As anyone who knows me personally knows, I have little love of the French. Anglophile yes, Francophile, no (actually I love lots of different countries…but France holds a special place in my heart, i.e. not in it). Just on a philosophic and historic level they are a bit annoying…which reminds me, how many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris?…No one knows as it has never been tried. And then of course there is my personal experience in France. Not only are the waiters there more obnoxious than the stereotype holds, but I encountered smells so horrific in De Gaulle International Airport I did not ever imagine were possible until I actually experienced them. Oh yeah, and unless you’re willing to go to an upper-end restaurant most of the food is absolutely unpalatable (most of the time went to Subway and the Jewish Deli just down the street from my hostel to get food…I couldn’t find a McDonald’s to have a “Royale with Cheese”, but I did look). I’ll be honest, there are just days I feel the Terror did not go far enough. But if there is a real reason to dislike the French, it’s their obsessions with socialism. But that’s changing.
But I do love Nicolas Sarcozy (not to mention envy him…can you blame? Have you seen Bruni?) And this last week has shown me three reasons why I love him and why I should not give up totally on the French.
The first is that the French banned the full veil worn by extremist Muslim women. Why is this a good thing? Well as a feminist I find nothing a better symbol of gross misogynist practices than the burka. Anyone who believes that women need to be completely covered up clearly hates women (and that includes the women who agree to wear this). This has nothing to do with showing humility before God. If it did it would apply to both men and women (as both men and women Hasidic Jews both must cover their heads, and Sikh men and women must never cut their hair). To apply a standard to women and not men isn’t religious piety, it’s a statement that women are inferior. And this is the greatest insult to God you can possibly create. It states that something god created in his own image is inferior, thus you claim God is inferior. For supposedly pious people, they do have a low option of the divine…kind of goes along with the low value some put on God’s other great gift, life. But Sarcozy’s push to ban the face veil wasn’t based on religion, no law should be, but on the fact that it is an insult to the dignity of women, which is guaranteed under any country that professes to abide democratic and republican principles. And anyone who opposes such equality under the law clearly does not get democracy, natural rights or the inherent equality of human beings…i.e. basic self-evident truths. But you say under a free society don’t people have the right to dress as they like…well, here in America you can’t show pornography in public because it is demeaning to the very nature of human dignity…and a public show of female inferiority isn’t more insulting? A woman being paid to have sex is at least an expression of free will and capitalistic entrepreneurialship (not a particularly good example of either, but an example nonetheless)…covering a woman in a burka is just an insult to human dignity. So way to go France for standing up for human dignity.
The second reason to love the French and Sarcozy this week came in the form of raising the retirement age to…gasp…62. Okay, it’s not great, but it’s a step in the right direction. Maybe over here we can make a similar step and raise the retirement age for our Social Security. Way to go Sarcozy for continuing your uphill battle toward capitalism!
Finally my final reason to love the French this week is their insult of the Obamas . Granted the official statements from the French Embassy is that Bruni never told an author that Michelle said she thought her position as First Lady was “Hell” (can you imagine such a statement coming from a woman who said she was never proud of America). It’s petty, I know, but right now I’ll take any insult I can for the Obamas as just about anything they do is worhy of insult.