Ultra/Far/Extreme-Right in My School

It is no secret that France has a history of all sorts of very right-wing parties but it is one thing to know this and quite another to invigilate their offspring during an exam.

As most of my readers know I work in a French state school and part of our job, especially at the end of the school year, is to supervise candidates during examinations. The students in the exam rooms are ours as well as students from private schools that are totally independent and have no agreements with the French state.

There is such a school 30 kms from here. It is an all-girl school run by the Society of Saint Pius X. The SSPX is notorious for supporting allegedly extreme right-wing political positions, particularly in France, and statements by some of its members have been widely interpreted as antisemitic.

Each year a group of girls come to our school to take exams. Last week, a colleague and I supervised them during a science exam. Most of these girls have family names that indicate that their ancestors were members of the French nobility. Being curious after the exam I took a photo of their names and “googled” them.

One surname was associated with an obscure French political party (Parti français chrétien) led by a “Zionist anti-Semite” (someone who believes that all Jews ought to live in Israel only) . One name was linked to the founder of the Croix-de-feu, a French far right league of the Interwar period. Another led to one of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s right arms.

Needless to say I felt uneasy in front of these very polite and well-behaved young girls who are brought up to abhor most of the things I believe and defend.

History of far-right movements in France

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11 thoughts on “Ultra/Far/Extreme-Right in My School

  1. I read or heard somewhere that the Yale center on antisemitism that was recently closed is now allowed to talk about antisemitism in France but not in Arab countries.

    We live in a difficult world.

  2. As I said before, I find posts about your school life fascinating. Thanks for sharing! I feel much the same way when interacting with Arabs here in Israel, and specifically in Jerusalem, something I do just about every day. The vast majority of Arabs I have ever spoken to have been very polite and helpful (and work in my supermarket, drive my busses and taxis, fix my plumbing, etc.), more so than many Jewish Israelis I come into contact with. Yet, while the Arabs I interact with are polite and helpful, these very same Arabs identify as Palestinian, vote in Palestinian elections (the ones here In Jerusalem do), and collectively refuse to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish State with a right to exist and defend itself. It’s a hard concept to wrap my mind around.

  3. Definitely a difficult situation to be in. Google is a double edged sword. It used to be that living in a small town made it difficult to escape your family’s past, the world has become a small town. Is it too much to hope that the past that belongs to these families might not be their present? Or is it just naive? Now that you have this knowledge what do you do with it? Whenever my children have been hurt by a ‘friend’s” behaviour I simply tell them, “Now you know this about this person.” Mentally arm yourself with this knowledge.

  4. Is it too much to hope that the past that belongs to these families might not be their present?
    I’d say that the very school they have chosen for their kids – there are lots of decent Catholic schools in France – points to no real change in the way these people see the world at large and their “mission” in this world. Other than that I agree that I cannot say for sure that they are all fascists and anti-semites.

  5. Oh my dear, that must be tough. Stand strong on the words of the Psalmist “You oh Lord are a shield about me, you are my glory and the lifter of my head”

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