The French have been grossly misunderstood in America. Their stock has been rising as I have further researched the “anti-American” tradition in France.
“Anti-Americanism” in France is anti-yankisme. This certainly make a lot more sense than Bill O’Reilly’s new book of Abraham Lincoln:
“The post-emancipation black was no less downtrodden. Now that he was free, he was much less “interesting” to European sensibilities. And what had he made of his freedom? At best, nothing. At worst, he had turned it against his former masters. French travelers voiced a collective outcry against Reconstruction and the oppression into which it had cast the conquered of the white race. In 1875, Louis Simonin, in A travers les États-Unis (Across the United States), repeated in his own words Southern prejudices about the blacks’ laziness and the risk of anarchy that the United States ran so long as the black race was not extinct. Frédéric Gaillardet also foresaw the blacks’ extinction in 1883, without any superfluous regrets. In 1880, the French stereotype of the South having become an “upside-down world” because of the North was well established, and Johanet could make an attempted witticism about it: “Jacksonville is pullulating with Negroes. You would trample them, if only they could be crushed; but, quite the contrary, how many whites they crush!” We have already seen how Gohier’s “convictions” did not stop him from painting a picture worthy of Klan literature of the black as a rapist. Jules Huret attempted a timid resistance: segregation “bugs [him] a little,” and “for a little while I stayed away from Louisiana.” He movingly evokes a black funeral, and he is decidedly indignant that “Cleopatras [who have] immigrated to the brutal New World civilization” are set apart “like lepers.” But he practically apologizes for these outbursts: he wants to “understand” the segregationists and promises to make inquiries. And the chapter he finally devotes, in the form of a dialogue, to the “state of the Negro question” gives the Southern whites’ arguments pride of place.
These reactions are revealing in their convergence, all the more so because they are corroborated by opinions hostile to blacks’ citizenship, which were multiplying at the time in France. These were not travel impressions or mood swings, but learned pronouncements produced by great scholars and intellectuals. The most authoritative voices in France spoke up to condemn the policies of Lincoln’s successors and deplore the blacks’ accession to citizenship: a brilliant economist such as Leroy-Beaulieu; or the founder of the École des Sciences Politiques, Émile Boutmy. They “all concluded, despite differences of opinion on many points, that the Republicans had made a mistake when they declared the blacks to be citizens.”
The unanimity is crushing; the way the accusations are formulated is even more so. Leroy-Beaulieu speaks of “a race placed at the lowest rung of the anthropological scale and moreover morally degraded by four hundred years of slavery.” Boutmy, who early on approved the measures taken, state by state, for blocking the black vote, sticks to his guns in his Eléments d’une psychologie politique du peuple américain and is glad to see that the Supreme Court has let the Southern states multiply barriers to the black vote, from requiring a literacy test to imposing a poll tax. In just a few years, André Siegfried, having described the “negro bloc” ethnically “inassimilable,” would propose this apologue: “Have you read Well’s Island of Dr. Moreau, a fanciful story about animals transformed by a scientist into semihumans, who demand the same rights as man and all end up being killed? That is the Negro question.”
The “upside-down world” being described here is BRA.
It was imposed on the South by the North during Reconstruction. Ever since 1965, we have been living through the Second Reconstruction, and BRA has been resurrected and extended nationwide, arguably even worldwide through the American Empire.