Anti-French sentiment in the United States

Anti-French sentiment in the United States

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

Understanding anti-French sentiments

As with any foreign country "phobia", Francophobia in the U.S can be distinguished from "rational" criticism of France. [Justin Vaïsse, " _fr. Etats-Unis : le regain francophobe", _fr. "Politique Internationale", Autumn 2002 [] .] It can rather be analysed as a cultural and sociological phenomenon.

The missing French-American lobby

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. [ Politique Internationale - La Revue ] ] Most Americans of French descent are descended from seventeenth and eighteenth 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. Fact|date=March 2007 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. [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.]

The conflict of universalism

Both America and modern France were born out of Revolutions (1776 and 1789) with universal pretenses.

Pierre Bourdieu and Stanley Hoffmann [Pierre Bourdieu, _fr. « Deux impérialismes de l’universel », in Christine Fauré and Tom Bishop, _fr. "L’Amérique des Français", Paris, F. Bourin, 1992 ; Stanley Hoffmann, _fr. « Deux universalismes en conflit », "The Tocqueville Review", Vol.21 (1), 2000.] 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

Justin Vaisse thinks that francophobia is, in the US, mainly a political phenomenon . 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: the State Department and diplomatic circles, the neoconservatives, and the Pro-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.

Contemporary issues

Iraq War

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 [See Condoleezza Rice: "Punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia."]

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), 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%Fact|date=February 2007. 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 11 March 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, [ [ "France, U.S. vie for support"] CNN 9 March 2003] 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." [] This was regarded as an implicit threat to slow the expansion of the EU to those countries that supported the U.S. []

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 the War on Terrorism, and that a war would only destabilise the Middle East while not providing long-term solutions [ [ "Speech by M. Dominique de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the United Nations Security Council, New York 19.03.2003"] ] . 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. The French position is that the state of the occupation of Iraq vindicates their positionFact|date=February 2007.

China and Taiwan

During a state visit to China on 21 April 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 US 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 US 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 US threatened sanctions against the EU unless the embargo was continued. Interestingly 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.

Diplomatic friction

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

Chirac became the subject of harsh criticism in U.S. media ["Safire: Chirac's Latest Ploy" The New York Times 24 April 2003] and French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin emerged as a prominent critic of U.S. action in Iraq.

NATO and United Nations

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. [ [,1518,432019,00.html The UN Force: Who Will Disarm Hezbollah? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News ] ] 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 and many Israelis see this stance as counterproductive.Fact|date=July 2007

Cultural friction

The cultures and governments of the US 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). He ended up obtaining the _fr. "Légion d'honneur", France's highest civilian award. Anti-French critics have suggested that this proved that the French had poor taste Fact|date=February 2007.

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. [ [ Trade in Goods (Imports, Exports and Trade Balance) with France] US Census Bureau] 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." [ [ "French's mustard denies French connection"] CBC News, 27 March 2003.]

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 Sodexho is the sole catering contractor for the United States Navy. []


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. [ [ "France's Unpaid Debt"] CBS News, 16 February 2003] 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 US. ["Graveyard graffiti taunts the allies", The Washington Times, 4 April 2003 [ full text] ]

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. "National Review" contributor Jonah Goldberg claimed credit for making the term known, with its implicit characterization of the French as cowards. [ [ "Inscrutable Racism"] , "National Review", 6 April 2001 ] 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". [ [,11882,893202,00.html "Wimps, weasels and monkeys — the US media view of 'perfidious France'"] , Guardian Unlimited, 11 February 2003 ] Other editorialists have responded that French war involvement throughout history suggests otherwise [ [ "The French"] , The eXile] and in turn the US has been mocked for its late entry into World War II. 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!", and "First Iraq, then Chirac!" 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 130,000 dead in the first six weeks of the invasion - more than twice the number of US casualties at Normandy - which reveals the savage nature of the fighting and is not in line with the image of "France threw down its weapons and surrendered right away."

Freedom fries

A well known incident occurred in 11 March 2003 when the cafeteria menus in the three United States House of Representatives office buildings changed the name of "French fries" to "freedom fries" which was started by North Carolina private fast-food restaurant of Beaufort, North Carolina owner Neal Rowland. The renaming had started in a private restaurant and had caught on after being reported in the press. "French toast" was also changed to "freedom toast". (This 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, except to note that French fries come from Belgium. "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.Fact|date=July 2007 The term "French fries" is not used in French — " _fr. pommes frites" is translated as "fried potatoes" — as "French" fries are credited to actually having been invented in Belgium. In August 2006, the menus reverted to their original names.

