Nicolas Anelka did us all a great service. Scoring a goal in the West Bromwich Albion uniform, the French striker showed the whole world the "quenelle" gesture, which consists of pointing a flat hand at the ground while folding the other hand across the chest. Were it not for the eyebrow-raising recrudescence of anti-Semitism in Europe, we probably would have thought that Anelka and his asinine use of the revolting gesture were simply ridiculous, as if he was going out of his way tell the world, "Hey! Look how stupid I am!" But in truth, that foul gesture actually symbolizes hatred, ill will and, mainly, anti-Semitism. In the very Europe where, in the shadow of that salute, millions of victims were led to their deaths, the gesture has returned again, this time turned inside out, back to blot out our memories.
The moron Anelka deserves our gratitude because, thanks to his comments, he led us back to the source of the salute. Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, the French comedian who wrought his anti-Semitism into something tangible, is the craftsman responsible for that gesture. And, utilizing his multiple court convictions, Dieudonné has also managed to craft for himself the image of a victim.
Unlike his protege Anelka, Dieudonné is actually dangerous. Four times a week, at the theater in Paris' 11th arrondissement, he puts on his one-man show entitled "The Wall." The auditorium is packed and the audience is laughing. Throughout the show, he airs every anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-colonialist and anti-American sentiment -- everything for the price of one ticket. Dieudonné, in the guise of a comedian, exhorts to Jew-hatred. If only he'd been born before World War II (not to mention been born white), Dieudonné would have certainly been offered a senior position under Joseph Goebbels, or at least a top job in the Vichy government.
But, unfortunately for Dieudonné, he lives in the era of French President François Hollande, who, along with Interior Minister Manuel Valls, redeemed republican dignity. France has rejected and retched up Dieudonné. Valls has gone for Dieudonné's livelihood, deriding his "abominable anti-Semitic expressions ... directed at Jews, and his utter disregard for the memory of Holocaust victims." Former Prime Minister and Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé canceled his shows in the city. Additional cities are set to follow suit.
Dieudonné has visited Iran several times over the last few years. During his third visit in 2012, Dieudonné regaled audiences with tales of his meeting with the "impressive" erstwhile Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran was good to Dieudonné. "I'm surrounded by friends and I can talk freely, because there's freedom of expression here, unlike in France," he explained.
The expressions goes, "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are." In Dieudonné's case, that isn't even necessary. Perhaps Anelka created a real problem for Dieudonné. Iran is funding his latest film. Today, in the era of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's smiles, Dieudonné may have gotten himself into quite a bind.