The Eighth Page

French Fries, French toast and French Kisses

On September 5th, 2010 the Basque rebel group ETA announced a ceasefire in its half-century long campaign of terror aimed at winning independence. Now, several weeks later, France has issued its reply: unconditional surrender. French minister of foreign affairs, Pierre L’Amontique, said of the ETA, “This is the first we’ve heard of the ETA. However, it is clearly a group of individuals who are dangerous and impossible to stop. In time, they would inevitably bring us to our knees, so, after due deliberation, we have decided that the better part of valor is to surrender now and hope for reasonable terms.” Strong words from a spineless bureaucrat. But the real question here is not “why did the French surrender?” It’s “how had the ETA, responsible for a fifty-year long spree of political assassinations, bombings and random street violence go unnoticed in France?” Modern European historian Rasheed Bengali has developed a theory. The Media Importance Law of 1958 decreed that news could only be presented if it was deemed important to the future of mankind. This, coupled with the controversial National Pride Statute of 1939, which defined mankind as “those who live within sight of the Eiffel Tower and no more than 100 meters from a cafe” has made it virtually impossible to report on any event outside Paris, let alone outside the country. Although news ratings went through the roof once broadcasters ceased acknowledging the outside world, major events have tended to slip by unnoticed. No French media acknowledged the Vietnam War until 1982, when historians at the Sorbonne uncovered documents proving that Vietnam and the former French colony of Indochina were the same country. The article “Hey, we used to own it!” in Le Monde (July 12, 1982) was especially revealing. Similarly, the fall of the Berlin Wall was commemorated only by the following government notice: “Be advised, local Germans are uppity about something. In the interest of safety we suggest you fly the official color [Editors Note: the official color is white]. We anticipate an attack soon and are standing by with a newly drafted treaty of surrender. God be with us.” Though the ETA sent in many threatening videos before this one, they were all in Basque and, according to media legend Pierre D’Louvre, they “couldn’t be bothered” to find a translator. So it was bigotry that bought France over half a century of freedom from all knowledge of the ETA. The occasional spillover of violence into France being attributed to “rowdy foreigners,” “English hooligans,” or “spontaneous combustion,” until the Media Importance Law was repealed to allow French television to cover the 2010 World Cup where the French national soccer team, coincidently, also surrendered. The ETA has yet to be reached for comment. One can only hope the Basques will be lenient in their surprising new role as conquerors, especially since their original demands included only about 14 acres of French territory.