A War of Words on the French; American Newspapers Open Fire on an 'Axis of Weasels'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

A War of Words on the French; American Newspapers Open Fire on an 'Axis of Weasels'


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Not much ooh-la-la out there, and very few bon mots.

There are a lot of weasels, though, some monkeys, a rat and one poodle.

The French are not doing well in the American press.

The New York Post cover featured a doctored color photo yesterday, depicting French and German delegates to the United Nations as a pair of weasels in fancy suits.

"Weasels to hear new Iraq evidence," the Post proclaimed. The paper also suggested that an ostrich was "the national bird of France" and earlier coined the term "axis of weasels."

That phrase suffered in translation in the French press, translated as "axe des faux jetons," which means "axis of devious characters."

Weasel, in the meantime, is the current word of choice to describe European allies who undermine U.S. determination to disarm Iraq - "weasel unilateralism," as the Wall Street Journal put it yesterday.

Weasel has gotten as much play in the past 48 hours as "duct tape," and journalists haven't had this much fun since "Osama Yo' Mama"-style headlines surfaced after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

There have been some serious side effects, however.

Rep. H. James Saxton, New Jersey Republican, has drafted a resolution that calls for a U.S. boycott of the Paris Air Show this spring. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, has called for a boycott of French wine and bottled water.

A growing Yankee boycott of French cheeses is evidence of the "fast-ripening stink over Iraq currently souring Franco-U.S. relations," according to one British account.

Things are getting downright inventive in the press, meanwhile.

"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys," a phrase borrowed from "The Simpsons" cartoon show, recently surfaced in the National Review magazine and has been echoed in the global media for days. The French and Germans have been called "an alliance of wimps," while Belgium rated the title "mini-me minion."John Gibson of Fox News Channel theorized that the Belgians had joined in with France and Germany because their army "was too old and too fat to fight anybody." In the Wall Street Journal, French President Jacques Chirac was called "the rat that tried to roar," while The Washington Post used the term "oily" to describe French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. …

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A War of Words on the French; American Newspapers Open Fire on an 'Axis of Weasels'
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