City of Paris says US liberators in 1944 were racist criminals

I went to an interesting exhibit about the Liberation of Paris yesterday, and was somewhat surprised by who the City of Paris chose to depict as the bad guys: Us.

The city runs a neat little museum about the (rather old) history of Paris, which goes back to nearly 10,000 BC.

The museum, called the Carnavalet, is located in the historic Marais district, and currently is running an exhibit in honor of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris during World War II by French and American troops.

From the exhibit.

From the exhibit.

The name of the exhibit is “Paris liberé, Paris photographié, Paris exposé” (in English it’s “Paris freed, Paris photographed, Paris exhibited”), and it contains a number of pretty neat photographs, both professional and amateur, taken during the occupation, and then subsequent liberation, of Paris by the Nazis during the 1940s.

Paris was occupied by the Germans from June 22, 1940 to August 24, 1944.

As you might expect, even though the Americans and the French jointly liberated Paris, the Carnavalet’s exhibit was heavy on the French, and barely included a mention of the Americans until the very last room where I found this, below. Keep in mind that this is pretty much the only thing in the entire museum describing the American role in the Liberation of Paris:

carnavalet-museum-liberation-of-paris

Yes, the entire description of the US role in the Liberation of Paris is about the “irony” of how racist and criminal our soldiers (and citizens) were.  And about how odd it is that the French fell in love with the culture of a bunch of racist criminals.

Now, here’s the thing. Is it accurate to point out that the US was racist, segregated its armed forces, and treated its black troops (and vets) badly? Yes it is accurate.

And is it accurate to point out that some American troops committed crimes on French soil? Again, yes it is.

But you know what else is accurate? The fact that during that same period, France was just as racist as the US in terms of its brutal treatment of its then-colony in Algeria. And by the end of the war, you didn’t see a chastened France, newly inspired by its victorious battle against a racist enemy, handing the Algerians their freedom. (And I suspect many French of Algerian origin still have doubts about their personal freedom even today.)

There’s no mention of any of that in the Carnavalet’s exhibit. Nothing about the “irony” of the French resistance — heck, of de Gaulle himself — fighting against Nazi “racism” while actively oppressing people of color in France’s own colonies.

Here’s more from Wikipedia:

During World War II North Africa was the battle ground for much of the European based war. With the invasion of France by Germany in 1942, the Allied forces were quick to take control of the colonies once controlled by the French. The Anglo-American occupation of North Africa began the start of modern day Algeria. During this time, the occupational forces (both the Allied and the Axis powers) began delivering messages and promises of a “new world for formerly subject[ed] peoples”. Promises of emancipation excited the Algerian people, as they would finally be able to form a sovereign nation. In December 1942, Ferhat Abbas drafted an Algerian Manifesto, and presented it to both the Allied and French authorities. This manifesto wanted recognition of an Algeria that was sovereign, and free of colonization. As a response, in 1943, French citizenship was given as an option to many North Africans. This, however, led to outrage as it was not enough to satisfy Algerians, and an uprising soon followed.

On 8 May 1945, during celebrations to mark the end of the World war, an unorganized rising occurred in Setif where 84 European settlers were killed. The French replied with brute force[citation needed], suppressing the Algerian population, killing thousands upon thousands of Algerians. Opposition continued against the French, and the brute force used by the French as well continued. In total, estimates of the deaths range from 1,000 to 45,000 deaths, with many more wounded. Following the events of the past as the Setif Massacre, French rule was introduced again.

As any good student of propaganda knows, you can lie with the truth by simply being selective about what you share.  In this case, the only portion of the exhibit devoted to the American role in the Liberation of Paris spent the entire time discussing our racism and criminality, while never mentioning the fact that France at the time had just as troubled a history when it came to embracing freedom for all (France’s Jews might have a few thoughts on the topic as well).

It’s unclear whether someone thought that this would be a neat twist on the usually staid descriptions of the Liberation, or whether the city of Paris has some issues with the US’ role in its own liberation (their comment about American culture drips with animus).

