March 11, 2003

Petit Mort Pour la Guerre

(Orgasm for War)
Imagine that the planet Earth was a high school campus and that each nation represented a typical type of personality. Most of us would have no trouble relating a lot of countries to the stereotypes of the jock, the nerd, the outcast, the popular, et cetera. The only problem with doing this is that none of these analogies actually work in a global village. One example, however, sticks out in its truthfulness—the personality of our own country regarding war on Iraq.

On a planetary high school campus, the United States of America would be the pretty-boy alpha male. He would drive his SUV five blocks to school and would strut on campus every morning clad in the latest designer threads. Wherever he walked, everyone would clear him a path, all the while fawning in admiration. Occasionally, a smaller kid would have the nerve to cross his path. When that happened, the big man would simply toss him aside. In the rare case that a smarter student attempted to alert the rest of the school population to the dark side of this guy, people would be either too blind or too afraid to agree.

Such is the current state of wartime politics in the United States: cocky strutting, a sense of invincibility and style over substance. Check the scoreboard: first we alienated much of the Muslim world, followed quickly by the pushing aside of our allies. Next came the drive toward extinction of all anti-war sentiment. Now it’s time to purge ourselves of French influence. Though it is just one of several prominent nations sharing the cautious anti-war line, France is being singled out in America as a target suitable for ridicule, disdain and erasure.

The actions of this anti-French movement range from absurd to downright frightening. First, the absurd: some diners in middle America have renamed french fries “freedom fries,” and will refuse orders to anyone that dare describe them as “French.” Presumably, these same diners will now offer “tax-cut toast” on their breakfast menu.

On the scarier side, nothing shows the downfall of the civility of many Americans more clearly than a recent incident on the UL Lafayette campus, in which someone verbally accosted an unsuspecting student who spoke with a French accent. In the mind of that American, the French student needed a little “education” on why America needs to be at war. This is something I might expect to happen to someone walking the streets of Baghdad waving an American flag and wearing a shirt with George W. Bush’s face on it. But this happened in the United States, to a Franco-American, in south Louisiana!

Those who jeer France’s stance on war with Iraq never let anyone forget the country’s historical (if highly inaccurate) tendency to surrender and shy away from battle. Oddly enough, these same history hawks never seem too interested in dredging up the Gulf War or Vietnam as warnings.

Americans who want war in Iraq have risen the conflict to the level of divine necessity; some might call it an insatiable lust. In this global high school, the popular kid wants war; if all of the smaller and smarter kids (such as France) give him grief for it, then screw them!

The idea that foreign individuals and native nations that think differently from Bush deserve this kind of treatment is ridiculous. Even less understandable, however, is why anyone would think that consuming anything with the word “french” in it somehow makes one less of an American. But given the current level of debate in the national media, should we expect anything different?

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