March 28, 2017

RACIST FROM THE START (profanity alert):

Steve Bannon's Mentor, 91-year-old French Author Jean Raspail : A visit with the former Boy Scout and writer of 'The Camp of the Saints'--and other fantasies of White domination of Western Civilization, which inspire Donald Trump's adviser (Marc Weitzmann, March 27, 2017 , The Tablet)

Bannon's first mention of Raspail's book occurred almost in passing in October 2015 in an analysis by the then-editor-in-chief of on the refugee crisis: "It's been almost a Camp of the Saint-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe." Bannon repeated his cryptic reference a few months later in January 2016--"it's not a migration. It's an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints"--and again in April of the same year--"I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn't it?" It seemed that, for Bannon, "The Camp of the Saints" was as obvious a cultural reference as Macbeth, Ulysses, or Kafka's Metamorphosis.

It took a moment even for the French to make the connection to Jean Raspail's 1973 novel, The Camp of the Saints, which draws its title from the Apocalypse According to Saint-John. The novel tells the story of a group of French Partisans who commit to the defense of the country after millions of dark-skinned "miséreux" (destitute) invade from India with the help of young hippie "collaborators." On the boats that drive them to France, the dark-skinned invaders spend their time in giant orgies; their leader eats his own s[**]t. French authorities collapse in the face of the "invasion" and planetary chaos ensues (among other plagues and horrors, the queen of England is forced to marry her son to a Pakistani woman and the mayor of New York must shelter an Afro-American family). Meanwhile, the French résistants take up arms. As he's about to kill a perverse radical hippie, Raspail's alter ego, Calgues, reminds himself of the KKK and of the glorious era of the Crusades.

For years a cult favorite on the far right, the book never reached a wider audience and was soon forgotten. Yet, it says something about the general atmosphere in France these days that when Raspail's publisher reprinted the book at the author's insistence, it sold 20,000 copies in two months, which made it the No. 1 novel on Amazon's best-seller list in France--preparing the way, one could argue, for Michel Houellebecq's Submission. By 2016, The Camp of the Saints had sold 110,000 copies. In the United States, according to the Huffington Post, the 1975 Scribner's translation was reissued back in 1983 thanks to the American heiress Cordelia Scaife May and the former ophthalmologist John Tanton, who's been accused of neo-Nazi views and who defends himself by saying his concern over immigration first came after he read The Camp of the Saints, republished the book again in 2001. [...]

At 91, Raspail is tall and in obviously good shape. He's elegantly dressed in the timeless fashion of the French bourgeoisie and wears a small white mustache. His blue eyes shine with a mix of an almost childish candor, and his manners are affable and almost laid-back. Nothing in this charming old man calls to mind the narcissistic grandiosity that afflicts so many French intellectuals and writers--or suggests that he wrote the racist anti-immigrant bible of the extreme right. "The prophet" as Résistance Républicaine--a website with close ties to the National Front--recently called him, lives in a nice apartment in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. In the living room are reminders of his vocation as an "explorer," 20 to 30 ships in bottles, which decorate an entire wall. His desk sits in a small room whose walls are covered with pictures of his many trips, posters of his books. The shelves crammed with books and items of all kinds, a U.S. poster indicating the entrance to an Indian reservation, a reproduction of the canot in which he traveled the in 1949 from the Saint Lawrence River to St. Louis and, needless to say, a flag from Patagonia, which he still serves, he's proud to say, as vice consul. On a door, a poster shows the naïve drawing of a French soldier of the Foreign Legion on a horse and carrying a French flag--an illustration for a children's comic adaptation of one of his novels. "This room," he said leading me in, "is my real home." In a distant room, his wife's voice soon recedes and vanishes. Silence. He sits down behind his desk. I first think this is not the desk of a Céline at all; this is the desk of a child--a French Catholic child of the 1930s.

Of The Camp of the Saints, he tells me what he tells everyone--how the book came to him in a rush, or like an illumination after he'd reread the Bible, how he wrote it without a plan or note, and how even then, the process had seemed to him both "strange" and "so simple." But isn't this what revelations are like? Is The Camp of the Saints France? I asked him.

"No, it is the Western world," he answered. "The Judeo-Christian civilization. And this Western world is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and it also includes the United States, whatever they want to say. And, I am sorry to say, it is white. There is no other Western World for me than white. That's how it is."

Posted by at March 28, 2017 6:19 AM