“Next Sunday, France holds the first round of its presidential election, and if you’re thinking, ‘Why should I care about that?’ — the truth is it is way more important than you might realize,” said John Oliver, introducing his main segment on the April 16 episode of “Last Week Tonight” (watch it above). The reason it’s important is that it could have dire consequences for the future of the European Union, and also because it’s yet another political battle that could be overtaken by a wave of right-wing nationalism like Great Britain’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. So “the fate of Europe rests in the hands of a country that looks at snails and says, ‘I have got to get you in my mouth!'”
Enter Marine Le Pen, who has normalized racist and xenophobic rhetoric and now could become France’s next president — sound familiar? She has softened the image of her far-right National Front party, but “a klansman is still a klansman even if you slap a monocle and a top hat on him and give him a cane … beneath her slick presentation, Le Pen’s message is vicious.” She claimed immigrants might be thieves and rapists, and Oliver called her ‘catastrophically weird’ for saying that an immigrant might move into your flat and steal your wallpaper.
“This feels a little like deja vu,” said Oliver, who noted the eerie parallels to Trump and Brexit. So he implored French citizens to go to the polls to vote against Le Pen in a way they would understand: speaking French, in a cozy bistro with an accordion player beside him, while drinking wine and smoking a cigarette — in black and white. “Marine Le Pen is a monstrous, demagogic asshole,” he explained in the language of Voltaire. “You’re better than this.”
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