Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Freedom Fries

The recent practice by gay bars of boycotting Stoli Vodka to protest Russia's anti-gay policies, despite the fact that Stoli has been a longtime supporter of gays and gay events across the country, caused me to  think back about 11 or 12 years ago when America was being... well, American... and doing what it does best:  protesting something we didn't completely think through beforehand.  I know there are lots of choices on this subject, but this time, I am speaking specifically about the issue that started in the Capitol cafeteria.  The concept stretched across the United States where businesses and communities were in opposition to France's opposition of the US's opposition to Iraq: changing the name of french fries to freedom fries.

This change in nomenclature was another in a string of hollow symbolic gestures performed by Americans to show how patriotic we are.  We purchased bottles of French wine and dumped them out, apparently harkening back to the idealism of the Boston Tea Party (despite the fact that the tea was actually stolen and not purchased).  French toast became freedom toast.  And the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, which was built to look like Paris, removed all France's flags for three months in protest (but they left the 540 foot Eiffel Tower in place - I guess you really can put a price on patriotism).

But what gets me are the fries.  In order to strike back at the French for not supporting our war in Iraq, we changed the name of a product that is grown in Idaho and was invented in Belgium.  We protested a country by taking a stand against something that had nothing to do with that country.  But since we were protesting France, not for their opposition to freedom but for their opposition to the war, shouldn't we have called them Terrorist Fries?  Or Weapons of Mass Destruction Fries?  Given the fat content and the fact that Americans are the most obese people of all first world countries per capita, WMD fries would probably be a very appropriate name.

I think a good assignment for any cub reporter today would be to do some research on those businesses that adamantly changed the name from french fries to freedom fries, and revisit those businesses to find out if they stuck with that name.  And if they didn't stick with it, find out when they changed the name back to french fries and, more importantly, why.  And find out if those businesses showed any real support for the troops by sending care packages or supplies to the troops, rather than just change the name of a side dish.

America, stop being stupid.

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