Anti-French sentiment in the United States

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For general Anti-French hostility, see Francophobia.

Anti-French sentiment in the United States is the manifestation of Francophobia by Americans. It signifies a consistent hostility toward the government, culture, and people of France that employs stereotypes.

Understanding anti-French sentiments[edit]

As with any xenophobia, Francophobia in the U.S. can be distinguished from rational criticism of France.[1] It can instead be analyzed as a cultural and sociological phenomenon.

The missing French-American lobby[edit]

French historian Justin Vaïsse has proposed that an important cause of public hostility in the U.S. is the small number of Americans of direct or recent French descent.[2] Most Americans of French descent are descended from 17th and 18th century colonists who settled in Quebec, Acadia, or Louisiana before migrating to the United States or being incorporated into American territories. Many other French Americans of colonial era Huguenot descent have ceased to identify with predominantly Roman Catholic France. As a result, most Franco-Americans do not closely identify with France, or have direct ties to present-day France, and there is relatively little cohesion or organization amongst French Americans of different cultural backgrounds.[citation needed] While Vaïsse acknowledges that this is not the direct cause of anti-French sentiments, he argues that it explains why these sentiments can be expressed publicly, without being seen as a gross violation of political correctness. Vaïsse contends that by comparison, the public display of such sentiments towards Mexicans or the Japanese would be met by strong disapproval. He proposes that as a result of the limited number of French people who migrated to the U.S., France has no powerful and organised lobby to defend it, making it socially and politically acceptable to hold negative stereotypes of the French.[3]

The conflict of universalism[edit]

Both America and modern France were born out of revolutions (1776 and 1789, respectively) with pretensions of universalism.

Pierre Bourdieu and Stanley Hoffmann[4] have suggested that one of the roots of anti-French sentiments in the United States (and anti-American sentiments in France) is the claim of both countries that their social and political systems are "models" that apply to all the countries of the world. Hoffmann and Bourdieu contend that France and the United States view their own societies as universal. In their view each blames the other for such grandiose pretensions; each rejects the other's claims. The authors contend that the conflict is made worse as the two countries have very different societies and that the role of state, the place of religion in the public sphere, and the definition of ethnic identities differ greatly, and in some ways are polar opposites, between France and the United States. Hoffmann and Bourdieu argue that each country's vision of itself is thus called into question by the other, and that anti-French sentiments in America and anti-American sentiments in France are the product of this conflict.

A political phenomenon[edit]

Justin Vaïsse thinks that francophobia is, in the U.S., mainly a political phenomenon.[2] It is the product of a long story of political disagreements, especially on foreign policy issues.

France is a major player in world diplomatic relations through its leading role in the European Union, diplomatic relations and a permanent seat at the Security Council of the United Nations. French foreign policy has long been characterized by a degree of independence from the U.S., particularly in the recent years on the Middle East. Francophobia is thus strong in the political groups that are at odds with French foreign policy such as the State Department, neoconservatives, and the Israel lobby.

As a consequence, most of the issues that fuel the anti-French sentiment in the U.S. are diplomatic, as the Iraq War clearly exemplifies.[citation needed]

History of the Anti-French sentiment in the United States[edit]

During much of the history of the United States, sentiment towards the French people tended to be positive, especially during the American Revolution and aftermath, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, late 19th century (see Statue of Liberty below), during the first half of the 20th century (as allies during the World War 1 and II periods), and during the 1990s and early 21st century when France participated in both the 1991 Iraq Gulf War (as Operation Daguet) and the War in Afghanistan. Negative sentiment to France or the French people have occurred during the XYZ Affair and Quasi-War (with a risk of war over impressment), the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (to a limited extent compared to the previous, primarily over the structure of NATO), and immediately preceding the 2003 Iraq War (greatly, with numerous politicians including some in the United States Congress and political commentators demonstrating anti-French sentiment – see below).

France and the United States have fought four major global wars (and numerous other conflicts) together: American Revolution, War of 1812, World War I, and World War II. France is the only European Great Power to have never fought a war against the United States—Britain (American Revolution and War of 1812), Spain (Spanish-American War), Germany (World War I and II) and Prussia (significant number of mercenary troops deployed in the American Revolution), Russia/Soviet Union (Cold War, Vietnam War, Korean War involvement, etc.), and Italy (World War II) have all done so.

