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Marine Le Pen: Making France Revisionist Again

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It’s a good week for anti-Semitism in Europe.

Monday morning, the Hungarian President signed a law that essentially bans Central European University from operating (as part of the ruling party’s obsessive anti-Soros campaign).

But, ever a trend setter, Marine Le Pen made the spectacular statement this weekend that France was not responsible for the infamous Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup of 13,000 Jews, the majority of whom were sent on to their deaths at Auschwitz.

This is not run-of-the-mill Holocaust denial—Le Pen does not dispute that the Jews were gathered and deported. Rather, she refuses to allow that “France” was at fault. As translated by the Washington Post,

I don’t think that France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv. I think that in general, more generally, if there were those responsible, it was those who were in power at the time. This is not France.

This is the magical version of French history where all the true French were valiant members of the Resistance. That myth was thoroughly propagated by Charles de Gaulle as a means of bringing the country back together post-Liberation. It was also thoroughly debunked by historians like Robert Paxton. The particular pathos that supported denials of (and, later, apologies for) Vichy’s actions was also well explored by Henry Rousso—you may remember him as the guy detained for ten hours in Houston in February and threatened with deportation.

Le Pen’s statement is a bit surprising, in that she has painstakingly distanced her National Front Party from the kinds of overt and explicit anti-Semitism her father (Jean-Marie Le Pen) had espoused. Conveniently, her support for Jews could be measured in overt anti-Muslim proposals.

Perhaps the most troubling bit of Le Pen’s revisionism is her insistence that it is necessary for France’s health:

France has been mired in people’s minds for years. In reality, our children are taught that they have every reason to criticize her, to see only the darkest historical aspects. I want them to be proud to be French again.

And here is the echo of every rising ultra-nationalist, make-the-white-world-great-again populist in today’s world. Acknowledging the historical sins of our societies and cultures (let alone actually critiquing them—or demanding that we reckon with their lingering effects) is weakness. National pride can rest only on the unsullied, imaginary foundation of whitewashed history. And in these newly proud nations, there is, of course, no room for those against whom we have sinned.

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  • Bitter Scribe

    I wonder how the righties who are now lionizing her will process her statement, which basically comes down to, Don’t blame us—we really were a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

    • McAllen

      I imagine they’re not too bothered by it–as Melissa says, the feeling that your nation has never, ever done anything wrong is pretty universal to all right-wing nationalists.

      • cpinva

        here in the US, we have the guys who still insist that great-great-grandpappy, who was a grunt in Lee’s army, was fighting, not to defend slavery, but for “stat’s raghts”. to accept that great-great-grandpappy committed treason, in defense of slavery, would crush these guys, because it would be an admission that great-great-grandpappy was either a complete idiot, who allowed himself to become cannon fodder for the slave owner’s war (he didn’t own any, he was a dirt-poor farmer, and was never likely to ever be wealthy enough to own any), or he was a total scumbag, who knowingly committed treason, to defend an indefensible institution. either way, these guys are fucked mentally.

        same thing with the French, and how their grandfathers/great-grandfathers acted during the occupation: they all want to think their’s were heroic members of the resistance, not collaborators.

        • Joe

          The population of France in the 1940s was 60 million people. 30 million in the Resistance and 30 million collaborators. – Coluche

          • Ahuitzotl

            3059 million in the Resistance and 30 1 million collaborators

        • BiloSagdiyev

          who allowed himself to become cannon fodder for the slave owner’s war (he didn’t own any, he was a dirt-poor farmer, and was never likely to ever be wealthy enough to own any)

          Yeesh.I just realized that this is just like the taxation-on-households-well-over-$200K/yr type issue: sure they’re in no danger of cracking that threshold this year… next year… the year after that… but WHAT IF? They cuold win the lottery! Or find out they had a rich uncle they didn’t know about! yadda yadda.

          So retrocactively they’re still upset at the crushing of their ancient dream of their ancestors maybe someday owning slaves.

          Unless… they want to own some in the future. The guards at Angola having their houses’ lawns mown for free by inmates does make me suspect that.

          • Rob in CT

            See also: the estate tax.

            That’s if they even understand the issue well enough to understand they’ll never pay that tax, mind you, as opposed to simply hearing “taxes” and having a Pavlovian response.

          • sigaba

            No need to even project their will into future generations. Even if they owned no slaves, they would rather have lived in a world where the best black man would always be less than them, no matter how poor and destitute they were. White supremacy isn’t just about economics or who gets to sip sweet tea on the porch while the cotton is picked.

            The social order also gave the landowners enough room to make the genteel lie that they weren’t actually capitalists, but a form of nobility that united wealth and cultural authoritah. You can’t have landed nobility without serfs.

        • Rob in CT

          I’ve always found ancestor-worship odd. It may be that I’m the oddball, but I really don’t feel pride/shame because of something an ancestor did/didn’t do, and don’t understand people who do.

          My parents, maybe a little bit. I mean, I’m not responsible for them, but I do know them well, love them, and have to deal with them ;) So a little.

          Grandparents, yeah not really. I knew 2 of the 4, and one was an ignorant racist asshole (though, as usual, that’s not *all* he was) and the other was a great grandmother who put up with him.

          Anybody back past that is a stranger, so whatever.

          • dave

            I feel the same way. I’ve never understood it. Even if a distance ancestor did something really great, I might think it was pretty cool, but I can’t imagine being able to summon any real pride over it.

          • Dennis Orphen

            Those millionaires aren’t are going to temporarily embarrass themselves.

            Among many, many other things.

          • RonC

            Although I’ve never been prouder of my ancestors when my grandmother responded to some nice DAR ladies who wanted her to join, that: “That would just be silly. Any of my ancestors who were around during the revolution would not have fought, they’d have hired someone to do it for them.”

            Grandma didn’t think much of ancestor worship or right wing groups.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yeah, I don’t get ancestor worship. Then again, right wing authoritarians would have us worship our parents, too, and I was raised in an environment that made that very difficult. (If I said impossible, you’d imagine me in an orphanage, and it wasn’t that bad.)

            Those that would have us put certain other people above suspicion and beyond reproach are, well, the same kind of people who create an environment where molestery priests are just transferred about.

        • AMK

          The major difference being that there actually were heroic members of the French resistance. There’s no such thing as a heroic confederate (unless maybe union spies?)

    • Manny Kant

      No, the argument is that “France” during World War II was the Free French in London and the Resistance, and that Vichy was a bunch of outlaw criminals. This was basically the official French narrative until 1995.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    Ah, the No True Frenchman fallacy.

    • Hells Littlest Angel

      Every country should have one.

      • ASV

        Any country that doesn’t isn’t really a country.

        • Hells Littlest Angel

          No true country is without a no true countryman fallacy.

