Miquelon.org The Fighting French

Barry Farber & France

04.11.2009 · Posted in Columnists

So President Obama stood on the soil of France and apologized for “American arrogance.”  Let see.  Who’s the arrogant one?  America, after doing most of the fighting, bleeding and dying to liberate France from her Nazi conquerors, gallantly lowered its profile to allow General Charles Andre Joseph Marie de Gaulle and his rag-tag Free French army to look like they were liberating Paris?  Or the French, who commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of their freedom with the battle cry “Paris se libere!” (“Paris liberates itself!)? – By BARRY FARBER

Our Response: Dear Barry

I’ll be frank and direct here since there is no point going any other way about this. I have spent the best part of the last six years fighting prejudice and anti-French attitudes in the American media after France’s refusal to follow the Bush administration into Iraq (See www.Miquelon.org).

If you have some argument with your president, I suggest you take it up with him directly instead of lambasting the French with a partial and incomplete historical record.

To address your points specifically :

  • Who’s the arrogant one? ” – Right off, I detect prejudice against the French.
  • America, after doing most of the fighting, bleeding and dying to liberate France from her Nazi conquerors” – Pure revisionism. Saving Private Ryan was not a documentary : I do not owe my freedom to US troops, but to the ALLIES. On D-Day, there were Canadians, British and other Allied Troops. I also owe my freedom the African Free French troops who landed in Provence. Secondly, had the Soviets not bled the German war machine on the eastern front (with a ratio of 20 to 1 Soviet to American dead), D-Day would not have been possible. Therefore, I, my French Compatriots, do not owe our freedom to any specific power, but to ALL ALLIES regardless. Thirdly, who are you to use the mantle of World War II and D-Day for your own grandstanding ? Unless you were there on D-Day, I have nothing but contempt for your posturing.
  • America, (…), gallantly lowered its profile to allow General Charles Andre Joseph Marie de Gaulle and his rag-tag Free French army” – I don’t appreciate your “rag-tag” qualifier as you are talking about members of my own family who risked their lives to free Europe of Nazism. Any man or woman who fought the Nazis deserves to be respected and not labeled as a second rate soldier. The historical record shows that Paris was partially liberated by a citizen uprising under Henri Rol-Tanguy before Allied troops entered the city. Even WIKIPEDIA disagrees with you : “Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower did not consider Paris as a primary objective; instead, American and British Allies wanted to enter Berlin before the Soviet Union’s army and put an end to the conflict.[5] Moreover Eisenhower thought it too early for a battle in Paris; he wanted to prevent another battle of Stalingrad, and knew that Hitler had given orders to destroy Paris. In a siege, it was estimated 4,000 tons of food per day would be needed to supply the Parisians, plus effort to restore vital infrastructure including transport and energy supply. Such a task would require time and entire Allied divisions

For more information about what the FRENCH DID:

  • The French fought in Africa, in Sicily, liberated Corsica, fought in Italy, took part in the invasion of Europe and fought through the battles of France and Germany — from Normandy to Munich.
  • Units from the French navy participated in the invasions of Sicily, Italy, Normandy and South France.
  • Units of the French navy and merchant marine took part in convoying operations on the Atlantic and Murmansk routes.
  • On June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day, over 5,000 Frenchmen of the resistance dynamited railroads in more than 500 strategic places.
  • They delayed strategic German troop movements for an average of 48 hours, according to our military experts. Those 48 hours were tactically priceless ; they saved an untold number of American lives.
  • French resistance groups blew up a series of bridges in southern France and delayed one of the Wehrmacht’s crack units (Das Reich Panzer Division) for twelve days in getting from Bordeaux to Normandy.
  • About 30,000 FF1 troups supported the Third Army’s VIII Corps in Brittany: they seized and held key spogs ; they conducted extensive guerrilla operations behind the German lines.
  • 25,000 FFI troops protected the south flank of the Third Army in its daring dash across France: the FFI wiped out German bridgeheads north of the Loire River ; they guarded vital lines of communication; they wiped out pockets of German resistance; they held many towns and cities under orders from our commmand.
  • When our Third Army was approachiung the area between Dijon and Troyes from the west, and while the Seventh Army was approaching this sector from the South, it was the FFI who stubbornly blocked the Germans from making a stand and prevented a mass retirement of German troops.
  • In Paris, as our armies drew close, several hundred thousand French men and women rose up against the Germans. 50,000 armed men of the resistance fought and beat the Nazi garrison, and occupied the main buildings and administrative offices of Paris.

