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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Three Weeks in July

The Tour de France has ended and the remarkable thing is that millions upon millions of Americans followed this bike race hosted by America’s arch rival. Even if all of these Americans tuned in simply to watch one of their compatriots win for the fifth consecutive year I think they couldn’t help but be brain-washed into thinking that France is probably the most beautiful place on this earth.

This year’s Tour was one of the most epic struggles I have had the pleasure to witness. The race was filled with drama, horrific crashes, near misses, and humanity. It ended as it has the past four years with Lance Armstrong wearing the yellow jersey and the U.S. national anthem being played with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.

I’m truly sorry to see the Tour end; I wish that it could last all summer. I’ll admit that I am a fanatical cyclist and a fanatic Francophile so it goes without saying that it would be hard for me to get enough of a French bike race. This all comes at a time when an anti-French sentiment is sweeping through the narrower minds of our country. This attitude is mostly the doing of our nation’s narrowest mind.

G.W. Bush chastised France for not swallowing his lies about the imminent threat that Iraq posed to the rest of the world. As it turns out, what Jacques Chirac told his nation on the eve of the American invasion seems extremely prescient and wise. Instead of this senseless bashing of one of America’s staunchest allies we should be apologizing to the French because as it turns out their take on Iraq appears to have been more accurate than our own misguided reasons for the invasion.

But this essay isn’t about the war. I am baffled by the anti-French attitude that has taken hold in this country by millions of people who don’t even hold a passport let alone know anything about the nation they claim to despise. If people made the sort of generalizations about Israelis as they do about the French they would be branded as anti-Semitic. If people voiced such hateful opinions about an African nation they would be branded as racist and I would agree that they are anti-Semitic and racist.

When someone asks me if I am going to France I tell them that I am always going to France. If you limit the places on this earth to the nation of your birth you are missing out on a lot of great spots. Instead of bad-mouthing the French and talking about how much they hate Americans I suggest you dust off your passport and go sit in a nice French café and have a glass of kir. You'll probably soon realize the ignorance of your anti-French rhetoric and you may even get to like bike racing.

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