Pre American Independence[edit]

The United States of America was formed in a revolution against the British Crown. Relations between the colonies and France prior to this revolution were therefore shaped by British-French relations. The colonials fought for Britain against France in the French and Indian War. Furthermore, the Puritan colonies and Scottish Presbyterians of the inland regions tended toward Anti-Catholicism and so disliked all Catholic nations, possibly in some part due to French persecution of Protestants (see Edict of Fontainebleau). By the same token a few Catholics in the colonies felt uncomfortable with the anti-clerical thought of many French philosophers.

Revolutionary War[edit]

During the Revolutionary War and immediately after, Americans tended more toward "Francophilia." Many of the French philosophers proved inspirational to the Founding Fathers, and French military aid was pivotal in the defeat of the British (the foremost being the Battle of the Chesapeake and the Siege of Yorktown). Thomas Paine would later feel admiration for the spirit of Revolutionary France, going so far as to sit as a member for the National Convention. In patriotic American contexts of the time, France was characterized as the first ally of the American revolutionaries. When the Marquis de Lafayette toured the United States in (1824–1825), he was accorded a hero's welcome as one of the first foreign American celebrities, and numerous new settlements were named Lafayette, Fayette and Fayetteville.

Francophile tradition[edit]

Harvard University professor and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury A. Piatt Andrew summed up this Francophile tradition, when he wrote:

One of the most famous American Francophiles from history is Thomas Jefferson.[5][6] Even during the excesses of the Reign of Terror, Jefferson refused to disavow the revolution because he was "convinced that the fates of the two republics were indissolubly linked. To back away from France would be to undermine the cause of republicanism in America."[7] Commenting on the continuing revolutions in the Netherlands and France, the retired Secretary of State predicted: "this ball of liberty, I believe most piously, is now so well in motion that it will roll round the globe, at least the enlightened part of it, for light & liberty go together. It is our glory that we first put it into motion."[8] The "staunchly Francophile"[9] Jefferson, and by extension his adherents or "Jeffersonians", were characterized by his political enemies, the Federalists, as "decadent, ungodly and immoral Francophiles"[10] Jefferson would often sign his letters "Affectionately adieu", and commented late in life "France, freed from that monster, Bonaparte, must again become the most agreeable country on earth."[11]

Despite the positive view Jeffersonian Americans had of the French Revolution, it awakened or created Anti-French feelings among many Federalists. An ideological split was already emerging between Francophobe and Francophile sentiment, with John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and their fellow Federalists taking a skeptical view of France, even as Thomas Jefferson and other Democratic-Republicans urged closer ties. As for the Revolution, many or most Federalists denounced it as far too radical and violent. Those on the Democratic-Republican side remained broadly supportive.

Fête de la Fédération[edit]

The oath of La Fayette at the Fête de la Fédération, July 14, 1790. Talleyrand, then Bishop of Autun can be seen on the right. The standing child is the son of La Fayette, the young Georges Washington de La Fayette. French School, 18th century. Musée Carnavalet.

On July 14, 1790, the Fête de la Fédération was held in Paris to celebrate the new constitutional monarchy; during the event, a delegation of the United States of America, led by John Paul Jones, founder of the U.S. Navy, joined the feast. It also included Thomas Paine, James Swan, Georges Howell, Benjamin Jarvis, Samuel Blackden, Joel Barlow and William Henry Vernon. The delegation arrived at the Champ de Mars with its flag, the first instance ever of a U.S. flag flown outside the USA, and was cheered by the people. At the time, the USA were thought in France as a "sister Republic" of enlightenment and liberty.

In the 1790s, the French, under a new post-revolutionary government, accused the United States of collaborating with the British and proceeded to impound UK-bound U.S. merchant ships. Attempts at diplomacy led to the 1797 XYZ Affair in which three French agents approached American delegates requesting a tribute of $250,000. This led to a state of Quasi-War, an undeclared war fought entirely at sea between the United States and France from 1798 to 1801. Relations deepened after the rise of Napoleon and the election of Thomas Jefferson, but improved after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. This 828,000 square mile (2,144,518.7 km2) purchase nearly doubled the size of the nascent American republic and is the second largest single expansion of United States territory after the original Thirteen Colonies of the 1783 Treaty of Paris. After the Anglo-American War of 1812, during which British military forces burnt the White House in Washington, France became a main ally of the United States.

