‘Vive la Resistance!’ France’s culture wars are coming to a head
April 8, 2013 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - Americans have learned to dislike France, or at least the French, in the last few decades. Historically, however, mutual respect and admiration were the norm. France provided vital warships, troops and supplies to help the Colonies achieve independence during the American Revolution, agreed to the Louisiana Purchase and donated the 151 foot tall Statue of Liberty as a symbol of Franco-American friendship. The USA for its part came to the rescue of France and other European democracies in WWI and WWII. France, especially Paris, remains a top U.S. tourist destination.
Nevertheless, the centuries-old alliance is in a downtrend. As a dual U.S./French citizen, I have watched bemused as French characters appear ever more often as villains in Hollywood films. After the acrimonious disagreement over embarking on the second Gulf War between the U.S. and French governments, the House of Representatives cafeteria renamed their french fries “Freedom Fries.” Some U.S. conservative leaders called for an economic boycott of France and decried perceived French disdain for America. It may surprise some that all of my many French relatives who have visited the USA were without exception enchanted with the experience.
Unfortunately, the new Socialist French government and president, François Hollande, are a less articulate but more forceful version of Barack Obama and his liberal allies. Their stated policy preferences are almost identical. Hollande’s public approval rating, however, is much lower at around 27%, and France is stuck with him until his term expires in 2017. The government’s most recent initiative is to make abortion 100% “free,” at French taxpayers’ expense. The Socialists also have seen to it that girls aged 15-18 are given free contraception on demand, without parental notification. Further, some leftists want not only homosexual adoption rights but legal surrogate motherhood to provide children for same-sex and other couples
Hollande seems hell-bent on dethroning France as the European country with the highest birthrate. (France has 2.08 children per woman – higher than number two in Europe, Ireland, which fell to 2.01. Both are slightly below the population replacement level, as is the USA at 2.06). All this at a cost of millions of taxpayers’ Euro at the very same time the French government is cutting billions from their budget due to the Euro financial crisis. They see free access to abortion and birth control as more fundamental government priorities than a myriad of other services which are being cut.
Hollande’s other major social legislative initiative is “Marriage for All” – a same-sex “marriage” bill that passed the Socialist-dominated National Assembly and is now going before the Senate. This measure has met unprecedented popular resistance.
French citizens twice since January held massive marches which paralyzed Paris and dwarfed the one pro-same-sex “marriage” event. The latest was on March 24, and organizers claim 1.3 million people came. Paris police say 300,000 attended, and the secular press also downplayed the historic event with stunted coverage similar to that which the March for Life in Washington, D.C., receives every year.
What is not disputed is that French police officers used tear gas on peaceful and defenseless young people and families with infants. This is absolutely unacceptable in a civilized nation.
A cousin of mine was gassed by police with two of her young children, and they were in pain for days after the assault. YouTube has several videos showing the police brutality. One marcher was even run over by a police van. To date only a few officers face punishment for these attacks. As if to reinforce the government’s stance against the family, news reports tell of a family that was taken to a police station last week because they refused while walking in a Paris park to cover up their “provocative” sweatshirts that featured a logo of a man and a woman holding hands with two children.
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The culture war is even further advanced in France than it is in America. Just as the USA is divided into red and blue states, deep divisions in France are crystallizing. Radical leftists and feminists currently have a stranglehold on political power, but Christians and conservatives refuse to submit meekly. How can they when what is at stake is nothing less than the human rights to life and free speech, and the fundamental institution of marriage?
As in America, young people in France are in many respects more conservative than the older generations. Many French are heroically standing up for what is right despite ridicule and police harassment. François Hollande and his government ministers now see crowds of protestors at every public event. Some are now even camping in front of the French Senate to force the senators to walk past them every day and see their determination. Another huge protest is in the planning stages to demand a national referendum on the nature of marriage.
God bless the protestors for refusing to roll over and accept this latest social engineering madness. Please join me in praying for and supporting the struggle to prevent the demolition of the institutions that made our nations great. Vive la Resistance!
Joseph Meaney is the director of international coordination for Human Life International. He resides in Rome, Italy.