          • rm

            Scotland’s independence is inevitable, then.

          • njorl

            Without a fallacy it would be no true country for old men.

        • Woodrowfan

          but do you have a flag? no flag, no country..

          • VCarlson

            A battle flag will do.

    • rea

      It is amusing how unexceptional American exceptionalism is–everybody does it.

      • Thom

        Chorus: WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

        • cpinva

          “I AM SPARTACUS!”

          oh, wait. sorry, wrong movie. carry on.

        • libarbarian

          And how shall we fuck off, oh Lord?

        • Doug Gardner

          He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

  • John Revolta

    No True Frenchman!

    • John Revolta

      Curse you, Little Angel from Hell!!

  • daves09

    And because the Germans were in charge in Paris, why that means that no Frenchmen were involved in the making of this atrocity.
    Thank you, Marshall Petain.

    • Manny Kant

      She’s not saying that, actually. She’s admitting that French individuals were involved. She just doesn’t want to accept that “France” has responsibility for it.

  • Captain Tau

    And in these newly proud nations, there is, of course, no room for those against whom we have sinned.

    This is really ironic, given the recent massive increase in the number of French Jews leaving France for Israel. Are they leaving because of hateful bigoted rhetoric of Le Pen about how to interpret 20th century history? No, they’re leaving because of violent real-world Muslim anti-Semitism, as expressed in e.g. the attack on the kosher supermarket in 2015 or the Toulouse shooting of 2012.

    Further irony is that, according to e.g. the ADL’s polling data, Holocaust denial/revisionism is actually very popular in the Muslim world; they claim that, among those in the MENA region who have heard of the Holocaust, 63% believe “it is a myth or has been greatly exaggerated.” More anecdotally, in Christopher Caldwell’s book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” and a recent BBC report on the politics of immigration in the Netherlands, I’ve also heard stories of European Muslim students jeering and being dismissive when their history instructors try to teach lessons on the Holocaust, which they view as a Zionist lie.

    So, just to recap: France has to let in Muslims, many/most of whom hate Jews and don’t believe the Holocaust happened, because of France’s behavior towards Jews during the Holocaust. Any questions?

    • Cheerfull

      Yes a country with a history of racism and bigotry, in which entire groups and religions were stereotyped as hopelessly inferior and worthy of exclusion/elimination is a reason why in the future a country should do a better job of treating people as individuals, and when problems arise with particular individuals, e.g. holocaust denial or anti-Jewish terrorism, that the country confront those individuals and ideologies directly, without also oppressing everyone who looks like those offending.

      So this is pretty simple. What about it puzzles you?

      • Captain Tau

        There seems to be a contradiction in your argument. You write:

        a country with a history of racism and bigotry….should do a better job of treating people as individuals….problems arise with particular individuals/blockquote>

        That is, you allege that a “country” (France) has a “history of bigotry and racism” due to past misdeeds. As opposed to saying that some individuals who just happened to be French were racist, or some politicians who just happened to be French enacted racist policies, you recognize the existence of a tribe/collective/nation “France” that presently bears responsibility for them.

        But you then go on to atomize problems that arise with another group (Muslims), and claim that, rather than drawing any conclusions about Muslims as a group, we should only examine members thereof as individuals. The analogous stance on French history would be to say that “France” has no collective responsibility for collaboration with the Nazis; only individual Frenchmen—citizens, soldiers, politicians— who collaborated with the Nazis can be condemned. (And thus, Le Pen is only wrong insofar as she accepts that “France” can be judged, rather than acquitting “France” of guilt.)

        • Murc

          There is a difference between a nation-state and members of a religion.

          Unless, of course, you’re some sort of ethno-nationalist.

          • los

            difference between a nation-state

            political power/dominance

          • Ronan

            In the west Islam mostly functions as a religion for a minority identity group. In other countries it’s a ruling religion supported by state institutions and elite buy in. So I don’t see how far this distinction goes.
            For example, was the Catholic church or the state primarily responsible for the outrages they commited in ireland? Were individual Catholics culpable, or were the irish people as a whole?

            • BiloSagdiyev

              Uh… that’s a tough one. How about, True Scotsmen in exile?

        • Cheerfull

          I am amused by nationalists who wish to claim that there is an essential nation for some reasons, i.e. excluding people who don’t share the necessary essential characteristics of blood or language, but not for other reasons, as when ascribing culpability through history. Under Vichy France, a majority of those actually living in France supported or acquiesced to the actions of the Vichy government. For a nationalist, doesn’t that mean “France” supported it?

          But a more precise response to your point, there is no contradiction at all between distinguishing between the actions of a government and its agents, in this case 7,000 members of the French police force acting under orders of the Vichy government, who were responsible for rounding up 13,000 men women and children, sticking them in a velodrome for six days without food, water or functioning toilets, and then putting them on trains to extermination camps, and those who are not a government and its agents, i.e. muslims arriving in France who give answers you don’t like on opinion surveys.

          It is fairly ordinary to blame governments for their policies and actions and hold them and their agents collectively responsible, and to blame a “nation” that allows the government to continue in office. We, in the U.S. for example are responsible for ICE and its works. But when you choose to blame a group, such as Muslims, or blacks or Jews, or Tutsis or Roma or immigrants for the actions or attitudes of some of their individuals, then you have wandered over into darker places.

          • Murc

            We, in the U.S. for example are responsible for ICE and its works.

            In a manner of speaking.

            We’re responsible for it in the sense of we all have a shared responsibility, meaning duty, as citizens to behave in a moral, upright manner, and to upbraid and ultimately replace a government that won’t behave so with one that will.

            We’re not necessarily responsible, meaning at fault, for it as individuals, though. Not in the same that we might be responsible for something like committing a crime.

            • Cheerfull

              If, in a further progression over the current crap, ICE started going door to door and grabbing suspected undocumented aliens and confining them to football stadiums for extended periods without toilets before shipping them to Guatemala to dump them at an airport, then yes I think we could say the “United States” was responsible for a crime. Anyone not wanting to be at fault would have to show what they were doing that time to resist.

              On a side note, in Paris today as you walk around you will see signs posted on the walls by various schools pointing out that children from this neighborhood were arrested by the police of the Vichy government, complicit with the Nazis, and killed in Auschwitz because they were Jewish.

              France today is taking responsibility for its past. In the U.S. it at least seems that for every plaque re the Civil Rights struggle there are at least two Confederate memorials.

              • cpinva

                “In the U.S. it at least seems that for every plaque re the Civil Rights struggle there are at least two Confederate memorials.”

                the day all these descendants are forced to recognize that great-great grandpappy was either an idiot, or an evil, willing player, who committed treason in defense of slavery, the south will be awash in exploded brains. but a better place for it, once it gets hosed down.

