Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Over a million people took to the streets all over France last week to protest the state of their economy. This is brilliant stuff. People around the world protest all sort of injustices, war, corruption, and the like, but you've got to hand it to les enfants de la patrie for coming out in droves simply to show that they didn't like unemployment and low salaries.
I'm not a hater, mind you. I love France. And even the most gallophobic has to admire an anthem far more bloody and martial than ours (and the making of one of the best scenes in movie history). Oh, sure, they're a ridiculous people (aren't we all?) and we could make a long list of standard French hypocrisies, but in general I'm a big fan of the French, I don't know, je-ne-sais-quoi that makes hundreds of thousands of people blow off work and have a big street party. Hell, I even gave my dog a French name. I mean, who but the French had the savoir-faire to come up with the international distress call.

What I don't understand is how, sacre-bleu!, a protest like this — really against no one — turns violent. See now you're taking away my joie-de-vivre.

And this pretty much sums up the lovable French attitude:
Commuter Sandrine Dermont, arriving in Paris, said: "I'm tired and frozen after waiting half-an-hour on the platform.

"But I'm prepared to accept that when it's a movement to defend our spending power and jobs. I'll join the street protests during my lunch break."

How on earth skipping work, freezing your butt off, and clashing with cops "defends your spending power" is beyond me, but if it all made perfect sense it wouldn't be French, now would it?

Of course, the links above are all from American and British sources. What does Le Monde think? Well, that the current economic crisis proves the superiority of the French model (to be perfectly fair, my French is a bit rusty and there's a reasonable chance that's an article about shaving your poodle). It was more important to show this picture to it's readers to remind them that things are really bad in America. Hell, who wants to worry about your own country's problems when you can find flaws with the USA?

What's the raison-d'etre of this post? It's simple. The French wine and rack of lamb I had the other night has made my gout flare up and despite being high on the requisite opiates I felt the need to vent . . .
"I'll join the street protests during my lunch break." Ah, France. And that lunch break is no doubt a nationally-mandated two-hour siesta, so she'll have all the tear gas she can eat.

This reminds me of protest season at Harvard. They come like clockwork every spring — you don't want to march in the cold weather — and after exams, so the students in SLAM don't have to make any difficult choices.

Last year the students famously went on hunger strike to protest the hourly wage Harvard's security guards were earning. Never mind stuff like Darfur, right?

Turned out a dozen lethargic students sprawled out in the yard on blankets drinking Gatorade (!) wasn't all that compelling a narrative. Go figure. So the students marched across Mass Ave and tried to storm the labor office — only to be thwarted in their efforts by the very security guards whose cause they were championing. The guards kept them out.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

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