Reader Letters

Sincerely Yours, Offended in Paris

Dear Editors,

As an American currently living in Paris with my family, I was discouraged to read the broad, stereotypical claims made by Rosecrans Baldwin in “Paris I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” While reading his piece, I had the distinct sense that that he was pigeonholing a broader Parisian population, without experiencing a wider range of Parisians. It was at least remarkable that, in order to prove his points—that Parisians “don’t like anything,” that Parisians have a contempt for Paris, that Parisians lack humor, and that they’re generally rude—he only gave examples of two or three Parisians in a specific economic range.

But what about the rest of Parisians? In general, I have observed there are all different sorts. Some are quiet and reclusive. Others are loud and outgoing. One stranger may sit down beside you while out to eat and, by the end of the meal, you’ll feel like great friends. Another may eat alone in a quiet corner of a restaurant. And though many do support Obama, as the author suggests, many others, typically of a more conservative type, support Clinton. It is a range of people, acting and believing a range of things, just as it is in the U.S.

True, there are the cultural differences, but the average Parisian is not one type of person, but is an array of people as broad as the American array … and growing ever broader all the time.

So imagine this! If a Parisian were to visit a particular area of the U.S., he may enjoy particular aspects of his time spent there, but overall, his visit may just “bring him down.” Why? Because, he concludes, Americans don’t like anything. They have a contempt for their own country and they lack humor. Worst of all, they’re just so annoyingly rude. So, everything he’s heard is true: Americans are difficult and hard to live with, and that’s what he’ll tell his friends. Maybe he’ll write about it!

Whose fault is all of this? I maintain it is the fault of the Parisian, for not being able to overcome his cultural assumptions regarding Americans. For leaving on his cultural blinders. For not experiencing an array of Americans.

I appreciate Mr. Baldwin’s honesty and his tongue-in-cheek humor, but I do believe he should seek out a broader range of Parisians before writing an article that is on the verge of encouraging a conservative bigotry.

Robyn Miller

Rosecrans Baldwin responds…

Dear Robyn,

I appreciate your candor. You have seen through my campaign. But you left out of your shopping list the French who would vote for McCain. I have a couple you can meet, if you like.

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