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A Typical Week at Le Monde

On Monday, France 3 showed Phil Craig's outstanding docudrama, The Flight That Fought Back. Le Monde's Dominique Dhombres agrees the story of UA 93 on 9-11 is good, but bemoans, in the usual patronizing way that is the bane of la France laïque louée aux Cieux, "the religious and patriotic parts", suggesting religion and patriotism are outdated blinders worthy of nothing but scorn, and that because co-producer Brian Lapping is a Briton, that content means that a lucid European like him must have been forced to compromise his integrity and sell out.

In a letter to the editor on September 14 (no link available), a Swiss reader pointed out how partisan Le Monde is: An article four days earlier read "The Swiss …have retained their autonomy and still haven't become members of the European Union (EU)". Before slicing up the rest of the indigest article, Pierre Boskovitz points out that the Swiss have not "retained" their "autonomy", but "form until further notice an independent, free, and democratic country." He adds that "the term 'still' is unacceptable, because it suggests that Switzerland ought to be a member of the EU, but that it is shuffling its feet although entering is its duty. Unless I am mistaken, Switzerland and Norway are countries whose democratic character is not in doubt and who have decided, freely and democratically, not to enter the EU."

Speaking of multinational organisations: Philippe Bolopion approaches the Oil-for-Food scandal (and others at the United Nations) through the reactions of the UN's (anonymous) employees. The result: lots of whining and pointing fingers (at Uncle Sam, natch) and tears about the unfairness of it all, not to mention anger (the "objective" journalist's) at the "raging" neo-cons unfairly wanting to punish the UN just like they did with poor little France.

Eric Leser paints a heroic portrait of Mayor Ray Nagin (saying "the Democrat African-American may become the hero America has been desperately seeking since Hurricane Katrina hit"), while Denis Lacorne's online chat shows the usual haughty and patronizing tone of all Frenchmen (himself included) and the afore-mentioned Dhombres intimates that the BBC is honest and objective while he wags his finger at Dubya:

Des propos, impensables jusqu'ici, sont tenus. "S'il dit encore une fois que c'est la faute des autorités locales, je lui mets ma main sur la figure", s'écrie, exaspérée, une sénatrice démocrate de Louisiane.

…Il n'en est pas encore au point d'admettre ce que les témoins répètent pourtant à satiété devant les caméras : dans les jours qui ont suivi le passage du cyclone, le pouvoir fédéral avait tout simplement déserté.

Of course, the above criticism couldn't be due a tendency to shift away blame, could it?

Speaking of racism, real, alleged, or other, Benoît Hopquin details how when French authorities were faced with a lack of manpower in rural zones 40 years ago, they sent for 1,600 children in La Réunion, establishing the "transfer" of the Indian Ocean youngsters to l'Hexagone.

This, of course, is to be denounced by Frenchmen of all colors, albeit briefly and never in a tone that suggests, as with any American lapse or sin, big or small, real or other, that this is typical and that the country is beyond salvation.


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