In 1985, after my college graduation, I spent several months traveling throughout Europe . I visited 19 countries and enjoyed them all except one, France. Although it is a beautiful country with many interesting and significant attractions, the people left me cold. Even though I have a predominantly French ancestry and have a very French last name, Crouere, I have not yet learned to speak French. In France , being unable to speak French is a severe handicap, especially if you are an American. I sensed an anti-American attitude among the French people I met, possibly resulting from a feeling of envy of my status as a citizen of the best country on earth.
France has delusions of grandeur, but possesses neither the military nor the economy to qualify as a superpower on the world stage. To receive the attention that it believes it deserves, France often becomes an obstacle to our justified fight against the tyrants and dictators of the world. In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan wanted to bomb Libya as retaliation for terrorism against citizens of the U.S. , France did not allow our planes use of their airspace. At the time, I swore I would never forgive France for their petulance against our anti-terrorism efforts, but since I live in Louisiana , my anger against France soon faded away.
Louisiana is a state that has strong ties to France . Because of our history and culture, it is the more closely aligned with France than any other state in the U.S. In fact, the state is named after a French King and the City of New Orleans is named after Orleans in France . New Orleans was founded by a Frenchman, Bienville, in 1718 and the city’s most famous tourist attraction is named the French Quarter.
So, it is not unreasonable that the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, would plan an extravagant bicentennial celebration of the 1803 signing of the Louisiana Purchase . The Louisiana Purchase was signed in New Orleans and Blanco’s Office, which oversees statewide tourism, had planned an elaborate ceremony for December 20, 2003 with U.S. President George W. Bush, Spanish King Juan Carlos and French President Jacques Chirac attending. There is just one little problem with these well laid plans, it involves France ! Throughout the U.S. , there is severe dissatisfaction with France . A boycott of French products has been receiving tremendous popular support. French jokes are circulating across the country on the comedy circuit, in our nation’s workplaces and on the Internet.
Even in the most French of United States cities, New Orleans , there is an anti-French backlash. For a while, some residents circulated a petition to change the name of the French Quarter to the Freedom Quarter. The name change will not occur because people in New Orleans are just too attached to the name French Quarter. However, citizens of Louisiana have had enough of French President Jacques Chirac. We have seen him stand as an obstacle to our effort to liberate the people of Iraq . He has coddled Saddam Hussein, and scolded President Bush. Even worse, France has attempted to organize a worldwide coalition against needed military action in Iraq .
Chirac has not only angered President Bush, he has angered almost the entire state of Louisiana . Right now, he is not welcome to visit Louisiana for the Louisiana Purchase bicentennial. To emphasize that point, State Representative A.G. Crowe of Slidell has filed a resolution rescinding the invitation of the French President to the bicentennial event. Crowe’s resolution makes a strong case against Chirac, “Through his unwillingness to support the United States and President Bush at this crucial time, Mr. Chirac has appeared to be ungrateful for the tremendous help and genuine friendship that the United States has given to France for many years, including both World War I and World War II.” Crowe’s resolution will have strong support in the Louisiana Legislature. In fact, Bobby Jindal, a Republican candidate for Governor, has already endorsed the resolution.
The Lieutenant Governor’s office has expressed their opposition to Crowe’s resolution, fearing that it will hurt attendance at the bicentennial. Blanco’s deputy, Philip Jones, states that Crowe’s resolution “would be very negative for Louisiana .” There are approximately 50,000 French tourists that visit Louisiana annually. Yet, if Chirac actually attends, the response from many Louisiana residents will be to boycott the events. If the French President attends, it will harm the bicentennial celebration much more than Representative Crowe’s resolution. Americans from outside of Louisiana will be furious if our state hosts someone so detrimental to our national security interests. More importantly than losing tourists from France , Louisiana could lose tourists from other U.S. states in protest to our honoring such an anti-American politician.
Crowe’s resolution will become null and void if France changes their mind and supports U.S. troops. Of course, France will never change their policy toward the Iraqi liberation campaign, so don’t expect to see French President Jacques Chirac at the Louisiana Purchase celebration this December.