Bernard-Henri Lévy on Sarah Palin

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and the author of over 30 books, including works of philosophy, fiction, and biography. He began his career as a war reporter for Combat - the legendary newspaper founded by Albert Camus during the Nazi occupation of France - for which he covered the war between Pakistan and India over Bangladesh, and gained international renowned in 1994 for his documentary, Bosnia! Lévy is also the founder of the New Philosophers group. His 1977 book Barbarism with a Human Face launched an unprecedented controversy over the European left's complicity with totalitarianism. Lévy's cultural commentary, novels and journalism have continued to stir up such excitement that The Guardian noted he is "accorded the kind of adulation in France that most countries reserve for their rock stars."

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Topic: Bernard-Henri Levy on Sarah Palin. 

Bernard-Henri Levy:  I think that American commentators did too much on joking, despising on Sarah Palin, sometimes in a sexist way, in a machist way, in an unpolitically correct way, and this was a mistake. Those who did that did not harm her. I think that, on the contrary they helped her. So, I would not enter in that.

I would just say that she has a terrible politics, that she embodies the worst of the Conservatives in America, that if, I don’t think it will happen, by the way, but if she were to be vice president – or president, who knows? – I think that we will all regret the neo-conservatives who, compared to her, are extreme leftists, extreme liberals. No.

My concern with Sarah Palin is that she really believes that the dinosaurs are contemporaneous of Moses and so on. She really believes that Noah and the Ark of Noah went down the Grand Canyon a few thousand years ago. She really believed that you have some pieces of the Ark that you can see from a helicopter in there. She would really believe that in the schools, where American boys and girls learn how to become a citizen, should be taught equally science, which is Darwinism, and a Crook Theory, which is Creationism.

What she says about wearing weapons and so on, and what it means, for me, and I’m sure for majority of Americans, it’s just unendurable. But it is not Sarah Palin, it is what she embodies.

So, the advice I would, if I dare, I’m not American and I have not to give any lesson to anybody, but if I was an adversary of Sarah Palin in America, I would probably stop with sexist, machist, middle America jokes, which are inappropriate, and I would target on politics. The result of that is yesterday, when you had gone so far; commentators, politics, so far, in despising her in an uncorrect way, that when it is in front of her, he does not even dare to attack her on the real grounds. That is a bad deal. Bad deal. Attacking under the belt and being unable to attack from the brain, that is the worst politics.


Recorded Oct 3, 2008.