arrest of jews

French people, little reminder (FRENCH) YOUTH SCREWS THE NATIONAL FRONT

We’ve already been here in the late 80′s, and in no way we’re gonna accept that again. “NOUS SOMMES TOUS DES ENFANTS D’IMMIGRÉS, PREMIERE, DEUXIEME, TROISIEME GENERATION” (”We’re all children of immigrants, first, second, third generation”).

No one wants fascists ass at the head of our country. Just because some of us are scared by current events, doesn’t mean we should give up to the worst assholes out there, and sacrifice our freedom for a promised safety. They’re not going to give us safety. They’ll just shape the country with their twisted view, their hostility towards people who have never caused them any harm, except showing that humanity doesn’t come in one shape and color and that it’s not because we have different skin colors, cultures and languages that we can’t get along together.

The Le Pen family is a rich white and xenophobic family, who’s party, the Front National (often shortened to “FN”), is a far-right party known for the many scandals and other absurdities of its representants. Among its creators we can count ex-Waffen SS Léon Gaultier, ex-member of the SS Charlemagne Division (French unit which voluntereed in the Wehrmacht), Pierre Bousquet and many other people from extremist groups and militias.

Of course we also count the very infamous (no need to explain why) Jean-Marie Le Pen, among the founders of the party. This man was for a long time the reason why people were aware of the danger of this party, he was very open about his xenophobic and negationnistic views and was the leader of the party at the time Bérurier Noir sung the song above, chanting “Never again with the 20%” (FN scored high in various elections at the time, it was unacceptable for them - and we understand why).

But recently the party leader changed to Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie Lepen’s daughter. She changed the form of the party, the speech, gave it a little face-lift, but we most of us still know what’s still behind the mask, as the many members of the National Front never fail to get into a lot of trouble, quickly move from scandal to scandal, have barely hidden shady aquaintances. Most recent scandals involve fiancial fraud, and using her immunity as an MEP to avoid any judicial procedure (although she’s anti-euro as much as her party) and denying that the Vel d’Hiv roundup (mass arrest of Jews in 1942 who were confined in a winter velodrome in Paris before being sent to their deaths in Auschwitz death camps) was the responsibility of French governement. Spoilers: it was. But here we can see how she follows her father’s legacy of historical negationnism. And we all know were it leads, to forget or deliberatly ignore and/or modify History.

Sadly though, this doesn’t stop many French people to think that “it has changed with Marine”.

Now. I know a lot of our many parties and political representatives are neither clean or angels, may they be from the right or the left or every other part of the political spectrum. But voting for the far-right, especially when they’re crystal clear about their intentions, when we have books, websites, studies, archives (texts, videos) with the help of which we can understand, and see how bad these people are, it’s incomprehensible, unacceptable, to see people chosing this party over the rest. It’s unacceptable, for our country, to see such people rise again, 84 years after the election of a certain nationalist in Germany (The National Socialist German Worker’s Party was only socialist by name, so stop bringing that up), 78 years after the start of a war that will leave a considerable scar in our people’s mind and our own History (and all of Europe). For a country who has witnessed and endured such horrors, less than a century ago, happening to its neighboors and itself, I cannot understand how we can accept to repeat History. And to those who will tell me the FN is not like that, and that we’ve never tried it: you don’t need to taste shit to know it’s shit.

You might accuse me of reaching the Godwin’s Law, but just because some people are quick to use the “NAZI!” argument (especially on tumblr, oh god), doesn’t mean that everytime we try to warn people about fascism and rising populism it’s a joke. The National Front is truly a danger, a 45 old party, founded by xenophobic people, still led by the Lepen family, a rich, white and xenophobic family who still doesn’t understand shit (or wants to) about French people’s situation.

The facts themselves bear witness and his divine acts of power teach those who doubt that he is true God, and his sufferings show that he is true man. And if those who are feeble in understanding are not fully assured, they will pay the penalty on his dread day.

If he was not flesh, why was Mary introduced at all? And if he was not God, whom was Gabriel calling Lord?

If he was not flesh, who was lying in the manger? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and glorify?

If he was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if he was not God, whom did the shepherds worship?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph circumcise? And if he was not God, in whose honour did the star speed through the heavens?

If he was not flesh, whom did Mary suckle? And if he was not God, to whom did the Magi offer gifts?

