France: Slouching Toward Totalitarianism
by Guy Millière
As expected, the Paris Court of Appeals declared Philippe Karsenty guilty of defamation against journalist Charles Enderlin and public television station France 2. The evidence accumulated by experts and specialists, showing that the al Dura video report was a hoax and that the young Mohamed al Dura had not been killed by Israeli soldiers and, in fact, had not be killed at all, were totally ignored.
The Israeli government report explaining the same thing -- and adding that the al Dura video report was an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic blood libel -- was also completely ignored.
If justice in France were independent from the government, another result could have been possible; but justice in France is strictly dependent on the government, and when an "official truth" has been set, judges do what they are asked to do.
If the press were free in France, such a decision would have been considered a huge scandal; but the press in France is not free, and not a single journalist would break from the "official truth". In 2008 a petition in support of Charles Enderlin and France 2 gathered hundreds of signatures; the few journalists who did not sign were criticized for "lack of professional solidarity". Some were threatened.
The al Dura case and the conviction of Philippe Karsenty are further evidence that France is not a free country and is dangerously slouching toward totalitarian behaviors.
Year after year, French justice becomes increasingly a means of imposing a monolithic vision of the world. More and more laws revise historical events, and historians who challenge the revisions take risks in doing so. Laws originally implemented to "fight against racism" are now used instead to prohibit the statement of obvious facts. Today, for example, in France, although slavery is considered a crime against humanity, the enormous slave trade in Africa and the Arab world is excluded from the definition; even speaking about it may lead to harsh accusations. This is what happened to Professor Olivier Pétré-Grenouillau in 2004 in response to his book, From Slave Trade to Empire. Columnist Eric Zemmour was accused of inciting racial hatred and, in 2011, sentenced to a heavy fine for having reported a fact: that the number of Muslim offenders was particularly high in French prisons.
Another columnist, Ivan Rioufol, is now being prosecuted for having criticized a poster released by a French Islamic movement, "Collective Against Islamophobia". The poster states, "We are the nation," and shows only veiled women and bearded men, which Rioufol denounced publicly by saying that the French nation is also composed of non-Muslims. He will stand trial soon for this "offense".
Another journalist, Robert Menard, former General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders was recently dismissed by all his employers for having said that, "in some cases, one could understand that people are in favor of the death penalty."
Even more recently, a television reporter, Clement Weil Raynal, was heavily penalized for having released a picture taken on the premises of the main trade union of French judges: the very leftist Syndicat de la Magistrature. The picture shows a huge bulletin board, labeled the "Wall of Scumbags," complete with hostile graffiti against the main political leaders of the French right. The list of all available examples would quickly become very long.
French mainstream media are now a means of imposing a vision of the world which is exactly the same as that imposed by French justice; and all those who work for dailies, magazines, radio and TV stations know what they risk if they open their mouths and seem to think differently. A "blacklist" of writers and analysts who are never to be invited on a television or radio talk show is circulated. Articles giving names are published. A few months ago, a weekly, Le Nouvel Observateur, released a map showing what the editors called the "fachosphère" (the fascist sphere). The map appeared on the cover, and looked like a poster showing photos of wanted criminals. Those on the map were all those who still dare to criticize Islam, of course, but also those who still support Israel, those who turn a critical eye on the Obama presidency, and those who cast doubt on the viability of the euro.
All this is clearly and loudly endorsed and encouraged by the present political leaders of the country, who happen to be socialists.
The judiciary in France is dependent upon the government, but the same could be said about the media. Three of the six main French television channels are public channels. Other channels belong essentially to companies that rely on government contracts (public works or defense industry corporations). Newspapers and magazines depend on advertising, and more than thirty percent of their advertising revenue comes from the government or from companies that rely on government contracts.
Aside from the al Dura case and the outrageous conviction of Philippe Karsenty, there is another loathsome case that is particularly significant of what is happening in France. The French Department of Culture owns and operates many of the country's museums and subsidizes many exhibitions. More than ever, the exhibitions it subsidizes belong to the domain of propaganda: "art" is now , more than ever, an excuse to spread a falsified view of history or to incite hatred. An exhibition currently held at the Musée du Jeu de Paume is a step in this direction: it is a photographic display of the worship of "martyrs" in Palestinian families (the word "martyr" is used in the explanatory notes placed under the photos). The "martyrs" in question are all terrorists who perpetrated suicide bombings and killed Israeli civilians. The exhibition's catalog describe them as bold "resistance fighters" who fought the "colonialist occupation" and who "sacrificed their lives" for "freedom." The "artist" is a "Palestinian" woman, Ahlam Shibli.
The exhibition could move to a gallery in Gaza, and Hamas would find nothing wrong with it. It is a clear glorification of terrorism and murder. In a grotesque example of Orwellian moral inversion, the exhibition depicts murderers as victims, and victims as criminals who deserved to die. The potentially negative effect on impressionable French Muslim visitors is easy to deduce.
The main French Jewish organizations have alerted the French Department of Culture; they have said that at least a warning should be placed at the entrance of the exhibition, explaining that the "martyrs" killed innocents.
The Department of Culture answered that Ahlam Shibli was a "recognized artist," and that her work could not be "censored". Jewish organizations then called for a peaceful protest on Sunday, July 7, in front of the museum; the protest was banned by the police. French Islamic and "pro-Palestinian" movements had said they might "act" if the protest occurred. They did not have to "act." Not only did the French media unanimously praise the "artistic" work of Ahlam Shibli, but complaints were filed against the Jewish organizations who called for a protest. Why ? The Jewish organizations were accused of "inciting hatred".
In today's France, the government subsidizes photo exhibitions that glorify terrorism and incite hatred, but if you voice the truth, not only might you charged, convicted, and fined for "inciting hatred" in a court of law, but if you are threatened by Islamic and "pro-Palestinian" movements, your right to assemble in a peaceful protest will be denied.
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