Patriotism gone to far?
February 19, 2003 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Freedom Fries? Patriotism gone to far? I can understand some people's disappointment that the french don't support the war in Iraq. But boycotting french wine, and other french imports? Maybe? But to start renaming things because they have the word french in them? That's what one restaurant owner is doing in North Carolina!
posted by tljenson (82 comments total)

 
Why not just call them chips? (heh,heh)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:46 PM on February 19, 2003


Amusingly, french fries aren't French at all.
posted by arielmeadow at 2:49 PM on February 19, 2003


What about toast and dressing??

Freedom dressing. ~snicker~
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:50 PM on February 19, 2003


..the switch from french fries to freedom fries came to mind after a conversation about World War I when anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods like sauerkraut and hamburger to liberty cabbage and liberty steak

That went over well.
posted by stbalbach at 2:50 PM on February 19, 2003


So find your favorite God-fearing sex buddy, give 'em a deep Freedom kiss, and whip out the ol' Freedom tickler!
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 2:53 PM on February 19, 2003


I wonder if you can taste the patriotism?
posted by SweetJesus at 2:56 PM on February 19, 2003


south of the mason dixon, anything goes.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:56 PM on February 19, 2003


Weird. I learned in high school French that the French actually associated pommes frites with the Belgians. Of course, the French are always dumping on Belgium.

stbalbach: It worked pretty well for hot dogs, though, didn't it?
posted by Gilbert at 2:57 PM on February 19, 2003


no more silk? no more cuffs? no more toast? no more roast? no more kisses?

the french are annoying, but that's just because they're so f*cking french. no need to boycott.
posted by grabbingsand at 3:00 PM on February 19, 2003


I propose that we refer to "pommes frites" as "French fries", and "sauerkraut" as "Freedom Toast".
posted by eddydamascene at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2003


Indeed. Freedom fries go great with Liberty Cabbage.
posted by sixfoot6 at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2003


I propose we send former American Gladiators TURBO and ZAP to France on a special mission armed with tennis ball cannons and those stick baton things to KICK SOME FRENCH ASS.

I would pay to see this.
posted by Stan Chin at 3:19 PM on February 19, 2003


This doesn't bode well for this guy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2003


Hype, nothing but hype, and tlj, you fell for it.
posted by mischief at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2003


"Liberty steak"? If hamburger is "liberty steak," give me "steak in chains"!
posted by Raya at 3:23 PM on February 19, 2003


11-year olds, Raleigh, North Carolina, April 2025:

"Have you ever Freedom-Kissed a boy?"

"Ewwww!"
posted by mathis23 at 3:28 PM on February 19, 2003


Don't forget all the other french things you have to boycott then...

French Kissing
Crosanwiches (It's a Croissant)
Dijon mustard
Most wine from Europe (It's all made in French Oak, the good ones anyway)

Of course other than the sandiwiches, most of this is never seen in NC.
posted by CrazyJub at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2003


I was unaware that supporting legislation that limits freedoms, and supporting a war in which the U.S. is the aggressor is what patriotism has come to mean. Where is the America of Jefferson and Franklin? That is the America that I pledge my allegiance to. What happened to "Give me liberty or give me death?" is it now "Give me oil or or you get death?"
posted by banished at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2003


I take that back....

"Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve french fries. We now serve freedom fries," says a sign in the restaurant's window.

Let me get this, this guy is pissed that the French don't want a war, which would put these very soldiers in harms way? Am i wrong?
posted by CrazyJub at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2003


At the risk of exposing myself as an unbelieveable jackass, why do people persist in using the word patriotism when what they really mean is nationalism?

I know that puts too fine a point on it for a lot of people, but I think the connotations, not to mention proper word usage, are important.

