On October 20, Cassandre Fristot’s judgment was rendered by the French Court. So we wanted to go back to the rhetoric of the poster, and its “Who?”, brandished by this far-right activist during a demonstration against the health pass. The image quickly went viral in France. It provides a model of anti-Semitism to be decoded, where the speaker has to say what he thinks while hiding and encoding the violence of his words in order to make them circulate in the public space.
Three months of a suspended prison sentence and three years of political ineligibility have been sought by prosecutors against Cassandre Fristot this French teacher close to the Party of France and former collaborator aide to the National Front’s Louis Aliot, for “provocation to racial hatred”. The object of the offense: a sign brandished during a demonstration against the health pass at the beginning of August, listing several names of supposedly Jewish personalities (Rothschild, Soros, BHL, Attali, Buzyn, etc.) themselves topped by a question (“But who?” “Mais qui?” in the original) and the word “traitors” as a central reference.If the case is important, it is because it is emblematic of a basic trend in the expression of contemporary anti-Semitism; an unavowable anti-Semitism, forced to camouflage itself with ambiguity in a perpetual cat-and-mouse game.
We know the sarcastic terms used by xenophobes to refer to people of African or North African origin in France: the “opportunities for France,” the “Swedes,” the “Auvergnats”… This is nothing new. The historian Emmanuel Debono reminds us that as soon as the Marchandeau decree-law was adopted (April 1939), which for the first time sanctioned racial or religious defamation and targeted remarks that “had the aim of stirring up hatred between citizens or inhabitants,” the far-right seized on the term “inhabitants” to ironically designate foreigners living in France.
Over the decades, anti-Semites have also developed a coded language to talk about Jews: “Zionists,” “cosmopolitans,” “Khazars,” “the descendants of those who crucified Christ” (Hugo Chavez), “the community of light” (Alain Soral) or “the unspeakable” (Raphaël Confiant). For it would seem that one does not have the right to name or speak of this “parasitic and predatory community” as the head of the French conspiratorial and Anti-Semitic group Equality & Reconciliation likes to call it.
This is a classic argument of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Thus, on May 17, 2019, in a video about currency, we witness this exchange between the polemicist Dieudonné and the Swiss teacher Chloé Frammery, who would go on to establish herself the following year as one of the most influential figures of the French-speaking Covid-skeptical conspiracy theories:
Dieudonné: We are in a huge scam based in fact on a belief. And from the moment that human beings change their beliefs… [he holds up a poster representing Christ on the cross – ed. note]: He came to tell us, He, by chasing the merchants out of the Temple almost two thousand years ago… Well, maybe things will evolve, will change. But it is clear that [he grabs a bundle of banknotes – ed. note] the great person responsible for all these misfortunes, for all these wars…
Chloé Frammery: Yes, that’s it [pointing to the money – ed.]
Dieudonné: … is very close to this…
Chloé Frammery: … that’s right, and especially those who make it…
Dieudonné : That’s right. So, who are they after?
Chloé Frammery: Yeah… We have a little idea though…
Chloé Frammery: Ah, don’t tell!
In April 2021, retired General Dominique Delawarde was one of the twenty or so signatories of the famous “officers’ letter” on the “disintegration” of France published in the right-wing Valeurs Actuelles. A few months earlier, the former officer had published an article on Réseau Voltaire, the website of the conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan, about the American presidential election. While Donald Trump and his supporters stubbornly refused to recognize Joe Biden’s victory, Delawarde, who shared the conviction that the election had somehow been stolen, worried about the actions of “the media pack,” guilty, according to him, of wanting to short-circuit the popular will. On three occasions, he uses the allusive formula about this “media pack”: “of which we know who controls them.” And if ever things were not clear enough for the reader, Delawarde adds that if Joe Biden were to be elected, “he would be under the influence and would make his decisions only on the advice and ‘close control’ of his close entourage, an emanation of the ‘Deep State’ and composed of hard-line ‘globalists.’ It is […] this entourage that would, in fact, govern the USA. […] An in-depth study of this entourage (biographies, ancestry, networks and community of belonging) would be very revealing but, alas, not very surprising. We have the same ones at home. We should therefore expect an increase in aggressive US interference in the Near and Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran), to the benefit of Israel of course […].”
