Op-Ed: Dieudonné: Anti-Semitism That Makes People Laugh
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
"I am an Islamic-Christian", says the comedian.
When Dieudonné presented his "anti-Zionist" political list at the French elections four years ago, he chose a manifest in which 20 people are laughing, staring into the lens, while he does a pseudo-Fascist salute.
Now, that gesture, the "quenelle", has become iconic in the Islamicized areas of France, as well as in the football arenas.
But it would be a mistake to pin the lable of "Nazism" on Monsieur Dieudonné. This Parisian comic is actually a champion of "islamo-progressivism" of France, a category coined by Catherine Kintzler.
His monologues are oversubscribed and the star Dieudonné is always welcomed by crowds shouting "viva viva Dieudonne, freedom of expression". There are those who call him the "French Malcolm X".
The key to his success is firstly in his mixed ethnic identity: ethnic, since his mother is Breton and Dieudonné's father from Cameroon; but especially his religious ethnicity: "I am an Islamic-Christian", says the comedian.
So the comedian is "the native speaker de la République". Then, even physically, Dieudonné makes contempt for Jews popular, with his cherubic and bearded face, expanded by a continuous and crass laugh that fascinates the Parisian aristocracy.
Dieudonné is an important piece of the French and militant Muslim "left". At least according to "La Galaxie Dieudonné" (Editions Syllepse), the book written by three journalists: "In spite of his provocations, Dieudonné continues to benefit from a capital of sympathy which is not negligible. Much more dangerous because his ambitious political project ..".
The problem of Dieudonné is that his anti-Semitism has people laughing. First it becomes a boutade and a paradox. Then it becomes a Dadaist gesture of rejection of "the system". Finally, it turns into a nonsensical oxymoron against the sender ("I was a slave, don't call me racist").
Dieudonné has people laughing when he says on a TV show that "I clean my ass with the Israeli flag".
He doesn't make people worry when he goes to Tehran to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and raises funds for a new film that "smacks of the Holocaust".
He has people laughing when he declares to have "ripped the Holocaust out of my daughter's history book" pages and that Zionism is the "AIDS of Judaism".
He has people laughing when at the Zénith in the centre of Paris - with a capacity of 6,000 seats - he invites on stage Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, known for having denied gas chambers - and Dieudonné rewards him with a prize awarded by faked Jewish camps, with a yellow star.
Dieudonné pleases everybody's personal form of anti-Semitism: the leftist audience with the white slavery discourse, anti-Americanism and colonialism, the never dulled sense of the guilty; he excites resentment among the youth of the suburbs, the excluded, the pariahs; he courts the neo-Nazis with anti-European nationalism, and especially he excites the Muslims with slander against the Jewish State.
Dieudonné's "quenelle" embodies a grudge, a pallor, a hidden passion, that of the poor against the rich, of the immigrants against the locals, of non-Jews against Jews, and, of course, of everybody against Israel.
When Dieudonne goes on TV to tell Jewish journalist Eric Zemmour: "Have you ever seen your face? You look like a camel", adding: "You betrayed the Maghreb and you continue to do that", people laugh, because, underneath it all, they also think so.
Behind that obscene smirk lies the secret of the popularity of anti-Semitism.