The French political blog ¡No pasarán! (http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/) aims to provide an alternative voice to mainstream media. The blog is published in English and French and focuses on current political issues in France and also “anti-americanism” (eriksvane.com). One of the main contributors to the website, Erik Svane, decribes the weblog as, “The weblog that dares to go beyond 'ideas' and 'opinions' to see what lies hidden beneath, specifically anti-Americanism” (www.eriksvane.com) The blog was nominated for the Best European Blog of 2008 and came in second (http://2008.weblogawards.org/polls/best-european-blog).
The title ¡No pasarán! is important because of what it is implyling. In English it translates to “They Shall Not Pass”, or in French, “ On ne passe pas”. The French translation is pictured below in a World War I French progoganda poster and on a medal from the French Battle of Verdun. The slogan has been used in other instances, including the Spanish Civil War and famously in The Lord of the Rings by Gandalf who said “You shall not pass!”, which was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, a World War I veteran. (They Shall Not Pass). The literary and historical alliterations imply that the blog is aiming to defend itself heroically against some forgein enemy. Normally, the the one chanting the slogan is defending itself against a physical enemeny, but for the case of the blog, it seems to be against mainstream media.
Blogging is one of the newest forms of media and has led to a shift in power in how news is covered and who gets to cover it. Before the creation of the blogosphere, large corporations has near complete control over which stories would be circulated to the masses. Blogs have altered the balance of power because of the low barrier to entry, and have shown that they can have the same impact as traditional media sources through instances like the 2002 Trent Lott comments where, “The mainstream media was initially blind to his [Lott’s] remarks perhaps because it is used to such comments. But the “blogosphere” – websites of opinion and news, first known as weblogs – denounced the remarks vigorously, and would not let up, finally forcing others to take notice” (Drezner). Blogs and newspapers seem very similar because they often cover the same store and rely mainly on the use of text and images. The main difference between a blog and something like the Le Monde is the expectation of how the content will be presented. Le Monde, and similarly professional papers, are expected to have a more professional and reserved style while a blog can have a more colloquial or even ad hoc style, something that ¡No pasarán! takes advantage of.
¡No pasarán! often covers the same current events found in more mainstream media, but it also sometimes covers how the mainstream media is convering an event. During the banlieue riots in 2005, Jean-Claude Dassier, a TV network executive, admitted to censoring riot coverage so that right-wingers would not use the riots as political fuel for their agendas (Cozens). ¡No pasarán! writer Erik Svane responded by saying, ” Let us be generous for a moment and not call this flagrant censorship (even when media bigwigs turn off their comments section, so as not to show dissenting opinions — running 10-1 against the rioters — to the overriding "correct" thought of hand-wringing compassion with humiliated French youth)” (¡No pasarán!). This exemplifies a common action for the website, which is to take someone covered in the mass media, and show how it is bias.
¡No pasarán! also takes advantage of liberity that a blogger has to use language for effect when, after Bush was reelected in 2004, “In yesterday's
Libération PropagandaStaffel, French demography specialist Emmanuel Todd expresses his hatred of Americans and their electoral process. A few morsels that were let loose by Todd's raging sphincter” (¡No pasarán!). In many of the articles on the website, the name of a media outlet, Liberation in this case, will be crossed out and replaced with what the blog considers a more appropriate name. This post was from 2004, and since then the frequent use of vulgar language has become increasingly rare, but the points that the authors try to make are still equally critical. In response to the recent US Travel Alert for Europe and the criticism that then came from the EU for the alert, No pasarán! posted, “Eight Germans and two British brothers are at the heart of the al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities”. The blog avoids ranting and normally will quote another news source, and then point out the flaw in the argument presented by that news source and leave the reader to come to his/her own conclusion. The blog will often respond to political cartoons like this one, which it said that socialists were using the same cliché cartoon about capitalism being behind all the problems.
No pasarán! also focuses on pointing out media hipocracies, double standards, or inconsistancies. For example, Youtube pulled the video “We Con the World”, a video parody which shows Palestinians describing how they have tricked the world into believing their cause, but did not pull a French parody video produced by Canal + entitled “We Fuck the World” and featured members of the Bush administration singing. There is a clear right-wing bias on the blog, exemplified by posts during the 2008 Presidential Campaign which attempted to point out fallacies about Obama, or hipocritical statements he had made.
While there are many right-wing blogs in America, this blog is different because it focuses on defending American decisions from European attacks. The goal is clear because because the website is published also in French, and based in Paris. As the blog has gained popularity it has become more cautious not to sound like a rant, as it did in earlier posts, but still manages to maintain a tone that separates it from traditional media sources and continues to criticize large media outlet for their inconsistancies and biast.
Drezner, Daniel W., and Henry Farrell. "The Power and Politics of Blogs."(2004) 10 Oct. 2010
"They Shall Not Pass." 10 Oct. 2010. Wikipedia.
Cozens, Claire. "French TV Boss Admits Censoring Riot Coverage." guardian.co.uk 11 Oct. 2010.
“¡No pasarán!”. www.no-pasaran.blogspot.com/
“We Con the World.” 11 Oct 2010. Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOGG_osOoVg