#BBCtrending: The French get respect from US Tweeters

Freedom fries Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In the run-up to the Iraq War, many restaurants rebranded America's favourite side dish as "Freedom Fries"

In the US, France has long been something of a punchline.

"French" is shorthand for a sort of urbane, effete sensibility that stands in stark relief to how many Americans like to picture themselves - brash, rugged, and rural.

In 2003, after France opposed America's plans to invade Iraq, the Congressional cafeteria even renamed their chips "freedom fries", a term that was adopted in restaurants across the country.

But after gunman involved in two separate hostage situations were killed by French special forces, Americans on Twitter have a newfound admiration for their French counterparts.

"Seems like awfully impressive work by French security forces," says Vox writer Matt Yglesias, while Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen was more succinct. "French Special Forces > Russian Special Forces," he said.

Others were questioning the familiar tropes.

"So will Congress go back to calling them French fries now?" wrote political scientist Daniel Drezner. (The joke is on him, as the menu changed back in 2006.)

And remember that line about "surrender monkeys" that has come to be a favourite of those disparaging the French? New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat says it's time for a re-think.

"Seems like the phrase people are looking for is 'cheese-eating ruthlessly efficient badasses.'" he quipped.

Tech investor Martin Green is not surprised: "The French are well known for culture, fashion, and food but they also have very good special forces troopers," he wrote.

But will these elite commandos become as iconic as the the baguette and the Champs-Elysees?

Maybe not. But it seems that Americans are beginning to realise to see that high culture and high-precision military might aren't mutually exclusive.

Reported by Kate Dailey and Paul Blake

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