American Masons just don't have to deal with the kind of fears our European brethren seem to generate. In fact, we mostly don't see what the hubbub is all about. Joshua Levine in Business Week has an article today on why the French as a nation fears Freemasons.
From France: Where Freemasons Are Still Feared:
Magazines and newspapers all have stories they run in one form or another, year in, year out. The details may differ, but the stories are largely the same everywhere, striking universal chords of sex, health, and money. A few of these perennials, however, don’t travel. They drill deep into one country’s psyche while everyone else scratches their heads and says, “Huh?”
In France, the story that keeps coming back is about Freemasons. It’s everywhere. Most big French magazines run at least one big Freemason cover a year. Books dissect the “state within a state,” to borrow from a recent title. Blogs abound.
“France has several of these marronniers—chestnuts,” says Alain Bauer, former grand master of France’s Grand Orient lodge and president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Masonic liaison. “There’s real estate prices and there’s how to cure headaches, and then there’s Freemasons. The ultimate French magazine story is a Freemason with a headache who’s moving. We don’t like these stories, but at the same time, we love them, because they make us feel like we’re still important.”
Huh? Yes, Freemasons: the old fraternal order known in the U.S. for the Masonic lodges that dot American cities, musty reminders of an era when Masonry stirred the American melting pot. Or for the arcane Masonic symbols engraved on every dollar bill. Or on a sillier note, for the Shriners in their red fezzes. (The Shriners were founded in the 1870s to add a little levity to regular Freemasonry. Mission accomplished.)