As awkward as it makes me feel to disagree with my betters, InstaPundit and Perry de Havilland are flat wrong about this.
Both make the innocent bystander case, amplified by the letter from Leo LeBrun. To quote LeBrun:
Sure there has been pro-Palestinian street demonstrations with hateful messages, but did you notice that the next day, 300.000 French people took to the same streets to express their disapointment with the Government and their support for Israel? These protestors outnumbered the pro-Palestinians 3to1! I happen to work in a field that depends on American tourists coming here and nothing would sadden me more that seeing Americans stop visiting my country. Would you boycott any product that comes from the Bay Area because lots of students at Berkeley and SFSU legitimize Palestinian terror? Would you give up Rice A Roni? I don’t think so. Please acknowledge that many Frenchmen are good people who sympathize with Israel even if they are not Jewish (you will not find somebody who is more Breton than me!);and love the US for what it stands for, even more so in these trying times. Please don’t make all Americans see France in this way, even though we have a lot of things to improve!
The problem with this assumption is actually pointed out by LeBrun a paragraph earlier:
Our not supporting Israel, our criticizing of US for being ‘simplistic’, our unwillingness to join the US in attacking Sadamm and root out terror are positions that disturb me.
And so does the nonchalance of my government when it comes to horrible acts of anti-semitic hatred.
See, the issue isnt that average French citizens are trashing synagogues, beating Jewish schoolkids, or trashing Jewish cemeteries. They arent. Every culture has violent racist nutjobs, we have had more than a few here in the old U.S. of A.
Reynolds correspondant Haimish Campbell (what a great name!) writes:
Boycotting France to ‘punish’ the French people for the views of some would be rather like boycotting the USA because of the existence of the KKK, the Aryan nation and Susan Sontag.
Fellas, the issue isnt Derrida or even their inexplicable love for Woody Allen. It is that the GOVERNMENT OF FRANCE, the people who control the police, army, nukes, and foreign policy of the nation, thinks that this is no big deal and has to be shamed into responding.
Its one thing to acknowledge that the KKK was frighteningly active (as opposed to pathetically, humorously active, hich is what they are now) in the US thirty years ago. Its another if a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps had said, at a dinner in a foreign capital, that the problems of the United States were all caused by those shitty little nigras, and kept his job.
Now I realize that the French have an
interesting relationship with both the Arab world (my late and ex-father-in-law fought with the French in Algeria) and with Israel (those Mirage plans
). I understand that les banlieue are filled with a violent Arab underclass that the governments of Europe havent begun to cope with.
But we need to have at least the expectation of civilized behavior on the part of Western governments
and the implicit or explicit toleration of racist violence falls on the wrong side of that line.
When I lived in France, it was clear to the French people that any foreign policy issues they might have were really not with the American people, they were with the politicians running things, who they were convinced were simply hoodwinking the American people
because after all, thats what the government in Paris does to the people in Brittany.
And a loud, public opprobrium, if not a boycottfrom the American people, not from some Jewish organization is the best way to get the message across that this isnt interdepartmental infighting, but an overwhelming repulsion toward specific, intolerable behavior.
Reynolds correctly highlighted the shittly little country story, just a week ago:
READER PHILIPPE RAMOFF writes from France, and he’s very offended by my post (below) about the BoycottFrance.Com website. He also sends a link to this story in which Woody Allen compares the filmmakers’ boycott of Cannes to Nazi methods, which he apparently feels bolsters his case. I’m unimpressed. Allen isn’t boycotting Cannes because, frankly, his career is not at a point where he can afford to boycott Cannes. He’s hoping for a comeback. Allen’s odious comparison does him no credit, to put it mildly, nor is Allen generally regarded as a source of moral leadership.
Ramoff also asks: “And, maybe you may explain some day, which collective sin made us, french, mourning for your forgiveness?” Well, there’s a topic the Blogosphere could work on all day. But it’s the consistent practice of siding with terrorists (at least so long as they don’t strike French citizens), the denunciations of American policy, and Americans, as “simplistic,” the tolerance of Islamic extremism, synagogue burning, and antisemitism, the description of Israel as a “shitty little country,” etc., at least for a start, that have people interested in boycotting France. The BoycottFrance.Com site has more information.
As I mentioned in my post, France may actually be coming around. I’m hopeful, but then I’m a well-known optimist.
Posted 5/17/2002 07:34:18 AM
De Havillands arguments are even weaker. He makes the classic well if you do it, you will only piss them off more argument in:
There is nothing quite like annoying but ineffective pressure from outsiders to confirm prejudices, which is why ‘American Jewish Congress’ actions are so idiotic. All it does is play into the hands of the racists who can point to a few empty hotel rooms (not enough to actually scare anyone into line, of course) and then point an accusatory finger at ‘The International Jew’. It is not within the power of American tourists to change the actions of the French state or to significantly alter French public opinion about Jews for the better, even if 100% of potential US visitors to France complied with the AJC’s wishes (and I very much doubt even 5% will).
The ability of such organisations to do harm to the interests of Jewish people (particularly in France) is far greater than their ability to do good if they are going to dismiss the entire French people with a phrase like ‘The French are anti-Semitic’ and then make pronouncements that can only encourage precisely that sentiment.
Well, I guess the waitresses at the Woolworths lunch counter in Greensboro were innocent bystanders, too. And I know that since African-American patrons were denied service already, they didnt cost the counter 5% of their business. And Im sure there were many well-intentioned residents of Greensboro in 1960 who felt unfairly tarred with the discrimination brush.
But ya know what? It worked.
[Feb ’03 Update: Go check out the discussion about France over at Winds of Change.net]
[March 18 Update: Guys, let’s give this a rest, not much new or interesting is being said here, and I mostly have to come delete the comments from trolls. My oldest sons have French passports; I love the French people (I’m even fond of my ex-wife); but there are some issues between us politically … as nationals are legitimately allowed to have … and when I have to choose, I’ll choose the U.S.’s side, for a variety of reasons.]
[March 30 Update:I’ve deleted the comments here, and will continute ot delete them as they come in. Sadly, the tenor of the comments, as I’ve noted above, has become kinda simplistic France- or America-bashing, and this isn’t the site for that. My apologies to the very reasonable posters whose work had to be painted over in order to cover the digital graffiti.]