The webmagazine Counterpunch published on January the 1st 2014 an article by Diana Johnstone about the « Dieudonné affair » in France, entitled « The Bête Noire of the French establishment ». This contribution being an answer to Johnstone's, you should probably read hers first :
Counterpunch is a website that is proud to « tell the facts and name the names ». In fact, when we talk about Diana Johnstone's piece, I have to admit that I have rarely read a paper which so obviously ignores the facts and hides the names the reader would need to know in order to understand the situation. I will try to tell the facts and the names, then. Of course, what I can't tell you about Diana Johnstone is whether or not she is profoundly ignorant of what she's writing about – if so, why write an article, then ???? -, or whether she knows the facts and names and just wants to hide them for a certain purpose. Nonetheless, the fact the she's writing from Paris gives me a clue, and my guess would be that she's lying by omission more than anything else.
I wrote this article especially for my American leftists friends who may be misled by Diana Johnstone's hemipeligic contribution.
A few words about «where I'm talking from », in order to avoid pointless discussions and silly accusations :
I'm French, live in France, I teach history (and geography) and have been involved in the trotskyst movement for 25 years. So, this is not exactly a contribution from the « establishement ». And, as a trotskyst, I oppose nationalism as a solution for the oppressed. This means that, just like all the trotskysts I know, I am « anti-zionist » and favor the destruction of the state of Israel, because it is by birth a colonial, racist and theocratic structure. I can't see any serious long-term solution in the Middle-East other than a one state solution in Palestine, where people would be equal whatever their religion and origins are. And I don't see that happening as long as capitalism and imperialism rule [and the Bourgeois State will have to be destroyed everywhere on earth anyway...]
Regarding the issue of « freedom of speech », I agree with Noam Chomsky's radical point of view, and not with what we could call the « French tradition », including in the French Left. I oppose the Gayssot Law which forbids the denial of the existence of the Nazi genocide of the Jews : I think you have to fight stupidity and hatred with arguments that are based on facts and logic, not with administrative measures that make the assholes look like victims. Nonetheless, I don't believe either in Voltaire's famous « I do not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to death your right to say it », which is one of the most hypocritical formulas ever – no surprise coming from a bourgeois philosopher such as Voltaire. I hope I'm ready to defend to death certain ideas - isn't it very pretentious to say something like that when you are under no concrete threat ? - , but it would be the communist ones, not the racist and fascists ones.
So in this affair, I won't die for Dieudonné's right to express his disgusting ideas, but I oppose the government's attempt to forbid his shows. Especially when the Minister who wants to do so is Manuel Valls, who is famous for his racist comments about the Rom community in France. Valls is in no position to give any lesson of antiracism to anyone, and if Dieudonné is banned, he should be banned too.
Maybe I should add that a dozen years ago, I really did like Dieudonné as a humorist, even if I had never trusted him as an « activist ». Even when he started being involved in politics as an opponent to the National Front, you could feel that he was not just using his fame at the service of the cause, but that the cause was also at the service of his fame.
In fact, the way Dieudonné - the 2014 Dieudonné- is portrayed in Johnstone's article is simply fraudulent, because she hides - or doesn't know.... which one is worse ?- very important and well known facts about Dieudonné. She gives her readers such a biased assesment of the situation that it's very close to what we generally call « lies », at least lies by omission.
So, here are a few facts to prove that Dieudonné is really antisemitic and has very close to ties to true fascists. Basic facts everyone knows here and that Diana Johnstone totally ignores, or pretends to (once again, I have an idea).
Of course, not everything is wrong in Johnstone's article. Who could write a long article with not a single hint of thruth in it ? For example, regarding what she classes as the « ideological background », she is right to describe France's politicians and intellectuals as abnormally pro-zionist. She could have even given more precise examples of the sort of « intellectual terrorism » we have to face here, with the systematic suspicion of « antisemitism » raised against anyone who doesn't support Israel and its policy in the Middle-East. Take Daniel Mermet, who runs a famous radio show and is a sort of French Amy Goodman : in 2002, he had to face a trial because he was charged with antisemitism by a few pro-zionist groups. Of course, he wasn't found guilty, but the simple fact that such a kafkian trial could have existed is a sign of the situation in France. Another example : I remember attending a conference given by the iconoclastic Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, and at the end of his speech, the audience were worried about his own security in Israel ; but Sand answered that in fact he had to face more hostility and insults in France than in Israel. Finally, Diana Johnstone is also right to put the stress on the fact that the French Socialist Party, who's actually in power, has always been a more fanatical supporter of Israel than the French Right itself. Indeed.
But Dieudonné is a different problem. Contrary to Daniel Mermet, the humorist actually is antisemitic. And it is not secret, it is not hidden, it is obvious for everyone who is not deaf and blind on purpose like Diana Johnstone here.
Contrary to what Johnstone says, Dieudonné is not just making fun of or criticising a (supposed) excess of focus on the Holocaust [let's call it the genocide, it sounds less religious] in France, or the political use and abuse of the memory of the tragedy by Israel supporters. For example, he once invited and celebrated on stage during one of his shows a weirdo called Faurisson, who is the leader of the Holocaust deniers in France. Faurisson is well known for denying the existence of gas chambers. On this video, you can see Dieudonné in 2008 organising this standing ovation for Faurisson during his show :
Recently, Dieudonné made a comment about a jewish journalist who had criticised his new show, and the comment was the following :
"When I hear about Patrick Cohen, I think... the gas chambers, you know... too bad.".
Very funny, isn't it ? What do you think, Diana Johnstone ?
