Josep Borrell, the racist “gardener” of Europe | Racism

Listening to Josep Borrell, Europe’s top diplomat, at the inauguration of the new European Diplomatic Academy in Bruges, Belgium, last Thursday, I could only shake my head in wonder and indignation, as he compared Europe to a garden and the world to a jungle – a bestial and frightening jungle.

As far as bad speech goes, his rant wouldn’t have deserved much comment had it not been for his undiplomatic callousness and racism. It was short on wisdom and long on clichés and contradictions. It was poorly structured and poorly delivered.

And yet, for a high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, it was a new low. Just when it was thought European politics couldn’t get any worse, Borrell spoke his “truth.” With paternalistic smugness, he effectively poisoned the young minds of future European diplomats with utter vanity, conceit and supremacy.

But first, the occasional sexism. He began by complimenting ‘Federica’ – his predecessor and academy director Federica Mogherini – for her youthful bearing with the gallantry of a Catalan bull. No pun intended of course, since the Catalans prefer donkeys to bulls.

In Trumpian fashion, the diplomat then quickly gauged the world as if it were a red rag that had to be faced head-on, asking the young souls of his audience to beware of the imminent dangers facing Europe. is confronted from all sides. He pontificated that “Europe is a garden” but “most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden”.

The little garden, he educated them, cannot defend itself by building a wall. Why? “Because the jungle has a strong capacity for growth, and the wall will never be high enough to protect the garden.”

So what is the solution ? Then came the downfall: “Gardeners must go to the jungle. Europeans need to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means.

I could go on and on, quoting more of this childish and utterly appalling metaphor, but I guess you get the point. The bottom line: The wonderful, prosperous and free Europe is an exception in our otherwise vicious world, and it won’t long survive unless its “gardeners” go into the jungle and help civilize the world.

All of his gardener jokes reminded me of The Constant Gardener, a book and film by John le Carré based on real events about a pharmaceutical company that tested a new drug on poor people in Africa, killing or maiming many of them.

In real life, European engagement with Africa and the world has gone far beyond pharmaceutical testing to a whole plethora of plunder ranging from colonialism, slavery and genocide to shadow wars and theft of natural resources.

But European memories can sometimes be short and selective, even when it comes to their own history. If indeed Europe is a garden, it is one that has been cultivated on a continent-wide cemetery. Lest Borrell forget the centuries of religious, nationalist and imperial wars, including the two world wars and numerous civil wars – such as the Spanish Civil War and its bloody 36-year dictatorship which only ended in 1975 and which the Catalan diplomat should be particularly familiar with.

That’s not to say there isn’t much to celebrate. Europe has done very well since World War II in terms of unity, security and prosperity, but only after defeating racism and fascism. But the rise and spread of neo-fascist and far-right politics across the continent, and its electoral victories in important countries like Italy, are reasons for caution, not vanity. But then again, if Borrell’s supposedly socialist racist tone is anything to go by, what difference does it make whether Europe is ruled by the left or the right? Tomato, tomato.

Borrell was also wrong when he claimed, in the same speech, that Europe has become stronger and more independent of the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rather the opposite. A weaker, colder and more vulnerable EU has become more subservient to Washington.

Yet the smug diplomat seemed particularly delusional about the implications of the war as it continued. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of a bigger war and at the same time declared himself ready for diplomacy, Borrell has chosen to rule out any diplomatic solution for the time being. Instead, he threatened that the Russian military would be “wiped out” if Moscow used nuclear weapons in Ukraine, regardless of what that might mean for Europe’s survival.

Like his racist rant, this reckless escalation was entirely appropriate language for Europe’s top diplomat to use when addressing those aspiring to join his profession, or anyone else for that matter. .

And to end his great inspirational and motivational speech with a final wisdom, Borrell told would-be envoys to hold their heads high and be good gardeners not just of Europe but of the “jungle”, wishing them all the best. diplomatic safaris.

Joking aside, Borrell’s racist rhetoric is terribly dangerous in the current state of international affairs. It must be first and foremost condemned in Europe. Europe deserves better representatives. The world deserves better from Europe.

We all reap what we sow.