Wednesday, 2 May 2007

A postcard from Jeanne d'Arc

The far-right movements in Europe have now consistently adopted a strategy of having two visages, for two different audiences.

The first visage, nice and smiling, is aimed at the general public: the electors who are not yet won to the cause, and who need to be seduced. Denying all accusations of racism or fascism (or other un-nice words), that side likes to talk about how the traditional political parties want to reduce it to silence: because its novel and bright ideas to save the country scare the People in Power. Paradoxically, at the same time, it likes to point out that the far-right ideas appear in the discourses of mainline politicians, who copy them because they're right, without giving credit. However, that shallow rhetoric isn't sufficient to mask the complete lack of political insight, which is usually limited to blaming immigrants or the EU for everything, and posing as a victim the rest of the time.

The second visage is usually shown only to the inner party. It's much scarier. But sometimes you can have a glance at it.

After many weeks of electoral campaign in France, where we were exposed daily to the carefully sugared discourses of Le Pen (not mentioning the election posters everywhere in the streets), the French far-right finally revealed itself tel qu'en lui-même, yesterday May 1st, day of Jeanne d'Arc, traditionally an annual convention of the core supporters of Le Pen. I found a nice photoset on Flickr about that the 2007 Jeanne d'Arc celebration. Some pictures are really scary.

Take, for example, this one, and look at the details of the postcards:

One of them depicts Philippe Pétain with nostalgia -- Pétain was Hitler's strawman during the occupation of France in World War II. Another postcard features a guy making the fascist salute. A third one shows Hitler greeting Simone Veil (author of the French law that legalized abortion) among a club of mass murderers, including also Stalin an Mao -- a scene which insults not only the memory of the Holocaust victims, but also Veil herself, since she survived Auschwitz.

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