FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE

Thursday

Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

People often wonder why I, and those like me, insult the French. I guess the most obvious answer is that…The French make it so easy. I need not look any further than a recent article in The Australian for a wealth of comedic material at the expense of France.

According to this article, the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is being condemned by French intellectuals for being “un-French,” “right-wing,” and attempting to “brainwash his citizens.”

What did Sarkozy to reap such mean-spirited attacks from his countrymen? He jogged. That’s right. He jogged.

I don’t use the word "jog" as a euphemism for a cruel act of barbary. It isn’t a new slang term to describe an unthinkable practice of evil. It means exactly what you think it means.

He engaged in an act of light running. For this, he has been accused of “brainwashing his citizens.”

I need to sit down. You can read the article for yourself:


FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy has fallen foul of intellectuals and critics who see his passion for jogging as un-French, right-wing and even a ploy to brainwash his citizens.

Attacks on Mr Sarkozy's pastime, which he has made a symbol of his presidency, began on the internet as soon as he bounded up the steps of the Elysee Palace in shorts when he took office in May. That has become the icon of his hyper-energetic administration. The grumbling has now moved to television and the press.

"Is jogging right-wing?" wondered Liberation, the left-wing newspaper.

Alain Finkelkraut, a celebrated philosopher, begged Mr Sarkozy on France 2, the main state television channel, to abandon his "undignified" pursuit. He should take up walking, like Socrates, the poet Arthur Rimbaud and other great men, Mr Finkelkraut said.

"Western civilisation, in its best sense, was born with the promenade. Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation."

Mr Sarkozy's habit infuriates his critics - and some supporters - because he flaunts it so hard…

Until "Speedy Sarko" won office, French heads of state shunned physical exercise in public…Jogging caught on in France, as elsewhere, in the 1980s and eight million claim to indulge. But Mr Sarkozy has rekindled a French suspicion that the habit is for self-centred individualists such as the Americans who popularised it.

"Jogging is, of course, about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the Right," Odile Baudrier, editor of V02 magazine, a sports publication, told Liberation. Sports sociologist Patrick Mignon noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness.

Beyond the self-promotion, some commentators see something sinister in the media fascination with le jogging de Supersarko. The "hypnotic" daily images of presidential running are not innocent, said Daniel Schneidermann, a media critic.

He said Mr Sarkozy used the video images of his jogging as "a major weapon of media manipulation."

It’s things like this that makes the French people such an easy target for comedy. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.


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