Sunday, February 19, 2006
"History doesn't repeat itself - at best it sometimes rhymes" - Twain
We have all become used to stories about the joining of the far Left with the Islamist agenda -- to the extent that such stories are now of the "dog bites man" variety. This has been happening with such frequency even in mainstream European politics, that one is no longer surprised to see Jews in league with some strange bedfellows, such as with the right-wing Vlaams Blok in Belgium.
But here's an emerging story of the Right currying favor with the Islamists, and this is something different. Le Pen's French National Front is now seeking common-cause with France's large Muslim minority. What will happen when the European far Left merges with their far Right and brings in the significant totalitarian, Judenhass Islamist minority? The prospects should disturb.
A generation after France's right-wing party began its surge with a tough anti-immigration campaign tinged with both racism and anti-Semitism, three factors are coming into play that could spell a strategic realignment...
This was greeted by an outcry among the Front's rank and file and Mr. Marechal had to step down from various positions. Still, he remained one of Mr. Le Pen's closest advisors.
More recently, Jean-Claude Martinez, a National Front member of the European Parliament and Mr. Le Pen's "strategic adviser," has reiterated Mr. Marechal's challenge in a book issued under the improbable title "To all French citizens who may have voted for Le Pen if only once in their life."
He argued that the National Front must adjust to globalization, forget about some of its founding myths, like "Joan of Arc fighting an alien invasion," and welcome immigrant blacks and Arabs into the national fold.
He even expressed enthusiasm for black and Arab rap, as long as it is sung in French rather than English. This time there was no talk of disciplinary measures against the heretic.
Various sources are now reporting that Mr. Martinez is supported by Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie's eldest daughter and heir apparent.
During the 2005 riots, when even communist and socialist mayors were asking for police and even army deployment in the French urban communities, the National Front refrained from any active anti-immigrant or anti-Islamic campaigning.
Over the last weeks, in the wake of the crisis over the Danish cartoons, the National Front has sided with Muslims in their claim that "religious sensibilities must be respected."
It remains to be seen whether this move will work out for Le Pen. For those Jews in America who still think that right-wing Christians are our biggest problem, Le Pen is willing to cut them out of his coalition to make this new alliance -- an alliance of the future, perhaps -- work:
The Christian right-wingers - who may have provided more than 50% of the party activists and more than 50% of the voters - are horrified, feel betrayed and have started deserting en masse. Many are turning to Philippe de Villiers, France's chief Eurosceptic, who is quickly reorganizing his own party, Mouvement Pour la France or MPF, into a nativist, Christian-minded, anti-Muslim group.
According to the newspaper Liberation, the global National Front membership has dropped from 40,000 in the late 1990s to 20,000 in 2002 and to 12,000 in 2005.
According to CSA, a polling institute, support for Mr. Le Pen among prospective voters has dropped to 9% in February from 11% in December and 12% in September. During the same period, MPF's support more than doubled to 7%. What remains to be seen is whether Le Pen will actually compensate the Christian right-wingers' hemorrhage with a substantial influx of Muslim supporters.
Islamic leaders in France are advising their followers to act as "democratic and responsible citizens," i.e., to register as prospective voters and to enter as full-fledged activists into all major political parties, either right of left. Indeed, a reconstructed, Muslim-friendly National Front stands a good chance to win many of them.
It appears that Le Pen is offering Muslim immigrants the opportunity to be good Frenchmen and still not compromise their most dearly held values -- and from the sounds of it, those may be their worst values. Many of us have been hoping for such a mainstreaming of immigrant Muslim culture...but in a decidedly different form. LePen will give Muslims the ability to integrate without changing.
More bad weather ahead.
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