Trump and Le Pen grow in strength with the help of ISIS

Roger Cohen writes: America, like Europe, is rattled by Islamic State terrorism and unsure how to respond to the black-flagged death merchants. Its polarized politics seem broken. The right of Donald Trump and the right of France’s Marine Le Pen overlap on terrorism and immigration. On the American left, Bernie Sanders sounds like nothing so much as a European social democrat. But that’s another story.

Le Pen is now a serious candidate for the French presidency in 2017. Her strong first-round performance in regional elections was not matched in the second round. She faded. But as with Trump, she answers the popular call for an end to business as usual after two Paris massacres this year in which the Islamic State had a role. The three jihadists who killed 90 Friday-night revelers in the Bataclan club were French citizens believed to have been trained in Syria.

“Islamist fundamentalism must be annihilated,” Le Pen says. People roar. “France must ban Islamist organizations,” she says. People roar. It must “expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.” People roar.

There is no question Le Pen is being taken seriously in France. Europe’s watchword is vigilance. Its entire postwar reconstruction has been premised on the conviction that peace, integration, economic union and the welfare state were the best insurance against the return to power of the fascist right.

That conviction is shaken. The rise of the Islamic State, and the Western inability to contain it, leads straight to the Islamophobia in which Trump and Le Pen traffic with success. It would be hard to imagine an atmosphere better suited to the politics of fear. Americans say they are more fearful of terrorism than at any time since 9/11.

“Every time things get worse, I do better,” Trump says. He does. They may get still worse. [Continue reading…]

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