Post-Mortem

I was going to Fisk the multiple idiocies of Regis Le Sommier, as catalogued by Lileks, but then realized there was no point; Lileks had already imbedded links to enough hard facts to thoroughly debunk Sommier’s nonsense.

Still, the breadth of Sommier’s ignorance and/or dishonesty (take your pick) is rather staggering, to say nothing of his apparently unshakable belief in things that aren’t remotely true. France was Saddam’s leading European trading partner and second-largest armorer. The French-built Osiraq plant–personally negotiated by none other than Jacques Chirac–was capable of producing bomb-grade nuclear materials. France’s Fina-Elf did have a huge financial stake in a Saddam-controlled Iraq’s oil business, having signed sweetheart deals with the dictator before the war.

None of these are opinions. They’re all established, documented facts. All denied, with the vehemence of the worst partisan spin doctors, by a guy who’s the American bureau chief for one of his country’s major magazines. This dude has the gall to complain about Fox News? He’s not a reporter, he’s a cheerleader. And a baldly dishonest one, at that.

Think about that little exchange with Lileks the next time you read about American “ignorance” vs. European “sophistication,” or the alleged high level of French education and/or “open-mindedness,” to say nothing about Euro charges that the US media is “unbalanced” compared to the completely equitable and fair-minded press in Old Europe. Ask yourself whether the opinions of people so devoted to flat-out lies are actually worth anything to you, or your country.

And also remind yourself: this guy, who apparently reflects a large majority of opinion in his country, is rooting for John Kerry. Hard.

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29 Responses to “Post-Mortem”

  1. Finlay Says:

    I think there is something in the French character, mannerisms and attitude that just comes across poorly to an American. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I’m sure the French don’t try to come across as smarmy, vapid and duplicitious, but something really fails to translate the American sensibilities. I have had disagreements with Brits, Germans and Swedes, but never felt the revulsion I do towards French people when they debate a point.
    I also think that for some reason when French people speak english it really grates on American ears. I’m curious if any one else has noticed this? Even if they are saying something ordinary or something I agree with, the French method of speaking English is almost unbearable to listen to.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Nice post. I’ve come to think that the Euros love to hate Americans in the way they love to hate their royals. It’s entertainment more than anything else, if not a bit obsessive and, at times, an endangerment to humanity.

    Socialism keeps them in “permanent childhood,” as Toqueville put it, and children complain.

  3. gary Says:

    Why should we care what a French “journalist” thinks? They works for corporations that depend on government favor to survive and which in turn only hire employees who tow the government line.

    More to the point is the shallowness of his replies to Lileks. They mean nothing but speak volumes about the French mentality as dictated by the elite.

    The guy reminds me of Vladimir Posner, the American defector to the Soviet Union who before the collapse was slavish to the party line. Turns out — in two books — he knew he was lying but it as in his interest to keep doing it.

    France has little experience with democracy, and given Le Sommier’s position and remarks it’s gaining very little.

  4. Robert Schwartz Says:

    Some years back I was standing in line at the deli counter of Zabars, the famous gourmet shop on the upper left side of Mannhattan. Even back then they had a No Smoking sign up. A woman in line near me was smoking. I got her attention, pointed to the sign and asked her to put out her cigarette.

    She did, but she could not resist a zinger: “In France, where everone is more sophisticated, no one ever makes you put out your cigarette.”

    The froggies are rude piles of $h;t.

  5. RandMan Says:

    I had a conversation with a USAF Captain 16-17 years ago. We were talkng politics and France somehow entered the conversation.

    He immediately chimed in with this pithy statement:

    “The French are whores.”

    Since 9/11 I now understand his statement and concur with it 100%.

    Disclaimer: Not whores literally, but politically. And not all French, but a majority.

  6. Robert Says:

    Finlay,
    what you hear in the French voice is condescension. As if being grand in Napoleon’s time has any relevance to today (and if you want to mark yourself by Napoleon, then you get stuck with all of his “unilateral imperialism.”)

    It is time to divorce France from NATO. Completely.

