It’s become cool to hate on the French, hasn’t it?
Humor Web sites have “The French Art of Surrendering” desktop wallpaper for download, sporting a classic shot of Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower, among others. Certain restaurants are dropping the “French” from their fries, calling them “freedom fries” or other similarly saccharine displays of “patriotism.”
The New York Post, that fine bastion of professionalism in newspapers, recently altered pictures of French and German U.N. representatives to look like weasels – in keeping with its “axis of weasels” joke. (Belgium is the third member.)
Another example of the Post’s excellence in journalism – it just ran a page six item questioning baseball great Sandy Koufax’s sexuality, causing him to sever all ties with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who share an owner, News Corp., with the Post.
I get upset that I have to share my occupation with people like that.
Of course, France has invoked the ire of pro-war Americans by opposing war in Iraq every step of the way.
Prevailing pro-war wisdom says that since America saved Europe from the Nazis back in World War II, Europe and, especially, France should be eternally in our debt.
Well, what about American debts?
When this was a young country of European religious and social outcasts and debtors, many Americans sought independance from England. The English military was regarded as the best in the world at the time, while this country had a bunch of farmers with muskets in a loose “militia.”
The French, historically approaching their own revolution, took this opportunity to fight a proxy war against Britain. (We did the same thing in Vietnam and many other countries by fighting against communism.)
Some men came to fight as mercenaries and to try to find their fortune. French soldiers and officers, such as the Marquis de Lafayette, helped train the Americans and they and other Europeans helped turn the tide of the war.
America would have had a tough time defeating the military power of the time without the help of the French and other Europeans.
So, one could make the argument that we owe the French for past events, just as the French owe us for World War II. And honestly, does anyone really expect any country to blindly follow America because of something that happened 60, or 260 years ago?
Certainly, this isn’t the first time the French have blocked American policy, and I can understand the resentment, in a way. It just seems silly to me because I don’t think most people have seriously thought about why they hate the French. It’s kind of like all the people with “I hate hippies” in their IM profile, because they heard Cartman say it on South Park.
Freedom of speech protects everyone, even people I think are small-minded for writing off a whole country. After all, look at how many different points of view there are in America. Surely, not every French person fits the old stereotypes, any more than every American is a fat cowboy. But don’t take my word for it. Make fun of whoever you want.
All I ask is that the haters take a minute to think about their beliefs, and ask themselves why they have them.