In Defense of
How can we bash a country so many
American tourists visit with glee?
How can we bash a country where
a cop can hit on a nun and nobody
would blink an eye?
The French aren't perfect,
but that's their charm
By CHUCK McFADDEN
I rise to the defense of France.
For months now, ever since the French began demonstrating a lackadaisical attitude toward U.S. measures against Iraq, weve been treated to assorted jibes and outright denunciations of that nation. Axis of Weasel and cheese-eating surrender monkeys are two examples. (I must confess I am at a loss as to the pejorative throw-weight of cheese-eating.)
Throughout much of the American media its Regime change? How about regime change in Paris?
Much of it comes from people who cannot stand the thought of anyone sassing the United States, once the United States has made up its mind.
France not only thumbs its nose at us, it seems to delight in doing so. Jacques Chirac, the French president, has a gift for voicing opposing views in the snottiest way imaginable, thereby angering not only the cowboys from Texas but those in the New Europe as well. To Chirac, anyone who supports the United States in its policy toward Iraq should shut up and sit down. They are not mature or sophisticated enough to be weighing in on matters best left to nations of some insight and intellect. Nations such as France. And hes said as much, in very undiplomatic language.
To the simpleminded in the United States, France is ungrateful. Didnt we bail them out of World War I and liberate them in World War II? Well, then, why dont they get with the program?
A nation does not have an obligation to follow the policy dictates of its rescuer. If the United States liberated France in 1944-45, that means that France--being liberated--is free to do what it wishes. Even if it angers the New York Post.
And if were talking gratitude, lets remember when the French liberated the United States. We were then a rag-tag group of colonies struggling to be free from England. If the French hadnt sent thousands of soldiers to aid in that fight, and if the French hadnt bottled up the British at Yorktown, we might have lost the Revolutionary War. Does that mean we are morally obligated to follow the French lead internationally? Wheres our gratitude?
Even if we think they talk funny, France is part of us all. This is the nation that gave the world the Eiffel Tower, brie, the Marseilles, Catherine Deneuve, Jacques Offenbach, The City of Light, Victor Hugo, The Impressionists, Camille St.-Saens, Maurice Chevalier, champagne, Hector Berlioz, the 35-hour work week, the can-can and cest la vie.
Next time you serve a cheese plate
like this one, try to imagine it
without the French brie
To say something is French is to say it is glamorous, chic, sexy. They dont call it German kissing, after all.
Take a look at your American passport. Right under the paragraph that begins The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit is another paragraph that begins, Le Secretaire dEtat des Etats-Unis Amerique prie par les presentes toutes .
Says that even on passports issued to folks in San Antonio.
Of course the French can be sneaky, obtuse, two-faced and haughty. Arrogant, too. Their most famous contribution to military strategy was the Maginot Line.
But the United States would be a much more drab, sad, and limited place without our Gallic cousins, no matter how infuriating they can be.
So lets quit getting purple-faced every time someone doesnt appreciate the manifest wisdom we Americans have in all things. Lets exhibit a little of that amused tolerance we believe those cosmopolitan Europeans are so good at, even if we have to display it toward people who use lots of garlic and eat snails and frogs legs and dont do as theyre told.
Who knows? We might even start enjoying life more.
©2003 by Charles M. McFadden. The McFadden caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The illustrations are from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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