Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, January 03, 2005

Blatant Racism From the Right (Again)

posted by Jazz at 1/03/2005 10:37:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I imagine that it will be a long time, unfortunately, before things like this sink very far below the surface. In what turned out to be an alarming blog entry, (more on exactly why it's so alarming below) Betsy Newmark quotes known Francophobe John J. Miller, who is explaining exactly why the United States needs to "punish France." She then goes on to add her own thoughts.

First, a bit of Miller's canned hate speech, just to get the flavor. (Betsy did not provide a link to the source article, and a search of National Review Online, where Miller normally writes, didn't turn this one up, but I found it in the New York Times.)
Condoleezza Rice, now Mr. Bush's nominee for secretary of state, was quoted in 2003 as telling colleagues that the United States should "punish France." This is a tempting tactic, for it holds out the promise of vengeful satisfaction. It was also the motive behind the recent campaigns to boycott French products. Unbeknownst to most of the participants, however, the consumer strategy was tried without much success in the 1960's. In truth, Paris isn't worth a boycott.

Thinking otherwise only buys into the Gaullist claim that France should occupy a place of reverence in the community of nations.
(All emphasis mine.) Then, Ms. Newmark chimes in with the part of this tale that makes me cringe.

I can report at least one level of success - today's teens. When I'm teaching American history and France comes up, whether it's the "Quasi War" of 1798, the Louisiana Purchase, or World War II, the kids start snickering. Do you remember this great SNL skit from 2002 that showed beautiful tourist pictures of France and then had this great narration?
In a spoof of a French tourism commercial that was broadcast on the show in April, a series of iconic images ? the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, a little girl toting a load of baguettes ? flashed by on the screen while a female voice recited the pitch in a dulcet murmur: "The French: cowardly yet opinionated, arrogant yet foul-smelling. Anti-Israel, anti-American and, of course, as always, Jew-hating. With all that's going on in the world, isn't it time we got back to hating the French?"
The kids thought that was the funniest thing that they had seen in a long time. (It used to be online, but I couldn't find it in a quick search - if anyone has the link, please let me know). My point is that we've started on the first step of John J. Miller's recommendation. We're laughing at the French. Ignoring them will come.

You can find plenty of Francophobia on the right these days (see below) and reading it in blogs or the NRO is nothing new. Expecting more from the likes of Miller would be folly, since a few moments searching will show you a string of previous articles like this, which advocate everything just short of dropping nukes on the Eiffel Tower. He is also co-author of a book entitled "Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship With France." (Sorry, but I'm not providing a link to that particular hate festival. You can look it up on Amazon if you are so inclined.) The title itself is an obvious attempt at being witty, playing on a long accepted premise (prior to the ascendancy of the current generation of hawks in Washington) that France has always been our oldest ally, dating back to the revolutionary war.

But keep this in mind... Betsy Newmark is a teacher, albeit in a red state, and this is a discussion and underlying attitude that she is passing on to and encouraging in students from the position of a figure of authority.

As has been discussed here before, the reason for all of this bitterness is hardly a mystery. The right wing is completely enraged about France, along with most of the rest of the UN Security Council (along with, oh... most of the world) being right about the folly of our disastrous invasion of Iraq and the since discredited premise that led to it. (Where are those WMD's again? Maybe you should look under your couch one more time, Mr. Bush. That was really humorous.) The very existence of these countries is a constant reminder of our government's complete breakdown and failure on this boondoggle. As such, they take every opportunity to excoriate France and all of her "co-conspirators" against our Cheerless Leader's "Historic Divine Vision."

No opportunity is missed to try to make them look bad. The UN, like any other large organization, certainly has its share of problems to be addressed. But any time another story comes out about the "oil for food scandal" or any other United Nations failing, the schadenfreude pours down from the right wing like rain over Seattle.

For a bit more balanced look at our relationship with the French, and the effect that the current atmosphere is having, take a peek at the companion piece which the Times ran, by Antoine Audouard, titled "Behind Enemy Lines."
Here in the country of political correctness, where the mainstream press treads on eggshells when talking about race, religion, nation or ethnicity, French-bashing, it would seem, has become politically correct.
Sad but true, Antoine. Welcome to Bush's compassionate America. His entire essay is an eye opener. Give it a look.