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The French Way - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
The French Way
I do my best to live under a rock and not know what's going on in the world. This is an immature way to live one's life, I know, but it makes me a happier person for the time being.

Those of you who know me well know that I don't hold very strong political opinions. I'm a radical moderate if there ever was one. For the most part, I don't feel that I'm educated enough about the issues to hold hard and fast to my opinions. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, of course, but aren't there always? Anyway, I'm on a tangent. My point was that I don't typically get riled up about world events. A failing of mine, actually, but a personality trait nonetheless.

France has been pissing me off for years, so why should I pay attention to what's going on over there now? Because it's inexcusable and I my ignoring the situation is even more inexcusable. The anti-Semitic tension is indescribable. I know a lot of people remain ignorant about the rise of anti-Semitism around the globe (and here, in the US, we are not immune to it, so don't be fooled). I often turn a blind eye to what others consider anti-Semitism because there are just so many little things that I can't harp on them all. But it's really getting to be scary. Really.

Some of you may recall an incident in France last June. A young Jewish girl at the aptly named "Albert Camus School" was attacked and beaten in an act of anti-Semitism. I certainly didn't remember this particular incident. There were so many attacks last year I couldn't keep track. Taken alone it is a school yard scuffle with some bigoted kids. Added to the numerous incidents it's scary.

But wait! It gets better! Or worse, actually.

The parents of this young girl have now been ordered by the French Court to pay the school $4000 Euros!! Why? Oh, yes, because they talked to the media about the incident. France, the home of the democratic way. The country whose constitution we based ours on in large part. The country whose ideology emancipated the Jews.

And yet. Yet it seems like this is the French Way. "She was asking for it. Being Jewish and all..."

If you can read French, the only decent article I've been able to find is found here. If anyone finds an English article, let me know. I found only one brief mention of it, but it wasn't worthy of posting the link. Update: I was able to get Google to translate the article for me. You can find the article here. It has some translating issues, but for the most part, it's readable.

So I have two basic questions that arise from this

1. Where is the public outrage? Why don't we hear about this? Why can't I find any article on this in English? Shouldn't the US be outraged that France so blatantly squashes any freedom of speech for these parents?


2. What can I do? How can I make a difference? jeannegrrl suggested not buying French products. To the best of my knowledge the only French product that I buy with any regularity is my perfume, which I haven't bought in over a year, so I'll avoid buying French products, but that's not a huge impact. How can I really make a difference?

Current Mood: aggravated aggravated

17 comments or Leave a comment
yermie From: yermie Date: April 4th, 2003 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)

French constitution?

Maybe I'm mistaken here, but from what I remember, they based theirs on us. We had our revolution in 1776, they did theirs in 1787 (or 1789?). True, our Constitution wasn't ratified until about 1789, but I didn't think we based ours on theirs.

But, I've been wrong exactly 3.14159 times today, so I may be way off base...

As for French products to avoid: Naieve... I mean, Evian, Perrirer, some of the smellier cheeses, Yoplait?(it sounds French), Chateau de Chasseau, cars by Renault, and of course, French Fries...

Well, ok, maybe not the fries.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: April 4th, 2003 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

yeah. you're right about the constitution. We did base some of our ideology on theirs, though.

okay, I never buy Evian or Perrier. I can't get kosher French cheeses. Don't even know what Chateau de Chasseau is. I don't buy yogurt much. I can't afford a car...

And don't you mean "Freedom Fries"?

But thanks for the ideas!
storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

Most of our ideology and legal system come from Britain.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: April 4th, 2003 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

While much of our law came from British Common Law, I would argue that much of our ideology was a direct reaction *against* Britain. We were very much influenced by the French Enlightenment, without any doubt.

And we were far more progressive than Britain. Jews, for example, were automatically emancipated in this country, without debate, by way of our Constitution. This was the only country in which there was no public debate about the advisability of emancipating the Jews. To be fair, we were barbarians when it came to African Slaves and the rights of women and the rights of poor, non-land-owning citizens, so I'm not saying we were all great...but so long as the Jew in question was male, rich, and land-owning, he could vote just like the rest of you.

