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The suffering of Le Pen voter

What François Hollande should say but probably won’t

par Pierre Tevanian
18 juin 2012

It is understood : The Le Pen voter suffers. From Rachida Dati to Segolène Royal, from Hollande to Sarkozy, everybody says it everywhere : France that votes FN, is a suffering France and one needs to hear this suffering. And in a way, it is true…

Yes, FN voters are people who suffer and yes, their suffering must be heard. But it must be understood for what it is. It is not unemployment, precariousness, economic or social poverty from which suffer the voters- at least, not all of them (far from that), and not more (quite the contrary) than other voters or abstainers.

All the statistics have confirmed it for years : these suffering voters spread within the whole social scale, from the bottom to top salaries in more or less equivalent proportions to the society as a whole. The overrepresented categories in this electorate are not more the unemployed or blue-collar workers than policemen, artisans or corporate managers (the high scores of the FN with blue-collar workers and the unemployed are just an optical illusion due to abstention : workers and unemployed don’t score more than the average for the FN but they vote less for the other candidates and are consequently overrepresented with the abstainers and the unregistered.)

There are also more males than females within this suffering electorate, in a country where men are less exposed to precariousness and low salaries than women—not to mention rapes, domestic violence, sexual harassment and domestic tasks. This suffering electorate is also almost completely White, in a country where White are much less exposed than Blacks and Arabs to precariousness and low salaries—not mention the profiling, police violence and jobs and housing discriminations. All this is confirmed by numerous statistics.

So, from what are they suffering if not misery ? It just so happens that for years, the question is asked at “exit-polls”, that results have not changed even in 2012 : rich or poors, managers or jobless, men or women, our suffering electors put in front one and the same issue, one and the same suffering : “immigration”.

These voters suffer because they see in their streets or their TVs, Muslim women wearing the headscarf. They suffer because they see, in their street or their TVs, crowds of Muslims praying on the sidewalks—but they suffer much more at the idea that a mosque could be built to free that same sidewalk. They suffer from the sight of minarets—or more often, they suffer at the idea of seeing it one day. They suffer from the idea that they might have swallowed, without their consent, halal meat. They suffer from running into Blacks in the driver seats of a fancy car, they suffer from the sound of rap songs coming out of that car. They suffer from hearing raï, they suffer from seeing a Black, an Arab, a Muslim as an anchor, an elected official or a writer penetrating sacred space through the television.

They suffer from hearing even if less rarely than before, how France was a colonial power and pro-slavery and that it never has been positive. They suffer from seeing France as it is and not as they dream it –white, immaculate, catholic and secular, patriarchal and heterosexual.

To conclude, they suffer, poor voters, because even after 40 years after the closing of frontiers and laws of Pasqua, Debré, Chevènement, Sarkozy, Hortefeux and Guéant, there remains few rights for immigrants –at work, for housing, health…they suffer from the idea that foreigners might vote one day. They suffer to the idea of losing their privileges as White French citizens. They suffer from a very well-known illness but which name, oddly enough, has not been yet pronounced once by Socialist Party(PS) representatives or the Union of Presidential Majority (UMP) during the elections evening, April 22nd : racism.

They go over the top to scare people but this fear, compared to worries and sufferings of illegal immigrants, immigrants and Muslims, “scums” and other “assisted” is a delightful thrill. They suffer from an illness called racism that cures very well –thanks to the help of intellectual probity, moral integrity, human dignity. They suffer from an illness that one doesn’t die from but that kills others, non-French, non-indigenous, non-White, non-Catholics and seculars – from shots of “racial attacks” or crimes due to heavy-handed “security measures”, from “blunders” or “illegal immigrants hunt”…From Brahim Bouaram, thrown at the Seine by Le Pen voters to Mahamadou Maréga, killed by policemen, long is the list of victims of this “illness” from which suffer, among others, the Le Pen voters. Without mentioning the millions of foreigners and non-White French, daily crushed by a systematic discrimination, notably at the hiring or the housing or these millions of Muslims daily insulted by an islamophobic propaganda.

The Le Pen voters’ suffering must be heard but once heard, it does not call for any response. Because sympathise with the racism means becoming racist, means being an advocate to this racism –which is what is already doing the Right but also the government’s Left for about three decades. “Bad responses to good questions” settled a socialist Prime Minister 28 years ago – and we know what this analysis produced in terms of trivialization, legitimation and evolution partially uninterrupted of the FN.

It is more than time to stop this evolution and dare to recognize that the immigration, invasion or islamization are not good questions. It is time to be honest with Le Pen voters and tell them that we wont do anything in order to ease their suffering, quite the contrary. It is time to let live the principles of our constitution, to finally combat the discriminations and to make this promise to Le Pen voters : if it is equality that makes you suffer, well your troubles are only beginning !


Translated by Souleyma Haddaoui for the website : Groupe décolonial de traduction

You can also read this article in French.