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Saturday, May. 04, 2002 at 11:35 AM
I was surprised not to find many postings on Indymedia about what's going on in France. Having lived with a Front National family for six months, I am so disgusted by Le Pen's apparent success. That's not what surprised me though-- the millions refusing to accept him is what has.
I was really surprised that there aren't really any postings on Indymedia concerning what's going on in France right now. I think everyone knows by now the basics-- Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of ultra-nationalist, openly anti-immigrant political party National Front, turned out HUGE numbers in the recent primary election. He's made the run-off, along with conservative, more mainstream incumbant Jacques Chirac. Since then, over a million people in France have gone to the streets to demonstrate their refusal of Le Pen and what he stands for.
I'm writing this because I want people who work locally in the U.S. to know what it's like over there, to have the opportunity to be in solidarity with victims of racism in Europe. I lived in Paris for 6 months in 2000. I was unfortuante enough to live with a family who was part of the Front Nationale. They had five kids. Each and every one of these children inherited the racism and xenophobia that their distinctly unintelligent parents held to. One day I was playing Ben Harper. The little girl of the family, who was 7 years old, said she liked it and asked who it was. I showed her his picture and she said "oh no, this can't be him." "Why not?," I asked. "Because people who look like him can't be good-- they are theives and drug dealers and liars." On another occasion, an aunt in the family had her three sons jump on and burn her 16 year old daughter's rap cds, after a group of Arab youths had supposedly started a fight with her sons. She said the rap was the source of the evil that Arabs and African immigrants bring and she didn't want her daughter listening to that anymore. A 10-year-old son of hers sat there talking about how it was the beginning of a holy war, a crusade. I'm serious! The kid was obviously disturbed in other ways, but no one paid much attention to what he said. They wanted to call the cops on the Arab youths who supposedly attacked them, but they were afraid the police would say they were being racist. According to that family, all of France's problems, from graffiti to unemployment, were the fault of the millions of "immigrants" in large part of Arab origin. This is what Le Pen capitalizes on.
It might sound like an old story-- Alabama conversation circa 1964. But it's not the same as American racism has ever been. It's different over there. In some ways so childish and exactly what "politically correct" discourse tells you not to say or think. But in other ways it carries more power in French society than it would here. So many "white" French people walk around in these bubbles like that family I stayed with. Racial holy wars are their childhood fantasies that they'll eventually grow out of as they go on to make money. For the Arab and African youth, they are the urban scourges. They are despised for their slang, their dress, any sign of strength they might show. One of the three biggest parts of Le Pen's platform is the expulsion of all "illegal" immigrants from France. This is all crap. An old friend of mine says people have been marching every day for a week straight, to show their rejection of Le Pen.
Stay tuned to this story! Learn from the subtle differences! Fight to topple facism in Europe, and in the US, and anywhere else where 500 years of a certain way of thinking has made us into killers.
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