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March 14, 2003

Newspaper iconography
Posted by Teresa at 08:55 PM *

How is it that newspapers whose editorial pages are taking cheap shots at the French feel no constraint about running editorial cartoons in which the Statue of Liberty is used as an emblem of America?

I suppose that if you can’t be bothered to remember which country is our oldest ally, or keep track of the fact that France is a power and a presence in world affairs that cannot be lightly dismissed, you can’t be expected to remember who gave us the statue, either.

Me, I remember very well. Bonjour, y’all.

Comments on Newspaper iconography:
#1 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2003, 09:17 PM:

Hey, T!

Less than 5 minutes ago (as we were watching
the Sci Fi channel's version of Dune) Jim turned to
me and said, "Why hasn't the government decided to
send the Statue of Liberty back to the French?"

(Earlier in the day, he wrote a dynamite letter
to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about
French-US relations over the years, after hearing
the Congressman's insistence on bringing WWII
American sodier's bodies back from French cemetaries.)

When I read your blog to him, he said, "What a relief that we think alike!"

#2 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2003, 10:50 PM:

"Americans For France"

We wouldn't be here if they hadn't been there.

Personally, I'm thinking about running up the Tricolor.

#3 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2003, 11:13 PM:

This is a highly Franco-American area, as you know from your visits up here. It's interesting to see the internal rift, even among the conservatives around this area: gung-ho We're-True-Americans crossed with poutine-eating Quebecers of French ancestry who feel loyalty to both "countries of origin." I think many are afraid to admit they're French, nowadays. Quelle dommage.

#4 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2003, 07:38 AM:

Nancy, the French threw out two sets of my
Hugeaunaut (sic, I'm sure) ancestors, but I sure
don't hate them for it. And I don't mind admitting
that I am a little French, though I'd prefer to
say that I'm French Canadian.

#5 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2003, 11:55 AM:

I remember that when I was little I had some obscure predjudice against the French. I don't know why. Maybe it was because of things I'd heard adults say, maybe it was because most Americans I knew seemed to feel that the French were snotty--I have no idea why. I just remember that when it came time to pick my foreign language for junior high school, I picked German and not French or Spanish. And for a long time, I really never had a desire to see Paris or visit France. I didn't really HATE the French but I didn't necessarily like them either.

Weirdly enough, one of the things that has changed much of my perspective on the French has been food. The aforementioned poutine, while entirely a Quebecois invention, was still the product of Francophile people in North America--and its now one of my favourite foods. And then I think about the art and the literature and the beautiful French countryside and the cheese and the movies, and I decide that I can appreciate a culture who brings all that into my life. (I think the world would be a much better place if we had more restaurants.)

I think this sudden and recent trend to refute our ties to French culture is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. (I disagree with many aspects of Arab culture but that doesn't mean that I'm never going to use algebra again.) It also seems to be a symptom of the hasty generalisation. A people can not be held accountable for one faction in one government.

Oh, and ask me how much I'll be pissed if they actually do use government funds to cart back our World War I and II soldiers. These guys have been resting in Flanders fields the entire time I've been alive and nobody objected until now--and I think I'll be damned if we're going to use perfectly good money on carting dead soldiers back to the US when there are poor folks without medical insurance and spotted owls and inner city schools and quite frankly a lot of very live and breathing people who are suffering or who could use that money. Prioritize, people.

#6 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2003, 01:18 PM:

Laurie -- I should point out that not only was my mother a French Jew, but my brother-in-law and all his relations live in Chantilly, outside of Paris. We have close French ties in my family, and I'm bilingual. It makes for some Interesting Times around here. And yet, I live in an area where it's truly a "live free or die" attitude. I may be a liberal, but I'm one of their (my neighbors) liberals. Which means they'll defend my right to be a loopy Francophile. They may not like it, but they will defend me against "outsiders" who would criticize me. It's very weird.

#7 ::: Paul Riddell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2003, 01:39 PM:

Gee, I wonder what'll happen if the UK overrides Tony Blair (and from what I understand, nobody's calling him "Bush's poodle" when "Monica" sums up the situation quite well) and we're suddenly changing the names on English muffins, Irish coffee, and Scotch?

Of course, to be perfectly fair in our receiving of abuse along with the giving, I suggest that we all follow a recent Tom Toles cartoon and change the name "Russian roulette" to "Republican roulette". I've known many Russians, Poles, and Czechs over the years, and while they may be justly fatalistic, none of 'em have been stupid, so let's put the derogatory nickname where it belongs.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2003, 02:03 AM:

Don't you know that we've *always* been at war with Airstrip One, Paul?

The sudden, asinine indulgence in jingoistic French-bashing has really gotten me down*. My opinion of our culture's maturity has plummeted these last couple of weeks.

If it were only the mouth-breathing "You must hate our men in uniform if you're against this war Saddam-lover!" yahoos, I could take it.

But congressmen?

It's like the entire country has become a midwestern small town, the kind where the heating bill for the High School basketball stadium is bigger than the budget for English and Music combined, and it's the week before the Big Game.

* That, and a Baker's Cyst.

#9 ::: blaise ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2003, 04:12 PM:

The French fries are now freedom fries thing gave me a good topic to throw at my ESL class (all adults) No more French toast! No more French kissing! (brief aside to explain that to the two out of sixteen who were clueless.) But the best response came from a student from Egypt -- and I bet you've guessed it -- "So, now America should give back the Statue of Liberty."

#10 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2003, 07:23 PM:

Stefan, congressmen (or at least that particular sort of congressman) always play to the least common denominator. It gets them the attention that gets them votes.

The flogging of irrational hostility towards France makes me wonder whether They are concerned that the US may find itself at war with Europe and wants us to be emotionally ready to fight that war.

#11 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 03:53 AM:

"They" want the US to be at war with Europe.

#12 ::: Anne KG Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 10:33 AM:

The fact that the French Fries congress is renaming originated in Belgium and not France has been noted by many people all over the world as yet another example of American ignorance.

I was pleased to note, in other business, that at least 30 congressional representatives are taking action to sue the administration for unconstitutional (illegal) behavior if they take the country to a declared war without getting the go-ahead from Congress.

#13 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 11:14 AM:

What I can't figure out is why, as the Germans have been pretty much right behind the French in insisting that the U.S. is Not Behaving Well, no one has trotted out those faves from WWI, "Liberty Cabbage" and "Salisbury steak"?

It's okay to dis the French because they like Jerry Lewis and eat frogs' legs, but we have to leave the Germans alone?

#14 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 01:25 PM:

Is that pronounced liberte fries, with an accent over the final e? Is the L capitalized, like that statue those darn Stinkylanders foisted off on us?

Speaking of the statue, since we're so used to seeing it on the horizon, would it be okay to keep it, and just wrap it securely in good old American Saran Wrap?

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 01:34 PM:

Yes, Mad, it has to be the French. They're the ones with the independent military.

#16 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2003, 04:45 PM:

Kip: Lady Liberty in Clingfilm!!! You could submit that story to the Roy Orbison site mentioned below in Theresa's blog.

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