Wednesday, December 03, 2003

What Makes France Laugh?

The New York Times runs a front page story on virulent anti-semitism in France complete with the usual explanations and veiled blame for the victims themselves.

In this case the incidents are not old-style European anti-semitism but something more recent, more focused among the Franco-Islamofascist community, and generally having to do with Israel's reluctance to withdraw from the Earth's surface. This new wave of hatred is complicated by the fact that most French hate Israel even more than they hate Jews -- which is saying something.

So we then am I not surprised that Merde in France reports on a comedy sketch broadcast on state run television in which a comedian dressed as a rabbi jokes about the "axe americano-sioniste" and gives the Nazi salute while shouting "Heil Israel."

Now I know that humor translates poorly across languages and cultures, and I also know that French humor is a highly sophisticated thing -- as Jacques Tati, Jerry Lewis and Mickey Rourke demonstrate -- but is this sort of thing really funny to our French comrades? Are they really that insensitive, that provincial? Is this some sort of satirical mechanism for revealing the human folly undergirding our most serious issues so that we can all laugh at ourselves and defuse the tension?

Considering that France played a rather enthusiastic role in the last attempt to ethnically cleanse the world of Jews you might think this sort of satire was beyond the bounds of good taste.

obviously, good taste has been out of style in France for some time.


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