February 20, 2003 by AK
Molly Ivins wrote an impassioned column in defense of the French. Turns out she made at least one factual mistake and made a few untenable statements (and her passages on colonialism can, and should be disregarded altogether). However, I concur in the spirit of her defense.
Moreover, Russ Douthat’s calling it the worst column ever is not backed up by his own explanations, which are enlightening per se. He does not buy the surrender-monkey theory either, but for different reasons. He gives due credit to Russians who fought in WWII but for some reason puts the number of (unspecified) Russian casualties at 6,115,000. This number is indefensibly low; even lower than the number of total German casualties (around 10 million), which makes no sense given the relative inefficiency of the Russian Army in 1941-1942. Official Soviet and Russian estimates have changed over time, but the consensus in Russia today, it seems, is that a total of 25 — 30 million Soviet citizens died. How many of them were soldiers? I’ve come across an estimate of 12 million, but it’s probably still being debated.
A reader of Instapundit’s weblog point out that Ivins misses the point: it’s not that the French are cowards, it’s their leaders who are at best incompetent. Let’s sum it up.
Molly Ivins says the French are brave and self-sacrificial.
An opponent says it’s irrelevant because their leaders have long been pompous asses.
But Jonah Goldberg, by labeling the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys, insulted the whole nation. Not its leaders but the nation. And he’s never going to apologize.
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