Friday, November 04, 2005

The Latin American Lady Who Refuses to Drink Coca-Cola

One weekend in Paris last summer, I went out for dinner and dance at le Bataclan, a trendy Brazilian place. With me was a French dude and two Latin American girls. After ordering our meals, we told the waitress what we wished to drink. As she left, one of the girls leaned forward:
Do you drink Coca-Cola?
"Ah… yes", I said slowly, my bemused and inquisitive voice trailing off…
I refuse to drink Coca-Cola.
I knew what was coming.
I don't like it when nations invade others.
Rather innocently, I replied:
Oh, but the Iraqis liked it when America invaded Iraq.
This took her aback. In an incredulous tone of voice, she asked
The Iraqis like war?!
I wouldn't say they exactly like war, or the present situation, but it is a vast improvement on what the country used to be like.

Because I hear so many doubts and cynicism about the average Iraqi's point of view — due to the MSM's usage of emotionally-charged words of the superlative kind, such as les massacres, le chaos, and l'horreur (and la misère as a description of America's capitalistic society in general), it is practically impossible to touch on positive aspects of the United States (and certainly the presence of its troops in Iraq) in the country of le débat et le dialogue, without being treated to snickers, snorts, harrumphs, and eye-rolling — I have taken to carry a handful of copies of the Le Monde piece (unfortunately, a token article), in which its Baghdad correspondant, instead of relying on his media's usual emotionally-charged words, went around instead and questioned Iraqi citizens.

Not only did Rémy Ourdan report that the pretty much unanimous response to the invasion was that it was the best thing to happen to Iraq in the past 30 years, but Iraqi voices just as overwhelmingly heaped scorn upon the French position concerning their opposition to the American decision to invade (indirectly castigating the position of all "peace camp" members, the position of Bush's opponents, the film of Michael Moore, etc, etc, etc), in the process casting doubt on the true intentions of Paris (doubts of a kind usually reserved for Dubya in the West).

When faced with cynics (as regular visitors to this website know), I don't even bother arguring with them anymore. Instead of wasting my time, I just fish out a photocopy of Ourdan's article and hand it to them.

That's what I now proceeded to do. After going over the title (La politique de la France reste très vivement critiquée par les Irakiens), I pointed out various Iraqi quotes. "Well", the lady finally said in a determined tone of voice:

If I were an Iraqi woman, I would not like it [the foreign invasion]
Well, querida, I told her, you would definitely be in a tight minority if you felt that way, and there wouldn't exactly be a lot of admiration from your (Iraqi) sisters if you said so in a boastful tone of voice.

At this point, her friend chimed in:

Ah, c'm'on, let's talk about something else. Politics should not be discussed during dinner.
I agreed totally, but, hey, then again I didn't bring the subject up, did I? None of them could help it, I guess, that they were with a guy who, after 911, made a solemn promise (and I don't care how arrogant that might sound) that he would never let someone get away with cheap anti-Americanism without reacting.

Besides, if her initial comment had led to a general Bush-bashing fest, I doubt anybody would have complained. I often feel that such comments ("let's not talk politics") only arise when the conversation doesn't seem to be going their way.

In any case the subject was changed, and a wonderful time was had by all. As the senhorita was leaving, however, I asked her,

Didn't you forget something?
"Here, take this", I said as I handed her one of my copies of the Le Monde article. "Read it when you have the time."

She promised whe would.

(But I don't know if she has taken to drinking Coca-Cola again…)

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