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Adieu ... Er, Ciao!

Anti-France hysteria rears its ugly American head again


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LAST SPRING, the anti-France hysteria peaked when folks decided that changing the name of french fries to freedom fries was somehow a protest against that country's anti-Americanism. No one seemed to remember that it was Americans who gave fried potatoes the moniker "French Fries" in the first place. People even went as far as to purchase $1,000 bottles of French wine to pour down the gutter as some sort of "symbolic gesture"--which makes about as much sense as buying George Bush's car and pushing it over a cliff as a protest against Republicans.

As an oppositional/confrontational disorder response to all this, Biter assembled an entourage and attended the opening night's festivities at Santana Row's Left Bank restaurant--an epicurean French brasserie. In order to train the staff and test-drive the operations, propriétaire Ed Levine invited friends and family down to the restaurant for one gluttonous evening of free food for all.

When Biter asked a waiter if he thought the anti-French hysteria would dampen business a bit, he replied, "I don't think so. All our other restaurants are rockin' right now, and I don't see it being any problem at all." ("Rockin'" ... très French.)

That was last spring, and suddenly now the anti-France hysteria is raging even stronger (although the Left Bank is doing quite well, thank you). The New York Times' Thomas Friedman says France is our enemy, and even more websites are advocating boycotts of all things French.

One popular anti-France website even cites the story of an American taking his kid to a hockey tournament in Montreal at the outset of the Iraq war and the violent anti-Americanism he encountered there. Extremists of the most odious sort were apparently torching Old Glory and waving Iraqi flags. The website's response: boycott all Canadian products. Which makes about as much sense as boycotting all dogs after getting bitten by a French poodle.

Biter wonders why no one mentions that in 1775 the American colonists invaded Quebec, a peaceful neighbor. The American army occupied Montreal and tried to get the French-Canadians to join on against the British in the War of Independence. The French-Canadians wanted nothing to do with it, and the Americans eventually retreated after Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery failed to sack Quebec City. This adventure is still talked about in Quebec to this day. Most Americans don't even know about it.

Let us continue. In the Anti-France tirades currently running rampant in America, one will find these types of declarations: We bailed the French out of two World Wars, so they owe us! Thousands of Americans lie buried at Normandy! The French would all be speaking German if it weren't for the United States! While such vapid outbursts of phlegm spittle are entirely understandable, Biter is confused why no one mentions that without France's help, the original 13 colonies would never have won the American Revolution in the first place. Look it up.

If we were to follow the logic of boycotting French products, Biter would be forced to cut its vocabulary in half (which would probably make some people very happy). There are hundreds--perhaps thousands--of words in the English Language that are of French origin. From now on the anti-French must forswear all mention of blondes, brunettes, souvenirs, adieus, volunteers, the avant-garde, any bon voyage, debutantes, the chic, petites, encores, anything risqué, that weird feeling of déjà vu, a tour de force, a la carte, savoir-faire, genres, soirees, ballets, biscuits, bribes, chauffeurs, restaurants, camouflage, dossiers, detours, diplomats, envoys, marinades, the color maroon, picnics, mortgages, mayonnaise, grapes, anything nasal, all regimes, wardrobes, tapestries, torture and tampons.

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From the November 20-26, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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