People are right to be rattled. But at the same time, they want to pick the person who will go after the bad guys. I think in a way that’s the Bush campaign slogan:“Maybe we’re a little crazy, maybe we went to war with the wrong country, but you know we’re going to get some bad guys.”
—Maureen Dowd (Rolling Stone, October 28, 2004)
When I read that even Maureen Dowd had bought into the “Freedom Fries” trap, I was a little shocked. Even though I was for the war I thought most of us were above the whole don’t-buy-French thing. But Ms. Dowd is a left-of-center columnist for the New York Times—part of that “liberal media conspiracy” the right-wing keeps complaining about.
I heard during a dinner discussion that the French economy suffered a hit because of the anti-French thing. Not in french fries, mind you, but in wine and cheese and other french-related products that someone like Ms. Dowd buys. After reading Dowd’s confession that really hit home about both the economic size of the American market and the power of a slight shift in purchasing attitudes of the many.
Now I see it everywhere. I’m sure that there has been a noticeable hit for growth of American brands abroad like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. It’s not played up here because of our nationalism. Besides the impact isn’t as immediate as when the largest economy in the world suddenly decides that buying your cheese is akin to supporting the terrorists—but abroad it’s opening the door, ever-so-slightly, for competitors who aren’t necessarily as American as baseball and apple pie.
(In reading the international press, I noticed a silent rooting against the United States in the last Summer Games and a certain smugness over the whole U.S. sprinting team’s troubles. Small, imperceptible, and eating away. A growing anti-Americanism.)
Spew hatred, have it reflected. We reap what we sow.
And what about how I felt that I was above all of this? Well I was guilty of sanctimony, a great sin. And not only that, I was hypocritical.
Don’t I react viscerally when I notice something is Made in China? And this time of year, when I get deluged by the middle class curse of tons of holiday mail order catalogs, I flip over to the back and check whether the company is a “red state” or “blue state”. I can’t help myself. (I prefer to buy from a blue state.)
I’d be laughing about it if it wasn’t so pathetic… and dangerous. Isn’t America one nation under God? When did it become two? United we stand, divided we fall—we are a nation, divided.
I’ll know we aren’t when I stop caring where my catalogs come from.