Religious Discrimination in France — A Modern Day McCarthyism
A publication posted by the Church of Scientology on www.humanrights-france.org discusses how the modern day tactics of the French government in their attempt to squash minority religions resembles the "red-scare" tactics that senator Joseph McCarthy used in 1950 to point fingers at and discredit his opponents. Thus "McCarthyism", and the adaptation: A Modern Day McCarthyism. The full publication is here, but here's my take:
This tactic seems to be a common one actually. Senator McCarthy lent his name to his spear campaigns and gave us the new word "McCarthyism", however, it seems to me that this tactic is also a cousin to what is being done in America today on the terrorism front as well.
When you boil it down, it looks like this: Some vested interest decides that they need to take out some people because they are causing trouble (numerous examples of this exist, I won't bother to expound - this could be political, economic, social, etc.) But of course you have to do this in a politically correct way, so you start spreading the word about so and so and such and such (any good media man can tell you in half a second what will get people to start screaming if published in the papers) and get people all up in arms: Textbook black propaganda. Then you use the social upheaval, egged on via the media through the government and other connections, to pass some laws (or create blacklists, etc.) that allow you to get rid of the target person or group. Simple, has been done time and time again. This is another good example.
In this publication, they describe "Guilty by Association" - and this is an imperitive point. The primary tool is the use of propaganda to associate the target with something that the public considers negative. Examples: capitalism & democracy with aristocracy (Russia, 198x), minority religions with cults (France, 200x), Jews & blacks with animals (Europe, 1938-1944), the list goes on.
The article also discusses the connections used to forward these campaigns, and the list isn't pretty. We're not talking about just a few random people who decided to start a smear campaign - all kinds of people are tied into this thing.
One of the favorite defense tactics when this campaign is running is to simply point the finger at whoever is opposing you. In 1950 it was "he's a communist". Today it's "they're a cult". Different words, identical tactic: Use innuendo to fuel the unrest and create enmity toward any opposition by positioning them with the "cultists", "communists", and so on.
As the saying goes, history oft repeats itself.
At www.humanrights-france.org you'll find a number of additional resources on this subject. However, there are some choice picks that seem to make the point pretty well:
U.S. Congressman Joseph Pitts in a hearing regarding international human rights explained how France and other countries had compiled unsubstantiated lists of minority group which were being discriminated against. One example, for Belgium was:
"The parliamentary commission actually believed the account of one person who said that Hasidic Jews were dangerous because they stapled their children’s fingers together - it’s absolutely ludicrous. But these kinds of accusations have dangerous consequences and so the Belgium government has restricted religious freedom. There are other Western European nations whose actions are disturbing."
Congressman Chris Smith in another hearing pointed out the use of specific incidents to put into place legislation which restricts freedom of religion overall (note again, was is the same tactic used to install the Patriot Act, and others - not to get into a whole thing on that, but just notice the mechanism).
"The mantra seems to be that there is a need for the state to respond to the mass suicides of the Solar Temple or even the Guyana suicides more than twenty years ago. They keep bringing out that as if that justifies this sweeping new crackdown on other religious and free exercise of conscience. Rather than allowing criminal provisions in the law to address those practices whenever and wherever they may occur."
And of course, the churches in France were not happy either.
In 1996 a "cult blacklist" was drawn up by the French government. The United States State Department criticized the way it was drawn up. Its 1999 Religious Freedom report states: "The [Cult] report was prepared without the benefit of full and complete hearings regarding the groups identified on the list. Groups were not told why they were placed on the list [and] there is no mechanism for changing the list."
One example (more):
'The Ministry of Education has advised schools in France not to contract with Panda and to stop using its software, solely because Panda’s founder is a Scientologist. On May 3rd, 2001, an official of the Rectorat of Montpellier, a Ministry of National Education entity for the city of Montpellier, sent a letter to Colleges under the Rectorat’s jurisdiction in France. Tellingly, while the letter admits that the software poses “no danger”, it instructs colleges to cease using it: “Even though this material presents no danger in its present form, I am asking you to put it out of use.”'
A number of different religions are targeted, you can read more about them here.
Hearings & Testimonials
A number of hearings and testimonials on Human Rights in France have occurred to help spread the word and make these indignities known.
In an open letter to "Persons Concerned with Religious Liberty in France" by Anson Shupe, he said:
"France's President Chirac's signing of the About-Picard Bill passed by that country's legislative bodies is the modern day equivalent of similar legal maneuvers in Germany in the 1930s. That regime also had categories of religions to be monitored and possibly eliminated if not repressed, including Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists and others. This is quite similar to almost 200 religious groups that have been listed in this legislative process..." - Anson Shupe: Professor, Sociology & Anthropology, Indiana
In 2000, the Church of Scientology helped form an organization called CAP, which is made up of 30 minority religious and spiritual groups, and its aim is to document the discrimination and bring it to the attention of human rights organizations. It has also held hearings in an out-spoken effort in this matter of human rights.
Religious discrimination is not a new concept, in fact the subject itself and the techniques used to effect it have evolved very little in the past decades and even centuries. However, societies change slowly, and are readily susceptible to the same ploys again and again. In France, we have a problem of religious discrimination, and it sets a precedent for other more grave turns of fate for religious liberties. Who knows what the scene will look like in 5 or 10 years — and it is that fate that we must continue to be alert for and speak out against.
Chairman of the Board, Religious Technology Center - David Miscavige