Francophobia Ought To Be Un-American

 

WHY RABID FRANCOPHOBIA, ALTHOUGH UBIQUITOUS, IS AN UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITY.

We know the USA is not doing too well when francophobia is rising. Another chapter in the unfolding depression, most probably.

ANTI-FRENCH RACISM, THE GROSS EDITION:

I recently mentioned that Britain and France declared war to Hitler on September 3, 1939, and won on May 8, 1945. This attracted comments such as:

"Phukin phoney French fought phony war.

Much like the French soccer team.

Herein is my problem with you, Patrice. You just cannot reconcile the fact that France gets her ass kicked first by the Brits then the Krauts. Just as Hitler scapegoated the Jews for losing WW 1, with the "stab-in-the-back" propaganda, so have you come up with the lame/same type of apologia. Please do some growing up… Obama used to be a ray of hope, but now you disparage him mercilessly. It is sooo obvious that Obama’s Bus has left without you. Get over it. You have a much better life here than in France. You just have no phukin clue. I am sure you will say you prefer France, but no one will support you there, not even your own mother."

[June 23, 2010. The strange spelling is to avoid spam filters. More personal considerations were edited out. I do not disparage Obama, instead, constructively, I am debating him mercilessly.]

Just as banks do derivatives in another universe, the correspondent above is in a derivative universe too. In reality, France and Britain have been allies since 1815, even invading China and Russia together, as good allies do, and have enjoyed the "Entente Cordiale" for more than a century. It is this Entente that broke fascism, not the belated, ambiguous activities of the USA. It is obvious in World War One. And so it is in World War Two.

By the time the USA started to shoot at Hitler, Hitler had already lost the war in England (Battle of England), North Africa (Afrika Korps had failed to seize the Suez Canal and get Iraqi oil), Russia (Hitler’s army had suffered huge losses at Moscow and Stalingrad)… and over Germany (British bombing raids were destroying German cities, and the Nazis were incapable of stopping them!)

Far from being enemies, France and Britain were beyond friendship, beyond dying for each other. In 1940, Churchill, De Gaulle, the British parliament and the French PM decided the unification of France and Britain. Unfortunately a coup during the apocalyptic Battle of France, the most deadly battle of the Western front in the entire war, prevented its implementation, at the last minute. Informed French contemporaries all regret that the unification did not come to be then (nowadays, as many Americans do not know, and even Paul Krugman recently, French, German and Brits are all citizens of the same Union).

The unification of France and Britain would have allowed France not to cease fire, while giving the entire French population the protected status of (British) citizens. Otherwise, as the French government had been physically destroyed by the Nazis, the Nazis could have claimed that all French resisting them were terrorists, since they had no state to back them up, and kill them like pests (that was done to many French soldiers and officers during the Battle of France, because they had resisted too much; the same happened to a few US soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944). If all French had been British, killing the French like pests would have been a clear and definitive war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Even the New York Times allows its editorialists to feed racist hatred against the French. Roger Cohen wrote there an editorial claiming that "Just when you thought France could sink no further, it discovers improbable new depths to plumb thanks to … this imploding team where no middle ground binds the Muslim boys from the suburban projects and the clean-cut, middle-class French lad — Yoann Gourcuff of good Breton lineage?….It’s individualism rampant…It’s the distance between the tenacious French imaginary of the secular state integrating every immigrant and the facts of increasingly divided identity.

Removing Muslim veils won’t make France whole…Abidal is not alone in being a Muslim convert. Nicolas Anelka… also adopted Islam, as did Franck Ribéry on meeting his wife Wahiba (of North African descent). Romance in the projects happens with those who are there. France has become a land of Fatima Duponts without acknowledging it…something is working in America that’s dysfunctional in France. I know where I’d rather be an immigrant…Meanwhile, not wanting to look as rich as a French footballer, the president has cancelled the traditional Bastille Day garden party at the Elysée palace. It cost over $900,000 last year. Looks like a false economy to me. France should at least go down in style."