  7. DaveP. Says:

    Not to indulge in a bit of reflexive Frog-bashing (okay, I lie a lot) but…
    Has it occurred to anyone that the two greatest heros that France has, the two figures closest to their national heart- are a Corsican and a 16-year-old girl that their own King betrayed to her execution, because he was afraid of her?

  8. Rob Says:

    Finlay, I don’t think it’s limited to Americans. The majority of “other” Europeans I’ve met hold the French in very poor regard. English, Irish, German, even Spanish people I’ve discussed this topic with all think the Frenchies stink (figuratively too). Actually, one German wasn’t quite so kind and called them a certain type of barnyard animal that wallows in its own poop, but we won’t get into that here. Oink.

  9. HoosierDave Says:

    Finlay –

    I will wholeheartedly agree to your assertion about English-speaking French MEN. But when a comely young lass speaks English with a French accent, I go all wobbly.

    Will –

    Thanks for the post. Well done. Proves to me once again that this is the first place to look for cutting-edge commentary.

  10. Pejmanesque Says:

    DIOGENES HAS HIS CANDIDATES . . .

    In both Will Collier and Lileks. The Catholic Church also has new candidates for sainthood thanks to the personal examples of each of these upstanding citizens, but that is another story for perhaps another time….

  11. furious_a Says:

    Collaboration is a French trait that borders on the genetic (kind of like flightiness and Andrew Sullivan). It goes WAAAY back.

    Somebody already mentioned them betraying Jean d’Arc to the English because she was a threat to their boy King.

    During the Austro-Turkish wars of the 17th Century, when Vienna nearly fell to an epic and bloody Turkish siege, the French sided with the Ottoman Turks against the Christian Hapsburgs for territorial gain.

    During WWII, the French not only set up their own Nazi puppet state, but they rounded up their own Jews and loaded them onto eastbound trains before the German Occupation authorities handed down deportation edicts.

    Q: Why are French roads lined with trees?
    A: So their German conquerors can march to Paris in the shade.

    FOR SALE: French Army rifles, ca. 1940, never fired, only dropped once.”

    “French Resistance” is an oxymoron.

    Sod the lot of’em, garlic munching soap-dodgers…furious

  12. Mike M Says:

    Actually furious, as I’m sure you know, Joan the Maid was betrayed and sold to the English *by* the king she put on the throne.

    Learning about her courage, moral clarity, devotion to the church, and razor sharp wit has convinced me that she was probably the last worthwhile Frenchman.

  13. hey Says:

    last smart frenchman were the British Royal Family:

    seeing what a crappy lot life had dealt them, they acquired much more productive real estate on a fertile isle and gradually sold off the old homestead, though they have had to return a number of times in the last hundred years cause the buyers can’t take care of the property

    the family does constantly question why the keep giving the property back to its absentee and incompetent purchasers, but then remembers thats its full of frenchmen!

  14. Jace Says:

    I am currently reading a book called Kinght’s Cross about Erwin Rommel. In that book the accounts of the French army are startling.

    The French were not able to surrender fast enough and even Rommel was dissapointed to see the French soliders actually directing German traffic towards Paris. He thought them a disgrace to his profession.

  15. Just John Says:

    “In France, where everone is more sophisticated, no one ever makes you put out your cigarette.”

    There has got to be a counter-zinger to this zinger, but I’m too dense to think of it. Any suggestions? Something like: “Well, in America, where everyone is more…” something something zing.

  16. chthus Says:

    Have some sympathy for the Frenchman, not only has he had to deal with his precious Tour being US (Texas) owned and operated since 1999, but now he has had both Lileks and Den Beste hand him his ass in the same day.

  17. skep Says:

    The counter-zinger would be, “Welcome to New York, bitch!” followed by pulling her goddamn cig out of her hand and stubbing it out on her coat.

  18. Ben Says:

    So, the French want Kerry as president. And the Dems think they have a chance of winning?

    I really wish I could understand where this French attitude comes from. They killed their king and aristocracy (only to create a new one under Napolian, from the “peasant class”) So why do they all now act like they are monarchs? Maybe I just answered my own question.

