One of the common traits of the political right nowadays, both in America and in Europe is a total disregard for the truth and a desire to rewrite history. Here in America, the white supremacists of the GOP base conveniently forget the injustices and horrors that took place against minorities - gays included - during the "good old days" that they seek to bring back. America's past sins are whitewashed away and the myth of American exceptionalism inflated. Hand in hand with this is a celebration of "traditional Christian belief" with all its bigotry and mistreatment of others. Something similar is happening in France under the banner of Marine Le Pen and her National Front. Appeals to open racism are the norm and a whitewashing of ugly, inconvenient facts of France's history are underway. An editorial in the Washington Post calls out Le Pen for her lies and denials of French culpability in the Holocaust. Here are highlights:
WHEN A front-runner in France’s impending presidential election obliterates history by denying the country’s well- documented complicity in deporting tens of thousands of French and foreign Jews to Nazi death camps, it is clear something sinister is afoot in the birthplace of the Enlightenment.
Characterizing France as a victim rather than a willing and even enthusiastic participant in World War II’s mass liquidation of French and foreign Jews, Marine Le Pen, head of France’s far-right National Front, tried to remove the indelible stain left by that shameful chapter in her country’s history. Instead, she only ensured the stain attached to her own candidacy.
Founded by her father, the racist Holocaust minimizer Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front spent several decades mainly at the extremist margins of French politics. Since taking the party’s reins in 2011, Ms. Le Pen has presented herself as a gentler sort of immigrant-bashing nationalist. But, evidently loath to alienate the party’s old guard, she has negated her efforts to detoxify the National Front with dog whistles to the party’s nativist base. With her willfully denialist remarks last weekend, she went even further — squarely into the realm of historical revisionism.
“I think France was not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” she said, referring to the Winter Stadium in Paris where more than 13,000 Jews — mostly women and children — were rounded up in July 1942 before being sent to their deaths in Nazi gas chambers. “I think generally, if anyone is responsible, then it is those in power at the time, not France as such. It wasn’t France.” She added that “France has been mistreated, in people’s minds, for years.”
Actually, it was very much France that carried out the stadium roundups — specifically, some 4,500 French police, deployed in pairs, fanning out through the City of Light beginning at dawn on July 16, 1942, and acting on the direct orders of French officials. In all, 13,152 Jews were picked up over five days: 5,919 women, 4,115 children and 3,118 men; nearly all of them were then deported and murdered.
Following the war, more than 50 years passed before the French government officially acknowledged the nation’s guilt and collaboration in abetting the Holocaust, in which, of 6 million Jews who died, more than 76,000 were deported from France. Nonetheless, denialism and willful historical ignorance have maintained their grip, thanks partly to Mr. Le Pen, who advanced the idea that the Nazi gas chambers were “a detail” of World War II.
[T]he party, which leads in next weekend’s first-round presidential races, according to some opinion polls, hasn’t really been remade, just recast. Ms. Le Pen has made that clear.
Again, it is not lost - at least for me - that those who talk the most about traditional Christian values are the ones who most want to harm and persecute others. Religion is a pestilence on mankind.