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American Francophobia

For the past sixty years, France has been a mainstay of American xenophobia. Since World War II, their citizens have been the butt of foreigner jokes for three generations of Americans. It all boils down to a deep-seated suspicion that, for whatever reason, the crepe-eaters just plain never fought hard enough against the Germans.

America stereotypes the people of France as rude, effete bastards having an undeserved air of self-importance and a culture based primarily around their cuisine. They are generally dismissed as pretentious egomaniacs, with a propensity toward an undeserved ethnocentrism.

These prejudices against the French are so engrained in American culture that isolated instances go unchallenged by typical citizens. In fact, they're barely even noticed at all -- fading into the background. Since they were young, Americans have become desensitized to anti-French portrayals in the media and overall culture.

So, naturally, when France began making noises that they would veto a United Nations resolution authorizing America to stomp Saddam flat, the response back in the US of A was fairly predictable.

French wine flowed in the streets, the various gutter bordeaux and beaujolais, never mind that the French still received payment for such spilt protest. And Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly called for a consumer boycott of French goods.

Florida Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite sponsored House Resolution 1265: the American Hero's Repatriation Act of 2003. "France has consistently turned its back on the United States... They forget, if it weren't for America, they would be speaking German today."

To provide, upon the request of a qualifying person, for the removal of the remains of any United States servicemember or other person interred in an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery located in France or Belgium and for the transportation of such remains to a location in the United States for reinterment.

The French love Jerry Lewis as much as the Germans love David Hasselhoff.