[The French team went on strike because Anelka, who Mr. Cohen condemns as a Muslim convert, was fired. Here is the paradox for American neo-conservatives. American neo-conservatives always celebrate the mediocre Ayn Rand for writing the "Fountainhead", a book where American millionaires go on strike, and the USA stop functioning. Now, of course, American millionaires never went on strike, and never will. But, in another French first, the entire world could admire the world’s first strike by multi millionaires, the soccer stars of the French football team. You would have thought that American neo-conservatives would have been on their knees, making incantations to their idols. Instead, they found in that multi millionaire strike another reason to vilipend France, showing that France is just a safe way to express their otherwise undirected racial hatred.]

Mr. Cohen, a practicing Jew (according to his published editorials) apparently resent the fact that some French convert to Islam, and that France is turning into Fatima Duponts without acknowledging it.

I know one of these converts, a good friend. His wife, born in Morocco as a Muslim, has been a close friend of mine for decades. She is a very pretty, blue eyed PhD biologist, turned manager. Her husband converted to Islam, because Islam forbids Muslim women to get married to non Muslims, under the penalty of death (in theory). Death being inconvenient, and wanting to see their family in Morocco, without the threat of such an inconvenience, he converted. The French being deeply secular, they don’t mind wearing a label they don’t care about.

Indeed they are both secular in the best French tradition, and do nothing Islamist (differently from me, who drinks no alcohol whatsoever). These pseudo conversions are a general phenomenon, hundreds of thousands of French have done it. They just mean that family peace is the true religion of France. Speaking of integration, polls show that even those French who are practicing Muslims celebrate Christmas, etc.

According to Cohen, the French soccer/football team loss proved that France was a bad, divided, racist society, whereas the American victory proved the USA was great in all ways, a racially harmonious society. Cohen forgot to mention the Watts riots (deadly and with nothing equivalent in France in the last 100 years). Cohen forgot that, in the last 30 years or so, only two French passport holders were accused of Muslim terrorism. One was killed by French police, the other is in American prison (he was implicated in 9/11).

Just last week six American Muslims were condemned for pro-"Muslim" terrorism (to life). The total Muslim origin population in France is even bigger than the American one (something which seems to upset Cohen). So one can compare. Many American Muslims hate the USA to the point of mass murdering Americans. Nothing of the sort seems on the horizon in France. All the recent anger of French Muslim in France was about the defeat of the Algerian football team (made mostly of dual citizenship French star players), resulting in the immolation of 15 of their neighbors’ cars by excited teenagers. The French repression apparatus tends to give a Gallic shrug to this sort of excitement. Much worse happens in the USA, where guns are used liberally, killing more than 30,000 Americans a year, and the total population in prison is more than 30 times greater than in France.

Even Obama has amplified from the presidential pulpit the concept of "anti-Americanism". But, all too much "anti-Americanism" is just how condemning plutocratism is called. For example in the mind of the first correspondent above, I am clearly "anti-American" (I removed the abusive parts where he mentioned this, to avoid too much inflammation).

It is true that, for example, I condemn Henry Ford for the early and gigantic help he gave to Hitler. We may have enjoyed Herr Hitler, just because of Mr. Ford. Among other generosities, Ford put Hitler on a yearly $50,000 salary, a gigantic sum under the hyper-inflation of the 1920s. Hitler had a private army with which he tried to seize power in Germany in 1923, and, considering the exsanguinous state of the Weimar republic at the time, only Americans could have paid for it. And that was just the beginning of American plutocracy’s interference in the rise of Nazi Germany.

Ford wrote a book, the “International Jew”, that the Nazis printed and distributed for free, by 1923, in their luxurious headquarters in Munich (no doubt paid by American plutocrats). So I am anti-Ford. Does that make me "anti-American"?

The notion of "Anti-American" activity is a curious one. Hyper nationalism in the USA is not just the First Amendment, the right of free speech, but apparently an imposed duty. The US congress had, until 1975, HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee). Now it still has the United States Oath of Allegiance (officially referred to as the "Oath of Allegiance," 8 C.F.R. Part 337 (2008)). It is an oath that must be taken by all immigrants who wish to become United States citizens.

