The offensive of cancel culture has chosen the squares and streets of our towns and villages as its preferred battleground in order to dislodge all undesirable guests who have taken up residence there. We are not talking about the transient migrants who are here, for they can settle wherever they wish. It is rather the statues that stand to lose their place among the living.
Two cases of unbolted monuments have hit the headlines in France in recent months. They tell us about the particularly vicious character of the knights of wokism. This is not a new discovery. But media reports tell us also—and this is a cause for rejoicing—about the welcome resistance of the population to the brainwashing schemes of these Minitrue officials.
The town of Les Sables d’Olonne, a sub-prefecture of the Vendée department in the west, was targeted a few months ago by an association of sinister repute, La Libre pensée (Federation of Freethinkers). As its name does not indicate, this association is mainly there to prevent honest people from thinking freely. The reason for their mobilisation was the installation of a statue of the archangel Saint-Michel (Saint Michael) in a public place in 2018.
The bronze statue of Saint-Michel installed in 2018 on Place Saint-Michel by the former mayor of Sables-d’Olonne,
PHOTO: TWITTER PAGE OF YANNICK MOREAU, MAYOR OF SABLES-D’OLONNE.
The members of the Federation saw this installation as an odious attack on secularism. They could not stand that a statue of Saint Michael was to be placed on the Place Saint-Michel, opposite the church of Saint-Michel, and a stone’s throw from the Saint-Michel auditorium. So Saint Michael was asked to pack his bags and fly back to the great watchmaker of the universe.
For years, the offending statue stood in the courtyard of the Saint-Michel school, a courtyard that has seen generations of children from Les Sables d’Olonne grow up. Then, one fine day, the school closed its doors. The town hall recovered the statue and placed it in the above-mentioned place, about 500 metres from its former location. Believing he was doing the right thing, the mayor at the time even held a small inauguration ceremony, in the presence of some paratroopers—whose patron saint is Saint Michael.
This is the string of crimes that the free thinkers, ‘followers of tolerance,’ could not tolerate. Contacted by Le Figaro, the Vendée Federation of Freethinkers were formal in their response: “It’s clear: Article 28 of the 1905 law forbids the display of religious signs or emblems in public places, except in a cemetery or the grounds of a church. The cadastral parcel is part of the public domain and the statue is eminently religious,” argues its president, Jean Regourd.
The law of 1905 states that the statue should be removed. So in December 2021, the courts ruled in favour of the association, proving that in cases as serious as this, the law is not to be trifled with. The administrative court did not delay in giving its verdict.
Yannick Moreau, the current mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, found the case a bit heavy-handed and announced his intention to leave Saint Michael in peace—an unwelcome resistance in the eyes of political correctness. Because it was in the middle of the presidential campaign, the affair became political, with Marine Le Pen, Philippe de Villiers, and Éric Zemmour taking up the cause of the angel, and, in one case, moving there to come to the angel’s defence.
This mobilisation by high-stationed, ring-wing politicians only convinced the freethinkers of the righteousness of their fight: to them, with such support, Saint Michael had almost become a fascist emblem.
Suddenly, remembering that we were, until proven otherwise, still in a democracy, Mayor Yannick Moreau asked his voters to give their opinion on whether or not to keep the poor archangel in place. In this age of localism and participatory democracy, what could be wiser? In March 2022, the inhabitants of Les Sables d’Olonne had an answer to this polemical question: “Do you want the statue of Saint Michael to remain in front of Saint-Michel church?” The result was not long in coming. The ‘yes’ vote was 94.51%. Leave Saint Michael alone, let him stay where he is!
Yannick Moreau was not surprised by the result: “I am the mayor of Les Sables-d’Olonne, not the mayor of Kabul,” he stormed. “What worries me is the liberticide and woke logic behind it. Afterwards, will it be the Christmas market? Or our coat of arms with a Virgin?”
In the magnificent and poetic language of heraldry, the coat of arms of Les Sables d’Olonne is indeed said to be “azure, with a virgin argent [white], without mantel or headdress, her arms crossed on her chest, her veil moving to the sinister [left]; she rests on a cloud, also argent; she is accosted in chief [addressed above] by two cherubs, above which clouds are heaped; she is accompanied in base by a vessel equipped with argent [white] sailing on a sea of vert [green].”
Unfortunately, the will of the people has not been heard for some time. Who cares if 94% of the population wants their Saint Michael? The administrative court of Nantes insisted and just handed down a new ruling on September 16th confirming the previous decree to remove the saint. The statue will be taken down. Perseverare diabolicum.
Activists from Reconquête came to the site to symbolically support the mayor. Yannick Moreau does not intend to give up. He will defend his Saint Michael before the Council of State in Paris. It would be a shame if, over there, on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Police Headquarters and the old Law Courts, and at the bottom of the Boulevard Saint-Michel, they started to attack the Saint-Michel Fountain—where a magnificent bronze archangel has been spreading his wings over Parisians without any interference since 1860.
The ‘prince of the heavenly militia’ is not the only one to fall victim to cancel culture. The first consul and emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose 200th birthday was celebrated last year, was targeted too, this time by a socialist mayor. A magnificent statue of Napoleon on horseback, cast from the bronze of enemy cannons seized at Austerlitz, adorned the Hôtel-de-Ville square in Rouen, Normandy, until a few months ago. The socialist mayor, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, realised when restoring it that the character was not in odeur de sainteté: it was rather macho, militarist, colonialist. The nineteenth-century emperor had all these faults. In short, the mayor decided he no longer wanted to see Napoleon in front of his office windows.
He planned to move the statue to a deserted area of Rouen and replace it with a statue of the feminist lawyer Gisèle Halimi: heroine in the fight for the legalisation of abortion, and, incidentally, a supporter of the National Liberation Front terrorists during the Algerian war. Everything to please—but to please who?
The mayor’s project raised a storm of indignation, forcing him to consult the people. What a tedious exercise in democracy! And the verdict of the people was, once more, not long in coming: 68% of the inhabitants of Rouen who were questioned said they wanted to keep their emperor in the town hall square. The bronze was therefore completely restored and replaced in July 2022 on its original base. One of the deputy mayors was obliged to pay lip service to the democratic consultation, even if she regrets “the political instrumentalisation of the debate by a fringe of the conservative Right.”
Napoleon was luckier than Saint Michael. But Napoleon was not a saint, far from it. He remains in place for now—until the next battle.
The icons of Christianity have more to worry about. This is not the first time that the enemies of Christian civilisation have attacked our spiritual heritage. The defence of religious heritage will become increasingly difficult to justify in the coming years for those who make it a point of honour to erase all traces of the Catholicism of our fathers from our public spaces, and hence from our memories. The task will be made easier by the progressive disaffection from worship that will affect more and more religious buildings.
The good news is that the good people of France, even though they no longer practice, have retained some admirable reflexes and will not let themselves be stripped of their souls so easily: this is what the double affair of Rouen and Les Sables d’Olonne teaches us. Let us, therefore, rejoice that democracy serves—also—to preserve what is worthy of being preserved!