112 gripes

    26. "The French are cynical."

     The French are disillusioned. They are bitter. They have a right to be. They have gone through six of the most disastrous years of history. They have experienced defeat, hunger, persecution, invasion, occupation, despair. They have been humiliated before the eyes of the world.

     The cynical comments which many of us have heard in France are a reflection of the profound shock and confusion the French have suffered for the past six years.

     Cynical talk, by the way, is often considered "smart" and "sophisticated" - in the United States no less than in France. We Americans love to give the "low down"; we love to tell "the inside story". So do the French.

     But the French are not cynical about certain things, about ideas like "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity". They mean it. They have always fought for it.