Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Years After (more) 

Lots of ink has been spilled (and bits transmitted) over the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

Some American expats in Paris have their own point of view. In particular, they realize from their experiences, that no one "lost" Europe's sympathy after 9/11, because there never was any "sympathy" for America before or since.


Memories of 9/11.

From an experience on the high-speed train on 9/11, one correspondant recounts:

"At one point, three or four members of some state-owned company (they may have been EDF) entered the dining car.  . Although they discussing the day's events, they were obviously heading to Paris to demonstrate against the government, and during their conversation, I overheard one of them making a joke (sic). With a snicker, he said "Ils l'ont fait exprès pour saboter notre manifestation" (They [obviously meaning the Americans] did it on purpose, in order to sabotage our demonstration). Alhough the others barely laughed at what was obviously an instance of sophisticated humor à la française (smiles were in order, though), the comment should give a better idea of the real state of friendship harbored towards America then the presumed one extant in the myth of the squandered sympathy."

"At my office the following day, there was certainly nobody among my fellow journalists who had anything sympathetic to say about 911 (or what they had to say they certainly weren't sharing with ...[me, the American]..."

Another correspondant recounts events at a social get-together on September 15:

"A couple of people brought their companions along. Eventually discussion turned to the events of the previous Tuesday. I never expected anything but sympathy to be shown (like I had on the train), but one female hiker's boyfriend obviously had none. I don't remember if he actually said he was happy about 911 or in so many words that Americans deserved it, but he certainly had not the smallest empathy for them, saying he hated their guts."

"That is where I lost my cool."

"So that is the famous French solidarity, huh?!" I interrupted from my chair.

"He tried to say something, but he wasn't about to get the chance."

"So that is the famous French generosity, huh?!" I bellowed.

"He again replying, but…"

"So that is the famous French tolerance, huh?"

"I got up."

"The others were begging me to drop the matter, to shut up."

"So that is the famous love of fellow human beings, huh? I am so-o-o-o impressed!"

"His girlfriend was begging me, begging both of us, to let the matter drop, but I piled on with acerbic irony."

"Do you have any other examples of France's famed lucidité, we would love to listen to them!"

"The other people were alarmed, they seemed to think we were going to come to blows, and, truthfully, both then and later, I felt like I was battering him, except by the use of words instead of fists."

"Oh, I am so impressed by your avant-garde feelings of solidarity towards the entire world — please, please, can you give us some lessons!"

"Suddenly, the guy got up, crossed the room towards the front door of the fifth-floor apartment, and — walked out. Leaving his girlfriend behind, he started running down the stairway. In my fury, I still managed to register surprise, because that was the last thing I expected."

He adds:

"...the story of the squandered sympathy is nothing but a myth: Over the following months, or years (weeks?), we are told, America's president (i.e., Bush) and his government squandered the sympathy that the world generously bestowed upon America in the immediate aftermath."

"As it happens, the comment I heard in the apartment occurred four days after the terrorist attacks, and the comments that I heard in the train and that W heard in the Paris café occurred within hours (if not dozens of minutes) after learning of the terrorist attacks."

"Those give quite a different context to the expressions of friendship such as those seen...[photo of sympathy demonstrations in Paris]. As many of our French commentators make clear, what is said in public...and what is said behind one's back can be quite a different matter; in any case, the friendship is tinged (soaked, rather) with (self-serving) paternalism."

"Close friendship with America: it is all a lie, folks, it is all a lie. "

Excellent reading!

10 Years After 9/11 

Lots of ink has been spilled (and bits transmitted) over the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

One of the best I've seen was written by Edward Kosner in the Wall Street Journal:

Kosner Article in Wall Street Journal

Some of the money quotes:
"The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the aborted mission likely against the U.S. Capitol, killed 2,977 people and ushered in one of the most corrosive periods in American history—a miserable decade of warfare, financial catastrophe, fear, mistrust and rancid politics that has left Americans feeling pessimistic and vulnerable."

"The raw feelings are submerged, but daily life offers unavoidable clues...that things have irrevocably changed, and not for the better... Much of this results from the inadequate resolution of what was essentially mass murder of innocent civilians in an act of war."

Exactly my thoughts...

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