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French Immigrants and Le Pen's Rise

April 27, 2002

With a closer look, the Jean-Marie Le Pen ascendancy in the first round of the French presidential elections may not really be much of a surprise (April 22). His anti-immigrant positions are resonating in a country where the following fact exists: With a population that is roughly 10% non-native Muslim, the French are reproducing at the rate of roughly 1.4 births per woman while the mostly North African immigrant population is reproducing at roughly four times that. People are beginning to fear that if this trend continues, in the next 25 to 50 years France will simply cease to remain part of Western civilization. The French fear, maybe not incorrectly so, that rather than assimilating, the new masses will assert a cultural hegemony.

Similar low birthrates for Western Europeans exist throughout the Continent. In fact, they are the lowest in the world and nowhere near the 2.1 births per woman needed to replenish extant native populations. As we make our way deeper into the 21st century, Europe will be faced with the possibility of slowly ceding its identity to the East.

For better or worse, Jean-Marie Le Pen is not an anomaly, he is a harbinger.

Richard Vaczy

Los Angeles

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How curious: When far-rightists surge in popularity in America, the dynamic is called a return to "family values" and "morality." When far-rightists surge in popularity in Europe, the political dynamic is called a rise in fascism. Is a double standard at work here?

Laurel Hall

La Habra

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Re "Ugly Currents in Europe," editorial, April 23: The attempts to paint the success of Le Pen in France as a threat to democracy are disingenuous at best, rank hypocrisy at worst.

Funny, I don't remember the citizens of the United States voting on immigration (we tried it here in California once and The Times didn't particularly care for the result)--which is precisely the point. The hysteria concerning Le Pen stems not from the fact that he may curtail the people's will but rather because they might actually have a chance to exercise it.

To whom does being against immigration, multiculturalism and the European Union constitute fascism? Only to the elite who pursue the raw power of a supranational government answerable to none but themselves. To this end they seek, through mass immigration, the end of national unity. This is why they are so apoplectic concerning the rise of the right in Europe and the United States. This is why rightists are all tarred so viciously with the accusations of being the next Hitler.

A brief history lesson. Nazi is short for National Socialist; its flag was red. Socialist governments killed at least 50 million of their own people in the past century. With the socialists running Europe, we're supposed to fear the right? With such concern for democracy, I'll be breathlessly awaiting your calls for a national referendum on immigration in this country.

Kevin Rudd

Los Angeles

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