Dept. of Irony

Some readers didn't quite get our joke.

Eric Pape's dispatch from Luxembourg ("The Lap of Luxembourgery," September/October 2011) was an experiment in irony -- an attempt to poke fun at the type of parachute journalism that leads Western journalists to make sweeping generalizations about the countries they visit based on brief discussions with cab drivers and hotel clerks. We thought that over-the-top phrases such as the "armpit of the European Union" and descriptions of a "young revolutionary in the making, forced into exile for his creative vision" would tip people off that we weren't quite serious. Judging by the comments the piece generated online, some folks don't seem to have gotten the joke.

Eric Pape’s dispatch from Luxembourg ("The Lap of Luxembourgery," September/October 2011) was an experiment in irony — an attempt to poke fun at the type of parachute journalism that leads Western journalists to make sweeping generalizations about the countries they visit based on brief discussions with cab drivers and hotel clerks. We thought that over-the-top phrases such as the "armpit of the European Union" and descriptions of a "young revolutionary in the making, forced into exile for his creative vision" would tip people off that we weren’t quite serious. Judging by the comments the piece generated online, some folks don’t seem to have gotten the joke.

"How can you get the essence of a country with such a short visit and by talking to largely unrepresentative persons? I’ve lived there for more than 13 years, and it’s nowhere near what you are picturing," fumed OLIVIER101.

"I am a teacher in Luxembourg, and one of my students brought in this article to know if it was really as uninformed as it appeared to her. I was flabbergasted by the terrible quality of the journalism. The sources Pape cites are poor representations of the country," complains MIKEYMANNON.

SUPERJHEMP called the article, "Typical bullshit … to fool the American John Doe, who still thinks that the U.S. is the only legal country on Earth and all others are either evil communist leftovers or some lost spots undermined by Islam."

Pape found himself compared to Hitler and called a cancer on American journalism by angry Luxembourgers. His hard work was dismissed as the "ramblings of a jealous Parisian." (Sorry, Eric!)

A few folks got it, though. MARTEILLE sighed, "For a moment, I thought the author was being serious here. Kind of wish I was born in Luxembourg. Oh well."

Suzanne Merkelson is an editorial assistant at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

Newspapers in Tehran feature on their front page news about the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023.
Newspapers in Tehran feature on their front page news about the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023.

Saudi-Iranian Détente Is a Wake-Up Call for America

The peace plan is a big deal—and it’s no accident that China brokered it.

Austin and Gallant stand at podiums side by side next to each others' national flags.
Austin and Gallant stand at podiums side by side next to each others' national flags.

The U.S.-Israel Relationship No Longer Makes Sense

If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Moscow Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Moscow Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow.

Putin Is Trapped in the Sunk-Cost Fallacy of War

Moscow is grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion.

An Iranian man holds a newspaper reporting the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, in Tehran on March 11.
An Iranian man holds a newspaper reporting the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, in Tehran on March 11.

How China’s Saudi-Iran Deal Can Serve U.S. Interests

And why there’s less to Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough than meets the eye.