European and US news outlets, including BBC News are reporting that famous French film star, Brigitte Bardot (now 73, but a legend in the 1960s-1970s), has been fined yet again by a French court for violating laws against writing and speaking in ways that attack racial groups. The BBC reports that she was fined for
inciting racial hatred. She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were “destroying our country by imposing their ways.” It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. The fine – equivalent to $23,000 – related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
As a prominent animal rights activist, she has also allied herself with those who vigorously oppose the Muslim immigrants to France:
She said she was “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”
In 2004, again according to BBC News, she was fined substantially for what was terms a “race hate” book, her book A Cry in Silence:
The charges against Bardot, 69, related to her best-seller, A Cry In The Silence, in which she said she “opposed the Islamisation of France.” Last month the former actress apologised in court, and said: “I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody.” In her book she wrote about issues such as racial mixing, immigration, the role of women in politics and Islam. The book also contained a section attacking what she called the mixing of genes and praised previous generations who, she said, had given their lives to push out invaders.
For her anti-immigrant and anti-gene-mixing writings, she angered French anti-racism groups, and they started legal proceedings against her. She lost and the court ruled that:
“Madame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them.” It awarded a symbolic one euro in damages to France’s anti-racism movement MRAP and to the League for Human Rights who brought the case to court. The court also ordered a 5,000 euro fine against the head of Bardot’s publishing house, Le Rocher, and ordered both to pay for advertisements in two newspapers announcing their convictions.
Reports note too that her husband is Bernard d’Ormal, who has been an adviser to the French racist-extremist group, the “Front National” party.
Anti-Muslim racist framing by this political party and by prominent whites like Bardot has spread rapidly across European countries and is also quite strong on the racist right in the United States, as a quick look at numerous arch-conservative US websites will reveal. With some types of racism being forced, at least to some modest degree, backstage among whites, it seems that those who wish to can more openly attack Muslims and Africans in Europe and Latin Americans in the US, especially the impoverished immigrants. In the United States Bardot could continue such racist commentaries with no fear of punishment, since we allow very harmful racist stuff perpetrated by those at the top of the racial hierarchy to hide behind extreme absolutist interpretations of the First Amendment in the United States. We have criticized this absolutist defense of racist speech by powerful whites here before, and Bardot’s case shows what some countries with more advanced human rights laws than our relatively backward country can do to at least reduce overt hate speech by those with power who are targeting those who are relatively powerless.