Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A French Bush Supporter: "I Learned What It Is Like to Get Insulted in the Street, Threats on the Telephone, I Felt Very Alone"

One of my the best things I have ever read about America from a Frenchman came before the end of the Clinton era (proving, incidentally, that the "it is all and only about Bush" mantra and the supposed love affair with the Democrat president is little else but the result of self-deception).

In Europe, there exists a group of knee-jerk critics for whom, said Pascal Bruckner,

the worst crime of [a dictator like] Milosevic … can never equal the fundamental crime of America — simply existing.
That says it all in a nutshell, and therefore the quote features prominently in La bannière étalée, my upcoming book. It was without surprise that during the Iraq crisis, I learned that the author sided with the "hawks" wanting to remove Saddam Hussein by force.

That was in from 2002, with the support continuing through the spring and summer of 2003.

Then, slowly, Bruckner started to change. He started to be more critical of the administration. More and more. He would intervene, saying that Bush had made terrible errors in Iraq, and demanding from his interlocutors that surely they could at least admit that. (As I have pointed out numerous times, the reason this is not the innocent banter it seems to be offhand is that it is based on double standards: admitting to mistakes and engaging in self-criticism is never demanded of those opposed to America, nor is the same amount of invective directed at the leaders of and policymakers in, say, Russia, China, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast — not to speak of Saddam Hussein himself.) Truth be told, Bruckner seemed to have become a Bush-basher.

As I have written before,

Faced with the constant barrage of news proving Americans' backwardness in all things worthwhile, along with constant pressure from their French friends, co-workers, and acquaintances (snorts, snickers, guffaws, tch-tchs, nose curls, head shakes, and dirty looks accompanied by "mais certainement vous pouvez admettre que Bush a commis des erreurs/a raconté des mensonges", "pourquoi vous êtes en France si vous pensez ainsi?"), foreigners and other American friends (whether consciously or otherwise) cave in, not wanting to face the heat and not wanting to rock the boat…
A stunning example was the one concerning the editor of Paris Match.

And a February issue of Le Monde 2 features a piece in which Pascal Bruckner confirms this, telling of the travails he went through for supporting the Iraq War in France, making sure he ends his confession with the statement that… he hates Bush!

I learned what it is to get insulted in the street, threats on the telephone. My North African friends told me, "You have brain damage", those of the Esprit review dropped me. … I felt very alone. I asked myself: "Have I made a huge blunder?"
Truly it is nice to hear how open and tolerant the generous, avant-garde humanists are towards the free debate and understanding discussion they are always championing, n'est-ce pas? Unfortunately, Bruckner (who has an American, "strongly anti-Bush" wife) apparently couldn't stand the heat, he did not answer Non to the question he asked himself, and it is truly disappointing to hear how he has back-pedalled, in order to conform to the usual hems and haws of the bien-pensants, and issuing the usual batch of hedges and disclaimers:
I am not ready to engage myself for such causes again.

Historical action is something that [only] occurs in America. Unfortunately.

I gave the impression that I was championing a guy like Bush, whom in the final analysis I hate.