Eric Zenmour is a French journalist and pundit who captured the attention of the French body politic by announcing his candidacy for president with a bang…simply reading a famous speech by Charles De Gaulle.
My dear Countrymen— For years, the same feeling has swept you along, oppressed you, shamed you: a strange and penetrating feeling of dispossession. You walk down the streets in your towns, and you don’t recognize them.
You look at your screens and they speak to you in a language that is strange, and in the end foreign. You turn your eyes and ears to advertisements, TV series, football matches, films, live performances, songs, and the schoolbooks of your children.
You take the subways and trains. You go to train stations and airports. You wait for your sons and your daughters outside their school. You take your mother to the emergency room. You stand in line at the post office or the employment agency. You wait at a police station or a courthouse. And you have the impression that you are no longer in a country that you know.
It’s well worth a read, mostly because the media will portray it as a xenophobic, racist, classist, sexist, anti-Semitic rant against the modern world.
But it isn’t. Recognizing that the glories of France are being subsumed into a chaotic mix of the rest of the world is not hatred of the foreign…it is a recognition that the accomplishments of a significant culture are worth preserving. Zenmour is blunt, and he is a firm adherent of the classically French snobbery about their culture and their country. It is easy to fall into the lazy assumption that he hates, but the reality is a bit more complex. For instance, he has been accused of anti-Semitism by some of the leaders of French Jewry, but that is laughable, since his entire political philosophy is based on the glory of France rather than the glorification of its many ethnic groups.
Even Daniel Pipes — who is a fine example of an academic mind without much common sense — understands Zenmour’s importance.
What to make of Éric Zemmour, the just-declared candidate for president in France in 2022? His last name in Arabic means, perhaps suitably for an intellectual, honking, as what geese and car horns do.* His parents fled Algeria and he openly identifies as a Jew but presents himself as the representative of traditional Catholic Deep France and the scourge of immigrants and Islam. He adopts positions on Jewish issues so extreme that France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia called him an antisemite. He’s been twice found guilty of hate speech and wears these condemnations proudly. His anti-feminist positions are antediluvian. He’s pro-Russian and anti-American.
* Dec. 2, 2021 addenda: (1) Two readers inform me that the name زمور is actually Berber and means olive tree.
But Pipes goes on to say:
Despite my many criticisms, large and small, of Zemmour, I would vote for him were I a French citizen. That’s because he grasps an essential truth, that France faces a scourge from immigration, that the country needs more babies, and that the elements which made France great are in peril of being overwhelmed by alien cultures. He speaks these realities eloquently and fearlessly, hoping thereby to revive a country that otherwise is heading toward a self-imposed crisis.
I doubt he will win, but the fact that his message is being taken seriously, or at the very least being reported far and wide, is a testament to the pent-up demand for love of country, for patriotism, for pride in culture.
It is long past time when the glory of Western culture is taken seriously rather than constantly denigrated as an anachronism in the modern world. It is odd that all other cultures are celebrated, but the most successful one; the one that has brought the world most of its wonders, is mocked and minimized and demonized.
Thomas Hobbes described the natural state of mankind as, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Western culture, in which France had a significant role, banished that life. It is by no means guaranteed that it will not return, and Zenmour understands that very well.