If he was not flesh, whom did Symeon carry in his arms? And if he was not God, to whom did he say, “Let me depart in peace”?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph take and flee into Egypt? And if he was not God, in whom were words “Out of Egypt I have called my Son” fulfilled?

If he was not flesh, whom did John baptise? And if he was not God, to whom did the Father from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”?

If he was not flesh, who fasted and hungered in the desert? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and serve?

If he was not flesh, who was invited to the wedding in Cana of Galilee? And if he was not God, who turned the water into wine?

If he was not flesh, in whose hands were the loaves? And if he was not God, who satisfied crowds and thousands in the desert, not counting women and children, from five loaves and two fishes?

If he was not flesh, who fell asleep in the boat? And if he was not God, who rebuked the winds and the sea?

If he was not flesh, with whom did Simon the Pharisee eat? And if he was not God, who pardoned the offences of the sinful woman?

If he was not flesh, who sat by the well, worn out by the journey? And if he was not God, who gave living water to the woman of Samaria and reprehended her because she had had five husbands?

If he was not flesh, who wore human garments? And if he was not God, who did acts of power and wonders?

If he was not flesh, who spat on the ground and made clay? And if he was not God, who through the clay compelled the eyes to see?

If he was not flesh, who wept at Lazarus’ grave? And if he was not God, who by his command brought out one four days dead?

If he was not flesh, who sat on the foal? And if he was not God, whom did the crowds go out to meet with glory?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Jews arrest? And if he was not God, who gave an order to the earth and threw them onto their faces.

If he was not flesh, who was struck with a blow? And if he was not God, who cured the ear that had been cut off by Peter and restored it to its place?

If he was not flesh, who received spittings on his face? And if he was not God, who breathed the Holy Spirit into the faces of his Apostles?

If he was not flesh, who stood before Pilate at the judgement seat? And if he was not God, who made Pilate’s wife afraid by a dream?

If he was not flesh, whose garments did the soldiers strip off and divide? And if he was not God, how was the sun darkened at the cross?

If he was not flesh, who was hung on the cross? And if he was not God, who shook the earth from its foundations?

If he was not flesh, whose hands and feet were transfixed by nails? And if he was not God, how was the veil of the temple rent, the rocks broken and the graves opened?

If he was not flesh, who cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me”? And if he was not God, who said “Father, forgive them”?

If he was not flesh, who was hung on a cross with the thieves? And if he was not God, how did he say to the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”?

If he was not flesh, to whom did they offer vinegar and gall? And if he was not God, on hearing whose voice did Hades tremble?

If he was not flesh, whose side did the lance pierce, and blood and water came out?And if he was not God, who smashed to gates of Hades and tear apart it bonds? And at whose command did the imprisoned dead come out?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Apostles see in the upper room? And if he was not God, how did he enter when the doors were shut?

If he was not flesh, the marks of the nails and the lance in whose hands and side did Thomas handle? And if he was not God, to whom did he cry out, “My Lord and my God”?

If he was not flesh, who ate by the sea of Tiberias? And if he was not God, at whose command was the net filled?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Apostles and Angels see being taken up into heaven? And if he was not God, to whom was heaven opened, whom did the Powers worship in fear and whom did the Father invite to “Sit at my right hand”. As David said, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, etc.”

If he was not God and man, our salvation is a lie, and the words of the Prophets are lies.  But the Prophets spoke the truth, and their testimonies were not lies. The Holy Spirit spoke through them what they had been commanded.

+ St. Ephrem the Syrian, Excerpt from the Sermon on Transfiguration

Christ is Risen

8

It’s Women in Translation Month, so here are some of my favourite books in translation by women!

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera is a sweet and funny story about Prudencia Prim, a woman who believes in the simple pleasures of an old-fashioned way of life. Her repartees with her stubborn employer on topics such as ‘Is Mr Darcy the perfect man?’ are delightful.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. A beautifully observed story of grief and healing, as Mikage is taken in by her friend Yuichi and his transgender mother, Eriko, after the death of her grandmother. The bonus novella Moonlight Shadow included in most editions is also wonderful.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. A gentle story of the tender and tentative relationship that develops between a lonely women, Tsukiko, and her former teacher.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival. A passionate love story full of magical realism, as Tita’s emotions infuse everything she cooks. Bonus Mexican recipes in each chapter!