With the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840s and the rise of a populist sub-culture hostile to Britain, France became a rallying-point, though an ambivalent one, for its republicanism was tarnished. American cultured classes embraced French styles and luxuries after the Civil War: Americans trained as architects in the École des Beaux-Arts, French haute cuisine reigned at elite American tables, and upper-class women in the U.S. followed Parisian clothing fashions. Following World War I, a generation of rich American expatriates and bohemians settled in Paris.

The generally positive relations between the French and United States during the 19th century were highlighted by the construction and donation of the Statue of Liberty to the United States in 1886. This 151 ft (46 m) copper-skinned structure was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, with an iron skeleton frame designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. The pedestal for this statue was paid for largely by the donations of ordinary Americans – indeed, by August 11, 1885, the New York World's fundraising drive collected $102,000 had been raised from 120,000 donors, and that 80 percent of the total had been received in sums of less than one dollar.[12] The Statue of Liberty has become a cultural icon celebrating the freedom and opportunity that many see in the United States (see American Dream), is the subject of a famous poem The New Colossus by Jewish-American poet Emma Lazarus, and is a national monument and remains the largest statue in the United States.

France was (and still is) a frequent destination for American tourists. The 1878 Paris Exposition and its then-new Eiffel Tower drew an estimated 90,000 Americans and was an enormous success.[13] Since then, fully 75% of foreign (non-French) visitors to that Eiffel Tower have been American; the predominance of American tourists is so large that the tower's overall admissions rates tend to follow decreases/increases in American tourists, such as a decrease in 1973 due to a devalued dollar.[14]

In the 20th century, the stock-market crash and the Great Depression put a damper on international lifestyles, and a change in temper of internal French politics during the interbellum sent many politically fastidious Americans home.

First World War period[edit]

The United States and France fought as parts of the Triple Entente against the Triple Alliance powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.

American volunteers served in the French armed forces, such as in the Lafayette Escadrille.

The First World War had also brought the British and the Americans closer together; and a centuries-old British reservation against the French was easily revived in a nation descended from British colonies. Reservations against the function of the democratic French parliamentarism, against Catholicism, against perceived French arrogance in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, etc. weakened the emotional ties between American Francophiles and the French. Additionally, France's attitudes against Weimar Germany, combining fear and a wish for dominance after the French traumatic experience of World War I (1.5 million French soldiers killed), were by many seen as an obstacle for a lasting European peace, as it mobilized the Germans into revanchism and militarism.

Post World War II[edit]

The rout of British and French forces at the Battle of Dunkirk in May/June 1940 against Nazi German forces came as a profound shock to Francophilic Americans. Anti-French sentiment was common enough among the GIs that at the end of 1945 that the U.S. military authorities thought it necessary to distribute to them the explanatory (conciliatory) booklet "112 Gripes about the French" a year or so after their arrival in France. Charles de Gaulle in particular inspired great irritation with his declaration that Paris had been "liberated by her own people, with the help of the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, that is to say of fighting France, that is to say of the true France, the eternal France," with no mention of either the Allied invasion or the Vichy French military contribution to the Axis' cause, was to be a long-term source of annoyance.[15] Nonetheless, after the war the Americans supported France as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and treated France as a victorious Allied power in the division of occupied Germany and Austria.

Franco-U.S. relations worsened under de Gaulle's postwar presidency, when he attempted to position France as an independent power, in part by removing France from the joint military structure of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). One concern was that the current arrangement had a large number of American troops stationed in France. Some Americans were unhappy about the actions of de Gaulle and claimed he was ungrateful as many Americans had lost their lives helping to liberate France. When de Gaulle requested that all American soldiers leave French soil, US President Lyndon Baines Johnson is reported to have asked him whether that included the 60,000 who were buried in it.[16]

France's troubled history in Vietnam helped make the Vietnam War generally unpopular there. Additionally, the Vietnam War was seen as an imperialist war, echoing the unpopular Algerian War that France had engaged in a decade earlier. Hence, de Gaulle's government began to criticise the U.S. for intervening in a nation they had learned to leave, thus supporting millions of anti-war protesters in the U.S. and abroad. Ho Chi Minh had made a bid for independence in 1945 with moderate financial support from the United States (and a massive one from the USSR and Communist China).