Patriotism is sacrifice driven out of love/devotion for one's country, Nationalism drives the kind of nasty stuff we're talking about.
posted by psmealey at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2003


I for one intend to enjoy a hearty glass of Victory Gin.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:39 PM on February 19, 2003


nice one pseud
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2003


this is so fucking stupid it's an insult to fucking stupid.
posted by condour75 at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2003


Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible trap
Way down yonder in Iraq
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
No one wants to go back,
Next stop is Iraq;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those folks —
The only good terrorist is the one who's toast
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
No one wants to go back,
Next stop is Iraq;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Huh!
Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on Kim Jong.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
No one wants to go back,
Next stop is Iraq;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on mothers throughout the streets,
Pack your boys off to the Middle East.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
North Korea's on another shore,
Next stop is Iraq;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Thanks to Country Joe McDonald, from whom this song is almost completly borrowed. Kind of suitable for today.
posted by CrazyJub at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2003


This guy is laughing all the way to the bank with the free advertising he is getting...
posted by Plunge at 3:48 PM on February 19, 2003


For more Country Joe remakes, try this page.
posted by CrazyJub at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2003


I'm sure the relatives of French war dead from the last century appreciate the sentiments expressed in the linked article, as well as how Americans quip "France surrenders" or some such thoughtless swill, ad nauseum.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:51 PM on February 19, 2003


This is from a popular children's song ...
"If you're happy and you know it clap your hands"

If you're happy and you know it, bomb Iraq (clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it, bomb Iraq (clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it,
And you really want to show it
If you're happy and you know it, bomb Iraq

If your equities are falling, bomb Iraq
If your equities are falling, bomb Iraq
If your equities are falling,
and your losses are appalling
If your equities are falling, bomb Iraq.

If the euro keeps on climbing, bomb Iraq
If the euro keeps on climbing, bomb Iraq
If the euro keeps on climbing,
put your trust in W's timing,
If the euro keeps on climbing, bomb Iraq

If the GDP is shrinking, bomb Iraq,
If the GDP is shrinking, bomb Iraq,
If the GDP is shrinking,
And W's back to drinking,
If the GDP is shrinking, bomb Iraq,

If my polls are falling, bomb Iraq,
If my polls are falling, bomb Iraq,
If my polls are falling,
and Congress is stalling
If my polls are falling, bomb Iraq.

If the GOP is hurtin' , bomb Iraq
If the GOP is hurtin' , bomb Iraq
If the GOP is hurtin'
And November looks uncertain
If the GOP is hurtin' , bomb Iraq

If the talk has turned to Harken, bomb Iraq,
If the talk has turned to Harken, bomb Iraq,
If the talk has turned to Harken,
and that Krugman-dawg is barkin',
If the talk has turned to Harken, bomb Iraq!

If your brother is a turkey, bomb Iraq
If your brother is a turkey, bomb Iraq
If your brother is a turkey
And Florida's goin' bazerk-y
If your brother is a turkey, bomb Iraq

If the pundits call you "moron," bomb Iraq
If the pundits call you "moron," bomb Iraq
If the pundits call you moron
Then it's time to get your war on
If the pundits call you "moron," bomb Iraq

To divert public attention bomb Iraq
To divert public attention bomb Iraq
To divert public attention
>From the doings of your henchmen
To divert public attention bomb Iraq

To get drilling in the Artic, bomb Iraq,
To get drilling in the Artic, bomb Iraq,
You can run us out of oil,
With the Middle East aboil,
To get drilling in the Artic, bomb Iraq
posted by banished at 3:54 PM on February 19, 2003


Cheese eatin' surrender monkeys.

the above comment was sarcastic. i love the french. i go to school in SC, and am sick of fools like this giving the south a bad name. i mean.....i guess it is the south and all.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:56 PM on February 19, 2003


why doesn't someone come out with 'bite me bush' bagels?
posted by poopy at 3:57 PM on February 19, 2003


Ah just love mah new Chevy and mah dog and mah Freedom Fries gawddamn this country ah just love it, my tears they are ah flowin', amen.
posted by xmutex at 4:00 PM on February 19, 2003


banished I call your Jefferson's freedom, and raise you one Jefferson act restricting Americans that ultimately lead to war. It was called the Embargo Act and you can read about it here.
posted by haqspan at 4:01 PM on February 19, 2003


I recently cooked dinner for my wife's aunts who were in town. One of them asked me if it didn't bother me to be making French food (beef Bourgignon) when the French aren't exactly our friends these days. Of course, she won the Miss Republican of California pageant in the early '60s, so I wasn't shocked about her specifically -- just about these times.

