Nation

In the case of France, even a brief glance at history would show that despite efforts to cast themselves as freedom fighters against the Nazis in World War II, the French can't hide their history as collaborators in the Vichy government. During the summer of 1942, for example, French police rounded up thousands of terrified Jews in Paris and shipped them to Poland.

There is nothing special about the French in this regard. Most countries in Europe were more than happy to collaborate in implementing the Nazis' final solution.

Likewise today, there is fascist activity across the continent. Next week, if all goes according to plan, Europe will witness one of the largest neo-Nazi demonstrations since Hitler, when the youth wing of Jorg Haider's Austrian Freedom Party hosts a demonstration at Vienna's Heldenplatz--the place Hitler himself came to announce the annexation of Austria. Just last month, a march had the main streets of Vienna ringing with neo-Nazi chants of "Heil Hitler!'' and "Foreigners!''

Haider's party is the most visible of a range of far-right groups clawing for position. "People no longer accept that the problems of overloaded immigration, abuse of the asylum system, foreigner criminality, internal security are not being brought under control," the smooth, youthful Haider said recently. Often compared to Le Pen, Haider told a reporter, "If that's the case, then I'm the original."

Haider's Freedom corps is but the most robust of a rash of protofascist parties. In Denmark, a new right-center coalition is using tough asylum policies to turn back non-natives. For the first time since Franco, conservatives are in power in Spain, and a gay right-winger is leading the charge in the Netherlands. The so-called Progress Party underpins conservatives in Norway. In Belgium, where the far-right Vlaams Blok became the biggest political force two years ago, far-right leaders seek to repatriate all non-European foreigners. And in Italy, last year's election of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the media magnate, was widely greeted as an outright rebirth of fascism.

Before it collapsed, the Soviet Union checked the rise of the far right in bloc countries—with the exception of East Germany, where the secret police, the Stasi, openly courted neo-Nazi skinheads to beat up punk rockers. But when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union imploded, Russian nationalists came out of the woodwork, as did neo-Nazis across the Eastern bloc.

To mount a successful challenge to Le Pen and other fascists, it is necessary to see what is really drawing people to them. The most obvious and disgusting aspect is blatant racism. But the racism is linked to European nationalism, which itself is complex. The European Union is eroding the sanctity of the nation state. Le Pen's victory comes on the heels of the elimination of national currencies and the imposition of the universal euro, the latest blow to local culture and identity.

This is a confusing situation, because both the left and the right are enraged over the European Union and the inequities of globalization. The left's antiglobalization movement, the very force that could offer an alternative, ends up arguing some of the same points as the far right.

What's happening in Europe is not all that different from the activities of the far right in the U.S. Here, racists plunged into the vacuum left by both political parties during the disastrous Midwest farm downturn in the 1980s. They met with considerable approval from white working-class people, who felt abandoned by mainstream politicos. In America, the far right also offered an ideological political base, steeped in an oddball racist Christian theory. Left-leaning American politicians don't seem to understand that ideology--religious ideology, in fact--is what appeals to voters' hearts and minds. Al Gore's technocratic Democratic Party, with its constant twiddling with gadgets, just won't do the trick.


California Nixes Fourth Amendment
SEARCHED AND SEIZED

Last week California lawmakers passed two new bills that will make search warrants and their supporting documents secret. Thus a Californian whose home is invaded by police may never know why the officers are demanding to search the property. Such records used to be available to the public unless a judge specifically sealed them.

Lawmen back the change. "When affidavits are filed, previously they divulged a large portion of the investigation and where it was heading and that could hamper the investigation and the direction of the investigation,'' David Gorcyc, a county prosecutor told the Oakland Press.

Here's a public record, known as the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.''



LIKE BUNNIES?

"I'm going to...get three square meals and have air conditioning. And I want cable television. And I want conjugal visits from Playboy bunnies."-Newly convicted representative Jim Traficant, on Fox, as quoted by Roll Call.

Additional reporting: Meritxell Mir, Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson, and Gabrielle Jackson

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