French Ambassador Levitte Defends Word Choice
Ambassador Levitte Defends Word Choice
Letter to the Editor – Rocky Mountain
News - by French Ambassador to the United States of America, Jean-David
Embassy of France,
Washington D.C., April 29, 2004.
I am writing in reference to the News editorial of April 19, "French
diplomacy at its lowest."
First, let me clarify one point: I mentioned French-bashing,
which fortunately now belongs to the past, in answering a question from the
audience relating to the political climate of last year. I still maintain that
we should indeed look forward and work together to help a sovereign, stable Iraq
On the substance, I can only concur with the News'
observation that, like the U.S., France is a melting pot, with citizens of
diverse origins. But I still see no reason why the French were called "cheese-eating
surrender monkeys" by Jonah Goldberg (National Review) or "weasels" by the New
York Post. Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) once asked Condoleezza Rice, "Why don't you
send a couple of American divisions over to get Jacques Chirac?" while David
Letterman said, "The last time France wanted more evidence it rolled right
through Paris with a German flag."
As a result we were inundated with hate mail. We were
disparaged as "immoral cowards; a nation of effeminate, improbitive, whimpering,
timorous poltroons." And isn't it racist to say "I hope you enjoy Islam. I hope
you do not expect to move to the U.S. when the Muslims run you out of your own
I definitely don't think such words are deserving of our
common values of tolerance and human dignity. And I still don't perceive the
link between our past disagreement on how to disarm Iraq and these insults
directed at all French people. I would be glad not to qualify such comments as "racist"
if you could offer me a better word to characterize them.
French Ambassador to the U.S.