Every morning I wake up in utter disbelief at these days we live in. Disbelief and sorrow.
posted by argybarg at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2003


Miss Republican of California? In the 60's? That's like winning Miss Baptist of Israel during the 6 days war.
posted by gsteff at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2003


You'd think all you americans would be a little more appreciative of the french, what with the little matter of the war of independance.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:18 PM on February 19, 2003


I don't see many people drawing a distinction between the symbolic, arguably silly practice of shuffling words around merely renaming things, vs. the boycotting of goods that actually provide income to the boycottee. The French, and I, could care less what we call our deep-fried, potato-based salt and ketchup delivery systems. However, people turning from French wine and cheese to other sources has already had a measurable effect on their business.
posted by Tubes at 4:23 PM on February 19, 2003


I just finished burning all of my original Godard reel-to-reels. I'll show those haughty bastards.
posted by xmutex at 4:26 PM on February 19, 2003


Psst. Beaufort, North Carolina was first settled by French Huguenots.
posted by mediareport at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2003


the statue of liberty was a gift from france.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2003


Besides, as BelgianFries.com reminds us, freedom fries were not invented in France or by the French.
posted by sixfoot6 at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2003


psmealey, Gold star for you.

and am sick of fools like this giving the south a bad name. i mean.....i guess it is the south and all.

Don't be sick, what country occupied the south first? The French.

This colony was later moved (1710) to the present site of Mobile (Alabama), and Mobile became the capital of Louisiana
posted by thomcatspike at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2003


I'll be damned if I'm going to eat that crappy Canadian brie.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:40 PM on February 19, 2003


show your support for France. Buy wine and brie. Best... civil disobedience... ever
posted by condour75 at 4:43 PM on February 19, 2003


That'll show them frogs.
posted by drstrangelove at 4:49 PM on February 19, 2003


nothing says freedom and liberty quite like deep-fried potatoes.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR BOYS OVER THERE!! SUPERSIZE THEM FRIES!!
posted by frisky biscuits at 5:01 PM on February 19, 2003


I can't help wondering what effect a boycott on French foods might have on Mrs. Myers' culinary... adventures.

Should her family be relieved? Or terrified?
posted by John Smallberries at 5:09 PM on February 19, 2003


the statue of liberty was a gift from france.

Enlightment is a gift from France, too


also, how funny that the very word "yankee" is a derogatory term involving cheese. Damn cheese yankees!
posted by matteo at 5:11 PM on February 19, 2003


It's interesting actually, because this Cubbie's seems to depend quite heavily on its military customers. Surely if they are all deployed in the Gulf, Cubbie's will sell comsiderably fewer Freedom Fries than currently.....
posted by Raya at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2003


gsteff: Not really. Not at all. Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966. The state's politics as a whole have only turned more to the left in recent times. Despite the influence and support of the South after the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, California and the Southwest in general played a large role in the creation of modern conservatism.

In other news, New Orleans homeland security officials suggest that coming out for Mardi Gras is every local resident's patriotic duty, despite the event's French name.
posted by raysmj at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2003


playing stupid, nationalistic games with language like this is so, well, so french.
posted by probablysteve at 5:32 PM on February 19, 2003


obligatory simpsons quote:

The Investorettes visit the Fleet-A-Pita franchise.

Helen: Hmm, Pita. Well, I don't know about food from the Middle East.
Isn't that whole area a little iffy?
Hostess: [laughs] Hey, I'm no geographer. You and I -- why don't we
call it pocket bread, huh?
Maude: [reading the ingredients list] Umm, what's tahini?
Hostess: Flavor sauce.
Edna: And falafel?
Hostess: Crunch patties.
Helen: So, we'd be selling foreign...
Hostess: Specialty foods. Here, try a Ben Franklin.
Helen: [takes a bite] Mmm, that is good. What's in it?
Chef: [poking his head out of a window, looking of Indian origin]
Tabbouleh and rezmi-kabob.
Hostess: [trying to cover-up] Uh, th-that's our chef... Christopher.
Chef: [mutters, and closes the window, cursing in Hindi]
posted by condour75 at 5:35 PM on February 19, 2003


"the statue of liberty was a gift from france."

So was Gerard Depardieu, so I guess we're even now.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:53 PM on February 19, 2003


Another tiny, tiny step towards the Great Euro-American war.
Keep it up.
posted by spazzm at 5:53 PM on February 19, 2003


Personally, I do not drink wine, but my wife has found some Merlots that she likes and are not French. I prefer Italian food to French, have but one major quarrel with the French: the first car I owned was a bomb called the Renault Dauphine. It came equipped with a crank at a time when no one used cranks, and that should have warned me.

