Gregory Kane: Thank heavens I don't live in France

That is what I'm most thankful for on this holiday. Before you think this is just another French-bashing piece, an explanation is in order.

Back in 2003, when President Bush sent troops into Iraq, there was a considerable amount of France bashing going on. Some of the bashers attempted to rewrite history, giving the French short shrift for helping us during the Revolutionary War or accusing the majority of them of being Nazi collaborators during World War II. Others just remarked, with disdain, about what a cowardly lot the French are.

I did none of those things. In fact, I mentioned to anyone who would listen that all the bashing of France and things French showed why Americans should NOT go to war. We end up hating everybody, even those we don't have grounds for hating.

The fact that I have a French great-great-great-grandmother had much to do with my position. Way back in the year 1852, a black man in Calvert County, Md., married a French woman. His name was Owen Smith; her name was Marie Conte. He was what at the time was called a “free man of color.” She was an indentured servant.

Yes, go figure: Of these two particular ancestors, the black man was the free one, and the white woman was, for all practical purposes, the slave. Our American history courses teach us that indentured servitude for whites died out sometime in the 18th century.

I have a French great-great-great-grandmommy who, if she were alive, would testify that those history courses are wrong.

I later learned, through someone who had studied the subject, that marriages between black “free men of color” and white female indentured servants from Europe was a common phenomenon in Maryland circa 1850. That's how I came to have a French ancestor and why I'm not so inclined to jump on the France-bashing bandwagon. But, with all due respect to my French great-great-great-grandma, I have sadly concluded that my distant cousins across the Atlantic do indeed have some problems.

Mind you, I've had my suspicions for some time. They began when the people of France raised Mumia Abu Jamal to near sainthood level in the 1990s. For those of you who are either unfamiliar with who Abu Jamal is, or who have forgotten, I'll give you a brief reminder:

He's a cop killer.

In the early-morning hours of Dec. 9, 1981, Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner stopped a man for a traffic violation. A struggle ensued. A third man ran across the street and shot Faulkner from behind. Faulkner was able to turn and fire one round into the third man from his service weapon before falling to the ground.

The third man then stood over Faulkner and fatally shot him in the head at point-blank range. Witnesses at the scene identified the shooter as Abu Jamal, whom police found nearby bleeding from a bullet wound to the chest. His own gun was empty of all but one shot.

Abu Jamal was convicted and sent to Pennsylvania's death row, where he still sits. He's become a veritable cause celebre, with supporters both here and abroad who look at the facts of the case and conclude that Abu Jamal was either framed or had an unfair trial.

Those contentions are highly debatable, and some might object to my singling out the French among Abu Jamal's horde of supporters abroad. But the French distinguished themselves from the others in 2006 when they actually named a street for Abu Jamal.

Three years later, those Frenchies have done it again. It's not a cop killer this time, but a confessed rapist and pedophile who is getting their sympathy.

When Roman Polanski bolted from the United States in 1977 to escape prison time for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, the French welcomed him with open arms and refused to extradite him. When Swiss authorities finally nailed him late this year and held him for extradition, the Frenchies went ballistic.

The late French President Charles DeGaulle was in office during the student worker uprising that swept France in 1969. He is said to have lamented the difficulty in governing a country where there are over 600 different kinds of cheese.

It must have been just as difficult to govern a country with such a cockeyed sense of morality. And that's why on this Thanksgiving Day, I'm giving thanks I don't live in the land of my great-great-great-grandmother.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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