Timeline

Patrick Henry declares: "Thomas Jefferson came home from France so Frenchified, that he abjured his native victuals."
1898 Mark Twain writes in his notebook: "France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes."
13 Mar 1979 Happy Days episode "The Duel": The Fonz duels a pretentious French fencing champion named Jacques Du Bois. Victorious, Fonzie compels the Frenchman to say "Uncle Sam" before he is allowed to yield.
14 Apr 1986 France and Spain refuse to grant use of their airspace to 24 American F-111 bombers on their way from England to bomb Libya. This forces the planes to fly over the Atlantic around both countries, incurring additional flight hours and mid-air refuelings.
1989 "The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know." P.J O'Rourke
1991 Roseanne episode 325 "The Pied Piper of Lanford": Watching the end of Casablanca on television, Roseanne opines: "Yeah, right. Like anybody cares about France."
19 May 1994 Simpsons episode 1F20 "Secrets of a Successful Marriage": Desperate for reconciliation, Homer pleads to his wife: "Marge, look at me: we've been separated for a day, and I'm as dirty as a Frenchman."
Feb 1995 France publicly accuses five Americans of conducting state-sponsored industrial espionage for the CIA. Included is the former CIA station chief in Paris, his deputy, two U.S. diplomats, and a female agent.
30 Apr 1995 Simpsons episode 2F32 "'Round Springfield": Acting as a substitute French teacher, Groundskeeper Willie tells his pupils: "Bonjour-r-r, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"
3 Nov 1996 The Simpsons episode 3F23 "You Only Move Twice": Supervillain Hank Scorpio asks: "Homer, what's your least favorite country: Italy or France?" When Homer says France, Hank replies: "Nobody ever says Italy."
2 Sep 1997 On his radio show, Howard Stern declares: "I've been picking on the French people for 15 years. I don't like French people. I felt that during World War II, France betrayed us. I believe that what they did was the most cowardly act. That when the Nazis marched into France, the French bent over... When I was over in France recently, Americans are looked at as dirt, as filth. We are the people that liberated them during WWII. They would be Nazis, they would be under the Nazi regime right now. They should only be kissing our asses, singing our praises."
26 Oct 1997 Simpsons episode 5F02 "Treehouse of Horror VIII": In a send-up of The Omega Man, Mayor Quimby refuses to apologize over a French slur involving frog legs, so the French government nukes Springfield using a neutron bomb.
5 Apr 1998 Simpsons episode 5F14 "The Trouble With Trillions": Feeling slighted when a $1 trillion delivery from the United States never arrives in Paris, a Charles de Gaulle lookalike offers his suggestion to exact revenge: "I say we just act snooty to Americans forever!"
24 Oct 1999 Simpsons episode AABF21 "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?": After a French pastry chef brusquely shoos Ned Flanders away from a tempting éclair, Ned responds: "A rude Frenchman? Well, I never!"
18 Sep 2001 At the White House, visiting French President Jacques Chirac declares: "I've come here to tell you of the emotion -- the emotion of France, the French people, an emotion which has no precedent in history before this tragedy, which does not have a parallel. Indeed, it is a tragic event, something which is beyond crime; there are no words to qualify it. I want to tell President Bush, who is my friend, that we stand in total solidarity -- we bring you the total solidarity of France and the French people. It is solidarity of the heart. I also wanted to say that we are completely determined to fight by your side this new type of evil, of absolute evil, which is terrorism. And I also wanted to say that France is prepared and available to discuss all means to fight and eradicate this evil."
19 Sep 2001 Flying over Ground Zero in a helicopter with mayor Rudy Giuliani, French President Jacques Chirac becomes the first foreign leader to inspect the 9-11 aftermath firsthand. Later, he tells firefighters at the site: "I want to say bravo, thank you. You did that for the New Yorkers but also for all the free world, for the dignity of all mankind and we know that and we are beside you."
20 May 2002 "First, they [the French] think I'm an intellectual because of my glasses. Second, they think I'm an artist because my films lose money. Neither one is true." Woody Allen, San Francisco Chronicle.
30 Jan 2003 On Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Jed Babbin declares: "Frankly, going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion -- you just leave a lot of useless, noisy baggage behind."
13 Feb 2003 Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, writes: "It would be one thing if the French said they planned to sit out the war with Iraq. But it's quite another when the French actively try to undermine President Bush and prevent regime change in Iraq, as they're doing now. After all we've done for the French -- saving their butts in World Wars I and II, taking over for them in Vietnam -- this makes them ungrateful in the extreme -- breathtakingly, unprecedentedly, and perhaps even unforgivably, ungrateful."
14 Feb 2003 Reno, Nevada restaurateurs Tommy Cortopassi and Tim Wright pour out roughly $1,000 of French wine in front of their eatery. But because local ordinances forbid dumping liquids into the gutter, the duo pours them out into a five-gallon paint bucket. Among the vintages: a 1986 Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classic, a 1995 Dom Perignon, and a J.M. Boillot 1998 Puligny Montrachet.
18 Feb 2003 Las Vegas talk radio station KXNT-AM 840 stages an anti-France protest, in which a pile of French products are crushed by a 14-ton armored vehicle. Included in the wreckage is a Paris travel guide, photographs of French president Jacques Chirac, a cup of Yoplait yogurt, a baguette, as well as bottles of wine, Grey Goose vodka, and Perrier water.
3 Mar 2003 In an interview in Mexico, President George W Bush observes: "Now, there is an interesting phenomena taking place here in America about the French. And there is a backlash against the French -- not stirred up by anybody except by the people. And, you know, but the relations with France are going to be very important in the future, just like relations with Germany will be important, and we'll work hard to have good relations with those countries."
5 Mar 2003 Pennsylvania state representative Stephen Barrar (along with 43 cosponsors) introduces House Resolution 119, prohibiting the purchase or sale of French wines by state-sponsored liquor stores. Among other things, the proposed legislation notes that: "Since the mid-1960s, the French government has engaged in a persistent pattern of anti-American rhetoric and behavior."
7 Mar 2003 New Brunswick, New Jersey restaurateur Anthony Tola flushes six bottles of Dom Perignon and some French Merlot down the toilet.
7 Mar 2003 In Los Angeles, the California Young Americans for Freedom stages a protest in front of the French Consulate, wherein they pour bottles of French wine into the gutter. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, the New York Young Americans for Freedom do the same thing in front of the French Consulate there too.
13 Mar 2003 Florida Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite introduces House Resolution 1265, the American Hero's Repatriation Act of 2003. "I, along with many other Americans, do not feel that the French Government appreciates the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made to defend the freedom that the French enjoy today... The remains of our brave servicemen should be buried in patriotic soil, not in a country that has turned its back on the United States and on the memory of Americans who fought and died there. It's almost as if the French have forgotten what those thousands of white crosses at Normandy represent."
17 Mar 2003 On his television show The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares a consumer boycott against French products: "What I am calling for is a boycott of French goods in the stores. For example, if you buy Poland Spring bottled water instead of Evian, the store still gets the money... I believe 50 million will get on the citizen boycott... 50 million Americans say, 'No way I'm buying any retail products from France.' ... If they don't buy the perfume, and they don't buy the champagne, and they don't buy escargot imported, they're going to -- that's going to put them into a recession because they're almost there now."
28 Mar 2003 In response to The American Hero's Repatriation Act of 2003, the Florida offices of Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite receives a box full of chicken bones.
Mar 2003 The Paris Las Vegas casino removes all French flags from its property. They will not return for 14 weeks.
19 Apr 2003 Saturday Night Live airs a commercial parody mimicking an ad for French tourism: "France: rolling countrysides, sprawling vineyards, quaint cafes. France: home to the world's greatest painters, chefs, and anti-semites. The French: cowardly, yet opinionated; arrogant, yet foul-smelling; anti-Israel, anti-American, and, of course, as always, Jew-hating. Paris: the city of whores, dog feces on every corner, and effete men yelling anti-Semitic remarks at children. The real crème de la crème of world culture. With all that's going on in the world, isn't it about time we got back to hating the French?"
2 May 2003 On his television show The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "According to the French government tourist office, the Factor-led boycott has cost the French economy about $500 million so far. More than 40% of Americans who planned to travel to France have modified those plans. We say good. Until President Chirac apologizes to all Americans for putting us in danger, the boycott stays."
8 Jun 2003 The Washington Times reports that, in the previous month, a Philadelphia girl's school canceled a 27-year-old student exchange program with its counterpart in Carcassonne, France. A teacher at Springside School explained: "While the individual families would be OK, there is, we feel, too great a risk of unpleasantness in public places. I had two families refuse outright to host because they did not wish to house a French student, and two others have since withdrawn."
24 Nov 2003 During a televised debate, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw asks Senator John Kerry:
BROKAW: Senator Kerry, what about the French? Are they friends? Are they enemies? Or something in-between at this point?
KERRY: The French are the French.
BROKAW: Very profound, senator.
KERRY: Well, trust me, it has a meaning. And I think most people know exactly what I mean.
12 Aug 2004 During an official Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign conference call, Republican Senator Gordon Smith tells reporters: "It's not John Kerry's fault that he looks French. But it is his fault that he wants to pursue policies that have us act like the French. He advocates all kinds of additional socialism at home, appeasement abroad, and what that means is weakness for the future."

