vive le quebec libre

Video of Charles de Gaulle’s famous “Vive le Quebec libre” speech from 1967. The speech came during the Montreal World’s Fair, Expo 67, and came when Quebecois separatism was just gaining momentum. De Gaulle, in town for the fair, went to the the balcony of city hall and, before a hyped-up crowd of thousands, started making trouble.
He made a number of insupportable statements — like obliquely comparing English Canada to Nazi Germany — and generally built a fantasy of a Greater France ready for global conquest. (France was feeling particularly frisky in 1967, having recently dropped out of NATO’s military command and expelled all foreign troops from the country. It had already gone nuclear, and it was a few months away from developing the H-bomb without American assistance. De Gaulle was in the middle of what he called “la politique de grandeur,” an attempt to make France a strong, independent force on the global stage.)
The speech is shockingly aggressive, really, and whatever one thinks of their merits, de Gaulle’s speech — and especially the crowd’s reaction — gives you chills. It feels like a rebel leader about to order a storming of the capital, not boring old Canada. The applause lines kill — particularly at the 5:50 mark, when he unexpectedly (at least to English Canada) follows up a “Vive le Quebec!” with a “Vive le Quebec…libre!”
A transcript is here, in the original French and an English translation, so you can follow along.
De Gaulle’s remarks were not spontaneous. Rather than fly into English Canada, he’d spent a week crossing the Atlantic on a French warship so his point of arrival could be Quebec City. Before leaving, he’d told his son-in-law: “I will hit hard. Hell will happen, but it has to be done. It’s the last occasion to repent for France’s cowardice.” (Meaning France’s cowardice in giving up Quebec to the Brits in 1763. De Gaulle was nothing if not historically-minded.) After the speech, he said: “Of course, I could, like many others, get away from [making trouble] by uttering some courtesies or diplomatic sidesteps. But when one is General de Gaulle, one does not get away with those kind of expedients. What I did, I had to do it.”
Of course, it’s the height of diplomatic rudeness to put on this kind of show in someone else’s country, particularly a NATO ally. Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson — a Nobel Prize-winning, immigration-loving, peacekeeper-inventing badass in his own right — told de Gaulle to, in essence, fuck off, saying “Canadians do not need to be liberated.” De Gaulle was chased out of the country and told never to come back. He didn’t.
Perhaps the best rebuke came from Pauline Vanier, wife of Canada’s governor general. Upon seeing de Gaulle after the speech, she pressed a scrap of paper in his hand. Its message, in its entirety: “1940.” She might have written “Juno Beach” instead, but the point was made.
More on the Gaullist politics of grandeur here.

happy 100th, startlegram

They may be the competition, of a sort, but happy 100th birthday to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. (Or, as everyone in media circles calls it, the Startlegram.) Amon Carter, the paper’s grandaddy, built quite a legacy for himself and his city, from the museum that bears his name to his positioning of Fort Worth as the de facto capital of a big swath of the American southwest. And his intense hatred of Dallas always had a nifty populist edge; his slogan for Fort Worth was “Where the West Begins,” and his corollary for Dallas was “Where the East Peters Out.” (Legend has it Carter always took food with him when business took him to Dallas for the day, so he wouldn’t have to spend any money there.)