Jean-Marie Le Pen is in trouble again. Imagine if Pat Buchanan had just scored a major political success, which had put him within reach of real political power—and then, just as he was reaching out to taste the fruits of years of hard work, political opponents threw a minor legal charge at him. Conviction on this charge would disqualify Buchanan from holding any political post, lumber him with a suspended prison sentence of three months, and strip him of his civic rights for two years. Would not the timing seem a little too convenient to be coincidental? This is what Jean-Marie Le Pen’s friends, and liberal Frenchmen of all parties, are now saying about the ancien regime‘s latest assault on the National Front (FN). In the last general election, Le Pen was helping his daughter, Marie-Caroline, to canvas in the Mantesla-Jolie district. During a walkabout, the FN contingent was spotted by a Socialist mob, who showed their commitment to freedom of expression by threatening the much smaller FN group.

In the front row of the mob was the Socialist candidate, a harpy named Peulvast-Bergeal who, according to Le Pen, was threatening and lunging at his daughter. Le Pen, an impulsive and chivalrous man, claims that he merely tried to fend off the Amazon, who was not hurt at all by the “assault,” just even more aggrieved than usual.

The TV cameras which follow Le Pen everywhere in the hope of just such images captured the undignified moment. Because this was Le Pen, and not just a run-of-the-mill member of what has virtually become the Caullist-Socialist-Communist coalition, nobody was willing to overlook this minor (if undoubtedly unpleasant) incident, in which there was fault on both sides. Inherently disposed in favor of litigation (like all leftists), Peulvast-Bergeal gleefully sued Le Pen for assault and won the case.

Le Pen’s legal setback, if it is upheld, will mean—in addition to a brief jail term—that he will be unable to hold office or take part in politics. He does, however, retain his “civic rights” until his appeal can be heard. This latest legal attack on Le Pen is an obvious attempt to undermine the FN and to weaken his own position within the party—although some journalists, like the London Times‘ Ben Macintyre, find the prospect of an FN run by Bruno Megret, Le Pen’s obvious successor, even more terrifying (see “Softly, Softly, Speaks the Fascist,” Times, April 22, 1998).

This assault charge is but the latest politically motivated frame-up in a number of unedifying attempts to close down the FN and disenfranchise the 15 percent of the French population who now regularly vote for it. The voting system was altered in 1988, cutting the number of FN members of parliament from 35 to just one; more recently, the left and so-called “right-wing” parties created the “Republican Front” in an attempt to defeat the FN at Strasbourg and elsewhere (they failed). The Republican Front was revived in March, when the FN became kingmakers in many French regions after local elections. Local Gaullist politicians were threatened with expulsion from their respective parties if they held onto their places through FN assistance. Most of them obeyed orders, and as a result, the Gaullist parties lost large chunks of territory they would otherwise have held comfortably—a brilliant political strategy.

These contemptible challenges have been accompanied and inspired by an unremitting, multilayered campaign of hatred against the FN, even to the extent of blaming them for the destruction of the Jewish cemetery at Carpentras. It is no wonder that FN members say bitterly that France is a one-party state—although there are now signs that the “respectable” right may soon split over attitudes to the FN.

It is of course immensely enjoyable to see the establishment horrified and frightened, but it will not be toppled overnight. Its acolytes will use every legal, emotional, cultural, financial, and—ultimately—physical weapon in its possession to enforce its globalist views and retain its privileges. The establishment does not see this epic confrontation as a crude battle for power, but as part of a holy crusade against “racism,” “darkness,” etc. This is what makes it so ruthless—and so very unpleasant. In modern France, it is all too easy to see who are the real haters, and which party really exemplifies the republican virtues.