The most interesting artefacts in archaeology you don't find on the surface of the ground of course but in the deeper layers. This goes also for thoughts and ways of thinking.
We've seen before how the ingredients of French-bashing that were to be found by the thousands in the American media from 2003 and on were the same you'll find at the basis of racist thinking and colonial mentality.
May I propose the same unexpected reading of another staple of French-bashing, probably the most prevalent of them all? I'm talking of the equation French = Surrender, which even Jon Steward made use of here. It seems it has become an unavoidable cliché about the French for most Americans.
An interpretation of that stereotype/trope has been offered here, cogent and apparently satisfying but this thesis remains on the surface of the ground, in my opinion. It's not false but somehow beyond the point.
Now, some historicization of data are indispensable at that point.
1°) We still have to return to the 1940 defeat.
The German army was the mightiest the world had ever known.
The English engineers had the good idea to dig a trench between the continent and their beautiful island. They named it the English Channel. This brilliant idea saved the British's butt in June of 1940. Dunkirk wasn’t exactly a great victory for the Brits but what could they do in front of the Wehrmacht?
The American engineers were even brighter and much cleverer than the Brits: they dug an ocean between the Germans and the US.
Had America had a frontier with Germany at that time, the American army (next to non existent in 1940) would have been smashed into pieces by the Germans.
Is it necessary to recall the Germans nearly reached Moscow and that it took more than 3 years for America, the Ussr and the Brits (mainly) to defeat the Germans? The US could never have won against Nazi Germany were it not for the Russians.
So here comes the catharsis part: allowing the projection of the inner fear that America could and (would) have lost against the Germans, no doubt about it.
By making such a fuss about the French defeat of 1940, the American media make Americans forget that they wouldn’t have faired better than the French under the same circumstances.
Ha ha (giggle) the French surrendered (thank God we weren’t in their shoes, pwfff!). What a bunch of faggots!
2°) The second most important pillar of the American society after religion is the army. Like it or not, the figure of the soldier is an icon in contemporary America. Well before WWII, the myth of the courageous, brave, incorruptible hero was founded at Alamo where all 189 combatants died. Now, these were real men who never would have surrendered to the enemy. John Wayne himself directed the movie, not the heroes of "Brokeback Mountain".
To surrender is the worst act of weakness and treachery you can expect from a soldier. Particularly an American one of course. To surrender is the unmistakable sign of unmanhood, hence feminity. Only faggots are capable of surrendering.
Is it just a coincidence that the French are often portrayed in the US as rather effeminate, walking down the streets with their French poodle at their side, with a certain affected genre? Just remember the cartoons we were entitled to 5 years ago.
But now, we're in the XXIth century and it is no longer possible to print such insults as "faggots" in the papers, or to call people "faggots" on the radio and TV networks. So a code word had to be found. What about "surrender"? That's what makes the audience of Jon Stewart laugh when he has a go with the "surrender" stereotype. There's an unconscious, homophobic reference which doesn't pass unheeded to the American audience. All jokes based on sexuality, particularly homosexuality, are a guarantee for laughter in the world. All the more when foreigners are involved.
Just like the usual arsenal of French bashing was evidence of a racist/colonial mentality, the overwhelming use of the word "surrender" is the expression of an underlying homophobia. Hence, the complete analogy reads thus: Surrender = French = Faggots. Are you surprised this could take place in such a religious, military, conservative country as the US? No kidding...
(Note: The painting is "Amor vincit omnia" by Caravaggio)