March 12, 2003

Signs That You Woke up in a...

Signs That You Woke up in an Alternative Universe: When eminently reasonable people consider the benefits of renaming congressional food; and when anyone, let alone someone who is attempting to defend the French, writes a passage like this:

What's being lost in the justified anger at the French is the uncomfortable fact that there is quite a bit to admire about France and its culture. Sorry, but there it is.
I think I'll go outside for a few days.

Posted by at March 12, 2003 12:04 PM
Comments

French bashing used to be kind of funny, but only in the sense that it was poking fun at their idiosyncracies, and not rooted in fundamental bigotry.

It's not funny anymore. It's old and tired, and even worse, a lot of it is racist and unfair.

I've defended Dreher's article to others that were shocked that he had anything nice to say about the French at all. There's some hypocrisy at work when someone insists on using words like "frogs" and "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", but will immediately spin into an ape-loony frenzy if one single French person suggests that the United States is slightly less than perfect.

Posted by: Emily at March 12, 2003 01:08 PM

We are in an alternative universe. It's how I've felt the last two weeks. The way you expressed it struck a vibrant chord in me. I recognized the sign two weeks ago, after the capture of KSM. My "it's OK to torture him self" won the debate with my "torture is never OK self". It is a disturbing internal debate that never happened before 9/11/01. Torture was never OK before then. It wasn't even worthy of discussion.

I worry a lot about the slippery slope, though, so I think I am still a reasonable person. The universe changed, not me.

Thanks for the link to Eugene Volokh's blog. And thanks to Eugene for expressing my thoughts and feelings more clearly than I could.

Posted by: Doug Purdie at March 12, 2003 01:36 PM

The anti-French feeling is mild compared to the stream of abuse coming from France directed at the US. Has Emily not been following the news lately? In my weak moments I feel sorry for the French, for they are losing the borrowed prominence they strutted on the world stage with since rolling over for the Germans. I will never forget the picture of DeGaulle striding down the Champs Elysees in 1945 as though he had won the war. The French will never regain the status they had when they positioned themselves between the US and USSR and pretended to be superior to both. Now they are feeling attacked in their role as leader of the new European superpower, which will never be one, and as a powerbroker at the dying UN. The screams of "Cowboy!" "Moron!" and "Warmonger!" are best classified as "lashing out" and best ignored, but fifty years of unearned patronizing are not soon forgotten.

Posted by: Robert Speirs at March 12, 2003 03:09 PM

Robert -- Where do you stand on the whole "two wrongs don't make a right" issue?

Posted by: Matt Welch at March 12, 2003 03:34 PM

Some people are just scared and angry. The French are a convenient target.

PS. Saw a guy driving down La Brea today in Jeep flying the French flag. One guy honked and gave the peace sign, another guy gave him the finger.

Posted by: Frenchie at March 12, 2003 03:44 PM

Robert,
I've been following the news very closely. My point was pretty much covered by Matt's question.

You can't reasonably say they are bad for screaming "cowboy" while you are shouting "frog".

Posted by: Emily at March 12, 2003 03:46 PM

Are Americans screaming "frog" merely because the French screamed cowboy? No. Americans are screaming frog because there is a popular feeling that the French have put America's national security in jeopardy. You may or may not agree with this sentiment, but it is the reason Americans are angry; not because the French called us names. Their behavior is especially galling to Americans who left loved ones on the beaches of Normandy or spent years of their lives manning military installations in Germany to buffer aginst potential Soviet aggression. To reduce this to a war of namecalling is overly simplistic.

Posted by: Aaron Gigliotti at March 12, 2003 04:34 PM

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-607793,00.html

Articles like the one above, do not help expand the ranks of Francophilia.

Link from Bill Quick.

Posted by: Ray Eckhart at March 12, 2003 05:23 PM

Eh, fuck the French. My grandmother is Norman-French, a strong Kennedy Democrat, and even she can't defend their behavior. The French have had it wrong from Day One (i.e., the French Revolution, which was based on the wrong ideals). The Brits have always had a healthier sense of liberty, democracy, and global responsibility than the French, and we can thank the Brits for passing on those traits to us Americans.