During de Gaulle's time in office, Franco-U.S. relations seem to have reached a historic low, even though de Gaulle supported the U.S. during the major Cold War crises (e.g. the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the Cuban Missile Crisis) of the 1960s. Indeed, De Gaulle proved to be "Kennedy's most loyal ally during the Cuban Missile Crisis and supported the right that the United States claimed to defend its interests in the Western Hemisphere, in contrast to German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who doubted Kennedy's commitment to Europe and thought the crisis could have been avoided.[17]

De Gaulle's support for Quebec independence was partly seen in the U.S. as an unwelcome intrusion of a European power into the affairs of a sovereign country in the Americas, as exemplified by his Vive le Québec libre speech in 1967. This impinged upon the American Monroe Doctrine, in which the U.S. vowed never to allow the re-establishment of direct European influence in the Western hemisphere (although France still directly controls French Guiana in South America, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other islands in the Caribbean and St. Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland). This call for the independence of a province of a close ally sharing land borders with the U.S. was seen as a hostile intrusion by a nation that the U.S. viewed as a historic friend.

Over the long term, De Gaulle's public statements may have done more than his policies to influence public opinion in the United States. "You have to be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination", (Time, December 8, 1967). Many in the United States believed such remarks were not only crude but reflected profound historical ignorance from a man who owed his position and his nation's freedom to Churchill's support, against many attempts by the Americans to undermine his position. (Roosevelt considered de Gaulle to have "all the attributes of a dictator" and tried to get de Gaulle to share power with General Henri Giraud.[18])

Relations improved somewhat under de Gaulle's successors, but tensions reappeared intermittently. In 1969 a French documentary Le Chagrin et la Pitié, English translation The Sorrow and the Pity, brought back an earlier issue. This documentary indicated that the French may not have resisted the collaborating Vichy government as much as many Americans had believed or hoped. The film proved controversial in France, but it primarily aimed at simply encouraging honesty about antisemitism in France's history rather than inspiring any anti-French hostility.

Osirak was a light water reactor program in Iraq derived primarily from French technology. In 1981, it was destroyed in an attack by the Israeli Air Force. While the origins and the nature of the threat were not overly publicised at the time, the complicity of the French state in the program would set the stage for U.S.-French relations for years to come.

Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986 further increased tension between the two countries. In response to alleged support for a multitude of terrorist operations in Europe, the USA launched a coordinated air-strike against Libya. France (as well as Spain and Italy) denied use of its airspace to the USAF, substantially increasing the operational risk.

The controversial British historian David Starkey has suggested that negative French sentiment towards both the US and the UK is partially explained by his theory that liberators are often mistaken for conquerors: "You will remember Britain and America liberated France. What thanks did we get from them? The French have spent the last 40 years trying to obliterate the shame by doing everything they can to damage Britain and America. ... People don't like being freed, they mistake liberators for conquerors."[19]

Contemporary issues[edit]

Iraq War[edit]

France under President François Mitterrand had supported the 1991 Iraq Gulf War, as a major participant under Operation Daguet. The French Assemblee Nationale even took the "unprecedented decision" to place all French forces in the Gulf under United States command for the duration of the war.[20]

However, Anti-French sentiment in the United States returned to the fore in the wake of France's refusal to support U.S. proposals in the UN Security Council for military action to invade Iraq. While other nations also opposed the U.S. proposals (notably Russia, China and traditional U.S. allies such as Germany, Canada and Belgium), France received particularly ferocious criticism.[21]

France was accused in American media of hypocritically acting out of economic interests in Iraq's oil (a similar charge was leveled at Russia and Germany, but with far less ferocity, while France leveled the same charge at the United States), and of hypocritically sending a military presence to Côte d'Ivoire during the Iraq crisis. French President Jacques Chirac in particular was the object of much criticism. A former Prime Minister of France, Chirac was seen as a politician who had fostered close ties with Saddam Hussein over the years and thus was too sympathetic and hesitant to take action against him. Supporters of France disputed some of these allegations, arguing that Franco-Iraqi relations were not as close as they once were. In 2002 France ranked only as Iraq's 13th economic partner. Similarly, whereas the United States bought 50% of Iraqi oil, France purchased just 8%.[citation needed] After the breaking of the "oil for food" scandal within a UN program, allegations of corruption involving members of Jacques Chirac's political inner circle were widespread. Such a charge by the U.S. about France playing "political and financial footsies" with Iraq could also be counterattacked with the well known evidence that the United States under the administration of Ronald Reagan overtly and covertly supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran–Iraq War, when it was widely agreed that was the timeframe when Saddam's human rights abuses were at their highest level.