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky. Two loosely collected novellas about the Nazi occupation of France, in Paris and the countryside respectively. Remarkably, these are just the manuscripts of the planned series of five novels that Némirovsky was writing at the time; she was arrested as a Jew and died in Auschwitz. Her daughters kept her notebook safe but it was not 'discovered’ and published until 1998.

Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin. Semi-autobiographical, this follows Anne who breaks her ankle escaping from prison and is rescued by the handsome, motorbike-riding Julien, also on the run. Sarrazin wrote this in prison herself; her Beat-style writing is lyrical and magical. Patti Smith credits this as the book that changed her life.  

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan. Bored, beautiful seventeen-year-old Cécile meddles in the life of her father and his mistress while spending the summer with them in a French Riviera villa. Sagan was only 18 when this was published.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. An graphic novel about the author’s childhood and early adult years growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

I hope you enjoy these! If you have any recommendations of books I might like please do message me - I’m always looking for new books :)

5

August 9 – Happy Memorial of St Edith Stein OCD – Religious and Martyr of Auschwitz 

St Edith was a brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila (October 15) that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-38), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Saint John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her 12 years later.

Charlie Hebdo : cover analysis

Other French people have done tons of good posts about Charlie Hebdo in response to the magazine’s so-called rampant homophobia, racism and islamophobia. I won’t ramble on the definitions of satire, secularism, or the concept of freedom of speech and its peculiar importance in France. Google is your friend.

Rather, I’d like to analyse several covers of the mag and shed some light on the subtleties that a lot of non-French and (sadly) French people themselves miss. Some are hard to interpret sometimes, but for the sake of intellectual honesty, we need to go over those whose message should not be mistaken.

Humour is something to be made with intelligence, if not always with class. I’m the first to battle anyone who tells me that humour of all sorts absolves all attacks against minorities. Humour is a fantastic tool, it can be used for the worst but also the best. Charlie Hebdo is not a humouristic magazine void of any political message. It is exactly the opposite. It begs to question problematic aspects of French culture, politics, and religions via humour. This post is not to revere them or assert that they cannot be subjected to criticism. But Charlie Hebdo is not a racist, homophobic, or islamophobic magazine. This is incredibly simplistic and dishonest. I will do a series of three posts trying to highlight that as best I can. French people are free to complete my comments.

1. On July 16th, 1942, the French police arrested Jews in Paris to have them deported in concentration camps. It was the most massive organized deportation to take place in France with 13 152 Jews arrested and deported. Less than a hundred of them survived. This event is known as “La rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver” and the cover of CH titles “30th anniversary etc” with a Jew man using the yellow star that marked them as Nazi cattle as a squirt flower on a French policeman, mocking him playfully and saying “No grudge held”. This is a reminder of how traumatic the collaboration of the French government has been in recent years (and it is still denied on some levels). The Jew man here is getting back at the policeman in a downplaying way meant to highlight the actual horror that the Rafle represents in contrast to a harmless squirt flower.

2. On September 13th, 1987, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and ex-leader of the nationalist party the Front National, declared that the gas chambers were a “detail” in the history of WWII. This cover is parodying the infamous sentence by having Le Pen declare that the killings of Toulouse (the caption says “Anti-Semitic Toulouse killings”) that were perpetrated by Islamic terrorist Mohamed Merah in 2012 were a detail (“It’s just a detail of the campaign”). In the back, you can see Marine Le Pen, her daughter and actual leader of the FN, deploring that declaration. Why? Because the FN could use it to make it emblematic of one of their most important fight, “Muslim terrorists” (the line between the two being often blurred by the party), during the election campaign, which Le Pen Father has seemingly forgotten in his usual crass insolence.