And I swear I'm going to shit a brick if I have to hear one more argument about this being "bigotry". Nobody seriously wants to round up French people or discriminate against them; this is solely based on their moronic government leaders and their screwed up political culture. In fact, I think the best cure to France is to open our borders to them and let them all move here, because Lord knows half of them would come here for the economic opportunities available here that are not available there. I'd even marry a French woman--from my tour of Europe, I've concluded frog ladies are absolutely gorgeous. But hell no would I ever move to France with her.

Posted by: Andrew at March 12, 2003 06:05 PM

The French are a convenient target because in personality and attitude, they're exactly like us. Ever seen two egocentric, charasmatic and driven room-mates try to get along?

Posted by: Paul at March 12, 2003 06:14 PM

I think the term would be "xenophobic" not "racist."

Posted by: HH at March 12, 2003 06:21 PM

One thing that I've always found to be telling about opinions on national culture is this little paradox:

In large parts of Europe, US exchange students are wise to put a maple leaf on their bookbag so as to avoid an excess of harrassment once the accent gives away the North American origin.

In the US, students from countries like France and Germany are typically treated hospitably, even given extra "curiosity" attention, but rarely ever scorned on account of their national identity.

Frankly, I like our approach better, and I hope the latest round of France bashing doesn't cause our cultural perceptions of Europeans to devolve into something like they way chunks of Europe treat Americans.

Posted by: anony-mouse at March 12, 2003 06:33 PM

I like the roommates metaphor--except one roommate is a straight-A student, good in sports, liked by all the girls, has good hygiene, is Student Senate president, and pays for 90% of the room expenses and rent; while the other student slacks in academics and sports, thinks he's the pimp but can't get any action, tells the Student Senate what to do but nobody pays attention cuz he's not important, and acts as if he has equal ownership of the room even though the other guy pays for everything. I won't even go there about the hygeine.

Posted by: Andrew at March 12, 2003 06:33 PM

Well, I was going to go with the Odd Couple metaphor, but both roommates would claim the other was Oscar Madison.

Posted by: Paul at March 12, 2003 06:44 PM

All Americans are "Big Mac eating Imperialists"

I rest my case.

Posted by: Emily at March 12, 2003 06:58 PM

Nope.. not so. I have not been in a McD, Whoppetron, Jack Box or other in well over five years. And I have worked off the excess layers of self indulgence.

But I will traher term--minus the fundamental. And you can diss my USCGOP friends all you want (I've long since graduated and refuse to use my gov't-based email address on the web), but they were about the only sane people arguing against the Student Senate there adopting an anti-war resolution. So maybe you should pull your head out of your ass and remember we're on the same side here. Nobody is attacking your lovely wife, so don't be such a reactionary jerk about this silly "freedom fries" business.

Posted by: Andrew at March 13, 2003 09:54 AM

So maybe you should pull your head out of your ass and remember we're on the same side here

yeah. sure sounds like it. really andrew, i just don't see how you have fine writers like Welch, Layne, Tony Pierce and Dave Barry in the same list as Newt Gingrich [!] on your website. Maybe the side you think you are on isn't exactly the side everyone else thinks they are on, eh?

the enemy of your enemy is Not your friend--
not on the same side as you, not by a fucking longshot,

phil

ps.
i think by mentioning that you aren't attacking his wife, you imply that you could have, but didn't since you are such a nice fellow. That is so lame.

Posted by: th3ph17 at March 13, 2003 10:56 AM

Andrew -- Thanks for the advice. Now for some from me to you: Be careful divining the motivations of people you don't know. This is not about me taking "offense" because of my fortunes of marriage. This is me noticing the same thing I experienced in eight years of living in Europe -- people embarrassing themselves with simplistic anti-Americanism -- now cropping up in reverse. When people would say things to me like "Eh, fuck the Americans," and then take crude guesses as to the motivations of my debating positions, it was a surefire source of unintentional comedy, and a signal to discount whatever arguments came next. I didn't take offense then, and I sure don't now. Rather, I'd prefer to talk people I respect out of traveling down the path of foolishness.

As for "fundamental bigotry," maybe I was thrown off by that word "not" immediately preceding.

Posted by: Matt Welch at March 13, 2003 11:06 AM

Like I said, I wasn't putting words into Emily's mouth, just using her language.

