The French Revolution is often remembered in America as the overthrowing of the French Monarchy, and Marie Antoinette telling the hungry people to eat cake instead of bread. Both ideas hold a semblance of truth, yet whitewash an entire historic chapter which has replayed itself across many countries failed revolutions.
What first needs to be established is that France essentially went bankrupt over the idea of liberty [and to get a jab in at their enemies]. They miraculously aided the American’s in overthrowing British rule by pumping money into a cause that couldn’t even cloth or feed its soldiers, sending 6,000 soldiers to American soil to fight and die for the cause of liberty. Then, Rochambeau and Lafayette went back to France and stoked the flames of liberty in the hearts of the oppressed. These men risked their lives for freedom in America, but would eventually be considered to blasé for the radical revolutionary spirit that ensued.
Let’s consider the similarities from then and now:
The cause was just
In France, people were genuinely hungry for change. They were hungry for bread. They were just in their cause and their cry for freedom! They united under Robespierre “the incorruptible” who became the voice of the oppressed in the third tear of the King’s Council. He pushed the boundaries of freedom, spoke up for the rights of the African population, and believed in words as power rather than brute force- even standing in opposition to the death penalty.
Today, people unite over the horrid death of George Floyd, to give a voice to those who have suffered unjustly because of their race. Is there a more noble cause than speaking up for others suffering? Uniting to bring peace and heal wounds? The cause is righteous and people’s pain is genuine.
The French Revolution was stoked by extremist media, the “L’ami du Peuple” written by Jean-Paul Marat who stoked flames of radicalism under the guise of advocating for the lower class. It was quick to draw accusations and cared little for truth or balance. As the Revolution progressed, the media got to the point where it would list names in the paper of those against the cause, and they’d be executed the next day.
We currently have a media that’s run rampant with “clickbait,” false headlines, and cares more about perpetuating an ideology than reporting the truth. The mere fact that The New York Times fired the editor after publishing an op-ed contrary to the Times bias confirms this- yet is only the precipice of a problem that plagues our media today. As hysteria increases, we see public shaming, calls to step down, and the firing of people who hold opposing views. Though I don’t foresee actual deaths of “dissenters,” they face a social death and the loss of their job over freedom protected in our Constitution.
Attempted to re-write history
The French wanted to be sure that they didn’t just topple the government, but established a new social order based on freedom and equality. To mark their new order, they changed their calendar and started at year one, erasing the old Gregorian calendar and replacing it with the new republican calendar. As ideas progressed and radicalized into the reign of terror, anyone who used the proper French terms “Madame” or “Monsieur” rather than “citizen” was subject to execution.
Currently, revisionist history runs rampant changing the narrative to what they deem politically correct. A land that was once found on freedom is not merely a vicious perpetrator of hatred and sin. The Founding Fathers, who failed to abolish slavery at America’s independence, set their sights on abolishing it after independence. Ben Franklin became the president of Philadelphia’s abolitionist society. Samuel Adams never owned a slave and went on to fight for equal rights, but revisionists seek to erase the truth to fit their narrative. Likewise, many face persecution based on “improper” use of gender pronouns, like during the French Revolution.
Backlash at Law Enforcement
For the French rioters to captured the King and his family, they had to first slay their guards. They cut off the guard's heads, mounted them to poles, and made them ride in the carriage with the royal family back to Paris, where the heads were again paraded as a symbol of power now resting in the people’s hands. In our current situation, police are being physically attacked, killed, and voices are rising to defund and abolish the police (a foundational cry of both Black Lives Matter and Antifa).
Later in the Revolution, after Louis attempted to escape, all of his guards were massacred before the royal family was killed. When this was witnessed, all the law of the land fled Paris for fear that they’d be next, leaving a city of chaos and terror. I can only predict on the historic basis that this too will happen as police funding is lost. We reap what we sow.
Leave no “traitor” alive Robespierre, “The Incorruptible,” famously touted, “Virtue without terror is powerless.” As this radicalized “freedom” spread like wildfire in France, women were raped, priests disemboweled, 1,600 left dead within days. This was the revolution for “justice and equality for all,” yet it turned to a blood savage witch hunt. Even the British scoffed, “are these the rights of men, the liberty of human nature?” Jacques Mallet du Pan famously remarked, “Like Saturn, the Revolution devours its own children”
Today, if your views differ from the religion of woke-ness, you’re a racist, white supremacist, beneficiary of white privilege, or suffering from white fragility, to name a few things. Yet, the radicals devour their own faster than the opposition. As the rules of the social game tighten after every player’s turn, so the objectives morph and the base of enemies widens, penalizing those who once were in the lead. .
Here’s what we need to learn:
The French demonized their opponents, stripping them of the very freedoms they sought to bring to society. They let the fear of opposition lead to the streets flooding with blood. In America, we need to embrace differences, not villainize our opponents and respect the Constitution which protects each person’s rights.
The French glorified the eventual murder of Marat (the crazy newspaper writer) as a Christ-like martyrdom, forgetting the evils he had caused and essentially worshiping a lunatic. We need to not blindly accept media narratives, do our own research, and come to our own conclusions on matters at hand
The French united behind Robespierre “The Incorruptible,” until his radical views made his very supporters subject to the guillotine. When we empower radical ideas under the guise of a blanket statement like “equality,” we follow organizations and leadership which care nothing for us and will quickly turn on their supporters when power is achieved.
The French revolution stomped out all religious influence, destroying churches and changing the names of streets. The Sabbath was destroyed in the French’s new ten-day week, with the hope that no one would notice. The clergy were murdered with the rebels. Our American Constitution protects the rights of Religious Freedom, rights that deeply offend radicals. The foundation of America has been that I can hold my beliefs, and you may hold yours, but the radical movements seek to destroy these freedoms and we must not let that occur.
The French Revolution failed to identify a specific enemy, thus the enemy changed as people and ideas were killed. This left every citizen in danger. When movements fail to identify a specific enemy and plan of action, they can fall into the same trap. Instead of the civil rights movement of the past, which had leadership and planned objectives, mob rule movements quickly turn on their own and cause widespread destruction.
The United States of America is facing the calls of revolution in its streets, in its government, and across the media waves. We must recognize the concept of liberty as defined by our Constitution and the cries of liberty which sent France into a gruesome turmoil. Learning from history is to better the future. Let us not be found ignorant.
 Munro, Andre. 12 Months of the French Republican Calendar. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/list/the-12-months-of-the-french-republican-calendar
 The London Times, Monday, Sept. 10, 1792
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.