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Saturday, November 27, 2004

French Bashing- A View from Maine - A Topsham Maine Journal

I was absolutely appalled and, frankly, a little frightened tonight while watching the popular CNN-TV talk-panel news show called "The Capital Gang".

Although the panel of four news pundits regulars, i.e., Al Hunt, Kate O'Beirne, Margaret Carlson and Robert Novak are usually glimmers of intellect in our otherwise pop-news programming, tonights French bashing was disappointing, out of character and downright mean-spirited, in my opinion. In fact, this is the e-mail message I sent to the program on the webpage, just before I sat down to write this Topsham Maine Journal:

"A very low blow tonight Saturday November 27, in the group gang-bashing the French. Your ratings must have dropped after the election, not surprising with conservative Robert Novak always sputtering away with the same-old-same-old. I almost thought Robert Novak might have redeemed his unreasonable conservative opinions tonight when the report began with him walking on the left bank in Paris. I had hope, but after a warm lead in, listeners were led, instead, down the bank of nasty French bashing with Kate O'Beirne lapping at Novak's heels like a hungry puppy. Sad. Let the French in France bash whoever they want, they always have - it's their nature. Don't sink into such shenanigans, please. We have enough scare news going on in Washington DC as it is. We don't need the French to create more fear. It's beneath all of you, even the mean spirited Robert Novak."

I sent that message, but I sure don't expect a response. Who reads all those e-mails, anyway?

I've been to France, many French speaking people are friends of mine. Moreover, my husband is 100 percent Franco-American of pure French descent and, therefore, my two sons are fifty-percent Franco-American. Our family proudly shares my husband's family's French name. Naturally, I don't take kindly to French bashing, or any other kind of ethnic bashing, for that matter - even Muslim bashing. But, when it comes to the French these days, it's like there's a newly declared open hunting season, "Let's see how many ways we can bash the French".

Americans these days are timid about bashing Muslim's, probably for fear of retaliation. It's not politically correct to bash Muslims, even though every one of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were Muslims who happened to also be terrorists. Perhaps it's just easier to bash the French because they are more like us than Muslims are. It's like picking on your little sister or brother. Furthermore, maybe the French are easy targets who sort of deserve bashing for not supporting the US led War in Iraq and for not liking our American President George W. Bush.

Apart from being downright impolite to bash the French, it's also shabby journalism. If those highly paid television pundits can't create a good story for television news watchers and listeners, then they should return to journalism shcool! If I were doing a story about how much the French dislike Americans, then I would do a "man on the street" interview, with english subtitles for the French speaking people being interviewed. What a disappointment to see Robert Novak buying postcards in Paris while reporting on a voice overlay about how much the French say they like Americans but dislike President George W. Bush. Who's going to believe the ultra conservative journalist Robert Novak? Listening to his rendition of French public opinion is like asking the Roman Catholic Pope to speak about moral values in the religious clergy. There's an obvious credibility problem with both scenarios.

I recently saw the movie "Bowling for Columbine", directed by the now well known and very controversial Michael Moore. It was a very disturbing story because Moore points out over and over again how the US news media creates fear in the American public through negative news coverage and by playing into racial stereotypes.

That's why The Capital Gang engaging in French bashing is all the more serious. It doesn't take a big leap of judgement for a mentally sick person to come to the conclusion that French people need to pay for their dislike of Americans. A very scary thought.

My prayer is for people to listen with a sympathetic ear to the terror in the world, to pay attention to the genocide, the religious wars, the political turmoil and the hungry children with incurable diseases. Hey, we Americans need to be leaders in this world, not fear mongers.

Let's stop French bashing. And, of coure, visa-versa. The French might need to love us more than we deserve, but Americans should take the high road.

Sadly, we sort of lost our way by taking a road to the political right in the last Presidential election of 2004, electing President George W. Bush instead of Senator John Kerry for US president.

Still, nothing will be solved and the human condition will not improve if ethnic bashing is allowed to continue on The Capital Gang.


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