Americans love to hate the French. After all, the French are just pussies who eat way too much fruit, cheese and snails, think Jerry Lewis is a comedic genius, speak with an accent that can only be described as faggish, refuse to help our government kill thousands of innocent people for no reason and refuse to give a fuck what America thinks about them. That's probably what Americans hate the most.
More than six months ago, I was helping a friend of mine move from Tallahassee to Tampa. As our caravan neared Perry, a town filled with forest that frequently burns and toothless and semi-toothless mouth breathers, we decided to stop for lunch. We pulled off the road at a local diner. The parking lot was filled with pickup trucks, and the menu featured pulled pork, boiled hearts of palm and a buffet filled with assorted meat slathered in BBQ sauce and soggy veggies.
When we walked in, everyone stared. My friend, after all, is part Phillipina, and they were expecting someone who looks like her to come in only after the place had closed and only with a vacuum cleaner in hand. It didn't help that I had purple hair and was wearing a T-shirt that said "Pigface," the name of one of my favorite bands. They stared extra hard after we sat down and proceeded to have a lively political discussion that included plenty of GW bashing and the expression of fierce disdain over one of the menu items: freedom fries.
Freedom fries were something I had heard about before but had never seen. For my own sanity, I put those far-fetched yarns about freedom fries in the same category with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. But, now, Americans' clear rejection of all things French was staring me in the face. I wanted to walk out with loud indignation. But we stayed. The lunch wasn't too good, but the waitress was super nice and gave me a second bowl of palm hearts for free.
This diatribe is going somewhere. I swear. Oh, yeah. I remember now. The French. I love them. When I set foot in Europe for the first time, I want my feet to be planted in Paris. I studied the language for seven years, and I chose French as one of my minors in college. I don't really understand why Americans find the French offensive and laughable. Could it be because the French appear to be an easy target with their frou-frou language and culture that makes them look as wimpy as the kid eating cucumber sandwiches, no crust, and petits fours while everyone else chows down on bologna sandwiches and chips?
If so, the French have a good disguise going. In reality, it appears that the French have major balls.
Hundreds of thousands of French residents have banded together against a new labor law making it easier for French employers to fire workers younger than age 26 during their first two years of employment. Opponents say the law makes it more possible for employers to "use" young employees for a couple of years without having to provide the social benefits long-term contracts would provide, according to The New York Times. Proponents say the the new law makes hiring easier, supposedly their only intention behind the legislation.
Regardless of the law's intention, the people of France have spoken. They think their government can take that law and shove it, and they have made their feelings known through strikes, demonstrations, protests and a little itty bitty of violence. The result has meant the disruption of trains, planes, buses and the Paris Metro as workers went on strike. Teachers stayed home, newspapers weren't delivered, banks remained closed, universities shut down, major violence erupted in the city center and the Bastille Opera refused to sing. Demonstrations also occurred in several other cities throughout France.
What do Americans do when they don't like something their government imposes on them? Whine. And not to government officials or to a larger audience in an effort to band people together, either. They whine to a friend or uncle Clete. At least the French know how to make their feelings known on a global scale and take steps toward getting for themselves what they feel is fair. After all, the government is supposed to be there to serve its people. Not the other way around.