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Be warned that Le Pen’s anti-Semitic rhetoric appeals to many conservatives

If anyone is tempted to follow Jean-Marie Le Pen’s recent attempt to minimise the awful reality of the Holocaust, by accepting his hateful claim “that the Nazi gas chambers were a [mere] detail of history”, perhaps they should listen to the chilling testimony of Oskar Groening, the Auschwitz official now on trial for complicity in the murder of 300,000 Jewish men, women and children.

Giving evidence, Groening matter of factly stated that “the capacity of the gas chambers and the capacity of the crematoria were quite limited”, before qualifying this by admitting “that 5,000 people were processed (exterminated) in 24 hours” (World News, April 24).

Le Pen’s anti-Semitic rhetoric cannot be dismissed by apologists for the far-right who argue that it is simply the rambling xenophobia of a reactionary. harkening back to the ‘good old days’ of a predominantly Caucasian, Christian Europe.

This type of insular worldview still appeals to a broad swathe of conservative voters, who are becoming increasingly resistant to the perceived dilution of the western ethos by so-called lesser races.

This militancy is manifesting as a hatred towards outsiders, whether they are the relatively recently arrived Muslims of the former colonies, or the centuries-old Jewish community.

This conservative cohort is retrenching and adopting a ghetto-like mentality that Le Pen understands perfectly well.

They are primed to accept his outrageously racist rhetoric. Moreover, France is not alone in exhibiting this insular world view; it is also present in the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden Germany and Greece.

Therefore, if anyone is hoping for a generous response to the humanitarian crisis that is emanating from the Middle East and North Africa, this expectation should be tempered by a contemporary reality that is defined by a reluctance to open European borders to those persecuted individuals.

Dr Kevin McCarthy


Co Cork


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