Jean Francois Revel - ISBN # 1-893554-856
A wonderfully written (all of Revel’s works are) and enlightening book which all Americans, ought to read . . . and send copies to the Europeans in order that they might understand themselves. G-d it’s great to be an American. Don’t believe it, just ask Revel !
For those who question just how the French can “sometimes be so unreasonable,” I offer you this review . . . but highly recommend that you read the entire book. At a little over 150 pages, even a lengthy report would still fail to cover much of the ground. And who better to explain the French to an American than an enlightened Frenchman who loves America?
He begins: “The mystery of anti-Americanism is not the disinformation—reliable information on the United States has always been easy to obtain—but people’s willingness to be disinformed.” Europeans want to believe that the U.S. is vile and devious, so they do.
The continental conviction of inherent French (and European) sophistication and superiority is vigorously debunked as he emphasizes that the evil, criminal ideologies of the 20th century were all invented entirely within Europe, and required the U.S. to intervene twice in less than 40 years to stop the carnage. He reminds that: “America largely owes her unique superpower status today to Europe’s mistakes.”As Europeans recoil at America’s world markets and influence, they completely overlook the fact that European capital, technology, language (and people) spread over the entire globe long before America was a power. . . . Oh, well . . . !
French political activists have become: “Revolutionaries without a revolution. . . . By yelling slogans, they afford themselves the illusion of thought, and by trashing cities and striving to stymie international gatherings, they provide themselves with the illusion of action.” Long years ago French intellectuals were convinced that the U.S. was more dangerous than the Nazis or the Communists, and Revel emphasizes that such “clever minds” as these are the ones now advocating negotiation with Saddam and Bin Laden. Unfortunately, much of the American Left agrees!
A lengthy discussion of the situation with Islamic terror, and its relevance to his subject is included in this book. He summarizes the opinions of numerous authorities who repudiate the myth of moderate Islam, and goes on to point out that the bulk of Muslims approve of terrorism. Recall with him Salman Rushdie’s book and the furor in England over it. Muslim support for the fatwa was near universal, even in Britain and France.
The day after 9/11 all of the free world was “American”, which changed promptly, however, and especially in France. They believe, for the most part, that the attack was deserved because of America’s “unilateralism.” The relevant question ought to have been whether the destruction of the tallest American skyscrapers was the proper response to this allegation.
Also included is a rather amusing anecdotal discussion of how the French refuse to incorporate proven American methods to control crime because they don’t want to “act American.” To them it is unacceptable: “[the French] do well, it seems, in rejecting the American model, even if [the] choice leads to shipwreck.” While crime in France is “worse than in America,” the French are pleased above all that their approach isn’t American. Americans are well outside of their mainstream, but one might question how can anyone outside of al-Qa’ida can be that irrational?
In the 19th century “[the French] alternately described American society as a mass of rootless, isolated individuals struggling against each other in Darwinian competition . . . [and simultaneously] as a conformist, easily led herd, where the individual can neither think nor act for himself.” Notice any contradiction? They seem not to.
All cultures are equal, it seems, but France is the appropriate source and model for the world. As in The Animal Farm, they are more equal than others. (And anticipating becoming the pigs?)
The European inability to formulate a strategy to fight explains their attitudes about American unilateralism. They believe that democracies, rightfully, can neither criticize nor contain totalitarian regimes. These same sophists refuse to accept that this is a battle for civilization, and will not acknowledge the inherent superiority of Western civilization.
Pummeling the U.S. is a favorite sport of the French intelligentsia. As they identify America to be barbaric, they refuse to recognize billions of dollars spent on universities, research, libraries and other cultural entities, all the while vitriolic about American “cultural imperialism.” “Americans can never be right, no matter what they do.”
Revel offers a litany of “really nutty” French ideas and actions to reinforce his declaration that such attitudes disqualify them from serious geopolitical debate. By refusing to deal with reality the Continentals leave the U.S. with no choice but to undertake necessary actions unilaterally, and then grouse about our unilaterality.
Americans have been--and are today--useful to Europe as a calming explication of its failures. The belief that America always does less well than they do is comforting to them. And, of course, whatever goes wrong over there is America’s fault. Always!