New Hampshire's 'French-looking' Winner

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a Francophile. That's a terrible confession for a conservative, I know. I had to contend with dear friends of mine running around in 2002 and 2003 shoving "freedom fries" at me. Another good friend started a company in those Chirac-Iraq blighted days selling "I Hate the French Vanilla." I had to tell my conservative buddy, I hope your company goes belly-up. It did.

Then, in 2004, I had the temerity to pick a fight with James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's popular "Best of the Web" online report. I admitted that I read every word of BOTW daily. And I loved every word, except two. Taranto invariably referred to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as "French-looking."

I cried foul. Of all the things I didn't like about Kerry (don't get me started), the fact that he was alleged to be French-looking was not one of them. First, he isn't. Second, even if he were, it would be wrong to make that the basis for opposition.

Well, having ignored Mark Twain's good advice -- never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel -- I was in for a public, if anonymous, tongue-lashing from the formidable Taranto. How absurd, he wrote, for some pipsqueak no-name to say it was wrong, it was even racist to call Kerry French-looking. After all, Taranto argued, he himself is white, Kerry is white, the French are white. It isn't even remotely fair to charge racism. QED.

Well, it was, and it is. To attribute bad qualities to someone because of his facial appearance is the essence of racism. For hundreds of years, the English certainly thought of the French as another race. So did the Germans. Winston Churchill not only referred to the English as a race, but also to "the American race." Clearly, he thought of the French as a race, too. But he loved them.

I appealed to Taranto to consider the consequences of so offending the French-lookers. Why, I even blamed him for the loss of New Hampshire in '04. It was, after all, the only state to shift from (R) to (D) in that election cycle. Had Taranto forgotten about the 50,000 Quebeckers who had come across the border before World War I? A lot of French-lookers there, I'll guar-an-tee.

Now, look at the mess Taranto has gotten us into. New Hampshire has just given the nomination for U.S. Senate to Kelly Ayotte. Or, perhaps, to Ovide Lamontagne, if he wins a recount. Ayotte. Lamontagne. I don't know if they're French-looking, but they sure are French-sounding.

What's the serious side of all this? The Republican Party has had a problem with immigrants since it was formed. A considerable part of the original GOP consisted of anti-immigrant "Know-Nothings." Sad, but true. Lincoln rejected Know-Nothingism, but that didn't mean he didn't have to contend with it.

Because of the Know-Nothings in his Republican ranks, Lincoln knew he would win no Irish votes. He was therefore very careful not to offend America's second-largest bloc of immigrants: the Germans. Lincoln subscribed to and subsidized a German-language newspaper in 1860. (He couldn't read a word of it.) Lincoln named a number of German-Americans as generals in the Civil War. Lincoln carried the German vote everywhere in 1860 and 1864.

Now, the Republicans must thread the needle. They must show themselves firmly against illegal immigration, strongly for border security, but not anti-Hispanic. It must be done with care. When some talk show hosts berated McCain, Romney, and Giuliani in 2008 for daring to air campaign ads on Spanish-language stations in Florida, sensible conservatives winced. The candidates weren't saying we shouldn't have English as our national language; they just wanted to talk to some loyal American citizens in their first tongue.

I make a special point of reading the names of the fallen soldiers from our war on terror. They are the heroes who died that we might live in freedom. There are a lot of Hispanic and even French-sounding names among them. Check out any Louisiana National Guard unit, for starters.

My friends Tom and Kim Bengard and their son Travis provide another powerful reason to eschew snide anti-French comments. Their documentary film, Mother of Normandy, tells the story of Simone Renaud, the wife of the Mayor of Sainte-Mère-Eglise. That was the first town liberated by our 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions after D-Day. Mme. Renaud spent not years but decades writing to the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of our fallen soldiers, the ones who lie in honored graves in France (http://www.motherofnormandy.com/). She dedicated her life to honoring them.

It is un-American not to love what this wonderful woman did for thousands of us. For her sake, for the sake of those whom she loved, we must avoid sneering at the French.

