As Americans celebrate Independence Day July 4:Remember the French? [Archives:2003/648/Viewpoint]

July 7 2003

Americans have celebrated the fourth of July on Friday by waving American flags, singing patriotic songs, visiting national sites, and many other activities. But many of them are doing this in a time France has been seen as an enemy not an ally following the country's stance on the war on Iraq. They are visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York City -presented to American people by France- but at the same time, many of them are still blasting France for not supporting Bush's war on Iraq. Americans read their history books and see how the French assisted them in gaining their independence, yet millions of them call for boycotting French goods including French wine, and even renaming “French Fries” to “Freedom Fries”.
Well, when asking those Americans “Why aren't you appreciating France today for what it has done for your country's independence?” You get a response like “France of today is not that of the past. Today they are against us hey have changed!”
But wait a minute! Why can't we ask this question, “Could it be Americans that have changed? Could it be that the people in charge of the USA are the ones who have changed their country's policy? Could it be that America of today is not seen as the country of freedom, but rather of domination and unlimited power?”
Reading about America's history and how the USA evolved into a free country with free people, and knowing about the ideal principles on which the USA was built, one cannot but appreciate and respect the founding fathers of the United States. But will the founders of the USA be happy when realizing what the American administration has done to America's reputation? Would they be happy in finding the leaders of the country, which was supported by France to gain its independence, attacking France on every occasion? Would they be glad that America, the country that was supposed to be an ideal example to the world, becoming the country that resembles the 'biggest threat to world peace' – according to a TIME survey?
It is true that history could sometimes be irrelevant in a different time and place. “Who cares if the USA was once weak? Today, it is the sole superpower in the world!” some Americans suggest. But nevertheless, history also repeats itself, and USA's stay on top will not stay forever.
Besides waving flags and singing patriotic songs -which is their right and are not blamed to do so- Americans should also seize the opportunity to recall their country's humble beginning. They need to understand that power is not everything, and there need to be bonds with those who one day were instrumental in their country's independence. Frenchmen all over the world are feeling that they are betrayed. I talked to hundreds of French friends who now feel somewhat upset with how Americans have been attacking their country because of a stance it fairly and justly stood by.
Those anti-French Americans need to recover from the 9/11 shock and stop thinking that “whoever is not with us is with the terrorists”. Time will quickly show how unrealistic those words were, and there could be little room for regret or sorrow.
Americans should realize that just as they had the right to be independent on July 4 from foreign occupation, others like Palestinians and Iraqis have that divine right too. They should understand that humans are equal under the law and other world citizens are not lower or less valuable than their own brothers and sisters. These are the lessons that should be derived from the fourth of July, and these are some lessons that should be derived from the real meaning of “Independence”
Happy 4 July to all of you