Le Pen and Le Pen, Enough, Already!

04/15/2015 09:21 am ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015
AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File

Enough of the indecent psychodrama surrounding Marine Le Pen and her father.

Enough of the indulgent, sentimental, and voyeuristic commentary about the daughter "sacrificing" a poor King Lear, leaving him to rave on his moor in St. Cloud.

And most of all, enough of the obscene political whitewashing that the entire affair has enabled.

Because, after all, what is the reality?

1. Marine the Pure kept silent when big, bad Jean-Marie said in 2011 that the crime of the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik seemed less reprehensible than the naiveté of the Norwegians. She uttered not a word of protest when, a year later, at the National Front's party convention, he recited a poem by Robert Brasillach, the quintessential collaborator, one who denounced Jews and Jewish children, was a traitor to his country, and was shot after the liberation. She held her tongue when, on the eve of the most recent European elections, her father had the gall to propose "Lord Ebola" as a solution to Africa's "demographic explosion." She showed a timid -- very timid -- reaction during the uproar in 2014 over her father's comment about how a victory by the National Front might rid France of a whole fournée (literally, "ovenful") of political critics, but she regretted the comment not on moral grounds but as a "political misstep." In other words, it was not necessarily a bad idea but one that was politically inopportune. And when, on the very day he passed the torch of party leadership to his daughter, the new honorary president of the National Front delivered his vulgar joke about the beating of a France 24 reporter whose Jewishness was not necessarily as plain as the nose on his face, Marine Le Pen had only one comment, just one, which was to say that she would have been "even harsher." So if today she disapproves of what she accepted yesterday; if now she feigns finding objectionable what she previously overlooked and declares herself suddenly offended by a father whom she described, in a video aired on the Canal+ network's Le Petit Journal program on April 8, as a victim of a "scandalous trial" for "anti-Semitism," the matter is not one of principle or conscience but one of tactics and opportunism.

2. As for the much-discussed "software" of the National Front, the "party DNA" that is scrutinized by commentators in the manner of haruspices inspecting the entrails of their sacrificial wolves, a "change of DNA" would require the party to solemnly distance itself not only from its founder but also from the clique of Vichyites, Doriotists, and veterans of the SS Charlemagne Division that supported him and whom he has never, to my knowledge, disavowed. When the website Entente, for months now the best monitor of the National Front and its turpitudes, sounded out the views of the party faithful, it would no longer uncover hundreds of activists and candidates who, on the occasion of local and European elections, rave, just as they did in the good old days, about "Satan's synogogues," the duty to "destroy the Jews," and the eternal "conspiracy" the Jews apparently never tire of hatching. And what is there to say about a "software" that, when it unplugs the grandfather from an election in Provence, thinks to put in his place a granddaughter who, when asked about the matter, expresses her nostalgia for a time when "the Word" (sic) of Le Pen "proclaimed truth" in the face of the "historic errors of his adversaries"? The unpondered past, the foul depths, and the future made flesh in a Le Pen 3.0 who appears to see in the ranting of the make-believe resistance fighter from La Trinité-sur-Mer a fitting contribution to historical truth. Whichever way one turns, it's the same mess.

3. And as for the boss herself, as for the leader who, because she was "born in 1968," has supposedly broken with anti-Semitism(!), how are we to interpret that day on the campaign trail when, having decided to refresh her thinking by going waltzing in Vienna, she turns up, as if by chance, at a ball given by the most extremist, most Hitlerian of the pan-Germanist Burschenschaften? Is it too disrespectful to recall the 2012 episode in which, while being interviewed by Guillaume Durand, she went after a journalist whose sole crime was to be "married to the head of Publicis," which supposedly (follow the subtext here) is the incarnation of a "system" that the good French people will soon oblige to disgorge its ill-gotten gains? And how can we ignore the interview she gave to the Israeli daily Haaretz in which, upon being asked to condemn the very same regime of Marshall Pétain that she now faults her father for continuing to defend, she responded, "Absolutely not! I refuse to speak ill of my country." You read that right. The same woman who does not hesitate to describe France as the "trollop" of "paunchy emirs," or to demoralize its army by supporting, in a time of war, enemy regimes -- that same woman, when asked to utter a word of criticism about the anti-Semitism and heinous laws of 1940, suddenly is unwilling to speak ill of her country.

So enough of this sludgy family saga and its trite Oedipal tragedy.

Enough of this comedy of the patricide trying to get rid of the remains of the unworthy old man who was about to reveal the family secret.

Confronted with this pathetic farce, with the rank odors rising from the kitchens of a party that has not changed in any fundamental way, democrats on the left and right have but one imperative: to avoid falling into the trap of a dediabolization campaign that, so far at least, has been all show -- and, if possible, to be done once and for all with the morbid fascination that has for so long allowed the National Front to set the pace and rhythm of French political life.

Translated by Steven B. Kennedy