On Monday, The New York Times reported that the first lady, Melania Trump, would revamp the White House Rose Garden. Leftists compared the first lady to Marie Antoinette, the French queen who got beheaded during the French Revolution after allegedly saying, “Let them eat cake” when the citizens of Paris ran out of bread. With angry mobs wreaking havoc in American cities and leftists largely covering for them by calling them “peaceful protesters,” any comparison to the French Revolution seems particularly ominous.
Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), who resigned amid a sex scandal involving a former staffer, tweeted of Melania Trump’s rearranging of the Rose Garden, “That’s some Marie Antoinette s**t right there.”
Former Obama official Brandon Friedman combined the report about Melania with a statement from Larry Kudlow claiming that Republicans will push for business deductions for meals in the next coronavirus stimulus. “Real Marie Antoinette energy from the WH today,” Friedman tweeted.
Eugene Gu, a former resident physician who sued Trump to prevent the president from blocking him on Twitter, stoked hatred against the first lady. “In the middle of the worst pandemic in modern history, with soaring unemployment, Marie Antoinette bravely tells the suffering peasants, ‘I’ll remodel the Rose Garden, which only my family and friends can enjoy, so that you stupid f*cks can be inspired behind walls of tear gas!'” he tweeted.
“Getting a real ‘let them eat cake’ vibe going on here,” Dan Rather wrote about the Melania story.
In reality, there is no evidence that Marie Antoinette made the infamous “Let them eat cake” remark, but she did go down in history as a symbol of the aloof nobility. French revolutionaries beheaded her along with her husband, King Louis XVI.
Recently, lefty journalists defended the French Revolution, noting that it led to a republic. That republic did not last very long, and it quickly devolved into a Reight of Terror (September 1793-July 1794) under the Jacobin leader Maximilien Robespierre. The squabbling factions began executing nobles, priests, and eventually revolutionaries who disagreed with them. Robespierre himself infamously found his own head chopped off after he led this terror in the name of republican “virtue.”
Under Robespierre during the Reign of Terror, France renamed the months of the year, swapped the 7-day week for a 10-day week, and murdered hundreds of priests in an attempt to wipe out Catholic Christianity in France and replace it with the Cult of the Supreme Being. Ironically, the revolutionaries cut off the heads of kings on the Notre Dame Cathedral, thinking they were the kings of France — when they were really the biblical kings of Judah.
The woke inquisition’s wanton attacks on cultural symbols — from sports mascots to innocent terms that are now supposedly “racist” to historical monuments of all kinds (even monuments to black Union soldiers) — seems tragically reminiscent of some of the Terror, as does the mob violence against police stations and federal buildings in Portland and Seattle. Of course, America is not facing anything near the scale of the Terror, but the horrifying ideology of Marxist critical theory is driving antifa radicals to condemn even the very existence of law enforcement as “racist” or “fascist.”
The French Revolution did claim Marie Antoinette’s head, but it ultimately failed. Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804, conquered large swaths of Europe, and then lost the definitive Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The victorious allies installed a new king, Louis XVIII.
The rising tide of riots, vandalism, and cancel culture may inspire a powerful backlash.
The rush to compare the first lady to Marie Antoinette — in the context of lawless riots and a rabid cancel culture — seems chilling. None of these figures are advocating for beheading Melania Trump, but a rising faction on the left sees Trump as the head of a “fascist” government that must be overthrown like the monarchs of France.
Let’s not give them any ideas about the first lady.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.