May 24, 2022

Zemmour’s remarks on disabled children: the reverse of the controversy

Since Friday, the entire politico-media class has fallen head over heels for Eric Zemmour, following remarks about disabled children, in reality largely distorted.


The philosopher Julien Freund had been deeply marked by the consequences of a twisting of the truth in which he refused to take part. During the resistance, the leader of the group to which he belonged had accused his former mistress of collaborating with the Gestapo, after she had broken with him; a hasty trial was followed by a night during which the innocent woman was raped by the communist resistance fighters before being executed in the early morning. All things considered, the expedited trial method has yet to prove its practicality, the echo being multiplied in the media.

On the lookout for a fault by Éric Zemmour, journalists and the political class rushed to the candidate’s words regarding the inclusion of certain disabled children to say they were shocked by commenting on comments manipulated by them, each accusers finding his interest in his feigned indignation. Thus crossing the red line separating decency from the instrumentalization of a serious cause. Release even changed a title that could suggest that Zemmour was right (see below).

Discussing Friday with teachers in Honnecourt-sur-Escaut in the Aisne, Éric Zemmour had been challenged by a teacher confronted with the suffering of disabled children in her classes. The former columnist had answered him “that we actually need specialized establishments, except for people with slight disabilities, of course”, before adding: “for the rest, yes, I think that the obsession with inclusion is a bad way for other children and for those children who are, the poor, completely overwhelmed by other children. So I think we need specialized teachers who take care of it. » He has since clarified that he does not speak about the physical disability and fears that « the egalitarian obsession is the screen for the abandonment of specialized schools”.

Unwelcome and incoherent political instrumentalization

From the far left to Marine Le Pen, via Valérie Pécresse who decided in 2018 to dig 730,000 euros from the disability budget of her region to finance a consultation on the highways, all practice ostentatious indignation. Emmanuel Macron, who had recently spoken of pissing off the unvaccinated, was able to try to forget his words for the moment unprofitable by accusing Zemmour of stigmatizing and dividing. The support of parents of disabled children and personalities, including such as Céline Pina or Zohra Bitan, for the words of Éric Zemmour, is generally passed over in silence. Ditto concerning that of Marie-Anne Montchamp, Secretary of State in charge of Disabled People from 2004 to 2005, which the candidate claims and which is not denied.

Éric Zemmour’s two right-wing rivals had a blast, while their proposals could be understood as going somewhat in his direction. Valérie Pécresse declares in her program that it is necessary “implement schooling in an ordinary environment until the end of middle school whenever possible”. Marine Le Pen affirmed at the beginning of December that “All children who can be educated must do so, whether in an ordinary environment or in a ULIS (localized unit for inclusive education)! » Zemmour does not say anything else, but with an inverted formulation: those who cannot would be more fulfilled in suitable establishments that must be strengthened.

It is above all his criticism of the ideology of inclusion that takes precedence over the real that serves to try to make people believe that he wants to reject children with disabilities.

Opportunistic critics neglecting reality

No one to recall the situation put forward by the teacher who told Zemmour of the difficulties. No one to worry about the parents of children with mental disabilities forced to educate their children in Belgium, for lack of specialized schools in France, a consequence of the law on inclusion. A report from France 2 dating from 2014 [1] testifies to these difficulties: children have to travel by taxi – including from Paris – to reach their Belgian schools, the costs being covered by Social Security. 3,000 children were then concerned. A situation recalled this weekend by the candidate on France 3 in the program “Sunday in politics”.

On Facebook, the left-wing essayist Céline Pina agreed with the candidate: « Before immediately getting on the theme of denouncing the 3rd Reich, following Éric Zemmour’s proposal on disability, we can also take a deep breath and open our eyes to the fact that not all disabilities can be accommodated at school. Especially severe autism or mental disabilities. » Mentioning the suffering of parents and children faced with this maladjustment, Céline Pina affirms that the discourse on inclusion “has been a catch-all and has served all governments to ease their conscience while dropping the issue of disability. » A hypocrisy that has made it possible to achieve “substantial savings”, she notes.

A biased media bias

If the testimonies of parents of children with disabilities flock in favor of Éric Zemmour on Twitter or Youtube, the media have chosen to retain only the criticisms of certain association representatives. Were highlighted the anger of Jean-Louis Garcia, national president of the Association for adults and young people with disabilities, speaking of “segregation”, as well as that of the journalist Olivia Cattan, president of SOS autisme France – and a time anticipated to be a candidate under the label La France insoumise in the 2017 legislative elections – denouncing “discriminatory” remarks and a “misunderstanding” of the candidate on the subject.

These two officials object to Zemmour’s 2005 law for equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities. This reference to the law is however not an argument of experience which would contradict Zemmour, but an argument of authority whereas it is this standard which generates the problem.

Biased presentation by militant media

The remarks were generally reproduced by the written press, the other media summarized them, but all insisted on the controversy, often by presenting Zemmour from the outset as the candidate not of Reconquête but “of the far right”, a way to indicate through which prism to hear his words.

On the Liberation side, we completely replaced the first title of a post “Schooling of disabled students: What if Zemmour was right? » by “Schooling of disabled children: if the school goes wrong, Zemmour fails”. Readers hovering over the titles shouldn’t think badly…

In Challenges, Maurice Szafran wrote an editorial entitled “Zemmour or the definition of the bastard in politics”. After assuring that the candidate was attacking immigrants and Jews, in order to convince people of the harmfulness of his remarks on handicapped children, Szafran continued his attempt to convince by seeking to discredit his objections by reductio ad hitlerum and emotion: “”False trial”, proclaims the racist candidate, “diverted words”, he insists. His explanations a posteriori are of no use to him because this outing on disabled children has caused emotion, grief, and anger in the depths of French society. » Thus presented, the charge is said to be unrebuttable.

That Szafran was accused in March 2017 by the Society of Journalists of Challenges to ride for Macron and lack balance in his papers should not, of course, suggest that such an attack is militant…


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AY7_PQq1t0