France and Russia (both permanent members of the Security Council with veto power) warned that they would oppose the proposed new UN resolution authorising the invasion of Iraq on March 11, 2003. Since it appeared unlikely that the plan would have received the required 60% support of the Security Council (see The UN Security Council and the Iraq war for further details), the proposition was cancelled. This caused some to wonder why France was singled out. One explanation might be that France was regarded as a traditional ally, whereas Russia was not. The last time France and U.S. used their veto in a different way was in 1976 over an issue with the Comoros (see Veto history). Many people (including some French people) felt hostility to France's position came from the idea it acted in open competition against the U.S. to convince other members,[22] for example in using shuttle diplomacy and economic incentives to win the vote of then-member Cameroon. Although Germany and Russia were as vocal as France against the U.S. invading Iraq, sentiment against the Germans and Russians was not as widespread.

Further controversy erupted when President Chirac told EU candidate nations that supported the U.S. that they were "not well-behaved", that they "missed an opportunity to shut up", and that they were "a little careless of the dangers which come with a too-rapid alignment with the American position."[23] This was regarded as an implicit threat to slow the expansion of the EU to those countries that supported the U.S.[24]

It was also argued that accusations of knee-jerk anti-Americanism from France were made so as to avoid discussing France's stated reasons for opposing the war — namely that France did not believe there was a clear and imminent danger from Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, that it was not consistent with combatting Al Qaeda, and that a war would only destabilise the Middle East while not providing long-term solutions.[25] Thanks to a long experience as a former colonial power in the region, France also warned the U.S. that such a military operation in Iraq would be regarded by the Arab world as an invasion and could support the emergence of an opposition movement widespread in the whole Middle East.

See also freedom fries below.

China and Taiwan[edit]

During a state visit to China on April 21, 2005 Chirac's Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin lent support to a new "anti-secession" law on Taiwan, allowing China to use "non-peaceful" means to bring Taiwan back into the fold, and continued to push for a lifting of the EU arms embargo against China. France's position was seen as attempting to aid China in altering the balance of power against the U.S. in the East Asia region as China is the most plausible military power to be able to do that. The French support of ending the EU arms embargo drew the most ire from the U.S. and from supporters of Taiwanese independence. The push to end the embargo also inspired disapproval among many critical of human rights in the People's Republic of China. Hence the U.S. threatened sanctions against the EU unless the embargo was continued. France's current eagerness to sell arms to China comes after it had previously sold high-tech fighter jets to Taiwan in the early 1990s.[citation needed]

Diplomatic friction[edit]

Donald Rumsfeld famously referred to France and Germany as "Old Europe" while referring to the many European countries, such as Great Britain and Poland, which pledged diplomatic backing of the U.S. war as "New Europe", raising long-existent fears that expansion of the European Union would be used by the U.S. to keep Europe politically divided.

Chirac became the subject of harsh criticism in U.S. media[26] and French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin emerged as a prominent critic of U.S. action in Iraq.

NATO and United Nations[edit]

An element of modern American skepticism toward France stems from a perception of weak or token responses to France's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and United Nations commitments to conflicts in the Middle East. Most recently, while France has offered support for the UN mission to stabilize Lebanon, France has stated that it will not participate in the disarmament of Hezbollah.[27] Given that UN resolution 1701 (which France was actively involved in formulating) calls explicitly for "an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL", some Americans[who?] and many Israelis[who?] see this stance as counterproductive.[citation needed]

Cultural friction[edit]

The cultures and governments of the U.S. and France have some significant differences which cause friction or misunderstanding. A Mark Twain barb reflects the widespread American belief of French linguistic snobbery: "In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language." (Innocents Abroad).

An interesting counterpoint to this reputation of cultural elitism is the perceived popularity of American slapstick comic Jerry Lewis in France (which was actually more of a critical fad than an enduring tradition). Lewis received the Légion d'honneur, France's highest civilian award.

More recently France's secularism has become something of an issue in the more devout Christian (both Protestant and Catholic) segments of American society. There are some similarities there to the Federalists' reaction to perceived French anti-clericalism. More recently, hostility toward the French was stoked by the new law barring religious symbols in schools.


