On the Defamatory Lynching of Eric Zemmour in the British Media | Oliver d’Astreville
When faced with the utter treachery of progressive intellectuals, there are times when one is tempted to go back to the old ways. Show up to their threshold, give them a slap with your glove and then hopefully grant them eternal peace from their nightmarish debility in a duel at the next daybreak. Peace would then return and one would tread home with the gratifying thought of having served mankind. But alas, the time of blood feuds is spent, and the resting lion who could once easily crush the hyenas troubling his sleep is now constrained to articulate his maw into words; explaining to them why it is uncourteous and inappropriate to come to his dwelling and trouble his sleep.
So be it. Let us contend defamation with apology, caricature with truth, and cede the arma to the togae; after all, we have no army at our disposal to cross the Rubicon.
An anglophile, and an admirer of Anglo-Saxon famed freedom of speech and liberalism, I must say I have been rather disappointed by how sententious the analysis of British and American newspapers of Mr Zemmour’s political position has been. After having observed now for two months or so the unceasing manhunt of the candidate by mainstream British media, I thought that one should not let this monochord blabber follow its course without a single objection. For example, let us take a look at this stereotypical leftist hit piece from The Guardian.
Written by what many would call an academic demigod, Didier Fassin, professor in anthropology at the Collège de France, one could have expected this article to be a dense synthesis of a profound analysis of French society and politics. How mighty was my astonishment when I found that the author’s main source regarding Zemmour’s ideas was one pamphlet from the junk information website Slate. I can easily guess that Professor Fassin never thought it worthy of his rank to listen to Mr Zemmour with his ears once in the past decade. Here is the only grounded and meaningful paragraph extractable from Professor Fassin’s article about Mr Zemmour:
“Indeed, he [Mr Zemmour] has said that parents should only be allowed to give their children ‘traditional’ French names, approvingly referred to people comparing Nazism with Islam, propagated the so-called ‘great replacement’ theory and argued that employers have a right to turn down black or Arab candidates. He believes that political power should belong to men and that women’s role should be to have and raise children. He has claimed to be on the side of General Bugeaud, who massacred Muslims during the colonisation of Algeria, has contended that Marshal Petain saved Jews during the second world war, and would like the death penalty to be reinstated. His overarching narrative is reversing France’s supposed national decline, which featured again in the video announcing his candidacy.”
Let us dissect these eight claims, in which the author restitutes eight of Zemmour views that he thinks should be problematic and let us try to display to the reasonable and discerning Anglo-Saxon reader how Zemmour’s real positions are not as grossly fascistic and vulgar as Professor Fassin wishes to make it seem.
1. “He has said that parents should only be allowed to give their children ‘traditional’ French names.”
Zemmour argues that the civility under which French citizens are recognised in the public space should be a French traditional first name. That is either from the calendar of Saints or prior traditions such as Greco-Latin history. Let us be clear, he does not speak of the use of a foreign name in private life. He does say that one’s ID and passport are not of the private but of the public domain, which is true.
Indeed, the elites of the now frighteningly multicultural city of London might be revolted by this proposal. These “enlightened divines”, as Burke would call them, would also be edified to know that this was a French law, passed by Napoleon. It was only repelled in 1993 when it was stated that parents had the right to freely choose their children’s names. Still to this date judges may forbid names that are judged disadvantageous to one’s future, such as: ‘Borat Miller’ or ‘Mr Bean Smith’. Anglo-American progressives are prompt to project their multicultural conceptions on France, but our histories differ.
At any rate, for most great societies until the twentieth century, the adaptation of foreign names or their outright changing, especially between Western nations, was the rule. In particular, virtually all French Jews between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, adopted French names as they were finally integrated into French society after centuries of rejection.
“We must give the Jews everything as individuals, but nothing as a nation” is a quote from the revolutionary nobleman Clermont-Tonnerre, often uttered by Zemmour, for it matches entirely his own family’s choices and trajectory, that of Jewish France. This cultural assimilation was the way of integrating migrants in France for the past 200 years, since the founding of the Republic and before.
2. “[Zemmour] approvingly referred to people comparing Nazism with Islam.”
Muslim people do not share this tradition of adapting names and they never have. After all, Muslims seldom moved to a country outside of the context of invasion and this wasn’t to change until the 20th century when Muslims immigrated to countries for other reasons. Like Judaism, Islam is a religion of law but even more so. Islam requires not only material compliance of its followers but sets a legal and political order of which they are a part. Thus, the historical distinctions of Muslim countries (Caliph, Sultan, Emir, Sheik) are both religious and feudal titles.
Islam also took from Christianity its universal purpose. Islam sought to establish a universal caliphate. But the lector knows of this, as recent history does not cease to recall us that fundamental difference.
In that aspect, Islam is of all religions the closest one to modern totalitarian ideologies, because it seeks to change every detail of private life in a codified manner, and seeks to bring about these changes universally, willingly or by legitimate force. In short, Islam seeks to transform the individual and the world in their totality.