    My ancestors came to America to get away from that kind of crap. We rejected European ideals, political and class structures. And because of that rejection have become the only remaining superpower left. We’ve proven we don’t need them to tell us what to do. Maybe that explains a large part of their anger.

  19. Mike Says:

    In the mid-late 1980’s the USS Stark, a US Navy frigate, was in the Persian Gulf when it was struck by two Exocet missles launched from an Iraqi Super Etandard fighter. The Stark was heavily damaged.

    Both the fighter and the missle were French made.

  20. Robert Says:

    Just John:

    “A truly sophisticated lady doesn’t mention that she’s sophisticated. You wanna smoke? Go back to France, just don’t do it in the many graveyards of American soldiers who had to keep bailing you out.”

  21. Shannon Love Says:

    The French come off as arrogant and condescending due to their cultures lack of a concept of social equals. Despite the “Rights of Man” political rhetoric, on an unconscious cultural level the French view every interpersonal relationship as occurring within an hierarchy. One person must be the dominate greater and the other person must be the deferential lesser. This happens even among close friends.

    Talking to a French person immediately becomes a struggle for dominance. Every conversation is a pissing match. The French person will immediately try to assert their dominance, usually by asserting they are smarter, more sophisticated, etc.

    For Americans, the idea that one person is inherently better than another is anathema. We pretend that everybody is a social equal. All conversation occur between equals. We instantly rebel against someone who proclaims themselves our betters.

    It is little wonder the French rub us the wrong way.

  22. hey Says:

    one of the things that reinforce this snobbery is the french language…

    it still has the archaic use of 2 forms of 2nd person: vous and tu

    vous is formal, tu is personal… you use vous with superiors or equals, tu with inferiors and close intimates

    in an non-hierarchical culture, such as that of the english peoples (even engalnd and its aristocrats is more socially equal and friendly than france) there is only one form

    you’ll alos notice that americans and most other english speakers use first names very quickly, or else lastnames as nicknames, rather than wallowing in honorifics and formalities

  23. tom Says:

    Mark Twain ceased to use the expression “That’s unamerican,” he would say, “That’s so French.”

    Somethings don’t change.

  24. Dean Douthat Says:

    hey:

    English actually does have a familiar 2nd person pronoun set: thee, thine, thou. It is obviously archaic. Being archaic exactly makes your point.

  25. Doug Sundseth Says:

    “By the evidence, ‘sophistication’ correlates strongly with no sense of smell.”

  26. rosignol Says:

    I think there is something in the French character, mannerisms and attitude that just comes across poorly to an American. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I’m sure the French don’t try to come across as smarmy, vapid and duplicitious, but something really fails to translate the American sensibilities.

    As near as I can tell, the French think being smarmy, vapid and duplicitious is an indication of sophistication.

    It is something that utterly fails to make that impression on Americans, and the French seem to think that indicates a lack of sophistication on our part.

  27. playah Says:

    I almost dated a french girl once. very pretty, only problem was that I REALLY could not stand her. Talking with her was so incredibly annoying that i just had to give the whole thing up.
    funny thing though a couple of years later I found out the whole school had been calling her ‘that french bitch’ since the moment she got to the place.
    go figure.

  28. jj Says:

    I love the accent! Especially in a woman. I love the language. I enjoy conversation with the French people I have met. They seem so reasonable. I love the country, the museums, the history, Paris, the food, the wine, the taxi drivers, the trains, the Metro, the art, the women…

    I can’t stand the philosophy, the radical intellectuals, the knee-jerk anti-American assumptions, the endemic corruption, the tourist traps, the half-hearted law enforcement, the abusive and lackadaisical sales clerks. Mostly, I can’t stand Chirac. And I seem to have lost my taste for the wine.

    I like to think I have a very nuanced attitude.

  29. Andrea Harris Says:

    Actually, most European languages still use the two forms of “you/your.” It’s English that has discarded the intimate form except when referring to God (“thee/thou” is intimate, “you/your” is formal).

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