The inclusion of such inflammatory material in an exhibit that was not devoted to the historic irony of racism — while choosing to ignore the ironic “racism” of France’s own troops and its own citizens during that same period — struck me as biased, gratuitous, and inappropriate.

I’m going to close with a comment that a reader posted, below:

One of my favorite uncles died a few months ago, at age 89. He was from Alabama. He came out of the racist society. He also risked his life as an MP in Patton’s army to free the damn French from the Nazis. The third husband of one of my wife’s aunts died at 95 a few years ago. He was old enough in WWII he could not have been drafted. Instead, he volunteered, assuming his high level mechanical skills on vehicles would keep him off the front line. That went so well. He was dropped, in his bulldozer, off a landing craft on the second day of Normandy invasion, and spent three days cutting roads off the beaches so the troops could start moving in land. His recounting of those days to us, on a Memorial Day about a decade ago, still bring tears to my eyes as I remember his careful and calm accounting of those days in his life.

He still remembers the French farmer who gave him some eggs on the fifth or sixth day, when he finally was able to pause and rest. He scrambled them up and ate them with a tin of bacon he had smuggled in his bulldozer cabin. (It was enclosed with welded on steel plates, which protected him from snipers as he got from the landing craft to the beach.) “Des oeufs”, he told us. “The Eggs.” The only French words he learned, and remembered to his dying day.

I for one, on their behalf, and all the other uncles and my father who served in WWII to that very end, find this treatment of American soldiers by the French simply disgusting and unacceptable.

____________

As a postscript, one of the things that really bothers me most is that this kind of anti-American stereotype is not the French.  At least, not today’s France. Once upon a time, maybe. But not in the past 10+ years that I’ve been coming regularly to this country (my first visit was to study here for a year in 1983-84). I continue to be amazed at the generosity shown me by the French, especially in Paris. I have countless stories of small, insigificant gestures of kindness that make all the difference.

The woman the other day in the grocery store who let me go first because I had fewer purchases than her.

The grocery check out lady who remembers me, year after year, and always grabs a plastic bag, opens it, and starts filling it with my groceries, because she remembers what a hard time I always have opening the bags (and I told her once that I kept having a hard time, juggling filling the bag with getting out my money, because in America the grocery clerk usually fills the bag for us — so every year when she spots me, she fills my bag for me, something they just don’t do here).

The baker around the corner who, upon my telling him that I was American, I love to cook, and was fascinated watching their baguette making which was taking place in plain view, invited me downstairs to his kitchen, gave me a grand tour, then proceeded to demonstrate for me how to make a particular French pastry, even though this was the middle of the afternoon and he only bakes these things in the morning. (Oh, he also handed me a free pastry on my way out — another thing they just don’t do.)

The ER doctor who had seen me two weeks before when I had my retinal detachment while in Paris, and who noticed that my name was on the list for surgery that day, came over and found me in the area just outside the operating room, scared to death, basically blind (they had taken my glasses for the surgery, so I couldn’t see), laying on a gurney alone in a foreign country, and who touched my arm, introduced himself, and said he just wanted to say hi and make sure I was okay.

I could go on.

That’s why this story so bothers me. Not because the French are rude. But because the French aren’t rude at all.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Bob Cat

    It has nothing to see with the jews, it a complex linguistic evolution. Stop being hysteric, If you understand french, you’ll have the explanation here : http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2014/08/20/la-mort-aux-juifs-histoire-d-un-nom-propre_4473982_3232.html

  • Nicolas

    As a french Jew whose grandfather fought in the parisian resistance and died in deportation I think you should go back to school.
    Your
    “shortcut” demonstrates a lack of knowledge in History and a lack of
    understanding about France. Your statement about anti Jews events in
    France is just a pile of rubbish.
    It is a fact that, during WW2, the
    American army, as an institution, was segregationist and, as the
    supplier of equipment to the french liberation army, imposed its rules
    to its allies.
    And it wasn’t a first. Look back to WW1 and General
    Pershing’s racist rules. The great General who didn’t want to have black
    soldiers under his orders and, therefore, put each and every black
    american soldier under French and Belgian command.
    Take your books back, read, think and try to be honest in your statements.
    Yes Paris is beautiful, the food is certainly good, and, as a country, France (I want to specify because you seem to think that Paris is a country) has nothing to envy to the country that invented the KKK which is still strong and active.
    I am French and Jew and proud of both, I worked in many places around the world and you are the symbol of the arrogant judgemental American so many people hate. It’s a shame.
    I have lots of American friends… thank God, they are more open and aware about what is happening further than the end of their noses.
    God bless

