if not for them, we'd all be speaking the Queen's English

French hoodlums defaced a WWII memorial to British troops, which is a disgusting act of ugly hatred. But equally ugly is the righteous anger against the French:

They bear mute testimony to the fact that the French could not defend themselves. Because of their presence and their inability to speak, they puncture French pretensions to greatness. They represent irrefutable proof that the French have had to rely, again and again, on us for salvation, but we have not had to rely on them. In the last 200 years, no English speaking nation has ever required French help to defend itself.

There can be no greater demonstration of the blackness of the French soul than this desecration. The next time France is attacked, let them defend themselves without foreign help, for they deserve none.

It is shameful that a historian of World War II such as Steven would let his anger cloud his knowledge of history. Throughout WW2, the French underground resistance was instrumental in providing intelligence and performing sabotage against the German occupiers, in coordination with the Allied forces. French resistance fighters provided the intel that drive the decision to land at Normandy. They also rescued many American and British fighters who were shot down over France. They risked their lives in the same way that Americans and British risked theirs - partly to defend their homeland, but also as part of the greater struggle against evil.

Insisting on characterizing the french underground as acting solely in self-interest is hypocritical, for after all it was also Britain and America's self-interest to drive Hitler out of France. But the truth is that our self-interests and doing what was right and just coincided - a rare moment in history of moral clarity - and that meant that every link in the chain was equally strong.

Without the actions of the brave French underground, WW2 would have gone very differently indeed. I think Steven would be the first to recognize this, if his anger cools.

UPDATE: some background reading about the history of the French Resistance.

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