Monday, November 08, 2004

The Frenchman's Burden
As the European Orientalists would cast a gaze across the Orient and see nations ready to be Europeanized, or exploited or 'righted' from their collision course with history, the evangelicals of the french intelligentsia see America as the soul who needs saving. An object of pity, in fact.

In one of the most respected world publications, Le Monde has printed what has to be the essence of condescension, in an article headlined:
What’s the matter with West Virginia?

The first paragraph leads off with a racial epithet and some poor writing.
We see a lot of "We support our troops" signs. We meet a brother and sister in the state capital, Charleston, who will vote Republican for "religious reasons"; yet the brother is a schoolteacher and he has no health insurance.

Way to start off. The french really shouldn't try to "do" "down home" and folksy. It comes across as..oh, racist. But hey! The patronizing doesn't stop there!
The Republicans’ phoney populism and constant insistence on issues of cultural identity - religion, hunting and tradition - take advantage of the fact that people have little time for social history.
Purdue [a teacher] stresses how difficult it is to teach social history at school, despite the victories of the past. The unions have produced a remarkable book on the subject, Labour History Class, which contains miners’ letters, press-cuttings and essay topics. It’s very clear that its objective is to raise young people’s awareness about the class struggles of the past. But local schools rejected the book since they seem to prefer to promote well-known commercial brand names rather than teach social history.

Oh, the agony! The stupid Americans won't conform and buy the hottest communist propaganda text out there! Can't they learn? Don't they know history? If they did, they wouldn't vote for Bush. Those fools.

Not impressed? How about this gem?
The Bush administration has generally agreed to all the employers’ demands, making mountain removal much easier and loosening the rules on health and safety. Silicosis still kills hundreds of miners every year in the US.

What is Silicosis? Has it gone up since Bush took office? How does this relate to the previous sentence? Is it prevalent in the West Virginia? Was the editor asleep?

What a headache...and now for the climax:
It is clear from what we saw in the Appalachians that the populism of the US right no longer feeds mainly on racism (West Virginia came out against slavery during the civil war) or on xenophobia.

Aw shucks, cooter. You really think so? What does french populism run on? Whoa...nevermind. *Cough*Anti semitism*AHEM*Anti Americanism*Cough*

On the contrary it draws on resentment fuelled by the upper classes’ undisguised contempt for those not in the know..

Er, not be confused by the french contempt for those they *perceive* to be 'not in the know'.

O France! Pity the Poor! (The US has more money than you) Pity the Stupid! (Can you match their quality of the Ivey League? I've been to the Hole known as the University of Paris.) Pity the Americans, they know not what they do!

Ah, the French gave up one type of colonialist-enabling religious belief, and picked up another! The French must save the US warmongers from being warmongers like the French! They must be saved from their superior education and levels of wealth!


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