Nelson to Newsweek: A history of French-bashing

Sophie Inge
Sophie Inge - [email protected]
Nelson to Newsweek: A history of French-bashing

Hostility towards the French – or “Le French-bashing” as it is known in France – has been a popular sport in English-speaking countries for centuries. As France still smarts from an inflammatory column in Newsweek, The Local looks back at ten infamous examples throughout history.


Last week, US news magazine Newsweek stirred up a media storm in France when it published a column by Paris-based journalist Janine di Giovanni in which she blasted her adopted country on everything from the price of milk to high taxes and the ridiculous state benefits.

Of course, this is nothing new. French bashing has been a past-time for Anglos for centuries.

Whether it has been offering disparaging views about them as a nation or ridiculing their reluctance to learn and speak English, or, as in more recent times, picking apart their economic model and love of taxes, rest assured Anglos on both sides of the Atlantic have enjoyed picking on their Gallic cousins.

Quite naturally the French have not reacted kindly to this as was seen this week in the dozens of articles that hit back at Newsweek and ridiculed the article for its “thousand and one errors”.

There is often talk of a conspiracy that the Anglo media gang up on the French and its economic model, motivated by their liberal economic "ideological agenda".

These theories have won the support of esteemed American economist Paul Krugman, who wrote a column in the New York Times titled “The Plot against France” after one bout of French-bashing last year.

Krugman commended France for refusing to play along with “fiscal scolds” and said with a heavy dose of irony that: “France has committed the unforgivable sin of being fiscally responsible without inflicting pain on the poor and unlucky.”

Nevertheless anti-French sentiment has continued to rear its head, as it has done for centuries.

Here, The Local takes a brief look back at the history of "French-bashing” at the hands of Anglos in ten very famous incidents.

From Nelson to Newsweek: A brief history of French bashing

Are you guilty of the occasional French-bashing? Can you think of any more examples that we've missed out? Let us know in the comments section below.


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