Christopher Shea of The Wall Street Journal writing about an article in The New Yorker about a woman named Elisabeth Badinter, apparently France's most influential intellectual (All of this is behind firewalls, so you'll have to take my word for it. Sorry.) She sounds horrid. She refuses to visit the United States for two reasons: "public disapproval of smoking" and she was "attacked" at Princeton. The story of the attack, as related in the New Yorker by a participant:
Badinter was saying all sorts of banal thing about how the French were sexier than Americans, better at sex, how American women washed too much, how they were embarrassed by bodily odors, by oral sex. We asked hostile questions, like, “How can you say these things off the top of your head?” That it was traumatic for her is very odd. We were simply distressed by her talk.As Shea, who's my hero of the day, points out in the WSJ:
“How can you say these things off the top of your head?” Whatever you say about American intellectual life—and there is much negative that can be said—it’s a non-trivial distinction that that question gets asked, of sweeping thinkers, here but not in France.