Wed, Mar 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

You owe France an apology

By Thomas Baker

Your editorial regarding the French position on arms sales to China was in total disregard for appropriate standards of journalistic practice. The outrage which your readers should feel against the statements and actions of the French government may in fact have been overwhelmed by their anger at your egregious remarks against the French people themselves.

You begin with a quote slandering the French character, which I will not repeat, from Fran Lebowitz, a humorist who has made a career from her sarcastic remarks about others -- including Jews, blacks, gay people and poor people. Although nastiness may have its place, albeit a very low one, in humor, that type of comment has no place in support of an editorial position in a mainstream news source.

You continue with an even lower quote from the 19th century referring to French people as "smutty and contemptible." This type of vitriolic attempt to raise public feeling against the people of a certain nation is all too similar to the jingoism of Chinese politicians who attempt to incite their people against nations such as Japan or Taiwan.

At a time such as this, when it is crucial to encourage reasoned responses, editorials such as yours are simply irresponsible. I believe, and this is not a figure of speech, that the French people truly deserve an apology from your news organization. On that basis, you may move on to more responsibly criticize actions of their government.

Thomas Baker

Cambridge, Massachusetts

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