Cockburn dislikes the latent misogyny behind the rise of this term ‘Karen’, which is used to describe any white woman who is caught being aggressive on social media. Then again, Karens don’t have to be female; plenty of men fit the term perfectly. One of them is the President of France.
Yes, Emmanuel Macron lost his rag again on Wednesday, this time berating a French journalist who dared to try to cover the President’s complicated maneuvers in Lebanon. Minutes after loudly defending the value of free speech, in relation to Charlie Hebdo, Monsieur le President started shouting at the Figaro writer, Georges Malbrunot, reportedly because he was incensed by Malbrunot’s article about possible sanctions on figures who do not comply with Macron’s ambitious reform agenda in Lebanon.
‘What you have done, taking into account the sensitivity of the subject, is irresponsible,’ shouted Macron through his face-mask. ‘You have always heard me defend journalists, I always will. But I tell you frankly, what you did was serious, unprofessional and petty,’ he added.
France president Macron blasts out La Figaro journalist @Malbrunot for revealing a secret meeting between him and a top leader of Hezbollah:
"What you have done is irresponsible and serious. I usually protect journalists – but it is not professional at all" pic.twitter.com/rsDp0AugeG
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) September 2, 2020
Ça alors! This is far from the only time Macron, who has described his presidency as ‘Jupiterian’, has rebuked a mere citoyen. In June 2018, he gave a teenager a sharp dressing down for having had the nerve to call him ‘Manu’.
‘Non non non,’ said Manu, it’s ‘Monsieur Le President de la Republique’ to you, sonny. You are at an official ceremony and you need to behave!’
More recently, he had a peculiar tantrum on Israeli security officers as he visited the holy sites of Jerusalem. ‘I don’t like what you did in front of me,’ he shrieked, this time in English, before ordering one man to go outside. ‘Nobody has to provoke nobody,’ he continued. ‘We have to keep calm. Please respect the rules. They are for centuries. They will not change with me. So everybody ’
Cockburn admires such humility, but, as in many brawls, it’s often the man telling everyone to calm down who has in fact lost his temper.
In a curiously similar incident in 1996, Jacques Chirac berated a man in a crowd in Jerusalem — so perhaps these sort of outbursts are a time-honored tradition. But Macron seems to have curious habit of getting into highly visible confrontations. In April, he got into a shouting match with a nurse, which is never a good look.
And back in 2018, he got into a fiery exchange with some farmers:
Leaders of La Republique are meant to proud — de Gaulle was hardly lacking in self-importance; ditto Mitterand, Chirac and Sarkozy. And maybe Macron thinks that shouting at the hoi polloi, or pulling a Karen, is the secret to his success. After all, before he was elected, he gained a lot of attention for getting into another yet another testy exchange with some workers at the former Whirlpool factory in Amiens:
Perhaps French voters really do like their heads of state to be cantankerous. ‘Adversity attracts the man of character,’ said De Gaulle. Or perhaps Macron is just a bit of a Karen.