Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Time to revise ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’




     Chicago was founded by Frenchmen.
     A fact so little recognized, it looks strange in print. But true. The city began with Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette, born in France, arriving in 1673 to preach le bon Dieu to Native Americans. His canoemate was fur trader Louis Jolliet, born in French Quebec. And don't forget Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the city's first permanent resident. He is usually thought of as black and Haitian, period, ignoring that Haiti was, at the time, like a third of the United States including Illinois, under the control of France.
     Even the word “Chicago” is a French mash of the Algonquin name for the place, having to do either with onions or bad smells (the word “skunk” is related).
     Why this history? Facebook erupted in cries of “Vive la France” at Sunday’s victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron over nationalist Marine Le Pen. Half of America rejoiced, congratulating French friends.
     “I think everybody in America was quite relieved, even more than in France,” said Marie Weber, brand specialist at the Alliance Française, a Chicago cultural center.
  

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10 comments:

  1. "Even the word 'Chicago' is a French mash of the Algonquin name for the place, having to do either with onions or bad smells (the word 'skunk' is related)." After years of serious research, I am convinced that "Chicago" means "Shit Creek." It was a creek & it smelled like shit. "Stinky Onion Swamp" is too convoluted, to my ear, to be anything but an over-weening effort to white-wash the truth. Occam's razor applies as well, simplest explanation being the best. And I think this harsh truth just makes the fact of the city itself even greater. So whenever I hear anyone playing fast & loose with the "up shit creek" cliche, I always say, "Hey, man, I LIVE up shit creek...& we've got a lotta great architecture."

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  2. I never got that "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" stuff. The Nazis conquered a lot of other nations besides France. Does anyone go around sneering about the cowardly Poles, Greeks, Norwegians, etc.?

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  3. Hearing of French cowardice brings to mind the fact that almost as many Frenchmen died at Verdun as we lost in both World Wars. And, while losing, they took some 200,000 casualties in the second war.

    Insults and sexual associations have gone both ways. Until fairly recent times a condom was referred to here and in England as a "French Letter,' in France as a "capote Anglaise."

    And its not just between we Anglos and the French. German soldiers used epithets disparaging the military capabilities of their Italian allies during WW II. Italians are fond of pointing out that one of their own, Marie de Medici, taught the French to cook. And Benvenuto Cellini vacated Paris in a hurry to avoid being arrested for "using a servant girl in the Italian manner."

    Tom

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    1. Tom--That was a crime? If so, from what I understand, half the French aristocracy should have been arrested.

      Regarding WWII casualties, more French died from Allied artillery and air bombing during the liberation of France than British from German bombing.

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    2. The Germans must have been mad that the Italians went to the Allied side after Mussolini was deposed. Many were welcoming the American soldiers before that. Also, the Germans did some not so nice things in Northern Italy that didn't leave the Italians with ideas of being a big fan of theirs. Had Germany won, heaven forbid-Hitler would have overrun Italy and made Mussolini a puppet if he could. He never did respect him much.

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    3. Hitler did in fact make Mussolini a puppet after he was deposed in 1943. The Germans rescued him from captivity and set him up in Northern Italy, as head of the so-called Italian Social Republic. Mussolini basically just moped around until his eventual execution at the end of the war.

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    1. I've always thought that Jerry Lewis was popular with the French for the same reason that Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau was popular in America: Each side loves seeing the other as fools.

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  5. Some of those anti French claims came from the Brits who held out better against Germany during the War during the blitz. Of course they weren't nearby nor did they get invaded on land.

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  6. The French are always there when they need us.

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