Why French kissing is taboo among many Americans
Patriotic Americans are evidently showing less affection toward their mates because they are irked at the French. Since France vociferously objected to our war in Iraq, U.S. lovers are down in the mouth towards French kissing. Rage now lurks in the throats of incensed Americans toward all things that smack of French derivation.
Woody Allen is doing kiss and make-up television spots. He urges us to stop bad-mouthing all things French, s’iI vous plait. Woody desires that Americans embrace their French comrades once again. One sign of such deepening friendship, believes Woody, will be a revival of French kissing. In a video starring Allen, he pleads, “I hope no one will be petty, and I will not have to refer to my French-fried potatoes as Freedom fries, and I will not have to Freedom kiss my wife,” he says, “so let’s pull together now.”
Already the press reports disastrous consequences suffered by our athletic President George W. Bush because he can’t pull together with his wife, now that they refrain from French kissing. Other parts of the body evidently go haywire when French kissing is sacrificed. In the President’s case, his knee joints pulled apart so physicians have KO’d our national leader from jogging his usual 7-minute mile. Refraining from French kissing leads to dire consequences in the White House, like inflamed knees.
Jesus may have spoken tongue in cheek when he taught, “For from the heart of a person come evil thoughts” (Mark 7:21). Evidently, many of our national leaders believe bad-mouthing the French for their lack of bravery in supporting our war is neither wrong nor a bad thought. Start by redefining our cuisine. That will teach the French a lesson they richly deserve to learn. American patriotism runs deep, as far down as our bellies.
Restaurants hopped on the bandwagon of resentment toward the French, stiffing our spineless former allies by redesigning menus. No longer did they feature French fries. They were scraped in favor of freedom fries which, when eaten, turned wimpy French spines into strong-even brazen-American backbones. Eateries stopped advertising French dressing on salads as diners savored liberty dressing.
Even our noble national leaders stopped tasting anything French. That word was banished from the lexicon of our federal legislators as they sat in cafeterias serving those in the House of Representatives.
A red-blooded American in Palm Beach County advised his local governing board to officially make freedom fries or American fries the preferred way of advertising side dishes that, when swallowed, make the waistline bulge. The host of a nationally syndicated Tampa-based radio show, “Smoke This,” fumed at the French and European neighbors contiguous to this land teeming with traitors. He saluted Old Glory by vowing not to sip French wines or scoot around in German cars. He wiped Belgian waffles off the menu of patriotic Americans, too. Sucking illegally imported Havana stogies, DJ “Cigar Dave” wouldn’t go so far as put up in smoke his prized Cuban, not French, cigars.
Of course, convoluting language to hype militaristic aims is a trick politicians use. War efforts intensify when we demonize the opposition. How often haven’t we heard that the French lack manliness. They are spineless. They eschew a taste for war. We’ll get back at them by boycotting products that reach deeply into our throats and their pocketbooks.
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt vilified those who prided themselves on being hyphenated Americans. When our large cities teemed with immigrant populations that balkanized themselves within ghettoes, many citizens thumped their chests when identifying themselves as Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans and absolutely the worst, German-Americans.
Theodore Roosevelt excoriated President Wilson with similar vile language we heap upon the French. Wilson’s waffling against the Huns in foreign affairs T.R. wrote George Perkins “has been precisely that of a man whose wife’s face is slapped by another man, who thinks it over and writes a note telling the other man he must not do it, and when the other man repeats the insult and slaps the wife’s face again, writes him another note of protest, and then another and another and another, and lets it go on for a year.”
Wilson stiffened his resolve by verbally chiding Americans who lacked patriotic identity by proclaiming their German-American heritage. Such hyphenated ingrates who were citizens had to change. Wilson decided “to out-Teddy T.R.” by co-opting the language of preparedness in his own political tirades. Roosevelt blasted “hyphenated Americans in an October 1915 speech at Carnegie Hall. Addressing Congress on December 8, Wilson matched T.R.’s verbal onslaught. He demanded that those who “poured out the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life” be “crushed out.” Hyphenated Americans were castigated with guttural sneers that went down as far within the esophagus of a politician as a French kiss.
Americans during the Great War, once our Doughboys arrived in France in 1917, ravenously devoured liberty cabbage instead of despised sauerkraut and liberty sandwiches instead of hamburgers. At baseball parks fans could not buy frankfurters or wieners. Red-blooded Americans had to settle for hotdogs. They were forbidden to give their scraps to German shepherds that were dubbed Alsacians, although German shepherds were not natively bred in Alsace. Kids red in cheek who gave evidence of gorging themselves with too many wieners and frankfurters paid a stiff price for their crime. These little hyphenated Americans came down with liberty measles, instead of the other kind that affronted President Wilson and his political adversary T.R.
When I traveled in France the first three weeks of May, the natives treated me cordially. They repeatedly offered French toasts, even as they wondered why go to war in Iraq when the UN weapons inspectors had Saddam checkmated. That inquiry stuck in my throat because I couldn’t cough up a good answer.
The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister serving with MAJESTY, featuring creative music for worship. MAJESTY can be reached at P.O. Box 8100, Avon, CO 81620. Web site: http://www.majestyministries.org. Van Ens’s book, “How Jefferson Made the Best of Bad Messes” is available in local bookstores for $7.95.
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