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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 6/18/2003 3:51:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/18/2003 3:55:31 PM EDT by Josey_Wales]
Reposted from www.pre-ban.com France is living down to our expectations The New Orleans Times Picayune France is living down to our expectations Wednesday June 18, 2003 James Lileks After years of being abused by the French, Americans are returning the favor. Tourism is down -- 15 percent to 20 percent fewer visitors. Parisians are reduced to sneering at each other, just to keep in practice. Trade has plummeted -- wine sales were off almost 18 percent in March as Americans discovered that Aussie vin makes you giggly or sleepy, too. France once had a trade surplus with the United States and now has a $240 million deficit. To woo Americans back, the French government decided to hire a celeb to speak on France's behalf. Did they get Arnold Schwarzenegger? ("Ahl be bach -- for de crepes!") Did they get Paula Abdul? ("I don't care what Simon says, France is incredibly talented.") No, they got Woody Allen. Most Americans regard Woody as a wrinkly creep who makes movies you no longer regret missing. Even on video. "I don't want to have to freedom-kiss my wife," Allen says in the ads, "when what I really want to do is French-kiss her." Eewww. You might recall that Allen is 391 years older than his wife, and that his wife was his previous girlfriend's adopted daughter. Why him? Roman Polanski wasn't available? They also got George Plimpton to appear in an ad, making it official: French understanding of American culture is taken entirely from a 1968 issue of Playboy. France's opposition to the Iraq war isn't the reason Americans are turning away from the glories of Gaul. No, it was the manner in which France conducted its opposition -- high-handed, cheerfully duplicitous, brazenly self-serving, with a generous ladle of contempt for this boorish nation of unsophisticated cowboys. One got the impression they were peeved that America did not realize what it meant to be graced by a stream of French spittle. Why, it was an honor. Most nations France ignores. To be spit on by France is a mark of some distinction. Here is a cloth. Wipe it off. Not with that hand! What are you, a Pole? The other hand! Left to right! Now fold the napkin into the shape of a dying swan! France is a beautiful country. The food's good. The pre-World War II artistic legacy of the country is worth a pilgrimage for anyone who wants to understand the promise of Enlightenment and the perils of Revolution. If France pulls through, it'll be important again. And if it doesn't, which seems increasingly likely, it will tear itself apart with strikes. Its economy will be consumed by the rapacious demands of its welfare state. Its restive, unassimilated Muslim population might demand a parallel legal system based on Sharia law. These possibilities should please no one. We wish the French the best. But their days as the moral avatar, the champion of humanity, are long gone. That reputation -- unearned for decades -- will die in the Congo, where French troops are behaving as effectively as, well, French troops. The painful fact is that no one expects much of them anymore beyond good food, bribery and honeyed hypocrisy. One liberated Iraqi summed up the American promise like this: "Democracy, whiskey, sexy!" One could say that beats Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. One might suggest that it already has.
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