  • JoeMelrose

    John, there might be more to it than just snark. According to sourced citations in Wikipedia, the Americans and Brits not only didn’t allow blacks in their own combat units, but wouldn’t even allow the black soldiers who fought in the French forces to be seen: “Due to American and British pressure for a white-only liberation force, black French troops were excluded from the triumphal return to Paris on the 25th.”

  • Steven Leahy

    You beat me to it……how ironic.

  • cambridgemac

    “despite the abuses of certain soldiers” does not constitute a wholesale defamation of Amercian soldiers nor a statement that criminality was rampant. Six words.

  • françois

    The Dreyfus affair come from the far right catholic and ked to a strong reaction from the left with Clémenceau and Zola.
    The result was the 1905 secular laws for the separation between church and state.

    before the WW2 some scandals bring back anti semitism in the far left, the Stavinski affair was a super Madoff.
    Laval, the prime minister of Vichy regime was socialist in the 30.

    70% of french jews survive to the WW2. 10-50% in the other nazi occuped countries.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
    If Anne Franck was french is chance to be alive would be X3.
    And never forget that the frenchmen who help to the deportation know nothing about the Shoah.

    France was the biggest support to the new Israel state and give modern arms and nuclear technologic.

    If the anti semic agresion rise in %, it is very law in number.
    It is very more difficult to be arab than jews in France

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Bingo. Some folks don’t seem to be taking me seriously when I tell them that this site isn’t going to be around much longer. I’m already looking for jobs, and actually plan on doing a post about it soon. I’m going broke, have been going broke for years subsidizing the site, and it’s pretty much over at this point.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis
  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    “You need to find another way to monetize your site.”

    Why don’t you send John a couple hundred?

  • josephsinger

    I’m sorry, it’s still a PITA. You need to find another way to monetize your site. The point of sites is not to annoy your visitors or maybe it is.

  • Hatfield

    The French were Jew haters during the War and they still are. Look at those riots recently against synagogues and Jewish owned stores and, as a result, Jewish emigration is up. The food is very nice; Paris is quite beautiful (well, parts of it are) and as a country it is sliding into irrelevance.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I wasn’t going to bring it up but maybe I’ll add a bit of American history also. My father worked at Allied Central Command in Paris after Paris was Liberated. Apparently the Germans bombed a ton of Bridges when they were driven out of Paris. My father took a work detail of captured German soldiers out to work re-building the bridges they had blown up.

    He was in engineering trained with the horrific job of finding mines and booby traps. He cleared the minefield, he and the 3 other engineers who worked with him, cleared the minefield before any troops advanced, for the first Allied invasion into central Germany, and he earned a Bronze Star for Bravery under fire.

    He was a farm boy and wanted to enlist and be a pilot but he had a farm injury to his eye and flunked the eye test. He was really mad about that and wanted them to re-test him after it fully healed. As part of enlistment you take intelligence tests. One day two men in suits came to the farm looking for him, he must have scored like exceptionally high on the tests because they wanted him in some Military Intelligence Unit, but he was still mad that they would not re-test him to be a pilot so he blew them off and said, “If I can’t be a pilot I will be a foot soldier” That is how he ended up to be just what he said a foot soldier.

    He said his saddest memory in France was a French farmer who asked him with gestures and tears, crying, to shoot his horse as the family was starving. My father being a farmer knew what it meant to shoot your horse as without a horse you can’t plow the fields, you can’t farm without a horse. Shooting and eating your horse was the very last thing any farmer would do. So while the farmer turned away and waited my father did shoot the horse for him. My father connected with that French farmer in a very real human way, without the benefit of language.

