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Thursday, February 14, 2019

France Has Its Critics and Prophets

For John, BLUFHere is a rundown on one of the "right wing" pundits in France.  France is a little unsettled at this time, which is probably not good, especially if the centre does not hold.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

The pop historian Eric Zemmour has fashioned himself as an evangelist of French culture — and become a driving force for French conservatism.

From the Old Gray Lady, By Ms Elisabeth Zerofsky, 6 February 2019.

Here is the lede plus three:

To follow Éric Zemmour around Paris this fall was to make a tour of the city’s slightly faded belle epoque salons.  In September, after his latest book, “French Destiny,” was published, Le Figaro, France’s center-right daily paper, where Zemmour is a columnist, hosted a talk at the Salle Gaveau.  A 1906 chamber-music hall, painted pale yellow and lined with parterre boxes, it is just two blocks from the presidential palace.  “I’m not going to introduce Éric Zemmour,” his presenter told the sold-out hall, noting that you would have to live at the very edge of the universe to escape him.

“I’m always intimidated when someone says something nice about me,” Zemmour replied.  “It happens pretty rarely.”

At 60, Zemmour is slight, with thinning hair and a spry energy.  In a normal week, he might be a guest on morning radio, discuss the death of Gaullism on his Wednesday-evening talk show and publish a column on the genius of the French language.  But when he releases a book — he has written three since 2014 — his frequent speaking engagements mean additional opportunities to expound on his preferred topics: the historical curtailment of French dominance and the elites who have destroyed what remains of French identity.  All this time in front of the public increases the chance that he will do what he is best known for:  defy the still-robust codes of French politesse. “I have the great fault of being unable to concede,” Zemmour says.  “I’m not glorifying being this way. I just can’t help it.”  It is a trait that ensures not only that Zemmour is to be found everywhere, talking, but also that everyone, everywhere, is talking about him.

In the lobby, before the evening’s program, Zemmour’s colleagues were chattering about his latest clash, the so-called affaire des prénoms.  On a talk show the previous Sunday, Zemmour went on a riff about the importance of a first name in signaling Frenchness, a longstanding obsession of his.  (In 2009, he publicly castigated the minister of justice, Rachida Dati, for naming her daughter Zohra.)  Zemmour concluded by informing one of the panelists, a young journalist with Senegalese roots named Hapsatou Sy, that her mother was wrong not to give her a French name — say, Corinne — to show that their family was dedicated to the task of assimilating.  Everyone laughed, but the producers cut the cameras and the conversation continued offscreen, where Zemmour told Sy that her name was “an insult” to France.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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