Tuesday, 1 July 2003

Empire and the French

The Dissident Frogman reports on his vacation in Normandy, and notes the disappearance of the American flag from le Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie (a place I had the honor to visit about 13 years ago).

Does this bother me? Perhaps a little. But the Americans who died liberating France, like the Americans who died liberating Iraq, died so the French people and their government would be free to make their own choices. That the French don’t always make the decisions we’d like for them to make is a part of that freedom.

So are they being ungrateful? Yes. Spiteful? Undoubtably. But the freedom they were given was a gift from us (and the British, Canadians, and Poles and others who fought along side us)—the greatest gift America can give the world—and we can no more expect them to use that gift the way we’d want than we can expect a friend to not throw a birthday gift in the back of the closet. And I’d much rather have the French—and the Iraqis—free to decide their own fate in the world, and sometimes getting it “wrong,” than continuing to live under totalitarian rule.

Link via Matthew @ A Fearful Symmetry.

Eugene Volokh thinks that this behavior is worse than the whole “Freedom Fries” nonsense that took place on these shores. He’s probably right on that score at least. Meanwhile, judging from the trackbacks, maybe I’m the only one feeling even vaguely charitable.

Megan wonders why the Germans don’t come in for near as much bashing in the blogosphere. My guess is because (a) they didn’t tell everyone who disagreed with them that they were “missing a good opportunity to keep quiet” and (b) they aren’t French. Now, granted, the second reason is far more compelling if you’re English than if you’re American, but I don’t really pretend to understand it either.

The Dissident Frogman has some important amplifications and clarifications (via Amy).