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France's Marion LePen Stirs Up CPAC

Image: France's Marion LePen Stirs Up CPAC

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Saturday, 24 Feb 2018 03:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In France, the name LePen has evoked passionate feelings and controversy for more than two generations. So it was no surprise that sparks flew over the appearance of Marion LeMarachel LePen at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 22-23.

Elected in 2012 as the youngest (22) member of the National Assembly (parliament) in French history, Marion is the third generation in what has been called France’s “First Family of Nationalism.”

From her grandfather Jean Marie LePen--founder of the anti-illegal immigrant National Front (FN) Party, with his record of incendiary statements denying the Holocaust--to his daughter, Marion’s aunt, Marine LePen, two-time presidential candidate of the FN on a platform of expelling illegal immigrants from France, there is little middle ground among the French when the family name comes up.

To a standing-room-only crowd at CPAC Thursday morning, one which attracted a score of international correspondents and more television cameras than for an earlier speech by Vice President Mike Pence, the latest LePen drew prolonged cheers when she declared “I am not offended when Donald Trump says ‘America First” and that France was under threat from a “Muslim counter-society.”

She also decried the breakdown of the family, saying “we have the right to order a child [from] a catalog, we have the right to rent a woman's womb. We have the right to deprive a child of a mother or father. We don't want this atomized world of individual without gender, without father, without mother and without nation.”

Upon completing her speech, Marion LePen was surrounded by young American admirers who lined up to wish her well and request her to pose for “selfies.” Many who sought her out were no doubt unaware of her family’s tumultuous history and were excited to see and hear a young woman in politics who is articulate and looks like a movie star or runway model. (Associates told us that LePen, who did not seek re-election in ’17, is taking a sabbatical from politics to launch a graduate school on political science grounded in conservative theory).

Even before the Frenchwoman addressed CPAC, the announcement that she had accepted an invitation to speak spawned numerous protests on email. Most of the protests centered upon provocative statements made by her father and aunt (who presently heads the FN Party).

Others, such as pundit Bill Wirtz, pointed out American conservatives might be stunned to learn that the FN’s platform is anything but conservative, that it calls for “maintaining France’s universal government-run health care system….lowering the retirement age to 60….and increasing public worker wages. It calls America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord a ‘negative signal for the necessary action in favor of the environment and favors the nationalization of all roads.’” 

One prominent CPAC participant who knows LePen assured fellow organizers of the gathering that Marion “is not on board with everything her party says” and is more in line with traditional conservatism than has been reported.  The young LePen herself has said “my grandfather is right about a lot of things” but also makes clear she certainly doesn’t believe that includes his incendiary remarks about Jews and the Holocaust.

American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, who oversees the annual conclave, replied on Twitter that Marion Le Pen was a “classical liberal,” in contrast to her grandfather and aunt, and urged critics to “do their research.” 

“She’s a populist,” Birmingham (Ala.) attorney and veteran conservative activist Eric Johnston told Newsmax following LePen’s speech, “And people who are going to criticize have to remember France’s politics are very different from the U.S.’s, and you can’t compare them. For one thing, they’ve been a secular society for a long time with no protections for people of faith. We’re just starting to be that way.”

Johnston, who has been coming to CPAC since the early 1980’s, also said “conservatives who criticize Marion LePen’s presence should recall that CPAC has been a home for all kinds of different views on the right—from evangelical conservatives to hard-core libertarians.” 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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In France, the name LePen has evoked passionate feelings and controversy for more than two generations.
marion lepen, cpac, france
Saturday, 24 Feb 2018 03:36 PM
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