Sloppy accusations of racism are sadly common and the characterization of France's Jean-Marie Le Pen as a holocaust denier is another example of that sloppiness. His remarks reported below are similar to those he has always made and show that he does NOT deny that the Shoah happened. He simply regards it as unimportant -- a view to which he is perfectly entitled, though I myself violently disagree with it. It is certainly true that Jewish deaths were greatly exceeded by other deaths during WWII and that the events concerned are now well in the past so M. Le Pen's judgment, that there are present-day issues of great concern -- such as illegal immigration and Muslim hostility -- that we should be devoting our attention to instead, is at least arguable. That he has been prosecuted for expressing his views is certainly a lamentable comment on the state of free speech in Europe. If a prominent politician cannot say what he thinks, what hope is there for others? The Fascist instincts in Europe obviously run deep -- with suppression of free speech being a strong manifestation of them.
"The prospect of Jean-Marie Le Pen becoming the father of the European Parliament led MEPs yesterday to start a frantic attempt to change their own rules to stop the far-right French politician from presiding over the new chamber. Under the Parliament's rules its inaugural session must be overseen by its doyen - the oldest MEP - which will be Mr Le Pen, 81, if he is re-elected for the French National Front in the elections in June.
Members who have just realised this are making a last-minute effort to block him, perhaps to give the honour of running the inaugural session on July 14 to the youngest member of the new Parliament. The embarrassment felt by French MEPs opposed to Mr Le Pen is acute because July 14 is also Bastille Day, France's national day.
Mr Le Pen, who has convictions in France and Germany for denying the Holocaust and for calling it a detail of history, poured petrol on the flames by repeating the same phrase in the European Parliament chamber in Strasbourg. “I just said that the gas chambers were a detail of Second World War history, which is clear,” said Mr Le Pen, a long-standing critic of the European Union who also opposes immigration, abortion and gay rights.
Mr Le Pen stubbornly remains a prominent figure in European politics despite his far-right views, causing a shock in the 2002 French presidential elections in reaching the final run-off by knocking out Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate. He was fined 1.2 million francs (£171,000) for making his remarks about the Holocaust in a radio interview in 1987. “That proved the state in which we find the freedom of speech in Europe and France,” he said yesterday, referring to the case.
Martin Schulz, the German head of the Socialists, said: “I am concerned by the fact that a Holocaust denier could preside over the opening session of the European Parliament.”
He is a former member of the French Foreign Legion (which is open to Frenchmen as well as foreigners) so his claim to being a French patriot stands up well in comparison with many other French politicians.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here