French language

Congressman Billy Tauzin from Louisiana, the only Cajun in the United States House of Representatives, removed the French language section of his official website because of anti-French sentiment. Congressman Roy Blunt began using jokes implying that the French were cowards. [ [,2933,79245,00.html "French Jokes Gain Wide Audience"] Fox News, 21 February 2003]

Alleged anti-semitism

There has also been criticism of allegedly widespread French anti-Semitism, 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 ot 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 of any specific anti-semitism in France, which, according to this poll, appears to be one of the least antisemitic countries in Europe. [ [ "Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics"] Pew Research Center 14 July 2005] France is the country that has the most favourable views of Jews in Europe (82%), next to the Netherlands, and the third country with the least unfavourable views (16%) next to the UK and the Netherlands. Poland, Germany, Spain have, for instance, less favourable views of Jews (respectively 54%, 58%, and 61%) and more unfavourable views of Jews (respectively 27%, 20%, 21%). France has, in fact, a higher rate of "favourable views of Jews" than the US (82%, slightly higher than 77% in the US) [ [ "Views of Muslim-Americans Hold Steady After London Bombings"] Pew Research Center 26 July 2005] . However, French attitudes towards Jews appears to be more polarized than in the U.S., as the percentage viewing Jews unfavourably is higher by 9% in France (16%) than in the U.S. (7%).

Some claim that anti-Semitism motivates French criticism of Israel; conversely, others contend that the charge of anti-Semitism is used to suppress political criticism of Israel. On the other hand, 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 [ [ The Cherbourg Boats] ] . On the eve of the war, the French imposed an arms embargo on Israel [ [,0,2588176.story?coll=la-opinion-center Remaking the world in six days] ] . France tried, as US did, to put pressure on Israel in order to avoid the war. The change of the French State can be explained by two main reasons. First, France was, at the time, no longer a colonial state, and did not need Israel's help for counter-insurgency in Algeria. Secondly, with the end of French colonialism, the public perception of colonialism and Arab countries deeply changed and became hostile to Israel settlements in the occupied territories [Elie Barnavi and Saul Friedländer, "La Politique étrangère du général de Gaulle", PUF, 1985.] . However, France has otherwise supported Israel, and used its influence on Arab countries to this end.Fact|date=August 2008

Airbus and Boeing

In business circles, one area of controversy is the dispute over Airbus government subsidies which have helped the European aircraft manufacturer stay competitive with Boeing. Although Airbus is a consortium of European nations, it is sometimes viewed as a French-controlled venture since it has a French co-CEO and it is headquartered in Toulouse, France. This point has been countered by noting that Boeing receives generous US military and NASA contracts that can be seen as equivalent to loans or subsidies. The military-civilian connection is a complex issue for both companies; Boeing's contracts are won in competition with the other major American defense company Lockheed, while EADS, parent company of Airbus, is the second-largest military contractor in Europe. Boeing has also received direct subsidies from Kansas and Washington. [ [ "See you in court"] The Economist, 23 March 2005]

eptember 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

In 2002, Thierry Meyssan wrote the book " _fr. L'Effroyable Imposture" ("") 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 US military deliberately attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Meyssan's work was widely criticized in the French media. In fact, the French expressed their feeling of solidarity with the American nation after the 9/11 attacks, and these tragedies increased closeness between the two countries in the time leading up to the Iraq war.Fact|date=July 2007

Mumia Abu-Jamal

In 2006, a street in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris headed by a Communist Mayor, was named after Mumia Abu-Jamal. Jamal is a former Black Panther convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killing police officer Daniel Faulkner. (His death sentence, but not his conviction, was overturned in 2001; both sides have appealed that decision.) Faulkner's widow was quoted as saying "It's insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia that they are naming a street after a murderer." On 6 December 2006, the House of Representatives voted 368-31 in favor of HR407, "Condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murder [er] of Philadelphia Police Office Danny Faulkner." [ [ Vote results for Roll Call 527] ]

Jamal had previously been made an honorary citizen of Paris in October 2003, by the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, in a ceremony attended by former Black Panther Angela Davis.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has become a worldwide cause célèbre for anti-death penalty activists who claim that he is the victim of a judicial error.


France is often described by American critics as being a "socialist" country. Since the foundation of the French Fifth Republic in 1958, France has been ruled by self-described Socialists for 15 years — notably under President François Mitterrand. Although France currently has a conservative government under Nicolas Sarkozy, the French comprehensive welfare state system of public education, social services, publicly-funded health care and social security is often criticized as being "socialist" in the United States.

American Francophile response

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 US related to the Iraq invasion. [ [ "Woody Allen promotes France"] BBC 11 June 2003 ]

History of the Anti-French sentiment in the United States

Pre Revolutionary War

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

How widespread it was remains uncertain, but 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 (see the Battle of the Chesapeake). 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 the first American celebrity, and numerous new settlements were named Lafayette, Fayette and Fayetteville.

