Our French correspondent Robert Marchenoir has compiled a report about a rare occasion in which the establishment backed down in the face of public outrage over the planned firing of a politically correct right-wing journalist.
A message from France: “Yes, we can”
by Robert Marchenoir
All resistance is futile; the future is written; it will be multicultural, Muslim and happy. That’s at least what the system would like you to think. However, a remarkable French episode shows that a few spanners, thrown into the works by absolute nobodies, can have surprisingly efficient results.
Eric Zemmour, a very popular journalist and writer, is about the only one permitted to say wildly un-PC things on French television. It was one of these forbidden truths that very nearly got him fired in March by one of his main employers, the allegedly “right-wing” Le Figaro newspaper. However, his readers went mad on the Internet, Le Figaro caved in, and the system lost.
In one of the several TV shows where Zemmour is a regular, he was recently opposed by one of the usual non-entities who complained about Blacks and Arabs being disproportionately stopped and searched by the police (an undisputable fact).
Eric Zemmour objected that “most drug dealers are actually black and Arab”. (In the heat of the debate, he simply said “trafiquants”, which can be shorthand for “trafiquants de drogue”, meaning specifically drug dealers; or it could have been a way of designating all sorts of thieves and smugglers; or just generally criminals.)
Like the ethnic bias in police stops-and-searches, the overwhelming weight of minorities in crime is a fact. Ethnic statistics are banned in France. But this trend is so massive it cannot be entirely whitewashed. Several reports, official and otherwise, all point in the same direction. Also, it’s impossible to gag all the people who work in prisons, courts, and police stations, and see the reality with their naked eyes.
Zemmour is a staunch defender of provocative views on immigration and race. He calls a spade a spade, which is highly frowned upon in French media.
A short while earlier, the politically-correct crowd was horrified when he said on camera, to a black opponent, as a way to demonstrate the absurdity of the pervasive French argument that “race does not exist”: “You’re black, I’m white”. This was only stating the blindingly obvious, but of course it was considered highly offensive.
This time, however, saying that “most drug dealers are black and Arab” proved to be over the tipping point. The usual race lobbies decided to take him to the courts. Most importantly, Le Figaro started a dismissal procedure against him.
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This was leaked to the blogosphere (specifically to the nationalist website Fdesouche), and that’s when the s*** hit the fan.
Fdesouche started as a grassroots anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-globalisation blog. (Also, at times, rather anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic, I’m sorry to report; but it’s doing a terrific job nonetheless.) It’s close to the far-right Front National (unconfirmed reports allege that its anonymous leader, “François”, is, or was, the Front national webmaster). However, there’s nothing to prove an organic link. François, in the past, has described himself as “Gaullist” and “center-left”.
His blog has now grown to fully-fledged collective news site staffed by volunteers. While it has a huge crowd of followers, it is shunned by the mainstream media because of its distinct far-right flavour. But mainstream journalists read it. They need to. Other media storms have been raised in the past by Fdesouche.
The information of the planned dismissal of Eric Zemmour by Le Figaro was quickly checked, and confirmed, by the mainstream media. None of them quoted Fdesouche as the original source, as far as I know. The respected “right-wing” newsmagazine Le Point went so far as claiming that the scoop was theirs. My comment on their site that it was an abusive claim went unpublished.
At that time, it seemed obvious that Zemmour would lose his job at Le Figaro. Etienne Mougeotte, his boss, had all but said so when interviewed by the press. (French labour law would have prevented him from saying it outright: in theory, a dismissal can be decided only after the employee has been officially summoned to a meeting where he can defend himself; the meeting had not yet taken place.)
But the blogosphere went postal. The Zemmour post on Fdesouche passed the 5,000 comments mark. Readers were encouraged to send their thoughts to the management of Le Figaro. There was a barrage of mails. The comment spaces on the websites of mainstream media were swamped by outraged protests. There was even a demonstration in front of the newspaper’s building. One hundred and fifty readers, many of them in their twenties, reportedly took it to the streets in order to support Zemmour. This might not seem much, but it’s a first as far as I know, and a remarkable achievement in a country where journalists are generally hated and despised.
The only French journalist whose readers ever staged a demonstration to tell him “we love you” is a man whom the mainstream media, political elites, intellectuals and artists commonly paint as “far-right”, “obnoxious” and “racist”.
Many conservative Frenchmen are aware that the media and the system are lying to them all the time. They had one journalist on their side, a single one, who, by a bizarre twist of events, had a prominent position in various TV shows and in the book-publishing industry, and was yet allowed to speak. He dares to say what is said matter-of-factly every day by Mr. François Dupont in the street.
And here comes a “right-wing” heavyweight, Etienne Mougeotte, boss of Le Figaro, widely believed to be president Sarkozy’s mouthpiece, moving in to suppress this tiny beacon of liberty and truth they could still cling to.
So the unbelievable happened: Le Figaro backed down in the face of the protests. Etienne Mougeotte backtracked in a succession of humiliating, contradictory statements. First, he pretended that the dismissal meeting was not really about dismissal, but only to straighten things out (this would have been illegal, by the way). Then, he cancelled the meeting completely, saying he was satisfied by conciliatory statements Zemmour had made in the meantime.
Novopress, a small online far-right news site, quoting an unnamed source at the Elysée palace, says that it is, in fact, Nicolas Sarkozy himself who prevented Mougeotte from firing Zemmour, much to the dismay of Le Figaro’s boss.
Sarkozy’s party, the UMP, has suffered a severe setback in recent regional elections. The winners were the Left and the Front national. The planned sacking of Zemmour had been perceived, by his supporters, as a retaliatory measure by the government against a supposedly “far-right” rabble-rouser, directly imposed by the president on a subservient newspaper. This was apparently deemed to be a huge blunder, at a time when Sarkozy is trying to get back some of his lost credit to his right by imposing a ban on the burka.
This has happened, thanks to a grassroots movement through the Internet, in a country where the freedom of speech is notably lower than in similar European countries — let alone America.
Surely, the message here has to be: yes, we can.