Saturday, February 05, 2005

Qui aime bien, chatie bien

Life in DC implies a fair amount of exposure to politics. It must be in the water. It could be also that this is the only town where an evening with the French ambassador is likely to sell out.
The talk itself is nice, polite, measured. Everybody is nodding their approval. The floor opens up to questions and I have many. It's easy for me. I am French and do not share in the least the "Disneyland" vision of France described by the ambassador. I say it so, forcefully, explaining and exposing the lies, the hypocrisy, and the ignorance of most francophile Americans who love the Hollywood image of France (the food, the cafés, ...) and know nothing about the real France.
The ambassador is taken a bit aback. His answer is long but unsurprising. Mostly a rehash of what I've heard so many times, the party line about Rousseau and Voltaire. The glory of Napoleon and the importance of the French revolution.
A lot more questions are asked, sugar coated and pandering for the most part. The discussion is cordial and fruitful. He stops after two hours and as we are exiting I am met by about 5 or 6 people who come to thank me to have stood up and said what they didn't dare to or could not. I am surprised and happy to have channeled so many questions. The ambassador is near the door, still speaking with a small group of admirers. I hear him say in French to a woman that not all is rosy but that he is an optimist about the evolution of his country. "Your country" , he adds pointing to me. I smile and answer him with an old French saying "Qui aime bien, chatie bien" (Punishing/criticizing are a proof of love)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a very nice blog you have. I love your little stories. They make me think and bring up memories. Thank you.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

And this ambassador is one of the more sensitive dudes France sends to the U.S.! Where was the reception?

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