Hitler himself was an admirer of Islamic values, and said, quoted by Albert Speer:
“Theirs [mahomedans] was a religion that believed in spreading the faith by the sword and subjugating all nations to their faith. The Germanic people would have become heirs to that religion. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament.”
The comparison of Islam and Nazism has at least this much relevance but, of course, it does not aim at saying that Muslims are Nazis, nor that Imams are Gestapo officers.
3. “[Zemmour] propagated the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory”
Here, there is no need even for discussion, let alone debate, but just for a brief word.
The ‘Great Replacement’ is but the junction of two simple facts. Firstly, contrary to America, which is based upon no ethnicity, France, as most nations or peoples in the Old World, is very much based upon ethnicity, although not limited by it. France emerged as a nation of people who had shared the same land, history, culture and even religion for 2000 years. In terms of ethnology, France is much closer to the Iroquoian confederation than to the USA. As General Charles De Gaulle famously said to an American diplomat telling him “I know France well, I have lived here for 10 years”, De Gaulle answered, “Well, we have for 2000 years!”
Now, the second idea is even more genuine: The fact that several hundred thousand migrants enter France each year, mainly from African and/or Muslim countries, and that the birthrate of women from these countries is on average twice that of white French women, mathematical law implies that there is a demographic landslide, or “Grand Remplacement” of “European” descendants. Whether it is desirable or not, whether it is even worth discussing, is a question begging to be answered.
So there isn’t anything for Mr Zemmour to propagate but a trivial collection of facts. Most of the people who are willing to vote for him would consider this a major issue independently of his candidacy. Someone ignorant of the ethnic change that France is going through was either in hibernation and has only just woken up, or a very biased leftist who would rather point out the risk of alien invasion than the risk of Islamisation.
4. “[He] argued that employers have a right to turn down black or Arab candidates.”
Zemmour indeed argues that it is an employer’s right to refuse or grant someone a position for any reason he should see fit, whether it is competence, character or skin colour. To discriminate is to choose. It is a most rational and simple argument: an employer is not a public service and refusing to give someone a job, lease him a car or a property cannot be earnestly considered as harm done to this person.
Let’s be clear, a crime committed for any reason related to race, sex, sexual orientation, colour, religion or even competence, regardless of the reason, is a crime and should be punished as such. But rejecting an application is not a crime. How could an act that is not a crime in itself, be called a crime once the intention underlying it is known? In the end, this is nothing but an impugnation of motives. Undoubtedly, society should in any way possible facilitate the life of those who suffer from objective physical and mental handicaps. I ask Professor Fassin and his Londoner friends: Is Muslim religion a mental illness? Is dark skin a physical handicap? Is sexual orientation an objective deficiency?
No, will they will inevitably answer, but it is perceived as such, and this law should be in effect until all prejudice has been removed from society. Should law have a curative purpose? Justice is absolute, and so are good and evil. Crime is a crime, regardless of the time and context. The circumstance may affect the gravity of it, but not the nature of the act. Therefore, by mindlessly stuffing everything they find disagreeable into the criminal category, the left yields to the reproach made to it by conservatives for two centuries: the progressive idea of justice a contingent one, they ultimately subscribe to sophism, that is believe in nothing except themselves.
The proof that recruitment discrimination cannot be called a crime or an offence, is that it is in practice undetectable. How do you prove that someone was hired or rejected based on their ethnicity rather than on their competence? In most cases, you cannot. How do you prove an organisation has a hiring bias? You have to organise tests, which is akin to pursuing a fly with a sledgehammer.
5. “He believes that political power should belong to men and that women’s role should be to have and raise children.’’
The French candidate says some qualities are more closely related to one or the other gender. He states that political power belongs by default to manhood. A clear example of this is the traditional virtue of virilitas so cherished by Republican Rome. For biological reasons, the functions of power, war, and political decision making were, for dozens of millennia, by default masculine functions. Those of education, housekeeping, cooking and, even I dare say, finance were by default feminine ones.
He is right. Of all the folks and communities of mankind ever known on this planet, there was never a single matriarchal society. Some societies are more matriarchal than others, but it is only relative and never absolute. Processor Fassin knows this perfectly well, for he is himself an anthropologist, and in order to disagree with Mr Zemmour, he would have to go against the scientific consensus in his own field.
This again should not be an inspiration for fixed laws in a Republic founded upon the principle of equality between individuals regardless of their sex, and it would be absurd for a patriot of the nation of Joan of Arc to try and relegate women to the household. But that it is not in any way part of Zemmour’s agenda, even by extrapolation.
6. “He has claimed to be on the side of General Bugeaud, who massacred Muslims during the colonisation of Algeria.”
None will disagree that the massacre of innocents can be excused or even explained. But then again, this is not what Zemmour did: Zemmour lauded a military man’s uncompromising patriotism. He did not excuse this particular command of Bugeaud to suffocate an entire tribe into the cave where they had taken refuge.