Some Americans, particularly commentator Bill O'Reilly have called for a boycott of French products. Their effect on U.S.-France trade, however, was negligible. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the United States imported $2.26 billion in French goods and services in February 2004, up from $2.18 billion in February 2002.[28] The calls for a boycott did raise some concerns among businesses. For instance, it prompted French's Mustard to make a press release stating "the only thing French about French's Mustard is the name."[29]

A number of factors may explain the boycott's ineffectiveness. Calls for boycott largely focused on products stereotypically associated with France—wines, cheese, and luxury items (Chanel, YSL, etc.). These constitute a small minority of French trade (0.8%), whereas lesser-profile but higher-revenue products of all sorts were not targeted. The French company Sodexo is the sole catering contractor for the United States Navy.[30]


Characterizations of military cowardice have been applied in efforts to dismiss the French opposition to the War in Iraq as fear and appeasement for Islam. Commentators such as Andy Rooney and Bill O'Reilly have characterized the French as being ungrateful for opposing U.S. foreign policy after U.S. soldiers fought to liberate France from Nazi Germany during World War II.[31] Such feelings were inflamed by an incident in April 2003, when vandals desecrated the graves of British soldiers who died in France during World War I. Graffiti, including "Dig up your rubbish, it's contaminating our soil" was painted on gravestones and around the British military cemetery in Étaples, near Calais. Although no Americans were buried in that cemetery, the incident further fueled anti-French sentiment in the U.S.[32]

In 1990s popular culture, the derogatory phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" began as a joke on The Simpsons in 1995. It was used by Groundskeeper Willy's character in a satirical manner, but was picked up around 2002 when it became popular in a few Washington, D.C. circles.[who?] National Review contributor Jonah Goldberg claimed credit for making the term known, with its implicit characterization of the French as cowards.[33] In early 2003, George Will from The Washington Post described retreat as "an exercise for which France has often refined its savoir-faire since 1870".[34] Anti-French displays also came in the form of bumper stickers and t-shirts calling for the United States to invade: "Iraq first, France next!"[35] and "First Iraq, then Chirac!"[citation needed] Libertarian columnist Harry Browne brought up a different point of view, pointing out that the French have harsher memories of war than do most Americans. For his example, he said that the "video game like atmosphere" of the Gulf War is not associated with war with the French as it is more so with Americans. Browne pointed out Nazi brutalities in the German invasion of France, such as entire villages massacred. Also noteworthy is the fact that France suffered the deaths of around 85,000 people from the battle of France[36]—more than four time the number of U.S. fatalities in Normandy[37]—which reveals the savage nature of the fighting.

Freedom fries[edit]

Main article: Freedom fries
Cubbie's: Now Serving Freedom Fries.
A snack bar sign advertising "American" fries at Knott's Berry Farm. The sign formerly read "French".

A well known incident occurred in March 11, 2003 when the cafeteria menus in the three United States House of Representatives office buildings changed the name of french fries to freedom fries. The trend was started by fast-food restaurant owner Neal Rowland in Beaufort, North Carolina,[38] and caught on after being reported in the press.

Then, in March 2003, the cafeteria of the United States House of Representatives had its French fries and French toast renamed to freedom fries and toast, at the direction of Representatives Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina). Representative Ney chaired the Committee on House Administration and had authority over the menu in the House cafeteria.[39] The freedom fries renaming was not without controversy or opposition. Timothy Noah of Slate noted that the move was "meant to demonize France for its exasperating refusal to support a war against Iraq". He compared the renaming to the renaming of all things German in World War II, but argued that the freedom fries episode was worse because "Germany, after all, was America's enemy, whereas France is America's NATO ally."[40] In August 2006, the menus reverted to their original names.

One Los Angeles Times reporter playfully suggested changing french toast to freedom toast and french kissing to liberty lip lock.[41]

These changes echoed moves during World War I to replace the word sauerkraut with liberty cabbage and hamburger with Liberty Sandwich. The French embassy made no comment. "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, an embassy spokeswoman.[42] The term "French fries" is not used in French—"pommes frites" or "frites" translates to "fried potatoes".

French language[edit]

During the Republican primaries for the nomination of the 2012 presidential candidate, nominee Newt Gingrich released a television ad attacking rival Mitt Romney for being able to speak French, which was interpreted as an attempt to undermine the latter by associating him with France.[43]

Alleged antisemitism[edit]

There has also been criticism of allegedly widespread French antisemitism, influenced in part by the historical context of Vichy France complicity in the Holocaust. At the same time, France has the third highest number of Righteous Among the Nations (according to the Yad Vashem museum, 2006). This award is given to "non-Jews who acted according to the most noble principles of humanity by risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust".

