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French politics.... a la 2017!

What some political parties won't be driven to do.    What The New York Times reports, below, about the French far-right National Front party - facing an election in the next weeks - borders on the bizarre.


" For years, France’s far-right National Front was synonymous with anti-Semitism. Its founder, Jean Marie Le Pen, was notorious for anti-Semitic outbursts — including a comment that the Holocaust was just a detail of history.
But since Mr. Le Pen’s daughter Marine took over the party’s leadership in 2011, the National Front has attempted a remarkable about-face: Today, the party positions itself as a champion of French Jews.
Although Ms. Le Pen, one of the front-runners in the coming presidential election, still alludes to anti-Semitic stereotypes on the campaign trail, she now promises that her party will be the protector of French Jews.
It is a surprising twist that has resonated with some French Jews who feel abandoned by what they see as the government’s tepid response to the anti-Semitic violence that has plagued the country for years.
****
But experts say the National Front’s shift may be intended more as a message to non-Jewish voters looking for moral cover in supporting a party that vilifies their primary sources of fear and anger: Muslims and immigrants.
The National Front has long been widely viewed in France as toxic, but by declaring itself a shield for French Jews, it may have found an effective way to allow many voters to justify breaking a taboo. That reflects a concept known as “moral license.” Framing the party as a champion of one minority enables voters to justify supporting its agenda in suppressing another.
The result is not a more racially tolerant National Front, but rather a party that has found nearly unprecedented success in persuading mainstream voters — many of whom may be quietly sympathetic to its anti-immigrant agenda — to embrace far-right ideas once considered off-limits."

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