The International Writers Magazine: DSK
We may be witnessing another defining moment in North Atlantic relations similar to Charles de Gaulles’ historical antagonism toward the U.S. for its humiliating treatment of him during World War II produced a trough in French-American relations that endured for 60 years.
De Gaulle became enraged at Roosevelt’s efforts to “put him in his place” (Roosevelt’s own language) at the hierarchy of allies during World War II.
The American criminal justice system’s harsh treatment of France’s most notable intellectual and presidential contender, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was most assuredly not driven by the kind of personal animosity that divided Roosevelt and de Gaulle, but rather by the kind of ham handed, ad hoc behavior which is this country’s visceral rebuttal to the niceties of diplomatic nuance.
Who are you going to blame? The cops? Here you had a cleaning lady at the Times Square Sofitel Hotel tearfully claiming to have been raped and the accused perpetrator already on a plane bound for Paris. The natural reaction is not to let him leave jurisdiction until the affair is sorted out.
I blame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not recognizing the possibility of a major diplomatic gaffe and immediately dispatching one of her highly remunerated protocol officers to find an alternative to throwing Strauss-Kahn in Rikers Island jail for several hellish nights until he was able to make bail.
Assuredly, if this had been London or Paris the government’s first reaction would have been to send a diplomatic fireman to explore an alternate solution to immediately throwing him to the wolves. I don’t know what that would be, given America’s hysterical attitude towards sex, but I am not a PhD in international relations. Hell, I too was taken in by the pathetic account of a poor cleaning lady in a housekeeper’s smock and rolled up knee-high stockings who was minding her own business pushing a vacuum cleaner around the room when she is savagely assaulted from behind by an enraged, naked French prick who forces her to fellate him and tries to rip off her 99¢ Hillary Clinton bloomers as she runs, hysterically screaming, out the door.
Whew! No matter how loose your attitude towards sex may be, that is a stultifying piece of imagery! And that is the image that prevailed right up until yesterday, when the whole affair got turned on its head and the public was whiplashed into accepting the exact opposite version of events: that Strauss-Kahn was the unwitting patsy of an old-fashioned badger game by a drug dealing, money laundering, crime moll and prostitute who was guilty of every kind of perjury, lying tax-cheating scheme she could set her hand to.
I’m sure it’s all true, just like I was sure the previous version was true. They have a recorded conversation between the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, telling her Guinean boyfriend, who is incarcerated in an Arizona immigration prison, “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. This guy’s loaded”.
First of all, I know I got a problem when I hear “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing”. But these idiots don’t even know a stock line from a Laurel and Hardy comedy movie when they hear one. Anyway, this case is going to burn away like the morning mist, leaving nothing but the scorched grass of French-American relations. French public opinion is already enraged by America’s callous handling of its greatest intellectual light (but not Sarkozy, who was shown trailing Strauss-Kahn by twenty points in the public opinion polls for next year’s presidential race. There are elements of public opinion that believe that this whole mess was a put-up job by Sarko to entrap Strauss-Kahn, and who is now in a position to deny it?) If Strauss-Kahn is still intent on running for president, he is going to have to preface every speech he gives with an enraged attack on the U.S., to remind the electorate of his fitness to run. This would be the Gallic version of Richard Nixon’s old technique of setting up a straw man and then knocking it down to inflame public opinion.
If Strauss-Kahn gets elected, I would expect his reaction to America to be glacial at best. There’s nothing like the reminiscence of a little visit to Rikers Island to concretize an attitude of hostility. France is in a much stronger position than it was under de Gaulle, with a huge economy. What if Obama had been picked up in France and then stockpiled at Devil’s Island for a few days before he was sorted out? You don’t think that would influence his opinion of French delicacy?
I tell you this: every interview Strauss-Kahn gives, going forward, is sure to contain some measured, diplomatic reference relating to his handling by the Americans that will betray his bottomless disappointment about their fitness as an interlocutor. That is only natural, and it will feed the already deep suspicion already felt by the French public.
Even if Strauss-Kahn decides not to run (and what other reason would he have not to run?), his case is sure to be taken up and repeated ad nauseum by the French intellectual class, and run into the ground like when the city of Carthage was razed, leveled and ground into the soil with salt by the Romans to ensure that nothing ever grew there again.
Dominique Strauss Kahn has got a face like the Sphinx. He’s not betraying any emotion. Strauss-Kahn would do just great in the Las Vegas Poker Olympics, except he doesn’t mess around with chump change. He was the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund until he was brought down low by this freakin hotel maid with a big mouth and a nasty, vicious mind.