The difference between the anti-Americanism you and I have experienced in Europe and the anti-French sentiment you're seeing is that the anti-French sentiment is based on real, bonehead moves and acts made by the French, whereas the anti-Americanism is a result of misguided perceptions based on a widespread false reality. Remember, these smart Euro-weenies were the same people who stuck their head in the ground during the Cold War, advocating unilateral disarmament and asking the Americans to get out of Europe, tactical nukes and all. In the '90s they were forced to resort to complaining about "American imperialism" because their kids prefer American movies and McDonald's to their own movies and food. Now, in a post-9/11 world, they still don't get it. And this time, since we are on the frontlines and not them, we're justifiably pissed at their efforts to thwart the measures we're taking to protect ourselves against terrorists and rogue states with WMD.

Notice how they are kin to the moronic people in our schools and universities advocating similar left-wing lunacy and marching against the war with anti-Semites--they are young, brainwashed tree-hugger wannabe anarchists et al, and they think they know it all and get enraged when we point out the fact that they are but a small minority. Unfortunately there really are more of them in Europe, but that doesn't make them any less stupid and worthy of our condescension.

Posted by: Andrew at March 13, 2003 11:41 AM

Phil, you're an idiot. I know you're exceedingly proud of your googling capabilities, but perhaps you noticed I had a wide range of people there--including Sullivan, Instapundit, and Dan Savage. Do you think I am stupid enough to believe we're all politically the same? Hell no. What I mean is, post-9/11, we all recognize the reality we have found ourselves in, and we understand the necessity to go after terrorists and guys like Saddam. That puts us on the same team. The pre-9/11 world was very different, and the battles and arguments were about other, less important things. So yeah, I'm sure the battle formations were different. But not now. So Phil, put your head back in the sand and shut up.

As far as referencing his wife, I was probably wrong to assume that that was why Matt was chafing under the anti-French stuff. It made sense to me, and given how that sort of stuff affects our judgment, I meant no disrespect. But anyhow it wasn't central to my case, and I addressed where Matt was coming from above.

Posted by: Andrew at March 13, 2003 11:52 AM

hey man, just because i took a bit of a shrill, cheapshot at your links doesn't make me an idiot. It was purely intentional. How about a jerk instead?

a well reasoned post from me would have pointed out that objective views, centrist, non-dogmatic, etc...are as dangerous to the Right as the are to the Left. Only now, post-9/11, the right is more inclined to lump it into their own agenda, (unless it applies objective thinking to theology). I just wasn't really in the mood to be polite.

anyways shrill ill-thought posts are nothing new from me, sad as that is. I am glad you meant no disrepect to his wife.

Posted by: th3ph17 at March 13, 2003 12:21 PM

I feel the need to point out French Week over at Idle Words:

http://www.idlewords.com

Great stuff.

Posted by: shannon at March 17, 2003 05:25 PM
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fact that they are but a small minority. Unfortunately there really are more of them in Europe, but that doesn't make them any less stupid and worthy of our condescension.

Posted by: Andrew at March 13, 2003 11:41 AM

Phil, you're an idiot. I know you're exceedingly proud of your googling capabilities, but perhaps you noticed I had a wide range of people there--including Sullivan, Instapundit, and Dan Savage. Do you think I am stupid enough to believe we're all politically the same? Hell no. What I mean is, post-9/11, we all recognize the reality we have found ourselves in, and we understand the necessity to go after terrorists and guys like Saddam. That puts us on the same team. The pre-9/11 world was very different, and the battles and arguments were about other, less important things. So yeah, I'm sure the battle formations were different. But not now. So Phil, put your head back in the sand and shut up.

As far as referencing his wife, I was probably wrong to assume that that was why Matt was chafing under the anti-French stuff. It made sense to me, and given how that sort of stuff affects our judgment, I meant no disrespect. But t">Posted by: Andrew at March 13, 2003 11:52 AM

hey man, just because i took a bit of a shrill, cheapshot at your links doesn't make me an idiot. It was purely intentional. How about a jerk instead?

a well reasoned post from me would have pointed out that objective views, centrist, non-dogmatic, etc...are as dangerous to the Right as the are to the Left. Only now, post-9/11, the right is more inclined to lump it into their own agenda, (unless it applies objective thinking to theology). I just wasn't really in the mood to be polite.

anyways shrill ill-thought posts are nothing new from me, sad as that is. I am glad you meant no disrepect to his wife.

Posted by: th3ph17 at March 13, 2003 12:21 PM

I feel the need to point out French Week over at Idle Words:

http://www.idlewords.com

Great stuff.

Posted by: shannon at March 17, 2003 05:25 PM
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