    My uncle (from my mothers side) has a quite unique story. He was attending the State University, a boy from a poor poor family, and with war happening he knew he would be called to serve. Unlike my father who wanted to be a pilot, my uncle wanted a “safe job” he analyzed the situation and decided he would study weather at the University, he figured that the GI’s who studied the weather and made weather reports, hey that sounded pretty safe. So sure enough all the guys who were in this University class on weather all got called up and assigned to military weather school, all together.

    He was sent to the Pacific, but his plans of safety were not realized, him and 2 other guys were dropped off at a pacific Island, I believe it was Paupau New Guinea, or a small island near Paupau New Guinea, dropped into a remote jungle with Cannibals. I kid you not, cannibals. THAT was his safe weather job. He was not joking when he told us his WWII experience, he was dead serious. They would have to inflate and send off weather balloons on a certain schedule and report incoming weather balloons etc. all by radio. It was one guy up in the trees and 2 guys at base camp and as he says, much much to close to the cannibals, they feared for their lives every day. His brother my other uncle on my mother’s side fought with General Patton, I think most of his time, and after we bombed Hiroshima my uncle carried the military codes for a nuclear bomb in Europe, this is when he was stationed in Italy.

    My mother was a quite a bit younger than her brothers but one memory she shared has always stayed with me and that is the tolling of the church bells. Apparently when our military men and women were killed they would send a report to the churches they belonged to. When the church would get the list they would ring the bells and everybody would hurry to the church and the Pastor would read out which members of their congregation had died. This was not during Sunday Services, but during the work week. And then everyone would cry.

    My brother in laws uncle survived the Bataan Death March I saw and visited with him at all my sisters family parties, weddings, baptisms etc. He never talked about it though.

    So yes Carnavalet Museum, it is highly insulting your small snippet about the Americans in your Exhibit.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The point is that the sometimes silly but more often sentiment of “My country, right or wrong” is jingoistic garbage no matter the language.

    The truth is that both the US and French societies are cesspools of barely controlled racsim, misogyny and homophobia.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yep. You basically have to approach it with respect, even trying a little in French, or perhaps apologizing and simply saying “I’m terribly sorry but I dont’ speak French,” would get you a long way. I’ve seen it work wonders with my friends who have visited, and who didn’t speak French, but who learned a few words. People loved it.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Americans are self-centered by design. We live, in essence, on an island far away from both Asia and Europe. And for most of us, visiting either place is a dream that’s never gonna happne. That kind of isolation tends to make you insular, and tends to make you focus on yourself.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And Simon, I think the other person who posted about their grandafther being from Alabama, being brought up racist, but still willing to give his life to help liberate people in a foreign land, shows how complicated these issues really are in context. I have to admit, a lot of us, myself included, tend to mock Alabama as it’s still a rather discriminatory-minded state. But having said that, when it was necessary, her grandfather stepped up to the plate and did something I’m not sure many of us could have done. It’s easy to demonize abstractions :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And it helps me get traffic, which helps me make money, which so far still isn’t enough for me to be able to save the blog over the long term. So, unless something changes on the financial horizon, you won’t have to worry about having to see that bar in a while :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m not sure I’d agree about their willingness to address problems. One of the refrains you hear from time to time is that they don’t need legislation to fix civil rights problems because “we’re all equal under the law already!” Having said that, they did a pretty chipper job on passing gay marriage last year :)

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    One could easily argue that France still has a significant racism problem… but at least they’re willing to recognize problems as they occur and address them with legislation. Our legislative process is so badly broken that we can’t even recognize our problems anymore.

    I can’t say I’ve ever had any problems in traveling France, even though my French is mediocre at best. I travel a lot, to a lot of different places, and almost everywhere sometimes you run into jerks, but most people are generally nice to you if you are nice to them. The key when traveling abroad is always to remember that you are the guest and act accordingly. Learn some phrases in the language, and make the effort. You’ll generally be surprised.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    In my experience, speaking French does help – but if you get stuck or mangle a word, they’re generally more than happy to switch to English, as long as you don’t walk in with the expectation that you somehow automatically deserve to be served only in English. And almost everyone does speak at least a passable amount of English, only rarely have I ever come across someone in a western European country who speaks absolutely none at all – usually older and/or more rural folk. In a big city like Paris, you’re unlikely to have trouble finding a way to communicate with pretty much anyone you come into contact with, as long as you make the effort. Being respectful and patient goes a long way.