Being coherent with my own words, I believe that statues of General Lee should not be taken down in the US, because despite fighting for an evil cause, he was still a great military leader, a patriot, and even freed slaves that he should have received has inheritance, before the war. Alas, few heroes of American, French or British history were saints, and fewer even by modern standards of sanctity. If Lee is taken down, how long before Nelson, Napoleon, Churchill and De Gaulle receive the same fate?
To remind Anglo-Saxon readers of the historical context, one of the casuum belli of the French conquest of Algeria from 1830 onwards was to put an end to slave raids that had plagued the Mediterranean for a millennium. And this was far from being a pretext, as some historians like to put it. When the French expedition took Algiers it immediately freed several hundreds of French slaves – thousands of European slaves altogether. This excuses nothing but explains how the struggle between the Western and Muslim worlds is not a recent, superficial or arbitrary one, and how the situation cannot be naively diagnosed in all abstraction of history.
7. “[Zemmour] has contended that Marshal Pétain saved Jews.”
Marshal Pétain and the regime of Vichy generally speaking – despite being regimes founded upon the treason of the French nation, forsaking the alliance with Britain, and collaboration with Nazi Germany – spared France from total defeat. Fighting to the end would have meant that the whole of France would have been conquered and placed under direct German governance, like Poland, Czechia or Greece. One knows that in the latter countries, the proportion of Jews who died in the Holocaust reached 90%, in the case of Greece or the Netherlands. In France, it was around 10%. Vichy leaders still instinctively rejected Nazi racist axioms. In France, in Italy, in Spain, Jews undeniably found a better shelter from hatred and deportation than under direct German rule.
This does not mean that Mr Zemmour ignores the existence of the Vel d’Hiv deportation, of the Lois Juives, or of the militia’s massacres, and general servility of Vichy towards Germany. He acknowledged it and maintained his position all the same.
Be that as it may, this historical thesis was not at all invented by him. It was generally accepted in France, even defended by Jewish and Israeli historians, until the publication of Robert Paxton’s book Vichy France which condemned Vichy as altogether evil. Recently, an Israeli historian has published sources that demonstrate the active role of Vichy in attempting to protect French citizens, regardless of their religion, from the Gestapo and the SS.
I think that Pétain was a traitor to France, but history is complex. This matter is still an area of academic debate, and I believe it will forever remain a matter of opinion. Only the party that wants to censor the other one will truly be wrong.
8. “[He] would like the death penalty to be reinstated.”
One can reasonably disagree with Mr Zemmour, and join the liberals who believe, like Victor Hugo, that “Vengeance is human, Justice is divine. The State is in between, its role is to heal, to better the men.”
Nevertheless, support for the re-establishment of capital punishment is widespread among French people. Some months ago, the Rwandese refugee who burned the cathedral of Nantes, that had been left to roam about by the police because “He was not subject to detention under European laws of asylum” said the French interior Minister Darmanin, eventually found the primary target of his arson, the vicar of the cathedral, and stabbed him to death, in the Vendée. Most of the perpetrators of the past ten years were known to be dangerous by the intelligence services but were still left free because of lack of space in prisons or EU legal restrictions.
But there again, Mr Zemmour’s support for the death penalty is anecdotical in the greater picture of his battles and it is certainly not something he would have the leisure and popularity margin to reinstate if he managed to beat Le Pen and Macron.
As a way of conclusion, I will say that it matters greatly for foreign conservatives or reactionaries to understand their French comrades and comprehend the hope we put in Mr Zemmour. For every new decay brought by progressivism in any one of our nations inevitably ends up plaguing the other ones, and we have a common interest in vanquishing deconstructivism in the West as a whole. One could not forget how the French theory (it is a shame in itself that such devilry should be characterised as French) crept from the intellectual boroughs of Paris, insidiously wrecking itself on the shores of New England, and eventually mutated into the notorious, dreadful and destructive cancel culture that scourges our time.
The fact that a member of the Collège de France, pretty much the equivalent of Cambridge Trinity College in England, should write a derogatory article about a French presidential candidate in the British media demonstrates what is wrong with France’s establishment. The establishment of my country lives in an enclosed penthouse, more concerned about what foreign elites think of them than about what their own people think about them. Sound familiar?
Where their fate might be worse than that of Britain’s establishment, is that their minds and their logos are colonised by Anglo-Saxon structures, and they play the role of New-England progressives more readily than that of French scholars. Professor Fassin is probably eminent in his field, but in this particular case, he blatantly used his position and network at The Guardian to cast a stone at My Zemmour, because of political enmity. Even in the case that The Guardian did ask him for his contribution, he could have passed, quite obviously not being an expert in the matter.
I will also indulge in begging The Guardian, or any British media outlet, that if they should wonder about Mr Zemmour’s views they should simply ask him directly and let Professor Fassin return to his studies, by which he is certainly much beguiled so that he has no spare time to come down from Mount St Genevieve and seek quarrel in the political arena.
One last sting: The Guardian seems to gather and spread information about France only through those with whom they are in ideological communion; the same way that the American or Soviets informed themselves about the countries they invaded or ‘freed’, only with the local communists, pro-West or Shia Muslims. I think I am fair to call this a colonial method.