked to stories about the June 1 speech!
Contrary to both the hopes of disaffected Americans on the left, or the scorn heaped on them from the right, I don’t believe those two words, “responsible citizens,” can be interpreted as an invitation to ordinary Americans, especially when they are followed immediately by the invitation to “work together on concrete solutions for our climate.” Rather, he affirms that the scientists he is inviting are responsible citizens, and by implication, politically-motivated climate-change deniers are not.
Unless they are qualified to work in climate change research and remediation, Americans should not start packing their bags. What we have here is the next phase of the “great brain drain” that the United States has been perpetrating on the world since the 1940’s, the way we built our space program. Only now, the scientific brains, disrespected at home, are being invited in the other direction.