Part of the short current oath is as follows:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I … will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…so help me God.

This is curious, because it admits and expects, under oath, that the USA has “domestic enemies. It also violates the separation of church and state since people are supposed to be helped by Dog. Not everybody ought to swear they believe in Dog. It contradicts pretty explicit text from the Founders, and is obviously anti-secularist. But never mind.

So why all the excitement against France? Well, France is the parallel republic, the progenitor, the historical source of the roots of American civilization… Wherever, whenever the USA does something, there is always the French alternative manner, now amplified by the entire European union, which has become a big France. The horror.

Of course the reciprocal is true, but, differently from the USA, this is well admitted in France, and, contemplating US alternatives there is not viewed as an Un-French, or anti-French Activity. The same is true all around Europe. Saying that such and such is much better in the USA than in Europe, is never viewed as a reason to terminate friendships in the EU, but so it is with the reciprocal in the USA. The smell of HUAC and the Oath of Allegiance is still in the air, like sulfur around a volcanic crater. No doubt why the USA has been going down the wrong road for 30 years.

Civilizations die when they are wrong, big time. The best way to not get wrong, big time, is to try to be right, honestly, and by answering others’ critiques, in depth.

By the way, truth be told, I have been driving Ford vehicles for more than 16 years… Intelligence rests on the ability to make distinctions. Henry Ford may have created Hitler, but his company can still make good cars, built by honest workers. And, truth be told, some more, not all of Henry Ford’s ideas were wrong. Some were excellent, like the one of paying his workers enough, so that they could buy his cars (an idea which eludes the genius of greed in Wall Street, version 2010). But very correct ideas here, does not mean no lethal ideas, there. Philosophically, it does not pay to be personal, it pays to target precise thoughts for destruction. (And others, for construction).

Intelligence, distinctions, prognostications: of these survival, and morality, are made. And what is deeply un-American is to behave as if it were not so.

Patrice Ayme

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10 Responses to “Francophobia Ought To Be Un-American”

  1. John Lovell Says:

    How is it that the Germans were able to take France in a shocking six weeks in 1940.
    My understanding is that the Maginot Line was misguided as it was assumed German armor couldn’t breach the forest- but they did.
    And that the French Army High Command was befuddled and largely incompetent. After all, France had the largest standing army in Europe in 1940 and more and better armor than Germany.

    With your tedious railing against alleged American support for Hitler, how do explain Vichy and the willing, even eager collaboration of hundreds of thousands of French with the Nazis? All those high ranking French Judges? How do you explain all those trains leaving France loaded up with Jews going to their deaths, aided by French collaborators. Could it be that France after Germany has historically been the most anti-Semitic country in western Europe? See Dreyfuss- j’accuse!

    When American forces landed in North Africa in 1942 the Vichy French fleet fired on the Americans. Shortly, when the coast was secured, the American fleet radioed the commander of the French fleet telling them it was over so the could stop trying to kill us and join us. But the French fleet chose to continue working for the Nazis and trying to kill us instead.
    We then had to neutralize the Nazi collaborator French fleet and did so.
    How do you explain that?

    So the French were defeated in six weeks and sat out the rest of the war, many overtly working for the Nazis. Yet you call America’s contribution “ambiguous.” Well ours were dying to liberate your country while yours were helping to load death trains with your own people.

    And France is now the cradle of civilization? Are you out of your mind?
    Try Athens, Rome, Florence…
    I’ve just read an 800 page book on your revolution and it’s certainly not so simple as “Let them eat cake” and the guillotine. Is this what you are referring to? Then what about the Terror? What about Napoleon? Where’s the civilization any more than 20 other countries? What a ridiculous, self-serving claim. Typical French arrogance. Your empire and your colonies are gone. You have nuclear weapons but your longing to restore your position as a major world power is obvious and bathetic- yes, bathetic, not pathetic.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      @ John Lovell: Propaganda is subtle. It always mixes the true and the false. What you call my “tedious railings” is not the usual perspective. Besides being the truth (and that will be established someday as an historical evidence), it has the advantage of not being part of the usual tedious propaganda. It does not come to your mind, apparently that the trains you are talking about were part of a deliberate campaign of extermination, not just of the Jews, the resistance, and various people they objected to, but also of the French population itself.

