Photo: A view of the tent cities in Calais, France. Jordan Nadler

Open Letter to France in the Wake of the Calais Riots

by Jordan Nadler Nov 10, 2015

[Editor’s note: This piece is in response to the recent stories about the clashes in Calais, written by journalist Jordan Nadler, who was on the ground when the explosion took place.]

Dear France,

This is what happens to first-world countries when you allow thousands of people to live like animals and offer them no alternative.

Before anyone judges the people rioting, please go spend a day — scratch that — go spend an hour in Calais and imagine that, though your electricity is being generated by a guy riding a stationary bike, and though your child is running around in two inches of shit with holes in his shoes, and though the only food that is available has been donated by NGOs — not France — and feeds you once a day — no one cares.

Imagine that temperatures are dropping and your house is a tent, and in an attempt to stay warm you found a propane tank to generate heat that looked safe — but it wasn’t — and now your “home” with the few things you were able to accumulate the last two months blew up and almost killed 100 people. And no one cares.

Imagine you are one of the few women in a crime-ridden refugee camp filled with men, but the only police presence around is meant to make sure you can’t leave. Imagine that the money the government has funneled into Calais has been used to erect fences wrapped in razor wire. Imagine that you were just raped, but there is no one to tell, and even if there was, you can’t speak their language.

Imagine that you got E. coli because the four faucets afforded to the thousands of people on your side of the camp have been contaminated with fecal matter — but the “infirmary tent” has a three-hour long wait before you can be seen. Imagine you get a fever of 104 degrees and collapse in the mud and get taken to a hospital. It’s the first time you’ve been in an enclosed building in months. It’s the first time you’ve not been covered in dirt in weeks. Imagine that the moment your fever drops they put you back on bus and drop you off in the camp without a second thought.

Imagine that you don’t speak French. But you speak English. The UK seems like a dream for you, but you’re also confused about France because they never talked about its’ slums when you learned about it in school. Imagine that you realize the slums aren’t for French people — they’re just for people like you. And you’re the burden.

Tell me that after living like this for a week, let alone a year, you wouldn’t start picking shit up and throwing it, too.

Jordan Nadler is a 28 year old New York City actor/writer who moved to Paris a year and a half ago in search of creative fulfilment and better carbs. Signs of progressive French assimilation include smiling less in pictures, exasperated lip fluttering and pretending to understand what wine labels mean. She tends to write about people, places and things. And sex. Follow her at @Nadleresque.

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