I often read the Entertainment sections of the mainstream media in order to monitor the steady politicization of culture e.g. the anti-American and pro-Arab escape “thrillers,” the more serious films in which ever-innocent dark-skinned immigrants are falsely accused of Islamist crimes by heartless American or Canadian immigration bureaucracies. Most American comics, with the exception of Dennis Miller, are left-liberal politicals. Think Bill Maher, John Stewart, Steve Colbert, etc. and they use humor to skewer politicians and policies they despise. My God, the comic Al Franken became a politician—and may one day even represent the state of Minnesota in the Senate.
I was recently in Canada and thus read the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Sunday Independent, etc. for three days
According to Susan Sachs in The Globe and Mail, France is home to a very popular French comic named Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who views himself as a champion of free speech, denies the Holocaust, has never met a Jew or an Israeli whom he likes, (and he makes money and gets laughs for saying so). Dieudonne just ran for a seat in the EU Parliament on his own political party which he has named: “The anti-Zionist List.” His comrades-in-arms include a one-time aide to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the author of a book which argues that 9/11 was an American military plot, and the head of a Muslim group who claims he is being backed by Hamas and Hezbollah.
Dieudonne has quite a multi-racial, young, left, following in France. (He is a French-Cameroonian; 20% of the population in Cameroon are Muslims), and he is obsessed with race, bi-raciality, and with his own both black and white roots. (His long gone father is from Cameroon, his mother is Breton). Dieudonne is known for insulting “prominent French Jews” and for his extreme “antagonism to Israel (which) amounts to anti-Semitism.” According to the Sunday Independent:
“Since 2002, and intensively since 2004, Dieudonné has become a kind of French Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam in the United States. His critics, (including former friends), say he is no longer a comedian interested in politics but a politician, who uses comedy to further extremist political ambitions. Sometimes directly, sometimes by coded, or scarcely coded references, he presents the Jews as the main source of black misery; or he suggests that the obsession with the suffering of the Jews soaks up too much of the fund of guilt and shame which would be better spent on black people. ”
The Sunday Independent gives us two examples of Dieudonne’s jokes:
“In one skit, Bernard-Henri Lévy, the Jewish-French philosopher, haggles with a street potato seller. Dieudonné/Lévy says: “How can you ask me to pay so much when 6 million of us died in the Holocaust?” Roars of delight from the audience.
There is also a Hitler-in-his-bunker sketch that is moderately funny until the closing line: “You will see, in the future, people will come to realise that I, Adolf Hitler, was really a moderate.”
This is no laughing matter. I am not laughing nor is the French League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism which views Dieudonne’s “public statements as (recalling) the worst moments of the 1930s and 1940s.”
Today, “cultural workers” like Dieudonne wield enormous influence over their young audiences. Political comics, one-actor showmen/impersonators, rap artists, poetry slammers, movie stars, visual artists–uncannily, many of them often share the same anti-American, anti-Zionist, and pro-Palestinian politics. (Now why is that? Did they all go to the same schools?) Many are also charming, clever, passionate, and talented–and for this reason, are potentially quite dangerous. No, I will not go as far as Plato did; I would not ban artists from The Republic but I fear that they are our major popularizers of the New Fascism–and all in the guise of Free Speech or better yet, Righteous Speech, on behalf of The Resistance Imaginary.
Laughter is a very powerful weapon; we dare not underestimate it. Last month, comic Bill Maher, (with whom I do not usually agree but whose book I really enjoyed), presented a very funny Burka Fashion Show which featured fundamentalist fashions. He had a model, probably the same one, come out and do a few star turns in her black Saudi style face-and-body-shroud in which only her eyes were showing. His banter and patter is quite funny. His comments ranged from: “Sleek and stylish…look out world! I am a woman of the twelfth century;” “Be the wife he calls for tonight and every night;” “This comes in black and dark black and leaves everything to the imagination.” This kind of critique reaches a mass audience—perhaps one that does not read my blog at Pajamas! You may see the segment for yourself HERE.
Why am I focusing on Dieudonne? How important can he really be? How much harm can his hatred of Jews and Israel ever truly cause? He is only a mini-minor political novice…and yet: According to David Nicholls in his book about Adolph Hitler, in 1924, while Hitler was in jail, the Nazi Party won barely 3 % of the votes in the Reichstag election. In 1928, they won 2.6% of the vote. Thereafter, things improved and, in 1930, Hitler and his Nazi Party won 18% of the vote. By 1932, he’d won 31% of the vote. And Hitler wasn’t even funny.
Dieudonne did not win his seat in the EU Parliament—at least, not this time. But he did win 1.3% of the votes in the Paris region where he had concentrated his efforts. Dieudonne is relatively young and, as we shall see, has friends in Hezbollah, Hamas—and in jail! He also won more votes than twenty three other French parties who also ran candidates including the Parti Breton, Europe-Democratie-Esperanto, Maison de la Vie et des Libertes, Alternative Liberale and Resistances.
According to the BBC, the French government is now investigating how Carlos the Jackal, (remember him?) who was finally captured in 1994, and who is serving a life sentence for committing a series of terrorist murders in the 1970s and 1980s, “managed to phone controversial comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala to voice his support during a campaign rally. Mr. Dieudonne, who stands accused of anti-Semitism, heads the Anti-Zionist List in the election. Carlos – real name Ilich Ramirez Sanchez – earned international notoriety for assassinations and kidnappings.”
Now, what kind of “funny business” are these two men plotting?