Red State Frenchmen
Until quite recently I can truthfully say that I had not yet met a Frenchman (or Frenchwoman for that matter), that was actually pleasant to deal with. It seemed that they would go out of their way to be obnoxious, that they had managed to raise arrogance and rudeness to a whole new level.
I remember a Frenchman working (?) the ticket counter of Air New Zealand in Tahiti who put all of the English speaking passengers to one side so the French speaking passengers could be checked in first. We were all going to be on the same airplane, so it didn't really make much difference, but certainly wasn't what you'd call friendly customer service.
I remember a French woman at the front desk at a Club Med in Tahiti who refused to be any help in locating my college room mate who was staying there. She would not tell me what room he was in, nor would she even take a message for him so he could contact me. I finally wandered around for a while and found him on my own. Since he was six-three he wasn't too hard to spot!
I could relate incident after incident where my opinion of the French in general sank to new lows, but that's not the point.
Early in the American Revolution (The American Rebellion in British school books) a French rich guy known as Lafayette decided to help, on his own. Since he had the money, he went out and bought the equivalent of a modern battleship of the day, then hired a crew, and sailed it to America. He found George Washington, who already had his hands full fighting the British, and volunteered to help.
Lafayette later talked the French government into joining with the Americans against the British. Lafayette was instrumental in several naval victories over the British warships. In fact, it can be argued that without the help of the French, we might still be a part of Great Britain. Now I realise that this is a historical simplification, but you get the idea.
Generally speaking, WWII was not a high point in French history, but some of the heroics of the French underground are worth noting.
Today we see a France with some major social problems, what appears to be nearly out of control socialism, questionable international arms deals, and more. The images of cars burning in the streets keeps coming to mind. Most of what I read in the mainstream media about France is not good.
Then a very small light bulb came on. Most of what I read about the United States in the MSM isn't very positive either, and just about everything I read about Iraq is not only negative and biased, but often just wrong.
Perhaps there IS another side to France and it's residents, I'm just not seeing it in the MSM. To a large degree, it's that way in the United States right now. This country is clearly split into the liberal socialist blue staters, and the conservative capitalist red staters. Could it be that there are "Red State" and "Blue State" Frenchmen too?
A while back I got to know fellow gun blogger and bowling pin shooter, Manfred, who's blog is Armes Et Tir Passion. An English translation would be something like "Firearms Are My Passion", but I think a closer 'American' translation whould be "Rabid Gun Nut!"
It didn't take long to find out that he and I see eye to eye on a lot of issues, including our passion for sport handgunning. Manfred sounds like a "Red State" Frenchman to me, and if there's one, there's more, as they say. I find that most encouraging.
So what's my point in this rambling post? First, I owe some folks in France an apology. Not to the jerks who have gone out of their way to be arrogant and rude, but to the other "Red State" Frenchmen and women, those that DO have manners, those that, like a lot of us, are just doing their best to get along and go about living their lives.
When you hear broad generalizations made about the French, or any other country for that matter, remember that there are probably some "Red Staters" in that country too. You just don't hear too much about them.
In the past I have painted the French with too broad a brush.
In the future I will be more careful.........