Thingish Things

I Don’t Get Bastille Day

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jul• 14•11

I have always wondered why the French celebrate Bastille Day with such zeal. The occasion marked the beginning of the French Revolution, which led to one of history’s mass genocides. Up to 40,000 Frenchmen (and women) were beheaded in The Reign of Terror, with neither charge nor trial, before hysterical, blood-thirsty crowds.  A mob mentality overwhelmed the French nation necessitating a counter-revolution to restore order.

Whenever I read of the Khmer Rouge massacres in Cambodia, I think of the French Revolution.  Khmer Rouge leaders were all French-educated and their decision to execute the ruling class and educated eerily reflected what happened in Paris 180 years earlier.    

I realize the French Revolution is considered by many to be the culmination of The Age of Enlightenment, but those read like pretty dark days to me.  I don’t see enlightenment in what happened at all. Sure, the French got rid of the monarchy, but does the way it was done warrant annual firework shows? 

I have some French/Swiss ancestors, but I will never get the French. 

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