Friday, June 10, 2005

Anatomy of an Insult - "Cheese eating surrender monkeys"

Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, rightwing Americans were furious with the French for refusing to support Bush's determination to attack the Arabic country. Oh yes, the Americans had then so quickly forgotten their country’s enormous debt to the French during their war of independence.

The acrimony was such that even the US TV series, The Simpsons, had an episode insulting the French as cheese eating surrender monkeys.

But now we know the origin of the Anglo-Saxon insult, that is, where and how it had originated.

Apparently during the Napoleonic wars, a monkey washed up on Britain’s shores at Hartlepool. Unfortunately for the simian, it was dressed in French uniform. The British court tried the creature for spying for the French.

When questioned by the magistrate, surprise surprise, the monkey refused to answer, thus condemning itself. His silence was deemed by the British magistrate as indicative of his sinister complicity and guilt, which earned the monkey a hanging from a lamppost as a foreign spy.

You know how the “facts” connected – monkey in French uniform, therefore cheese eating monkey; washed up on the beach which meant that he virtually surrendered, hence cheese eating surrender monkey.

Last month a 15cm bone found on a British beach at Hartlepool beach was identified as from a monkey or an ape. It rekindled the Napoleonic story.

Related posting:
Les √Čtats-Unis - singes capitulards bouffeurs de fromages?

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