A death at a fashion sale in Paris has left Europe's streets pitching in a sea of protests with calls for reactionary attacks on freedom of speech. But only against conservatives.
The latest street clashes began with a typical skirmish on June 5 between two diametrically opposed political groups, but this time leading to a tragic death. Clemente Meric was an 18-year-old activist and member of ultra-leftist group Antifas, which opposes fascism and neo-Nazis but also identifies as anarchist. The accused perps belong to their perennial enemies, European skinheads, who dispute membership to any one organization.
Both groups came bargain hunting at a special sale for the curiously conservative Fred Perry and Ben Sherman clothing line on June 5. The brand serves both France's far-right and anti-fascist elements who wear similar bomber jackets, Doc Martens, hair styles and polo shirts.
What happened next is variously described as spontaneous fight or skinhead ambush or Antifas instigation. Le Monde describes aggressive skinheads with knuckle busters encountering Antifas at the fashion event and attacking them without cause.
A completely different tale comes from a security guard quoted elsewhere. He claims that one "anti-fascist militant" pushed the others to fight while skinheads tried to leave.
This witness added that Clemente Meric remarked of his opponents, "These people shouldn't even be alive."
In the long run, it doesn't much matter to the young man who lost his life or to the press, which lost all interest in facts long ago. Meric was punched, fell against a lamppost and later died according to all witnesses.
What yellow journalists and scheming politicians make of a street fight, however, may matter a great deal.
Before Meric's body had cooled or the facts determined, leftist politicians in France launched vicious attacks against all perceived political enemies. Nothing works like a dead kid for a soap box.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault insinuated that conservatives en masse were responsible for the death of Meric as if they all stood on Rue de Caumartin tossing Molotov cocktails and taking bets. He seized the opportunity to demand "dissolving" right-wing groups, who incidentally oppose him. These Gallic champions of human rights have no condolence or sympathy for dead conservatives, as their track record proves.
Last month's passage of a gay-marriage bill fractured France, stirring bitter criticism and even the public suicide of distinguished, conservative historian Dominique Venner who shot himself in protest in Notre Dame Cathedral on May 21. Venner left a note claiming his suicide was an act in "defense of the traditional family" and part of the "fight against illegal immigration."
Leftist politicians had little to say on Venner's passing but launched vitriolic and unrelated retribution campaigns on those with moxie enough to oppose gay marriage.
Feminist art collective Femen had a few thoughts, though. Topless member "Angel of Death" staged an ugly protest in Notre Dame the following day, mocking Venner with the slogan "May fascists rest in hell" across her bare chest. The left in France has decreed that all opponents of gay marriage be hereby branded "fascists," stripping the word of all historical meaning and any relevance.
President Hollande and assorted politicians downplayed the significance of Venner's anguished act in contrast to their public paroxysms on the death of Meric. BBC News slandered the respectable and peaceful historian by comparing him to Anderts Brevik with great effort, also implying the "elderly" Venners was going to die soon anyway so … who cares?
Hollande, Ayrault et al are going to fix France's problems by "cracking down on fascism," but not their own version. They intend to accomplish this by outlawing a tiny right-wing group, Jeunesses Nationalistes Revolutionnaires (Revolutionary Nationalist Youth, or JNR) who is estimated to have an entire 30 members according to Magali Balent, a lecturer at Sciences Po University in Paris who taught the very course the unfortunate Meric was taking and who is an expert in such things.
Leader Serge Ayoub denies all involvement by JNR in the death of Méric and expressed his sympathy. Incidentally, Ayoub is the son of a Lebanese official yet continually charged with racism by Islamists and their helpers on the left.
The unfortunate death of young Meric was the best thing that could have happened to a flagging elitist movement who has been feeling the people's resistance to its plans for their social reorganization. Grieving politicians mustered a few drops of something passing for righteous indignation over Meric's death but displayed none of the same for innumerable victims of Islamic violence.
French nationalists and right-wing groups recently gained support just on that issue as thousands of murders, rapes and assaults by "immigrants" against French citizens were repeatedly ignored or downplayed in press and in court. Pointing this out and requesting protection now qualifies as "racist," although the French are the ones being targeted for their race.
If Antifas stuck to hating fascists and Nazis, I'd join them too. Yet they officially stand for homosexual marriage and oppose all traditionalists as "homophobes," lumped into the same moral order as Nazis. Antifas has a glorious history, reaching back to the 1930s when they fought actual fascists. Sadly it's now about demonizing conservatives and Christians, which works into the current administration's agenda.
Leftists of every European variety are marching and lathered with rage over what they well know was an accidental death. At least they've created interesting impromptu street art in Russia, Greece and Europe – something between Marxist agitprop, graffiti and Latin American memorial altars, but on a big scale.
On the other side of the Channel, what better opportunity to attack the English Defense League that appears to have absolutely no connection with this death? Nothing like a martyr to roil up the masses and pass laws to muzzle the opposition.
The death of Clemente Meric is being milked for all its worth: War hero, child victim of violence and poster boy for anarchists. Meric was an apparently an idealistic and thoughtful young man. Tragically he didn't live long enough to truly understand fascism in all its guises or have much chance to fight it.
Thanks to www.france24.com news and The Guardian U.K.