Fraser Nelson, editor, The Spectator
They may not have gone for yet another racist bigot whose prejudice has not merely been the stuff of controversy, but has resulted in actual criminal convictions. But that is what the Speccy is now doing. Earlier this year, readers were told “The French ‘grand’ journalist Éric Zemmour is among the most watched, provocative and frequently prosecuted writers in the country. He is now contemplating a piratical presidential challenge that could blow open next year’s presidential election”. Prosecuted three times. For race hatred.
“He recently claimed that young male migrants from Africa and the Middle East were ‘killers and rapists’”. Sadly, that kind of candidate. So, yes, “He is a hardliner on immigration and integration” and “no free-marketeer”. But then came the giveaway.
The same Speccy contributor, Jonathan Miller, told readers last month of “Eric Zemmour, a brilliant polemicist, author and broadcaster, often described as the Tucker Carlson of CNews … His book, The Suicide of France, decrying the abandonment of French principles to Islamism, was a huge best seller”. So he’s an Inslamophobic bigot.
And the parallel with Tucker Carlson has now been revisited. Only last week, Miller returned to his fantasy island reinvention of reality as he proclaimed that Zemmour was “planning a visit to London in October”, although not many will notice: his team “have made a slot on Nigel Farage’s GB News show their prime target”.
But Zemmour is no mere bigot. As Forward - “News that matters to American Jews” - has put it, “When not decrying the ‘great replacement’ by Muslim immigrants of ‘les français de souche’ - the loaded term for those of ‘purely French heritage’ - or denouncing France’s domination by ‘foreign’ powers - ranging from Brussels to Berlin - Zemmour rhapsodizes over France’s achievements of Joan of Arc and Napoleon”. Great replacement.
And a little excusing of Nazi collaboration: "Zemmour’s animus toward Muslims is hardly unique among Algerian Jews, who were forced to leave their homes for France or Israel upon Algeria’s independence 60 years ago. Much more unusual for a French Jew, though, has been Zemmour’s defense of Vichy France and its leader, Philippe Pétain”.
What Jonathan Miller means by comparing Zemmour to Tucker Carlson is the amplification of mere bigotry - in both cases, explicitly or implicitly against Muslims - into the Great Replacement theory. The only novel element of Zemmour’s take is that he is Jewish, and the child of immigrants - but still riding a trademark white supremacist bandwagon.
On being called out for promoting such bigotry, Andrew Neil will tell his critics that they should consult Nelson, as he’s the editor, and decides what goes in the magazine. Nelson, in turn, will snootily brush off any criticism as “just something on Twitter”.
Once more, the Spectator has been caught promoting bigotry. And that’s not good enough.
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