Thursday, December 29, 2005


In Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer one character is stranded and abandoned by his mates in a storm as they all try to descend the mountain. The character they leave behind is abrasive and obnoxious, one many of us would be happy to see the end of. But, as the larger group stops at one point to rest and get their bearings, the man they left to die comes out of nowhere and sits with them, frozen and speechless. The group decide to leave again because the man they deserted is too close to death to worry about. They continue on. When they stop, he reappears. The man will not die. And they keep leaving him even as those who run fall off along the way. Eight climbers died. The loud guy survived. He survived only because he had the will to live. He is my hero.

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – The number of French adults who express sympathy with the views of Jean-Marie Le Pen remains stable, according to a poll by TNS-Sofres released by Le Monde and RTL. 24 per cent of respondents say they agree with the ideas of the National Front (FN) leader.

Current French president Jacques Chirac won the 1995 election, and earned a second term in a run-off over Le Pen in May 2002. Le Pen's political organization—deemed as extreme right—has been severely criticized for its stance on immigration.

On Oct. 27, riots broke out in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois after the death of two teenagers who allegedly were being pursued by police officers. On Nov. 17, French authorities declared a "return to normalcy" in the whole country. Over 20 nights of violence—which spread to 19 French provinces—at least 8,973 vehicles were torched, 2,888 people were arrested, 126 police officers were injured, and one person died.

Le Pen declared last month, "In the past 15 days, our party has acquired several thousand new members. We've received thousands of e-mails, faxes and letters from people who say, 'At last we have understood. You were right, Monsieur Le Pen. They said you were an extremist, but you were a visionary.'"

Earlier this month, FN member and European Parliament lawmaker Bruno Gollnisch was stripped of his immunity after casting doubts on the Holocaust. The European legislative body decided to allow for the prosecution of Gollnisch, claiming his remarks were made in a personal capacity.

Polling Data

Would you say that you agree or disagree with the ideas defended by Jean-Marie Le Pen?

Dec. 2005

Mar. 2004

Nov. 2003









No opinion




Source: TNS-Sofres / Le Monde / RTL
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,000 French adults, conducted on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 2005. No margin of error was provided.

While France remains distracted, Jean Marie Le Pen lies in wait, still hoping to catch it in his net. At 77, the xenophobic leader of the National Front has still not lost hope of subduing France and gaining control of it. In the past few years he has remained static, but the state is constantly moving toward him. By gradual, hesitant steps, perhaps, but with a chilling constancy.

Now, as well, a few weeks after the immigrant revolt, the French have been turning to him to save them. Le Pen is at his best when the French are panicking. The scenes of public buildings going up in flames, of thousands of cars going up in flames, of schools and kindergartens going up in flames, have shattered their equanimity.

A poll that appeared Wednesday in Le Monde showed that the xenophobic ideas of the National Front are seeping in and finding an attentive audience. The poll demonstrated dramatic changes among the French due to the riots and due to the central government's helplessness and silence.

Some 33 percent of respondents said they believe Le Pen will get through to the second round of the presidential elections in the spring of 2007. If that happens, it would be the second time Le Pen beat the candidate of one of the large parties and entered the decisive round. In 2002, Le Pen astonished Europe when he beat the prime minister, Lionel Jospin, and made it through to the second round, against the president. He received extraordinary levels of support in outlying settlements, in "French" cities, in mixed cities with large immigrant populations, and in areas with high unemployment rates. Marseilles, Nice and other southern cities that have absorbed many immigrants from North Africa, gave Le Pen 25-30 percent of the vote.

Only 39 percent of the French feel Le Pen's opinions are unacceptable. In other words, most French consider him an absolutely legitimate candidate. Some 73 percent responded that the traditional values of France are not adequately protected. Sixty-three percent feel there are too many immigrants in France, and 44 percent said they do not feel at home in their own country.

From the first, it was clear that the combination of dangerous violence by the immigrants and the paralysis of the government institutions would generate more extremist views in the public. This was the case in 2002, when the state was negligent in its protection of the Jews and was reticent to deal with the violence. In the past few years, Le Pen has warned that the day is not far when the Muslims will arise against France to Islamize it. Now he is reaping the yields.

It's hard to care at all about people who don't care about themselves. God knows I have my faults, which is as good a reason for atheism as any I can think of, but faults or no, I don't recall hearing myself complain about my life. But if ever I do I'm pretty sure I won't blame anything I do on the worthless French. No, I'll find someone worthy to blame my faults on.

I climbed Mount Olympus once. I saw a fat guy my age pick up his fat ugly twelve year old kid and carry him down the mountain because the kid had sore feet. If it came to it I would have carried the father. To hell with the kid.


Pastorius said...

So, do you think the French will help themselves or not?

I don't think Le Pen is a good solution. It seems to me Sarkozy is a much better option.

dag said...

I'd go for Sarko, and I'd give a very close look at Le Pen before I have anything at all good to venture about him. Time will tell, especially this summer, I predict, when the "youths" will be out on the hot summer nights with nothing to do but burn down the cities.

Pastorius said...

You know, Le Pen doesn't like Jews, or anyone who isn't European much at all. He's a dangerous man, I believe.

dag said...

One of my concerns is that there will be a back-lash that is so out of control there won't be any stopping it till everything lays in ruins: our democracies, our friendships, our liberties, our humour, our compassion. If we don't control the problem now there will come a time when the control is out of control. I see Le Pen as a symptom of that impulse to overcontrol out of frustration. I'm concerned about the days of middle class rage.