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Bastille Day, or French Every Day

Two days before Bastille Day, the French national day, I was prompted to do a Google search for “bastille day celebrations usa,” which returned over 248,000 results. A 2018 map revealed some 200 celebrations taking place from California to Maine and Florida, and at many points in between. As an educator with a lifelong affection for French language and culture,...

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What Do We Celebrate on Bastille Day?

The French do not celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day; they may not even know what it means. Americans, on the other hand, are familiar with what they call Bastille Day, an expression that, strangely, does not exist in French. This enthusiasm for the Storming of the Bastille is not shared by all French people — the Revolution,...

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Revolution as Play in France

On July 14, Americans celebrate Bastille Day. On this day, the French celebrate more than their National Day or the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille: They celebrate the everlasting spirit of the 1789 Revolution. “The French are better at fighting revolutions than making reforms”, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his notes in 1848. As a Deputy of the Manche...

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Three Colors

Why do the French and American flags share the same colors? Is it a coincidence? No one knows who designed these two flags, but there are a few clues. For the thirteen original colonies marked by British culture, and whose officers, most notably George Washington, had served in the occupying army, blue, white and red were already familiar shades used...

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Gérard Araud: “My Career Working Under Two Presidents”

The ambassador of France in the United States since 2014, Gérard Araud retired on April 19. Before stepping down, he shared his experience with France-Amérique. The full version of his "diplomatic testament" is to be published in the May issue of our magazine. After being appointed ambassador of France to the United States, I presented my credentials to Barack H. Obama...

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We’ll Always Have Notre-Dame de Paris

No one could have predicted the global swell of emotion inspired by the fire in the cathedral in Paris. The French are generally so divided and there are few regular churchgoers. And yet they suddenly found themselves united in collective mourning. Condolences flooded in from all over the world as if every French person had lost a loved one, and...

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Give the People What They Want. But What Exactly?

In an effort to reply to demands from the Yellow Vest movement, Emmanuel Macron has launched a major national debate that has so far had some success. The initiative is similar to one suggested by Louis XVI before the French Revolution, when citizens were invited to present “grievance books” to the king. The French have a soft spot for revolutionary...[Subscriber]

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To Be or Not to Be Politically Correct

Can we still teach Mark Twain, whose hero is referred to as a "nigger," now that the word has been banished? What about Hergé's comic books and their grotesque depiction of women, Jews, Blacks, and Arabs? In the United States, as in France and other countries, populist movements are shaking up intellectual and political norms. New leaders are announcing that...[Subscriber]

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Remove the Vests and Begin the (Real) Reforms

The Gilets Jaunes (“yellow vests”) movement which started 12 weeks ago has revealed a fracture in French society. Guy Sorman believes it is time for the government to react, and suggests two major reforms: massive investment in elementary education and the introduction of a “negative income tax.” Overall, the Gilets Jaunes are right, although they do not know why and...[Subscriber]

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Facebook and the Gilets Jaunes: Revolution in the Age of Social Media

The Parisian riots of May 1968 were hatched in the city’s cafés, just like the ones in June 1832, March 1871, and February 1934. But the "yellow vests" movement has broken away from this historical precedent. For the very first time, the uprising was born on social media before spilling out onto the street. In 1962, Marshall McLuhan published The...[Subscriber]

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Are the “Yellow Vests” Vandals or Militants?

The sharp increase in fuel prices in recent months has sparked a protest movement in France known as the gilets jaunes or “yellow vests.” In a climate reminiscent of 1789, demonstrators and the police have clashed in Paris and other cities across France. But to what extent can we compare the two eras? On July 14, 1789, in Paris, the...[Subscriber]

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Democracy Seen From Below: Referendums in America

Regardless of differing opinions of the United States, it is an experimental model for our possible future. This applies to culture and technology, but can the same be said for politics? The American tradition of referendums has stopped tax increases and legalized cannabis. However, whether it will one day be adopted in France remains to be seen. During his famous...[Subscriber]

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Should Marshal Pétain Be Honored?

As the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice is being celebrated, public opinion is divided on the inclusion of Pétain’s name in the list of eight French marshals honored by the Elysée Palace on Saturday 10 November. Pétain is a major historical figure, having been both the hero of the Battle of Verdun in World War I, and the collaborationist,...[Subscriber]

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Passing the Torch: America One Hundred Years Ago

November 11, 1918, marked the end of World War I and the beginning of American omnipotence — and this era continues today. What exactly do we commemorate on November 11 in France and America? There were no real winners in the Great War. The French and their allies from Britain, the United States, Belgium, Serbia and elsewhere were decimated by...[Subscriber]

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Christine Blasey Ford, Equality Leading the People

The testimony of a university professor who has brought sexual assault accusations against Donald Trump's candidate to the U.S. Supreme Court heralds a new step in the #MeToo movement. Women all over the world are now speaking out as one to tell men that “enough is enough.” Last Thursday I was on Times Square in New York where all media...[Subscriber]

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America Booms While Europe Trails Behind

Economists cannot forecast, and the current economic status in America is showing us proof of that today. No scientist ever imagined that an advanced economy such as the United States could grow by almost 4% in a year while also bringing unemployment figures below 4%. It was theoretically impossible, but the current situation proves otherwise. Inaccurate predictions could be one...[Subscriber]

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France Beats the U.S. (in Number of Ministers)

The number of French ministers surpasses that of the United States. Following the nomination of a new minister for the environment and for sports, Guy Sorman compares the ministerial appointments between our two countries. The French change governments like most people change their clothes. By contrast, the United States is more stable, even with an unpredictable president. The French state...[Subscriber]

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The Irremovable Donald Trump

Much to everyone’s surprise, the U.S. president seems set to lead the dance until the music stops. What’s more, his voters are increasingly enthusiastic and his opposition is paralyzed. Ronald Reagan earned the nickname “the Teflon President” during the 1980s because nothing seemed to affect him or hamper his popularity, despite his mistakes and a number of scandals. Is Trump...[Subscriber]

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Monsanto vs. Dewayne Johnson: Victory for the Weeds

An American gardener has just won a lawsuit against Monsanto, whom he accused of causing his cancer. But the moral of the story is not so straightforward. The world’s ecologists are popping the champagne. After a month-long trial, San Francisco gardener Dewayne Johnson has been awarded compensation of 289 million dollars from Monsanto. Johnson initially asked for 400 million dollars...[Subscriber]

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On the Usefulness of French Classes in the United States

Contrary to the statement made by the governor of Kentucky, French and math are equally important. Each subject is useful for the development of educated citizens. Matt Bevin, the Republican governor of Kentucky, sparked an outcry among Francophile Americans by declaring the state would no longer finance French studies in public universities. The governor seems to see French literature as...[Subscriber]

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The Benalla Affair, a French Watergate

French politics is suddenly resembling the situation in the U.S. Some are comparing the Benalla affair to Watergate. The ingredients may be the same, but the French version is rather watered-down. The Benalla scandal — named after the man employed by Emmanuel Macron who was fired for assaulting two students during the May Day protests in Paris — is actually a quite simple affair....[Subscriber]