Pardon my French

Weir thinking about it

The attitude most Americans have toward the French right now is certainly justified for reasons that don't need to be restated here. However, I'm not comfortable with the attitude many Americans display toward citizens of this country who happen to be of French descent. 

Although cultural diversification is one of the benefits inherent in an eclectic society, we should always be cognizant of its propensity for discrimination and abuse. Right now, France is on the firing line, but one day it could be the country of your ancestors. Suppose people began distancing themselves from you because of a clash of governments? What would it feel like to be treated with disdain by your adopted country simply because your name or your accent matched with the country currently being maligned? We've all read about boycotts of French products and other attempts at damaging the economy of the country that deserted us when we needed them. As far as I'm concerned, that's a fair and reputable way to strike back at an ostensible ally that has repeatedly distorted the meaning of friendship.

Together with some friends, my wife and I recently attended a wine tasting in Dallas, Texas. The sommelier extraordinaire for the evening was a French—American with a heavy accent, named Michel. An obviously dignified man with an amiable disposition, Michel began by assuring the group that he was not happy with the country of his origin because of their recent lack of rectitude in matters geo—political. It seemed painfully evident to me that Michel felt such a disclaimer was obligatory inasmuch as his tonal inflection made him a marked man.

I feel very certain that prior to the conflict between the U.S. and France over the need to go to war against Iraq, this distinguished gentleman didn't find it necessary to trash his ancestral country in front of a group of fellow Americans. I felt several emotions as I watched him pirouette precariously from the sensual appreciation of fine wine, to an almost groveling display of hostility toward his erstwhile homeland.

Although Michel was undoubtedly well—schooled in his craft and thorough in his teaching, his obsequious attempt to win over the audience with an intermittent and increasingly tiresome verbal assault on the errant country was uncomfortable to witness. He would have earned more respect by either omitting any reference to the controversy, or by giving a brief statement regarding his perspective, while maintaining a dignified persona. I don't pretend to understand what challenges he has faced since the gloves came off between his old country and his new one. But I believe most Americans are fair—minded enough to be compassionate when someone is struggling to earn his wages while walking a political tightrope. In addition, most people admire the courage it takes to stand up for yourself and your heritage, especially in the face of diversity.

On the other hand, Michel's truckling performance was liberally sprinkled with French titles and phrases, as if he were determined to insinuate his cultural role into the proceedings. Instead of using English appellations he would get our attention by saying: 'Monsieur, Dames, s'il vous plait,' as a prelude to the next wine introduction. Furthermore, when describing the history of winemaking, he alluded to the many centuries of experience accumulated by the great wine aficionados of Europe. (The bold print at the bottom of the literature describing the wines read: The management has never dealt with European wineries that harbored anti—American sentiments.) Overall, the experience was very pleasant and informative. Watching Michel oxidize the wine with artful dexterity in every rapidly swirling movement, kept my eyes glued to the glass, anticipating a red or white shower that never arrived.

Most of the wines were California natives, with only 2 of 21 from France. One white entrant was described as 'Gold medal for best non—French Chardonnay.' I'm not sure if that's necessarily the preferred way of recommending a product. Does it mean it's the best Chardonnay except for one made in France? Or is it merely a way of informing the public that, despite its French title, all Chardonnays are not made in France?

We've all read about people who poured their stash of French wines into sewers and drains as a protest during the recent imbroglio. My approach is more pragmatic: I'm drinking mine. After all, I've already paid for them, so why not pour them into a more suitable place, like my gullet? That way, I can get rid of them with a smile on my face and a promise not to restock. It may be a tough job and it may take some time, but, hey, somebody's got to do it. By the way, if anyone has a 1988 Chateau Greysac, Cru Bourgeois Medoc that they're planning to pour down the drain, please allow me to dispose of it for you; I know just the place.

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Weir thinking about it

The attitude most Americans have toward the French right now is certainly justified for reasons that don't need to be restated here. However, I'm not comfortable with the attitude many Americans display toward citizens of this country who happen to be of French descent. 

Although cultural diversification is one of the benefits inherent in an eclectic society, we should always be cognizant of its propensity for discrimination and abuse. Right now, France is on the firing line, but one day it could be the country of your ancestors. Suppose people began distancing themselves from you because of a clash of governments? What would it feel like to be treated with disdain by your adopted country simply because your name or your accent matched with the country currently being maligned? We've all read about boycotts of French products and other attempts at damaging the economy of the country that deserted us when we needed them. As far as I'm concerned, that's a fair and reputable way to strike back at an ostensible ally that has repeatedly distorted the meaning of friendship.

Together with some friends, my wife and I recently attended a wine tasting in Dallas, Texas. The sommelier extraordinaire for the evening was a French—American with a heavy accent, named Michel. An obviously dignified man with an amiable disposition, Michel began by assuring the group that he was not happy with the country of his origin because of their recent lack of rectitude in matters geo—political. It seemed painfully evident to me that Michel felt such a disclaimer was obligatory inasmuch as his tonal inflection made him a marked man.

I feel very certain that prior to the conflict between the U.S. and France over the need to go to war against Iraq, this distinguished gentleman didn't find it necessary to trash his ancestral country in front of a group of fellow Americans. I felt several emotions as I watched him pirouette precariously from the sensual appreciation of fine wine, to an almost groveling display of hostility toward his erstwhile homeland.

Although Michel was undoubtedly well—schooled in his craft and thorough in his teaching, his obsequious attempt to win over the audience with an intermittent and increasingly tiresome verbal assault on the errant country was uncomfortable to witness. He would have earned more respect by either omitting any reference to the controversy, or by giving a brief statement regarding his perspective, while maintaining a dignified persona. I don't pretend to understand what challenges he has faced since the gloves came off between his old country and his new one. But I believe most Americans are fair—minded enough to be compassionate when someone is struggling to earn his wages while walking a political tightrope. In addition, most people admire the courage it takes to stand up for yourself and your heritage, especially in the face of diversity.

On the other hand, Michel's truckling performance was liberally sprinkled with French titles and phrases, as if he were determined to insinuate his cultural role into the proceedings. Instead of using English appellations he would get our attention by saying: 'Monsieur, Dames, s'il vous plait,' as a prelude to the next wine introduction. Furthermore, when describing the history of winemaking, he alluded to the many centuries of experience accumulated by the great wine aficionados of Europe. (The bold print at the bottom of the literature describing the wines read: The management has never dealt with European wineries that harbored anti—American sentiments.) Overall, the experience was very pleasant and informative. Watching Michel oxidize the wine with artful dexterity in every rapidly swirling movement, kept my eyes glued to the glass, anticipating a red or white shower that never arrived.

Most of the wines were California natives, with only 2 of 21 from France. One white entrant was described as 'Gold medal for best non—French Chardonnay.' I'm not sure if that's necessarily the preferred way of recommending a product. Does it mean it's the best Chardonnay except for one made in France? Or is it merely a way of informing the public that, despite its French title, all Chardonnays are not made in France?

We've all read about people who poured their stash of French wines into sewers and drains as a protest during the recent imbroglio. My approach is more pragmatic: I'm drinking mine. After all, I've already paid for them, so why not pour them into a more suitable place, like my gullet? That way, I can get rid of them with a smile on my face and a promise not to restock. It may be a tough job and it may take some time, but, hey, somebody's got to do it. By the way, if anyone has a 1988 Chateau Greysac, Cru Bourgeois Medoc that they're planning to pour down the drain, please allow me to dispose of it for you; I know just the place.

Bob Weir is a columnist for The American Thinker. The author of 7 books, he is a retired NYPD sergeant, living in Flower Mound, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com