I don’t have a great admiration for the French, although I have been to France several times and have enjoyed their food and wines, but never their hospitality. I can still remember the French consul telling me in French that it was impossible for him to issue me a visa to enter France in 1974.I was sitting in the office of the Consulate of France during my honeymoon trip in the city of Brussels, Belgium. I was traveling on a Certificate of Identification issued by the US government and needed a visa to enter France. The British and West German consuls were very receptive of me and my plight and they readily issued visas to enter their countries and I was very grateful that they accorded me the privilege.
No, not the French, so I was not able to see France until I was carrying a US passport and since then have been there quite a few times, enough to know the country but have never admired their ways nor their politics.
But recently I was very impressed by something that hit the news a few days ago and that was when Jacques Chirac their immediate past president was convicted for embezzlement : Chirac was found guilty of illegal use of taxpayer funds and abuse of public confidence while serving as the mayor of Paris in the early 1990s. These charges were leveled against him during his presidency but he was immune from prosecution at that time. I was really impressed when it was pursued right after his term was up which later on ended in this conviction.
While he proclaimed innocence he announced that he would not appeal the suspended two year sentence. This is a major embarrassment to him since he became the first French president to stand trial since WWII; but a triumph for the French judicial system.
My opinion of the French changed quite a bit since this news hit the wires and I saw it on French TV. Mainly my opinion lately has been affected by what is going on around me in my small city party politics. Whereas, I thought when I began to become active in the local party, that people were basically honest and not corrupt. However I am disappointed in finding out that that assumption was not correct.
From the very beginning one local party official said that “nowadays we are less corrupt than before.” As I begun to know more and more about the inner machinations of the party apparatus, I became aware of the corruption is at its core. The corruptive practices are so pervasive that those persons doe not even know that they are conducting their business without any guilt feelings and that their way of doing business is how normal business is conducted in the world at large.
These persons have done it their way for the past few decades and either did not know or did not care that people in the “real” world have different ethics and standards: things like following the law and regulations, good bookkeeping, to spend donor money responsibly, to be transparent and have total honesty in money management.
Certain leaders were totally ignorant of what ethical behavior is and how important it is to show a semblance of concern when concerned citizens request some explanations of their actions. These so called leaders show defensiveness, anger, secrecy, combativeness and finally obstruction of access to rational examination. Indeed they take on manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior and summon the full force of their cronies in their obstruction to justice.
If this is occurring at the local level I would guess that we can multiply that a thousand or a million fold as we ascend the level up the state and to the federal level, where billions of dollars are involved. I sort of knew about these improprieties but they were not so close personally so I paid very little attention before, not any more than what comes across in the media . But as it is happening so close the proximity is quite disturbing. They all seem to cover up for each other and that includes the people who should be administering the law.
Now you know why I am impressed by the French of late.