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French Presidential Candidate’s Controversial Xmas Message Is Inspiring the American Right

French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour gave a Christmas speech that excited some on the American right.

SO WHAT

Zemmour is the new “it” guy among U.S. populist nationalists.

THE SPEECH

A bestselling French author and media personality, Zemmour delivered a solstitial ode to Western civilization.

“The night of Christmas Eve begins the celebration of a civilization — ours  — that has enlightened human history. A civilization that believes man is absolutely free, whatever his birth, his past, his environment, his path,” Zemmour said in the campaign video.

  • “A civilization that believes man is absolutely free, whatever his birth, his past, his environment, his path.”

THE REACTION

On the right: Zemmour’s Christmas speech resonated with “new right” figures, such as The American Conservative senior editor Rod Dreher.

“Can you think of a single American politician capable of giving a speech like this?” Dreher wrote. “Can you think of a single American politician of the Right who has the courage to risk the wrath of the media by giving a speech like this at Christmas?”

  • “Will a brave French Jew be the leader to save the Christian West?” tweeted Steve Cortes, a self-described “American nationalist” and ally of former Trump aide Steve Bannon.

THE DEBATE

U.S. nationalists in the know were eagerly watching Zemmour’s rise for years prior to his campaign launch early last month.

  • The biggest polemical gun of the Right is Éric Zemmour, author of Le Suicide Français, for many months the bestselling book in France,” wrote Scott McConnell, The American Conservative founding editor, in 2019.
  • “He is a Jew whose refugee parents fled Algeria, a man who likely knows more French history than anyone else who appears on the country’s airwaves. He has knack for going up to the edge of what is considered acceptable discourse.”

From the left: Despite Zemmour’s Algerian Jewish background and polished presentation, he has been widely condemned on the American left as another racist European nationalist.

  • The New York Review of Books columnist James McAuley recently called Zemmour a “professional provocateur” and “a virulent Islamophobe” and concluded, “the far-right French presidential candidate offers a crude exaggeration of what many in France believe but few dare to admit.”

BACK IN FRANCE

Zemmour has been repeatedly investigated, and twice convicted, for incendiary remarks about immigration and Islam, which he has argued is incompatible with French values.

But, even if Zemmour loses the presidential election, he has contributed to France’s rightward drift.

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