      Not only you blame the victime, but you accuse the victim of the crime of attempting its own extermination. In my own family enormous risks were incurred for four years. Jews and the son of Daladier were secretly sheltered, more than doubling the size of my family (and people were borderline starving in general, let alone when they had more than twice the alloted mouths to feed). Family members were shot, tortured (probably to death, we don’t know). My Mom, a teenager with her parents had to flee the Gestapo, in the woods, after they found the country house where they had taken refuge (from the Gestapo). They were saved at the last moment by an American patrol.

      What you say can be read as deeply misinformed. Read more future essays to be informed more properly. When you say that the French sat out the rest of the war, you insult me personally as deep as you can go. As a child I get to know family members who fought six years, as officers. My own dad, drafted as a teenager in Algeria, did severe fighting in Italy, Provence, etc. my Mom barely escaped the death trains, several times, running for her life. And the guys chasing her had feldgrau uniforms, with helmets, and that is why they did not catch her. They were not French. The death trains were not operated by the treachorous Vichy French, but directly, by the Nazis.

      Next to where my grandparents were so busy resisting was the maquis du Vercors, which occupied several elite Nazi divisions, including paratroopers, just before and around D Day. 5,000 resistance fighters and innocent civilians died, just there, due to an eleborate deception of the Allied command, which made both the French resistance and the Nazis believe that the disembarkment was going to happen there, in the mountains, using an air field… that the resistance had prepared… and that the Nazis landed on…

      Your understanding is very incomplete, your excitation against France is misguided. Reality is complex. Being a “major world power” seems to rank high for you, but only being a “major world power of the mind” truly counts. History shows that tiny places: Athens, Florence, London, the Netherlands, etc. have contributed much to civilization. It is also true that most of these places are within 1,000 Roman miles of Paris. Most of what we now call civilization came from what the Roman called the “Pars Occidentalis”, alter the “IMPERIUM FRANCORUM”. I try to understand this, and part of this understanding is the hostility to it, Francophobia being a common element.

      Learning history through propaganda is not good enough. Hitler’s books are full of historical propaganda. I despise napoleon, and The Terror. But, certainly, if all the old regimes, including Austria, Prussia and England had not attacked the French republic, there would not have been the Terror. British Prime Ministers have recognized this explicitely, in the meantime, even about a century ago. As I read what Americans take for granted about France, it’s disgusting too, but a lot of it is plain and simple false.

      Anyway good luck at sublimating your hatred into genuine knowlege, I will try to help. I have a 8,000 + words description of important elements of WWII as France really did it, close to ready. In the meantime, I would suggest to cool off with the accusation that the French were Nazis trying to exterminate the French. Only idiots would believe that. Instead think about why the USA was not at Munich. Think why the USA condemned and boycotted France as a “belligerent country”, even forbidding US citizens to board French ships, and consider why US soldiers waited until 1944 to join in D day, whereas the French gov requested them in 1940. And why did the USA recognized the coup of Vichy, instead? And why sending back to Germany boats full of Jewish refugees? (This is why France was stuffed with hundrds of thousands of Jewish refugees when she fell: because the USA had refused them admission.)
      PA

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  2. John Cole Says:

