Last night I screamed at a racist French magician. I was at an open mic at The Laughing Devil Comedy Club in Long Island City. The guy onstage before me was French: "Eric the Magician". He told some "jokes". One of them was about being happy to return to his village in France, because it contained no black people. Stop! My sides might split!
When I went up, we got to talking. I asked him who his favorite French comedian was. He said Dieudonné M'bala M'bala. Here's a picture of him.
I lost it and called Eric the Magician a racist and other bad things (like unfunny). I'm a little ashamed of myself this morning for losing my cool. But I thought I'd share some information about this horrible French "comic", who at least on paper has the exact same job title as me.
Not many Americans know Dieudonné. He's a political comedian, in that he vocally supports the Palestinian cause, and opposes Zionism and many actions of the Israeli government. Fine. OK. Perfectly defensible views. But these days, he's gone a bit fascist. He's good friends with the leader of France far-right National Front Party (Jean-Marie Le Pen). Le Pen is the godfather of his third child. He has characterized "the Jews" as "slave traders".He has called Holocaust commemorations "memorial pornography". Last year, he was recorded onstage saying of prominent French Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen: "you see, when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: ‘Gas chambers... what a shame'." Asked if he is an antisemite, he once replied "I'm not saying I'd never be one... I leave myself open to that possibility, but for the moment, no." Well, that's crystal clear. Thanks. Oh, he's also an convicted tax cheat, fined over an unpaid tax bill of 800,000 euros ($1 million +) by the French government. Tragic, really. A Jewish accountant would never have let him down like that.
He has created his own hand-gesture, too. It's called the quenelle. Some people call it an "inverted Nazi salute". The comedian describes it as an "anti-authoritarian gesture". It's a gesture that some French people like doing, frequently near explicitly Jewish sites, and even at Holocaust memorials. No antisemitism there, of course. Here is a picture of some French teenagers doing the gesture, with no subtext at all in the background.
Urgh. His supporters are a populist mix of far right youth and members of Muslim immigrant communities. They like to see themselves as "against the system" in France. And there's nothing wrong with that on principle. Except that a lot of them seem to think "the system" (the government, the state, the police etc.) is in league with a Zionist cabal, intent on doing harm to French people somehow. It's the same old schtick: "the banking system and the media are all being manipulated by Jews and it's evil blah blah blah because Israel." About 64 million people live in France. Less than 500,000 of them are believed to be Jewish (hard to say exactly - the secular French government refuses to ask about faith on its census). Less than 1% of the population? Boy, these Jews must be very good and very busy at running conspiracies. They are seriously understaffed.
Why am I sharing this? I don't know. To be honest, Dieudonné scares me. Comedy is a powerful thing. Make people laugh, and they'll follow you, even to horrible places. I hate censorship of all kinds, and I don't think the French government should be able to prosecute him for "hate speech" (which they have done and continue to do). Let him say whatever nonsense he wants. It's everyone else's job to use free speech right back, and tell him he's a ridiculous, antisemitic idiot. So that's what I'm doing now. I'm a ONE MAN ARMY. Thanks for reading.