Historical histrionics

drudge.jpgDuring 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.

nypost.jpgSpielberg’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

14 Replies to “Historical histrionics”

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histrionic_personality_disorder

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines histrionic personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

    1. Is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
    2. Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
    3. Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
    4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
    5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
    6. Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
    7. Is suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others or circumstances
    8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

  2. Why Matt Drudge is misleading

    Memorial: a structure erected to commemorate persons or events (wordnet.princeton.edu)

    memorial |mɪˈmɔːrɪəl|
    1. something, esp. a structure, established to remind people of a person or event

    The G.I. trees are not “memorials” as they were not erected.

  3. It seems to be an anglo-saxon character trait. The Brits also liberated Spain from Napoleon singlehandedly (never mind the Spanish “resistance”, they were the biggest mythical joke that ever existed…) beat Boney at Waterloo without Blücher (that Prussian old fart? Ha!) and Malborough’s army had no allies in it at all. Not one filthy continental wog amongst that blessed band, they few, they happy few, those fine honest tommies.


  4. Vous savez le Drudge Report n’est pas franchement connu pour sa neutralité, il est malheureux que ce site est autant d’influence, et pas seulement à cause de sa francophobie.
    Pour ce qui est du Times, et bien c’est le Times que voulez-vous : il est francophobe par nature ainsi que la plupart de ses lecteurs. C’est The Sun, la culture en plus.
    Je ne pense pas qu’il faille s’en inquiéter outre mesure, sauf si ça atteint le reste des médias (la TV surtout). Mais après tout Marion Cotillard peut remettre en cause la thèse officielle du 9/11 et s’en tirer à peu de frais, alors pour une histoire vieille de 60 ans…

  5. The Times is in the hands of Rupert Murdoch. They are the same bunch of racist thugs, although one set of so-called journalists speaks to the upper class and the other to the lower class. They are all trolls for Murdoch and his favorite causes, of which francophobia is one of the easiest.

  6. Exactly – Quite unfortunate to see how this “fait divers” was instrumentalized. But what worries me is how easy the outrage is expressed by regular users. They now have a prefabricated script for anti-French outrage, the consequence of complete political inaction from our diplomatic network.

  7. This is indeed an unfortunate turn of events, but when I read the Times story online and the comments, many of the comments were sticking up for France and especially the people of Normandy, so there’s been both pro and con on this. Of course, the bureaucratic decision to knock those old trees down was a bit un-diplomatique as they say, and a kind of stupid idea. But if it’s done it’s done, and there will be hell to pay. This is not about anti-French jokes, this was a stupid action on the part of the French government, or one part of that government, and it’s gonna reverbereate for a long time, sad to say. They should have foreseen this reaction would be coming. In this case, I think the Paris govt needs to be reprimanded by this website for a very bad PR decision…….they must have known this would happen. what were they thinking? But yes, of course, the anti-French sentiments indicated in many of the anti French comments are pure wrong. The French people did not order the trees cut down? WHO DID? WHO IS THE MAN TO BLAME FOR THIS? His punishment should be to come live in the USA for 12 years….haha

  8. 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.

    So it was one man, one landowner, whatever his reasons, he made a mistake. But it’s done. They can;t be put back. His PR faux pas is beyond belief, but to blame France or all French people for this is insane. Just one stupid man.

  9. ” But if it’s done it’s done, and there will be hell to pay.”

    is that a threat ?

  10. The land is under private ownership. The owner can do what he wants. Given the USA prides itselfs on the fact that anyone can own land and have possession of “Private Property”, I find the rampant French-bashing over this issue to be particularly retarded. The obvious ignorance of this fact leads me to believe that most French-bashers are actually 15-25 year old airmchair generals, sitting comfortable at their parent’s home in their little whitey-tighties, typing on their parent’s computer.

  11. “…most French-bashers are actually 15-25 year old airmchair generals…”

    Indeed they are. Computer games are our misfortune.

  12. Si ces arbres étaient “près de Rouen”, je crois savoir qu’aucun Américain n’a combattu dans cette région, qui était dans le secteur britannique.

    Ce sont les Canadiens de la 3DI, 9th brigade (Scottish), qui ont pénétrés les premiers dans la capitale normande, le 30 aout 1944. Les Américains, à cette date étaient déjà au delà de Paris, ayant dépassé Leclerc et les Français Libres.

    Des Américains sont passés par Rouen (et le Havre) bien plus tard. Il y en a eu beaucoup en traitement à l’Hopital de Rouen lorsque cette ville s’est trouvée “à l’arrière”. Bien entendu c’était la route normale pour tous ceux qui sont repartis aux Etats-Unis, en 1945 et plus tard.

    Ces graffitis sont certes une curiosité, mais rien n’indique qu’ils soient l’oeuvre de combattants.
    Faut-il classer monuments historiques tous les “Kelly was here” dans tous les ports d’Europe?

    Les Canadiens – et les Anglais – ont été accueillis et fêtés chaque année à Caen et à Rouen depuis 1944. J’ai rencontré à cette époque le Général Crerar (qui a sa rue à Caen) et il  m’a fait l’honneur de m’inviter à déjeuner à Montréal en 1958 lorsque j’étais étudiant.

    Je ne crois pas que les vétérans américains aient été moins bien célébrés dans l’Ouest de la Normandie, quelque soit l’opinion que la plupart des Français ont de l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui et de ses insultes. De toute façon leur âge, aujourd’hui, suffirait à leur assurer un accueil chaleureux.

    Je n’ai trouvé qu’un site relatif à la libération de Rouen, qui a fait moins de bruit que celle de Caen. Par contre Rouen a été bombardé pendant toute la guerre , et de quelle façon . Il faut relire Pierre Clostermann – pilote de chasse et Français Libre – à ce sujet.


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