Marine Le Pen says that she is not like her father, the notorious fascist political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party (she excommunicated him from the party, but remained chummy enough to borrow millions from him for her presidential bid).
Le Pen the Younger disclaims her father's racist baggage, and presents herself as a populist/nationalist in the model of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump (themselves notorious racists, but of the sort who make recourse to dog whistles instead of out-and-out racism, at least some of the time).
On Sunday, Le Pen disclaimed French responsibility for the notorious "Vel d'Hiv" incident in which French police rounded up 13,000 Jews and crammed them into the Velodrome d'Hiver so that Nazi occupiers could deport them to Auschwitz, saying ""I think France isn't responsible for the Vel d'Hiv...I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France."
The remarks came just a couple weeks before the French general election, which has many around the world nervous, given the recent success of other crypto-fascist "populists" around the world.
Though Le Pen later tried to walk the remarks back, claiming that the legitimate French government was in exile in the UK at the time and that she'd been misunderstood, her excuses are hollow and ring false, given that the roundup was conducted by career French police officers, led by the national police chief, René Bousquet.
There's a chance the scandal will cost Le Pen votes; on the other hand, if she still polls well, it will reveal a dark streak of revisionist neo-fascism in France that might have been denied if Le Pen had won a large plurality without explicitly endorsing revisionist/fascist "alt-history."
[Adam Nossiter/New York Times]