The Z.

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Date: Nov. 2021
Publisher: Institute on Religion and Public Life
Document Type: Letter to the editor
Length: 1,467 words
Lexile Measure: 1480L

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AS A LIFELONG Francophile, I was delighted to read Nathan Pinkoski's article on Eric Zemmour ("France's Most Controversial Man," August/ September). Our Anglo-centric world is so accustomed to seeing its hereditary bete-noire Bonaparte as dictator/emperor that we have a hard time realizing that in France he is seen as having consolidated the changes of the French Revolution (thus several of the massive multi-volume histories of the French Revolution from the nineteenth century). Napoleon himself may have been, as Tocqueville put it, "as great a man as there could be without virtue," but the subsequent Bonapartist political tradition produced a gigantic pro-nationalist, center-left alliance that has had a mostly positive effect on French politics (his nephew's doomed reign notwithstanding). Jacques Bainville explained the recurrent period revolutions in France since 1789 very simply: Each newly arrived generation of bourgeoisie feels a bit guilty for its success and, in the liberality of its nostalgie de la boue, offers keys to its house to the ravenous underclasses that would destroy it.

How familiar our situation today would seem to him, with our middle classes' fawning obeisance to the thuggery, utopian lunacy, and, yes, racism of the BFM movement. Pinkoski correctly intuits that the probable current salvation of France may depend on the person (or ideas) of a left-leaning centrist figure such as Zemmour because the right, in France, will always be tainted with anti-Semitic associations by the media and the bien-pensants, just as the same parties in America have succeeded in staining conservatives as racists. (Their perverse but successful misreading of Trump's Charlottesville remarks ensured this.) Implicit in Pinkoski's summation is the hint that our situation may be worse than that in France because there is virtually no ground left for a patriotic center-left in this country. This was proven to me when the Democrats failed to notice a person appearing early in their 2016 debates who was, in my view, the greatest presidential candidate their party had produced for over fifty years, namely, Jim Webb. Former senator, Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam War hero (the Navy Cross, one Silver and two Bronze Stars), and successful author, Webb's platform of bringing jobs and soldiers back home was remarkably similar...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A680569017