One of the tools of Fascism is the outward display of symbols. The constant reminder of the identity and power of the state. The pomp and imagery of the Third Riech and their invention of modern propaganda techniques is a sterling example of this.
When France to the Germans in the early days of World War Two, it was divided into 2 zones and the Southern Zone was a French State that collaborated with the Germans.
It was ruled by Marshall Petain, an aging hero of World War One who was able to embody the fantasy that there was still an independant French State. Of course it was nothing of the sort, but the Germans allowed life to continue in Vichy France as long as it cooperated and they did..
When France fell, hundreds of thousands of French soldiers were taken prisoner. One of those soldiers was a young Francois Mitterand, who later went on to become the first post war Socialist President and was truly loved for the 12 years he ruled in the 1980's..
In the 1990's a book came out that spoke of his life during the war, a subject he had never publically commented on. There were photos of him with Marshall Petain and wearing a lapel pin that identified him as a supporter of the Vichy Government.
The book detailed his life as a functionary with the department that provided aid to French Soldiers imprisoned in Germany.
Mitterand had escaped and made it back to France and through his family connections got the post.
This knowlege was used to create a huge scandal. France was outraged that their beloved ex President had been a collaborationist. The opposition party created a huge wave of propaganda against Mitterand and tried to portray him as a Crypto-Nazi..
By this time, Francois Mitterand was dying of the cancer that would kill him, but he publically came forward and provided the details of the period of his life of which he hadn't spoken of. The details his friends kept quiet according to his wishes, but were easy to verify.
While Mitterand worked for Vichy as a valued functionary, he was recruited by the French Anti German Resistance. He was able to forge thousands of false papers for Jews and provide inside information to those on the outside fighting. He played the part well and wore his Vichy lapel pin!
In 1943, he disappeared and ended up under an assumed name in Algeria with General DeGaulle. Then his publically acknowleged history begins, as a coordinator of the Resistance in Paris and his heroic involvement of the Liberation of Paris.
But, to me, the way his past was used in an attempt to destroy him, using the outward display of political affiliation, which was a disguise, is very ironic in the context of America today and it's obsession with another Lapel Pin in an attempt to smear the patriotism of Barack Obama.