The French are amusingly iconoclastic, especially in regards to anything culturally American. French trade in "culture" as if it were a commodity to be cultivated domestically and exported, or as an import, embargoed to protect a cottage industry. The very self-consciousness that accompanies the French attempt to develop culture strikes one as odd and affected. Because of France's global irrelevance, politically, economically, and culturally, all this cultural contrarianism seems harmless. But, it can go too far, as this new book that is flying off Parisian bookshelves proves. Thierry Meyssan's book L'Effroyable Imposture (The Appalling Fraud) suggests that the September 11th terrorist attack on the Pentagon was staged by the United States government. One could not think of a more offensive and absurd thesis than to suggest the U.S. government inflicted this sort of violence on itself. The fact M. Meyssan wrote this outrage isn't as appalling as the fact that the French are clamoring to buy and, presumably, read it. Do they really hate America that much as to believe it would act upon itself in such a way? Truly the meanness and arrogance of French democracy is unrivaled, and in that they eternally remain culturally distinct.