          • Ronan

            “We, in the U.S. for example are responsible for ICE and its works. But when you choose to blame a group, such as Muslims, or blacks or Jews, or Tutsis or Roma or immigrants for the actions or attitudes of some of their individuals, then you have wandered over into darker places.”

            This is confused. The institutions of the state, at most, have culpability for the crimes committed in the past. The individuals from the nation (who did not partake in the crimes) do not. The only way you get to saying the people collectively are responsible is if you say everyone is always responsible for the crimes of their ID group, which is idiotic and reactionary.

            • Cheerfull

              Not their ID group but the state in which they participate. ICE consists of agents of the state paid with taxpayer money. If the state is taking enormously immoral actions, and people remain acquiescent citizens, then they share in the responsibility for what the state is doing on their behalf.

              You either collaborate or resist or do nothing except pay your taxes and watch as the police take people away and pretend your hands are clean.

            • cpinva

              individuals are responsible to the extent that they knowingly supported (by voting for them) the people in charge, who formulate the policy, that then results in the ICE banging on someone’s door in the middle of the night, like the Gestapo of WWII. Europe.

              • Ronan

                I agree that people who voted for trump are more morally culpable tHan those who didn’t. But they’re culpable because of something they did (casting their vote for him) not because of who they are(Americans)

            • I feel like our thinking about individuals’ responsibility for the state and for institutions hasn’t advanced enough beyond when it was just ridiculous that ordinary people like us had any. It would be much simpler if we had an empire and no vote, or if we were all bourgeois citizens who actually made up part of the government. That’s what our theories purport to describe. Then we realize that’s not reality and we start splitting hairs about “community” and “state” that really seem less than relevant.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            who were responsible for rounding up 13,000 men women and children, sticking them in a velodrome for six days without food, water or functioning toilets,

            In our much more moral US, we don’t allow police to do this work, instead letting hurricanes do this work.

            God doesn't just hate queers.

      • Ronan

        Wait, what? On the one hand you should treat people as individuals and not hold them responsible for the crimes commuted by those from their identity group? On the other hand all Americans are (morally?) responsible for ICE?

        • Cheerfull

          ICE is a government agency. An individual running a truck into a crowd is not. Why is that difficult for you to parse?

          • Ronan

            The People of a nation are not morally responsible for the behaviour of every govt agency. That’s ridiculous. And your distinction really only makes sense if you cut it specifically to make your point. Minority communities and religious groups are also supported by collective institutions and solidarity. I don’t see why the nation is the only collective Identity where the group is responsible for the crimes of individuals .

            • jetkestrel

              I think the distinction here is that wrongs committed by the will of the state and with the blessing of the state are, in a democratic state, implicitly done by the will of the people.

              If ICE agents are dragging people out of their homes, persecuting and abusing them with the full power and authority of the law, then yes, the state bears collective responsibility for those actions and citizens who object to them have a moral obligation to protest.

              If an individual ICE agent assaults someone, against protocol and against the law, then the citizens do not bear collective responsibility for that agent’s actions, which are the actions of an individual, unsanctioned by the authority of the state.

              Basically: power in a non-autocratic regime rests, at least in theory, on the will of the people. The people therefore bear some degree of moral responsibility for the actions of the state. This does not mean that they are responsible for actions taken by individuals simply because those individuals share their nationality or even are employed by the government of their country. It means that they are morally responsible for policy, and bear an obligation to be aware of what is being done by their state in their name and to oppose it if they find it reprehensible.

            • sigaba

              I’m not sure about “people of a nation,” but in a republic, where the government derives its authority from popular sovereignty, yeah, the citizens are responsible for acts of state, in a final sense. Citizens can’t be tried or sent to prison for voting for a crook, they cannot be punished for the crimes committed in their name, but the government exists and acts only insofar as it has popular support. And your obedience is your support.

              The US government, just to take an example, isn’t some occupying force imposing its will upon Americans. We vote for the thing, and anyone who votes is bound to accept the fair result even if they lose. And if the government does something we don’t like, it falls upon us ultimately to correct it; if that responsibility doesn’t fall upon us than who else? All appeals ultimately fall upon the citizens, not a king or a junta, to remedy or dispose of as they will.

            • Ronan

              At both. I dont mean to say that the citizen has no responsibility; they clearly have a responsibility to take part seriously in the country’s politics and civil society. But what level of moral culpability can a citizen fairly be said to have over policy they cant realistically influence.
              To take two examples: The Iraq War. What culpability does someone have who didnt vote Bush, didnt support the war and who marched against it. They plausibly could have done more to oppose it, but there’s no realistic way for them to stop it. At what stage is it fair to say they are morally culpable for the Govts actions even though they had no meaningful control over them?
              Take a harder case of a democracy with an ongoing internal conflict and occupation, ie Israel. What sort of moral responsibility does an Israeli citizen who opposes the occupation have? I (honestly) dont know to what extent I could say that someone bears responsibility for their govts actions(and fellow citizens choices)just because of the circumstances of where they were born.

              • sigaba

                Culpability means you can blame people. It’s not like that. We can’t pass judgement on people for the crimes of their governments, we can’t blame them, but they are liable to the consequences of their states’ policies.

      • twbb

        “So this is pretty simple. What about it puzzles you?”

        The part where you’re not hating on Muslims, silly.

    • McAllen

      Hello Captain Tau! Taking a break from Richard Spencer apologism to use Jewish people as a prop to attack Muslims, are we?

  • NewishLawyer

    France has a really long history of anti-Semitism that has largely been forgotten because the enormity of the Holocaust and WWII. We see Germans (and sometimes the Russians) as being the people in Europe who really hated the Jews but no one remembers the long histories of French (or other European anti-Semitism).

    How many people besides history buffs and/or historically aware Jews know about the Dreyfus Affair these days and how it really not only drove apart France but almost drove apart all of Europe? You were either a Dreyfsoid or an anti-Dreyfusoid. IIRC Grieg refused to perform/conduct in France because he sympathized with Dreyfus. Back then, this was the equivalent of not playing Sun City.

    But now everyone thinks of the Germans as being the really bad ones and the anti-Semitic views of France and the rest of Europe are forgotten.

    • Dr. Acula

      Right. I wonder, how many people these days actually know anything about what happened in the so-called “Independent State of Croatia”, Hungary, or the Baltic states?

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Most people are undoubtedly aware of the shipment of Hungarian Jews to Aushwitz after the Arrow Cross comes to power. Likewise the Einsatzgruppen shootings in Lithuania and Latvia are well known. The crimes of the NDH were aimed mostly at Serbians rather than Jews. But, they became such a huge propaganda weapon of first the communist Yugoslav government and later the Serbian nationalists that it would be hard to find somebody in the US not fully aware of them. The crimes of the Nazis and their allies have been impossible to ignore in the US in the last 40 years do to nonstop publicity. It is crimes of other regimes that are largely unknown.

