In early 2003, in a bid to keep the American people distracted from the truth, the neo-cons and hawks cranked up the white noise in the media. Lies, damn lies and custom made « intelligence » were sent down the news wires, false assertions and drum beating became the norm from Fox News to CNN.
When France’s President Jacques Chirac voiced his opposition to the US lead hijacking of the United Nations Security Council, the American Media then disseminated Anti-French propaganda in an effort to ridicule the Administrations newfound opponents.
Republican members of the House of Representatives indulged themselves in the childish renaming of French Fries, others put forth punitive and retaliatory bills on French Imports and Right Wing publications toyed with the idea of a boycott of French products. Anti-French « jokes » became the verbal canapé of many a political meeting, and before long they were the mainstay of comedy writers on broadcast television.
A year later, the White House is on the defensive and the situation in Iraq shows little promise of improving beyond chaos bordering on civil war. With an election looming, the Republicans are now in full pre-electoral mode. From the race to the White House to congressional races in each district, the campaigns are gearing up to full speed.
This is where the story of Gen fits in. Geneviève moved to Washington D.C. and then Wyoming close to forty years ago from France and embraced the American way of life. Among the many contributions to her community Gen volunteered at Sundance Air Force Station in the sixties where her husband worked at the Nuclear Plant. A strong believer in the political process, Gen joined the Republican Party, devoted herself to helping elect members of Congress and the Senate and was given many awards for her tireless work.
Congresswoman Barbara Cubin and Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi were elected thanks to the hard work of people like Gen, yet many members of the Republican Party in Wyoming, engaged in French-Bashing through jokes, emails and insensitive comments. Then the attacks against Gen became personal: « It looks bad for the party to have a French (person) around », « the party does not need traitors », « go back where you came from ». To top things off, local boycott activists, targeted Gen’s housing rental business and contributed to over $ 15,000 in lost revenues.
One year later, Republicans have come a knocking for Gen!
Acting as if the entire French-Bashing episode was « just a joke », campaign managers like Jeff Eastwood are now wooing volunteers for active political service. It seems that Cubin, Thomas and Enzi need Gen to get back to Washington. The fact is the reckless actions of members of the Wyoming Republican Party have done too much damage for Gen to ever reconsider her decision to boycott them.
Some elements of the Republican Party of the United-States thought they had found the perfect scapegoat during the build-up to the Iraq War. It only took a few strategic comments from the upper echelons of the Administration to set into motion a campaign of vilification that spiralled into the situation we know today. What these irresponsible politicians didn’t realise is that Anti-French sentiment would evolve into a witch-hunt against proud Americans of French origins.
A fact 11 million Americans of French ancestry will not forget anytime soon, especially during an election year.
Marc Saint-Aubin du Cormier