compulsory reading, Iraq, US Politics

It’s A Fine Line…

between gratefulness and subservience as well as between provoking journalism and tasteless propaganda.

Yesterday, Gentry Lane told me about this report from Normandy, published in the New York Post. The article tells the story of Howard Manoian, an American who participated in the D-day liberation of France in 1944, and has settled there 18 years ago.

On the one hand, the article is telling Mr. Manoian’s personal D-day story – and as so many personal war stories, his story, too, is a reminder of the horrors of war. On the other hand, the author, Steve Dunleavy, is using this powerful tale to denounce France as ungrateful traitor. Unfortunately, Mr. Manoian’s story is not even really representative of Mr. Dunleavy’s ranting – if you read the article, you will realize that almost all of the jingoist rethoric is not between speechmarks. It has leaked out of Mr Dunleavy’s pen.

Today, I find an link to the comment section of Mr. Dunleavy’s article, which features an interesting, and intense discussion of the subjects I mentioned above – the fine lines. Europe will always be grateful for D-day. But the very success of the American attempt to help the torn continent back to its enlightenment roots logically excludes thoughtless subservience.

When it comes to more than words, the difference between gratefulness and subservience becomes a fine line indeed. As for the other fine line, the one between provoking journalism and tasteless propaganda, I recommend you read the comments yourselves. Here are two that indicate the wide range of opinions concerning the article.

February 11, 2003 — As I opened my Post this morning, the anger I’ve felt over these past few weeks reached a total rage when I read Steve Dunleavy’s column from Normandy (“Sacrifice,” Feb. 10). I was born in France, married my wonderful American husband of 41 years in Paris, came to the United States in 1963 and became an American citizen. France can now disappear into the ocean as far as I’m concerned.

Claudette Davison, Brick, N.J.

The twisted logic and blatant antagonism of using the Normandy cemetery as an indictment against French reluctance on Iraq is worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Rather than exploit the dead of a just cause like WWII, why don’t you run a piece about the massive folly of Vietnam? You could show a French military graveyard with the headline: “The French warned us, and we were too arrogant to listen.”

Mark McCarthy, Manhattan