Dieudonné has given many interviews, especially on Iranian TV, in which it is totally obvious that he is obsessed with the power of the jews (who are supposed to be responsible of everything, including african slavery). Just like his friend Alain Soral does, he often argues that the greatests crooks on the planet are all jewish (you know, Madoff and the other ones...).. If you speak French, you can watch this interview and understand how crazy the guy is, and how when he uses the word « zionists », he uses it exactly the same way the nazis were using the word « jews ». This is a serious political interview on TV, not a supposed second-degree joke in a comedy show :
Diana Johnstone ignores things but also invents some. For example, she says :
"Schools commemorate the Shoah annually , it increasingly dominates historical consciousness"
Thanks to her, I have learned something today. Indeed, I have been teaching history in French schools for about 15 years, and I have never heard of any of this supposed annual commemorations. I had to check it out, just in case, and there in fact is a Commemoration Day on January the 27th .It is not a French thing by the way, since it was implemented by the United Nations in 2005, it seems. In French public school, this commemoration not only concerns the « Holocaust », but the victims of all the genocides, that's what the official texts say. But in reality, I have never noticed anything special in any of the schools where I have worked, and we study the « Shoah » and other genocides when it is the moment to do so depending on our curriculum. Students most of the the time study the Nazi genocide of the jews for about one hour at middle school, and about one hour or two at highschool. And, by the way, the trade of African slaves is now studied for the same amount of time in the new curriculum - which was implemented 3 years ago, so Diana Johnstone could have heard of it, if she had wanted to do so and give an objective description of reality, far from the supposed « Holocaust Hysteria » she portrays.
Dieudonné started his political carrier as an opponent to the National Front, indeed. But why does Johnstone hide the fact that nowadays the leaders of the NF attend Dieudonné's shows, where they are warmly welcomed by the humorist ? Doesn't' she know that in 2008 Dieudonné chose as a godfather for his son someone called.... Jean-Marie Le Pen !
In general, Dieudonné is a good friend of the real fascists leaders in France, the not so well known ones that are more authenticallly fascists than the old NF conservatives. For example, he has very strongs ties with a guy called Alain Soral, who is antisemitic and a modern fascist. Soral has been a member of the leadership of the NF between 2007 and 2009, and in 2009 he quit the NF to run with Dieudonné a list called "antizionist"...
Even worse, if possible : on this video you can see Dieudonné chat with a guy called Serge Ayoub, AKA "Batskin". Batskin has a long career as a leader of the most violent skinhead fascists and nazi groups in France. If France was Greece, he would be a leader of the « Golden Dawn ». Here, Dieudonné and Ayoub chat peacefully a few weeks after one of Batskin's followers killed during a fight a young antifascist activist called Clement Meric. That's precisely what they're nicely discussing, as so called "enemies of the system" that they both pretend to be. If you speak French, you can watch it, but my advice is to first get something where you can puke in, because you will need it :
A few words about the now famous « quenelle », which is supposed to be an « anti-system » [whatever that means...] gesture. The fact that a French MP has proposed to forbid the gesture by law just tells us how deep stupidity can go in our ruling class. But this said, we have to acknowledge the fact that this gesture is at least ambiguous, and more and more antisemitic in reality. What Diana Johnstone doesn't say is that the gesture imitates the presence of an arm in an ass during a fist-fucking type of sodomy. It is based on the French expression « se faire enculer », which designates sodomy, but also in everyday language the fact that you are a pretty stupid victim of someone taking advantage of you. So, in the semantic field related to sexuality, the expression and the gesture in themselves are quite reactionnary, or even homophobic. But the gesture does look at some point as the fascist or nazi salute, and Dieudonné and his supporters use the ambiguity on purpose. If you still have your basin close to you, in case you puke again, you can for example watch the collection of « quenelles » on the link below. Number 2 is Alain Soral doing the gesture at the Shoah memorial in Berlin. Number 7 is Le Pen and another leader of the National Front doing it too. Number 9 is the official poster of the « antizionist » list Dieudionné ran with Soral for European Elections. Etc. etc.
Anyhow, the « anti system » or « anti-establishment » thing in itself doesnt' mean anything. Which system are you talking about ? What are your politics, what type of other system do you want ? We have already seen in this article how Dieudonné and a fascist leader can chat and check out their connections as « anti-system » activists. This is not fun at all. But what is really funny is the way some of Dieudonné's friends in the show-business pretend to be « anti-system ». Fo example, the football player Nicolas Anelka is currently facing santions from the British League because he made a « quenelle » after he scored last week (some people say that the really surprising thing here is the fact that he had scored, to start with). Anelka explained that he did it by solidarity with his friend Dieudonné, and that the quenelle is not antisemitic but « anti-system ». So, now, millionaires like Anelka are « anti-system », this is new. As a reaction, someone had the idea to open a new blog called « Anelka against the system », where you can see many pictures proving how anti-system the guy is (Anleka and his luxury cars, Anelka playing in many commercials to make even more money, Anelka opposing the system from his jacuzzi, etc.). Check it out, it is very funny :
So, these are the facts that needed to be told, and the names that needed to be named. I think it should be clear for everyone that Johnstone's article is a complete misrepresentation of reality, and an attempt to hide the dark side of Dieudonné's character, which is the political essence of the character nowadays.
I want to say as a conclusion that I'm kind of scared these days by the inability of certain leftists to recognise Dieudonné for what he is : an antisemitic weirdo who builds more and more roots in the fascist community. Because, in the end, how can you fight racism and fascism when you're even not able to recognise them anymore ?
[Thank you Roslyn H. for your help
and for turning the « z » into « s » everywhere in this article to make it look more English and less American]