        • Woodrowfan

          Your faith in what even college educated Americans know about history is naively touching.

          • twbb

            Yep.

        • MyNameIsZweig

          But, they became such a huge propaganda weapon of first the communist Yugoslav government and later the Serbian nationalists that it would be hard to find somebody in the US not fully aware of them.

          I can never tell if you’re trolling, or just have never actually been to the US.

    • Murc

      Pedantry: “Dreyfusard” and “anti-Dreyfusard” are the terms you want.

      • njorl

        …unless you are grouping how various artificial intelligences feel about Dreyfus.

    • Porlock Junior

      Well, I can think of one other group that knows about French anti-Semitism: the people who have been governing France for some decades past. (see under Gayssot Act, their 1990 law governing Holocaust denial, which followed a few earlier acts on the same lines)

      I really don’t think I’m a rarity among people who are not Jewish and would never qualify as history buffs in a group of the real thing, who yet know about Dreyfus and the war crimes of the Croatian republic (a sort of enthusiastic voluntary puppet state) and others. Literature buffs (I am not one) will also know a good deal about traditional English attitudes toward Jews.

      Europe generally has been generally anti-Semitic for a long time, including the time when England expelled all Jews, two centuries before Spain did. Generally, but not uniformly: only a few countries seriously put genocidal policies into action; and to the contrary, the Danes quietly opposed their German overlords by taking action one night to ship all Jews out of the country, perhaps the one example of that being a laudable action.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Yes, I agree anybody that went to High School in the US in the last forty years is going to know about the Dreyfus affair in France and the Nazi Holocaust in Europe including the role of Germany’s allies.

        • Thom

          Yes re Germany, not so much re its allies. Concerning Dreyfus, maybe. Not true at the good high shools I attended 1968-72 (so 45-50 years.) And even if something is in the textbook that does not mean it will be read, understood, or taught in class. Having taught recent high school graduates in the US since 1995, I would not overestimate what they know.

          • Cassiodorus

            I know neither Dreyfus nor the actions of Germany’s allies were taught in my high school history class 15 years ago.

        • Woodrowfan

          I agree anybody that went to High School in the US in the last forty years is going to know about the Dreyfus affair in France

          I’m lucky if my students know where France is and they’re never heard of Dreyfus. And most of my students went to good high schools.

        • Rob in CT

          I agree anybody that went to High School in the US in the last forty years is going to know about the Dreyfus affair in France

          LOL.

          I do recall learning about the Dreyfuss affair, but don’t recall whether it was in HS or college. And I was always a history geek. Most people are not.

        • No one in high school knows about the Dreyfus affair

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            “the guy from the movie with the big shark, right?”

            • The Scheider Affair is another favorite moment from the past.

              • tsam

                That was the helicopter movie that got huge chuckles out of peeping in windows.

                • MyNameIsZweig

                  When you’re walking on eggs, don’t hop.

          • CP

            Related: I was mildly shocked, towards the end of college, to discover that one of my friends, who’s as big a politics/history nerd as I am, much better read than me on any number of topics, and in no way a right winger and/or a Holocaust denier, had no idea what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were.

            Like, it’s not essential reading, but it’s up there with Mein Kampf in terms of “unpleasant things that people should know exists.”

        • MyNameIsZweig

          I had to look up the Dreyfus Affair, and I went to a pretty good high school less than 30 years ago.

        • njorl

          We touched on the Dreyfus affair very briefly in high school (1977). There was almost no analysis of it. It was a world history course, covering everything from Sumeria to the Cold War. It’s unreasonable to expect it to be covered in any meaningful way in a US high school curriculum, which is generally offered in 3 year-long courses – world history, American history and civics.
          I learned about it in a college course. In a 2-semester course on post-Renaissance western European history, it occupied a small part of one class discussion.
          History is very big. You can’t paint it all with one can of paint.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      Everybody in the world who has read a basic intro level European history textbook is well aware of the Dreyfus Affair. Now it is true many students don’t read. But, any that do know about the event.

      • Ronan

        Yeah, I assume it comes up in secondary school history on the continent as it was on the junior cert(exam for 15year olds) in ireland when I was a young un.

      • rm

        American textbooks are pretty horrible. My students, just graduated or just about to graduate from high school, know nothing.

        • twbb

          Is that the textbooks or the curriculum?

          • Rob in CT

            Other possible culprits: parental knowledge/lack thereof and the general culture of anti-intellectualism. Some stuff that happened long ago in some other country? Booooooooring!

            • tsam

              Whitewashing is a huge culprit. Have you SEEN what those savage Indians did to the Whitmans???

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitman_massacre

              (My Eastern WA home has a very tortured history with the local First Nations–not a unique one, but I live on the site of some nauseating ugliness. Routinely drive on a road named after a genocidal FUCK that murdered much of the Spokane tribe. Said road fronts a community college, FFS)

        • tsam

          American textbooks are pretty horrible

          .

          Agreed. HORRIBLY reductive.

          The Dreyfuss Affair MIGHT have gotten a paragraph in the overall interim(?) French government overview.

      • brettvk

        I grew up in Middle America in the 60s & 70s. My recollection is that only US history was taught and ended at the Civil War. I love history, but I gained that affection in the teeth of strenuous opposition by my educational environment.

      • pseudalicious

        White class-privileged Jew here, born in the ’80s, went to one of the best public high schools in the state, one of the richest counties… ever. We didn’t learn about it. My memory of learning about the Holocaust in high school… I think we saw some of the Shoah documentary, and we read Night in English. I’m not sure if we even got to WWII, iirc.

        High school is a fraught time. So much is going on, hormonally, socially — if your home life is problematic, you’re probably not going to be getting that much out of it… we really should have mandatory refreshers on pretty much everything for adults. Basic math, civics, everything.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        A “basic intro level European history textbook” is something that most Americans will never see unless they take a European history class in college. Which is entirely optional.

        High school spends most of its time on US history, with maybe a single year of World History (which covers the entire world and what European history is included will mostly cover only up to the Renaissance.)

        • bw

          Yup, if you don’t take AP European History you’re not going to encounter this stuff. 9th grade world history for us was just a blur of ancient empires as far as I can remember.

          I learned about the Dreyfus affair in 7th grade – in Jewish weekend religious school, in what was presumably a unit all about anti-Semitism (read: scaring the shit out of 12-year-olds to, in part, indoctrinate them with rightwing Zionism). I am reasonably sure I never encountered Dreyfus at any point after that until college.

        • NewishLawyer

          Here we can thank of the NY Regents:

          Global Studies I was Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

          Global Studies II was Europe

          American History.

