Few people are as misunderstood in ‘Merica as are the French.  Despite basically funding our rebellion over 200 years ago, providing us with such delectable delicacies as “French Fries” and “French Toast,” and building us giant statues to help us pretend to like immigrants as much as they do, they just can’t seem to get the respect they deserve sometimes.  Having traveled all over France more than a dozen times, I will say that the question I am asked most is some variant of “how RUDE were they to you?”  They are almost always surprised by the answer; mostly because Americans just don’t understand French people.  So, on the eve of France’s Fête nationale française, allow me to begin to ‘splain it to you.  We’ll look at this topic a few times over the next few weeks so be sure to check back often!

Typical “Bastille Day” celebration in France…

So, let’s dispense with one thing right now:  There is no “Bastille Day” in France, just as there is no “Signing of the Declaration of Independence Day” in the U.S.  Their national holiday celebrates a great many things, not just the act that started the French Revolution -an event which was not all vin et roses for them as a people.  The fact that many cities in the U.S. celebrate “Bastille Day” illustrates our ignorance of the event and basically proves that white people will misappropriate just about any cultural event they can, so long as they can wander the streets drunk on Corona without fear of being locked up.  Media, PA is one such town that celebrates “Bastille Day” or as any spectator to the event might call it, “Mardi Gras in July.”  The fact that the sole French restaurant in town serves but one edible dish (despite supposedly being owned by a Frenchman) lends further credence to our experiential ignorance.

Typical “Bastille Day” celebration in ‘Merica…

We ‘Mericans are a simple folk and like to look for one-on-one / simplistic relationships to help us understand, so many of us just assume that the French people saw how great our revolution was, and followed suit with their own a little later.  Thus, July 4th = July 14th.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple and a quick trip to google should illustrate fairly quickly the complex nature of France’s 1789 revolution.  It should be noted that this in no way is to say that it was a “bad thing” -the French Revolution had far-reaching consequences and was ultimately (indirectly) responsible for the establishment of liberal democracies and constitutional republics throughout the world.  A lot of people also lost their head and France ended up with a dictator (Napoleon) towards the end.  Oh well, nobody is perfect.

So, before you head out all decked out in red, white, and blue (it’s bleu, blanc, et rouge, fuckface) remember this:  you are about to set out and demonstrate one of the reasons the French hate you: your sheer, unabashed ignorance.  Happy “Bastille Day” assholes.


– images sourced from interwebs

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