For the first time since the Nazi occupation of Paris, thousands of Frenchmen marched through the streets of the capital screaming “Jews, get out of France!”
“Juden raus!” – “Jews get out!” (in German) – was a popular Nazi cry, and also a children’s board game in Germany during the 1930s in which “players take turns rolling the dice and moving their ‘Jews’ across the map toward ‘collection points’ outside the city walls for deportation to Mandate Palestine. Written on the game board, it says ‘If you manage to see off 6 Jews, you’ve won a clear victory!’”
The protest, opposing the politically-left government of French President François Hollande, was called “TheDay of Anger,” and was organized by a nebulous coalition of French conservatives and the country’s gay-hating religious right, among others.
The videos (one is posted below) are rather shocking, showing thousands of Frenchmen yelling “Jews, France is not yours,” while marching through Paris giving Nazi salutes.
The protests shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following the developments in France the past few years. America’s religious right has had a heavy hand in helping France’s nascent religious right organize alongside the lead conservative party, the UMP (France’s Republican party, for lack of a better comparison), against the country’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage.
French conservatives, following the example of American Republicans, are trying to use gay marriage, and gay rights generally, as part of a larger wedge to divide Frenchmen and win future elections on the backs of the country’s gay and lesbian community.
But of course, as we’ve learned far too often, once you start fanning the flames of intolerance, it’s awfully hard to control the animus you’ve created. The religious right anti-gay protests have increasingly taken on a decidedly neo-Nazi bent, which – quelle surprise – has now turned into open anti-Semitism.
Last week’s openly-antisemitic protest was followed day’s later by another protest, yesterday, organized specifically by France’s religious right and the UMP to yet again bash gays. Previous UMP/religious right protests resulted in the “family values” protesters rioting against peaceful police officers who, as video proves, were doing absolutely nothing to provoke the protesters.
Just as in Russia, the more violent elements of society in France have responded to the offically-sanctioned anti-gay hate by acting out violently in the form of hate crimes.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s violence, after the Catholic church in France seemed to express empathy for those who feel the need to turn to violence, at the same time that France’s “family values” leader threatened that the French president “wants blood,” “and he’s gonna get it.”
Look,I love France. I studied and worked there. And I try to go back as often as I can. But the country is descending into a cesspool of intolerance. And that intolerance is being fed by one of the largest political parties, the conservative UMP, and the country’s growing religious right (which is working in cahoots with America’s conservative “Christians”) and the Catholic church. Sound familiar?
Someone has apparently told the French right that gay-bashing has been a rip-roaring success for America’s GOP, and thus they should emulate it. But the thing is, it hasn’t been a success at all. Today’s Republican party sees the religious right as more of a nuisance (or worse, an albatross), holding Republicans back as the country as a whole moves forward on civil rights. The GOP’s anti-gay, and more generally “intolerant” creed (against women, Latinos, blacks and immigrants), is costing Republicans dearly (and increasingly) at the ballot box. Young people are fleeing the party, and that scares GOP leaders. And it should.
France’s Republican party, the UMP, and the country’s religious right, has opened a Pandora’s box of intolerance. Someone needs to inform France’s right-wing leaders that homophobia is not the future of politics anywhere outside of Russia, Nigeria or Uganda.