In defence of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys

Here’s something a little refreshing: amidst the sound and fury of renaming dishes from “french fries” to “freedom fries”, the National Review’s Rod Dreher wrote a nice little essay called I Like France. He may not agree with their stance on an invasion of Iraq, but he knows the difference between ephemeral things like a current government’s stance and the timeless things that make a country what it is. It should be made required reading for all American politicians (remember, they’ve got people who’ve bragged that they’ve never set foot outside American soil as a strategy for getting elected).

An excerpt:

You hear people who have never been to France, and don’t know the first thing about the great things about France and the French, speaking with such confidence about the utter worthlessness of that country. When I hear my fellow Americans writing all of France and French culture off because of its disagreeable and arguably immoral politics, I think of the Yankees I know who believe there’s nothing of any worth whatsoever in the south because of the legacy of its racial history. That is, I hear chauvinistic ignorance passing itself off as moral superiority. France is full of such people who say and believe similar things about America and Americans. People of intelligence and discernment everywhere should resist this sort of thing.

Look, I find it impossible to defend France’s politics or its diplomacy, but that’s not why I go to France every chance I get, and will go again. France is a deeply wonderful place to visit, and a place where the people know a great deal about how life should be lived. It is a country for grown-ups. And they damn sure know how to eat.

Well put, sir.

The current hissy-fit towards the Gauls that our Yankee neighbours are having will eventually pass. America’s had a long-running love affair with France that’s quite pithily summed up in this passage from Oscar Wilde’s clever-clever book, The Picture of Dorian Gray:

“When America was discovered,” said the Radical member– and he began to give some wearisome facts. Like all people who try to exhaust a subject, he exhausted his listeners. The duchess sighed and exercised her privilege of interruption. “I wish to goodness it never had been discovered at all!” she exclaimed. “Really, our girls have no chance nowadays. It is most unfair.”

“Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered,” said Mr. Erskine; “I myself would say that it had merely been detected.”

“Oh! but I have seen specimens of the inhabitants,” answered the duchess vaguely. “I must confess that most of them are extremely pretty. And they dress well, too. They get all their dresses in Paris. I wish I could afford to do the same.”

“They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris,” chuckled Sir Thomas, who had a large wardrobe of Humour’s cast-off clothes.

“Really! And where do bad Americans go to when they die?” inquired the duchess.

“They go to America,” murmured Lord Henry.

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