April 24, 2012
Beyond Freedom Fries: The Roots of American Francophobia

About a hundred years after the Marquis de Lafayette and other French nobles volunteered as officers in the American Revolutionary War, which the French government also helped fund, about 200,000 people lined the docks at New York to welcome a ship named Isère, which carried in 214 wooden crates the copper pieces of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France and a bond of two of the world’s oldest and surest democracies. About a hundred years after that, the U.S. Congress ordered its cafeteria to relabel French fries as “freedom fries.” Soon after, French’s Mustard put out a press release assuring consumers, “The only thing French about French’s Mustard is the name.” It was a sad, but sadly not isolated, moment of U.S. hostility toward France. Yesterday, when Mitt Romney dared to reference his family’s vacations to France — “I have a lot of memories of France,” he said, “and I look forward to occasional vacations again in such a beautiful place” — political reporters immediately declared it a terrible misstep. “Note to politicians: Don’t talk about France. Ever. Unless you are condemning it somehow,” tweeted the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. The “entire” Politico newsroom apparently “erupted” with cries of “oh no” at his comments.
Sadly, they are probably right. In 2003, Americans’ popular attitudes toward France were worse than toward any other European country, including Russia: 60 percent unfavorable and 29 percent favorable. Those numbers were about on par with U.S. attitudes toward Saudi Arabia, which many Americans still believe was responsible for September 11 (there is little to no evidence for this). France’s numbers have improved since then — 63 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable as of 2010 — but American unfavorability toward France still scored higher than toward, for example, Egypt. This is remarkable for a country that shares our revolutionary democratic history and has fought alongside the U.S. in nearly every American war since independence.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Beyond Freedom Fries: The Roots of American Francophobia

About a hundred years after the Marquis de Lafayette and other French nobles volunteered as officers in the American Revolutionary War, which the French government also helped fund, about 200,000 people lined the docks at New York to welcome a ship named Isère, which carried in 214 wooden crates the copper pieces of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France and a bond of two of the world’s oldest and surest democracies. About a hundred years after that, the U.S. Congress ordered its cafeteria to relabel French fries as “freedom fries.” Soon after, French’s Mustard put out a press release assuring consumers, “The only thing French about French’s Mustard is the name.” 

It was a sad, but sadly not isolated, moment of U.S. hostility toward France. Yesterday, when Mitt Romney dared to reference his family’s vacations to France — “I have a lot of memories of France,” he said, “and I look forward to occasional vacations again in such a beautiful place” — political reporters immediately declared it a terrible misstep. “Note to politicians: Don’t talk about France. Ever. Unless you are condemning it somehow,” tweeted the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. The “entire” Politico newsroom apparently “erupted” with cries of “oh no” at his comments.

Sadly, they are probably right. In 2003, Americans’ popular attitudes toward France were worse than toward any other European country, including Russia: 60 percent unfavorable and 29 percent favorable. Those numbers were about on par with U.S. attitudes toward Saudi Arabia, which many Americans still believe was responsible for September 11 (there is little to no evidence for this). France’s numbers have improved since then — 63 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable as of 2010 — but American unfavorability toward France still scored higher than toward, for example, Egypt. This is remarkable for a country that shares our revolutionary democratic history and has fought alongside the U.S. in nearly every American war since independence.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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    "French’s Mustard put out a press release assuring consumers, “The only thing French about French’s Mustard is the...
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    This is insanely relevant considering I just got back from Paris. I went in with the assumption that I would hate the...
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  18. junk-pile reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I wonder if this stems from WWII, images of Vichy collaborators and whatnot. Whatever, France is awesome now in some...
  19. rikki-draven reblogged this from finalfantasyfootball and added:
    This is what we call “some serious bullshit,” class.