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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003

Opinion Columns

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 years hence.

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 Belgium.)

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 Woods.

Would French bashers change Boise to another tree-related derivative that disassociates it from snooty continental French, such as maybe Woodsville?

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