Banning French Fries
You want "freedom fries" with that?
Henceforth, french fries and French toast will no longer be served in the cafeterias of the House of Representatives' three office buildings. Instead, the cafeterias will offer "freedom fries" and "freedom toast." It has been so decreed by Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican who chairs the committee on House administration. No word yet on whether the House similarly plans to adopt the neologisms "freedom horn," "freedom doors," "freedom kissing," and "freedom tickler."
Rep. Ney's action (urged on by Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican) is meant to demonize France for its exasperating refusal to support a war against Iraq. It's an echo of the propaganda frenzy against Germany during World War I, when Americans renamed sauerkraut "liberty cabbage," dachshunds "liberty dogs," hamburgers "liberty steaks," and German measles "liberty measles." Beethoven was banned outright. In retrospect, this demonization of all things German seems ridiculous. But it wasn't as ridiculous as Ney's current demonization of France. Germany, after all, was America's enemy, whereas France is America's NATO ally. If chauvinistic warmongers want to start renaming stuff, it should be Iraqi stuff. There's probably not much point in going after Iraqi food such as masgoof (barbecued fish) and pacha (sort of an Iraqi haggis) because Americans don't eat them. A better idea would be to tear out every page in the Bible that features an Iraqi place name, such as Babylon, Babel, the Garden of Eden, Nineveh, and Ur. The Christian right will object, but we all have to make sacrifices during wartime.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.