March 5, 2018
Jean-Marie Le Pen’s memoir is a bestseller in France, a country that also contains many decent people
by Peter Clark
Since France’s passage the Gayssot Act in 1990, it’s illegal in France to deny the fact, or the immensity, of the Holocaust in that country.
But that didn’t really seem to deter self-labeled “son of the nation” Jean-Marie Le Pen from doing so. Repeatedly. In fact, Le Pen has been prosecuted three times for his anti-semitic, Holocaust-denying rhetoric, saying profoundly idiotic things, like that Nazi gas chambers were “just a detail in the history of World War II” and that “There weren’t mass murders as it’s been said.” So, first off, obviously, fuck this guy.
But it turns out that, in 2018, even if you’re Nazi sympathizer spouting racist babble, your memoir can be a bestseller!
As James McAuley reported for the Washington Post last week, Le Pen is now a bestselling author. At a musky eighty-nine years old, Le Pen has published the first volume of his memoir Fils de la Nation, which promptly soared to number one on Amazon and sold through its initial printing of 50,000 copies.
The book appears, true to form, to be a revisionist history of twentieth-century Europe. Covering the decades from his birth in 1928 to the founding of his political party, the National Front, in 1972, Le Pen attempts to recast the Vichy government’s Nazi sympathizers as French patriots. Particularly, McAuley writes, he “offers an emphatic defense of Philippe Pétain, the leader of the Vichy government, which openly collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. Le Pen contends that Pétain, once a celebrated war hero, need not be seen as dishonorable for having signed the 1940 armistice with Adolf Hitler.”
Back on planet Earth, the Vichy government’s complicity in fascist atrocities has been amply documented, and Pétain was eventually convicted of treason and died in jail. In his 1990 book Pétain’s Crime, Paul Webster quotes a French SS director as saying, “We found no difficulties with the Vichy government in implementing Jewish policy.”
For Le Pen, Charles de Gaulle was the treasonous one. And if that weren’t bad enough, he wasn’t very attractive! For Agnence France-Presse, Lucy Peytermann quotes the book: “[De Gaulle] seemed ugly to me, and said a few banalities at the flag-draped podium. He didn’t look like a hero; a hero should be handsome.” (While heroes in fact can look all sorts of ways, it’s worth noting that Le Pen has the appearance of one of those frog popsicles that’s been sat on.)
As our very own Mark Bray, author of Antifa, wrote last year for Lithub, we need to pay attention to revisionism and pro-fascist writings like this. They are a blight that can only be purged with a continual onslaught of truth. Le Pen is a disgrace, and one can only hope that his bestselling memoir will reveal that embarrassment for all to see.
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.