If you sow the wind, you reap a storm
It was interesting to note how the “assumption mill” worked over the recent murderous attacks in France. Given the example of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway, it was initially assumed that the killer was a person with extreme right-wing views.
In the meantime, media commentary across Europe pointed to the blatantly racist overtones of the campaign for the French presidential elections, with many suggesting a “he who sows the wind will reap a storm” attitude. Muslim and Jewish leaders in France, not surprisingly, reflected a similar attitude.
The automatic assumption was that the killer was availing of the negative atmosphere fertilized by power-hungry right-wing politicians from President Sarkozy down to the politically ever-ugly Marie Le Pen. Meanwhile, a large section of the French population was relieved, for obvious reasons, that “the killer was not Islamic.”
For their part, Sarkozy and Le Pen were left shaken, because if the gunman was indeed a right-wing radical, as the assumption went, he would ultimately represent the “extreme conclusion” of what they as politicians have been promoting in France.
But the tables turned quickly, and it was Sarkozy and Le Pen’s turn to be relieved when police surrounded a house in Toulouse and information was quickly provided that the gunman was in fact a vengeful Muslim French citizen, angered by Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians, as well as by France’s involvement in Afghanistan.
The standoff in Toulouse was continuing when this piece was written, so we still don’t know the full facts pertaining to this incident. But, not surprisingly, Marie Le Pen wasted no time in saying that her anti-Islam agenda had been vindicated, accusing Sarkozy of having taken the threat of Islamic terrorism lightly.
Ironically she also blamed “European anti-Semitism” for the deadly shootings in Toulouse, which is odd given that her own father Jean Marie Le Pen, the founder of her neo-Nazi National Front, is an anti-Semite notorious for maintaining that the Nazi gas chambers were merely a “detail” in the history of the Second World War.
In addition to this, a well known French journalist, Audrey Pulvar, recently accused Le Pen’s party of condoning racism after she and her partner were accosted by National Front thugs shouting “Juden Juden” (German for Jew), and throwing objects at them. Marie Le Pen apologized over the incident, but few felt she was being sincere.
It is clear to any outsider that racism has overtaken the body politic in France in general, and this is openly reflected even in the campaigning for the French Presidential elections. It is also clear that politicians like Sarkozy and Le Pen have no intention of admitting that their racist parlance also provides opportunities for extreme right wing thugs and Islamic fundamentalists alike to create social chaos.
Nevertheless, one can expect - as Le Pen is already suggesting with her remarks - that anti-Muslim sentiment will continue and that anti-Semitic sentiments will be following not far behind.
And if it is conclusively proved that Mohammed Merah, who was surrounded by police in Toulouse, is indeed guilty of these killings, all he will have achieved - as always with these Islamic fundamentalist nutcases - is to make life even more difficult for Muslims in France, where the environment for them is already sufficiently hostile. But perhaps this was his intention after all.
How embarrassing all of this must be for reasonable French men and women, knowing as they do that the motto of their country contains the words “égalité” and “fraternité.” Yet they have to bear an interior minister who can say “We must defend our civilization, because contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us all civilizations are not of the same value.” If Claude Guéant was around at the time of Vichy, it is not difficult to guess what “civilization” he would be serving.