In general I don't believe in boycotts; it furthers the widening gap between nations that at one time might have been friendly towards each other.
If the French do not support us, should I rid myself of Americans I know who do not agree with my position?
posted by Postroad at 6:01 PM on February 19, 2003


I think there is a nice round figure of some 100,000 of these "surrender monkeys" slaughtered during 1940 trying to defend their country.
I think the figure is something like a million and a half lost during WWI.
I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm in no position to be pissing on the memories of over a million dead soldiers of any nationality while I sit here and sip tea in my comfortable home.
posted by 2sheets at 6:04 PM on February 19, 2003


Somehow I doubt the French will lose a lot of sleep over no longer being erroneously associated with fast-food potatoes.
posted by TedW at 6:31 PM on February 19, 2003


the statue of liberty was a gift from france.

Why haven't they renamed that damn thing yet? Having a giant statue representing liberalism is like having naked statues in government buildings or antiwar paintings at the U.N.
posted by srboisvert at 6:35 PM on February 19, 2003


Weird -- I never heard "liberty steak" before, I always heard that's when people started using the term "salisbury steak," Salisbury being British and all.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2003


Following on from what mediareport said, it's obviously only a matter of time before the said eatery's home town is renamed 'Prettystrong'. (They probably pronounce it 'Byoo-forrt' now anyway.) And I'm sure the residents of Red Stick, Louisiana will follow suit. Fuck knows what they'll do in Paris, Texas, though.
posted by riviera at 7:48 PM on February 19, 2003


idiots.
posted by mary8nne at 8:07 PM on February 19, 2003


"I'd like an side order of Fascist Fries, please."
posted by Dirjy at 8:36 PM on February 19, 2003


You'd think all you americans would be a little more appreciative of the french, what with the little matter of the war of independance. posted by inpHilltr8r

I keep pointing that out to people. They ignore me. Also, the Louisiana Purchase. That was pretty important. Cajuns. There's all kinds of French goodness in this country, which seems to have been forgotten in this nationalistic "support the Bushes or leave the country you must not love!" nonsense.
posted by dejah420 at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2003


The Case For Northern Secession

It was linked to long ago, but its worth another look for the "Now More Than Ever" factor.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:11 PM on February 19, 2003


What's in those fries?
posted by jessicool at 9:27 PM on February 19, 2003


They should at least be red, white, and blue. And Crispy.
posted by jessicool at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2003


Only in America can you can you exploit hate for another country and it to get free publicity for your restaurant. God you just gotta love this country! :)
posted by whirlwind29 at 9:53 PM on February 19, 2003


the statue of liberty was a gift from france.

Why haven't they renamed that damn thing yet? Having a giant statue representing liberalism is like having naked statues in government buildings or antiwar paintings at the U.N.
posted by srboisvert at 11:35 PM on February 19


Liberty is a liberal concept? Just how is the Statue of Liberty a monument to liberalism?
posted by whirlwind29 at 9:56 PM on February 19, 2003


oops worry about that, the previous line was supposed to be

Only in America can you can you exploit hate for another country by using it to get free publicity for your restaurant.
posted by whirlwind29 at 9:59 PM on February 19, 2003


whirlwind: Here's a starter kit.
posted by raysmj at 10:05 PM on February 19, 2003


Hmm that's a start but maybe you should start here

Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control.
A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference: the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.


Seems to me that's more of a conservative concept isn't it? Less government control of our lives? Isn't that what they are always trying to say they are for? Less bureaucracy, less government, less restriction?
posted by whirlwind29 at 10:32 PM on February 19, 2003


Good lord, whirlwind. Good lord. "Conservatism" is a name given in America to a more traditional form of liberalism, except for that Burkean stuff that some people throw in. Good lord. Bye.
posted by raysmj at 10:39 PM on February 19, 2003


Well, this argument appears to be developing into a battle of equivocation. "Liberalism" now does not refer to the same body of doctrine which it did say, seventy years ago.

