La honte*

a visual moment of silence

This week, I am ashamed to be French. This week, Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the Front National, a racist, anti-immigration, anti-Europe, far right political party received 18% of the popular vote in the presidential elections. This distressing news has captured the national headlines, with people decrying the fact that 1 in 5 French have racist tendencies. I estimate that it is probably worse than that, once you’ve removed the Jews, Muslims and immigrants from the calculations. You would remove these groups because that is what Le Pen would like to do, remove us from France, so it is very unlikely many of us actually voted for her. The party-who-must-not-be-named (I am avoiding using their name or initials for Google reasons) is the 3rd most important political party in France. Things were only slightly worse in 2002, when the party-who-must-not-be-named candidate was actually in the second round of voting, and was dangerously close to actually being elected the president of France.

For an interesting slice of life, we heard the result during dinner with E and two of her close friends. One whose father survived the Rwandan genocide, another whose mother educated herself out of the Marrakesh Medina. Both of these heros immigrated to France, both became doctors and both now have international careers, making this world a healthier place for the whole world.

I have to be honest, as a Jew, an immigrant and an incurable globe-trotter, I have never really followed this party’s program in great detail. It was enough for me to know that they would not be getting my vote. I could not quote any of their proposals or cite any of the changes they’d make. But not long ago, someone I know well mentioned that she and many of her friends were considering voting for Le Pen. At first, I was in shock. It is tragic, but I eventually understood why she’d been led astray. She is French, middle class and relatively young. None of the candidates are speaking to her, yet she represents a large percentage of the population. Then you read the party-who-must-not-be-named’s proposals and they talk about cutting budget costs and protecting France and it sounds reasonable. In fact, it sometimes sounds like they are the only party offering a solution. Tragically, it is the wrong solution, but it is easy to see how people get taken in. In order to convince her otherwise, I went into research mode.

I learned from their site that the party-who-must-not-be-named wants France out of the Euro zone, to re-enforce its borders, and install a zero-tolerance policy towards crime. One of its key proposals would reduce the titres de séjours for visitors wishing to stay more than 3 months from 200,000 per year to 20,000. That means less foreign students, less foreign workers and less ex-pats. In a time of globalization, this all sounds like a pretty bad idea and it hides some of the more sinister aspects of their plan, like turning out all illegal immigrants and denying them medical care. I then went to SOS Racisme to see what the other side, my side, had to say. The party-who-must-not-be-named was founded by the current candidates father, a man who has been to court and condemned countless times for his racism. A man who is President of the party. Which does not seem to bother nearly 1/5th of my countrymen, but it certainly bothers me.


SOS Racisme


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2 thoughts on “La honte*

  1. Excellent post, Sylvia. It’s amazing to me that educated people in a developed country continue to vote for backward parties who promise a return to the past. I liken Le Pen’s policies to those of Rick Santorum, the Republican Presidential nominee (thankfully no longer running), who wanted to bring the status of women in the US back to the 1950s by repealing many of the hard won victories of the women’s movement in the last 30 years.
    Who the hell votes for these candidates??? That someone could be openly anti-Semitic in 2012 and garner nearly 20% of the national vote is a cause for shame. Voters need to educate themselves as to what their candidates truly stand for and ask themselves if that is who they want to represent them and make policies for them. Think about the world you want to live in and vote accordingly. THINK!


  2. I echo Jo’s thoughts. This is also happening in Britain. The rise of the far right, fuelled by a recession/depression. People only too willing to blame somebody and try to find a quick fix, that will leave them comfortable.

    It is of great concern to me that people seem to have learned nothing from the horror in Germany in the 20th century, or maybe they do not KNOW the history of what happened in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. (do they not teach it at school?) The Facists subtly gradually,demonised a whole bunch of minorities, not just the Jews, so people actually believed these groups of people were less than human and then blamed all the woes on them. With the resultant horrific,attempt at genocide whilst people stood by and did nothing.

    The fact that this is today happening in France, who themselves were occupied by the Facists, is amazing and frightening to me.

    Now it is Asylum seekers,(who are largely fleeing form wars WE have created) immigrants, fleeing from economic conditions the greedy moguls of the west have created, and Muslims, the majority of whom are law abiding and peace loving, but because of a few bad apples are all seen as a threat.

    I don’t usually air my political views on line but that makes me as guilty as the people who ignored what was happening in the 1930’s., Well done you for standing up to be counted. I am with you my friend.

    Love from Bolton.

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