To understand Éric Zemmour, the ultra-right candidate who has garnered so much attention in the French presidential election this spring, it helps to go back all the way to April, 1793. On the thirteenth of that month, France’s ruling National Convention voted the arrest of the deputy and journalist Jean-Paul Marat. The violent rhetoric that he spewed out on a regular basis in his newspaper, L’ami du peuple, had long shocked even radical revolutionaries. On one occasion he demanded that two hundred thousand heads roll, so as “to save a million.” Earlier in April, he had called for a popular insurrection to purge the Convention of supposed counterrevolutionaries. Now his enemies hoped that his downfall had finally arrived. But on April 24the Revolutionary Tribunal acquitted Marat, and his jubilant supporters carried him in triumph on their shoulders through the halls of the Paris Palace of Justice. France’s revolutionary First Republic

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