          Then you got to do electives. I took my high school’s version of Intro to Western Philosophy which my HS called Integration of Knowledge.

          Not great but better than average.

          I’ve also discovered that American history teaching in the U.S. can be very regional. Californians have fond memories of the Mission Project done sometime in 4th grade which is obviously not a thing in NYC.

          • ironic irony

            Fellow NYS high school graduate (and a fellow survivor of the NYS Regents gauntlet) here.

            I grew up in the freaking Borscht Belt. My school had Jewish holidays off from school and everything. Kids had grandparents and great grandparents who actually died in the camps/escaped or hid during the war. We had a whole year long course dedicated to the Holocaust that kids would fight to get into. We discussed the Dreyfus affair, and Europe’s long history of anti-Semitism, so yes, we knew about the Dreyfus affair. Ask my fellow students in that class how many remember it, 20 years on? My guess is only a few out of a class of 25 kids. You assume too much, J. Otto.

      • msmarjoribanks

        I wrote a paper on the Dreyfus affair in high school, but it was not a topic everyone knew about. I no longer recall why I picked it (but I read a bunch of history on my own and was generally into it). I also wrote a paper on Vietnam, and I picked that because I was embarrassed that I knew/had learned absolutely nothing on Vietnam. History of the Vietnam War was one of the most popular classes in my college (Williams), because so many people had similar experiences. I went to high school in the late ’80s.

        When my book club read Proust, we ended up talking about how the Dreyfus affair was largely not remembered/know about in the US.

        As for “European history,” as I recall the progression in my high school was World History (we made it to WW1, I think, but obviously a huge fast overview) (9th grade), American History (10th grade), other social science stuff (economics, Am gov’t) (11th grade), and AP American History. I’m don’t think history was required senior year and many likely did not take it.

    • Cheerfull

      During WWII, France deported 26% of its Jews to Nazi death camps. By comparison, the percentage in Belgium was 60%, the Netherlands 76%, Greece 80%. (Italy did better, only 20%).

      As for the rafle du Velodrome d’Hiver, the authorities planned on arresting 27,427 Jews, but only succeeded in rounding up 13, 152, because others were tipped off by the resistance and some police purposely did a bad job – some of the Vichy partisans complained about the bad faith among the police. And note that the original concept by the Germans was to round up 40,000, but Vichy resisted the round up of French Jews, though had no particular pity for foreign ones.

      All of which is to say that sure France was anti-semitic before and during the war. It also contained large numbers of peoples actively resisting the deportations. Yes its official government was a bunch of fascist collaborators. But they had other priorities regarding Jews than the Germans. Every country’s history is complicated and contains crimes and France is not an exception. But I don’t think most, today, are in denial about it.

      What annoys me really is the unthinking American assumption that they could never be like that. That if Russia in its new savior of the White People of the World guise succeeded in a military occupation of the country, because our generals and politicians were fools and cowards, and there was a new America restricted to the southern states with a capital in Atlanta or Birmingham, and the Russian occupiers demanded the round up of Muslims, that the new American government would have reacted significantly differently, or the American population.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Both France and Italy had their own governments unlike the Netherlands, Belgium, and Greece. It isn’t that there were not individual Dutch, Belgian, and even Greek collaborators. But, there were no Dutch, Belgian, or Greek puppet regime comparable to Vichy and certainly not to the independent fascist government in Italy.

        • Cheerfull

          well that raises a point I’ve been mulling. The existence of the independent fascist regimes in France, Italy, and for that matter Spain, (and Bulgaria? not sure) meant there were bureaucratic barriers, feeble as they were in some case, to the Germans just rounding up whoever they wanted whenever they wanted. So some Jews got saved that might not other have.

          • Murietta

            This is a point that Timothy Snyder makes at some length in Black Earth, the follow-up to Bloodlands. He spends quite a bit of time tracking the destruction of the state (and state protections) in relationship to the murder of the Jews and reaches the conclusion that where a state remained in place the Jews were more able to access protections. He takes the famous example of the Danes’ protection of the Jews and basically says that this was not because Denmark was less anti-semitic, but because it still had a functioning state, and functioning inter-state relationships; without that apparatus, it would have been like, for example, Lithuania. Since you’ve been thinking about this stuff you might be interested to read it.

        • Manny Kant

          There was a Greek puppet regime in Athens, but I don’t think it had any real authority.

      • Manny Kant

        Worth noting – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Greece were under direct German control. That’s the main reason their numbers are worse. France was unique among occupied countries in that its own officials were involved in the deportations. And even there it was worse than, you know, Germany’s closest ally (and those Italian Jews who were deported were mostly deported after 1943, when Germany occupied northern Italy)

    • Karen24

      I have an unscholarly theory that the reason Joan of Arc was made a saint in 1920 was because Action Francaise, the 19th and early 20th C proto-fascist movement, adopted her as a kind of mascot, and the pope decided to make a gesture to the group after its suppression, as well as an attempt to blunt the first wave of feminism. Because I don’t speak French very well at all and I am not a historian, I can’t collect the evidence to prove this. So, boys and girls, if you know anyone in need of a graduate thesis topic, please be my guest.

    • [Unsupported cite warning] I can’t remember where I read it, and it might well have been this very site, but someone once remarked that if you took a survey of random Europeans in 1900 and asked them which country would mount an organized extermination campaign against the Jews in the next few decades, the overwhelming majority would answer “France.”

      • Cheerfull

        which goes to show the average European was as unlikely to make good predictions as the average person is now. Anti-semitism was rife all through Europe. What made France stand out was the very public controversy over Dreyfus which involved large portions of the population arguing with each other over the topic. That’s less a sign that the country is heading towards a Holocaust as the opposite. I find it hard to believe that anybody in Germany would have successfully challenged their officer corp if they found it expedient to imprison a Jewish officer.

      • Manny Kant

        “Russia” is the actual answer.

      • NewishLawyer

        Josh Marshall at TPM made that observation.

      • ajay

        if you took a survey of random Europeans in 1900 and asked them which country would mount an organized extermination campaign against the Jews in the next few decades, the overwhelming majority would answer “France.”

        On the other hand, if you’d waited to 1908 and asked “which country’s leader has just told the British Foreign Secretary ‘there are too many Jews in my country, they need wiping out'” the correct answer would have been “Germany”.

  • Unsullied imaginary whitewashed history = original classic political correctness

    • los

      if Le Pen will be elected, that will be official State PC

  • Murc

    That myth was thoroughly propagated by Charles de Gaulle as a means of bringing the country back together post-Liberation crushing dissent and consolidating both de Gaulle’s legend and his hold on power simultaneously.

    FTFY.