  • Indigo

    I agree.

  • Baal

    Seriously dude, factions in this country decided to call a popular fast food Freedom Fries, in spite of the fact that our French allies called out our own national war criminals the same way many of us did on this very website. The French were right on Iraq (but nobody every apologized); and really, also, this is the website that allows Gaius Publius a voice. The glorious American cultural scene is also incomplete without a devastating attack on les Americains.

  • Baal

    And the party of La Pen, father or daughter, shows that France is still the same too. They still have Communists too, and probably one of them wrote that idiotic comment in the museum.

  • josephsinger

    John, please get rid of the meebo bar. It serves no purpose other than to take up screen real estate and be a pain in the ass.

  • goulo

    And so it’s sad & ironic that this sign put up in one museum is now the catalyst for several outraged derogatory comments slamming the entire French people & culture because of your sign photo. :(

    An (unwittingly?) too inflammatory “call the villagers with torches and pitchforks” kind of blog post…?

  • judybrowni

    Ah, but did you speak French?

  • judybrowni

    Also: so much easier (and economical) for Europeans to take thos short hops over Europe, North Africa, Eastern Europe, even the Middle East.

  • simouni

    I totally agree with you John, that paragraph on “The Americans” is so idiotic. The person who wrote that probably wanted to sound edgy, like “I bet nobody ever thought of making that point about the Libération”.
    Unfortunately, I think there is a tendancy (in France at least, but probably elsewhere) to use our current standards to make judgments on historical events that happened in very different times, at the risk of totally missing the bigger picture.

  • judybrowni

    But hey, let’s forget the Civil Rights movement, and the thousands (millions?) of Americans who supported that — and the millions of us non-Teabaggers.

  • judybrowni

    And let’s not forget the collaboration of the French police (and some citizens) with the Nazis — in handing over the French Jews — many of whom died in concentration camps.

    How do you say “anti-semite” in French?

  • FLL

    Vive l’Afrique française du Nord!

    Vive l’hypocrisie!

  • TellMeImDreaming

    Even if you wanted to claim that it wasn’t a big deal or truly representative of America, the rise of the Tea Party and conservative behavior since 2008 show it hasn’t changed much after all…

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Well that’s a longer discussion, Pierre-Yves. We don’t travel because in part we don’t have the vacation time, or the money, to travel all the way to Europe. It’s pretty horrific the vacations that American workers tend to get. But, as I noted, I think this was a caricature of the French that is no longer valid, if it ever was.

  • Pierre-Yves SALOMON

    Well, if the French are “self-centered”, then what about the Americans?…
    How many Americans have traveled out of the US? How many Americans make the effort to learn another langage? Some of them do. But is it the majority?…

  • http://funnyoddthing.blogspot.com frizbeesf

    Just wondering if how the French would feel about a Smithsonian exhibit about the Vichy collaboration with the Nazi’s…

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4641117/France-responsible-for-holocaust-deportations-court-rules.html

  • 2karmanot

    That’s exactly the feeling that I have had on my Paris stays.

  • Baal

    Absolutely. I have spent a great deal of time in France over the years, once for a six-month stretch, most recently in June, and like I said, I love the place. It is the one place where I think almost nobody has ever been rude to me. Just once in Marseilles, which I remember clearly because it is the only time. Was this once was France? You’d have to ask someone else, I think my first trip there was in the 1980s.

  • Indigo

    That’s not really surprising, is it? The glorious diversity of French philosophical and cultural commentary is incomplete without a devastating attack on les Amércains. Depending on who you’re talking to, European intellectuals as a group like to nourish categories that define the excellence of European culture by itemizing the flaws they perceive in other cultures.

