Hypocrisy is a universally human trait, and nature seems to have endowed the French with more than their fair share of it. But to hold that against the French is, well, unnatural. We don’t expect naturally intense New Yorkers to be laid back, or genetically gracious Southerners to be rude, so why should we expect the know-it-all cheese eaters to be anything but Gallic?
The United States was built on the shoulders of French hypocrisy. It was the blockade of Yorktown by the French fleet that was the key to George Washington’s victory over the British. In fact, King Louis XVI more or less bankrupted his nation to help the American revolutionaries shake off the chains of King George III. While Louis was busy helping our rabble-rousers stick it to the Brits, he was busy suppressing his own homegrown revolutionaries, who — when they got the chance — chopped off Louis’s head. Even a nation of hypocrites has a limit to its tolerance. So next time a tired old fart or an energetic young fogy starts to complain that the US saved the Frogs’ lily pad when we bailed them out during WWII, tell them to relax — and eat some cheese.
To be annoyed by French perversity is an exercise in futility. They do it so well. When France failed to enlist in America’s jihad against terrorism, many — such as Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh — dismissed them as surrender monkeys. Well, the French do wonderful things with bananas. Parisians were, no doubt, mordantly pleased with themselves as the Bushies slipped on their own banana peels. Pass the flambé.
Every nation needs to come to terms with its own particular forms of national shame. And, all things considered, France has let itself off lightly when it comes its shameful record of collaboration with the Nazis. As one wit has said: France is just like Germany, but with better food. But that’s something. Eat up.