Monday, March 28, 2011

A Party Like the Others

In the cantonals, 55% of the eligible French didn't vote. Fact no. 1. Of the 45% who did vote and who found themselves in cantons where the FN candidate survived to the second round and faced an opponent of the Left or the Right, the FN candidate improved his or her score over the first round by an average of 10%. In short, disappointed voters of both the Left and the Right were willing to vote FN. For many people, the party is no longer taboo. Whatever else the FN represents, this figures marks a significant success for Marine Le Pen. Her strategy of dédiabolisation (de-demonization?) has worked. Or, to put it another way, in France in 2011, it is far more socially acceptable to express overtly anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-elitist attitudes than it is to be overtly anti-Semitic, deny the Holocaust, or argue that Algeria should still be French. But of course the same (mutatis mutandis) is true in the United States, where among numerous people on the extreme right the curious notion has taken hold that shari'a law is about to be established by a foreign-born chief executive of Muslim extraction abetted by "activist" judges, ACORN, NPR, and a host of other fifth columnists.


bernard said...

I fear that you are wrong in the sense that it is perfectly common for these "tea party" people to denounce the East Coast establishment people, which really means New Yorkers, which really means Brooklin (ers, is it?), which really means ..., do you get my drift?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

You mean what Jesse Jackson called "Hymietown?" Yes, we have that kind of anti-Semitism on both left and right, just as France has its allusions to the "tronche pas très Catholique" of one prominent politician and to the remoteness from "la France des terroirs" of another who represents the suburb of Sarcelles, Paris's "Brooklyn" (although American demographics have changed, and Brooklyn is no longer Brooklyn, or the Bronx, or the Lower East Side). This is garden-variety prejudice. The serious stuff lies closer to anger, disgust, and other strong emotions. It's more visceral.