Strauss-Kahn’s investigators poured over every line of her immigration file, where the notation observed that she broke down at an interview wherein she described being gang-raped by a squad of Guinean soldiers, an incident that she now recants.
Strauss-Kahn didn’t do himself any good with that raggedy raincoat he wore for his arraignment in court after his arrest. He looked like a schoolyard flasher. My grandmother, who was really old school, told me, “Always wear clean underwear because if you get injured, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in the hospital”. Oy vey! Anyway, never mind that. Your outerwear is just as important. I have always regarded getting arrested as a fashion event. When I got arrested for smacking the shit out of that guy on the train, I was wearing a smart sleeveless sport shirt from Miami and pointy white shoes that I used to kick him in the face a few times. Another time the cops made me take off a metal belt that I had bought in the Forum des Halles in Paris, which I had to surrender to them with a wallet flush with Bloomingdales and Macys credit cards. Strauss-Kahn got knocked over by a perfect storm of New York stupidity, which I have been complaining about for a long damn time. I keep insisting that the women here are rancid. Now do you believe me? I keep complaining that the people’s minds are stultified to the point of imbecility. Now do you believe me?
Strauss-Kahn didn’t take seriously the destructive power of these idiots but I bet he does now. A little while ago he had one of the most important jobs in the world and was on autopilot to become president of the French Republic. He had immense prestige. Now he is lower than a Staten Island garbage can, all because of a loudmouth maid and a population of prurient pricks.
You’d think that now that the truth is emerging, public opinion would be going over to his side. Fuggedaboudit! They still want to see him get buried, out of anti-French hatred. The Anglo-Saxon race will never change. Two centuries ago Charles Dickens, in “A Tale of Two Cities” portrayed swinish Frenchmen drinking wine out of the gutter. Now, during the buildup to the Iraq war we had people pouring French wine into the gutter. The attitude expressed in the Wall Street Journal was, so what if he’s innocent? Fuck the French! In the New York Post they have got a columnist named Andrea Peyser, who reflects the sentiment of the forlorn imbeciles of the Borough of Queens, writing, so what if he didn’t do it, “The Filthy Froggy is Still a Warthog”.
I make my living as a French translator for the finance industry. They need me because the anti-French campaign has been going on for so long that nobody in this country knows a word of French ha-ha! The people whom I work for regard me like some kind of alien freak of nature, but they still pile on the work.
Speaking French in New York gives me a kind of window into both worlds. In the internet age I am not any closer to the Strauss-Kahn case than somebody in Idaho or Tanzania, except that I am able to measure popular opinion on the ground. By the same token, I can read what they are saying in the French papers, which is not wholly admiring of American society. Le Figaro reports that the reason the maid decided to go apeshit on him is that she agreed to blow him and then, after he left, she went back into his suite expecting to find her “petit cadeau” only to discover that she had been stiffed (sorry for the pun). Le Monde published a scholarly essay that marveled over the fact that the American courts insist on the strict truth under threat of perjury in personal matters, whereas nobody in France believes that people are going to tell the truth regarding personal affairs, and the presiding magistrate has the latitude to discern the facts. Would that it were so in this country, where Bill Clinton almost got impeached for lying about a blowjob, and baseball superstar Barry Bonds is sweating out endless adjudication over whether or not he took steroids ten years ago.
What I am hoping is that when Dominique Strauss-Kahn finally gets his passport and is able to beat it back to Paris, he is motivated to dump a load of trash on the people who messed him up so badly, from the top down, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who never interceded on his behalf even though it was within her power to dispatch a protocol officer to make sure he didn’t suffer too much; to freakin Mayor Bloomberg, who defended the monstrous behavior that got Strauss-Kahn incarcerated in Rikes Island, quipping, “If you don’t want to face the perp walk, don’t do the crime”, to the media, who took the attitude of “Fuck the French bastard!”
You know, French president Charles de Gaulle set French society on a sixty year anti-American bender because of some diplomatic insults addressed to him by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt. But de Gaulle never had to spend a week at Rikers. How would the Americans feel if the French threw Obama in Devil’s Island for a week? American triumphalism has reached such a counterproductive state of arrogance that it is costing them market share on a daily basis. Considering the fact that capitalism is in the tank, that even professional sports teams are going broke, where is all this arrogance coming from anyway?
I wouldn’t be surprised if this Strauss-Kahn gave the French the opening that they are always looking for anyway, to tell the world, “How can you trust the Americans? Stick with France”.
© Dean Borok July 8th 2011