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I don't think you understand me. I'm saying that, in more than thirty years in France, I have not found the French to have condescending attitudes to the British. That is, smug attitudes that assume superiority.

I'm not talking about insults, or even mistaken views (though not everything cherry-picked from that book* is mistaken, imo). Nor complaints (which I have heard) about British attitudes to France and the French: often justified, in my view. I'm often ashamed of the strident anti-French noise kept up by the Eurosceptic conservative press in the UK. The newspaper you quote from, though it has pretentions to "quality", is part of the chorus. The article is no exception: after a series of out-of-context quotes from a book*, we read:

Last week one of France's most popular chat shows, Ca se discute, joined the fray.

What fray? The one the Telegraph is laboriously attempting to whip up? Are we supposed to imagine all France frothing at the mouth against Britain? What bollocks.

FWIW, Ca se discute is or was not a chat show, but a fake debate (hosted by, indeed, a rat fink). I've no idea what was said in that particular show, but there would have been different and opposing points of view. However, Delarue would have made sure to "pepper" his show with controversial and noisy participants. That's no excuse, but it's not the Telegraph's version, is it?

* The book: googling reveals this bilingual essay was meant for students of the classes prépa and university undergraduates, not for use in schools as the Telegraph wrongly states. It was not a work of "indoctrination" nor a textbook, but a work of reflection. And for all I know, possibly a good one!

And then, thanks to the Telegraph we read:

French pupils taught to denigrate Britain

Euro-sceptic Conservative MPs yesterday denounced the book. Teresa Gorman, the MP for Billericay, said: "This just reflects the true view that the French have of the British.

"They have always thought of the British as the coarse peasants waiting for the niceties of French civilisation. But it was us coarse British who ran the Industrial Revolution while the French were sitting around knitting doilies, before chopping up their aristocracy. That's how civilised they are."

Lovely. They can scrape around for anti-British sentiment in the French media if they like, but it's symptomatic that this (exaggerated) example is over ten years old. Examples are hard to find.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 11:48:16 AM EST
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