France and the French tend to inspire contradictory feelings, especially among Americans. Of course, like many others, I have a grudging admiration for a rich, full-bodied Bordeaux; the music of Ravel, Debussy, and Saint-Saens; and the audacity of Napoleon's military strategies at Austerlitz, Jena, and other historical battlefields of Europe. And honest Americans must also concede the critical supportive role played by the French in our Revolutionary War, particularly the timely assistance provided by Lafayette, Rochambeau, and especially Admiral de Grasse and the French Navy at the conclusive Battle of Yorktown.
But alas, mon ami, these select entries on the plus side of the ledger tend to be offset at times by the lengthy historical catalogue of French fiascoes, foibles, and misgovernance. France's Bourbon Dynasty stands forever as the epitome of degenerate and corrupt excess in the exercise of royal prerogative and self-indulgence. Those vices led to an entirely justifiable revolution which, however, like many things French, ultimately descended on a downward path from just and admirable remedial motives to the malicious bloodbath of the Reign of Terror. Napoleon's brilliant victories over the combined armies of Europe were soon followed by his feckless and immoral sacrifice of the flower of the French Army on the winter wastelands of the Russian tundra. De Gaulle's insufferable obtuseness and ingratitude in his dealings with General Eisenhower in World War II were exceeded only by his audacity in taking victory bows on the Champs Elysees when the victory had been achieved by the Allies in spite, rather than because, of any help from de Gaulle (as distinguished from the brave fighters of the French Resistance). And contemporary France's descent to the status of a morally indifferent, radically secularized, leisure-obsessed socialist basket case needs no elaboration.
But recent events in France have brought forth a surprising spirit of nouvelle resistance that could set an inspirational example for defenders of traditional morality in America and other countries where the civilizing institution of marriage is under siege.
In one of contemporary history's more ironic twists, the streets of Paris have just witnessed what appears to be the Western World's most impassioned popular uprising against the government-imposed subversion of traditional marriage that is spreading with astonishing speed through Europe and the Americas. Not since the sans culottes stormed the Bastille in 1789 has Paris witnessed a popular insurgence with the passion and determination demonstrated by the huge crowds gathered there this past weekend to express their implacable opposition to their government's imposition of a same-sex marriage regime on the French Nation. The huge May demonstrations followed a similar mass demonstration in March. Both demonstrations expressed widespread popular rejection of a proposition the protesters know to be false and insupportable: That, contrary to the unvarying law, religious doctrines, practice, and tradition of France and other civilized nations for millennia, marriage is not, after all, a procreative union between a man and a woman, but rather some kind of bizarre and protean grouping between an indeterminate number of persons of any sex or variation thereof, with no necessary reference whatsoever to biological procreation or the formation of natural families.
At first blush, France might seem the last place in which to find mass resistance to any movement towards the brave new world of unfettered sexual liberation and license epitomized by the gay marriage movement. As far back as the 1950's, the French cinema was already pushing the erotic envelope in movies starring the seductive likes of Brigitte Bardot. And under contemporary France's steady march towards socialism and secularization, most of the French have long since abandoned adherence to the restrictive doctrines of the traditional Catholic Church on matters of sexual morality.
But despite all that, anywhere from 150,000 to well over one million French men and women – the low estimate is from the Paris police, the higher from the demonstration's sponsors – were willing to take to the streets to voice their adamant public opposition to their government's endorsement and approval of same-sex marriage (SSM). Only two months earlier, before the government had made its final decision on the matter, some 300,000 French protesters had staged a similarly impassioned demonstration to oppose what they consider a radical distortion of the marital institution – and the harbinger of even more radical restructuring of traditional family life soon to follow. Considering that the turnout for public demonstrations generally represents only the boldest and most vociferous element of the movement in question, these demonstrations confirm the existence of a very substantial movement of popular resistance to the imposition of same-sex marriage in France.
At least from one perspective, this impassioned new resistance to the enthronement of SSM from French traditionalists is not entirely surprising. The French, it should be recalled, originated the famous epigram that so aptly expresses and extols the complementary sexual dualism that lies at the essence of marriage, and which stands in sharp contradiction to the very notion of same-sex marriage: "Vive la difference." A culture which has idealized the romantic connection, and God-ordained difference, between men and women for centuries is not likely to suddenly embrace the contradictory and jarring notion that such connections between two men are equivalent and must be acknowledged as such by all. The millions of French men and women who have joined in resistance to their government's attempt to enforce this alien notion of marriage are merely giving natural expression to cultural -- and in some cases religious and moral -- traditions that have been abandoned by their government and the elements of the populace that support it.
Meanwhile, further south in France, the amoral elitists of the Cannes Film Festival were pushing the boundaries of the homosexual gospel to unprecedented extremes, even while the Parisian tradionalists expressed a contrary French perspective at the Esplanade de les Invalides.
In a decision that was undoubtedly a deliberate provocation, the jury of cinema mavens (including ultra-liberal American director Steven Spielberg) awarded the festival's top prize to an exercise in porno-lesbian excess entitled "Blue is the Warmest Color." According to reports which there is no apparent reason to doubt, the film features scenes of the most explicit and prolonged lesbian interactions imaginable, and perhaps unimaginable. If this were not sufficient to provoke the bourgeoisie to fits of indignation, one of the characters portrayed in the pornographic display is a 15-year-old girl being seduced by an older woman. In order to underscore its unequivocal endorsement of the theme of virtuous lesbian coupling, the Cannes jury awarded the prize not only to the film's director, but to the two actresses who had grappled so artistically before the cameras. And in a concluding expression of disdain for the unenlightened Frenchmen opposing same-sex marriage in Paris, the festival's director declared, "Everyone who is against same sex marriage . . . must see the film." The oblivious ignorance of this character is so extreme that it would not occur to him that the very same moral considerations and principles that make it impossible for the Parisian demonstrators to accept same-sex marriage would also make it repugnant and immoral for them to view a film that is both pornographic and morally subversive.
Meanwhile, Americans who adhere to tried and traditional principles of morality and marriage are confronted with the same conformist tendency, initiated and reinforced by an elitist media culture, that has imposed a regime of same-sex marriage in France, twelve other countries, and a growing number of American states. Millions of Americans – who only ten years ago would have considered the notion of two men "marrying" each other as bizarre nonsense – have experienced an overnight and curious "conversion" to the view that such same-sex marriages are not only reasonable and proper, but that those who continue to oppose that view are somehow extremists. The logic and merit of an idea that somehow escaped the notice or acceptance of the most brilliant and enlightened thinkers of history during millennia of human experience with the institution of marriage has suddenly and simultaneously been deduced by millions whose intellectual compass and curiosity extends no farther than the ephemeral and vapid chatter of Twitter or Facebook. Of course, these mass conversions to support of same-sex marriage – indeed, to dogmatic support – have nothing to do with any logical or analytical process on the part of the instant converts. Instead, they reflect mindless conformity with what has been relentlessly portrayed as the "humane" and "progressive" position in the monolithic liberal media and celebrity culture.
Fortunately, there remains a stubbornly principled portion of Western Civilization, surprisingly exemplified by the vibrant protests of the French traditionalists, that will not yield to tout le monde in its feckless embrace of the unnatural shibboleth of same-sex marriage. Americans who remain committed to preserving the integrity of traditional marriage should shake off their slumber and join the Parisian resistance in going public with their opposition to this demoralizing movement a la mode.