    More serious internationally is their willingness to accuse Israel of human rights violations than their on-going critique of Americans. They’ve been bad-mouthing us out of one side of their mouths and praising us out of the other side of their mouths since we had the audacity to break with monarchy.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Wow. And I will say, as I’ve noted below, this is NOT the reception I’ve gotten from the French, especially over the past 10+ years, even (and especially) in Paris, which is reputed to be the more difficult of French towns to crack. I’ve found a lot of people to be awfully generous, kind, friendly, giving. And that’s why this exhibit so bothered me. It’s not at all what you’d expect today from the French. It’s what you’d expect in the old days, from the old French stereotype. But not from the French I’ve gotten to know, and befriend, today.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    One of my favorite uncles died a few months ago, at age 89. He was from Alabama. He came out of the racist society. He also risked his life as an MP in Patton’s army to free the damn French form the Nazis. The third husband of one of my wife’s aunts died at 95 a few years ago. He was old enough in WWII he could not have been drafted. Instead, he volunteered, assuming his high level mechanical skills on vehicles would keep him off the front line. That went so well. He was dropped, in his bulldozer, off a landing craft on the second day of Normandy invasion, and spent three days cutting roads off the beaches so the troops could start moving in land. His recounting of those days to us on a Memorial day about a decade ago still bring tears to my eyes as I remember his careful and calm accounting of those days in his life. He still remembers the French farmer who gave him some eggs on the fifth or sixth day, when he finally was able to pause and rest. He scrambled them up and ate them with a tin of bacon he had smuggled in his bulldozer cabin. (It was enclosed with welded on steel plates, which protected him from snipers as he got from the landing craft to the beach.) “Des Oeufs”, he told us. “The Eggs”. The only French words he learned, and remembered to his dying day.

    I for one, on their behalf, and all the other uncles and my father who served in WWII to that very end, find this treatment of American soldiers by the French simply disgusting and unacceptable. And, to be honest, knowing how the French tend to be very self-centered, not the least bit surprising.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Thanks Pierre-Yves :)

  • Pierre-Yves SALOMON
  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Amen.

    And Im all for a separate exhibit looking at the prejudices underlying every country involved in the war. That could prove quite interesting. But this wasn’t that exhibit.

  • Pierre-Yves SALOMON

    Hello StraightGrandmother, you CAN contact them :
    http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/fr/expositions/paris-libere-paris-photographie-paris-expose
    Just clic on the bottom line on “Donnez votre avis” (give your opinion)
    ;)

  • Grandson of HH

    My grandfather was severely injured in France on August 25 in Fontainebleau. He survived, fortunately. The exhibit makes it sound like it was disgrace if you weren’t a volunteer. No, my grandfather was not a volunteer, but he was drafted — at age 37.

    The war was a terrible thing. “Good” and “bad” was something done by all parties. I wish the exhibit could look past their own personal prejudices and admire the fact that a combination of soldiers from a number of foreign countries and local resistance fighters did what was necessary to expel the Axis forces.

    The exhibit’s comments only serve to perpetuate the stereotypes that exist in the minds of a few.

  • StraightGrandmother

    This pisses me off. Yes it is true, it is also true that 8 of our first 10 Presidents owned slaves while President, and of all our Presidents, 12 of them were slaveholders. This is a despicable part of our history all just American deplore. It is our history and when the Haters hold up our Founding fathers as the epitomy of high morality I like to remind them of this when they are saying how our founding fathers got every single thing right and we are not allowed to change a thing from the original intent of the Constitution.

    While the exhibit IS right, that our armed forces in WWII were segregated, it is also true that it is because of WWII where we saw that the blacks really WERE equal to whites in all ways important to the military and why Trueman signed an executive order just 3 years after the war ending racial segregation in the military.

    It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall
    be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed
    services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.
    This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due
    regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without
    impairing efficiency or morale.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_9981

    And not only that but in WWII it was not the policy of the US Government to exterminate blacks so the comparison of the US to Germany is widely disproportional and frankly insulting. We are on a continual path to becoming a more perfect union and we are still not there yet, look at the inequality, government discrimination against sexual minorities that exists even today.

