During the French presidential election of 2002, Jacques Chirac, the sitting president, refused to debate the finalist challenger, so to speak, Jean-Marie Le Pen, calling him an extremist who did not deserve to have a voice. Here was a man who had democratically beaten all other challengers in the first round of voting, and the “crook at the Elysee,” as Chirac is known, refused to recognize him as an opponent. The establishment agreed.
There were only two candidates to vote for, but that didn’t mean there were two equal candidates. It was Le Pen against the whole united establishment, which included the Catholic Church, the trade unions, the French legal profession, the media, and of course the chattering classes. In a clear breach of media proportionality guidelines, Le Pen was kept off the air and had very limited exposure to the press. In every newspaper not just the editors but the owners and publishers issued appeals for people to march in the streets against him and went as far as to organize processions of schoolchildren calling for Le Pen’s death. He nevertheless got close to 20 percent of the final vote, which under the circumstances was a triumph of sorts.
Needless to say, now the chickens have come home to roost, and the more cars the Arabs burn in the land of cheese, the better I like it. Le Pen’s notoriety stems from his opposition to Arab immigration since the end of the Algerian war in 1962. Born in between the wars, he lost his father by a mine in 1942 and was brought up in extreme poverty. He joined the Foreign Legion, fought in Indochina, and then became a member of the French parliament at an early age. When France sent troops to Algeria to suppress the Arab revolt, he resigned his seat and joined the paratroopers. In 1973, he created the National Front and has slowly seen it rise to become the third party in France despite the unholy alliance between Right and Left to keep it off the ballot.
Although portrayed as a monster by the media, Le Pen is a charming, courteous, courageous, and extremely well-read man. He was a friend of my father’s, and we were honored to have him stay with us in Athens 15 years ago. I remember him saying that France, unlike the United States, drew valueless immigrants from North Africa, who came over mostly for the social benefits. Successive French governments have insisted that immigration is needed to make up for shortfalls of nurses and doctors and other professionals. This, of course, is a Goebbels-like lie.
When Jean-Marie Le Pen said Muslim immigration was out of control, he was shouted down by the same people who are now saying that it’s not immigration that has failed, but integration. France has the largest foreign-born population in Europe, more than 10 percent. Yet the rioters who have been arrested up to now are nearly all the sons and grandsons of immigrants, who despite having been born in France “feel and act Arab.” This means that they grow more estranged from the community with each passing year, less assimilated than their parents, and more determined to retain the language and the customs of their fathers and grandfathers. This phenomenon has been encouraged by the multiculturalism that has been embraced by the European Union and the rest of the bureaucrooks who run the old continent.
Ironically, the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, who now poses as a hardliner ready to put down the “revolt” with tanks if necessary, was the prime mover behind affirmative action for North Africans in the past, as well as the champion of government support for building mosques.
Although France has banned religious symbols in schools and has expensive measures to keep poor Muslims fed, housed, and educated, the resentment against a European culture has never stopped growing. Le Pen warned about this long ago, but to no avail. The sophisticated elite who have shown such contempt for Le Pen do not, of course, live near the working-class sections north and west of Paris. These are no-go areas for whites and non-Arabs. I drove through such a section recently, from la Gare du Nord towards the airport Charles De Gaulle, and it was like being in the center of Algiers. No one attacked me, but one could feel the hostility.
Yet when I wrote in the Spectator that happiness was waking up and learning that Le Pen had won against the socialists and would be going up against Chirac, it was as if I had written a pro-Hitler essay in an Israeli paper. The crooks who run Europe in general, and France in particular, need to apologize to Le Pen, but don’t hold your breath. Mind you, the next thing you’ll smell while breathing is a French car burning, which will not exactly make me teary-eyed.