France was in the news because the country’s top tennis player, Gaël Monfils (world rank no. 21), reached the final at Adelaide in a run-up tournament for the Australian Open, a good start for one of the most talented and fun-to-watch players on the tour. On the same day, Eric Zemmour’s presidential campaign made a pitch for the Catholic vote in the Vendée.
The ordinary person assumes that Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France, but as in most things theological (as in most things legal) there is room to disagree. Saint Denis is important, as patron saint of Paris, and Mary mother of Jesus should be on the A team, since she inspired a devotion in the 12th century, known as Maryology, that is a key to French, and thereby Western, civilization. No Maryology, no courtly love, no correct and proper deference to women, no troubadours, no grand cathedrals, no mixed doubles.
Maryology alone makes Catholicism a good choice, erasing the pederasty and the financial scandals and the abandonment of the Latin mass. Humans are fallen, but the rock stands and the Virgin protects.
Still, I would defer to the experts; TAS is, after all, one of the last of the orthodox Roman voices and who am I to offer an outsider’s opinion. But while awaiting the party line from Messrs. Neumayr and Kengor and Omolesky, or one of those old school priests with whom Mr. Tyrrell sips rye whiskey, I noticed it was a statue of Saint Michael whom Eric Zemmour championed the other day at Sables-d’Olonne, a coastal village in the Vendée, against a party of sans-culottes who would take it down. There was a faction that felt likewise about the Bladensburg Cross; I drive by it several times a week and I can report it stands firm.
Although a French court agreed with the no-religious-symbols-in-public side last year, the mayor of Sables-d’Olonne sued and his appeal is pending. Mr. Zemmour visited to approve the mayor; which figures, as he came out last month on a France-first campaign platform one of whose pillars is outspoken support of Catholicism as an essential to France’s well-being.
The choice of venue was not shocking, as the Vendée, where M. Zemmour was introduced by the department’s leading pol, Philippe de Villiers, is an ancient bastion of resistance to Jacobin republicanism. This has morphed in our times into “the elites” or the “disconnected elites” and M. Z. — not unlike Mr. Trump here — has put these in his metaphorical crosshairs.
In our blessed land the “elites” who incur Mr. Trump’s scorn would be represented by the likes of Mrs. N. Pelosi (D-CA), Mrs. H. Clinton (D-NY), or Miss A. Ocasio (D-NY).
Judging from what M. Zemmour says about them, France’s versions would be such ladies as Mme. V. Pecresse (LR-Paris Region and Mme A. Hidalgo (PS-Paris municipality) and Mlle. D. Obono (LFI-17th Paris). They have said mean things about his views, qualifying them as racist and misogynist.
There are males among the scorned (and scornful) elites as well, but that is for another report. And some elites are respected elites, but that requires yet another report.
As M. Zemmour runs for president of the Republic and makes a stop in Sables d’Ollone, it should be remembered that the Vendéens raised a Royal and Catholic Army to oppose what they perceived as the first, revolutionary Republic’s tyrannical rule. They were led by Henri de la Rochejaquelein, who died KIA at twenty-four.
With their self-described “infernal columns” pursuing a war policy that drew no distinction between warriors and civilians, the Jacobin forces foreshadowed the conquest of Algeria a few decades later. Some might view the scorched earth strategy as the model for Gen. W. T. Sherman’s march through Georgia to cut off enemy supply chains. However, he did considerable damage but he took care to spare noncombatants. Not for him the kill-them-all campaign of Antonio Moreira Cesar in Bahia, which was recounted by the engineer Euclides da Cunha in Os Sertoes.
M. Zemmour, steeped in French history, neglected to mention that the Vendée’s greatest politician after La Rochejaquelein was Georges Clemenceau, who stated “la Revolution est un bloc” to explain — and excuse — its excesses, and as French premier in the Great War affirmed war as his only policy whatever the cost in lives. He could not have stopped the Germans without Harlem’s own 369th, who fought in French uniforms under French command.
As a pol, now that he has abandoned journalism for politics, M. Zemmour can be excused for choosing his themes without reference to real life. He did not have any words for the No. 1 French tennis player.
But even as Eric Zemmour drew cheers in the Vendée, France’s brilliant and flamboyant Gaël Monfils won down under at Adelaide, overwhelming a power-hitting but rather unimaginative Karen Kachanov in two sets of graceful, shrewd, and athletic tennis. The win is a welcome start to the new season, as it is his first trophy after two disappointing years. Surely his marriage last July to the lovely Elina Svitolina, a top champion on the women’s tour, is a factor. She watched and cheered in the warm austral summer and he signaled to her, as would a gallant musketeer.
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