Screw the far right’s selective outrage on the Notre Dame fire

A photo of the Notre-Dame Cathedral on fire alongside a photo of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer
Bryan Wall

The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has been damaged by a fire. And it didn’t take far-right figures long to kick their selective outrage and conspiracy theories into gear.

The fire

Roughly 850 years old, the cathedral was undergoing renovations when it caught fire on 15 April. Officials say this work could be the cause of the blaze. It took about 500 firefighters to bring the fire under control and save the cathedral. Even so, it has suffered damage such as the collapse of its spire and the loss of its roof.

The images were striking, and attracted much sympathy online:

The far right jumps on the bandwagon

Officials have said they are “treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson”. But this hasn’t stopped far-right figures from suggesting that arsonists attacked the cathedral. In Ireland, former journalist Gemma O’Doherty seemed to blame the French state for the fire:

Another far-right populariser went further, arguing that “communists” could also be to blame:

But it was far-right leader Richard Spencer who was the most outspoken:

Selective outrage

The focus of the far right on the Notre Dame fire is highly selective, of course. Because as the cathedral was burning, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also reportedly aflame:

There have been numerous other times, of course, when the far right has failed to sing and shout about the destruction of important buildings. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, for example, Israel attacked 203 mosques in Gaza, destroying 73. Daesh (Isis/Isil), meanwhile, did away with numerous ancient sites in both Iraq and Syria. And it destroyed some mosques in Syria which were over 900 years old. Yet those on the far right weren’t making a fuss about any of this.

More recently, there has been concern about the targeting of Black churches in Louisiana. Three were destroyed in suspected arson attacks in less than a week, for example.

Western ally Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has destroyed thousands of buildings (including dozens of historical buildings and mosques) during its bombing campaign against Yemen:

But none of this seems to matter to the far right.

Fighting hatred

Far-right hatred is becoming more prominent. Hate crimes have increased in the US in recent years, according to the FBI. And the same seems to be true in Britain. As a result, lives are being put at risk.

One tool far-right figures use to get attention, meanwhile, is to take high-profile non-political issues and exploit them to stir up hatred and division.

We must combat this whenever and wherever it appears.

Featured image via Wikipedia – LeLaisserPasserA38/ Wikimedia Commons – Vas Panagiotopoulos

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