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2 12, 8:35am
I read it was initially mostly an American insult for the French when the diplomacy between the two countries was not that good (at first in the fifties with president De Gaule and it blazed again in 2003 with the veto against invasion of Irak – for what good it did… but that’s another matter). Then it spread to the English speaking portion of the web through ignorance and french-bashing, I suppose?
What bothers me with this "joke" is that it isn't a exaggeration and generalization of a flaw –or quality– that can be associated with a culture, like most stereotypes, but a blatant historical lie.
Food for though : in France, the idea that the disaster of 1940 was the soldiers fault because they weren't good enough and surrendered easily was popularized by Vichy's Fascist regime to hide the fact that it was mostly due to huge strategical mistakes of the high command and could be considered a treason of the politicians who agreed to the ceasefire even though good portion of the french army were still fighting. Still a sore spot in France modern history.