I've argued recently in an essay that modern liberalism doesn't value liberty or equality per se. Rather, these are seen as means to ends. Instead, the fundamental value of modern liberalism is the dignity of the individual human. Admittedly there's much debate over what how we should dignify one another, but it all comes down to that. Policies are evaluated and argued for based on the dignity they promise to provide to the recipients. Liberty is good insofar as it gives the maximum amount of dignity possible to the individual, and equality the same. If "liberty" is your fundamental concern, you're probably some variety of libertarian.

And Burke was a liberal by historical standards. He was, after all, a Whig and not a Tory. He lacks the modern liberal's faith in rationally designing society, though.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:49 PM on February 19, 2003


Pseudoephedrine: But I think the implication of "liberalism" meant earlier was pretty clear, especially given that the statue was a gift from (censored) 19th Century France, already. Anyway, "modern" liberalism in the United States isn't the same thing as in most parts of Europe. But "liberalism," at least in American political theory, is still referred to in a more all-encompassing way, with "modern" and "classic" branches, etc.

Oh, and Burke was for moral elevation of the citizenry by government. He was more half-liberal, or for tempering the effects of liberalism. It wasn't just rationally designing society that bothered him, but the stress on individual rights at the expense of the teaching of morality, etc. He was reacting to what he thought was liberalism's excesses. (Yes, Mill comes along later, but Burke was still for more meddling in people's lives, or having government point them in a certain direction, than Locke or Adam Smith suggested.)
posted by raysmj at 11:12 PM on February 19, 2003


In a democratic world, is it so wrong for a country to disagree with another? You don't impose sanctions on democratic states if their senators try and block the president! I find this whole "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists\Iraq" arguement incredibly undemocratic. (Mind the French are as bad threatening the candidate countries for the EU that if they support the war they will have trouble joining)

Grow up!
posted by brettski at 1:27 AM on February 20, 2003


Right after 9-11, I wondered if Middle Eastern foods would be renamed, like German food was renamed in WWI

Falafel = Liberty Fritters
Kebobs = Swords of Freedom
Tabouli = Amber Wave Salad
Jordan Almonds= Michael Jordan Almonds
posted by bendybendy at 4:15 AM on February 20, 2003


In related news, Jacques Chirac demands Frenchie be allowed to compete for the American Idol prize, and that Simon Cowell be replaced with a French figure skating judge.
posted by BubbaDude at 4:29 AM on February 20, 2003


They should at least be red, white, and blue. And Crispy.

Are we talking fries or the French flag, starched.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:24 AM on February 20, 2003


Nice to see morons in my home state joining in:

MichiganFrench

There was the United Parcel Service worker who entered the French Trade Commission office in Troy and announced, "I was watching the Fox News Channel last night and, from now on, I don't like France."

"He was not smiling," recalled the office's handsome and thin French intern, Benoit Chapas, 20.

Or the woman who overheard the French accent of Elisabeth Wolpert, a Henry Ford Community College teacher, and muttered, "Oh, you Germans."

posted by NorthernLite at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2003


Mm, a fresh batch of America balls!

When I read this, I though of "French leave" (to leave a party without saying goodbye). This is called English leave in French. Aren't there a lot of examples of pejoratives that are labelled "French."
posted by rschram at 9:11 AM on February 20, 2003


Aren't there a lot of examples of pejoratives that are labelled "French."

French purse.

Or am I the only one who remembers that?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2003


Cubbie's seems to depend quite heavily on its military customers. Surely if they are all deployed in the Gulf, Cubbie's will sell considerably fewer Freedom Fries than currently.....

Imagine all the families that will be eating their after the funerals. "I'm so upset that Jimmy was shot like a dog in the desert. I just can't stop eating. Pass the freedom fries!"

Not to mention all the new soldiers that will come to eat there when the draft is reinstated.

Tongue-in-cheek, because I actually believe this war will only result in the deaths of a million brown people, but it is remotely possible that a larger conflict could develop and possibly a few tens of thousands of good hard-working white people will die. Even if North Carolina does lose a few thousand young men, though, I still don't think this bastard will get it.