    • farin

      Ninety percent of the time those phrases are synonymous (as are their contradictions: see the charges of “dividing the country” levels at Obama).

      • rm

        Good God that is one of the most annoying tics of white conservatives. He divided us by race by mentioning the existence of race! Or even by being black himself! How dare he! My students (I generalize; there are curious and well-informed people everywhere, but some places discourage this tendency) do not know history, but they are very sure of right-wing shibboleths.

        • Ronan

          ‘He divided us just by existing’

          • Oh, that’s going too far. It was rubbing our noses in his existence! Being, as it were, uppity.

            • Absolutely. If he had stepped aside and let Romney win, and contented himself with being a moral example, they would have loved him for it.

            • Always shoving and thrusting his blackness down our throats over and over!

    • Manny Kant

      Crushing dissent? How so? It was about protecting the thousands of officials who’d served Vichy (including, e.g., François Mitterrand, an inveterate political foe of De Gaulle) and protecting France’s reputation abroad. I don’t think it had much of anything to do with crushing dissent.

  • Nathan Goldwag

    God bless De Gaulle and the resistance but without wanting to detract from anything they did, it really is worth remembering that the Vichy Regime was the constitutionally-ordained, legal government of France until 1944, as per the French Constitutional Law of 1940, passed by the National Assembly by an overwhelming margin.

    • Manny Kant

      Assuming it is actually constitutional and legal to abolish the Republic and replace it with an authoritarian regime.

  • los
  • Porlock Junior

    I wonder exactly how overwhelming the vote was.
    As wide a margin, perhaps, as in the Autrian plebiscite after the Anschluss? (May I call it the so-called Anschluss, in honor of the Putin fans’ language in talking about recent events in Crimea?)

    • los

      I’d first assume that election shenanigans in most other countries are/were at least as bad as our GOP’s.

      • Porlock Junior

        Oops. When I wrote my note about election margins, I didn’t know that a thread about US elections would jump in ahead of it!

        Actually it was submitted as a reply to Nathan Goldwag’s comment about the French wartime constitution and its legitimacy. FYWP

  • Nazi cleanup on aisle Tau.

    • Why is he not banned yet, anyway?

      • tsam

        A ban on a site like this doesn’t mean much. Even a dumbass nazi troll can subvert those.

        Hell, I could do it, but they won’t ban me despite all my objectively despicable behavior.

    • Colin Day

      Which is approximately 6.28 (2π)

      Tau

  • MacK

    «Je pense que, de manière générale, plus généralement, d’ailleurs, s’il y a des responsables, c’est ceux qui étaient au pouvoir à l’époque, ce n’est pas la France. La France a été malmenée dans les esprits depuis des années. En réalité, on a appris à nos enfants qu’ils avaient toutes les raisons de la critiquer. De n’en voir que peut-être que les aspects historiques les plus sombres. Je veux qu’ils soient à nouveau fiers d’être Français.»

    «s’il y a des responsables, c’est ceux qui étaient au pouvoir à l’époque»

    Those who were responsible, it was those who were in power. But who was in power, who were the French Civil Authorities who conducted the Vel d’Hiver roundup? The key figure was Xavier Vallat and various other members of Action Français – which, in the 1970s and 1980s morphed into the Front National.

    So it would seem that if one is holding those in power responsible, Le Pen needs to look very close to home….

    • sibusisodan

      My French is getting rusty, and I think I recall that the conditional is used more frequently than in English, but that s’il y a des responsables is really bugging me.

      This is not a ‘tides go out’ phenomenon. People actually were responsible for this.

      • ajay

        My French is getting rusty, and I think I recall that the conditional is used more frequently than in English, but that s’il y a des responsables is really bugging me.

        It’s not suggesting that there might not be anyone at all responsible – you’re misreading it. And exactly the same phrasing is used in English. Imagine this sentence: “Bob’s blaming the media for lowering the tone of debate. But if anyone’s to blame for lowering the tone, it’s Bob.”

        The intention of the second sentence is not to say “Well, look, it’s perfectly possible that no one is to blame! But if we decide someone should be blamed, we should blame Bob.”

        • sibusisodan

          Gotcha. Makes sense. Thanks.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    I wouldn’t call this revisionism since it does not deny or seek to minimize the actual crime. Rather it is a denial of the concept of national collective responsibility as applied to France. This isn’t any different than the position of “progressive” Dutch political leaders regarding atrocities in colonial Indonesia for decades or the position of “progressive” Danish political leaders today regarding the shipment of slaves from Osu and Keta to the Virgin Islands.

    • Ronan

      But should historical guilt be applied collectively to a whole people? Even after the generations who were responsible are dead?
      People balk at doing this in other contexts(ie blaming all Muslims for the outrages committed by some) so why is it different in this context?

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Collective responsibility isn’t the same as collective guilt. Nor is a religious group the same as a nation state. I suppose an argument could be made against collective responsibility. But, the application of the concept against only politically incorrect nationalities like the Germans, Turks, and US Southerners and exemption of the politically correct and historically “progressive” ones like France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, etc. strikes me as pure tribalism.

      • sibusisodan

        Yes?

        How else are historic injustices going to be rectified if not?

        Nobody who currently belongs to the entity of the UK is directly responsible for the crap way we treated [take your pick] in the past. Feeling an emotion of guilt is not useful and not appropriate.

        But the entity of the UK is historically responsible for that crap. It is only the current and future members of the UK who have power to make restitution. We bear that responsibility until it is done.

        The deciding factor is whether a person has power to make restitution. As a citizen of the UK, I have a tiny quantum of such power. Insofar as I decline to use it for justice, I share in the appropriate quantum of guilt for perpetuating the injustice.

        ‘Collective guilt’ sounds rhetorically larger than it is in reality.

        • Ronan

          I’ve been arguing against people individually being responsible(which is the argument pushed by some above). If people want to feel responsible that’s fine, but there’s no obligation. And if you think individuals should be responsible for the crimes of their identity group then you have to be consistent.
          I don’t mind the state taking responsibility , although I’m closer to David rieffs argument

          https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/books/review/in-praise-of-forgetting-by-david-rieff.html?_r=0

          • sibusisodan

            I think you’re being unnecessarily general with ‘identity group’.

            The UK is a historical institution in which I partake. I have – not feel, have – some degree of responsibility in how that institution, expressed through the state, behaves. And the ways in which I can exercise my responsibility are clear.

            These aspects are not present in other areas of my self identity. There either is no common institution which can function as some sort of unitary body, or should there be one, I have no influence over it.

            One has to be consistent about identity groups insofar as those groups confer and deploy power, authority and responsibility. It should be obvious that they don’t all do that.

            • Ronan

              ” I have – not feel, have – some degree of responsibility in how that institution, expressed through the state, behaves”

              Contemporaneously, perhaps. Do you have responsibility for how it’s behaved historically? I don’t see why at any non trivial level.

