Perhaps like me, you smiled inwardly at the news that the Olympic torch was thrice extinguished on its tour through France due to intense and pervasive demonstrations against China. Perhaps like me, you got a warm and fuzzy feeling as you contemplated all the negative press being rained upon one of the world’s most offensive human rights abusers, polluters, and diplomatic bad actors. I know I read these articles and thought “Way to be, Pierre!” And maybe like me, and I guess this depends on whether or not you still try and order Freedom Fries at McDonald’s, you looked at the street protests and your next thought was “Seriously, do these people ever do anything but bitch?”
You may remember the French getting their lacy panties all in a twist about Iraq – and before you go saying “Well they were right!” let’s keep in mind that they were only protesting because America was invading Iraq, not because they needed to voice a genuinely righteous sentiment, evidenced by the fact that they never thought to protest their government’s construction of a nuclear reactor for a genocidal regime. They’re like the jealous sibling who hates everything their big brother or sister likes just to be oppositional.
And then there was the massive protest of 1Q 2006, when riot police had to take to the streets, smoke and fire filled the nation, and the people rose up to fight the encroaching government tyranny of…a labor law that made it easier to fire people. It was a rage not seen since they took the pork rind kabobs away from Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Hundreds of thousands of young oui oui’s took to the streets with banners, flags, signs, and probably stupid costumes to make sure their voices were heard, complaining strongly as only a free society allows.
And did you know they protested wine prices over there? Yeah, back in March of 2001 (and I don’t care what you say, these people would have protested had it been September 12, 2001), it was all hands on deck because French table wine prices dropped 30%. If that doesn’t justify injuring two police officers and setting fire to their cars, I don’t know what does. And one wine riot wasn’t enough, but was followed up with one in 2005, and then again in 2006.
So now the French, used to being able to take to the streets whenever they please thanks to generations of a 7 hour work week, see the torch passing through their country and decide that China is as good an excuse to start causing a fuss as any – such uncivilized behavior towards Tibet, and those clothes the Dali Lama wears are so chic! For the record, I am extremely pleased that all this negative attention is being directed at China as it tries to sweep its blatantly evil governance under the rug for its big international moment, as I’m sure we all are. But before you stand up to applaud France for a magnificent expression of the international conscience, remember – this is no special case, it’s just what France does.