Right-wing French former parliamentarian Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, in a speech Thursday, warned the Conservative Political Action Conference of the dangers of mass migration from Islamic countries and said that France should embrace a version of President Trump’s “America First.”
The 28-year-old niece of failed 2017 French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and granddaughter of far-right National Front's founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, offered a European nationalist-populist slant on the American conservative outlook in her address.
Framing the French struggle as a modern day fight for independence against the European Union, she said the French are not free to choose their own policies as control had been handed to the big government bloc. In doing so, she said she wanted to see France adopt the nationalist-populist slogans that President Trump uses.
“I am not offended when I hear [Trump] say ‘America First,’” she said. “In fact I want ‘America First’ for the American people, I want ‘Britain First’ for the British people and I want ‘France First’ for the French people.”
Like her aunt Marine, who made it to the run-off of the French presidential election before being beaten by now-French President Emmanuel Macron, warnings of the alleged dangers of Islam and mass immigration formed a key part of her message.
Maréchal-Le Pen spoke of the development of an “Islamic countersociety” in France after what she called 40 years of mass migration, Islamic lobbies and political correctness -- which she said has left young French people ashamed and guilty about their country’s heritage.
"France is in the process of passing from the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church to the little niece of Islam," she said.
American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp defended her invite Wednesday in the face of criticism from conservatives who claimed she was not a conservative and expressed concerns about the Le Pens and the National Front, in particular the racist and anti-Semitic comments made by Jean-Marie -- who was convicted and fined for downplaying the Holocaust as a “detail of history.”
"She's her own person, she's a young person, she's broken with her family on those positons and she's a new voice in France and by the way, she's a voice that resembles a lot of conservative voices here," Schlapp said on "The Daily Briefing."
"She's for traditional marriage, she's pro-life, she doesn't believe that the welfare state solves problems and, yes, she wants to make sure when people immigrate into France that they want to be French and love the country."
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg was unconvinced, calling the move a “bad decision” and asking whether Maréchal-Le Pen was a classical liberal or a “National Front Kardashian with better messaging?”
Her remarks Thursday, which amounted to a full-throated defense of nationalism rather than the more typical Reaganite conservative, were warmly received by the CPAC crowd. On a number of occasions audience members yelled “Vive La France,” something unthinkable from a conservative audience just a decade ago when conservatives called for French fries to be renamed “freedom fries" after the French opposition to the invasion of Iraq.
Signs of Maréchal-Le Pen's social conservatism -- an area where she differs from her aunt -- were present in her speech, where she said young people in France want to “protect their parents from euthanasia and humanity from transhumanism”
“We don’t want this atomized world of individuals without gender, without father, without mother and without nation,” she said.
But amid an often dark message, Maréchal-Le Pen struck at least one upbeat tone as she told the crowd that the example of Trump’s election, as well as Brexit in the U.K., offered a reason for conservatives to find hope for the future.
“When the people are given the opportunity to take their country back, they will seize it,” she said.