Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Darker Side of France

I enjoyed my trip to France.  The people were much nicer in the south than they were in Paris on my last visit some 30 years ago.  And of course, the wine, the food, the sun....

But it is not perfect.  It has a feeling of grandeur in decline, yet with a sort of residual swagger that you do not for instance feel in an England where the Sun is Setting. 

So as I wandered here and there I was not surprised to find among other Detritus of Empire some hints of a darker side of France.  You have to get off the main tourist tracks to do so, but then my feet are always drawn to side streets and back alleys.

Kind of a trifecta here, xenophobia, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments all at once

Antifa refers to an anti-fascism movement.  Anti Antifa would be a double negative, so a pro fascist poster.  I looked on the internet, so you don't have to, it seems to refer to a sort of skin head neo nazi thing.  They have concerts of unpleasant music.

This does not translate well with my nifty internet app.  But appears to speak well of Mussolini.  A great man and a great people or some such.  For all the snippy comments from the French on our horrid right wing politics I think our Gallic friends have some 'splainin' to do!

The French are big on statues.  Many philosophers and humanists, but not a few soldiers as well.  Including this square jawed worthy:

Meet Sergent Blandin.  He died on the "Field d'honneur" in Algeria in 1842, heroically refusing to surrender when his small detachment was set upon by 300 Arab horsemen.

Here is the front of the statue:

Note the red painted inscription....zooming in:

I guess there is no specific point to the above examples of French imperfections.  All countries, all peoples have some.  And the difficult economic times are hitting Europe even harder than here in the states.  Also, the French have a reputation to maintain, of a passionate, hot tempered, argumentative bunch of folks. 

We can't expect them to be correct all the time.

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