Friday, December 17, 2004


In my last blog I wondered why so many people are so quick to form opinions about people and cultures without any direct experience of those people and cultures. In particular, I noted that most people I meet who have a negative impression of the French generally just don't know any French people and have spent little if any time in France. Days later, as if to underscore my point, Kender wrote,

I like The Statue of Liberty. But if the french had kept it as a reminder of liberty instead of making it for us perhaps that song would have never been written.

(Here is the song.)

Now, of course anyone who has actually been to Paris or bothered to learn much about the gift France made to us and the reciprocal gift made by Americans living in Paris to the French knows that the French do have a Statue of Liberty. I've seen it. It's there, right on an island in the Seine and has been since 1885. Look: here's a photo.

It doesn't matter who has any or more or bigger statues advertising their commitment to liberty. Not knowing that there is a Statue of Liberty in France plays no role in any argument concerning the French and how liberty-loving or not they may be. But not knowing things in general does, and not knowing things is pandemic.

Lillet and I recently watched the Ali G DVD, which featured an extra, Borat at a U.S. patriotism rally. For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Borat is supposed to be a TV correspondent from Kazakhstan. His is a stock role in satire: someone who behaves foolishly and in doing so allows the unaware to demonstrate their own stupidity. At the rally, Borat asked people what it is that makes America a great country. One of the most coherent answers came from a woman who said, "We Americans enjoy liberties that no one else in the world has."

My mind was tempest-tost. No doubt we enjoy a great many liberties, more than in most nations. But ones that no one else enjoys? Which liberties, I wondered, do I enjoy that are cruelly withheld from the downtrodden Norwegians, or our oppressed neighbors to the north, the yearning-to-be-free Canadians?

All I could come up with was the liberty to own assault weapons.

We are convinced that ours is the freest, most liberty-loving country in the world. Why? I think mostly because few of us have been to many other places.

We're told by our President that the terrorists hate us because they hate freedom. As David Cross pointed out, if the terrorists hated freedom the Netherlands would be fucking dust.

Oh, the liberties that lie crushed under the Dutch jackboot!

Here's an interesting parlor game. Suppose you could have chosen the country you were born into. Which would you pick? Here's the catch: you get to choose the country but not your station in that society. So before you start shouting "USA!" realize that you could in that case be born to Bill and Melinda Gates, or you could be born to a teenage crack-whore in an Detroit alleyway.

If you take it at all seriously, the game illuminates those values that are most basic and important. No one has much of a life if they don't make it out of childhood healthy, nurtured, and well-educated. If you want to assure that those baseline conditions for life are satisfied you certainly would choose the U.S. ahead of Rwanda or Russia, but ahead of any of the Western European democracies? No way.

But maybe you're a high-roller. Maybe you're willing to risk being malnourished or illiterate or unable to afford treatment for serious illness for the possibility of hitting the jackpot. If you want that shot at being a super-millionaire, and also the chance to avoid serious taxation, then go with the U.S., by all means. You may have to be concerned about things like personal safety since you will be in a country with a high rate of violent crime, but you'll have the means to build a fortress.

So maybe that woman at the patriotism rally was talking about the freedom to hoard resources. Certainly we enjoy that liberty to an extent possible nowhere else.

Oh, and assault weapons.


Blogger Kender said...

"Hoard resources"...interesting phrase. I think, now that you mention it, that I do hoard resources. I have a huge pantry full of food and a hay barn stacked to the rafters, so to speak, with hay for my horses,and another tackshed that has neatly stored along with several saddles and much more tack that I need for my few horses, bags upon bags of grain and supplements to help keep my equine family healthy. I hoard video games that my son plays, I hoard dvds and cds, the latter literally running into the many hundreds. I hoard clothes. I have alot of clothes. They cover me nicely in all seasons. I am never too cold, nor too warm, and if it is too hot or cold out I come into my treasure hoard of a house and turn on the climate control to a comfortable temperature.

I hoard a great collection of swords and knives, some forged by my own hand, and a lone gun earmarked for home defense against human or animal intruders. I don't, sadly, have an "assualt" weapon yet, and probably won't, as the Great Socialist and Over Protactive State of "Caulifourneea" has decided that we, for the protection of the public you understand, shouldn't have them here.

Even though I have been plagued with SERIOUS health problems I have never, not one time, been turned away for medical care. Ever.

