Marine Le Pen: France's Very Own 'Pinkwasher'?

Image via Shutterstock, Marine Le Pen, president of the French right wing political party National Front.

In a 2011 New York Times op-ed, a radical socialist named Sarah Schulman rolled out a term that was almost certainly new to most Times readers: “pinkwashing.” Schulman, whose role as a longtime lesbian activist has earned her a position as “Distinguished Professor” at the City University of New York (despite having no academic degree beyond a B.A. from Empire State College), defined “pinkwashing” as “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”


Schulman’s point, as I’ve written previously, was that “gays and others should look past Israel’s gay-friendly image (which, she claimed, is the product of an intentional Israeli effort to bolster support abroad), focus on the terrible suffering of Palestinian Muslims at the merciless hands of the Israelis, and stop ‘constructing’ Muslims as gay-hating.”

The obscene fatuity of the concept of “pinkwashing” should be obvious: Israel is the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East; Islam teaches that gay people should be executed, and many of Israel’s Muslim neighborhoods take that injunction very seriously; any gay person who goes to the Palestinian territories and shouts his orientation from a rooftop should expect to be thrown off of that rooftop to his death.

I go into this backstory by way of introducing an April 7 article by Associated Press writer Thomas Adamson. The headline: “’Pinkwashing’ populism: Gay voters embrace French far-right.” One need not read past the headline to get Adamson’s point: support for Marine Le Pen, head of the right-wing Front National, is growing among gay Frenchmen, and Adamson views those gay Le Pen supporters with the same disdain that Schulman directs toward pro-Israeli gays.

Adamson kicks off his piece with this statement: “A political party that would abolish same-sex marriage — one whose founder wanted AIDS patients rounded up and branded homosexuality ‘a biological and social anomaly’ — is now winning LGBT votes in France.” It’s true that Le Pen promised in February to replace same-sex marriage, which became legal in France in 2013, with civil partnerships, and my own view is that this is unfortunate. If I were French, however, I’d still vote for the woman, because replacing same-sex marriage with civil partnerships is a hell of a lot better than replacing it with mass arrests, acts of torture, and executions. And if the French ship of state isn’t turned around tout de suite, that’s what’ll happen before too long.


And more and more French gays realize it. Apparently, Le Pen’s numbers shot up dramatically after last June’s jihadist massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Adamson quoted one “gay artist who lives in a hipster district of Paris and plans to cast his ballot for Le Pen”: “Faced with the current threats, particularly from radical Islam, gays have realized they’ll be the first victims of these barbarians, and only Marine is proposing radical solutions.”

The Front National, noted Adamson, “has more top aides who are publicly known to be gay than any other French political party,” and as a result, Le Pen has come to be known as “Pink Marine.”

Adamson described Le Pen as “conflating Islam with radical jihad,” and said that Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and President Trump in the U.S. are doing the same thing. Adamson actually described Trump as “claiming during the presidential debates last year that they [Muslims] ‘push gays off of buildings.’” “Claiming?” Surely Adamson has access to the AP files, which must be full of ample evidence of gays in Muslim countries being pushed off buildings.

There’s more. After having begun his article by using Schulman’s term “pinkwashing,” Adamson went on to use another bit of postmodern cant popularized by Schulman – namely, the word “homonationalism.” It refers to the supposed tendency of Western gays to identify with “the racial and religious hegemony of their countries,” and to “construct the ‘other,’ often Muslims of Arab, South Asian, Turkish, or African origin, as ‘homophobic’ and fanatically heterosexual.”


Needless to say, “homonationalism” is every bit as bogus a concept as “pinkwashing.” Most of those “other” cultures aren’t just “constructed” as “homophobic” by misguided Western gays but are, in fact, heavily populated by zealous defenders of the faith who are ready, willing, and eager to punish homosexuality with a cruel and violent death.

Adamson lamented that “many Le Pen voters are millennials … who are too young to remember the National Front’s neo-fascist roots or the acid anti-gay sentiments openly expressed by her father.” It is interesting that Adamson is so acutely aware of the long-ago anti-gay rhetoric of Marine’s now-retired 88-year-old father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and so apparently unaware that in most Islamic countries the penalty for being gay at this very moment is either a long, torture-filled prison term or a quick execution – neither of which Jean-Marie Le Pen ever proposed.

Fortunately, in France as in the Netherlands, the U.S., and elsewhere, more and more gay voters are learning the difference between the kind of homophobia that means no-cake-for-your-wedding and the kind that means breaking out the hangman’s rope. They’re learning that “progressive” politicians who promise gays everything are hardly real allies of gay people if they’re also busy promising Muslims everything. Because one of the top items on the Islamic wish list, alas, is not about “pink this” or “pink that” but about making the streets run red with gay people’s blood.



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