While some of the country switched to Freedom Fries and honed the art of French-bashing, Louisiana quietly abstained. The state, whose border signs -- "Bienvenue en Louisiana" -- accentuate its French heritage, seemed to be the last haven for all things French, a place where Francophones could feel secure and Bordeaux would be drunk, not dumped.
Now, reports of slurs against the French are cropping up statewide. There are calls to cut ties between a Louisiana town, Lafayette, and two sister cities in France. Recently, French-American tensions have even colored state politics.
Upset at France's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, a leading candidate for the Republican nomination, said he favors formally disinviting French President Jacques Chirac from the state's bicentennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase. Lt. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, one of Jindal's opponents, invited Chirac and President Bush to the Dec. 20 fete.
"If President Chirac is unwilling to stand with President Bush and the United States shoulder-to-shoulder in Iraq, then he shouldn't be allowed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush in Louisiana," said Jindal, who until February was an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services.
So far, it doesn't look as if Chirac's feelings will be bruised even if Jindal takes office. Neither the French president nor Bush has responded to the invitation.
-- Karin Brulliard