April 29, 2013
Despite the action of the French Senate that redefined marriage last week, the advocates of true marriage remain determined and undeterred. Calling themselves La Manif pour Tous (Demonstration for All), these champions are taking their case to the French people. They have scheduled another mass demonstration for Paris on May 26th. The international media--as always--is on the other side. Last week, they reported scattered clashes with police following the French legislature’s cave-in as a violent reaction.
France has a long history of street protests. And the French are well aware of the agents provocateurs--those who seek to use any scuffle as a pretext to bring violence to the streets. In this case, they could use such claims of violent protests to try to de-legitimize the genuinely popular uprising for marriage.
Part of this new movement is Les Veilleurs. These are French youth who gather nightly to share their love for literature, poetry, and music. These, in turn, have inspired Les Meres Veilleuses. These are mothers holding vigil for children’s rights to a mother and father and they are taking their case to the people. Les Veilleurs are described as a kind of “anti-Mai 68” movement.
This is very important. It was in May 1968, that the left staged a nationwide uprising that sought to bring down the government of President Charles de Gaulle. They very nearly succeeded. De Gaulle rallied the people of France to save the Fifth Republic--and in reality to save French democracy itself.
Still, those street radicals--especially Communist theorists and their sympathizers in the media--have had a huge influence in French life ever since. As in the U.S., street radicals took baths, donned coats and ties, and began their long march through the institutions.
Thus, we see soixante huitards (“sixty-eighters”) applauding this latest assault on the family and the future of France. They realize that the greatest barriers to Marxism have always been the family, the church, and small private firms. Thus, they need to crush all these mediating institutions. They seek to suppress resistance, using law and intimidation and their dominance in the media to achieve their results.
As in the U.S., with certain Republicans losing heart and throwing up their hands in fear or resignation, we saw some members of the conservative UMP opposition party cave in to pressures and vote for the end of marriage. There will be no opportunity for a French version of the TEA Party to make its will known in national legislative elections until 2017.
In the meantime, though, the Manif can look to the constitutional council to disallow some portions of the faux marriage law. And they can seek support in the 2014 municipal elections. Already, many mayors are announcing their refusal to bend to this latest assault on the families and future of France. They need our support (and our prayers).
Why should we Americans take such an interest in France? It was in 1979 that Pope John Paul II returned to his captive homeland. We saw then a million Poles crying out “We want God!” Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and presidential candidate Ronald Reagan paid careful attention to what the Poles were saying. Together with the Pope, they began the long-overdue process of liberation of hundreds of millions of people shackled to Communism behind the Iron Curtain.
The left also took note. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, they realize they cannot achieve Marxism through the secret police and the obvious oppression of a one-party dictatorship. But they believe they can achieve Socialism democratically by breaking down family, church, and family-owned businesses. This is the real objective of the left in America. It is what President Hollande seeks to do in France.
In France, however, President Hollande’s economic performance is yielding sparse results. His approval ratings have sunk to record lows in just one year. As the French economy stagnates, discontent rises.
We have everything to learn from the French, from their courage and conviction on the marriage issue. We should pay careful attention to how they frame this issue, too.
The French put children at the center of the debate. Everyone deserves a mother and a father, they say. It is a human right and a child’s greatest need.
The French have recognized that “womb prostitution” (called surrogacy here) is a form of exploitation of poor and vulnerable women. They have made this illegal in France. And one of their strongest arguments against ending marriage is that it will lead to more of this womb prostitution.
If the French resistance succeeds, it will give great inspiration to Americans. At our best, Americans were not ashamed to learn from such brilliant French thinkers as Montesquieu and Tocqueville. Today, we can take lessons from the Manif pour Tous!
Marchons, Concitoyens! Fellow citizens, let’s march!