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February 1 2020
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Aux barricades! An anti-pension-reform protest in Paris in January.

Although Sam Mendes’s 1917 debuted in Paris theaters January 15, I, like many of my friends here, have been reluctant to see it. We’re going through our own form of PTSD right now, and frankly anything involving tear gas and chaos, sirens and claustrophobia, isn’t something we need more of.

When I moved to France from the U.S., 17 years ago, I wasn’t naïve about the French penchant for going on strike. It inspired me, actually. I’d just arrived from a country that’d rolled over and accepted a stolen 2000 election with a “Can’t we all just get along?” cop-out. I told myself, Americans could learn a thing or two from the French. This was a place where farmers burned tires on the highway to fight for agricultural subsidies, and where an ex-farmer like José Bové could ransack a McDonald’s and turn the act into a political career.

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