Once again, I appeal to James Taranto. Keep 99% of the great words you use. But lose the "French-looking." It's unworthy of you. It's harmful to conservatism. And it's unrepresentative of America.
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a Francophile. That's a terrible confession for a conservative, I know. I had to contend with dear friends of mine running around in 2002 and 2003 shoving "freedom fries" at me. Another good friend started a company in those Chirac-Iraq blighted days selling "I Hate the French Vanilla." I had to tell my conservative buddy, I hope your company goes belly-up. It did.

Then, in 2004, I had the temerity to pick a fight with James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's popular "Best of the Web" online report. I admitted that I read every word of BOTW daily. And I loved every word, except two. Taranto invariably referred to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as "French-looking."

I cried foul. Of all the things I didn't like about Kerry (don't get me started), the fact that he was alleged to be French-looking was not one of them. First, he isn't. Second, even if he were, it would be wrong to make that the basis for opposition.

Well, having ignored Mark Twain's good advice -- never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel -- I was in for a public, if anonymous, tongue-lashing from the formidable Taranto. How absurd, he wrote, for some pipsqueak no-name to say it was wrong, it was even racist to call Kerry French-looking. After all, Taranto argued, he himself is white, Kerry is white, the French are white. It isn't even remotely fair to charge racism. QED.

Well, it was, and it is. To attribute bad qualities to someone because of his facial appearance is the essence of racism. For hundreds of years, the English certainly thought of the French as another race. So did the Germans. Winston Churchill not only referred to the English as a race, but also to "the American race." Clearly, he thought of the French as a race, too. But he loved them.

I appealed to Taranto to consider the consequences of so offending the French-lookers. Why, I even blamed him for the loss of New Hampshire in '04. It was, after all, the only state to shift from (R) to (D) in that election cycle. Had Taranto forgotten about the 50,000 Quebeckers who had come across the border before World War I? A lot of French-lookers there, I'll guar-an-tee.

Now, look at the mess Taranto has gotten us into. New Hampshire has just given the nomination for U.S. Senate to Kelly Ayotte. Or, perhaps, to Ovide Lamontagne, if he wins a recount. Ayotte. Lamontagne. I don't know if they're French-looking, but they sure are French-sounding.

What's the serious side of all this? The Republican Party has had a problem with immigrants since it was formed. A considerable part of the original GOP consisted of anti-immigrant "Know-Nothings." Sad, but true. Lincoln rejected Know-Nothingism, but that didn't mean he didn't have to contend with it.

Because of the Know-Nothings in his Republican ranks, Lincoln knew he would win no Irish votes. He was therefore very careful not to offend America's second-largest bloc of immigrants: the Germans. Lincoln subscribed to and subsidized a German-language newspaper in 1860. (He couldn't read a word of it.) Lincoln named a number of German-Americans as generals in the Civil War. Lincoln carried the German vote everywhere in 1860 and 1864.

Now, the Republicans must thread the needle. They must show themselves firmly against illegal immigration, strongly for border security, but not anti-Hispanic. It must be done with care. When some talk show hosts berated McCain, Romney, and Giuliani in 2008 for daring to air campaign ads on Spanish-language stations in Florida, sensible conservatives winced. The candidates weren't saying we shouldn't have English as our national language; they just wanted to talk to some loyal American citizens in their first tongue.

I make a special point of reading the names of the fallen soldiers from our war on terror. They are the heroes who died that we might live in freedom. There are a lot of Hispanic and even French-sounding names among them. Check out any Louisiana National Guard unit, for starters.

My friends Tom and Kim Bengard and their son Travis provide another powerful reason to eschew snide anti-French comments. Their documentary film, Mother of Normandy, tells the story of Simone Renaud, the wife of the Mayor of Sainte-Mère-Eglise. That was the first town liberated by our 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions after D-Day. Mme. Renaud spent not years but decades writing to the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of our fallen soldiers, the ones who lie in honored graves in France (http://www.motherofnormandy.com/). She dedicated her life to honoring them.

It is un-American not to love what this wonderful woman did for thousands of us. For her sake, for the sake of those whom she loved, we must avoid sneering at the French.

Once again, I appeal to James Taranto. Keep 99% of the great words you use. But lose the "French-looking." It's unworthy of you. It's harmful to conservatism. And it's unrepresentative of America.

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