    “On the pivotal importance of the French to the American Revolution, see for example, Bernard Fall, Last Reflections on a War, New York: Doubleday, 1967. An excerpt (p. 276): France
    [W]hen British general Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown to the combined French and American forces . . . his aide, General O’Hara, made a slight (and, perhaps, intentional) error in etiquette as he tried to surrender his commander’s sword to French general Rochambeau rather than to one of the American generals present. . . . Count Rochambeau . . . turned down the honor, and the sword was finally handed to General Benjamin Lincoln, who had been defeated by the British at Charleston, S.C., three years earlier. . . .
    Shorn of almost two centuries of 4th-of-July oratory, [the American Revolutionary War] was a military operation fought by a very small armed minority {2.67%}– at almost no time did Washington’s forces exceed 8,000 men in a country which had at least 300,000 able-bodied males — and backed by a force of 31,897 French ground troops and 12,660 sailors and Marines manning sixty-one major vessels. The total cost of the campaign to the French (almost $2 billion) drove the French monarchy into bankruptcy and subsequent revolution. But politically, the French had achieved exactly what they had intended to do: they had temporarily shattered Britain’s position of pre-eminence not only in America but in Europe as well.
    http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/understandingpower/chap7.htm note 48

    {France had followed a subsidy policy when it helped finance the American War of Independence. “French financial assistance, expressed in consignments of munitions and supplies, contributed greatly to the success of the revolting North American colonies leading up to Yorktown, and for this last victory the revolutionists were indebted in equal measure to French military and naval support, which is estimated to have cost France $700,000,000 and for which she asked no recompense. France’s help was expressed in outright gifts amounting to nearly $2,000,000 and in post-alliance loans to the extent of some $6,000,000.
    In making funding arrangements with Benjamin Franklin, the government of Louis XVI remitted wartime interest charges, a course that the United States was to pursue after the World War [only] in her funding agreement with Belgium.” However, the United States was
    lax in paying the loan portion of French assistance. “Between 1786, when the first repayment fell due, and 1790, no contribution on the debt either of principal or interest could be made by either the Confederation or the infant Republic, and repeated calls for a
    settlement by the new-born French republic in 1793 fell on ears attuned only to the needs of an impoverished people struggling to nationhood. It was left to Alexander Hamilton eventually to apply his financial genius to a tardy liquidation of this indebtedness, which was converted into domestic bonds and retired in 1815.”9
    http://michael-hudson.com/books/superimperialism.pdf }

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      @ John Cole: Thanks for the very judicious comment, and the help… I had forgotten to mention that slight detail. It has been said that more than 90% of American cartridges were made in France, let it be said in passing. That is why to declared France a “belligerent country” because she opposed Hitler, and refusing to help formally at the USA government level in 1940, is hard to swallow. The King of England may have been crazy, and the British parliament hard to stand, they were no Hitler. But Hitler was Hitler, and when Hitler came, the USA, well… I have mentioned what happened in the past, but soon some more is coming in my essay, “LIKE LIONS”…
      PA

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  3. BlueMole Says:

    Great Piece!

    Sadly the US Media find France an easy target and ignorant Amerecans gobble up this anti-French crap.

    But if America had never entered WWII, Stalin would probably not have stopped in Germany

    France was smart not following Dumbo into Iraq, after getting suckered into Afghanistan (known as “Graveyard of Empires” for a reason); which began the latest anti-French idiocy.

    Imagine if BP were a French company. We wouldn’t be hearing this “stop picking on poor BP and those poor pensioners” nonsense.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, BlueMole, excellent point!

      But, because of the well known francophobia, many French companies keep away from the USA (Renault is disguised as Nissan, and Peugeot is present indirectly through its collaboration with BMW).

      Actually Total SA, the French oil giant, has tremendous offshore and deep sea drilling expertise (full disclosure: my Dad was a geologist at Total SA, and, long ago, ordered (in the Netherlands!) the construction of a floating oil rig to prospect off Africa to explore off shore salt domes that looked promising as oil catches; the rigg found plenty of oil, some of it exploited to this day…). But Total never had a serious accident as BP did. The safety record of BP is abysmal, even comparing comparables, i.e., other “Anglo-Saxon” companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico (760 violations versus one for Exxon?)

      I see the anti-French mood as part of a campaign against Liberty-Equality-Fraternity. So it looks anti-French, and it is, but its main target is the gullible population of the USA.