More about why the US landed in France:

  • We didn’t come to Europe to save the the French, either in 1917 or in 1944. We didn’t come to to Europe to do anyone any favors. We came to Europe because we in America were threatened by a hostile, aggressive and very dangerous power.
  • In this war, France fell in June of 1940. We didn’t invade Europe until June of 1944. We didn’t even think of “saving the French” through military action until after Pearl Harbor – after the Germans declared war on us. We came to Europe, in two wars, because it was better to fight our enemy in Europe than in America. Would it have been smarter to fight the Battle of the Bulge in Ohio? Would it have been smarter if D-Day had meant a hop across the Atlantic Ocean, instead of the English Channel, in order to get at an enemy sending rocket bombs into our homes? Would it have been smart to wait in America until V bombs, buzz bombs, rocket bombs, and – perhaps – atomic bombs had made shambles of our cities? Even the kids in Germany sang this song: “Today Germany, tomorrow the world.” We were a part of that world. We were marked for conquest.
  • When France fell, our last defense on the Continent was gone. France was the “keystone of freedom” on land from the Mediterranean to the North Sea; it was a bulwark against German aggression. France guarded the Atlantic, and the bases the Germans needed on the Atlantic for submarine and air warfare.
  • American security and American foreign policy have always rested on this hard fact: we cannot permit a hostile power on the Atlantic Ocean. We can not be secure if we are threatened on the Atlantic. That’s why we went to war in 1917; that’s why we had to fight in 1944. And that’s why, as a matter of common sense and the national interest, President Roosevelt declared (November 11, 1941): “The defense of any territory under the control of the French Volunteer Forces (the Free French) is vital to the defense of the United States.”

SOURCE : Published in Paris in 1945 by the ‘Information & Education Division’ of the US Occupation Forces.

35 Responses to “Barry Farber & France”

  1. Fred Orth says:

    Congratulations for an EXCELLENT response! I am SOOO.. tired of idiots, particularily American, and their “comments” about WWII. I do wish these prople would get educated.

  2. Irish-Franco-American says:

    Thank you for the essay.  It is very educational.  I am tired of all the arrogant comments I hear from other Americans about World War II. 

    Marc, you deserve a medal! 

  3. Fred Orth says:

    Marc, French-bashing may be down a bit, but, ignorance of France remains rampet.  SuperFrenchie and you represent some blog effort but I doubt that it reaches much more than the “choir”.  Academia seems mostly ambivelent or even relitively pro-French. The problem is that conservative, rightwing types tend to be rather ignorant in history, particularily non-American.
    I think that your efforts on Leno and other “hollywood” types may be the only way we can penetrate closed minds. I might ask you to consider reaching out to other actors and actresses with French conections to work on the troublesome comics. Marc, you’ve got a lot of material and I think that there are a lot of potentially friendly people who would be impressed and persuaded.

  4. Barney hasn't left the building says:

    Marc is the one who should get the legion of honor.

  5. brian mcferron says:

    Vive la France!! and God’s blessings and thanks to the Free French  and those who also gave the ultimate sacrifice in taking their country back.  Besides the Brits, I still consider France our allied and true friend!

  6. Please find below a thoughtful and eloquent response by M Barry Farber.  With kind permission.
    ==================================================

    Dear Mr. Cormier,

    Normally I wouldn’t respond to a complaint regarding one of my  commentaries, but yours is so heartfelt and well-written and  important I don’t dare let the sun come up again without getting back to you.

