Contemporary people demonstrate perpetual blindness by refusing to accept things as they are; maybe only a poet or someone who has suffered can easily understand the necessity of accepting things on there terms. Reading the obituaries of Simone Veil reminds me of how silly contemporaneity remains. Even still, she endured with class. Her temper cannot be understood outside the very cauldron that shaped her. Teutonic ovens, death marches and cunning matched her, she found herself equal to the satanic wiles of history. The women endured. We need more like her today, even though, by any measure she remains identified with militant atheist secularism. To understand why that is, one needs to visit the informing cauldrons that destroyed western Christian Civilization. She was secular Mother Theresa for France. How could it have been otherwise!
Today’s feminism is attenuated so far from reality, making it difficult for anyone to sympathize with its goals. Look at the strength of Elizabeth Taylor throughout her oeuvre, the sustained strength she emanated never embodied the empty pathos of Marylin Monroe; to understand Veil you need to measure her beside a Gold Meir, Oriana Fallachi and Racquel Welch, a difficult act to follow for any mortal. Simone Veil remains a Gallic Emma Goldman or Coco Chanel seeking to tear down the very bonds of womanhood that characterized anarchism; yet for France, one cannot grasp Veil’s secularism outside the fall of France’s Third & Fourth Republic.
Upon entering politics, she sought to deliver a fatal blow to the old order through legalizing abortion. Although she never became Prime Minister, she was often thought of as perpetually stolid. Watching her career peek in 1979 delivering her the Presidency of the European Parliament, she would eventually find herself unable to foot the emerging wiles of the counter-revolution beginning with John Paul II. When Solzhenitsyn delivered the final fatal blow to French Marxism with the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, she watched and lived through the demise of the very foundations that underwrote both her personal and ideological identity. She never recovered. There was no second act for Veil.
But Veil was born for the storm. Her most painful and powerful memory was of her mother Yvonne, her lifelong inspiration, dying slowly of typhus in Belsen after a 45-mile death march. When the German Gotterdammerung unfolded before her in ’44 she walked right though it, forever remembering a universe of death, humiliation and barbarism. She often told friends alone how she remembers the “haunt of images, the odours, the screams, the humiliation, the blows, the sky-ashen with smoke from the crematoriums.”
She returned home with all the rage and fury of a revolutionary. A French Oriana Fallachi. She’s interred alongside Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Emile Zola in Paris’ Pantheon.
Let’s not forget even Rousseau and Voltaire died with Jesuit’s by their sides. Having spent a lifetime waging war against the pillars of French society, Voltaire’s dispensation was sought on his death bed. Interesting that he sought to acknowledge the limited writ of his life’s work.
Simone Veil’s rage is indistinguishable from the humiliation engraved on her left arm: 78651.
Blessed rage for order, may she be forgiven and receive peace.