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Belgium No Longer Exists

It was, by any measure, an odd moment. Being interviewed on stage just moments after her tearful coronation, the new Miss Belgium was lobbed the gentlest of softballs about her hopes for the future. She hesitated, smile fixed on her … Read More

By / March 21, 2008

It was, by any measure, an odd moment. Being interviewed on stage just moments after her tearful coronation, the new Miss Belgium was lobbed the gentlest of softballs about her hopes for the future. She hesitated, smile fixed on her face, and then said, “I didn’t understand, can you repeat?” And that was when the booing started.

Alizee Poulicek is Belgian all right, albeit a Belgian who spent much of her childhood in her father’s native Czech Republic, and her French is impeccable. But the audience in Antwerp were, like a majority of Belgians, native Dutch speakers for whom speaking French is a chore generally to be undertaken only with ignorant tourists. When it became clear that the new beauty queen didn’t speak their language, they took it as a mortal insult, rather as if Miss USA had admitted not knowing the words to the Star-Spangled Banner.

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