    You left out the heroic French attempt along with their British  allies above the Arctic Circle to prevent the Nazis from taking  Northern Norway in April of 1940 and you gave only fleeting and  indirect mention to my boyhood hero, General Jacques LeClerc who  marched his forces north from Lake Chad in time to be useful in  destroying the Nazi presence in North Africa.

    If your mission is to fight anti-French feeling, you needn’t waste  ammunition on me.  You correctly diagnosed my quarrel as being with  our president and not with France.  During the war the British in  their home island used to complain that the only trouble with the  American soldiers is that they were overpaid, oversexed and over  here.  The Americans responded that the only thing wrong with the  English soldiers was they were underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower.  A nasty line, yes, but indicative of zero “anti-British  feeling” just as my jape indicates no anti-French feeling.

    France and America have one thing in common.  We’re both so big that  anything you say is probably true, and so is its opposite.  We can’t  live long enough to cite every act of heroism committed by Frenchmen  during the occupation.  Yet it’s true that within ten days of the  fall of Paris a group of French businessmen approached the German  command with a well-sculpted presentation on how the two parties  could “cooperate” going forward!  Many downed British and American  fliers, resistance heroes and Jewish children were saved at the risk  of the lives of their rescuers.  Others were handed over to the Nazis  for petty rewards.

    I’ve never blamed the French for not extending the Maginot Line  across the southern border of Belgium to the sea.  Had I been in the  French Parliament I’d probably have voted against the expense on  grounds that if war came again, it would take the Germans months to  take Belgium and that would give us plenty of time to put something  in place.  And I can’t swear I’d have stood up and excoriated Gen.  Maurice Gamelin for banning “radio” and relying on the good old World War 1 technique of having two motorcycle couriers zoom back and
    forth to Paris from the front daily!

    I choose not to dispute your contention that France owed its  liberation, not to the Americans, but to the Allies!  That’s a  question of taste, and I respect yours.  I remain proud of America’s  contribution to the liberation of all western Europe, and your  tribute to the French Underground and their usefulness if making  D-Day successful are quite correct.  You’re also correct that the  Soviets were the major sacrificers and the major contributors to Nazi  Germany’s destruction.  If there’d never been “World War 11; only  Germany against the Soviet Union, it would easily have been the  biggest war in history.  Too bad our Soviet ally so soon had to  emulate our common enemy.

    Your population featured heroes AND collaborateurs.  So would ours,  if fortune had placed America under the Nazi heel.  Cowardice and  opportunism know no nationality or ethnicity.

    It always rankled me a little (but not much!) that Norway, Denmark  and Holland; maybe Belgium, too, instinctively thought and think of  the British as their liberators.  They had no hesitation thanking the  British in word, deed, lyric and melody.  And something tells me that  if an editor as sentient as you had been in charge of that famous  sixtieth anniversary commemoration booklet of the Liberation of  Paris, then “Paris se libere” might not have been the dominant mantra  and the Allies might have been mentioned by name prior to page 50.

    Certainly I apologize for using the phrase “rag-tag” to describe the  Free French forces.  You’re correct; anyone who stepped forward to  fight Hitler deserves better.  Having apologized, let me tell you how  prim, trim and “regular” those Free French forces were compared to  our American revolutionaries who (with your help!) gave us an  independent nation.  And I’ll never quit praising the REALLY rag-tag  Partisans AND Chetniks of wartime Yugoslavia who may have done more to beat Hitler than D-Day in causing the Germans so much trouble in the Balkans in early 1941 that Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, originally planned for March of that year, was launched, against the advice of Hitler’s generals who wanted to wait a year, in late June — too late to guarantee the fall of Moscow before the Great Ally Russian Winter came to the rescue.

    By the way, I’ve given up trying to convince my  only-normally-interested American friends, that St. Pierre and Michelon are NOT “French-Canadian” but FRANCE ITSELF, real and incarnate.  I love it.  It makes me feel comfortably closer to the great nation whence you came.

    Gratefully,
    Barry Farber

  7. Congratulations for an excellent rebuttal Miquelon!

    Indeed, some people need to go back to school to re-learn or be re-taught history.

