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Protesters Say 'Pardon Our French But ... '

Antiwar marchers spell out 'Long Live Bread,' not 'Long Live Peace,' in a linguistic faux pas.

February 21, 2003|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

Saying war is no joking matter, demonstrators marched Thursday in Westwood in support of France's stance against a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

But even the peace protesters got a laugh out of the message they inadvertently spelled out in croissants outside the French Consulate in Los Angeles that declared "Long Live Bread."

"Vive la pain," the pastries arranged on the floor of the Wilshire Boulevard high-rise office building seemed to say.

"It's supposed to say 'Vive la paix' -- 'Long Live Peace,' " said demonstrator Leone Hankey of Park La Brea.

"But I stepped on the 'peace' and messed it up, just like Bush has."

A dozen representatives of Los Angeles-area peace groups appeared at the consulate to show their support for the antiwar position of French President Jacques Chirac.

Last week, Chirac said he has yet to see "indisputable proof" that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction.

His reluctance to support President Bush's policy on Iraq has helped prompt an avalanche of jokes and late-night talk show jabs in this country.

David Letterman cracked that the last time France wanted more evidence, they rolled right though Paris with the German flag. Jay Leno suggested that maybe President Bush should handle the diplomatic crisis by sending in someone the French really respect, like Jerry Lewis.

Those in Thursday's protest group included members of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Americans for Democratic Action and Americans Against the War in Iraq, as well as UCLA faculty members.

They presented flowers and words of encouragement to Jean-Luc Sibiude, consul general of France in Los Angeles.

"We're the oldest of allies," said UCLA English professor Robert Maniquis. "I believe that a sign of that friendship is the position France has taken in friendly opposition to the war."

Lila Garrett, a West Los Angeles writer, suggested to Sibiude that the world owes France its thanks.

"You're standing up for the survival of the planet," she told him.

Sibiude promised that he would convey the group's thoughts to Chirac.

As long as Iraq is complying with United Nations weapons inspections, "there is no reason to rush to war," he said. "It's good to have freedom of expression in this country."

Their bouquets and bons mots delivered, the activists returned to the high-rise lobby to decide on a suitable French restaurant to have lunch.

Garrett, who has written comedy for TV shows such as "Get Smart," "All in the Family" and "Maude," said that joke writers go for anything that gets a laugh.

But this time, the French are getting "a very bum rap," she said.

Aris Anagnos, a West Los Angeles real estate agent and vice president of the local chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, said his experience in North Africa during World War II proved to him that the French were courageous fighters.

"A French brigade saved all of us," he said, fingering a leftover croissant. No, he added, it wasn't one that had been stepped on earlier.

"Flaky French pastry, oui," quipped Paul Kawika Martin of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Flaky foreign policy, no."

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