During World War II, thousands of American G.I.s from Camp Twenty Grand in Normandy (near Rouen) carved messages on the bark of neighboring beech trees. A local historian, Nicolas Navarro, and a number of locals were calling for the preservation of these trees, for their classification and protection as historical monuments but to no avail. Sixty years later, the trees have grown old and were deemed unsafe by local officials : the owner of the land on which they grew decided to fell them.
This story might never have broken out of the local pages of French papers had the story not had “traction”. Thanks in part to the Times (TimesOnline.co.uk) and now Matt Drudge, the usual and predictable histrionics are coming to the forefront in the comment section of the Times Online article. Replete with the usual French Bashing Themes, legions of indignant users are wallowing in classic anti-French histrionics.
“I will not buy French anything” – “My hatred of Europe has grown exponentially” – “My father faught (sic) in D-Day (…) And yes this just spits on that memory” – “They don’t wish to remember because it reminds them of their own failings” – “Maybe (…) the USA will simply let the French fight their own battles”
An unfortunate loss of memory – yes, but trees do grow old and die and often become unsafe. The importance of these trees is truly anecdotal – an ephemeral form of graffiti – but the glorification through popular culture of the D-Day G.I. is so strong that anything relating to their existence seems to qualify as relics of quasi-religious importance.
Spielberg’s film, “Saving Private Ryan” has become the iconic symbol of America’s perception of the entire war. By blindly adhering to this pop-culture view of history, the contributions of all other nations have receded from the American Psyche: the British are a mere footnote, the Soviets an anecdote, and the war effort of Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Africans and Free French are trivialized to the point where people like Jay Leno can freely proclaim that “the French Resistance is the biggest mythical joke that ever existed”. Amnesic revisionism-
With hordes of Internet users trolling the net for their next outrage, for a chance to let loose their anti-French hatred, stories like this will always take on a new life of their own.
A new chance for historical histrionics…
Source : Times Online