It still doesn't change my point. And in fact, Trey made my point even better... France modeled their constitution on OURS. Which meant they held our ideals in such esteem as to want to imitate them. And Yet. Freedom of Speech isn't cherished there? For me, this isn't even so much an issue of the anti-Semitic element. This is a question of what the F**K are they thinking making the parents pay the principal of the school 4000 Euros (roughly equivalent to $4000 right now) just because they talked to the media about what happened? I think it's ludicrous.
storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

Rhode Island had religious freedom from the beginning, long before the revolution and Constitution. Not all of the colonies (like Massachusetts) were founded by religious bigots; many were freer than Britain (or any other monarchy in Europe) from day one -- in large part a reaction to the continent they'd left behind, of course.

As for France's Constitution, you really have to ask "which one?" -- I'm drawing a blank on exactly how many different governments they've had since 1776. One old joke has a Frenchman lecturing an American: "How can you claim to know more about democracy than us? You've only had one Republic in the last 200 years and we've had three!"

And as for France today -- I've had contempt for the country, culture, attitude, and government for years now... The recent drastic rise in anti-Semitism is, for me, just another reason among many why I couldn't give a damn what they have to say to us. Indeed, I consider it a good sign whenever they aren't on the same side of an issue as we are. It's when they agree with us that I worry.

As for their freedom of speech -- sure, in America, some people get upset when there's booing during the national anthem, for example. But the French recently made that a crime.

yermie From: yermie Date: April 4th, 2003 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

Ok, so I can't spell...

It's Chateau de Chassilier, and it's found here

Tho, I was thinking more along the lines of Chateau Bleu. Or perhaps the ever popular Cuivre Reserve Château Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga.

Oh, and as long as you're boycotting France, no going to the Louvre.
yermie From: yermie Date: April 4th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)


Ha! you cant' go there. the link's busted.

Try this one instead.
storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

French's Mustard is British, with no connection to France. They rushed to make that clear a month or so ago when Boycott France fever started rising rapidly.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: April 4th, 2003 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

tee hee. that's pretty funny.

What about Grey Poupon?
storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

Unknown. I guess you'd have to check the label...
storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: French constitution?

Which reminds me of those "This salsa was made in New York City!" commercials...
From: bodnej Date: April 4th, 2003 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Grey Poupon not French. Yoplait not French. Nestle not French. Dannon French.

Post did an article on just this topic earlier in the week:


In other anti-Semitic news, Oberlin is having a lovely outbreak of Israel hatred. The school's official response? Mealy-mouthed nonsense in the face of bigotry:

[President Dye is] calling the Zionism=racism message "hurtful" and "divisive" and one that will make it "more difficult to have open, engaged dialogue on campus." In these difficult and uncertain times, Dye added, "we must be especially mindful of appreciating our differences and of respectfully negotiating our disagreements."


My wife is a Jewish Oberlin alum who donates money, and I know there are more out there. We've got to organize and let Oberlin know that if this keeps up, the money is going away. Can anyone help out?

storvik From: storvik Date: April 4th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Where is the public outrage? Why don't we hear about this?

Most of the intelligentsia and talking heads still sympathize with France more than with America, which is one reason why you don't hear much about what's going on over there (although that's changing a lot lately). It's just not politically correct to hate the French, which is why the france_sucks community was shut down by LJ, but all sorts of anti-America, anti-Bush, and so on communities still run rampant.

notchad From: notchad Date: April 4th, 2003 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Lets organize a "Flip off France day" Where the entire country give fance the bird.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: April 4th, 2003 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)


I love it!
From: bodnej Date: April 4th, 2003 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

A suggestion by Jonah Goldberg...

Jonah Goldberg suggests that since we're renaming the airport in Baghdad, we should rename Iraq, too. He suggests "France." If anyone wants to refer to the current country known as France, they should use "Old France" or "EuroFrance" (a la EuroDisney).

Jonah is a funny guy...read the article!


estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: April 5th, 2003 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A suggestion by Jonah Goldberg...

Alida suggested I write to the French Ambassador
17 comments or Leave a comment