Unfortunately, I’ll have to return to the case of the Front National and the fascination it seems to exercise, once again, on the left as well as the right, on the working class no less than on conservative voters.
For the time being, notwithstanding a more detailed analysis but without waiting for the outcome (the false suspense of which, as usual, has been pumped up) of the question of the 500 signatures* Madame Le Pen will obtain only with the greatest difficulty, announcing the event, when the time comes, as a first and heroic victory over a « UMPS establishment » determined to shut her up, we shall recall a series of uncontested facts.
Naturally, it’s true that Mme Le Pen spends a great deal of energy trying to de-demonize her party and to convince people that it has changed.
But it is nonetheless true that this « change » doesn’t go so far as a clear repudiation, without reserves or nuances, of the antisemitic provocations (Durafour-crématoire, the gas chambers as a mere detail of Second World War history, etc.) her father was so fond of.
It didn’t include a word or a pout of protestation last year, during the Congress that saw her investiture, when the former president remarked, of a journalist roughed up by his security service, that the fact that he was Jewish « wasn’t visible on his card nor, I may add, on his nose. »
It didn’t go as far as preventing the systematic identification — and, when they were too flashy, the sidelining or momentary suspension — of French regional leaders of more than questionable reputation, such as Yvan Benedetti (an internet site revealed, last year, that he may have taken pride in being « anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, and anti-Jewish ») and Alexandre Gabriac (who was photographed giving the Nazi salute before a swastika-emblazoned flag).
This alleged change does not prevent Mme Le Pen from entrusting part of her communications division to an ex-president of the French student league named « GUD » who hits all the marks on the spectre of infamy — admirer of Mussolini, fervent supporter of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and backer of Bashar al Assad. Said ex-president did not hesitate to write to officials of the Assad regime, in late March, 2011, when the massacres the entire world condemns began, « The zionist lobby (from which the French press takes its orders) dreams of destabilizing your magnificent country; all who participate directly or indirectly in these demonstrations are making themselves accomplices of this lobby. » (Abel Mestre and Caroline Monnot, Le Monde, 6 September 2011).
In perfect keeping with her father’s line in praising Saddam Hussein just a short while ago, or contrasting the « nationalist djellaba » of the GIA cutthroats with the « cosmopolitan jeans » of the human rights militants, who deserved what they got when they saw their babies cut to pieces before their eyes, the « change » didn’t prevent her from being one of the very last to continue to support the dictatorship of Qaddafi, right up to the last hours before his fall.
Recycling former followers of Bruno Mégret and other ideologists of the French extreme-right movement GRECE, the intellectual laboratory of differentialist, pseudo-scientific neo-racism in the 1980s, is another element that scarcely indicates a penchant for change.
Nor do Mme Le Pen’s verbal slip-ups when she perceives the foreign origins of an ecologist candidate as an obstacle to her candidature. Or when, in a press release entitled, « For the stateless, France should become Sharia-compatible, » she rails against the shadowy machinations of a G20 that supports « the institution of the Sharia in our nation, inhabited by invincible French citizens who refuse to submit to the trend towards globalism. » Or yet again when she drags up the words of Léon Degrelle, one of the founding fathers of Naziism in the French language, insulting former French minister and IMF head Christine Lagarde as an « American with a French passport, » giving in to the « lobby of Ango-Saxon banksters. »
And I haven’t mentioned this hateful, insulting tone, sometimes strangely crude, when she taunts the « appointed collaborators » and other « double agents, » who inspire her to accents worthy of extreme right rhetoric of the 30s.
Style makes the man.
Rhetoric is the bottom line, and sometimes the last word, in politics.
And there is in Mme Le Pen’s outrageousness, in her taste for invective, in her locker room humor or in her stale polemics with French anti-Semitic activists Soral and Dieudonné, something that does not augur well for the presidential campaign that is beginning.
As for her program, as for her manner of, in principle, subjecting to public obloquy all that the leaders of our country, on the left or the right, have been able to do that is reasonable and, sometimes, great, it can be attributed either to a demagogic will to kindle dissatisfaction and despair, and this radicalism that has always been the mark of the so-called revolutionary or anti-system right in Europe. Or it can be attributed to a blind and rather mysterious hatred, whose symptoms and reasons we must one day explore, of the country whose lost purity she affects to defend.
Mme Le Pen does not love France.
*In France, all candidates for the presidency must have the support (by signature) of 500 elected representatives (MPs, mayors, elected regional leaders, etc).