Le Pen, cats and the far right | The Press

Whether Marine Le Pen wins or loses on Sunday, the far right emerges victorious from the French presidential campaign which has ended. It is more normalized than ever. So much so that many are reluctant to call a spade a spade and the far right the far right.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

“We can call him kitty, but he’s still a cat,” David Morin, a professor at the School of Applied Politics at the University of Sherbrooke and a specialist in the far right, told me, quoting the joke of a of his students.

From the outset, when we speak of the “extreme right” today, we think of skinheads, neo-Nazis and other neo-fascists. A very overused image which, a priori, may seem very far from that of a Marine Le Pen all smiles in a trouser suit who is tender in front of a kitten.

But by reserving the far-right label for those who wear it in traditional clothes, we ignore the fact that alongside it, a new far-right has emerged in recent decades, underlines Professor Morin.

“This new extreme right, she is in a suit and tie. They are young dynamic executives. They are small craftsmen. It is alternative media and sometimes also educated people who have tried to rebuild the far right in a more politically correct way. They did this by, for example, trying to replace terms like “race” with terms like “culture”. »

They defend themselves well from saying that there would exist a superior “race”. Rather, they say that there is one culture superior to another and that certain cultures are incompatible with French civilization, leading to the risk of “wildness”. I’m not racist, come on. I’m just from a higher civilized culture…

All this is part of the rise of the new alternative right, notably born in the United States with thealt rightwhich aims precisely to try to free itself from the leaden screed that weighed on the image that we had of the usual extreme right, neo-Nazi, to rebuild on something else.

David Morin, professor at the School of Applied Politics at the University of Sherbrooke

With her business of demonization, Marine Le Pen has used the same tactics, observes David Morin. She tried to muddy the waters with a strategy of “confusionism”, symptomatic of the radical right, consisting in sending contradictory messages to avoid being associated with the extreme right.

The strategy worked extremely well. Under Marine Le Pen, the National Front founded by her father Jean-Marie has put on brand new clothes. The “front” has become “gathering”. Marine Le Pen has become just “Marine”, shedding the negative connotation associated with the name of her father, torturer during the Algerian war, racist and notorious anti-Semite. She presents in the media an image of a smiling woman, who loves people and cats. She coats her dangerous ideas with a new vocabulary. She rejects the extreme right label.


PHOTO JACKY NAEGELEN, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of Marine and his predecessor at the head of the National Front, today the National Rally

While there is no consensus in academia about what fits this label, for political scientist David Morin, it is quite clear that the Rassemblement national program constitutes a far-right program. This is also the conclusion to which the daily newspaper arrives The world scrutinizing his project. “A fundamentally far-right program behind a softened image,” one writes.

David Morin sums it up more colorfully. “It may be a Diet Coke, but it’s still Coke at the base…”

What is this drink made of?

“If we take the classic definition of the extreme right, it is the idea of ​​a national community that is somewhat mythologized, besieged, attacked from within and from without. A community that must be protected from both outsiders and progressives within. »

This is exactly what Le Pen defends: the idea of ​​a fight between nationalists, who defend the original “purity” of a country, and globalists, who threaten it with foreign bodies.

We also note in the National Rally another characteristic element of the extreme right even if it is not exclusive to it: a populist discourse which opposes the people and the predatory elites. Add to that the idea of ​​a certain police state – Marine Le Pen wants to give a presumption of self-defense to French police officers, who are known to be more inclined to vote for the far right than the rest of the population. Or even this project of “national preference”, aiming to create a two-speed political and social system where those who are considered to be “real” French people will have more rights than the others. (Which is reminiscent of the emblematic slogans of the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen – [« Un million de chômeurs, c’est un million d’immigrés de trop. La France et les Français d’abord »]).

In short, all these ingredients put together – and the list here is far from being exhaustive – show that despite the strategy of demonization, the devil is doing quite well, thank you.

The candidacy of Éric Zemmour, with a more openly extremist and racist discourse, has also done Marine Le Pen a great service. “This allowed Le Pen to soften his far-right discourse a little, to rehumanize it,” underlines David Morin.

While Zemmour is not shy, for example, to tell a young Frenchwoman of Senegalese origin on a TV set that he would not have let her return to the country, Le Pen promises instead to look at it on a case-by-case basis. By comparing them, voters say to themselves: “She is still less worse than Zemmour! »

As for those who voted for Zemmour in the first round, if the polls are true, many will fall back on its equally undrinkable Diet Coke version. And whatever the outcome of the presidential election, unfortunately, everything indicates that those who drank will drink.

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