Frogs, snails, and sissies

Frogs, snails, and sissies
: The Aardvark, a Viennese weblog, points to a story in the Frankfurther Rundschau about anti-French sentiment rising in America like the creeks in my neighborhood after our latest storm. He translates:

Local newspapers are even worse [than the Murdoch press]: Gordon Dillow wrote in the Orange County Register: “I hate the French. I really hate the French.” The Orlando Sentinel writes: “If the Eiffel Tower had been destroyed on 11 September, France’s new Vichy government would currently be searching for someone to surrender to.” Only the talk radio stations surpass this. In front of a Las Vegas radio station a 14-ton truck squashed a framed picture of Chirac, a French flag, cups of French yoghurt, French bread, wine, vodka and Perrier, all to the cheers of a large audience. Irate callers ask if France even remembers what the USA did for them in World War II: “Who are they anyway? Cheese-eating rats?”

The story points out that mainstream media is also pissing on France, quoting the New York Times twice.

And then it makes fun of a Florida restaurant for renaming French fries — even though the story is quick to point out that fries came from Belgium — “freedom fries.”

Under all this is a German awareness that they may not be far behind. The story reminds its readers that in World War II, we renamed sauerkraut “liberty cabbage.” And it says that France is providing a windscreen for Germany against American retaliatory hostility.

Why are the Germans getting an easier time of it? Simple: The French make better punchlines. Americans don’t like snobs (though we are more snobbish than we care to admit) and Americans consider the French snobs: an amusing but generally irrelevant nation, the appropriate butt of National Lampoon jokes in the best of times. Add to that vestigal WWII disapproval. Add to that French determination to weaken our position and thus the world’s position of strength v. Saddam. Add to that Chirac acting like a self-important boob even to his fellow Europeans. And it’s open hunting season for frog jokes.

Supersize my order of freedom fries, please.