As a child growing up in Asia, my dream was to go to America and most of all, see Disneyland. With a father associated with the CIA, I was taught to be patriotic and love America. I should have known that when I finally moved to the US and went to Disneyland at fifteen, the dreams shattered at seeing everything so mechanical and simply a facade. Not fairytales nor dreams come true. In fact, I was far more proud to be an American before I began to see what America was about, how shameful of a country it has become and what chaos it has created for it’s citizens as well as other countries it invades or provokes. America is supposed to be the country to set standards yet we are bullies. We are the beacon of freedom and we treat all of our citizens, guests to our country as well as prisoners with certain rights, such as due process – however, we are hypocrites. We are a nation of human rights yet racial prejudice continues.
The following are excerpts, stories, videos, documentary and news that have affected me in my heart, thoughts and memories so deeply that perhaps the only therapy is to put “pen to paper.” So as we celebrate our young countrys birthday of 233 years, I choose to reflect on those very occurences that have made me feel shame for our country.
Standing at the entrance to New York harbor is a 151-foot statue of a woman holding a book and a torch on-high. “Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American independence.
Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi created the statue first in Paris, using the repoussé technique of hammering copper sheets over large wooden forms. These shaped copper sheets were attached to each other over a cast iron framework designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. It was disassembled and shipped to the United States in 214 crates in 1885. Some of the money to erect the statue was contributed by American school children. The sculptor intended his work to be an immense and impressive symbol of human liberty. It was certainly that for millions of immigrants who came to America in the 19th century seeking freedom and fulfillment of their dreams. It has continued to inspire people across the world, as in 1989 when the Chinese students at Tianammen Square made a model of the Statue of Liberty to symbolize their revolution.
On March 11, 2003, Representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina) declared that all references to French fries and French toast on the menus of the restaurants and snack bars run by the House of Representatives would be removed. House cafeterias were ordered to rename French fries to “freedom fries”. This action was carried out without a congressional vote, under the authority of Ney’s position as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations for the chamber. The simultaneous renaming of French toast to “freedom toast” attracted less attention.
The Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. made no comment beyond pointing out that French fries probably come from Belgium. “We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes,” said Nathalie Loisau, an embassy spokeswoman.
According to a statement released by Ney, this move was intended to express displeasure with France’s “continued refusal to stand with their U.S. allies” (Iraq disarmament crisis). The statement further read: “This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure many on Capitol Hill have with our so-called ally, France.”
Congressmen Ney and Jones were not the first to rename French fries “freedom fries”; a number of private restaurants across the country began the renaming movement. Neal Rowland, owner of the privately owned fast-food restaurant Cubbie’s in Beaufort, North Carolina began the movement by selling his fried potato strips under the name “freedom fries”. Rowland claimed that his intent was not to slight the French people, but rather to be “patriotic and supportive of President George W. Bush” after hearing the news of the French opposition on 19 February 2003. The name change is still used by some restaurants, such as Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia.
Reckitt Benckiser, makers of French’s mustard, was sufficiently concerned to clarify that their brand name was derived from a family name, and to issue a press release affirming its patriotism.
In May 2005, Representative Jones, having arrived at the belief that the United States went to war “with no justification”, said of the “freedom fries” episode: “I wish it had never happened.” By July 2006, the House had changed the name of the two foods in all of its restaurants back to “French fries” and “French toast”. Nice going guys! You certainly know how to make us proud!