The meeting between Donald Trump and Nadia Murad, a Yazidie survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is painful to watch.
That day, Donald Trump received the « survivors » of the worst tragedies on the planet at the White House. He sat facing the camera, turning his back on them. Each victim was forced to huddle around him order to get a crumb of his attention. Bravely, a Rohingya survivor began to speak. Because of the pogroms, his people, hundreds of thousands of Burmese Muslims, were forced to flee to Bangladesh. « It’s next to Burma, » said a Trump advisor. The President nodded knowingly, as if he had suddenly located Burma. And very well of course.
The most embarrassing occured just after, during the exchange with Nadia Murad. After « Royhingyas », the president is forced to learn a new barbaric word: « YA-ZE-DIS ». We naivly thought he knew. « Rohingyas, » okay. No one cares about Muslims being massacred by Buddhists. Especially not the beloved president of white supremacists. But « Yazidis », a religious minority exterminated by ISIS, whose women were sold as sex slaves, come on… Nothing. The president barely bats an eye.
Fearlessly, the Nobel Prize finds the strength to tell her story for the thousandth time : « ISIS killed my mother and six of my brothers ». The president opened his mouth, what would he say? His pinched pout cracked. And out came these words: « And where are they now? » ». He hadn’t listened. Murad repeated herself, « They are DEAD. » It’s such a simple concept. So simple it could even be written in a tweet. The President nodded with an air of understanding. Death, of course, he knows what that is.
The rest is even more tragic. The Nobel Prize hoped to convince the United States to put pressure on the forces to allow the displaced Yazidis to return home. With a burning heart, she explained to the president that they cannot return to Sinjar because of the conflicts between the Kurdish and the Iraqi government. Donald Trump stopped : « It’s Kurdish and who? »
Nadia Murad was deflated. The America she saw as a hope for the persecuted was dying before her eyes. Suicide by stupidity. Not even a death by bullet. Not even a genocide. Or a cultural genocide. In any case, it was over. Apart from France and its president, whom she spoke of, no other great power existed to be called upon for help.
Donald Trump wants to withdraw his troops. He promised to do so to his followers and to Erdogan. Tomorrow, thanks to his inconstancy, the Turks would be able to massacre the Kurdish, our allies against the jihadists, with impunity. « It’s Kurdish and who? » »
The actor felt that he had forgotten his text. As the camera turned, he improvised: « I know the area very well. The area very well. » Gosh, this actor acts badly. His whole body acts badly. His stiff neck betrays the weariness of having to turn to Nadia Murad and all those victims. All this to hear about rape and geopolitics. As if they were his favorite subjects!
Days before, the president told four “non-white” American congresswomen, three of whom were born in the United States, to « go back to their country ». Weeks ago, he was trying to extricate himself from a sexual assault charge by saying that the victim was not his type. Was Nadia Murad his type?
His pinched pout writhed again: « And you had the Nobel Prize? […] They gave it to you for what reason, if you can explain ? » That’s it. He has enough. The President wish her good luck. For him, this war is over. And the fight against rape never started.
A few months ago, at the request of Nadia Murad and Amal Clooney, the Europeans brought up the idea of a Fund to help the victims of war rapes heal. The American administration stopped everything. Everywhere, in the UN as in the G7, it blocked any credit from being allocated to « reproductive health », including victims of war rapes… For fear of funding the right to abortion.
Is that the America of today? A bigoted nation presided over by a vulgar president, accused of rape, who refuses to help victims for fear of encouraging women’s right to abort ? A nation with neither a head nor a heart. Who does not know who the Yazidis are. And who will not help the Kurdish in case of a massacre ?
It is to fight against this abandonment, this loss of memory, that I directed a film, fiction inspired by the truth, on the deportation of the Yazidi women and the resistance of the Kurdish fighters: « Sisters in Arms ».
As a feminist war film, it tells of the worst jihadist men (panicked at the thought of being killed by a woman) and the best women who have stood up to them. So that we do not forget them, so that the world knows, even the most insensitive, even the most detached.
Even after #MeToo and all the big statements in favor of a more feminist cinema, no American distributor wants to put it in theaters. The American left laughs because of the ignorance and vulgarity of their president. But when they are offered to make this story accessible, they tell you that there is no market.
Is that the America of today? A country can elects stupidity. It happens. But it cannot give up on the cultural fight, just because there is no market. Or we are all lost.
¨Caroline Fourest is columnist at Marianne. She has just finished her first feature film « Sisters in Arms ». She sits on the G7 Women’s Advisory Council.