Let the Tumbrels Roll!

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner raised the stakes in the rhetorical war within France by asserting that anyone who participates in a Yellow Vest demonstration is complicit with any violence that is committed by some of the demonstrators.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of Rassemblement National (National Rally, formerly Front National), responded by reminding Mr. Castaner of the collective French memory of what happens when political leaders travel down this road —bringing to mind images of the tumbrels rolling to the guillotine.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

The video above is a composite of two separate clips. The two transcripts are listed below with their original times.

Video transcript #1:

00:00   Those who call for the rallies tomorrow KNOW there will be violence.
00:04   Therefore they bear their share of responsibility. Let that be clear.
00:08   At the beginning you could have said: “Yes, there were people who joined the group
00:11   and were vandalizing things, but it wasn’t us. We don’t support that.” Tomorrow, I’m telling you,
00:15   those who come to rally in the towns where violence has been announced
00:20   know that they will be accomplices of those rallies.

Video transcript #2:

00:00   Madame Le Pen, good day. —Good day. —Let’s start with the debate, because it seems it’s being
00:04   drowned by the backing of the mayor of [unintelligible]? —But it’s being drowned, first of all,
00:08   because it was launched under the aegis of a giant hypocrisy,
00:12   because the government explained many times
00:16   and especially through Mr. [Benjamin] Griveaux, Mr. [Bruno] Le Maire,
00:20   that anyways they won’t change and that they will continue and that the government line
00:24   has a good chance to radicalize. So in reality they just told us that
00:28   “We will organize a debate, but it’s absolutely no use, since we won’t take it into account.
00:32   First of all we will remove from this debate…” —There are thousands of mayors who will work.
00:36   This debate contains subjects which are a major preoccupations of the French people, and
00:40   I obviously think about immigration, and the government tells us: “Whatever happens,
00:45   not only will we not change our line of policy but we will accelerate [it],
00:49   speed up, ‘radicalize’ even — as M Griveaux said. It’s interesting, incidentally, this notion:
00:53   “radicalize the line of policies that we are implementing”. So it’s exactly like the debate
00:57   which was launched a couple of weeks ago, which wasn’t heard from ever again by anyone,
01:01   which was also, as a matter of fact, organized by the National Commission of Public Debate
01:05   about Europe, you remember? Launched after the speech
01:09   at the [University of] Sorbonne by Emmanuel Macron. It was a total flop,
01:13   nothing resulted from it whatsoever except for the Union
01:17   doing something extraordinary… —But there are the mayors who work, you have a field-generation
01:21   which is lead by the mayor of Poissy, Karl Olive,
01:25   who work, who have started the computers, started answers,
01:29   listings, transferred to the President of the Republic, transferred to the
01:33   President of the Senate… —So it’s over. There is no organized debate? But it’s incredible.
01:37   It’s a small initiative by 200 mayors, it’s not an initiative by several thousands.
01:41   Those are “cahiers de doléances” [grievance books, 1789 expression] which were opened in a
01:44   certain number of town halls. But those books of complaints were opened — incidentally, if you
01:48   know their history, I don’t know if it’s a very good idea for those in power.
01:52   Books of grievances generally end badly [at the guillotine]. But they are being opened
01:56   at the moment when ‘books of complaints’ are being expressed on the street.
02:01   For weeks and weeks. In reality they have been running after
02:05   social protests to which they [the rulers] don’t want to answer.
02:08   So they are trying to create conditions in order to try, in a way,
02:14   to dilute the expression of the demands
02:18   from the French people through the Yellow Vests, because they cannot give
02:22   answers to it. And they don’t want to give a political answer —
02:26   and, as a matter of fact, it’s the ONLY answer that the French people are really waiting for —
02:30   and when they [the politicians] don’t want to give
02:33   a political answer, in reality very often they bring a police answer.

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