Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Arrogance of the French

Why they can't stand us--and why the feeling is mutual.

Richard G Chesnoff, journalist and inhabitant of France, tries to explain why America and France aren't getting too well. According to Chesnoff, any time we do get along is an aberration. First of all, philosophically the French are incapable of team play, so getting along is not a huge motivating factor, and graciousness in triumph or defeat is unthinkable. Second, they think American influence in the world is an abomination, since the French should be the leaders of food, fashion, the arts, and diplomacy. Third, even when we weren't leading the world, we were allies of England, whom the French hate on principle (and the feeling is mutual, to be honest). Fourth, their philosophy is very "I am right, so you must be wrong," with all the endearing traits such an attitude fosters.

To be fair, Chesnoff seems to like the French anyway, but he doesn't expect any other Americans to share his feelings. At the end, he includes a few appendices, such as a phrasebook of responses to French rudenesses, and a list of French-owned concerns that could be boycotted if the occasion demands.

Having said all this, it was interesting, but made me feel like discarding my Dijon mustard and my Dior lipstick. So I probably won't read it again.


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