On June 19, 2021, on CNews, Delawarde was invited to clarify his writings. Claude Posternak then asked him several times, with the question “Who?” (Qui?), to clarify the identity of those who according to him control the media. And the general replied: “the community that you know well”.
The sequence would find a considerable echo on social networks in France, the question “Who? and the face of Posternak frozen in a grimace of vociferation soon turned into an anti-Semitic meme. The three letters of “Who?” can be found again in the summer of 2021, on the signs of anti-sanitary pass protesters, often associated with the slogan “Stop the Gallic genocide.” One sign carried by an individual fully concealing his face under a mask featuring a crow’s head, states:
“Who enslaves us with the “health pass”; who poisons us, kills us with the vaccine; who will take the train thanks to the revolt of the Gentiles; #StopGaulishGenocide.”
The references to the deportation of the Jews and the revolt of the “gentiles” (from the Hebrew goyim, which designates non-Jews) make the message clear. The author of this sign, however, was betting on the limited deciphering skills of those for whom it was intended, and he saw fit to emphasize the point by replacing the dot on the “i” in the French word for “Who” (Qui) with a star of David.
All these examples are perfectly representative of the “dog whistle” technique, which takes its name from the ultrasonic whistles emitting on a frequency inaudible to humans and used for the training of canines. By analogy, Dog Whistle Politics, the title of a book by American public law professor Ian Haney López published in 2014 by Oxford University Press, is presented as a discursive strategy consisting of using equivocal communication conferring a double level of reading to one’s words, where the meaning of what is implied matters more than what is actually said or written. And above all, it offers the possibility of dodging, with a bit of luck, any judicial condemnation.
In addition to playing on the connivance implied by references known only to insiders, the use of dog whistle is also a way, on the Internet, to escape the forks of the moderation of platforms. Basically, it is a rhetorical strategy that allows one to give free rein to one’s anti-Semitic inclinations without seeming to touch them: in the event that one is caught by the patrol, denial is always possible, and the offender even has the option of retaliating by accusing his or her opponent of paranoia: “Get yourself treated, my friend, you really do see racists/antisemites everywhere!”
Cassandre Fristot was finally condemned on October 20 to a six-month suspended prison sentence by the criminal court of Metz (Moselle).
Rudy Reichstadt, le 20 octobre 2021
|1||In a video published on March 28, 2020, in the midst of the health crisis, Alain Soral says: “I’ll name the people who are in charge of state medicine today: so we have Lévy, Buzyn, Hirsch, Guedj, Deray, Jacob, Salomon I mean…. It’s Schindler’s List! […] It is becoming clearer and clearer for those who call me a conspiracy theorist or a monomaniac. I would say that we have the “gang” of Buzyn, Lévy, and Bauer, and we mustn’t forget that the “community of light”, which we are not allowed to talk about, holds… It has been happening progressively since the Mitterrand years, and I have seen this systematic seizure of power take place, whether in the entertainment industry, in medicine, in politics, in the economy, in general […]. We can see that there is a struggle between the people of “common sense”, and then the Buzyn gang, Lévy and the whole clique who represent Big Pharma, the “New World Order” and the parasitic and predatory community that is found in just about every problem […]” (“Soral is almost always right – Reflections on the CuckooVirus”, YouTube/ERTV, March 28, 2020 (video deleted by YouTube and then republished on Odysee).|
|2||”There is, in my view, too much corroborating evidence to allow the Western “media” pack, of which we know who controls it, to convince me [that there was no election fraud in the U.S. presidential vote]. […] There was this curious, even suspicious haste on the part of the US media pack, followed by the “sister” pack of the EU, which we know who controls it, to want to impose a winner when the official results of 5 or 6 states are not yet known. […] This obvious collusion of these big service companies, of which we know who controls them, is simply not “natural”, nor democratic…” (source: “Elections in the US: letter from General Delawarde”, Voltaire Network, November 13, 2020. URL: https://archive.is/xxezP ).|