'Targeting golfers in France as a threat in class war is ludicrous'

Stigmatising certain groups for political gain is nothing new, says commentator Nabila Ramdani

Mathilde Panot (inset) president of the ultra-left La France Insoumise party was criticised for connecting golfers and racists

Radicals in modern France traditionally portrayed royalty and their aristocratic hangers-on as the ultimate hate-figures.

The monarchical set was viewed as a pampered elite with too much money, property and free time.

The way members of the ancien régime used Church and State to solidify their positions, and a vast army to repress and control, made them even more despised, and huge crowds took to the streets to express their dissent.

The result of all this boiling anger was, of course, the 1789 Revolution.

The guillotine pretty much wiped out nobles in France

Anyone who so much as looked like a toff was arrested and faced prison or death. They might initially be identified by their flamboyant clothes, or the way they spoke, and their fates were soon sealed.

The most gruesome executions were carried out by the so-called ‘national razor’ – the nickname for the guillotine that separated noble heads from their bodies in an instant, normally with cheering crowds looking on.

Since the bloodletting of the initial uprising, the Terror that followed and subsequent revolutions, royals have pretty much been wiped out in France.

Read more: ‘While the world mocks the British Royal Family, France remains loyal’

Golfers singled out as next threat in France’s class war

This has by no means pacified the radicals completely, however. Some remain as angry as ever, and they are determined to pinpoint ideological enemies at every opportunity.

According to Mathilde Panot, the very high-profile president of the ultra-left La France Insoumise party (France Unbowed, LFI), an easily identifiable foe in the class war are golfers.

And ludicrous as it might sound, Ms Panot’s view of those who enjoy the sport is shared by many like her. They blame the modern game for destroying the countryside.

Golf courses do not just ruin traditional rural settings but cause huge environmental damage, especially because greens need so much water, they argue.

Far-left made connection between racists and golfers

Golfers are by definition very rich, it is also claimed, because they can afford all those clubs, a car to carry them, and often extortionate course fees.

Add the rising cost of brightly coloured leisurewear, and the free time needed to play such a long game, and only an entitled minority are going to be interested.

Worse than that, say the snarling critics, all this privilege naturally transforms into snobbery, and indeed bigotry, so that golfers eventually become extremely prejudiced right-wingers.

Ms Panot even made a connection between “racists and golfers” in a bid to mobilise voters, causing extreme anger among golf associations.

An Olympic committee statement attacked “unacceptable claims, unworthy of political debate in a democracy, which equate golfers and racists.”

Read more: ‘Macron wants higher birth rate - of the right kind of French babies’

Radicals frequently pick the wrong enemies to stir up hatred

In fact, the 600,000-plus people who play golf regularly in France come from all kinds of backgrounds.

Many of them are retirees who can play until well into their 80s. They enjoy it as low-impact physical exercise that is also extremely sociable.

More youngsters are being drawn to golf too, especially as there will be tournaments at the Paris 2024 Olympics – the greatest sporting extravaganza on earth, and one that, like France itself, is meant to be devoted to egalitarianism.

The truth is that radicals frequently pick the wrong enemies, focusing on perfectly reasonable people, in a bid to stir up anger, hatred and worse.

Many films and books give the impression that only rich royals were killed during the Revolution, but in fact thousands of ordinary people suffered the same fate as the random violence mushroomed.

This is what happens when you try to stigmatise specific groups, and why such unpleasant tactics should be avoided at all costs.

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