Above is the Free French flag from World War II. It’s the classic tri-color with the Cross of Lorraine smack dab in the middle. America sided with Gen. DeGaulle’s Free French as opposed to the collaborationist Fascist Vichy government of Gen. Petain and Pierre Laval. Deny it as they might, the Le Pens National Front party are the inheritors of the legacy of the nationalist far-right; the ones who turned French and immigrant Jews over to the Nazis during the war. Despite Marine Le Pen’s cosmetic attempts to scrub the stench of anti-Semitism off her party by expelling her openly racist father, the National Front walks in the shoes of the Vichy government.
These are weird times. The current German government led by a conservative who was born in communist East Germany is waving the banner of liberal democracy and anti-Fascism. In France, Marine Le Pen wants to drag her country back to the dark ages with her extremist anti-immigrant platform. The good news is that pollsters nailed yesterday’s first round of voting in the French Presidential election:
On 21 April, the last-day predictions were published, an average of the election’s nine rolling polls put Macron on 24%, Le Pen on 22%, scandal-hit rightwing candidate François Fillon on 20% and hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19%.
The final results, declared early on Monday morning by the French interior ministry, showed respective vote shares of 23.75%, 21.53%, 19.91% and 19.64%. For each of the top four candidates, the polls had been out by less than one percentage point.
As I’ve said many time before: nothing is written but I think we can abandon the current CW that the biggest asshole in any race will always win. It looks like Le Pen will lose handily in the run-off BUT she’s on course to double her father’s total in the 2002 run-off against Jacques Chirac. Jean-Marie Le Pen got 18% of the vote whereas his daughter is on course to get between 36 and 40%. That’s way too much for comfort. Bigoted nationalism remains on the march. Pun on Emmanuel Macron’s party name intended.
That brings me to my rather dramatic post title. Unlike past US Presidents of both parties, Donald Trump has no problem with Marine Le Pen’s Vichy Fascist National Front party. He implicitly endorsed them before the first round:
In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said that while he is not explicitly endorsing Le Pen, the attack played to her strengths.
“She’s the strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. “Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”
U.S. presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying, “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
This is hardly the worst thing that the Insult Comedian has done since winning the electoral vote. It’s not an overt endorsement BUT it’s still sickening. It’s a slap in the face to Americans who fought against Nazism and Fascism. The current occupant has sided with Le Pen’s Vichy Fascism as opposed to the small-d democrats of both center-left and right. It’s a sad day for America as well as a sign that Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts still have influence in the administration*.
Writing a post with a Vichy inspired title turned my mind to last scene of Casablanca. Generations of Americans cheered when Claude Rains threw a bottle of Vichy Water in the garbage:
It may have been heavy-handed symbolism but I cheer every time I see it. With his de facto support of Marine Le Pen, Trump has taken the bottle out of the trash and put it on his desk for all the world to see. Rubbish is still rubbish.
The president* is utterly without shame but I have to say it anyway: shame on you, Donald for betraying all those who died fighting Nazism. You’re supporting a candidate whose party is honeycombed with Holocaust deniers and Vichy apologists. America should always stand with the Free French, not with the Vichy Fascists.
Vive les Maquis.