Francophile tradition

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

Anti-French feelings did not exist at that time in such a friendly climate.

Despite the positive view some 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 disliked its excesses, but remained hopeful it would make France a democratic nation.

Fête de la Fédération

On 14 July 1790, the _fr. "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 US 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 US flag flown outside of the USA, and was cheered by the people. At the time, the USA were thought in France as a "sister country" 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 US 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, culminating with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. 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 _fr. "École des Beaux-Arts", French _fr. "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. American writer Mark Twain is perhaps the most notable exception to the Francophile trend in this period [] .

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

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

The rout of British and French forces at Dunkirk in May/June 1940 against powerful Nazi German forces came as a profound shock to Francophilic Americans. For less Francophilic Americans this collapse seemed rapid enough to start the idea the French are weak or quick to surrender. The anti-French sentiment was common enough among the GIs that at the end of 1945 the US 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.

Franco-U.S. relations worsened further under Charles de Gaulle, who attempted to position France as an independent power inside the western countries alliance. One concern was that the current North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) arrangement had a large number of American troops stationed in France. Americans were unhappy about the actions of de Gaulle and believed he was ungrateful as many Americans had lost their lives liberating France. However after the war the Americans supported France as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

France's troubled history in ruling 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 waged a few years before. Hence, de Gaulle's government began to criticise the US for intervening in a nation they had learned to leave, thus supporting millions of anti-war protesters in the US 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, and there were accusations from American commentators that France was "no longer a Western power."Fact|date=February 2007, even though de Gaulle supported the US during the major Cold War crises (e.g. the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the Cuban Missile Crisis) of 1962.

De Gaulle's support for Quebec independence was partly seen in the US as an unwelcome intrusion of a European power into the affairs of a sovereign country in the Americas, as exemplified by his _fr. "Vive le Québec libre" speech in 1967. This impinged upon the American Monroe Doctrine, in which the US 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 US was seen as a hostile intrusion by a nation that the US viewed as a historic friend. De Gaulle's words managed not only to anger the United States, but also Canada and the United Kingdom who saw it as arroganceFact|date=February 2007.

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", 8 December 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 the Vichy General Henri Giraud. [ [ De Gaulle and Roosevelt ] ] )

Relations improved somewhat under de Gaulle's successors, but tensions reappeared intermittently. In 1969 a French documentary _fr. "Le Chagrin et la Pitié", English translation "The Sorrow and the Pity", brought back an earlier issue. Ever since the Dreyfus Affair accusations of popular French anti-Semitism had been intermittently newsworthyFact|date=February 2007. This documentary indicated that the French may not have resisted the Nazi-puppet 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 anti-Semitism in France's history rather than inspiring any anti-French hostility. It is likely that few Americans even saw the film. Still many of the Americans who did see it were intellectuals so it may have inspired renewed intellectual interest in anti-Semitism's place in French historyFact|date=February 2007.

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 US-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 denied use of its airspace to the USAF, substantially increasing the operational risk. The accidental bombing of the French embassy in Libya during the strike undoubtedly affected French nationalistic sentiment.Fact|date=February 2007

ee also

* Anti-Americanism
* Anti-Canadian sentiment
* Franco-U.S. relations
* Francophobia
* Freedom fries
* Jacques-Donatien Le Ray
* Jingoism
* List of ethnic slurs by ethnicity
* Quebec bashing
* Racism
* Statue of Liberty
* Xenophobia denotes a phobic attitude towards strangers or of the unknown.


* Edward C.Knox, The New York Times Looks at France, The French Review, N°6, Vol.75, May 2002:*"No other national or ethnic group appears to get the same continually negative treatment in print media reserved for France and the French, with the possible exception of Arabs or Palestinians, and even there, the treatment is not so much cultural as political, linked to a specific context or event. If one were to substitute, for example, "Mexican" or "Japanese" or "Indian" for "French", what would reader reaction be?"."
* Martin A. Schain : "Transatlantic Tensions. From Conflicts of Interests to Conflict of Values?" Colloquium, CERI/GMF, 2 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, 0816623732)
* 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


External links

* [ "The French Were Right"] (from the National Journal, American Congress, 7 November 2003)
* [ A site dedicated to a world without France]
* [ Jokes from celebrities]
* [ France, the United States and the "War on Terrorism"] (U.S.-France Analysis, 1 January 2002)
* [ "With France this time, the joke's on us"] — D.L. Stewart column (humorist)
* [] — A watchdog group dedicated to monitoring the news and entertainment media for French-bashing and criticism of France.
* [ Jonah Goldberg column]
* [ The Rotten Library's "American Francophobia" article.]
* [] — A site explaining cultural differences beetwen France and the U.S.
* [] — Satirical website on anti-French sentiment.

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