The gunshot suicide of an extreme right wing ideologue inside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris Friday is an incident Koreans should ponder on at a time when officials of Japan`s Shinzo Abe administration are making a series of comments that distort history.
Dominique Venner, a French historian, essayist and journalist who was a longtime militant of the far right, shot himself after laying a letter on the altar at the cathedral that contained a protest against gay marriage and Muslim inflow into France. The French media said Venner`s suicide brings to mind the ritual suicide of Yukio Mishima (pen name Kimitake Hiraoka), a radical Japanese author who was once considered candidate for Nobel Prize. One French publisher said Venner was preparing a book called "A Western Samurai," adding that his death has a strong symbolic power that approximates Mishima.
At age 45 when his life as author was in peak, Mishima killed himself in a samurai-style disembowelment after making an unsuccessful plea to the Self-Defense Forces to take action to shake off the constitutional constraints on them and re-establish the prewar spiritual virtues of self-sacrifice for the Emperor. An actor-turned activist, Mishima graduated from law department in Tokyo University and worked as an official at the Finance Ministry.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French right wing politician and founder and former president of the Front National party, ran for French presidential candidacy in 2002 when he came second by polling more votes than a main opposition Social Party candidate. Left wing groups protested in response calling for voting right wing candidate Jacque Chirac. Some people take this case in explaining France`s political variety and soundness. But extreme right wing activists are not a problem when things are going well.
The recent rise of extreme right wings in Europe is a by-product of the crisis of once well-off countries. Germany is mired in remnants of Nazi regime, Greece is in economic crisis, French people have abandoned hope on the incompetent left-wing government, and Austria and the Netherlands are also in a difficult situation.
Extreme right wing will only get more boosts if European economy suffers more. Media polls show that the incumbent French President Francois Hollande who suffers the lowest support rate since World War II will lose not only to former President Nicolas Sarkozy but also to Le Pen if presidential election is carried out now. The reason French Interior Minister Manuel Valls enjoys top popularity rate among French government officials is due to his measures for public peace and right wing movements in various social issues.
Many Europeans appear to put a taboo on extreme right wing but in fact agree to its logic. Young people in Europe, despite record jobless rate, say they will rather beg for money in streets than earn unpleasant jobs such as garbage collectors or construction workers. They say such jobs are for immigrants and illegal aliens coming from Africa and Middle East. At the same time, however, they support the government`s immigrant reduction policies saying giving them benefits from taxes is a loss to the nation. At last year`s presidential election, candidate Le Pen got a 17.9 percent vote rate, the highest rate for the Front National Party since its foundation in 1972. If extreme right wing people who voted for Sarkozy are included, the voting rate would exceed 20 percent. Front National party`s biggest supporters are younger people.
Furthermore, extreme right wing camps closely support with the religious sector on homosexual marriage issue. Posts to articles on Venner`s suicide rarely had criticism against his past extreme right wing activities and his anti-Catholic action of killing himself at the nation`s key cathedral.
Extreme right wing movements are typically an issue for wealthy countries. Conflict is rising among social and income classes even in a region that had traditionally allowed classes based on individualism. And this is coupled with other crisis factors such as conflict with foreign immigrants, economic recession and unemployment.
In Korea, discrimination issues amid surging foreign workers and rising number of children at multicultural families, as well as homosexual matters are only set to rise further. If the economy worsens, it is quite worrisome that Korea may also see cases of extreme right wing activists killing him or herself.