(Author's Note - as ever, I am not 'The Devil's Kitchen')
For liberals, it must have been bliss to have been alive in that dawn that was the 1990's - before 9/11 slammed the doors of perception shut on them.
As a windy amateur European history buff, re-reading some '90's-era liberaliana has been an interesting, if rather sorrowful, experience.
Nicholas Fraser's tome from 2000, 'The Voice of Modern Hatred; Encounters with Europe's New Right' is a good case in point.
I might be doing Fraser an injustice, but at that time his vision of Europe seemed to have been one where non-whites lived in a state of perpetual victimhood; the possibility that Khaled Kelkal, one of his subjects, might just have been a very, very bad man doesn't seem to have crossed his mind at all.
Although he meets with non-radicalised Arabs in the banlieues, the only non-liberal whites he seems to have met were David Irving, assorted French holocaust-deniers, neo-Nazi weirdos and attendees at rallies of the French National Front; for the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Fraser should note that abhorrence of fascism does not produce an automatic predilection for cockatoo haircuts.
He went to Leicester, and the only white he seems to have spoken to was the late Paul Winstone, described in his obituary as having 'played a vital role in improving race relations in the city'. While Mr. Winstone clearly did a lot of admirable work during his life, one can't help but wonder whether or not Mr. Fraser might have cast his net more widely for a broader range of opinion. Although he does record meeting a wall of silence when he tried to contact former members of the British National Front, one wonders just how hard he tried to speak to them.
However his book is very useful at reminding us of the career of one Martine Aubry.
Fraser records that in her book 'The Little Dictionary of the Extreme Right', Aubry, whom he describes as 'a prominent member of the (French) elite Left', indicated that,
"...the revival of nationalist feelings justified the installation of some form of censorship. (She wrote that) "The time has come to abandon the unreal purity of libertarianism or the ultra liberal complacency where it is forbidden to forbid".
Fraser is honest enough to admit that he,
"...got the feeling that Ms. Aubry...would rather the people standing in front of me, screaming for Le Pen, didn't exist."
He also records that Aubry is the daughter of Jacques Delors - the European Union's Jean-Baptitse Colbert.
Woof! Who'd have believed that one of the fathers of a project designed to limit inconvenient national sovereignty would have a daughter who believed in limiting inconvenient freedom of speech? Shocking, innit?
After recording the late Pierre Vidal-Naquet's views on Jean-Marie Le Pen - "Oh, I'd happily kill him. Or at least abolish him" - he speaks to an old journalist who tells him, "(t)he little people vote for characters like (Jean-Marie Le Chevallier). But there are many little people in France".
This year we will see many invocations of Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the spirit of 1968; these accounts will probably far outnumber those remembering Alexander Dubcek and the Prague Spring. It will be just like 2006, when British media seemed to contain many more reflections on the collapse of British imperial power at Suez in 1956 than on the Soviet invasion of Hungary - an event which was taking place at the same moment as Suez.
Those who decide what we read and watch seem to think us 'little people'; well and good, they can think what they like. The United Kingdom has as many l'ittle people' as France; and the arrogant, insidious influence of the elite left, personified in Martine Aubry and her old man, now means that everyone who lives in the European Union is considered a little person as well.
Personally, I think it's time we left.