Here's a copy of a letter to the editor that my daughter (18 yrs old) wrote to our local paper:
I respect the French and Jaques Chirac. I realize that statement is considered by most Conservatives to be tantamount to treason, but as an American patriot, I have a profound respect for a country who tenaciously adheres to its beliefs. France's people were morally opposed to the way in which George Bush carried out his war, and as an elected official, Chirac would have been remiss in his duty to his electorate (like Prime Minister Aznar of Spain was) to support a war that could not even garner true support in the U.N.
I have been in Europe since mid-February, and have daily been forced to explain to skeptical Europeans that not every American is pouring French wine in the streets (which one must purchase before disposing of, thus supporting French wine merchants), refusing to call food by its name (it was downright embarrassing to hear that Congress had renamed French Fries Freedom Fries, especially since they are not French at all anyway), and worst of all, making asinine jokes about French military cowardice (Lafayette was certainly no coward, was he?).
Whether you like it or not, the U.S. is not the whole world, and it is ridiculous to, as Condi Rice reportedly put it, "...punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia." Why is France singled out that way? Because in Bush's America, no one who is small has the right to disagree with him. I hate to be the one to point it out, but that seems kind of Fascist to me. France, unlike Russia (with it's oil), has nothing Bush desires, and so in his Texas style of world diplomacy, juvenile retribution reigns supreme.
Every day I have tried to portray America in a better light than the majority of my fellow citizens, to be the best American I can be. I strive to represent my country the way it has always represented me. I have always been, and still am, deeply proud to be an American citizen, because the U.S. is a great place, with noble foundations and ideals.
Whether you supported the war or not, don't engage in petty and juvenile nation-hating. I will not ask you to forgive the French, because feeling deeply for peace and standing up for your principles (Bush might call it sticking to your guns), is something to be admired for, not something in need of patronizing forgiveness. Instead, I ask you to do the character of our country justice, not by insulting and acting spiteful towards those who disagree with George Bush, but by understanding and embracing such dissidence. The United States of America was founded with debate, not by following power blindly in any direction. It is our responsibility to keep our eyes wide open. That's American.
Pretty well written for a kid educated in our public schools :-) if I do say so myself.
It hasn't been in the paper yet, but she just emailed it last night.