3. In the past three years, gay marriage debates have propelled discussion about the deeper introduction of gender studies in France. Although the subject is recognized in the humanities field at a higher education level, discussion about how sexism could be reduced from a very young age by reforming the education system has sparked a massive paranoid backlash from the Catholic, conservative right, still going on to this day. There have been speculations as to how teachers were encouraged to teach 4 year olds about explicit sexuality and how to masturbate (I’m not kidding, no). In France, a mistranslation has made gender studies widely known as “théorie du genre”, from the variant term “gender theory”. The word ‘theory’ doesn’t bear the exact same meaning in French and is inappropriate to use to designate gender studies and research. This is what is written on the blackboard of the classroom on the CH cover. Advocates for measures against sexism (like the ABCD of equality, which was unfortunately terminated early because of protests) are often depicted as deranged, sexual perverts who are going to teach children how to masturbate and “change their sex as they wish”. These people are not afraid to put up posters claiming “Don’t touch our gender stereotypes!” Back to the cover, CH illustrated these ridiculous fears by having a teacher dressed as a transvestite pervert giving a seemingly scholar course about sex. Translated, it can give something like: “Globanal or sylladick method?” CH is poking fun at such paranoid speculations: no, teachers are not going to dress in bras and panties to teach children how to fuck and whatnot.

4. During the general elections, the nationalist party was elected in much more areas than we anticipated. Needless to say, this was alarming. In the above cover, the cartoon represents a Frenchman killing himself with a bullet whose trail takes the shape of the nationalist party logo. The caption titles “Desperate? You’re right, go on and kill yourself!” meaning French people are killing themselves by voting for the FN.

5. This is a reference to Nazi skinheads. Here we have Marine Le Pen on a horse that symbolises the Trojan Horse, pretending she doesn’t know that her party is problematically racist and ethnocentric, and much more: “Skinheads? I’ve no idea what these are!” all while skinheads are filling the horse underneath her, bats in hands, with the intention of harming people. Moreover, again, she is wearing the nationalist logo on her arm. You should know that by now, she alone has filed 40 complaints against Charlie Hebdo’s attacks against her and the FN. Edit : someone remarked that she’s also dressed as Joan of Arc, historical figure who fought for France against the English and also a symbol of the FN.

6. The lifeless head is that of Mohamed Merah, whom we have seen earlier. This cover basically bears the same kind of criticism as the second one: the imagery tells us that Sarkozy, ex-President from the right wing UMP, is using the Toulouse killings to encourage people to vote for him during the presidential election of 2012, as he is slipping the head into a ballot box as if it were a voting paper.

7. “Sarkozy is finished!” says the headline on the newspapers the servant is holding. “Fear changes sides” claims the caption. This is a critical view of upper-class, rich people who often hire women of color to do their laundry, take care of the children, etc and how the end of Sarkozy’s presidency may change things the privileges they have.

8. We have here a priest with a kid on his knees. The above caption is saying “Private school” (or public, in British English), assuming we’re in a Catholic private school. The priest tells the kid “If you’re nice with me, I’ll take you to the anti-fags demonstration”. The cartoon denounces the paedophilic acts perpetrated by the Church along with their hypocrisy towards same-sex marriage, meaning they have no lesson to give to anyone in terms of morality.

9. On this cover, a bishop is confessing his paedophilic acts. In response, the Pope advises him to “turn to cinema, like Polanski did”. Reminder: Polanski raped a 13 year old girl in 1977. Again, this is criticism against the scandalous paedophilia perpetrated by members or the Church, but it also points out the fact that being famous can absolve you of past criminal activity, like many other male celebrities often cited on Tumblr (Chris Brown, Bill Murray, etc).

10. Last year, a member of the FN, Florian Philippot, was revealed to be gay by a gossip newspaper with pictures of him and his partner. Knowing how much the right wing hurt the movement for gay marriage and the general opinions the party has of homosexuality, this was obviously a scandal. People have commented that it was unacceptable to out someone, others appreciated this bit of transparency. In any case, this cover makes fun of the far-right party again. The caption says “Philippot’s parents are shocked” while the parents declare: “We didn’t know he was extreme right” which is yet another euphemism and a reversal of the scandalous aspect of the case. We all knew he was a member of the FN, but we certainly didn’t expect to discover he was, ironically, gay.

Part II.

Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass.

November 9th-10th 1938. German and Austrian civilians and paramilitaries filled the streets, destroyed synagogues, jewish homes and jewish owned businesses by smashing windows, torching and looting. Authorities knew about this but ignored it. Over 1000 synagogues torched, 7000 businesses destroyed, 30 000 Jews arrested and sent to camps and around 100 murdered (just during the events of Kristallnacht). This pogrom was coordinated and the beginning to the horrifying years of the Holocaust.