Pamela Druckerman irritates me

I’ve had enough of this woman’s fluff. Everytime she writes a piece in The New York Times she irritates a lot of people because of her myopic unworldliness. She’s an ingénue. The only reason I’m writing this post is because the comments section of her March 25th piece (which I’ve just read) is closed.  It’s entitled Je Suis Sick of This.  That title is about as puerile and petulant as the titles of her books.  She might be a seasoned book author with such highbrow titles as French Children Don’t Throw Food and Bébé Day by Day to her name, but I’m a seasoned Parisian with over 25 years of living in Paris under my belt. An ordinary resident, I also work in an ordinary office with ordinary people. I don’t have a cushy stay-at-home writing job with a New York Times expense account. 

The following comment of hers, which provoked me to write this post, is erroneous and reveals her naïveté – “Salah Abdeslam, who helped orchestrate the terrorist attacks on Paris, managed to slip out of the country afterward. Four months later, he was found hiding in Molenbeek, the Brussels neighborhood where he grew up. That’s one of the hardest facts to reconcile: these are Europeans attacking their own homelands.”

Europeans attacking their own homelands?? Seriously? The terrorists in question, Madame Druckerman, are about as European as Cherokees. Their homeland, or to use the word in a certain Arab dialect: their bled, is in North Africa. Not France. Not Belgium. But Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia, otherwise called the North African Maghreb. (the Arabic word, ‘maghreb’ means ‘where the sun sets’ because of its westerly direction.) I’ll bet Ms. D didn’t know that. Note: the true translation of bled is ‘village’. Someone who comes from that village is called a blédard. 

The terrorists in question are Muslim Arabs who speak Arabic. (WARNING – do not misconstrue this sentence to believe that all Muslim Arabs who speak Arabic are terrorists.)  They were either born in Europe, or came to Europe as children, or later on as adults, but one thing is sure: their parents are from North Africa, and strong connections remain not only to the region, but to the culture, language and religion. As is common with immigrants the world over, the parents bring their customs with them to their host country. Sure, the children are socialized and receive a European education outside of the home, but inside the home some of them (NOT ALL) might as well be back in the bled. Many of the parents are illiterate. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been in these homes; I’ve had friends and colleagues from these homes. (And I’ve been received with generous hospitality and kindness, my intention is not to denigrate.)


Here are your “Europeans” – Residents at a market in Molenbeek, a heavily immigrant district of Brussels. Photo credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times. 


Example – a few months ago, I asked a work colleague of mine the following question – “Do you feel French or Moroccan?”  (a small group of us, during lunch in the staff cafeteria, were having a discussion about identity.)  Here’s what she replied – “Muslim.”

Huh? We all stared at her. “But Muslim is a religion, not a nationality,” we replied. “You were born in France, you were schooled in France, you have a European passport.”  In fact, she’s an immigrant success story. Her mother and father emigrated to France from Morocco in the 1970s and, thanks to French schools….and to her own diligence, of course, she became a lawyer.

She has lived in Paris her entire life. But she doesn’t feel French. She doesn’t feel European. She feels Muslim. Now why would that be??

And that’s the question I always ask myself – where do people’s loyalties lie?  We see that Salah Abdeslam’s loyalty does not lie with Belgium or Europe!

Later on, I imagined someone asking me the same question. “Juliet, do you feel Canadian or French?”  I cannot imagine in a million years replying “Anglican (or Christian).”

This reader’s comment to Druckerman’s piece sums it up – “Interesting the comment that these are Europeans….no, I don’t think so. Birth isn’t enough to make you a European.  If you consistently and resolutely refuse to assimilate and remain committed to your anti-European beliefs, then you are not a European. You are someone who lives in Europe enjoying all the freedoms your own beliefs would never allow, but you harbor a hate that manifests itself in violence.” 

The headline of Druckerman’s piece, Je suis sick of this (she’s referring to the recent terrorist attacks in Europe) seems puerile and self-indulgent in view of the gravity of the situation. She’s sick of this? How does she think the victims feel?? They’re dead, maimed or psychologically damaged!

For an edifying read, and some truly serious journalism, have a look at the article below taken from The Guardian newspaper. The author, Mark Townsend, provides unusual insight into the radicalisation of young men – From Brighton to the battlefield. It depicts a sad, sad life of violence.