I come from a hard working family, and sometimes things were very tight financially, yet we never went hungry. Our parents were willing to work, at anything, to make sure we were warm, dry and fed. Of course their were five kids in my family growing up. Perhaps if my parents had stopped at one or two things would have been more plentiful, but they didn't. I see the errors of their ways, and am stopping at one child. We could afford many more, but we stopped at one.

And no I have never been to france. Franc-ly, (pun intended), I have no desire to go. France has shown a propensity for turning tail and running, rarely lifting a finger to defend their own country, unless it was a "resistence" movement, and have never once since the beginning of the 20th century been anything but snotty to us. I have known many french people. All but one simply reinforced the stereotype we have of them. They were snotty, rude, mean spirited about America, even though they were here, and they had horrid hygiene. Bad breath and B.O. to an extreme. They one french woman I have known that didn't meet these standards had lived here for 15 years and even shaved like an Americna woman.

I have also seen pictures of the french lady liberty. I believe they should have kept the big one. Perhaps a more visible symbol would have kept in in their collective conscience.

The french refuse to stand with us defending freedom, and if don't think that terrorists are a danger to our freedom AND our way of life then perhaps hope is lost.

Spain caved, voting in socialists that didn't wnat to fight. The french refuse to fight, hoping to stave off attacks on their national symbols, and have therefore caved. Germany refused to fight, a decision that goes against them historically as they are good in a war, neverthe less they refused and have been seen as weak and no threat also. Only in the Netherlands is the fight against radicals being started. They see the danger now, and realize that appeasment is folly. To not stand against these guys spells doom.

Perhaps we should just bring everybody home and take down Lady Liberty and close our borders and let the radical islamofascists have the rest of the world. Because the rest of the world combined stand no chance against them. They have already shown that by giving in.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

I just remembered....we hoard money in the bank.......really not obscene amounts of it....but certainly more than enough to buy a nice new Lexus SUV and pay off the new Accord, with cash....oh wait....I just was notified that we may go with the new Porsche SUV instead....decisions decisions.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

Wait a minute -- what about your vinatge pickup??? ;)

Did you guess the band yet?

Take care,


8:22 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

Well...the toyota RAV4 was rearended a few weeks back and is still in the shop so I am driving the old chevy...lickily gas is down to 1.97 so that makes it sweeter. That will make, once the SUV comes in, 4 vehicles. SUV for my wife to work from, teh Accord to drive on the weekends, the RAV for me to drive around town in when I want economy and don't need to tow a horse trailer, and my 3 horses we can ride for true economy. And no I haven't guessed the band yet, but I have had very little time lately as we start shooting in January and life is hectic with logistics and extras and permits know how that is. I will search when I can. Later

1:02 AM  
Blogger grim_72 said...

Your cars are so BIG!
Well, woopty-fuckin'-do.

Let me first state: I have no love of the French. I haven't met a whole lot of French people, and I spent one horrid, sick day in Paris. You see, in Paris, on this particular day, Algerian terrorists were blowing up subway stations. What fun!
I was getting a ride to Paris with a German man, through mitfahrzentrale. (It's a car-sharing service in Germany. People save gas and money by offering rides to people in their cars for a small fee and gas-sharing. ) This was October 1995. He was going to drop me off at a Metro Station, but some Algerians had just BLOWN IT UP.

See, 1995 was the "Year of the Bomb" in Paris. So instead, he dropped me off in the center of the city.
I met some fucking "rude" people in Paris that day, and I also met the nicest people that day, and they took me in and gave me a place to stay for the night. They understood that I was carrying everything I owned on my back, and since lockers were out of the question (BOMBS!) they took care of me. Even though they didn't know me.

Something I understood, on that day, is that the French are not "rude to Americans", they're rude, to Americans. What I mean is, to the French, the way they communicate is not rude. Or, it is rude, but not to them. They're "rude" to each other.
They're, well, "frank." That's where the term "frank" comes from. The French are frank. Americans are not frank. They're a pain in the ass. At least they are when they're travelling in Europe. And Americans think frank is rude. To Europeans, endlessly talking about how much things cost and endlessly converting it into U.S. Dollars... that's rude. Americans are a rude bunch. It's just a matter of perspective.

Now, how on Earth is the size of a statue going to change anything? And how is the size of a statue going to convince a people like the French, who are rather well informed, that invading a sovereign, secular Middle Eastern republic like Iraq is going to protect "freedom"? Who's freedom are we protecting? Because, actually, we're making things worse. Maybe you haven't been listening to the radio driving in your fancy car, but things in Iraq are bad and getting steadily worse.
For ourselves, and for the French. The French have their own problems with Muslim Arabs (see "bombings" above.)
And the reason things are worse? WE FUCKED UP. There was no legitimate reason to invade Iraq. There were no WMD's. There was no imminent threat. It was all a lie. It was part of a plan laid out by the Project for the New American Century back in 1992.

