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Friday, February 22, 2008

Enlightenment vs Ignorance


Flag of my grandfather

France’s Unpaid Debt

Americans have a right to protest going to war with Iraq. The French do not. They owe us the independence they flaunt in our face at the U.N.

The French have not earned their right to oppose President Bush's plans to attack Iraq.

On the other hand, I have.

Andy Rooney, CBS News, Feb. 16, 2003

I didn’t really need another reason to despise the hopelessly stupid Andy Rooney, but he offered up a good one in this piece he wrote back on the eve of the war in Iraq. I always hated his annoying observations and never found him to be even remotely humorous—kind of a drawback seeing how he is supposed to be a humorist. It was one of his forays into punditry that really turned me against him. I always tried to avoid him on TV and in print so it was quite by accident that I saw his piece where he mocked Curt Cobain’s suicide. I learned that not only was Rooney incredibly unfunny, he was also a huge asshole. He certainly renewed this fact for me with this idiotic opinion he posted for the idiotic news station that employs him.

Rooney worked as a reporter during WWII but from what he writes you would get the idea that he single-handedly beat the Germans. This attitude that “we” saved France is shared by millions of Americans who have never been near a military recruiting station. But this essay isn’t really about Mr. Rooney, nor is it a history lesson. I quote his asinine article because it is emblematic of the anti-French views held by too many stupid Americans. From the way Rooney and other misguided Americans seem to resent the fact that France and the French have any opinion that differs from theirs, you would have thought that the Fascists were the victors in WWII. After all, isn’t the right to have opposing views one of the things we fought for in Europe?

I think that the anti-French attitude of some Americans is an inferiority complex directed at people whom they believe to be more sophisticated than they are, an inferiority complex based in fact if you are a stupid hick. Hicks also harbor a lot of animosity towards New Yorkers for the same reason. In fact, in the south I believe that “New Yorker” is used as a euphemism for liberal, well-educated Jew. In this same linguistic shorthand hicks use “French” as a euphemism for intellectual—their most hated enemy. But this essay isn’t about the moronic anti-French views held by morons. No matter how stupid their opinions may be, I, unlike Mr. Rooney, feel they have the right to hold those opinions (although I can’t understand why CBS would allow Rooney to air his fucking retarded views).

There are a lot of Americans who hold some pretty awful opinions about Latin Americans. Often these opinions are simply evidence of very thinly-veiled racism. They are the same sort of opinions held by the anti-French mob. They are opinions which are mostly born out of ignorance and intolerance for anything different. In his book about his travels in America, The Lost “Continental, Bill Bryson mocks the Mexican music he comes across on his car radio. In one clumsy attempt at humor he waves off an entire culture that shares a few thousand miles of border with America. I have heard many Americans become angry when they so much as hear someone speaking Spanish. I think that this fear of any foreign language is what pollutes the minds of the Andy Rooneys of America.

Instead of making a stupid joke about Mexican ranchera muisic, wouldn’t it have been more interesting if Bryson had bothered to understand it just a little? Instead of gnashing your teeth and complaining about spics, wouldn’t it be easier and more fulfilling to take a little time to learn a bit of Spanish. Instead of passing along apocryphal accounts of the rudeness of French people, travel there yourself and at least form your own opinion. I have been there many times myself and have yet to find any sort of rudeness. In fact, I have found just the opposite. I find people there to be quite friendly, especially if you bother to learn some of their language. I would never travel anywhere without learning at least a bit of the local language. I think it is rude not to be able to say things like “please” and “thank you.” The more of the language you know, the better will be your experience. I have always found that enlightenment beats out ignorance every time.

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