Charles DeGaulle: Noel 1941, An assignment…Posted: December 26, 2014
From Le Grand Charles, to the French People , Christmas 1941:
to the children of (our Mother) France in simple and elegant words (all the faults of the translation are mine).
(You will remember, I know, that to their permanent shame, the French had been occupied by Germans, and that, on December 7, the Americans had been attacked by Japan. An attack which gave the French the hope that at last the Americans had been shaken out of their sleep.)
“I know that today all is not cheerful for the children of France. But I want to say some things about pride, about glory, and about hope. Once she was – la France! – nations, you know, are like women, more or less beautiful, virtuous, and brave. Well, among my ladies the nations, none has ever been more beautiful, more virtuous, and more brave than our lady France. And, as for me, I will make you a promise, a Christmas promise. Beloved children of France, you will soon receive a visit, the visit of the Goddess Victory. Oh! How beautiful she will be, you will see !
Oh ! je sais que tout n’est pas gai, aujourd’hui, pour les enfants de France. Mais je veux, cependant, vous dire des choses de fierté, de gloire, d’espérance.
Il y avait une fois : la France ! Les nations, vous savez, sont comme des dames, plus ou moins belles, bonnes et braves. Eh bien ! parmi mesdames les nations, aucune n’a jamais été plus belle, meilleure, ni plus brave que notre dame la France.
Eh bien ! moi, je vais vous faire une promesse, une promesse de Noël. Chers enfants de France, vous recevrez bientôt une visite, la visite de la Victoire. Ah ! comme elle sera belle, vous verrez !…
Charles De Gaulle, le 24 décembre 1941
HOW FAR AWAY IS THE PAST?
1) For you the assignment is simple (remember this is a rhetoric assignment): tell me one/or two/or three/ reasons the rhetoric won’t work today. Be specific.
2) DeGaulle calls on his country-men as “children of France” they are “enfants” and she, “La France” is “notre dame,” our lady, implying that France is mother …
Why don’t we talk about America, our “mother” “la plus belle” mère, our most beautiful mother?’
3) This Christmas quote (one pictures listeners – a kitchen helper, the cook, and a barmaid – huddled around a radio after midnight in the kitchen of a closed and shuttered bistro in the maze of Paris streets called the Marais) was republished this Christmas in a very right-wing news and opinion magazine Boulevard Voltaire which regularly opines against what they see as a muslim invasion of la France, in favor of Marine le Pen, and in favor of restoring crèches de Noël to every public space in France. What do they see in this quote?
(Hint: Think of the similarities, if any, for some or many people between religion and patriotism.)
The best answers (should any qualify) will be awarded publication here on the birthday of Socrates who argued to his own great disadvantage that the city of Athens was his mother and life-long parent-teacher and as such had given him life and could decide to take it away.
(Sneering and haughty comments about my translation of the French will be rudely deleted, unless they are correct.)
Arguments that reject my fairly obvious assumptions, arguments that improve my question, arguments that amuse me, be they devious or funny will be very cordially entertained.