[ed note: Found! Under a hors d'oeuvres tray at a Tina Brown cocktail party, the first draft of Bernard Henri-Levy's Daily Beast cri de coeur on behalf of his ami Dominique Strauss-Kahn]
I do not know what actually happened Saturday, the day before yesterday, in the room of the now famous Hotel Sofitel in New York.
I do not know — no one knows — because can there or cannot there be such a knowing? I do not know. All is but existential abyss. For who is to know this mocking mime which taunts us by its cruel appellation, "reality"? Even reality itself cannot know, because have been no leaks regarding the declarations of the man in question, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. We have only the leaks regarding the leaks of his so-called "DNA." Was he was guilty of the acts he is accused of committing there, or if, or at which why, as was stated, he was having a mud bath in Baden-Baden with his daughter? Reality, you are a cruel mistress.
I do not know—but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, if knowing were indeed a matter of conceptual possibility—how a mere proletarian chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a “cleaning brigade” to remove to the myriad of empty Dom Perignon bottles and half-smoked Gauloise crushed into beignets they should have expected from one of the most closely watched figures on the planet. In protest I have written to the Michelin guide and demanded they be demoted to 3 stars.
And I do not want to entertain the considerations of dime-store psychology that claims to penetrate the mind of the subject, thrusting remorselessly and without consent into his libido, observing, for example, that the number of the room (2806) corresponds to the date of the coming liberation of France by the Socialist Party (06.28), in which he is the uncontested favorite to storm the Normandy beaches, march triumphantly into Paris, free it from its Sarkozian captors, seduce to the grateful lovesick coquettes with his Hershey bars, and thereby concluding that this is all a Freudian slip, a subconsciously erotic role-play, and blah blah blah. Sometimes a baguette is only a baguette.
What I do know is that nothing in the world can justify a man being thus thrown to a ravenous pack of dogs, a breed of which has neither been obedience trained nor clipped in the proper poofs.
What I know is that nothing, no suspicion whatever (for let’s remind ourselves that, as I write these lines, we are dealing only with suspicions, comingled up with a few blue-lighted Speedos), permits the entire world to revel in the spectacle, this morning, of this handcuffed figure, this magnificent avatar of Continental sophistication, this giant of Gallic philosophic chivalry, his features blurred by 30 hours of detention and questioning, his face criminally unmoisturized. But there he stood, proud and unbroken, like his dignified and noble hyphen.
What I know as well is that nothing, no earthly law, should also allow another woman, his wife, admirable in her love and courage, to be exposed to the slime of a public opinion drunk on salacious gossip and driven by who knows what obscure mob prejudice against the Gallic woman's proud spirit of laissez-affaire. I cannot even bear to consider how this indignity torments his many proud and loving and courageous mistresses.
And what I know even more is that the Strauss-Kahn I know, who has been my friend for 20 years and who will remain my friend, bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; always quick with a flirtatious wink, obviously; and ready with a ball gag and bondage ropes, naturally. But this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate? It is absurd. In any civilized country that recognizes the natural purity of philosophical genius, the case would be dismissed on the grounds of absurdity.
This morning, I hold it against the jejune American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, dared treat this man of nobility as subject to the justice of the peasant.
I am driven to ennui by a system of justice modestly termed “accusatory,” meaning that anyone can come along waving a stained hotel towel and accuse another fellow of any crime— even when the one accused has a pied-a-terre on the Left Bank and sits on several film prize juries.
I resent the New York tabloid press, a disgrace to the profession, that, without the least precaution and before having effected the least verification, has depicted Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a sicko, a pervert, borderlining on serial killer, a psychiatrist’s dream. In Europe such tabloidists would be thrashed, their backs writhing and glistening with sweat and blood from each stinging kiss of Dominique's beloved cat-o-nine-tails, until they had learned not to jump to such salacious conclusions.
I am angry with all those in France who jumped at the occasion to settle old scores or further their own little affairs. All this jumping and scoring and affairs is distracting.
And I hold it against the commentators, pundits, and other minor figures of a French political class overjoyed at this divine surprise who immediately, indecently, and at the very first opportunity commenced with their de Profundis drivel by talking about a “redistribution of the cards” or a “new deal” at the center of this or of that. But I must stop here, for it makes me nauseous. And strangely aroused.
I am back now after my shower. Where was I? Oh yes. I’m angry with, to name one, the French M.P. Bernard Debré, who comes right out and denounces a man he calls “disreputable,” one who “wallows in sex” and has conducted himself, for a long time now, like a “scoundrel.” Monsieur Debré, you are no longer welcome at Maxim's.
I hold it against all those who complacently accept the account of this other young woman, this one French, who pretends to have been the victim of the same kind of attempted rape, who has shut up for eight years but, sensing the golden opportunity, whips out her old dossier and comes to flog it on television. Two can play at that game, Mlle. Rape Accusation: when you are on the television, I hold "it" against the television and do my own flogging.
And I am, of course, dismayed at the political impact of the event.
The French left that, if Strauss-Kahn were really out of the arena, would lose its champion.
The French unions, that have lost innumerable televised strike opportunities.
The French 5-diamond resorts and brothels, that have lost one of their most ardent customers.
France itself, that has twice voted him Hyphenated Intellectual of the Year .
And Europe, which is to say the world, that is indebted to him for contributing, for the past four years at the head of the IMF, to avoiding a world unmanaged by French Post-Modern economic theory.
On one side, there were the hardline ultraliberals, partisans of mathematics, without modulation or nuance, unwilling to compromise on their silly and tyrannical addition and subtraction axioms, and on the other, those who, Dominique Strauss-Kahn at their head, had begun to implement rules of the game that were less lenient toward the nauseatingly powerful bourgeois, more favorable to the benighted proletarian nations and, among the latter, their delightfully amusing potentates. And now the world's little brown peoples have tragically lost their beloved financial champion, who was lifting them from poverty and capitalist oppression, expecting in return only the occassional Porsche or villa in Provence.
Enough is enough, I say. I will not stand idly by as the uncultured puritanical prudes of Les Etats-Unis and their mad inspector Javerts hound another hero of the French nation — as they did Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Ira Einhorn, and Theodore Bundy — for the mere sin of intellectual virility, and listening to the "oui" in a woman's eyes instead of the "non" in her screams of ecstasy.
J'Accuse America - with your filthy cheeseburgers, and your stupid tailfins, and your unnuanced medieval notions of "rape." Until, and unless, my friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn is freed from his political bondage, I refuse to provide you another paragraph of philosophy.
Bye-Bye, Miss Americaine-Pie. You can drive your Chevy to this Levy, but this Levy is dry.
Bernard-Henri Lévy is one of France's most famed philosophers, a journalist, and a bestselling writer. He enjoys long walks along the Lido and langorous afternoons at the Closerie de Lilas discussing international affairs and existential angst over a full-bodied calvados. If you would like to pose for one of his etchings, send candid photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.