19 thoughts on “Pamela Druckerman irritates me

  1. I think, Juliet, that you and other Europeans are being shocked into the reality of what an open society is, and how dangerous it becomes when abused. that Europe would feel compelled to welcome hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees caused by carnage inflicted by their fellow Muslims is beyond the scope of reality. Unfortunately, now that the door has been opened there is really no way to protect against the certainty of future terrorist attacks. Sadly, the European model is broken and we can only hope that 50 years from now Notre Dame is not a museum, or worse yet, a mosque.

    • Well, it was primarily Angela Merkel who opened the floodgates (and then, horrified by the human tidal wave that poured in, quickly closed them again). But on the other hand, how can we turn away children, families and human beings in such dire distress? Of course, there needs to be serious screening of who comes in, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Europe is overwhelmed.

  2. Just fyi, I wasn’t able to access the piece. However, I have to say that I would find your colleague’s response disturbing, as well.

  3. You are totally on target.

    I too am tired of this NYT writer who seems to know little about European culture, society, history, etc –

    But what does this also tell us about the NYT?

    America ignorance full blown – or perhaps the writer is someone’s daughter -or relative – or some other hanger on..

    MLMJ a former New Yorker in Germany

    • Thanks for writing, mlmj. She just lacks depth and, as you say, historical points, society, etc. Yes, someone’s daughter or relative. Ho hum.

  4. Excellent post! I so much enjoy reading your points of view than that silly spoiled Druckerman. Never did appreciate her, nor her silly books.

  5. So not a fan of her work, not (usually) her FT husband Simon Kuper. It feels like they live in a bubble most of the time.

      • I agree! People seem to LOOOOOOVE anything with the word “French” or “Paris” in the title. Her work does nothing for me.

      • That’s true, and guess what? The title of my memoir (which I’ve been writing for years and should be finished this year) has the word “Paris” in the title! Ha! Ha!

  6. She’s a middle aged, self-indulgent, smarmy, liberal joke….check out her Marie Claire article on the threesome she orchestrated for her husband’s birthday. Gag!

    • Y’know what? I googled it, started reading and halfway through yawned and moved on to something else.

      P.S. I don’t mind that she’s liberal. I’m pretty liberal too. If she were a strict conservative, I’d really hate her.

  7. Druckerman is incredibly obnoxious and her views on French parenting and French life (I’ve lived here 19 years myself) are wildly inaccurate. That said, your post comes off as seriously xenophobic. They were European citizens. I’m not sure why Druckerman seems to think that makes it more shocking, (I mean, she’s a fellow American–most of our incidences of mass violence there are committed by Americans) but they’re still European. The term refers to geography and citizenship not whether or not one has assimilated. I know plenty of naturalized French/European citizens and I wouldn’t say that any of them are more “assimilated” than your average French Muslim. It sounds more like their culture is more exotic and foreign to you and you’ve decided it makes them less European. You can claim not to be trying to denigrate them all you want, but using scare quotes under a photo (that you probably don’t have permission to be using) of complete strangers (whose birthplaces and citizenship status you almost certainly don’t know) is vile. I was looking for pieces by French writers on Druckerman and happened upon your blog, but I can’t say I’ll be returning after seeing that. People who were born here are more European than you or I, no matter what language they speak, how they dress, or how much they “assimilate.” Good god.

    • You’re joking, right? How dare you assume what I know and don’t know. Firstly, my insistence on their identity and affiliation lies with the fact that by pledging allegiance to ISIS and a return to a 7th century-like caliphate hardly conforms to what we know and cherish as European values!
      These men blew themselves up, taking along with them hundreds of innocents by savagely stabbing, gunning down in cold blood or decapitating them ……in central Paris!!!! WHY? Because they were, in their opinion, keffars (non believers or infidels.) IS THIS WHAT YOU CALL EUROPEAN???
      As for their culture appearing to me as exotic or foreign, what on earth do you know about my journeys and knowledge of North Africa?
      I neither claim or not claim to denigrate “them”, nor do I have to justify my comments, so you can take your preachy sanctimonious attitude off my blog and go elsewhere.
      As a matter of fact I do have permission to use that photo and always give photo credits (again, how dare you). And lastly, to write that I used “scare quotes” and then say that my intent was VILE, is going too far. You’ve crossed a line there. So please piss off and don’t come back.

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