ELECTIONS IN FRANCE POINT THE WAY
THE FAR RIGHT FAILS TO FEAR-MONGER CONVINCINGLY
We could take a lesson from the recent elections in France where it was predicted that France’s far right political party, the National Front led by Marine Le Pen, was predicted to score major increases in their representation in regional elections. They were thwarted by the common sense of the French electorate. I haven’t seen any calls to bar Muslims – even temporarily – from entering France although I’m sure there might be or might have been, but nothing compared to The Donald’s call upon what us Americans should do. Let’s remember that it was Paris, not New York City, not Peoria, Illinois, where 130 people were gunned down by ISIS-linked terrorists. Despite having suffered through the national terror that was November 13, 2015, despite the campaign of fear mounted by the National Front since then, despite every bigoted appeal, the French people said “NO” loudly and with crystal clear certainty.
The Paris attacks have been compared to our own 9-11 attacks by Al Qaeda and it would have been understandable if the people of France had succumbed to the right wing fear mongering that inevitably follows such horrors. Of particular interest in the French regional elections is that there was a 7% increase in voter turnout compared the last time around, an indication that people voted specifically to thwart Marie Le Pen’s and the National Front’s objectives. This, despite Ms. Le Pen’s year’s long efforts to tone down her Party’s xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric and policy proposals of the past. In fact, she has succeeded in dragging France’s knuckle-draggers more towards the center of the political spectrum since the National Front was founded in 1972 by her father, Jean-Mari Le Pen and led by him for many years. But it has been in vain.
Yes, we did have a local terrorist incident in San Bernardino, CA on December 2, two weeks after Paris, where 14 people were killed and 22 injured by what appears to have been an un-affiliated terrorist couple. Since then, Donald Trump (Marine and Donald have been compared as philosophical equals) has since called for the barring of Muslims from entering the United States in “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” in a typical right wing, xenophobic response. He did add that his bar-all-Muslims policy would only be temporary until U.S. officials figure out what the hell is going on. “Figure out what is going on?” Really, Donald? Is there any public official in the broad expanse of the nation who doesn’t know “what’s going on?” There is, as evidenced by Trump’s proposal, a range of solutions being offered to deal with ISIS, international and domestic terrorism but the problem isn’t not knowing what’s going on. I think that pretty much all of us know what’s going on.
As an indication of the political split the right wing has engendered and nurtured for many years here, a recent poll (Reuter’s) revealed that 64% of Republicans were NOT offended by Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks while 74% of Democrats indicated that they WERE offended by his remarks. The Koch funded Tea Party, the bell-weather of right wing insanity, now appeals to no more than 20% of the American public, in fact, only 17% according to the latest Gallup poll. But over half of registered Republicans still support the Tea Party and it’s goals.
On the other hand we here in the U.S. of A. have suffered the deaths of over 900 people over the past seven years from mass shootings and we have done nothing about it. A day after the San Bernardino killings, a Senate bill to prevent Watch List folks from buying guns was soundly defeated. So much for protecting us from being shot and killed while we are shopping at Target or attending services at our local church, temple or mosque.
I think our last chance at reversing the long slide towards xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and inhumanity we’ve been subjected to, will be next year’s 2016 elections. We might have stemmed this thirty year tide back in 2012 but we didn’t vote, an outcome which was not all that surprising since there was nothing to vote for. Nearly every single Democrat was running against Obama and supporting the conservative policies of the right wing in one way or another. I’m hopeful that like the French did last Sunday, we can soundly reject the fear-mongering and anti-Americanism, perhaps represented most clearly by The Donald but mirrored too in every single Republican candidate for the Presidency.
We may not have another chance.