Old catchphrase: Wag the dog. I'm waiting for an old recording of a song about the French is discovered, and everyone starts playing it all the time.
posted by son_of_minya at 4:03 PM on February 20, 2003


Sorry for the long post, but got an email that I couldn't locate on the web, and is somewhat relevant to this thread.


good article by by joe conason.  you always hear "if
it weren't for us the french would be speaking
german." but if it weren't for the french we'd all be
drinking tea in the afternoon. and have bad teeth.
*******************

Not quite one year ago, I spent a pleasant evening at
the Pierre Hotel tasting the world’s best bottles of
champagne.  The occasion was a ceremony and dinner
sponsored by the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, an
organization of growers, vintners and others involved
in the production and distribution of that great
beverage. For the first time in its history, the
society held its annual induction rites in a foreign
city. Before they started pouring the vintage bubbly,
these chevaliers of Champagne explained why they had
decided on this unusual change of venue.

They had traveled to New York to express their
solidarity with the United States in the aftermath of
Sept. 11. It was a small but affecting gesture by a
group of French citizens to their American friends, at
some considerable expense, which had nothing to do
with commercial motives. (They’ve never had any
trouble marketing their product in New York City.) The
memory of that event is particularly vivid now, as our
pundits and politicians resume the ritual flogging
that recurs whenever France expresses disagreement
with U.S. foreign policy. This time, however, the
recriminations are uglier and the stakes are much
higher than usual. The worldwide goodwill that accrued
to the United States—with all that means for the very
real war against Islamist terror—is being squandered
in an orgy of tabloid bullying and sophomoric
xenophobia.

A Pennsylvania legislator says he will introduce a
resolution ordering the state’s Liquor Control Board
to prohibit stores from carrying and selling alcohol
imported from France. A Congressman from New Jersey
proposes a resolution discouraging American corporate
and government officials from attending the Paris Air
Show. Led by those brilliant internationalists, Tom
DeLay and Dennis Hastert, the House Republicans are
mulling restrictions on French wine and sparkling
water.

The current chorus of ranting ranges from childish
crap about "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" in the
pages of The National Review to the usually
level-headed Thomas Friedman’s musings in the New York
Times Op-Ed page that France should be thrown off the
U.N. Security Council and replaced by India—a nation
he praises as "so much more serious than France these
days." The Indian government is serious indeed, as Mr.
Friedman would know if he’d read the stunning
investigation of its sponsorship of Hindu extremism
and terror that recently appeared in his paper’s
Sunday Magazine.

The French are derided as cowards by people like Roy
Blunt, a Missouri Republican who somehow escaped the
Vietnam draft. The French are accused of coveting
Iraqi oil contracts, as if our insatiable need for
petroleum had never influenced American policy in the
Middle East. The French are accused of ingratitude,
although most Americans remain ignorant of the
critical role they played in our own revolution. In my
hometown, there was an elementary school named for the
Count de Rochambeau, yet nobody bothered to teach the
children there about his gallant service to George
Washington.

The alliance between our two countries was vexed even
back then. When mighty France insisted that the
fledgling United States tailor its foreign policy to
French desires, we almost went to war. Now the power
relationship is reversed, and our government demands
that Paris endorse war against Iraq because Washington
says so—no qualms or questions allowed. The abuse
heaped upon the French suggests weakness rather than
strength. Not military weakness, but the feebleness of
an argument won by invective and threat. Last
weekend’s marches demonstrated that the Quai d’Orsay
is hardly alone in doubting that war is the only or
the best solution to the problem of disarming Saddam
Hussein. By backing France and Germany into a corner
with jibes about "the old Europe," the Bush
administration has not only jeopardized any chance of
cooperation on Iraq, but also endangered the future of
the Atlantic alliance. That is a reckless mistake
,with consequences that defy prediction. Why should
the ruin of NATO and possibly the United Nations be
the price of allied dissent?
With considerable justification, the advocates of
force believe that after a dozen years of
irresolution, Saddam Hussein must be disarmed now.
They note correctly that Saddam has only agreed to
inspections under military pressure. The voices of
caution in Paris and elsewhere mostly agree, but they
see no immediate justification for a war likely to
kill thousands of innocent people and provoke deeper
hatred of the West in the Muslim world.

Whatever insults are hurled at France, its views are
shared by most Europeans, including the people of
Britain, as well as by the majority of nations on the
Security Council, not to mention many American
military leaders and quite a few ordinary Americans.
Vilifying the French doesn’t invalidate that
position—and throwing nasty tantrums only reduces
American prestige, in an era when we need allies as
much as they need us.

posted by psmealey at 7:10 AM on February 21, 2003


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