              “The UK is a historical institution in which I partake. ”

              Catholicism is a historical institutions in which some partake. Why does responsibility not apply here?

              • sibusisodan

                Do you have responsibility for how it’s behaved historically? I don’t see why at any non trivial level.

                I have a quantum of responsibility for the on going effects of the way my country has behaved historically. That’s the only part I can conceivably have any power over.

                On religion: I’d absolutely say individual adherents of religion have responsibility for corporate misdeeds to the degree that:

                – they partake in a common institution and
                – have some mechanism of influence over it and
                – are enfranchised to do so.

                As to the Catholic church: there’s a unified institution at least. But your individual Catholic has fewer avenues to influence the governance of the church than your average voter does for their government. (Perhaps this has changed, but it seems like the barriers to collective action by the laity are pretty high).

                That necessarily means that the degree of responsibility for your individual Catholic is really low. It doesn’t remove it entirely.

                It should be clear that not all religious bodies meet those three conditions equally. And other identity groups don’t meet them at all.

                • djw

                  My answer would be, roughly: Of course the Catholic church is an entity capable of generating intergenerational moral debt. Like all such corporate entities, the distribution of that moral culpability internally depends on a variety of facts about internal structure; in this case, the non-democratic character of the entity suggests that moral debt should fall more lightly on the rank and file laity than it would on their equivalent in a democratic nation-state.

                • I personally tend to understand a religion as made up of its rank and file members. That Catholics understand it as an institution with which they as people are subject to but is somehow impersonal to them is new to me.

                • djw

                  For the purposes under discussion here, it’s worth separating out “religion” in the broad sociological sense and “the Catholic Church” in an institutional sense. The latter is a kind of collective/corporate entity capable of generating intergenerational moral debt much moreso than the former.

                • Ronan

                  “For the purposes under discussion here, it’s worth separating out “religion” in the broad sociological sense and “the Catholic Church” in an institutional sense. The latter is a kind of collective/corporate entity capable of generating intergenerational moral debt much moreso than the former.”

                  Which is only the distinction I was making above, between the nation and the state.

                • Hm, yes, okay. I was thinking more in term of exit, voice, loyalty, and of religion as culture, and comparatively with state and broader community. Have to run though.

          • los
        • Robespierre

          How else are historic injustices going to be rectified if not?

          They are not. In any case. Injustice aginst dead people is never going to be rectified.

          • sibusisodan

            This seems technically correct – the second best kind of correct! – but remarkably at odds with how we live.

            UK govt has recently made apologies for historic injustices against Alan Turing and the Amritsar massacre – among others? While of course there are realpolitik reasons for doing so, at least some people feel that an injustice has been (partially) recognised and (partially) rectified by doing so.

            • djw

              remarkably at odds with how we live.

              Right. If steal all your money and possessions today and we both die tomorrow, the idea that your daughter has no moral claim against mine seems obviously absurd.

        • Every time I read a discussion of collective guilt I think of my AP Spanish teacher talking about Fuente Ovejuna. Maybe I should read it sometime.

      • twbb

        “But should historical guilt be applied collectively to a whole people? Even after the generations who were responsible are dead?”

        My rule of thumb if you are willing to be proud of your country’s past, then you also have to be ashamed of your country’s past.

        • That seems fair, but the contrary isn’t true, I think, at least speaking abstractly. There are groups that make a big deal about the past, and they should confront the bad things. But groups that just don’t think about the past at all, they don’t get a pass on all responsibility by virtue of refusing to have a memory.

          • And one way of reading Le Pen is her saying that “France,” from a populist perspective, does get a pass, because memory and such is the responsibility of “those with power”. Which as others have pointed out doesn’t make sense because it was her party that had power at the time, unless you engage in truly epic cognitive dissonance–not the “Europe” she claims to be resisting now.

        • Ronan

          I think the accurate recollection of the past is more important than the expression of collective guilt and/or self pity. I think the second part (the expression of collective guilt and/or self pity) most often does violence to the first.

      • djw

        It seems like there’s plenty of other contexts where you’re entirely capable of grasping the concept of intergenerational collective corporate responsibility generally, and intergenerational democratic collective responsibility specifically. That this is a form of moral responsibility that isn’t reducible to individual liability is something that seems broadly understood, until it’s convenient to not understand it.

        A clear majority of the taxpayers who paid the bill for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 weren’t in any personally responsible for the atrocities they were compensating the victims of, because they either weren’t born or were children when those atrocities were committed. Were the politicians wrong to authorize that particular transfer of wealth? (If not, what recourse should the victims of internment have had? Whom should they have been allowed to sue?) Just as democratic polities are capable of acting in ways that create a financial debt on future generations; the same can also be said for moral debt. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with “blaming” individuals as individuals for anything.

        • Ronan

          But I said ‘I dont mind the state taking responsibility’, so I’m not objecting to ‘intergenerational collective corporate responsibility.’
          What I object to is the implication that that responsibility is a burden that the contemporary citizenry also have to bear.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            if a citizenry doesn’t carry the burden of responsibility they aren’t likely to make their state carry it either

            • Ronan

              Maybe, although i dont think a lot of this stuff(making restitution for the past) is driven from the bottom up. It’s mainly elites bargaining among themselves.

          • djw

            But pressuring the state to act is how the citizenry takes responsibility! Do you think a majority of Congresspeople woke up one day in 1988 and just decided on a whim to give a bunch of money to surviving internees? It was the product of a decades long legal and political and social movement by a portion of the citizenry to get the rest of the citizenry to recognize the legitimacy of the demand for reparations. The way you draw a sharp line between the state and the citizenry here just can’t work in a democracy.

            (And, of course, as the payers of the taxes the citizenry bears the burden in a fairly literal sense when the state acts to take responsibility.)

            • Ronan

              I dont know the specifics of this case, the examples I do know(of apologies for historic crimes etc)generally havent emerged from the masses, but (as your comment implies) from the work of politically active groups, or bargaining among political elites.

              “And, of course, as the payers of the taxes the citizenry bears the burden in a fairly literal sense when the state acts to take responsibility.”

              Yeah, if there had been an edit button I was going to put in *moral* responsibility. I agree, definitionally, they take on a financial responsibility.
              Though I also accept that by taking on that financial responsibility they’re also implicitly accepting some degree of moral responsibility (so i dont know how far id push this)

              • xq

                I don’t see why the fact that citizens take the financial burden of reparations paid by the state implies that the citizens bear any sort of moral responsibility (collective or otherwise.) If the state helps out an area hit by a hurricane, the citizens pay for that too; that’s not any sort of admission of responsibility for the hurricane. If someone needs to be compensated then someone needs to pay; if the party actually responsible cannot, then it will be the citizens, one way or another. Not because they are responsible; there’s just no other way.

