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In Praise of the French

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Message Kevin Geary
A friend of mine sent me a lot of anti-French jokes (the usual stuff about their cowardice, laziness, duplicity, etc.) in an email, and I decided I'd had enough!

I'm sorry, BUT, I like the French!

They were responsible for defeating the British so that Americans finally won the war of Independence! Without Lafayette (and Louis XVI virtually bankrupting France to support the Americans, which led to the French Revolution and his downfall) Washington could not have defeated Britain alone. Why Americans prefer the perfidious Brits over the helpful French, defeats me!

When France surrendered in the Second World War, they were totally defeated by the overwhelming power and strength of the German forces. They didn't have enough planes; they didn't have enough tanks; they had lost 92,000 men in just a few weeks of fighting, which was 26 times greater than the British losses, (the British Expeditionary Forces, after losses of just 3,500, had already been defeated, and retreated at Dunkirk, and the French were then still fighting alone against the Germans, against overwhelming odds) and they were still reeling from the First World War, twenty years earlier, where they had lost ONE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND of their young men aged 17-26, far more than the British and their Empire allies, (947,000) and second only to Russian and German losses. The French losses in both wars were greater than the British, both in numbers and proportions of the population. And the Germans had threatened to blitz Paris to rubble if they didn't surrender (something I'm pleased never happened, especailly after what they did to Warsaw!) and, to make their point, had bombed Paris on June 3rd, 1940, killing 254 people in one day!

The French advised the Americans not to get involved in Vietnam, as they knew that we'd be defeated, as they had been at Dien Bien Phu in 1956. In fact, Robert McNamara was specifically warned by Prime Minister, Maurice Couve de Murville, on a trip to Paris with then President Kennedy, that it would be folly for America to get involved in Vietnam. When we were going into Iraq, they again advised us against going in, saying it would be a military and strategic disaster! Both times they were right. And, as a great French friend of mine said, "One day the Americans will realise we're really their best friends, and will listen to us!"

I like the fact that the French take to the street at the drop of a hat to defeat anything that their government proposes and that they don't like! It's a pity that the Brits and the Americans don't follow their example! We'd be a lot better off if people here got off their butts and took to the streets to protest things they don't like, instead of letting the government screw them all the time!

The French have wonderful food! And the best cheeses and wines in the world. And still make much of it by hand!

I like the fact that France spends 1% of its total GDP per year on the Arts, more than any country except Germany, and there's no disagreement across the political divide about this amount. In fact at presidential elections, candidates vie to offer increases on that amount!

I like the fact that the French work 35 hours a week and have a productivity per hour that is one and a half times higher than that in United States, where people work an average of 48-60 hours a week! In fact the French are, after the Norwegians (go figure?) the most productive workers in the world, even better than the Germans!

I like the fact that France (along with Britain) designed, engineered, and flew the only (and most aesthetically beautiful) commercial supersonic airplane in the world (and the Americans still haven't managed to come up with one, more than 40 years later!)

I like the fact that the French consider money less important than pleasure, and that they only work 200 days a year!

I like the fact that, whenever surveys are taken, despite all the French problems and complaints, the French are consistently the most contented with their lives of any people in the world! (76% the last time one was taken).

I like the fact that the French value and want to protect their distinct culture and values in the face of an American onslaught of dumbed-down intellect, food, and films (even though they seem to be losing the battle).

And finally I like the fact that I can go to Paris after 18 years away and still find the same restaurants and cafes I knew 18 years earlier, and have people at those places remember me, and be happy to see me!

Vive la difference!
Kevin Geary
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Kevin Geary is an artist and writer. He currently resides in Sedona, AZ.
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