Monday, July 23, 2012

Hollande at the Vel' d'Hiv'

François Hollande gave a superb speech, one of his best, at the site of the Vel' d'Hiv', where Jews rounded up by the French police in 1942 were taken to await deportation. Giving full credit to Jacques Chirac, who was the first French president to acknowledge the responsibility of the French state--the French Republic--in this crime, he went even further than Chirac had.

Some people on the right are not happy, however. Henri Guaino is one of them. From Guaino we hear the familiar refrain that Vichy was not France, that the true France was in London with de Gaulle, etc. etc. One can understand the argument at a symbolic level, however feeble the actual adherence to the idea, let alone the reality, of resistance in 1942. What is not acceptable, however, is Guaino's further suggestion that Hollande's acceptance of responsibility in the name of France is motivated by an alleged affinity between Hollande and the collaborators of the 1940s:

Peut-être que M. Hollande se sent plus proche de la France des notables apeurés qui se sont précipités à Vichy après l'armistice? Ce n'est pas ma France.
This is a slur on anyone whose reading of history is different from Guaino's. It is tantamount to an allegation that anyone who does not believe that l'Appel du 18 juin exonerates France--the state and the nation--of all responsibility for what happened during World War II is "objectively" a collaborationist. Such a charge is unworthy of M. Guaino, who is a student of history. He should know better, however commendable his commitment to the Man of June 18.

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