Qu'est dans un nom français?
Commentary by PAT MURPHY
Americans are suckers for fads, willing
to make impulsive spectacles of themselves to their eventual embarrassment
How long before Ohio Republican
Congressmen Bob Ney tries to explain his infantile order banishing the word
"French" from congressional cafeteria menus and renaming items "American
toast" and "American fries"? (Actually, French fries were first prepared in
Ney wasn’t alone after France refused to
approve the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Others with an eye for publicity copy-catted
him. Some emptied bottles of French wine in gutters. Pea-brained radio talk
show hosts contrived their own fury with anti-French highjinks.
Patience. This pique will die down.
Remember Pearl Harbor? Not only is Japan
our political, economic and military ally, but Americans drive Japanese cars
and motorcycles by millions, as well as load up with Japanese cameras,
computers and electronic gadgets.
Remember the Germans, the Hitlerian core
of Axis powers that Americans fought in Europe and Africa? Many Americans
prefer German autos, a German company owns U.S. automaker Chrysler, the
largest German overseas Luftwaffe training base once was Arizona’s Luke Air
Force Base, and most U.S. military forces in Europe are stationed in Germany.
Billions of charitable Marshall Plan dollars rebuilt Germany.
Remember when mainland Chinese soldiers
poured across the Yalu River and attacked U.S. forces in the Korean War? Now
China is a premiere trading partner and diplomatic ally.
The communist Vietnamese, who killed
American GIs by thousands just a generation ago, are back in our good graces.
So, tantrums about France will fade,
just as bitterness toward Japan, Germany, communist China and Vietnam
evaporated in time.
U.S.-French comradeship runs too deep to
be derailed by political petulance.
When the colonists fought for our
independence, the young French Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned in the
American continental army to fight the British in 1777, and is buried in U.S.
soil he took to France.
Washington’s L’Enfant Plaza is named
after Paris-born engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who laid out Washington,
D.C., and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
New Orleans thrives on French
heritage--Mardi Gras, the French Quarter.
The French-made Statue of Liberty is an
icon symbolizing U.S.-French friendship.
Can anyone imagine a Freedom poodle or
Freedom cuffs instead of French cuffs? Or symphony orchestras with Freedom
horns instead of French horns? Or changing the name of George Gershwin’s
classic music, "An American in Paris"?
The French-made Concorde jet links the
United States and Europe at supersonic speeds. Will champions of boycotting
France refuse to travel on French-made Airbus jetliners that’re operated by
America West, American, Frontier, Northwest, United and US Airways, or send
packages by United Parcel Service or FedEx that also operate Airbus jets?
France’s influence on Idaho so far has
been spared bashing: The tree-lined capital city, Boise, in French means The
Would French bashers change Boise to
another tree-related derivative that disassociates it from snooty continental
French, such as maybe Woodsville?