Éric Zemmour and the Revenge of Vichy
The French celebrity journalist and far-right firebrand is roiling the 2022 presidential election campaign, even without announcing his candidacy. Although Zemmour's worldview has typified French reactionary thinking since 1789 and animated the pro-Nazi Vichy regime, the fact that he is a Sephardic Jew is not as odd as it may seem.
NEW YORK – The French journalist, television celebrity, and possible presidential candidate Éric Zemmour is having great success with his extreme reactionary views. Zemmour has suggested that Muslims must choose between their religion and France, that the deportation of Muslim immigrants is feasible, and that non-French first names should be banned. He hates “cosmopolitans” and believes that liberalism is destroying French family life.
Zemmour has been sentenced twice already for racial discrimination and inciting hatred. His book, The French Suicide, published in 2014, sold more than a half-million copies in France. Polls suggest that he might get as much as 16% of the vote in next year’s presidential election.
Zemmour’s way of thinking stems from a tradition going back to the French Revolution of 1789. Catholic conservatives and right-wing intellectuals, who hated the secular republic that emerged from the revolution, have long fulminated against liberals, cosmopolitans, immigrants, and other enemies of their idea of a society based on ethnic purity, obedience to the church, and family values. They were almost invariably anti-Semitic. When Jewish army Captain Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused of betraying his country in the notorious scandal of the 1890s, they were on the side of Dreyfus’s accusers