If you have listened to any news recently you have probably heard about all the hoopla over Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), recent run in with the law in New York City. I don’t really want to discuss the merit of the charges levied against him or his treatment by the police.
What I really want to discuss is a comment I heard once his bail was revoked.
One of the news pundits made the statement that now that he was free on bail, DSK would be free to return to France, run for President on an anti-American platform and win.
Screech. . . Wait, What? Rewind!
Why would anyone run on an anti-American platform and why would that help him win?
I’m sure we’ve all heard about how the French hate Americans. In fact, a quick Google search produced these musings:
“The French loathe Americans that is well known.”
“I have long heard that French people can’t stand us Americans?”
“Why do so many French dislike Americans?”
“A word to the wise. My French teacher told our class if we ever go to France, say you’re Canadian.”
Do the French really hate Americans?
I have been to France quite a few times and in all honesty have never felt the slightest bit of hate, dislike, hostility or loathing focused at me whether I am in Paris or the countryside. In fact, I have found just the opposite. During my travels the French have been helpful, friendly, funny, kind and caring. I actually really like the French. I know a lot of people find the French, maybe especially Parisians, aloof and rude but I would take a French person over a New Yorker any day (ok let ‘er rip New Yorkers)!
So, do the French really hate us or is it just a talking point on the nightly news?
Within 6 months after the US went into Iraq during 2002 I visited France twice. The first time was in June and I was astonished at how many people I knew were worried about my family traveling to France! At the time, the French were angry at us for going into Iraq and people were concerned we would get caught up in anti-American demonstrations or feel some other kind of backlash. I went anyways and took my 2 teenage kids with me. There were no demonstrations, backlash or negativity just the same nice French people.
Is it hate or just politically expedient?
My second trip that year was in October and there was still a lot of talk on the wire about Americans abstaining from anything French as a protest. As a guest of the French Government Tourist Bureau, I had the chance to talk with the head of the Paris Tourist Bureau who told me that the merchants of Paris were feeling the pinch of the Americans not traveling to France. That’s when I fully realized that the Parisians were just like me, hard working people who just wanted to feed their families.
Hmmm . . . Maybe they don’t really hate us!
Now I may be naïve but I don’t get why the French would hate Americans just because we’re Americans. Yes, we are not perfect but neither is France or any other country. We all have our little quirks, irritations and different ways of doing things but isn’t that what makes the world so interesting?