    I agree with Fred Orth — French bashing may no longer be at its peak but ignorance or wilfull ignorance of France still abounds.
    How extraordinary that there are individuals like Farber who are prepared to revise historical facts to justify their bigotted existence.

  8. Agree with everyone here that Marc deserves to be awarded the Legion of Honour.

    Does anyone know how we go about petitioning the Elysée (or is it the Quai d’Orsay)?

  9. André Wernesson says:

    I agree. If anyone here deserves the Légion d’Honneur, it’s Marc. I’ll gladly sign a petition, or send a letter to the government myself.

    Sadly though, I doubt they’d give a Legion of Honor for actions against French-bashing. Sarko is too busy sucking up to the United States, he’d be afraid to piss them off.

  10. Hello. If you want more Hollywood stars to help educate the American people about France, then you should ask Salma Hayek and her husband to help you out. Even though Salma Hayek is from Mexico and a naturalized American citizen, her husband is a citizen of France. He should know plenty about the history of his own country. Why don’t you contact his company and ask them to do this?

  11. Great reply from Miquelon.org
    Do you have any link to this source “Published in Paris in 1945 by the ‘Information & Education Division’ of the US Occupation Forces.”? so i can use that as well. Thanks.

  12. Miquelon says:

    Yes ! I used to have this on the old Miquelon.org, but it’s currently available from http://www.112gripes.com

  13. Miquelon says:

    Elaine, that would be a great idea, there are many Hollywood celebrities who are pro-French, but unfortunately they are already typecast by the right-wing French haters.

  14. Fred Orth says:

    Miquelon (13), typecasting is inevitable but getting the word out there again  and again can only help get the truth out. Having some highly recognized actors and journalists actively proclaiming the positives about France and the French can uplift the dialogue.

  15. Johnny Depp lives in France with his girlfriend and their two children. He also has French ancestry. Richard Belzer who is on the television show Law And Order SVU lives in France part-time and he also speaks French. His co-worker Christopher Meloni is half French-Canadian on his mother’s side and half Italian on his father’s side. Have you thought about Ellen DeGeneres? She is part French. Raquel Welch was married to a French citizen for ten years before they were divorced in 1990. Perhaps she still knows him and her former in-laws and has friends living in France. Celine Dion is in the music business and she is very popular. Since she is from Quebec, Canada she might also be able to help change people’s ignorant opinions.

  16. Here is another suggestion that may be of help to you. Wikipedia has a huge list of Franco-Americans and the people on this list could help out. Angelina Jolie is on it and you know how popular she is. Charlize Theron, Brett Favre, Shia Lebouf, Jessica Alba, Anthony Bourdain, Minka Kelly and Jessica Biel are on it. Alec Baldwin and his brothers are on it and so are the Quaid brothers. Please take a look at it.

  17. Elaine’s suggestion IS brilliant… Thanks, Ellen!

    Now, does anyone have a suggestion as to how to access this mega stars?

  18. Hmmm… France should perhaps hire an intl mega PR team?

  19. On another note, does anyone seriously know how we can propose Miquelon for the Legion of Honour?

  20. Miquelon says:

    Now now now … I’d rather not say anything about that last post, except that I could never accept anything without having SuperFrenchie nominated as well.

  21. Miquelon says:

    Yes Elaine, the old version of the site had a “famous” Franco-Americans listed, I’m sorry I didn’t add that content on the new site. I’ll see if I can locate this data on a backup drive.

  22. Right you are Miquelon!

    SuperFrenchie should be too…

  23. My name isn’t Ellen! It is Elaine.

  24. André Wernesson says:

    I must agree that, despite strongly disagreeing at many levels with SF and his views, his work against French-bashing has been unique, excellent, selfless, and devoted. I would gladly endorse him.

  25. Fred Orth says:

    SuperFrenchie and Miquelon both bring a smile to my face. Obvious devotion to a just cause. Long, hard hours maintaining the highest ethics. Really makes you feel that there is hope for humanity. Don’t know either one, but, you have to love them for their sacrifice.

