Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives struck a blow for freedom.
Freedom fries, that is.
The chairman of the House Administration Committee, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), who speaks fluent French and is of French ancestry, ordered that all fries served in the House cafeterias be renamed to show our displeasure with France’s opposition to a U.S.-led war on Iraq.
The cafeteria will now serve freedom fries alongside freedom toast.
(Even though the French embassy pointed out that French fries were actually Belgian, according to a March 12 Associated Press article.)
“We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes,” said Nathalie Loisau, a spokesperson for the embassy.
Truer words have never been spoken.
At a moment when our country is poised on the brink of war, while debate rages about the best path for the economy and the federal budget, our leaders should be focused on real issues, not hurling meaningless gestures at France, a longtime U.S. ally.
Sadly, the freedom fries episode was not the end of it.
Lawmakers in the House have proposed a flurry of bills to punish the French, from preventing U.S. jets from flying in the Paris air show in June, to barring French firms from participating in the rebuilding of Iraq.
One proposed bill would limit imports of French wine and bottled water.
Oddly enough, there have been no proposals to punish Russia, which also threatened a United Nations veto.
Forgive them though.
Our representatives surely don’t want to endanger their martinis by limiting vodka imports.
Disturbingly, Rep. Ginny Brown-White (R., Fla.) offered a bill that would allow the relatives of U.S. soldiers who were buried in France after World War I and II to solicit the government to exhume the bodies and return them to U.S. soil.
These soldiers died in the defense of France; their sacrifice should not be turned into an obscene political gesture.
It should be noted that none of these bills are likely to pass.
Regardless, the House members are only helping promote the view that the United States is arrogant and does not take the views of the rest of the world seriously.
The fury over the French veto is hardly warranted, given the frequency that the United States has used the veto itself.
Officials in President George W. Bush’s administration have said that if they were able to secure nine U.N. Security Council votes, but were overruled by a veto, they would still have the justification needed to go to war.
This conveniently ignores the fact that the United States has used its veto several times to block resolutions rebuking Israel, despite otherwise unanimous support by the United Nations.
The House is acting like a spoiled child, hurling insults at someone who disagrees with them, instead of arguing the actual issue.
Instead of trying to poke the French in the eye, perhaps our representatives’ time would be better spent debating issues surrounding Iraq, or even turn their attention to next year’s budget.
Hopefully, our dispute with France will pass, and our legislators will be enjoying French fries with their martinis once again.
The Temple News editorial board members are:
* Mike Gainer, Editor in Chief
* Jeremy Smith, Managing Editor
* Brian White, News Editor
* Kia Gregory, Opinion Editor
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