Freedom Fries

Feb 2003 Neal Rowland starts a trend when he places a sign in the window of Cubbie's, his restaurant in Beaufort, North Carolina. It reads: "Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve french fries. We now serve freedom fries."
11 Mar 2003 At the urging of North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones, Ohio Representative Bob Ney, Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, directs the House cafeteria to replace "french fries" and "french toast" with "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" on all menus. Ney ultimately resigns in a corruption scandal in November 2006.
14 Mar 2003 The Fuddruckers nationwide restaurant chain jumps on the bandwagon, substituting the name "Freedom Fries" in place of french fries on the menus of their 200+ eateries.
26 Mar 2003 The official breakfast menu aboard Air Force One includes "stuffed freedom toast topped with strawberries."
Jan 2006 Progressing beyond the freedom fries on its menu, famed Philadelphia cheesesteak joint Geno's Steaks institutes an English-only rule for customer orders.
Jan 2006 In an interview with Mother Jones magazine, North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones expresses regret for having tinkered with the House cafeteria menus: "I wish it had never happened."
Jul 2006 The House cafeteria menus are finally restored to say "french fries" and "french toast."

Timeless Quotes

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." -- bogus quote, attributed to General George S. Patton

"Hank, we are fighting a war here called 'Thanksgiving at the Airport.' Now, we can either stand here and take it like the French, or we can beat the rest of these chumps to the hotel." --- Peggy Hill, King of the Hill

"The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee." -- Regis Philbin

"You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it." --- suspicious quote attributed to John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona

"You know why the French don't want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and wears a beret. He is French, people." --- Conan O'Brien

"I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!" -- Jay Leno

"The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag." -- David Letterman


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