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To France’s Rescue


Most of the pro-France email I’ve gotten has been profoundly silly and not worth reprinting or responding to. This guy at least puts some thought in it and deals with facts. I’ll just let it stand for now because I don’t have time for a response:

Dear Mr. Goldberg:

I’m a long-time fan of your writing generally (and of the NRO) and so have watched with a special horror as the rising tide of “France-bashing” has become a tsunami on the NRO site over the last 6 or 8 months. You take matters to a new low, however, in your 12-23-04 essay.

I will prepare a more detailed response in the next few days. Suffice it to say for the moment that your essay is factually challenged, not to mention simply vicious. It has no place on the pages of the National Review. I suppose that you agree with me that French policy towards the US over Iraq since 2002 has been profoundly wrong-headed, just as you would agree with me that the identical views of US liberals on the matter are equally ill-founded. But do you launch ad hominen attacks against “Americans” because you disagree with the foreign policy prescriptions of liberals? More to the point, does a vicious, ad hominen attack on 60 million people further — or harm — your ability to work with those among the 60 million who might actually agree with you on the substance of policy before you gratuitously insulted them?

One hundred and fifty years ago, the United Kingdom supported the Confederacy far, far more than did France. Will you write an equally vicious essay attacking the British?

Or “Let’s not count how many Frenchmen supported the Germans” you suggest. Huh? The number of French who supported the Germans during WWI was probably far, far fewer than the number of Americans who supported the Germans under “Lucky” Lindy’s leadership in 1940. One in every 28 French citizens was killed by Germans 20 years before, which would be something like 1 in every 14 men of all ages. You figure out the casualty rate for men of combat age! Has the US suffered 21 million combat deaths while continuing to counterattack? And you insult this sacrifice with “cheese-eating surrender monkeys?” and then imply that most French “supported the Germans”? What planet were you on when you penned those lines? I also take it that do not have French family members who were imprisoned by the Germans during WWII (a 22 year old woman) or who fled occupied France in 1942 to fight the Germans as part of the allied effort (a 22 year old man). I do. If I read your comments to them, I think that would be in utter disbelief that a respected conservative American intellectual could write such claptrap.

“. . .count how many Frenchmen supported . . . the Holocaust?” While there were shameful deeds done by the Vichy government as all those familiar with that period know, it is a libel to say that “the French” supported the Holocaust. There were shameful deeds done by other governments as well. C’mon Goldberg! You know better than that and you WRITE better than this! Since the Quisling government in Norway supported Germany, why don’t you “count how many Norwegians supported” the Holocaust?

And what has all of this to do with developing policy for contending with Islamic fundamentalism and its terrorist spin-offs?

This is tawdry writing, Mr. G. You are capable of much much better analysis than taking cheap shots like this.

On a more positive note, I suggest you read through Mr. Sarkozy’s new book (I’m not sure whether it’s available in English yet). A thoughtful review of that book from an NRO perspective would be an IMPORTANT contribution to political discourse (assuming that there is still space for Franco-American political discourse after your essay. . . . ).

I so regret finding that this is the first time I have occasion to write you. But the problem has been growing and growing and your essay broke this old camel’s back and I found I had to take time to write.


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