The French don’t deserve verbal abuse

It never fails. It seems that no matter where I go, the French are constantly being ridiculed, usually by Americans, of course. Well, I cannot really say ‘no matter where I go,’ because I traveled to Paris this past March and the French actually were not being ridiculed. Weird, huh? It gets better too, because guess what, neither were the stupid Americans. It was the trip of a lifetime, going to Paris, I mean, who wouldn’t want to go? Well, let me see, I almost did not want to go, because during the second day there, the war in Iraq broke out, and yes, this was my first time leaving the country, especially being across seas.

I was warned by so many people to be careful because “the French” are bad because they are against the war and might not be friendly to Americans. I was told to watch my back by someone, and told to not walk around alone by another person.

The point of my column though is that I am terribly sick and tired of hearing wise-cracks about the French. Let us take a look back a few months ago, does anyone remember “freedom fries?” Now I do not think I need to say this, but how immature can this country get. Just because another country on this planet does not support Mr. Bush’s itch to drop bombs on more people does not mean we need to start name-calling and teasing.

It is also very distressing that while I am in classes at a university, a place for higher learning, I still hear on numerous occasions jokes about France, or extremely rude comments about French people. This is appalling to me and it really makes me sad that as human beings we can just take an entire group of people and make a complete mockery out of them and everything they embody. I know this is not the first time this has happened to a group of people and it will not be the last, but it should not have to happen at all, especially to the French.

While I was in France, walking around Paris and doing things, I met many very interesting and very nice French people. In fact, I have nothing but nice comments to say about my experience with the French.

On many occasions I would randomly get involved in conversations with French people and we talked about many topics including Mr. Bush, the war, American culture, art, music, food and many other regular topics of discussion. Every person whom I talked with was very attentive, listened to what I had to say and conversed back with intelligent information. There was never any name-calling involved, unless I was talking about Mr. Bush, but that is to be expected. One French man actually asked me why Americans hated the French. I had no idea what to say, except, um, not all of us do. Then I asked that man a question back. I asked him what he thought about the war and about Mr. Bush and the situation between the United States and France. He said that he, along with many other French people, just do not agree with Mr. Bush’s views and eagerness to start a war. He said to me, “we don’t hate Americans, we just don’t understand your government and its decisions sometimes.” All I could say in response was, “I understand and I feel the same way.”

The reason I was provoked to write this column was not just all of the bad-mouthing of French people I hear, but it was something France was doing. On the fourth of July Paris was welcoming American tourists by helping to celebrate the U.S. Independence Day. The French are so nice, that, since they opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq they felt bad, so they wanted to “undo the damage,” according to an article printed in The Plain Dealer.

When Americans were walking around Paris under electronic signs that read “July 4th, 2003, Independence Day, Welcome to Our American Visitors,” I have to wonder how many remarks I heard that day about how terrible the French are. Does anybody want some “freedom fries”?