As early as 1972, US historian Robert Paxton’s research on "Vichy France" established, without the slightest ambiguity, the inexcusable role played by the Vichy regime in the persecution and deportation of French Jews. Eric Zemmour's provocative remarks in favor of the Pétain regime are chiefly intended to clear him of all suspicion in the eyes of his potential voters. It is his obsession with Islam however that is at the core of his doctrine, particularly relying on the "great replacement" thesis, an Islamophobic and white nationalist conspiracy theory.
Sense of humiliation
If there ever was a "great replacement" underway, which is far from certain, it is not the one Zemmour speaks of. The only "replacement" we are facing today is not the product of France's apparent "submission" to the rise of Islamism. Rather, it is the product of the relative decline of the West in the face of Asia, and in particular China. As it is too often the case, Zemmour’s analysis suffers from a gap between instinctive fear and reflective fear.
In France, the politics of reason will eventually prevail over those of anger and outrage. Barring any exceptional circumstances, such as a major scandal out of nowhere, the incumbent President is likely to hold onto power for a second term. This is already a small victory in the recent history of the Fifth Republic since 1958.
However, the image that France is currently projecting to the world is troubling. The country must be in a very dire state to gather more than 15% in voting intentions for a political agenda based on fear and hatred, led by a candidate guided by a feeling of humiliation and a personal desire for revenge.
To counter the dangerous blend of manipulation and cynicism carried by Zemmour’s skillful provocations, only two solutions remain: impassioned moderation and ethical common sense. This requires firmness and clarity. It is not Islamism that constitutes the main threat for France, but an "American-style" evolution towards the extreme polarization of our society.
Courtesy of Les Echos (published on 05/11/2021).
Copyright: Ludovic MARIN / AFP
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