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.