An international furor was sparked when WikiLeaks released it’s “Espionnage Elysee” report, which showed extensive spying on the French by the NSA that included recorded eavesdropping of French President Francois Hollande and his two predecessors over the last several years.
The French Defense Council held a crisis meeting recently that concluded that the U.S. spying was “unacceptable.”
And, I might add, unnecessary.
Why spy on the French? What could we possibly hope to learn? How to make a better croissant? Surely that does not justify the expenditure since there are already so many over-priced French bakeries, sorry Boulangeries, or the even more snooty Patisseries, spread all over the U.S. So many so that Starbucks bought an entire chain called La Boulange, only to close every one of them down a short time later because they couldn’t make enough money.
Are we trying to pursue their quality of life? That could be it; the French are hovering around 10.5% unemployment, so they do have way more leisure time than we do. Maybe another Bush in the office would push us in that direction and we’d have all the free time we could possibly want. And then some.
We can’t be after their military secrets because they are ranked 6th, behind the United Kingdom, India, China, Russia, and us in military might. We can’t be snooping on their economic secrets, because again, ranked 6th in GDP. Are we spying to try and gain some sort of anti-advantage in order to drop in the rankings in a bizarro-world race to the bottom?
Maybe we are trying to solve the eternal question of why won’t the French speak English when we want them to because we are hungry and need some coffee? This is a huge and very popular misconception about the French that Americans still haven’t learned.
According to a very official sounding report, something like Le Petite Rapport, or Le Rapport du Peuf du Blabbitty Bleux, or the Eurobarometer Report, 39% of the French admit to speaking English, and that includes the people outside of the big cities. So in the big cities – face it you big rotund American, that would be Paris, Florence and wherever else the tour bus goes – a much greater number will actually speak English.
The reason they don’t is because we won’t even make an attempt to speak French. Next time you go to France (and watching a YouTube video about the Chunnel doesn’t count), instead of asking for something in English, then asking even louder in the same English when they don’t understand you, just learn the phrase “Je suis désole, mais je ne parle pas francais.” I’m sorry, I don’t speak French. Or the even simpler, “Je suis un idiot américain.”
That little tiny phrase will light up their eyes, put a smile on their face, and drop a fabulous espresso with a real croissant on the table right in front of you. You might even be able to strike up a conversation, especially if you kiss their French butts by saying things like, “what would be the correct way to pronounce the French word for museum?”
So really, what it boils down to is: what can we learn by spying on the French that we can’t just learn by Googling them?
For example: Why are the French so thin? Google says because they eat slowly and savor their food instead of gobbling it like a starving stray dog. Why do the French seem so arrogant? Google says because good service in France means leaving you alone to enjoy your meal. Maybe that’s why they are only #6 in GDP.
Why are the French so rude? Google: because they don’t like strangers that much, and your insipid fake grin is interpreted in their culture as a sexual invitation, which they desperately do not want, you fanny-pack toting, loud-mouthed, cargo shorts wearin’ knucklehead. I’m pretty sure Google said that last part verbatim.
So call your representatives in Washington and encourage them to stop harassing the French. They have suffered enough indignities since losing their place as rulers of the free world. Let them have their art, and stinky cheese, and wine, and leave them be. They’ve earned it.
Oh, that reminds me. Do French people drink wine all the time? Google says yes. Yes they do.
This articles first appeared on forrestbrakeman.com