Heading into the runoffs of the local elections that began Sunday in France, and looking ahead to the European elections in May, there are a few things that French voters should know about the far-right National Front (FN).
They need to know that Louis Aliot, an FN candidate in Perpignan and owner of Nations Presse Magazine appointed as editor in chief a former member of Oeuvre Française, an anti-Semitic fringe group that disbanded in 2013.
They need to know that Laurent Comas, who is running in Marseille's fifth district, had as his campaign manager in the last cantonal elections a man convicted of illegal possession of firearms and bomb-making materials.
They need to know that Comas's young colleague, Jean-Pierre Baumann, who heads up the FN list in the city's third district, chairs the support committee for the three poster hangers who cold-bloodedly murdered a 17-year-old Comorian on February 21, 1995.
They need to know that Gilbert Collard, a candidate in Saint-Gilles who would so like to pass for the human face of the party of Jean-Marie Le Pen, spoke, on December 3 of last year, at the funeral of Paul Aussaresses, the general infamous for having practiced torture without regret in Algeria. "His most noble decoration is opprobrium," the lawyer-candidate declared that day in the church before several dozen former paratroopers, many alums of the paramilitary OAS.
They need to know that Fabien Engelmann, running for mayor of Hayange, is a sensitive soul who "wanted to vomit" the day the "Islamo-Socialist" François Hollande was elected president but who managed not to vomit when, in the course of the ensuing parliamentary elections in May 2012, he chose as his deputy Stéphane Lormenil, who now heads the ultra-extreme group, Génération Patriotes.
They need to know that, although Louis-Armand de Béjarry, a candidate in Maubeuge, has refrained since 2003 from appearing at the so-called Celebration of Identity (fête de l'identité), which is, in reality, a celebration of Kristallnacht and similar events, he recently gathered a great deal of attention from his involvement in the sordid and shady commerce of neo-Nazi clothes sold under the Thor Steinar label.
They need to know that Lydia Schénardi, running for mayor of Menton and a fan of Alain Soral, mused several months back in an interview with journalism students about the "traceability of children," in the same manner as the "traceability of meat" in good French butcher shops.
They need to know that Frédéric Boccaletti, a candidate in Six-Fours who gained nearly 30 percent of the vote on Sunday, was sentenced to a year in prison, including a mandatory six months, for gun violence at a meeting.
They need to know that Laurent Lopez, running in Brignoles, is someone who, according to a document produced on October 16, 2013, by lepoint.fr that has not, to my knowledge, been challenged, professes admiration for Adolf Hitler.
They need to know that Adrien Mexis, a candidate in Istres who is close to the nativists has included on his electoral list a neo-Nazi militant.
They need to know that one of those on the list of Dominique Martin, an FN candidate in Cluses, "liked" Mein Kampf on his Facebook page.
They need to know that Robert Ménard, running with FN support in Béziers, is not afraid, in the name of "freedom of expression," to defend Dieudonné or to dialogue with Alain Soral.
They need to know that Thibault de La Tocnaye, a candidate in Cavaillon who is close to the ultra-extreme wing of the party led by Bernard Antony, brags of having fought in the ranks of the Lebanese militia that committed the Sabra and Shatila massacre, among others.
They need to know that Valérie Laupies, who leads the race in Tarascon, is another fan of Alain Soral, who she finds to be "very underground."
They need to know that David Rachline, standing for election in Fréjus and responsible, incidentally, for Marine Le Pen's Twitter account (about which much could be said, but we'll leave that for another time) is yet another ally of Soral, whom he asked to support him in the 2008 municipal elections.
This list, which is far from exhaustive, is nauseating. One trembles with anger at the thought of having had to publish the names of these characters and the descriptions of their loathsome deeds.
Yet all of these facts have been documented, tallied, verified, and cross-checked.
They have been published at laregledujeu.org, the website of my review, and have not been refuted.
It is my fervent hope that French voters who have fallen for the much-trumpeted "de-demonization" of the FN will take note of them before it is too late.
With equal fervor I hope that democratic party candidates that finished third in Sunday's first round will resist the temptation to remain in contention because they do not want to have to throw their support to either of their two adversaries.
With one click, any voter of good will, whether on the left or right of the democratic spectrum, can ascertain that the National Front is no ordinary adversary.
Let me say quite calmly, and adhering strictly to the facts, that the National Front is not the solution sought by voters discouraged by the toxic climate of French politics today.
Those on the right can struggle unrelentingly against those on the left. Those on the left can strive mightily to defeat the right. But no one who believes in democracy should entrust our cities to men and women who are on the side of the very worst of human nature.
Translated by Steven B. Kennedy