And (your gonna love this) just like Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to justify invading POLAND, G.W. Bush and Co. used 9/11 to justify carrying out the first step of their ridiculous plan to dominate the Middle East oil reserves through military strategic positioning. First Iraq, then Syria, then Iran, and then Saudi Arabia. Only, the NeoCons didn't count on G.W. Bush being such a weenie!

We aren't "freeing" anyone, we're stirring up a hornets nest. We're not taking care of people, we took everything from them, and we're not giving anything back. We're a walking advertisement for Radical Islam, and were hated now more than ever.

Now, Saddam was a Fascist, but he wasn't an "islamofascist," as you say. Saddam was hated by the Islamic world. He had a secular state. He was a "petrofascist" JUST LIKE GEORGE W. BUSH.
This whole thing is just a business transaction gone bad. From the invasion of Kuwait and before! Iraq was George H.W. Bush's pet project, just like Noriega, just like Osama. Or didn't you know that? You can look it up, Mr. Fossil Fuel worshipper. Look up the pictures of Donny Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, 1983. See it here:

Taliban? No PROBLEM. (Pre-9/11)

Oh, and MSNBC knew about Osama's CIA past, long before 9/11:

So, what side of Freedom were we on, then? In 1979, were we on the side of the popular democratic revolution to overthrow the dictator Shah in Iran? Of course not. We were on the side of the brutal dictator, who wanted our petro-dollars, and our weapons and funding and training and our chemical weapons. Yes Saddam once had chemical weapons. He used them, too. And the U.S. made sure he could get them. We sold them to him.

See, French high school kids learn about this stuff, while American high school kids can't find their own state on a fucking map. Most adult Americans don't even know or consider this stuff. They just wave a flag, and sing "Glory Glory" and that's it. Why? Because they are either ignorant or they're mean, or both.
Or they're just fucking crazy.
See, Bush's faction has another agenda. Open war with Islam. ALL of Islam. Bankrupting the Federal Reserve. Rolling back the entire New Deal. Making America a third-world banana republic debtor nation. Blowing away the dollar. Complete oligarchy. Or, oil-i-garchy. Why, you ask? Because Christian fundamentalists want to bring on "the end of days." Pretty fucking scary, huh! That's what these boneheads are after. Fullfilling the prophesies of Revelations to bring on Armageddon.

So, good luck with those fossil fuels! With all those cars, you're gonna need them. It's quite a gamble we've got going. If Wolfowitz and the neo-cons are right, the U.S. will be in good shape when the oil starts to run out:

Or at least, the rich Americans. You don't count. Sorry. Unless you have billions or an oil field.

If G.W. and the Christian Fundamentalists are right, then be prepared to meet the Anti-Christ! And then your DOOM! Unless you are a born again christian, in which case, you'll be taken up in the mother ship and carried to saftey while the rest of the world burns in a lake of fire. Fun FUN FUN! Those Fundies sure now how to have a fun religion!
And if the French and the Germans are right, be prepared to work in a garment factory sewing shoes or underwear for 11 cents an hour. Because there are 1 BILLION Muslims in the world. And in our current state, we can't even subdue 1% of them. And with the dollar teetering on disaster, and the national debt skyrocketing, and a possible worldwide boycott of American goods, we'll be lucky to even get that lousy sewing job.

Here's to hoping your kid doesn't get drafted!

2:37 AM  
Blogger Trey Desolay said...

The French "turn tail" and run. The Germans are "good in war." You've forgotten to tell us about how the Italians are fat and histrionic, how the Japanese have buck teeth and thick glasses, and all the other facts of International Relations according to 1950s Warner Brothers cartoons.

Was the French reaction to 9/11 cowardly? Was Le Monde's headline the next day - WE ARE ALL AMERICANS - "snotty, rude, and mean spirited about America"? Was it cowardly to commit 5,000 troops to the Afghan war?

It could have turned out to be the case that Iraq was rife with WMDs, that there were Al Qaeda training camps all over the country. But no. The arguments made for war were without foundation.

Sobriety and rationality are not cowardice.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

Happy holidays kids, hope you have a good one.

12:39 AM  
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