francophobia still sells

Monday, January 30, 2006

The truth about BHL (pronounced BI-ATCH-elle, stands for Bernard-Henri Levy) is simple: he's simplistic, bombastic and a megalomaniac. That's why it doesn't come as any surprise when Garrison Keillor rips him and his new book, Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville, to tiny little bits. Almost anyone could find BHL's generalisations embarassing. But, I don't really understand why this book is aimed at Americans anyways. Is this really the best time to sell a book by a frenchman on America? What were they thinking... and for that matter... who the hell is Tocqueville?

What does come as a surprise, however, is Keillor's conflation of BHL with the French in general. I hardly think the average Frenchman thinks like BHL the same way the average American hardly thinks like Keillor himself. But, nothing like a little good dose of francophobia to keep the readers happy, and Keillor never spares a second to ridicule BHL as if he were all of France, instead of BHL, the pretentious git disliked by his own people. But, perhaps it is the fault of the French. If they took better care in who they established as national icons, they probably wouldn't have aging dungheaps like Chirac, Sardou and Delon running around. Still, I expected a finer hand from Keillor than to retaliate this way, and I expect more than cultural mud-slinging from the NYTimes. Perhaps Keillor will do us justice and write a book on the Paris Riots and Le Monde will get its turn.