On Sunday, the story that was front and center on the main page of the website of Le Monde – France's purported newspaper of record – was a nearly perfect example of how to go about attacking critics of Islam. Headlined "Why Islamophobia is Gaining Ground," the article, written by Frédéric Joignot, begins by noting that Marine Le Pen, the daughter and successor of the fascist anti-Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen, "came first or second in 116 constituencies out of 577, exceeding 25% in 59 of them." Her chief cause: the struggle against Muslim immigration. As is usual in such articles, Joignot professes to be puzzled by this extraordinary level of support for a politician running on the issue of Islam. How could this be? How could so many Frenchmen have voted for a candidate whose #1 issue is Muslim immigration? What on earth were they thinking of?
For some of us, the answer is obvious: voters in France, like voters across Europe, are sincerely concerned about Muslim immigration, and neither Sarkozy nor Hollande addressed the issue to their satisfaction. But for Joignot and many other members of the fourth estate, the whole point is to pretend that the answer for these voters' curious preoccupations lies elsewhere. In such articles, it is verboten to actually examine the issue of Islam objectively; one needs to strike a tone which communicates the notion that any professed concern about Muslim immigration into Europe is, on its face, ridiculous, ugly, and racist.