According to a poll made by the Pew Research Center, there is no evidence that antisemitism in France is unusually high. Instead, this poll finds France to be one of the less antisemitic countries in Europe,[44] while France has the world's third largest Jewish population.[45] France is the country that has the most favourable views of Jews in Europe (82%), next to the Netherlands (83%). Poland, Germany, Spain have, for instance, significantly less favourable views of Jews (respectively 54%, 58%, and 61%). In unfavourable views France stands out less, but is still low for Europe. The study shows France had 16% with unfavourable views of Jews. In Europe the only two lower than that were the UK at 6% and the Netherlands at 11%. Poland, Germany, and Spain had more with unfavourable views of Jews (respectively 27%, 20%, 21%). The North American nations of the United States and Canada scored lower than most of Europe on percent with unfavourable views of Jews. (7% for the U.S. and 11% for Canada) Because of that, France has a higher rate of "favourable views of Jews" than the U.S. (82%, slightly higher than 77% in the U.S.) without having a higher "net-favourable" rating. (France's "favourable minus unfavourable" being 66% to the U.S.'s 70%) France's "net-favourable" remains among the highest of any nation they studied.[46]

France was a close ally of Israel after its establishment: many first-generation Israeli weapons, including the Mirage III, were French and helped the country to win its first wars. France helped Israel establish its atomic reactor. France waged war alongside Israel in 1956 in the Suez Crisis but changed its position towards Israel after the Six-Day War.[47] On the eve of the war, the French imposed an arms embargo on Israel.[48] France tried, as the U.S. did, to put pressure on Israel in order to avoid the war. The change of the French State can perhaps be explained by the end of French colonialism, and the public perception of colonialism and Arab countries deeply changed.[49] However, France has otherwise supported Israel, and used its influence on Arab countries to this end. In 2011, after the vote by France in favor of Palestinian State in the UNESCO, the US and Israel (who were against this decision) were angry about the France's position.[50]

September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks[edit]

In 2002, Thierry Meyssan wrote the book L'Effroyable Imposture (9/11: The Big Lie) about the terror attacks on 9/11. The book, which became a worldwide best-seller, claims that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were not caused by terrorists, but rather by the U.S. military deliberately attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Meyssan's work was widely criticized in the French media. The French expressed their feeling of solidarity with America after the 9/11 attacks, and these tragedies increased closeness between the two countries in the time leading up to the Iraq war.[51]

American Francophile response[edit]

In 2003, film director Woody Allen, actor Robert De Niro, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and writer George Plimpton joined a pro-French tourism campaign as a direct response to anti-French sentiment in the U.S. related to the Iraq invasion.[52]

See also[edit]


  • Edward C.Knox, "The New York Times Looks at France," The French Review, No. 6, Vol. 75, May 2002
  • Martin A. Schain : "Transatlantic Tensions. From Conflicts of Interests to Conflict of Values?" Colloquium, CERI/GMF, February 2–3, 2004, POLITICS, IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM IN FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES Department of Politics and Center for European Studies New York University PDF document
  • Pierre-André Taguieff. The Force of Prejudice: On Racism and Its Doubles (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8166-2372-4, ISBN 0-8166-2373-2)
  • Richard Z. Chesnoff, The Arrogance of the French : Why They Can't Stand Us—and Why the Feeling Is Mutual, Sentinel, April, 2005 ISBN 1-59523-010-6


