Thursday, September 09, 2004

Unnecessary Animosity Towards the French

I was doing an interesting search today, the details of which I will not get into, but I found this incredibly vapid commentary that basically characterizes the French (and seemingly many other foreigners) as removed to the point that they would exploit the events of September 11. The writer suggests that the book Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder exemplifies the attitude of all of France towards the attacks--

The disdain this man - and most of his countrymen - must have for Americans is beyond the grasp of my imagination. Is it jealousy that would make someone take such an event in history and saturate it with sex stories?

Of course, the way he deduces that "the disdain of this man" (regardless of whether Beigbeder really has disdain towards the U.S.--I haven't read the book) must mean the disdain of every person in the country towards the U.S. is quite baseless.

Although I have only been in France for a bit more than a week and am hardly an expert on the French viewpoint (which of course is as diverse amongst the countrymen as are such viewpoints in any country), it seems that this article represents the wistful thinking of the author, who wants to cast the U.S. as a victim of an inconsiderate world ignorant of terrorism (hardly the case, when one consider that in terms of airport security, for instance, European countries like France were much better prepared and defended in the event of an attempted attack than the U.S.). I don't know why a group of Americans likes to believe that the French hate them, but it seems a worthless exercise to me and one founded in little more than baseless logic.


Anonymous said...

I'm not about boycott France or pour out all my Bordeaux in to the streets, but I think some of this is necessary. Check out this article from Time:,13005,901020520-237165,00.html

...and that's not the only reason.

Elaine said...

I read this article and found it similar in its tone to the blog entry that I quoted in my post. Just because a book is a bestseller doesn't mean that a whole country is out buying this book and sharing in the views of the author. For instance, even this slanted article admits,

"The print press denounced the volume in turn — Libération retitled it The Horrible Swindle."

Here is a good example of a huge generalization this article makes with nothing to back it up:

"More surprising was the rush of French readers, who had so earnestly commiserated with a wounded America, to get a copy of the tract."

How do they know this "rush of readers" are the same who "earnestly commiserated"? Ann Coulter's Slander was a bestseller, as was Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Lyers Who Tell Them, so by the logic of this article, America would be both of a majorly right-wing and a majorly Democratic sentiment, but of course, it's neither. Again, I think some people want to think the French hate Americans, and it seems a psychological hang-up more than anything grounded in fact.

Anonymous said...

In this week's Chicago Jewish News: "France is considering making Yom Kippur a national holiday; ...French president Jacques Chirac awarded Steven Spielberg France's Legion of Honor and praised Spielberg's work in preserving the memory of the Holocaust; and ... more than 1,000 posters denouncing anti-Semitism have been plastered on billboards all across Paris. The posters are the idea of Paris' mayor who hopes they will sensitize citizens to the problem of anti-Semitism."


Elaine said...

Thank you for this point. I think the truth is, there are people with unfortunate views in any country, but they can't be used to represent the countrypeople's views as a whole, because most people do have good intentions. Especially regarding this ridiculous attempt to make France seem horrible.