Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman just rescued a toddler from a French balcony—but, of course, he wasn’t a comic book character. He was a real human being—a migrant from Mali, who, for his bravery, was celebrated in the French press and internationally, and awarded French citizenship by President Emmanuel Macron. It’s a beautiful story. Mamoudou Gassama’s courage was inspiring, and he saved a child in the process.
But for many of us, it has also been a bittersweet reminder of the kinds of expectations we place on immigrants to prove themselves; the arbitrariness of migration policies; and the kind of exceptionialism that shapes our attitudes toward migrants—particularly Muslim migrants.