    If this museum has a website I would sure like to be able to contact them ans share my views.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That’s an interesting point, Pierre-Yves. And Lord knows I’m not an expert on French-Algerian relations. But I get the sense, from my many visits to France (and I lived here twice), that there is some racism “now” vis-a-vis Arabs and/or especially north Africans. It gets complicated when you try to discern the origins of a visceral dislike of an entire people. Sometimes it’s skin color (African-Americans), sometimes it’s ethnicity or religion (Jews). (And it’s also more complicated because we wouldn’t consider anti-semitism to be racism. It would all fall under the larger rubric of prejudice and bigotry, though.)

    My larger point is, and was, that if we want to start talking about the historic ironies of countries liberating other countries while not being “liberators” at home, then Algeria is relevant.

    Anyway, it was inappropriate for what the exhibit overall intended itself to be.

  • Demosthenes

    An excellent story, Mr. Aravosis. The French not only mistreated Algerians, but their vile Vichy Regime were open Fascist Nazi sympathizers. American segregation and racism were bad, but this exhibit is beyond tasteless. Perhaps we should have let them stay under the “benevolent” care of the Nazis? I wonder if they were racists?

  • Demosthenes

    An excellent story, Mr. Aravosis. The French not only mistreated Algerians, but their vile Vichy Regime were open Fascist Nazi sympathizers. American segregation and racism were bad, but this exhibit is beyond tasteless. Perhaps we should have let them stay under the “benevolent” care of the Nazis? I wonder if they were racists?

  • Moderator3

    One of your comments has been deleted. They were identical except for the paragraph breaks.

  • Pierre-Yves SALOMON

    This comment on American army was definitely awkward, but you must understand that
    we never had laws based on the color of the skin in France. When you talk about
    the French “oppressing people of color in the colonies”, it’s a
    shortcut. The color of the skin was not taken into account.

    Even during the 19th century, black or metis people like Alexandre Dumas had
    exactly the same rights than the white people. Skin color has never been a criterion
    to discriminate people, even if you can always find some racist people.

    Now I agree that the comment at this exhibition was unappropriate.

  • Pierre-Yves SALOMON

    This comment on American army was definitely awkward, but you must understand that we never had laws based on the color of the skin in France. When you talk about the French “oppressing people of color in the colonies”, it’s a shortcut. The color of the skin was not taken into account.
    Even during the 19th century, black or metis people like Alexandre Dumas had exactly the same rights than the white people. Skin color has never been a criterion to discriminate people.
    Now I agree that the comment at this exhibition was unappropriate.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And I just mentioned on Facebook to someone else that this is not France. Perhaps this “was” France — this kind of snarky anti-Americanism — but it’s not France today. Even in Paris, the city so many Americans still fear as being “mean,” people are incredibly nice to me (a woman in the grocery store the other day let me go ahead of her because I had fewer things — a restaurant gave me a free dessert because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted, so they gave me both – etc). This exhibit, this part of the exhibit, really smacks of the anti-American stereotype, and it’s too bad, because that just isn’t France today, especially under Obama – they love him, and respect us for choosing him.

  • Baal

    Vichy. End of discussion. The liberation was not just from the Nazis. And while we’re at it, Dreyfus. From Wikipedia, “Only four senior Vichy officials were tried for crimes against humanity, although many more had participated in the deportation of Jews for extermination in concentration camps, abuses of prisoners and severe acts against members of the Resistance.” Maurice Papon, who was the civil servant in Bordeaux in charge of Jewish Affairs. He was responsible for the deportation of 1,690 Bordeaux Jews to Drancy internment camp from 1942 to 1944. was prefect of the Paris police during the Algerian War (1954–1962) and then treasurer of the Gaullist Union des Démocrates pour la République party from 1968 to 1971, and finally Budget Minister under president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and prime minister Raymond Barre from 1978 to 1981. He was ultimately convicted of crimes against humanity in 1998. I love France and travel there every chance I get, but this is nuts.

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