  26. Message
    It’s iinteresting to note the paragraph:

    American security and American foreign policy have always rested on this hard fact: we cannot permit a hostile power on the Atlantic Ocean. We can not be secure if we are threatened on the Atlantic. That’s why we went to war in 1917; that’s why we had to fight in 1944. And that’s why, as a matter of common sense and the national interest, President Roosevelt declared (November 11, 1941): “The defense of any territory under the control of the French Volunteer Forces (the Free French) is vital to the defense of the United States.”

    If we apply this today then we come up with two scenarios:

    Firstly the Atlantic – Now we can see why the USA will always support NATO and why it is prepared to spend to keep European military capability alive.  It does this by paying some 22% for NATO.  Thus the attack from the East will be defended in Europe and not allowed to arrive in the USA.
    Secondly in the Pacific.  Now we can see the absolute need for a weak and US influenced in some areas in Asia-Pacific, and foremost is in the Philippines as this gives them an entry point and secure base in Asia.  Also the need for Taiwan becomes apparent as iot focusses Chinese aspirations on an island in Asia and reduces the USA to a secondary issue.

    This is forward defence with a vengeance and now we can trace it back over many years.  I have always believed there is absolutely nothing stupid about the USA.  They are not the dominant power in the world because they lack strategic thinking and intelligence.

  27. Wonderful, elogquent reply indeed by Mr Farber!

    I salute him!

  28. Barney hasn't left the building says:

    One week after French commandos took action rescuing hostages from Somalian pirates, the French navy surrendered to Somalian pirates and children on a South Park episode titled Fatbeard that aired on April, 22.
    The glorious Americans of course killed all the pirates at the end of the episode at the behest of the cowardly Europeans.
    Quote from the episode (they were French so of course they surrendered immediately)

    Americans really live in a fantasy world. Purely by choice apparently.

  29. Barney,

    “Americans really live in a fantasy world.”

    They need to justify their bigotted existence.

  30. Ooops… before anyone chases me with his/her shoes, rest assured, I <b>didn’t</b> mean all Americans!

  31. Miquelon says:

    I just saw the South Park Episode on YouTube. The French Bashing line about surrendering is regrettable and some fans do find the joke “tired”.

  32. Fred Orth says:

    Repeated South Park episode tonight. I almost threw my wine glass at the TV. I get soooo tired of these stupid insults to such a great people.

  33. Fred, everybody, I’m working on a post.
    In the meanwhile, why not let Ken Tucker know what you feel about his ideas …

    http://watching-tv.ew.com/2009/04/south-park-atta.html?cid=152297075

    “predictable but no less funny depictions of the French as pretentious cowards.”

    Contact him at http://www.kentucker.net/

  34. Hello Marc. I have done a little more research for you and this should help make your job a little easier. Salma Hayek’s husband’s company has the internet address http://www.ppr.com. You can contact Ellen DeGeneres by visiting http://www.ellen.warnerbros.com. Christopher Meloni’s website address is http://www.christopher-meloni.com/frame.html and he also has acontact form on it. Please make sure that you get him to also talk to Richard Belzer and their other co-workers. Celine dion’s website is http://www.celinedion.com. Adrienne Barbeau’s website address is http://www.abarbeau.com.  Marion Cotillard’s website address is http://www.cotillard.net and the email address is [email protected].  Carly Simon’s website address is http://www.carlysimon.com and the email address is [email protected]. Paula Abdul’s mother is French-Canadian and Jewish.  Paula Abdul’s website address is http://www.paulaabdul.com. Josh Lucas is a movie star and his mother is French. His website address is http://www.joshlucas.com. I hope that this information helps you and I’ll keep looking for more infomation for you.

  35. Elaine, my apologies – I just found your message deep inside the spam filter of the site (multiple URLs are probably the cause). Thanks for the research, will look into it. I really like Richard Belzer, he had some very harsh words for French-Bashers, can’t remember where I heard that.

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