  1. ^ Justin Vaïsse, "Etats-Unis : le regain francophobe", Politique Internationale, Autumn 2002 [1].
  2. ^ a b Politique Internationale – La Revue
  3. ^ Pierre Verdaguer, "A Turn-of-the-Century Honeymoon? The Washington Post's Coverage of France", French Politics, Culture & Society, vol. 21, no. 2, summer 2003.
  4. ^ Pierre Bourdieu, « Deux impérialismes de l'universel », in Christine Fauré and Tom Bishop, L'Amérique des Français, Paris, F. Bourin, 1992 ; Stanley Hoffmann, « Deux universalismes en conflit », The Tocqueville Review, Vol.21 (1), 2000.
  5. ^ Lawrence S. Kaplan, Jefferson and France: An Essay on Politics and Political Ideas, Yale University Press, 1980
  6. ^ Ronald R. Schuckel The Origins of Thomas Jefferson as a Francophile, 1784–1789, Butler University, 1965.
  7. ^ Thomas Jefferson, Jean M. Yarbrough, The Essential Jefferson, Hackett Publishing, 2006. (p. xx)
  8. ^ Thomas Jefferson, Paul Leicester Ford, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: 1795–1801, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1896. (p. 22)
  9. ^ Eugene Victor Rostow, A Breakfast for Bonaparte: U.S. National Security Interests from the Heights of Abraham to the Nuclear Age DIANE Publishing, 1992. (p. 116)
  10. ^ W. M. Verhoeven, Beth Dolan Kautz, Revolutions and Watersheds: Transatlantic Dialogues, 1775–1815 (p. 80)
  11. ^ Thomas Jefferson, Henry Augustine Washington The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Taylor & Maury, 1854. (p. 402)
  12. ^ Harris, Jonathan (1985) A Statue for America: The First 100 Years of the Statue of Liberty. New York, N.Y.: Four Winds Press (a division of Macmillan Publishing Company). ISBN 0-02-742730-7.
  13. ^ Harriss, Joseph. The Tallest Tower: Eiffel and the Belle Epoque. 1975. Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company. p. 125.
  14. ^ Harriss, Joseph. The Tallest Tower: Eiffel and the Belle Epoque. 1975. Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company. p. 185
  15. ^ Roberts, Andrew (June 18, 2010). "What gall! Sarkozy is visiting London to bask in the heroism of De Gaulle and the French in the war... but there's precious little to celebrate". Daily Mail. 
  16. ^ "France's rendezvous with history". BBC News. March 14, 2009. 
  17. ^ Reynolds D. One World Divisible: A Global History Since 1945. 2000. New York: W W Norton and Company. p. 182
  18. ^ De Gaulle and Roosevelt
  19. ^ BBC Television Question Time - sourced from
  20. ^ Reynolds, David. One World Divisible: A Global History Since 1945. 2000. New York: W.W.Norton and Co. p588
  21. ^ See Condoleezza Rice: "Punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia."
  22. ^ "France, U.S. vie for support" CNN March 9, 2003
  23. ^ Conférence de presse du Président de la République à l'issue de la réunion informelle extraordinaire du Conseil européen. – Présidence de la République
  24. ^ "Chirac lashes out at 'new Europe'". CNN. February 18, 2003. Archived from the original on April 5, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Speech by M. Dominique de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the United Nations Security Council, New York 19.03.2003"
  26. ^ "Safire: Chirac's Latest Ploy," The New York Times April 24, 2003
  27. ^ The UN Force: Who Will Disarm Hezbollah? – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News
  28. ^ Trade in Goods (Imports, Exports and Trade Balance) with France US Census Bureau
  29. ^ "French's mustard denies French connection" CBC News, March 27, 2003.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "France's Unpaid Debt" CBS News, February 16, 2003
  32. ^ "Graveyard graffiti taunts the allies", The Washington Times, April 4, 2003.
  33. ^ "Inscrutable Racism", National Review, April 6, 2001
  34. ^ "Wimps, weasels and monkeys — the US media view of 'perfidious France'", Guardian Unlimited, February 11, 2003
  35. ^ First Iraq, then France T-Shirts
  36. ^ Battle of France#Aftermath
  37. ^ Operation Overlord#Allies
  38. ^ "US Congress opts for "freedom fries"". BBC News. March 12, 2003. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  39. ^ "House cafeterias change names for 'French' fries and 'French' toast". CNN. March 11, 2003. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  40. ^ Banning french fries. – By Timothy Noah – Slate Magazine
  41. ^ The language of war
  42. ^ A lost appetite for «French» food
  43. ^ "Mitt Romney lambasted in attack ad for speaking French". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). January 13, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics" Pew Research Center July 14, 2005
  45. ^ The Jewish Population of the World
  46. ^ "Views of Muslim-Americans Hold Steady After London Bombings" Pew Research Center July 26, 2005
  47. ^ The Cherbourg Boats
  48. ^ Remaking the world in six days
  49. ^ Elie Barnavi and Saul Friedländer, La Politique étrangère du général de Gaulle, PUF, 1985.
  50. ^ Sayare, Scott; Erlanger, Steven (October 5, 2011). "Palestinians Win Initial Vote on Unesco Bid". The New York Times. 
  51. ^ Nous sommes tous Américains
  52. ^ "Woody Allen promotes France" BBC June 11, 2003

External links[edit]