“Would the French accept people singing the ‘La Marseillaise’ in English as a sign of French patriotism? Of course not,” said Mark Krikorian, head of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls.
The quote goes with a story about a Spanish recording of the Star Spangled Banner, which we think is a cool idea. What’s really funny about the quote is the way the French are suddenly back in style as models of American patriotism. Without any prejudice to the French people, this is surely a sign of right-wing desperation.
When the French refused to follow us to war, the redneck right insisted on having “freedom fries” (instead of French fries). But now that red-white-and- blue bigotry is busy turning the war machine homeward, well golly, French patriotism (or some ideologist’s projection of it) is invoked as the gold standard of nationalist purity. In either case, what the yokels need most from the French is support for all-American instincts to violence and intolerance.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once explained that confronting social evil is a lot like treating a big blister. At some point, you have to let the bad juices flow. If it’s the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish that serves as the needle in this case, then so be it. It is a sign of coming health to watch these poisonous attitudes flow.
As for the French, let us be clear. On the bus ride down Mirabeau B. Lamar Boulevard this morning, I was very much enjoying my Cambridge Companion to Foucault, a philosopher who would no doubt have delighted in the contemplation of bilingual liberation, and who would have most probably joined in.
“But that’s so gay”? Oui, exactement.–gm