                • Ronan

                  That’s a fair, and pretty convincing, point.

          • tsam

            What I object to is the implication that that responsibility is a burden that the contemporary citizenry also have to bear.

            Contemporary American black people and native Americans bear the burden of oppression, but it makes plain sense that white people shouldn’t. I never owned a slave.

            You’re assuming that the historical end of an event (say, Emanicipation) is the end of the oppression and its effects on the victims. I can’t think of such an event that doesn’t have wide open wounds to this day, and of course we’re rubbing salt in them all around the world by being chickenshit fascists because we’re petrified of terrorists.

            • Ronan

              “You’re assuming that the historical end of an event”

              Im not assuming that. Perhaps what Id say is that concentrating on, and trying to resolve, the contemporary manifestations of that oppression is more productive than making amends for the past (even if it is a continuation of the historical record)

              • tsam

                I don’t know that we need to focus on one or the other. I also don’t really see how atonement for the past isn’t a necessary part of rectifying current oppression.

                • Ronan

                  Maybe in theory you can do both. But in practice, particularly in deeply divided societies, I dont know.
                  I think the concentration on(contested) historical grievances can often be counterproductive to resolving the real issues in the present.

                • tsam

                  But in practice, particularly in deeply divided societies, I dont know.

                  Oh, you’re absolutely right here. I guess I’m engaging in some wishful thinking and wanting to do what’s right. You’re maybe accepting reality. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

      • It’s not “historical or collective guilt”, it’s being fucking honest about the past without acquiescing to the delicate sensibilities of conservative snowflakes.

        • CP

          Thank you.

          God, I hate the “guilt” framing so much.

        • tsam

          I vote we punch ’em right in the sensibilities. Like, HARD.

      • pseudalicious

        Power and privilege are real?

    • If the currently accepted degree to which guilt was collective is N, she is trying to move it to some P less than N. Rhetorically, at least, that seems to count as revisionism.

      Also, from the quoted section, she seems ambiguous about who was responsible “at the time”. If she came out and said the fault lies with Germans, or with Vichy traitors, we would know what she was saying.

    • CP

      No. It’s rather blatantly an attempt to justify a rewrite of French history textbooks in a way that would minimize, if not completely erase, discussions about collaboration. See also:

      France has been mired in people’s minds for years. In reality, our children are taught that they have every reason to criticize her, to see only the darkest historical aspects. I want them to be proud to be French again.

      I was raised in the French educational system all the way through (the equivalent of) senior year of high school. The notion that we are taught “to see only the darkest historical aspects” and that our education gives us no cause “to be proud to be French again” is a complete lie, as much here as it is from Americans who whine that it’s so unfair that they have to hear about slavery. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the actions of the French Resistance, the various struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to turn the country into a democracy, it all figures prominently. What it doesn’t do is completely leave out every in French history that might make it look bad. We learned about resistance, but also collaboration. And so on, and so forth.

      Like her counterparts in America and everywhere else, Marine Le Pen is complaining about a problem that doesn’t actually exist, so that she can cast her own desires (that we stop talking and teaching about French history’s dark side altogether) in more acceptable terms. It’s the “political correctness” whine of the American right wing over again, simply applied to a different country.

      • CP

        *everything in French history. Where in God’s name did that frickin’ edit button go?

  • ThresherK

    Ugh. My Yahoogling is failing me. Isn’t there another name than “Vichy Syndrome” to note how 200% of France’s population (by their count) were in the French Resistance in WWII?

    Also, is a LePenite going to rewrite The Nasty Girl to make the Nazis the heroes? Seems appropriate.

    • ThresherK

      (Hey, no edit)

      …rewrite The Nasty Girl to explain how exactly 50 collaborators did everything evil the Nazis demanded of Vichy France?

    • CP

      As the (German version of the) joke goes: going by ordinary people’s testimonies, there were never more than six or seven Nazis in all of Germany. They just worked very hard at their job.

    • brendalu

      Speaking for Wisconsin, we’ve called it Ice Bowl Syndrome. As in, pretty much everyone currently alive in WI remembers being at that game.

      It does seem like there ought to be a more universally applicable term out there.

    • Ellie1789

      “Resistancialist myth.” Discussed by Henry Rousso in The Vichy Syndrome.

  • Matt

    Be proud to be French again, citizens: bounce Ms. La Pen’s party out of power and demonstrate that you’ve learned that nothing good comes from licking the boots of Nazis.

  • Sly

    France has been mired in people’s minds for years. In reality, our children are taught that they have every reason to criticize her, to see only the darkest historical aspects. I want them to be proud to be French again.

    I’m reminded of the time that a German ultranationalist introduced infamous Holocaust denier David Irving at a press conference and concluded that introduction by saying something to the effect of “No longer will the German people be history’s savages.”

    Anyway, French children would have a pretty big reason to be proud of being French if their French parents thoroughly rejected the far-right xenophobia proferred by FN. Do it for the kids, I say.

  • National pride can rest only on the unsullied, imaginary foundation of whitewashed history. And in these newly proud nations, there is, of course, no room for those against whom we have sinned.

    I have little doubt that if she wins, the rise of ultranationalism will drive the European continent into war within a decade.

    • ajay

      I have little doubt that if she wins, the rise of ultranationalism will drive the European continent into war within a decade.

      Hot take there, hoss, given that there’s been an ultranationalist war going on in Europe for the last two years.

      • mds

        It’s possible the hot take might be “drive the European continent into war”, as opposed to “cause a war to occur somewhere on the European continent.” It’s a subtle distinction, to be sure.

        • Yes. More than a war somewhere on the continent. Dissolution of the EU and a return to historical animosity.

  • Mike Furlan

    We are all guilty to some extent of complicity in the continuing global war on terror. The continuing civilian death toll in just Iraq is thousands every month. http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

    The way that this is ignored, in a society which has lost it’s mind over one guy being taken off a plane is an indication of insanity.

    So maybe the USA could claim the insanity defense?

    • Dennis Orphen

      In the court of reality insanity isn’t a defense It’s an offense.

  • jimpharo

    If I missed this upthread, apologies:

    We seem so obsessed with gazing at the horrid past — and by that I mean the shabby attempts to evade moral responsibility for past actions. What scares me about the LePen’s and Farange’s and Drumpf’s is the goal — the purpose — of setting up nationalism. Seems to me the main point is to develop a cultural mindset that will tolerate massive ‘othering’ of whoever we need to bomb/invade (and whoever it is, we already know they’ll be brown, poor and Muslim).

    Our elites are inexorably leading us to conflagration, and a few do see it, but to no effect. 1914 all over again.

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