      Now as far as the USA not entering WWII, that was simply not a possibility after France and Britain went to war. They just delayed as much as possible. As far as Stalin was concerned, if, somehow, the USA had been out of the picture totally, Stalin would not have gotten tremendous help from the USA to start with. But it gets complicated, because the stupid Japanese generals attacked the USA. That allowed Stalin to dispatch his Siberian army, 250,000 strong, and superbly adapted to extreme cold, to Moscow, and transformed the Nazi stalemate at Moscow into a full debacle (because Hitler did not listen to Guderian, the one who had defeated France 18 months prior).

      Stalin had 600 divisions at the end of the war, but they were exhausted, their equipment wasted. If it had been just Free French + British + Stalin against Nazi Germany, it’s extremely unclear what would have happened. Churchill and De Gaulle would still have attacked from North Africa. They had already defeated the Afrika Korps in its main mission. Coups in Germany and Russia may well have happened, and more palatable variants of those regimes evolve. Hitler and Stalin were pretty much buttressing each other up (for a long time, two decades, Stalin had been justifying his terror and plots by the future German/”capitalist” attack).

      Some historians (Ferguson) like to make fictionalized history, and so do I. But it’s easier, and more fruitful to make it on a microlocal scale (Ferguson gets carried away). For example it is extremely easy to find scenario in which the French army would have decapitated the Nazis in May 1940. The French High Command just had to keep their mobile armor reserve in reserve (instead of sending it to the Netherlands, which had been treachorously neutral 2 weeks before. Fueling the third (heavy) armored division would have been enough too. Or believing that Spitfire pilot. Or anticipating another breakthrough at Sedan, like the time before the last time. Or keeping the Nazi king away from inspecting the French defenses for a full month (why he was not found out and judged after the war, another mystery: he should have been hanged).
      PA

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  4. BlueMole Says:

    Thanks! Speculation is such fun. Even seemingly minor events can have vast consequences. I agree with the attack on Liberty-Equality-Fraternity, with France being the easy target. Plutocrats need to keep us riff-raff down.

    I have bits in all camps. Dad’s folks came off the boat from Germany. Other Grandpa was New Orleans French, Grandma North Louisiana, English, Dutch, Irish, Scotch, and whatever else; nobody is quite sure, and I’m born and raised in NJ.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Blue Mole: Socrates irritates me. Nietzsche was also irritated by Socrates, and he said, probably because he felt so close to him. I don’t feel that close (because of Socrates’ anti-science, superstitious positioning). But recently I discovered that (according to Plutarch) he advised fellow Athenians to consider themselves not just Athenians, but citizens of the world. So I gave him several good points.

      Certainly I feel strong enough in my Senegalese, Algerian/Saharan, European and American cultural, phenomenological morphogenesis to talk as if I were from all these places, deep down inside, which I am.

      From this varied background, I have zero moral tolerance for nationalistic arguments, strictures of scriptures, and tyranny of origins. All the more since people from the various places taunt me rather frequently by informing me that I do not belong, and they do not even know what I think about, another proof of the evil that lurks in the apparently most innocent attachments.
      PA

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  5. contentedfrool Says:

    Patrice,

    Not sure if this page is still being reviewed or not, but, I just wanted to say how much I loved your in depth and correct analysis of the French and WWII. I’m an American, but, my mom’s French, dad frmo Minnesota and I spent my childhood in France.

    The level of Francophobia in the US has alsways been disconcerting to say the least, and while it’s not nearly at the level if was before the start of the Iraqi Invasion, it’s still fairly prevalent.

    Bravo pour votre cite excellent!

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Contentedfrool: Thanks for the compliment! You are lucky I came across your comment, the wordPress software is not too good telling me about old comments… I just made an essay on Senegal, certainly part of the greater French culture.
      “disconcerting” is indeed the proper qualificative. it took me years to figure it out. For the longest time, I thought it was about me.

      I look forward further comments from you, your perspective is obviously exceptional.
      Few people, even in France, dare investigate what really happened in WWII; in particular, saying anything about those who supported Hitler is viewed as heretical!
      PA

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